A Paranormal Rant

It was recently brought to my attention (thanks to the Sensational Christmas Sale Event) that Amazon has classified Shades of Gray as a Young Adult/Teen novel.

Say What??

When an author/publisher uploads a book to Amazon they are allowed to choose a category to place their book in from a rather small list. Amazon then – apparently randomly – sticks the book in several other categories – like sci-fi shorts that you can read in two hours (This is a real category). And, as I said, they put Shades of Gray in the YA category. But why? How do they choose these seemingly odd extra categories for our books?

The question has been answered by Amazon help:

Hello Joleene,

Thank you for contacting Kindle Direct Publishing.

I understand you’re concerned about the category of your book, “Shades of Gray.”

Looking at your account, I see that based on your keywords selection, the category was automatically assigned to your book.

For your convenience, I’ve removed the following category:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult

It should no longer be visible on the website within 24 hours.

I hope this helps.

Thanks for using Amazon KDP. Have a nice day!


First, I do want to give them kudos for removing it quickly, but past that I want to say again, “what?!?!” because these are my chosen keywords:

  • violence – doesn’t say YA to me
  • dark – eh, still not really
  • thriller – there are YA thrillers, but it’s not exclusive to the genre
  • Amarathine – just a series name
  • romance – doesn’t scream YA
  • vampire & paranormal – aha.

And so we get to the crux of the matter. As an author I dared to use the keywords vampire, paranormal, and romance together, which must automatically mean the book is intended for teenage audience.

Can I scream now?

I don’t have anything against teenagers. I even LIKE many YA books, but why in the name of all that sucks blood does the word “vampire” automatically conjure the word “teenager”? No, don’t answer that. I know why. Because people have forgotten Carmella, and Dracula, and Louie, and Armand, and all the other ADULT vampires that came first, and all they can remember is the sparkling, high-school-attending Edward and his Twilight gang. And if that series was for teens, then that must mean that EVERY vampire series is for teens. Just as every animated show is for children (another tired stereotype that the anime Now and Then, Here and There, among others, has proven wrong), etc. etc.



Maybe it’s time to remind the world of that? Or at the very least, Amazon.

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The Ultimate Vampire Literature List

Sharon S. sent me a link to a very awesome site yesterday – a site that’s so awesome I had to share it with you.

Michele Hauf is not only an author of paranormal romance (among other genres), but she has also compiled an amazing list of vampire books in several different categories such as Romance/Erotica, Horror, Manga/comic, Roleplaying, nonfiction, and TA, among others.

You might wonder how she’s compiled what may well be the net’s ultimate vampire database? The bright red comment at the bottom of the first page says it all:

“Blood, sweat and tears, baby”

Check it out. Bookmark and, while you’re at it, why not check out her books, too?


Who is your favorite vampire?

Lestat de Lioncourt

Image via Wikipedia

Who is your favorite vampire? Is it Anne Rice’s Lestat? Or maybe Eric from True Blood? And don’t forget Mick from the gone-but-not-forgotten- Moonlight. With so many to choose from, it might be hard to decide but, if you think you can,  stop by Bertena Varney’s Lexington Vampire Examiner and cast your vote.

Vampire Parodies

While checking out some links sent to be by Jonathan, aka Jissilly, I ran across these two Vampire/Twilight parodies by Key of Awesome and thought they were amusing enough to share.  No matter what your opinion is of the Twilight franchise, you should still get a chuckle out of them.


The Trouble with Twilight

The Twilight Saga - (I know the book covers get blasted, but I actually like the first three. the fourth one not so much.)

Twilight. That used to be a word that meant that meant the purply-hazy time while the sun sank into night, but now it conjures different images; a teen vampire with bad hair and too white skin, a heroine that even fans want to kick, and a love triangle that’s part Sweet Valley High and part Dracula vs the Wolfman.

When I think of the Twilight phenomenon, I’m reminded of a Marilyn Manson interview from the mid nineties. In it the front man, better known as “Marilyn”, said that his goal was to be so famous,  that even a random housewife in the Midwest would recognize his name. He achieved that dream, and so has Stephenie Meyers multi-million dollar franchise.   Case in point, even my father-in-law, who is only slightly more socially informed than the crypt keeper, knows what Twilight is.

And that’s the problem with it.

You may be thinking, “No, the problem is that the vampires sparkle!” or “The characters are whiny emo teens” or even “half of the plot points are so unrealistic that I want to pull my own teeth out!”, but you have to remember that this series was written for those same whiny teens with their similarly unrealistic daydreams. You know the kind; the ones where all adults are quibbling jellyfish and the kids know everything? Pop in any Disney movie from the 80’s and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

No, the biggest problem isn’t the plot, the writing, or even the bizarre “love triangle solution” in the final book. The problem is the marketing. Twilight is written for teen girls, but marketed to males and adults, who then get aggravated with various points of the story, never stopping to think that the story wasn’t written for them in the first place.  This is an excellent example of what happens when you move beyond your target audience – or rather force your way beyond it.

