There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Most Anticipated Fantasy Books of 2014 December 29, 2013

Hi everyone !

This is our last post for this year and today I’ve decided to look forward and see which 2014 Fantasy books are the most anticipated… In order to compile the following list, I’ve used several Goodreads lists as well as forums such as this one.

Adult Books:

Bastards and the Knives

The Bastards and the Knives (Gentleman Bastard #0) by Scott Lynch (Expected publication: March 3rd 2014 by Gollancz)

Prince of Fools

Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence (Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by Ace)

The Magician's Land

The Magician’s Land (The Magicians #3) by Lev Grossman (Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Viking)

The Broken Eye

The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks (Expected publication: August 26th 2014 by Orbit)

[NO COVER ART YET]

Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson (Expected publication: 2014 by Tor Books)

Young Adult Books

Defy

Defy (Defy #1) by Sara B. Larson (Expected publication: January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press)

Stolen Songbird

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen (Expected publication: April 1st 2014 by Strange Chemistry)

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor (Expected publication: April 8th 2014 by Little, Brown & Company)

A shard of ice

A Shard of Ice (The Black Symphony Saga #1) by Alivia Anders (Expected publication: April 14th 2014 by Red Alice Press)

Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo (Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.)

What was your favorite Fantasy book in 2013? Which 2014 Fantasy book are you most anticipating? Make sure to leave us your answers below!

EM Castellan

Advertisements
 

Feasts and Traditions December 25, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 5:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m going to be the same old history nut here and draw on tradition in the real world to influence fantasy. I know, I’m like a broken record. But honestly, this is somewhere I don’t see quite as much depth and development in the fantasy genre. There are celebrations and feasts aplenty — usually to celebrate a name/birth day or a great military victory — but it seems like many of us (myself included) gloss over the whole who/where/why/what/how of tradition by stating plainly: “This is what happened and this is how we celebrate it. End of story.” But tradition isn’t usually like that. Not really.

Since it is Christmas Day in much of the world, and countless millions are clustered around trees opening presents, it’s got me thinking about Biblical tradition, and the fact that there actually was no documented celebration of Cristes-messe until long after Christ, and no mention of celebrating his birth anywhere in scripture. Hmm…so this tradition commonly associated with those who follow Christ (since it IS literally titled Christ’s Mass) sprung up from nowhere? I mean, where do we decide it actually began, if it isn’t anywhere in the four books about the Messiah we’re supposedly celebrating?

(Not to mention Jesus was Jewish, and he celebrated Jewish feasts.)

Have you read the Wikipedia history of Christmas? It’s like…whoa. Many people believe Christ’s Mass started with…well, Christ. But it probably started way earlier, as pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice, Sun God, and Epiphany wound their way into new traditions of reveling and drinking that turned into old traditions and then came new traditions of gift giving and tree-worshipping and all vaguely at the same time or before or after it was adopted by the Catholic church as a celebration of the Messiah’s birth and is now a huge consumerism event and ohmigosh my brain is tired. It’s shrouded in complexity, with many influences from Greek and Roman history and worship, and even random Santa Claus/Father Christmas/St. Nicholas connections from worship of Molech in the Middle East waaaaayy back when, all with sometimes very loose or nonexistent ties to Christianity. So maybe it wasn’t even a Christian holiday to begin with? It’s almost impossible to untangle who brought what to the table, because it’s all linked and related because people groups and stories and traditions are often linked and related.

And therein lies my fascination with traditions passed down through centuries of a changing humanity. How do we untangle it? In the pages of a fantasy epic, we probably don’t, and that adds to the realism. To be genuine, it’s got to be deep, confusing, complicated — and even you, the writer, may not know exactly how all of this started thousands of years in the past of your fantasy world. In order to give tradition many facets, consider this:

–Each character has his/her reasons for celebrating.
–Each character has his/her version of how the original feast was celebrated.
–Each character has his/her personal past connected with this feast, since it’s a recurring event.

If you go at it from your key characters’ perspectives alone, you’ll have several different interpretations. And that’s so cool. It’s beautiful, deep, diverse. It can be unsettling (for the character) if they don’t know what they’re celebrating and why. It can be warm and fuzzy because they have good memories connected with tradition. It can be creepy because bloodshed was once involved. Dude, tradition can be your wild card! What happened?

Hmm….

Rachel O’Laughlin

 

The Beginning of a Tale December 21, 2013

Filed under: Reading,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Hello, Readers!

