If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Mapping the Terrain

Because I’m writing a paranormal romantic mystery, I’ve given myself the job of familiarizing myself with every type of paranormal mystery on the shelves and finding books similar to my novel. The paranormal subgenre covers a wide range, from cozy angelic missionaries, vampires in love to demonic specters, and everything in between, including mystery, my novel’s emphasis.

I have parameters. As a reader, I’m not a fan of horror. I write novels that I’d like to read. So, although my book will have some menacing scenes, I won’t write gore that would keep me awake at night and then expect others to buy and read it either. On the opposite end of the spectrum, romance paranormal novels are extremely funny and entertaining (Mary Janice Davidson), and I enjoy reading them every so often, but that’s not quite my writing style.

Heather Graham, a prolific and multi-genre writer, combines romance with ghosts as the paranormal element. Her bad guys are human, which gives credence to her plots. But there are many monsters and demons that appear in her heroines’ dreams, scaring them while also imparting information or warnings that pertain to the problems the heroines solve. No wonder her female characters are thin beauties, they’re too terrorized to eat. What Graham creates very well are characters that live with one foot in reality and the other in the paranormal world. This is the world in which my main character, Abby Jenkins, will live. Not that she starts out with one foot in the paranormal, but before the reader turns to Chapter 3, she will face this new world and wonder how to combat it.

Charlaine Harris’s protagonist, Sookie Stackhouse, can read the minds of normal humans, but not vampires, which makes her predisposed to taking vampire lovers. God forbid she learns her lover’s uncensored thoughts about her flabby thighs. Sookie’s world includes many types of shape-shifters, seemingly normal humans who can change into wolves, panthers and other animals. She walks a fine line among these paranormal groups, which use Sookie’s skills to their own advantage. But my Abby won’t have to do that, all she has to deal with are demons and angels, and there’s no fine line. There is a chasm.

There are many novels about angels missionaries. Three of my favorites are Carolyn Hart’s Bailey Ruth Raeburn, Mignon Ballard’s Augusta Goodnight and Debbie Macomber’s Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. I love these books, but the characters don’t have romantic entanglements. The protagonists are angels with missions. My novel has two angel missionaries, but one angel has a romantic relationship with my protagonist while living and that relationship continues in the hereafter. Hart’s characters, more than Ballard’s or Macomber’s, provide humorous insight into the heavenly realm. My novel, through two characters--one demon and one angel, will also provide those glimpses.

I loved Hart’s light-hearted treatment portraying the “other” side. I tried this approach because I love to write comedy, but it didn’t work for me because the character worked for hell. My critique partners, as my future readers, required dark treatment, and I recognize that there are certain conventions readers expect even in the quirky subgenre of paranormal. I will try this treatment for my newbie angel, who may be able to carry this humor, and yet he has serious choices to make, so even for him it may not be the appropriate tone.

Alice Kimberley’s Haunted Bookshop Mystery series is similar to mine in that her protagonist, Mrs. McClure, forms a relationship with a spirit, somewhat as my Abby does, except that it is a continuation of the relationship while living. In the bookshop series, Mrs. McClure (yes, a take-off on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, one of my favorites) finds the bookshop haunted by a murdered PI, who mentors her in solving crimes. Abby’s angel, in life a DEA agent, also mentors Abby. Kimberley’s fleeting romantic scenes are within the context of dreams. Her books are cozies. My characters are not innocent, have sharper emotional needs, and their challenges are quite personal. It’s a “love overcomes death” affair.

Each of the authors I’ve researched provides an example of some aspect of my novel. But none is a prototype, which I view positively because, like any author, I have no wish to copy another author’s work. Every author wants to be unique in the marketplace. But to sell a new concept making comparisons to other authors’ works, those that have already sold and have placed well in sales, provides a solid basis for an agent and publishing house to acquire a new author’s work. I hope that agents and editors embrace my unique characters and plots, but I also want to give them assurance of sales through comparisons to similar novels written by well established authors. A new author must maintain a balance between uniqueness and cold sales figures.

Do you agree? Did you make comparisons when trying to sell your work’s marketing plan? Did you write to your audience a specific market, or are you attempting to create a unique niche?


Susan Schreyer said...

Yes, I agree if one want to sell, one must pay attention to what readers are buying. But don't underestimate the reader. They are often willing to take chances.

Yes--I tried to make comparisons, but there are fewer books like mine "out there,"so I gave up on the comparison. I ended up writing the book I wanted to read, and may have created a niche market!

Now: hand over your book, EB. I want to read it!

E. B. Davis said...

Ha! Thanks, Susan...If only I were finished it. (big sigh)

Warren Bull said...

I think comparisons are good for an "elevator pitch" when you only have seconds to flog your work to an agent or editor. On the other hand, if you have a longer time, even in a query letter, I believe you have to find a way to show how your work is unique and how your voice is distinctive to set your offering apart from every other submission in your subgenre.

Pauline Alldred said...

I agree about the elevator pitch. If I compare my work to something known and successful, I hope to give an agent an idea of sub-genre, themes, and audience.

I think a writer's characters should have a unique slant. Naturally, each person creates unique quirks and motives unless a writer is trying to copy a popular type and most writers don't want to do that.

Although, I need to add, tough, lonely male PIs with a drinking problem remained popular for years. Then we had strong female sleuths without family ties. Now, we have young women who prefer lovers from another world. I guess if the story and character work for the reader, that is all that counts.