There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

There and Back Again May 31, 2014

Hi everyone!

In November 2012, I gathered a few Fantasy writers I had met online and created this blog. The idea was to share our thoughts on all things related to reading and writing Fantasy fiction. Along the way nearly 300 of you, dear readers, joined us as we walked on our different paths to publication. We shared with you our writing tips, reading recommendations and publishing adventures. In return you commented on our posts, leaving your tips, recommendations and thoughts. It was great!

Unfortunately, last month, it became clear our lives have all become too hectic and our schedules too busy to allow us to continue this blogging adventure. This means this blog won’t be updated anymore, although it will remain online.

If you’re new here, feel free to browse through our archives to find out about our writing resources.

If you’ve enjoyed following this blog, feel free to find us on our personal blogs:

EM Castellan

Blog: http://emcastellan.com/

Raewyn Hewitt

Blog: http://raewynhewitt.wordpress.com/

Jessica Montgomery

Blog: http://www.writerjessica.com/

K. L. Schwengel

Blog: http://myrandommuse.wordpress.com/

Mara Valderran

Blog: http://maravalderran.blogspot.co.uk/

Kate Michael

Blog: www.kate-michael.com

Rachel O’Laughlin

Blog: http://rachelolaughlin.wordpress.com

Rachel Horwitz

Blog: www.rachelhorwitz.com/blog

Thank you for your support during the past 18 months. Thank you for reading, commenting, liking and sharing our posts. I hope you’ve found something useful or entertaining here. I know it’s been a pleasure to be part of this blog, and I’ll miss it.

So don’t forget: keep writing Fantasy. Keep reading Fantasy. Keep working towards your publishing dream(s). And most importantly, keep going on adventures and believing in dragons.

EM Castellan

 

Social Media for Writers May 10, 2014

Filed under: Publishing,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 5:43 pm
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By Sofiaperesoa via Wikimedia Commons

Hi everyone!

Whatever publishing path they’re on, writers are advised to have a “social media presence” and to create an “online platform”. Some are very successful at it, others find it more difficult. If you belong to the second category, I’d like to share a few ideas to help you make the most of your online presence.

Keyword #1: Content

This is the basic advice for social media beginners: if you want people to follow/like/suscribe to you, you have to offer them an information or an experience that they will value. The best way to do this is to ask yourself: “is this tweet/post/video/picture going to be of interest for my followers?”

Keyword #2: Consistency

Another good way of building a following is to post regularly, and often. I’m not suggesting a rigid posting schedule here (I certainly don’t have one!). But posting on your blog 2-3 times a week, tweeting 8-10 times a day or pinning pictures on Pinterest once a week can work wonders to help you become a familiar online presence.

Keyword #3: Focus

Pick a few topics that you’re passionate about. Pick a few social media services. Writers, if they want to write, can’t spread themselves too thin online. It’s important to choose a few ways to interact online, and to stick to them. It’ll help people understand your “profile”: who you are and what you’ve got to offer.

Keyword #4: Fun

Social media shouldn’t be a chore for writers. I set aside about half an hour every day to check/update my favourite sites, and it’s always a fun moment of my day. If you’re forcing yourself to build a platform and your heart isn’t in it, it’ll show and it’ll be a waste of your time.

Keyword #5: Network

Social media is about networking: it’s about doing online what people usually do in real life, i. e. chatting, sharing ideas, sharing good practice, sharing silly/funny things, sharing news, socialising. You find people who share your interests (readers, writers, etc.) and you interact with them in a friendly/polite way until you become friends or at least acquaintances. People are much more likely to buy your books or listen to what you have to say if they know and appreciate you.

Keyword #6: Etiquette

There have been numerous posts on the topic, but it’s important to be reminded of bad practices, in order to avoid them. Spamming, trolling, general bad behaviour online are a surefire way to burn bridges for writers. The best way to know if you’re “doing social media right” is to ask yourself: “would I do this to my neighbour in real life?”

What’s your favourite social media service, then? I’m a big fan of Twitter (to chat with people), Pinterest (to create boards for writing inspiration), Tumblr (to share visual content that I like). I don’t use Facebook very much anymore (do you still do?). And I’ve never tried Google+, Instagram or Youtube.

