Well, it’s that time of year where ugly truths must be addressed. Artists get paid when people buy their art, which gives them the freedom to make more art.

So I’m going to ask you to buy some books.
I know, it’s weird and kinda awkward for all of us, but this is the season for giving and if you wanted to give somebody one of my books (even if that somebody is YOU) I’d really appreciate it. They might too, if my stories are there sorta thing. So here’s a list of my books and a few anthologies and collections I’ve got stories in.  Put them on your wish list or get them as gifts for friends and family members.
Also, I’ve sprinkled a few Amazon links in here for the books that aren’t available anywhere else, but really you should just be going to your local bookstore and asking for a copy. They’re very cool, they could use the business, and this way you’re not one of those conformists sheeple falling for that Cyber Monday capitalist nonsense. You’ll get to brag about that until Valentine’s Day, easy.

Dead Moon came out back in February as an Audible exclusive (read by the always-fantastic Ray Porter) and now it’s available as an ebook as well. Alas, there is no paper version at the moment. Sorry. It’s about a woman who runs away to the Moon and finds… well, zombies on the Moon. And some other things, too. It’s spooky and fun and I’m quite proud of it.

Paradox Bound is my New York Times-bestselling story about infatuation, road trips, American history, a pretty cool train and some pretty creepy antagonists. F.Paul Wilson said it was like Doctor Who crossed with National Treasure, and if that doesn’t get you interested I don’t know what will. There’s an audiobook, ebook, paperbacks, and you might even find a hardcover here or there if you’re lucky.

At least a third of you have probably found your way here because of my odd little Lovecraftian-sci-fi-urban-horror-mystery novel–14. Alas, the paperback has gone out of print, but there’s still an ebook and a phenomenal audiobook narrated by Ray Porter. And there might be more versions in the year to come, but we’ll talk about those when we can…

Somebody once described The Fold as a horror-suspense novel disguised as a sci-fi-mystery, and I’ve always liked that. It’s available in pretty much every format you can imagine, and it’s also part of my “unconnected series” of Threshold books.

Another big bunch of you are here because of the Ex-Heroes series. Superheroes fighting zombies in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles (and a few other places).  Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communication, Ex-Purgatory, and Ex-Isle. All of these are available in a number of formats and a number of languages.

Good news! My weird-but-fantastic mashup novel, The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, is finally available as an audiobook. Bad news… at the moment it’s only available as an audiobook. Sorry. Hoping to fix that soon, but I really think the audiobook might be a better format for this one.If you really want paper, call around to your local bookstore and you might find one still hanging our on a shelf somewhere.

You can pick up The Junkie Quatrain as either an ebook or an audiobook (still no paper, sorry).  It’s my attempt at a “fast zombies” tale, a series of interconnected stories I’ve described as Rashomon meets 28 Days Later.  It also features a recurring character of mine, Quilt, who keeps showing up in different stories in one way or another… 

I also have a short story collection called Dead Men Can’t Complain.  It’s got a bunch of stories I’ve had published over the years in various anthologies and journals, plus a few original ones. Some are scar, some are kinda funny, one or two of them might even be called heartwarming.  It’s an Audible exclusive, and it’s read by Ray Porter and Ralph Lister.

Past that… okay, look. There’s a ton of anthologies out there but because some of them have limited print runs or licensing deals I’m not sure what is or isn’t available at the moment. The best I can do at this point is give you a quick list and when you’re in your friendly local bookstore… browse around for a minute or three. They might have a copy of something.

X-Files: Trust No One

Naughty or Nice

Bless Your Mechanical Heart

The World is Dead

Kaiju Rising

Mech: Age of Steel

Worth mentioning—please check those last two if you stumble across them. The books went into reprints with some contractural changes I couldn’t agree to, so my stories aren’t in the new editions. Only the older ones. So make sure you get those at a store where you can look at them.

