Seeking a Genre

I’ve had a difficult time lately trying to figure out what kind of writer I am. Do I write horror? Am I a scifi writer? What about fantasy? Does it even freaking matter?

I’m not sure what’s prompting me to pigeon-hole myself to a particular genre or not, however maybe it’s best if I gravitate toward something. The phrase “Jack of all trades and master of none” keeps coming back to me.

Of all three genres, I think the one that I most identify with is horror. It’s what I’ve read the most, watched the most, and what interests me the most.

I don’t feel I have the credentials to call myself a scifi or even a fantasy writer, though my background in medieval history does give me a foundation for the kind of fantasy I enjoy. I’ve not read many of the scifi classics. I have tried to navigate my way through some of the mainstays of the genre to have a working knowledge of what’s been done before and the major players in the field. Still, it doesn’t feel like I’ve “paid my dues” and learned enough about previous authors to jump into their genre. Does watching a lot of scifi shows count? I don’t know. Maybe? Do I have to have those works read in order to write my own stories?

thinker-1294493_1280I imagine purists would scoff at the idea of someone with a basic knowledge of science fiction calling themselves a scifi writer. I kinda agree. Start throwing questions at me about Heinlein or Asimov, I might give you a blank stare and change the subject.

Same goes for fantasy. I know a few pillars of the genre, but I’ve not read many of them. My first real introduction to fantasy was through Robert Jordan and I know there were many before him like Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchett and more. I love fantasy for the idealized medieval worlds they tend to portray (and yes, I’m aware of the Euro-centric bent of most fantasy) though I’ve not read extensively in the genre. Do I have to in order to call myself a fantasy writer?

When it comes to horror, I do have a greater background through reading and movies than the other two genres I gravitate toward. King, Barker, Jackson, Oates, Ramsey Campbell, and countless other authors have all been my go-to authors when I want something to read. I love the dark themes and ability of authors to scare the crap out of me. I feel much more confident calling myself a horror writer though to date, I’ve not written much more than several flash fiction and short stories in the genre.

So why question all of this? What’s the point?

skull-3026666_1920As I continue to grow my readership and reach out to new readers, I don’t want to confuse them. I love using elements from all three genres in my writing. One day I feel more like writing fantasy, while another I want dark, scary horror. I don’t want to be forced into a genre I’m not entirely 100% all in on (or at least don’t feel like I belong because of a lack of rudimentary knowledge of the field.) Yet, readers and especially other authors want to know “what do you write?” Damn good stories? I mean, that’s how I want to answer.

Lately I’ve come to use the term “Speculative Fiction Author” to describe what I write. It’s a term not without its drawbacks and controversy, though for the most part, it encompasses all that I enjoy writing. It allows me the freedom to flow between genres without feeling stuck or unable to try something else. It’s like when King wrote the Dark Tower books. He’s known as one of the most popular horror authors ever, yet he wrote a fantasy series. Of course, it sold because his name is on the cover, but in my case, I have a long way to go to establish my name. If I call myself a “Speculative Fiction Author,” readers generally understand I genre-hop and can pick and choose what stories of mine to read.

If I take a big step back, this entire discussion about genre really is all about marketing anyway. When bookstores sell books, they need to know where to put books to make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for. When Amazon categorizes books, they get down to fine detail about the genre. It all goes back to marketing: How do we sell this book? Who is the market for this one? Have a monster in it? Good, call it horror. Is the protagonist a seventeen year-old girl? Call it young adult. It makes it easier for readers to discern what to buy and not buy. I get it.

The more I can figure out who I am as a writer, the easier it’ll be for me to market myself. If I claim “Speculative Fiction Author” as my title, then I’m open to marketing myself in all three of the genres I enjoy depending on the books I’m writing at the time. It’s not that I’m chasing the latest trends, but writing stories I enjoy and hope others will too. I don’t even know what the latest trends are! Reverse harem? Who knows!

I hope to figure this out soon. I’d like to sell a few books and begin making a profit off my work. I haven’t yet, however I have earned a few new readers in the process.