So tell us about you and social media in the comments!

EM Castellan

 

Book Recommendations: Writing Craft April 19, 2014

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 9:34 am
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Hi everyone!

Today we decided to share with you our favorite books on the writing craft!

Kate recommends: ON WRITING by Stephen King

on-writing

” It’s part autobiography and part advice on the craft. My copy is dog-eared, highlighted, and full of notes in the margins. It’s encouraging, especially during my bouts of massive self doubt, honest, and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious. I’d recommend it to any writer regardless of where they are in their writing journey.”

Rachel recommends: NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! by NaNoWriMo’s founder Chris Baty

no-plot-no-problem

“I have lots of books on writing craft, and while they all contain helpful techniques, tips, and rules of thumb, my biggest issue is being able to set aside all of the perfectionist noise of my brain and simply write words. Baty’s NaNo-ing guide gives me a pep talk every time I pick it up, and that’s been invaluable since I started taking my writing seriously.”

She also recommends: SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne and Dave King

self-editing

“Since I self-publish, I need as many checks and balances as I can manage on each manuscript, and this book is an excellent tool for revisions before actual edits.”

Raewyn recommends: THE FIRST FIVE PAGES: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO STAYING OUT OF THE REJECTION PILE by Noah Lukeman

First Five Pages

“It’s a practical little book, with some good end of chapter exercises to measure your writing against.”

Jessica recommends: THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS by James Scott Bell

ArtOfWarforwriters

“It’s very easy to get into and his writing is engaging and encouraging.”

She also recommends: WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KID LIT by Mary Kole

writing irresistible kid lit

“It really breaks down how the YA and MG market and what types of writing really sings for that market. It has great examples over lots of different YA and MG genres. I loved it. “

Finally, my recommendation is: HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark

Hownottowriteanovel It is a hilarious book that is also an invaluable source of information about what NOT to do when you are trying to write a publishable novel.

What are YOUR favorite books on writing? Make sure to leave us a comment below!

EM Castellan

 

YA Fantasy: what’s next? February 14, 2014

Filed under: Publishing — thereanddraftagain @ 9:27 pm
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Hi everyone!

It can be useful for Fantasy writers looking to get traditionally published to know what’s being aquired by editors right now. Indeed it gives us an idea of the so-called trends we are supposed to be aware of.

Today I’d like to share a few YA Fantasy titles that will come out in 2015 and see what editors are excited about these days…

Mortal (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

A retelling of ”Beauty and the Beast,” “Tam-Lin,” and ”East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” A Court of Thorns and Roses tells the story of a young woman growing into herself, learning to love, and understanding the true nature of sacrifice.

Becoming Jinn (Becoming Jinn #1) by Lori Goldstein

Wishing doesn’t make it so, Azra does. Turning sixteen opens the door to Azra’s Jinn ancestry and her new life as a genie. But receiving her powers isn’t exactly what Azra would call a gift. Her destiny is controlled by the powerful Afrit who rule over the Jinn world, and she must keep her true identity a secret.

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

The first in a new two-book series about an orphaned princess fighting to reclaim her kingdom while hiding her power from the masked vigilante hunting her, set in a world where magic is not just forbidden, but will soon destroy everything…

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

The Red Queen is set in a fantasy world where society is divided by the color of blood. It features a 17-year-old who, to save her family, must assume the role of a long-lost princess while secretly aiding a revolution. The novel was pitched as Graceling meets The Selection.

So what’s next in YA Fantasy? Fairytale retellings, magic, secret identities and powerful female main characters… Familiar topics with a twist, it seems.

What do you think? Have you heard of other YA Fantasy books coming out in 2015 or 2016? Which trends do you see emerging? Make sure to leave us a comment below!

EM Castellan

 

 

Art Imitating Life? February 8, 2014

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:00 am
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A week or so ago on my blog I reviewed Evensong, an awesome fantasy book by Krista Walsh. The basic plot is about an author getting transported into the fantasy world he’s created, and coming to grips with the fact he may not be as in charge of that world as he thought. It’s an excellent book scheduled to be released on February 10. I suggest you pick up a copy. It will brighten your Monday.

