One of my all-time favorite YA series is GONE by Michael Grant. I can’t actually remember when I read the first book, but it was before the second one came out, so fairly early after its release. It was the first book by Grant that I had read and after the first chapter, I was hooked. I had been looking for something different and GONE delivered.
Since then, I’ve read and reread the full series about six or seven times because not only do I find the story interesting and yet disturbing — it’s all about the characters for me. Astrid, Sam, Edilio, Lana, Caine, Diana, little Pete, Orc, and the list goes on. While LIGHT concludes the series and ties up the story perfectly (if not bloodily) well, I was very excited to hear yesterday that MONSTER will release in October 2017, a book giving us GONE fans a bit more about what happens after LIGHT.
Below is the video of author Michael Grant reading from his soon-to-be-released book MONSTER. Please check it out and if you haven’t read the GONE series, now is the perfect time to start — you’ve plenty of time to get the series read before October.
So watch the video below and then go get GONE and read.
I’m very excited today to have author B.K. Boes guest posting. I had the privilege of meeting her last November at a writer’s conference and was blown away by her vision as an epic fantasy writer and her passion for writing. She agreed to sit down and share her process for writing, editing, and even how to find an illustrator. Regardless if you’re newer to this business of novel writing and publishing or more experienced, this post is chock full of great information!
Behind the Scenes of an Epic Fantasywith B.K. Boes
In today’s world, especially in the independent publishing crowd, you’re going to hear a lot of advice about writing fast. And I mean super speed. I’ve met people who can crank out a romance novel or space opera first draft in three days. And that’s awesome. But it’s not me, and that’s okay.
Here’s the advice I’d give you: write the first draft as fast as you can. Take into account your life circumstances and priorities. I’m a homeschooling mom. I work part-time online. My husband is a minister in a local church, which means I host people in my home many evenings. I run a local writer’s group, and I teach a homeschool high school creative writing class. I’m also working on building my writing career.
I simply can’t pump out books like a full-time author. Or even a part-time author with no kids in the picture. And, again, that’s okay.
So, here I am, a busy woman with a full life trying to write an epic fantasy series. In the last five years, I’ve written the first drafts of five books in this series, plus a spin-off book or two. Currently, I’ve brought the first book in the series, Mother of Rebellion, almost to the end of its production.
My Process Start to Finish
Since I’m independently publishing my series (the benefits of which and my choice to do so could be another post all together), my process of bringing a book from conception to publication looks different than traditional publication. It will also look different from other indie publishers. It’s tailored to who I am. But, maybe you can find something helpful in it, so here it is:
Idea forms. Write a few short stories with the main characters as protagonists. Do a crap ton of world-building. This step can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months.
Plot out basic plot points, probably using The Hero’s Journey. This shouldn’t take more than a day or two. It’s not carved in stone. You can change it later.
Write the first draft. This shouldn’t take forever. In fact, I suggest trying to get the first draft finished in less than two months. Why? 1) Your first draft will probably suck no matter how long it takes you to write it. 2) Your first draft will probably change. A lot. 3) Laboring over words/themes/pacing is better done in revision. So, give yourself permission to write a bad first draft. Just accept the fact that it won’t be close to perfect, turn off your internal editor, write the draft, and move on to revisions.
If major changes took place between plotting out my book and finishing the first draft, sometimes I will take a day to replot my new story direction to make sure that I’m hitting all the correct markers.
Write the second draft. For me, I have to fill out the story a lot. I write bare bones on first draft and then add in on revisions. Some writers overwrite on the first draft and have to cut a lot of material in revisions. This will just depend on who you are as a writer. It would be a good idea to start getting some feedback at this point via a writer’s group. Complete the second draft as fast as you
Alpha readers. These are other writers or very critically thinking readers who can tear your story apart and help you put it back together in a better way. This will, of course, depend on how fast your alpha readers are. I have two, and it took them about a month. In the meantime, I took a step back from that story and wrote a first draft of another book.
