Tag Archives: Urban Fantasy

The Importance of Diversity by Urban Fantasy Author Alis Franklin

Posted by April 21st, 2015

The Importance of Diversity by Urban Fantasy Author Alis Franklin

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started with a simple Twitter exchange between authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo about the lack of diversity in children’s literature on April 17, 2014. One year later, we’ve seen huge support on social media and in major book and author events, including BookCon and BEA. However, there is still more work to be done to make #WeNeedDiverseBooks a reality.

Alis Franklin is the author of LIESMITH, a queer urban fantasy novel published by Hydra. In LIESMITH, Sigmund Sussman, a shy young man working in low-level IT support in Australia, falls in love with Lain Laufeyjarson, a Norse god. Below, Alis addresses the problem of the underrepresentation of minority groups in literature and what needs to be done to improve diversity in publishing.

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One of the most fascinating things to realize about the (Western) publishing industry is that it’s been around, in some form or another, for something like 500 years. That is one old industry. It’s also an old industry that’s seen an enormous amount of disruption, to the point where it seems every year brings something new to shake things up.

If 2014 rattled anything on the manuscript-stacked table, it did it via talk of diversity, a.k.a. the way marginalized and other non-majority authors are treated and their stories told. This is particularly relevant as we enter April, which marks the one year anniversary of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Originally intended to spotlight the lack of diversity in children’s literature, over the past twelve months it has since grown beyond its original mission statement, spawning conversations in every corner of the industry.

And for good reason. There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to publishing’s relationship to diversity and, to set the scene, let’s begin by pointing out that…

1. Publishing is super, super homogeneous

No matter where you look–from fictional characters to their creators to their producers–the consensus is that the publishing industry is white and it is (with some exceptions) male and it is middle-class. “Write what you know,” says decades worth of well-meaning writing advice. Which, according to a quote attributed to US sci-fi author Joe Haldeman, is “why so many mediocre novels are about English professors contemplating adultery.”

Plenty has been written about this topic already, noting the homogeneity of characters appearing in genres as disparate as children’s lit and erotic romance. Employment wise, the publishing industry as a whole isn’t much better than the fiction it produces, with indications things are getting worse as publishers poach executive talent from the notoriously white and male tech sector. Meanwhile, white male authors are not just more likely to gain critical acclaim–particularly when they write in genres traditionally considered to be “for women“–but to get sympathetic pats on the head from prestigious media outlets when they do “lose out” on literary awards in favor of women or people of color. Continue reading

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5 Considerations for Sequel Writing by Hillary Jacques

Posted by September 10th, 2014

Hillary Jacques on sequel writing

Welcome Urban Fantasy author Hillary Jacques! Hillary has been a Book Country member since 2011, workshopping THIS IS DALTON and BROKEN IN. Her new book, CARNIEPUNK: RECESSION OF THE DIVINE, will be out in December and is published by Simon and Schuster. Hillary shares advice on sequel writing. 

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Writing a first novel is like going on a carnival ride in a foreign language. Even when you think you know what’s happening, there are these moments of pure discovery where you round a corner and find a ghost town or a nemesis long thought dead. It’s almost magical. And then comes the sequel.

Writing a sequel isn’t as simple as getting in line for the ride again. Nope. The author boards, ticket in hand, but instead of bumping along a familiar set of tracks, there are all these considerations to deal with. Details, development, and continuity. Half of them have been explained before, and the other half have changed. So what do you do? Continue reading

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Four Ways to Promote Your Book Before Release by Michael R. Underwood

Posted by April 9th, 2014

Attack the Geek Full (2)Book Country Member Michael R. Underwood‘s latest book in the Ree Reyes series, ATTACK THE GEEK, came out this week from Pocket Books. His next book, SHIELD & CROCUS, is due out in June.

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Figuring out how to promote your book before it comes out is a weird process. When you’re traditionally published, you have a team of professionals working with you, building buzz and anticipation for the book before it hits.

But what does that actually involve?

Every author, every book, and every publisher does things a bit differently, but here are some things I’ve done to try to get my name out into the world and to build awareness of/interest in my books:

  1. Podcasts. I love podcasts. When I was a traveling rep, podcasts and audiobooks were my lifeline, my connection to the SF/F world. As a result, I had a list of podcasts to reach out to and make appearances as a guest. I made appearances on the Functional Nerds, Speculate!, Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, and the Roundtable Podcast, among others. And last year, I became a co-host on The Skiffy & Fanty Show, while continuing to appear as a guest on others (most recently including the SF Squeecast). Podcasts are great for verbal thinkers and people who enjoy discussion in community (I am one of those people).
  2. Blogging. I used to blog a lot more, when I was a pop culture scholar trying to get into PhD programs for cultural studies/media studies. As a writer, it’s great to share your interests and connect with people who are both readers and members of the same interests/hobbies as you. I don’t blog quite as much anymore, since I spend more of my writing time on prose, but keeping your blog at least somewhat fresh is a good way to slowly build a readership, which then sometimes transfers over to buying your books Continue reading
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Book Release & Sweepstakes: Kerry Schafer’s WAKEWORLD

Posted by January 28th, 2014

Wakeworld Sweepstakes

Today we’re celebrating the release of WAKEWORLD by site member Kerry Schafer. Her path to publication never ceases to inspire us: Kerry joined the site as a beta member and was workshopping her urban fantasy BETWEEN when the manuscript captured the attention of one of our staff members. She forwarded it to Berkley Editorial Director Susan Allison, and the rest is history!