Thus ends my shameless Cyber Monday appeal to you.  Again, so very sorry we had to do this, but it really does make the marketing folks happy and they’ve always been really good to me. Also, like I have in the past, in the next day or two I’ll also do another list with some of the great books I’ve read by other, much better authors, so please check back. And please don’t forget my Black Friday offer if you happen to be one of the folks who might need it.
And now, please resume your internet shopping. Browse responsibly. Clear your history on a regular basis. Especially you, Doug. No, sweet jeebus, don’t click on that—that’s not really from PayPal.
And we’ll be back to regular writing stuff on Thursday.
July 2, 2018 / 9 Comments

Frequently Asked Questions

            So, this may come as a shock to some of you but… I write books.  People often ask me questions about these books. Sometimes the same questions. 
            See, I’m a big fan of social media.  Yeah, there are some deplorable folks, but there are a lot of good people, too.  I love that I get to say “hullo” and chat with people about things.  Books. Movies. LEGO.  Games.
            It can fray one’s patience to answer the same questions again and again and again because some folks won’t bother to scroll down two or three posts or up through the comments.  Between this blog, the Facebook fan page, Twitter… well, that adds up to a lot of people repeating the same questions.
            Not you, of course. You just asked that one time without thinking.  You’re cool.  I’m talking about that other guy.  Him.  That guy’s so friggin lazy.  
            We all know it, I’m just the one saying it…
            Anyway… rather than get annoyed at someone for asking the same question that I already answered three times this morning in the same thread, I figured I’d scribble up answers to the ten most common questions and pin them here and on a lot of my social media pages.
            And then everybody can just ignore that…

1) What’s out next?
            Well, we just had the paperback of Paradox Bound come out last week.  Hopefully you all checked that out and left kind reviews with all your favorite booksellers.
            Two weeks from now, July 17th, my second novel, The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe is coming out as an audiobook almost eight years after it was first released.  It’s being narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds and… well, I’m really looking forward to it.  I’ve always had a special fondness for this book, but I know the period writing style didn’t thrill a lot of people.  It won’t be as noticeable in a spoken performance, so I’m hoping a lot of you will give it a try and have some fun with it.
            Then, if everything times out right, I believe at the end of the year you’ll be seeing Dead Moon, a sort of sci-fi horror story about zombies on the Moon.  No, seriously. I think it’s kinda fun and pulpy and creepy.
            I guess we’ll see if I’m right.
2) Is Ex-Isle the last Ex book?
            Hard to say, but… yeah, it’s looking that way.
            The simple truth is, every series has a limited life.  Very few people decide to start on book three of a series—they go back and start at book one.  So book one always sells the best.  Attrition says not as many people show up for book two, even less show up for book three, and so on.  It’s always a downward slope heading for that red line where things aren’t profitable.  None of the Ex-Heroes books ever lost money (thank you all for that), but all the numbers said book six…  Well, the prognosis didn’t look great for book six.
            Keep in mind, nothing’s set in stone.  Any number of things could make the series surge in popularity and get the publisher more interested.  Or, depending on how things work out, I might be able to apply a little leverage.  But for now…  Ex-Tension is moving to a back burner.  Very sorry.
3) What if we did a Kickstarter or a GoFund me to continue the series?
            Okay, look, I love the Ex-Heroes books.  Hopefully you all know that.  Those characters and stories got me where I am today.  I love that there are so many fans who feel passionately about it.  I had tons of fun writing them.
            The simple truth is, if there were enough people willing to pay for another book, the publisher would still be willing to put it out.  Sure, some people might pay twice as much to get one more book, but experience tells me four times as many people wouldn’t pay anything (for one reason or another).  There’s pretty much no way this would end up working out.
            Plus, my schedule’s set up many months in advance.  I already know the projects I’m working on until September of 2019.  Doing something like this means I haveto plan on it happening, which means… a potential gaping hole in my schedule when it doesn’t.

