Friday, March 30, 2012

Interview with Mindy McGinnis YA writer.

Today I’m pleased to have Mindy McGinnis a YA writer as a guest on The Write Time.  She is a moderator at AgentQueryConnect (AQC) as bigblackcat97 or BBC as we love to call her.  Her debut YA Novel NOT A DROP TO DRINK, will be released by Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins, Fall 2013.
Mindy is a librarian who writes.  A writer who has an agent. An agent has a publisher for the writer.  While I am still trying to get my story put together where I can show it to an agent.  So I am watching Mindy, and several other writers travel down the path I am attempting to follow.

Mindy did a guest post here a few months ago.  Now I am happy to have Mindy back here to do an interview with me. So we will sit in these two cozy chairs and talk about your soon to be released new book, and other writerly things that come to mind.  

So, tell us about your book. 

It's set in the rural Midwest in the not-so-distant future where freshwater is scarce and people kill to defend backyard ponds and hand-dug wells. My main character, Lynn, has never known any other life than killing to survive. Her mother is the only person she's ever spoken to, and she's been raised as a nearly feral human being. When her mother dies in an accident, Lynn must decide between defending her pond alone or banding together with a crippled neighbor, a pregnant woman, a filthy orphan, and a teenage boy who awakens feelings she doesn’t understand.

What motivated you to write this particular story?  

I saw a documentary about the very real possibility of a global freshwater shortage. I do have a pond in my backyard and that night I dreamt about defending it with a high-powered rifle. I woke up and was like, "Hooray! A novel!"

How important is it to have critique partners and beta readers? 

How important is it to have a functioning frontal lobe? Um. Very. I have two excellent partners that I use consistently in all my writing - Skyval and RC Lewis to AQC users. We compliment each other very well in our strengths and weaknesses. I refer to us as the Critecta.

Did you take their advice?  

On overarching themes, yeah. If they see something that needs addressed as far as continuity, motivation, character development, etc., they're probably right. Do I always, unquestionably, take their advice in line edits? No. As RC likes to say, I'm not the boss of her, she's not the boss of me. In the end, it's my story.

Was it hard to read the critiques?  

Ehh... kind of. Even though I trust my crit partners completely, it's still my baby being eviscerated. But in the end, that's a good thing. It makes a stronger, hardier cyborg baby. OK, not really. What I do is read my crits through, then let it set a day or two and return to it. Then I implement what I agree with.

Did you like what your beta readers had to say?  

Without fail, whether I like it or not, they're right.

I know your query letter helped to land your agent, what was it in the letter that worked?  

I'd like to say the whole thing? I do know that my hook is what gets 'em, and I'm fortunate in that my hook is also the first line of the book.

Once you found an agent, and the agent a publisher is the work getting ready to publish harder than writing the book?  

I don't have my editor letter yet, so I can't say. What I can say is that I've made a definite push to get myself "out there" more now that I have a pub date, blogging more often, tweeting, etc.

Did you have to do a lot of rewrites to get ready to publish?  

Not sure yet.

How has blogging helped you with your book?  

Blogging, like query writing, is an entirely different animal from novel writing. I love blogging because it's a great outlet for those little thoughts that I want to toss out there that have no other outlet. And obviously, it's helped build my audience.

Was the fact that you use twitter and blog help with getting the publishing contract?  

The editor who ended up signing me hit my blog and Twitter up before making the offer. Because I had those two avenues of social media in place to broadcast myself, she was able to get a feel for me as a person. If I hadn't participated in either of those activities, the only thing Google would've popped on my name would be some articles on cyclical vomiting disease (which btw, I'm really not sure what's up with that).

What is your source of inspiration?  

In general, my own brain. I know that's a crap answer but those cogs keep turning, and I'm thankful.

What keeps you going?  

My Irish tenacity. Seriously. I. Never. Quit. Moving.

Have you decided on your head shot yet?   

See link here for her video blog entry   Ha! Um... no. Sadly I'm still an #authorphotofail story.

Is your book available for pre-order?  

Not yet. Believe me, you'll know when it happens.

Is the cover art ready yet?  

Nope. You'll know when that happens too ;)

 Other places you can find Mindy:

Mindy's blogs over at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire.
She also contributes to the blog, From the Write Angle.
On Twitter
Friday the 13ers 

Check out Spring Fevers, Mindy has a story in this along with other AQCers.  

