Category Archives: Fantasy

Character Development: Creating Unforgettable Characters with Rachel A. Marks

Posted by August 17th, 2015

Darkness-BrutalPlease welcome Book Country member Rachel Anne Marks back to the blog! Rachel’s been a wonderful force of positivity and wisdom here on Book Country for going on three and a half years. We were absolutely thrilled when Rachel announced that Skyscape had picked her up for a 2-book deal. Her young adult debut, DARKNESS BRUTAL, is on sale now. Rachel stopped by the blog this morning to share insights on the incredible character development that keeps her readers coming back for more.

***

When we open a book, we begin a journey, and there are several things that help us decide if we’ll keep going. We ask ourselves if we want to hang out in the world of the book, if the questions raised seem interesting, but we also want to follow the lead subject on their journey. As a reader, this is one of my biggest questions when I start reading a novel: do I connect with the main character?

And as a writer, it’s even more important. In order to show a story through the eyes of another, we need to have a strong link to their motives, fears, and conflicts. We need to be almost literally in their shoes if we want the reader to feel that way too. Continue reading

Share Button

Upcoming Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Posted by June 30th, 2015

Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Book Country member Marshall Ryan Maresca’s new fantasy novel, A MURDER OF MAGES, comes out July 7th! A MURDER OF MAGES was picked up by DAW Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Marshall’s debut novel, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, was workshopped on Book Country and published by DAW Books last February.

Marshall has been wonderfully supportive on Book Country. He shared awesome tips about the world-building process on the Book Country blog.

Marshall will be answering questions about querying, writing, and the publishing process on July 8, 2015. This is a great opportunity to learn what it’s like being a published author!

Post your questions in the discussion thread: Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES.

***

About Marshall Ryan Maresca

Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Connect with Marshall on Book Country and on Twitter. Visit him on the web at blog.mrmaresca.com. Marshall is represented by Mike Kabongo of the OnyxHawke Agency. THE THORN OF DENTONHILL is on sale now. A MURDER OF MAGES comes out July 7, 2015.

 

Share Button

The Importance of Diversity by Urban Fantasy Author Alis Franklin

Posted by April 21st, 2015

The Importance of Diversity by Urban Fantasy Author Alis Franklin

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started with a simple Twitter exchange between authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo about the lack of diversity in children’s literature on April 17, 2014. One year later, we’ve seen huge support on social media and in major book and author events, including BookCon and BEA. However, there is still more work to be done to make #WeNeedDiverseBooks a reality.

Alis Franklin is the author of LIESMITH, a queer urban fantasy novel published by Hydra. In LIESMITH, Sigmund Sussman, a shy young man working in low-level IT support in Australia, falls in love with Lain Laufeyjarson, a Norse god. Below, Alis addresses the problem of the underrepresentation of minority groups in literature and what needs to be done to improve diversity in publishing.

***

One of the most fascinating things to realize about the (Western) publishing industry is that it’s been around, in some form or another, for something like 500 years. That is one old industry. It’s also an old industry that’s seen an enormous amount of disruption, to the point where it seems every year brings something new to shake things up.

If 2014 rattled anything on the manuscript-stacked table, it did it via talk of diversity, a.k.a. the way marginalized and other non-majority authors are treated and their stories told. This is particularly relevant as we enter April, which marks the one year anniversary of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Originally intended to spotlight the lack of diversity in children’s literature, over the past twelve months it has since grown beyond its original mission statement, spawning conversations in every corner of the industry.

And for good reason. There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to publishing’s relationship to diversity and, to set the scene, let’s begin by pointing out that…

1. Publishing is super, super homogeneous

No matter where you look–from fictional characters to their creators to their producers–the consensus is that the publishing industry is white and it is (with some exceptions) male and it is middle-class. “Write what you know,” says decades worth of well-meaning writing advice. Which, according to a quote attributed to US sci-fi author Joe Haldeman, is “why so many mediocre novels are about English professors contemplating adultery.”

