Crossing Genres: Finding my Thread

Recently I attended a writer’s conference and one session addressed crossing genres and how to market yourself. What I took most from this informative talk was that we as authors can find a common thread when we cross genres…or stay in the same genre.

Then a friend asked questions about my writing and it got me thinking.

What is my common thread?

A thread is hard to define. It’s your “brand”: what readers expect when they pick up one of your books. It’s not just your voice or your style, but it’s what makes your books uniquely yours. Your footprint. Elements, revolving themes, character types, etc. And once you have a handle on it, you can grip that brand/footprint/thread and take it through each book. My threads came about organically, subconsciously. Does this mean we are boxed in by predictability? No! It’s just our signature…our footprint. Each story is unique.

My writing is spiritual, emotional, as well as a form of therapy and healing, all tied up nicely with bow blooming with hopes and dreams. I take difficult aspects of my life (grief, loss/death, experiences) and weave them into my books. I love hope.

I write romance (historical and contemporary) and women's' fiction. Toss in travel magazine articles.

With my wheels turning, I dug for my threads. What did I find?

Love (parental, partner, or sibling),

spirituality, hope, journeys & nature.


My Threads






(Life experiences)

Note: A few spoilers below but I won’t give away plot twists!

Love, Spirituality, Loss of a mother, Hope, Journey:

In A Hundred Kisses I delve into different religions (medieval Christianity and a "pagan" one of the isles). The heroine's mother is deceased and Deirdre misses that maternal connection with her kin. She wants a mother and to find her roots, get answers, figure out why she has this special ability. My mother passed away when I was 25 and I never had that adult-maternal connection a daughter yearns for. Furthermore, in the book, the hero and heroine learn that even though they have different beliefs, they are still on the human experience and can appreciate the other's journey.

Spirituality/Religion, Love, Hope/Healing, Nature:

The prequel (release date TBD, early 2019), A Hundred Breaths, tells the story of the mother of the heroine in A Hundred Kisses. I took a big leap into her family's religion, one that relies on nature and the gifts they’re bestowed by their deities. Her family uses the power they get from the earth and natural elements for good. The hero is a firm Christian, so enter a collision of beliefs…but they also begin to see how their beliefs and spirituality can overlap. Throw in some ruthless, exploiting Vikings/Nordmen and their gods (and a villain with a complicated, wounded past—oh how I enjoyed writing him!), and there is a boatload of spiritual exploration in this book. It's also a story of healing for the hero, as he has guilt over something that happened to his mother. The heroine also seeks protection for her brother. This is a big story of redemption, healing, and acceptance (of others).

Spirituality, Love, Hope/Healing, Nature, Journey:

My contemporary women's fiction (also early 2019 publication date) is a journey of a grieving widow raising an autistic son, on a road trip across the country to find her other missing son, in the wake of a natural disaster. She also struggles with anxiety. I took care to include the point of view of the autistic son. She meets a man along the way struggling with his own inner demons. I don't want to give away the twists, but her journey brings her to a point of learning to forgive, heal, and accept/embrace. It's an emotional book. It delves into philosophical questions about why things happen, too. Why autism? Why the natural disasters? Why pain or suffering? Why do we make the decisions we do? Why death/fate? It’s laced with spirituality, love, and hope.

Spirituality, Love, Hope/Healing, Loss of sibling, Nature:

The final book in my examples (I’ve been a busy writer this year!) is set to publish early next year. It’s a contemporary romance novella. The woman, divorced from an abusing ex, has extreme guilt over her sister's death while hiking (my sister died in an accident different than the type of accident in this book). The heroine meets a man who feels like an outsider in his world and misses home. For her, it's a story of healing and moving past her past (guilt and trust), and for him, it’s journey of self-acceptance. There are also overlaps of spirituality and the hero opens the heroine’s mind to exploring answers to life’s big questions.

I really love the emotional (and physical) journey and the spiritual elements in all my work. We all have emotional wounds and are on our own journeys of healing, growth/hope, and spirituality. So those are my threads.

