Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IWSG - Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction & Links

It's time for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group! You can join at any time. We post on the first Wednesday of each month.

Some days I feel a bit insecure about my choice to pursue genre fiction, rather than literary fiction. I see award winning books and wonder if my books will stand a chance. Are those award accolades what I want? Do I wish Oprah would pick me for her book club (is she still doing that in some way?)

Genre fiction sells, but does it have the same respect that literary fiction has?

I have so many ideas in various genres, but the ones that really peak my interest don't tend to be the more literary ideas. I did start one of them awhile back, though, and it still swims through my mind, but I had trouble deciding on a few of the details in that one. When I started it, I identified with it, and the character reflected that in her life situation. Since then, I've ceased identifying with her situation, and I've started wonder whether I should stick with her family/life or go with other ideas I've had. These are the things that need to be addressed before I write her story. Had I finished it then, I imagine it would have been different.

That story is powerful. It might even be something that could get a certain kind of attention. Yet my love is the fun and action of the stories I'm writing now. The dark sectors that show in them. And I can't help but be swayed back in their direction each time. Even if it means I never get that certain kind of respect for what I've written.

Now for some links!

Accepting Submissions:

On Impression has a listing of editions and deadlines that are taking submissions. Mix of poetry, art and literary.

Dark Moon Digest is always open for short horror fiction for their publications. Pays $10 and a copy of that issue.

This Mutant Life has reopened and is taking submissions for a 2013 neo-pulp/superhuman anthology. Pays $.01/word, plus royalty share (once costs are recovered) and e-book copy. Open for submissions through June 30.

Eye to the Telescope is looking for submissions for their April issue. Theme: Immigrations. Deadline: March 1. Poetry. Pays $.03/word.


Author J.A. Kazimer is holding two contests to promote her new book, Froggy Style. Both go through March 30. Prizes include an e-books, books, $100 gift card, and being written into her next novel. Enter to win at her website. For bonus points, take a picture of you (or your child, pet, etc.) kissing a frog, real or stuffed.

Flash Fiction Chronicles has their String-of-10 FIVE Flash Fiction Contest going this week. Deadline is Saturday, February 9, at 11:59 PM PST. Prizes include cash, online publication, and books.

The Pikes Peak Branch of the National League of American Pen Women is hosting their annual flash fiction contest, with the theme Hidden Amongst These Worlds. Despite the group's name, this contest is open to one and all, not just women. $10 entry fee ($8 for each additional entry). Cash prize.

Blog Hops/Fests:

The Indelibles are hosting an Indie-Kissing Blogfest on February 14. You can make it your own, but suggestions include sharing a romance scene from your WIP/book, writing about how to write a romance scene, talking about a real date of yours, giving Valentine's suggestions for romance, etc.

Carrie Anne's Blog Hops will be hosting the Heartbreaker Blog Hop February 8-11. Three prizes available, and the ability to enter 200 times (if you hop around to the host blogs and comment).

Mary, Suze and Nicki are hosting the Back From the Future Blogfest  March 1. Imagine you've received a box from 10 years in the future; what's in it?


Book Marketing Buzz Blog made a listing of book marketing and publicity tips.

The San Francisco Writers Conference Charity Auction is currently underway until February 11. Some great items to bid on for writers!

Pikes Peak Writers will be giving a free half-day workshop on Saturday, February 23, all about how to Write Your Heart Out. This will be a sampler of speakers from the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April, including Robert Liparulo, Lisa Renee Jones, and Kathryn Eastburn. RSVP required. More information can be found HERE if you scroll down. This is my maiden voyage as NCE Director!

For those that can't attend Pikes Peak Writers events in person, we put up four online MP3 Write Brains per year. Author Stephen Koonts is our speaker this month. This month's MP3 can be found at the above link.

The Western Museum of Mining and Industry is presenting a workshop Saturday, February 23, on History and Science Writing for Teachers and Learners of All Ages (13+). 9 AM to 1 PM. $20 for adults, $10 for students. Presented by Steven W. Veatch.

Anything to share? Anything you're particularly interested in that I've mentioned today? What makes you feel insecure? 

May you find your Muse.


  1. I've had the same thoughts myself, but my interest right now is in genre writing, so I go with it.

    I keep one of my literary ideas on the back burner, it's still stewing. Just take an aspirin and keep writing what's fun.

  2. I've had these concerns too- I write humor, nothing deep and certainly not a literary classic they'll be studying in schools 100 years from now, but what finally worked for me was recognizing that what I write is what I prefer to read. I never was a literary classics girl, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

    If you're passionate about genre writing, stick with it.

