Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Questioning Genre


I’m late once again with my post, but I’ve got a couple good excuses–no, really. I’m working on a guest post for a fellow blogger, I was nominated for the Liebster Award, which I intend to respond to, and I’m working to finish the first revision of my WIP (at which point I’ll turn right around to start the second revision).

Sprinkled in with the oatmeal, I’ve tossed entries into some pitch contests, with another coming up on St. Patty’s Day (#PitMad). Now, I’ve had hits and misses with pitch contests, and I was going to lay off the contests for a while, but sometimes you just have to say what the hell, can’t hurt.

I missed in #PitchMadness this past week, but considering only 60 entries were accepted out of 811, those are pretty long odds. Four teams each got to pick 15 entries, and the agent round starts next week, I think. Anyway, I watched the list of picks announced on Twitter.

Another round of Writer’s Doubt followed.

The picks in these contests lean heavily toward YA and MG. I feel like everyone and their brother are picking YA. Now, granted, these contests select genre depending on the interests of the participating agents, and I get that, but I feel kinda left out. My target audience is adults, and my genres include mystery (with some extrasensory sprinkled in) and fantasy (contemporary and traditional).

Young adult is popular. So many great YA books and authors out there, including John Green, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and so many more. Hell, James Patterson and Kathy Reichs are writing YA. A lot of the writers in the groups I belong to write MG and YA. Good for them!

So, now’s about the time I wonder if I should jump into the pool and write some YA. I have no delusions about writing MG; I don’t think I work well at that level. Young Adult stories star characters who are anywhere from 13 to 18 years old, and struggle against outside and inside forces, including those we all face growing up and trying to find ourselves. Romance is game, but no sex. I’m okay with that.

Hmm. Didn’t like it the first time around, and not sure I want to dip into those reserves. I spent a lot of time working through all that growing up stuff, and now I’m older (ugh), wiser (I hope), and things that seemed earth-shattering back then I now know were just tremors in the firmament.

Agents are looking for YA. Do I shift from my target audience and try YA? I’ve got a ready test subject in a daughter who loves to read and is in the age range. Would writing YA improve my odds of snagging an agent? Maybe. Probably.

I. Can’t. Do. It.

I have a fantasy with a main character who is about 17, but it isn’t entirely her story. I guess I could tweak it so I could claim it as YA fantasy. That project is on my list after finishing my WIP, because fantasy is enjoying a resurgence right now, but I don’t know if I should tune it that way.

Decisions, decisions. One of the guiding principles of writing is: don’t write for the market. Write the story you want to tell. Vampires were super hot from the time of Anne Rice’s debut through the Twilight series, but now there seems to be such a glut of vamp stuff that I suspect anything in that vein (heh, see what I did there 🙂 ) is forwarded straight to the slush pile. Same with were-whatever stuff. Dragon shifters are hot now (heh, see that 🙂 ), but I suspect their run is coming to an end as well.

So, I think I’ll stick with my genres, and keep writing for grown-ups. At least for now.

On a different note, it’s time to start thinking garden again. I’m planning to start my seeds in the house this week. The way the weather’s been, I suspect we’ll have an early spring.

Keep on writing!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, three chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

10 thoughts on “Questioning Genre

  1. I think you have to stick with what speaks to you when it comes to genre. I started out writing steamy romance (with complex plots) but my heart was never in the sex scenes. Now, although I include romance in my books, I’ve moved everything behind closed doors and I can get away with the multi-layered plots. At the beginning, people kept telling me to write sex, that erotica was hot, but NO WAY was I going there (just my personal preference). Now, I’m comfortably writing what appeals to me–mystery/suspense with a smidge of clean romance tossed in.

    I’ve also got a fantasy trilogy I would love to dig out someday and rework, but I wonder if I’d lose a lot of fans. Maybe I could write it under a different pen name? I do love that trilogy and 2.5 of the books are already written and just need cleaned up. Hmmm.

    As for YA, I know it’s hot. Years ago I probably would have loved giving it a try (I even have some trunk novellas that would pass as YA), but my heart isn’t in it today. On the other hand, if you’re really after an agent, then you can’t always go with what you want to write, but what the market demands. I’m sure there are plenty of agents willing for adult mystery and/or fantasy stories. Maybe the pool is smaller, but I think you can still follow your writing passion and find the right one to submit to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Mae! I know there’s someone out there who will connect with my manuscript. It just takes a LOT of patience and doggedness to get there from here. I’m determined to write the stories that speak to me, but I still wonder about writing for the prevailing winds. I’m sure I could write YA if I wanted to, but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with it after spending so many years moving beyond that part of my journey.

    BTW, still working on that post. I should be able to get it to you by next week, if not sooner. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve traveled along these thought lines too, Julie…for all of five minutes. I just can’t write YA because, like you, I’ve been there, done that. For some reason, I just have no desire to go back and relive all that teenage angst. Go figure. And that’s what we do, isn’t it? Live all those characters’ lives. I’ve also considered “write what’s hot,” but that seems to take a drop-everything-and-pump-out-a-book approach and that isn’t how I work… and it’s no guarantee of success either. So I write what I write, enjoy the journey, and trust that there are readers out there. Stick with what you love, Julie. Happy Writing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You too, Diana. That’s the way I think: been there, done that, don’t need to go back. Don’t want to go back (unless I get to keep all my “mature” knowledge so I can invest in Microsoft on the ground floor 😉 ) Dropping everything to pump out a book just doesn’t sound all that much like fun; no time to enjoy the journey. I’m gonna stick with those voices in my head (as long as they play nice!) 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I reworked my novel specifically to make it YA (it wasn’t hard, considering the main character was 17), and I found I really enjoyed stepping back into the past, remembering feelings and situations I went through back then and incorporating aspects of it into my work. (Then again, teenagehood under a decade ago for me, so it’s not as hard to go back.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been a lot bit longer for me since those years, all before the days of cell phones and iPads. Glad you were able to tweak your novel easily. Enjoying those years makes a difference, I’m sure. Write on, Michael!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I didn’t enjoy those years as I experienced it, but I enjoyed thinking about it. And ipads only showed up after I finished high school, from what I remember. Heck, I remember when we got our first computer, a windows 95, and that awful dial up. I remember my math teacher saying we’d need to learn math because we won’t be carrying around a calculator wherever we go (well now we do!). The thing about being born when I was is unlike most other eras. I was stuck between the analog and digital age. We used to have a word processor. Floppy discs were standard to me. Yet before I’m even at the legal drinking age, we suddenly have touch screen phones. I’m sure I had a point when I started writing this, but I seem to have lost it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Julie, you seem so clear-headed about what you want to write and for which market I don’t think there is a dilemma really – continue your writing, what you enjoy and let the markets catch up with you! Garden time?? Ours is more of a semi-pond – some water lilies perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annika! I know what I want to write, it’s sometimes a bit disheartening to see so much interest in YA and MG versus adult. I know I’ll connect with someone who will take my mss on–eventually 🙂

      Yep, planted my tomato, pepper, and onion seeds last night. Tucked them onto a shelf until they peek out, then under the lights until they’re ready to go outside. Sounds wet out your way. Hmm, water lilies? Could be fun!

      Liked by 1 person

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