Monday, 25 February 2019

Turning Heads and Tables

by Jeanette O'Hagan

Writing isn't for wimps, especially if your aim is to send it out into the world for others to read.

There is nothing wrong, of course, in writing for therapy or writing for your own amusement or for the benefit of a select group of friends and family or indeed an audience for One. Such aims are noble and worthwhile.  Yet we can also be called or constrained to take our work further afield, and that too is a worthy aim.

As I mentioned in an earlier post (here), writing for a wider public could be considered a triathlon:  writing the book (or other work), getting the book published (traditional or Indie), and then helping readers aware of your book (marketing and promotion). Each stage has it's joys and struggles. Not one of them is easy.

Today, I'll like to focus on connecting with readers. No, not another post on social media, but on some face-to-face ways of bringing your opus to the attention of readers who would enjoy and appreciate it.

It seems to me that there might be four ways of bringing a reader's attention to a book
1) Through a distribution network, which includes having the book in catalogues and/or on the shelves of bookstores or libraries or airports.
2) Online availability and promotions (listing the book with online retailers like Amazon, Kobo, I-Books etc), and promoting social media, and advertising.
3) Word of Mouth - through reviews and the recommendation by enthusiastic readers to other readers.
4) Author-Reader events - such as book launches, author signings at bookshops, conventions, book fairs or having a stall at a fete, author visits and talks.

Traditional publishers often favour the first option, Indie publishers the second, but the truth is, that barring miracles (which surely can happen), whether your book is published by a traditional publisher or Indie published, you as the author will need to be proactive in promoting your books if you want them to be seen. And as most authors (though by no means all) are introverts, that can be a daunting prospect.

Unlike my husband, I have to make an effort to put myself out to strangers. On social media, at least I get to think about what I'm going to say, to edit and retype messages. It doesn't feel as confronting as talking to people in the flesh. Yet, I have to say, that eye to eye contact can be a lot of fun. If you haven't done it, maybe it's worth considering.

As yet, I haven't arranged a print book launch, author visits to libraries and schools or book signings at a bricks and mortar bookshops, though I know a number of our members have been quite proactive in this area.  What I have done is fetes, a book fair, and conventions.


Over the last two years, two other authors - Lynne Stringer and Adele Jones - and I have teamed up to go to both OzComicCon and Supernova.  Not only has it been a lot of fun, we've connected with our crowd (fantasy and science-fiction geeks), spoken to lots of potential readers, meet some interesting authors, sold books and even had enthusiastic fans seeking us out at the next event.

By combining as a team, we've been able to share expenses and support each other over the long days of the convention.  We have also each signed up to Square (there are other systems as well) which is a seamless way of accepting credit cards as well as cash for sales. Also, posters, banners and - in our case - cosplay (dressing up as characters in our books) helps with presentation. Having a bit of bling or swag often attracts attention (though there may be restrictions on what you can give away.)

Overall, it has been a great experience and has been incredibly encouraging to find people who are interested in what we have to offer them.


For a couple years now, I've had a table at our church's Christmas Twilight Markets. This too has been a great experience. Expenses were minimal and I have made some sales and connections. On the whole though, despite a few enthusiastic book readers, the attenders have not been as interested in buying books or in my particular genre (fantasy and science fiction).

Fetes (school fetes, street markets, car boot sales, handmade markets etc) would have potential to connection with readers, though it would depend a lot on the market (people going to a Farmer's Market may be far more interested in fresh vegetable than buying books).

Book Fair

Over the last three years, I've been part of organising the Omega Writers Book Fair in Brisbane.  We've run the Book Fair in September 2016, March 2018 and the third one is coming up on 16 March 2019. (We changed from September to March as there were so many writers' events occurring between August to October, it was hard to choose a date that didn't clash with something else).

The Book Fair runs from 10am to 2:30pm.  Authors, editors, illustrators and others pay a smallish fee for a table to help cover venue costs, advertising, lunches etc. We have display bags, a scavenger hunt (for signatures from each table), door prizes, author readings and workshops. Actual attendance for readers is free (or gold coin donation), and workshops have a nominal price.