 

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Guest Post: Simon Bleaken

Hi there, my name is Simon Bleaken and Jason has very kindly given me the chance to say a few words on his blog. Firstly I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself, and then I’d like to share an excerpt from a work in progress.

EldritchI live in the UK and write in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres. I’ve had work appear in Tales of the Talisman, Lovecraft’s Disciples, Strange Sorcery and in several anthologies including Eldritch Embraces and Space Horrors: Full Throttle Space Tales #4.

Last year I brought out my first collection of short stories A Touch of Silence and Other Tales, and I am currently working on a second collection, which I hope to release later this year.

My biggest influences have to be my favourite authors, among them: Stephen King, Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. I am in awe of the worlds those guys built. I’ve always found the boundaries between sci-fi and fantasy often merge with the horror genre, and I’ve never tried to restrict myself to either – but to tell the story that needs to be told.

SilenceBy day I work for an Infection Control Team in a hospital, and it’s a job that keeps me pretty busy – but I always try and make time for writing in the evenings all the same. It was this job, and my constant promise to my colleagues to ‘write an infection control horror story’ that was the origin of the idea for the excerpt of my work-in-progress I’d like to share with you now. This story is planned for inclusion in my forthcoming collection, and is about a survey team who encounter a deadly infection on an alien world. The idea was – what if the disease was utterly deadly, but the cure was utterly unthinkable?


The shovel scraped metal. I froze, crouching in the dirt down inside the grave pit. My heart was racing, and despite the cool breeze coming up from the valley below I was dripping in sweat, my sodden shirt clinging to my skin. I sucked in a shivering breath, fighting the dizziness creeping through my body. I wanted to curl up in a small corner somewhere, to close my aching eyes and sleep. But to do that would be to die.

The fever had started an hour ago, a steady burning at the base of the spine that had spread to the limbs and up the neck into the brain with terrifying speed. I had seen it kill over twenty people in the last thirty hours, and now it was my turn.

I straightened with a wince, craning my neck to glance over at the lander. There was no sign of Gregson. For all I knew he had already passed out, maybe even died.  His infection had been far more advanced than my own, and I had left him writhing and thrashing in the throes of delirium. A flicker of guilt fluttered through me at abandoning him, until I remembered my own predicament. Falling to my knees, I clawed away the remaining dirt until I uncovered the metal casing of the storage unit. A fresh wave of dizziness washed over me as I wiped a shaking hand across my brow.

Come on, keep it together. You can do this.

Fear quickened my heart – both of what I was about to do, and of the disease now consuming my trembling sweat-soaked body. Sliding off the top of the unit, I squeezed myself between the side of it and the wall of dirt to my right. We had used one of the worker units to dig this pit just over a day ago, and I wished we still had them around to help me exhume it again.

I held my breath as I hauled the lid open. It didn’t make much difference. The smell was unbearable in the confined space. Inside the makeshift coffin the corpse was already beginning to liquefy, undergoing some kind of accelerated decomposition. Despite the state of the corpse, I could clearly see the strange fungal growths covering it. They had turned from blue to brown after death.

This foul rotting thing had been a friend once, Jason Cain, to be exact. I probably stared at his bloated discoloured face for a good twenty seconds, part morbid fascination and part shocked revulsion. Here was the brutal reality of death. We put people in the ground and then tried to forget what came next, tried to remember them as we had known them, as if that was how they would stay forever. But there was no time for any of this. I knew I was trying to put off what I had come here to do, but time was no longer on my side.

The hand tore clean away as I pulled it free of the body.

Somehow I managed to keep my breakfast down.

I crawled out of the pit, skidding down the slope beyond in a cloud of dust and grit. I collapsed at the bottom, my whole body shaking as I dragged myself weakly forwards, dry heaving painfully until my stomach and sides ached. Finally, I crawled up against a large boulder and huddled against it, filthy and shaking, drenched in sweat. Every part of my body hurt, and my vision was beginning to blur.

I looked down at the hand I held. It had been a part of my friend once. Now it was just a thing, an object, or that’s what I tried to tell myself. I just wondered how much of it I would have to eat. My stomach churned at the thought.

