Friday Speak Out!: How Janet Evanovich’s Book Helped Me Try Writing in a New Genre

Friday, October 28, 2022
By Dawn Colclasure

Self-publishing is not new for me. I have self-published poetry books and children’s books since 2012. My experience with self-publishing took an interesting turn this year, when I self-pubbed horror!

An independent publisher who showed interest in publishing my collection of YA horror stories ended up turning it down. “Too dark,” they said.

However, one issue about these stories stood out: The teen characters committing murder. My publisher was worried the stories would have too much influence over teen readers, encouraging them to seek bloodthirsty revenge on bullies and abusers. It was such a pressing issue that they wouldn’t be so worried about my releasing these stories into the world should I do something a little bit different with the book: Offer a teaser for a novel I haven’t yet written at the end!

They shared with me their idea. Why not write a series about an amateur sleuth who attempts to help these girls who have committed their crimes? After all, they would eventually end up getting caught, wouldn’t they?

When I responded to their proposed idea, I had a bit of a surprise: “It's funny you should mention that. I actually had a story idea tickling my brain the last couple of days but I couldn't figure out how to make it work.” Their suggestion made it work. All of the pieces fell into place.

Now all I needed was a title!

First, however, they wanted a chapter.

This gave me pause. What they were asking me to write was a genre I had never written in for novels! I did write one P.I. short story, but I was not familiar enough with the genre to write a novel.

Then I remembered a book I’d read earlier this year called How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof. In this book, Janet Evanovich shares how she went from writing romance to mysteries: She spent a year studying the genre before taking the leap into writing her popular Stephanie Plum novels.

Perhaps this is what I should do as well, in order to write the series my publisher has proposed. I will spend a year studying and learning how to write the amateur sleuth genre. For now, I had to start with a first chapter.

I spent the evening writing that first chapter and the next day polishing it before I sent it to my publisher. They liked it and now it looks like I have to write the rest of the book!

That first book will get written and submitted eventually. For now, I have the first chapter of it for readers to enjoy – right at the end of my YA horror story collection that I just self-published!

I have one chapter of that novel written and I do plan to write the rest of it. But first I need to spend a year studying the genre!

* * *

When she’s not writing pet-focused Dawn Colclasure is a writer who lives in Oregon with her husband and children. She is the author and co-author of over two dozen books, among them 365 Tips for Writers: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat the Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity. She is also a content writer, freelance writer, book reviewer and ghostwriter. She is also a self-publisher. Her stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies. She publishes the SPARREW Newsletter each month. Her websites are at and She’s on Twitter @dawncolclasure.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Angela Mackintosh said...

It sounds like you're off on an exciting new adventure, Dawn! I love the premise of teens seeking revenge on bullies and abusers. Lol! It sounds like a Netflix series. Adding the sleuth is an interesting idea. Spending a year with one genre is a great deep dive. I write creative nonfiction, but in the past couple years I realized I was inventing my own genre, a sort of neo-noir nonfiction. So I'm studying noir fiction and harnessing techniques for CNF. That's such a smart marketing idea to add a first chapter to the end of a collection! Please let us know how everything goes. :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Can't wait to see the entire book! Good luck with your studies. Reading in a genre is a great way to learn about it.

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