Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Guest Post: Genre Confusion

Today I welcome Author Nina Guilbeau to share her thoughts on genre classification. Her insight is sure to help indie authors pick a category that best represents the story. 

Nina is the Siblings Editor for BellaOnline The Voice of Women and writes weekly family articles for online magazines. She is a member of the Florida Writer's Association and the author of women's fiction novels "Too Many Sisters and Too Many Secrets." A winner of the Royal Palm Literary Award for her manuscript manuscript "God Doesn't Love Us All the Same." Nina's work has been published in the short story anthologies, "From Our Family to Yours" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Mothers and Daughters." An excerpt from upcoming novel, "Being Non-Famous" was published in the Orlando Sentinel as a Father's Day tribute.

Genre Confusion, By Nina Guilbeau

The classification of books is commonly referred to as genre. The job of authors and publishers is to identify the genre of the books they make available so that interested readers can easily find them. Simple, right? Not necessarily. One story can span across multiple genres, so to clarify, subgenres are used. A good romance could also be a fantasy and that additional piece of information can better serve the target audience. Unfortunately, the overuse of subgenres many times serves to confuse readers.

Like the hierarchy for listing ingredients on a food label in descending order of predominance, genre descriptions should follow the same rule. The genre with the largest presence should come first, followed by subgenres. However, with the emergence and popularity of indie authors, fierce competition and cyber bookstores with unlimited bookshelf space, the rules have changed. The same book in different bookstores can be listed with varying genres, just as completely new genres are being created to accommodate new writing styles. In addition, enticing elements of a story have been confused with the genre of the story by many new authors and readers. For instance, romance qualities in a story does not automatically make it part of the romance genre. To help lesson general misunderstandings, here are some basic genre definitions:

Fiction – A story involving imaginary characters and events. In book length, it is also called a novel.

Narrative Nonfiction – A true story that reads like a novel; also known as creative nonfiction.

Romance – Romance has a formulaic storyline. The classic boy meets girl, falls in love, must overcome an obstacle that breaks them up or keeps the apart and then it must always have a happy ending.

Women’s Fiction – Although it can have romance in it, women’s fiction is not romance and happy endings are not guaranteed. This genre is about relationships of one or more women with others. The key to women’s fiction is that the main character must grow and have some sort of satisfying resolution in the end. However, like in life, all loose ends are not necessarily tied up in a nice neat bow.

General/Mainstream – Does not fit into a recognized genre category. Difficult to pinpoint a particular audience for this genre, as it may appeal to many different readers. Book club fiction is a break out of this genre, implying general appeal for many readers with the potential for interesting and provocative group discussion. 

Mystery – Mystery books are about solving something, usually, but not necessarily, it is a crime.

Literary Fiction – Although, literary fiction is sometimes difficult to define, the stories are character driven rather than plot driven. It is less about telling a story of what happens externally to the character as opposed to what happens internally with the character.

Popular Fiction – This may be listed as one genre, but it is actually a collection of several. It is a category for commercial fiction genres that have proven to be most popular with readers such as romance, mystery, science fiction and fantasy.  

Thriller – Often suspenseful, the main goal of thrillers is to stimulate emotions. Readers are caught up in the harrowing situations (peril) of the characters, who many times are potential victims.

Suspense – Suspense, or suspended drama, has story lines where there are unpredictable events that cause tension. Although usually paired with or considered interchangeable the thriller genre, suspense novels may not reach the level of a thriller.

Horror – Stories that are intended to horrify and create fear. Thriller is often the subgenre.

Paranormal – Unexplained by conventional science and considered supernatural in origin. Stories are often written around the spiritual connection. However, they do not have to be in the realm of evil or horror (ex. angels). In addition, stories can also be devoid of the spiritual element completely, such as alien activity.

Historical – A period piece and usually a subgenre of popular fiction.

Fantasy – Often confused with Sci-Fi, fantasy has the important element of magic. Often story lines are of other worlds with mythical/magical creatures, medieval setting, characters on a quest and supernatural occurrences.

Science Fiction – Story lines dealing with the fictional possibilities in science and technology, usually of a futuristic nature.

Nina's most recent release is a Women's Fiction. 

"God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same" Genre: Women’s Fiction
Juania Books LLC (May 5, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0981804780
ISBN-13: 978-0981804781

"God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same" is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, andIndieBound.

Find out more about Nina by connecting with her online:




Monday, September 29, 2014

Blog Tour

Free copies of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis are being given away now through Oct. 16. 

I am visiting various blogs in the coming weeks sharing information about living with bipolar and the writing life.  

