Working out my novel’s genre

This should be easy.  When you cross several genres,  it starts getting tricky.  It’s not really fantasy.  It could be cosy fantasy but that’s such a lame-sounding description.  The series is going to have bits of sci-fi too, just to make it even more awkward.  “Fiction with a bit of magic” – is that a genre yet?!

This article seems helpful:

http://www.rachellegardner.com/identify-your-novels-genre/

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How to Write a Good Book Synopsis (part 2)

I couldn’t reblog this one but it’s worth reading as it’s much more straightforward and do-able.  Also, it gives the LENGTH of the synopsis which I’ve never actually known.  It’s also quite reassuring – agents KNOW writing a synopsis is sheer utter hell and don’t expect a work of art.  Phew.

 

http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Synopsis.html

 

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How To Write A Book Synopsis

Instead of writing a synopsis for my new novel, I seem to researching them instead. Can’t even begin to work out how to write one to these specs:

Carly Watters, Literary Agent Blog

Once Upon A Time pencilMany writers I know find writing a synopsis VERY difficult. There’s so much you want to include. How do you decide what to leave out? How long it is supposed to be? What tone should you write it in?

5 Steps To A Perfect Synopsis

1. Take time to set up the premise

Use the opening paragraph to set up the setting, premise, and other world building ideas. You only have one chance to draw us into your world. If someone hasn’t read your book and is reading your synopsis first what will they need to know?

2. Focus on conflict

We want to know what trouble we’ll be encountering in this book. What are the road blocks? What hurdles does the main character have to overcome? How high are the stakes?

3. Clearly outline the character’s growth arc

A one dimensional main character will suck the air out of…

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Book Review: The Philosopher’s Stone (Illustrated)

On the 20th anniversary of the first publication of The Philosopher’s Stone, I was due to start reading a new book and thought it would be appropriate to reread the first Harry Potter book.  It’s not the first time I’ve reread it, though:  it’s probably the tenth.  It could be more.  I’ve actually lost count!  I reread all of them at irregular intervals, mostly all at once, like a single, giant book, which is really what it feels like, each book being another “part.”

This was, however, the first time I had reread the illustrated version.  When I first got it, I paged through it with wonder, having already oohed and aahed over it in a bookshop.  Despite having all the Harry Potter books on my shelf (only five of which from a matching set), I had to have this.  It was the first time I had ever seen illustrations of the Harry Potter world that actually came close to the ones in my imagination.  The movies are WAY off.  They don’t even scrape the surface.  But it’s more than the accuracy of Jim Kay’s depictions, it’s the stunning artwork itself.  His watercolours are breathtaking.  I have so many favourites, it’s hard to chose the best one.  I love Hagrid’s cabin:  this is EXACTLY what it looks like, not the sterile, perfect log cabin in the movie.  Here it’s an upturned boat and is smothered with vines and ivy with gardens nestling right up to the front door.  It takes hours to get past the Diagon Alley chapter because there are two whole pages to peruse at close quarters, the detail so intense that you see something new each time.  THIS is what Diagon Alley looks like!  Cluttered and old and full of peculiar things.  The pictures are full of quirks and oddities, like a glimpse down Oil Can Alley:  the illustrator not only has a fine grasp of the Harry Potter universe, but has allowed his imagination to stray further.

I particularly love the way each page looks like a sheet of watercolour paper with blobs and blots and spillages of watercolour paint.  Many of the paintings are dreamy with beauty:  Hagrid zooming across the night sky on a (tiny) motorbike;  Hagrid and Harry crossing the sea in a (tiny) boat (Hagrid’s teeny tiny pink umbrella/wand is hysterical);  the glowing white unicorn in a midnight Forbidden Forest;  the doors of Hogwarts slightly ajar, with a glow of golden light from within and a black cat sitting on the step.  The characters are perfect too:  Harry looks just right, particularly in a rather tender drawing towards the back of the book.  Dumbledore, Hagrid, Professor McGonagall, Draco … all their portraits are ideal.  Naturally I’ve wished for more:  Gringotts, the dormitory, a rather better depiction of a Quidditch match, Harry’s parents in the Mirror of Erised.  One can only dream how Jim Kay might have painted these and other aspects of the story.

It’s funny how with each rereading you pick up another tiny detail that you didn’t notice before:  Hagrid FLIES to the outcrop of rock to find Harry and deliver his Hogwarts letter.  How did I not notice this before?  And if Hagrid really did fly (one presumes he might have been joking), HOW did he fly?  He’s a giant with little magical training.  No other character that I can recall can fly without assistance (a broom, a bewitched motorbike, a thestral etc etc) except Voldemort.  So did Hagrid really fly?!

This first book in the series is very young with the author coming between the reader and the characters quite often in the way that writers for young children often do:  it’s just a style of storytelling which is perfectly all right but a relief when it gets dropped in the about the third book (I think) and you’re allowed much further inside Harry’s head.  One presumes also that as a character, Harry is going to get more interesting as he gets older too, as more and more of his story is revealed.

