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How to Write What Few Will Read - FS7 - Creating a Family Saga

Updated on November 21, 2017
Homeplace Series profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

I write. That is what I do.

I write family sagas
I write family sagas | Source

Thoughts during a writing hiatus - why a hiatus?

I write family saga, historical fiction stories. It is what I love. It is what I do.

But, aside from a loyal few, who both read and comment; I get no feedback. Am I expecting too much? What do you think? There is plenty to read, if anyone cares.

This will be hub 98, under ‘HomeplaceSeries,’ assuming I publish it, all set in the 1800s. I also sit at 64 hubs over at ‘DrBill-WmL-Smith,’ the Weston Wagons West series, family saga fiction surrounding my own ancestors in their historic times and places. There are a total of 142 hubs at DrBillSmithWriter, 118 of which I haven’t yet deleted from my Squidoo transfer, plus 24 new hubs that are essentially my mystery novella, “Murder, He Figured,” in the ‘The Raymond Crimmons Mysteries’ series, now part of “The Homepleace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction stories.

Since March 22, 2010, “The Homeplace Saga” home blog, the companion to my first novel in the series, “Back to the Homeplace,” has seen 292 posts. That novel sold a few hundred copies, but the sales of the last 4-6 books, depending on how you count, have sold less than a few dozen total.

Why do I keep writing these stories, when only a very few comment and provide positive feedback, and only a few dozen ever see them?

Video Book Trailer - read this book first

First novel cover art

Available on Amazon and elsewhere
Available on Amazon and elsewhere | Source

Does the “family saga” genre drive readers away?

We each are part of a family, or were, so it is something we each have in common. When I say ‘family saga’ I am referring to the relationships, the personalities, we see in our families, and that we can infer from what we learn about our forefathers through family history research. This has been my passion for over 20 years now. Sharing it is a part of that passion.

I do understand that my passion is not of interest to everyone. That is a given.

There are no zombies or aliens in my stories. There are only real life type people living real life type lives. Perhaps only fantasy attracts attention, these days. That may be one problem. I really cannot deal with that.

Perhaps only controversy attracts readers’ attention. My stories are only very rarely controversial. Perhaps that is a problem. I’m a positive person. Negativity turns me off. Sorry, but that will not change.

I recently ‘decided’ to stop writing novels and concentrate of the short stories that are the HubPages contributions mentioned above. I have also posted a weekly series of articles on the blog that follows the story of “The Homeplace Saga” in the 1990s, following my latest novel “Christmas at the Homeplace.” Perhaps writing about the late 1990s and also about the 1870-80s, at the same time is confusing to some people. To me, they are closely related, and work well together. But, that could be just me.

I have written about the other ‘family sagas’ in literature… and they are few and far between. And, they are mostly set in ‘unique’ - largely foreign - settings. None are set in the Heartland of America - with the exception of the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ stories, and most don’t actually treat them as ‘family saga.’ They are one family. And, they took a long time to ‘catch on,’ - for that matter. I think my stories would make a fine family television series, as well. But, there isn’t one. Anyone want to help me with a pilot screen play script?

I'm making a lot of notes

Note pad
Note pad | Source

What to do? First, this hiatus…

I am stepping away for a while. Perhaps this will be for a couple of weeks, perhaps longer. There are things I want to do that I keep putting off. Perhaps they will get me back on track. Only time will tell.

First, I really want to write some magazine articles to submit (at least one!) related to writing fiction to help preserve family history research stories. I have not found the time to do this important project while cranking out my family saga short stories. Now is a great time to do this.

Second, I need to seriously compile some of the series of short stories that have been written into collections, in books - both e-books and in print. I simply owe it to “the process” to take the time to do that - this has been five years of my live, after all. This again takes time. Now is that time.

Third, I must reassess my commitment to my writing interests. These have already shifted over the past eighteen months in several significant ways. It is time to seriously consider what I’m really committed to, not just reacting to external circumstance and whims of the moment. A new plan is needed, and that will be my prime focus in upcoming months.

  • I have multiple blogs; some that have gotten little attention lately. Where do they fit in my future?
  • Much of my personal family history research has floundered? Do I get back into that?
  • I’ve not written in the ‘Weston Wagons West’ series for a few months? Do I want to get back into those stories?
  • Is there something entirely new and fresh that I should consider?

