Tag Archives: Ace Books

Four Questions with Science Fiction and Fantasy Editor Danielle Stockley

Posted by March 11th, 2014

d_stockleyWe are really excited to introduce Ace and Roc editor Danielle Stockley. Danielle has been a trusted counselor to us over the years and is our go-to science fiction and fantasy fiction expert. (She also edits Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s the Books of the Between!) It is our pleasure to have her answer questions about her work at Penguin Random House on Book Country today. Read on for great tips about the craft of writing—and editing—in those genres. 

NG: What are some of the clichés in science fiction and fantasy submissions that make a manuscript an automatic “pass” for you?

DS: I hate to declare anything an automatic pass, because inevitably it will show up in something that I’ve published. There are definitely things that make me wary, though. Plots involving mind control; protagonists who are constantly developing new powers just when they are needed most; character “development” by way of sexual assault; and evil, monolithic corporations with seemingly limitless resources don’t feel especially fresh to me.

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Military Science Fiction Lessons from Jack Campbell’s Legendary LOST FLEET Series

Posted by March 6th, 2014

john_hemry_1What’s military science fiction, you ask? Fiction in the style of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would be the short answer. Stories about interplanetary conflict that emphasize military strategy and play-by-play  descriptions of battle scenes. To get the long answer, read our Q&A with Military SF Landmark author Jack Campbell. His Lost Fleet series recounts the adventures of naval officer Jack Geary, who “comes back from the dead” to help the Alliance stand up to its enemies—the Syndicate Worlds. 

NG: There are 15 books in the Lost Fleet universe. What’s the secret to your world’s longevity? Do you have advice for writers who want to write military science fiction worlds that make readers readers keep coming back?

JC: There are several different things that have enabled me to keep the stories coming in the Lost Fleet universe.  The first is that the initial scenario gave me so much to work with.  I had been thinking for years about how to successfully write a long “retreat in space” story.  That’s a lot harder than it may sound, because it requires a combination of technologies and ways of fighting that allow a beleaguered force to survive and continue trying to reach safety.  I had the classic long retreat book as a model (Xenophon’s March of the 10,000), which had been used by other writers in the past, and I wanted to make what I was doing feel real.  During the same period that I was thinking about how to do that story, I had also been thinking about sleeping hero legends, which are common in societies around the world.  Such legends (like that of King Arthur) say that the hero is not dead, but sleeping, and will someday return when needed.  They are probably based on real people who were, well, real people, not awesome heroes.  I wondered what it would be like for someone to awaken from a long sleep and discover that they were now thought to be an awesome hero, and that everyone was expecting them to save the day.  After years of thinking about these two ideas, I suddenly realized that they fit together perfectly.  Both required a lot of background to make them work, so the Lost Fleet stories began with a double dose of background.  That gave me a lot to build interlocking storylines about.

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Book Release & Sweepstakes: Kerry Schafer’s WAKEWORLD

Posted by January 28th, 2014

Wakeworld Sweepstakes

Today we’re celebrating the release of WAKEWORLD by site member Kerry Schafer. Her path to publication never ceases to inspire us: Kerry joined the site as a beta member and was workshopping her urban fantasy BETWEEN when the manuscript captured the attention of one of our staff members. She forwarded it to Berkley Editorial Director Susan Allison, and the rest is history!

BETWEEN came out a year ago–almost to the day–and climbed the Bookscan Fantasy bestseller list to the #22 spot within a week of its release! WAKEWORLD, the second in the Books of the Between, picks up the story of Dreamshifter & medical doctor Vivian, who joins forces with another Dreamshifter to defeat a looming threat to the dreamworld. This month’s Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine gave the book a glowing review: “Rising star Schafer continues to advance an elaborate mythology that places her heroine at the intersection of worlds. Schafer proves that densely plotted and emotionally charged storytelling is definitely her forte!

Intrigued? Enter our WAKEWORLD Sweepstakes for a chance to snag a copy!

Kerry’s giving back to the Book Country community, and thanks to her and her team at Ace Books, we’re giving away three copies of WAKEWORLD. To enter for a chance to win, you need to tweet your Book Country user name along with hashtag #winbookcountry. (Hint: Your username is how you log into your Book Country account.) Read the full rules here.


Connect with Kerry on Book Country and follow her on Twitter. To learn more about Kerry and her books, visit her website, www.kerryschafer.com. Read our interview with Kerry’s agent Deidre Knight

More From the Book Country BlogYou might also like: Shannon LC Cate’s Release of JACK: It Took a Community.


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Writing about Magic with Author Anton Strout

Posted by October 31st, 2013

STONECASTHalloween is when the magical world of monsters and creatures seeps into our lives. What better guest to have on this day than a fantasy writer, who makes a living out of inventing and breathing life into such creatures! For writer Anton Strout, that’s particularly true. His Spellmason Chronicles urban fantasy series features gargoyle Stanis, who, after a long sleep, awakens at the spell of his maker.

NG: The Spellmason Chronicles books ALCHEMYSTIC & STONECAST are such perfect Halloween reads! You’ve kept away from the oh-so-familiar urban fantasy fare of vamps, weres, and fairies, and have given us something more gothic-flavored. Can you tell us about how you came up with this world and the concept of spellmasonry, the arcane art of manipulating stonework to one’s will?

AS: Sure. I’ve always been fascinated by creators, people who make things. In LORD OF THE RINGS, I want to know more about the Elves of Eregion under Sauron’s guidance when they make the Rings of Power. I wondered how that would translate in our modern world, in particular, Manhattan. And as a lover of my fair city’s art and architecture, the idea of writing a series about gargoyles and those who created them appealed to me.  Plus I like smashing things a lot, and gargoyles are REALLY good at that.

NG: What’s your advice for budding fantasy writers on how to avoid infodumps? Can you talk about your personal strategy in the series?

AS: There are things that you the writer need to know that the audience simply doesn’t. I get it, writer…you came up with this amazing world and want to give it ALL to me, but that’s the kiss of death. Your world is the seasoning to flavor the dish that is your plot and characters. Too much salt kills a stew, too much infodumping ruins a book. I ONLY care about the details of your world insofar as they affect your character in the moment.  For example: I don’t need to have the Fodor’s Guide to Your World in the first fifty pages. But the second your character is hungry and doesn’t have the three distaris for a loaf of bread, I know the currency, and the value of something familiar from my world. Over a book you can dole out all the awesome you thought up, but it’s a mistake to show it unless it’s affecting the characters directly in a scene.

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