Do You Like Reading Bountiful Books? Welcome!

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Masterpiece Marketplace

We’re glad to meet you here. We’re a band of people who read bountiful books – and write them, too!

If you’re like us, you’ve been frustrated by how hard it is to find the kind of reading material you like: bigger-than-life books in the grand tradition of the Literary Fiction classics, and ambitious Fusion Fiction that pushes the envelope of modern publishing by crossing several genre lines.

We all love reading language that paints pictures inside our heads, and we’re not bothered if we occasionally have to pick up a thesaurus or dictionary, to learn some new vocabulary we found in a great book.

We want to read stories that make us think and feel: to laugh, cry, get mad, have hope, be happy, surprised, satisfied.

We’ve often been so disappointed by modern fiction, that we’ve thought, “I could write better than that!”

And many of us felt driven to do so – but you don’t…

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New Free Cooperative Book Listing Site.

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IRISH FIREBRANDS: A Novel ~ and Other Works by Christine Plouvier, Indie Author

Announcing MasterpieceMarketplace, dedicated to serving the writers and readers of Literary Fiction and Fusion Fiction.

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Genre or Commercial Fiction doesn’t need much help getting seen and getting sold; that’s why it’s the bread-and-butter book for many authors to write. However, some authors also yearn to find an audience for their magnum opus: the lavish Literary or Fusion Fiction (multi-genre) novel they spent many loving years writing, but which may be hard to classify, and thus can’t be located amid the torrent of novellas and novelettes that flood the modern market.

There are also many readers who search for stories in which they can lose themselves for longer than a weekend afternoon. They’re the big-book fans of historical novels, family sagas, and multi-genre works that paint pictures inside their heads while portraying the intricacies of the human condition, in the literary classic writing style that can be hard to find on the virtual shelves of online retailers.

Masterpiece Marketplace exists to help bring together these writers and readers. It’s…

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Once upon a time…

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Choosing a book from library stacks or bookstore shelves used to be a simple and satisfying voyage of discovery. The options were Fiction or Nonfiction. If the reader’s choice was Nonfiction, there was the Dewey Decimal System to help locate a topic. If the choice was Fiction, there was the division between Adult and Juvenile. Within these categories, authors were ranged alphabetically, enabling readers to browse without borders. If readers wanted fiction subject guidance, Dewey could help with that, too.

Photo by Stuart Cale, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Stuart Cale, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Many readers seem to have lost faith in their ability to find fiction they’d like to read, at the level of meaning that’s important to them. Responsibility for this sad state lies with the BISAC marketing category codes, which were invented over lunch at a trade show in the 1970s, by a few marketing people who didn’t like the Dewey Decimal System. The people who wrote the BISAC acknowledge that any number of codes could be assigned to a book, but they recommend using no more than three. CreateSpace print-on-demand permits only one, and Smashwords e-book aggregator allows two.

This conveys to readers two unfortunate misunderstandings: first, that fiction can only be “about” one thing (meaning, it can be written in only one genre); and second, that a novel which strays from a single topic or genre is not a well-written book. In addition, when a BISAC marketing category is discontinued (an arbitrary decision based on fluctuating sales trends), the books that are tagged with that category also disappear (unless their authors become aware of the change and re-categorize the books).

Indiana State Library system catalog entry for Irish Firebrands. Click image to view full entry.

All of these factors make good books hard to find, as well as constituting  a stranglehold on creativity, as writers strive to make their works conform to unrealistic, ephemeral marketing expectations. Dewey Decimal System classifications are also retired as the system is refined, but the affected books migrate into new, related classifications, thus remaining findable; and because Dewey classification is made after publication by people who are educated in library science (not by an author, nor by a traditional publisher’s marketing department), it does not adversely affect the creative process.

Helping Readers Find FUSION FICTION

Life is not lived in only one genre. Works that cross genre lines tend to stand the test of time, because of their broader applicability to the human condition. This makes FUSION FICTION the category of classic literature. Modern digital technology also makes it possible for books never to go out of print. Writers need to build reader recognition for the unique and lasting value of stories that synthesize multiple genres.

It’s important for independent author-publishers to mention the category of FUSION FICTION in synopses, blurbs and other promotional materials, in addition to picking from several applicable genres, when classifying their cross-genre works.

If you write FUSION FICTION, please sign up to join this blog. See menu for details.

Fusion Fiction and the Romance Genre.

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The meaning of the writing term “Romance” has evolved over the centuries and in different literary locales. We’ll use the word in the current “genre” sense: that of a love story which ends Happily Ever After (HEA) or Happy For Now (HFN).