Third draft changes based on alpha reader comments. I look for consistency, pacing, world-building (enough/too little?), story timeline, character distinction, etc., and I bring the book up to the best quality I can on my own. The third draft for me might take a couple of passes. I might separate out the multiple point of view characters into their own word documents and edit one character at a time.
At this point I would hire a developmental editor. More on that later.
Fourth draft based on comments of developmental editor.
Send off to a line editor. More on that later.
Fifth draft based on comments by line editor.
Send off to a proofreader.
Sixth draft based off of proofreading.
At this point, I’d send off to beta readers. These guys are going to read through your book and give you a reader’s perspective. They should be able to catch any last minute, smaller changes that need to be made.
During the last few stages, I’d hire a cover designer and map illustrator. More on that later.
Seventh draft based off of anything beta readers caught.
Once I have my illustrations and cover, it’s time to send it off to a professional formatter for the print version of the book. You can also hire for the ebook version, but you can also do it yourself on Vellum (Mac) or Jutoh (PC).
Finally! It’s time to publish!
Now let’s talk about some of the leg work involved in hiring professionals to help you make your book top notch.
How to Find an Editor
There are three types of editors I recommend.
Developmental Editor. This is big picture editing. They’ll look at the structure of your book, plot holes, find inconsistencies or unbelievable moments, check for character development and consistency, comment on pacing, and look for overall themes. This is the most expensive type of editing. You can probably get away with not hiring a developmental editor if you absolutely cannot afford one. However, if you decide not to hire a developmental editor, make sure you have super smart and capable Alpha readers and get as many of them as you can.
Line Editor. This is line by line editing. They’ll look for smaller scale craft of writing issues such as structure on a chapter, paragraph and/or sentence level. They will suggest better, smoother prose. They’ll help you make your voice consistent, and make sure that nothing is confusing for the reader.
Proofreader. This is purely technical. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, mistyped words, missing words, and things like that.
Now, when I was looking for editors, I took it very, very seriously. I believe that if I am going to pay for these services, it better be worth it. The last thing I want is to get back my manuscript and find that I wasted my money.
Making a list of editors
Word of mouth recommendations is very valuable. Network with other authors. Ask for their recommendations, and follow up if they give you an editor’s information. Begin forming a list of editors you wish to query.
Research editors who specialize in your genre. Google is your friend. Legitimate editors normally have websites with testimonials, rates, guidelines, and lists of books they’ve edited. Add those that interest you to your list. Query them to ask for recommendations from past clients.
Take a look at your favorite indie books in your genre. Often times they will credit their editor on the copyright page or in their acknowledgments. Add these names to your list and find their contact information.
Gather a large list of editors. Really do your research. I had more than 3 dozen editors on my original list.
Whittle Down Your List
Are they not affordable? Then mark them off the list.
Do they offer a sample edit? If not, mark them off the list.
When you look at the books they’ve edited on amazon/goodreads/etc, do you see a lot of comments in the lower rated reviews that specifically comment on editing? Mark them off the list. Don’t skip this step. This is how you confirm their track record.
Send out samples for them to edit based on their individual guidelines. Are they unprofessional? Mark them off the list. Do they fail to respect you as the author in their edits? Mark them off the list. Do you have the feeling you won’t work well together as you communicate? Mark them off. Do they try to rewrite your story? Mark them off. Do they have hateful comments instead of constructive ones? Mark them off.
Whittle your list down to less than 5 editors that you would be glad to work with and you think you can afford.
Which One to Hire?
This is something you’ll have to decide for yourself. I whittled my 36+ list of editors down to three or four, and I chose the cheapest one in the end. Your decision might be based off of something else, and that’s fine.
How to find an Illustrator
There are two ways to get a cover. You can hire an artist to create original artwork (which is often times expensive), or you can hire a company like Deranged Doctor Designs to make you a cover out of stock photos. This is definitely the more affordable option.