Because, Twilight isn’t just marketed; it’s an all out blitzkrieg of advertising. You can’t log into a social network, go to the store, or even turn on your television without seeing an advertisement or reference to the franchise. Buy the t-shirt! Watch the movie! Read the books! Play the games! Get the key chain! Drink the soda! Sneeze in the kleenex – you get the idea. Everything that can have a Twilight logo slapped on it has and, if it hasn’t, it’s going to.

And this is what people are really sick of. After all, it can’t really be the story, which we all keep reading, or the movies, which we all keep watching. It’s all the blasted merchandise, and “how do you smell to Edward” quizzes. It’s that Edward and Bella and Jacob are shoved in our faces twenty four/seven, and the only way to escape is to hide in a cave, devoid of human contact. That’s the real problem with Twilight: it just isn’t deep or timeless enough to call for constant consumption.

Though, I can’t really think of any story that is. Can you?

Vampire Sex: Safe of Dangerous?

"Are those your fangs or are you just happy to see me?"

I recently finished the book Vampires: From Dracula to Twilight – The Complete Guide to Vampire Mythology by Charlotte Monatgue. I have mixed feelings on the book in general, but one point aggravates me. Ms. Monatgue attempts, as many have before, to explain the psychological reasons for the appeal of vampires. She asserts that the vampire is an object of “safe” sex – aka, the bite being symbolic of intercourse without the actual act of invasion – and that this is what appeals to the female mind.

I can’t speak for every woman, but I’m afraid “safe” is not a word I associate with vampires. In fact, they’re really the ultimate bad boy and about as “un-safe” as you can get, without befriending a serial killer.

Oh, wait.

Moving past the idea that vampires are essentially murderers – whether he’s “vegetarian” or not, even Edward Cullen soils his hands with the blood of his own kind – vampires are dangerous, and an intimate relationship with them is tantamount to playing with fire. Whether it is a mythos that involves only oral blood drinking, or one that mixes sexual intercourse with blood, there’s still a common denominator: the blood. No matter how you slice it, the vampire partner gets their jollies by sucking something out of their human lover that the human needs to stay alive. And, if they wanted to, they could drain their partner completely dry. Talk about a way to go.

But of course, they don’t. Like the warrior men of old, or of a Harlequin Historical, the vampire is bigger, stronger, faster and generally physically superior to their weaker female counterparts.  He could kill, maim, crush or destroy her in a moment, but he doesn’t because, of course, he loves her deeply. The vampire is an extension of the basic instincts where the woman looks for the toughest, strongest, alpha male because he’s the one who’s going to have the better shelter, the bigger share of the hunt, and the higher place in the tribe. Of course, our society has gotten rid of those things and replaced this alpha strength with money. The human instinct just hasn’t figured that out yet.

If that wasn’t enough, many mythologies give the vampire, or at least the vampire hero, mind reading abilities so that not only can he now crush his female or empty her like a juice box, he can now see every nasty, spiteful, dirty, evil, or just plain dumb things that lurks in the deepest recesses of her mind. Of course, so long as he can help it, he doesn’t out of that same love and respect for her. But, he could.

So what is the balance to this ultimate danger? The ultimate thrill, of course. Everyone knows that an orgasm caused by a vampire bite can’t begin to compete with what we mere mortals can enjoy. Just as a thrill seeker will leap from an airplane, so will the vampire’s human lover will risk life and limb. Because, far from being safe, vampire blood-drinking-mind-reading intimacy is on a whole new level. After all, you really can’t get more connected – or more invaded – than that.

And on a similar subject, you can read an excerpt of the upcoming Rolling Stone’s article “The Joys of Vampire Sex” http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/17389/191809 (special thanks to Dawn for the link!)

Or, a great article by Bertena Varney called The Lure of the Dead Boyfriend: http://markdeniz.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/the-lure-of-the-dead-boyfriend

So what do you think? Are vampires appealing because they’re dangerous, or safe?

Do Chupacabras Glitter?

So what is a chupacabra? The chupacabra is a legendary creature, most notably in Mexico, Texas, and other southern regions, that is said to suck the blood from goats. In fact the name chupacabra means “goat sucker”. Pretty fun, huh?

Because this legendary animal is said to suck blood, it is often thrown in with vampires. In fact, one article from yahoo states that a person should “Think of them as a less sexy version of “Twilight”‘s infamous vampire Edward Cullen.” (I’m not going to comment on the fact that “vampire” is synonymous with “Edward Cullen”.)

Recently, there’s been yet another reported sighting of the animal in Hood county Texas. In fact, animal control shot what looks like a very ugly hairless dog. I have a video of it from NBC:

Of course, it should be easy for authorities to tell if it’s a vampire or not.  Does it glitter in the sunlight?

(hee-hee, you knew it was coming!)

On second thought, if it doesn’t glitter, maybe it is a real vampire after all.

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