Don't Limit Yourself by Marie Lavender

Don’t Limit Yourself by Marie Lavender

When I was in college, studying Creative Writing, one day I went to visit my professor at her office. She liked my stories well enough; she always seemed to enjoy my work. But, she noticed a recurring romance theme in the stories I turned in for class. In academic writing, even with the freedom of creative writing, I think that instructors want to see literary fiction for the most part. Genre fiction is accepted, but not necessarily encouraged. They want to see the character changed by the events in the story, not just a HEA (‘Happy Ending’ in the romance genre). I think most of us follow this main rule of fiction, to ensure our characters change in some way.

That day she left me with a piece of advice I will never forget: 

“Don’t limit yourself to romance.”

Like a young college kid, I placated her and brushed it off. I loved romance, both reading it or writing about it. Still, as I went through my writing journey, those words continued to resonate with me. I unknowingly incorporated the advice into my work. I looked at these story ideas I’d get weekly, it seemed, and I would see a pattern forming. Not just romance, but something more. I was including other elements such as history, time travel, reincarnation, supernatural beings, science fiction, mystery, suspense…hell, even zombies. I began to wonder if there was a market for all of it. Not that it would have mattered, I guess. I have always been a bit stubborn with my dreams. I still would have let my heart dictate my writing regardless. Eventually, I started to notice that all these subgenres of romance were emerging and getting popular. Finally, there was a place for the stories in my head.

I began to self-publish in 2010, a couple of years before I received my first contract from a traditional publisher. It was when I wrote A Misplaced Life that the literary world sort of opened up for me. Sure, there was a small romance element in the story, just like you see in some mystery novels today. But, the main story was about Alexa, her journey. This paranormal thriller opened my mind, or at least paved the way so that I could. I even wrote from the killer’s perspective, a thoroughly interesting, yet highly disturbing endeavor. Suddenly, a story didn’t have to be about a couple for me, but about the main character. From then on, I decided to listen to my characters, to let the story play out on the page, whether it was about romance or something else entirely. 

Sometimes as writers, we tend to want to hold the puppet strings all along. How arrogant of us to think we have any say whatsoever in a character’s journey. We really don’t. Every writer learns this lesson at some point. Eventually, you have to realize that the story speaks for itself. I’ve been proven wrong enough times that I often have to remove myself from the construction of a story or novel. I get to know the character or characters like friends or family, and then I set them free on the page.

It’s funny how the creative process works. Before I knew it, there were sequels in the works for the Heiresses in Love Series. When I wrote Magick & Moonlight, a lighthearted romantic fantasy, it was a nice break from historical romance. At the release party of the book, a reader asked me if there would be sequels. I had no such plans. The characters had other ideas, though. Rosanna came to me a few months later and I suddenly saw a need to tell her story, as both child and adult. A Little Magick was born. This became my first foray into children’s writing. Though I had written briefly from a child’s perspective before for the prologues in the Heiresses in Love Series, this was the first full story from a child’s POV. A Little Magick, a children’s fantasy, just released this week on July 20th.

When I started writing the story, I treated it like any other project. I followed the character until her tale was told. Later I added some things so that it could be a family friendly story, for children and adults alike. Not too long after that, her adult story, Magick Sunrise, came to me. I’m in the process of writing it now.

I’ve learned not to limit myself with my writing. It’s been proven to me over and over again. 

Never underestimate the power of the muse. It will lead you in whatever direction it wants. For God’s sake, I’m currently working on a sci-fi romance right now. Really? I always said I didn’t think I could write science fiction. I found myself daring to because the characters needed me to tell their stories. I may never excel to such greats as Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, Frank Herbert, Jules Verne or H.G. Wells, and I probably won’t, but it doesn’t matter. The story called to me, demanding that it play out on the page.

So, if I could offer some advice to fellow writers, I would revise my professor’s words a bit…

Don’t limit yourself in your writing, or in any aspect of this business.  

Listen to your characters. The story will play out the way it is supposed to. 

Keep your mind open and stay creative. You never know when you might be ready to start a writing collaboration, or a new form of marketing or to trying something different with social media. Maybe approaching your local library or bookstore would be a good move. I’ve had many people ask me if I’ve ever thought about public speaking or doing seminars. Can’t say I did then, but I might be open to it at some point. If someone reaches out to you with an offer that could help promote your books, well, why not look into it? Asking questions doesn’t hurt a thing.

Back to writing. Learn everything you possibly can about, well, everything. You never know when inspiration will strike. 

Don’t let the outside world kill that spark you have within you. 

My favorite writing quote is actually by Mr. Bradbury himself. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Truer words were never spoken. Don’t let the stressors of life kill your joy in writing. There will always be bills, people pushing you, and a million other things to distract you from your job as a writer. Don’t ground yourself so much in ‘reality’ that you forget why you started writing in the first place. Get back to the page, delve into the characters, tell the story and rediscover your passion.

Most of all, don’t limit yourself. The muse will come, and when it does, you may be pleasantly surprised. This journey is tough, but falling in love with your characters and telling their stories – if you write nonfiction, my advice is to be passionate about your topic – that’s what writing is all about.

So, get out there and start writing. You’ll be glad you did! :)

Author Bio

Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 20 other books. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader's Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published twenty-one books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Lavender just released Second Nature, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy, in December of 2014. Upon Your Honor, released in April of 2014, is her second historical romance. She released Magick & Moonlight, a romantic fantasy, back in March of 2014. A Little Magick, book two, was released in July of 2015. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature; "Lovers Like Us" (from the multi-author book anthology, Poets & Writers in Action); A Little Magick

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

Author Links: 

Marie's Books: 

A Little Magick - final cover

SecondNature-final cover

Upon Your Honor

Magick and Moonlight


As Erica Sutherhome:

As Kathryn Layne:

As Heather Crouse:

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