Picture of Maria Hoagland

Technically, it's not a genre or even a sub-genre--yet. You've heard of cozy mystery, and probably clean and wholesome romance, and although I don't have any actual mysteries completed (I might have a series or two in the works), the two genres have a similar feel and describe my writing rather well. Cozy mystery is known for no foul language, no mention of intimacy, no horror. You'll find the same in my books: just feel-good romance, usually set in a quirky small town full of fun characters. So I decided to see if we can make "cozy romance" a thing!

When I first started writing, I felt this tug of war between what I wanted to read and write versus what I felt I *should* want to read and write--as if there's something wrong with romance. The longer I'm at this, though, the more I realize there isn't anything inherently better about literary fiction or nonfiction than genre books. Each has its place. I love reading to learn, to experience, to connect with people different than I am, and yes, even to escape--all of which can be done in a romance book. Once I allowed myself to write my first romance, I found I like the reminder that even though we have tough times, things can work out. There is good in the world. True love can last. I don't know about you, but I need that optimism, and the world needs uplifting fiction. I hope my work brings a smile to your face, a lightness to your step, and a glimmer of hope to your day.

Yes and no. I still have the first story I wrote, back in second grade. In the careful cursive of one who just learned to form the letters, the graphite is smudged and the lined paper so soft at the folds, it could rip with little provocation. The story has a bit suspense and the resolution of a happily ever after where love conquers all--so basically, just my style. In high school, I dabbled in writing short stories for fun; then, in college, I wanted to be a journalist. I took every communications writing class, but then changed my mind when I started writing for the university newspaper and I realized this shy 18-year-old had to talk to people. In person. (Also, restricted with facts, the stories weren't as fun to craft.) I switched my major to English, took editing and creative writing classes, and was much happier. Over the next decade, however, I didn't think much about writing until the summer before my youngest started all-day school. His first day of kindergarten, I started what I thought would be a short story. I finished it the last day of the school year, and by then, it was a full-length novel. It was published when he was in sixth grade. It's a good thing I've gotten a little faster since then.

Maybe you haven't heard those terms before, but it's a question of my writing process. A pantser is someone who "writes by the seat of their pants" with no formal outline. They're also described as discovery writers. I am a plotter. A BIG plotter. As in my outlines end up being my first draft, really, with it being up to a quarter the length of a final book. Outlining is my discovery time, and I always love that A-ha! moment when I'm able to figure out the why or what behind a character and their motivation. Even with a detailed outline, I always end up veering offtrack, but that's part of the fun. My favorite part of writing is creating and solving the puzzle of creating the story.