You know, occasionally we here at There & Draft Again come up with some crazy lunatic insane fun ideas. I’ll take the blame for suggesting this one. We’ve decided to present you with an on-going tale. Each month, one or more of us will add to this tale for your readerly enjoyment (we hope). Of course, it’s a fantasy tale, but it will be totally organic in its growth so who knows where it will wind up. To keep off this little venture, I have written an introduction of sorts. Fine. I’ll call it what it is. *duhn duhn da duhn* The Dreaded (dreaded dreaded dreaded) Prologue (prologue prologue prologue). Do you like the echo machine? It’s cool, no?

Okay, on with the tale which I shall title: Okay, I don’t have a title for it yet. We’ll work on that. Enjoy!

PROLOGUE

Once upon a time, and a very long time ago it was, too. . .

Isn’t that how all Fairy Tales begin? But this isn’t your run of the mill fairy tale. Oh, there are fairies, and tales by the plenty, but nothing ordinary lies in wait. You doubt, I know, but allow me to set the scene and begin the telling, and let us see where the words will take us.

Under a crystalline blue sky a woman walks amid the runes of a once great fortress. This is Corrin. Dressed in the greens and browns of the forest, lithe, tall, her black hair bound in a tight braid, she is young. Too young to remember when the spires that lay in crumbled heaps beneath her feet once pierced those late summer clouds gathering above her. Nor does she particularly care. Ancient lore never held her interest.

Those clouds, however, and the heaviness to them, those caught her eye and she frowned.

“Rain. It always has to rain.”

Something scampers over tumbled rock and rotted wood behind her, dislodging a small avalanche. She turns her gaze over her shoulder, unconcerned. In two more breaths a long-legged Wolfhound surges over a pile of rubble and bounds toward her, tongue lolling from the side of its mouth.

“Nice of you to join me, Cafyl,” she says, and though her tone drips with sarcasm, her eyes speak of love and the bond of true companionship. She points skyward. “It’s going to rain. Again. There will be no trail to follow.”

Again.

She mumbles a curse under her breath, idly scratching the hound behind the ears as he rests his huge head against her waist. After a time, she shoulders her pack and resumes picking her way across the runes.

With my luck, she muses to herself, the rain will hold off until nightfall, and I’ll be stuck in the open with only a pine tree for shelter and no hope of a fire.

But she has no one to blame. She has set this task for herself. There is no fame or glory to be found in its success. There will be no celebration in the city on her return. No statue in her likeness will be commissioned of the royal sculptor. Truth be told, the great likelihood  is that no one has even noticed she is gone.

“You, they will miss,” she says to the hound. “Great Cafyl, how will they manage the hunt without you? But Corrin, daughter of dirt and nothing? Too few will wonder where she’s gotten to.”

And so Corrin leaves the runes and continues north, following a trail she will lose to the coming rain.

Less than half a league behind her, a figure pauses in the shadow of the trees, and gazes down the hill at the remains of a once glorious castle. The hooded head turns to track the progress of the receding duo: a girl and a hound. An eager light shines where eyes might be. As the wind picks up, it brings with it the first hint of a coming storm.

And so begins the tale . . .

Watch for the next installment(s) next month. Happy Holidays!

~ K. L. Schwengel

 

Traveling the Hybrid Author Road…Backwards. December 18, 2013

Filed under: Publishing,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 8:30 am
Tags: , , , ,

In October of this year, I published the first book in my fantasy series, Heirs of War all by my onesy-savvy. Okay, not really, because I have an amazing team of supporters behind me, from my editor and cover artist, to my CPs and betas, and to my cohorts here and other writerly friends. Seriously, seriously awesome. But the road to hitting “publish” all on your own isn’t a smooth one, as Rachel O’Laughlin already talked about in her self-publishing story in August. In fact, a lot of people do it way too soon, before their manuscript is anywhere near ready.

I sincerely hope I am not one of those people.

My journey into the publishing world started last summer, though it feels like it has been much longer. I’d finished writing the first and second books of Heirs of War, and had started doing revisions on the latter. HoW1 had been rewritten at least a dozen times at that point, so I felt confident that it was ready.

It really, really wasn’t. Like shamefully far away from being ready.

Image: xAikaNoKurayami on deviantArt

But I didn’t realize that because I didn’t even know what a CP or beta was at that point. So I started researching querying and dove in head first. I queried everyone I could find who might be interested and even joined some query contests. I built wonderful connections that make me very happy that I did things all backwards like (like usual, for me) and got mostly form rejections from agents and small press publishers. Looking back on my query, I can see why. To be honest, I’m still not happy with my blurb, which as the writerly ones out there know, is typically part of your query letter. Well, until you get published. Then maybe you get a better blurb.