But original art may still be needed for other things. I hired an artist to create my cover illustration, and I’ve hired NA Studio Designs to give me unique chapter headings for each of my point of view characters, create maps for my book, and create some promotional materials.
The process of finding an illustrator is similar to finding an editor. The steps for making a list of illustrators or cover designers is the same, except you can add this: Search websites like DeviantArt and Carbon Made and even Fiverr. For maps, you can also check out The Cartographer’s Guild. These sites enable you to contact artists individually. You might have to query to find out if they even create artwork for book covers, but these are the places you can find some really great artists.
Tips for Working with Illustrators and Cover Designers
If working with stock, it is VERY important that you make sure they have the licenses to use said stock photos. Also, I like to run a Google image search when considering buying a premade book cover to see if the image has already been used in my genre in a similar way on a book cover.
If the artist isn’t professional and timely, don’t work with them. It’s a huge headache. And often times it falls through anyway. Your best bet is using someone with a track record and business already up and running.
When hiring for map illustrations, you’ll have to give them a rough sketch up front. Research map making. Model your map after real world places so that the geography makes sense. Have a rough sketch ready to go before you query.
Ask for recommendations from artists, just as you would for editors. Talk to previous clients about how smooth or not smooth the process was for them. You can find out a lot by just talking to people.
There is a lot to learn when planning to independently publish your book, but it is totally possible. And you can make your book indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. So, I encourage you to go. Write awesome stories. Produce top quality, professionally edited books. Put together beautiful eBooks and print books, and be proud of the product you’ve made.
Good luck, and remember, your process is yours. Not mine. Not anyone else’s. So find out what works for you and own it.
B.K. Boes is an epic fantasy writer, working on publishing her first novel, Mother of Rebellion, the first book in the Leyumin Divided Saga. She is a wife, and mother of two. Writing has always been a part of her life, but within the last four to five years has she begun to take it more seriously. Since then, she’s written six books, and her first is nearly ready to publish.
Excited and happy to announce I have an amazing author guest posting today! Please welcome Sheri Williams — author, voracious reader, amazing mom and wife, and someone I’m very privileged to call a friend. I’m going to launch into her post right away, but be sure to stick around because I’ve got all the links posted at the end for how you can find her and her books.
Don’t Piss Off the Author!
It is a well known fact that you don’t piss off an author. Because if you do such a thing, they will invariably kill you in horrible, terrible, no good ways. Possibly multiple times. I mean, they sell shirts and mugs and posters with this very fact on it. I mean in general, you shouldn’t go out of your way to piss off anyone. It’s just not good practice. I’m a firm believer in karma, and if you send out hate to the world, it’s going to multiply it x3 and you’re going to land smack on your ass wondering why the universe is out to get you.
But that is a whole other blog post. I’m going to talk today about how pissing off an author might lead them to a whole new story idea based on how they can kill you in fiction. No seriously. It’s going to happen. Public death for the crime of ignorance. That’s how I decided to kill the person who pissed me off. And it sparked a whole new world that I’m working on building. A whole world where if you are willfully ignorant you could be sentenced to death. A world where knowledge is power and we all know power corrupts, but can knowledge? I can’t wait to find out as I delve more into the world building.
I’ve only dug a little bit into what I want for this new world, but I’m already fascinated. And I really hope that after I finish what I’m writing now, then finish the other half written book I’m sitting on, and then write a sequel to a short that I’ve been asked about twice then, and only then will I get to delve deeper into the new world. I’m interested to see what I might come up with. Right now I have one character. She is Honor, the nun. That’s it, but it’s a start. And I have worked with much less before.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Many, many thanks to Sheri for taking the time to share this today! I’m really intrigued with this idea — a world where there’s public death for the crime of ignorance. This will be a fun if not disturbing read, and I love that! So, if you’re looking for Sheri you can find her here at: thesheriwilliams.com.
