Tag Archive | Urban Fantasy

We Are Family….

BurningTire_finalI’ve been watching a lot of movies about family lately, and some about family which don’t really seem to be about family, but really are. As in The Avengers, which is all about family.

What!—you say. But that’s an action movie! Yes, it is. However, at its heart, it’s all about family. My favorite kind of family, in fact—the kind that bickers, fights, argues, tears itself apart, but which bonds together against any outside threat. (That was also me and my brother when we were growing up, which is probably why I’m so fond of that kind of family.) Critics have already noted the dysfunctional side of The Avengers—and other Joss Whedon shows, which is why I love Joss. I relate to dysfunctional. That also makes for the best kinds of stories.

Family is an important part of Riding in on a Burning Tire, the second book in the Mackenzie Solomon Demons & Warders series–a big part of the book is Mackenzie’s family showing up (and they don’t know she’s a demon hunter), and the trouble her little brother has gotten into. She’s already lost one brother–and it looks like she may lose a second to the “Rapturists”, folks out to end this world (for a better one, they think, but Mackenzie knows better).

Family, in a novel, gives you some of the best conflict and story ever. When in doubt, bring in the family. Yes, there are a lot of “orphan” stories out there, but you’ll notice the orphan doesn’t stay on her own for long. Soon, the family of choice shows up. That’s the great thing about family—they don’t have to be tied to you by blood. They can be tied by preference, circumstance, or just because you happen to see the world from a similar outsider view.

Readers and writers are all family—we bicker, fight, tear at each other. But we’re also bonded. We love our books, our stories—we love talking about them, pushing the best ones onto each other, gasping when other readers don’t love our favorites with the same insane passion. We bond over books. We’re every bit as dysfunctional as The Avengers—well, maybe not quite that super-powered, but close (including the costumes hanging in the closets). That shared love is one of the great joys of life—and all writers are readers. Books bond us. We love words and stories and characters. We read because life would be flat and unbearable without that escape. Stories make sense of our lives. And that’s why we write—because we want to share even more and so we dive into the deep end on things.

So, readers, next time you’re about to savage a book with harsh criticism, remember, that’s your sister in words who wrote that, and your brother, so put in some humor and respect—okay, maybe you don’t use that with blood kin, either, but this is your ink kin we’re talking about. Go ahead and hit hard—then, like that great fight scene in The Avengers, or even in Riding in on a Burning Tire (and boy is that gutsy to put my book in there with Joss’ work), after knocking each other around, offer a hand up and know that while you may come to blows occasionally (just to test each other and prove who really can dish it out), we’re all a family of readers out here.  You may not like everyone in your family, but they understand you like no one else in this world.


A demon hunter about to lose her license…

Mackenzie Solomon is on the edge of going “dark” and losing her warder license if she gets any more evil on her. However, she’s also the only one who can stop an early Armageddon. And nothing has stopped the bad ideas… or the itch for action. That’s starting to cause a rift with her former charming partner, Josh. He’s been tainted by demon blood, so is he now one of the bad things she now needs to avoid? Because Josh may be responsible for the Endowment’s Magi going “Houdini” on everyone.

A charmer who can’t remember if he’s good or not…

With Josh going rogue to find out what he’s been charmed not to remember, Mackenzie is given a choice by the Endowment—bring him in and maybe the Magi will help them both. She’s not sure she trusts the offer—and she’s not sure she can trust Josh.

But it’s not demons or the undead that are her main worry. “Rapturists,” led by the charismatic and supernaturally seductive Isra Gilz, are out to take down the Endowment and kick-off the end of days. With tainted tats Isra has turned Mackenzie’s younger brother into his inside man on this plan—and Mackenzie may have to take them both out to stop Armageddon.

Redemption comes with a price…

Caught in her usual spot between good and evil, and needing to help her family or do her job, Mackenzie has tough choices to make. She just wants ones that don’t end with everyone dead—or herself forever damned. But saving the world is going to cost. She just has to make sure the price isn’t the life of the man who keeps her from the destructive darkness that’s always calling her name.

Things That Go Bump

When I first started writing, I started off writing SF and Fantasy. This was partly due to being in my teens–I was on a total SF/Fantasy kick for reading. And it was what I was drawn to. Years later, I switched over to Regency romance–quite a jump most folks think, but not really. You see–it’s all about the world building. And the emotions.

In between the SF/Fantasy and Regency (and there’s a bigger cross-over in that audience than you’d ever know, given the Regency dancing that’s shown up at most SF conventions), I did some YA Horror stories–stuff that goes bump in the dark. Again, it’s all about the world building–and the emotions.

EdgeWalkersNow I’m back to SF/Fantasy for an edgy Urban Fantasy–Edge Walkers. This is one of those things where you shake your head as a writer and wonder what are you doing…but then you write the story anyway. When I wrote the story, I needed a change up from the Regency writing. I also wanted to get back to my roots with SF/Fantasy, and wanted to do a zombie book that worked for me (most of them don’t, however, I adore the movie, Zombieland–but Edge Walkers is nothing like that). I also wanted to do a book where the sex needed to be in the story–I was at a phase where I’d been reading too man books with sexy scenes that just seemed to have the scenes stuffed in there to add the sex. That didn’t work for me.