Each year we have had an enthusiastic response from  local Christian authors - with most returning for a second or third year. Despite efforts of spreading the word about the Fair, it has been harder to entice readers, but we did see a upturn at the second Fair and hope to see even more attend this year. A radio interview with Anne Hamilton will be aired on Vision Radio in the first week or so of March this year. And libraries, schools, local papers etc have been contacted. Hopefully too, each author will promote to their network, encouraging them to attend.  We also have a Facebook Page (check here) and Event Page (here) where we can promote our authors and keep people up to date with developments.

Our current venue works well with respect to undercover spaces and a separate room for workshops. It is relatively central (though on the northside of Brisbane). It's main drawback is a lack of visibility from the main street. This year we have a banner and signs to draw people in.

Certainly many authors have had good or at least some sales and contacts with interested readers. Last year, a home-schooling dad was enthusiastic about seeing so many authors with quality children's books suitable for his son.

It is a lot of hard work on the part of the organisers and it takes time to establish an event like this, so that it gets known and appreciated. Despite this, I think it's been a worthwhile endeavour, not just because of sales and connections, but hopefully also because it raises the profile of our writing community.  I get the feeling that many readers are unaware of Australian Christian writers and having an annual Book Fair is one way of alerting potential readers that there are many quality books that might not grace the shelves of a bookstore and are worth their time and interest.

A local Book Fair is something that could be done in other cities, if someone was willing to initiate it. and thought it worth doing.

No doubt there are other legitimate ways of connecting with readers in person.  What have your tried? What would you be willing to try? Let us know in the comments below.

And, if you are in South-East Queensland on Saturday, 16th March - or at the Gold Coast on 22-24th April, we'd love for you to drop in to see us either at the Omega Writers Book Fair - or at Supernova Gold Coast.


Jeanette spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. Many involve courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic. Others, are set in Nardva’s future and include space stations, plasma rifles, bio-tech, and/or cyborgs.

She has published numerous short stories, poems, four novellas in the Under the Mountain series, her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release is Shadow Crystals, the penultimate novella in the Under the Mountain series with Caverns of the Deep due in April/May.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Find her on:

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Title: CWD Member Interview – Susan J Bruce

Each Thursday we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.
Today's interview: Susan J Bruce (aka Sue Jeffrey)

Susan J Bruce with her greatest supporter - her husband Marc.

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 
I'll start with where I come from. I was born in Scotland but emigrated with my family to Australia a long, long, time ago. We arrived in Brisbane but spent some years moving up and down the Queensland coast with my dad's work, before settling in Brisbane. 
As a kid I had three loves: books, art and animals. Mum and I used to tempt stray kittens with food then catch, tame and re-home them. I was chuffed to complete my first solo kitten-catch when I was eight years old. Mum and Dad didn't believe me when I told them at six o'clock one morning that I'd caught a little silver-tabby tomcat. 'Go back to bed, dear,' was Mum's response. So I did. When I woke up again an hour later, Dad couldn't work out why there was a feral kitten in the kitchen. 
I didn't realise it at the time but I guess it was inevitable that I would study veterinary science. The thing most people don't know is that I nearly studied journalism. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I'd made that call? I think I would have enjoyed the challenge - and I might not have let my love of fiction slide like it did through my years of study and learning my science-based profession. 
But veterinary science suited me well. I moved to South Australia for my first job and discovered (after initial ultra-high levels of  stress) that I had a flair for the work. I enjoyed the interaction with the people and animals and later worked part-time in clinical roles even while I explored other fields such as church-based pastoral work and teaching part time at TAFE.  I think I'm one of those people who thrive on diversity 😁. 
The story of how I began writing is for another day but my love of words and a desire to learn the craft of storytelling led me to complete a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Tabor in Adelaide and to complete a young adult (YA) novel as part of that process. It was a sometimes difficult, but always awesome, process and I have to give a shout out to the Tabor Humanities staff and all my fellow students. I learned so much and also that I have so much more to learn. When I finished that degree and needed some time to replenish my creative juices, my husband bought me a set of good acrylic paints. It took me more than six months to begin using them and to my surprise I discovered I could paint - you guessed it - animals 😃.
I'm still seeking publication for that YA novel (it won the unpublished manuscript section of the 2018 Caleb Prize) and have been involved in other projects along the way but a few months ago the veterinary clinic where I was working, closed. Some health issues have made it hard to find the right kind of work. That's not so great financially but my three great loves - books, art and animals remain - and now I can spend more time on all of them. 
Hey, I guess those are my three things. Funny how often we are closest to our true selves as children.