Last week I had the privilege of guest posting on author Sheri Williams’ blog. I talked about my writer’s “word-of-the-year” the one word that pretty much sums things up for me — the one word I keep muttering to myself on the days when I’m tired, frustrated, and the words won’t flow or are non-existent.
Below is a teaser about my post. If you want to read more and find out what word is on my writer’s mind. Please hope over to the blog of author Sheri Williams.
===== The Word of the Day & the Year is . . . =====
According to Statistic Brain, 41% of all Americans usually make a New Year’s resolution. Honestly, I would have thought that number to be higher, definitely over half maybe into the sixtieth percentile at least. To me, it seems like as soon as January 1 hits there’s the onslaught of blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates talking about or listing what they’re going to change/improve/eradicate in the new year.
Did you make a resolution for 2017? Are you in the process of working towards that resolution or as we move into the final days of January, has the oomph gone out of your resolve? . . .
Back in September 2015, I wrote this blog post for the Writing Wenches. Since the site is no longer available to view, I wanted to share it today with my readers because I’m always on the lookout for ways to find great new books, and I’m sure you are too.
I love books. I love to read. As a kid, my earliest book recommendations came from my mom and the amazing librarians in the children’s section of our local library. As a teen, I read books my friends said were must-reads and I spent hours exploring the shelves of bookstores.
While I have favorite genres and I most definitely have favorite authors, I’m always open to new ideas and new authors or at least authors that are new to me. Because of my husband’s influence I read (and loved!) Douglas Adams and Michael Crichton. A friend introduced me to Barbara Michaels and I stumbled onto Michael Grant when scanning the bookstore shelves for something that just looked interesting — I had no idea as I grabbed his book “Gone” that I’d become a huge fan with an obsession for his series.
Before we were all connected through the internet, I often discovered new authors and books by catching recommendations on talk shows or the news. That’s how I actually first heard about Harry Potter.
Today, there are so many ways to find amazing new authors and books. Social media makes it easier than ever to stay connected but there’s something to be said for the old-fashioned method of simply asking another human (in person!) what they recommend.
The next time you’re in a book store ask the clerk or even the person standing next to you in the aisle what they’re reading or what’s the best book they’ve read this month. Most readers love to talk about their favorite authors and the great books they’ve read. Connect and share and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to climb out of a reading rut and discover something new.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to find new authors and authors that are new to me.
Search the hashtags #amreading, #books and #authors. Check out the #amwriting hashtag. These are great ways to find not only new authors to read but fun writerly and readerly people to follow.
Follow your local library’s page or your favorite author’s page. Check out what your favorite author is reading or who that author interacts with to find new authors and books to enjoy.
Spend time at your local library. Check out the displays that have recommendations from the librarians, ask for recommendations — don’t be afraid to ask. Librarians are there to help and they’re usually plugged into what’s hot in different genres.
Be bold and step out of your comfort zone. Choose to read something from a different genre. There’s a lot of great literature and awesomely engaging stories out there.
I’m about 50 or so pages from completing my personal 2016 Goodreads reading challenge of 25 books. Once upon a time, reading 25 books in a year would not have been a challenge — I typically read twice that and often more. However, times change. Life changes. I write full time and some days after writing for clients and then adding words to my own WIP, I simply prefer to lose myself in a movie instead of a book. Still, I completed my Goodreads challenge, or I will later this week when I finish Chuck Sambuchino’s craft book “Get a Literary Agent” and 25 books in 2016 isn’t half bad.
That brings us to December. Now. I decided instead of continuing to work my way through my TBR pile this month, I would treat myself and indulge in a reread of a favorite series. Last year during the Christmas holidays I reread the Gone series by Michael Grant. The previous Christmas, I reread Harry Potter, although I usually do that reread in the summer.
This year, December 2016 I’m rereading Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.
If you enjoy reading YA with a supernatural/fantasy theme, then I highly recommend The Mortal Instruments Series.