    Best of luck and thanks for the links, we own of frog, so we'll be entering that contest for sure:)

  3. I wonder if everyone has these same worries - I know I do, but my worry is the opposite of yours. I write literary fiction and wish that my inspiration was more genre-specific because genre fiction is what sells like hotcakes. Genre fiction is what's making money right now! All writers are a little bit powerless when it comes to our influences, but I think we do our best work when we write what inspires us, regardless of genre. I read books from across the board and like to think that others do too; and in that case, literary vs. genre becomes less relevant.

  4. I too have some of these concerns. I used to write a lot of poetry, but then my genre fiction started sailing to better, lusher islands. So, I stopped writing so much poetry and started writing genre fiction, with moderate success!

    I think our main goal as writers is to write. Write what our hearts desire, and then align those desire to writing pieces that will land us riches. (Even if they're small, but it's a start).

  5. I know what you mean about literary fiction but I would always write genre because it's what I am most familiar with and What engrosses me and entertains me most. I do occasionally read literary fiction but it rarely gives me the satisfaction that genre fiction does.

  6. I write literary fiction that is also genre fiction. The distinction is only there if you let it. It's the way you write rather than what you write.

  7. thanks for the links! I think most writers start out dreaming of writing the next great literary novel, but sooner or later we find a genre that we actually feel comfortable in and we stick to that. :D

  8. Thanks for the links. Now I must find out what is the difference between genre fiction and literary fiction. New things to learn.

  9. I'm not sure you can choose the genre so much as choose the ideas that slot into a particular idea. For example, I am not a science fiction writer because I haven't ever had a science fiction idea. Don't worry if this doesn't make sense, I'm writing it very late and had a glass of wine with dinner :-)

  10. I love genre fiction and, to be honest, lots of what is considered literary fiction doesn't even appeal to me. Many times when I start reading award winning books I end up feeling like I must be the biggest moron on earth LOL. Really the main thing I want is to be entertained when I read, any story that can do that regardless of genre is okay by me.

    Thanks as always for the links!

  11. Don't worry about getting awards, those come later when you've written and published LOTS of books. Just write what speaks to you :)

    Also, are you going to PPWC this year? It would be fun to meet up :)

  12. Award winning books don't always sell though. Focus on what you enjoy.

  13. I think literary fiction is much the harder to become successful at, especially if you aren't coming at it from a traditional angle.

    Moody Writing
    Cheers for the link!

  14. Wow! There are a lot of things going on.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  15. I feel the need to point out that Agatha Christie is the best selling author EVER, and she was a genre writer.
    Just sayin.

  16. Maybe the answer to your dilemma depends on what kind of respect you want: the respect given to a great writer of any genre, or the kind that goes with what's often thought of as more high-brow, serious fiction. I've also read mysteries/thrillers and science fiction I thought of as literary, and stuff that wasn't literary but was so darn good and so much fun I didn't care. We write what the story demands.

  17. Don't sweat the genre stuff. You are amazing!

    Thank you for the pimping too.

  18. I'm pretty sure that genre fiction has a broader market, so exposure-wise, that's a better choice. But you should always follow your heart, and you'll end up where should really be. :)

  19. It sounds like you are drawn to genre writing; don't fight it!

  20. Genre fiction won't get the 'respect' of the literary community for a while to come, sadly, but who needs 'em? If you're being pulled towards genre, then go for genre until the literary stuff pulls you back :)

    Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom

  21. D.G., no aspirin necessary, but I do write what I love. Like you, the rest stays on the back burner.

    Robin, yes, I hope you do enter the contest! How fun! Very good point. I do read a bit of everything, but genre fiction is first and foremost.

    Lauren, it sounds like another case of the grass is always greener. Like you, I read across the board, but some things more than others, of course.

    Sopphey, ah, riches. If only!

    Pat, I feel the same way, so it makes sense to write what I read and react to the most.

    Tony, that's a great point, and true. Something to think about.

    Schell, true, and I think I've already found that genre.

    Al, genre tends to be the fluff, the stuff that falls in a genre, like Urban Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, etc. I'm having a hard time defining literary, though.

    Annalisa, it made sense. Unfortunately (maybe?), I have ideas of all kinds all the time, BUT I do tend to be more drawn to one or another, so those are what I write.

    Julie, I like that last part. That's what I need to be focusing on: entertaining the reader, period. It's so easy to get caught up in the business of things, to think of what to pitch something as, etc.

  22. J.A., admittedly, I didn't think I cared about awards, but I look at the posters at my kids' school with the medal winners, and I covet...

    And yes! I'm staff at PPWC, so might actually be easier to find. I will get in touch.

    Alex, that's quite true. Neither do others, of course, but here's hoping!

    Mood, that's what it sounds like. I know at the local big conference there are those that disparage literary (never staff/faculty, but attendees). I imagine it works both ways.

    Shelly, there always seems to be! Don't know what I'd do if there weren't when I went to write my posts.

