Friday, November 27, 2015

Don't Be Afraid of the Delete Button

Okay, so we're nearing the end of NaNo. You know, the month where you madly write 50,000 words in 30 days. I hope if you've been participating that you've succeeded already, or you're mere words away from reaching the goal. Only a few more days!

But today, I wanted to talk about that somewhat dreaded delete key. I teach typing, and my kids LOVE the delete key. I can't get them to stop touching it! They don't want any mistakes! If only writing were as easy, right?

Anyway, I started NaNo with half a novel I'd written two years ago. Technically, that's cheating for NaNo, but who's going to turn me in? Is there a NaNo police?

In this novel, I'd written about 40,000 words. I spent a couple days at the beginning at the month before I started writing. And let's be honest here: It was a mess. But it's a time travel novel, so I'm okay with a bit of mess in the first draft.

But I struggled. And I mean, strug-gled to write more words. I think I wrote several thousand words in this broken draft. The problem? I didn't know it was a broken draft.

But after a conversation with my critique group, I decided I was brave enough to abandon that draft and start over. With a blank page.

Scary, right?!

It was scary.

But I left that draft behind and I opened a new document. I started the book over, and I wrote 55,000 words in it. The book's not done, but it's a heckuva lot closer. And the most important part?

It works.

So today's tip is to embrace that delete key. Don't be afraid to leave what isn't working behind. Delete it. Cut it. Erase it. Abandon it. They're just words, and you can write more.

My motto: When in doubt, delete.

Have you ever deleted scenes, chapters, entire novels and started over? How did it go?

Liz Isaacson writes inspirational romance, usually set in Texas, or Wyoming, or anywhere else horses and cowboys exist. Her Western inspirational romance, SECOND CHANCE RANCH, is available now. The second book THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM comes out on Tuesday, December 1!

She lives in Utah, where she teaches elementary school, taxis her daughter to dance several times a week, and serves on her community's library board. Liz is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Agency. Find her on Facebook, twitter, and her blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Juxtaposition of a Creative Life

A few days ago, Mette Harrison posted about an interaction she had with a professor as an undergrad. This professor said Shakespeare should have written less, because some of his body of work isn’t as good as the other. This professor said if he would have done less, and had what he did do be better, then Shakespeare would have been a better author.

Maybe you agree. Maybe you disagree. But Mette went on to explain,

“Creativity is about unleashing the possibilities. It’s about everything [that] is allowed in this space. It’s give me whatever you’ve got, good or bad, let’s throw it in here and see if it works. Creativity is writing even when you think it’s probably bad, and letting go of the judgment while you’re in the moment because how you are feeling when you are writing is not necessarily indicative of how good the writing is.”

There are a lot of people who get engaged in the battle of whether someone should or should not do NaNoWriMo. There are some who dispute the process of, what I like to call, vomiting words on the page. There are some to say that it is a discredit to their process. There are others who look forward to November like a three-year-old looks forward to Christmas because the adrenaline and productivity put them on a path for success for the whole year.

But in the end, the purpose behind it all is to create. And if we sit there, waiting for the brilliance to knock on our door, to guide us gently to the land of inspiration, where Diet Coke and popcorn are freely available and everything we write is etched in gold because it’s so good, we are seriously SERIOUSLY misguided – both regarding the process and what it takes to become ANYTHING.

Over the summer, I had my AP students read one of seven books:

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
Quiet: The Power of Introvert - Susan Cain
The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle

I needed these (mostly) Juniors to understand a little bit about themselves, about processes of success, about life. But as I was reviewing the arguments in each of these, I came to the awareness that they are all good books for grown-ups too. They identify the tendencies successful people have, the situations in life and the progress of the world that allow for success at different times, even the way we, as people, tend to work.

You see, there are many people who think that successful people became successful because they were lucky.

We, of course, never think this.


One of my critique partners is working through a revision right now. Her first drafts are stunning, evocative and beautifully written. But then, she got to that chapter. We all have them, the one where we wrote what was necessary to get to the next thing, and then we have to come back to it. After acknowledging there were, ahem, complications, she said, “This is a steaming pile of poo. Probably best to shovel it off and start over.”

