On Genre: Where Does My Werewolf Story Belong?

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Traditionally, a werewolf in a story earned a book a spot on the shelf of the horror section of a bookstore. However, today there are many genres that include supernatural, potentially monstrous creatures that are not inherently cursed or evil. Categorizing a werewolf story is depends on the plot, not the supernatural creature.

For example, a werewolf murdering at night and the human struggling with the memories during the day would be categorized in the horror genre.

A story about werewolf falling in love and all the plot points revolving around their relationship would be categorized as a paranormal romance. This could be tricky because if the werewolf doesn’t have a happily ever after with their love interest and instead eats them, then we’re back to classifying the story as horror.

A werewolf detective or cop solving crimes is paranormal mystery. But, that’s not always the case. The genre would depend on whether the story is a hardboiled detective novel with a character who happens to be a werewolf or if the plot revolves more around the supernatural world at large with a character who happens to be a werewolf detective.

If you’re looking to go through a traditional publisher, let your agent and publishing house decide. If you’re an indie author looking to self-publish, do a little research and see which books with tropes, world building, and storyline are similar to yours. Finding the right genre is about finding the right audience. You don’t want to market your paranormal romance as a horror story or vice versa. Not unless you don’t mind a lot of angry reviews.

Hope you are all doing well. Happy writing!

©TJ Deschamps

Indie Author Spotlight: Shackle.Exe by Van D Vicious

What is cyberpunk if you don’t have the Haves and the Have Nots, and throw them together for contrast?

The way the books starts, I thought this read would be a lot darker than it was. Don’t get me wrong, Shackle.exe explores characters with addictions: sex, drugs, cyber, etc. placed into situations that constantly summon their personal demons, but the novel is at its heart, a love story. An independent young woman and young man both tied by family loyalties and contractual obligations, who have a natural attraction to each other that’s hard to fight.

Star-crossed lovers with the world, and even themselves against them getting together for a Happily Ever After is one of my favorite tropes. But, as far as tropes go, there’s nothing cliché about this unique world Van D Viscious has set up and I’m not saying there’s an HEA for this story.

I highly recommend this novel and can’t wait to get sucked in to the next episode.

Hope you’re all doing well.

©TJ Deschamps

To have your book considered for a review, post a link in the comments, or contact me via WordPress.

Back Up Your Work: A Cautionary Tale

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Writers like to use different programs to get their work down. Microsoft Word being the most common. I personally switch between Word and Google Docs, but I own Scrivener.

I use Scrivener for the planning stages of a book, the notes, the outline, little character cards, etc. It’s a lot better than my wall looking like a conspiracy theorist’s ravings or an FBI Crime syndicate organization chart, complete with pictures.

The reason I use Google Docs for my drafts, is that writers often get in a zone where all we see is the words in front of us and the world we’re creating. Time and silly things like saving and/or backing up our work has no meaning in this world. However, we’re often surprised when a laptop’s battery drains of all life, or the computer randomly restarts for updates, or we set aside what we’re doing to answer the door, and then we have lost hours of work.

I once lost an entire chapter during NaNoWriMo. I may have cried. My spouse, a director of software reliability, so gently asked, “Did you seriously not back it up? I tell you to save your work all the time.” He may have in his coding days as an engineer, have lamented with me, knowing that beautiful trance that is “The Zone”. But, he’s responsible for a lot of stuff working reliably now, so not saving is an unforgivable faux pas. (Okay. I might be being a little dramatic. He felt bad enough for me to dig out my lost chapter from some recess of my computer’s memory.)

If you’re like me, find a program that automatically saves and save yourself the misery of the lost chapter blues.

Writer Talk: Multiple Projects

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Currently I have three documents open: Eastside Faerie, Warrior Tithe, and a new short story called Galactic Emporium of Delight. I’m working my way through, writing a chapter at a time on each. I have no prescheduled time dedicated to any of them. I do, however, have a time I sit down to write every week day, and I dedicate the time fully to whichever document I start.

While I don’t suggest working on three projects at once, I do like it for myself for three reasons:

  1. I am fully invested when I delve into any of the works in progress. I’m not daydreaming about something else I’d rather write because if I wanted to work on that project, I’d work on it.
  2. I’ll have a lot more material when I finish than if I forced myself to work on one story at a time.
  3. It doesn’t take me longer to finish three projects than one.

Do you work on one project at a time? Share your process in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you!


