I love challenging myself to write outside my comfort zone. I think it makes you grow as a writer, and it keeps your writing fresh. It also lets you determine what you do best. Which may not be what you thought when you started out.
In 2007, at the urging of my editor and several friends, I decided to try my hand at a short romantic story. Up to that point, my work had been longer novels, which I love, but it was fun to do something shorter. The result was Beltaine Bargain, also my first historical. It was nice to discover that I could do something different, and still have my readers like the results.
My next challenge that year was to write an erotic romance. My earlier books were steamy, but definitely mainstream. Out of that challenge came Between a Rock and a Hard-On. As a friend said, "Boy when you decide to go for it, you really go for it." I followed that up with the full length novel Djinni and the Geek, and have been happily writing erotic ever since. (Though I still like my mainstream books too!)
So in 2008, I needed a new challenge. There's no question that the best-selling sub-genre in on-line romance is menage, particularly m/m/f. I wasn't sure I could write that--it just wasn't in my comfort zone. But what, I thought to myself, if the characters weren't human, with our conditioning and mores? After only one week of writing, Three for All was off to my editor, and after just one month, it has become my best-selling book to date.
So that's it, right? Another year, another stretch? Nope. This summer, the lovely Kaenar Langford sat on my deck and we chatted with other writers from TEB, and she proposed that we all write an anothology together called Naughty Nooners. Each story would take place over a lunch hour, and all would be m/m.
M/m? Me? But one of my characteristics is that I absolutely hate being left out. And I did have an idea. Out of that challenge I produced Lust in the Afternoon, and my new identity of Cian Fey. The Naughty Nooners anthology will be available on January 5, and I hope readers will love Ted and Gray just as much as I did while writing them.
So what's the challenge for 2009? I have no idea. Cian's work is a little darker and grittier than Cindy's, so there will be more work in that area I'm sure. Definitely more menage stories--my family likes the paychecks, and honestly it was a blast to write. Beyond that? Who knows? But I know that one of my resolutions will once again be, "Write at least one story that's totally outside my comfort zone." Hey, I did it this year!