There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

What’s in Your Wallet . . . um . . . on Your TBR List August 31, 2013

Filed under: Reading — thereanddraftagain @ 5:40 am
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I’ve been a reading machine of late. It helps when I’m noodling plot problems, or am eyeball deep in edits. My brain gets to relax and wander in someone elses world for a change. Some of the reading I’ve been doing has been of the Beta/Critiquing kind. I always feel honored when another writer puts that kind of trust in me. And it’s fun to get a glimpse at what the rest of the world is going to have to wait a while to see. Neener, neener.

*ahem*

So, ah, anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the books I’ve gobbled down to give you all something for your own reading lists. I’ll stick to those in the fantasy genre as that’s what we’re all here for. I won’t review them here. Some I have reviewed on my blog, Amazon, GoodReads, etc. And some I still owe reviews for. Suffice it to say, if they’re on this list, I loved and highly recommend them.  Unless I note otherwise.

First, I have to say, for some reason I’ve jumped into a lot of series lately. I have a love-hate relationship with series. I love them because if I like the characters and the world I don’t ever want their tales to end. I hate them because there is usually a wait until the next book comes out. An agonizingly long wait which I find myself on both sides of. So though I understand it completely, I’m terribly impatient.

I’ve also found myself leaning toward the grimdark fantasies. They have a tendency to put you smack-dab in a character’s skin to the point of sometimes being uncomfortable, which is why they get a bad rap from some reviewers. I’ve always figured, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. No harm, no foul. Every book is definitely not for every reader.

Okay, onward. Here we go:

Coldness of Marek by Rachel O’Laughlin

The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan — Actually, the whole Ryria Series. This one and The Rose and Thorn (Release date in Sept) are prequels. Three other books are already written and can be read first without ruining anything. In fact, it made The Crown Tower even more enjoyable.

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick

Broken Aro and Broken Prince by Jen Wylie

The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, and Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

The Last Swordmage by Martin F. Hengst

So, there you have it. The one thing all these tales have in common, besides being well-written and engaging, are strong characters and excellent world building. Many of the characters are flawed seemingly beyond hope which only fuels my page-turning addiction. Quite a few of the authors incorporate a dry sense of humor which I am partial to as it pretty much echoes my own. Have you read any of the books on my list? Have some that I may have missed by similar authors? I’m always open to something new . . .

~ Kathi

 

 

Heirs of War Cover Reveal! August 30, 2013

Filed under: Reading — thereanddraftagain @ 12:01 am

Hi everyone!

Today we are delighted to share with you the cover of Mara’s book, HEIRS OF WAR! It’s a New Adult Fantasy, the first book in the HEIRS OF WAR series, and it’s coming out September 13th, 2013. You can add it on Goodreads here. Don’t be shy, join the party!

Here  is the HEIRS OF WAR blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Zelene doesn’t believe in magic or prophecies. When she’s told she is part of the prophecy foretelling five powerful girls bringing peace to the war-torn worlds, she scoffs. The idea of other dimensions layered on top of the world she lives in is almost as ludicrous as the idea that she might be able to save them. After she is attacked by magic-wielding assassins, she finds she can’t argue with reality.

As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.

Zelene views them all with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no, and can think of a place or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to go against an army of magic-wielding rebels when her own ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her. But can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

And here is a little bit about Mara:

Mara Author Pic

Mara Valderran has been coming up with stories pretty almost since she could talk, often commandeering her brother’s G.I. Joes to play out her fictional tales alongside her Barbies. Once she hit adolescence and realized playing with dolls wasn’t cool anymore, she started putting her ideas to paper. And she hasn’t stopped since.

Mara is more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She lives in the south with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or spending time at her favorite local coffee shop.

You can find Mara on her website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

And now, for the cover reveal… (drumroll)…

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Isn’t it great?!

But wait! That’s not all! Mara is holding a Pre-Release Giveaway on her blog. Enter here for a chance to win a copy of the book, swag, a $25 Amazon giftcard, and a character named after you in Book 2. So go forth and enter!

And don’t forget to congratulate Mara in the comment section below!

 

Book Review: The False Prince August 28, 2013

Hello There and Draft Again Readers!

Today I’m bringing you my personal review of The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. (SPOILER ALERT: I LOVED it).