Spring Fevers


An anthology of short stories, Spring Fevers is an exploration of relationships in their varied states: love -- requited and unrequited -- friendships discovered and lost, family in its many guises, and the myriad places in between. Created by Cat Woods and Matt Sinclair, Spring Fevers arose from their work with the Agent Query Connect online writing community, and while membership in the free site was not necessary for inclusion in the anthology, the ten writers whose stories appear are all members. Authors include MarcyKate Connolly, S.Q. Eries, Robb Grindstaff, J. Lea Lopez, Mindy McGinnis, R.S. Mellette, Yvonne Osborne, Matt Sinclair, A.M. Supinger, and Cat Woods. The debut publication of Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, Spring Fevers was edited by the team of Robb Grindstaff, Matt Sinclair, and Cat Woods, with cover design by Calista Taylor, and book design by R.C. Lewis. A new anthology is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2012.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pesonal Inventory

Once a week, and once a month I take inventory.  Count and double check.  The cost is then figured into the cost of goods sold.  Inventory affects my bottom line, it affects profits.  In a business setting inventory is essential.

Inventory also applies to individuals.  As a verb it is defined as:

Inventory - to take stock of; evaluate: to inventory one's life and accomplishments.

Scary stuff.  Stopping to take stock of one's life is tough.  One may not like what one sees.  So it is easier to just ignore the issues.  

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”  -- Anthony Robbins 

From the book 7 Keys to Success by Will Edwards …

“ … we need to notice what is working and what is not; and be prepared to change our approach in order to get what we want – that is the essence of flexibility.
A wise person once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. That is a wonderfully true statement – in other words, if you continue doing exactly what you are now doing, then don’t be surprised when you don’t see any increase or change in your results.”

 If you find that you don't like where you are in life then what needs to happen to change that course?  Personal Inventory is the answer to dealing with making changes.  Stop and take a good hard look at where you are and what you want to be.  Then put together a plan to decide what changes need to be put into place.

I've never smoked, but I have talked and worked with people who have, the point in common is the habit needs to change, smoking needs to be replaced with another activity.  Never mind the nicotine addiction, the hand to mouth, or the social gathering of other smokers needs to be replaced with something else.   Change is hard.  Change means leaving your comfort zone.  

However, if the new direction is a great desire, then the changes needed to make that come true become easier to make. 

Bottom line, if you don't like where you are take some time to really look at where you want to be. Identify the barriers that keep you from getting to where you want to be.  Come up with what needs to happen to remove those barriers.  Make a plan to change.  Implement the plan.

What strategies have worked for you?  Any other suggestions to help with doing a personal inventory?

You have just read Personal Inventory here on The Write Time, consider leaving a comment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

BRoP Author Interview with Darke Conteur Part III

Members who frequent Agent Query Connect (AQC as we call it.) will bump into Darke there, they even have a virtual oven over there just so she can bake everyone cookies!  We've rubbed shoulders a time or two.  So I was happy when fellow BRoP member E.M. Neume asked if Darke would like to do an author interview on our blog ring.  Of course Darke said yes.

Here is Part II on sandra Ulbrich Almazan's Blog

Darke and I will be chatting here for Part III

Part IV will be out tomorrow on Terri's blog.'
and Teresa will conclude with Part V on Thursday.

So Darke, pull up a chair and get comfortable.  Please tell us all about your creative process.

First off, where do you get your story ideas?
Some of them started off as fan fics. Sort of what I would do if I were in charge.

Do you have a specific writing style? 
Honestly, I have no idea. I tend to write tight third person. Is that a style?

How do you deal with writer’s block? 
Dishes or a hot shower. I've come up with some wonderful ideas scrubbing away at pots and pans.

Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?
Oh I plot. Plot, plot, plot. I don't write a scene unless I know how it's going to go.

Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?
I did, but I have a content editor now. I loved my beta's but I've put myself on a tight schedule and sometimes that doesn't work well when I'm waiting for someone to return chapters to me.

How much time do you spend on research? 
It depends on the subject. I'm still researching things on Druidism as it's so rare to find good information.

What type of research do you do? 
Mostly online. I love the internet.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?  
Action scenes. What I see in my head and what I type out are generally two different things or confusing as heck when I read it over.

For more information about Darke and her work here are some helpful links:

Is your book in print, ebook or both?
Right now, both are only available as ebooks, but I am planning on doing print versions in the future.

The Watchtower
His first day of work wasn't what Martin Cunningham expected. A sultry boss, a classy receptionist, the drama-queen foreigner, and a painfully shy techie who prefers hiding to human interaction, was the oddest group of characters he'd ever met. When an assassination attempt is made against his new boss, Martin comes face to face with the stuff of nightmares.

Now he and his new co-workers must race to prevent another attack, but where do they start? There's very little to go on, and the only solid piece of evidence escaped through the u-bend in the toilet. By the end of the day, Martin becomes one of the privileged few who really understands what lies in the shadows, and what it means to work in THE WATCHTOWER. 

Under the Cover of Wicca
Victims of ritual sacrifices are showing up in one graveyard, and sixteen-year-old sensitive Janet Weiss is the only witness the police have.

With Janet's safety in question, Jezryall enlists the help of Rowan, a Wiccan Priestess and old friend. When followers of dark magic kidnap Janet in a brazen daylight attack, Jezryall and her team make a stand against the continuing threat.

