Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My take on UF

 One of my novels was included in Under an Enchanted Skyline: Eight Complete Works of Urban Fantasy in One Boxed Set by eight different authors. It was a time limited special edition. It is now out of print. It was a fun project while it lasted and had great sales.

The editor sent out the following questions and here are my answers:

In Urban Fantasy the location of the story is often more than just a setting; it’s a character, and influences in what happens in the story. Does the city in your story have such and impact and how?

The Sunspinners series is set in a wealthy neighborhood where neighbors politely ignore the protagonist’s household. Possibly they assume there is an insane auntie in the upstairs room, complete with a Jane Eyre nurse. This allows the paranormal family to function without interruptions. Across town is the neighborhood setting of the Mudflat Magic series and is the opposite in that all the low income families in Mudflat know everything about each other. This creates totally different plot complications.

Some Urban Fantasy stories have a divide between the people and creatures who use and know magic and the normal everyday humans. Do you think this affects how some characters respond to emergencies?
Weak magic runs through the Mudflat families and results in them covering for each other. The paranormal sunspinners would love to have a little magic. It would make their lives so much easier. Instead all they have is a normal everyday human to cover for them and yes, it affects their behavior. They have added more security devices to their home than ADT ever dreamed of.

While not every Urban Fantasy story uses classic monsters, there’s a lot of them in the genre.  How has the use of monsters changed over the years and what makes your monsters unique if you use any of them?
There are earthdemons threatening the sunspinners, and they are a specific race and unrelated to classic monsters. In Mudflat the monsters usually look like normal people so are hard to spot. None of my monsters are based on any I have ever read about. I like to think up my own creatures.

While Urban Fantasy is popular right now, not every one enjoys all aspects of the subgenre. To keep the genre going, what are some of the more unique trends in UF and what would you like to see more of?
Originality. Each book or series has to have new ideas. That’s why I came up with the heroine of the Turning Vampire series. She is a sweet teenager who has to learn to survive as a vampire but works hard at being a good person and never harming anyone. When all your nourishment has to come from human blood, fresh from the source, it ain’t easy being sweet.

Most Urban Fantasy stories center on magical beings or creatures, normal people still have an important role in the story line. Do normals have much of an impact in your UF story and in what way?
Always. It is the normals who have to solve the problems created by magic and by paranormals. Sorry, no superheroes here.

As we know, magic in these UF worlds can take many forms. Some are able to use it and some aren’t. Why do you think magic (of any form) such a popular concept?
Wouldn’t we all love to mumble a few spells and have our problems solved? But then there would be no story. Instead, the protagonists have to plod on alone, suffer a lot, and learn to depend on their wits rather than physical strength. Unlike romances, urban fantasies do not require ‘happy ever after’ endings.

Monsters have been around for ages in stories.  History is full of them. What kind of impact has Urban Fantasy had in dispelling some of the myths associated with some of these creatures from the past and how do you think it will shape the future?
Hmm. Maybe Homer was the first urban fantasy storyteller, earning his livelihood by entertaining his audiences with tales of real cities and normal people and scary monsters. Did he try to shape the future with his tales? I don’t think so. If I had the smarts to shape a better future for the world, I would go into politics, I guess. Instead, I write stories to entertain.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Guest post: Amazon's Foray Into Shared Worlds:

 by Rosemary Jones

There's been a lot of "oh my, the world is ending" about Amazon's foray into shared world fiction, which is being launched as Kindle Worlds in June.

In it, through licensed agreement with the original copyright holders, writers can set a story in another's world, such as Vampire Diaries, and receive payment for that story whenever someone downloads it.

After that, however, the ideas, the characters, the plot twists, belong to everyone who writes in that world -- not the original author.

The original author can still, however, continue with those ideas in the shared world and receive payment for any downloaded material that they actually write.

