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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Genre Blending: Guest Hijacker Ciara Knight

           Ciara Knight probably doesn't need much introduction for most of you but those unfamiliar with her can visit her blog here.  Ciara's hijacking this blog with the topic of genre blending.  (??))    Well, let's hear what this is all about.

Arlee, thank you so much for having me on Tossing it Out. I’m excited to be here. I, of course, participated in the A-Z challenge and I’m a huge fan of your blogging. Today, I’m going to tell you a story about genre blending and how it changed my path of publication.

This all started with one of the strangest pitches of my life. Not the worst. That is an entirely different post.

During a conference pitch, I sat down and greeted the editor. We chatted for a minute then I pitched the story, but I never made it past the genre.

Here is how the conversation went:

Me: “Escapement, book I of The Neumarian Chronicles, is a young adult post-apocalyptic—”

Editor: “No it’s not.”

Me: *Attempts to hide horrific look on face.* “I’m sorry?”

Editor: “Go ahead and pitch, but it isn’t post-apocalyptic.”

I take in a long breath and try to regroup. The pitch ends and I’m ready to bolt from the room, since obviously she decided she wouldn’t take the story based on the first line of my pitch. As I reach for my bag, and give a polite smile, she smacks the table. My four inch burgundy heel gets caught on the leg of the chair and I nearly fall face first, in a dress!

Editor: “LOVE it! Send it to me later today. Oh, but you need to come up with a new genre. We can’t sell post-apocalyptic.”

Me: “Um, okay.”

Yes, I know. Not recovering well, am I?

Editor: “Is it science fiction?”

Me: “It has some scientific elements but it is more futuristic.”

Editor: “No, can’t be futuristic.”

Me: “Well it is young adult and has Steampunk elements.”

Editor: “No it doesn’t.”

Me: “Oh, can’t call it that?”

Editor: “No, you don’t want to write that. Doesn’t sell. You can change that.”

This continues for the last four minutes of the pitch. When I get up, she tells me to figure out what genre it is and send it.

I have a brainstorming session with my WBFF and roomate, HIldie McQueen, and we come up with the following: post-apocalyptic, futuristic, Biopunk, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, romantic elements, fantasy, paranormal.

Once the list was done we both looked at each other and said it is all of these things in a way. Well, I couldn’t pitch that to her. At that moment, I realized my series didn’t fit in a perfect package. To this point, I’d had publication in mind when I wrote something, or I’d been willing to alter content to sell the book. I didn’t want to do that with The Neumarian Chronicles, so right then and there I made a decision. I was going to keep the book the way it was and self-publish.

Many books on the self-publishing front are genre blends. I’ve read several and LOVED them because they were fresh and full of new ideas. I think genre blending is really hot right now.

Here is my first genre blend, but I'm calling it Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic. :)



Weighted is a prequel to The Neumarian Chronicles.

Weighted blurb:

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

Read Excerpt Here

Escapement (Book I) of The Neumarian Chronicles will be released in early 2013, followed by Pendulum and Balance later that year.




Have you ever had a conversation with an agent/editor that shocked you? Have you thought about self-publishing? Have you ever altered a book for a publisher and regretted it later?





Ciara writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her fantasy and paranormal books. Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to acclaimed reviews, securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild. Also, her young adult series, Battle for Souls has won several awards, including the July Book of the Month from Long and Short reviews.

Ciara is extremely sociable, so stop by her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and/or Pinterest pages.



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50 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and talk to us all Ciara. I understand why you changed things to suit the publisher and maybe they do know best in what sells and things like that but it's important to not compromise your own integrity, I'm glad that the book worked out so well and it does sound pretty awesome to me regardless of what genre it is.

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  2. Hi Lee and Ciara - oh I'd be running - my heels would be left behind ... difficult position to be in - but congratulations on self-publishing - a great learning curve that won't ever be wasted ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  3. Doesn't it suck when it doesn't perfectly fit in a genre? Think you made the best choice, Ciara.