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?
My desire is to write, mainly for the general market (both YA and adult), in a way that encourages and inspires the reader. I want to uplift people, bringing hope where there is no hope and laughter where there are tears. I can't do that on my own but I believe that God can, through me. As authors we have the privilege of going with readers into their most secret places. Places where the troubles of the world are pushed away and where adventures can teach us how to slay our own kinds of dragons. 
I have found it hard to define the genre of my writing but animals tend to photo-bomb my pages. My writing group once challenged me to write a story that didn't contain animals and when I read it to them they laughed because I'd failed miserably. That is probably why they asked me to be the editor for our group's short story anthology, If They Could Talk: Bible stories told by the animals (Morning Star Publishing) which was an awesome project to work on.

If They Could Talk: Bible stories told by the animals

I've tended to be a genre butterfly (you can read about that here) and enjoy writing all kinds of stories but in the last couple of months I've realised that most of my ideas for longer works involve mystery and suspense. I love beautiful prose but a good story is also important to me, preferably stories of overcoming, suspense and intrigue. My WIP is a time slip romantic thriller and I have an idea for an amateur-sleuth mystery which I think will be a lot of fun to write - so stay tuned.

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
If They Could Talk is marketed to Christians who want to see God's word from a fresh perspective. But as I've said above, I really want to write for the general/mainstream market. Maybe it's that genre-butterfly tendency but I'd like to reach both adult and young adult readers who like suspense and mystery, flavoured with romance and hope. 

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
Procrastination is my nemesis. I also have a chronic illness that makes me sore and fatigued most days so I'm not as productive as I'd like to be. I'm working on ways to combat this, like establishing a better routine and really appreciating the good things I have, like my awesome husband, who supports my crazy desire to be an author. It's easy to get depressed when life throws rotten onions your way but I'm learning the value of switching my thinking. Hey, I get to write and paint 😃. What an awesome privilege it is to be a co-creator with God.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 
There are so many - I can't think! As a newish writer Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird encouraged me and showed me how to persevere. More recently, Story Genius, by Lisa Cron helped me refine my ability to craft story. 

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

It's not a craft book but late last year I had the privilege of attending a Margie Lawson writing immersion on the Gold Coast. Margie is an international writing coach and her focus is on crafting awesome prose. If you can get to one of her immersions you will be inspired and empowered.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
That would be my friend and mentor, Rosanne Hawke. When I was in Rosanne's classes at Tabor I'd get this glow-in-God feeling as if there was nowhere I'd rather be than in that place, at that time. Rosanne always went the extra mile for all of her students. In the years since graduation Rosanne has remained a good friend and has encouraged me repeatedly not to give up.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?
To begin with I'd like to find a home for my YA novel and get my website up and working. I'd like to finish my WIP, at least in second draft form, by the middle of the year and indie publish a short story collection. I also want to begin work on the amateur-sleuth mystery that's brewing but I have another YA novel that's been buzzing around in my back-brain so we'll see which one wins.
How will I achieve this? Bird. By. Bird.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
One of my favourite quotes on this topic comes from philosopher Jacques Maritain. 'If you want to make a Christian work, then be a Christian and simply try and make a beautiful work, into which your heart will pass; do not try to "make Christian".' 
This is what I strive to do as I write to encourage, not just Christians, but ordinary people, made in God's image, who don't yet know him.

