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No Supernatural Elements, Thank You!

That seems to be the sentiment from traditional publishers. We welcome thrillers. But, NO supernatural elements.

I want to thank Mike Dellosso for a kind email response to my last post. He has an awesome new book out. You should definitely buy it. Right now! Don’t wait!fearlesscover

Mike was asking about Christian speculative fiction and its future. I mentioned that I had attended the first Platform Conference in February, 2013 and mentioned some comments from Michael Hyatt.

I revisited my notes from that conference and I wanted to expand on some of Michael’s ideas. These ideas, of course, are part of Platform University (I strongly recommend joining if you have any kind of blog or website) and his own personal site which features one of the best blogs for authors out there and one of the best podcasts for authors of any kind.

At the Platform conference, there was a great deal of discussion of “tribes”. In his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt discusses how as authors, we garner the interest of readers who are attracted to our genre. We may start out with a few readers who like our work. They begin to follow our website, twitter feed, Facebook page, or blog. This is what Michael calls our “home base”.

Once these followers begin to come back to our social media on a regular basis, they become a tribe. And, our goal is to keep our tribe interested, happy, and to give them more to consume. As we move away from our “home base” through interaction with other sites, commenting, reposting, etc. our tribe begins to grow and enlarge.

The tribe of Christian speculative fiction is growing. And, it is growing quickly. But, that interest and growth doesn’t necessarily translate into book sales. It reveals a growing interest in the supernatural that is reflected in the current glut of zombie, vampire, and werewolf television shows and movies. It reflects a growing fascination with the fantasy we see in such shows as Game of Thrones. If reflects a growing obsession with science fiction as seen in the huge number of science fiction movies just this summer and the success of super hero movies (and in the case of Arrow, television shows).

Interest in speculative fiction is huge right now. Michael has commented on this aspect of fiction in the past. But, there is a disconnect from the secular readership embracing spec fic and the success of Christian spec fic. Why? The reasons are paramount and the subject, no doubt, of a future post.

 

Michael shared these encouraging words in the first session of the 2012 American Christian Fiction Writers conference on  why ‘today is the best time to be a writer.’

 

1 — It is easier than ever to do the writing. The tools have never been easier to access, from conferences and books about writing to specific software for writers and other technology.

 

2– It is easier than ever to do market research. Google made it possible. Facebook and twitter have made it personal. Authors can research their characters and scenes with a few key strokes. Understanding the target audience for a book has never been easier with tools on the internet. ‘Group-think’ is facilitated by creative groups engaging each other through social media and writing circles. Authors can engage readers directly like never before. Authors have the tools to figure out what their platform is, and to build a tribe around it.

 

3 — It is easier than ever to get into print. Traditional publishing is no longer the only option. Self publishing is viable. It is not necessarily the best option for everyone, but it can be a great option for some. Traditional publishing is far from dead, and if traditional publishers learn to ‘lean into the changes’ being brought by the self publishing phenomenon, it can be an exciting place to be. Traditional publishers need to ask: What do these tools and this model make possible? What are the new opportunities? How can I find new readers in more places?

 

4 — It is easier than ever to build a tribe. Authors can engage their fans directly. There are new tools like the recently launched bookshout.com site, where authors can interact real-time with readers inside of their own book. Another new site called bookjolt.com, allows readers to read whole books for free online, and interact with authors. These are part of a new concept called social reading, and literally, an author’s book becomes a platform.

 

5 —  It is easier than ever to build a business around your content. After all, it is great to write for writing sake, but most authors would like to earn some income from their writing too. Websites and blogs help you build your platform, engage readers, offer free content, and sell books. A small book business can be a sustainable business.

 

(Thanks to http://blog.outlawsalesgroup.com/tag/mike-hyatt/ for the above summary! Check out the site for more info on Michael’s comments.)

 

So, the question for those of us who love speculative fiction is: How do we turn our sub-genre into a successful genre? How do we overcome the obstacles out there that stand between the desire of our culture to consume spec fic and the awareness that these good stories are already there just waiting for them to pick up the book?

 

What do you think?

 

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Down, But Not Out!

I am frustrated.

 

I haven’t been posting this summer because of family issues with my daughter’s health. But, she is doing very, very well and it is time for me to re-engage the creative side of my brain.

 

I haven’t been negligent of my writing. I am finishing up the final edit for “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” and it will be available hopefully by late October. It will not be available in the usual traditional sense but you will be able to purchase it through bookstores, Amazone, B&N, etc. Now that I am no longer beholden to my previous publisher, I have much more freedom to tell the story the way I want to.