The trouble with all of this is that Edge Walkers isn’t part of the Urban Fantasy series I’m doing–the Demons & Warders series with Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, which is due out soon (and the third book is going to be Angels Don’t Burn). It’s not a Regency, and is nothing like those books in tone, so it’s going to have to find it’s own readership. I love the book, but then you always love your babies–even the challenged ones.

But now it’s out I do plan to get back to the Regencies–I have plans there. And I’m more than ready to step back into that other, lighter world.

That’s the best part of taking a diversion with the writing–it leaves you eager to go back to the other stuff.

Will Edge Walkers do well on it’s own? Maybe–or maybe it’ll be a grand experiment that leaves everyone (even me) shaking their heads. But a writer’s got to go what a writer’s got to do. It would just be nice, from the marketing side of things, if all my ideas fit better into a single box.


Where Book Ideas Come From

The question most asked of writers might be: Where do you get your ideas? John Cleese, when asked this, likes to reply that he has a little old lady in Cheltenham who gets hers from another fellow and he gets his from…well, you get the idea. He’s making a point that you can’t really pin down where ideas come from: they come from nowhere and everywhere.

Burn Baby BurnThe idea for Burn Baby Burn came from a reader’s conference (thank you RomCon). A bunch of writers and readers were sitting around talking books and covers and what not, and the penchant for babies on book covers came up…and i said the only way I’d put a baby into a book is if the baby was half-demon and trouble on someone’s doorstep. Well…hun–there’s the idea. Naturally, if you have a half-demon baby, it’s going to arrive on a demon hunter’s doorstep–the job of a writer is to make life worse for the characters. From there the story started its own path.

Now the idea can also be about a character–I once had a dream about a woman watching young girls play on a lawn and wishing they were her girls. That become a story about a governess who keeps ending up with girls who don’t need a governess (A Compromising Situation). But an idea is not enough–and sometimes the idea needs to simmer (not forever, however).

A Compromising Situation

Ideas are launch points which then require a writer to sit and write. Characters and complications need to be worked out. Backstory and motivations need to be developed. If you’re lucky, the characters jump onto the page, ready to play their parts with everything in place. Some characters, however, need to be coaxed–and some need more complications that will twist the story (and the idea) into new directions.

But that idea–like the theme–is a touchstone. It’s the place you go back to when you’re stuck. It’s the phrase that makes you–and the readers–excited about a book (and you need a lot of excitement to finish a book). NY Times Bestselling writer Bob Mayer calls this the Kernel Idea. And, like a kernel of grain, it’s got to be planted, watered, fed, and not overexposed to bad weather–too much exposure will kill anything.

So if you’re looking for ideas–look around you. Look at the people you know, eavesdrop on conversations, get into lively discussions, and pay attention. They’re all there waiting for you.

New Book, New Genre

Burn Baby BurnWriting in a new genre always has its risk–in some ways, you’re starting over. Folks who have read my Regency romances may not like the new book, Burn Baby Burn, which is Urban Fantasy. That may seem a huge jump, but it wasn’t–and was a lot like old home week for me. I started off writing YA Horror stories (which I loved to do). And paranormal/Urban Fantasy has a lot in common with writing Regencies–it’s all about the world building…and the characters. The setting wasn’t hard, either–I grew up in and around LA, and I’m very fond of the place. It’s no longer my stomping grounds, but the City of Angels was a natural backdrop for a series about demons/angels and the folks who are trying to keep them from tearing apart everything in between.

The other fun part of Burn Baby Burn were the characters. Great characters are always fun, and when you have demon hunters, who have to get along with demonic jinn (otherwise known as genies), freelancers in the paranormal gray space, and charming charmers who may just be too powerful for anyone’s good…well it’s all good from a writer’s view. All of this made for a great change of pace for me…which is something writers need at times.

We all need to stretch every now and then and try new things and just do stuff because it’s fun. We all start writing with stories in our heads–it’s just that sometimes you get too caught up in the “what will sell” mode and you forget that you started off this adventure to amuse yourself. If other folks come along with you on the ride, that’s great. But it’s also gravy. It’s the bonus that comes after you’ve written the story and sent it on its way to have its own life.

Cool Gus Publishing has given the book a great cover. So even if folks who love the Regency stories (and there will be more of those) don’t like this book, it should find it’s own audience. There’s also going to be more books in this series–that was something else I’ve been wanting to do.

When you write, you fall in love with your characters. They become (or you hope they become) folks that you just want to hang with. I’m particularly fond of these characters–Zie and Josh, and Marion and Felix. They’re not hard to hang with. So it’s going to be fun to head out with them on their next adventure. I hope others feel that way, too.

And isn’t it great that there’s so many avenues for authors these days to bring books out and try new things, and find just the readers who like those types of books.