The balance between good and evil is being methodically destroyed, and Janet's unintentional witnessing of the latest ritual may not be by accident. Jezryall and her staff must rescue the teen and stop the culprits before the balance of power is tilted more in favour of evil.

Failure is not an option, or Janet's soul won't be the only one condemned to Hell. 

Thanks for stopping in Darke.  I hope everyone else enjoyed your visit as much as I have.  On behalf of myself and the other members or our Blog Ring of Power, thank you for your interview.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award from Kela McClelland

A few days ago my new smart phone have me a notice on Twitter.  When I opened it it was a short message from Kela saying there was something on her blog for me.  So first of all thank you Kela for the award.  She has a nice blog BTW.  Here is the link to her blog, Teardrops on My Book

 So here are the rules for accepting this award:

1. Create a post for the Versatile Blogger Award.

2. In the same post, thank the blogger who gave you the award and put a link back to their blog.

3. Nominate 15 other people for this award and let them know.

4. Post seven random things about yourself.

5. Include these rules in your post.

So Step one, check this is the post.  Step Two check I've thanked Kela, Step three Nominate 15 others. See the list of seventeen after the list of seven.

Step four Post seven random things about yourself:

Here they are:

1.  I dislike talking about myself like this.  I do enjoy discussing things and telling stories, and sometimes the story can be about me, if the setting is right.  But I don't like just being out there.  That said, I still have six more things I have to say...

2. I enjoy photography.

3.  No big surprise here, I like to write, now whether I am good enough to get published is yet to be seen.

4.  My Barbershop Quartet I sang with in High School took 4th place in State Competition

5.  My blog photo was taken aboard the USS Constitution, in Boston Harbor

6. I have the batman logo for my front license plate.

7. I enjoy building scale models. 

Step five the rules are above.

Here are the 15 folks, so that takes care of step three.

RC Lewis
Joyce Alton
Suzanne Payne
AM Supinger
Dawn G. Sparrow
TW Fendlry
EM LaBonte
Sandra Ulbrich Almazan  
Laura Palmer
Krystle Jones 
Angie Sandro
Brenda Drake
J Lea Lopez 

That should about wrap this up.  Thanks again Kela!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This Too Shall Pass

I’ve lived in Kansas where the saying is, if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes.  I’ve also had a week start off fantastic, and by the end of the week my outlook is very poor.  Then I’ve had a day start off all wrong, and by the end of the day things are all going the way I like and I’m on top of the world.

What a difference a week can make.

My whole life has changed in one heartbeat.

My point?  The only thing constant is change.  I can’t remember where I read my title, but I’ve said it to myself over the years.  This too shall pass reminds me that even as the wheels are coming of the cart and I am in the midst of a meltdown, things change again. 

So, my outlook for the bad days, and trials that life is so full of, “This too shall pass.”  Professionally I’ve been in the doghouse with the bosses, and after a week, things have turned around and everyone is looking at life through rose-colored classes.  (Or the reverse, one oops will negate a whole month of attaboys!)

Life is full of ups and downs.  So enjoy the highs and endure the lows.  It is how we deal with them that develops and shows our character.  At times I don’t deal well with my lows, other times I roll with the punches.  Just remember to enjoy the good times, they help you deal with the bad.

So when things are not going the way I like them, I just tell myself, “This too shall pass.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fictional Characters Help Put Goals into Perspective

I was introduced to T.W. Fendley by Terri Bruce when she was soliciting for her Blog Ring which I teased her into calling the Blog Ring of Power.  Well the name stuck, not that I mind.  So the other blog members have swapped e-mails and such.  Teresa asked if I'd help her do a virtual book tour and I agreed.  Always willing to help.  I am currently reading ZERO TIME, so check back here for a book review later this month. 

Teresa has been a fun person to get to know.  This has been different reading someone’s published work after I’ve talked to them.  I’ve been writing for years, but not ready to publish yet.  So, this is fun to rub shoulders with other writers and learn more about the craft.  So here is Teresa, ready to do a guest post here on The Write Time.  She will tell more about her book tour, ZERO Time and some thoughts on how she handles goals.
Take it away Teresa. 
Fictional Characters Help Put Goals into Perspective

By T.W. Fendley

Things have changed a lot for me since I decided to write fiction more than fifteen years ago. For my first novel, I got up at 4 a.m. and wrote a couple of hours each day before work. Fortunately, it only took a few months to get the first draft done (years of rewriting followed, but that's a topic for another day).

Now I have the luxury of being able to write full time, but I find it more difficult to claim time for writing with so many competing fun activities. After twenty-five years of working a corporate job, I hear a little voice say "Really?" when I try to be too task-oriented. Yet without deadlines and priorities, I'm pretty miserable. What's a girl to do?

