Thursday, 21 June 2012

Author Spotlight - Petie McCarty and "Tweeners"

What is a "Tweener" exactly?

My definition for this particular colloquialism would be: a romance novel that crosses or straddles the bold line between romance genres observed by most agents and publishers.

Agents and publishers have strong feelings regarding the bold lines drawn between genres, easily rejecting those manuscripts that cannot be pigeon-holed in the accepted scope of the predetermined genre. Said agents and editors truly believe manuscripts must fit the pre-ordained curriculum of genre in order to offer a contract.

When my first book "popped" into my head and I began to write, I also began studying the publishing industry, learning both as I went. At the time, I had no idea there were close to a dozen romance genres, all I knew was the movie running in my head. Unfortunately , I started out writing "tweeners" and didn't even know it. Four manuscripts later, I couldn't find a home for any of them.

See, I thought I had a shtick for my stories -- my version of branding. I hid an angel in each story, sort of like "Touched by an Angel" except you didn't find out who the angel was until the end. I left red herrings to throw the reader off, and if I did my job right, I shocked the reader when they found out who the angel was at the finale. Made sense to me.

Made no sense to the agents who reviewed my queries.

There was no inspirational discovery of faith in my stories, so some agents rejected as not fitting the inspirational genre. Yet the stories had an angel hidden in them, so others recommended I submit to an agent who accepted paranormal. Yet paranormal agents thought the mere presence of an angel should place them in the inspirational category. You see where this was going…around in circles. The agents had to pigeon-hole. Four novels that never really had a chance to fly on their own merit -- all "tweeners."

So, I decided manuscript number five would be different. Everglades was offered to a publisher as a "sweet" contemporary romance, yet drug dealers appeared in climactic scenes and the sweet romance editors pushed the manuscript toward the romantic suspense line of the house, where the manuscript couldn't begin to squirm into the required scene-to-scene action guidelines for romantic suspense. Therefore, rejection. A nice letter: "the story is intriguing, but this is not romantic suspense." The editors were absolutely right and ignored the fact I had submitted the manuscript as contemporary romance knowing I didn't have the moment-to-moment knuckle-biting angst required for romantic suspense. Everglades ended up another "tweener" -- a contemporary romance with suspenseful elements.

Enter Desert Breeze Publishing.

Thank the good Lord. A publisher who does not draw bold lines in the sand for genres and accepts manuscripts based on the salability of the story alone -- a publisher who eagerly crosses or straddles lines because the story is accepted or rejected based on its own merit with no preconceived rules for following genre lines.

I for one am very thankful, as I do not think Everglades would have been published otherwise. I think of it as "one of those God things." I found a publisher willing to take a chance on a sweet contemporary romance with suspenseful elements.

Come on, DBP Authors, raise your hands -- how many of you have "tweeners?" And how many of you know if it hadn't been for Desert Breeze, we'd still be on the outside looking in at the published authors. I'm here on my tiptoes with my arm in the air. Everglades was a "tweener," and I've got 4 or 5 more like her back in the hopper. Thank the good Lord for forward-looking publishers like ours who read between the lines.

Thank you, DBP Authors, for spending time with me this week on my very first -- ever -- blog. As a newbie author, I've found the transition so much easier with the help and support of the DBP Author Group. You're the best.

Review for "Everglades:"

Romantic Times Review of EVERGLADES
Genre: Contemporary Romance, General Contemporary Romance
Sensuality: HOT
RT Rating: 4 Stars
Loaded with gators, snow-white water lotus and cypress trees, as well as an incredibly fast-moving plot with a romance that readers will not soon forget, this book definitely has a variety of pieces that all come together to form a truly entertaining story.
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor

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  1. This is what I love about DBP as well. There is more freedom for writers, and I believe that turns into better fiction. A "tweener." I like that! :)

  2. Petie, I thought tweeners were eleven and twelve year olds, but once I read your article, I have to wave my hand. I've written a few tweeners in my day. Usually the line I was straddling was "too much sex for as much God as you include, Gloria."