The Great Aussie Giveaway 2021

This month, I’m collaborating with 29 amazing Aussie authors to bring Christmas to your Kindle early.

This huge giveaway gets one lucky winner a chance to grab 30 fantastic ebooks sent directly to their Amazon account. And, yes, it’s open internationally!

You’ll need to have an account on BookBub to play, as well as access to Instagram or Facebook to submit your entry.

How to enter

First, head to the giveaway website and follow each author listed in the promotion.

Then, head to the giveaway post on my Instagram or Facebook.

Leave the comment “DONE” and tag 3 book-loving friends.

What happens next?

This promotion runs from 1 December – 8 December.

Once it’s over, each author will select a single participant to go into the prize pool. This means the more authors you follow, the more chances you have to win!

Later in the week, one winner will be selected from the pool.

Keep an eye out for the announcement on 12 December!

Good luck!

They’d collapse on the bed and he’d kiss her

For any curious bods, I’m visiting Beyond Romance today to share a steamy (NSFW) excerpt from my latest release, It Starts with a Kiss.

Thank you to everyone who bought the book, helped out with this launch, and generally made it possible for me to get this story back out into the world 💖

The Genre Blender with B.K. Bass

Photo by Bruno Thethe from Pexels

B.K. Bass is a prolific storyteller, a professional editor, and a worldbuilding aficionado. For the last few years, his blog has been a go-to reference when I need to set my head straight on speculative fiction genres.

As far as I’m concerned, this guy knows his shit, and I’m very excited to have him here today to talk about the mechanics of combining genres.

The Genre Blender with B.K. Bass

When you think of genre fiction, what comes to mind? Likely, you may think of fantasy tales with swords and dragons, science fiction with aliens and starships, or a horror yarn with some unknown threat lurking in the shadows. Something even more specific may come to mind, like the grand scale of epic fantasy or the sociological analysis of social science fiction. Perhaps it’s something more personal, like the emotional tug of a romance novel or the intellectual challenge of a detective novel.

Many modern authors have a tenuous relationship with genre, and there are various views on the subject. Some feel genre defines their work, while others see it as a shortcut to describing it. “I am a fantasy author” is a statement that may only hint at the scope of an author’s work or be rigid guideposts defining the boundaries of it. There are authors who shun genres entirely, considering them unnatural labels that limit the freedom of their art form. Others see them as useful tools to shape a story with familiar elements that will appeal to an established fanbase.

There’s no right or wrong approach here, but there’s a few matters of fact that every author should consider. First is that almost no matter where you look, books are categorized by genre; be it categories on a website or shelves in a bookstore. Second is that many readers search for new books by genre. Once somebody gets hooked on epic fantasy, they’re likely to seek more of the same. If somebody has a craving for a murder mystery, they’re going to search the mystery category or shelf. No matter how the author feels about labels and genres, they are an important part of the journey of books into the hands of interested readers.

But they can be more than that.

Figuring out how to mash up different storytelling conventions could be the spark that leads to something completely innovative.

Genre is a toolbox packed with an assortment of devices that an author can assemble into a story that appeals to readers who are familiar with or interested in such devices. Medieval-inspired fantasy kingdoms complete with dragons and wizards remain a popular schtick, and you must unpack that traditional fantasy toolbox to get what you need to put that kind of story together.

But there is something that I feel is even more useful about genre, and that is finding ways to mix them.

There are many aspects of storytelling that define genres, and each genre has its own set of devices within that definition. While some genres are familiar due to the type of settings they occur in, others are recognizable by the types of characters, the tone of the book, the structure of the plot, the themes they explore, or even the style we write them in.

The empty space within each of these toolboxes is where things get interesting.

Let’s take two genres that are combined with relative frequency: fantasy and romance. On one hand, we have a genre almost entirely defined by the setting. Of course, there’s a lot of variation within fantasy fiction, but the fundamental aspect that defines it is a setting where elements of magic or the supernatural are genuine parts of the world. On the other hand, we can define romance almost entirely by how it approaches relationships between characters. So, here’s a splendid example where one genre fills one slot in the toolbox, while the other fills another. There’s no conflict between the two of them, and they fill in the gaps in each other’s repertoire.