So I have a few tricks to keep me moving, in a nice Pavlovian way. When I reach a set writing goal, I can:
  • Get a healthy snack (I keep them in another room)
  • Read a chapter in whatever book I'm reading
  • Call a friend
  • Go on Twitter or check email for ten minutes (I set my Reiki timer)
  • Walk around the block
  • See what my husband's doing (and run back to my office if he's watching the cooking channel)
  • Play the piano (that has the added benefit of being "practice" for my weekly lessons)
  • Have a decaf skim latte
  • Do dishes

No, that wasn't an error. Sometimes when the words aren't flowing, even doing dishes sounds like more fun than writing!

These writing goals are generally small ones, several of which fill the day--such as write for an hour or five hundred words (whichever comes first), edit a chapter or research a specific topic. Daily goals build toward my overall writing goals, which include finishing my next book this year, marketing the one that's published, finding an agent/publisher for my completed YA novel, and entering short story contests.

That certainly keeps me busy, but what if our entire race would become extinct if I failed to reach my goals? (Stay with me here as I go off on a tangent.) Thankfully, those are not stakes I've personally faced (nor have many humans), but that is the motivation for the travelers in my historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME. They seek to breed a hybrid race to eradicate a genetic flaw that resulted in natural births of only females (males were cloned).

The expedition leader, Xmucane (pronounced Shmoo-kane) and her mate, Xpiyacoc (Shoo-pee-a-cok) must find a way to maximize their chances of success before travel between Omeyocan and Earth through the Serpent Ropes becomes too risky (at Zero Time). Here's how they parsed it down:
  • Split the sixteen travelers into small groups instead of sending everyone to one place and time, as two previous expeditions did
  • Send all the groups to the same general geographic area so their descendants have a greater chance of mating, but far enough apart to avoid limiting the gene pool 
  • Use the greatest timespan possible for the two races to mix genetically before Zero Time
  • Have travelers of different ages and gender (unlike the previous expeditions, which had only adult women)
This intentional scatter-shot through time placed Omeyocan travelers in civilizations from the Age of Light (roughly 4000 B.C.E.) to the founding of Teotihuacan, "the place where gods were created" (circa 150 C.E.). Geographically, they arrived at locations from what is current-day Peru to the Yucatan. They brought Omeyocan culture to these places, including information about astronomical cycles needed to track the time remaining until Zero Time. Those who arrived in later times found family members they'd left on Omeyocan that morning revered as ancestors or gods. They could see if the genetic experiment had results, and make adjustments as needed.

Of course, not everyone had the same agenda.

Which brings me back to my own agenda for today (whew-tangent is now over!). It's always important to keep goals in perspective, and taking a look at what fictional characters face can, surprisingly, help clarify what matters. For me, writing is very important, but family, friends and having fun take top priority. If I don't meet a self-imposed writing deadline, will it cause the extinction of all humans? I think not.
So, having now reached my writing goal, I'm off to take a walk and enjoy the spring sunshine. Thanks, Dean, for being a Party Host in my Virtual Book Tour Party!
The ZERO TIME 2012 Virtual Book Tour Party is here!

To celebrate, T.W. Fendley is giving away a Maya-Aztec astrology report, a Mayan Winds CD, ZERO TIME tote bag and fun buttons. Check out the prizes and other posts on the Party Page.
3 ways to enter  (multiple entries are great!)

1) Leave a comment here or on any of the other PARTY POSTS listed on the Party Page.
2) Tweet about the Virtual Party or any of the PARTY POSTS (with tag #ZEROTIME2012)
Example: Join the Virtual Party for historical #fantasy novel ZERO TIME by @twfendley for a chance to win prizes! #ZEROTIME2012
3) Facebook (tag @T.W. Fendley) about the Virtual Party. (NOTE: tag must have periods to work)
Example: Join the Virtual Party for historical fantasy novel ZERO TIME by @T.W. Fendley for a chance to win prizes!
You can find ZERO TIME at:
Ebook $4.99
Paperback $16.95

Here is her BIO:

T.W. Fendley writes historical fantasy and science fiction with a Mesoamerican twist for adults and young adults. Her debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, was voted Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel in the 2011 P&E Readers Poll. Her short stories took second place in the 2011 Writers' Digest Horror Competition and won the 9th NASFiC 2007 contest. Teresa belongs to the St. Louis Writer's Guild, the Missouri Writers' Guild, SCBWI and Broad Universe. 

As Zero Time nears, only Keihla Benton can save two worlds from the powers of Darkness. But first she must unlock the secrets of Machu Picchu and her own past.
When Philadelphia science writer Keihla Benton joins an archeological team at Machu Picchu, she learns the Andean prophesies about 2012 have special meaning for her. Only she can end the cycle of Darkness that endangers Earth at the end of the Mayan calendar. As she uncovers secrets from the past, which threaten her life and those she loves, Keihla struggles to keep the powerful Great Crystal from the Lord of Darkness and his consort.

