~ By Hillary Raymer

As I delved into my first attempt at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it occurred to me that my soon-to-be hopeful novel needed a “genre.” Though I don’t write the sassy chick lit that many of us have come to love, I do believe I have a strong chick lit voice, one that carries significant weight when I write my paranormal romances. So when it came time to choose a genre for NaNoWriMo, I was torn. Should I choose Romance or Fantasy? But then there was Chick Lit. A genre that many had sworn was a one hit wonder of its time but yet I had the ability to choose it for my NaNoWriMo novel. And that got me thinking…

There’s been plenty of talk about authors with Chick Lit voices but whose works are listed under other genres entirely. Historical Romance. Paranormal/Fantasy. Contemporary Romance, which I feel is the genre that has begun to encompass chick lit writers as a whole. But what about the writers who love to mix things up? I know I can’t be the only writer out there whose novel doesn’t fit into any “specific” genre. Am I? I may not write in the first person with feisty dialogue as my guide, but my heroine of my NaNoWriMo novel is quite lively and full of the wonderful chick lit attitude. But at the same time, she’s also fighting dark forces beyond her control and battling alongside a rather difficult alpha male who is unfortunately incredibly sexy. So where does my conglomerate of a story fall? Romance? Fantasy? Or Chick Lit?

The decision left me scrambling and ultimately I chose Fantasy because most of my WIP will be taking place in another world entirely. But the excitement of NaNoWriMo brought many interesting questions and revelations. Is chick lit or even those novels with strong chick lit elements, being guised under other genres? Where do novels that don’t follow the guidelines fall? Personally, I am beginning to think genres need to expand their horizons to accommodate those who write…outside the box, if you will. Whose stories don’t fall into one exact category. But if I’ve learned anything so far during my NaNoWriMo experience (other than the fact that it is more difficult than I imagined to keep up with my word count) it is that genres are confining and chick lit is definitely not dead.

It’s been a year since I fully committed myself to writing and realized that it is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I am currently at work on my first paranormal romance and have fallen in love with it already.  I am from Virginia but currently live in North Carolina with my husband and my daughter.  I like drinking tea, curling up with a good book, and long walks on the beach. You can visit me at http://www.hillaryraymer.com/