The dictionary, or at least my handy-dandy little online reference source, defines “Quandary” as – “noun, plural quandaries– a state of perplexity or uncertainty, especially as to what to do; dilemma.”
And there it is. That is where I am with the very soon to be released “Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories. Lost in “Quandary” without a compass. Don’t know the zip code for map finder, but think it’s just on the outskirts of “Perplexed.”
As I write this, magical little helper elves are furiously working to format the finished text of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear– The First Holler!” Preparing the collection of short story adventures for publication, fitting it into all the whatsits and whatnots for Amazon, while also designing a cover. But soon they will be finished and it will be ready to publish.
And there’s the dilemma– What genre to list the book in? What age groups might be interested in reading a novel length collection of short stories about a bear in the woods? How to categorize it? Basically– which virtual shelf to put it on so potentially interested folks may find it?
To be honest, I have no idea at present where to go with this. Apparently my writing muse doesn’t either, because she is being totally silent on the matter.
“The Adventures of Little Bear” stories were not written for or towards any target market or group in particular, probably breaking rule number one of the “Writing for Success” guidelines. But I don’t lose any sleep over that, because I make no secret about not following anyone else’s “rules.” And I’m too old to be overly concerned with building a “long term following and career.” Whatever.
I wrote the stories that were in my head as the characters revealed them to me because it was fun. It’s what I would rather be doing than most anything else right now. Who might be interested in them, what “target markets” or “demographics” never entered into it or influenced anything.
“Ready. Fire! Aim.”
As the stories turned out, they are probably not really wee kiddie type stories, certainly not on a “See Spot run” level. For comparison, Little Red Bear is about as close to Winnie the Pooh as a Grizzly Bear is to a Hedgehog. Not sure middle grade children would be interested, focusing more on becoming teens and such. As for young adults, probably no way to distract from fantasy and paranormal genres, lacking a heavy dose of either in the stories, and having no werewolves, walking dead or dragons either.
Suggested keywords to be included in descriptions in the Children’s Categories include such notable buzzers as sword, sorcery, magic, dragon, quest, adventure, detective, action, sleuth, spy, terrorist (believe it or not), secret agent, superhero, extraterrestrial, and time travel. The closest Little Red Bear comes to any of those is maybe an “Action Adventure Superhero”. In a bearskin. In the backwoods. Is there a category for that?
And that’s just talking about the Children’s age group. How then to also classify it? It’s not exactly a true-to-life “Nature” story book, featuring a fictional bear and characters. It’s much more fiction and made up than “Historical.” It is kind of “Action/Adventure”, but it features a backwoods bear, not Jason Bourne, Indiana Jones or Ironman.
The stories are set roughly in the early 1900’s, but not truly correct enough or concerned with historical details to be considered a “Period” piece. We are working on a story involving petty larceny for the next collection, but there is none of that tomfoolery or goings-on in the first set of stories so they do not fit “Crime Drama”.
The stories are set in the scenic Ozarks Mountain Country, but feature way too many made-up names and locations to be considered for the “Travel” or “Geography” categories. There is a good deal of useful nature information presented, but talking animals immediately kick it out of the “Science” category.
The word “love” is mentioned exactly once in over 65,000 words, so it surely cannot be considered a “Romance” work. And there’s no way a backwoods bear will compete with spicy Romance literature set amidst exotic locales to command attention from the romance seekers, anyway.
“Erotic?” Mmmm — No.
To the best I recall, there is no mention whatever about stars, the universe, aliens or time travel. So “Science Fiction” is off the list as well. There are some weak attempts at humor, but not the main focus or enough to qualify the stories as a “Comedy.”
So you can see the dilemma— where to list “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” when it is ready for release soon? The stories are simply about an uncommonly special bear and his friends in the backwoods mountain country. Boring themes like kindness, sharing, being good neighbors and appreciating the wildflowers, nature and such. Is that the stuff of “Superheroes?”
Maybe we just invented a new genre—“Fun Stories About Nothing In Particular”—but really don’t think I have enough sway with the Amazon folks to bring that about. Perhaps J. R. R. Tolkien or George R. R. Martin could. I am merely James R. Milson. Maybe I should consider adding another “R.” for a bit more literary clout.
But it really doesn’t matter all that much. We don’t measure “Success” in dollar signs. Success for us is if the stories help brighten a few people’s days, and maybe a few kids learn to appreciate nature a little more. Hopefully, we have not set unrealistically high sales expectations for the book– again, sales not being the reason the stories were written in the first place. I went out on a limb a while ago and told Red if we hit a dozen sales or get a five star review, whichever happens first, we’ll celebrate with a pizza, and we’re both good with that.
But now thinking about it, not having a foggy clue where to classify or categorize the book for interested folks to even find it, we may have to peddle them on the street corner and in front of grocery stores to reach that lofty dozen sales number. It’s a good thing warmer spring weather is on the way. I may have overreached with that dozen sales goal, it maybe being an unrealistic, off the top of the head number considering the classification conundrum. Perhaps some kind-hearted person will rescue us with a good review, but not hanging my hat on that one, having only the one middle “R.” in my name as it is.
I suppose if neither happens, if we don’t reach the high one dozen sales goal or receive the generosity of a five star review either, we’re okay with that too, really. Because we both know eventually we’re just going to go out and get a pizza anyway just to celebrate all the work in getting the book prepared to begin with. It’s really just a matter of timing and the accomplishment we’re toasting and lifting our Coke glasses to in the end.
So either way, however we categorize “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”, the writing trail ends at a pizza joint for Little Red Bear and me. And we both know our pizza categories very well.
In the meantime, we’re going to keep trying to figure this all out. Thanks as always for reading and following! – Jim (and Red!)