Plenty has been written about this topic already, noting the homogeneity of characters appearing in genres as disparate as children’s lit and erotic romance. Employment wise, the publishing industry as a whole isn’t much better than the fiction it produces, with indications things are getting worse as publishers poach executive talent from the notoriously white and male tech sector. Meanwhile, white male authors are not just more likely to gain critical acclaim–particularly when they write in genres traditionally considered to be “for women“–but to get sympathetic pats on the head from prestigious media outlets when they do “lose out” on literary awards in favor of women or people of color. Continue reading

Share Button

Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria Oliver

Posted by April 7th, 2015

Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria OliverWe’re happy to have Book Country member Gloria Oliver with us today! Gloria is currently workshopping INNER DEMONS, an urban fantasy novel. INNER DEMONS is one of April’s Editor’s Picks on Book Country. INNER DEMONS was published by Mundania Press in early 2014. Gloria shares what it means to be a speculative fiction writer and tips on choosing the perfect title.

***

Lucy Silag: Tell us more about yourself. How did you become a writer, and how did you find your way to Book Country?

Gloria Oliver: As I kid, I always had a hard time falling asleep. This led me to making up stories in my head to entertain myself until slumber finally came. One day, one of these stories kept bugging me to actually put it on paper – so I did. A few years later, the bug bit me again as I got a neat idea for a fantasy novel, and this time the infection set in deep. I’ve not looked back since.

I heard about Book Country back when it was being put together. The day job at the time had slow days here and there, and I’d found out about an evil Outlook add-on that would convert Twitter items to email and put them into a personal folder. This was just around the time social media was catching on big time, and I followed people like Kristen Lamb, Chuck Wendig, and many other writers and publishers. Through them, I learned of Colleen Lindsay from Penguin and followed her as well. And soon after Colleen started talking about a venture she was very excited about – a “Sekret Projekt” she was involved in, one where she and her peers hoped to create a place where authors could meet, share, help each other, and create a long lasting community.

Colleen even did a ‘reveal’ presentation in Dallas during the DFW Writers Conference back in 2011. The goals and concept of Book Country sounded fascinating and well thought out, so I signed up! Continue reading

Share Button

GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN’S RIDDLE: Interview with Author George Hagen and Editor Anne Schwartz

Posted by March 31st, 2015

GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN'S RIDDLE: Interview with Author George Hagen and Editor Anne SchwartzI had an amazing time reading GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN’S RIDDLE! Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, GABRIEL FINLEY follows twelve-year-old Gabriel on his journey to find his missing father with the help of his riddle-loving raven, Paladin. Set in Brooklyn, New York, this story was full of magic and plot twists; I didn’t know if Gabriel was going to make it until the very end! Author George Hagen shares what inspired him to write GABRIEL FINLEY and his experience writing for children for the first time. Anne Schwartz, the editor of GABRIEL FINLEY, shares what’s it like when a book clicks for her.

***

Janet Umenta: Your two previously published books were written for adults. What made you decide to write a children’s book? How would you compare writing for adults with writing for children?

George Hagen: My younger daughter Lola challenged me to write her a book. She was 10 and specified that it should be both exciting and magical. I loved stories like that at her age, but my adult books were quite realistic in tone. Every weekend we took family walks across the Brooklyn Bridge to Chinatown for lunch, and I had to invent a story engaging enough to keep Lola walking. I learned quickly what kept her interest. Her favorite situations were a) when magic goes wrong, b) when children are more competent than adults, and c) when children have the power to communicate with animals. So, I followed those rules. Continue reading

Share Button

Book Country Member Spotlight: Meet Fantasy Writer Amber Wolfe

Posted by February 25th, 2015

Book Country Member Spotlight: Meet Fantasy Writer Amber WolfeAmber Wolfe joined Book Country in July 2014 and is currently workshopping SCARLET CRIMSON and DESTINY’S BOND. Both titles have been featured in Book Country’s Top Rated and Editor’s Picks sections. Amber is wonderfully supportive to fellow members in the discussion boards, and it’s been great to see her writing evolve. In this Q&A, Amber shares what inspired her to start writing fantasy novels.

***

Janet Umenta: The fight scenes in DESTINY’S BOND are intense! Did you refer to any guide or book while you were writing them?

Amber Wolfe: Actually, yes. My inspiration for fight scenes comes from other fantasy novels I’ve read, where battles are intense and heated. I try to draw off the knowledge of the authors who wrote the books, what made their fight scenes so fascinating and fun to read. Then I go from there and hope for the best. My imagination and my characters usually take care of the rest.

JU: You list several favorite writers on your Book Country profile page, including Anne Bishop. Have you incorporated any of their writing styles into your own books?

AW: Oh, Anne Bishop is my favorite author! I do like to think a bit of her style has leaked into my own. She’s an inspiration to me. In fact, it was while reading the last book of her TIR ALAINN series that I had an epiphany of how to rework the second half of DESTINY’S BOND. I can make the series move along much faster if I go about the redrafting right. Continue reading

Share Button

THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Now On Sale!

