Monday, March 16, 2015

Shelley Sly - MG vs Romance

Please welcome Shelley Sly to the blog today!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Jemi!
So, I love middle grade. There’s something thrilling about writing for kids, and the conversations I’ve had with young readers have been the best part of my job as a writer. But I didn’t start out writing MG.

I started out writing romance.

I’ve written short stories of all different genres, but when I decided to get serious about being a
writer, I was set on writing romance novels with college-aged protagonists. (I guess today it would be classified as New Adult Romance, but back when I wrote my first few novels, it didn’t have such a clear genre.)

Here’s what I loved about romance:
  • The moment when the hero and heroine meet. I love introducing two important characters and seeing how they react to each other!
  • Showing the sweet side of the hero. My favorite heroes are the ones who are just so loving and thoughtful… even if they try to be a tough guy on the outside!
  • The ups and downs of the relationship. I enjoyed putting my hero and heroine through some challenging, heartbreaking times, as long as it ended in a happily ever after!
I didn’t even plan on switching gears and writing for children. But working in an elementary school and being around kids every day inspired me to write for them. It’s not the same as writing romance, but there are things I love about middle grade, too:
  • Even though there’s no romantic love, I still have fun introducing two important characters, such as two soon-to-be best friends, or two long-lost relatives.
  • There might not be a swoon-worthy hero, but I like showing the depth of young characters, too. Maybe the carefree class clown has a very sensitive side, or the rough and tough tomboy secretly loves pretending to be a princess.
  • Other relationships, such as family or friendships, can have ups and downs just like a romance. I enjoy making my characters argue and stop speaking to each other, only to be good friends again later.

Two totally different genres, and yet, they’re more similar than you’d think! I’m pretty attached to MG right now, but I do look forward to returning to romance sometime in the future.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about writing in multiple genres!

Shelley Sly lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area with her husband and their chocolate lab mix. She writes middle grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in. Shelley is the author of WISHING FOR WASHINGTON, and her brand new release, ONE HUNDRED THIRTY STARS. You can find her online at

Thanks Shelley! I adored Wishing for Washington and can't wait to read One Hundred Thirty Stars!

I love reading in so many genres (obviously MG is on that list) & I've dabbled in writing multiple genres too. I can totally see me branching out into other genres & age categories once I've got myself some more time!

How about you? Do you write in multiple genres? Want to?


  1. Those are two very different genres and age groups to writing in. I think it says a lot about Shelley's talents as an author. That's awesome she has the ability to write for such different audiences.

  2. I think any of the genres can contain those things. That's great you can write in multiple genres, Shelley. I'm pretty much just one at the moment.

  3. I love how Shelley pointed out the similarities of writing in different genres. Having published three children's books, I'm now trying my hand at writing for adults (something I said I'd never do). There are definite differences, but good writing is good writing. I've put to use so much of what I learned in my kids' books.

  4. Shelley, it's great that you can switch genres that way. Your post did make me wonder how difficult it would be for a young character in a middle grade story to be followed into a young adult story as he matures? Wishing you much success.

  5. There are similarities. My books all have a romantic twist. (They would also now be NA instead of YA.)

    Congrats, Shelley.

  6. Great post. I like reading various genres and writing them as well. I'm eclectic like that.

  7. It is exciting to introduce characters that will have a future together. The first meeting between them is steeped in possibilities. What happens from then on is all up to them and the writer.

  8. Interesting similarities between those two genres! Never thought about that before.

  9. Jemi, thank you so much for having me on your blog today, and for your kind words about my books. I'm thrilled to be here!

    Natalie - Thank you, that's so sweet of you to say!

    Alex - That's true; my favorite elements of storytelling can be found in any genre.

    Beth - Good luck writing for adults after writing for children! You're right that there are definite differences.

    Mason - I've wondered that myself, about following a young character into a series for an older audience. Sounds fun!

    Diane - Thank you. I definitely enjoy a romantic twist in a story.

    T. - Yes! It's fun to be eclectic!

    Lee - Yes, I absolutely love that part. So exciting!

    Elizabeth - Yup, I think sometimes it's easier to see how two genres are different versus how they're alike.

  10. Thanks so much for dropping in today, Shelley - great post! :)

  11. Great post, Shelley. Thanks.
    Hi Jemi.

  12. How fun to hear from Shelley. Right now I just write MG, but I may write other genres at some point. Interesting to think about going from romance to MG! Wishing Shelley the best of luck. :)

  13. Great points about MG and how it's different from an adult romance. Kids that age need varied characters to identify with.