Anyhow, Evensong started me thinking about where a writer’s ideas come from. Where mine come from. It’s the age old question regarding the origins of creativity. Are we tapping past lives? Alternate realities? Alien transmissions?

Okay, that last one, maybe not so much. Just seeing if you’re still with me.

I tend to gravitate toward the flawed characters. Those with a touch of darkness, and ambiguous moral codes. My stories aren’t dark, per say. Not all of them. But they tend to lean more that way than towards fluffy bunnies and sparkly unicorns. Not that there’s anything wrong with bunnies and unicorns, they’re just not me. In my story, the bunny would be dinner, and the unicorn would likely harbor delusions of grandeur. But the question remains; am I drawing from bits of myself? Exploring the dark side of my psyche? Why is it I, or any other writer, gravitate toward a certain genre, character type, or theme?

Like every author, I’ve been asked why I write what I write, and where I come up my story ideas. My standard answer is a shrug, followed by something to the effect of, “It’s the voices in my head.” It’s a lame response, I’m aware, but it’s the best one I have. I honestly don’t know. Sure, certain things spark my imagination. There are images, songs, lines from poems, a certain character…but that’s just the match that lights the fire. What I wonder is where does all the wood come from to feed that fire.

If you believe in past lives or parallel universes, then perhaps the theory that creative types can tap into those worlds is plausible. That we’re not so much imagining events, but recording them as they happen. Krista Walsh touches on that idea in Evensong, I won’t take credit for it.

Maybe creation is just the result of a finely developed imagination and nothing more. We’re able to take a simple premise and ‘what if’ the daylights out of it. That’s how our brains work. Those voices in our heads, those characters running amuck until we tell their tale, are nothing more than a spark of brain neurons…synapsis…hey, I’m not a brain surgeon, give me a break. I think you know what I mean.

Or is there really a more mystical explanation? Are the muses something tangible? Do they choose certain people to be their conduits? Are the voices of the characters, the paths they wander, given to us by something beyond our comprehension?

*huge shrug* I have no answers. I still haven’t found my own. Have you found yours?

~ K. L. Schwengel

 

On Querying and Originality in Fantasy January 25, 2014

Filed under: Publishing — thereanddraftagain @ 7:08 pm
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Hi everyone!

If you’re a writer in the query trenches now or if you’re planning on looking for an agent and getting traditionally published in the future, you know that getting rejections is part of the process.

For the purpose of this post, we are going to assume the Querying Writer has done her research, finished and polished her manuscript, written a professional query letter and put together a list of relevant agents to contact, along with their submission guidelines.

There are many, many reasons for an agent to send the Querying Writer a rejection, and for nearly every single one of them there’s a solution. Sometimes, the agent will tell you what’s wrong with your submission: it’s called a personalized rejection. Other times, the agent won’t tell you why she’s rejecting your manuscript: it’s the infamous Form Rejection.

Thankfully, a few agents use Twitter to reveal the most common reasons why they reject a submission. They use the #10queriesin10tweets or #tenqueries hashtags. And one reason that keeps popping up when it comes to Fantasy manuscripts is this one:

Sara Megibow Tweet

The premise isn’t unique/original/inventive enough.

In a sea of submissions, agents and editors are looking for a Unique Concept. Or a Familiar Story With An Unexpected Twist. They want the Unfamiliar. They want to be Surprised. As we do, as readers.

So how do you avoid being rejected for lack of originality? Here are a few pointers:

  • Research the industry: find out what’s on the shelves right now or what will hit the shelves in the next 18 months. This will give an idea of what agents/editors have already seen and aren’t looking for.
  • Avoid tropes in your writing: I recommend this website to find out which writing devices have been overdone.
  • Read: writing a Fantasy book requires reading Fantasy book, to avoid the annoying predicament which consists in writing a book that already exists.

Are you worried about how original your manuscript is or isn’t? Have you had rejections stating your premise felt too familiar? What have you done to ensure your book was as original as possible? Make sure to leave us a comment below!

EM Castellan

 

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