Xmucane leads an expedition to Earth to overcome a genetic flaw that threatens the people of Omeyocan with extinction, but she soon finds herself involved in a very personal battle that pits mother against daughter and sister against sister. With the help of the time-traveling Great Serpent Quetzalcoatl, she leaves the Southern Temples to arrive in present-day Machu Picchu as the expedition’s time-window closes.

Xmucane and Keihla work together as Earth and Omeyocan near alignment with the galaxy’s dark heart for the first time in 26,000 years. They must seize the last chance to restore the cycle of Light to Earth and return to the Pleiades with a cure, no matter what the cost to their hearts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blog Ring of Power interview with Sue Burke Part V

Sue standing on the city walls of Buitrago de Lozoya near Madrid.
This week Writer/Translator Sue Burke has been visiting the Blog Ring of Power.  She lives in Spain, and so gets to tour castles and knows a lot about medieval times.  Here is the final part of our interview with this very interesting lady.

Here are the preceding links to the interview:

Part I About You on Terri's blog
Part II The Writing Life On Teresa's blog
Part III The Creative Process on Emily's blog

Part IV: The Technical Aspects  on  Sandra's blog 

Welcome to the Write Time Sue, I'm so excited to wrap up the interview here on my blog.  I am fascinated with translating.  I speak Spanish myself, but not good enough to try and tackle any translating of any great literary work!  
So lets start off by discussing Your Current Work

Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

Amadis of Gaul Book I came out at the beginning of this year at Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

The novel has a long history behind it. It all started when a bard brought stories of King Arthur and Merlin to the French court of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1155, and from there the stories spread across the continent, inspiring many more of tales of chivalry. In Spain, those stories began to coalesce around the figure of Amadis, who lived before King Arthur and who was the greatest knight in the world.

These tales became a novel that continued to grow over the next two centuries. It tells how Amadis is born out of wedlock to the King of Gaul (an imaginary kingdom) and grows up not knowing who he is. He falls in love with Princess Oriana of Great Britain, but their love must remain a secret. He loves her so dearly he would do anything she asks.

Amadis rescues his father's kingdom from an attack by the King of Ireland, finds out who he is, and then goes on to have a series of exciting adventures. And although this supposedly takes place long ago and far away from medieval Spain, the setting is pure medieval Spanish: its customs, its beliefs, its geography, and its means of fighting. I must warn prospective readers about the vivid, bloody fights between knights -- but if you want to learn about real hand-to-hand combat in those days, this is the book for you.

Why did you want to translate this book?
The version of Amadis of Gaul published in 1508, after the printing press was established, became Europe's first best-seller. It was reprinted 19 times, translated into 7 languages, spawned 44 direct sequels and 100 other works, and fueled the genre of chivalry across the continent. In 1605, Miguel de Cervantes wrote Don Quixote de la Mancha to satirize these books, and Don Quixote is a lot funnier if you read Amadis first.

But there wasn't a good translation of Amadis available, even though this book is key to understanding Western literature and culture. It even made a mark on history. Jousts were revived because of Amadis, and nobles and princes would dress up and reenact scenes from the novel or one of its spinoffs. California was named after a place in a sequel about Amadis's son.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write/translate and why?
Chapter XXXV, in which Amadis rescues Princess Oriana from an evil sorcerer, and on the way back to London, they stop in a beautiful valley and finally consummate their love. That scene sings with joy:

"Amadis turned to his lady, and when he saw her so beautiful and in his possession, having given himself to his will, he was so struck by joy and shyness that he did not dare even to gaze at her. So it could well be said that in that green grass, on that cloak, more by the quiet grace of Oriana than the bold courage of Amadis, did the most beautiful maiden in the world become a woman."

Did you learn anything from writing/translating this book and what was it?
The Middle Ages was strange. People really thought differently. Trial by combat was accepted. A maiden combing her hair was erotic. Nobles always rode horses rather than walk, and they might ride their horses right into a throne room to deliver a message to a king.

They had a different view of the supernatural, too. This book is a fantasy, with magical weapons, giants, monsters, and enchanted places. But it's a medieval Christian magical system. Sorcerers can be God-fearing and even clerics. God often intervenes personally, or He lets the Roman goddess Fortune, who in the Middle Ages was believed to serve Him, do her will with those who had angered Him with cruel behavior.

I also don't get all the jokes. In one interlude, a knight enters a castle by being pulled up over the walls in a basket. I know it's funny because I've seen references to it as some sort of sexual joke in other medieval texts, and I know the dialogue in that scene is full of plays on words, but I don't get them. That detail of history seems to be lost.
How does the point of view affect the story, and why isn't it used anymore?
As was common in medieval times, Amadis of Gaul was read out loud to an audience. That's because books, being hand-written, were so rare that few people had learned how to read, but listening to books was popular. In fact, in the 13th century, King Alfonso X of Castile y León ordered stories of chivalry to be read to knights during meals to inspire them. You can hear this in the text, which often says something like, "As I have already told you...."

