Tag Archives: Urban fantasy

Wherein I Rant a Bit…

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Agent Rachelle Gardner has a great post up today that was sparked by her reading Steve Jobs’ biography and his line “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off.” and how it relates to the publishing industry.

I’ve felt the same as Rachelle for the past few years. I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I see so many readers clamoring for more urban fantasy books and so many amazing writers complaining that their urban fantasy series was either not picked up or it was canceled. I’ve heard time and time again that the UF market is tight and that demand is on a decline. Well, maybe demand from publishing houses is on the decline, but that’s not true for readers.  When shows like Lost Girl, Supernatural, and Grimm are so popular, how can anyone say there’s a decline in interest in urban fantasy?

What readers don’t want is to pay $8 for a book that is as poorly written, error-riddled, and cliched as the self-published book they paid $.99 for. Not that I’m saying all self-pubbed books are like that. I know some self-pubbed authors who go above and beyond to put out the best book they possibly can. What I am saying is that readers buy books published by a big name publishing house because they’ve come to expect certain standards from those houses. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a sharp decline in the quality of books coming out of those houses. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t pick up a new urban fantasy author until I’ve heard some pretty glowing reviews from people and places I trust (especially now that Amazon has stopped offering their 4-for-3 mass market paperback deal)

The biggest issue, IMO, is that as soon as the genre hit big, publishing houses scrambled to sign as many urban fantasy writers as they could, regardless of how good their story was, in order to make as much money from the trend as possible. When those poorly written, badly edited stories came out, readers reared back in disgust and refused to partake of the dreck they’d been served. Now, the publishing houses, seeing how poorly those titles have sold, are saying that the market is in decline. Ummm… no. It only looks that way because you guys fouled the well.

And, it’s not only urban fantasy this happens to. Every genre that experiences a surge in popularity goes through this same cycle. You would think that the publishers would realize the pattern by now, but no. Or, maybe they do. maybe this is all a deliberate marketing strategy. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I keep hearing agents, writers, and editors all saying that the industry is driven by everyone’s passion for good books and not money. If that’s the case, then why are there so many atrocious books on the market? And I’m not just talking story-wise since that’s so subjective. I’m talking about books with plot holes as big as a house, books that have copy-editing errors on every other page, books that switch POV within the same freaking paragraph. If the industry is driven by a passion for good books, then PUT OUT good books. Otherwise I call shenanigans.

 

A Look Back At 2012

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2012 has come and gone. Thank the Gods.

It’s not that it was necessarily a bad year for my husband and me, there were the usual ups and downs of life and finances, sure, but nothing devastating. But it was a bad year on a global scale and for a number of people we care about which greatly reduced our enjoyment of things.

Some of the highlights of the year:

My family was blessed with three more babies. I now have a new niece, a new nephew, and a new second cousin bringing the total number of children in my family who are under the age of 18 to 19. As I was making out the To Buy For list for the holidays, I realized that (except for one year) for the last decade there’s been at least one new baby born every year. That’s a lot of kids. So many in fact that we ended up buying presents just for the kids and our parents. Everyone else got homemade cookies.

My husband bought a new truck. This was both a good and a bad thing. A good thing because his Mustang which he’d had for close to eleven years was on its last legs and it would cost more to repair it than it was worth. A bad thing because we were supposed to buy me a new vehicle this year. My last car died right before we bought the house in 2010 and, since we were going to be buying a house, we didn’t buy me a new one then because it would have messed with our debt to income ratio. This year we could finally afford to buy me a car and the Mustang decided to crap out on us. Boo… Hopefully this year we can get me a nice used car since I’m getting really sick and tired of having to rely on others to take me where I want to go.

