Pink Fuzzies, let’s welcome Ricia Mainhardt, Literary Agent.

Ricia and I have been friends for years. We met at a World Fantasy Convention in Callaway Gardens, Georgia. We happened to be in the Ladies Room at the same time, and I’m not sure but I might have told her I was a writer. So long ago. So now for a short rant by Ricia.

Trends:
I don't pay a lot of attention to the current trend in publishing. The current trend was sold at least a year ago. When I sold the first Anita Blake book, no one was writing supernatural detective novels. Now these types of books are everywhere. Instead of looking for trends, write what you like and know. No matter what the trend is, if you write a really good book, that is your best shot at being published. Vampire romances are currently popular, and I probably see at least one a week come through my door. If you are writing a book that is like something now popular, you have to be better than the best out there and bring a new twist or new angle to the story.

What is the next big thing?
The possibilities are endless. In supernatural romances, supernatural beings who are not vampires or a heroine who is a vampire instead of the hero. Maybe two Vamps who fall for each other but don't know the other is a vamp. They try to keep their vampness a secret from their love interest. Use your imagination! And keep writing. Even if you don't know what you want to write next, keep writing. What you write might be crap, but it helps to be at your keyboard. The ideas will come and after you read through the junk you wrote, you might find kernels of your next project. Everything you write does not have to be a novel. Try to develop your characters in shorter lengths--short stories. What do I read for fun? You must be joking. It has been a long time since I picked up a book and read just for fun. Probably my fun reading is good submissions. I just finished a cozy mystery that borders on being a police procedural, much like Ed McBain's series of the 87th precinct mysteries that really has really well developed characters. The detective is a song writer who was a cop and his father was a cop.

Ricia has offered a 5-page critique to a lucky commenter.
http://www.ricia.com/

43 comments

  1. Emma Lai // July 9, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

    I think it's excellent advice to keep writing. I also think it's important to write what you love. It's hard to write a good story if you're not even interested in it yourself. How is anyone else expected to be then?

  2. Scarlet Pumpernickel // July 9, 2009 at 12:23 PM  

    Linda, thanks for allowing us to meet Ricia! Great rant Ricia, we're tickled pink to have you visit the fuzzies. What type of manuscripts are you currently seeking? What is the submission policy for your office? Do you accept e-queries?

    Scarlet

  3. wendy // July 9, 2009 at 12:36 PM  

    Hello, Ricia, Thank you for your helpful tips. They were both helpful and sad. Sad, because I started writing a paranormal romance ten years ago, finished the story around 2004, fine-tuned for a year, was rejected by a few people, and so I put the ms away until this year. And then the movie version of Twilight was released in Australia. I really liked the movie, was surprised by the similiar plot idea and yet was inspired by the movie's beauty and success to continue working on mine. Although there are plot-point similarities, there are differences. My hero at first appears to be an ordinary human, then he appears to be a conniving vampire and then his true nature is revealed. He is neither human nor an evil spirit. The story is for adults and mixes inspirational Christianity as well. It is set in country Australia where I live.
    Although I might have left it too long to finish, it was a story I put my heart into - as you advised - so even if it never sees the light of day, creating the story has given me some of the happiest moments of my life. But I suppose all writers can say that of their creations, successful or not.

  4. Edie Ramer // July 9, 2009 at 12:40 PM  

    Ricia, I love your advice on trends!

    Maybe two Vamps who fall for each other but don't know the other is a vamp. They try to keep their vampness a secret from their love interest.

    This reminds me of the Brad Pitt, Angelinea Jolie movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith movie. It worked pretty good with them!

  5. Mary Ricksen // July 9, 2009 at 1:44 PM  

    There are so many good authors out there that the competition is tremendous.
    I think Emma said it well, you have to love your own story or no one else will. We put our hearts and souls into our words and when someone else gets it, that's what it's all about. Imagination brings us so many different ideas. It's putting it down on paper, (computer), and telling the story well that makes us writers. I think anyone can write, but only those of us who have a way with words, can make it to being published authors.

