Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Phoenix Warrior is a finalist!

My Science Fantasy (after all the genre talk, I've decided it's a Science Fantasy), The Phoenix Warrior is a finalist in the futuristic category in "On the Far Side 2007". This contest is run by the Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal (FF&P) chapter of RWA.

Wow! That's really all I can think.
My fingers are crossed!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Women Warriors

I like to read about strong women with a romance worthy of her. No dominating male. No subduing her strength. RT has a list of books with "Women Warriors." Looking through it, there are some interesting entries there, but obviously they weren't making an all inclusive list. Of note, quite a few of these are sci fi/fantasy. Probably because that genre lends itself well to the idea.

One of my favorite "women warrior" books is not on the RT list. The Light Bearer, by Donna Gillespie. This is well worth a read. This is a historical romance written with a fantasy flair. The heroine, Auriane is a warrior. An extremely strong character. Set in the Roman Empire, it gives a realistic feel to that time and place. With the amount of research and care put into this novel, the reader gets sucked right in, and the sheer strength of surviving that time is obvious. Her hero Marcus is strong, noble, passionate. Excellent book.

Does "kick ass" chick apply? Maybe that's another question, who are some kick ass military/detective/agent women in romance today? J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas comes to mind, but even though she fights physically as well as with a gun, I think the idea here is a swash-buckling, sword toting, fight-to-the-death, age-old warrior-type.

Question is, what are other good "women warrior" novels?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Genre Wars III

In my previous post I discussed a Futuristics cover story in the Oct 2007 RT. That same issue has a story about Sci-Fi / Fantasy. Timely, huh?

The article poses questions about the genres to successful authors, namely John Scalzi, Linnea Sinclair (I couldn't write a "Genre Wars" post w/o mentioning her, now could I?), Catherine Asaro, Elizabeth Bear, Jo Walton, and Kristine Smith.

The article is the standard: "what's the difference between sci-fi and fantasy?"
But, it had two different lists for recommending books to get started in the genre. One list was compiled from their message boards, the other from their senior sci-fi/fantasy reviewer. These are pretty good lists for the romance reader (or anyone who's just a little leery of that part of the book store). Anyway, check out the message boards for those recommendations:
Do You Read Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels?

The RT board responses listed a fair number of books that would appeal to the romance reader: once again, Linnea Sinclair. But also, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jo Walton, Sharon Shinn, and others.

Another book popularly mentioned, which was hands down my favorite when I was a kid, is Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon.

One of my other favorites, which may not belong in a discussion of romance, but darn it, I love this book: The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut was unique. Genius. This book in particular managed to say so much with such a simple plot. Well, maybe not simple. It's actually quite convoluted. Simple in that the main character becomes "unstuck" in time, but everything gets twisted. You just gotta read it to know what I mean. Really, go read it! It's strange, but wonderful.

Futuristics featured in Romantic Times

The October 2007 Romantic Times cover story is on New Concepts Publishing and their futuristics, including an interview with Kaitlyn O'Connor and an excerpt from her upcoming book, The Portal.

Futuristics from New Concepts have been a favorite of mine for quite some time now. It's good to see the attention given to them. They have some really creative authors there. The ones I've read and enjoyed are Michelle Pillow, Marie Harte, Mandy M. Roth, and of course, Kaitlyn O'Connor.

I have to be honest, I read these for the hot sexy scenes between two people in a relationship (yeah, I'm old fashioned--or can I say that about reading erotic romance?), set in an exotic location. It's fun, hot, and escapist. My favorites are:
So, even though I've kicked up my writing and haven't been reading as much, I'll be sure to get The Portal when it comes out.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Genre Wars II

In my first Genre Wars post, I started trying to dissect my project, The Phoenix Warrior, to determine its genre. Not that I truly care about genre, because I don't. It's artificial. But that's another discussion. However, if I were to finally send this out to an agent (or publisher), it helps to know exactly how to classify my manuscript. And, to understand which publishers and editors are looking for work in specific genres.

But really, this is also an interesting exercise, and a good way to look at similar work, etc. When I first started to look at the market, I immediately saw flaws in the first version of Phoenix, and have since started to rework it. So, although "genre" may be a confining concept, the overall effort has been helpful to help me understand what people like to read, what they want to read, what I like to read. That all needs to come together with what I like to write.