4) Will there be another book set in the 14/Fold/Threshold series?
            Yes!  I’ve started working on it already, and probably going to be diving in right after SDCC (see #10 down below) and the target date is to have it in to Audible by the end of the year, so they can have it out to you in spring or summer of next year.
            Also, yeah, we’re calling it the Threshold series now. 
5) Why ‘Threshold’?
            I talked about it a lot with my agent and the folks at Audible, and we bounced around a few different options (some of which originated over on the fan page) and rationales.  We wanted a good, overall title that could reference all these different books with subtle and not-so-subtle connections. Sort of like how King has a lot of stuff that falls under the Dark Tower umbrella even though there are a few specific books telling that story.
            Thresholdfits in a few different ways.  A threshold is part of a doorway, and doorways figure big into most of this series. It also refers to something reaching a specific critical level—another recurring issue in these books. And, finally, it’s also a reference to an old H.P. Lovecraft short story.
            Which has nothing to do with anything, but I thought it was kinda cool…
6) Wait, why do you keep mentioning Audible?
            Yeah, about that…
            I have a fantastic relationship with Crown, but they have their own tastes and expectations.  These two books—Dead Moon and the new Threshold book—just didn’t appeal to them.  For a couple of different reasons.  And that’s fine.  Seriously.  I want to stress that none of it is negative.  My editor at Crown, Julian, has already talked with me a bit about what we’ll be doing together next year.  We’re all cool on that front.
            Now, as all this discussion is going on, Audible starts gesturing to me from across the room.  I also have a very good relationship with them and it’s worked out very well for everyone involved.  There’s a fair argument to be made that the majority of my fanbase is audiobook listeners.  Heck, when Paradox Bound made the NYT Bestsellers list, it was with the audiobook version.
            So Audible made a very generous offer for these two books.  For exclusive rights to these two books.  So both of these are going to be audiobook only for the first six months they’re out.  After that, we’re talking to some folks, and I should have some answers for you by the time I update this FAQ.
            Yeah, I know this is going to make some of you grind your teeth.  My agent and I talked about it a lot, believe me (even with that generous offer).  Every other day on the phone for almost six weeks.  In the end, I really wanted to tell these stories and this was the best way to do it.
7) Will there be a sequel to The Junkie Quatrain?
            Very doubtful.  I think a lot of the fun of The Junkie Quatrain was the overlapping- interconnected nature of the stories.  It’d be tough to replicate that without feeling kinda forced and awkward.  I think we’ll probably have to draw our own conclusions about what eventually happened to those characters.  Well, the surviving characters.
            Although, one of them may have already shown up somewhere else…
8) Do you make more money if I buy one of your books in a certain format?
            This sounds like an easy question, I know, but there’s about a dozen conditionals to any answer I give.  Figure a huge chunk of each contract is just all the conditions for getting paid.
            For example… format matters, sure, but so does where you bought the book.  And when.  And how many people bought it before you. And if it was on sale. And who was actually holding the sale.  And all of this changes in every contract.  What’s true for, say, Ex-Communicationmay not be true for Paradox Bound.
            TL;DR—just buy the format you like.
9) Why don’t you like people talking about your books?
            To be honest, I’m still stunned and thrilled that people talk about anything I wrote. Seriously.  What I can’t stand are spoilers.
           I’m thrilled Wakko enjoyed it so much when the protagonist found that and discovered thisand learned about them.  When he tells people about it, though—no matter what his intentions—Wakko’s ensuring that other folks won’t have as much fun with the book as he did.  It’s like if I tell you how a magician does all her tricks and then take you to see her performance.  You’re not supposed to see a magic show knowing how all the tricks work and being aware of the resolutions in advance.  It kills most of the fun, because the story structure that created a sense of wonder and discovery has been destroyed.
            This is why I avoid those questions in interviews, and why I always ignore/ delete posts that reveal information from the back half of a book (yep, that’s probably what happened to your post).  It doesn’t matter if the rest of the post was positive or negative, spoilers = deleted.
            And not just my stories!  Don’t mess up other stories, either. Movies, TV—if you enjoyed it, try to give other people a chance to enjoy it the same way.
            If you suffer from the heartbreak of spoilers Tourettes and absolutely must discuss your fan theories, there are a couple secret groups on Facebook.  There’s one for Threshold books here, and one for the Ex-Heroes series here
10) Do you have any plans to attend XXXXX-Con?