While pondering the path of a fictional romantic journey, it occurred to me that the story arc of a romance aptly resembles the shape of what’s called “normal sinus rhythm,” as it’s traced on an electrocardiogram (ECG). (This is not surprising, because I’m a retired Registered Nurse.) Perhaps you’ve had an ECG done, as part of a physical exam, or to prepare for surgery. In brief, this is how it works:

The ECG electrodes detect and the readout depicts the wave of electrical energy that’s generated by the heart, and results in the “lub-dub” of a heartbeat. The letters P, Q, R, S, and T are used to label the events of a heartbeat. Measurements of the size and shape of each part of the waveform, and the time intervals between them, are used to calculate whether or not there is an arrhythmia that may indicate a problem with the anatomy or physiology of the heart.

Because falling in love seems to affect the short-term behavior of a person’s heart, we’ll co-opt an ECG and its alphabetical labels to illustrate and explain the Romance Story Arc:

The Romance Story Arc

P: Provocation. This event interrupts the characters’ prior routines: Something happens to provoke the attention of another person, so that neither of the characters can go back to the way they lived before they met.

Q: Questioning. Not long after Fate throws these people under the Boy-Meets-Girl Bus, they begin to feel the bruises. Because they’re not always getting along well, one or both inwardly question the friendship, but neither one feels like walking away from the relationship.

R: Realization / Rapture. Eventually the blinkers come off, and these individuals figure out that they should be – or, in the case of rapturous consummation, they have become – an “item.” 

S: Separation / Sadness. Something happens to keep the lovebirds apart. This situation is often associated with “The Black Moment,” when all seems lost, and that there is no future for the relationship, after all.

T: Togetherness. At last, there’s a breakthrough, and the characters can form the couple they were meant to be: HEA or HFN.

The Traditional Story Arc.

PlotmountainThe simple “category” romance story arc causes critics to charge the genre with its being a trite, clichéd, formulaic trope. There are thousands of romance novels, including dual-genre romances; plus Literary Fiction, with its many romantic subplots. The expectation that each be as unique as a snowflake seems to have the odds of a snowball in Hades. 

Irish Firebrands : A Fusion Fiction Romance.

Romance: There is no “save the” or “solve the” plot. A developing romantic relationship is the primary focus. 

Boomer-Lit / Aging: Instead of the classic “young love,” the Love Interest and her two Heartthrobs are middle-aged.

Psychological Fiction: Because they are people who have had plenty of time to develop the ingrained habits of their personalities, there are ample opportunities for them to rub each other the wrong way.

Multicultural and Social Controversy Melodrama: They also each have various personal and cultural reasons not to come clean with their real, romantic feelings for one another, until it seems as if it’s too late for them to do anything about it.

Paranormal or Occult / Supernatural: There’s something that’s not quite … right … going on, throughout the story.

The Fusion Fiction Advantage.

ECG-P+QRSkomplex+TFusion Fiction, in which romance is only one of several ways to read a particular book, encourages us to look at the arc as if it were an ECG instead of a bell-shaped curve. It shows that the solution to every critical objection is not to sweat blood over coming up with something new, but just to give the trope a plausible twist. The combination of genres between the covers of a Fusion Fiction novel are what make this flexibility possible.

If you write Fusion Fiction, please sign up to form a community of Authors with a vision for their art.

The Plot Thickens….

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Readers who are familiar with the Irish Firebrands blog know that I’m an organic, or pantser writer: I don’t pick a plot and then plan a story around it. My stories come to me spontaneously, and are written that way, too, supplemented by research forays that happen when I discover a knowledge deficit that must be remedied, in order for me to plausibly develop a character or scene. I write in a non-linear way, and I generally know the end of the story before I know how it’s going to get there. The discovery of a plot comes after the fact, meaning that most of the book has been written, and I’m filling in gaps.

The writing process of plotting and outlining may be a consequence of elementary and secondary school composition lessons that were based on the reading and teacher-guided deconstructing of finished works of literature. Nobody knew the author’s writing process, but because the story was read from beginning to end, it was assumed that it had been written that way. Moreover, the requirements to come up with a topic, and then to pre-write an assignment by outlining it, were internalized by students who became convinced that these were unalterable rules for writing behavior that must be followed. 

A great many commercially successful works are produced in this way, and it may be the origin of much good single-genre fiction. But detailed planning and outlining also encourage plot-driven writing, which is inherently limiting, because the pressure to produce may lead to writing according to a formula or template: a predictable product, finished fast. 