She has put in the time to recognize that the process of creating is a messy one. Sometimes we catch the mess and can clean it up ourselves, and other times, we end up sending it out to the world like a disheveled mismatched kindergartner. Sure, it’ll probably get through the day okay, but the judgment, both from others and from ourselves will not be escapable. Sometimes, though, that's what we focus on.

But that’s not the point. Reactions from others, responses from others, praise, critiques, comparisons SHOULD NOT be the motivation to keep creating.

If you haven’t yet listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast or started reading Big Magic yet, do yourself a favor and start.

“While the paths and outcomes of creative living will vary wildly from person to person, I can guarantee you this: A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you – is a fine art, in and of itself.”

Just as mining is a dirty process riddled with trial and error, so too is life, and in particular, a creative life. Don’t shirk away from the mess. Don’t get upset if things don’t pan out the right way the first time.  Or the fifth time. Or the twenty-fifth.

So if you are winning NaNo - CONGRATS! You pushed through a difficult task. Please don't think it's done.

If NaNo went the way of the Dodo bird for you *raises hand* - DON'T DESPAIR. Just because someone's word count is ahead of yours doesn't mean what you have is not valued.

If you are looking at the writing goals you had for this year, whether it was to finish the draft, get feedback from betas, start the querying process, get an agent, book deal, foreign rights, movie deal, quit the day job, become independently wealthy from your craft, or some other dream...

...and if that dream didn't happen, shift your focus, instead, to what you and your craft learned in the last year.

Look at the ways that writing got you through the difficult times, at the way you look on life because of your writing.

Look at the friendships you've made, the things you've learned about story, character, arcs, craft, people, society and life.

Look at where and what your life was before you started this creative endeavor. Because anything worthwhile is worth the work and that includes success, your craft, you.

Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a dash of magic. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is the managing editor for the Women's Fiction Writers Association quarterly newsletter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It's All About the First Chapter

A couple years ago I had the opportunity to hear Jennifer A. Nielsen teach a class on writing middle-grade books. During her instruction she shared a little about her book The False Prince and how it made every author’s dream: it got into a bidding war with publishers. Nielsen said what made the publishers so interested in this book was the opening chapter. Like any smart writer I immediately went out and got her book. I read it in about two days (which for me is amazingly fast). It was that good! The story was fresh and kept me turning page after page. However, the whole book is NOT what got Nielsen into a bidding war—it was the first chapter. So I went back and started pin pointing the things that made this chapter so compelling. Without spoiling this book for anyone who hasn’t read it (if not, you’re missing out) I am going to try to give an analysis on some of the things Nielsen does to make a book worthy of a bidding war.

1: Write the story in the correct POV. 

Every story is different and not every book should be written in the save point of view. Nielsen chose to write The False Prince in 1st person. I thought this was a bold move considering the secrets Sage (the main character) keeps from the readers throughout the book—or does he? Reading back through its amazing how many clues Sage give the reader about what is to come in the first few chapters of the book.

2: Start with questions.

The first two sentences immediately start the book by posing questions in the readers mind. “If I had to do it all over again, I would not have chosen this life. Then again, I’m not sure I ever had a choice.”  Who is this? What life are they leading? What life did he leave behind? Did he have a choice? Who forced him into this situation? These are questions that readers take on. Instantly we want to read more because we want answers.

3: Don’t start slow—start with action or suspense. 

You’ve probably all heard the saying, start in the middle of a scene. Well…it works! Next the reader finds themselves in a chase scene. Sage has stolen a roast and is being pursued by a meat cleaver wielding butcher. We learn that:
·         Sage is hungry.
·         He is an orphan.
·         He is a thief.
The chase scene lasts a whopping four paragraphs before Sage is caught. It’s fast.

4: Show more character and pose more questions. 

When Sage is caught, a nobleman gets him off the hook by paying for the roast. Sage is forced to follow the nobleman to the orphanage where we have a brief conversation with the caretaker, Mrs. Turbeldy. We learn that the nobleman is named Bevin Connor. We also learn that Sage wasn’t stealing this roast just for himself—he is trying to feed the other boys at the orphanage, so he is willing to risk his neck for others. Then the questions start in the readers mind. Who is Bevin Connor? What does he want with an orphan boy?  Who is Sage really? 