I digress. So, rejection after rejection led to a lot of disheartening thoughts. No one was telling me if I was doing anything wrong, and it was testing well with readers. So what was going on? I entered the Haunted Writing Clinic and Contest and wound up with not just one, but two mentors who taught me the error of my writerly ways. Head jumping, passive voice–the works. And I got a couple of requests after that, but only from people who wanted me to R&R (revise and resubmit) and the revisions were massive. Narrowing down POVs to just one or two characters would completely trash the story I have in mind, so I couldn’t do it. Granted, I found a way to narrow down my eleven (!!!!) POVs to five thanks to my amazing editor who knows exactly what to say to me, but still. Two was not doable.

But more than one person had requested these types of revisions, so it led me to some heavy thinking. Was I wasting my time trying to get this book published when it wasn’t going to appeal to the masses? Or did I trust the readers I already had and take a chance on it?

I chose the latter, and I’m really glad I did. Why? Because everything is a learning experience for me, and self-publishing has taught me so much. So much that I’ll have to save that for another post. The short list:

  1. I learned about myself as a writer. I can commit to deadlines, comply with rewrites, and I can strengthen my prose, which I view to be a weakness (I’m no Tolkien or Rowling–I’m a better storyteller than I am writer).
  2. I can build a fanbase. I’ve started doing this through Wattpad. HoW was featured there the month before it released (and in a previous version, not the version that was rewritten and published) and it is still ranked, which feels awesome. Almost 6,000 people have finished reading my book, which has connected me to a lot more readers in a more immediate fashion than I could have ever hoped for. Will this translate into sales for book two? I don’t know, but I’m not worried about it. The most important part for me has been sharing my book and thanks to Wattpad, I’ve done that.
  3. Giving away free stuff is fun! So is swag! Seriously, I could go broke doing this.

The book debuted October 13 and I have only sold 41 copies so far, but that’s about 30 more than I expected with little to no advertising or promotion. I ran a blog tour and have participated in giveaways, donating copies of the book and swag, but nothing over the top. No Facebook ads or anything like that. Just good, old fashioned word of mouth. We’ll see how that works out for me. =) All in all, even though I’m not selling thousands of books already, I feel like I’ve succeeded. People are reading my words, which is beyond awesome. But I’m not anti-traditional, pro-self-publishing by any means.

Image from memecenter.com

A long story to lead up to what I hope to be the next stage of my writing career: The Hybrid Author. Hybrid Authors are, put simply, authors who juggle self-publishing and traditionally publishing their books. Most of the time, from what I’ve seen, it is traditionally published authors branching out and deciding to self-publish their works for their own reasons. They already have a fanbase and already have books for sale out there. You don’t hear many stories of self-published authors getting a deal on another book series.

I’m not talking about self-published authors that get “discovered” like Amanda Hocking or EL James. I’m talking about a self-published author who maybe sold 41 copies of their book deciding to query their next series and actually succeeding. This is really rough and new territory. Last year, a lot of people in the publishing industry would have advised against this sort of move or told me to take my book off sale while I query the other one. To be clear, I just finished writing a YA dystopian that I plan to turn into a series. I don’t want to shop HoW around again. That’s my baby. No touchy.

But this dystopian has a wider audience, I think, and is just easier to market in general. It took me forever to figure out that HoW was New Adult, but this book is most definitely Young Adult. It’s also first person POV, which was odd for me but paid off in the end. Anyway, bottom line: Easier to market, and traditionally publishing still appeals to me. I think a publisher can do a lot more with this book than I have the power to right now.

But what will an agent say when they find out I have another book out that isn’t making any best seller lists? Will they care that I was featured on Wattpad or how many followers I have there? How can a self-published author move into traditional territory?

I guess we’ll see where this next year takes me and if I have any answers for those questions. Until then, tell me your thoughts. What do you think of the hybrid author model, and do you think it’s possible to work backwards from self-publishing? Or is it traditional all the way for you? There is no one right path, but I love hearing about yours!