What is Science Fantasy? Space Opera? SF Romance?
After looking around to find the definitions, I found that most authors generally fall back on, "whatever the reader thinks it is." Good answer.

In response to my first posting, author Linnea Sinclair pointed me to her interview at Sequential Tart, in which she explains SF Romance perfectly. Read it! There's really no reason for me to try writing a definition when she explains it so well.

My conclusion? I would describe Phoenix as SF Romance, because it does include technical elements. I actually do care what type of engine might be in a spacecraft if space travel were common place. I don't make my ship go faster than the speed-of-light. But what about the unexplained phenomena, such as shape shifting? Well, even there I couldn't just say, "it's magic." I have an explanation for the origins of the shifters, even though SF Romance doesn't really exclude paranormal elements.

Enough said.

Genre Wars

Considering my initial posting "on paranormal romance," and my recent reading of "Finders Keepers" by Linnea Sinclair, on which I also posted, I thought long and hard about genre.

To get down to a real definition of Paranormal Romance (PnR), a posting here on blogspot does a decent job of it, titled: Teach Me Tonight: Definition of Paranormal Romance by Sarah S.G. Frantz. Greatly condensing Frantz's essay, PnR is a romance with:
  • central love story with a Happily Ever After (HEA)
  • paranormal--beyond normal
  • of this world
  • primary theme--the interaction between the "normal" world & the "beyond normal"
When I'm describing my *unpublished* writing to anyone who does not read romance, sci-fi, or fantasy, I lump all my works in progress (WIP) into PnR. Not really caring to carefully define the genre. Now, discussing WIP with professional authors or within professional or crit groups, the genres are taken a little more seriously.

This presents a problem.

How would I describe my WIP, The Phoenix Warrior? Does it have a central love story? check. HEA? check. Beyond normal? check. Of this world? maybe not. The setting for Phoenix is a futuristic Earth-based space vessel. According to Frantz, futuristics may not fit. Does Phoenix have the tension between the mundane and the paranormal, yes it does.

For the sake of argument, let's say that since it's futuristic, and not set on "Earth," and will in fact be set on another planet in the planned book 2, that Phoenix is not PnR.

What is it? Sci-Fi? (it's certainly not hard SF, no doubt there)
Certainly it could be considered Speculative Fiction. Science Fantasy? Space Opera? SF Romance?

I'll try to narrow this down in my next posting, Genre Wars II.
In the meantime, I'll be checking out the blog Romantic SF & Fantasy Novels which has reviews on books right up my alley. Including a reference to Karin Lowachee’s Trilogy: WARCHILD, BURNDIVE, and CAGEBIRD, reviewed as Best Space Opera in a Long Time. Gotta check those out!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On Paranormal Romance

And they lived happily ever after...
Paranormal Romance (PnR) is first, Romance. There is the obligatory happy ending, which let's face it, is a big draw in today's world. It allows escape and a sense of safety. We all know where we'll be at the end. If you add to that the paranormal, the escape is truly out of this world.

There are a few definitions floating around. Two of the more accessible are from Wikipedia and Juno Books. Another good resource is PNR ( I'm sure there are more out there, but these came to mind first.

A more formal essay from Juno Books editor Paula Guran can be found, in pdf, on the Juno website. Introduction: What is "Paranormal Romance"? is a fairly in depth look at the history of PnR. It's worth a read, as well as the book in which the essay was published, Best New Paranormal Romance.

The important elements in this genre are romance and of course, paranormal. Paranormal encompasses fantasy, the unexplained, the mystical, psychic abilities, horror, and sci-fi. Anything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Stargate to X-files fits the bill.

But really, let's not forget that PnR lets the cave men back out. Big alpha-male shape shifters. Sword toting female warriors. Lots of sweaty, steamy sex. This genre tends toward steamy to downright erotic. While the author is taking you out of this world, setting you up for a happy ending, the sexual fantasies get satisfied as well. Think Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, and Lori Foster is jumping in, under the name L.L. Foster.

Speaking of sword totin' women, the before mentioned Juno Books is looking for good published short stories with female warriors, for an anthology. Can't wait!

To wrap it all up, PnR is basically fantasy wrapped in a sexy package with six-pack abs.