5: Give more information about the main character. 

Nielsen chooses to do this by Connor giving an interrogation of Sage (which also poses the question in the readers mind: who is Connor looking for?). Sage is identified as being illiterate, no good with a sword, a thief, and a liar. We also learn that Sage is snarky and has authority issues. As readers, we like this kid!

6: Create more questions and end the chapter on a cliff hanger. 

Next Connor tells Sage to get his things. Mrs. Turbeldy says he’s been bought and paid for. You get another hint at Sages character as he alludes to the fact he can’t be owned by anyone. Good, so Sage is a freedom fighter too—all the more reason to like him. When Sage doesn’t come willingly, Connor’s men knock him out. Nielsen ends the chapter with Sage being taken away into the unknown by a complete strange not opposed to violence.

Add this chapter to the fantastic hook Nielsen has and you have a book worthy of an agent or publishers interest. “An orphan is forced into a twisted game with deadly stakes. Choose to lie...or choose to die.” And that’s how you write a killer fist chapter. 

Let’s review just the bullets here:

·         Have the right POV.
·         Start with questions about your main character.
·         Speed it up—don’t start slow.
·         Create a character easily related to that shows us good characteristics.
·         Pose more questions.
·         End on a page turner or cliff hanger.

If you haven’t read The False Prince I invite you to go out and get the book. It is well worth your time and you will NOT be disappointed. I can’t tell you enough about how much I love this book. It will keep you turning pages and surprise you with the way it ends. Try to craft an opening chapter using the key elements I have found in the first chapter of this book. Not every story is going to be the same and not every story should start the same, but they should all start RIGHT.

I recently had the opportunity to put these tips to the test. I normally write in 3rd person limited but when I decided to write a suspenseful YA book I thought I needed to change the POV. I switched to 1st person present tense (a huge change for me but in the end it served its purpose). Next I focused on the first chapter, making sure I have several questions being posed. I start the chapter in the middle of a scene. I don’t have a chase scene, but I have a teenage boy being hauled off to prison for killing his father (it’s pretty intense, too). I tried to show things in my main character that my readers can relate with and I posed even more questions. Finally I ended the chapter on a cliff hanger, just begging the reader to move on to chapter two.

I wanted to share my experience in putting these tips to the test. It was really hard working through this first chapter to make it shine. Now I don’t know if my book will find the success that Jennifer Nielsen’s book did in getting a bidding war off the first chapter, but I do know that it is my best work I have done thus far. I’ll keep you updated on its progress when it goes shopping publishers. I really believe that if we take a deeper look at the books that are successful we will see specific things like I found in The False Prince. It takes an avid reader to make a great writer. Now go write—or read—it’s up to you where to start.

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award winning author and illustrator. He has published five middle-grade books including the fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. Some of his picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons, which will be featured in an independent film releasing at the Sundance Film Festival. He has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance cover designer and formatter. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his four kiddos and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. You can find more about him & his books at:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Read to Learn from Mentor Texts

Last week, I had the chance to attend an all day training by Kelly Gallagher, one of the leading voices on techniques to increase adolescent literacy. While there were many MANY ideas, lessons and concepts that excited me for my classroom, there were also many ideas that cross over to writing.

Recently, several collaborators on this blog listed their favorite lessons learned from the writing of different genres. While we of course encourage you to go back and read those, the most important lesson to be learned from all of those posts is that there is a fundamental necessity for writers to be readers. 

But as I was listening to Mr. Gallagher, I realized why. He taught, when working with new writers, it is important to give them a mentor text to mirror. Students can mirror form, study organization, allowing them to overcome some of the complications in writing. Then, once they have a solid idea, they can write these ideas in a way that adds meaning to original thought, gain confidence in their writing ability, and begin down a path of self-expression. 

This is why reading is so important. And while our focus was on the benefits and lessons learned within certain genres, it is a wide variety of genres that will give us, as writers, a multitude of templates from which we can create our stories.

For instance, one of my CPs just finished up the end of a character driven middle grade novel. She wanted this to have a strong emotional impact, so she tapped into the lessons learned from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, which is most definitely not a MG book. 

