Wizard’s Guidance. A New Guest Post for Dice Castle!

This month I return to the Village of No-No’s in my continuing series at Geek’s Dream Girl.

“Well, it’s a good thing you know how to do that at least.” The wizard quips as he unrolls the parchment. “Now, here’s something you might be interested in. Why don’t you go ahead and read this version of events.”
Not wanting to piss off an all-powerful wizard, you take the document off his hands and begin to read a familiar, yet slightly different, version of events. As you engross yourself in the story, the room begins to spin.

You adjust your shoulder bag and stroll into a village nestled in a lush valley. The first thing you see is a man and a woman arguing at the top of their lungs. From what you can make out, they’re pissed off about coin. The woman turns to you and says: “Don’t work for that guy, he’ll never pay you.” The man, who happens to be wearing a jerkin with an embroidered logo on the back, rolls his eyes and drones: “Don’t hire that freelancer, she’ll never hand anything in on time and it’s full of typos, too.” — SOURCE: Wizard’s Guidance, Adventure to Dice Castle

I hope you’ll drop by the site and give Wizard’s Guidance, Adventure to Dice Castle a read!

Romance, Vampires and Men

One of the questions that popped up for Russell Bailey and Eddy Webb, the developers for Strange, Dead Love, alluded to the impression that romance was primarily for women. The question really struck me and I want to talk about it in a more generic context about paranormal romance than address what it means to Vampire: the Requiem.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been involved with a romance writer’s group. I am not what you would consider a traditional romance reader or writer. Sap is really not my cup of tea. My flavors tend to run darker, like the types of relationships you might see in Dracula or Buffy: the Vampire Slayer. The reason why I dived into this group was to overcome my (for lack of a better word) stupidity about the genre as a whole from a creator’s perspective. When I first started, I was hesitant to infuse lipstick with vampires in my own work.

This group of men and women took my flowery impressions of romance and really helped me better understand it from a technical standpoint and, even better yet, a reader’s point-of-view. Romance isn’t just about one thing (e.g. smooches, a box of chocolates, or tears). Those elements — whether they’re part of the setting or not — allow the characters to express their emotions. A romance isn’t a scene or a dozen roses: it’s a story arc just like any other.

Those emotions get stronger as the story progresses. BUT! (And this is a big but in my book…) It’s harder to pick up a romance two-thirds of the way through. Like any other book, you really have to start from the beginning and understand what happens between those two characters in order to feel the emotional impact of their relationship.

Getting back to vampires…

I’ve read a lot of vampire fiction and watched, well, too many movies to count. Some authors like ghosts or zombies or fairies? Me? I’m a vampire girl. Tried and true. Like traditional romance, there are many flavors of paranormal romance that include vampires. There are some stories that don’t dive into the nature of a vampire and focus on the mortal who faces the predator instead. There are others that highlight the tragedy of the romance because vampires are damned, evil creatures. And then? There are some romances where vampires are just window dressing.

When I think about audiences for paranormal romance, I think about audiences for other emotionally-driven genres like horror. I feel, and continue to feel, that whether or not “a” man or “a” woman will like a particular title comes down to personal preference. With romance, it’s tough because it’s also heavily-influenced by cultural norms and attitudes. Take physical contact for example. If I just met you, how would you feel if I walked down the street with my arm around your shoulders? Men kissing in Europe means something different than men kissing in the States. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Based on my experiences, I don’t think romance is exclusively for men or for women. That’s what marketing is saying. That’s how they sell and, from what I’ve learned, companies like Harlequin and the authors who work for them are dedicated to providing what their established audience wants to read. They do an amazing, amazing job!!!

Anecdotally (for I don’t have hard numbers on this) paranormal romance does seem to attract a broader audience because there’s often other plots happening at the same time. Genre lines are pretty blurry, but paranormal romance and urban fantasy are often intermixed because of that. To an author, though, the romance is about the story between the characters. If you get the chance to talk to a romance author — of any sort — I highly recommend that you do. These conversations changed my view on romance entirely and have allowed me to introduce those types of stories into my own work.