Green eyes peer through a starry night sky on the cover of Beneath the Sleepless Stars by Charisse Nicolle
Beneath the Sleepless Stars by Charisse Nicolle combines an urban fantasy setting with a romance plot.

But we can do even more with that. Of the “big three” aspects of fiction, this example only covers two of them. We still must contend with plot. Now, there are romance plotting conventions we could use, or fantasy plotting conventions like the hero’s journey. But what if we threw something else into the mix? What if there was a murder mystery happening in this setting that our characters had to contend with? Now we have a fantasy romance mystery. There’s a lot going on, but none of the genres are stepping on the other’s toes. It’s like putting together a puzzle: all the pieces fit together perfectly to create the bigger picture.

This is just one example of countless opportunities to mix things up. Those who love delving into genres, like myself, may find this as a springboard for inspiration. Figuring out how to mash up different storytelling conventions could be the spark that leads to something completely innovative. Others, who aren’t fond of labels, might find this to be an opportunity to break the molds and ensure a single definition of genre doesn’t encompass their work.

And you might also find that readers love this stuff.

I recently published the last book in my Night Trilogy. Night Shift, Night Life, and Night Shadow are books built around this sort of genre mash up, and some of the most encouraging feedback I’ve received on all three books has to do with how they smoothly combine two genres.

Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that this combination isn’t entirely new. It was inspired, in no small part, by the film Blade Runner and the Philip K. Dick novel that inspired it: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? However, I endeavored to peel back the layers of those works to find what lay beneath the surface, and then pulled as well from those deeper and older inspirations to make the Night Trilogy what it became.

That out of the way, what is the Night Trilogy? It is a cyberpunk setting combined with a hardboiled detective mystery, although it shakes things up more and more as it goes along (but to avoid spoilers, we won’t discuss that). And why do these genres work so well together?

Night Shadow by B.K. Bass combines two genres that work well together — cyberpunk and hardboiled detective mystery.

Well, let’s look at what slots in the toolbox they fill. Like our fantasy example, cyberpunk deals with setting: a bleak future where technology rules our lives and capitalism controls the world. It also involves themes of socioeconomic disparity and humanity’s relationship with technology.

On the other hand, mysteries are more about the plot, as we discussed already. And the hardboiled detective is a specific subgenre that takes this plot and adds in a gritty, often cynical, protagonist (that is a brief explanation that hardly does it justice) and dark, introspective tone. So, each genre is checking off different boxes: setting and theme on one hand; with plot, character, and tone on the other. I also pulled inspiration for the writing style from some older hardboiled stories, like the works of Raymond Chandler, to further flesh out the atmosphere.

And as I mentioned, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Several reviews of the books have complimented how well these two genres work together.

Beyond this, the real fun can be picking apart different genres that don’t fit so seamlessly and make them work together. I’ve done several other mashups, including military science fiction with social science fiction and post-apocalyptic, flintlock fantasy with supernatural horror, and alternate history with cosmic horror. By removing or changing certain elements of genres to make them mesh, you may create something innovative and exciting. And this also casts a wider net to attract readers, as you won’t be just putting your book in one genre box, but several!


B.K. Bass is the author of over a dozen works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror inspired by the pulp fiction magazines of the early 20th century and classic speculative fiction. He is also a freelance editor with experience both as a publisher and editor-in-chief of a literary journal. When B.K. isn’t dreaming up new worlds to explore, he spends his time as a lifelong student of history, bookworm, and film buff.

Find out more about B.K. at his website and connect with him on Twitter. The Night Trilogy can be found via Amazon.

It Starts with a Kiss re-launches next month — preorder now available!

We have a date!

It Starts with a Kiss, my sci-fi office romance novella, will be re-launching on 20 November.

If you’d like to queue it up nice and early, you can find the preorder link on the usual ebook retailers.

Or for those of you feeling organic and old-school, I have a spare stash of first edition paperbacks in a box under my desk. International shipping is frightful at the moment, but Aussie and Kiwi recipients should fare all right 🐨

I’ll be running an international giveaway via my newsletter, Dot Club, next month. The issue comes out 1 Dec, so be sure to subscribe if you’re not on there already.