Another friend who was exploring the nature of magic realism in books for an upcoming YA started reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen to understand how magic can be woven into contemporary settings with flawlessness. 

As for me, I've been reading a biography on Charles Darwin, which has provided insights into the way a person would have both a desire to move forward with an idea, and hesitate at the same time because of the newness of the situation. 

Additionally, there is great value in reading lengthy articles. I have a friend who got a two book deal from an article she read about a doll. And my own current book started with the idea of open adoption, followed by many MANY posts during November, as it is National Adoption Month. As we read, from books and texts, articles and social media, and are in tune with the idea concepts lingering everywhere, we can not only capture a sparkle of a shiny new idea, but we can experience our own series of mentoring experiences, mimicking reality in writing, and adding depth to the ability ever growing within ourselves as writers. 

Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a dash of magic. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is the managing editor for the Women's Fiction Writers Association quarterly newsletter.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Why It Helps Me to Write on the Dark Side

A writer friend of mine once shared with me why she wrote the type of stories that she wrote. She first began writing while she was on extended bed rest due to a difficult pregnancy, both factors of which combined to make her severely depressed. The story that she wrote was funny and uplifting with a happily-ever-after ending because it was exactly what she needed to cheer herself up, and that's the type of story she's written ever since.

Every writer's story is different (pun intended), and maybe you don't have one specific life event that spurred you on to write the stories that you do. But I'm a firm believer that the best writers write from their hearts, and it's useful to think about your motivation to writing what you write. Why? Because this will affect your characters' emotions and motivations as well.

I'd like to think that my stories have uplifting messages. There is hope if my characters look for it, but my stories also always incorporate dark elements. For instance, I always have romance as a key element of the story, and while one main character is bright, the love interest is always damaged because of something dark that happened in his/her past. Even my brightest characters have something dark within their backstories. After polling some of my writer friends, I discovered that I'm not alone. Cumulatively, our characters and stories have dealt with issues such as mental illnesses, alcoholism, sexual assault, drug abuse, domestic violence, anorexia, gambling, manslaughter, child abuse, bullying, and so on.

I love writing dark stories. I don't think I could ever pull off anything different.

Channeling darker experiences helps me connect with the emotions that my characters need when faced with similar challenges. Even if the exact experiences aren't identical, it could still elicit the same emotions and motivations in your character. Being taunted by bullies in high school made me wish I was invisible and led me to be extremely introverted and self-reliant. I share these qualities with one of my characters who is misunderstood because of her paranormal abilities. 

Writing about darker experiences helps me understand and put them in their proper place, a place that allows me to cope with these things in real life. Conducting research on drug abuse and alcoholism for my characters helps me understand the people I love that are struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism. Helping one of my characters work through her experience with sexual assault was the only thing that helped me, fifteen years later, put my own demons to rest and allow me to find peace and forgiveness.

I write romance because I remain a hopeless (or is it hopeful?) romantic. I believe in the happily ever afters, and accordingly all of my stories have HEAs. Perhaps most of all, having that bit of darkness in my stories gives me the power to turn things around, to write for my characters those happy endings and outcomes, even when the ones from real life were not.

What about you? Why do you write what you write? 


Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both YA urban fantasy and NA contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of YA urban fantasies MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL, and NA contemporary romance LOSING ENOUGH. You can find out more about Helen at

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Don’t Get Caught in a Monkey Trap

A monkey’s grip gets him into trouble. Monkey trappers will use nuts, bananas, or melon seeds to lure a monkey into their trap. The workings of the trap is brilliant. And because they know monkey nature (yeah, you know, verses human nature) they know just how to get them.

A small hole is drilled into a coconut just large enough for the monkey’s hand. Some catchers use a bottle that’s too heavy for the monkey to run off with. Plop, plop. In goes the food (apparently monkeys and my boys have the same brain- they are all food dudes). Then, the bait patiently waits for the little primate.

I’m sure the trappers get a swirly whirl in their stomachs waiting for the entertainment to begin.
And like magic the monkey’s snooping ends up in a monkey dance whooping. He doesn’t have the intelligence to let go of his prize. So he screeches, flips, and flies around his fist. That fist that won’t let go.

