Years ago, right after I joined RWA, I remember going to my very first critique session with some of the ladies from my local chapter. I took a synopsis and the beginning of a Medieval werewolf story I had started and felt pretty excited about. After reading my material, the ladies expressed disappointment that I wasn't working on one of my westerns. They told me paranormals weren't popular and NY just wasn't buying them. They strongly advised me to put away the werewolf story and pick up where I'd left off with my western historical.
Well, green newbie that I was, I figured they knew what they were talking about and followed their advice--and I've been kicking myself ever since. Why, you ask? Because only a short time later, westerns went into a sharp decline and the paranormal market literally exploded. Sherrilyn Kenyon introduced her Dark Hunters and opened the door for all the vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night that have thrived ever since in the romance world.
By that time, I was deeply entrenched in the Old West. Meanwhile, western historical romances continued to fall off the lists, along with the authors who wrote them. They were a dying breed, and many predicted they would never make a comeback because today's generation didn't grow up with John Wayne and that whole era the way we boomers did. Now, my chapter mates (at least the ones who took the time to give me advice) told me to put away the westerns and write something else.
This time, I didn't follow the advice because I had learned not to try and chase the trends. They come and go too quickly. Besides, what you see on the bookstore shelves today was likely bought as long as 2 years ago. So in order to get in on a trend in the writing business, you have to anticipate it before it happens. And how many of us are that astute at guessing or have esp? Not me, that's for sure.
No, after much hair pulling and staring blankly at the computer screen for days on end, I decided I had to write what I felt passionate about. I wanted to tell the stories about characters I have grown to care about. I can't try to anticipate and write toward the market trends because that is the one sure road to insanity.
So, all this time, I've been writing my western historicals, despite the fact that some of my chapter mates began to view me as one of those who would probably never be published. But guess what. The wheel has turned, come full circle again. Vampires and werewolves have run their course and are on the way out. What are one of the things editors are clamoring for now-- WESTERN HISTORICALS!
Who woulda thunk it?
The moral of this story is -- always write what your heart and passion tell you to write. Even if it's not the hot ticket right now. Trends come and go and the wheel will turn full circle again...eventually.