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Categorized as News

Birdwatchers — now on my website

Birdwatchers, an erotic short story, is currently available as a free read on my website. Here’s a little teaser:

Hands fly to cover her naked breasts, but the tempest rages on. She is helpless against it, and I watch. She rolls onto her belly, body still billowing. Her legs curl beneath her, knees to chest, and she buries her face in the blanket.

The gale becomes a breeze and fades into the distance.

She looks at me and sits up. Her body is exposed now, breasts heaving as her breath comes back to her. She keeps her eyes on me while she re-does her hair and rests the sunglasses on her head. She smiles.

“Why didn’t you take a picture?” she asks. “That’s what you came here for, wasn’t it?”

“N… no,” I say. I hold up the camera, fighting the weight of the lens. “I came to watch the birds.”

She sits back and crosses her legs in front of her. She points her toes towards me, then at the sky, then back to me. She licks her lips.

“So…” Her smile deepens. “Watch the birds then.”

Excerpt from Birdwatchers (2017)

You’ll find the link in the Free Reads section of my website.

Semi-socialite

In an attempt to fix those annoying tech issues, I deleted all the social media apps from my phone only to have the subsequent experience (and rest of the internet) tell me it’s not enough—a factory reset would be imminent *DUN DUN DUNNNN*

So I was happy to drag my feet a bit, and found one pleasant side-effect of being app-less. It was only for a few days while work and other commitments pushed the phone reset lower down the priority list. But I found I could focus better on writing and reading.

That “hooked” feeling I’d get from feed scrolling transferred to books and I am so very pleased. I’m getting to stuff that’s been on my TBR for ages, approaching my work with a clearer head, and the weird thing is I’m not even going cold turkey on social media. I just don’t have the apps on my phone right now.

Actually, wait, those are only half-truths. I’m on a “feed restricted diet” right now too 😛 I get five minutes each of Twitter and Facebook a day (unless there’s something undeniably work-related I need to take care of). And now that I’ve reset my phone, I’ve put Goodreads back on there—but you could argue that Goodreads isn’t really a social platform, it’s more like a beefed-up logbook of stuff you read.

I wonder if it’s the combination of convenient internet-enabled devices and engagement-centered design that creates that dangerous combination. When you sit at a computer to do something, you have to sit at the computer to do the thing. But with a smartphone, you can not only spend your precious micro-minutes, but the extra tax of context-switching too.

Or am I the problem? Do I have poor executive function and self-control in the face of digital temptation? 🤔

At any rate, my phone is running smoothly and I’m okay with being a bit less twittery and instagrammy at the moment. My manuscript is running on schedule for now. And I’ve finally been able to pick up Perihelion Summer by Greg Egan and B.K. Bass’s final book in the Night Trilogy 😄

Photo by arvin keynes on Unsplash

Gamedev diary: 29 Aug 2021

Random thoughts/notes from over the last couple of months:

  • Hex maps are pretty cool. I like the idea of incorporating something like this, though unless there’s a strong strategy component to this game, it probably sends the wrong message. Just a map at all, though, would be nice. It’ll give the player the sense of having an overview.
  • In two minds about keeping the noir vibe. This may come down to the eventual story, but 80’s synth rock is pretty cool too. Plus, there are so many objects associated with the 80’s genre that would make cool HOPA scenes.
  • I’ve pretty much fallen out of love with the story I’ve been writing. It’s too complicated and twisty, when something shorter, sweeter and simple might be more fun. Need to make space to have a focused think on what to do here.
  • After a couple months of playing Gemini Station, I’m reconsidering making this a web game. I do love how open and accessible the web can be. Plus then I wouldn’t have to worry about platform fees and licensing and all that other stuff that makes it so much harder to just create and connect with an audience. The trouble is the convenience and the lack of control over platform access. There are some games I just wouldn’t play on the web. There are challenges with web responsiveness and browser discrepancies. Dammit. That would have been cool. Still tossing up the factors here.
  • Life tasks are piling up, as is my other writing work.