Some writing theorists believe that these templates can be identified by a limited number of basic plots. Here is one famous list:

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Comedy
  6. Tragedy
  7. Rebirth  

I believe it’s even simpler, and that there are only three basic plots: The Little Tailor, Boy Meets Girl, and Sadder But Wiser (sometimes called Gains the World but Loses Own Soul). Most of the seven suggested plots are just topics that fall under the three fundamental plots:

  • The Little Tailor encompasses numbers 1-4 and 7.
  • Number 5 is just an approach to storytelling, it’s not a story in itself: any tale but a tragedy can be told in a humorous way, and even tragedies will often inject some comic relief.
  • Number 6 is Sadder But Wiser. Some tragedies also incorporate a small degree of number 7 at the very end, but it’s usually a deathbed kind of thing for the tragic character: “too little, too late.”
  • Number 7 also falls under Boy Meets Girl.

A case can also be made for there being only one plot: Transformation. This is because the protagonist of every novel must undergo some degree of change to personality and/or motivation. In this respect, Boy Meets Girl is the most purely transformative tale, which is why love story subplots show up in novels of all genres. Falling in love provides a character with just enough change to keep readers interested. 

The fewer “plot” options there are, the more opportunities there are for change, because the writer is freer to incorporate innovative developments in characterization and action. The story can encompass a broader range of human experience, which is critical to the plausibility that maintains the reader’s suspension of disbelief. This flexibility is the foundation of Fusion Fiction.

Contrast this to the BISAC concept of “genre” classification: a multitude of book categories, each of which, although officially undefined, prescribe single-topic plot concepts that closely circumscribe allowable setting, character and action options, in conformance with artificially imposed limits on the expectations and imaginations of readers. No wonder the authors of Fusion Fiction find it difficult to select a BISAC category that can accurately describe their works. 

If a work of fiction cannot be accurately described by current marketing categories, then its author cannot reasonably expect it to be found by readers. If it does happen to be discovered, its author can hope that readers will be pleasantly surprised by its uniqueness, and because it delivers much more than what the deceptively simple genre code represented; nevertheless, it also risks rejection because it doesn’t “conform.”

If you write Fusion Fiction, act now to begin improving the accurate discoverability of your works: register with this website. Your text, graphics, and trailers will receive free promotion, and you will help build a community of like-minded talent, whose voices can be united to make the marketing of our Art more effective and successful. 

Fusion Fiction as Third Rail Writing.

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Blog posts about banned books have shown that, unlike the other Arts, inappropriate taboos are still inflicted on the Art of Writing. These restrictions define and confine a Third Rail: supercharged concepts barricaded behind signs that say, Don’t write here.

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Included among these powerful ideas are dilemmas that can affect love stories, such as something that prevents them from ending Happily Ever After (or at least Happy For Now); or whatever may be perceived as altering the distribution of power that’s assumed to accompany sexual dimorphism, such as a heroine who is more economically successful or sexually experienced than the hero; and even passionate middle-aged or elderly lovers. Such strong stories can end up being shelved as Women’s Fiction, a vague category that’s guaranteed to obscure almost any book that lands there.

Another warning sign above the Third Rail is the dogma that proscribes a writer’s crossing genre lines. Oddly enough, this prohibition conflicts with the doctrine that urges the cultivation of name recognition: to achieve branding as a great storyteller. The ability to spin a good yarn is a personal trait, independent of the type of story being told. To suggest that the teller of a well-told story in one genre will lose readership by switching to another, can only be a fairy tale told by trolls intent on derailing an author’s reputation for effective writing.

Related to this is the persistent lack of an official category for what I call Fusion Fiction: crossing genre lines within one work. Irish Firebrands is one such book, because of its combination of Boomer-Lit, romantic beach-read,  social-political-historical commentary, paranormal, inspirational, and psychological elements.

Crossing genre lines within one work offers a reader the opportunity to focus on the desired aspect of the reading experience. If you’re looking for a love story, wallow in it. If you like to puzzle out paranormal clues, have at it. If you want to get inside the heads of characters in a psychological melodrama, go for it. If you’re into to learning facts or skills, or traveling to a different place or time to experience a culture or history, more power to you. If you seek encouragement from reading a story that’s uplifting, inspirational, metaphysical or visionary, be my guest. If you enjoy thought-provoking controversy or pungent social commentary, prepare to be pungently provoked.

Unfortunately, the effort to avoid crossing genre lines within one story, may be what makes it difficult for some who do write within a single genre to create well-developed characters. I can think of nothing that’s better guaranteed to result in a flat, uninteresting “cardboard” character, than to deny that character the opportunity to think, say, and live the variety of things that real people get to do.

