Cross-genre. You’ll hear the term a lot in writing circles. But what is it? It’s book that melds the elements of more than one genre together. Books are coded by something known as a BISAC code that allows libraries to appropriately shelve a book and search engines to find it. The list is extensive and usually books can have two BISAC codes. (You can check out the list for fiction here: bisg.org/page/Fiction But be warned—it’s extensive!)
My forthcoming book Shark’s Hunt, book #3 of the Shark Santoyo Crime Series, can appropriately be filed under FIC031010 FICTION / Thrillers / Crime, but it’s possible that it could be filed under FIC027260 FICTION / Romance / Action & Adventure or FIC022000 FICTION / Mystery & Detective / General. Or I could just go for a broad category and label it: FIC044000 FICTION / Women. Am I the only one who finds it odd that women are a category of fiction? There isn’t a category for Men. Or is all fiction assumed to be men’s fiction and we need to let people know that this book over here is just for women? Seems odd, but we’ll just leave that one alone for now.
But beyond the BISAC codes, which while useful, are not the end all definition of a book, there is marketing and that’s where things get persnickety. An author and a marketer need to be able to tell and sell someone on a book in 30 seconds or less.
The Shark Santoyo Crime Series is a witty, romantic saga about a violent suburban underworld. Shark Santoyo and Peregrine Hays are the Romeo and Juliet of the criminal set and they are determined to find justice, revenge, and true love. There’s just an entire mob and a few dirty FBI agents in the way.
So from my “elevator pitch” you should know that there’s going to be violence, romance, crime, and a touch of humor. But all of those things are hard to encompass in a single book description and a cover. Which is why you’ll see cross-genre books “pushed” toward one genre. There’s a girl in the book – make it sexy on the cover! Don’t mention the humor – humor doesn’t sell! On the other hand, when a book succeeds you’ll hear people knowingly say, “Well, it’s really cross-genre.” Of course, it’s cross-genre! No book is ever one thing entirely. It’s as though an author just can’t win.
This week I’m going to take part in a live reading event called Noir at the Bar. It’s a fun event that focuses on crime tales and the forties pulp-fiction style. I’m excited to participate, but as usual it throws me into a tizzy of what to read. Short stories come in all shapes and sizes but reading for an audience is quite different. Not every story translates well to an audience that’s slurping their way through cocktails and appetizers. I would, of course, love an audience to hang breathless on my every word, but even when an audience comes specifically to see an author it’s very hard to get that level of studiously quiet audience participation.
Through the variety of readings that I have experienced I’ve developed the theory of “joke” short stories for readings. Not that a reading has to be funny, but that it should be constructed like a joke.
There is the set-up.
A man walks into a bar at the top of a rise building. It’s a swanky place, but there’s a guy in a suit and glasses slumped at the bar.
“I can’t believe this view,” says the man, looking out the window.
“Yeah, but you’ve got to look out for the cross-winds. They’re killer,” says the drunk guy, brushing a curl of dark hair off his forehead.
“What are you talking about?” asks the man.
The drunk guy stumbles off his bar stool. “Here I’ll show you.” He opens the window and steps out, but the winds sweep in and he simply hovers in air and then steps back into the bar.
“Holy cow,” says the man. “I can’t believe that.”
“Give it a try,” says the guy in glasses.
The man steps off the building and plummets to the ground. The bartender looks up from polishing the glasses as the drunk guy sits back down. “Jeez, Superman, you are mean when you drink.”
The story has to have a pay-off or the audience sort of stares at you like cows in a field. It doesn’t have to be a funny pay off, but there has to be some sort of solid finish that gives an audience a feeling of conclusion. Usually, it’s some sort of twist that reveals the truth or that gives the audience the key to understanding the story. I’ll be reading a condensed version of a short story from my Shark Santoyo story. Hopefully, Noir at the Bar enjoys what I’ve selected for them. Wish me luck!
2018 is set to be a very big year for me. I have been working feverishly through 2016 and 2017 to bring out multiple projects and 2018 is the year that many of those projects are bearing fruit. Take a peek at my upcoming releases!
February 13 – Galactic Dreams (Just in time for Valentine’s Day!)
I will be part of a new series from my publishing company called Galactic Dreams featuring stories that are part science-fiction, part fairy tale, part romance and all adventure. Galactic Dreams Volume 1 will feature 3 novellas of fairy tales “reimagined for a new age—the future,” including Soldier, Princess, Rebel Spy (Mulan) from Karen Harris Tully, Aurora One (Sleeping Beauty) from the Stiletto Gang’s own J.M. Phillippe and When Stars Take Flight (Thumbelina) by me. Pre-orders will be available next week, but if you want a chance two win 2 of the three stories for free, check out the rafflecopter below!
When Stars Take Flight – Kidnapped by the To’Andans, tortured by the Moliter, and rescued by Sparrow Pandion—a spy who hides a secret pain—Alliance Ambassador Lina Tum-Bel is up against a galaxy full of trouble as she attempts to rebuild the Interstellar Alliance. Her training says that she can’t trust her handsome rescuer, but maybe together, she and Sparrow can learn to fly.
April – Shark’s Bite
Book 2 of the Shark Santoyo Crime Series returns to the suburban underworld of teenage drug dealers and gang enforcer Shark Santoyo as he tries to figure out what to do with a bowling alley and an ATF Agent who is out to get him.
June – Against the Undertow
The sequel to An Unseen Current will finally be available in June. This quirky cozy mystery series features 87 year-old, ex-CIA agent Tobias Yearly and his granddaughter Tish bickering, tackling home improvement projects, and solving mysteries in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. In Against the Undertow, handsome Sheriff’s Deputy Emmett Nash, was just accused of murdering his ex-wife’s boyfriend, and Tish and Tobias must face down hippies, cops, and psychotic event planners to solve the mystery and save their friend.
October – Shark’s Hunt
One Shark just isn’t enough. This time, Shark is back in the city and facing some serious problems as a gang war erupts.
December – A Christmas Short?
Maybe. We’ll see if I make it December.
Ack! I should be baking. Or possibly cleaning my filthy office. Or writing any of the multiple stories I’m supposed to be completing. It’s crunch time for me. I’ve got a sci-fi novella that is due back from the editor at any second (more info to come after the holidays!), a Christmas short story that needs completing ASAP, and mystery novel that is supposed to be way more underway than it is. And my business partner at my day job is about to go on maternity leave at any moment. I could use a holiday. Oh, wait, one has just turned up. Now I get to add baking to the list. So excuse me, if I just complain for a minute and then dash off to put a pie in the oven.
But in the spirit of the holidays, how about a chance to win a print copy of Shark’s Instinct? Reviewers are calling it an “amazing mystery with loads of action.” Click the link below to enter!