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  4. Lee,
    Yay, I can cross of my bucket list being a blog hijacker. This is going to be fun. I've been looking forward to hanging out here. I'll be around all day if any one has any questions.

    Yeamiewaffles - It's a pleasure to meet you. I do agree that publishers have a great grasp on what sells. I totally respect their years in the business. I think it is a book by book choice on how much an author is willing to change. In this case, I was too in love with the characters and story.

    Hilary - It has been a fantastic learning experience.

    Alex - I think I've always written outside genres, but curved it for packaging. I'm really excited about this series.

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  5. Ciara--Wow--what a story. I'm glad you decided to keep it the way it is. I know it's going to be a great series.
    I did try to change a story once, but it didn't work, and I changed it back.

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  6. Lindi - I think if it is something the author can see, it can work. In this case, I just saw the story one way and couldn't get to a different version. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Ciara, I love the flavor of your story. Sometimes we have to tell the story the way it is. :)

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  8. I'm so happy to read this post because I've been struggling to classify my next series. I guess as a self-published author I have the luxury of blending :) Never thought about it that way. Here's to YA post-apocalyptic dystopian!
    Great article Ciara!

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  9. Teresa - Yay, I'm glad its your flavor. :) I love that. I totally agree.

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  10. Interesting experience, thanks for sharing it with us.

    mood

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  11. I'm glad you survived those heels. :)
    I think genre-blending is perfect, since I've never written anything that could fit inside one label. That's what I love about indie publishing.
    It seems odd that the editor dismissed hot genres as not saleable.

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  12. Marta - I think that is part of the charm of the self-published books. I hope one of us breaks out with a great genre blended book.

    Mooderino - My pleasure. Thanks for stopping by.

    Laura - As I understand it, they have stories slated 2 years out. If they are heavy on those subjects they know it will fade by the time they get to my story. I get that, so I pushed it out quicker than they could, while not sacrificing quality.

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  13. Your story is my story, too.

    In Name Only is a genre blend. It's got too much mystery to be romance and too much romance to be mystery. It's suspense, but it's not romantic suspense. Sigh.

    I'm so thankful we have real options now!

    Weighted is next on my Kindle to read!

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  14. Awesome, Ciara. Blaze that trail. :)

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  15. Hi Lee and Ciara. You know your good when you need to develop your work's own label. I'd call that innovative --a refreshing change from been there done that.

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  16. Hey, Ciara,

    Definitely understand why you opted to self-publish. Some books just won't fit into any particular mould.

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  17. This book sounds awesome, and I know Ciara, and she's great!

    I do understand the genre conundrum, though. I even made my own up.

    I think the trouble with post apocalyptic is that it really isn't a genre. I mean there are plenty of great books that tell a story that occurs after some kind of apocalyptic event, but some are Science-Fiction, some are Fantasy, and some fall more along the lines of harder to define Speculative Fiction.

    I love that you went with your gut and stuck to your guns, though. Best of luck!

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  18. I'm glad you stuck to your principals and self published the story

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  19. Interesting and helpful! Thanks Lee and Ciara!

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  20. Yes, yes, and no . . .well, maybe. I've talked with a few editors - once at a conference, and once by chance at an airport . . . and it shocked me how much genre was just a "no-big-deal" to change. One expected me to change genre to fit the current market expectations, and one thought I should write romance because "it always sells." Umm . . . I've been making slight headway on writing romantic scenes, but trust me when I say, I don't write romance well. I couldn't just take my book and make it a romance - the book at the time was a YA dystopian scifi, and the book I'm writing now (and will self-publish) is a Christian YA fantasy adventure.
    I have made too many changes in some of my revisions, but . . . I still can't force romance . . . especially not the hot, sweaty kind.

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  21. I agree, Carol. Yay, I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks, Lynn.