It’s just meat, I told myself.


If you want to read the rest of the story, keep an eye out for my next book The Basement of Dreams and Other Tales later this year.

KeplersCowboysTwilightVol2If you can’t wait that long, A Touch of Silence and Other Tales is out now in paperback and for the Kindle, and contains ten short stories (nine previously published, and one new one). You can also find my stories (and lots more by other great authors) in the brilliant Kepler’s Cowboys anthology and in Twilight Madhouse Vol 2. from Schreyer Ink Publishing.

I’ll sign off here, but a huge thank-you to Jason for giving me this chance to say hello. If you’d like to get updates on my work, I don’t have a blog yet (it’s on my to-do list!) but you can find me on Facebook at the group: ‘The Stories of Simon Bleaken’.

Why not drop by and say hello?

Book Promos

Hey everyone, I wanted to bring your attention to a few book promos I’m currently running.

The first one is for my book The Selection. I’ve joined with Art of the Arcane to offer over 40 books for only .99 each. You can get The Selection right now for less than $1! Go to Art of the Aracane to see all the amazing titles or go here for The Selection.

ArtofArcaneSALE

 


The next promo is for my newest book Rise of the Forgotten. This is the second in the Forgotten Chronicles series and depending on the day you buy it, can be .99 or $1.99. I’m running a Kindle Countdown deal so grab it early on the cheap. If you’ve read The Selection and want to know what happens next, this is what happens next! Get while it’s on sale here: Rise of the Forgotten.

Kindle Countdown Deal

 


Finally, my short story collection Moments of Darkness is part of a free selection of books available at Book Funnel. There are over 40 horror/dark fiction novels and collections available for free here: Things That Go Bump In the Night.

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Feel free to grab the discounted (or free) books and share with others. I sure would appreciate it. If you have a book on sale or for free, please leave it in the comments below so others can find out.

Thanks!

New Release This Week!

RiseOfiPad

Hey everyone, this week is gonna be great! My new book Rise of the Forgotten: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 2 releases this Friday January 19th! I’m so excited about moving the story forward and hope you enjoy your next visit to the world of Anastasia.

You can pre-order the book for only .99 on Amazon. I do hope you take advantage of the pre-order price. After release, it will go to $2.99.

68In support of the new book, The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1 is on sale for .99 all through the week. Feel free to grab a copy. If you get both books, that’s less than $2!

I’m also super excited to share that The Selection is now available on audiobook! Narrated by Paul Jenkins, he does an amazing job of bringing the world to life. It’s available on Audible, Amazon, or iTunes.

PrintI’m running a Facebook giveaway of the audiobook for 10 lucky readers who pre-order Rise of the Forgotten and send in a screenshot of the sales page showing they bought it. I want to extend that contest to the blog. So…if you pre-order Rise of the Forgotten for only .99, send me a screenshot of your purchase page (or add it as a comment below) and you’ll be entered to win a download code for the audiobook of The Selection. The contest ends at 5pm CST on Thursday Jan. 18th.

That’s it for this week. I hope you join me as we continue the story!

 

New Year, Better Plans

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you can take the best of 2017 and carry that over to this year. Let’s leave all that negativity and hate in the past and move forward with a purpose and a bright future ahead.

ipadrt_823x978 copy2017 saw the release of my first novel, The Selection. It has since been rebranded as The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1. It’s now the first in what I’m planning as a trilogy, set on the planet Anastasia and following Eron as he moves beyond the Selection. As the series title suggests, the Forgotten play an immense role in all of this.

I’ve had mostly positive responses to the book and it’s brought me more readers which I hope to continue into 2018.

To further that, the audiobook release of The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1 is due within a week or so of this post. It’s narrated by Paul Jenkins and sounds AMAZING! I cannot wait for its release. I think you’ll love it!

ipadlt_823x978The second book in the trilogy, Rise of the Forgotten comes out on January 19th. You can pre-order the ebook now for only .99. ( A little under the radar pro-tip: if you really don’t wanna wait, the paperback is actually live and available to purchase now.)