Some bloggers are writing reviews as well. Thank you WOW- Women on Writing for putting this line up together. Thank you also to these talented bloggers.

Monday, September 29 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Tuesday, September 30 @ The Lit Ladies
Join Tara Meissner as she guest blogs about "What Makes Someone a Writer" as she visits the lovely Lit Ladies today! Tara has also provided a giveaway copy of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis for one lucky winner today! 

Wednesday, October 1 @ Choices
Join Tara Meissner as she talks about "BiPolar and the Creativity Link Myth" and shares information about her memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

Wednesday, October 1 @ Lisa Haselton
Join Lisa Haselton as she interviews the courageous writer Tara Meissner about Tara's memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. Tara has graciously provided an ebook copy for one lucky giveaway winner. This is a blog stop you won't want to miss! 

Thursday, October 2 @ All Things Audry
Tara Meissner visits with Audry Fryer of All Things Audry and Tara gives her thoughts on the recent death of Robin Williams. Tara has also offered an ebook copy of her Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis for one lucky winner of the giveaway! Good luck! 

Friday, October 3 @ Sherrey Meyer
"Being a Mom with BiPolar" is today's subject as author and memoir writer Tara Meissner visits with Sherrey Meyer. Tara has also graciously offered a copy of her recently released Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis to one lucky winner of today's giveaway. Good luck and enjoy!

Monday, October 6 @ Franciscan Mom
Join Tara Meissner as she stops by Franciscan mom with a guest post titled "Accepting Bipolar and Finding Grace" and offers a giveaway of her honest and touching memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

Tuesday, October 7 @ Create Write Now
Join Tara Meissner at Mary McCarthy's Create Write Now as Tara discusses "I Knew I Was a Writer When..." and learn more about Tara's memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

Wednesday, October 8 @ Jerry Waxler
Read what fellow author and memoir writer Jerry Waxler has to say after reading Tara Meisner's recently released Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

Thursday, October 9 @ Lauren Scharhag
Join Tara Meissner as a guest author on Lauren Scharhag's blog talking about "The Stigma of BiPolar" and get in on the giveaway for Tara's memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

Friday, October 10 @ Romance Junkies
Join Tara Meissner as she stops at Romance Junkies for an insightful interview about herself and her Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

Tuesday, October 14 @ Bring on Lemons
Tara Meissner stops by to chat with WOW!'s own Crystal Otto as she shares her thoughts on "Bipolar and Living Well" and offers readers an opportunity to win a copy of her memoir through a giveaway. Don't miss your chance to hear from Tara and take home a copy of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis

Wednesday, October 15 @ CMash Reads
Join author Tara Meisner as she discusses "Creating Time to Create" with a visit to CMash Reads. Read Tara's thoughts and find out more about her recently released memoir Stress Fracture: a Memoir of Psychosis.

Thursday, October 16 @ One Sister's Journey (Lisa M. Buske)
Today we hear from Lisa M Buske as she reviews the mental health memoir of Tara Meissner. Lisa will also be offering a giveaway of Tara's book, Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Was it brave to publish a memoir about mental illness?

People have remarked how brave I am for having published Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

I don't consider brave quite the right word. The adjective means having or showing courage, especially when facing danger, difficulty, or pain. Courage is the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action. 

I don't think I am in any real danger having put out a rarely told story of mental injury. In my mind, the worst thing that could happen is people don't like it, believe it, or respect it. The only pain that can come is embarrassment and infringement of privacy.

I have told a story of a facet of my life. When I shared my experience of surviving psychosis, I revealed only symptoms of the disease and the portions of my life connected to it. I have many secrets and private joys and sorrows outside of the pages of the memoir. Deciding to openly share the raw details of psychosis and bipolar reveals physical and behavioral symptoms of a disease. I am not defined by bipolar disorder. I have the diagnosis; it is just a part of my whole. 

Stories about mental illness are not common, however, and for this reason, it was important for me to publish it as a memoir rather than to fictionalize a character surviving psychosis. This story needed to be in the memoir genre, because it is true. It happens to people and affects them and their families. And when it happened to me, I found no one who could talk to me about it or understand what I was enduring throughout recovery.

Currently, having bipolar disorder is about as interesting to me as having brown hair. These are facts about me. I wouldn't be humiliated to have Type 1 Diabetes or blond hair, so why should I be embarrassed about another disease and hair color?

The memoir is not a confessional of family secrets; it is not dirty laundry aired for the sake of attention seeking. It is a literary work offered for public consumption. My deepest hope for the work is to inspire people with mental illness to believe health is possible and to commit to treatment. It is also intended to reduce stigma associated with mental illness and have it respected as a legitimate disease, something mental health professionals have already accepted.