    Slamdunk - I've always played outside the sandbox, so why stop now. :)

    JL - It took me awhile to realize it, but I'm glad I did.

    Matthew - It's funny, when I say speculative fiction to my sons friends they look at me like it must be boring. That's why I tend to use other genre terms. :)

    Thanks, Lindsay. Me, too.

    Tyrean - I write romance, but this wasn't the story. That was another issue, my publishers all want romance. There are romantic elements in future books of the series, but this one was a story of friendship.

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  22. Editors think they know everything, but it's good that you stuck with your principles.

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  23. After reading from several agents that will demand changes in your manuscript for no other reason than to test to see whether you will make changes on demand, I decided there was no way I was going that route. I'm not into playing stupid mind games to see if I will be a "good little boy" and do what I'm told. Obviously, I'm not a good little boy.

    I think your book just caused my TBR pile to implode. I'm just hoping the mass is not great enough to generate a black hole.

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  24. Interesting. I think genre blending goes into a lot of books to some degree. It really does make them stand out.

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  25. Hi Ciara and hey Lee,
    Firstly, have you missed me Lee? It's been ages since I graced your site with one of my 'eagerly anticipated', 'much loved' comments.
    Frankly, I see no problem whatsoever in mixing up genres and for that matter, writing styles. It's something I love doing and good for you, Ciara.
    Of course, all my writing is inspected by Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star. I even interviewed her on my site and she taught a lot of humans about her writing techniques and rituals.
    She's an acclaimed 'pawblisher', I might add.
    Seriously, yes, seriously, all the very best with "Weighted", my friend.
    And Lee, all the best to you and your proactive site.
    In kindness, Gary

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  26. This is what I love most about your writing. Can't be pigeonholed!

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  27. I've had two discussions, one with a publisher, one with an agent. The one with the agent was harder. She sat there and told me what I would need to change in my story to get it anywhere. She wasn't as blunt as who you spoke with, though! Can't tell you how grateful I am for that. (By the way, my novel is YA Post-Apoc, too, so maybe I should be expecting that discussion, LOL!)

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  28. Loved your post. I'm another genre blender and may go the self-publishing route for just that reason.

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  29. Great story. Good for you for going it on your own.

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  30. I have a genre blender coming out in the fall. It's actually called speculative fiction, but they don't have a category for that either in ebook form or regular book form.

    I think it's exciting to have other choices these days. A great time to be a writer.

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  31. Maurice - It's always a journey.

    Andrew - It shouldn't topple it over because it is short. :)

    Southpaw - I've seen it a lot more lately.

    Gary - Pawblisher. ROFL It has been great hanging out in the blogging world with you today. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Jay Noel - I can never fit any sort of mold. I've always had that problem.

    Shannon - You'll be fine. I'm lucky, my first pitch made everything after that easier. I walked in, sat down and told her I had a ya paranormal with angels and demons. She held up her hand and said, "old news, what else do you have?" I thought I'd faint right there.

    LD - I love the freedom of it.

    Susan - I've been through two agents and I've published with two small presses. I feel like I've been around the block before taking the plunge.

    M Pax - I totally agree!

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  32. Oh, it's just the camel's last straw, believe me. If you knew how many books I'd added in just the last two weeks... books that need to be read/reviewed -now-.

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  33. Sometimes you just have to make your own.

    I wish New Adult had been around when I wrote my series. Maybe they would've ended up there instead of YA.

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  34. Andrew - I totally get it!

    L Diane - I think there are many YA books that are more NA, but I think teens read college age books anyway.

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  35. Taking control of your books! That's so inspirational for me. Finding an exact genre was my hardest sell when I was submitting. I wanted to say YA urban fantasy, magical realism, coming-of-age adventure...but that was a difficult sell. I can't wait to read Weighted this weekend. :)

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  36. What an scary moment with the editor... I would have freaked too when they butted in following your first line. So glad it went well for you... huge congrats on the launch.

