If there is anything I have learned so far from being a parent (I have a soon-to-be six year-old and a soon-to-be one year old), it is that while plans are a great thing to have, they are merely guidelines to daily activities. Plans change based on availability, behavior, and even the weather, and parents have to be open to changing plans based on such criteria as well as be open to new plans when the opportunity arises. The same flexibility and awareness has served me well as a writer. My debut book, Food Allergies: The Ultimate Teen Guide (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) was published this past June and never in a million years would I have thought my first published work would be geared toward teenagers, let alone be a work of non-fiction. I was a picture book fiction writer and planned on a debut picture book … or so I thought.

I was a picture book fiction writer and planned on a debut picture book … or so I thought.

Before my agent offered representation, we had been discussing several picture books I had written and some I was working on. She then asked if there was anything else I had been writing and there was something else. I had been diagnosed with multiple food allergies as a young adult and had been keeping a food diary/memoir of my experience, but surely I didn’t think there would be interest in that. I was a picture book writer. I decided to bring it up anyway, and a few questions and an outline later, I had representation with a book contract soon to follow. Looking back on that now, if I had not brought up all of my writing I certainly would not have written that book and I may not have received representation right away. Most importantly, I may not have explored writing non-fiction or writing in other genres and I would have really missed out. I love genre jumping when I am working on multiple manuscripts and, for me, it makes my writing stronger as a whole. That experience taught me to be open to new ideas, step out of my comfort zone, and write the story that is living inside my heart no matter what genre that may be. After all, plans can always change and that may not be such a bad thing.

Jessica Reino
Jessica Reino is a children’s book author and freelance editor. When Jessica is not spreading food allergy awareness, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and developing new works within children’s literature. Learn more about Jessica!