Saturday, April 7, 2012

Success in Bloom with Guest Blogger: Stacey James

Welcome to a Saturday special edition with author Stacey James!

She's here to chat about a planting a genre flower garden and here's what she had to say...

It’s April. Spring is finally here, a time for rejuvenation and growth. Pretty colors, fresh scents and new ideas all come to mind. This is the time of year I begin to plan and prepare my flower garden. Energy fills my entire body and I can’t wait to get outside and start planting. Some people prefer to plant strictly annuals or adhere to a rigid color scheme of orange and yellow in one area while opting for pink and purple in yet another. A simple plan always works. Just dig and plant. Voila! You have yourself a beautiful flower garden.

But honestly, regarding only the flowers in this case, have you truly ever seen an ugly flower garden? Your answer is- probably not. The reason is because mixing different shades of color and texture, while varying height and size, can be quite attractive. It just works.

What about genres? Can the same be said of them? Is it okay to mix a little historical romance with some paranormal tendencies? What about a mystery/thriller with a touch of science fiction?

Are there hard and fast rules when it comes to genres?

While writing my recent novella, Molly’s Soap Parlor, I was tormented with the decision of which genre to put it under once I’d finished it. The story takes place in 1895 Whiskey Falls. There is light romance between Molly and a scout named Arrow. Throw in some pirates, thugs, and thieves to acquire some adventure. Oh, but wait, Molly is a tinkering laundress who has invented some steam-powered laundry machines and bathtubs for an outdoor Soap Parlor.

Steampunk currently qualifies as science fiction. Coincidentally, Molly happens to be a smart inventor of super gadgets but there are hardly space ships or aliens on the scene. And then, as if we don’t have enough genre crossing, we can discuss the presence of a steam powered submarine and snowmobile. Yes, Molly is definitely a wildflower garden!

I am not the first to do this sort of genre crossing. I’m currently reading (and loving) Firelight by Kristin Callihan. It is a historical romance with a sizzling touch of fantasy and it works fabulously in my opinion!

Like a colorful flower garden, genre mixing can be a creative way of adding splashes of color to an already good story garden. You could potentially take your garden story a step further and add yet another “pop” of color to create even more interest. But as with a real flower garden, you will want to stop short of adding too many distracting lawn ornaments- if you know what I mean?

A Note from the Book Boost: This is a great post, Stacey! I love the idea of genre mixing as compared to a flower garden. While I do love flowers and the more creative and wild the arrangement the better--I also have trouble with my cross-genre books from time to time. I guess you have to just pull the trigger on one and then promote across all. Best of luck with this new novella. It sounds great--and my Mom's name is Molly! Too cool.


Steam and soap powder rule in 1895 Whiskey Falls! Twenty one year old tinkerer Molly Watkins can clean more than just sap and coal stains out of day-old overalls; she can clean house with anything or anyone that sets an unwelcomed foot on her new establishment- Molly’s Soap Parlor. That would include scoundrels, thugs, and pirates out to steal her granny's famous soap powder recipe.

She's got no time for twittering, even if it involves a handsome wilderness scout named Arrow. Gadgets and a modified Henry rifle are a feisty laundress' best friend in Whiskey Falls in the winter of 1895. Having narrowly escaped the foothills of North Dakota without her dog sled team, Molly made her way east to Whiskey Falls in order to enter her new contraption, a cycle fly rod, in an annual ice fishing derby. The rod is only one of Molly's latest inventions. But there’s more than soap brewing in Molly’s peculiar steam-powered laundry contraption.


“Meet my rifle. I call him Henry.” Molly blew out the kerosene lamps burning nearby and twittered with the wood stove, spinning a spiral valve that stuck out of the side of the smokestack.

Arrow’s eyebrows arched. Molly strained to peer out the window at the bandits in the yard. “Maybe you were lucky and hit one of them. But you’d best have missed my laundry machine.”

Arrow continued to study the weapon. “Maybe.” It was unclear as to which item he was referring. “Who modified this?”

“I did.”

More torpedoes struck the cabin.

“I should go outside and sneak back around the woodshed. Surprise them,” Arrow whispered in the dark.

“Wait.” Molly pulled up a shortened floor board from under the kitchen table and set it aside. A secret hiding place. Explosions from incoming torpedoes illuminated the room just enough to outline human expressions. Each burst of fire shimmered through the window pane and against the gold and silver workings of the firearms as Molly passed out the weapons.

“Be careful, they’re loaded,” she reminded the girls.

After taking a sleek copper pistol for herself, Molly replaced the floor board. “Now, we all know the drill.”

“The drill? What drill?” Arrow snapped, wrinkling his nose.

“Don’t worry,” Molly held up a thumb. “We’re on a winning streak.”

She went back to peering out the window again. Arrow fixed his eyes upon the weapon she held with confidence. The crevice in his forehead deepened. More whining objects hit the cabin facade.

“Damn bandits stole my torpedo gun a few nights ago,” an irritated Molly blurted out between glances out the window. “I’m guessing… the bandits are out there now. Luckily, I have this anti-torpedo gun.” Noting his puzzled expression, “I had to rig it up as soon as I realized my torpedo gun was missing…in case they came back. Glad I did that.”

Molly held the gadget up only briefly for him to inspect. Then she pushed her way in front of his six foot frame, which had become dead weight, and pulled the door open just a crack. Arrow silently mouthed the words anti-torpedo gun as he adhered himself to her working shadow.

“Do you think you might cover me out there?”

Arrow blinked.

“Well I’m not proposing marriage!” Molly bolted out the door and ran behind the wood shed, followed by an awestruck Arrow.

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