Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Amazing Worlds of Speculative Fiction

This is an exciting time to be a writer in the speculative fiction genre whether you write romance, young adult or adult, there are so many new sub-genres appearing and combinations on the bookshelves and electronic shelves. It’s also a confusing time for writers, publishers and readers who might be confused as to how these books are defined. I know I am.

I’ve been a fan of spec-fiction since I was a kid. I remember sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night and turning on the TV while my parents slept to watch Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Creature Feature. Besides TV, I read stacks of Science Fiction and Fantasy books. Back then, to my knowledge, they only had the “fantasy” type: J.R.R Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) or “science fiction” type: Isaac Asimov (Foundation Series). I also read a lot of ghost stories, but I’m not sure what genre they fell under. Maybe Supernatural?

Now, it’s a different story. New sub-genres keep appearing: Urban fantasy, Futuristic, Paranormal, Historic Paranormal, Steampunk, Magical Realism, etc. There are so many vampire books out there they could be considered a sub-genre now, not to mention the “demon” and “shapeshifter” books. Those aren’t quite a sub-genre, not yet anyway. And I do love good vampire, demon, shapeshifter books!

Definitions of Sub-genres of Spec Fiction:

– A broad category that include one or more of these elements: vampires, ghosts, demons, witches, psychic powers, supernatural themes, alternative/otherworlds, etc. Other sub-genres (sci-fi, futuristic, fantasy, etc.) may be labeled paranormal or paranormal romance when a book is sold depending on a publisher’s preference.

Urban Fantasy – Usually includes a modern cityscape—made up or real—with paranormal/fantasy elements (vampires, shifters, demons, elves, witches, other magical creatures and/or powers. These are usually darker, edgier stories. Some define this a modern Gothic.
*In the romance genre, the difference between a Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy is the amount of romance in the story and the theme. Urban fantasies can have a romance but it’s not the dominate element in the story, it usually centers around a strong female protagonist and doesn’t have to have a happily ever after ending. Paranormal romance centers around a hero and heroine and does have a happily ever after/or happily for now ending.

Fantasy – Can be light or dark, can incorporate magical/mythical elements.

Science Fiction – Core science based fiction incorporating hard science—physic, quantum mechanics, genetics, etc. or computers. Also philosophy and psychology.

Futuristic – Stories, of course, set in the future. Could be Urban Fantasy on earth, on another planet or alternative universes.

Steampunk – This sub-genre has many sub-types. But simply it’s a story usually set in the 1800s (but alternative modern or futuristic stories are possible) where technology has gone a bit skewed. Scientific devices tend to be powered by steam and comprised of cogs, gears and clockwork parts. See my blog post on May 23, 2010 for more details.

Magical Realism – is speculative literary fiction using highly detail fantasy elements in a realistic setting. Like a child has an ogre as an imaginary friend that goes to school with him. Only the ogre is real.

Horror – these type of stories have the capacity to frighten readers whether with real or supernatural themes.

What Category is My Book?

So you’ve written a vampire, werewolf, ghost story set in an alternative historic London with paranormal steampunkish elements. What the heck to you call it? Urban Fantasy? Paranormal Romance? Steampunk? Gail Carriger’s book, Changeless has all these elements. The spine lists it as “Fantasy Horror”.

I pity my editor when I send in my books because half the time I don’t know what to call them. My last book, DRAGON WITCH, has a dragon shifter, a witch, space travel and takes place in the future on another planet. Is it paranormal? Sci-Fi? Futuristic? Fantasy? Shapeshifter? Ellora’s Cave lists it under their Aeon line: Futuristic/Sci-Fi.

The difficult part comes when writers want to pitch their story to an editor or agent and can’t decide what category to call it. When a book can fall into a number of different sub-genres, the publisher/marketing people usually decide to place it according to where they think the market is strongest at that time. When you’re pitching, keep it simple. Pick a sub-genre you feel the main theme of the book fits best. If the book is sold, the publisher will decide what genre to sell it under.

A couple definitions that I learned at the last conference I went to: The difference between Alternative worlds and Otherworlds. I’d always thought they were pretty much the same, but apparently they’re not.

Alternative World – is a real place with paranormal elements. Like in the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer’s. It’s set in Forks, Washington. That’s a real place but there are vampires and weres living there.
Otherworlds – Are settings that are fictitious, completely made up, like Hogwarts in the Harry Potter’s series, by J.K. Rowling.

What sub-genre is your current WIP?

As an aside: SECRET SOIREE, my next story from Ellora’s Cave (not a Speculative Fiction story), will be released on November 26th. Destiny Noir is living a secret life for a very good reason. What happens when her secret is exposed?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I know I'm way over due for a more entertaining blog post. Two conferences back to back, edits for a book and a couple other projects have set me back on my schedule. But I'll post something soon. Promise! In the meantime, I'm very excited about my news: I just received an email that DAMNED AND DESIRED finaled in the EPPIES--The EPIC eBook Awards for the Erotic Paranormal Romance category. EPIC is the Electronically Published Internet Coalition.

Winners will be announced at the EPICon Conference on March 10-13, 2011 in Williamsburg, VA

Here's the blurb for the book: She’s a demon, he’s a shapeshifting leopard. From their first meeting in the Arizona desert, passion ignites and trouble begins. As a demon, Sakari Lock must harvest lifeforce energy through sexual seductions to sustain her exiled world. But when Sakari meets Brad, she breaks the number one rule of Anartia—don’t get personal with your quarry.