Indie Author Spotlight Review: Jesikah Sundin and Claire Luana’s The Knights of Caerleon Series

After the nineties, I was kind of done with Arthurian retellings. I haven’t watched any of the latest shows or movies. Then, I pick up this book. It’s told from multiple points of view, but Gwenevere is definitely the protagonist.

I loved the dilemma the authors present both Gwenevere and Arthur and the notions about the time that they challenge. (The authors did their research, folks, and it shows.) They artfully managed to make a tired legend fresh.

I like that Gwenevere was part of the quests and central to the plot, not some woman pining in her bower. Instead of being the woman that divides the knights of the round table, especially Arthur and Lancelot, Gwenevere unites them.

The trilogy is filled with strong world building, characters that feel like real people, not legendary tropes, and a solid storyline. The steamy scenes felt natural to the story and not gratuitous.

I give this series five out of five stars and highly recommend.


Struggling with Imposter Syndrome? You’re Not Alone

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After dickering around writing and doing nothing with it for years, about five years ago, I decided to take writing seriously. I started attending classes and workshops to improve. I had the audacity to assume that I could put out better work than what was out there. I thought I could be like Toni Morrison and write the stories I wanted to read.

But, I loved the feeling I had drafting stories. For a creative like me, there’s no better rush than coming up with a story and bringing it to life. The stuff I wrote had memorable characters, but the plots were weak and the body of my stories skeletal. I knew I wasn’t ready for publishing.

I was writing, so I told people I was a writer. It was an identity that I was at once comfortable with yet felt like a lie. I hadn’t published anything, but I did write, daily. All it took was the follow up question to make it feel like I was fibbing to sound sophisticated or professional. Perhaps I should have said that I was studying to be a writer. Even accomplished writers are always studying to be a writer.

It was one thing to say it to some other mom on the PTSA or at a book club, it was quite another when I started going to fan cons and mingling with actual published authors, editors, and agents. I had nothing in print, so I would talk about my current project. I felt like a fifteen year old fangirl who wrote in her diary about her crushes, and the Certified Professionals would find me out. It doesn’t help when some established authors deem unpublished authors or emerging authors infantilizing names like “newbie writer”. I’m in my forties. I’m new to the industry, but not brand new to writing.

I thought once I indie published something or signed a publishing contract that I’d feel like I’d earned the right to call myself an author. After self-publishing a short story and a novella that are both selling to complete strangers, I do.

The thing is, whether you’re published or not, whether you write daily or sporadically, if you write, you’re a writer. If you paint, you’re a painter. If you sculpt, you’re a sculptor. Don’t let anyone define what that means. Monetizing your work doesn’t add any more value other than a broader audience.

Hope you’re all doing well. Happy Writing!

©TJ Deschamps

Opening Lines

When I was new to writing, I’d read that an author should make the first line the best. It’s your hook, so make it memorable. Another book said an author should sum up the entirety of their book in the first line. I thought that the second was absurd and you couldn’t possibly do both….then I started opening up books in my library.

Here are some of my favorites that I found:

A modern book cover for the novel by Jane Austen.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The reader gets several things about this story from this one line: a satirical piece on socioeconomic status in relation to marriage and societal expectations. It’s also as sad commentary on the predicament women were in a the time. They had to ‘land’ a husband or possibly find themselves penniless and homeless.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The run on sentence to end all run on sentences.

What’s your favorite first line? Share it in the comments.

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Reflection Sunday

Photo thanks to Unsplash.com

In my Facebook writers’ group Speculative Twist, I ask my fellow fantasy, science fiction, and horror writers to share with me their writerly wins, setbacks, and plans for the following week. I like to do this because as writers, unless we’re working for a magazine, or on a publisher’s deadline, we don’t get the same support structure (or accountability) as someone with a less solitary career.

Tasks are assigned at day jobs, but when you’re an indie author, it’s all up to you to schedule your writing time, your blog, your newsletter, social media interaction, and really, you only have yourself.