We got a whole heck of a lot further on my office renovation. It’s still not done, but it’s at about 75% done. Most of the delay right now is because one of corners is a curve instead of a 90 degree angle and it’s taking a lot longer than expected to get it to curve like it should. I’d rather take the time to get the curve right than simply square it off because the curved walls are one of the things I love about this house. BUT! We’re going to be sanding the floor this week and we’ve already got the paint colors chosen, so we’re basically just waiting on that curve to be done and then I’m going to commission one of my husband’s employees to make me some curtains for the windows. And then it’s down to simply getting furniture in there and decorating.

As I talked about before, my best friend and I had started sword training with her mentor. Unfortunately, once summer arrived, her life sort of went downhill and she wasn’t able to make it to practice for several months. As mentioned above, I don’t have a vehicle of my own, so that meant that I couldn’t make it to practice either. By the time her life calmed down and she had the time and mental/emotional/physical spoons to start going again, our teacher had already filled in that time with other activities. So, alas, there is no more sword training for me. I’m pretty sure our teacher was a bit put out by it. I really do feel bad because we were all enjoying it very much and I wish like hell I could have continued it.

I also attempted to go shampoo free last year by using apple cider vinegar and baking soda to wash my hair. That worked quite well for a few months, but then I started to notice that my hair was becoming very straw-like and brittle. So, I am back to using shampoo, but only sparingly and I’m searching for a good organic shampoo that isn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg. In other hair news, I still have a bit of a purple tint to my hair from when I dyed it purple to go to Vegas back in August of 2011. I keep threatening to go have it professionally colored at a salon, but I never seem to find the time. Just a word of warning — Splat Lusty Lavender Hair Dye is not as temporary as they say it is. I’m not sure if it’s staying in my hair because I didn’t bleach the color out of it first or what.

And an interesting factoid relating to the above — the majority of search terms that led to this blog last year relate to people searching for information on Splat Lusty Lavender or No Poo.

The search for a publisher for Lost Souls isn’t going as well as I’d hoped. A person can only hear/read “This is really good, you’ll definitely find a home for it somewhere, but unfortunately not with us” so many times before it gets absolutely depressing. And it doesn’t help when every one of them cites a different reason for passing. It means that there’s nothing to fix and it’s all just personal preference and the slowing Urban Fantasy market driving the rejections. So, I’m working on a story in a completely different genre and hope that when it’s finished the market for that type of book hasn’t passed me by like it did with Urban Fantasy. It really pains me to set Alex, Ryuu, and Vic aside, but I’m hoping that the UF market will see a resurgence in a few years so that I can whip them back out and try again.

Last year I only read 50 books which makes me quite ashamed of myself. I usually read between 75 and 100 books a year. There were a few times where I went for weeks without reading anything. I’m hoping to do better this year and I’m hoping to expand my repertoire a bit more. Most of the books I read last year were fantasy or urban fantasy. This year I want to read more non-fiction relating to history and science. So, if anyone has any favorite non-fiction books, feel free to rec them to me!

And finally, the blogging group I’d been blogging with for the last year and a half has decided to close down. Black Ink, White Paper‘s final blog post was last Monday. It’s both sad and a bit of a relief for me. I barely find time to post here, so trying to come up with good blog posts for over there was starting to get a bit stressful, but I’m so glad to have been a part of the group because it allowed me to meet a number of very wonderful and talented writers.

And that’s about it for last year. There were other things that happened, but I’ve either already talked about them or I don’t feel comfortable talking about them here.

So, it’s out with the old year, in with the new, and here’s hoping it plays out better than before.

ETA: Oh, and I forgot to mention that political differences cost me one of my dearest friends from high school. She’s a dyed in the wool conservative Catholic and I’m a liberal-leaning independent Pagan. Apparently, the religious differences were fine, but discussing politics from the opposite end of the political spectrum equals deterioration. *shrugs* I’m still a bit upset over it even though it happened in March. What made it even worse was that we saw her in public just a few months ago and she tried to make like nothing had even happened. I’m not against reconciling with her and re-starting the friendship since she was the one who ended it, but I do get cranky when somebody tries to make nice in a public setting with other people around even though they haven’t once tried contacting me privately.

