Modern Urban What?

I did a book signing last week, and I had several people ask me, “So what is modern urban fantasy, anyway?” as I chatted with them about my book. (This was often followed by, “I don’t read fantasy.”) The short answer is, “You take a modern setting and plop down a fantasy creature and see what happens.” That worked for most people.

The long answer is a little more complicated. It’s almost easier to say what modern urban fantasy isn’t.

It isn’t classic sword and sorcery. It isn’t mythology. It isn’t Lord of the Rings or Narnia. You can have elements from stories like that – the magic, the magical creatures, the mythology, the supernatural – but you have to put them in a modern urban setting. The story evolves from the interaction of the mundane with the fantastic in the here and now.

It isn’t romance. You can have romantic elements, but if that’s the main purpose of your story about the ordinary and the unreal, then you have paranormal romance.

You may say, “Huh. I’ve never read any of that.”

You may not have read it, but I’ll bet you’ve watched it on television. Ever watch Grimm, or Once Upon a Time, Supernatural or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Then you’ve experienced modern urban fantasy. It’s a very popular genre on TV right now.

I find the potential for conflict between what we see every day with what might be around the corner, just out of ordinary sight, to be fascinating, with endless possibilities.

So step into my world for a little while, and enjoy a few stories about the unexpected that winds up in everyday life.

There Goes the Neighborhood is available on Amazon as either a paperback or an ebook. The Door, a novella, is available as an ebook, and Dreaming of a Zombie Christmas, a set of three short stories, is also available as an ebook.

What would you do if you found out that a troll lived under the bridge in your local park – and charged exorbitant interest rates on unpaid bills for crossing it?



Happy Birthday – A Gift to You from Me!

Just a quick post to let you know that in honor of my birthday, I decided to give everyone a present. My book of short stories, “There Goes the Neighborhood,” is free today and tomorrow, July 28 and 29, in Kindle format, from Amazon.

These are modern urban fantasy short stories, and there should be something in there to please almost everyone. I have funny stories, chilling stories, and a few touching ones as well. Please take advantage of this, and download your copy. Then let me know which story is your favorite, either here in the comments, or in the reviews at Amazon!

If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry – you can download a free Kindle reader app for your computer or mobile device and read away:

Well, I Did It

I did it. Despite doing some serious cat-vacuuming (no, we don’t really have a cat – it’s just a way of saying I did some heavy-duty procrastinating), I managed to get my 50,000 words done this month for NaNoWriMo, ahead of schedule. My progress chart does not look like a nice, tidy set of steps, with an equal amount added each day, the way it’s supposed to. It look more like a series of cliffs, looming over broad plains. This is because I tend to write in large chunks when I get rolling, and then stew for a day or two, trying to tease out the next bit in my head.

The story is one I’ve had simmering at the back of my mind for a long time (read several years). It needed to come out to play, and making it my NaNoWriMo project just made me fight through the parts that were not clear to me before. The story and I can both breathe better now that it’s out in the open. And the Skink, my main character, who has hung around with me for the last few years, doing battle with my inner critic, is delighted to have his story told. Now I just have to go back, tie up a few loose ends, and clean up/expand on things/cut out the garbage that ends up being included in any rough draft. It’s the writing equivalent of sanding, using wood filler in the cracks, sanding again, and then putting a shiny finish on your project. You just hope you don’t have to do any major reconstruction on it.

It took me a while to remember that I wasn’t writing a short story, and to adjust my writing style accordingly. But once I got going, it was fun – and I love my characters and my storyline. I’ll be excited to work on revising it during the next month(s). Writing a longer work allows you to really get to know your characters, and to make sure you drop them into plenty of hot water which they will need to fight their way out of. It’s interesting to torture your main characters. (Although they may not agree. But even they wouldn’t like a boring story, now would they?)