I’m working on the third book of the trilogy, The War for Truth. I’m about 8,000 words into it and I’m planning a late Summer release, maybe July. If all goes well, you may also get the release of a series of novellas in the Fall that relates to 4-5 characters from the series.

Other than the scifi series, I’m planning on releasing two horror novels in 2018. One is titled Brown’s Sacrifice and the other is Soul Windows. Both are set in Brownsville, my pseudonym for Murphysboro, where I live. I’ve thought about branding those as Brownsville Oddities Novels and see how that goes. I have a possible third novel to include in that series, however I’m not certain about that yet.

OnTheHorizonNoWoodIn May, my book The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1, will be re-released as part of the On the Horizon book bundle which includes 22 full-length scifi and fantasy novels with the theme “little to no tech.” My book fits perfectly with the theme and to make it enticing to those that have already read my book, I’m going to include an exclusive short story that’s only part of this bundle. The best part is you can pre-order it for only .99! I highly encourage you to check it out and pre-order your copy today. Even if you’ve read my book, that’s still 21 other full-length novels for less than a $1!

Finally, I’ll be working on a fantasy novel for a 2019 release as part of a larger shared world project. I think at last count we had something like 20-25 authors committed to the project. Our plan is to release a book a month, all tied into the same world. It’s a fascinating concept and will finally get me to write the fantasy novel I’ve been wanting to write since I started creating stories.

This is what you can look forward to from me in 2018. I’m grateful to those of you who’ve supported me by buying a book, sharing my posts, or offering words of encouragement. It’s lonely sometimes as a writer and you make it all worthwhile. Thanks again for everything! Let’s crush 2018 and make it the best yet!

 

 

Last Free Day

Happy Labor Day everyone!

If you live in the United States, many businesses are closed today in observance of this holiday. I hope you get to enjoy it. Maybe by reading a few good books?

I wanted to remind you about the free ebook deals I’m running which expire today.

You can get all 3 of my books for nothing but you gotta hurry because the free deal ends today.

Grab the books at the links below and feel free to share with others who might enjoy my dark short stories or my young adult scifi novel.


2  (Almost) Average Anthology

 

516qlpryx7l  Moments of Darkness

 

Print  The Selection


Even if you don’t read them right away, get the books while they’re free so when you have some time, they’ll be there ready to go.

Thanks so much for all your support. It’s because of readers like you I get to do what I do.

“The Selection” – Chapter 1 Preview

PrintMy book The Selection has received some amazing reviews and I’m so pleased readers are connecting with the story. If you’ve not had a chance to read what earned me a nomination (and win!) for best SciFi Author in the Reality Bites Book Awards, here’s the entire first chapter to test drive my fast paced, action-filled story. I hope you enjoy it!


 

Mina giggled. Eron ran across the playground. “Mina, I love you! Will you be my girl? You’re so beautiful–” He tripped on a rock and face planted on the red soil. When he stood, Mina had fallen over with laughter.

“Aw, come on Mina, that’s not funny!”

“Yeah it is! Look at you!” She pointed at his shirt, stained red.

“Yeah, whatever,” he said.

They were on morning recess, expending boundless energy while teachers relaxed. The children were more excited than usual at the long siren blast indicating the Selection was underway.

“Ten years from now when you turn eighteen, it’s gonna be your turn at the Selection,” Mina said. She held out her hands with fingers splayed. “Ten!” she said.

“Yeah? So what? It’s how we become men,” Eron replied. He puffed out his chest and Mina giggled again.

“Don’t kill anyone, though, ’cause that’s bad.”

Eron cocked his head. “Why would I do that?”

Mina’s grin faded. “‘Cause that’s what you gotta do. I don’t want you to, though.” She approached him, her red curls bouncing with each step. “I kinda like you, too, Eron,” she whispered in his ear as she kept walking. His face turned as red as the Anastasian sun. The bell rang and the children ran for the school doors.

At the afternoon recess, Mina gathered with a group of her friends, all girls. Eron considered joining the group, but so many girls together at once intimidated him. Instead, he sat by himself and watched the other students playing. There were more boys than girls in his school. After the Selection, however, he knew that would change. Afterwards there were always more adult females than males.

