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Posts tagged ‘Urban Fantasy’

Know Your Genre – Paranormal Romance

I’ll admit, this post stems from a Facebook discussion I was part of yesterday. A friend of mine mentioned a “paranormal romance” he was reading and my first instinct was to yell, “It’s not PNR!”. The problem was that book is on this year’s shortlist for a RITA as a PNR. Except it’s not. Or is it?

So, what is a paranormal romance and why does the sub-genre leave such a nasty taste in the mouths of some readers?

Let’s start with what it’s not. It is not urban fantasy. There was a time when you could safely walk into a bookstore, pick up a title filed under urban fantasy and know you would not be hit with a major romance plot. More than that, you wouldn’t be skipping — if you’re wont to do so — page after page of explicit sex. You’d get a fun mystery or suspense read, maybe humor but romance? Nope. It wasn’t in your urban fantasy, at least not as anything more than a passing plot point. Read more

Invent your own Genre

Men’s Action-Adventure Fantasy.

This started when my First Reader and I were plotting in the car. It’s a favorite way to pass the time while making the trek over the hills and through the woods to Grandmother’s House, and yesterday as we were on the way home I started talking about what I’m hoping to write in the upcoming time when school is over. I have to finish the science fiction (Jade Star is the prequel, although Jade herself doesn’t show up until two-thirds into the novel), but the next book planned is The East Witch. And yes, that is another book in the Underhill universe I created with Pixie Noir. We’ve actually roughly plotted three more novels, loosely connected, in that world, and I’m really excited about them.

But as we were talking about what the Pixie for Hire series is becoming, my dear husband informed me that he thinks it should be called men’s action adventure fantasy. I protested that technically it’s Urban Fantasy (despite very little of the setting being anything like urban), and I’ve also been told it’s Dark Fantasy. Nope, he told me. Correia’s MHI series, the Dresden Files, and my books are all part of a different genre – action adventure fantasy. I still protest lumping my books in with Butcher and Correia, but he has a point. They aren’t easily encapsulated in an existing genre (except the Dresden Files, which I suspect define Urban Fantasy). We’ve talked before about genres, here at the Mad Genius Club. In the new world of Indie Publishing, we authors are free to invent our own genres. We can mix, match, and crossover. If I want to write men’s action adventure fantasy (and frankly growing up I loved men’s action adventure books, like the works of Alistair MacLean and Louis L’Amour) I can.

The problem comes in helping your reader find your books. Genres are useful to readers. Me? I’m not a fan of High Fantasy – too much Tolkein pastiche for my taste (I loved his work. All else is a pale imitation). However, I do enjoy some Urban Fantasy, except where it ought to be labeled Paranormal Romance (which is fine if it’s written by Amanda Green. I highly commend her recent Witchfire Burning as a good example of that genre). I’m not a big fan of whiny main characters (they aren’t all female, but it seems that way sometimes) so I’m cautious of that genre. And then there is Low Fantasy, and Dark, and Light, and… and what is Sword and Sorcery in all that, anyway? I did decide that Correia’s Son Of the Black Sword is an excellent modern example of that blood and thunder genre, though. I’ve written about Science Fantasy, which isn’t a genre but probably should be.

Which brings me back to inventing your own genre. You can, but you need to be familiar with the existing delineations, so you can tag or categorize your book in such a way that the reader can find it. And it shouldn’t fall so far outside the parameters of the genre as to give your readers mental indigestion – like how I react to Urban Fantasy now. Which of course means you ought to be reading in your genre. I’ve run into writers that insist they can’t read in their genre – or read at all, which just boggles the mind – and frankly, it’s a fatal mistake. Yes, you can stop reading it for a time while writing. I have to, since I pick up ‘flavor’ from whoever I’m reading, and while that can be useful (I binge-read Spillane and Hammet and other pulp authors while working on Pixie Noir and sequels) other times it can mean that your work sounds too much like someone else. Which I don’t want, since I do want my unique voice to come through in my work.

I could sell my books (well, not the science fiction, but you know what I mean) as simply ‘Fantasy’ but that is a very broad brush to paint with. If instead I can find a niche market of readers who like my style, that is more likely to lead to consistent sales of other books in the same vein. And sometimes out of it, since I also write other things, up to and including the Western romance under a pen name. As we were moving and I was shelving books in the new house, I realized we own books by Sarah Hoyt writing under at least three, and possibly four pen-names, for instance. Because if you’re going to go that far out in left field, it helps the readers to have a banner hung over you saying ‘read this, not that! Unless you really want to, but don’t get mad if it’s not what you expected from this author under another name.’