Because this book was read to an audience, it has an omniscient, authoritative narrator. But after the printing press was invented in the mid-1400s, people began to have access to books, and reading for pleasure, silently and alone, became more common.

Now authors could write directly to the reader as if to a close friend, not to a listener simultaneously trying to attract the attention of the servant with the wine jug. Storytelling became intimate, and the narrator shifted from authoritative to suggestive. Eventually the point of view could even become unreliable because readers were following the story that closely.

Technology drove that change, and now, with the Internet, technology has just changed again, and readers can interact with the text and the author. I wonder what that will do to novels.

Since writing is also a business lets talk a little about the business aspects

Tell us about your route to success. Your book is self-published - how/when did you decide to go this route? Did you query agents or publishers first? How did you handle the editing, proofreading, cover design, etc.
It was clear that no publisher was about to take on a project as odd as this one: a translation of an old, obscure, foreign work. At first I was content to let it remain on the Internet as a blog, but after I finished Book I, I remembered that some readers had asked if the work would be available in a more convenient format -- that is, as a book, because paging through blog posts is a long, slow way to read a novel.

I've worked as an editor creating and designing publications, so I knew what it would entail. I began to compile posts into a book and investigate self-publishing options. Though I have issues with Amazon, I have to admire its ability to sell things. I checked into its CreateSpace company, which turned out to be fairly easy to use, with good templates and clear instructions. Editing is hard, exacting work, but preparing the book ran smoothly since the project was relatively simple, and I had the skills to do it all myself.

If the words "trim size" and "binding margin" mean something to you, you can do it, too. That said, the first proof had lots of errors, from typos (proofread, proofread, proofread) to design and typography issues, so the process wasn't foolproof.

But once I had the final manuscript, turning it into Kindle format was a snap, provided you know how to create hyperlinks within the manuscript.

Do you belong to any writing communities or associations? If so, what role, if any, have they played in your success?
I belong to the Madrid Writer's Critique Group, which has been in existence for about 14 years. It's open to all kinds of writers who work in English and meets every Tuesday evening. They've helped me (and I hope I've helped them) with critiques and support. The group includes members from absolute beginners to accomplished pros, and some of them gave me excellent advice as I began the Amadis project.

One good piece of advice I follow: work six weeks ahead so that if you have an emergency in your life, you can continue to post on schedule.

I also belong to Broad Universe and the Asociación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror, both of which provide good contacts and support.

Amadis of Gaul Book I
Tell us about your book's cover - where did the design come from and what was the design process like?
I've been posting the translation chapter by chapter on a blog since 2009, and each entry includes a photo that relates to the content in some way. Sometimes I use art from medieval manuscripts, and sometimes I use photos of locations or artifacts. Anytime I'm around a castle or anything medieval, I start snapping photos like mad. (It's a real advantage to be living in Spain.)

When it came time to design the cover, I found I had a fine photo of a suit of armor at Segovia Castle, and with a little photoshopping, it became the cover artwork: it expressed the strength and determination of Amadis, the greatest knight in the world.

I paged through the offerings of cover styles at Amazon's CreateSpace until I found a design that went with the photo. If I still had an art department to work with, I would have done things a little differently -- used a different type face on the cover, for example. Still, I'm satisfied with the final result.
Any advice to anyone else who wishes to translate a work?
Translations are hard to sell to the English-speaking market. In the first place, editors often don't have the money to pay for them. Professional translating groups recommend 10 cents per word, but "pro" genre magazine rates start at 5 cents per word, which would have to be split between the author and translator. Few small publishers can pay $10,000 for the translation of a novel.

Second, no matter how famous a writer or work is in their native country, English-speakers probably haven't heard about it, so publishers look at that writer as a "newbie" who will be hard to sell.

However, works published in English get great respect and publicity in non-English-speaking countries; the market is not reciprocal. In 2011, translated books accounted for 22% of all the books published in Spain, and 47% of those books were translated from English. Meanwhile, world-wide, only 8% of the books published in English were translated from other languages.

Is your book in print, ebook or both?
In both paperback and Kindle.

More places you can learn more about Sue Burke and her work:


Amadis of Gaul
In medieval times, troubadours and poets recounted tales of knights-errant. They fought evildoers and magical beings, and each knight served his lady in accordance with the rules of chivalric love.

Amadis of Gaul is the most famous tale of chivalry from Spain. The novel, divided into four books, recounts the life of Amadis, the greatest knight in the world. This is Book I of the novel.

It became the Renaissance's best-selling literary phenomena. It went through 19 reprintings, was translated into 7 languages, and spawned 44 direct sequels, as well as fueling an entire genre, complete with fan fiction. Jousts were revived with theatrical pageantry, and "knights" came in the guise of their favorite characters.

