There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

The Heart of Epic May 29, 2014

Filed under: Inspiration — thereanddraftagain @ 1:39 am
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Lately I’ve been thinking about why I’ve taken on the leviathan that is writing epic fantasy, especially when the trend seems to be to break stories down into smaller, more manageable chunks. I’ve even looked at carving some of the smaller storylines out into something standalone. Losing a book or two. Throwing the whole thing into the Pacific Ocean and being done with it. But there is something about epic fantasy that calls to me to keep going. To find a way to keep pulling on these story-threads until the big picture reveals itself.

Epic Fantasy, to me at least, is the grand canvas. It looks at more than one person’s journey. In some sense it’s about revolution, always about change and the things sacrificed along the way. The Lord of the Rings wasn’t just Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom, it was so much more; the time of great change that effected everyone in Middle Earth. How such times shape people, and how their experiences can be quite different.

At the heart of epic fantasy is the human response. Where we dig in, where we stumble and what we value during the hard times. What is it about this particular time in history (in my fantasy world) that is causing people to step outside of the everyday? What is so important that they will risk life, limb and everything they hold dear to ensure a certain outcome? What temptations draw them away from this goal? What things will they refuse to let go of?

And I see these parallels as I’m writing too. What causes me to sit up late and write and rewrite and try and find a way through the many stories that make up this one? What will I give up? Sleep. Plenty of that. Time. So I can put in hours and hours of work, the results of which I am in no place to share with anyone yet. If you write you know the sacrifice of going to that place. I’m always tempted to give up. So I don’t have to tell people I’m still working on it. I’m tempted by other stories and the promise of shorter timeframes. Of sunny days and the call of the garden. Of a paycheck. And yet I haven’t let go.

What drives me is the heart of the story. My belief that the story has meaning – at the very least it means something to me. So I encourage myself and I find something to hold on to. For those who are struggling to birth a story that seems beyond you, keep going. It is your own epic journey. So in that vein, I leave you with the words of Galadriel, one whose time is passing, to another who still has a way to go:

‘And you, Ring-bearer,’ she said, turning to Frodo. ‘I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts.  For you I have prepared this.’ She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it, and rays of white light sprang from her hand.  ‘In this phial,’ she said, ‘is caught the light of Earendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you.  May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.’

Because apart from anything else, epic fantasy inspires me.

-by Raewyn Hewitt

 

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

 

How to Choose an Unforgettable Title for Your Fantasy Novel October 30, 2013

The perfect name is hard to find. It’s the principle of first impressions. Get it right and your title will be the first step in enticing a reader (or agent) to pick up your book. Get it wrong and your work of fantastical brilliance will be overlooked as readers skim through the wide variety of competing titles. However with a bit of focus (and a flash of brilliance from the creative muse), you can give your title a fighting chance to stand out from the masses.

Don’t get attached to your working title:

Very rarely is your first idea your best idea. I often think of the working title as a childhood nickname. It’s fine when you’re nurturing it through the development phase, but is it really the best way to present it to the world? And bear in mind, if you’re heading down the traditional publishing route you might not have control over the naming rights at all.

Make a list:

Often a good time to start is when you’re writing the book. Look for things that are unique to your story so you can give yourself plenty of options. These could include:

  • key character names (Frankenstein), descriptions (The Time Travellers Wife) or titles (Prince of Nothing)
  • significant locations – specific (City of Bones), or descriptive (Dune)
  • major events (The Hunger Games)
  • timespan (1984, The Wheel of Time)
  • key objects – particularly those with a magical bent (The Sword of Shannara)
  • quests (The Name of the Wind)
  • unique-to-your-world characteristics (Ironskin)
  • themes (Divergent)

Set the Tone:

Ask yourself what you want your title to evoke from the reader? The Mists of Avalon, makes me think of a long forgotten time in history shrouded in legend. Game of Thrones speaks to the epic scale of the novel, covering numerous kingdoms and their interactions. Whereas The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy smacks of humour of an out-of-this-world variety.

Is your fantasy gritty and hard (Prince of Thorns), or based in a more whimsical setting (Starlight)? Is it dealing with a personal struggle (I am Legend), or the effects on a wider population (The Fellowship of the Ring)? Does your title really capture the essence of your novel?

Google It:

Don’t forget to google your title, it’s an easy way to check that your title is as original as your novel.

Stuck?:

Don’t panic – even your most obscure title can still be a winner. Hugh Howie’s best-selling Wool series was lauded as a terrible name for a dystopian fantasy, yet it is undeniably memorable (and does make sense if you read the novel!).

And when all else fails, you can always rely on The Random Fantasy Novel Title Generator to come up with something amusing – if not entirely original.

What are your most memorable fantasy titles? 

– Raewyn Hewitt

 

Epic Eras September 4, 2013

I’ve just started reading Shield of Thunder, the first book of David Gemmell’s excellent Troy series; which, a hundred pages in, has already captured my imagination and drawn me into the ancient world of Odysseus, Penelope, Achilles and Kalliope.

It’s not the first novel I’ve read based in this era (fantasy or otherwise), Sara Douglass’ Troy Game series had its roots here, weaving a magical fantasy tale right out of the labyrinth into the heart of wartime London; Rick Riordian’s Percy Jackson series leans heavily on the mythology of that time; and who could overlook the movie Troy, which at least gave a taste of the larger than life characters who made a such an impression on history and legend.

But what makes this period such great fodder for the writer of epic fantasy is not only the abundance of kings and the history of battles and intrigues, it was also the time of the storyteller. Great battles have been fought countless times throughout the ages, but in the time of ancient Greece, the retelling was coloured by myth and becomes something quite magical.