Ok, maybe that’s too long. Short and punchy. Something. I dunno. What do you think about genres, and how would you define your favorites?

What is . . . .

Last night, I was talking with Kate and some of our regular MGC readers about what I should write about today. We discussed several different possibilities but we kept coming back to a single topic and I signed off the internet, satisfied that I had my topic for this post. I finished editing the chapter I’d been working on and went to bed, knowing I’d be up early enough this morning to write the post. Then morning rolled around and after having a dearth of ideas last night, I find myself hit over the head with several new ones this morning thanks to a quick look at Facebook.

The first is thanks to our own Brad Torgersen. He linked to this article from Barnes & Noble about books publishers and editors want us to read in 2016. Brad’s question relating to the article had to do with the covers for the books from Tor. Take a look at the covers. Do they signal science fiction or fantasy to you? To me, they don’t. Two of them “read” literary. One reads as possible horror and the third has a simple contemporary fiction feel to it.

What struck me about the article even more than the covers was how different the editors from Tor described their recommendations when compared to the other recommendations on the list. Of the seven books on the list, the Tor editors start three of their blurbs with mentions of the awards the author has been nominated for or has won. One then goes on to talk about the “decorative blurbs” from other authors — before discussing what the book is about. Another starts with “For the discerning speculative reader and mainstream fantasy dabbler”. Huh? Again, this is before discussing the plot of the book in question.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but if someone is recommending a book to me, I want to know what the book is about and what genre it happens to be before knowing if the author is award-winning, etc. When I see things like “discerning speculative reader”, my first inclination is to move past that book unless I’m in the mood for something literary. I have nothing against literary fiction. I enjoy reading it from time to time. But it is only one part of my reading and even it needs to entertain me. This is something so many people seem to have forgotten. Literary doesn’t have to be boring. It can be thought-provoking even as it entertains. It can have a message — heck, any fiction can — without preaching. Most of us read for entertainment and for publishers to continue to survive, they need to remember that and quit thinking that those who are buying they books give one flip for how many awards the author has been nominated for.

Then came this article about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No, this isn’t another opening salvo in whether Rey is a Mary Sue character or not. We can continue to debate that if you want on Saturday’s post. Actually, the article itself wasn’t so much what drew my attention as some of the comments I saw associated with it. I don’t remember who showed up on my FB feed with a link to the post but what made me follow through to it was their assertion that the problem with the movie was that, while entertaining, it didn’t go far enough to make us think. You see, it’s not enough to cast a female in the lead role or to have a person of color as a secondary lead. It wasn’t deep enough, intellectual enough. Apparently, it isn’t enough to have an entertaining movie any longer. It seems that is “dumbing down” our country.

What strikes me by comments like this is that those making them comes off not only as an intellectual snob (and I don’t doubt that most of us here at MGC have more letters after our names than many of these commenters) but they also suggest entertainment is not a good thing. This has been and still is one of the basic differences between the Sad Puppy supporters (I can’t and won’t talk for Vox and his supporters) and the Puppy-kickers. Despite what has been said by the other side, Sad Puppies are not against fiction having a message. We just want it to entertain us as it makes us think. If we — or any other reader — gets bored, we aren’t going to continue reading (or watching). But entertain us, subtly wrap your message in with your plot and character development and we will think about it, talk about it and enjoy it. And isn’t that what we, as authors, want? Don’t we want people to be entertained by our work, to think about it and talk about it?

Finally, we get to the topic that I was going to focus on when I sent to bed last night.

In one of the groups I belong to, someone posted a link to this article. Even though the headline for the post is “The Main Difference Between Urban Fantasy and Horror”, the actual thrust of the article is about the difference between the protagonist in UF vs Horror. According to the article, the difference is simple. An UF protagonist takes the supernatural in stride while the Horror protagonist doesn’t know how to react.

Urban fantasy characters generally take vampires and zombies in stride and react as competently as the reader would like to think they would do in similar straits.

Horror characters, on the hand, tend to freak out, panic, doubt their sanity, make unwise decisions,, or even descend into gibbering madness—which is probably the more realistic approach!