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  37. Hi Lee and Ciara! Not only did I enjoy your story, but I learned about " genre blenders." I've probably read other genre blenders throughout the years without even realizing it. Glad you were able to write your book on your terms! Julie

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  38. I love genre blended books. I can't wait to read Weighted. I'm just impressed you saved yourself from a fall in four-inch heels. lol

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  39. Congratulations on doing it your way! I have one book I was querying last year and then decided to do some polishing and editing on before trying again. I've been sharing excerpts on my blog every Saturday for over a year now, and people have really liked it. The only problem with trying again to traditionally publish it (besides how LONG it is, a tad bit shorter than The Brothers Karamazov) is that it's kind of cross-genre—women's fiction, contemporary historical fiction, romantic elements, a majority of non-adult characters in spite of not really being a children's book, MG, or YA.

    I'm considering some kind of indie publishing for my superlong historical sagas, knowing what I know now about how many agents don't think first-time published writers know how to write deliberate sagas.

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  40. I've never talked to an agent or editor in the first place, so definitely no shocking conversations--I do agree that genre blending is coming up much more frequently, though! It seems to allow for much more story diversity.

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  41. An amazing experience, but good for you for holding firm. Really enjoyed the excerpt. You've got a beautiful writing voice.

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  42. That would have shocked me too. You see more and more genre blending these days. And it's wonderfully popular! I tried altering a manuscript for a publisher, but then realized it would be taking all the grit and originality out of my protagonist.

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  43. Michael - I can't wait to read Provex City!!

    tfwalsh - I learned not to wear those tall shoes. :)

    Julie - Thanks. I really have enjoyed this process. It's tough to do everything yourself, but yet it is so rewarding at the same time.

    Brinda - The funny thing is that I use to dance in heels. (No not that kind of dance - Disney shows and parades) but I can't walk in them. My husband laughs and says he can't believe I was a dancer.

    Carrie-Anne - If you've put everything into that book, and you've shared for critique, I'd go for it. I'd invest in an editor though. That's the only thing that really makes a difference to me.

    The Golden Eagle - I think people are tired of the same story being told over and over. Genre blending allows it to feel fresh and people don't really know what is coming next. It adds that doubt back into a read.

    Kittie - Thank you so much! Funny thin is, I just had to record the first page and my real voice is not so great. LOL

    Christine - I changed the firsts chapter of my first YA over 20 times, in the end, I had to change it back to the original. It amazes me how much the first few chapters become so overworked.

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  44. Post-Apoc is such a huge genre these days, and only getting bigger. I can't believe a publisher hassled ypu over the term.

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  45. Ah yes 2185, an excellent year, although by then I will be well and truly confused.

    I do rather like Steam-punk, the mix of technologies past and future with a distinct sense of rational logic and a bit of artist flare....

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  46. Enjoyed that pitch-time breakdown. Glad nothing actually broke down at that time :-)

    But it sounds like it is working out for you to stick with your guns and publish your story they way you want it. I've made a similar decision and now very excited-scared (can be blend emotions as well as genres? lol!!!)

    Wishing you the best with this and all your endeavors, Ciara. Glad you had her here, Lee :-)

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  47. Genre blending is TOTALLY hot right now. That's one thing I love about self published books - they don't have to fit in boxes. I'm with Golden Eagle - it allows for more story diversity, and that's got to be a good thing, right?

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  48. Lee! You turned off new comments on the post after this one, Friday's!!! Can't comment...

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  49. Kelley - They project what will be a hit in two years, so I figured I'd get it out before then on my own. :)

    Rob - That's exactly what I love about it!

    Angela - Thanks so much! I'm glad you followed your instincts, too.

    Cally - I love the speed we can get work out, too.

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  50. Ciara, thanks for the guest post. You really pulled in some comments and you kept up with them well.

    Thanks to everyone who stopped in to show their support for Ciara.

    Lee

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