Moreover, social, political, or historical commentary, psychopathology, and metaphysical or inspirational themes are also among the subjects that can electrify the Third Rail. When character-catalyzing controversies are made off-limits, writers may resort to awkward back-story data dumping, relying on excessively detailed physical descriptions, and proposing improbable plots to drive their stories.

Should all stories combine genres? Perhaps not, but the leavening that some amount of mixing can provide, would go far towards eliminating charges of “formulaic” genre fiction.

Fusion Fiction powered by the Third Rail invites readers to an experience as vivid and varied as any may wish life would be. If a story challenges me to join up the dots in a different way, every time I re-read it, you’ll find that novel in my bookcase.

Do YOU write FUSION FICTION? Please register for FREE promotion, and help build a community of like-minded Authors of mixed-genre Written Art.

Click this image to learn more about the writing of the Fusion Fiction novel, Irish Firebrands, at our sister site. 

Your Literary Legacy.

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To many readers, the name Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) turns on the lights in their attics about poetry books for kids. But Silverstein had a long and varied career as a newspaper and magazine cartoonist, and as a songwriter: one of his hit songs was A Boy Named Sue.

Authors who keep to one genre of writing can certainly become specialists in their fields, although they’re also undertaking to search the same mine for new veins, in order to keep their output fresh. For some, this presents no problem: they were fortunate enough to have struck a mother lode, where their imaginations can excavate profitably for perhaps as long as a lifetime. Most end up moving mountains of slag, to produce each story.

For others, digging for more stories in the same genre feels claustrophobic: going down a dark mine shaft when they’d rather be working out in the open, traveling the territory and panning many streams. Some of these penman prospectors also look for precious gemstones among the genre pebbles, and by using literary lapidary, they can set these within their works, to lend additional color and light.

Authors in the second group are writing Fusion Fiction: a writing category that combines multiple genres within individual works, or across a writer’s corpora. Such cross-genre writing constitutes the synthesis of written thought: much as gems and precious metals are combined to make jewelry, and how rings, brooches, necklaces and diadems, taken together, constitute a monarch’s crown jewels.

If you’re writing Fusion Fiction, as a knowledgeable literary prospector, the written treasure you’re collating is no more a flash in the pan, than the collections of a skillful single-genre miner can be dismissed out-of-hand as fool’s gold. People want to read the kind of writing found in Fusion Fiction, but in a marketplace that’s been set up to favor single-genre works and writers, your style of storytelling is hard to find.

That’s why you’re invited to register your published writing for free promotion at the Fusion Fiction website. By coming together, writers who cross genre lines will raise their profiles and create an equitable marketplace for their unique works of Written Art. Like the existence of Shel Silverstein’s many cross-genre contributions, your literary legacy as a Fusion Fiction Author deserves to be known.

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What’s Fusion Fiction?

FUSION FICTION: Ascending New Heights, Accessing Many Depths

FUSION FICTION: Ascending New Heights, Accessing Many Depths

Fusion Fiction is rooted in the great literary masterworks of the past, written by wordsmiths who were capable of telling broad stories that had meaning on many levels for their audience. This early literature had grown out of the oral traditions of bards and poets who informed and entertained pre-literate cultures for millennia.

Today, it’s the kind of story that defies classification in a single marketing code category. It’s also the kind of writing that agents hesitate to represent, because traditional publishers are unwilling to print it. 

This is not due to a readership problem: Industrialized nations have achieved almost universal literacy, and developing nations are rapidly closing the gap. It’s a business decision, based on contemporary theories about marketing research and controlling the flow of supply and demand. Even some libraries have adopted the marketing code system of genre classification.

Many authors are content to follow marketing trends, and they specialize in strictly single-genre writing. Tens of thousands of their works populate each of the marketing code-oriented real and virtual shelves of booksellers, worldwide. 

Other writers are still inspired to tell stories that synthesize several subjects at multiple depths. Modern readers are as capable of appreciating these works as were their forebears; nevertheless, the marketing code owners group recommends that such books be given no more than three codes. Most cross-genre fiction displays only one marketing code category.

Thus, contemporary marketing strategies – primarily the unexplained and unreliable marketing codes, which the owners group will not publicly define, and which can be arbitrarily discontinued at any time – do not promote the easy and accurate discoverability of cross-genre fiction. Hence, the grassroots formation of the Fusion Fiction category, and the establishment of this internet site, to promote it.

Fusion Fiction also includes a sub-genre called “Fission”:

Do you write stand-alone fiction that crosses genre lines within its covers? That’s Fusion!

Do you write single-genre fiction in different genres? That’s Fission!

Both kinds of work are welcome for free promotion here!