I am writing my second book, which is quite a departure from the first, and have begun thinking about how I might categorise this novel when it comes to my NWS submission, at some point over the next four months.  Okay, so I know I am getting ahead of myself here, the thing is only one third written, but at this rate the genre description might match the total word count of the book itself!  As far as I can work out it is a:

  • Young adult
  • Time slip
  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Suspense
  • Supernatural novel
  • With elements of magic

I am not sure about the supernatural bit, if I am honest, perhaps it’s paranormal instead?  I just don’t know…  What is the difference and how much does it really matter?  To me, the answer is “not that much” but, like all labels, genres can be quite emotive tags.

When I started pursuing this journey to publication more seriously, I thought I enjoyed reading and writing Chick Lit best of all.  As far as I was concerned that meant feel good, escapist, contemporary romance, with a guaranteed happy ending thrown in for good measure.

Then I discovered that mentioning the phrase ‘Chick Lit’ was tantamount to referring to the Scottish play by its real name.  If I was serious about publication, and was going to call my work Chick Lit, it was as fool-hardy as rushing into a theatre on the opening night of a Shakespeare production and shouting the word Macbeth at the top of my voice, as well as wishing the cast good luck – instead of telling them all to “break a leg”.

Apparently, I absolutely have to ensure that I never utter the CL phrase and always refer to my first novel as a Rom Com.  But why?  It doesn’t change what it is, any more than it changes the books in this genre written by some of my favourite authors, who were still my favourite authors back when they wrote Chick Lit…

Confused? I know I am!  We’re also told these days to ensure that we write deeper themes and I’m all for that.  In my early forties, I certainly know that life is about more than bagging a man and my next adult novel, which will still be a Rom Com (or CL if you dare), tackles Alzheimer’s as one of its themes.  Yet isn’t there still a place for the frothiest of light heartedly Chick Lit out there, it people want to read it?  Or is the genre really dead, just because someone, somewhere, says it is?

So today I’m rebelling and, like those who refuse to label their sexuality or gender, I’m asking if labelling our genre is just as subjective?  Of course, I’m sure I’ll back down by the time the submission deadline rolls around and I’ll also be rocking my lucky pants then – just in case!

Jo x

When wishes come true…

First of all I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has commented and wished me well. No-one is more surprised than me about my offer of a two book deal with Harlequin’s Digital Imprint Carina.  In my heart I know my novel is good enough to be published because over the years I have read some that actually kept me going they were so bad and had found publishers, but I never actually believed it could happen to me. I thought it was something that would always happen to everyone else. I keep thinking it all might be a mistake, once my contract arrives I think I might actually believe it’s true and then I’ll give everyone a full update.

You know there is a garden centre we visit every couple of months up at Ambleside and outside there is a wishing well type thing with a bell that you throw your money at to see if you can hit it. It has become a Phifer family tradition now that none of us can walk away until we hit that bell at least once and make a wish. My wishes these last two years have been, please let me finish my book, please let me find an agent or publisher, please let the lovely editor I met like my book, please let the lovely editor buy my book – you get the idea. I think it might be time for another trip up there to make another wish but I’m not sharing that one unless it comes true but whatever you do with your writing and no matter how disheartened you may feel – don’t ever give up.

Helen P xx