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Friday, November 29, 2013

Writing outside your comfort zone by Gerald Costlow

Writing outside of your comfort zone.

I have a passion for writing.  Every writer I know has a passion for writing, or we wouldn’t be driven to doing such a crazy thing.  And most writers I know have one particular type of story they’re interested in writing.  I’m no different.  I love sword-and-sorcery type fantasy and my imagination is filled with dragons and elves and witches and above all, magic.  That’s my comfort zone.  My first published novel, The Weaving, was a straight-up witches and demons and wizards and kings battling type of thing.

But that’s not all I’m interested in.  I like the thrill of stepping out of my comfort zone once in a while.  I love trying out new styles and genres.  After all, a story is about the people, not the setting.  My writing is character driven, so once I develop the characters and drop them into a setting they always come alive and adapt. 

 Lately, certain Western imprints have caught my eye and I got the crazy idea to write a story set in the old West.  I’ve never written a Western before.  I suppose I didn’t think I knew enough about life on the frontier.  For example: where, exactly, do I set my story?  The “wild west” covered about a third of the country at various times.  Texas and Nebraska were both the frontier but were as different then as now.  I do not and have never lived west of Ohio except for a few miserable weeks of Air Force basic training in San Antonio one summer.  The cows I grew up with on the farm were milked, not wrangled.  What do I know about daily life on a ranch?

Then my writer side stepped up and slapped me for being so dense.  I’ve never lived in a castle or worn a sword, either, but that didn’t stop me from writing a story that took place in a castle.  I didn’t grow up in the West, but I knew the cowboy myth as well as any child who grew up in the golden age of Westerns.  I spent many hours immersed in Bonanza and Cheyenne and a dozen more series on our television, not to mention the movies.

So the child in me woke up, strapped on the six-shooters and headed out West.  The result is this, my first but certainly not last Western Romance.  I sent it in to Rebecca Vickery and Becca liked it well enough to publish.  So along with my Appalachia Romance series, I just might start a series of stories set in the mythical town of Wilcox, Nebraska.

So if you're a writer, have you decided to step outside of your comfort zone before?

"A Wicked Past" by Gerald Costlow, published by Rebecca Vickery

Nancy Darling is enduring a Nebraska winter alone in her isolated farm. Two men, each trying to escape a wicked past, are in a race to find hidden Confederate gold.  When they arrive one Christmas, will she find the fallen angel she's dreamed of or face a devil in disguise?
Where to purchase the book [only 99 cents at these locations]:


  1. Congratulations, Gerald! I've never lived on a ranch, either, nor wrangled anything, but I've lived in Texas my entire life. No, I don't step out of my comfort zone much, except for writing a "coming of age story" of a 16 year old girl in 1901 Texas. It's been my slowest seller, but it's also "the book of my heart." So, I love it best. You should do well with the Western genre.

    1. We do each have our favorite characters and tales, don't we?

  2. I think it's wonderful that you're willing to try something new and unnatural to you. It's very brave. Although I write all my westerns in the great state of Wyoming, I have never lived there or run a ranch. I have visited Wyoming when I lived in Nebraska and I have also lived in Texas, but most of my work comes from research and relentless nagging of my friends. Because I visited Wyoming, I have a vision of it in my mind that influences my stories. I research the native plants and trees to be certain I have them correct. I use a real river, but an imaginary town.
    I know you'll do a splendid job writing westerns. It's really kinda fun, too.

  3. Gerald,
    I'm thrilled you stepped out of your comfort zone. I loved your tale. You did a fabulous job and put the reader right there! As for me stepping out of my comfort zone... I love trying new things, but I tend to drag the paranormal into the new ventures. lol
    Hey all, don't forget to stop by KMN Books Blogspot. Gerald is giving away 3 copies of A Wicked Past to 3 lucky winners who leave a comment. http://kmnbooks.blogspot.com/2013/11/interview-with-man-who-has-wicked-past.html Feel free to pass the word along.

    1. I had to research basic stuff like when were the states actually admitted to the Union, because it had been much too long since school and it's not like I bothered to pay attention back then. I was afraid someone would remark something like, "How come the writer didn't know Nebraska was still Indian Territory during that time period!"

  4. Thanks for the kind words about the story. Even this story has a touch of the "paranormal" in it with the dream premonitions (could Nancy's mother have been a member of the Sherritt clan? There might be many more stories to come). I couldn't resist.


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