It is, as far as I can tell, the same type of copyright control already exercised by the publishers of Star Trek novels, Star Wars novels, or any "officially sanctioned" fiction set in various other shared worlds.  It is certainly similar to the type of contracts writers receive for superhero fiction from the big houses like DC or Marvel.

This type of work always has been a hybrid beast, with writers earning either royalties or flat fees -- or a combination of both -- but relinquishing control over their creations.  If you come up with the coolest villain ever to cross webs with Spiderman, you never owned that villain. Marvel did and always does.

However, if you wrote for Marvel, DC, LucasArts, etc., you did have long, long, and very detailed contract that guaranteed you payment. And, hopefully, an ongoing relationship with the copyright holder of those properties.

The caveat with Amazon Worlds, and it's one that giving fits to professional writers who depend on shared world income, is that you're not guaranteed payment. You can write about Vampire Diaries, but you won't be paid unless those stories sell.  Also, you're not doing the back-and-forth with the holder of that copyright that most shared world authors do with the editors and publishers of these works in large houses. So you're not building a relationship with them. John Scalzi, the outgoing president of Science Fiction Writers of America, does his usual good breakdown on why this is a better deal for the copyright holder than the writer.

However you may be building a relationship with readers of this type of work that can translate into sales in other areas.  Which is why some writers are giving this a serious look.

Am I interested in writing stories set in the world of Vampire Diaries? Not particularly.

But I'm interested enough to see how this develops to sign up for Amazon's newsletter about this project. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rosemary Jones: Getting your zombies in a row.

Over the last year, I've sold several short stories to "theme" anthologies -- collections of fiction centered around a specific idea such as deep space, cyberpunk apocalypse, undead in a high fantasy shared world, or superheroes through the ages. One such anthology, When the Hero Comes Home, came out this month from Dragon Moon Press. The theme for the latter was simply what the title says: what happens after the hero comes home from his or her adventure. The stories range from high fantasy to hardcore science fiction, with every author exploring the theme in a very individual way.
Like the rise of the pulp magazine in the early 20th century, the new, cheaper ways of delivering story content to readers is sparking off a renaissance of short story collections. Also, like the pulps, these collections are generally built around a theme designed to appeal to a certain subset of readers.
The theme anthology is nothing new. Anthologies built around a shared world, like Robert Asprin's Thieves' World or George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards, enjoyed great popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress anthologies invited writers to break the traditions of sword-and-sorcery style and create tales where the women were more than a damsel in distress.
Today, the theme anthologies stretch from bad-ass fairies to zombie romance. Others ask for stories centered around a certain holiday. Shared world anthologies still come out on a frequent basis, often tied to games set in those worlds.
The publishers of these collections, both small press and large New York houses, have found that a tightly defined anthology appeals to readers hungry for fairies with attitude or zombies with girlfriend issues.
Some theme anthologies are closed markets, with editors issuing invitations to writers already known for their work in a particular market (vampires, urban fantasy, and so on). But other markets, primarily small press, are open to new writers. It's a great way to expand your market and reach new readers.

Small press editors often mention upcoming anthologies at conventions (especially if you're buying books from their tables!). And your social network of genre-writing friends may offer you other leads: don't overlook becoming fans of an anthology on Facebook or following an editor on Twitter for an early notice of calls for submissions.
Many times, you'll hear of a theme that fits a story already on your hard drive, but don't be afraid to stretch and write something new. Never tackled zombies before? The theme anthology might be just the ticket for you to discover a new love of the undead.
Anthologies also are a great way to meet new writers and make new friends. Every time I have a story appear in an anthology, I find the writers making connections via signings, gatherings at cons, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
So have fun, line up those zombies or steampunk heroines, and start looking for some anthologies for your own writing.
Rosemary Jones has written two novels set in Wizards of the Coast's bestselling Forgotten Realms series: City of the Dead and Crypt of the Moaning Diamond. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies including Realms of the Dead, Cobalt City Timeslip, and the recently released When the Hero Comes Home.