Reading List

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I read a few YA (Endlessly, Seraphina), decided to try out something that was blipping on the pop culture radar (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), and then I felt the need to try something a little heavier on the lit culture radar (Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde). The version I’m reading has been updated to modern language, but it is still taking me a while. I have trouble reading poetry no matter what century vocabulary it’s in.

I love that the books I read range so wildly. I appreciate each of those book for something. As long as the story captures me, I want to read it.

The only downside (other than getting those weird looks when I admit to reading Chaucer for fun) is that I don’t amass a large reading list in the genre I’m writing in. It makes it harder for me to give examples of similar work in my query letter.

Thanks the to Pitch Polish, I think I have a much stronger query letter…at least when it comes to the pitch of Julia’s story. As far as the rest that you’re “supposed” to add — the audience, the comparison novels, the amazing author credentials — well, that could still use some help.

Do you find that you read in the same genre all the time? Or are you more sporadic?

Get Out Your Red Pens

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As you know, I’m participating in the GUTGAA blog hop and pitch frenzy.

I was lucky enough to be Pitch Polish #81. And so the random Monday post! Huzzah! Head on over and check out my query letter…do your worst. Read a few of the other pitches while you’re there and lend your worthy two cents.

You’ll notice that I put the genre down as New Adult. I’ve wrung my hands on this blog before about going with women’s fiction over book club fiction over mainstream fiction over… I didn’t just throw a dart and land on a random words. New Adult is a niche so new that you can’t find it in books stores yet, but it does legitimately exist. The protagonists are in their 20s (check) and still figuring out life (check). Julia may not live here forever, but I thought it was certainly wroth a try.

Agents and Genre and Websites, Oh My II

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Another book I picked up because I found it on an agent page was The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. While this agent didn’t represent the author, she said she was looking for women’s fiction like this; something that started book group discussions.

This felt much more like Julia is tone and subject. Although, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter might be considered more epic simply because of the time it covers…several decades. In Julia, a lot happens in only a few weeks.

In my first draft of Julia, the story took place over a year, but I felt it lost momentum, so I bumped up the pace by shortening the timing. I don’t think the timing changes the genre, it was just interesting how different these stories felt because of the time frame and yet how similar they seemed.

I like how The Memory Keeper’s Daughter story flowed through time, but I felt it moved slowly as a story. I wish we had followed the secondary group of characters more than we did. I was much more interested in the daughter than the memory keeper himself.

In the end, though, I think that, women’s fiction is absolutely the right genre…for this agent. Julia has the same book group discussion-type questions in it.

However, if I were to pitch Julia to The Peach Keeper agent, I think I’d have to change Julia to contemporary fiction.

A few posts ago, someone asked why I didn’t just submit it and let the agent figure it out…well, I’d like that, but everything I’ve ready says that you need to list the appropriate genre in your query letter. One, some agents don’t handle certain genres, so you have to know who to submit to and who to avoid. Two, agents aren’t just looking for good writing. They’re looking for someone who knows their genre. You don’t want a romance that doesn’t end in happily ever after.

Not sure how much of that is true, but I figure I should at least try to get a handle on it. But if I do that, is it OK to submit it to different agents under different genres?

Agents and Genre and Websites, Oh My

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This was supposed to publish last Tuesday…don’t know what happened.

Three peaches on a wooden table. One has two leaves still attached and another is cut in half. The knife lays on the table, in front of the peaches.

Peaches by Royalty Free Images flickr.com/photos/royalty-free-images/139739076

I picked up The Peach Keeper because in my great agent search, I’m still figuring out where my book falls. When looking at some agents’ client/book lists, I see that women’s fiction is another way to say romance. The covers are chick lit-y or the descriptions center around the romance. When looking at other agents’ lists, I can see that women’s fiction has a broader meaning. They talk about wanting books for book club discussions or wanting to read strong female characters or needing books dealing with female issues (which makes me think of tampon commercials, but anyway…).

When I can’t figure out how an agent defines women’s fiction, I pick up one of their clients’ book…if I can figure out which book is for which genre. Agent websites are all over the place in terms of usefulness. Listing the authors alphabetically or the titles by year of print…not helpful. Dividing them by fiction and non-fiction is somewhat helpful, actually categorizing them by the genre they sold as? Priceless.

The Peach Keeper was a fun, easy read. More along the lines of a chick-lit or light romance than what I would consider women’s fiction. I enjoyed it as a light book before I delve into some of the darker books on my nightstand. I think Julia is darker, but both books share female protagonists who dig into their families’ pasts.

I’m not sure what genre the agent thought this book fell into, so my grand scheme of how to pin down an agent may fizzle.

What Exactly is Women’s Fiction?

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Ug.

I’m trying to craft a decent query and search for agents at the same time. I think I need to do this one at a time, though…my head is spinning.

A while ago, I thought I’d figured out that Julia was women’s fiction: strong female protag, life journey…no romance, no thriller, no murder, no aliens, no magic. I didn’t really like putting the story into that category because I think her journey could be taken by someone of either gender. But, all the advice says that pitching a story in a certain genre is better than just general fiction…so I’m searching for agents who represent women’s fiction.

As I research agents, I look at their authors and the books they’ve sold. Most sites give a list of authors but don’t tell you what genre the books fall into. It’s not hard to search Amazon for a description, but it certainly takes time to go through the whole list…and I’m left guessing was that women’s fiction or regular fiction, women’s fiction or romance? And when I do find an agent who is helpful enough to divide out their authors by genre, all the women’s fiction books look suspiciously like romance novels without Fabio and 1800’s bodices.

So, am I even in the right genre? According to some articles yes, according to others…maybe.

Ug.