    Andrew, ooooooh, indeed! But she was awesome.

    Jan, that's true, we do write what the story demands. Sometimes I read a book and I think how I'd love to be able to write like that. And it happens with all different kinds of books.

    Julie, always glad to pimp!

    DL, I agree, and my heart has an obvious direction!

    Missed, I shouldn't, should I!?

    Jamie, well said! I gotta' write what I most want to write.

  23. Thanks for all the great links - and glad you like my idea to host a Writers Retreat in Hawaii :)

  24. I think you have to write the types of stories you enjoy reading, Shannon. I truly believe that's how to find your niche.

    That's not to say you can't 'pretty up' stories about boy wizards or teenagers killing each other on TV (I'd put both series up against the finest literary stories I've read). It's just to say you have to follow your imagination with these things.

    I also do not believe that the real reward of being an author is tied to money or accolades. It's tied to connecting with readers. Charlaine Harris is never going to win a Pulitzer for her Sookie Stackhouse novels, but she has a million diehard fans. I bet she's cool with that. (Yes, she's rich now, but wasn't always.)

    There's no other way to say it but this: When you get that first, genuine review on Goodreads from a stranger who has truly gotten your story and enjoyed it, none of the rest of it matters. You'd write a thousand more for free and send them to just that person if life and practicality would allow it.

    That's a really long way of saying: write the best story YOU know how to write, and let the chips fall. :-)

  25. I suffer from the same insecurity, I find MG fiction bit of a hard nut to crack where agents are concerned. Everyone is looking at YA.

  26. I suppose I write genre fiction, since historical is a genre, but I do tend towards a more literary style as well.

    I was feeling insecure because the modern definition of YA is much different than it was when I began writing, and because it's so hard to find serious YA historical these days. So I came to the conclusion that I've actually been writing adult historicals that happen to have young characters.

  27. Genre fiction... literary fiction...
    YA. MG. NA.
    Why can't we look past the semantics and just be allowed to write a story that comes from the heart?
    Just my two cents worth...

  28. Once at a conference I saw that my pages were scheduled to be reviewed by an editor and agent at the time slot marked for "genre" fiction. I wrote a mystery, though for some reason, I hadn't thought of my work as being genre fiction. And neither had the editor. She reviewed my work and said she considered my writing quite literary. So it's possible to write genre fiction in a literary style. I say, write for yourself and what's in your heart. Don't worry about what the "literary folk" would say.

  29. I think it's good to have all those thoughts and ideas about what to write. I've heard the best rule of thumb is to write the one that calls the loudest to you, the one that gets under your skin and won't turn loose.

    Happy Weekend!

  30. I must admit, I'm a huge lover of genre fiction--I don't even like the artsy stuff. Give me a fun story with great characters over something with a deep message any day of the week. Sorry, but most literary fiction seems boring to me, and generally depressing. I always feel like, if I want to be depressed, I can just go look at my sink full of dishes. haha.

    All kidding aside though, whatever you choose to write, you just have to have a passion for your story. The more of your heart that you can put into it, the more people will want to read whatever you've written-no matter what genre it's in.

  31. I'm a BIG fan of genre fiction, and while I write a lot of pulp, some of my "literary" ventures have been received well. But I know what you mean. It took Stephen King YEARS to break into the New Yorker -- wasn't it just a year or two ago? I write what I like to read, and I'm OK with that.

    Thanks for the market/contest/bloghop updates!

  32. Mark, I do! The fact that it's free and communal makes it even better. Art communities that work that way seem to be a good idea.

    E.J., I agree that it's about connecting with the writer. When I look forward, I get nervous about so many things, but what I really want is for readers to enjoy it, to have fun with the story and to be glad they read it.

    Rachna, hopefully that is a good thing. They're going to get tired of YA at some point, or want to expand that success to MG, and I hope you can swoop in when it happens.

    Carrie-Anne, breakthroughs like that are always such a relief. It's hard to figure out your exact genre sometimes. We just want to write!!

    Michelle, I agree. There is a lot of good that comes from attending writing workshops/conferences, but I also think it tends to make me overthink some things.

    Cynthia, interesting! And I agree. So was she not interested in literary fiction then? I know genre agents/editors tend to not be interested in literary, and vice versa.

    Carol, those are the ones that make it impossible to write anything else!

    Tamara, I agree on the passion. I write what I enjoy, and I need to embrace that.

    Milo, what works for Stephen King works for me, I tell you what!

  33. Thanks for all the links!

    As for writing genre fiction verses literary, all I can say is, after getting my BA in English Literature, I absolutely prefer genre fiction!

  34. These are absolutely great links, thanks!

    I write mostly literary but also enjoy reading and writing genre. I think the division is moot.

  35. Moon, sounds good to me!

    Dami, I think you're right.