Monday, October 21, 2019

Pick One Genre? Nope.

Why do I genre hop/genre mix? Short answer: Because I like both sci-fi and fantasy (and historical fiction) and don't feel like picking just one.

I've been thinking about genres and subgenres some here lately, probably partially due to some webinars I've done for work. Some of them I didn't enjoy too much, but the sci-fi and fantasy ones were pretty good. They're available on YouTube, so you can totally watch them if you want. The NoveList training session at the end of each video probably isn't as useful, but if you have a GA library card, you can access NoveList using the GALILEO password. Just ask your local library. It does change every few months. And NoveList is a pretty useful tool.

Anyway, library resource plug over.

I've always found it difficult to choose genres when listing my books on Amazon. For instance, in Across the Stars, they travel on a spaceship to a planet where there is a castle and dungeons and flintlock rifles and swords. They live in a galaxy where other planets use technology, but they choose not to. Technically, it's science fiction, but the feel on-planet, the storyline, the tropes are more fantasy.

Time Captives is primarily fantasy. They go through a portal to a world with elves and merfolk and dragons ruled by an evil queen they have to defeat. But you've also got the Bremsi, a restraint set in the middle of an island that will send a fatal electric shock into anyone with the DNA of the royal family who crosses the border. Which seems a little more sciencey than you typically find in fantasy.

And then there's the Acktorek series I'm working on, which I consider science fiction, but yet I wonder if it would be better considered science fantasy since my "other worlds" concept is really more like fantasy worlds, just some of them have tech.

Twisted Dreams is most blatantly both genres, as one world Liesel is in is a somewhat standard fairy tale fantasy world and the other is straight up interplanetary sci-fi, albeit in a world that is not our own.

Often I wonder if this is part of why I struggle with marketing. Someone in the Realm Makers FB group the other day created a poll asking if you write for a niche market. And the more I think about it, yes, I do. But, like, a bunch of niche markets.

I write for the Narnia fans, the ones who like portal fantasy with rightful heir/chosen one-type tropes. But I also throw in pirates and gladiators and kids from history because I can. And other times spaceships.

I write for those who enjoy dystopian and biological experimentation...actually, The Experiment is one of my two most straightforward books regarding genre. But it's so different from Time Captives.

I write for those who like space opera/science fantasy like Star Wars, but I set it in another world so I can write stuff like aliens without the theological implications of actually writing aliens. But still with people who live in castles and have dungeons as easy to escape as the Camelot dungeons that inspired them. And of course biological experimentation because while I can't explain why I love the concept so much, I do.

I write for people who like the superhero genre, which typically is considered a subgenre of sci-fi. But I like completely different other worlds instead of parallel worlds so I can do anything. And I throw in a sprinkling of space opera feel because I like Star Wars and Dickensian London because I like Dickens and strange scenarios to solve that aren't quite sci-fi, but have enough fake science to not be fantasy either because I can.

So I'm a genre mixer. But you know, that's okay. Because while there are a lot of people who read genre fiction, I'm sure there are people out there who like both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and who also enjoy a good super hero movie. Because isn't that what speculative fiction is all about? Using your imagination to put new and unique twists on all the things you love?

And you know what? I googled what subgenre Doctor Who fits, and discovered what deep down I probably already knew. That while its main genre is sci-fi, it dabbles in basically all the spec fic genres.

So maybe it would be easier to find my market if I wrote straight up genre fiction. In fact, I know it would be. But that's not me. I like too many different things to tie myself down to just one. And it's more fun to soar on the wings of pure imagination, creating something that's a unique blend of Star Wars, Narnia, The Flash, Doctor Who, and something else that's all my own.

I'm a genre mixer and that's who I am.

And I highly doubt I'm the only one.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Story of the (Fantasy) World

Or, Why I Haven't Been Writing Much.

Me listening to people who like worldbuilding talk about it: That sounds like so much fun! I can't wait to do it!

Me sitting down to worldbuild: There are so many different aspects to creating a culture. It's too overwhelming. I'm not going to do it.

Me writing a story with very little worldbuilding: I don't know anything about this place. I can't write this book. I guess I need to worldbuild. But it's just so much!

People who like worldbuilding: You don't have to know everything. Just worldbuild what you need.

Me: How do I know what I need? I've got to create a whole culture. Maybe I'll just make it up as I go along.