For writers seeking to create memorable characters, it’s worth taking a closer look at some of these eras. If you write heroic fantasy, what made the heroes of legend? What drove them? What drew people to them? Or who or what was it that provoked them to action? How did the social structure contribute, especially in the areas of religion, slavery, natural resources and education?

David Gemmell, in my opinion, got it exactly right. His Odysseus is as charismatic and mesmerising as a man of legend should be; managing to be both powerful and vulnerable, virtuous, sentimental and pragmatic.

Yet this is no cookie-cutter hero. Gemmell draws Odysseus’ character through his reaction to the death of a recently deceased crew-member, a run-away princess, dishonoured soldiers and a huge black pig!

Although the world of ancient Greece has influenced many fantasy writers, there are many other eras (on a grand or small scale) that are equally as captivating: The Scotland of William Wallace; Marco Polo’s journey into the heart of the Orient; the record breaking airmen and woman who flew around the world in planes held together with wire and string; the Kennedy Era and the first astronauts.

History might provide the major plot points, but for writers there are endless possibilities to explore the crevices in between.

Has an era or a person from history ever influenced your writing? 

– by Raewyn Hewitt

 

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

 

And drumroll…GIVEAWAY TIME!!! August 1, 2013

Filed under: Industry News — thereanddraftagain @ 1:49 am
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HI EVERYONE!!!

I’m a little squeamish about hijacking There and Draft Again to make flowery mention of my new little book, but since my fellow bloggers have said it’s okay, and seeing as it is coming out in 5 days (!!!), I thought I’d pop in, drop a teaser, and do a giveaway. Yup, giveaway time again!

AGAIN?!

I’m giving away an eBook of COLDNESS OF MAREK to two lucky winners!

Annnnnnnd I have a [previously unreleased] short little teaser…

Trzl turned her eyes on Marek in question. “Not rich enough to afford a war?”

“I’m still unclear as to why you think I’d have any interest in a war,” he said. “One war was enough.”

She shrugged. “I can’t imagine you turning around and selling those gate sequences once you had them. The temptation to use them would be too strong. Bloody man such as yourself.”

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below, including your email address so we can contact you if you win. Giveaway is open to international entrants.Followers of There and Draft Again get an extra entry! Winners will be drawn on release day, August 6. Thank you for entering and good luck! I can’t wait to send two of you an eBook!

— Rachel O’Laughlin

COLDNESS OF MAREKReleases August 6, 2013
The First in the Serengard Series
Release Date: August 6, 2013

Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries—centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that its people no longer believe in. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is dedicated to turning the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion.

As the rebellion escalates, her choices have an eerie impact on the revolution at large, elevating her to a position of influence she has only dreamed of attaining. But there are downsides to her new power that entangle her in a dangerous web of emotions, appearances and alliances. Even as she plays to the attractions of Hodran, a rich nobleman who wants to aid her cause, she is drawn to Mikel, a loyalist farmer who hates the rebellion but just might be winning her heart.

By the time Trzl realizes she is in too deep, she has an infant son and a dark mess of betrayal and lies. She runs to the furthest corner of the kingdom in hopes that she will be left alone with her child, but she has created too many demons. A figure she once trusted will take her captive in the chilling Cliffs of Marek, throw her back into the political upheaval she helped create, and leave her at the mercy of a man she never wanted for an enemy.

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

Getting Down & Dirty June 22, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 5:30 am
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~ K. L. Schwengel

Every writer out there is familiar with the concept of Show, Don’t Tell. You all know how it works.

Tell: Frederick was wet and miserable.

Show: The rain plastered Frederick’s hair to his head and soaked through his heavy cloak making it hang across his shoulders like a giant’s arm. Cold rivulets of water trickled under his tunic, slithering down his back and sending a shiver through him. With every step his feet squished in his sodden boots. If he were meant to be this wet, he’d have been born a duck.

That may not be the most masterful writing, but you get the idea. Showing raises the level of intensity by putting the reader in our character’s skin, making them feel, smell, hear, see everything our character is.

But where do you draw the line? When does it become too overwhelming?

There’s no right answer to that question, by the way. It becomes a matter of personal preference. But it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while. Personally, I like gritty — or what I’ve recently seen referred to as “grimdark”. I want to read stuff that makes me squirm if it’s making the characters squirm. Not everyone does. Some fantasy authors take that to the extreme and then get dinged for it in reviews. I got dinged for it in First of Her Kind and I didn’t think I was even being all that gritty.

Art must be fearless. That’s the tagline of friend and fellow author Devin O’Branagan and it’s something I tell myself anytime I feel like skimping on the details. If my character is a prisoner in a damp, dark cell, telling my readers the straw strewn on the floor smells bad is . . . well . . . weak. Bad like what? If, as a reader, I wrinkle my nose at the author’s description of what that straw smells like, I’m going to really empathize with that character a whole lot more. As a writer, I want my readers empathizing because that leads to caring.

Fantasy is definitely a genre with several camps. On one side we have the light-hearted, sometimes humorous, epic romp that has the Happy Ever After ending and doesn’t make us squirm in our seats. On the other is the brutally honest, face in the dirt, bugs in your teeth, hard-hitting, pulls no punches type. In between, a mix of the two. As a reader, I definitely lean toward the hard-hitting side. As a writer, I try to find a balance. I don’t want the violence, sex, or realism to ever be termed gratuitous but I realize that is also in the eye of the beholder reader. As long as it is essential to the plot and the character, and happens naturally, then I don’t consider it to be gratuitous

So how far do you go to sink the reader into your character’s skin? As a reader, how uncomfortable are you willing to get? Are there any particular authors you think handle this well, or not so well?