BETWEEN came out a year ago–almost to the day–and climbed the Bookscan Fantasy bestseller list to the #22 spot within a week of its release! WAKEWORLD, the second in the Books of the Between, picks up the story of Dreamshifter & medical doctor Vivian, who joins forces with another Dreamshifter to defeat a looming threat to the dreamworld. This month’s Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine gave the book a glowing review: “Rising star Schafer continues to advance an elaborate mythology that places her heroine at the intersection of worlds. Schafer proves that densely plotted and emotionally charged storytelling is definitely her forte!

Intrigued? Enter our WAKEWORLD Sweepstakes for a chance to snag a copy!

Kerry’s giving back to the Book Country community, and thanks to her and her team at Ace Books, we’re giving away three copies of WAKEWORLD. To enter for a chance to win, you need to tweet your Book Country user name along with hashtag #winbookcountry. (Hint: Your username is how you log into your Book Country account.) Read the full rules here.

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Connect with Kerry on Book Country and follow her on Twitter. To learn more about Kerry and her books, visit her website, www.kerryschafer.com. Read our interview with Kerry’s agent Deidre Knight

More From the Book Country BlogYou might also like: Shannon LC Cate’s Release of JACK: It Took a Community.

 

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WILD CARD Author Jamie Wyman Gives Writer Thanks

Posted by November 26th, 2013

Wild_Card-500

Today we’re celebrating Book Country writer Jamie Wyman, whose debut book, WILD CARD, was released from Entangled Publishing yesterday. We are *so* excited that yet another manuscript workshopped on Book Country has found a home. 

We’ve given Jamie the spotlight and a chance to give thanks to the people who’ve helped her through her journey to publication. Take it away, Jamie! ~NG

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It’s that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about. We’re all toting our Pumpkin Spice everythings over rivers and through the woods. The balloons are getting inflated for the Macy’s parade, and people are griping that it’s still too early for Christmas carols. And as the weather turns chilly, we take a moment or two to turn our thoughts inward and count our blessings. It’s a time to give thanks.

This year I have much to be thankful for. You see, the Book Country project formerly known as “Technical Difficulties” is a real book called WILD CARD. Yesterday I officially released my debut novel into the wild.

While the book itself is two years in the making, this release has been a longer time coming. And now that this day is here, I feel a bit like Pinocchio. This must be what it’s like to live without strings, to be a “real author”. It’s surreal, to be sure. And there’s no small amount of terror that people will hate the book, or that I won’t be able to live up to deadlines, expectations and such as I move forward into a full on writing career. But above all else, there is gratitude.

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Writing a Paranormal Romance (PNR)

Posted by October 30th, 2013

I am so excited to have my friend and colleague Alexandra Maurer on Book Country. Alex lent her genre expertise to us during the construction of the Genre Map, providing valuable advice on romance and new adult titles–help for which we are incredibly grateful. ~NG

Paranormal Romance Writing Workshops on Book CountryMany people think the TWILIGHT craze is over. And I would say to them, TWILIGHT may have run its course, but in no way does it begin, define, or end what makes up a rich and flourishing genre of paranormal romance. TWILIGHT helped bring vampires to a forefront in young adult paranormal. But there is a lot more to this genre! The authors and series I have listed here are some of the best series available to readers and writers interested in breaking into this popular genre.

Let’s start with a list of authors and series to give this article context. Some of the most popular and well-known series in PNR are:

1)      J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood
2)      Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series
3)      Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series
4)      Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series
5)      Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series & Fever series
6)      Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series
7)      Larissa Ione’s Demonica series & Lords of Deliverance series
8)      Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress, Night Huntress World, and Night Prince series
9)      Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series
10)    Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series

(To find out more about these books, head over to Book Country’s carousel of Paranormal Romance Landmark Titles.) What makes these series paranormal romances?

The Characters

The first defining characteristic of paranormal romance has to do with the subjects of the story. PNRs involve vampires, shape-shifters, faeries, witches/sorcerers/warlocks, demons, angels, Valkyrie, ghosts, mermaids/sirens, etc. Our heroes and heroines are of the supernatural persuasion and almost always with powers of their own separating the paranormal from contemporary romance.

Secondary characters are also very important in PNR, because they’ll become main characters in other books of the series.

Take J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The first book starts with the story of Wrath and Beth. But we meet all of the brothers (Rhage, Zsadist, Vishous, Tohr, and Phury) in book one. We get little snippets of their characters and by the end of book 6, we all have a favorite “brother” and couple. We’re now up to book 11, where the plotlines are featuring these secondary characters as MCs, who are familiar but still unexplored. The importance of secondary (and likeable) heroes and heroines is another “must have” to keep readers interested in your series.

