Where Will She Sit on the Shelf?


I’ve sat in on enough writing sessions facilitated by writers, agents, editors and other workers in the publishing industry to know that if my book doesn’t conform to market standards, good luck on getting it published.

Today’s post is on meeting that challenge and moving forward.

Maybe a Story Really Does Tell Itself

My original intention when I began telling my mermaid story was for it to be a romance. A beautiful fishlike young woman washes ashore where a beautiful young man discovers her and along the way love arrives.

The story didn’t unfold as I’d planned.

My mermaid remains a young female but her story focuses on her journey toward the realization of who she is and where she belongs in the ocean world.

A young man is a part of her narrative, along with issues of ocean pollution and extinction and motherhood and love.

Genre Dilemma

My novel is complete. But what kind of novel is it?




Women’s Fiction?

Adult Mainstream?

All of the above?

None of the above?

I can’t imagine anything worse than a story being refused because the marketing department has no idea how to advertise it and the bookstores have no idea where to shelve it.

What do I do?

Change the story?

Keep the story?

Forget the story?

Advice from Experts

I expressed my dilemma with book editor, Rebecca Heyman. Her response was a recommendation to read three novels. One is Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.


Erin Morgenstern’s story doesn’t fit a standard type; it’s fantasy, romance, maybe even steampunk.

No spoilers here: In Night Circus, two old competitive peers, artists in magic and illusion, pit their apprentices against each other for an eventual showdown.

The story itself is magic. It enchanted me with its vivid details, compelling storytelling and mystical tone.

The structure of the story is also as unique as the tale itself.

Have readers found this strange, unusual novel in their bookstores, real or digitalized?

They certainly have.

Forging Ahead

My focus now isn’t on whether or not there’s a specific shelf for my mermaid novel but on how compelling and memorable my story is for the audience who will read it one day.


Being Mermaid: Creating Story

DSCN0959I’ve written a yet-to-be-published novel about a mermaid living in today’s ocean whose story is as much about being a woman as it is about being a mermaid, maybe more. Being Mermaid: From Out of the Sea

She has a fish tail, lives on an isolated island in the Caribbean and struggles with issues dealing with family, their expectations of her and those of herself.

Like many women today, she is faced with the results of the choices she makes. They challenge her. They develop her. They define her.


Worldbuilding is an element of the writing craft referring to the creation of the imaginary world within which fantastical characters live. For the next few posts, I’ll be sharing my mermaid’s world.

As the ocean life came alive in my mermaid’s story, I had one goal: Make it as believable as possible.

I want you to believe that mermaids could, indeed, exist among us today.

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”   ~Toni Morrison

Daydream, Fantasy, Alligator, Mermaid

I notice a white cement alligator in a wood chip garden path in midwest Ohio.

I confess. The alligator is in my backyard. I didn’t buy it, but I didn’t talk the buyer out of purchasing it either. So there it lurks between the black-eyed susans and the honeysuckle, scaring no one. But it serves a purpose. It represents someone’s fantasy or daydream.

Not mine. But I can relate.

You know when you daydream while listening to a lecture? or staring out the window of a car? or after reading a good passage from a book? They are fantasies.

When I was a kid, I daydreamed about being a horse or an eagle like a lot of children. As I grew up, the horse and eagle fantasies passed on but not the mermaid. She aged with me from young adult to adult. She didn’t occur too often, but when she did, it was usually before falling asleep.

My first desire in producing fiction was to capture my mermaid daydream. I honed my writing skills by creating a variety of short stories. After eight months, I was ready to pen my fantasy.

The story took maybe three hundred words on less than two pages. That was it. The fantasy, which had been with me for almost my whole lifetime, contained one scene: a mermaid swimming to shore and a man finding her.

Three years later, the narration fills more than 200 pages and over 60,000 words.

That’s quite a daydream for a writer from Ohio about a mermaid from the Caribbean.