 

For instance, my previous two books suffered from the word limit demon (pardon the pun). I had to constrain my story to fit 75000 words. That required cutting major story elements and, in some cases, entire characters to fit the required word limit. While I don’t plan on going all Harry Potter on my readers and make the next books 700+ words, I have extended the upcoming book from 75000 to 90000 words.

 

I am back in the world of self-publishing and it is much different from the first time I self-published back in 2006. Self-publishing has gained in reputation since then. To give you an example, I ran my dilemma by Michael Hyatt back in February. If you don’t know who Michael Hyatt is, go to his website. He was former CEO of Thomas Nelson and has launched his own brand teaching authors how to communicate and how to build a platform for their work. I met him at the first annual Platform conference. Michael took one look at my previous two books in the Jonathan Steel Chronicles and quickly, confidently without hesitation told me to self-publish. This came from a man who was once the CEO of one of the largest Christian publishers in the world!

 

For a while, I pursued traditional publishing for the third book and met with half-hearted response. I don’t want to disparage my previous traditional publisher, but I think today’s tp’s don’t know how to effectively market Christian speculative fiction. Michael Hyatt made the comment this is the fastest growing sub-genre in Christian publishing. I have discussed problems with this genre in previous posts, the least being that bookstores don’t know where to put these books — Christian publishing or secular publishing areas.

 

So, it is up to those of us who write such books to decide if we cave in to the poor sales and poor marketing and little recognition or do we press on and continue to write the books God has placed on our hearts and minds. Authors such as Greg Mitchell, Mike Duran, Mike Dellosso, Marc Schooley, Linda Rios Brook, and Conlan Brown write speculative fiction and their works are fantastic, awe inspiring, moving, and wildly imaginative. Their books should be flying off the shelves. Instead, like me, they are struggling with balancing day jobs and writing supernatural thrilling stories that are trying to break their way out of our brains onto the written page.

 

Here is my plea. Check out the Christian speculative fiction market. But some books. Buy lots of books. Support your favorite Christian speculative fiction author and I’m not just talking about the giants such as Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti or Tosca Lee. Look for us little guys and gals who are struggling and promise to give you a good story — a great read that is wildly imaginative, thrilling, and yet, ultimately redemptive.

 

Give us a chance!

 

Buy one of our books as summer comes to a close and then post a review on Amazon or on your blog or your website. Help us flood American readers with the kind of thrilling supernatural stories the world is craving but with a different twist — a Christian worldview. Do that, and we will go a long way to changing the world’s attitudes — changing the world’s perception of reality — and showing the world the light and love of Christ!

FRANTIC — A Book Review

For years, one of my favorite authors was Dean Koontz. He had this uncanny ability to scare the pookie out of me (whatever that is) and yet create endearing characters who ultimately had a moment of redemption. But, after several years, I abandoned Dean Koontz. I guess I just got tired of horror novels. That is until I started writing horror novels!

Well, in his latest book, Mike Dellosso has managed to capture that feeling for me again in “Frantic”. The main character is a man named Manny Toogood. Manny Toogood! You got to love that name! And, poor Manny has a cursed life filled with tragedy after tragedy currently working at gas station when a car pulls up with a burly man in the front and a damaged soul in the back seat.

The girl that looks out at him from the back seat leaves him a simple note, “He’s going to kill me.” And so, Manny, convinced his curse has caught up with perfect strangers ignores the curse and decides to help the young girl. The story takes off at this point and never relents. It is one unending “frantic” event after another.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but Manny not only grapples with this young woman and her brother’s predicament, he also has to deal with painful flashbacks to his abusive father and the death of his mother. He blames himself for every bad thing that has happened in his life as well as every bad thing that happens to those who are around him. What Mike Dellosso does so well with Manny is take him through these trials as he helps the young woman and her brother and begins to show him that he is not cursed. In fact, he is a hero.

The story is openly supernatural with the young boy showing signs of his “gift”. Miracles take place at the hands of this young boy who has faith. But, evil is closing in not only from the young woman’s stepfather but from an external threat that frankly I didn’t see coming. Let’s just say that those who stop to help out may not be who or what Manny thinks they are. Trust nobody!

And here, in this simmering sub plot Mike Dellosso delivers the goods. What should have been a simple chase and elude story takes on deeper and more troubling revelations as Manny and his two friends fall into the hands of an evil group of individuals.

This is a great book and a great story! I couldn’t put it down. But, beware. The body count climbs with each chapter and the young woman’s stepfather is one of the most evil killers I’ve read about in recent years because he thinks he is listening to the voice of God.

Great job, Mike. A book I highly recommend to anyone who has enjoyed Mike’s books in the past or who want to try something new and exciting in the realm of supernatural thrillers.

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