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The Dream Wars: A New E-Novella Trilogy (and savvy marketing strategy) from Book Country Member Kerry Schafer!

Posted by October 29th, 2013

Urban Fantasy author and Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s first book, BETWEEN, was published by Ace Books in 2013. Fans of BETWEEN–including all of us here at Book Country–are super excited about the forthcoming release of Kerry’s next book from Ace in January: WAKEWORLD. (Check out WAKEWORLD’s gorgeous cover and you’ll be rabid to read it, too!)

In the meantime, however, we have more good news to share with you on Kerry’s behalf: On sale today are three e-novellas written by Kerry, an enigmatic new trilogy set in a dark and seductive dreamworld. THE DREAM RUNNER, THE DREAM THIEF, and THE DREAM WARS. The Dream Runner trilogy’s covers will knock your socks off, too!

So what do Kerry’s e-novellas have to do with the release of WAKEWORLD, and what’s the strategy behind the e-novellas’ release today? Read on to find out how Kerry is expanding her audience of readers on both traditional and electronic publishing platforms–we think what’s she’s doing is pretty brilliant!

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Kerry Schafer Author PhotoMarketing.

I’m guessing that your reaction to that word is more likely to be a shudder and a muttered curse than a celebratory hurrah. But the reality is that the minute you either get a publishing contract or decide to go Indie and self publish, everywhere you look you run into one ongoing message: what are you doing to market your book?

The Dream Runner coverAre you on Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? LinkedIn? Shelfari? Goodreads? Are you doing enough? Are you doing it PROPERLY? Here – take a class, read these blogs, do this, no do that…

The words are written on subway walls and billboards, on Twitter and Facebook, painted on your bedroom walls and the backs of your eyelids. Some days there is even skywriting and you’ve got to hope it’s only a sadistic pilot and not the finger of God writing guilt messages for all the world to see.

Most of us write books because we want to, you know, write books. Not because we want to stand on a virtual street corner hawking our wares. Besides, even if you’re comfortable waving a cardboard sign that proclaims “PLEASE BUY MY BOOK,” it’s almost impossible to decide which street corner to stand on. The internet abounds with conflicting advice: sign up for this website, but not this one, advertise here, go there, do this and this and this and this…

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The Magic of Book Cover Design with Larry Rostant

Posted by October 23rd, 2013

When I saw the cover reveal for Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s WAKEWORLD (which comes out from Ace in January), it literally took my breath away.

WAKEWORLD book cover design

The WAKEWORLD cover is just one of many iconic book jackets designed by UK cover designer Larry Rostant, whose work also includes the well-known covers for George R.R. Martin’s books, used by Martin’s publishers around the world. He’s designed covers for every kind of book, from Romance to Literary Fiction to Science Fiction. Larry says, “My job is to get the reader to choose that book and to lift it off the shelf.” Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Fantasy Writer JRVogt

Posted by October 21st, 2013

josh_vogtWriter JRVogt is one of the site’s pioneers. I distinctly remember landing on the Book Country site for the very first time two years ago, looking at the Top Books carousel, and checking out Josh’s book RAETHE (now renamed to BLOODSHADES). I thought to myself, “This is cool! Now someone explain to me what traditional fantasy is…” Josh writes different types of fantasy–from traditional to urban to epic–and I recognize his writing for the complex worldbuilding, wry humor, and snappy dialogue. Today we chat about his urban fantasy THE UNFAMILIARS and his overall approach to writing fantasy.

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Kelley Armstrong on Crossing Genres

Posted by October 16th, 2013

We are so excited to have #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong as our guest. While she’s famous for her Urban Fantasy Otherworld series, in her most recent book Kelley’s produced different fare: what she calls the “contemporary Gothic.” Read about her journey into genre, and about how crossing genres has played a part in her most recent literary brew, OMENS.

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When I decided to wrap up the Otherworld series, the most obvious question was “What will I do next?” I was definitely going to launch another adult series. While I write YA and have recently launched a co-authored middle-grade trilogy, my first love is adult fiction, and I can’t imagine ever giving that up. The question then was “Which genre?” I knew the answer wasn’t urban fantasy. If I wanted to continue that, the Otherworld universe is vast enough that I could tell any story I wanted in it, from any narrative point of view. No, if I left the Otherworld, I was leaving the standard UF genre with it.omens by kelley armstrong

In addition to the Otherworld, I have a straight-up crime/mystery adult series with no fantasy elements. That’s the Nadia Stafford trilogy, wrapping up in November with WILD JUSTICE. I loved writing those books, though I’ll admit I missed the fantasy elements I include in all my other work. The answer seemed obvious then—I would start a series that combines the two. Less paranormal than urban fantasy, but still some element of fantasy, with mystery driving the main plot.

So is OMENS a mystery? Not entirely. I’ve never been good at sticking squarely to any genre. I read most of them, and I want to incorporate many different elements in my work. When I wrote BITTEN, the modern “urban fantasy” genre didn’t exist. There was UF, but the name was used to refer to any fantasy set in the contemporary world. BITTEN was called a supernatural thriller, then paranormal suspense, and finally urban fantasy.

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