On genres and literary awards
Recently, I travelled to Miami to receive two Readers’ Favorite awards—the bronze medal in the Young Adult – Coming of Age category for There Comes a Prophet , and another bronze for Along the Watchtower for Dramatic Fiction. (click here for a picture).
Of course, I was pleased to receive the awards, as well as have the opportunity to meet my fellow authors. But what to make of it?
I’d applied to several contests before. All are different, with various categories an author can specify. Most of the choices are classic genre—romance, mystery, paranormal, sci-fi etc. I’d previously submitted There Comes a Prophet as sci-fi and Along the Watchtower as Military Fiction with no success. So why did I finally win in these two less-than-pure-genre categories?
While my writing is speculative, it tends to defy being pigeonholed into a single genre. Prophet is sci-fi, in the sense that it takes place in an imagined but possible dystopian future. But it lacks androids or aliens with tentacles, space or time travel, or pitched battles with light sabers and ray guns. Watchtower is about a wounded Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD, but none of it takes place in a war zone. It’s been described as cross-genre: part love story, part fantasy adventure, part family drama and chronicle of recovery and personal growth. Both books have one thing in common—main characters striving to overcome obstacles and find their way in life.
In Prophet, Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas come of age when they discover a world gone awry and seek the courage to change it. Lt. Freddie Williams of Watchtower confronts his personal demons in a fantasy dream world, similar to World of Warcraft, the video game he played with his comrades. Through that dream world and the help of those in the VA hospital, he finds a way to come to terms with his past and a reason to live.
The two winning categories—drama and coming of age—focus not on genre but on the heart of a good story: strong characters struggling to overcome adversity and reach the goal they long for. And being recognized for a good story is the best a writer could desire.
WINNER: Readers' Favorite Book 2013 Bronze Award Winner, Drama Category -Fiction
A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds...
The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he's a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he's inhabiting two separate realities. The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse--and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.
In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul. While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission--a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory--and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way back from Hell.
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Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG
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