Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Just Fitting In With Guest Blogger: CJ Ellisson

Does Your Book Fit the Romance Mold?

What happens if you don't follow the traditional romance guidelines when writing a book these days? What if there is not enough tangible relationship conflict within your story? What if your characters are happily married? What if you don't have a happily ever after ending? Does it even qualify as romance if the relationship is not the central focus?

I've been an avid reader for over three decades. I've read every genre and book classification out there, and yes, for a time in the 1980's I devoured anything remotely related to romance. But my tastes as a reader grew as I aged. In life, I found my own "hero" and we married.

I still enjoy reading the sex and relationship aspects inherent in many well-written romance stories, but they do not have to be the sole focus for me anymore. Taking an escape from my own hectic life, even briefly, was what I enjoyed most about books. To suspend reality for just a moment and be transported into the world my favorite authors had created was incredible.

The romance end of the book industry has, in my mind, been a trailblazer. From the old standards that required virgins and mandatory forced sex scenes where the heroine received no pleasure, to the modern day urban fantasies with strong protagonists who have a take-charge attitude and enjoy sex.

Does she solve crimes? Does she uncover a mystery and work to find the answer? Does she battle evil and help good to prevail? Does she somehow protect those she loves from danger? Or does she have lots of hot sex throughout the course of the loosely connected plot?

Hey, erotica is selling because sex sells. You can compare it to the male equivalent of the adult film industry. Yes, they have a small percentage of female customers, but primarily their target audience is men. Can't the same be said for romance books and most specifically the growing trend the romance industry has seen with erotica? I'm not sure if it's because our brains are wired differently or women have better imaginations, or maybe it's just that we don't like to look at silicone-filled barbies who barely look old enough to drink legally.

The romance industry as a whole has paid attention to the growing needs of its readership. It has listened to the readers and has encouraged all writers to follow their dreams and write the story within them. It has helped steampunk, space opera, erotica, urban fantasy and everything paranormal become the cutting edge of what is leading the industry in sales.

It's an interesting time we live in right now. Ebooks and new publishing models are changing the very course of the industry. It's exciting to see where things will go. Print will never die, at least not in our lives, but who knows what the future holds?

I've written a story that doesn't fit the traditional romance guidelines. It has hot sex, a loose mystery, intrigue, suspense and a funny relationship between a happily married couple-—where the wife is a powerful vampire. It's not your average story, but it's no Twilight either. It does not fit neatly into a category.

But the romance readers and writers have welcomed me anyway. And for that I'm eternally grateful. In the end it doesn't come down to labels and categories. It comes down to trying to tell a good story and hoping others will enjoy it as well. Don't despair if your book doesn't "fit". If you've done your job people will want to read it.

A Note from the Book Boost:

Meet the new and incredibly talented author, CJ Ellisson! Who has written a sexy romp into the paranormal wild side that will leave you panting for more. Trust me, because I've just finished reading the manuscript myself!

Want to know more about it? Want to pick up an ADVANCED bound proof of the novel? Keep reading on how to win it for yourself!
Thank you for joining us today, CJ and I know that this book is going to be flying off the shelves for you in short order. Trust me on that.

Here's a little taste (pun intended) of Vampire Vacation by CJ Ellisson:

Meet Vivian. She’s a 580-year-old vampire who exudes sex, has a talent for drama, and is passionate about two things: her human husband, Rafe, and their resort for the undead. Her ability to project physical illusions has created the perfect vacation spot—a dark, isolated Alaskan hideaway where visitors can have their wildest fantasies come true.

Vivian knows the best performance requires perfect timing, but the powerful vamp is put to the test when she discovers a corpse in a locked guestroom minutes before the next arrivals. Always cool-headed, Rafe hides the body, convinced that he and Vivian can find the culprit without disturbing their guests.

Juggling the increasingly outrageous demands of their customers while tracking a killer isn’t easy. Will their poking and prodding give them the answers they need, or will it uncover secrets that Vivian would kill to protect?

