Shoreline - View more original photos of mine at If reading a story is like taking a trip, then the literary novel or short story is adventure travel: we don’t know when and how we’ll eat or sleep, we have only a glimmer of where we’re going, and we usually end up dirty, startled, disillusioned, or exhilarated. We’re hitchhiking, backpacking, taking the third-class train, and getting to know the countryside. In the end, we know both ourselves and the world better; we’ve grown and changed in the process.

The genre novel, on the other hand, is like a package tour. We don’t expect to have our view of the world unsettled. What we want is a cruise with all the expenses paid ahead of time, umbrella drinks by the pool, and a good floorshow in the evenings. Genres are all about the pleasures of the familiar.

–       The Longman Guide to Intermediate and Advanced Fiction Writing

–       by Sarah Stone and Ron Nyren

I had a plan to become a published author.

I would write romance novel(s) because they are the most read (biggest market) of any kind of fiction and the easiest to get published. This is not to say that authors of genre fiction aren’t good writers. I sometimes think it’s more difficult to be creative when you have restrictions.

Back to the plan.

Once I had a bit of a publishing track record traditional publishers of mainstream, literary fiction would be more likely to consider me. Right?

I wrote three contemporary romance novels. All have been e-published. All have bombed. No traditional publishers of literary fiction are knocking on my door.

What happened?

My novels, I’ve been told, were not popular with romance readers for a number of reasons. I didn’t introduce the love interests soon enough. My ‘Happily Ever After’ was lukewarm or not at all. I needed to ‘sex it up’. My subplots overshadowed the romance. My heroes lacked testosterone. My heroines didn’t show enough vulnerability. My words were too big, my plots too real, my characters too unlikable. My stories were out of control.

I suspect it might have something to do with the notion “you are what you read” – more specifically, you write what you read.

When I read I want the experience of the literary novel, such as described in the opening quote from the The Longman Guide to Intermediate and Advanced Fiction Writing by Sarah Stone and Ron Nyren. Writing for me is the same. I want adventure – similar to my style of hiking. When I head into the backcountry I like to leave the marked trail. At least once I want experience the panic of being lost  – I don’t know where I am, where I’m going, or how or when I’ll get back. Terror is undeniably exhilarating, and overcoming it is oh so satisfying.

I miss the adventure when I conform to the confines of genre fiction. That and the fact that I don’t do it well, makes moving on (not necessarily upward) easy, without risk or anxiety, and without even the faintest indication of success.

Norman Mailer said, “Until you see where your ideas lead to, you know nothing.” This is resonates for me. Especially “the you know nothing” part.

What’s important, finally, is that you create, and that those creations define for you what matters most, that which cannot be extinguished even in the face of silence, solitude, and rejection.

– Betsy Lerner

The Forest for the Trees

An Editor’s Advice to Writers

It appears that I’m in the company of a lot of great writers, at least in sentiment if not talent. I will continue to do what matters most for me in the “face of silence, solitude and rejection.” And rejection. And rejection.

According to George Seidel, author of The Crisis of Creativity;  “An artist will always have one thing no one else can have: a life within a life.” Ultimately, that may be my only accomplishment.

Is that a bad thing?

Visit my website for buy links to my three novels, Spirit Bear, Eagleridge Bluffs, and Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.

More of my original photographs can be viewed at where they can be purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to:  and type Rod Raglin in SEARCH.