Saturday, February 20, 2010

Does the audience even know the rules?

First I'd like to congratulate myself for escaping that rare but potent phenomenon of having every aspect of my life-- work, family, friends, technology, even pets -- align their needs with such precision that no shred of productivity could possibly escape the swirling vortex. Whew. Gravity readings are once again normal.

Everyone who presents a product to the public knows how important it is to identify your audience. There's no point in selling snow to Eskimos, or to anyone in the lower 48 states right now. Words like demographics and focus groups are wielded like weapons in the war for attention. In radio, there is a push toward pinpoint programming, narrow target decisions that honestly make me nervous. The idea that every 34 year old female with a college degree and two children wants/thinks/needs the exact same thing smacks of a Soylent Green factory in reverse. Grandmas can like rap; teenage boys can want love songs. Sure, listeners, like readers, need to know what to expect in the broad picture. I don't want to turn on an oldies station and hear a heated political diatribe, how hard and fast are those boundaries?

I'm thinking fiction right now. As I mentioned earlier, I'm trying my hand at mystery after romping madly in the world of urban fantasy, and I can almost hear sighs of relief around me. Many folks who have read Storyteller and its sequel enjoyed the story and provided me with priceless feedback. When I told them I'm considered an urban fantasy writer, more than one sort of grimaced and said "Oh, I don't read fantasy." Uh...well...yeah you do. You just didn't know it.

So I'm curious. You genre writers and readers out there, all of us who have to tag our work to keep it out of the sacrosanct waters of "Literature" do you ever feel limited or chafed under your label? Do genre markings help or hurt your cause? Do you wonder if your paranormal romance crosses the line into horror? Is your YA carrying around a thriller? Do you think hard-boiled mystery lovers might groove on your urban western if they could only find it on the right shelf?

When I want a mystery, I like knowing it's a mystery, but I've been happily surprised before to find one that's also a travelogue or a western or a romance. How do you broaden your base appeal if your work does cross a few lines?

Friday, February 12, 2010

DarkWoodsCon is coming!!!

Horror fans rejoice! Horror is coming to Pikeville KY and I don't just mean the weather. DarkWoods Con is happening in Pikeville the first weekend in March and I'm talking with Cherokee, one of the founders of the event.

SGR: First thing, let's get the details: who, what, where and when and how can folks find you?

DWC: DarkWoods Con is a horror and paranormal convention held at the LandMark Inn in Pikeville, KY on March 5th-7th. For a first year convention we have a pretty impressive line up. We have from The Hills Have Eyes, Devils Rejects, and much more Michael Berryman. Former WWE Wrestler Al Snow. Scream Queen Tiffany Shepis. From Halloween 2 Dick Warlock. The writer of Final Destination 1 and 2 Jeffery Reddick (He's originally from Jackson KY actually) From Friday the 13th Ari Lehman. Three Playboy Playmates. An MTV Jackass Mike Holman. And we have some reality TV show people that we haven't put up on the site yet...PLUS a super secret surprise guest on Sunday only. Unfortunately due to a contract he has with a major TV network we are unable to promote him as coming... But he's BIG!

SGR: This is the first year for your horror con. What made you decide to take it on? It's got to be an enormous undertaking. How long did it take to pull this together?

DWC: It's a LOT harder than we thought but there have been a LOT of fun times putting it together as well. You'd be surprised at just how approachable the celebs are. We all LOVE horror films and frequently go to other conventions and we thought "Why not try one in our neck of the woods...the DarkWoods". And the name stuck. We've been working at this for about 7 months now...and we should have started a LOT earlier too.

SGR: Is this solely for horror film buffs? What else are you offering?

It's also for fans of the Paranormal shows. We were so close in booking one of the TAPS Ghosthunters but he couldn't fit it in his schedule. We do plan on trying to get him next year though. There will also be indie films and different seminars going on throughout the Convention. The schedule will be released the week or so before.

SGR: What do you see for the future of DarkWoodsCon? Bigger, better, faster, more?

DWC: Yes, Yes, Yes and YES! We may take it on the road and hit some other smaller places but we'll be back to Pikeville for sure.

SGR: I'm in WV so I'm well aware of some of the reactions you might be getting nationwide and worldwide. "Pikeville KY??? Where???" What do you think the reaction will be for people coming from far away to this part of the country?

Because there's nothing like this going on in that area and we know that our people love the horror films too! We all decided to give a little back to the area as well.

SGR: You mentioned you are also an independent film maker. How important are conventions for indy films? What do they mean for fans of horror film and fiction?

DWC: Indie films and film festivals are the life blood of the indie film maker. That's where we show and sell our work. It's also where we hope that a representative from a distribution company shows up and likes our stuff. It's also all about networking...wanna act? Come out and meet the film makers. Wanna write? Come on out and pitch an idea. Wanna direct? Come on out and see how WE are doing things and also learn from OUR mistakes. It's really a win win situation.
For the horror fans it means a chance to meet some of the people that have either scared the poop out of you OR someone that you cheered on and hoped would make it until morning. It's a surreal moment to meet Jason then sitting right next to him is Michael Meyers.

SGR: Any final words, warnings, suggestions?

DWC: Yes we want to warn you about The Rad Girls. They are a female version of you never know that they are going to do. I'm a little scared of them myself. Haha!

SGR: Thanks so much for taking the time out of what must be a hairy schedule to talk today. Dark Woods Con is March 5-7 in Pikeville KY. I'll be there with big, bloody bells on! Check out the link below for more details! (As always, if this doesn't work, try the link at the very bottom of the page. I think this will pretty much be SOP)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Taking the easy way out...

Someone told me once "Work smart, not hard." To that effect, I'm passing the ball to a very talented author, Mary Martinez, who let me ramble on her blog, Mary's Ramblings.

Please leave a comment if you like what you read and check out Mary's other posts as well as her great titles. Enjoy!

(If the link below doesn't work, just click the link at the bottom of the page to Mary Martinez's page. Check out the other links as well!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night...

"I'm going to write a mystery."


I've just finished the second installment in my urban fantasy series. The muse is with me, right? I'm in fuego! I'm going to step off the dark and violent path of my current series and try my hand at a genre I have read and loved my whole life - mystery. I even said that to myself: "You love mysteries, Sheila. Let's go!"

Cue utter stillness.

I polled some of my mystery writing friends (see the links below) who gave me pep talks and advice and recommended books that have been informative and inspiring. I've got my characters, my setting, my victim, even some passable motives.

And I got nothing.

I can't call it writer's block. What does that even mean? Why don't I get radio block? Or bill-paying block? Or even laundry block? I want to do this! I love mysteries!

That's when the bell went off. I love mysteries. Reading them, watching them, solving them in jigsaw puzzles, for crying out loud! If there's a riddle to be solved, I'm on it like white on rice, clapping and giggling and peering around the corner. I realized I was like a kid that loves magic and decides to slip through the curtain to see how the tricks are done. Would learning the mechanics of a mystery take away the magic that has thrilled me my entire reading life?

Back to my writer friends. They assure me that the path is riddled (pardon the pun) with surprises galore and that I may not know whodunnit for quite a while. Well, there's only one way to find out...