You can take a look at the different books here. Since the first book “City of Bones” was released in 2007, five more books were added plus a companion series called the Infernal Devices and a new sequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments called The Dark Artifices, which begins with “Lady Midnight”. The next book after “Lady Midnight” is set to release in May 2017 and will be titled “Lord of Shadows”.
Currently, I’m on Chapter 20 of “City of Bones” and I’m enjoying it this time around as much as I did the first time I read it. I love the dialogue, especially the banter between Jace and Clary, even Simon’s commentary brings a grin while reading. I’m dreading the end of this book just a bit, because I do know what’s coming next and this particular end made me a bit growl-ly. However, it was a good end and fun way to lead into book 2 “City of Ashes”.
Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope you’re experiencing peace and joy. And do I hope you’re making time for a good book or two or three.
If you have a spare moment, let me know in the comments below what you’re reading. I’m always looking to add title to my TBR list. Or which book(s) do you want Santa to bring?
The calendar reads October 31, which in most homes means Halloween fun — candy, costumes, scary movies/books, and more candy. In the homes of many writer’s it means NaNo Eve. What’s that? Why it’s the night before NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. In some parts of the world it’s already November 1 and the keystrokes are flying as writers work to get their word counts in for the first official day of NaNo.
Last week, I wrote a guest post over at the Writing Wenches about deciding to participate in NaNo for 2016. I called it: To NaNo or Not To NaNo. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to get in on National Novel Writing Month, check out my post.
My dear friend and fellow Writing Wench, author Suzie Jay has released a new children’s book: “Princess Matilda’s Miracle”. It’s a very special book dealing with illness, but this fairy tale shines with hope, love, and light. You don’t want to miss it.
You can find “Princess Matilda’s Miracle” on Amazon here and at Goodreads here.
Go visit Suzie Jay at her author page and see what else she’s been up to recently. She’s got some fun books out and new ones on the way.
I’ve always been a reader who regularly rereads favorite books. At least once a year I pull out my copy of “Death on the Nile” by Agatha Christie and my equally tattered copy of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” These well-worn and beloved books have yellowing pages, cracked spines, and are as wrinkled as a shar-pei puppy. Don’t care. I love these books — although I may have to concede and treat myself to new copies.
Reaching for a favorite book to reread is comforting. A chance to escape the doldrums of daily life and venture into a different world to visit old friends. Isn’t that what our favorite literary characters are? Old friends? I think so.
I’m right there on the Karnak with Hercule Poirot sailing down the Nile. Of course after reading the book dozens of times, I know who the victim will be and who the murderer is, but it doesn’t stop me from rereading “Death on the Nile.” I pick it up time and time again, because of Poirot and the other characters as well as the setting and Christie’s distinctive voice.
Beyond rereading individual books, I have several series I also enjoy reading over and over. It takes a bit more time to reread a series, but I still find it immersive and as enjoyable as the first time I read the books. My top favorite book series I love to reread are:
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (have read the series a total of 13 times)
The Gone Series by Michael Grant (have read series 7 times)
The Starcrossed Series by Josephine Angelini (have read series 5 times)
Sign of Seven Trilogy by Nora Roberts (have read series 6 times)
The latter two actually are trilogies but I still consider them a series. I’ve also reread the Star Wars X-Wing series three or four times — it’s my favorite set of books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
So why all this rereading when there are so many amazing new books out there to discover? In one word: characters. It’s the characters for me. Each of these series has characters I love to love and that I love to hate. From their witty dialogue to the way they deeply feel, how they lead, and their flaws that make them believable, the characters in these books series leap from the pages and stay with me long after the last page has been read.
Someday, I hope I can create characters that resonate with readers the way the ones in my favorite book series resonate for me.
What’s your favorite book or book series to reread? I’d love to know so go ahead and share it in the comment section below. Maybe you’ll help me find my next book series to read, love, and reread.