Reference: J Maritain, Art and Scholasticism - Chapter VIII. Downloaded from on 02/01/19

Susan J. Bruce, aka Sue Jeffrey, spent her childhood reading, drawing, and collecting stray animals. Now she’s grown up she does the same kinds of things. Sue has worked for many years as a veterinarian, writes stories filled with themes of overcoming, adventure and belonging, and loves to paint animals. Sue won the ‘Short’ section of the inaugural Stories of Life writing competition and recently won the 'Unpublished Manuscript' section of the 2018 Caleb prize. Sue is the editor of 'If They Could Talk: Bible Stories Told By the Animals' (Morning Star Publishing)and her stories and poems have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her e-book,'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story'is available on You can check out Sue’s animal art on Facebook.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

CWD Member Interview - Mazzy Adams

Each Thursday we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Today’s interview: Mazzy Adams

 Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.

Who am I?

I’m an evolving story—with a title change along the way. I have poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction and spiritual devotions published under my real name and as Mazzy Adams, the penname I adopted about four years ago. If you’re curious, you can read more about my evolution into a writer here and about why I chose my penname here

I’m also a word addict. I am totally hooked on those incredible lettered delicacies that pepper pages, tantalise tongues, trip through teeth, evoke a million images and emotions, flood curious minds with knowledge and wisdom and release springs of love, hope, compassion and understanding from responsive hearts. Not to mention, words can be oh so much FUN to play with! 

Photo above: My shape poem, Maple Music,was listed as chosen by the judge in the 2013 Poetica Christi Press Poetry competition and published in their 2014 Anthology, A Lightness of Being

Where do I come from?

I’m Queensland born and bred and, after a five year dalliance with Northern Beaches Sydney, New South Wales, my husband and I settled in Toowoomba to raise our three amazing children (I look at them and marvel). I’ve also been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. Currently, I help my Maths/Science genius husband support my writing habit by working as a creative and academic writing tutor and manager in our Education Consultancy.

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

What do I write?

I’m a PAGE—Poet, Author, Genre non-conformist, and Encourager—or Essayist if you prefer. At times, I’m PAGES, either because I’m writing Spiritual devotions, or I’m being long-winded, at which time the E stands for Editing and the S stands for Strike that/Slash and burn/Stalking typos and grammar gremlins or Scratching my head and tearing my hair out.

I've also written a New Adult Thriller. (Throw Ludlum’s Jason Bourne into a bowl with a biblical worldview. Sprinkle with quirky acronyms and gospel allegory. Add a dash of Calvin and Hobbes’ Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat’s philosophical humour. Bake with a fertile imagination. Enjoy.)

Despite my concerns, the suspense of writing the novel didn’t kill me so I expect I’ll survive the Indie Publishing learning curve. Then, Licence to Die will be a living, breathing, deadly intriguing debut novel available in paperback and e-book—before 2019 expires.

Why do I write?

Because I can. And because I can’t not write. The urge to collate words with intention and purpose has become both a passion and a divine commission. And it’s FUN! (Yeah, even when I’m tearing my hair out.)

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

Readers of the dozen Australian, US, International print and online anthologies in which my poetry, CNF, short fiction and devotions have been published.

Also, my compassionate, encouraging, and helpful Quirky Quills writing companions. Several Beta Readers and my Editor have read the novel as a WIP.

While my children were young, I managed to woo and entertain enthusiastic audiences with my drama sketches and puppet plays (especially during the lolly meteor showers and dust storms), but technically they were hearers and viewers, not readers.

Who are my target readers for Licence to Die (and other works-in-progress I’m percolating)?

That mysterious and wondrous group recently recognised in their own right as New Adults; 16-25ish, they’ll have conquered—or be in the process of conquering—the trials and tribulations of senior schooling, university study, earning a living, or generally nailing Introductory Adulting—or giving it a good bash. Also, Advanced Adulting students (25-106ish) who remember what it was like to be a young adult, and can cope with adulting being used as a noun and a verb, not just an adjective (You’ll be relieved to know I haven’t nouned or verbed the word ‘adulting’ in the novel).

