Urban Fantasy Author
Book Bling Blog
Many writers have a difficult time labeling their work or fitting it into specific categories or genres. In today’s popular cross-genre norm, this makes sense. Novels still need to be labeled for marketability, so I want to examine the differences and common traits of two popular modern genres that are often confused: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal.
I read somewhere that the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal is that Paranormal is Urban Fantasy in which the main characters have sex. At first, I thought this was funny. Then I thought about it and decided it’s not as silly a statement as it seems. The description does, however, require a bit more elaboration to be considered anything more than an oversimplified characterization.
First let’s start by examining the genres individually. Urban Fantasy was once considered to be a subgenre of Fantasy in which the story took place in a major city or town. Nowadays, it’s considered Urban Fantasy if it takes place in a contemporary setting (VS say High Fantasy which often takes place in ancient or medieval times or magical locales). The everyday world is far from “normal” however. It involves magic or characters with supernatural powers or characteristics, though they still interact with everyday mortals—you know, Muggles. Urban Fantasy often has fantastical creatures, too, even those usually found in paranormal novels. The main character(s) battle supernatural beings, even if they have supernatural powers of their own.
Paranormal novels contain supernatural beings, such as vampires, werewolves or other shapeshifters. They can take place in any time or locale. The main characters may or may not have actual intercourse, but they have a personal relationship of some kind around which the events and plot revolve.
So why do I write Urban Fantasy? Because I like multi-layered, complex subplots. My novels contain romantic elements, but they go beyond the two main characters. They are about 2 branches of the same family: feuding supernatural beings. I decided to write a spin-off mini-series where I focused on the romantic relationship some of the minor characters had, that didn't get enough face-time in the larger novels. They're characters readers liked and wanted to know more about. Why aren't they paranormal romance novels then? Because though there is a very intimate personal relationship between the two main characters, and their romance effects the plot, there is still enough subplot that there is a story present even if they didn't have a romance. Why is it a romance? Because their relationship does move the plot forward. Complicated enough for you? Well, let's put it this way: if you like the romance elements of my Urban Fantasy, you will really like the Romance spin-off series.
Hudson here, Elizabeth's social media VP. I hope you enjoyed this post, though I have to say it's as clear as mud to me. Then too, I'm a dog, so my relationships are much less complicated.
The most obvious questions in the mind of authors and publishers are always: who’s reading and what are they reading? Some might be surprised to find that nearly 73% of adults read a book or at least part of a book last year. What may be even more surprising is that the majority of readers are in the 18-29-year-old category (80% of them have read a book) and the 30-49-year-old category (71% have read a book), which means that millennials are the largest group of readers.
Who’s publishing books?
It’s a great year for small press and indie publishers, as they again steal more of the market from the big traditional publishers (43% vs 34%). Gone are the days of mid-list authors. Not only are small presses able to fill niche markets, when traditional publishers are focused on strictly mass-market appeal, but small publishers are able to provide the opportunity for the next up and coming star authors at a time when the big publishers are only signing authors who already have their own fan base, like celebrities, politicians, and authors who are already best sellers.
What are they reading?
Though nonfiction books are dominating the market again this year, the largest fiction markets are still young adult, with a fast-rising increase in fantasy and science fiction. Take a trip down memory lane and recall hot trending movies such as Divergent and Hunger Games, Twilight, City of Bones, and Beautiful Creatures. Angels, Demons, vampires and dystopian themes are still hot paranormal markets for young adult readers, but millennials, known for their tech-savvy ways, are also sparking new interest in science fiction and fantasy genres. Genre fiction is also seeing a resurgence in thriller and Whodunnit genres, as One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, and Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco illustrate. And wasn’t it Shakespeare who claimed all stories were just retellings? That must be why they’re trending now. Books like Cinder by Marissa Meyer and A Court of Thornes by Sarah J Maas are leading the way.
How are they reading it?
With so many readers owning notepads (50% of Americans), and phone screens getting larger so that reading on them is much more pleasant, eBooks are still selling, but digital sales seem to have stopped growing and paperback sales are again on the rise, with 20% more independent bookstores opening their doors, a welcome sight after so many large chain stores folded. Readers are stating that they like the feel, the smell and the look of actual books in hand. However, the biggest trend in book sales is not paperbacks, but audio. Audio sales have risen over 500% in the last year and show no signs of slowing down. Readers are becoming listeners, and state that with their busy lives audio books are more convenient. They also like the additional story-telling element of narrators who give the various characters unique voices. They listen when they drive, walk, exercise or even while they do chores or other work.
How are books reaching readers?
More and more authors are discovering that books direct to readers is not only a way to increase sales, but a necessity. Emailings are on the rise, more book clubs are popping up (the biggest being Amazon’s, but kobo and smashwords are also rising, as are groups on Goodreads—owned by Amazon) and social media interactions. Facebook and other venues are charging more for ads, Amazon is offering less to associates (once you’re number one, you don’t need to search for new readers), and though authors are able to demand more for eBooks without effecting volume, they need to continually reach new readers. Some authors are banding together to run contests and offer giveaways to get exposure with new readers, and small pubs offer the benefit of growing sales from one book’s PR to another. Smart authors realize that in this visual/audio age, everyone is exposed to videos. Book trailers, video author readings and interviews are trending and are continuing to grow in popularity.