  6. Mona Risk // July 9, 2009 at 2:16 PM  

    Welcome to the Pink Fuzzy Slippers, Ricia. I agree with you: write what you like and know. That's why I write medical romances. My favorite shows are Grey's Anatomy and ER, and I am surrounded by doctors so I am aware of the conflicts they have in their lives. Do you think medical romances have a future?

  7. Joanne // July 9, 2009 at 2:17 PM  

    Thank you, Ricia, for the excellent advice. I don't write paranormals nor vampire tales, but I love historical romances and am fascinated with the paranormal. So, my two romance manuscripts incorporate the Romany (Gypsy) people in Tudor England.
    Welcome to the Pink Fuzzies, and thank you, Linda, for allowing us to "meet" Ricia.

  8. Beth Trissel // July 9, 2009 at 2:34 PM  

    Thanks so much for being here with us on the Fuzzies. Excellent advice and I really appreciate it. Years and years ago when I was a new writer you gave me some very helpful guidance for which I have always been grateful. :)

  9. Katie Hines // July 9, 2009 at 3:23 PM  

    I can't imagine not reading for pleasure! I read 3-5 books a week and enjoy every minute of them. Of course, I'm not a to-die-for agent, either!

  10. Margie Church // July 9, 2009 at 4:05 PM  

    I can't agree more with writing what you know and what inspires you. That helps you get comfortable with the process of writing. Don't worry about the length or whether somebody will like it. It's important that you like your work first.

  11. Margay // July 9, 2009 at 4:08 PM  

    That is great advice to write just to write and not to worry about what you are writing. I think we get caught up in the whole process of writing a NOVEL and it easily overwhelms us. But to just write short or scenes to flesh out characters that don't necessarily have to be part of a novel...that could be very liberating.
    Margay

  12. Loretta C. Rogers // July 9, 2009 at 4:32 PM  

    Nice to meet you on the net, Ricia. I like that you don't follow trends. One of the problems I've run into is being told that the current trend is ? ? ?,and because of that, I'm told there's no market for what I write--which is American Historicals. I've tried writing to the trend and end up trash-canning the story because it isn't--me. Your advice really makes sense. Thank you!!!

    www.lorettacrogersbooks.com

  13. Barbara Monajem // July 9, 2009 at 4:38 PM  

    Two ways I keep my writing fresh is by switching genres (in my case contemporary paranormal and historical) and lengths (novels and short stories). I love the quick closure from writing a short story, but it's extremely satisfying to write something longer that really explores an issue. Also, writing something that's hard -- that I think maybe I can't do -- is helpful to keep my mind humming.

    Thanks for the advice, Ricia. May you get lots and lots of good submissions to contribute to your reading fun...

  14. Mary Marvella // July 9, 2009 at 5:13 PM  

    Hey, Ricia,

    So glad you agreed to be Linda's guest here. Writing for the market would never work for m e since I'm a slow writer.

    I wrote 2 books for a lines which died before I could get the manuscripts out. OOPS. Maybe I'll catch the next market trend with one.

  15. Gwynlyn MacKenzie // July 9, 2009 at 5:44 PM  

    I started writing historicals when the market for them tanked. But I love them, so I write them. Now they're a hot commodity once more so your advice is not only sound, but reminds us that preferences, like most things in life, are cyclical, coming and going only to return yet again--slightly modified, perhaps, but still the same nonetheless.

  16. Paisley Kirkpatrick // July 9, 2009 at 6:13 PM  

    I have heard that writing what you love is the best way to create your stories, but then when they are submitted the reply is that they love your story, but don't know where to put it so turn you down. How do you overcome this roadblock?

  17. Suzanne // July 9, 2009 at 6:22 PM  

    Write what you want to write and write every day. Great advice, thank you! Now, if I could only convince the teen girls in my creative writing class to do the same...

  18. Sir John // July 9, 2009 at 6:49 PM  

    Thank you for the excellent advice on writing. I agree that you have to write what you know most about and what you feel passionate about. However, it is always a interesting learning curve when you venture into new fields. I always find myself wanting to be the expert on new horizons and thank my work as a writer in providing me with this opportunity.