Perhaps it is courageous to subject myself to the judgment of others. My bold audacity to try to change the attitude regarding mental health requires vulnerability. I do not agree that I am brave, but having released a personal narrative about a taboo subject does leave me exposed.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Invite Tara to your book club!

Tara Meissner is available to attend book clubs in person or via skype. 
Email tara@tarameissner.com to make arrangements.

1.      Why did you choose this book?
2.      What knowledge did you have of psychosis and/or bipolar disorder before reading the memoir? Discuss examples of other books and movies about mental illness and how this book compares and contrasts.
3.      How does the author create herself as a character? Describe her personality traits, motivations, flaws. Is the character a likable person, someone you rooted for?
4.      Describe the other people in the book. What value do they add to the narrative? Were they likable, supportive? Who, if anyone, was portrayed as an adversary?
5.      How does the author change after psychosis?
6.      Why might the author have chosen to tell the story in past tense? Did choosing this tense work to give perspective to the experience of psychosis?
7.      What theme comes across in the memoir? Does the title help offer a clue to the theme? Does the author use symbolism?  
8.      The main character struggles with understanding and accepting reality. How do your own biases and experiences influence how you interpret the world? Does her confusion make her an unreliable narrator or do you understand this conflict as part of her journey?
9.      Identify your favorite passages or chapters that stayed with you?

10.  How has this memoir changed you or broadened your perspective and understanding of mental illness?  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hometown newspaper features Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis

Thank you to the Herald Times Reporter, a Gannett daily newspaper in Manitowoc, Wisconsin for the write up on Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.

Press for Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis

Review of Akin to the Truth by Paige Strickland

"Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity" by Paige Strickland is an important work offering a reflection of growing up adopted, seeking to understand oneself, and defining family. 

I found it clearly written. It was comprehensive as well. The narrative provides nostalgia for those who also grew up in the 60s and 70s. The authenticity of the author's experiences was well captured. 

For me, however, the story started slowly and could have benefited from a content edit to start the story sooner.  Many of the sentences used the same structure, giving it a monotone voice at times. As a nonfiction work, it read as such, lacking stronger fiction techniques that could have made the story more vivid. However, it was clearly presented. 

The author does make an important point of the struggle adopted kids went through during the days of closed adoptions. I could relate to the yearning she must of felt to answer the basic human question of where did I come from while seeking to define, "who am I?"

About the Author: Paige Adams Strickland, a teacher and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio, is married with two daughters. Her first book, Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity, is about growing up in the 1960s-80s (Baby-Scoop Era) and searching for her first identity. It is also the story of her adoptive family and in particular her father’s struggles to figure out his place in the world while Paige strives to find hers. After hours she enjoys family and friends, pets, reading, Zumba ™ Fitness, gardening and baseball.

Find Paige online:
Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/AkintotheTruth
Akin to the Truth Website - http://www.akintothetruth.com/

Akin to the Truth is a memoir her adoption. In 1961, adoption was still one of those private and taboo topics. Not much identifying information was provided for adoptive families or for birth parents by the agencies. In Ohio, records were sealed forever. Adoptees and birth mothers were supposed to be thankful for the adoptive family and never look back. Adoptive parents thought their deal was signed and sealed.

As a child and teenager, growing up adopted was like a Scarlet Letter "A" if anyone ever found out the truth. At least, that's the way author, Paige Strickland felt as she muddled through social situations and other interpersonal relations. She always loved her adoptive family, but realized she wanted not just more, but what other "regular born" people had: real roots, accurate health history and authentic family lore. She wanted freedom from shame, more dignity, authenticity and a full identity.

Then, through random chance, a local TV talk show in 1987 revealed that certain records were open if you were born before 1964 in the state of Ohio, and the author's life would never be the same after that program.

During her quest, (pre computer), for her identity, her adoptive father struggled with his own self image and sense of belonging, so both father and daughter embarked on separate and unique parallel missions to find what was missing in their lives.

This is the story of how being adopted affected Paige growing up in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s. It shows how one adoptee has embraced and learned to view family more globally. She tells the saga of a loving but dysfunctional family of both blood and choice, trying to cope with typical and not so typical life alterations during the decades of social revolution and free love. She learns that the most fascinating family stories are discovered by those passionate enough to question and search.

Paige Adams Strickland is a teacher and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is married with two daughters.
Paperback: 285 Pages
Publisher: Idealized Apps, LLC (September 8, 2013)
ASIN: B00F28TM86
Twitter Hashtag: #AkinStrickland

Akin to the Truth is available on Amazon as an e-book: Akin to the Truth