Sunday, October 06, 2013

Author Examines Cross-Genre Proclivity

I liked this essay because it shows the struggle we writers often have with identity and with balancing what we're told "should be" with what "is" in terms of our careers. I also enjoyed that it subtly alludes to the beauty of cross-genre writing--that is, we have more than one audience we might appeal to with any given work.

The Accidental Niche



By Dawn Colclasure

 

For a long time, writers have been encouraged to write in only one genre or specialize in only one topic. The thinking was that a writer who writes in only one genre, for one type of audience or on one topic would become a writer known for that particular kind of writing. Yet many writers, especially freelancers, have made it a point that writing on a variety of topics is what helps them keep food on the table. For a writer of books, however, is it really better to write on only one thing? Some seasoned authors think so, but for a long time, I prided myself on being a ‘writer of all trades.” Sure I wrote a lot of articles on the paranormal topic and, yes, I did write for a newspaper for the deaf, but when it came to books, I couldn’t write on only one topic or for one audience. That changed with the publication of my new poetry book, Touched by Fire, and all it took for me to realize this was a bookmark.


Soon after 9/11, I wrote a poem about this tragedy titled “They Were Our Neighbors.” Years later, I came across a website featuring poems and pictures in memory of that sad day, so I submitted my poem to be included. After the poem went live on the website, I figured that was the end of that.


Fast forward some years more. I got an email from a young girl who was a Girl Scout. She’d read the poem and liked it so much that she wanted to put it on a bookmark to enter in a contest for her troop to receive an award. They were dedicating a bench at a park in honor of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and wanted the bookmarks to be a part of their event. I gave her permission to use my poem and what a touching moment it was when she later wrote to me about how the bookmarks were such a hit at the event. The pictures she included were lovely, as well.

 

When I put together Touched by Fire, I wanted to include this poem in the book since it’s one of my personal favorites. By doing so, I had to keep in mind that maybe, by some chance, the girls in that Girl Scout troop would read the poems if they knew the poem they used was in there. With this realization, I made it a point to be sure that a majority of the poems in the book sent young readers a positive, inspirational message. My own preteen daughter reads all my books, so of course I hope to pass on to her something that will build her self-confidence and self-esteem. While the poetry book is about being a burn survivor and that, as a burn survivor, I have had a lot of negative experiences with teasing from classmates, it is also about how I moved past all of those things, all the stares and looks because of my burn scars, and became a person comfortable with myself and my scars. This, too, I realized, was also a good message to send to young readers.

 

After Touched by Fire was published, I started thinking about the time I had available to promote it before my next book comes out. My next book is a novel called Shadow of Samhain, and while it could fall under the genre of “dark fantasy,” it could very well fall under another: New Adult (commonly referred to as NA). I realized that the poetry book from September and the novel for October could actually be in the same category: Both books would be ideal for young readers.

 

In fact, my last book was a middle grade novel called The GHOST Group: Book One (The Ghosts of Sarah Travers and The Crying Valentine). And come to think of it, I have also written quite a few children’s books, as well.

 

This was a moment akin to waking up from a deep sleep. It was as though I shook myself and realized, wait a minute! I’m writing in a niche! The fiction books I am writing are for the young crowd!

 

No longer am I the “writer of all trades” when it comes to fiction. From now on, I’ll be writing children’s books and middle-grade novels – at least until the whole GHOST Group series has run its course. The poetry books will continue to have different themes and the nonfiction books may be more enticing to older readers, but for fiction, I’ve got my sights set on children and teenagers. I only hope that I won’t disappoint them.

 
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Dawn Colclasure is a writer who lives in Oregon. Her articles, essays, poems and short stories have appeared in several newspapers, anthologies, magazines and E-zines. She is the author of fourteen books, among them BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents; 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity; Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion; On the Wings of Pink Angels: Triumph, Struggle and Courage Against Breast Cancer; and the children’s book The Yellow Rose. She co-wrote the nonfiction book, TOTALLY SCARED: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses with Canadian author Martha Jette, as well as the poetry book, DOGS FOREVER: Poems for the Dog Person, with her daughter, Jennifer Wilson. Her recent poetry book, Touched by Fire, was released in September 2013. Her website is at http://dmcwriter.tripod.com/.




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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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