Feb 9, 2012 - General    Comments Off on Guest Post: The Time is Ripe for Mosaic Novels, by Craig Comer

Guest Post: The Time is Ripe for Mosaic Novels, by Craig Comer

 Today I have a guest post by Craig Comer. Craig is one of the authors in a collection of three novellas, The Roads to Baldairn Motte, all focused on the same event. You can find out more about Craig, and his work, on his web site.


The Time is Ripe for Mosaic Novels

By Craig Comer

The mosaic novel is a similar construct to the shared world anthology, though its storylines are often more closely tied to a single event, theme, or central idea. Several trends in the fantasy genre make the time ripe for this type of author collaboration, which in the past has brought readers the likes of Thieves World and Wild Cards.

As Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan point out in their introduction to the anthology, Swords and Dark Magic, Sword and Sorcery is making a comeback. Several popular authors are, “…pioneering a new kind of fantasy, one that blends epic struggles with a gritty realism, where good and evil mixes into realistic characters fraught with moral ambiguities…”

One need not look far to find evidence of this. Steven Erikson, Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, and Scott Lynch all feature flawed protagonists whose grit and pluck engage the reader more than their bent to defeat evil. This lends well for the mosaic novel, where each storyline features a unique character (or set of characters) working to resolve a personal conflict. Macro-level conflicts can, do, and should exist, but they are not resolved by a single hero whose fate is tied to the fate of all.

Another trend of modern fantasy is found in series like George R.R. Martin’s, A Song of Ice and Fire, which not only features multiple viewpoint characters, but divergent and largely unconnected storylines. These works, to some extent, are mosaic novels written by a single author.

Though the worlds of mosaic novels can be heavily detailed and complex, the protagonists run wild, sailing their own course to an epic conclusion. There is no need to tie them to a single overarching plot thread. In fact, an author’s control over their individual storyline is one of the differentiators from a standard collaborated novel.

A third aspect of the mosaic novel is vantage point. The Roads to Baldairn Motte sprung out of Ahimsa Kerp’s question, “I wonder what the Southron and Easterling men in Sauron’s army thought they were fighting for? What is their story?” After batting the idea around with myself and Garrett Calcaterra, we decided we would create our own epic battle and each choose a different side, writing how and why the combatants in this battle came to be there. After all, few people consider themselves the bad guy in their own story.

It’s interesting to note, savvy readers today are used to this type of unreliability, where each point of view is so closely tied to a character that the narration is rendered subjective. But when Thieves World was published thirty years ago, the preface carried a disclaimer warning the reader that, “…each story is told from a different viewpoint, and different people see and hear things differently.”

Mosaic novels can also serve to introduce readers to new authors. How many readers awaiting Daniel Abraham’s next, The Dagger and the Coin, novel discovered him by reading, Hunter’s Run?

When it comes to types and styles of fantasy novels, there is room for all and everything in between. Gritty characters, divergent storylines, and differing vantage points rule the day, and don’t require more than a single author to reach great effect. But really, who wouldn’t want to see Scott Lynch and Brandon Sanderson’s bands of thieves fighting over the same city turf, while Steven Erikson’s armies storm the walls?

Jan 13, 2012 - General    3 Comments

Guest Post: I’m A Scrawler, by Coral Russell

Today I have a guest post from Coral Russell. Coral has written a wide range books over the years, from fiction to social media marketing to research on the Korean peninsula. Her most recent release is Amador Lockdown, a paranormal thriller. And now, over to Coral…

I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve heard stories where people who write become offended when you call them a writer. As in,

“Are you a writer?” an innocent asks.

“No, I’m an author,” says the offended.

I’m not going to profess to be either a writer or an author. I’m a scrawler. I don’t know anything about writing. In fact, I probably know the least about writing than most other writers/authors. If it wasn’t for wonderful people who are so free with their expertise and sharing information, I would still be at square one. My friend complemented me on working my butt off, but it’s more like a stumble around in a blind panic until one of my writing friends points me in the right direction. Then, off I go until the next obstacle.

As a scrawler, I’m all about this Indie movement in writing. I write what I want. It has come to my attention that my favorite reading genre is anti-genre. If you’re an anti-genre fan, join the anti-genre group on Goodreads. It makes sense that I don’t really think too much about genre before I start writing something. If I want to throw something in that goes against the grain, oh yea, I’ll do it. I don’t mind giving away my scrawl because it comes back to me ten-fold. I’m surprised people pick up my stuff. I’m surprised when people buy it. I’m surprised I have fans who say they love what I write. I even created my own personal scrawl font, but I seem to be the only one that likes it.

One of the best experiences I had as a scrawler was when some Brazilian ghost hunters got a copy of two of my short stories and an excerpt from Amador Lockdown and we tweeted back and forth as they started and finished reading the stories. It was so much fun, lasted three hours and got me hooked on Twitter.

Scrawlers can be found anywhere in the world, from all walks of life. All you have to do to be a scrawler is believe in yourself and write.

Coral Russell reads/reviews Indie authors on alchemyofscrawl.wordpress.com  Check out her Stalker Package to connect. She has written The DIY Guide to Social Media Marketing and eBook Publishing, Playing with Fire , Twelve Worlds, Peace on the Peninsula, and Amador Lockdown.

