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My Writing Career-A Divergent Path? by Constance Gillam




As most of you who follow the blog know, I’ve written a contemporary romantic mystery, Lakota Dreaming, set on an Indian Reservation. What some of you might not know is I’m in the middle of writing a prequel to this novel. A novella, this prequel doesn’t have a name. For now, I’m using the main character’s name as the title.

Julia was born in the 19th century, making this a historical. I write contemporary fiction. How did I get off that path?

The answer is simple or not so simple. I need to keep my name in the reading public eye and in the Amazon algorithm. It takes me a year to write a full length novel. So, I gave myself thirty days to write the rough draft of this novella.

The first third of the story has been fairly easy to write. The second…

Now I’m getting into Native dress and customs of three different Native American tribes. I can wing the dress until after the first draft, but the customs could impact the story and send it off in another direction.

This blog post is serving as a therapeutic session where I talk myself back off the ledge. I write contemporary fiction not historical. The last thing I want is to inaccurately portray Native American facts and lose credibility. (Like the Chinese, it’s all about face.)

Has your career ever taken a divergent path? Did you get it back on track or did you just go with it?

Connie Gillam is the author of Lakota Dreaming, a Native American romantic mystery, available digitally and in print.

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Carol Burnside - August 18, 2014 - 1:44 am

I just go with it. While I am a contemporary romance author, I’m open to writing in other sub-genres, where the story takes me. I didn’t really think about my Annie Rayburn stuff being SciFi or Paranormal or Alternate Reality (Fantasy) until after I’d written them and had to classify them.

Then along came Hallie in the late 1800’s. And several others are clamoring to follow her. How I’ll fit it all in, I don’t know.

One story at a time.

Marilyn Baron - August 18, 2014 - 7:13 am

I agree with Carol. Just go with it. Divergent is good, I followed your path. I wrote a historical set in WW II, which is really on the edge of the genre, and two thirds of the book was set in contemporary times. Then I wrote a prequel novella which is a true historical. Then the next three books released were women’s fiction and psychic suspense. I’ve enjoyed writing in a variety of genres. And I started out writing short stories. Don’t limit yourself in genre or length.

Pam Asberry - August 18, 2014 - 9:40 am

I’m definitely going with it. I’m simultaneously working on women’s fiction, young adult, and contemporary romance, trying to find my voice I guess. We’ll see where I eventually get published. Thinking positive here. ;-)

Tamara LeBlanc - August 18, 2014 - 9:59 am

I agree with the consensus, GO WITH IT! You write in so many different genres and you’re a successful story teller in each. I love how you break your mold time and again. To me, you’re courageous!
Can’t wait to read more of Julia’s story!!!

Piper - August 18, 2014 - 10:29 am

There is something to “branding,” but sometimes you have to go where the story takes you. Readers get intrigued with a certain character or event. Are you going to leave that potential income on the table or write it? That’s the question. Do what you have to do.

Go Connie!

Constance Gillam - August 18, 2014 - 11:22 am

Thanks, Carol. I’ll follow your advice and take one story at a time.

Constance Gillam - August 18, 2014 - 11:24 am


I’ve admired your writing diversity. Thanks for the encouragement.

Constance Gillam - August 18, 2014 - 11:25 am

Keep thinking positive, Pam. And keep writing. Your journey will surprise you.

Constance Gillam - August 18, 2014 - 11:27 am

Tamara, I’ve never been called courageous before. If you only knew how many nights I’ve lain awake second guessing myself.

Constance Gillam - August 18, 2014 - 11:29 am

Yeah, Piper, that’s the problem-branding. Is it time to go with a pen name?

Carol Burnside - August 18, 2014 - 12:48 pm

Branding isn’t necessarily related to genre. Branding can be as simple as “stories of strong women overcoming adversity” or “stories of heartfelt struggles and finding family.” Whatever the global thread is that runs through your stories is your brand. Think tagline. For instance, Susan’s is “Riveting Reads. Lasting Love.” and mine is “Sizzling romance with heart and humor.” Either of those could be used to describe a story in any realm or era.

Piper - August 18, 2014 - 2:36 pm

Duly noted Carol. I don’t even have a snazzy tagline as you listed and now feel compelled to get one….

And Connie, I have no knowledge of the pen name process at all. From what I understand, the aim is to be unique enough to appear first on page 1 of Google. Good luck!

Maxine Davis - August 18, 2014 - 2:36 pm

Connie, Congratulations for takeing a different path. I like to write something different once in a while. I, personally, think it opens your writing up to different people! Good luck.

Constance Gillam - August 18, 2014 - 4:39 pm

Interesting analysis of brand, Carol. More like the universal theme of my books, which would be family. Now to figure out what aspect of family.

Constance Gillam - August 18, 2014 - 4:40 pm

Like you,Piper, I have no tagline. I’ll have to think of one.

Constance Gillam - August 18, 2014 - 4:42 pm


Appealing to different people is good. I hope if one book strikes the fancy of a reader, they be more willing to pick up another book by that author even if it’s in a different genre.

sandra Elzie - August 18, 2014 - 8:16 pm

Oh yes…I think most writers have those moments when they feel they’re off track and have to regroup. Once you’re branded, it’s harder…but I now use Sandra McGregor so I can write Romantic Suspense since Sandra Elzie only wrote Family Friendly.

Walt Mussell - August 18, 2014 - 10:32 pm

I feel like I’m off track a lot. For me, going off track is changing location and time period.

Carol Burnside - August 19, 2014 - 12:52 am

Connie, talk to your critique partners or beta readers. Ask them if they’ve noticed a common thread in your writing, and/or how they would describe your writing. Jot down all their responses, then look and see if you discover commonality in their answers. Look at your reviews and see what readers are most often saying about your writing.

I didn’t really get my tagline right until I started reading what others saw in my writing.

Sia Huff - August 19, 2014 - 8:52 pm

Great question, Connie. I think if you’re following your heart, it’s good. You may find you enjoy writing about Native American’s so much you do a series. Good luck!

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