    Johnny Ray

  19. Jill James // July 9, 2009 at 7:02 PM  

    Thanks for the advice about keep writing, so true. If you just write every day you at least end up with something, instead of nothing.

  20. Renee // July 9, 2009 at 7:06 PM  

    Ricia, thanks for the great advice. I love writing all over, short stories, poetry, and journaling. I often write short stories for my characters to fill in all the back story so that I get to know them.

    It sounds as if you really like detective type stories. I was never interested until I gained an awesome critique partner and wonderful friend who happens to write mystery suspense. I laughed so hard I thought I'd pee my pants every paragraph.

    I'm not a vamp writer, but I like Edie's idea of a Mr. & Mrs. Smith vampire twist.

    As for writing what you know, I once had someone tell me that. I took it to heart and didn't write. Why, because I felt I didn't know anything. I mean I was just a housewife and homeschooling mom of four children. It took me a long while to realize that I knew love. I knew heartache. And I knew healing. That's why I write romance. :)

  21. Margaret Tanner // July 9, 2009 at 7:13 PM  

    Hi Ricia,
    Thanks for the excellent advice. I am a great believer in wrting what you love.
    Regars
    Margaret

  22. Louise Fury // July 9, 2009 at 7:17 PM  

    Wow, what a great post! I am new to the Fuzzy Slipper Writers, but so happy to have found you today. I am a huge fan of Ricia Mainhardt and after browsing through http://www.ricia.com/
    I am impressed by her support of talented writers who are not yet on the road to publication. Because Ricia's work icludes Historical Romance as well as Children's Fiction, Rita is on my short list of dream agents. I hold my fingers tight to my chest in the hopes that I might be the lucky commenter who receives the five-page critic.
    -Louise

  23. EODgirl // July 9, 2009 at 7:24 PM  

    Thanks for the great advice and the chance to win a critique!

  24. Daria Drake // July 9, 2009 at 7:30 PM  

    Ricia,

    Thanks for coming to rant to us today! :) As someone who's writing urban fantasy sans vampires, it's great to hear that you don't pay attention to trends. (Not that I have anything against vampires, but there are so many other nifty beings in from our collective past!) My current WIP is drawing heavily on Mesopotamian mythology (former priestess of Inanna with heart of war god woven into her soul must find stolen cuneiform tablet before said war god is turned loose to wreak havoc in near-future Houston).

    Can I ask what other mythological traditions you've seen come across your desk recently in the paranormal/fantasy genres? Are you see a lot of variety in the types of myths that are showing up, or are the submissions heavily weighted toward vampires/werefolk/angels and demons?

    Also, how do you feel about space opera? Do you prefer fantasy/paranormal novels, or does science fiction interest you too?

    Bonnie

  25. Linda Banche // July 9, 2009 at 7:35 PM  

    Hi Ricia, thanks for telling us to write what we like. I think we can get caught up in the latest trend and force ourselves into a mold that doesn't fit. Writing something we don't like will show, and the writing will be awful.

  26. Autumn Jordon // July 9, 2009 at 8:36 PM  

    Ricia,
    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree with you. You have to have passion to write a really good book. Writing to trends is not the way to go. And writing everday is a must.

    Autumn Jordon
    2009 Golden Heart Finalist
    www.autumnjordon.com

  27. Karin Shah // July 9, 2009 at 8:37 PM  

    Thanks for the great post! We always need to be reminded to follow our own drummers. I unfortunately have always written SFR, Fantasy and paranormal romance. I tried to write a straight regency-set historical once, but wouldn't you know it a shape-shifter showed up!*g*

  28. Nightingale // July 9, 2009 at 9:02 PM  

    Thanks everyone for dropping by to meet Ric. She doesn't know how to leave a comment but she has been reading the comments all day and is ready to answer any questions.

