Genre Bending

Third time’s the charm. That’s what they say.

Practicing Normal is my third novel, and while my debut novel, I’m Not Her, will always have my heart and my second novel, Girls’ Weekend, touched a nerve in moms from all walks of life, this third one is good. Really good.

I think it perfectly merges the audiences of my first and second novel like a neat Venn diagram. Plenty of crossover between the genres of women’s fiction, young adult, mommy lit, and new adult.

Genres can be confining. Having to label my work has always been a struggle for me. I write stories. Generally about women, but a few men, and usually a teenager or two.

Are they women’s fiction? Sure.

Would a man read them? Yes. Some of my biggest fans are male.

How about teenagers? Yup. They like my books, too.

How about romance? Do they fit into that genre? Depends on how you define romance.

Coming of age story? Definitely. Everyone is coming of age.

There’s even a splash of mystery tossed in for good measure. As I said, genres can be confining.

Still, genres help us sort through the plethora of books on the shelves. The fiction section can be overwhelming. Women’s fiction has yet to claim its own shelf space in many libraries or bookstores, but it’s a strong genre that is specific to women, taking you on an emotional journey. I hold out hope that it will one day claim its own shelf.

But if women’s fiction gets its own shelf, does that mean we also offer a rack of men’s fiction?

Although it’s unlabeled as such, men’s fiction quite definitely exists. I’ve read a couple of them lately. I would call The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins and The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton men’s fiction, along with most of what is written by Jonathon Tropper or Tom Perotta. The protagonists are generally male and there is normally sex and/or action aplenty, but there’s also themes that men struggle with—like competition, masculinity, and dominance examined through internal struggles, dialogue, and relationships. I’ve enjoyed those books, but then I’ve always passed them on to my husband, rather than girlfriends.

Many thrillers and action books crossover into men’s fiction, but sometimes women’s fiction can be thrilling and action-packed. It’s tricky, I suppose. Given the opportunity, I might rearrange the entire store.

Book genres, much like our world, are evolving and becoming more and more niche. Maybe it isn’t necessary to so specifically label fiction genres. It’s all nonfiction and fiction, right? Or is it? Even those lines are blurring these days.

It comes down to what a winery owner told me once when I was tasting wine at a small vineyard in Virginia. He said, “There are really only two types of wine. Wine-you-like and wine-you-don’t.”

Perhaps, it’s the same for books.

My third novel, Practicing Normal, is released today in ebook form (the paperback officially releases June 6 and I haven’t been given a date for the audiobook yet).

Here’s hoping it’s a book-you-like.

Practicing Normal Cover

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Inching Closer

 

“So, you’re doing this for real? It’s not just something you had to get out of your system?”

I ran into a friend today and she was asking about my writing. When I told her I had a new book coming out in two weeks and two more that my agent will be shopping to publishers this year, she was surprised. “Wow,” she said.

Yeah. Wow.

I thought about her question when I got home as I walked my overly excitable foster dog who had spent too much time in her crate and needed several laps of the pasture to be manageable indoors. Round and round we went, me lost in memories of days gone by and her chasing every butterfly and shadow. I suppose back when my children were younger and that friend was a weekly part of my life, she didn’t know me as a writer. She knew me as a mom, a PTO president, a volunteer, a customer, and a pretty horrible Mary Kay consultant.

normal people

That’s the thing about us writers—many times we’re disguised as normal people. It takes some of us a long time to take our own writing seriously enough to share it with others. Meanwhile, we write and write and dream and dream and then write some more. And once we begin to put our souls out there on the page for all to see, we spend a great deal more time editing.

My friend has a very successful business that I’ve watched grow over the years. I’ve always been impressed by her energy, determination and drive. She is a smart, passionate business woman who works incredibly hard.

“You know how it is,” I told her, “You just keep doing one more thing, every day.” She nodded.

And that’s just what successful writing is. It’s doing one more thing. Every day.

Another successful artist and businesswoman I know told me when I was first beginning my publishing journey, “Do one thing every day to move your dream forward. Even if it’s a small thing. You’ll see,” she said. “It’ll happen.”

And she’s right. I’m not where I want to be yet in terms of writing success, but every day I inch closer. I don’t know how long it will take. But one thing I do know, I sure haven’t ‘gotten it out of my system’ yet.

There are too many stories left to tell.

inching closer