  14. Shelly certainly has her head on straight. I'm impressed by her. :)

  15. Natalie - totally agree!

    Alex - yes! Love mixing up the expectations of the genres and writing the story that makes sense :)

    Beth - I agree! I played around with some YA steampunk and learned a TON from doing that!

    Mason - that's such an interesting idea! Kind of like what LMM did with Anne of Green Gables. Wonder how that would go over now???

    Diane - everything I write has an element of romance too :)

    Teresa - me too!

    Lee - exactly!!

    Elizabeth - so much of good writing can transfer to all genres!

    Kelly - thanks!

    Jess - there's so much fun to be had in all the genres!

    DL - me too - she's awesome and so is her writing!! :)

  16. I love middle grade and there's a lot of depth to be found in characters and situations. I think it's interesting that Shelley started out writing romance. I also had different beginnings from what I write today.

  17. Jemi - Thank you, it was great to be here!

    Kelly - Thanks! :)

    Jess - Always great to talk to other MG writers! The two genres definitely have their differences.

    Susan - Yes, totally. Kids are very perceptive.

    DL - You are too kind! Thank you!

    Medeia - I think it's awesome that you've written and published books in various genres!

  18. Wow, I had no idea you started out writing romances, Shelley! Even though Romance and MG seem different on the surface, I like how you showed there are still similarities between them. (Like getting to explore relationships between two characters.) They both seem like fun genres to write for! :)

  19. I had no idea SHelley wrote Romance first! I'm so not a romantic so will stick with picture books and middle grade for now. Ha!
    Congrats on the wonderful new middle grade!

  20. Cool meeting you, Shelley. I like introducing the characters, too. Some of mine are pretty awkward, especially on first draft. I only write for adults.

    Hi, Jemi!

  21. Medeia - me too!

    Heather - those relationships are often the core of stories!

    Kelly - I'm glad - you're so good at them!!

    Carol - Hi! I love the characters' interactions too :)

  22. I love what you love about romance too Shelley. I think every story should have at least a romantic element or I'm not interested. I've never written MG but I can see its attraction.

    Hi Jemi!

    Denise :-)

  23. Heather - They are both fun genres, for sure!

    Kelly - Thank you! :)

    Carol - Awkward character introductions can be cute, though! Nice to meet you too!

    Denise - I definitely enjoy stories with romantic elements in them, so I know what you mean!

  24. It's great to meet Shelley! I call myself a speculative fiction writer since I mix a wise array of genres together. A little romance too. Not a lot. But the element is there.

  25. I started out writing romance, too--back in the 90s, in the dark ages, when everyone on here was probably 12. Romance was more fun back then...lots of romantic comedy. Now it's all serious and dark.

  26. Denise - I'm with you - love that romantic part :)

    Stephen - it is! I think it fits in many, many genres!

    Stephanie - not mine! I love the light hearted aspect of it - I think you might enjoy a read by Jill Shalvis or my buddy Jean Oram! :)

  27. It's cool to hear how you found the genre you love. My first completed novel was fantasy, but I'd started a half dozen other contemp YA manuscripts before it. I found I read far more YA and would tend to linger in that section of any given library or bookstore most, so that's where I landed (for now!). I love that genre isn't a forever decision--we can try different things!

  28. I would love to write MG or YA but I can't get the voice right, even so I have MG and YA grandchildren I'm around all the time. I think writing for teens takes a special gift which you obviously have.

  29. Laurel - I love that too! My first attempt at a novel was a Star Trek fan fiction - so different from what I'm writing now!

    Linda - I don't have quite the right voice for MG yet, but I do enjoy YA as well as adult. One of these days maybe I'll have time for them all!

  30. That's great, being able to write in multiple genres. MG speaks most to me, but I've completed YA novels, too. The leap from romance to MG is larger. Congrats on being able to do it! :)

  31. So cool to see Shelley here! Love seeing her picture.

  32. Dawn - and she's done it so well. Just finished 130 Stars and it is AWESOME!

    Theresa - me too :)

  33. Hi Jemi and Shelley!

    Great post with all information. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Those are excellent points! And the thing is, I love to read all of those scenes in books, whether they're in romance or MG, so yay for including them -- and for having fun writing them!

  35. Nas - thanks!

    Caryn - those connections are the best! :)