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

Process? It usually starts with a couple of words, a line of poetry, or a sentence that intrudes upon my everyday activities or my attempts to go to sleep, and gives me no rest until I’ve written it down. Many of my published pieces (and my novel) began life as ‘quick writing exercises’ for my Creative Writing degree. I focus on the ideas that have promise and those that are downright demanding till I give in and write them, like Licence to Die. I either go with the flow, or formulate a plan which I modify, as flow and coherency directs.  

Challenges? The poet in me likes to slip ‘writerly’ masterpieces into the mouths and minds of my characters, which I then have to delete for POV authenticity. Sigh! Like so many writers, balancing the financial budget also creates challenges.

I am most helped by the assurance (and reassurance) (and re-reassurance) of the Holy Spirit that this is what he wants me to do. Frequently, he uses other Christian Writers as his mouthpiece in this regard.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

I found Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon invaluable in managing and simplifying the complex structure of my novel. I also appreciate the wealth of quality wisdom and advice available online. In terms of influence, I found Janice Elsheimer’s The Creative Call helped me realise the hand of God had written ‘writer’ into my DNA long before I learned how to read his writing.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

Absolutely, Nola Passmore—writer, editor, Quirky Quill and my most significant influencer. Some people won’t let you down, or won’t let you let yourself down. Nola is one of these rare and precious friends.
Also, Iola Goulton—not only for her recent, excellent work as copy editor for my novel, and her informative blogs, newsletters and social media links to all things writing, editing, publishing and marketing, but as a significant early influencer who, along with Anusha Atukorala, sent me out from my first Christian Writers Conference believing I had writer’s stuffing inside me—and it wasn’t all fluff. (Now you’re singing, ‘Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, funny little tubby all stuffed with fluff’, aren’t you?)

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?

Indie Publish Licence to Die, acquiring new and necessary skills in the process. Start pushing up the word count for the next novel. I hope to achieve this one step and one day at a time.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

I’ve been a Christian believer from my childhood. I survived life’s wild, stormy weather long enough to become a writer because Jesus Christ is my anchor. We’re tethered together in love and trust. Just as nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus, so nothing can separate Christ in me from the words that I write. Sometimes that connection is overt and obvious. Sometimes it is as inconspicuous and deeply layered as the rock beneath the ocean’s currents.

As Galatians 2:20 says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

That sounds like a licence to die, don't you think? And also freedom to live (the ultimate sequel). 

Mazzy Adams is a published author of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. She has a passion for words, pictures and the positive potential in people.


Monday, 11 February 2019

Just Write Something

Before Christmas, I was in a bit of a writing frenzy. I was trying to write two short stories and I had deadlines for both.

In the midst of all the editing I ground to a halt with one of my stories. I had to do a whole lot of work on the structure of it.

Structure in stories is the part that I struggle with the most.

I knew what I had to do, thanks to my frantic reading of books on structure. It was going to be hard work.

With Christmas holidays looming and all the craziness that comes with the end of the school year I felt I couldn’t concentrate. I didn’t have the mental energy to continue ploughing through.

Around about the same time a competition popped into my inbox. It was connected with a cooking blog that I subscribe to.

In twenty-five words or less they wanted me to tell them which recipe I would make out of their newly released cookbook and why. The prize was phenomenal and all I had to do was conjure up a creative way of talking about food!

Surely I could handle twenty-five words or less. It was easier than juggling five thousand words.

I scribbled and doodled in my notebook and came up with a rhyming ditty about a recipe, its ingredients and why I would make it – perfect. I sent it off and then sat down to work on structure.
In the next three weeks I sent off four more ‘twenty-five words or less’ explanations of recipes in between slogging it out with my story.

These little snippets of writing were fun, they were short and they kick started my writing again. I was reminded that in the midst of the bog of structural edits I still loved writing.

I didn’t win the competition but I had lots of fun trying and my story was structured to within an inch of its life.

So, I learnt something.

Knowing that I could write twenty-five words or less and be clever and creative about it gave me the boost I needed to continue polishing my five thousand words.   