Good editing is now demanded by readers who are used to over a million eBooks that glut a market where shelf-life is now eternal. The visual appeal to set books apart extends beyond videos to the design of the covers themselves. If one great image is good, more is better, if one is to believe the trend of today’s collage covers. Also trending are 70s and 80s retro, and what is known as millennial pink, muted pinkish mauve with black or gray lettering. Bold, artsy lettering on minimalist backgrounds, original drawings, and fancy touches, such as metallic or cutout covers are also eye-catching.
Nothing replaces good writing, but new writers should understand that finishing the book is . . . only the beginning.
Audio Coming Soon!
Hudson here, Elizabeth's social media guy. I can vouch for how hard publishing can be. After all, I have to organize all the social media and keep the PR guys in line. There's never a dull moment around here, I can tell you that! Sometimes it's ruff, but I love a good tail, so keep on reading!
So what’s so great about book fairs? Well, if you’re a reader, you’re in Valhalla. Not even the biggest bookstores have the diverse collection of books you will find at a large book fair, and you will get to have many of them autographed by your favorite authors. If you’re an author, nothing is ever better than being surrounded by avid readers and fellow writers.
Book fairs have more than books, too. There are panels of authors discussing a myriad of topics from how and why to write particular genres to talks on cooking, gardening, crafting, parenting, and pet care. Both nonfiction and fiction books of all genres are represented, including comic books and graphic novels. Along with hundreds of book tents hosted by large and small publishing companies, and even individual authors, there are tents with artists and craftsmen, offering their designs from jewelry to pottery and new age wares. You can learn to manage your finances or get your fortune told.
Book fairs have something for everyone. You can meet storybook characters, comic book heroes, and even Darth Vader and a movie star or two. Spend the afternoon watching children dance an Irish jig, a Mexican folk dance, or demonstrate a Karate Kota. Listen to bagpipes, rock bands, and marching bands. Visit the juggler, or the aerobatic performers.
Nearly every special interest group is represented, from the League of Women voters, to religious organizations, universities, media organizations, libraries, literacy groups, parks and recreation, and even museums.
Getting hungry from all that walking around browsing and shopping? Let’s not forget the diverse ethnic food booths. Mexican, American, Thai, Italian, BBQ and Creole, just to name of few of the hot meals to be had. If you just want a quick snack, they have yogurt, gelato, salads, popcorn, corn on the cob, wraps, and smoothies.
Visit a book fair near you! You won't regret it.
Hudson here, Elizabeth's social media editor. I thought I'd let you know that there were lots of doggies at the Tucson Festival of Books, on the University of Arizona campus, because Tucsonians love them! Maybe you can take your doggie to a book fair, so they can see all the other doggies!
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officiallyInsecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! If it links to Google+, be sure your blog is listed there. Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.
Remember, the question is optional!
November 1 question - Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?
The awesome co-hosts for the November 1 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, andRebecca Douglass!
I love this month's topic, since this is my second year of participation in National Novel Writing Month. Last year, I wrote Stolen Secrets, and it was indeed published. I hope to do the same this year! I am goal oriented, so having a specific time and deadline, though exhausting, is very helpful to me.
This year I plan to write Ancient Secrets. I have the majority of the book plotted, so I'm optimistic. Rough draft, here I come!
Find and connect with me in Nano, as Glimmering!
If you'd like to read last year's work, see the link below!
#WEWRIWA & #SnippetSunday: Tell-Tale Publishing's 2nd Annual Horror Anthology "Shadow Walkers" by Elizabeth Alsobrooks
Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Sign up below with your name, blog and email and share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Your post needs to be live between 12:00 noon on Saturday 10/28/17 and 09:00 AM on Sunday 10/29/17. Visit the other participants on the list and read, critique and comment on their 8sunday posts.
Spread the word, share the love, warriors. Twitter hashtag #8sunday.
Snippet from "Shadow Walkers"
He hurried back and began wrapping the cord around Lydia’s right forearm, binding it to the chair.
“Wait, what do you think you’re doing?” Tessa cried out.
Sabina grabbed his sleeve and cried, “Let her go!”
He jerked away and snapped, “It’s not me that’s got her!”
They both stepped back in surprise as the chair suddenly levitated four feet into the air, with Lydia now out of Tessa’s reach.
I hope you enjoyed the snippet from this scary story! I love Halloween, personally (who wouldn't like extra treats?), and I especially like my friend "Fang" even though Elizabeth said his howls are battery operated and there aren't any real live dogs that have only bones and no skin or fur (What she doesn't know won't hurt her, I guess). Be sure to visit all the other #WeekendWritingWarriors and #SnippetSunday authors for more great reads! And join the blog hop/sign up for prizes below!
Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Sign up below with your name, blog and email and share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Your post needs to be live between 12:00 noon on Saturday 08/12/17 and 09:00 AM on Sunday 08/13/17. Visit the other participants on the list and read, critique and comment on their 8sunday posts.
Spread the word, share the love, warriors. Twitter hashtag #8sunday.
Last time I posted a brief glimpst at Father Benjamin. This week you get to see him in action as he takes charge or a strangely out of control six year old!
Instead of the usual contrite expression at her Aunty Sabina’s scolding, Lydia pounding her little fists on the table until the plates rattled. When Tess reached to grasp her daughter’s arm, Lydia twisted away, jumping from her chair and screaming, “No! Leave me alone!”
She fled to the end of the table where she was abruptly caught up in the arms of the friar, who lifted her from her feet and swung her into a semi-circle in order to plant her firmly in the chair closest to him. When she would have sprung back up, the gentle push of his hands on her shoulders stilled her motion.
Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Sign up below with your name, blog and email and share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Your post needs to be live between 12:00 noon on Saturday 07/29/17 and 09:00 AM on Sunday 07/30/17. Visit the other participants on the list and read, critique and comment on their 8sunday posts.
Spread the word, share the love, warriors. Twitter hashtag #8sunday.
Continuing from my last WIP post, I will be adding a snippet that introduces an important new character to my Shadow Walkers story, Father Benjamin.
She hadn’t let the child out of her sight since they recovered her, and had repeatedly thanked Sabina for helping her get her baby back. That seemed understandable to Sabina. What Tessa hadn’t done was ask about the jinn, and Sabina found that to be as odd as the fact that Lydia was now grabbing handfuls of cereal from the bowl and jamming them into her mouth until her checks resembled a chipmunk.
A knock sounded as Tessa grabbed Lydia’s hand with alarm and said, “Lydia, stop that this minute!”
Sabina hurried from the small sitting room, wondering as she walked toward the hallway doors what lasting trauma her godchild faced. The left door suddenly opened, allowing a hooded Jesuit to step into the suite’s antechamber. Ignoring her outstretched hand, he rushed past her toward the sound of shattering glass behind her, which was followed by Tessa’s shocked cry of, “Lydia! What are you doing?”
I was about to find a paddle for all the rain in my backyard right now, but here's no sense getting my beautiful hair all wet and messy. Instead of going outside, I posted Elizabeth's short story snippet. I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to visit the other Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday authors for more great snippets!
Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Sign up below with your name, blog and email and share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Your post needs to be live between 12:00 noon on Saturday 07/01/17 and 09:00 AM on Sunday 07/02/17. Visit the other participants on the list and read, critique and comment on their 8sunday posts.
Jumping ahead a little, I am still sharing from my short horror story, Shadow Walkers. Sabina, Tessa and Lydia are escaping the catacombs, and the vile monsters (aka jinn) who held Lydia captive.
The floor within the narrow hallway had neatly paved travertine floors and brick walls. Their escort didn’t pause to speak to the men who had obviously been waiting should he need assistance, but instead led them through a labyrinth of hallways, twice requiring them to go through locked doors and once up a flight of stairs. They had gone from rough stone to marble and now they were in a polished black and white marble-tiled hallway with a plush red and gold-bordered carpet runner that muffled the sound of their footsteps, the only noise the group had made since first entering the mysterious bowels of the Vatican.
He paused before a red door and when he pulled it open, Sabina was shocked to see an elevator. The group entered and rode upward, still silent, and still tense. When the cables stilled, they stepped out and followed the priest across the hall. This time when he opened a set of double doors, he stepped aside and said, “Please feel free to get cleaned up. I will have some refreshments and fresh clothing sent up at once. Father Benjamin will be with you as soon as we can get word to him. In the meantime, you are safe here.”
Before Sabina could reply, he spun on his heels and was on his way back to the elevator, a cell phone to his ear.
Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Sign up below with your name, blog and email and share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Your post needs to be live between 12:00 noon on Saturday 06/24/17 and 09:00 AM on Sunday 06/25/17. Visit the other participants on the list and read, critique and comment on their 8sunday posts
I keep forgetting that not everyone is on mountain time, so never seem to get my post listed on time--especially since I'm a night owl. However, I have continued to work on my short horror story, so will post a few lines. They are escaping the catacombs, and Sabina has led them to an unlikely escape route...
Swallowing, she clambered through the hollow that was channeled into the rock wall. The beam from her torch dimmed as though the batteries were drained. Sabina shook it until it flickered and then regained a dim beam, strong enough to scan the chamber.
I blog there the 18th of each month!
Elizabeth Alsobrooks's books on Goodreads
Illuminati - The Book of Life
ratings: 12 (avg rating 4.33)
Illuminati: The Book of Life
ratings: 5 (avg rating 4.80)
The Keeper's Secret: Tell-Tale Publishing's Annual Horror Anthology
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)
2016 NaNoWriMo Winner!
My Newest Release
An Amazon Bestseller!
©2014-2018 Elizabeth Alsobrooks. All rights reserved.