~Mara Valderran
 

Fantasy Diversity December 14, 2013

Before people wrote down stories, the whimsical orations of fantasy worlds and fantastical events were the entertainment of a population. As such, fantasy has garnished a reputation that seems to demand certain elements be involved in the tale lest it no longer be considered fantasy. This tends to involve magic, people who can use magic and more often than not, a bunch of white guys. Young white guys, old white guys…super old white guys. Clearly, fantasy has not been a shining example of diversity from its beginnings.

However, lately, more writers are branching out from fantasy clichés and introducing increasingly realistic and diverse elements into their plotlines. Characters of color, characters who are attracted to the same sex, characters with disabilities and even characters dealing with substance abuse. This isn’t a ploy to make their story stand out…it’s a way to make it real! Even in a fantasy world, not everyone should be a straight, white man. Our stories should reflect that.

Yes, this might be a prospect that freaks out some fantasy purists, but the times are changing and it’s time the fantasy does too. There needs to be more characters in these wonderful worlds that face challenges that minority groups experience. Think back to classics like Lord of the Rings or Narnia or even Harry Potter. The diversity is slim to none in all of those titles. That isn’t to say a diverse cast can’t be popular with the larger population. Of course it can! In fact, it could thrive based on its diversity alone. If it has a killer plot and interesting worldbuilding like those staples of fantasy, imagine the progress the genre could make?

Is there a group of type of character you’d like to see more in fantasy?

Is there a character or book that you feel represents minorities well?

Share your thoughts and together we can encourage a new generation of all-inclusive fantasy novels.

~Rachel H

 

The Expansion of Fantasy December 11, 2013

We all know the sub-genres of fantasy and the myriad elements of each, and we know our literary categories, those in which every genre, not just fantasy, exist. Well, this last year has seen the emergence of a new category: New Adult.

I’m excited about this. Not just as a reader, but as a writer. Trying to fit my stories into either YA or Adult has been tricky, often frustrating, and at times I’ve changed, or forced, what grew organically into one or the other category, when really it didn’t belong in either. Now, I’m going back through my WIPs and making notes on where I changed specific things, and re-reading my original drafts and thinking, “Aha, this is New Adult!”, which makes me very happy.

Currently, mainstream New Adult is contemporary romance, and though I’ve never been a huge fan of this (aside from reading all of Nora Roberts and Kathleen Woodiwiss) I’ve devoured a ton of these this year. And I have even more on my Amazon wishlist. They resonate with me because they not only center around the age range of most of my own characters (18-25), but because they explore the same issues as mine. And I’m not just talking sex. I’m talking about characters in the midst of that transitory period between youth and full adulthood, struggling to find their place in the world on their own.

But I think other genres, especially fantasy, are about to explode onto the scene. Agents and editors are asking for different genres in New Adult. Those who follow the Twitter hashtag, #MSWL, have seen this, and if you’re like me, reviewing updated agent bios and what they and their agencies want, you’ll have seen this as well. Here’s a great post by literary agent, Suzie Townsend, and her thoughts on New Adult and its emergence into different genres, as well as books already out there that might appeal to this audience.

Suffice it to say, I’m thrilled about all this. Beyond. Belief. And I hope one day to see a whole section in bookstores dedicated to New Adult Fantasy. What do you guys think?

Happy Holidays!

Kate

 

Writing Werewolves December 7, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Creatures of legend are the backbone of the fantasy genre, but writing them can be just as dangerous as encountering them in a dark alley. (Think reader expectations, stereotypes and behavioural consistency). Today I’m thrilled to welcome, Richard Parry, author of Night’s Favour, a gritty, modern werewolf tale, to share his experience writing with beasts.

Richard_Parry

Richard Parry

Why werewolves?

Ah!  There’s three good reasons.

1. The original story concept was trying to answer the question of what would happen if you had a protagonist who was, let’s say, an alcoholic, and couldn’t usually remember things by nature of spending evenings in an alcoholic coma.  I thought it would be cool of there was some Other Thing that made them do stuff, good or bad.  They wouldn’t know, right?  As far as they were concerned, they’d just passed out in an alley behind a bar again.  Werewolves were a good fit here, and not just because they can drink a lot.

2. I like alternative takes on existing memes.  Werewolves seem to be a bit “in” right now, but stories using them all sort of seem to be teen fantasies.  New Moon, amirite?  I wanted to return a bit of integrity to the werewolf legend: make them strong, and powerful, and something to be feared.  They should be a force of nature that can’t be caged, or controlled, and consequences should be extreme if you try.

3. They’re freakin’ cool.

I totally get it! Which came first; the story or the wolves?

