Last week, I wrote about a contest I'm planning to enter. The deadline is this week, and I'm in the final stages of polishing my entry so I'm feeling good. It seems I'd no sooner posted last week's blog than a new contest presented itself. This contest is one I'm most excited about because of its rules.
The contest is being sponsored by an Australian publisher and is open to young adult writers world wide. The entry must be in English, which is standard for a lot of contests. Even better, the entry cannot be a fantasy novel. It must be a young adult novel that addresses issues being faced by teens and can include swearing and sexual content provided it's not gratuitous. The publisher sponsoring the contest feels the young adult market is overrun with fantasy novels and it's time to give teens characters they can relate to.
Finally! Someone else feels the way I do. For those of you who know me personally or have had a chance to follow this blog or check out my web site, you know what my dream was when I started writing young adult novels. I wanted to have a line of books that featured disabled teens in leading, romantic roles. I believed (and still do) that it was an area being largely overlooked by authors and publishers. Most agents and publishers I approached with my first offering didn't think the concept would sell. One agent took a chance on me only to be told fantasy novels were the next big thing and I should write a vampire novel.
You know what? I wrote that vampire novel. I wrote a sappy, sentimental four book series that follows the new formula of vampire boy falls for human girl. When my agent started pitching it, publishers said it wasn't sturdy enough to compete with the likes of Twilight or True Blood. They agreed I had talent and suggested I try an original fantasy concept. I not only took their advice, I took it to the extreme. I penned a trilogy that features the son of Satan as a leading and sympathetic character.
Given the boldness of the concept, I had some reservations about how it would be received by readers. Imagine my surprise to learn they love the story. They've embraced the characters and are clamoring for more each week. They're open minded enough to realize it's only a story and by no means an expression of my actual belief system. With the support of a fan base that's more than sixteen hundred strong and growing every day, I've developed a real love for writing this genre. I've even started a new novel and have another concept ready to go as I know I've mentioned before.
Despite the success I've seen with this, I've often thought of my original reason for entering into the young adult genre. In my more melancholy moods, I accuse myself of selling out to sell. I usually let go of that idea pretty fast because I have no right to complain. My fans are supportive and have made me feel good about my work and discover a love of writing again. They remind me writing is more than a business which keeps me writing.
Fan support and success aside, I'm excited for the opportunity this new contest offers. I plan on throwing my hat in the ring and waiting to see what happens. As with most contests of this nature, competition is stiff so chances of winning are slim. Still, it'll be fun to get back to my roots and it's nice to see I'm not alone in thinking the young adult genre is about more than fantasy novels.