Linsey Painter loves to write stories that draw on her rich heritage of growing up overseas. Her children’s stories focus on growing young hearts, challenging assumptions and exploring courage in the face of life’s difficulties. Linsey’s stories are drawn from real life and imaginative fantasy adventures. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect and sometimes we need to be brave and find out how to love and trust again. Through her stories Linsey shows that joy and beauty are everywhere even when life is difficult. Linsey lives in Cairns with her husband and two lively boys.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Welcome Susan and Kirsten

A couple of weeks ago we announced that Anusha Atukorala was stepping down from the Christian Writers Downunder Admin team after five years to pursue other goals, and that Mazzy Adams would be joining Paula Vince and myself (Jeanette O'Hagan) as a new team member.

Both Paula and I appreciate Mazzy's enthusiasm and contributions.  And all three of us are delighted to announce two newer members to the team: Susan Bruce and Kirsten (K A ) Hart.

Who are they?

Both Sue and Kirsten have been active members of Christian Writers Downunder and, in fact, both have contributed to the CWD anthology Glimpses of Light and are regular CWD bloggers.

Susan J. Bruce

Susan J. Bruce, aka Sue Jeffrey, spent her childhood reading, drawing, and collecting stray animals. Now she’s grown up she does the same kinds of things. Sue worked for many years as a veterinarian, is an animal artist and is notorious for including animals in almost every story – even when she tries not to.

Sue won the ‘Short’ section of the inaugural Stories of Life writing competition and recently won the 'Unpublished Manuscript' section of the 2018 Caleb prize. Sue is the editor of 'If They Could Talk: Bible Stories Told By the Animals' (Morning Star Publishing) and her stories and poems have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her e-book, 'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story' is available on You can check out Sue’s animal art on Facebook.

Kirsten (K.A.) Hart

K.A. Hart is a born and bred Territorian who moved to Queensland and had no choice but to stay after her assimilation into Toowoomba’s infamous, collective known as Quirky Quills.

Since then, K.A. Hart has had two short stories published. Stone Bearer, appears in Glimpses of Light and Tedious Tresses, in the As Time Goes By Mixed Blessings anthology. She is currently working on a fantasy novel.

When she is not writing, perfecting the art of starring into oblivion or buying-up all the books in Koorong, she is locked away in the gym learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, playing the guitar and cruising the streets on her Kawasaki Ninja (when she finally gets her licence and replaces the back brakes).

Welcome aboard Sue and Kirsten. 

This brings the CWD Admin team to five:

Jeanette O'Hagan (Coordinator)
Paula Vince
Mazzy Adams
Susan Bruce (aka Sue Jeffrey)
Kirsten Hart

And so you can get to know us a little better, over the next five Thursdays we will be posting a Meet Our Members post on each one of the team. 

Jeanette O'Hagan

Monday, 4 February 2019

Exploring Genre - Round Up

by Jeanette O'Hagan @JeanetteOHagan

In 2019, we are continuing the tradition of a cross-post between Christian Writers Downunder (CWD) and Australasian Christian Writers (ACW), with more forays into the different genres. You may wonder if, after two years, there are any more genres to explore. Well, yes, there are. In fact we haven't come close to covering them all. But before we launch into some more examples, I will give a round up of the ground we have already covered. This post can be used as a quick reference and handy resource on different genres.

What is Genre?

Literary Genre is a particular type or style of story which may be defined by style, tone, content and even length. Basically, genres define creative innovations and reader expectations that have developed over time with broader categories (fiction, non-fiction, or prose, drama, poetry, media), to larger families (e.g. romance, science fiction, fantasy, crime etc) and more narrowed or specialised categories (sweet romance or cosy mysteries or spaghetti westerns).

Why should I care about Genre?

Iola discusses why genre matters
- it  helps manage readers expectations and it also helps market books to our readers. Read more here and here.

When you are starting out, it is often a good idea (at least at first) to just write and learn the craft and worry about genre later.  This is especially true if writing is a hobby or release or therapy.