I was working in a bookshop in 1999 when The Prisoner of Azkaban came out.  I remember the tremendous fuss and the THOUSANDS of copies of the first two books being re-ordered.  They TOWERED in the bookshop, piled in piles so high they were like walls around the tills.  I was faintly amazed by all this.  I had absolutely no interest in children’s fiction, being a reader of hard sci-fi at the time, and couldn’t understand the popularity of these twee little books.  And then one day I was sitting at the till, dying of boredom, when I noticed The Philosopher’s Stone on the counter.  It had been abandoned there for some or other reason and I did just what we had been commanded never to do:  I opened it and began to read.  I read it surreptitiously so that no one would notice.  No one did.  I finished the first chapter in about ten minutes and my first thought was:  shit, this kid is really suffering.  I then read the book properly and with every reread, my favourite scene never changes.  Hagrid says:  “Harry, yer a wizard.”  Tears every time.

Hagrid and Harry

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Bookwhacking

I Googled this word, thinking it was a Real Word…….it isn’t, as it transpires, but it should be.  It speaks for itself:  it’s what you do when you whack people over the head with your book, though not literally (my definition.)  And don’t we all do it, all us desperate indie authors who have no money to spend on Real Advertising (you know – the kind where your book appears on the side of a bus). “Bookwhack” was coined by a Goodreads group called SIA Showcase for Readers and Writers who describe themselves thus:

From the group that coined the term bookwhack*, here is the official bookwhack group! In all seriousness, we at Support Indie Authors understand how difficult it is to be seen and to make our books known. As we are a group intended for authors, our goal is to help one another, not sell to one another, but we see a lot of folks who strain at the boundaries of what is discussion and what is a bookwhack. Thus, this showcase was born.

(SIA – Support Indie Authors)

This was my introduction:

The Exodus Sequence is a collection of connected science fiction novelettes with an exploration of other genres: horror, fantasy, even a moment for romance.  The first trilogy (Wired, Reflected and Walked) introduce the reader to the “aliens,” creating mysteries without solving them.  The next trilogy (Spooked, Suicided and Crashed) introduce main characters that will appear again.  In fact, several characters appear in different stories but are often not recognisable in that particular incarnation.  The idea is create the mystery in the first book and then begin unravelling the details in two subsequent collections.  The third trilogy (Woken, Experienced and Caged) are my most experimental works.  Woken is the first real fantasy-type story I’ve written and while it drips beauty and romance, at its heart is an intense and philosophical discussion about immortality.  Experienced is written from the viewpoint of one of the “aliens” so quite a lot of backstory is revealed providing you can get through the dense drug-comedown narrative.  And since these are “aliens” so to speak, the drug is not like any other anyone has come across before!  One of the secrets of Atlantis is revealed in Caged, the final story of the last trilogy and is as easy to read as Experienced is difficult.  The very last story, Drowned, is an extra, existing in the Exodus Sequence universe without any consequences.  It’s the only story not to be published singly.

As an unknown writer, I’m really desperate for reviews. If you’d like to read and review this collection, I’m happy to send a PDF to anyone who asks.  As the first nine stories are available to buy singly, you could just read one or two stories from the collection to review, rather than the whole thing.  All the novelettes are available from Amazon.  The link is for the collection, free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

http://amzn.eu/54P8vus

And that’s me bookwhacking on my blog. It’s what it’s all about anyway.

Link to SIA Showcase:  SIA Showcase for Readers and Writers

 

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Last day to get my books free (for all E-readers)

I’ve gone quite cross-eyed with promotions this week, having to rely mostly on Twitter.  This has not been ideal for obvious reasons, Twitter being a flood of ads that produces no results at all except perhaps a few more follows and the odd re-tweet.  (Honestly, when last did you buy something you saw advertised by someone on your Twitter feed??)  I couldn’t find any platforms for Smashwords ads either – all the most successful ones are geared towards Amazon.  A Smashwords blog listed several sites that would advertise but the blog was ancient and the links either broken, wrong or connected to dodgy sites you wish you hadn’t gone to and now worry about viruses and such.  Thanks, Smashwords.  So here I am, back on my blog, asking you, nice reader, to please please download my free (FREE)(did I mention they were free?!?) ebooks from Smashwords for ALL E-readers, even the ones that can’t buy books for any more from “regular” sites (like my ancient Nook).

For your convenience, I’ve listed the four free books on the homepage of my website.  The links will take you to the relevant Smashwords page so that you don’t have to scrabble about looking for them or negotiating my author page.

www.susannahjbell.com

SMASHWORDS FREE

 

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Free books for a week

I thought I’d give away four of my novels free this week.  I haven’t tried this before with more than one title, so the results should be interesting!  It’s the ninth annual Read an Ebook Week on Smashwords and I picked all four my Smashwords titles for the promotion.  Telling people about it hasn’t been as easy as I’d hoped.  I’m only really familiar with Freebooksy but they primarily promote free books on Amazon.  No doubt I’ll be researching this all week.  I’ll start with BookBub and see how it goes from there.

In the meantime, here are the links to my free books!

ALL FOUR BOOKS

V. GOMENZI

FLESH FOR SALE

TRANSFERENCE

A DOORWAY INTO ULTRA

 

FLEET QUINTET

 

 

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