This is a new translation. It leaves nothing out, will carry you back in time to enjoy this transcendent, delightful adventure.

It includes a preface, introduction, notes to chapters, and an appendix discussing the relationship between Amadis of Gaul and Don Quixote.

Amadis of Gaul is one of the pillars of European fiction. It opens a window not only to a wondrous fictional world but to the real medieval world that produced it.

About the Author

Sue Burke is a writer in Madrid, Spain.

From all of us associated with the Blog Ring of Power, and myself, thank you, Sue, for taking the time to share this fascinating story with us all.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sophie Perinot talks about her new book: The Sister Queens

Sophie Perinot was a guest here on The Write Time in July of 2011. Since her last visit her book The Sister Queens has been published. A historical fiction about the sisters who married King Henry III of England and King Louise IX of France. Sophie has been involved with the Historical Fiction community for years and is proud to have attended all of Historical Novel Society’s North American Conferences.

Sophie Perinot

As an aspiring author, whose manuscript is in the midst of a major rework, I am still dreaming of what it will be like to see my work in print. Tell us about what you felt when you saw the official book cover for the Sister Queens.


Many readers don’t realize this but authors (at least those with major publishing houses) do not design their covers.  We are asked for ideas (typically to describe what we envision and for images of covers we love and covers we hate from other books) but we do not attend the “cover conference” for our book where the design and marketing departments brainstorm about our eventual cover.  Our editors are there to represent our interests in that setting.

So, while I knew my cover was going to be a painting rather than a photograph and that it would include my two sisters (with their heads!) in a field strewn with flowers, the actual unveiling of the cover image was a wow moment.  I was particularly excited by the deep, rich, eye-catching colors and the fantastic choice of lettering.

On a similar note, describe your feelings when you actually held a copy of your book in your hands.

I was very lucky in that my publisher did full color galleys of my novel (this is NOT a given).  Thus I had a chance to hold something very close to the final book months before publication.  It was unbelievable, and I still have one of those advance copies on display in my office.  But even that experience didn’t prepare me for the emotional wallop of seeing The Sister Queens in a store for the first time.  I believe I probably scared innocent shoppers as I snatched the top copy off the “new releases” table and posed for a picture with it.  Pure bliss!  Seriously, it was right up there with saying “I do” on my wedding day and seeing my children in the first moments after their births.

What page did you turn to when you opened the book for the first time.

The first time I opened a finished copy I paged through quickly to get an overall impression of the design and formatting.  Then, because that’s the sort of person I am, I started at the beginning—re-reading my dedication and preface.
Describe the journey once you had your publishing contract.

Oh I could write a separate book on the publishing journey.  Mine was fifteen months from contract to release (twelve to twenty months is about average for a major house.  Rather than lay out all the milestones here, I suggest writers currently on the road to publication visit the blog “Book Pregnant” (  Book Pregnant is actually the name of a group of debut authors (myself included) with books releasing in 2012 and 2013, and the blog is is our public space—a place to share what we've learned and give other writers a look at what to expect when you're expecting... a novel.

You did a lot of work writing, revising, and working on the book. Once the publisher had it and asked for changes, was it hard to make those changes?

Making editorial changes certainly required a good deal of mental and emotional energy, and was time consuming, but I am not sure I would say it was “hard.”  I gained a highly skilled veteran editor when I sold my manuscript.  She was passionate about the book when she bought it, and equally passionate about making certain it was the best book it could be before it hit shelves.  So I took her input very seriously and approached her suggestions in a mindful, listening way.  As a result I believe The Sister Queens available for purchase is better than the novel I originally sold.

How did you choose the title for your book? Did the publisher change your title, or is the title the one you started with?

The title on my cover today is certainly not the title I started with because generally all my manuscripts are called “untitled,” lol.  I am really horrific at titles.  One of the great thing about working with a publisher is you have a whole collection of creative professionals to help with the things that aren’t your forte.  In the case of The Sister Queens my wonderful editor came up with the title.  Each of us made a list of “title candidates” and we all (including my agent) ended up liking The Sister Queens best.

Okay, so what were the titles on your list, and what were some of the other title candidates that the agent and agent came up with?

There were a lot of them.  I only remember a few (probably blocking out the worst of the ones I came up with) like:  Loyal Sisters, Royal Queens; Know Then My Heart: A Novel of 13th Century Sister Queens; and The Saint’s Lover and the Queen of Hearts.  As for who came up with what, that’s grown dim as well, but I am sure I came up with that last one.
 Now that The Sister Queens is out, how are the sales? Is the book doing as well as you hoped it would, or has it exceeded your expectations?

I don’t have any sales figures yet.  I probably won’t for a couple of weeks.  And I am being very good about not checking my Amazon ranking.  I feel that there has been quite a bit of good buzz about my novel (starting before the launch), and I certainly hope that buzz will translate into sales.  But sales are out of my control so I am putting my energy into other areas—promoting the book with my massive world-dominating blog tour, visiting local book stores to sign stock and meet readers, working on the next novel.