            In a few weeks I’m going to be at SDCC. Later this fall I’ll be at Dragon Con in Atlanta.  I’ll give more info on each as they get a bit closer. I think that’s pretty much it.  Probably not doing NYCC again this year.

            But—things change all the time.  If you really want me to be at your local con, let them know!  Yeah, them, not me.  I’m willing to go almost anywhere I’m invited, but if I’m not invited… there’s not much I can do.  And keep in mind that most cons finalize their guest list three or four months in advance, so if your local con’s next month… odds are not in your favor.
            So, email them, tweet them, post on their Instagram account.  Reach out and let your voice be heard.

11) When are you going to make a movie/ TV series/ cartoon/ graphic novel/video game of your books?
            Okay, there’s a misunderstanding of how Hollywood works in this sort of question.  When you see a TV series or film adaptation, it means the studio went to the writer, not the other way around.  I mean, if it was just about the writer saying “make this into a movie,” well… wouldn’t most books be adapted by now?  Everyone would be doing it.
            Alas, I have zero say in whether or not Starz wants to do an Ex-Heroes series or SyFy does aLycanthrope Robinson Crusoe movie.  They’re looking for things that have piqued a certain level of interest, and so far these stories of mine have only just scraped that threshold. 
            No, me (or you) writing the screenplay won’t make a difference, unless your name happens to be Terry Rossio, Joss Whedon, or David Koepp—and even then it’s not a sure thing.

12) Wait, wasn’t there going to be a TV series based on 14?

            Theoretically, yeah.  A few years ago I was approached by Team Downey, the personal production company of that guy who plays Iron Man. Turned out he’s a fan of 14 and wanted to do something with it, and a deal was struck with his company and WBTV. 
            But…  Hollywood’s a big game of if.  If a pilot gets shot, if it turns out okay, if the various network execs likes it, if it gets picked up…  And some of these ifs are on a time limit.  WB paid to push it back once and give themselves more time (which got a bunch of us very hopeful), but… it just didn’t happen.
            Which all kinda goes with what I said up above in #11.  Robert Downey, Jr. had signed on as an executive producer and that wasn’t enough to get it made. 
            But I still get to say he liked one of my books.
13) So, is there anything we can do to help?
            Well, buying books is always a good step.  Hollywood likes to see big sales numbers and interest.  If you want to see something—anything—on the air, talk about it a lot on social media.  Producers/ directors/ actors all hear about this stuff the same way you do.  If #ParadoxBoundor #DeadMoon started trending on Twitter tomorrow, there’d probably be a film deal within a week.
            (true fact—an easy way to help do this?  Don’t buy books from Amazon.  Amazon doesn’t like to report sales figures, so they don’t get included in things like the NYT Bestsellers list.  Yeah, I know, a purchase from your local bookstore might cost a buck or three more, but it’s a purchase Hollywood is more likely to notice.  Plus, then you’re one of those cool people supporting local businesses…)
            (and before you ask, yes, Audible does report sales figures)
14) Wait, wasn’t this a top ten FAQ?
            What are you, the freakin’ number police now?  Most people are happy to get bonus content.  Just go with it.
            I can’t believe you wasted one of your questions with this…
15) Will you read my story idea and tell me what you think?
            Short answer… no.
            Part of this is a time issue—if I say yes to some folks, in the spirit of fairness I have to say yes to everyone. Now I’m spending all my time doing critiques instead of writing. Not to sound too mercenary, but… writing is how I earn my living.  When someone asks me to read stuff, they’re asking me to give up a few hours of work.  And I do have this ranty blog just sitting here with over a decade of writing advice and tips.
            It’s also a legal thing.  Some folks are lawsuit-crazy, often for no reason,, and the bad ones ruin it for everyone else. Let’s say Phoebe gives me a piece of fanfic to read where she has Harry and Eli showing up at a certain post-apocalyptic film studio.  And then, a few years from now, I decide to do a big crossover story.  That’s when Phoebe sues me for stealing her material.  
            Yeah, it sounds stupid, but I’ve seen this happen so many times.  Hell, I’ve actually been subpoenaed and deposed over a case with less behind it than that example I just made up.
            This is why I’m verrrry leery when I get a long message along the lines of “Hey, you know what should happen in your next book…”  It’s why some writers have responded with cease & desist orders when they get sent stuff like this.  It’s also why I’m not part of the above-mentioned spoiler groups.
           So, the long answer is also… no.  And if you send stuff without asking, I’ll delete it unread, just like spam mail. Sorry.