However, if at some point you wish to publish your writing and attract readers, understanding genre can also help you hone how you write or maybe help decide which aspects of the story to emphasise or which project to focus on (if you have more than one project on the go).  It can also inspire ideas.

Some genres have more defined expectations than others (e.g. category romance or CBA Christian Fiction), while others are more open to experimentation and cross-overs between genres (e.g. Young Adult fiction or Science Fiction).

Knowing your genre and your readers' expectations helps in both writing and in attracting a readership to your writing. Having an idea about Genre Trends can also be helpful.

Jeanette O'Hagan discusses Genre Trends (for 2018) here.

What Genres Are There?

Genres range across the broad categories like Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Children's Books and Young Adult etc.


The major fiction genres are Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime, Historical, Contemporary Drama and Literary.  Each broad genre often has a swag of sub-genres and some sub-genres may cross-over e.g. Romantic suspense includes elements of romance and suspense novels. Or a time-travel novel may be Science Fiction or Fantasy or even Science Fantasy.


This is a hugely popular genre with a large audience of avid readers.

While romance can often be a subplot or theme in a range of other genres, in category romance the focus is on the relationship and the obstacles to the relationship between the hero and heroine or romantic couple with an expected Happily Ever After (HEA).

There are a wide range of sub-genres with romance.

Carolyn Miller introduced us to historical romance (romance set before the present day) and in particular regency romance - romance inspired by Jane Austen and set in or around the regency period - e.g. early 19th century. You can find her delightful post here.

Nicky Edwards took us on a tour of rural romance (set in the country) and medical romance (with nurses or doctors as protagonists and which includes medical drama), usually set in contemporary times. You can read more here.

Romance can also include contemporary romance, paranormal romanceromantic suspense, romantic comedy, sweet or clean romance, or other more racy sub-genres.

Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction imagines a different reality - whether that be a variation of earth as we know it or different world altogether. It is generally divided into Science Fiction (where science or a imagined science explains the world) or Fantasy (in which a non-scientific - often supernatural - explanation is given), though these can cross-overs such as science fantasy and other mixtures.

There is easily over 100 sub-genres within this field - including crazy mash-ups like gaslamp fantasy or weird west.

Science Fiction

Adam Collings introduced us to Space Opera - epic Science Fiction set in space with a focus more on the story than a detailed or hard science - think Star Trek or Doctor Who. And, also the Superhero sub-genre which can used a scientific (e.g. Superman) or a supernatural (e.g. Thor) explanation for the special powers. Read more here.


Jeanette O'Hagan introduced Secondary World and Portal fantasy - both of which are set on an alternative (non-earth) world. In the first the world exists without reference to earth, whereas in the second, the protagonist travels through a door or portal to the other world. Read more here.

Other Speculative 

Alison Stegert explores the difference between Steam Punk and Gaslight fiction - both of which are inspired by the Victorian age of steam and Victorian science fiction writers such as Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. Steam Punk tends focus more on the science fiction aspects, while Gaslight has a more paranormal vibe. Read more here

Ian Acheson introduced us to Supernatural Fiction - which focuses on supernatural beings such angels, demons and/or ghosts (and is related to paranormal and urban fantasy). It can have a faith or Christian focus or be more 'secular' in its approach. Read more here.

Other speculative sub-genres include fairy tale retellings and fractured fairy tales, paranormal, urban fantasy, horror, dystopian, cyber-punk, cli-fi, solar punk, time travel, grim-dark or noble-bright etc.

Mystery and Crime


Donna Fletcher Crow discusses crime mystery, in particular historical crime mystery such as medieval crime mystery here

Virginia Smith explores the different kinds of mystery novel from cosy, police procedural, private eye, etc. here. 

Other forms of mystery can be hard-boiled, noir, paranormal or even as specific as Scandinavian Noir.


Suspense can be part of a straight thriller or mystery/crime novel or can involve romance as a major subplot in romantic suspense (where danger forms a backdrop to the romance).