I happen to agree with the above explanation. In Urban Fantasy, the fantastic is part of the world and is usually known to the mundanes. Oh, the main character might not realize at the beginning of the story that the next door neighbor turns furry with the full moon or has a dietary need for hemoglobin but, once they get over their feelings of shock or betrayal, they accept it and move on. Why? Because that is the way the world of UF is built. Horror is different. For those characters, the supernatural is not a part of their world. It is something they might have read about or watched in the movies. But it wasn’t real — until it stood up and spat in their face.

(Now, I’m going to be vague here because the discussion took place in a private forum. I am not going to name names nor be specific about what was said. I ask that those who are members of that forum remember the rules and not be specific with your comments. Forum rules still apply.)

Horror strikes people differently. Some readers love it. Others can’t stand it. Some want to read it because it gives them an adrenaline rush. There are those who won’t read it for religious reasons. Others feel it is too depressing while some see it as glorifying the tenacity of the human spirit. Like any other genre, it has its fans and it haters.

However, one thing I will say is that any author writing good horror is anything but lazy. I can think of no other genre that requires more emotional manipulation of the reader than horror. The horror author has to pull the reader in, put his hand on the virtual heart of the reader and tug it, even as the other hand is wrapped around the reader’s throat, squeezing slowly and inexorably. The author has to create characters we want to see survive and win out over the supernatural threat, even as we hope at least one person gets eaten by the big bad.

Is horror depressing? It can be. But beyond that sense of helplessness the characters feel from time to time because they are so out of their depth, good horror includes the need to survive. There are often heroes who are willing to sacrifice themselves to save the others. As with any good fiction, you see the good and bad of humanity in the characters. This isn’t Buffy who suddenly learns she is the Chosen One sent to save the world. These are Everyday Joes and Janes thrust into a situation straight from their worst nightmares. Some will fall and fail. Some will go mad, unable to adapt and deal with what is happening to them. Some will prevail. Just as would happen in real life (at least I hope so).

So, is horror lazy writing? I don’t think so.

Is entertaining in a book or movie a bad thing? I don’t think so.

Is it necessary to make people think when reading your book or watching your movie? No, but if you can slip your message in in such a way that you make them think and still manage to entertain, cool.

Is it important to readers that authors are nominated or have won awards? Nope. Most readers don’t know what the Hugo or any other literary award is.

What is important to readers? In my opinion, a book that draws them in, keeps them entertained (if they are reading for entertainment) or holds their attention (if reading for any other reason) and if it makes them think too, all the better.

So, what do you think?

The book lives. My brain, not so much

coverThe title of this post pretty much says it all. After a month plus of working on Sword of Arelion and worrying if I had lost my mind — I hadn’t. It was must my normal insecurities as I work on a new book — and a week of heavy editing and waiting to hear back from my first reader and editor, it is finally live. That’s the good news. he bad news is that my brain has decided it now gets to take a vacation. Unfortunately, it didn’t take my body with it. Sigh. Bad brain. So, here I sit this morning, trying to figure out what to blog about.

Then inspiration hit and I wandered back to Sunday’s post to see if you guys had recommended topics that might stir some sort of creative spark. You didn’t let me down. The very first comment, one from William Lehman, struck more than a cord with me, it struck a nerve. To paraphrase, William writes urban fantasy and he has had some reviewers hit him because there isn’t enough sex in his books. He was wondering how to get around this. Since I had the same sort of comments with regard to Nocturnal Origins, I knew exactly where he was coming from.

The problem, you see, is that the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance has blurred to the point that it doesn’t exist any longer in a lot of readers’ minds. The culprit in this isn’t so much the authors of the books but the way bookstores have shelved PNRs over the years. Instead of putting them in the romance section, they started shelving them in the science fiction/fantasy section. The problem now comes with how we tag our e-books. Those pesky little meta tags, those seven words we can use to help readers find our books through the Amazon search engine, can make us or break us. So we need to know what tags to use that will help prevent confusion.

The first step is to go to this page that Amazon has added to the KDP section of their site. When you scroll down, you will see that they have broken it up so you can look at meta tags by basic genres. Then it is simply becomes finding the right meta tags to fit your book. Now, word of warning here, if you want to make sure you don’t signal another genre through your tags, check out the tags for that genre as well and make sure you don’t use them. The caveat is that you may not be able to prevent cross-overs and that is where you have to look at your product description.

Something else I’ve noticed with the meta tags, they help set your book into the sub-genres that Amazon uses for its various best seller lists. This is a good thing and it has helped increase my sales over the last year or so.