My writerly wins, setbacks, and plans this week:

  • I scheduled two daily posts for a month’s worth of content for my Facebook author page to engage followers.
  • I planned out content for this blog. In addition to writing about writing, I’ll post a new review every Friday here. The first Friday of the month will be indie author spotlight. The second Friday will be a fantasy or a sub-genre of fantasy. The third Friday will be science fiction, or a sub-genre of sci-fi. The fourth Friday will be a non-fiction or random genre pick.
  • I wrote two surprise-to-me because I hadn’t plotted them chapters of Eastside Faerie and came up with a twist for the end.
  • I came up with a plot for a short story and wrote 1k words of it to get it out of my system.
  • A fellow author, Jesikah Sundin, asked me to do an author asked me to takeover for her and Claire Luna’s fan group MoonTree Readers. It was so fun to interact with their fans as an author instead of a reader.
  • Setbacks: My sales numbers dropped this week for both Adoration and Tam Lin: A Modern, Queer Retelling. Given that my ads are getting a lot less coverage, it’s to be expected. I learned big corporations dump a lot of money into advertising this time of year and drown out the smaller budgets of indie authors.
  • Plans for the week: focus on my WIPs and leave promotion alone.

©TJ Deschamps

How did your writing week go?

Writer Reads Book Review: The Kinsmen Universe

I was introduced to Ilona Andrews books by a fellow writer. I trust her taste because she’s an excellent author and we like a lot of the same authors, shows, movies, etc. She recommended Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews because I like beauty and the beast retellings. I then devoured all of Ilona Andrews stories in the Kate Daniels and Innkeeper series. I tried Burn for Me, but haven’t made it to the second book. I saw The Kinsmen Universe on Audible and gave it a listen yesterday.

If you read all the reviews for these short stories/novellas on Amazon, you’ll hear a lot of people griping about two previously published stories squashed together with a new story they didn’t like so much. I think people need to read the blurbs before they buy because the information is in there.

As far as the stories go, they’re more science fiction romance with incredible world building that IA is known for. The reason I’d categorize them as romance rather than sci-fi is that the plot points center around the relationship between the main characters.

I’d love to see more of this fully actualized world, its problems, and the people that populate it, but a full-length novel with an ensemble cast and intriguing storyline like the Kate Daniels series or their Innkeeper Series.

©TJ Deschamps

Image via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kinsmen-Universe-Ilona-Andrews-ebook/dp/B07K8XCTL3

What Does Genre Mean to a Writer?

The coolest building in Seattle: the Seattle Public Library.
Photo by Sylvia Yang on Unsplash

Anyone old enough to remember card catalogues, remembers learning the Dewy Decimal System–a library’s classification system based on subject.

Dewey Decimal Classifications:

  • 000 – Computer science, information & general works
  • 100 – Philosophy & psychology
  • 200 – Religion
  • 300 – Social sciences
  • 400 – Language
  • 500 – Pure Science
  • 600 – Technology
  • 700 – Arts & recreation
  • 800 – Literature
  • 900 – History & geography

*source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dewey_Decimal_classes

I spent a lot of my childhood in a gothic church remodeled into a library. It was the coolest library I’ve ever been in besides the library of Trinity College in Dublin.

The Before Times when I went to libraries in other countries!
Photo cred Kelli Staci

In my childhood, I learned the Dewey Decimal System from a local librarian long before I learned it in middle school. I’ve long known books were categorized for ease of identification of what the contents would contain. Could you imagine walking into a bookstore or library that was only organized by the author’s last name? Chaos. *Shudders*

This gives me angina.
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I think of genre as a subset of classifications in the 800 or Literature section of a library. Genre is a roadmap to navigate the contents of books in fiction and non-fiction section of stores as well as libraries.

Photo by Ty Feague on Unsplash

Genre is how you market the contents of your book. Traditionally published authors can rely on an agent or editor to help them determine this. How do indie authors pick a genre when there are so many?

Setting: Urban Fantasy could be categorized as the modern world, or near future, with magical elements such as supernatural or mythological creatures affecting the outcome. However, Paranormal Romance can tout the same thing.

Science Fiction is usually set in space or in the distant future and technology affects the outcome of the story. Horror is set at anytime and anyplace. If your story is supposed to be scary, it’s horror no matter the setting. I’m really put off by books and movies that are horror passed off as science fiction.

Plot: Genres go by specific plots. In Urban Fantasy, there’s usually an antagonist, who has a problem presented by the magical world. The magical world will be both the ally and enemy pushing the antagonist either toward or away from their goal.

In the Romance genre, regardless of the sub-genre, are about a romantic relationship. Each plot point will drive the main character and their love interest together or apart. If your story is about a relationship, it is Romance.

There are stories that the setting and the plot are too intermixed and the novel is a cross-genre mashup. In this case, you have to pick a predominant genre, or the one you want to market to the most, and add the phrase “with elements of (insert genre)”.

I hope this breakdown helps! Happy writing!

©TJ Deschamps

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