Marsha Canham's Blog

September 24, 2010

Just a ramble

Filed under: Uncategorized — marshacanham @ 1:32 pm

Six years ago when I made the decision to stop writing for a while, it was due in large part to the fact that I was *expected* to write books a certain way.  I was being told what subjects were acceptable and which time periods were more *saleable*.  I wanted to write the story of Juliet’s brothers, from The Iron Rose, but was told in no uncertain terms that the publisher did not want another pirate book, they didn’t sell as well as, say, Regencies, or Scottish romances.  This, despite the fact that Pirates of the Caribbean was one of the most popular movies that year.  But to me, that was taking away my creativity.  Sure, I could have churned out another romance about Highlanders…I had reams of research done from writing Pride of Lions, Blood of Roses, and Midnight Honor.  I resisted Regencies, but I had written two books in the Regency time period, so that wasn’t the problem either (and yes, there is a difference between a “Regency Romance” and a story that takes place in that time period *s*)  I could have spun out another Medieval too, but I had what I considered three of my best books already out there with bows and arrows and armor.

To me, dictating to an author what he or she should write…is wrong on so many levels.  Publishers tend to latch onto a trend, and if something sells, they want more and more of the same thing, but that leads to flooding the market and as more and more authors join the feeding frenzy, the writing suffers, the readers get fed up and eventually kill off interest in that genre.  It happened with Civil War romances and with pirate romances.  Everything was Scotland and Highlanders for a long time, then it slid into horror and vampires.  It even happened with long historicals to an extent, after *guidelines* came out limiting an author to 425 pages, max.  Some romance readers raised a hue and cry when some of their most popular authors switched over to writing contemporary women’s fiction, crime novels, and now the horror genre…and many authors did it simply because there were no such restrictions placed on content or length.  I toyed with the idea myself, and kudos to those who made the switch successfully.  It just wasn’t my style.  It wasn’t what I wanted to write.  I could see Errol Flynn looking over my shoulder and shaking his head.

The point of this ramble is basically to say that I respect readers too much to just churn out a book for the sake of churning out a book.  Or to jump on a trend simply because it is the current trend.  (I still want to write a romance featuring the failed attempt of the Spanish Armada to invade England.  I envision another POL and BOR type conflict)  I also respect myself too much, as a writer, to just fill 400 pages of a book with words, slap my name on it, and assume it will sell because my name is on it.  Maybe that sounds like I chose the high road, and maybe I did. But nothing irritates me more than hearing an author say, well they’ll buy it anyway, or they don’t really care if the research is right they just want the romance.  AUGH!

Again, unless you’ve been on Bora Bora, you (whoever is reading this) knows I’ve been retyping and editing my earlier books.  Other authors have asked me why I don’t just get them scanned into file format and turn them into Ebooks as is…sooooo much easier.  And yes, it would be easier. But they’re talking to the person who, as a final edit of a manuscript, retypes the whole damned thing anyway page by page and doesn’t just rely on being able to proofread the file and find all the little glitches.  I did that twice, took the shortcut, and twice got nailed by readers for making really dumb mistakes.  By READERS, mind you, not by the editors or copy-editors, so that alone makes my point about the sharp-eyed reading public.  No, they don’t settle.  Yes, they do know their stuff.  And yes, they will hurl a book against the wall if it’s amateurish, sloppy, or if they sense the author’s indifference aka disrespect.

I’m not saying, by any means, that when I edit, the finish product is without errors or silly mistakes…I’m sure I still have doors walking across the room to slam themselves.  But I do try to catch as much as I can.  The point being, my name is on that book and it is the best I can do at the time.



  1. A writer with integrity — good for you

    Comment by Barb — September 24, 2010 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

  2. Here, here Marsha. I’m a long time fan of yours and I’ve been writing off and on for fiftteen years now. I picked up writing again two years to get published in what I want to read. I’ve been fighting agianst the trend all this time. I want something unique, different eras or time periods. Regencies and Paranormals just aren’t my thing. I want action and adventure! I’ve started to send out my newest pirate wip and we’ll just see how it goes. So far no replies back. Even my crit group is all regency writers and while they’re all wonderful and sweet, it’s just not my top pick. The wip I am writing is a Viking romance. And you can bet your last dollar it’ll have lots of action and adventure. When will the publishing world see that readers need variety, we’re not all so cut and dried into the same mold.

    Thanks for posting this. This is exactly what I’ve been chiming about for the last fifteen years. I wish there were more authors like you but then agian being unique and different can be a blessing.

    Melissa Dawn Harte

    Comment by melissadawnharte — September 24, 2010 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  3. Marsha, this is exactly why your books are favorites, and why readers, myself included, will happily wait until you can write your stories your way. I’d rather wait for good stuff than have something churned out to meet a trend.

    Comment by Anna C. Bowling — September 25, 2010 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

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