The novel I wrote needs a lot of work to make it what I want it to be, but that’s okay. I have more than just a framework now; I have a story with a beginning, middle and end and lots of details to flesh it out. Revising is what December (and if necessary, January, March, April, May and so forth) are for. That’s where I’m heading next, along with some short story projects that I put on hold for the month.

Did any of you try out NaNoWriMo this year? If not, there’s always next year. It’s a great way to prove to yourself that you can do it, and to show you what regular writing can do for both you and your writing.

Now, I’m off to write some more…

It’s NaNoWriMo Time!

NaNoWriMo participant badgeIt’s that time of year again. No, I don’t mean autumn, although it certainly is (and occasionally winter, here at 7200 feet). And I don’t mean almost Thanksgiving, although that is true, too.

Nope – it’s November, and that means NaNoWriMo.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. A misnomer, that – it’s really international. People from more than just the United States participate. That aside, it means that for the month of November, people sign up –  for free, mind you – and they write. And write. And write. The expected word production for participants is between 1600 and 1700 words per day.

The goal is to end up with a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. Is it possible? Definitely. 50,000 words is actually on the small end for novels – about 150 pages. And some folks end up with a published work, after a bit of revising.

It’s not necessarily about a publishable novel. It’s about the writing and the challenge to oneself to finish something big. It’s proving to yourself that you can stick to a project, work though problems and blocks and come out the other side with a (slightly punchy) smile on your face. It’s realizing that you can work regularly on your writing, and finding the reward in finishing something.

For me, it’s also a way to grease the gears. When I am writing regularly, I write more on everything. I won’t just end up writing on my NaNo piece, I’ll end up writing on lots of things. Productivity leads to more productivity. And that feels good.

I have done NaNoWriMo before. Several years ago, I finished. And the book I wrote – well, let’s just say that I had too many characters for the size of the book. But I got my words done, and I had a plot and everything. That one still exists – it just needs a complete overhaul. But for my first longer effort (short stories being my usual genre), it worked. I realized that I could work out a plot in a longer format, and found that I enjoyed the more leisurely character development.

I began NaNoWriMo last year, but did not finish for various reasons. (And all of them were, in retrospect, pathetic excuses – the sort of excuses that if anyone else had uttered them at me, I would have given them that raised-eyebrow mom-look that always causes a hasty and embarrassed retraction of whatever has been said. Ahem.) But the ideas and the work done still exist, so only harm done was to my pride.

Tonight at midnight, east coast time, people will start to write. They will have tossed around dozens of ideas, or hoarded one idea greedily in anticipation of November. They will have thought about characters and plots and complications. They will have sharpened pencils and charged computers.  Finally, the clock will tick over to November 1, and they will be able to sit down and write.

Over the month, they may closet themselves in a quiet place, hiding from friends and family, snarling at interruptions, or they may meet in coffee shops and write in groups. They might take a pad and pen outside in the fresh air. But no matter where they choose to work, they will write. They will groan when they can’t think of what to do next, but they will still write. They won’t revise, they won’t rewrite – that is for next month. They will just forge on through and get it done.

And at the end of the month, they will have a shiny new novel and a sense of a job completed.

I intend to be one of those finishers this year. It’s fun, it’s productive, and it’s just something that I like to do.

Want to join in the fun? You may have to play catch-up with the word count, but hey, what’re a few more words, right? Come on over to NaNoWriMo and be a part of a very big, very cool thing. And then write.

“There Goes the Neighborhood” is Available on Amazon

There Goes the Neighborhood

My book of short stories, “There Goes the Neighborhood”, is up on Amazon now. It’s a collection of thirteen tales of people who have encounters with neighbors – and other things – that most folks only encounter in the pages of fairy tales.  A bit of a shock in our modern world! Please have a look at my book, buy it, and enjoy it. It is available both as an e-book for $2.99, and a paperback for $7.99.

I am hoping the nice folks over at Kindle 3 (E-book Lover’s) will help get the word out about my book, but please let everyone you know, know about it!