Sandra Orchard discusses the elements of suspense here

Other significant fiction genres include Historical Fiction, Contemporary Drama, and Literary Fiction

Christian Fiction

Christian Fiction can be understood in different ways. For some, it can be any fiction written by a Christian, for others it has a much more defined and strict definition with overt Christian content such as bible verses, prayer, mentions of Jesus, conversion scenes and the absence of graphic sex, violence and strong language. Somewhere in the middle, others would include books that may have less overt religious content but are written from a Christian worldview, contain Christian values and themes, and include pointers to faith, but which would still be appropriate for a general market. See here and  here for more discussions.

Christian fiction can include the majority of the other genres we've covered, such as romance, mystery, historical, science fiction, fantasy etc.

More specific Christian fiction has subgenres such as Christian supernatural fiction (see Ian Acheson's post above), Biblical fiction and Christian allegory (like Pilgrim's Progress).

Biblical Fiction

Biblical Fiction re-imagines the characters and stories we find in the Bible, often filling in the gaps and fleshing out the historical setting.  While Biblical Fiction can be written from a non-Christian perspective, Christian Biblical fiction is true to the tenets of Christian faith and the Bible itself.

Susan Preston discusses Biblical Fiction here.


Nola Passmore introduced us to creative non-fiction (and how that differs from reportage). Read more here.

Non-Fiction can include historical works, memoir and biography as well as self-help books, devotionals, theological works, text books or informational books, books of essays, coffee table books, cookbooks  etc.


Poetry can be non-fiction or fiction or a mixture of the two, it can be strongly narrative (ballads, for instance) or focus on a moment or a feeling or an image or be metaphorical or evoke shared feelings and realities.

Valerie Volk gave a wonderful introduction to Poetry (here

Jeanette O'Hagan explored Free Verse (poetry without a set rhyme) and Verse Novels (telling a narrative in verse) (read more here).

Targeted by Age and/or Gender

Children and Teens

Penny Reeve introduces us to the difference between picture books and chapter books in younger readers. Read more here.

Cecily Anne Paterson discuses writing for Young Adult or Teen readers (generally from thirteen to nineteen years of age). Read more here

New Adults

New Adult Fiction is a more recent category, ranging from nineteen to twenty-five year olds (or up to thirty), generally school leavers starting university or work, living away from parents, forging new relationships, learning what it means to live independently.  Read more here.

For middle-aged and older readers

Various 'lits' may target these age groups, usually with a humorous or even farcical tone. For instance 'chic-lit', then there is 'hen-lit' or 'nana-lit' targeting women of different age groups (thirty-somethings, middle-aged, older women). Women's Fiction tends to be more serious - and maybe more 'literary'.

Westerns and Military fiction (and non-fiction) may be primarily targeted to male readers.


Both fiction and non-fiction may be written with a primary focus on humour, whether witty and dry, or more slapstick in style, or farcical or satire.

Length and format categories


Jeanette O'Hagan looked at 'short fiction' from flash to novellas (though it could also be non-fiction). Read more here.

Narelle Atkins explores novellas and novelettes in the romance genre here.

Collaborative Writing

Jeanette O'Hagan explores ways that writers can collaborate and that is in the actual writing itself in collaborative works such as ghost-writing, partnerships, anthologies and more. Read more here.

Where to next?

Being presented with the different categories and genres can be as overwhelming as looking at the different brands in the supermarket. Too much choice. On the other hand, it can be seen as freeing, for there is really something for everyone and opportunities for cross-overs and mash-ups.

Tell us - what genres (or sub-genres) do you love to read?  Which do you write in?  Which would you like to learn more about?


Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users.

She has published numerous short stories, poems, three novellas (Heart of the Mountain, Blood Crystal and Stone of the Sea) in her Under the Mountain series and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories. She has short stories and poems in seventeen anthologies and was thrilled that her story, Wolf Scout, was recently accepted for the upcoming Inklings Press anthology, Tales of Magic and Destiny.

Her latest release, Shadow Crystals (the fourth novella) will soon be available on preorder.

You can also find her on:

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