Are the e-books marketed differently for Kindle vs Nook? What about the other platforms, do you have to have a separate plan for each, or is e-book its own world?

From my point of view (as the author) I don’t care what format people buy and read the book in, so my personal marketing is not focused on a particular format.  My focus is on making sure people know the book has released and making myself accessible to readers.

Have you seen your book on a store bookshelf?

I sure have!  The Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Historical Novel Society very kindly arranged their first ever meeting to mark my launch day.  A handful of us, including authors Kate Quinn and Stephanie Dray, enjoyed a nice lunch and then walked to a nearby Barnes &Noble to visit my book-baby.  Currently the novel is on the “New Releases” table and that’s a LOT more exciting than being on the shelves!!!

Since my initial  sighting I’ve received a dozen or more pictures of my book “on location” around the nation from friends and readers.  I am making a collection so that I can create a collage for over my desk.  SO if anyone reading this blog spots The Sister Queens, PLEASE snap a picture for me :)

So these fine folks snap a picture of The Sister Queens on a book shelf how do they get the photo to you?  I'm sure you would like the location the photo was taken at, right?

That’s right.  I got the most adorable picture this week of a fellow writer’s little girls holding up my book in New York State.  Since I am trying to hit all fifty-states and some exotic territories (a gal can dream) it would be very helpful readers sharing pictures tell me where they were taken.  Anyone wishing to share a photo can use the contact form on my website or message me at facebook or twitter to let me know.  I will then provide instructions for getting it to me.

(Links to twitter and her blog are at the end of this post.)

Now that you have your first book out, how much more do you have to do on marketing the book?

I am in the midst of the marketing storm.  Successful marketing can’t begin with launch, it has to precede it, but the 6-8 weeks surrounding the release of a book are intense.  Lots of published friends advised me not to plan to do anything but market for a month or two after The Sister Queen came out.  I am currently managing to write a bit as well, but only because I worked ahead and “banked” a number of guest posts and interviews so that I wouldn’t be totally overwhelmed in the first weeks after my novel hit stores.

Has marketing The Sister Queens effected writing your next book?

Absolutely.  But if I don’t market The Sister Queens there might not be a next book.  Writers today need to accept that marketing is part of the job.  Particularly with your debut it is important to do whatever you can to make sure you come out of the gate strong.

What is your current project?

I am currently working on a novel driven by the mother-daughter relationship.  It is set in the 16th century, which is one of my all-time favorite periods in French history.  My main character is Marguerite de Valois, sister to three kings of France (Francis II, Charles IX, Henri III) and wife of a fourth (Henri IV).  Here is the tagline I am using to focus my writing:  “The mother-daughter relationship is fraught with peril—particularly when your mother is Catherine de Médicis.”

We all get discouraged and ready to throw up our hands and say, “I quit!” What keeps you going?

Passion.  I have a passion for writing.  Now that I’ve had my first taste of publication (remember the aforementioned emotional-wallop when I held The Sister Queens for the first time) I am addicted (and greedy).  I want that bliss again!

I know I asked this before, in light of publishing your first book, what do you feel is a key to your success. (I classify success as the fact you have your book in print. A lot of aspiring authors never see their work where yours is at.)

I am not sure there can be a “key to success” in a business where luck and timing figure so heavily.  I benefit from my share of both, but I also know my business background has helped me. Not sexy but true.  I understood from the get-go that writing needed to be about commerce and not just art.  Hey, somebody can write a 300,000 word literary-fantasy with a touch of comedy if that is what they are inspired to do, but they are not going to sell it.  A person who wants to write for publication—and I always did—needs to learn about the business of publishing and be open to conforming (somewhat) to the perimeters of that business.  I was willing to do both I’ve also been helped by the fact that I approach writing as a job.  I don’t wait for the muse.  I sit down and I write.  I suspect my “butt in chair” attitude is a legacy from my first profession where long hours and stretches of unbroken work days are common (I once worked twenty-seven straight 12-hour or more days in my former incarnation).

Sophie's Blog


1st Week Reviews

Sophie writes historical fiction.  Here is a link to her blog where she discusses the launch of her book.

Five out of five apples for The Sister Queens check out the review.

Book Blurb:

Patient, perfect, and used to being first, Marguerite becomes Queen of France. But Louis IX is a religious zealot who denies himself the love and companionship his wife craves. Can she borrow enough of her sister's boldness to grasp her chance for happiness in a forbidden love?

Passionate, strong-willed, and stubborn, Eleanor becomes Queen of England. Henry III is a good man, but not a good king. Can Eleanor stop competing with her sister and value what she has, or will she let it slip away?

The Sister Queens is historical fiction at its most.