It's not as hard as you think, swapping hats, or even finding your voice. You don't have to put an ad in the lost and found column, just be patient and keep looking.
I discovered I have two. Hats and voices.
Okay, deciding to change the genre and age group for whom you write is not something you do at the drop of a hat. (Sorry I couldn't resist that.) Nevertheless, it is very doable. You just have to remember which hat you're wearing and dress accordingly.
I write both adult and young adult books, and I use different names for each. Not because I'm not proud of all my books, I am. However I want to keep the two sides of my work separate. They are different, and should be.
How do I do this? By a different mindset, or as I say, with a different hat on. I don't go as far as to sit in different rooms, although sometimes I think this might help. I decide that a specific day/week is YA day (or week) and only read, write, and think YA.
Simple? Not at all. Because I have a mind like a demented gnat, and have a terrible tendency to think of something inappropriate for what I'm writing and just have to note it down. That's fine, but annoying. And I am an adult, and always have a book on the go, both reading and writing. These have to be firmly shut.
On a YA day, I re-read the last chapter, check my notes, and make sure my hat is firmly secured. Clear my throat and find my voice. And type.
That perhaps trivializes what I'm trying to say, and I don't mean it to. Some days, I achieve very little. The hat slips, the voice is faint and the chocolate count goes up. But the excitement rises, the voices bombard me, and I get on track.
This might not work for everyone. Indeed sometimes the delete button has been hot with use, and I wonder at my temerity at imagining I know how teens think. Then I accept I don't, but I know teens that do and are happy to help. I'm never afraid to ask for it.
For instance, when my children were teenagers, we moved from one side of the country to the other. In the east, Doss meant brilliant, great. In the west it meant terrible or awful. Cue great confusion with their new friends! Today, it's not really used. Or so I'm told. Brill or crap, ace or shit, is the norm now.
I'm lucky I've had the chance to try more than one genre and have my work accepted. That I seem to have both an adult and a YA voice is brilliant, and once I acknowledged to myself my way of writing was the only way I could write, I felt a lot happier.
I found my voice. (I have to add here, I originally typed 'vice' not voice. On second thoughts, both words are perhaps appropriate.)
Your voice is just that. Yours! It is no use asking someone else to "just write this bit for me." Then it isn't you anymore and it will show. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ask for help, it means make sure whatever you write, you put it in your own words.
Recently I was privileged to be asked to give a workshop on 'finding your voice' and one of the exercises we (including me) did, proved this. Five words were chosen at random. Blue, hyphen, Christmas, sunshine, and physical was one selection. Out of the ten people in the workshop, no two people came up with even remotely the same ideas, or used the words in the same order. It gave everyone food for thought.
My YA, voice and hat, was a surprise to me. A friend was looking for a YA, shifter book for her daughter and couldn't find one she liked. She was bemoaning the fact, so out of the blue and no idea why; I said I'd write one.
At this point in time, I hadn't thought of writing for teens, hadn't read any teen books since I was that age myself (a good few years ago) and didn't read shifter novels. I had no idea if I could write for that age group. However, an idea immediately came to me, and I started to write. It worked.
This isn't to say, it was plain sailing because it wasn't. Writing something so different to anything I had every attempted before was a difficult task, but one I relished. The more I wrote, the more I enjoyed it. The challenges of making sure I didn't swap hats or use the wrong voice kept me on my toes. There was more than a little cussing and deleting and moaning, "I can't do this," to my crit group.
But I did it, found that voice was as strong and called to me equally as much as the one I found I had as an adult writer, and I was hooked.
Once I'd written the short, eleven thousand word story, and handed it over, I was delighted that the recipient loved it. This was where my good luck fairy must have been watching over me. I told my publisher about it, he asked to read it, loved it, said he wanted more, and was setting up a YA publishing house.
So six books with my YA hat on now. The voice is singing loud and clearówell maybe not singing, as I can't hold a tuneóbut very definitely part of me.
Please anyone who reads this and wants to write, and thinks "but so and so is so brilliant, I could never write like her"ógood. You don't want to write like someone else. You want to write like you!
Practice, it will take time, patience and very likely the ability to take rejection with grace. However you will get your eureka wow this is my voice moment. And it is worth savoring.
So, as I celebrate the eBook publication of Renounced, book two of the Shalean Moon series, (book one Discovered was released in June) with the lovely feeling of another four lined up to be published. The next Accepted will be with you on 3rd of August, and soon all three will be out in one paperback, called Beginnings.
I'm going to leave you with one thing to think about. (Well you can think about this article and decide if you like my hat and voice. I think they both are very 'me'.)
Write as you can, not as you think you should. Try as many hats on as you need, you'll know which is for you. And please enjoy it all.
J.Lilley author, is married, and lives with her long-suffering husband (who is used to the growing family of dust bunnies under the bead, and accepts she permanently has a lap top attached to her) on the edge of the forest where The Shalean Moon is set. Her children having flown the net, she enjoys walking and finding her scenarios near to home. An avid traveller, her she get a lot of her ideas from her travels. (That's her excuse for wanting to see somewhere new, and she's sticking to it.) Her motto now seems to be, have Lap Topówill travel.
Jo has always written, indeed her schoolteachers despaired of ever getting facts from her; she was accused of being too flowery. Well it is standing her in good stead now.
Here's the cover and blub for Beginnings, it gives you an idea of the series.
Beginnings, The Shalean Moon
When Rach moved to Scotland she knew there would be changes. She hadn't expected them to be quite so dramatic. Not only was there a new house, new school and new friends, there was also a secret to discover.
Brios Parde was a Patriarch in waiting. When the powerful leopard shifter senses a new Shalean he is amazed to discover it's the new girl. All his senses tell him Rach will be important to him.
However the Rogues try to destroy the budding relationship. Will Rach decide to side with Brios or help stage an uprising?
Donny and Leira had known each other for ever.
But Leira is not prepared to let Donny decide her fate for her. She will chose her mate and it's not that annoying leopard. However, when danger closes in all around them, threatening the very heart of Shalea, Leira has a decision to make.
Donny has always known Leira was the one for him. Convincing her is another matter. When his loyalties are tested and danger abounds, can he stand back and let Leira chose for herself?
Will they have a future together?
Andy is Shalean and in love with a human, but had no idea how to make such a relationship work.
Sam has no idea that Shalea exists, only that he is fed up waiting for Andy to make the most move. Overjoyed to find his feelings reciprocated Sam starts seeing strange things.
Something is afoot and Andy seems right in the middle of it.
What Sam discovers rocks him to the core. But he is determined to fight for their chance of happiness. Human he may be, but as long as Andy wants him, they can face anything, can't they?
You can find J.Lilley on
Thank you Savvy authors for inviting me to blog with you.
*Edited by Teresa Crumpton*