  29. Dee White // July 9, 2009 at 9:05 PM  

    Thanks for the great interview Ricia and Linda,

    I totally agree with your comment about writing what you like - and to keep writing. I spent more than ten years writing my YA novel Letters to Leonardo, about a boy who copes with having a mentally ill mother, by writing letters to Leonardo da Vinci. My book was finally published on the 1st July this year. I've always been fascinated with Leonardo da Vinci, but my mentor told me I should change who Matt writes letters to because teens wouldn't know who Leonardo was. So glad I kept writing and stuck with my story.

    Dee:-)

  30. Nightingale // July 9, 2009 at 9:57 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  31. Nightingale // July 9, 2009 at 10:01 PM  

    The lucky Winners (yes winners) will be announced Saturday. Ric has agreed to do 3 critiques. I will need the email addys of the winners.

  32. Laurie Faelan // July 9, 2009 at 11:54 PM  

    Yes, I would think that by the time a writer wrote what was popular, the next big trend would be here. I personally love to read fresh new twists on favorite premises. I read many sub-genres of romance. As a reader, I love vampires and shapeshifters but I'm selective. Sometimes I pick up one that's just really tired. But once in awhile an author will come along with the most fantastic world-building, and then I just gobble up everything she writes. That's what I want to accomplish with my writing.

    Thanks for the interesting blog post! Made me think. :D

  33. Anonymous // July 10, 2009 at 8:03 AM  

    Thank you, Rica, for the helpful advice. I agree, it's better to write what we love, rather than what we think will sell. Hot story lines burn quickly.
    Cheers!
    Tereasa

  34. L.A. Mitchell // July 10, 2009 at 9:56 AM  

    Thank you, Ricia, for reminding us to turn away from market trends every now and then and write something we're passionate about :)

  35. AliceAnderson // July 10, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

    Ricia, thanks so much for the reminder. I've always heard that you should write the book of your heart, if for no other reason than you really love it, believe in it, and ultimately, you'll have the desire to see it through all the stages a book must go through. And I always tell myself that trends have to start somewhere. :)

  36. Billi Wagner // July 10, 2009 at 12:35 PM  

    Thanks for the advice, Ricia. I can't seem to write short stories though. My characters seem to have a mind of their own. They take their story and run with it. If I didn't get it don't on paper, I think I'd end up with a multiple personality disorder lol. Each character demanding control of my keyboard. Billi

  37. Carol Hutchens // July 10, 2009 at 1:29 PM  

    Thanks for the tips, Ricia. It's easy to forget to write what we like when we're bombarded on all sides with new trends...but we need to try.
    I've watched two favorite lines disappear and lost heart. Your words are encouraging.
    Thanks for your time.

  38. Michelle Miles // July 10, 2009 at 4:14 PM  

    Great advice! Thanksk for sharing and the helpful tips!

  39. Kaycee James // July 10, 2009 at 5:34 PM  

    Thanks for the excellent advice. :-)

  40. Dayana // July 11, 2009 at 10:09 AM  

    Wonderful inside information, Ricia. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us! I read Laurel K. Hamilton and love both her series. I write paranormal as well because its what I love and try to heed your advice daily. It's so easy to fall into rehashing what is out there.

    I continuously try to come up with a 'different' take on the same creatures. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I'm not but the fact is I keep trying, LOL

    Thank you so much Linda for inviting Ricia here.

    Dayana~

  41. Louise Fury // July 12, 2009 at 8:18 PM  

    Nightingale: I am waiting with bated breath and criss-crossed fingers for a very special announcement. Have the winners of Ricia Mainhardt's critique been announced yet?
    The excitement of the possibility is almost too much to take!

    -L

  42. Nightingale // July 12, 2009 at 8:54 PM  

    Sorry everyone. I know I promised to post the winners last night but I was waiting to hear from Ricia to see how she wanted the 5 pages sent. The winners were chosen using random selection in Excel.

    Drum Roll. Congratulations to Scarlet Pumpernickel, Autumn Jordon and Paisley Kilpatrick. My email is Nitethyme2003@yahoo.com. Please send me your 5 pages, and I'll forward them to Ricia.

    Thanks everyone for dropping by and meeting Ricia.

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