Even if you write consistently in ONE sub-genre, you have a few threads in your writing, too. We all have unique footprints.

I’d love to hear from you. What are your threads?

Fording Rivers

Last week Facebook nicely reminded me of a fond memory, that ironically, I’d already been thinking about that very week. Spooky ESP aside, the image was an exclamation point on a road sign in Mt. Aspiring National Park, in the Wanaka area of New Zealand. I’ll start with a disclaimer: we traveled to this jewel of a country (Middle Earth if you’d like to call it that) for our honeymoon over a dozen years ago and it is hands down my favorite place on earth (sorry, Scotland, you’re second place). But I digress. What’s interesting about this sign is that it’s an exclamation point! First, you laugh at the image and think what the what? Then you see the sheep photobomb (and laugh more).

Why the exclamation point?

Doesn't look intimidating at all, right?

Doesn't look intimidating at all, right?

Let’s start with how we got there. The drive to the Rob Roy Track was long, gravely, and a shakin’, window-nearly-breakin’ nauseating ride. There was no way to drive “just right”: fast, slow, in the tire ruts, or dodging holes…our car rumbled and roared on the 19-mile (30km) gravel road. The second challenge was alluded to by those lovely yellow signs. Fords in the road.

Yes, with our small rental car we needed to ford washed out parts of the road. Another disclaimer: we had asked a park ranger if the tiny rental car could handle the fords and she advised that it could. These were not little trickles of water. They were a foot deep, twenty feet in width, filled with rocks of all sizes, like your typical river. And we had to ford it over and over. I lost count. We probably crossed eight passes. Each time, I held onto the car for dear life while my husband drove us down, through the rocky, deep bottom, and back up the other side.

Looks easy?  Tell our car that. Just you wait and see what's coming for  you in a few more miles...(Okay, I just personified the road, but hey, it was mean!)

Looks easy?  Tell our car that. Just you wait and see what's coming for  you in a few more miles...(Okay, I just personified the road, but hey, it was mean!)

We were so busy crossing the river that I didn’t snag a photo of the fords!

How often in life are we living in the moment, crossing fords, and hurrying to the finish line (or to the next adventure)? We are so hyper-focused on the task that we don’t take a moment to enjoy the journey. Or at least to appreciate it. Certainly, we reminisce in happy fondness later.

But what do we do during those times?

Sometimes we survive. We wake up, do the daily grind (whatever it may be: careers, parenting, caregiving for a loved one, going to school…the list is infinite). Some nights, we crawl into bed, achy and beaten by the day.

Sometimes we live. We cherish those moments like enjoying a great cup of coffee at sunrise, strengthening muscle while paddling a lake, listening to the laughter of our kids building Lego structures, conversing with a good friend or partner, or writing a new scene in a manuscript with sweet abandon!

And sometimes we doubt. On our trek in New Zealand, we questioned that road, those fords, even the track itself: can we make it? Should we keep going?

While on that bumpy-ford-crossing-will-we-ever-get-there road, my husband and I took in the magnificent glacial valley scenery: slender trees lined up like lollipops, cows and a million sheep nibbling on grass, tall cascading waterfalls, blue sky, puffy clouds, and sweeping mountainsides.

When we reached the trail head, we were exhilarated to have made it through the cumbersome, scary, nerve-wracking, beautiful, amazing journey there. But the journey wasn’t finished yet. First a rain shower hit, and we took cover (it was spring after all). Then we donned our packs and huffed up the mountain trail to even greater views of the valley. “Oh, look, swing bridges!” my husband exclaimed. My stomach didn’t match his excitement. But I made it across. The reward at the end of the trail: the Rob Roy Glacier.

But truly, the real reward was the journey it took to get there.

Would we do it again?

Of course!

p.s. There will likely be more travel adventure posts coming from me because this gal loves to travel, photograph, and write all about it! And you betcha’ I have many misadventures to share, too!