These sound like New Year’s Resolution in the making. I didn’t do that at the beginning of 2015. Am I suffering from that, now, at mid-year?

Before I finish this, I feel compelled to state that I do understand the obvious - I have no truly meaningful Marketing Plan for my writing. I have a large Social Media presence but it is still limited. My current personal family situation precludes any personal appearances or conferences. So, these may certainly be limiting factors that will not be overcome, no matter what I do.

I will, however, continue to be positive, and do what I can do. I sincerely appreciate those loyal few that have been supportive on a continuing basis. Perhaps I will simply become satisfied with these folks being my support system; assuming I don’t lose them during this hiatus. A special thanks to them, in any event! ;-)

I just like to see this image...

A pastoral scene
A pastoral scene | Source

Video Book Trailer

Makes me think of my Dad... is he nearby?

A favorite rural image
A favorite rural image | Source


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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for your suggestions, Virginia. Very much appreciated. I am no longer in a position to attend outside meetings, unfortunately. I'll continue to do what I can with social media. I really appreciate your taking the time to comment!! ;-)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Maybe you need to put more effort into the promoting of your books. Yes, you have your articles on Hubpages, but maybe give some talks to genealogy groups or writing groups or historical societies. There's a lot to be done with social media or with Kindle books trying a few free days to get readers started on your series.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, so much, MsDora!! I couldn't quit, even it I wanted to! I will continue, just need to rest, briefly, and readjust my priorities. You certainly are one of the 'loyal few' - perhaps there are more than I knew, as well! Keep up your good work, as well. I'll be there... here! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Dr Bill, I do not think that I can produce your kind of writing, and perhaps that's why I admire and follow you. I learn from you when you share how you develop your plots, and when you add new elements to keep the story moving. For those who read because they love to read, your work will always have merit. Rest if you must, but don't you quit!

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Erica, Thank you, so much. Useful information. I need to ask for more reviews of "Back to the Homeplace." It is still very fresh, as a story, even if it was first published in 2010. That started the whole series.

      I'll definitely checkout I really appreciate your thoughts!


    • Ericajean profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi! I admit, I have not gotten around to your Homeplace series, I need to do that- I review hundreds of stories a year but I really need to read your series . I understand your feelings of not having much audience engagement. I suffer the same thing.

      I have promoted by books on my blog and have tweeted about them and I still have a small audience( a lot downloads for my free stuff though).

      I have used, which is free and I downloaded Mark Coker(from book on marketing ebooks. Very helpful.

      If you need any other tips or if I find anything else, I will be sure to let you know or just contact me via the hub! :)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Sha! Your support is so valued. Best wishes to you as you determine your next steps. It is an important step each of us must take. I'm sure I'll be back with new stories, in a bit. ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, I understand where you're coming from (so cliche, right?). I'm in hiatus right now myself, reassessing my career decision versus financial situation. Unfortunately, financial situation seems to be mandating a shift in priorities/desires/career choice.

      We all do what we have to do from time to time. When the time is right, you'll be back and so will I. You have other goals that need to be met. Sometimes priorities need to be shifted and that's what you're doing. The good news is you're still exercising your passion and that's what really matters.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Great comment, thank you! The goal certainly isn't money... so, that is the easy part. I really appreciate such a sincere response. Prioritizing is what I am doing at this time. I assume I'll be back in full swing, before too much time passes. ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thanks, Bill. That is the plan, at the moment. ;-)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I don't want to see you down about the whole process, and certainly I hope you do not give up. Maybe it would be helpful to consider your overarching goal (e.g., make money, be read, advance a cause or genre, express yourself). F it's more than one, do the hard personal pro of prioritizing. Then perhaps turn to each of the avenues or projects you have explored and evaluate the extent to which you are even able to meet your overarching goal with them -- even if perfectly executed (a blog, saga, novel, etc. ) Don't be afraid to ask people for feedback on focused topics, especially as you hone in on what it is that makes you tick as a writer. Some of my best writing has very little traffic. I hope that helps.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I hate seeing you discouraged, especially since you are a good writer and a wonderful historian. We need more of this type of writing to keep traditions alive in this country. Take your break and come back strong.


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