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Without giving too much away, the plot centers around a boy by the name of Sage. He has lived in and out of orphanages for the past four years, until he is picked off the streets by a noble man named of Connor. Sage, along with three other boys, must compete with one another to become lords and viable options for the now vacant throne of their kingdom.

Sounds like your basic rags to riches story, right? It was the main reason I didn’t pick it up at first. I passed by it at least ten times in the store, reading the back and putting it back down because I thought it was basically The Hunger Games with less kids and no killing. Boy, was I wrong. I eventually broke down and bought it and I’m really glad I did. The story has a really tight narrative and although it doesn’t have the heart-pound tension of The Hunger Games, there is something about it that makes it nearly impossible to put down. Almost a nagging sort of mystery where you just have to find out what happens next. Sage is a unique character, constantly fighting back against Connor’s plan while seeming oddly in front of  him at every turn. A plot point in the novel I thought was just the author letting herself soak into the character. I was wrong about that as well. There is a very real reason behind why Sage knows so much and it was a twist I didn’t see coming at all.

moriarty___surprise_face___gif_by_talichibi-d4rwq08I will forewarn all who like romance in their stories that this one has nearly none. There is a potential relationship set up for the second or third book in the series, but nothing happens other than a couple conversation with zero romantic overtones. I will also forewarn you that there is a break in the first person narrative where the story goes into third person. I don’t feel that particular chapter had to be done in third person, I believe it could’ve kept with the first person narrative and still been successful in its goal of informing the reader. That particular chapter is the reason I am not giving the book a perfect five out of five stars. It really threw me out of the reading groove I had going on, and you never ruin a readers groove.

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Overall I give this novel a 4.5/5.0!

Goodreads gives it a 4.2/5.0

I deem it a great example of a epic fantasy without wars or magic. If that’s the kind of book you are thinking about writing or have written, read this one! It could prove to be a great comp title for you.

Happy Reading Everyone!

Jessica

 

Under the Umbrella August 24, 2013

Filed under: Reading,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 1:58 pm
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So we all like fantasy. That much is obvious. But here’s the thing, folks: even if we enjoy reading and writing fantastical stories, there’s more to the fantasy genre than just spells and unicorns. And although we share a common love of fantasy, our specific interests tend to fall into the sub-genres of fantasy that are lesser known than the umbrella term. If someone said, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Mortal Instruments and Shadow and Bone—would you know they belong in different sub genres of fantasy? For those of you that want some clarification, check out the descriptions below:

Urban: Set in an urban environment, the fantasy elements generally blend together with the location for the story somehow or another.

Epic: Adventures, travels and a wide scope of events comprise this category that is most widely associated with the genre.

Contemporary: This can sometimes blur with Urban, but more often than not, in this brand of fantasy, it takes place during a contemporary time period and the plot issues or character types are also branded with a time stamp.

Dark: This is a special sub-genre because it could crossover with the aforementioned categories but by adding elements of horror, it turns the tone of the story into the darker end of the spectrum.

There are such great options to explore in the fantasy genre that it can be discouraging to see people stereotype the novels as they long have been. Just like another great classic, the cookie, there are several ways to make it different, but the possibilities for unique variations are endless.

What subgenre do you write? And which do you read the most?

~ Rachel H

 

The Quest for a Critique Partner August 22, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:28 am
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Hi everyone!

Today I’d like to share a few tips about finding the right Critique Partner(s).

FrodoSam

What is a Critique Partner?

A writer working alone always gets to a point where he needs another set of eyes to let him know how he can make his Work In Progress better. Beta readers can help by pointing out what they liked or disliked in the story’s plot, structure and characters. But their advice can only take the writer so far, because they are only readers, as their designation points out. Enter the Critique Partner. A Critique Partner is a writer, who can help another writer with all the aspects of his story, from plot holes to grammar mistakes.

Where can you find a Critique Partner?

If you’re lucky enough to have a local critique group, start there. But if you don’t have anyone in real life you feel can fill this role, look online.

– Social media is a good place to start, especially Twitter.

– Specialised websites also offer to help writers get in touch: Ladies Who Critique, How About We CP, CP Seek, She Writes, PublishingCrawl.

– Online writing conferences and writing contests are also a great way to find people who write your genre: WriteOnCon, PitchMadness, PitchMas, PitchWars, GUTGAA, the Haunted Writing Clinic, etc.