Posted by February 3rd, 2015

THE THORN OF DENTONHILL coverCongratulations to Book Country member Marshall Ryan Maresca! His debut fantasy novel THE THORN OF DENTONHILL is now on sale! Marshall originally workshopped THE THORN OF DENTONHILL on Book Country which was then picked up by DAW Books. Last week, we asked you to describe your own fantasy world in one sentence for a chance to win one advance copy of THE THORN OF DENTONHILL. Here are a couple of the amazing submissions we received:

Drugara, a vibrant realm lush with rich plant life and towering black trees, threatened by a spreading taint that warps the land into a dark, twisted world of despair and shadow. – Amber Wolfe

The nine Great Nations, while they were all different in customs and political agenda, had one law in common–from Azaria in the north all the way down to Bore they had banned all magic and tech, after Kronus the Conqueror had created the tracers and spent centuries hunting down and destroying every trace of power in the land. – SMRoffey

We are so happy for Marshall! Read what Marshall says about his path to publication below. Continue reading

Share Button

Enter THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Sweepstakes!

Posted by January 27th, 2015

THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Giveaway

Congratulations to Book Country member Marshall Ryan Maresca! His debut fantasy novel, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL comes out February 3, 2015! Marshall originally workshopped THE THORN OF DENTONHILL on Book Country, and was picked up by DAW Books.

To celebrate Marshall’s release, we are asking you to describe your own fantasy world in one sentence in the discussion thread for a chance to win one of ten advance copies of THE THORN OF DENTONHILL!  You may also email your submission to info@bookcountry.com with the subject line “THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Sweepstakes.”

To help you get started, Marshall shares his advice on the worldbuilding process below. The deadline to enter is 11:59 PM Eastern Time on February 2, 2015 Continue reading

Share Button

SPARK by Book Country Member Atthys Gage: On Sale Today!

Posted by December 17th, 2014

SPARK by Atthys GageCongratulations to longtime Book Country member Atthys Gage! His debut YA novel, SPARK, was originally workshopped on Book Country, and came out today from Lycaon Press.

Lucy Silag: Tell us about your first “spark” of the idea for SPARK. How did that idea grow and change over time and drafts?

Atthys Gage: It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but there is a persistent image that I associate with SPARK: someone is walking past a vacant lot; there are a couple of homeless types standing around a big metal drum, warming themselves on the scrap-wood fire lit within; sparks fly upward. The only thing is, that scene doesn’t appear in the book and never did in any version. It is, apparently, a sort of catalyst scene. Like an enzyme, it allowed the process of writing the book to take place but wasn’t consumed in the process.

LS: What has surprised you most about the experience of taking your book from an idea to a finished product?

AG: I was struck by how my own feelings changed as we neared the end. At first I was willing to fight for every little thing. Or, if not fight, then endlessly agonize over how to fix something that wasn’t quite right. By the end, I was more likely to just eliminate the problematic passage with a sweep of the blue pencil. It’s almost as though the book itself was so ready to be done and out in the world that it began resisting my efforts to fix it anymore. I’d reach out to straighten a clause or rub out a questionable comma, and it would slap my hand away like a moody teenager. Just leave it alone! Go away! I honestly think the poor thing was tired of all the attention. Continue reading

Share Button

5 Considerations for Sequel Writing by Hillary Jacques

Posted by September 10th, 2014

Hillary Jacques on sequel writing

Welcome Urban Fantasy author Hillary Jacques! Hillary has been a Book Country member since 2011, workshopping THIS IS DALTON and BROKEN IN. Her new book, CARNIEPUNK: RECESSION OF THE DIVINE, will be out in December and is published by Simon and Schuster. Hillary shares advice on sequel writing. 

***

Writing a first novel is like going on a carnival ride in a foreign language. Even when you think you know what’s happening, there are these moments of pure discovery where you round a corner and find a ghost town or a nemesis long thought dead. It’s almost magical. And then comes the sequel.

Writing a sequel isn’t as simple as getting in line for the ride again. Nope. The author boards, ticket in hand, but instead of bumping along a familiar set of tracks, there are all these considerations to deal with. Details, development, and continuity. Half of them have been explained before, and the other half have changed. So what do you do? Continue reading

Share Button