Oh, the glorious monkey trap.

As a kid I remember being lured into such a trap. Except they called it a Chinese Finger Trap. No one told me the consequences of sticking my fingers in each end. Of course they didn’t tell me the secret- it would have ruined all of the fun. Just the prize guy and my dad exchanged glances and a smirk. Yes, you want to spend your lucky shot tokens on this pretty zip-zagged watermelon pink and blooming blue thingamabob. It was the nuts, banana, and melon seed trick.

And soon I was in a panic. I was shy so the screeching and flipping and flying around my newly cemented finger bridge was only internal. My wide eyes and shallow breathing told all. And the more I struggled, the more I couldn’t let go.

I didn’t suffer long as my dad chuckled then shared the tip to loosen the grip. I just needed to push my fingers together. Just let go. I guess I should share that tip with the monkey. Poor guy.

Ah. All is better, it feels great to let go. So if you find yourself struggling in your writing. Chances are you have your grip too tight on something. Learn to let go; loosen up. Here’s how:

4 Tips to Avoid Getting Caught in the Monkey Trap 

Evaluate the following areas and see if you can loosen your grip on one of these to help you be more successful in your writing. Remember this acronym to loosen your ‘GRIP.’

G The Guru Grip. 

Everyone has something that they are good at. Things that they gravitate towards. Sure, you may be a writing guru and that’s fine but its’ when at every chance to write you suddenly find yourself working on your “skills.” Suddenly the house decorations are bothering you and you revamp your ideas. Or at a spare moment you find yourself fine tuning your already perfect meal plans. Or, possibly you find a need to build that shed out back so you spend your time fumbling and fiddling with that instead. Some people are housework guru’s (ahem… they are expert at seeing just one more thing that needs to be done.)

This is just the quick and easy way to work on what you have already perfected. It’s the easy way out. We are experts at snippets of things in our life, and that is good. But, are you following your passion to write? It takes work, discipline, and determination. You can do it. Let go of what you are already good at and start working on your passion. And yes, some things will flop. But, schedule in a make-up guru day.

R The Research Grip. 

Maybe you are a full-fledged writer and you have been working hard. But, you find yourself in the research trap. You have been spending your time researching how to write or what to write. You are caught up in doing it perfectly or knowing everything before you begin. I know how you feel. I was in this trap for a very long time. One day I just realized that I needed to loosen up the keys on my keyboard and stop feeding my eyes and brain- my fingers were getting weak. There comes a time to spew. And that’s just what you do. Put your thoughts on paper or screen.
Schedule it in. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I write. The rest of the week I can work on research, thinking, etc. But, whatever you choose to do learn to let go of not knowing everything. The rest will come as needed. You can’t be a writing giant overnight. And remember, you can fill in the holes later.

I The Idea Grip. 

We all carry around our ideas of what success is. And maybe it’s not all the same for everyone. Being a best seller doesn’t qualify you for being the only great writer on the planet, it just gives you tangible accolades. Meh. Maybe what you are doing actually is working; you just can’t see it. One of the best advices I got was at a book signing from Lisa Mangum. She told me that not everyone loves writing books so do what you love. I love to write articles. It’s my thing. Once I realized this truth my writing took shape. Maybe you love editing, or reading, writing family history stories, or blogging, or encouraging and critiquing; or writing small market novels. They are all needed in the writing world. Do what you love. Figure that out. But, don’t stop shy of becoming what you want: a writer.
Just don’t hold so tightly to the idea grip that you fail to see where and how you truly are making a difference. Let your writing take you to where it’s meant to be. Don’t give up, just don’t be surprised when you find a new path in your writing world. Embrace it.

P The Perfection Grip. 

Boy, oh boy have I had to learn to give up on this. There comes a point in everyone’s writing where they must say “good enough.” It’s a tough thing to do. I’ve winced when I’ve hit submit. I just immediately shut down the computer and walk away (yes, running away is sometimes a better option). But, I’ve been surprised when it was these articles that had the best feedback. How is that so? Maybe we can overdo. I’ve been to a party where we were showered with meaningful gifts. At first it was fun but then it got tiring and less meaningful with each overdone present.

