Confessions of a Chronic Genre Shopper

My Young Adult Steampunk Fantasy novel, CURIO, was released in January of 2016, exactly ten years after I began seriously pursuing fiction writing. Ten years is a long time to wait, and when I consider the traditionally published college students and teens (yes, teens!) I know, I feel not only old, but a little delusional. What on earth possessed me to keep at this goal of publication when pizza delivery would have been more profitable?

GIVEAWAY: Evangeline is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

Evangeline-Denmark-author-writer Curio-book-cover

Column by Evangeline Denmark, debut author of CURIO (Jan. 5, 2016, Blink).
CURIO was an RT Reviews Top Pick for February  2016, and USA Today’s
HEA blog called the world-building “two levels of genius.” Evangeline lives in

Colorado in a house stuffed full of animals and creative people that would surely
go to ruin were it not for the watchful eye of a cattle dog named Willie. Find
Evangeline online, visit her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter.

I’m often asked what I wish I’d known at the beginning of my writing journey, and I always answer, “I wish I’d found YA sooner.” Many young authors start out confident in their genre, but I didn’t. I bumbled about trying genres on for size, checking different angles, and squinting into my laptop screen. Does this make my prose look big?

CURIO is my sixth novel, which means I wrote five novels before writing “the one.” I believed in every single one of them and when they didn’t get published, it felt like failure. But now I look back and see the links between each project and the book that finally fit—the one that landed me a contract.

(Literary agents explain and define book genres.)

Here’s a glimpse at my evolution from chronic genre shopper to published YA Fantasy author. I hope it’ll help you see that no project is a failure, but rather every experience is a step in your right direction.


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Novel One: I’m a Pantser.

My first novel was a Cozy Mystery that I didn’t actually finish. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that most mystery novelists are plotters. From my abandoned novel I learned that I’m definitely a pantser, and it’s hard to write a mystery when you, the author, don’t know the whodunit. There I was introducing characters and wondering, “Are you the murderer?” I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s done.

Novels Two and Three: Awkward girls have more fun.

Next came my Chick Lit phase. I wrote two Chick Lit manuscripts and I learned that I love writing heroines who are uncomfortable in their own skin and over the course of the novel come to accept themselves. I also learned there’s truth in the adage “Everything happens for a reason.” If my Chick Lit had gotten published I would’ve quickly needed to reinvent my career since that genre went stiletto-up.

Novel Four: Speculative Fiction is my jam.

Ready for something different, I plunged into Paranormal Romance and quickly became addicted to supernatural story elements. For the first time I knew I’d found a voice uniquely me. But I learned that you can love a project, your critique group can love a project, your agent can love a project, and it can still fail to land you a contract. However, this book also taught me to believe in my options, and I plan to indie publish it in the future.

(Have questions about what genre/category you’re writing in? Here are some tips.)

Novel Five: Darker tones suit me fine.

My second foray into Paranormal Romance taught me that I love creating an atmospheric tone with thick threads of angst—tools that served me well when I turned to YA Fantasy. I also learned it’s possible to lose track of how many rewrites you’ve done but still love a project enough to dive in for one more round. I’m currently reworking this book as a New Adult and feeling confident in my genre tweak.

On the surface, my writing journey looks like the random flailing of the habitually indecisive, but in fact each of these projects was a critical step. When I get frustrated with how long it took for me to find my genre, I remind myself of the value of each novel I wrote. I haven’t been wandering these past ten years, I’ve been collecting the pieces of my craft.

GIVEAWAY: Evangeline is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

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