One other thing about the tags before we move on is that you have to periodically revisit the tags page and see if things have changed. If they have, you may need to change the tags you initially associated with your work. Hint: you may want to do that anyway if your sales need a boost.

The next thing you have to look at is your product description — and that means knowing what the current trends are not only in your genre/sub-genre but in similar ones as well. If you are writing urban fantasy, you need to know what is going on in paranormal romance. Yes, like it or not, it means you also have to read some of the other genre. But then, you should be reading in your genre as well. (If I hear one more person say they don’t read, or don’t read in the genre they write in, because they don’t want anyone to claim they stole an idea or they don’t want their unique idea spoiled by what they read, I will scream.)

I’ll warn everyone right now that if you have a Navy Seal shapeshifter, the first thing a lot of readers will think is that it is PNR because that is one of the hot subjects. Even if nothing else about the blurb signals PNR, you will have folks who see Seal shapeshifter and automatically go there. Your blurb and even say, “this is an Urban Fantasy” or “UF police procedural” or whatever and they will still be expecting a romance with sex. That is just the nature of the beast, so to speak.

I guess what I’m saying is this: write the best blurb you can that is true not only to the plot of your book but also to the genre. Tag your book so that it falls into the right search categories and, when setting your book up for the two main categories Amazon allows, make sure you are putting it in the right ones. These are pretty generic but still important. Finally, just accept as inevitable that there will be someone who sees that you have shapeshifters or vampires or witches, etc., and will automatically assume the book is PNR.

In other words, there is no easy answer. It is all about cuing and about whether or not the reader actually pays attention to the blurb. Add the fact that the tags do change on occasion and it becomes an interesting exercise in frustration all too often.

Now, back to the new book. Sword of Arelion is available through Amazon without DRM. It is fantasy, a mix of high fantasy and heroic fantasy with a touch of sword & sorcery. In other words, a pain to tag. If you are so inclined, you can check it out here. All I ask is that you remember DK (Demon Kat) likes to eat and if I don’t sell enough books to buy his kibble, he will start nibbling on my ankle.  😉

Fantastic Journey through Time

a century of fantasy

Some of the titles I pulled for this post.

We were talking, my First Reader and I, about what to write for you Mad Geniuses. He suggested writing about old hats. Not literal hats, although it is a lot of fun to look at costume through the ages and see how fashions have changed. But what about writing? he asked, how can you pick up something that is old hat, knock the dust off, and create something fresh and new?

I’m not entirely sure you can, but it sparked another thought. Prose styles have changed over the years. What was once eminently readable and made for a book you could curl up with and while away an afternoon now reads leadenly, making it more work to read than it is worth.

I walked from the office into the library (well, sitting room, but it’s where the books are kept in our house) and called for him to follow me. I opened the hutch where I keep my antique books and started trying to decide where to start. The First Reader reached over my shoulder and tapped a spine. “Fantasy,” he suggested.

So we begin with a century-long voyage through time with fantastic tales, to see how prose has changed, and remember fondly stories that we may have outgrown, but affect us to this very day. Before the genre we call Fantasy came into being, there were fairy tales and folklore, like the collected tales that Andrew Lang put into the ‘color’ fairy books. I have a couple of these, and pulled The Red Fairy Book off my shelf. This was originally published in 1890.

“Well, I can’t stand it.’ says Koshchei the Deathless.  ‘I will pursue.’

After a time he came up with Prince Ivan, lighted on the ground, and was going to chop him up with his sharp sword. But at that moment Prince Ivan’s horse smote Koshchei the Deathless full swing with its hoof, and cracked his skull, and the Prince made and end of him with a club. Afterwards the Prince heaped up a pile of wood, set fire to it, burnt Koshchei the Deathless on the pyre, and scattered his ashes to the wind. Then Marya Morevna mounted Koshchei’s horse and Prince Ivan got on his own, and they rode away to visit first the Raven, and then the Eagle, and then the Falcon. Wherever they went they met with a joyful greeting. 

‘Ah, Prince Ivan! why, we never expected to see you again. Well, it wasn’t for nothing you gave yourself so much trouble. Such a beauty as Marya Morevna one might search for all the world over – ad never find one like her!'”

I have in my hands a 1920 edition of Arabian Nights. (If you’d like to see some of the illustrations from these two oldest books in the post, look here).