– For those of you writing MG/YA Fantasy, do check out the SCBWI forums and YA Writers Reddit.

– The National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo and CampNaNo) are also a good way to find writers in your genre.

– And don’t forget forums like Absolutewrite and Agent Query Connect.

How do I know I’ve found the right Critique Partner?

A CP’s feedback needs to be honest, constructive and helpful. But this works both ways: your feedback on your CP’s manuscript also needs to be honest, constructive and helpful. You need to agree on time frames, manuscript length and genre.

Most partnerships start with a casual conversation, then a first chapters swap. If you’re happy with the feedback received/given, you can move on to full manuscripts, and hopefully a long-term friendship!

How can you make it work?

Finding a good match isn’t easy: don’t be afraid to say ‘this isn’t working for me’ if you feel your CP’s feedback isn’t what you expect. Chances are you are going to be reading A LOT of each other’s writing in the next few years, so you need to be happy with each other’s schedules and comments. Balance is key: this is a partnership, and ideally both writers are at the same stage in their writing.

You know you’ve found the right CP if you feel this balance is there, and if you think your partnership works both ways. Hopefully this partnership turns into friendship, and your CP becomes the first person you turn to for anything related to your writing career, whether you’ve jut received a request for your manuscript or hit rock bottom while drafting your Work In Progress.

So tell us: do you have a hard time finding a CP? If you have a CP, where did you find each other? Let us know in the comments below!

EM Castellan

 

Self-Publishing: Why and How August 17, 2013

Filed under: Publishing — thereanddraftagain @ 9:12 pm
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Hi there my wonderful There and Draft Again folks!

I’ve been quite busy with a blog tour, beginning August 5 and ending yesterday, August 16. I have to say, it’s been a wild two weeks. For those of you who aren’t sure what the whole blog tour buzz is all about, it’s pretty much a stampede of guest blog stops (all penned by yours truly) for the sole purpose of getting the word out about my book. And there’s nothing I, as a writer of fiction, would like to avoid more.

The trouble is, that’s not the kind of writing I’m good at. If I wanted to talk about real life, I’d write non-fiction. I’d be a journalist. I’d compose how-to manuals and advertising copy. This is SO NOT my thing. For the Coldness of Marek Blog Tour, I had to set aside four weeks of writing time. Which is just ridiculous. I mean, I can write a whole novel draft in four weeks. Why all this time for a blog tour? Well, probably because I spent hours tapping at my keyboard, only to backspace every word. I pretty much looked like this:

And at the end of the day I had nothing to show for it. I just checked my stats, and apparently I wrote 15k in blog tour material. That’s nothing. That’s piddly. That is me being terribly inefficient. Not to mention all of my friends’ manuscripts that were piling up, waiting to be critiqued/read/loved. To round it all out, our fearless There and Draft Again leader, EM Castellan, asked me to write a post about self-publishing.  I was all, yeah, okay! But inside I was thinking, um, this is the first time I’ve ever done this. I have nothing to say about self-publishing.

Well, after 15k in blog tour posts, I’ve discovered that actually, I do. I have a lot to say. So listen up, anyone interested in self-publishing — or interested in raising an eyebrow or two about self-publishing — here’s my mighty rundown. Ready? Go.

First, don’t judge. If you set out to self-publish, do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it because you’re bitter about not getting a traditional deal. Don’t do it to show the world you’re better than them. Don’t do it because you think you work harder than agented writers and you think you should earn more of your profits. That’s all just stupid-face talking. Do it because you have sound, positive reasons for believing this is the right direction for your book — and one of those reasons should be because you love stories and love sharing them.

My reasons were: I honestly couldn’t sit down and tell you my entire plan for this three (four?) book series. I don’t have an entire plan. I have a tentative plan. An agent needs to be able to know exactly what you’re planning to put into your career so that s/he can help you get what you need out of it. I didn’t want that type of give/take. I wanted to go it alone, at an even pace with an evolving plan. I wanted to get to know each of my readers, like a street musician does.

Second, go about it the right way. Make sure you ask for help from the right people. Everything is pretty much up to you, but the one important ingredient that everyone MUST HAVE is an editor who knows what they’re doing. Get one. Get one you can trust to call you out on your shiz. Get them yesterday.

My “right way” was comprised of:

My wonderful critique partner who doubled as my line editor, who knew my story inside and outside and who fielded my freak-out texts as well.