Me looking back at a messy draft: None of this worldbuilding makes sense. It's so inconsistent.

Me staring at my blank worldbuilding notebook: But I don't know what to put here.

My sisters throwing out all kinds of crazy ideas: All they eat is spaghetti! *note: this is a family joke because of earlier versions of Acktorek...they actually had a lot of genuinely useful ideas*

Me typing up their ideas and my own that they've sparked: You know, this actually is kind of fun.

This is basically my last few weeks. I did a little writing on the Espionage sequel, but mostly I've been working on worldbuilding for three—yes, you read that right—THREE different worlds. Because brilliant me who mostly hates worldbuilding and swore never to create another world after Calhortea came up with an absolutely fabulous idea to...write a series where I have to worldbuild anew for every. single. book.

Essentially, Acktorek is a company that sends people to other worlds to help with issues. It's like the Jedi Order meets Doctor Who meets Team Flash, but world travel rather than space travel, and worlds that are completely different from our own, not just parallel versions of earth. The possibilities are endless! is the worldbuilding.

I was writing book two when I realized that I couldn't keep going on like this, making it up as I go along. Because the fact was, I was only making up the bare minimum and it showed.

This was something I sort of realized sitting in Jill Williamson's worldbuilding class and Ronie Kendig's dialogue and subtext class. My characters have so little background, so little culture, so sparse a setting that it's hurting the rest of the book. There is no richness to the backdrop, there is no flavor to their speech.

So I've been worldbuilding. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth. Especially since I'm doing three worlds at once (Mitchell's homeworld, the world with Acktorek, and the world their mission is in). But it's necessary.

My only issue is speech. I have the hardest time coming up with phrases and making up slang words to fit these cultures. But I'm determined not to have Mitchell sound American or Emma sound like a southerner, so I'll get there. Eventually.

And my stories will be better off for it.

P.S. Why is it so incredibly difficult to find pictures of Dickensian London? There are five hundred thousand British period dramas out there! Where are all the Pinterest pictures?

Monday, October 7, 2019

No Man Cover Reveal

We're getting a new Firmament book next week! *does happy dance* It's been two years—TWO YEARS!!!—since the last Firmament book, which is way, way, WAY too long. Especially when SPOILER FOR BOOKS 4 & 5 ANDI IS DYING! END SPOILER Problem is, I'll get to the end, and then I'll have to wait AGAIN for the next book. And for whichever book Elasson will be in. Grace has promised me he'll be back at some point.

Oh, goodness, the nostalgia that just swept over me as I looked at the cover for Radialloy and read my review. Has it really been six years since I discovered the awesomeness that is books written by Grace? And here we are, getting book 6, and I just know it's going to be amazing. I've got the cover and synopsis for you, but I'm going to make you scroll through the previous books first, because I'm just feeling like that today. ;) Click on the pictures for my reviews and purchase links.

And coming October 15th!

She doesn’t have much longer to live.

Losing the last of the radialloy puts Andi’s life in immediate danger and sends her, August, and the Doctor rushing towards the demolished Qandon system in search of more. Their speeder is crippled, a powerful man is desperate to stop them -- and they are running out of time.

Meanwhile, Crash has escaped from prison and is hiding somewhere in Hungary, hunted by assassins who have instructions to kill him if Andi and the others don’t return to Earth in one week. The only person on Earth who can help him is Guilders, who very nearly despises him.

Is there more radialloy out there? Can Crash and Guilders make it to safety? And will Andi ever be able to return to the way of life that she loves so much?

It's going to be awesome!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

'Twas an Evening in Bethlehem Review

'Twas an Evening in Bethlehem is here!

‘Twas an evening in Bethlehem and all through the day
Many guests were arriving from far, far away...

The inn is full, but when a young, expectant couple arrives, the innkeeper cannot turn them away. Follow this beloved tale through the eyes of the innkeeper’s young daughter as she witnesses the glorious surprises of that very first Christmas and rediscover anew the gift of the manger that ultimately points us to the cross.

My Review 

If you're looking for a new Christmas book (and even if you're not), this is a beautiful retelling of the true story of Christmas. It's written in verse, much like The Night Before Christmas, but it's all about what Christmas is really about. The illustrations are beautiful and wonderfully painted. I highly recommend it.