16) Will you be my friend on GoodReads?
            Nope.  Nothing against you (well… most of you), I just don’t like Goodreads.  I’d explain why, but I’m taking the Thumper approach.
            I post nothing there and spend as little time there as possible (which usually works out to “no time”).  If you see anything there from “me,” it’s something someone else posted.  I understand a lot of folks love the site and if it works for you, that’s fantastic.  I won’t be there.

17) What about Twitter?

            I’m @PeterClines  on Twitter.  Fair warning–as some of you may have figured out, I’m progressive and I’m a bit more political over there.   On Saturdays I also drink a lot and live-tweet bad movies so…  you know what you’re getting into.
            Also Loud Howard, my cat, still has hundreds more followers than me. Seriously.  So don’t let anyone tell you being cute won’t help you get ahead.
            I will say right up front I don’t believe in Twitter high school, where I’m supposed to follow someone just because they followed me. So if that’s your approach, I’ll save you time now…

18) What about Instagram

            Getting pretty good at Instagram (also @PeterClines).  Probably the geekiest of all my social medias.  How is that possible, you ask?  Well, go check it out for yourself…
            I’m still not sure if I’m really bad at Instagram or all the people I follow are.  Or maybe Instagram just doesn’t make a lot of sense and I’m the last to know about it…

And I think that covers all the big stuff, yes…?

