Common Threads


This week’s topic happens to be one of my contributions to the “idea pool” for this quarter. It stems from a remark one of my daughters made after listening to me describe a work-in-progress. She said, “All your books have…” and she proceeded to list several common themes.

I’ve mentioned some of the things she pointed out in previous posts, and as one reader pointed out, these aren’t necessarily bad things to repeat, but can be considered part of my writing style. Perhaps I could even go so far as to say that they make up my platform. And if that’s so, I’m okay with that.

So, what do my books have in common? Well, most of them are relatively short. Almost all range in length from 17,000 to 40,000 words, putting them in a category called novella. Of my fourteen published books, only three weigh in at more than 50,000 words, which for some romance publishers is the minimum length to be considered a novel. Of those three novels, only one (The Samurai’s Garden) was written entirely by me. The Calico Heart and The Friendship Star Quilt were both written with my friend and local author Stephanie Michels. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve spent so much time teaching (making it necessary to say what I have to say within a limited amount of time), or if it’s because I’m too impatient to read longer books, articles, blog posts, etc. and figure other people are, too.

Another thing you’ll find is at most of the time, my heroine shares one or more of my interests. I suppose that’s because I need to show that they have a life. And the life I know best is, well, mine. So many of my characters, when they’re not working or solving whatever issues they have, are sewing, crafting, playing with kids, reading, or making music.

Finally, every single story I write ends happily for the main characters. Because that’s what romance is. Whether there’s a wedding in the works, or they’re heading for a permanent relationship, or happy-that-we’re-good-friends-but-not-a-couple, both characters are satisfied with where they are, and normally they’re happier than they were at the beginning. The external conflict has been solved (or at least their part of it), and their personal story arcs have been achieved.

So there’s my basic analysis of what you’ll find in my books. Perhaps my readers could come up with more, but these are the characteristics I’m aware of. What common threads do you find in your favorite author’s books?


About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page:
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12 Responses to Common Threads

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    I had forgotten that many of your titles were novellas.
    I did remember you’d co-authored a couple of titles with Stephanie M, because I’d often wondered whether that made the book harder to compete… or easier.
    [Note: I’ve co-authored two full-length non-fiction books and two long articles with my brother… and collaborating with someone definitely alters the creative process!]
    As far as writing “short” — most of my own early titles tended to be long… toward 100k words and at least one even longer. But in the recent several years, I aim for — and usually can succeed at — something under 60k words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I think as we “mature” as writers, we discover ways to tighten our writing so that we get the idea across without using so many words. We also learn a bit more about what needs to be described and what doesn’t. My first draft of Samurai was over 80K and by the time I weeded out the things that didn’t need to be said, the story was much shorter, but a lot better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Several things are common with my own novels, Patricia. Usually, there is some kind of a love triangle, which may not go into depth but cause a problem to the heroine in some way, whether it’s physical or emotional. They all deal with faith, have suspenseful moments, and a good ending (I don’t like stories with unhappy endings. Life’s too full of that as it is.).

    Personally, I believe it’s good for a writer to have a trademark in their writing. Something the reader can identify and look forward to when they pick up your book.

    In my stories, I also like to have some historical reference to something, give the reader a small tour of an area where the setting takes place, and have lots of laughter to complement the more tense parts of the story or just give the reader a break from the tension.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Those are interesting common threads. I like the idea of taking the reader on a tour of the setting through the eyes of one of the characters. And humor is always good, especially when there are darker themes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely nothing wrong with expecting and getting HEAs every time from a reliable author. Sometimes I need exactly that, and I know that I am far from alone.
    If you have a certain style, then don’t go changing for change’s sake. It is good to have ‘fresh eyes’ on your work, though.
    Putting your personality into your protagonist is probably your most comfortable place, and comfort shows.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Yes, it’s much easier to write about hobbies with which you are already familiar. Although it is fun to research others! I had a great time learning about ice sculpting when I wrote The Christmas Phoenix.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy reading your stories, I love that they have happy endings and they’re quick reads. I guess I hadn’t realized before that all but three are novellas, since those three didn’t take me much longer to read than the others had. It must be because your stories are so captivating I refuse to put them down until I’m finished with them.
    Its nice when an author develops a style all their own. I like being able to recognize authors based on their style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Aww, thank you, Angela! I agree, once I find an author I like I do gravitate toward their works when I see new titles by them.


  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    You can’t beat a good happily ever after ending.


  6. J.Q. Rose says:

    I can certainly identify with all of your points in your stories. You made me wonder about mine. I like strong women as the main character. Perhaps a bit sassy too. I write short novels also, but I believe it’s because I began my writing career writing articles for newspapers and magazines. Short and to the point because newspapers get paid through advertising, so they slash articles that are too long to make space for ads. Bad for writers, but good for the newspaper. And lastly, HEA is the only way I end a story. I want readers to feel good when they close the book or turn off their kindle!
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Limited print space will definitely make you choose your words carefully, JQ! And I love strong, sassy heroines who work hard for their own happy endings. Thanks so much for weighing in!


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