Physician’s assistant Brad Montag is drawn to Sakari’s lustful advances with a blazing desire he can’t explain, unaware of how dangerous she is. No matter how enticing, she’s a complication he doesn’t need until he can conquer his past and regain control of his shapeshifting abilities. Sex this wicked and good can only lead to disaster.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Top Bite Award-Dragon Witch

Bitten by Paranormal Romance gave DRAGON WITCH, my Ellora's Cave novella, a Top Bite Award!! Here's the review:

"Dragon Witch is an out of this world story, that's fun and very hot! I truly enjoyed excellent short story, that’s mixed paranormal and fantastica. If you like action, adventure, emotions and hot sex with some m/f/m action this maybe for you. I loved both the hero and heroine with the added dragon, that at a point will surprise you for what he really is. Kathy knows how to write a short Novella that makes since and fun with added surprises." ~5 Alpha Howls, 4 Alarm Fire.

More Good News!!

New Sale! I recently sold a new story to Ellora's Cave entitled "Secret Soiree", a contemporary erotic romance. This will be a Quickie, a short story. I'll keep you posted on the release date.

BLURB: Performing kinky sex shows at private parties should be easy for two part time lovers. When Darius makes an offer to help Destiny avoid financial disaster, how can she refuse? The money’s good, the sex scorching.

Amazed by how uninhibited she can be, Destiny is driven by a sensual need aroused by her audience. When clients begin requesting new elements of kink, Destiny easily complies, ignoring the risks. And now she is about to learn the consequences.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Destinations--If You Dare!

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado (The Shining)

As I’m getting ready to leave for another conference this weekend-New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart In a Book Conference-October 22-24th, I realized Halloween is just around the corner. I need to shop for treats for the trick-or-treaters. I just got back from Romanticon and as soon as I sort through my photos, I’ll post some here and on Facebook. But for now I was thinking about fun, creepy vacation spots for Halloween.

The leaves are changing all those beautiful colors, the air is crisp. It's a great time for hiking or bike rides. I checked out favorite getaway hot spots for Halloween vacations. Or I should say “haunt” spots. Here are a few suggestions:

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
Remember The Shining Stephen King’s novel turned into a movie. This is the hotel. After Stephen King spent a creepy, isolated weekend here with his family in the early 70s, he got the idea for his novel. Good luck getting room 217, where King is supposed to have stayed, or room 408, which is considered the most haunted room in the hotel. Creepy, oh yeah. Each year the proprietors throw a “Shining Ball”. The hotel celebrated its 100th birthday last year.

Queen Mary Corridor

The Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary is probably the second most talked-about ocean liner in the world, next to the Titanic. Launched in 1934, it was retired in 1967 and is now a floating hotel. The last four decades, its developed a reputation as a paranormal hot spot. A very eerie place, but very beautiful.

The Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California
The Hotel Del Coronado is located near San Diego and is considered to be the most haunted hotel in the country. A pricy location for a get-away spot. Way too pricy for me. Kate Morgan is said to be the shy ghostly resident.

The Logan Inn in New Hope, Pennsylvania
I have to add my own choice of a Halloween vacation get-away, because I’ve stayed in this one a few times but not around Halloween. The town does have a ghost tour. I always wanted to do that. The Logan Inn was established as an inn in 1727 and is the longest, continuously run inn in the United States. New Hope is a small village along the Delaware River and is said to be the most haunted town in America. And the Logan Inn, one of the most haunted buildings. I didn’t see any ghosts while dh and I stayed there. But I did have rather strange dreams.

During the Revolutionary War they used the basement as a crematorium. Guests and staff report seeing soldiers wandering the halls. The original owner’s mother, Emily is said to haunt room six by opening drawers, rearranging luggage, changing the heat in the room. The scent of lavender sometimes drifts around a painting. The Logan Inn is my pick. Although I would like to try the Stanley Hotel too.
What are your ideas for a Halloween vacation?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Road Trip--RomantiCon

RomantiCon is just days away. October 7-10th
I’m packed—sort of—I have way too many shoes, but what the heck. A 1920’s flapper dress? Yep. Yeah, well that’s the theme party for Friday night. Should be fun, but I can’t do the Charleston to save my life. Promo material is boxed up and directions for the 7 hour drive are printed. I also went over my lecture notes. I’m giving a workshop on Screenwriting Tools for Building a Novel on Saturday afternoon.

I really look forward to these conferences and especially meeting with the authors and readers I chat with on the loops. Seeing the Ellora’s Cave staff is a treat too. They’re a great group of people who work so hard and are so good to their authors. I don’t know how they manage to do all they do. My editor Helen Woodall will be coming out from Australia—a 30 hour flight for her. Yikes! Just the thought makes me tired. But I’m so glad she can make it. She’s such a sweet and supportive lady, not to mention a fabulous editor.

Cris Anson will again be traveling with me—Thank God. Someone to help navigate and keep me company. We can brainstorm a book or two on the way.

EC authors: Cris Anson & Kathleen Coddington

Ellora’s Cave is celebrating their ten year anniversary. Wow. Hard to imagine it’s been that long already. I’ve only been with them for three years but they’ve grown quite a bit. EC has a cool blog run by the editors if you haven’t checked it out, you should.
Another EC blog worth perusing

So, if you’re going to RomantiCon, please look me up and say hi! If not, try to go next year. It’s really worth going. I’ll be signing Desert of the Damned and Damned and Desired and also cover flats of Dragon Witch.

See you there.