“The captain of the thieves, with a bag on his shoulder, came close to a rock, at the roots of the tree in which Ali Baba had hidden himself. Then he called out, “Open, Sesame!” Instantly a door in the rock opened; and the captain and all his men quickly passed in, and the door closed again. They stayed there for a long time. Meanwhile, Ali Baba was compelled to wait in the tree, as he was afraid some of them might see him if he left his hiding-place. 

“At length the door opened, and the forty thieves came out. The captain stood at the door until all his men had passed out. Then Ali Baba heard him say, “Shut, Sesame!” Each man then bridled his horse and rode away. 

“Ali Baba did not come down from the tree at once, because he thought the robbers might have forgotten something, and come back. He watched them for as long as he could, and did not leave the tree for a long time after he had lost sight of them. Then, remembering the words the captain had used to open and shut the door, he made his way to it, and called out, “Open, Sesame!” Instantly the door flew wide open!”

Now, despite the rather stiff writing style, I love that later in the story Ali Baba’s clever friend Morgiana boils the thieves in oil, but then again, I’ve been known to be a bit bloodthirsty.

In 1937 a little book called The Hobbit appeared in print for the first time, and the genre we now call epic, or classic, fantasy was born.

“So they laughed and sang in the trees; and pretty fair nonsense I daresay you think it. Not that they would care; they would only laugh all the more if you told them so. They were elves or course. Soon Bilbo caught glimpses of them as the darkness deepened. He loved elves, though he seldom met them; but he was a little frightened of them too. Dwarves don’t get on well with them. Even decent enough dwarves like Thorin and his friends think them foolish (which is a foolish thing to think), or get annoyed with them. For some elves tease them and laugh at them, and most of all their beards.”

I don’t know when the crossover genre of science fiction so far advanced as to become fantasy was born, but I know my favorite example of it is Glory Road by Robert A Heinlein, which originally appeared in 1963. I’ve quoted the roc’s egg passage recently, so here is a little more playful passage.

“Singing birds are better than alarm clocks, and Barsoom was never like this. I stretched happily and smelled coffee and wondered if there was time for a dip before breakfast. It was another perfect day, blue and clear and the sun just up, and I felt like killing dragons before lunch. Small ones, that is.

I smothered a yawn and rolled to my feet. The lovely pavilion was gone and the black box mostly repacked; it was no bigger than a piano box. Star was kneeling before a fire, encouraging that coffee. She was a cave-woman this morning, dressed in a hide that was fancy but not as fancy as her own. From an ocelot, maybe. Or from Du Pont. 

‘Howdy, Princess,’ I said. “What’s for breakfast?”

Here we see that the prose and story-telling begin to become more informal, more natural to the way people spoke and interacted on a daily basis. Or maybe they really did talk like that back in the turn of the century, but somehow I doubt it.

Bringing the stories up to a much more modern, and funny, standard, I have Terry Pratchett’s Mort in my hand now.This was published in 1987, but his tales of Ankh-Morporkh are somehow timeless, as they capture humanity with all its warts, and sometimes regret that capture, as you will see; his characters are not always housebroken.

“‘And they was kings in those days, real kings, not like the sort you get now. They was monarchs,”continued Albert, carefully pouring some tea into his saucer and fanning it primly with the end of his muffler. “I mean, they was wise and fair, well, fairly wise. And they wouldn’t think twice about cutting your head off soon as look at you,” he nodded approvingly. “And the queens were tall and pale and wore them balaclava helmet things -“

“Wimples?” Mort asked. 

“Yeah, them, and the princesses were beautiful as the day is long, and so noble they, they could pee through a dozen mattresses -” 

Marching forward with time, we come to the book published in , a random one of my Dresden File books, Proven Guilty. Urban fantasy, as Butcher writes it, is night to the day of Tolkein, but still, as you will see, with common threads drawing them together in the genre tapestry.

She prowled across the room to us, all hips and lips and fascinating eyes, looking far too young to move with such wanton sensuality. I knew better. She could have been a century old. She chose to look the way she did because of what she was: the Winter Lady, youngest Queen of Unseelie Court, Mab’s understudy in wickedness and power. When she walked by the flowers that bloomed in Lily’s presence, they froze over, withered, and died. She gave them no more notice than Lily had. 

“Harry Dresden,” she said, her voice low, lulling, and sweet.”

And I said, “Hello, Maeve.”

