Follow The Rules!

This past year I entered my first writing contest. I was excited. I love, love, love, my second completed manuscript. I didn’t win. I didn’t even make it to the second round. To say I was confused and disappointed would be an understatement. I don’t know. Maybe I set my expectations to high. Maybe it wasn’t written as well as I thought. MAYBE I DIDN’T FOLLOW THE RULES!

Okay, I followed most of the rules, but I missed one very important detail. My submission was entered under the wrong genre. To defend myself, I initially overlooked some things that could disqualify my entry and I was contacted by someone on the submission committee, to make changes. That particular committee member listed my entry as Romance-Suspense.

I didn’t read the definitions for the different genres. My book is a Romance, and it is suspenseful from beginning to end. Romance-Suspense worked for me, although my initial thought was Historical Romance.

I completed what was asked of me and resubmitted it under Romance-Suspense. After all, that was what was communicated to me, and the committee member should have known what they were talking about. I didn’t question it.

I’m preparing to submit my work in yet another contest. I am that confident in it. This time I read all the information carefully, including the genre list. I was stunned. Included in the description for Romance-Suspense is contemporary. Well, there’s nothing contemporary about my novel. It’s set in the 17th century.

I question why the committee didn’t just move it to the correct category once they realized it was misplaced, or why the committee member that contacted me had placed it in the Romance-Suspense category in the first place. I also question myself. Why didn’t I take the time to read every detail to ensure everything was correct. It was my responsibility, not that committee member’s!

Something to think about!

-Jan R

Follow The Rules!

Speculative, Upmarket, Dystopian?

huhI’ve been reading literary agent biographies and blogs in an attempt to narrow my search and find a few I think would be a good fit for my novel.

While researching, I found myself going on-line and doing searches for words and abbreviations that were totally foreign to me: MG, Dystopian, MS, Upmarket, and so on. I guess I still have a lot to learn.

At any rate, I thought I could save you some time by sharing a list of not so common words and abbreviations that I found during my research.

  • MS:  Abbreviation for manuscript (the plural being MSS).
  • MG:  Middle grade-ages 8-12.
  • YA:  Young adult-ages 12-18.
  • NA:  New adult: features a protagonist 18-25 and focuses on the first struggles of adulthood.
  • Speculative Fiction:  Fiction that encompasses supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.
  • Upmarket:  Fiction with a commercial appeal (book clubs) particularly women’s fiction.
  • Dystopian:  A futuristic, imagined universe, in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technical, moral, or totalitarian control.
  • Literary Fiction: Serious fiction, style and technique are often as important as the subject matter.
  • Commercial Fiction:  Written with the purpose of attracting as wide an audience as possible. It includes westerns, romance, mysteries, and horror genres.

I’m sure I missed a few. Who knew there were so many different categories?

I guess I’m old school. In my day it was westerns, romance, mysteries, comedies, and horror. Oh yeah, you can throw children books and youth in there as well.

-Jan R

Speculative, Upmarket, Dystopian?

Read It All!

Genre.htmI have to admit I’m a hopeless romantic. I just love stories where boy meets girl, you throw in a little conflict (okay a lot), but everything works out in the end, and of course, they live happily ever after.

There’s nothing wrong with romance and wanting the happily ever after, but if you’re only reading one genre (romance, scifi, mystery, horror) you’re limiting yourself.  I never really thought that much about it, until I read a blog on why I should be reading all genres.

From my perspective, I write romance. I need to know what’s out there and what’s selling. How do other romance authors handle the physical and emotional sides of the relationships?

All of these reasons are valid, and I should be reading romance. But you know what? That novel has a lot more than romance in it. At least it had better have, if I want to keep my readers’ attention.

I may be great at developing a romantic relationship between my hero and heroine, but I had better be able to create the mystery and suspense necessary to keep my readers’ turning the page.

You may be writing a sci-fi novel, but odds are there’s a romance between your two main characters, and no one can explain why the lab assistant is lying on the floor dead, and there’s a  hole in the wall leading into the parking lot.

You can’t just read sci-fi and expect to be a well rounded writer. You might find yourself creating awesome aliens, but lacking when it comes to developing a relationship between the hero and heroine.

Reading different genres will make you a stronger writer. You’ll be introduced to new worlds and situations that would never arise in your typical horror, sci-fi, romance, or fantasy. Reading different genres will open your mind and encourage you to take risks that you may have never considered.

If that’s not enough, reading different genres will also allow you to read as a reader. Instead of focusing on the author’s style, you can simply enjoy the experience of reading 🙂

Hope this helped.

-Jan R

Read It All!