“Why aren’t you with Mina?” a voice behind Eron called. It was Bello. He liked the larger boy, even though he tended to be mean.

“Oh, hey Bello. I don’t know. She’s with her friends. I don’t wanna bother her.”

Bello sat next to him, his large frame casting a shadow over Eron. “So what? Are you scared? Don’t be a baby.”

“Shut up, Bello! Just drop it, ok?”

“I heard you tell her you loved her. Oooh, you love her, don’t ya, Eron?” Bello stood. “Hey Mina,” he called. Mina and her friends looked over. Eron shoved his face in his hands. “Mina, did you know Eron loves you? He loooooves you!”

Mina’s friends laughed.

“Be quiet, Bello! Don’t say anything!” Eron said.

“Eron loves Mina! Eron loves Mina!” Bello sang. Mina’s friends laughed, and others on the playground joined in.

“Come on now, stop laughing. Bello, please stop. You’re embarrassing him,” Mina said. Bello laughed harder.

“No, I’m not. Look,” he said, pointing at Eron. Eron shook, veins pulsing on his forehead.

“You’re not embarrassed, are you?” Bello asked. Eron looked up, his eyes red and glistening. He opened his mouth to reply, then stopped.

“Seriously, Mina, he loves you!” Bello said.

Eron faced Bello, the larger boy standing a head taller than him. “Shut. Up.”

“But it’s the truth.”

Eron clenched his fists.

“What, are you gonna hit me?”

“Eron, please. No violence. You don’t need to do anything. It’s ok,” Mina said, her calm voice soothing to Eron.

“Yeah, you don’t need to do anything,” Bello said, mocking her. Eron turned and walked calmly away.

“That’s it, Eron, walk away like a coward,” Bello said.

Eron ignored his taunts and left the playground, Mina trailing after him.

“Hey,” she said. He’d made it to the school doors and stopped.

“What?” he replied.

“Don’t worry about Bello. He’s just a bully. No one thinks bad about you. Promise.”

“Sure, no problem.”

“Eron, I do like you. Don’t let him get to you.”

The boy paused, then grasped the door handle and left her standing outside.

That was the last time he spoke with her during grade school. Other than an occasional smile and a hi, he couldn’t muster enough courage to talk to her.

Bello’s taunts continued and intensified. They were separated several times on the playground, Bello nearly beating up the smaller boy each time. Mina tried to intervene, but her actions seemed to make it worse. Whatever she said to Bello didn’t help Eron.

By the time they reached high school, Eron’s crush on Mina deepened.

“Why don’t you just try talking to her?” his close friend Connor asked. He’d known Connor since they were little, but they didn’t begin to hang out until eighth grade. As freshmen, they’d become best friends.

They sat in Eron’s room playing chess.

“I can’t, Connor. Not now.”

“Why not? She’s just a person like me. You talk to me. Why not her?”

Eron shrugged. “It’s different. She’s a girl and you’re not.” Connor sighed.

A loud siren blared.

The Selection had begun.

Eron jumped. “Timo!” he said. His older brother Timo was now eighteen, old enough for inclusion in the Selection. He’d been anxious about the event, and now the sirens called him to action.

Eron and Connor raced from the room, nearly slamming into Timo.

“Timo, it’s time,” Eron said. His brother looked at him with wide eyes, a blank expression on his face.

“Yeah, I guess it is. Goodbye, Eron. I’ll see you when you get there.”

Their mom hugged her older son. “Goodbye, son. Be safe. Do what you must. You can do this. Don’t forget your knife.” She kissed his cheek and he nodded.

Timo marched out the door and fell in line with the rest of the boys.

“Sorry, Connor, I gotta go,” Eron said. He sprinted after his brother.

“Timo! Wait! Wait up!”

His brother didn’t turn around. Eron followed as far as he could until the soldiers in gray uniforms forced him back, telling him to go home.


 

You can get The Selection on Amazon for only .99 through the end of August. Get your copy today!

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