So what do you all think? Is the old worn out and needing to be discarded? I don’t believe so. Rejuvenated with modern language, perhaps. Retellings of old stories are something I enjoy, as I have done a version of Little Red Riding Hood which I really ought to expand on. And I could keep pulling books off my shelf for hours, but the First Reader is sitting here patiently reading Daniel Hood’s A Familiar Dragon and waiting for my attention. Time to spend some real-life time outside the covers of a book, methinks.

Writing Pixie Noir

Pixie Noir

Pulp-inspired cover art.

I started out to write a little story to make my partner laugh. I didn’t start out to write something special, or anything other than fun, but I wound up with a novel, and then realized it’s a series, and… Pixie Noir started out of having a direction, and then it just grew.

We’d been having one of our rambling conversations about books, authors we like, and guilty pleasure reads. He admitted to a fondness for Mickey Spillane, but not the Hammer books. I don’t remember what sparked the desire to make him laugh, but I emailed him what would become the first scenes of Pixie Noir one day. He liked it so much I kept expanding it, and sending him snippets as I wrote. He’d give me suggestions (and earned the sobriquet Evil Muse during the six months I was writing this book) and help me with things like male-to-male dialogue. Turns out guys don’t talk to one another like girls think they do. Which makes sense, but… well, I’m a girl.

I write most of my stories because I have to write. Like an itch, they get in my head and nag me until I let them out on paper. Pixie Noir had this loud, brash, sardonic character who kept talking to me. I didn’t plan the story out much, I’m a pantser. I certainly did not plan out my characters, they were in my head as clearly as real people. I read an article the other day about how to develop a character and had to stop and go ‘huh’ as I have never had to do that. I do know that there are things I could not ask or force Lom to do – back down from a fight, open up even to Bella – because they are not in his nature. And Bella, who very practically decides that if she is no longer safe on Earth, why not take a job with the most dangerous man Underhill, if that’s what she wants?

I did set out to write romance into Pixie Noir, but I didn’t want to make it “a romance,” nor did I want them hopping into bed casually. It’s not that I can’t write sex, it’s that these two people, however fictional, had their own agendas and feelings, and I the author had to respect that. About the only things I could dictate were weaponry, like the multiple grenade launcher for Bella’s confrontation with Ogres, and her reaction was something like “ooh! Give me that.”

Much of the bit and pieces fell into place while I was talking with my Evil Muse, like the joke about in case of stairs, use fire. Some of it came out of deliberate research, as my marinating my brain in noir fiction, reading Spillane, L’Amour’s detective tales, and even Ian Fleming. When I needed just the right weapon for a short pixie and slender woman to use on Ogres when they couldn’t use much magic, I went to the Monster Hunter International group and asked the gun geeks, who had more fun than I could have imagined with that scenario! I’m grateful to Everitt Mickey for his technical assistance in the best way to use a logging truck to go bowling for Ogres.

Writing is not a solo concern. Everything I have ever read goes into the meatgrinder of my brain, spiced with research and a touch of craft, and what comes out is mighty tasty. Then, there’s the packaging, because while sausage might be delicious, no one wants to know how it’s made. I have found, personally, that I need to avoid reading modern in-genre fiction while I’m writing, because it affects my writing. I can, and will, read all sorts of other books, but I need some distance between me and the last urban fantasy I’ve read before writing Trickster Noir, for instance, just as I avoided reading any while I was writing Pixie. On the other hand, I have found that it’s terrific fun to have conversations about my characters as though they were real people. And anyone eavesdropping on us avidly plotting out Bella’s entrance to Court and conquest of Underhill by way of setting it (literally) on fire must have thought us quite mad. I hasten to assure you, by the way, that it was only a little fire, and there were extenuating circumstances on Bella’s part.

Writing doesn’t have to be hard work. Yes, it’s not easy, but the paradox is that the more fun you have with it, the more fun your reader will have, too. I started reading Ross MacDonald’s The Moving Target, to marinade my brain for Trickster Noir, the sequel to Pixie, and came across a great quote in the introduction. The novelist James M. Cain wrote, “to me, writing is the scrim through which the reader sees the story. If the writing is too fancy, or has patterns in it, there’s a conflict in the scrim. It disturbs the reader and he doesn’t see the story clearly.” When I sit down to write, I want to tell a story. Or rather, to dictate the story my characters are telling me. I hope you enjoy it, straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip as Lom is.

And where do you find this story? It’s available through Amazon, in print and ebook (DRM free, of course!). If you buy a print copy for signing, the ebook is available at a deep discount through the new MatchBook program.

Click on the little image above to buy, or try this link: Pixie Noir