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Olde City, New Blood

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

I’m sad to say that I’ve been forced to withdraw from this weekend’s Olde City, New Blood conference in St. Augustine due to a family emergency. I apologize to all my readers who were looking forward to catching up with me. (I was looking forward to seeing all of you, too!!)

The End

Sadly, I have to announce there will not be a third Alex book. Despite best efforts, my agent has been unable to find a publisher to take over the series.

For those who have asked “how can this be,” the facts are simple. Publishing is a numbers game. BLOOD LAW didn’t sell as well as the publisher hoped. The print run for BLOOD SECRETS was smaller but even it didn’t make projected numbers. Gone are the days when a book could sit on store shelves for weeks or even months in order to build an audience. The average lifespan for new books that aren’t written by Top Names and/or have movie deals/rumors buzzing about them is about 3-4 weeks–at best. Unfortunately, this means that if a book/series doesn’t find an audience immediately and sell a predetermined number of books, the series/author is dropped.

Shelf space is limited and publishers and book sellers want to turn profits. New authors are risky. New ideas are risky. Throw in the volatile nature of e-books and the risks are compounded. It’s business. It’s not personal. It’s simply the way things are. It’s no one’s fault. There is no one to blame.

Alex and Varik were a huge part of my life for years before their story was published. I’d be lying if I said I was anything other than devastated to see the series end after two books. However, I’m not the first author to lose a series nor will I be the last. All I can do now is decide how I’m going to move forward. No, I don’t know if there will be a short story or novella to wrap up loose ends. I hope to write an ending at some point but for now, I’m taking a little break from writing. I need time to sort out some things and in a way, say goodbye to Alex and Varik. How will replace them? I don’t know yet.

I enjoyed working with the fabulous editors I had for BLOOD LAW and BLOOD SECRETS, and I learned a helluva a lot from them. I enjoyed meeting many of you and for those I haven’t met in person but have come to know through Facebook, Twitter, and emails, I’ve enjoyed that as well. You’ll always be my Minions, and I’ll always be grateful for the support and love you’ve given to Alex and Varik…and to me.

-Jeannie

To Be Continued???

First, I’d like to say “Thank you!” to all the readers who have contacted me to say how much they love Alex and Varik. (Please note: I have a strict “no spoilers” policy so if you’ve asked about specific details in future books and haven’t received a reply from me this policy would be why.) Y’all are made of pure unadulterated awesomesauce.

Sadly, I have to report that the Alexandra Sabian series is currently without a publisher.  Naturally, as an author, I’m disappointed and a little frightened to be “homeless,” but I’m not the first to face this problem nor will I be the last.

So what does this mean for Alexandra Sabian Book 3? Selling an established series isn’t the easiest task. I won’t bore you with details but many factors play into a new publisher’s decision to buy or pass. After some serious wailing, gnashing of teeth, head banging, and soul searching, I’ve decided to continue writing Book 3 in the hope that the series will continue. However, the fate of the series remain uncertain, and for that reason I’m also pursuing other projects. (No, I can’t tell you what those projects are at this point. Sorry.)

I’m sure some of you will wonder what you can do. Honestly, the best thing anyone can do for any authors who find themselves “homeless” is to buy their books. Tell your friends to buy the books or buy the books for them as gifts.
I don’t know when I’ll have news to share about the Alex series or new projects but rest assured I’ll gladly pass it along to my readers when the time comes.

Once again, my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported Alex, Varik, Stephen, Tasha, and all the colorful residents of Jefferson, Mississippi. It’s my sincerest wish to see their story continue and can only hope the opportunity will come.

Much love and blood…
Jeannie Holmes

 

And in this corner…

I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling on various social media sites (okay, mostly Twitter) about the Great Debate: Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance. For the most part, I’ve stayed out of the fray for a few of reasons–

1. I don’t like to comment on “politics.”
2. It makes my head hurt.
3. I think it’s a silly argument.

Today, an article written by Kim Harrison showed up on SF Signal. The title of the article directly addresses the heart of UF vs PNR debate — “Excuse me, your romance is in my urban fantasy” — and the differences between the two but also bemoans the apparent dilution of the urban fantasy genre by a rise in the romantic content. While I don’t agree with everything Ms. Harrison says, I do find some truth in her arguments.

Ms. Harrison begins by recounting a conversation with a reader in which he was lamenting the “shine fading from the urban fantasy genre” because the kick-ass protagonists we all know and love seemed to be morphing into damsels in distress and needed a big strong man (vampire, werewolf, etc.) to rescue them. She continues by saying:

The industry had a hand in causing it to a certain extent as many houses grabbed anything they could find with a vampire and sexy protagonist, thinking that was all urban fantasy was. Manuscripts that would otherwise be passed over were picked up and promoted. Books that would be stellar romances on their own were lessened by well-meaning editors trying to make them something they were not by asking their author to “stick a vampire in it! They’re hot right now!”

I disagree. This example isn’t a case of established protagonists changing. It’s not that urban fantasy is being “diluted” by a rise in the romantic content — It’s a case of books being marketed inappropriately. It’s a lack of understanding of not just one but two genres and in the end both suffer for it. (Whether they are sub-par or outstanding is not for me to decide and I will not debate the validity of one book over another.)

Ms. Harrison continues:

However, the very aspects that give it strength-the mixing of many genres-may now be threatening to eat away at it. It’s up to the authors and publishing houses to understand that having a vampire in the storyline does not make it urban fantasy.

