Monday, October 1, 2012

Brodi Ashton & Lindsey Leavitt

My awesome friend and critique partner, Erin Shakespear organized a Novel-Writing Workshop on September 15. The presenters were Brodi Ashton (Everneath) and Lindsey Leavitt (Princess for Hire). They spoke on their publishing journeys, creating characters, and worldbuilding.

from Lindsey:

The observations your characters make should say as much about them as about what they're observing. Find the conflict that's especially difficult for that character. Go deeper to the internal things they wouldn't say except in a diary.

Don't tell, whisper...what's the character's secret?

Lindsey talked about Matthew Kirby's advice to take the secret, desire, or wish and attach a physical object to that with both an external and internal attachment to the object. Each scene should go back to that driving force/inner conflict.

Introduce yourself to the characters and get the basics of plot down in the first draft. As you revise, you'll get to know more about your characters.

Sympathetic characters can do awful things as long as they're sympathetic. Get the reader rationalizing with the character.

The first draft is the hardest, like shoveling sand into a box...and THEN you can build a sandcastle. The second draft fills in big holes. Let yourself skip over stuff. Lindsey revises four times before sharing a draft with anyone. "[When first starting out] I treated writing like a job. Set goals and deadlines for yourself because you are a professional writer."

from Brodi:

Fantasy worlds make us think differently about our own world and offer narrative possibilities unavailable otherwise. Think about what the world you create is saying about the world you live in, and know more than you show. "If everything you know is on the page, you either don't know enough or you don't edit enough, and I'm not sure which is worse." (quoting Hemingway)

Types of worlds:

Foreign: a different time and place in our world that feels like another world (historical fiction).
Alternate: our world with critical differences.
Accessible: a portal of some sort to get to it from our world.
Secondary: inaccessible from our world.

All worlds have laws that must be established early and be consistent.

Brodi and Lindsey flash-edited participants' first pages in a group setting and later gave one-on-one sessions. They shared a little bit of their writing and querying process as well...too much info to put into a blog post. If you have the opportunity to hear them speak, take it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Interview with Michael O. Tunnell,
author of Wishing Moon

I'm dusting off this archived interview from the old JP newsletter. Others previously posted:

T.A. Barron, David Farland, and Rebecca Waugh.

Mike Tunnell interviewed by Lana Jordan was first published in November of 2006:

LJ: How extensive was your research for Wishing Moon — did you visit the Middle East?
MT: My research was quite extensive. The culture of the Arab world circa the ninth century was foreign to me, so I had much to learn. I, of course, did a lot of reading in reliable sources. I used the Internet. And I visited the Middle East, spending some time in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.

LJ: At what point did you know there would be a sequel?
MT: Before Wishing Moon was finished. I had originally planned for the story to end at a different place than it finally did. So, I already had an idea about where to go next. And I really should do a third book. By the way, the sequel is titled Moon Without Magic and should be available in the spring.

LJ: The concept of finding a genie (jinni) in a bottle or lamp is so timeless and alluring...how did you go about determining what Aminah would wish for?
MT: I knew right from the start that Aminah would use the jinni’s powers to do good. So, even her early wishes were designed to lead her to that determination—that she would help others.

LJ: How many rejection letters did you accumulate before getting published the first time? What kept you from giving up as a writer?
MT: So many that I can’t recall the number. I’m not sure what kept me from giving up. However, I took a break from writing to finish some graduate work. When I returned to writing for young readers, I was reenergized.

LJ: By comparison, how many rejections did you get on Wishing Moon, and have you found that the challenge of finding a publisher becomes easier with each subsequent book? If so, do you attribute that to being an "established" author, or to your maturity as a writer, gained from experience?
MT: Wishing Moon was originally under contract with HarperCollins. It’s a long and convoluted story, but in short, it came over from William Morrow when Morrow was purchased by Harper.  Actually, I ended up with an open contract with Harper to do a novel instead of a picture book I had had under contract with Morrow. Anyhow, I couldn’t seem to come to an agreement with Harper about the story, so we decided I could shop it around. I sent the manuscript to five places at once. Dutton took it before anyone else responded.

LJ: How did you learn and perfect the craft of writing?
MT: I have never perfected the craft and never will. It is an ongoing learning and growing process. Reading, reading, reading and writing, writing, writing are keys to honing the craft. Beyond that, I imagine if you polled a large contingent of authors, you would get a great variety of answers.

LJ: Did you have a writing role model and/or mentor?
MT: The many authors whose books I have read. Lloyd Alexander has been a particular favorite.

LJ: What is your plotting process — do you outline the book, the chapters, and the scenes?
MT: I keep trying different methods. I do outline in one way or another. For Moon Without Magic I started by writing a 70-page “outline” divided up by tentative chapters — it was almost a first draft. I’m still wondering how well that method worked.

LJ: On average, how many revisions do you do on a manuscript? What is your revising process?
MT: Because of word processors, it is hard to count revisions as we did in the days of typewriters. I’m constantly revising by going back and forth through the manuscript as I write a draft. However, there are usually at least five or six drafts for a novel that are sent to my editor. In the case of Moon Without Magic, I wrote two long “outline/drafts”—one 70 pages and the other 100 pages. Then I wrote the true first draft. My editor saw and commented on all three of these. After lengthy editorial direction concerning the first draft, I did an extensive revision and sent it to New York. More editorial comments (tons, actually) and another revision. Then yet more comments and another revision. Then another round of comments, fewer this time, and another, lighter revision. Now I’m sitting here looking at the copyedited manuscript, which requires answering a vast number of questions about such things as grammar, historical facts, and so on. I hope I counted all the revisions — it’s easy to lose track.

LJ: How did you find your writing "voice"?
MT: I wish I had a good answer for this one. The best I can do is to say that, in part, it came (and is coming) through the reading and writing I continue to do. It’s a mysterious process, I think, and hard to pin down.

LJ: What's the best advice you were ever given as a writer? What's the best advice you can give us as writers?
MT: Again — read, read, read. Write, write, write. That’s basic. Beyond that, there are a host of other things. However, I believe every writer needs to find his or her own way. There is no single path to writing success.

LJ: Thank you for taking the time to share your insights and expertise with us!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Changes at JP

Due to time constraints, Jorlan Publishing is now providing author services only to existing clients and personal referrals on a limited basis. The website is in the process of being converted to a blog dedicated to posting interviews, articles, insights, conferences, and news on writing and publishing. Please check back often for the latest updates.

We wish you all the best in your writing and publishing journey!