Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Writing in Two Different Genres by Cynthia Woolf with "The Swords of Gregora: Honora"

They stole her love, her life, and want to steal the secrets secured in her mind. 

Secrets that could topple world governments and decimate quadrant security forever.  Now she’s on an epic quest to find out why and make those responsible pay.

Honora Reyestat gave up everything to become a member of the esteemed Gregarian Guard.  No family, no friends, no connections--nothing that can ever be used against her.  Captured and enslaved, she's become a prized gladiator for her master.  Given the task of training a new slave, she recognizes a fellow Zolthor and the son of a tribal leader at that.  Her mission changes from discovery of the enemy's tactics and secrets to returning Joridan to his people. 

Drawn to this fierce woman as no other, Joridan Dolana tries to explain she is wrong.  He's not Zolthor, he's Centauri.  He was raised on Centauri with his sister.  Faced with proof of a father's ultimate betrayal, he must choose between revenge and the protection of this woman who has sworn to never return his love.

What are the differences and challenges of writing in two different genres?
By Cynthia Woolf

My books are historical western romance and sci-fi romance.  Two very different genres.  Or are they?

I think the greatest difference is in the research or lack thereof.  With historical fiction you have to check your facts and make sure they’re right.  Make sure your dates match.  That your clothes are accurately described. 

With scifi romance you make up the entire universe.  Whatever you want to happen happens.  Whatever you want the world to be, it is.  No rules other than your own.

When you think of western, what do you think of?  Cowboys.  Settler crossing the prairie in covered wagons.  Saloons.  Showdowns in the street.  Cattle drives.  You get the idea.  These are the images we have from our modern media.  TV, films and even books.  Essentially brave people settling an untamed land

When you think of scifi what do you think of?   Space pilots.  Space ships.  Ray guns and phasers.  Our media images are Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Gallactica and in my case, Firefly.  I love that show.  Anyway what you have, essentially is brave people settling untamed space and planets.

Not so very different are they?

I started writing westerns first.  My first book, TAME A WILD HEART, was written because I fell in love with the story of how my parents met on a ranch in Southern Colorado.  Mom was from Texas and up there as a nursemaid (nanny) to a young boy with asthma.  Dad was a cowboy who worked on the ranch.

I found the idea of ranch life fascinating and decided to write a story about it.  That’s all I had to begin with.  Just an idea.  Now I’m not a plotter.  I’ve tried and tried to plot my books.  I’ve tried using GMC, the hero’s journey, the W plot.  You name it I’ve tried it.  The problem is when I get the book plotted, I don’t want to write it anymore.  To me it’s already been written.  Now it’s just fill in the blanks.  As a pantser (a non plotter) the book unfolds before me much as it does you when you read it.  It’s a surprise.

My current western, CAPITAL BRIDE, is about mail order brides.  Without them, without women in general the west would never have been settled.  Men needed the feminine hand and home making skills as well as the companionship.

My second book, CENTAURI DAWN, came about because of a dream I had when I was fifteen.  My mother and I were going through a rough patch.  My dad died when I was five and Mom was both mother and father to me.  It was tough on her, but as a selfish kid I didn’t think about that.  But I digress.  We were having a difficult time as most teenagers have with their parents.  During that time, I had a dream.  I was a princess from Alpha Centauri.  I’d been sent to Earth as a baby in order to save my life.  Bad men wanted to kill me.  But now it was time to go home and they’d come for me.

That was the premise of my second book.  This one had a space captain not a cowboy flying to the rescue of the princess not a ranch owner.

My current sci-fi book, THE SWORDS OF GREGARA – HONORA, came about because I was watching Spartacus on blue ray.  We don’t have Starz or Showtime or whatever the show is on.  Anyway, I needed an idea for the last book in my Gregara series.  And having gladiators in space just seemed so perfect.  Honora is a member of the Swords of Gregara, an elite force of fighters and peace keepers.  They would have been the Pinkerton detectives in the western or Seal Team 6 today.

I guess what I’m trying to show is that these two genres are not so very different.  A different place and different time but still the same type of story.  Battlestar Gallactica is just a retelling of the old TV show Wagon Train.  Star Trek is the old show Gunsmoke, where the sheriff (Matt Dillon or Captain Kirk) attempts to keep the peace in their town or universe.

What it comes down to is write what you love whether western or scifi or romantic suspense or romantic comedy.  They all have some elements that are the same if they are romance and all of mine are.  They must have a happy ending.  The guy in the white hat (good guy) always wins.  The hero always gets the girl.  Always.

Comment for a chance to win a copy of The Swords of Gregora: Honora and a $5 Starbucks gift card. A new winner at every stop!
Continue to meet the author and read an excerpt . . .
The Author

Cynthia Woolf was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends. In 1992 she joined Colorado Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America.

In 2001, she saw an ad in the paper for a writer’s conference being put on by CRW and decided she'd attend. One of her favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker. Cynthia was lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter's table at the luncheon and after talking with her, decided she needed to get back to her writing. She rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn't looked back.