I have the utmost respect for all flavors of paranormal romance and the authors therein — which is why I was thrilled to be a part of Strange, Dead Love. I can only hope my contribution did the genre justice within the context of Vampire: the Requiem. Guess I’ll just have to find out what you think! *gulp*

Don’t Rest Your Head… Until You Read This Announcement…

Don't Rest Your Head RPGI am thrilled to announce that I am one of the authors penning a dark and terrifying tale inspired by the Don’t Rest Your Head RPG designed and written by Fred Hicks and published by Evil Hat Productions.

Horror games have always been a draw for me because they’ve allowed me to explore deep characterization to explore the nature of heroes and the affected. Don’t Rest Your Head is “a game of insomnia in the Mad City.” It’s been called an “atmospheric” game (and rightly so). Having insomnia has a cost.

In Don’t Rest Your Head, that cost is Exhaustion, Pain and the shocking realization that reality isn’t what it seems. Characters find they’re Awake in the Mad City and Nightmares are hot on their heels. The PDF version of the game is five bucks. (FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS! CHEAP!) Dice required are d6’s in red, white and black.

Interested? Well, if playing superheroes suffering from insomnia in a twisted world doesn’t grab you, then I hope this next announcement will: Chuck Wendig, Penmonkey Master Chief, is the editor for a Don’t Rest Your Head anthology inspired by this dark and haunting game. I will be lending my voice to a chorus of mad, mad authors as we explore the depths of the City. I can’t wait to dive in!

More news to come on my story, the process working with Evil Hat Productions, and writing tie-in fiction as the project continues.

Promotion is Secondary to the Work

There’s a new book out by bestselling author John Locke about how he sold a million copies on Amazon in five months. It’s called: How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!

Here’s the thing: online marketing didn’t get him those sales numbers. What he did to promote his books was very similar to what other indie publishers have already done. There’s nothing new there.

So how did he achieve success? John Locke mastered his craft and wrote a bunch of great novels before he sold a single copy. Then he released the books, one after the other, on a short time frame with an introductory price of ninety-nine cents and wrapped promotion around that. His covers are great, his content was geared toward mass market rather than literary audiences, and he wrote consistently over several books. It was the aggressive release schedule coupled with a quality product at an attractive price, moreso than online marketing, that got him those numbers.

His story supports the old adage that most novelists will make money on the volume of books they write, as opposed to one individual release. (Lightning-in-a-bottle excluded.) And good for him! I am happy for Locke’s success.

The truth is that no amount of marketing will sell a book (or a series of them) if they’re crap or if they don’t resonate with an audience. It still comes back to whether or not the author is a good storyteller and if the readers enjoy that particular flavor of story. There are books have have been promoted heavily, with millions of dollars poured into advertising, and they just don’t sell. Some of them are amazing books; others not so much.

So if you’re a writer who wants to indie publish, the marketing take-a-ways here are: 1) What does your release schedule look like? 2) Do you have professional-looking covers? 3) Who is your target audience?

And, most importantly, numero quattro: Are you ready to sell your books?

For more on book covers and indie publishing, the How to Write Shop has a lot of information.

Heads Up! Help FlamesRising.com Interview White Wolf for Strange, Dead Love!

Vampire: the RequiemRemember when I announced I was working on Strange, Dead Love? Today, FlamesRising.com posted an open call for fans to ask questions about the paranormal romance sourcebook. Both Eddy Webb and Russell Bailey will dive in and spill all their secrets.

What do you want to know about Strange, Dead Love? Ask your burning questions in the comments below. Then, on Monday, October 3rd, we’ll shoot your deepest desires over to Eddy and Russell.

The finished interview will debut on FlamesRising.com on Sweetest Day, October 15th and will include ten questions chosen by White Wolf. Not all questions may be answered.

Pop on over to FlamesRising.com and fire away! Here’s the link: www.flamesrising.com/help-us-interview-white-wolf-for-strange-dead-love

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Monica Valentinelli > Work-For-Hire

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