Tuesday Ten

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1. It’s Thanksgiving Week and we’re having my in-laws over for dinner this year.

2. That means I’m going to be busy for the next couple of days cleaning and cooking.

3. After we eat dinner here, we get to head to my mom’s to have another meal with my family.

4. I feel full just thinking about all that food.

5. I will NOT be shopping on Friday or Thursday evening. I abhor the idea of Black Friday and people mauling each other in order to buy cheap “stuff”. It makes my stomach churn.

6. I’m looking for urban fantasy books which feature a female protagonist who doesn’t end up in a romantic relationship of some sort.

7. It’s proving a very unfruitful search.

8. I can find plenty of urban fantasy male protagonists who remain single throughout the entire series, though.

9. The gender disparity is particularly irksome to me, so I may just have to keep romance out of the Alex series on principle.

10. And, finally, if you have an extra three hours to spare, here’s a modern adaptation of Hamlet from PBS. It features both David Tennant and Patrick Stewart.

 

Guest Post #7 Sara Reine Demon Power

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Sara is one of those writers who thinks so far outside the box, the box ceases to exist. She takes an ordinary idea and twists and turns and warps it into something new and different, yet still recognizable. She is crazy, fun, and funky. And her steampunk novella The 19 Dragons is awesome, y’all!

 

Thanks for letting me stop by for a guest blog, Ana!

 

Part of the reason that Ana and I became acquainted was a similar love for demons. We were in the same writers’ group for a couple years, and I attribute a lot of my development as a writer from that time to her hepful criticism. Our books were kind of like “brothers from separate mothers”– both urban fantasy with strong female protagonists, with the special distinction of featuring demons. (Of course, my heroine kills demons, whereas Ana’s is a demon herself.)

 

Why demons? Why not vampires, or werewolves, or any of the other popular beasties that populate urban fantasy right now?

 

The fact of the matter is that even though the good ol’ vamps vs. weres is fun, we’ve built a lot of expectations around what these stories should be. We expect vampires to be sexy. To some degree, we expect them to be romantic. Werewolves are ruled by the moon, and while we can get away with them being more violent than vampires, we’re starting to expect them to be romantic heroes, too. The popularity of these creatures has made them stale.

 

Fortunately, we have demons surging in popularity now, too, and that’s partially a backlash against the popularity of vampires. We want to enjoy the trappings of dark fantasy without blood-drinkers or sparkly what-have-yous once in awhile, too, and demons are even older than vampires. You could even consider them the granddaddies of vamps.

 

By creating three-dimensional vampire and demon characters, we’re casting this evil in a new light. We’re making it more human and relatable. At the same time, there’s a core at the center of demonic mythology that cannot be made human, because unlike vampires, demons have never been human. You can write them with pure darkness. The kind of darkness that made you hide under the covers as a child and shiver at the shadows.

 

Plus, there’s a lot of variety in demons. You can have them like they were in the Lesser Key of Solomon, where they usually showed up with chicken feet and goat heads and legions under their control, or you can make them sexy and seductive and indistinguishable from humans. And that’s not even touching on demons from all the cultures around the world! When writing, you can draw from Japanese oni, or the asuras of east Indian mythology, or the violent spirits of animistic societies. Vampries are certainly pervasive in mythology around the world, but even they have their limits. There are no limits with demons.

 

I love getting to write demons. In my books, they’re part of a fully developed society in Hell similar to feudalism, which is kind of a fun way to weave history through contemporary fantasy. I like getting to take advantage of their infinite varieties and insurmountable darkness. And having the ability to write in a sub-genre that doesn’t have expectations that my werewolves do is refreshing.

 

Even though demons are becoming more popular, I don’t think we’ll see the genre become saturated with them the way it has with vampires. They can stay fun and evil, just the way we like them, and have a good long shelf life in urban fantasy.

 

What do you think, readers? Are demons here to stay?


Sara
http://smreine.com/
Twitter: @smreine

Six Moon Summer available now!