An incredible professional editor who (did NOT field my freak-out texts because that is NOT her job. Do not abuse your editor) cut all the last stupid and lame and dumb lines from my story…oh, and also fixed the grammar, too.

An artist friend who was willing to do cover art for me.

A street team comprised of a handful of volunteer heroes who loved me and/or my writing and were willing to yell about it before they even had ARCs, because they’re loyal and golden and the salt of the earth.

A hundred dollars worth of cute swag to give away.

Advanced reading copies of my book to send to reviewers.

And…that’s all.

Third, be yourself. Don’t sweat over trying to sound like all the other authors you’ve heard interviewed. Don’t put other authors down to try to make yourself look better. Be humble and straightforward, be professional and talk about the things you’re knowledgeable about. Just let it flow.

Being myself required: Checking my assumptions at the door. I couldn’t assume anything about what I would accomplish with my book release, how people would view my writing, and where I would be after a few weeks of being out there in the market. I had to be wide-eyed and fresh, and open up as if I was meeting new people at preschool. I had to stare loads of my insecurities in the face and tell them to stand down. It was scary and crazy, but it all worked out pretty well, and once I settled into it, there was actually some pretty fun stuff that happened.

Fourth, be grateful. Be grateful to everyone who bought it. Be grateful to everyone who got your novel ready for market, who made it look pretty and polished your prose. Be grateful to everyone who reviewed it. Be grateful to everyone on your street team, cover reveal, and blog tour. Be grateful to everyone who talked about it to their friends and on social media. Be grateful for the traditional platform that produced books for centuries to kindle the love of literature that now allows you to sell your book to readers everywhere. Be grateful for an economy that is able to support self-published authors.

I’m grateful to: Rebecca Weston, Darci Cole, Amanda Aszman, M. Andrew Patterson, Michelle Roberts, H.E. Griffin, Steve Knapp, E.M. Castellan, Joshua David Bellin, Lauren Garafalo, Lucy Hershbine, Serena Lawless, Kathi L. Schwengel, Mara Valderran, Beau Barnett, Nazarea Andrews, Amanda Olivieri, Bill Murphy, Chris Prickitt, Steve Chiasson, Uwe Kruger, Jens Kruger, Andrea Hannah, Leigh Ann Kopans, Dahlia Adler, my friends, family, husband and children.

And I’m grateful for you, lovely reader. Thank you for indulging me and reading a little post about my journey. I appreciate the time it takes for you to read and I hope you enjoyed.

— Rachel O’Laughlin

 

Killer New Fantasy Series? August 14, 2013

Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle is to be a television series. Or at least last month Deadline reported it has been optioned by New Regency Productions and 20th Century Fox television as a drama series.

As a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss, I was initially ecstatic. The Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear are right up there with my all time favourite epic fantasy novels. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. NPR books 2011 poll of Top 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Books had Rothfuss at number 18, a considerable feat for a relatively new author in a list full of classics and established Sci/Fi and Fantasy writers.

With visions of a Game of Thrones type adaptation, I couldn’t wait to see who they cast as Kvothe, the stunningly gifted and brilliantly drawn protagonist. I was also looking forward to seeing the world brought to life – a world Rothfuss portrayed with such depth and detail in the books.

But that was when it all started to unravel somewhat, at least in my mind. Because the books are big, full of nuance and attention to detail, and the story, told by Kvothe in the book is essentially his life story. Would it translate well to screen and still retain the intimacy and magic of the books?

Not withstanding budgets, timeslots and ratings requirements, could it ever live up to reader (my)  expectations?

I have no idea. At this stage it looks like Eric Heisserer (Hours, The Thing) is set to adapt the series and will be the executive producer – so here’s hoping he has a vision. Because with two huge books and the final instalment, The Doors of Stone, due out in 2014, he has a lot of material to work with.

And it’s true I still can’t quite forget what happened to Firefly on Fox’s watch. (Screened out of order and cancelled after one season!) Could my fan-girl heart trust them again?

Or what happened when Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series became The Legend of the Seeker for the small screen – and the story was changed so much there was no hope it would ever follow the books.

At least the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones has shown how it can be done, and with a slew of big budget fantasy movies doing well, perhaps we’ll see more high-quality fantasy television series being made?

– by Raewyn Hewitt