The story, but only by about two minutes.  Werewolves were such a natural fit for the idea of the story, and I went with it.  The story’s moved on quite a bit since the original idea, but the werewolves stayed: they were too cool to put down.

Research or imagination? What’s your take on using the legends and well-known werewolf tropes?

For me, it needs to be a bit of both.  One of the things that gives me high levels of OCD-fuelled rage is when people take a perfectly good thing, let’s say it’s a vampire, and turn it into not a vampire.  With the vampire legend, what makes it so tragic is that it’s truly a curse, to be ever at the edge of the light but unable to touch, despite being perfect and beautiful for all time.

Werewolves share some of these sorts of characteristics – if you follow the legends, they are cursed too, to live outside of human life or they end up killing everyone they love.  Or maybe worse, turning them into cursed creatures like themselves.  I spent a bit of time on working out what the common elements of “werewolf” was all about.  What makes them change?  What’s the characteristics of them when they’re not human?  Where does the curse come from?  How does it spread?

Can they be good, or are they purely evil?  Do good and evil make sense in the context of the legend?

I started to try and piece together: how could the werewolf legend be true?  What if it was…  What would have to have happened for one of them to be left alive out there somewhere and us not to know about it?  What would happen if their world collided with ours?

After I’d pieced this together, I wanted to add a few bits of uniqueness to the story, to make it individual.  For example, there is a common theme to the lack of remembrance between the beast and the human, but I wanted you to hear the voice of the beast speaking to the man as they come to terms with each other.  This makes the werewolf more than just a trope: it becomes a character in its own right, and characters are the cool parts.

It also gives context for why one werewolf might act differently from another, and why they might come into conflict.  I wanted them to be as individual as you or me.

Any unexpected surprises writing ‘altered’ human characters?

Perspective.  I wrestled a lot with perspective.  The thing is, I don’t really know in my head what a werewolf would think, so telling a chapter from the perspective of one of them would be really hard.

This framed the story a little differently – you see their motivations more through actions than through their view of the world.  This turned out to be one of the coolest parts of writing the story.

One of my favourite parts of the book was when the police have to deal with a severed hand that by all accounts should belong to the main character – but when they track him he seems to be intact. How hard / fun was it to bring the fantastical into a very modern / pragmatic setting?

It was a lot of fun!  Some of the narrative was hard to keep consistent though.  There are a lot of rules that Night’s Favour is based on, but I try not to expose those to the reader.  They’re either unimportant, or should be obvious through what happens.

The hand is a good example 🙂  I wanted to explore what would happen if people with our set of assumptions would come up against things that don’t match.  I had similar amounts of fun with the teeth, if I had to be honest.

You can just see the Police (or doctors, or whatever) sitting there, looking at the evidence, trying to add 2 and 3 and coming up with 12.

Definitely it was more fun than hard.  The hard part is narrative consistency – if you have a set of rules, they need to universally apply.  So, for example, I know what happens to a werewolf if they’re shot with silver before they change, and what happens if they’re shot after.  If it’s different, it needs to always be different, not just because it’s convenient at that point in time.

Any advice for those of us considering writing our own mythical creatures?

Pick one you love.  You’ll spend a lot of time with them.

Maybe don’t pick one everyone else uses, and vampires say hi, but if you really like vampires then by all means go for it.  You’ll have a harder time writing a story about creatures you can’t like.

Thanks so much Richard!

For enigmatic werewolves, plenty of action and some great one-liners, I’d highly recommend Night’s Favour:

Nights Favour US Trade CoverValentine’s an ordinary guy with ordinary problems. His boss is an asshole. He’s an alcoholic. And he’s getting that middle age spread just a bit too early. One night — the one night he can’t remember — changes everything. What happened at the popular downtown bar, The Elephant Blues? Why is Biomne, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, so interested in him — and the virus he carries? How is he getting stronger, faster, and more fit? And what’s the connection between Valentine and the criminally insane Russian, Volk?

Richard Parry grew up on a steady diet of cartoons, observed around the edges of his parent’s watchful gaze. He started writing bad fiction at an early age, but has had 30 years to think about the error of his ways. When not writing speculative fiction, he works for a soulless megacorporation, selling the art of the possible to G-Men. It pays the bills. He lives with the love of his life, Rae, and a cat and a dog who wage constant war in a turn of the century house nestled against a river bank. All in all, it’s not so bad.

Check out his blog PunK KilleD Disco, or follow him on Twitter

– by Raewyn Hewitt