A Quick Excerpt for your feeding (I mean reading) pleasure:

I open the door to find a body at my feet. The rich smell of blood causes my canines to lengthen. Reaching out in the darkness, I flip on the switches. Light comes on across the room, illuminating the dead guy lying face down in front of me. The whole scene makes me wish I’d stayed in bed today, curled up next to my warm husband.

“Crap, look at the rug.”

Okay, out loud that sounds rather dispassionate. Whoever this poor stiff is, he’s dead. I’m the one left with a huge mess on my hands and guests arriving within the hour. Good thing I caught this before one of the maids did. Their screams from the last time were a devil to calm down.

Reaching out with my mind, I connect with my husband in a soft electrical tingle of sensation. Rafe?

There’s a dead guy in suite six. We’ve got to move fast before the next group arrives.
Rafe’s rugged face appears in my head. My extended consciousness lets me see the room around him as well as hear his thoughts. He’s leaning against the sink in our private kitchen, wearing a robe, a steaming mug of coffee in his hand.

Does it look like an accidental overfeeding? His mental voice sounds incredulous. We haven’t had one of those in years.

No, there’s way too much blood. Can you come up here and help me?
Sure, Dria. I’m fresh out of the shower—give me a couple minutes.
I step over the body and into the room, closing the door behind me with a soft snick of the catch. I’d rather not have the guests get a whiff of this mess. Some of them would probably think we did it on purpose for “ambience”. But others might not.

Walking over to the bench at the end of the bed, I sit then look around the suite. A king-size bed, neatly made, gleaming dark furniture and lush brocade fabrics greet me. Nothing but the corpse looks out of place. The stark white face turned toward me doesn’t look familiar. I’m sure he isn’t a mate of one of the vampire masters staying here; I make it a point to meet all of them when they arrive.

Examining his brown hair and twenty-something face, I don’t recognize him as a vampire servant either. Not many have come to stay with the current crop of undead we’ve got right now. Who else?

The blood arouses my basic vampire needs while confusing my train of thought. I concentrate, trying to clear my head. Think, dammit, think!

Could he be a companion? A lot of masters bring “food” with them. Being a full-service hotel we can provide all the needs of our guests, but some still insist on BYOB.

Want more CJ?

Visit her website here: http://www.cjellisson.com/

Or her Author blog here: http://cjellissondailygrind.blogspot.com/

Or one of her Group blogs here: http://writeintheshadows.com/

Contest Time!

To win a bound un-proofed ADVANCED copy of Vampire Vacation, just leave a question or comment for CJ! We'll draw the winner on Friday and post your name in the Recent Winners block on the right side of the blog. Good Luck!


Unknown said...

Thanks so much for having me, Kerri! I didn't know you'd had a chance to finish the book - yay!

Thank you for the kind words and in hosting the contest. Here's to hoping your winner likes it as much as you did!


Suzanne Johnson said...

Great post, CJ! I can't wait to bite into your book (sorry, can't resist a vampire joke).

Unknown said...

Hmm Love the excerpts, CJ what made you choose to write this type of story, ? I totally agree sex sells and I must say I love your monthly reviews ;) I spose when you think of vampires most of the time you think of sexy, sex, - hot and imortal.. hehe..
But I certainly cant wait to sink my teeth into this one.. Definelty look forward to this book and may more from you in the near future.
Katrina :)


Anonymous said...

It's definitely a great premise -- the writing is sharp and the plot is very interesting and fresh. I personally find that if a genre of book follows a formula, I get bored quickly. So happy to see CJ's creativity in the mix now!

Unknown said...

So excited for you C.J. Would love a copy of this.. Can't wait to read it!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comments guys!

Katrina, in regards to your question: I didn't start out trying to write a certain type of story. I just dreamed up a great location (vampires in Alaska in the winter) and went from there.

I had no idea until I was over ten chapters in that a horror film called 30 Days of Night used the same premise! Thankfully the story is nothing like mine and the similarities end after that!

I wrote what I wanted to see in an urban fantasy - hot monogamy. It wasn't until I was done and entered contests that I found out it didn't fit neatly into any mold!

Gossip Cowgirl said...

This looks like an AMAZING book! I'm definitely gonna have to buy this one.

Thanks, CJ!