I agree with Ms. Harrison’s observation that simply having a vampire in a story doesn’t make it urban fantasy. It can easily be paranormal romance. Or horror. The difference is in the author’s intent and the story they are trying to convey to the reader. Most “true” (and I use that word very loosely) UF novels are built on either a mystery or thriller backbone with science fiction, fantasy, romance, and horror mixed in to varying degrees. However, others may rely more on sci-fi or fantasy as the main support. Still others may lean toward romance or horror. This diversity is the very strength that makes UF so popular and yet so hard to define. It is the blurring of lines that make UF what it is.

Ms. Harrison states, “I know where that line is. The greats before me drew it very clearly in the sand.” With all due respect to Ms. Harrison (and I’m a huge Kim Harrison fan), I don’t think anyone can say there is a clearly defined line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She uses Bram Stoker’s DRACULA as an example: “For the time it was written in, Dracula could be classified as an urban fantasy.” I agree. It could be UF…and it could easily be read as paranormal romance or even horror. Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, for the time is was written in, could be classified as science fiction or horror. Charles Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL, for the time it was written in, could be classified as urban fantasy or horror. Jules Verne’s A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, for the time it was written in, could be classified as science fiction or fantasy.

Arguments can be made for and against any book belonging to any given genre–and that’s the real problem. People–readers, writers, editors, publishers, etc.–become too caught up in the label game and everyone gets their panties in a wad when something is “mislabeled.” Instead of focusing on The Story and whether or not we enjoyed reading it, we focus on what is apparently lacking or what was added. Suddenly we’re back to the “You got peanut butter in my chocolate/You got chocolate in my peanut butter” argument. If the combination is delicious and satisfies whatever craving you had, does it really matter?

Seriously?

Stories should be weighed and validated based on their own merits and not the label someone slaps on it so bookstores know where to file it and so readers can find it. Mistakes happen and UF can be misidentified as PNR or vice versa. Here’s the kicker: It happens with other genres as well. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS can be viewed as both thriller and horror. THE DA VINCI CODE can be classified as either mystery or thriller. It isn’t unique to UF and PNR. Some stories blur the lines to the point no one knows exactly what label to give it so they make an educated guess of where it will have the best chance of reaching an audience. But it’s still a guess, and sometimes the guess is wrong.

Instead of wailing and gnashing our teeth when that happens, how about we all–readers and writers alike–make a pact to say, “It wasn’t what I expected, but it was a good story and I enjoyed it” and not allow ourselves to be caught up in The Great Debate and the Label Game. Let’s focus on good stories, good writing, and having a good time. Reading and writing books should be fun. Arguing over shelf real estate sucks away that fun and only widens the riff between authors and readers when we should be happy to celebrate the very thing that supposedly unites us:

The love of a good book.

Charity Auction for Humane Society of West Alabama

After the recent storms which hit the southeast, animal shelters have been hard hit with the task of caring for and identifying lost and misplaced pets. The authors of the Criminal Minds group blog, an award-winning weekly blog featuring 14 mystery and thriller writers, have joined forces to help those who cannot speak or help themselves. All CM authors have donated SIGNEDcopies of their most recent books for this charity auction.
Again, these are SIGNED COPIES! You will not find this collection of mystery, thriller, and paranormal fiction anywhere else!
Hard Cover
Rock Bottom by Erin Brokovich with C.J. Lyons (signed by C.J. only)
The Curse-Maker by Kelli Stanley
Dead in the Water by Meredith Cole
Murder on the Bride’s Side by Tracy Kiely
Monkology by Gary Phillips
The Last Striptease by Michael Wiley
The Damage Done by Hillary Davidson
Paperback
A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell
iDRAKULA by Bekka Black
Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun by Lois Winston
The Jook by Gary Phillips
Orange County Noir by Gary Phillips
Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Day One by Bill Cameron
Before Cain Strikes by Joshua Corin
Blood Law by Jeannie Holmes
Black Rain by Graham Brown (not shown in picture)
Black Sun by Graham Brown (not shown in picture)
All proceeds — 100% — will be donated to the Humane Society of West Alabama — a non-profit, all-volunteer, no kill shelter in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Tuscaloosa was one of the cities hardest hit by the tornadoes and storms. The shelter’s facilities were not badly damaged but they are in desperate need of supplies and donations.
Thank you for joining the Criminal Minds to support HSWA and their ongoing animal rescue and storm recovery efforts!

A Great Loss: David Thompson, Murder by the Book

Anyone familiar with crime and mystery fiction will recognize the name Murder by the Book – the “go to” bookstore for all things murdery. Well, our friends at MBTB have suffered a great loss, as evidenced by the following announcement posted on the MBTB website:

 “It is with deep sadness that we must share the news that David Thompson passed away suddenly on September 13th, 2010. David worked at Murder By The Book for 21 years, and he made an indelible impression on the store and everyone who met him. There will be a memorial service, and we will share the details as soon as they are available. In the meantime, David’s wife, McKenna Jordan, asks that no tributes be sent to the bookstore for now. We appreciate the loving support that customers have always given the store, and in the difficult days to come we will need it more than ever.”

 I met David for the first — and sadly, only — time in July when I signed at MBTB. I remember him as being energetic, enthusiastic, helpful, and incredibly kind. Murder by the Book and the entire mystery/crime fiction community has suffered a great loss with David’s passing.

My heartfelt condolences and hugs to his wife, McKenna, and all the MBTB staff. David will be greatly missed.

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