Coming in at a whopping 78,250 words, FOR MERCY'S SAKE is finished. I added over 11,000 words during revisions. I really like writing in this manner. I found it much easier to add than remove material.
In celebration, I went to B&N, wanting to see what was popular in this genre and to treat myself to a new book. As I went up and down the aisles, I kept thinking about something an agent mentioned in a rejection letter. Make sure to draw me in. I looked at several books, reading the backs, the beginning chapters, random sections. Sorry, I wasn't drawn in. Ready to give up, a lady with a hand shopping basket came into the aisle. I didn't know her from Adam, but I thought, eh, why not? She didn't stand a chance.
I stopped her before she got to the first shelf. "Who do you read?" I asked as bold as thunder. We were meant to meet. She looked at me as plain as anything and told me, "I read everyone." Jackpot!! She lifted her basket and said she fills one of these a month. She was there for her fresh supply. Naturally, I couldn't let her go now. I asked what period she liked. She said she preferred historicals, but she can't find many of those (stern glare to agents and publishing houses), so she is forced to also read contemps. She proceeded, at my urging, to tell me who she reads and what she likes about them.
Filling my arms with as many of her suggestions as I could carry, I waddled to a table. Armed with a large coke and an ultimate brownie, I dove in. I saw her points about each selection. Once again, out of a dozen books, only one had an opening that wowed me. I replaced each book to the shelf before the cafe asked me to leave for taking up so much table time.
I can't say that I came away knowing what is popular, but I do know what one avid reader is looking for, and I am definitely in the ballpark.