            So, we’re officially in the Christmas season now.  And the marketing people at Crown—who are truly wonderful folks—have dropped certain… hints my way.  Sooooooo, much as I dislike doing this here…
            I have to ask you all to buy stuff.
            I’m so very sorry.  I’ll be quick.
            Here’s a few of my books and also some collections and anthologies I’ve got stories in.  Put them on your holiday wish list or get them as gifts for friends and family members.
            And really, go to your local bookstore.  They’re cool and they could use the business. Plus, now you’re not one of those conformists falling for all this Cyber Monday capitalist nonsense.
            The big thing this year, of course, is Paradox Bound, available in hardcover at all your favorite bookstores.  Also in ebook and a wonderful audiobook read by Ray Porter.  If you haven’t heard me drone on about it yet, it’s got history travel, road trips, creepy bad guys, and a really cool train. F.Paul Wilson compared it to Doctor Who crossed with National Treasure, and I really couldn’t ask for a better description than that.
            I also had a short story collection come out this year—Dead Men Can’t Complain.  It’s a bunch of stories from various anthologies and journals, plus a few original ones.  This one’s an Audible exclusive, and it’s read by Ray Porter and Ralph Lister.
            Many of you are probably here because of the Ex-Heroes series.  Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communication, Ex-Purgatory, and Ex-Isle! All of these are available in a number of formats and a number of languages.
            Early on someone described The Fold as a horror-suspense novel disguised as a sci-fi-mystery, and I’ve been using that ever since.   It’s also loosely connected to another semi-popular book I wrote…  Ray reads the audiobook for this one, too.
            At least a third of you have probably found your way here because of –14— my weird Lovecraftian-sci-fi-urban-horror-mystery novel.  There’s a paperback (although it’s ridiculously hard to find these days), an ebook, and another audiobook narrated by Ray Porter.
            You can pick up The Junkie Quatrain as either an ebook or an audiobook (no paper, sorry).  It’s my attempt at a “fast zombies” tale, a series of interconnected stories I’ve sometimes described as Rashomonmeets 28 Days Later
            I also have a ton of short stories out in anthologies right now.  The newest one is MECH: Age of Steel, which features “Projekt: Maria,” a new WWII pulp adventure featuring Carter & Kraft from me (and stories by more talented writers like Jason Hough and M. L. Brennan).  Plus, you can still pick up Kaiju Rising, which contains “Banner of the Bent Cross,” the first Carter & Kraft team-up
            Naughty or Niceis a collection of twisted holiday stories which cover… a lot of genres.  Don’t get it for your nine year old.  Or probably your parents. 
            There’s also The X-Files: Trust No One, edited by the wonderful-in-so-many-ways Jonathan Maberry and with stories from Gini Koch, Tim Lebbon, Heather Graham, and more.  My story here is “The Beast of Little Hill,” a classic Mulder and Scully tale about roadside attractions and fake aliens. 
            Finally, there’s “The Apocrypha of Gamma-202, ” a story about robots and religion, which appeared in Bless Your Mechanical Heart.  You’ll also get some great stories from Seanan McGuire, Ken Scholes, and Lucy Snyder.
            Also, I’ve said it in some other places, but if you’d like to get something autographed for the holidays, get in touch with Dark Delicacies (either by phone or online).  You can place an order with them (they’ll order the book you want if they don’t have it in stock) and tell them what you’d like to have scribbled in it. I stop by the store, personalize those scribbles for you, and they ship the book(s) to you in time for your end-of-year-holiday of choice. Everyone wins.
            And thus ends my shameless Cyber Monday appeal to capitalism.  Again, so very sorry, but please tell the marketing folks you read it.  I’ll also do another list later this week with some great books I’ve read by other, much better authors.  And of course, our usual Thursday blog post about writing.  And please don’t forget my Black Friday offer if you happen to be someone who needs it.
            Please feel free to resume your internet shopping.  Surf responsibly.  Clear your browser history on a regular basis.  
            And don’t click on that—it isn’t really from PayPal.
            I wanted to prattle on a bit about character development.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and the way it can sometimes be a stumbling block.  And I think I’ve got my thoughts in an order where they’d make a semi-coherent post.
            So, first, a little story.
            A friend of mine has a semi-popular travel show on PBS.  She’s also been working on a book about how she ended up travelling and one of her first big solo trips (that’s her thing).  She’d been working on it for a while and asked if I’d be willing to take a look at it and maybe offer some thoughts.  Maybe help her think of a title for it.
            I’ll be honest.  There’s always a bit of nervousness when a friend asks for your opinion on something.  I bet most of you can relate.  But I said yes.
            Turned out, no big worry. It was a fun book about her trek through Italy.  No nightmarish spelling or grammar mistakes.  Great voice.  Good description.
            There was one issue I noticed though—it just took a little while to pin down.
            (no, don’t worry,  She and I have talked about this.  And she knows I’m mentioning her book this week)