Excerpt from The Swords of Gregora:Honora
“Oww” a woman’s voice awash with pain reached his ears.
“You disappoint me, Honora.  You continue to try to escape me.  When will you learn?” asked a whiney voiced man.
The whip struck flesh.  Again the woman moaned but didn’t scream.  She didn’t scream.
When he woke again he was not alone but the man with the whip was gone.  Chained across the room from him, hung by her wrists, was a woman.  He could see the lash marks on her back.  Lash upon lash, new over old.  They obstructed the beautiful tattoo of a dragon on her back.  The blood hard to see within the red of the dragon.
Crawling to her he released her hands from the chains holding her up.  She collapsed in a heap on the floor.  He crawled back to his side of the room as darkness overtook him once more.

The dried blood on her back cracked with each movement, but she worked through the pain as she stretched.  Breathed deep and accepted the pain.  Her sword weighed heavier in her hand than usual.  More evidence of the lashing two nights ago.  She looked down at the unconscious man at her feet.  A new recruit.  A Zolthor,  like herself.  Another reason Perdor punished her for her attempted escape, her sixth try in as many months.
This last punishment was the worst.  Five lashes.  Not enough to incapacitate her but enough to make her remember.  Perdor wanted her to be able to train the new slave.  He wanted them to be a team, good enough to take on all contenders.  He’d be the only owner with two Zolthor fighting for him.  Not just one, but a team.  He was practically wetting himself in anticipation of the beras that he’ll win with a team of Zolthor fighters.
Again she looked down on the naked man.  Long brown lashes lay against his cheek.  A nice contrast to his golden blond hair.  What color eyes did they hide?  Blue?  Green?  Brown perhaps.  She’d find out soon enough.
He was a beautiful man.  Well formed.  Broad shoulders.  Trim waist.  Long muscular legs.  He looked like a warrior.  Would be a good fighter.  Maybe even a good lover as he appeared well endowed there as well.
He’d awakened from the drug induced sleep long enough to crawl over and release her from the chains.  For that she was grateful.  Her wrists didn’t hurt as much as usual because of him.  Using her blades was easier than it had been after her previous punishments.
Time to wake up the sleeping man and get him trained.  Time was short and she intended to make the most of it.  He would learn or he would die.

Tour Schedule 
Mar 4: Black Lion Tour Blog: Introduction
          Love in a Book: Review and Guest Post.
          Second book to the Right: Review.
Mar 7Oh, Chrys!: Guest Post.
Mar 8Synchronized Reading: Guest Post.
Mar 9: Books, books the magical fruit: Guest Post.
Mar 10A novel Idea Live: Live Interview.
Mar 11Reading a little bit of everything: Guest Post.
              A Novel Idea Live: Promo.
Mar 12MK McClintock: Guest Post.
Mar 13The Bunny's review: Guest Post.
Mar 15Deal Sharing Aunt: Interview and Guest Post.
Mar 16Fictional Candy: Interview.
Mar 17: I Know that Book: Interview.
Mar 18: Black Lion Tour Blog: Wrap-up.


  1. MK Thanks so much for having me here today. I appreciate it.

  2. It's always fun having you visit the blog Cynthia.I caught part of your interview on Sunday--very nice.

  3. Nice post Cindy, but you forgot to mention the world building. You have to help the reader in both genres see the world your characters inhabit:-)

  4. Interesting post, Cindy. I read multiple genres--a good story is a good story. Enjoy the rest of your tour.

  5. Great post, Cindy. I also write in multiple genres. My main focus has been on western historicals with a touch of Irish Druid magic. I've also pubbed a photo-illustrated memoir called Six Cats In My kitchen, and I have a book set in 18th century Ireland half done.

    You're right, if we write adventurous romances, they all share similarities. The main difference involves research. Each time period I write about requires digging through books and websites. (Not to mention trips to the locals.) I enjoy researching, but it does take time.

  6. Hi Cindy,
    Just wanted to take a moment and wish you luck with your new book.

    I really like the idea of space gladiators! Sounds exciting!

  7. Hi Cindy,
    I love your cover for Honora. It sounds so exciting from your post.
    Thanks for sharing,

  8. Hi Cindy,

    I enjoyed your post. The common thread is always romance. Historical must be one of the most exacting genres to write, since the facts can't be ignored. Good luck with your new book!

  9. Great post, Cindy. This clears up so much. I have a very tenuous hold on the present and greatly admire those who write historical and paranormal genres. I also am a pantser. If I try to plot much at all, I get bored and don't write it. I have several great plots in my WIP file and I just never want to open them again. Ho-hum. Been there, done that and don't wanna go back.
    Honora sounds very exciting. I can't wait to read it.

  10. Hi, Cindy,

    Good post. Often, reading or writing in a different genre helps us grow as authors and people.

  11. Good post, Cindy. I've always thought of sci-fi adventures as westerns in space. So many similarities. Wishing you the best with your latest book.

  12. Hi Cindy, your saying (paraphrase) that plotting everything out was like writing the book already, really struck a chord with me. I feel that way, too. I just do a sketchy outline, fill in important facts and continuity notes where necessary. That way I can jump around as certain scenes inspire me. But it is touch and go because too much info and my interest wanes. :/

  13. Sounds like an interesting read! I will definitely have to check it out!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing with us - this is definitely at the top of my TBR List!!!!


  15. I know what you mean about writing two genres. I write Regency historical romance and SF/Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. It's multiple personality time. I don't expect fans to follow me from one to the other--I read widely, but not everyone does. And when you want one type of book, the other just won't do. But it's nice to have options to write more than one thing these days.