I’ve learned in my writing to have less awesome; more wow.

Strange, I know. But it works. I’m not suggesting that you don’t work hard on it because hard work always has its benefits. And lack of work is evident in any writing piece. I’m suggesting to work hard until an appointed deadline. Deadlines are just scheduled stopping points. At that point you say it’s good enough and move on.

It’s okay to wince a little. Let go of your perfection grip… otherwise you’ll just be doing some crazy whooping monkey dance around that fist.

Don’t just get that swirly twirl in your stomach waiting for your writing to fulfill your life. Let go and start swinging in the trees. Start monkeying around in your writing- just don’t get caught in the monkey trap.

What kind of grip keeps you from letting go?


Christie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing and is a nonfiction junkie. A couple of national magazines have paid her for her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her at        

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Never Thought I’d Ever Write This Kind of Story

When I was a kid growing up in Arizona, I always signed up and completed the summer reading program at the local library. I always wanted the pizza party and certificate at the end of the summer—a book nerd’s version of summer camp without all those outdoor activities.

But one summer, the library decided on a different program: you needed to read five books from five different genres. I read the first 20 books no problem—and then I hit sci fi.

Ugh. How I hated sci fi. It took me the other nine weeks to read five books. The only books I liked were about a girl falling in love with her cyborg (I wished I remembered the title!) and the novelization of Piers Anthony’s Total Recall.

I even hated one of the preeminent sci fi movies ever filmed: Blade Runner. (I even deconstructed it in a film critique class in college and still hated it--and thus I became “the girl who hated Blade Runner.”)

As I grew up, my tastes changed. I started liking coffee and that Snuggie blanket. I also found a few sci fi titles I LOVED:

-Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game
-Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games
-Neal Shusterman’s Unwind
-Andy Weir’s The Martian

But I never thought I’d write one of these tales.

Until I did.

Why Am I Writing In a Genre I Hated?

Without telling you what I’m writing (I’m a superstitious sort who doesn’t discuss the story I’m writing—I’ve learned the hard way about this one), I’ll use an example with another subject:


First of all, I hate watching zombie anything on TV. But I have read a few books on Zombies that were decent:

Carrie Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth
Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies
Max Brooks’ World War Z

The first two, by Ryan and Marion, were fantasy. They focused on what the zombies did—ran hyperfast, ate a brain and could experience the dead person’s memories, fell in love with humans—that were based on the “that can’t happen with science!” These two were fantasy.

In Brooks’s tale, he focused on how the zombie-ism spread and how it could be stopped with a vaccine. That was a sci fi book.

Let’s take another example: Ironman vs. Superman.

Ironman is sci fi. His parts could scientifically happen.

Superman is fantasy. His parts were grown on the make-believe planet of Krypton.

In my YA story (which is currently in Draft 4), it would fall under sci fi because I’m focusing on the science and no one’s doing anything that Samantha could do with a twitch of her nose.

In the story I’ll be writing next, it’s a women’s fiction focusing on the exact same subject—but it’s fantasy because what people are doing could be done with a twitch of Samantha’s nose.

How You Can Write Something You Think You Never Ever Would

So I told you here about my hatred of sci fi. You may have your own hatred: romance, mystery, historical, YA, etc. But are you limiting yourself in the tales you can tell because you just don’t think you respect that genre?

Take a look at the movies that stick with you. Are any of them romance? Any of them YA? Any of them historical? Then that means there’s a bit of love toward that dreaded genre.

When I started NaNoWriMo in November 2014, this was the book I was working on, and I put it aside because it didn’t quite work. I soon saw I wasn’t embracing the sci-fi nature of it—I was using too many crutches that you use as you worldbuild a YA or romance (the two genres I’m currently published in).

It became a much better story when I embraced the genre that I had been running from.


Sydney Strand is a fiction writer who has published two young adult books through New York and another six books via self-publishing. Over the last two years, she has focused on writing fun romances, but not of the Red Room of Pain variety. More like the Dan and Roseanne/Sam and Diane variety--humor is sexy, dontcha know. You can follow Sydney on Instagram (1st Favorite), Twitter (2nd Favorite), and Facebook (Not a Favorite). She's also at (Her favoritest of favorites.)