            Y’see, the book had tons of good elements.  Travel.  History.  Comedy.  Some soul searching.  A little romance.  A touch of sex.  Even a kind of creepy night in a haunted building.
            Thing is, none of these was a dominant element.  They were all more or less equal.  A little more of this here, a little less of that there.  Okay, the creepy factor only lasted four or five pages, but past that… it’d be really tough to pin down the main theme of the book.  An informative travelogue?  An introspective journey to sort out a life?  A passionate summer in Europe?
            Yeah, lots of stories have multiple elements like this.  My own book, The Fold, has sci-fi and horror elements, but also mystery, some action-adventure, a bit of comedy, some sexy romance, and even a touch of political stuff.  At the end of the day, though… it’s pretty much sci-fi and horror.  The other things were side dishes, so to speak.  They were fun and flavorful, but they weren’t the main course.
            See, without that main course, the meal is nothing but side dishes.  And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it becomes very difficult to answer the simple question of “what did I have for dinner?”  Sure, I can say, “side dishes,” but that doesn’t really answer the question, does it?  It’s like asking what I’m wearing and I say “not a green shirt.”  It’s an answer and it’s true, but I haven’t really told you anything useful.
            I need to have some kind of answer to the genre question, because people are going to ask it. People like readers. And agents.  And editors.  And if I can’t give them a real answer, it’s going to be really hard for me to get anyone interested.  If you’ve been reading the ranty blog for a while, you may remember a little tidbit I once heard from an agent named Esmond Harmsworth—“It’s not like anything else is very hard to sell.”
            This brings me to the second half of this little rant…
            I’ve mentioned before that you can follow me on Twitter.  If you do, you get to watch every weekend as I rant about sci-fi and horror B-movies in real time.  Over the years—watching them and working on some of them—I’ve developed a theory about why they turn out so bad.  Not all of them, granted, but a good number of them.
            Genre comes with expectations.  Science fiction and fantasy each have their own standards, benchmarks, and tropes.  These are radically different from the ones we hold for horror, or for mystery stories, or for romances.  Seems straightforward, yes?
            When these expectations aren’t met, or when my story departs radically from them, things begin to stumble. Maybe my story recovers, but sometimes that stumble ends with a full-on faceplant.  I’m willing to bet most of us have read a book or seen a movie where we discover the big twist is aliens did it or angels did it or Bob was a deranged serial killer all this time.  And this made us roll our eyes and find something else to do.
            So, here’s my theory.
            I think sometimes, at one stage or another, a story gets tagged with the wrong genre.  And this creates problems.  Sometimes I look at one of those B-movies I mentioned and I see what may have started out as—for example—a really fine sci-fi movie.  But someone decided it was a horror movie, and they filmed it as a horror movie. And now the sci-fi story has horror timing and emphasis and angles—all those standards we expect from those films.  But they don’t really fit this story. And that awkwardness is why the movie never really hits its stride.
            A great example of this was the latest Fantastic Four movie.  Director Josh Trank has done Chronicle, an indie movie widely hailed as a superhero story. But if we take a good look at it, it was really a superpowers movie.  Then Fox gave him the FF franchise and, well, Trank made another superpowers movie.  He forced the FF out of their natural genre and into a different one. 
            And we all know how that went.
            I’ve seen the flipside of this, too. When something gets made as, say, a sci-fi movie, but we’re told it’s a horror movie, by the advertising or the interviews or whatever.  So we walk in with those standard expectations, and suddenly the movie is “wrong” because it’s failing as a horror movie—which it was never intended to be.  I’ve seen books that were marketed as dark fantasy that were supernatural romance. Movies marketed as horror that were pretty straightforward sci-fi or fantasy.  Or even blog posts that were marked as character development when they’re all about genre…
            From our point of view as writers, this can be deadly.  If I’ve got an agent who wants to see sci-fi, I say my book is sci-fi, and then I send her or him literary horror…  Well, that’s going to get rejected really quick.  Yeah, even if it’s a fantastic horror story. 
            Heck, even if said agent reps horror as well, they can get soured just by those failed expectations.  They can go into it expecting sci-fi, like they were told, and maybe they’ll eventually self-correct.  But even then…  I may have lost those two or three vital ticks off their mental scorecard.
            And those two or three ticks can mean the difference between ending up in the big pile of the left or the very small pile on the right.
            Y’see, Timmy, I need to be sure what my genre is.  And I need to be honest about it, no matter how popular some other genre might be right now.  Because I want to score all the points I can with editors.  And agents.
            And especially with readers.
            Next time I want to talk about one of my favorite topics.  And a little bit about numbers.
            Until then, go write.
            Oh, and if you wanted to toss a buck or two at my friend’s travel show, public television needs all the help it can get.  Thanks.