Daily Archives: October 27, 2007

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A Fantasy Life

October 27, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

by Janet Quinn

When writing fantasy, there are so many things to keep track of it takes an entire notebook of its own. If I’m writing a historical, I know what religion my characters are likely to be, though it’s not always important. I know how my characters are going to dress and I have books to double check that I have everything correct.

In fantasy, I’m making it up as I go along. Linda Mac (Linda MacLaughlin/Lyndi Lamont)took a class on building a fantasy world which she found very helpful. I think it might have been a good idea, but I seldom have time to take classes. That means I learn from my mistakes, which are frequent.

Writing a fantasy novel, it’s easier to catch the mistakes. If the world is for one time use, then anything that needs fixing, I’ll find by the time I get to the end of the book. Ooops, I forgot about what religious ceremonies I might need. I can always go back and fix that. Maybe the dress I picked for my characters really doesn’t work, not a problem. I can redress them before I’m through.

The problems come when you want to create a world and use it over again. When I started the Augeas stories, I was only concerned with getting two of them finished and into the publisher. Having my characters dressed in robes seemed like a great idea. Robes are really awkward especially for soldiers, but I’m stuck since two of the stories have been published. Then when I commissioned pictures of my characters, just because I wanted to, and received the picture of Dorjan, my first thought was, “Boy, I hope he’s got on underwear, otherwise things could get indecent.” Guess I’d better add underwear to the list of clothing.

The other problem was, that being in a hurry, I didn’t really sit down and plan everything out. I wrote the two stories, sold them and went on to the next two. Story three, I figured out that the humans shouldn’t be as long lived as the Ancient Ones. Why would they call them Ancient Ones if they didn’t live a lot longer? So I had to write all these notes on the first two stories so that I’d remember to make changes when I got my edits. Poor Brencis has been several many ages now. He was really old, middle aged, no age mentioned and finally back to sort of really old.

The important part about writing fantasy is consistency. When you build a world, as the author you have to think about such things as religion, politics, life style, recreational activities, food, clothing, housing, and on and on. Every part of daily life has to constructed. Then you have to throw in the fantasy part. I have magic in my world, but figuring out what kind of magic wasn’t an easy task. I consulted my expert, my son Rob, and finally decided that the magic was done with the mind. But not everyone could have the same abilities. Not only would that be boring, but then they’d all be equal and there would be no conflict.

There are still several many holes in my world which I keep filling with each new story. Augeas’ residents are of two races, so of course there must be half-breeds. How are they treated? The Guard plays a game called Clootie. What are the rules? They must have some kind of religion. Every culture has a religion.

As soon as I finish stories five and six, I’ll try and figure out some of these things. And I’m still trying to figure out where I could put in dragons, just because I like dragons.

Drawings by Jasmine Tanner, veildandy.deviantart.com


Available now by Janet Quinn at her website: http://www.janet-quinn.com/

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October 27, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

I’m a go-for-it, goal-setting kind of person so I had to really think hard about the advice I’d give myself if I were just starting out. My mind drew a complete blank, because I never look back with regrets. Every day I learn something new about writing, the craft, the business and the interactions between authors and friends.

When I first started out, I was forewarned not to sell to a flat-rate publisher, but my gut instincts told me, this would be a good move. I wrote 3 books for the Kensington Precious Gems line and still keep in contact with those authors today. As it turned out, my next sale was with Harlequin Historicals and having those Precious Gems books in print, meant something. It provided me with credibility as a published author, got me a very decent advance and established me as a sell-on-proposal author. Nothing but good came from that controversial decision. I trust my instincts and always have.

There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of self-doubt in the publishing world. Writers are always second-guessing themselves, so if you have good instincts, you’re halfway there. Ultimately you have to go with what your heart tells you – I’m a big believer in that. If you fail, you can only point your finger at yourself and say, “Next time, I’ll try harder,” or “Okay, I learned from that, now I’ll do it differently.”

I really believe events in life happen for a reason and that eventually everything will fall into place. With a positive outlook, the glass half full philosophy – lemonade really can be produced when you’re handed a bagful of lemons.

So what would I have done differently?

I could say, nothing.

But that’s not entirely true. I’ve learned a good deal about promotion these past few years. I see newbie published authors struggle with this all the time. They ask themselves how much promotion should I do when I can barely meet my next deadline? What avenues do I tap into that best suit my needs? Your first book might have taken years to write; honing, polishing and revising so when you finally have to deliver a book on deadline, you’re stumped and can barely get the words on the page, much less promote it.

So my advice to myself would be to have learned the ins and outs of promotion a little bit earlier on. As a category author, what kind of promotion works and what doesn’t? How do I best reach my readers and garner new ones? How much do I spend? Are there easier and less expensive ways to do what I’m doing now? And the big one, how do I know it’s working? How do I gauge my own personal success?

I find that now, I’m spending half my time working on promoting my books and half my time writing them. It’s truly 50/50. I’ve sought advice from professionals, read everything I could on promotion, taken workshops and trusted my own instincts when it came to decision-making.

The second piece of advice I might give myself, would be to write for one line, solely. There are definite advantages in doing that, but there are disadvantages as well.

The advantage is that you build a readership more rapidly. If you’re a prolific writer and can produce several books in one year, the readers recognize you and you tend to do better in that one line. Establishing yourself as a writer of hot, sizzling love stories, or fun, light-hearted romps or military thrillers will bring you readers who will love what you write, eagerly await your next story and always buy your books. Every author wants to be an “auto-buy.”

I write for two lines, Harlequin Historical and Silhouette Desires. I’ve split them down the middle, writing equally for both.

I feel writing in two time periods keeps my writing fresh and compelling. When I’ve had my fill of urban alpha males in the corporate world, I mosey on over to my western writing roots and delve into my cowboy stories. And when I tire of no indoor plumbing, I head back to the contemporary settings. It’s ideal for me in a craft sense. I love writing both.

Having been involved in various lines folding, I feel it’s a little safer writing for two lines. It’s the “cover-your-butt” philosophy that seems to work for me. But is it wise to have two very diverse readerships? Honestly, I don’t know. There comes a time when you have to distinguish between what’s right for you business-wise and what’s right for you as an author? What’s most important is that you write what you love and you love what you write.

Then everything else falls into place and you take that tall drink of homemade lemonade.

Charlene Sands
Winner 2006 National Readers’ Choice Award
Bodine’s Bounty – November 2007
The Corporate Raider’s Revenge – January 2008
Taming the Texan – March 2008

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