About Amador Lockdown:

Something has moved into the Amador Hotel. Hector, Marcos, Bev, and Tony of the Paranormal Posse are called in to either debunk the haunting or get rid of whatever is causing the problems. With the surprise arrival of Hector’s son, he tries to keep his professional and personal lives separate, but whatever is haunting the Amador Hotel has other plans. View on Amazon…

Dec 25, 2011 - General    Comments Off on Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Just a (very) short note to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas (or Happy Holiday, if you don’t celebrate Christmas). I hope your day is filled with joy, happiness and laughter.

Dec 15, 2011 - General    40 Comments

Holiday Giveaway

To celebrate the holiday season, I’m taking part in the Holiday Blog Hop. This is a series of giveaways that are run across 63(!) different blogs. Each blog has their own giveaway, which you can enter (or not – click on the image to the right for the full list of blogs participating). The winner from each blog giveaway then goes into a second draw for the grand prize of a Kindle Fire!

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Dec 13, 2011 - Interviews    Comments Off on Interview With Khiana Washington

Interview With Khiana Washington

Today I have an interview with Khiana Washington. Khiana is doing something many older authors wish they had done – she is focusing on her writing at an early age. I think it’s safe to say that if Khiana keeps writing, she will have a lot of success with her books in the future. You can find out more about Khiana at her web site.

JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?

KW: My name is Khiana Washington, I am a jr. in high school and I am currently 16 years old. While some other kids my age are talented in sports or music, I picked up on the craft of writing. I am by no means a genius or prodigy of any sort, I still go to English class like any other kid in my grade, they only difference is I wrote a book. Writing is my absolute favorite thing to do because it is what allows me to express myself the most.

I had an idea for a story and I put it on paper; that’s how I got started writing. It sounds so simple when I say it, but I’m not sure if anyone knows how quite complicated it was. I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was only in 8th grade, not even half way through the year, but I sort of just shrugged and said “it can’t be too hard”.

JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?

KW: Ideally I would love to be able to write alone and in peace, but being a teenager doesn’t make that possible at all. I usually try to write when I’m at home, but if an idea pop ups I will quickly jot it down at school or if I’m over a friend’s house so I don’t forget. I have tons of random bits of writing in various notebooks and files on my computer considering I don’t actually write my story from beginning to end. I am continuously writing throughout the day, I never have a set schedule because usually I’m pretty busy.

JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?

KW: I love fiction novels, those are the types of books that interest me the most. I have noticed that I have been getting into more poetry lately, so that as well. I do own a kindle, which I got for Christmas about two years ago and I use it faithfully. However, I still purchase paperback books as well.

JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?

KW: I would have to say Jodi Picoult. She has written various novels that all have diverse themes. After reading, Change of Heart, it actually gave me a new way to look at how theme should play an important role to any story because that’s what really gives the story substances and can possibly alter the reader’s outlook. Reading her stories also made me aware of how complex stories can get and how it is necessary to not confuse your reader by tying it all together.

I also believe Ellen Hopkins has influenced my writing because she writes in such a poetic way that I have never really experienced before and it showed me not to be afraid to take risk. Also the plots to her stories are unique because they are so brutally honest. I learned from her that writing that although the work is fiction, writers must still write the truth, that’s how we relate to the audience.

JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?

KW: Honestly, I don’t plan my writing. I tried to write an outline, but it story overthrew it. I never go in sequence when I write. Actually in Looking Past the Mirror, I wrote the first paragraph and then I jumped straight to the last sentence. The first and last lines are the only things that haven’t changed since I originally wrote it. The only things that I do try to maintain are character profiles. I write a name, a few facts about what I in vision them to look like eye and hair color, then I write their personalities and how they change or remain the same throughout the book. I also have made several family trees in order to keep relatives straight.

JGA: Why did you decide to write your novel, “Looking Past the Mirror“?

KW: When I started writing “Looking Past the Mirror”, there was never really a time when I thought it would be a novel in the beginning. At first it was just something I wanted to show my mom. I really just wanted to tell a story, simple as that.  Even after writing the first chapter it took me several more to realize I could actually write a book. So I guess I decided to write my novel because it was becoming too long for the short story I originally thought it would be.

JGA: Can you tell us a bit about the main character, Faith Jordaine, and some of the challenges she has to face as the story progresses?

KW: Faith Jordaine is a very unique character who I think represents much of the various problems teenagers and even some adults must face. She is 15 years old and she is dealing with the loss of her grandmother when we first meet her. Her mother is on drugs and her father is abusive so she really loses more than a grandmother, she loses her only support system. As the story goes on Faith really has a hard time accepting who she is and understanding how to accept the death of her loved one. Faith must look deep within her and find a way to be happy without relying on the destruction she brings to her life. Faith is a witty, sassy, and hot-tempered girl who is extremely vulnerable. As the story unfolds you will hate that you fall in love with her.

JGA: Who are the readers would enjoy “Looking Past the Mirror” the most?

KW: I believe that any age 12 and up would enjoy “Looking Past the Mirror”, but specifically teenage girls would be able to relate the most and get the most out of it.

JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?

KW: I am currently working on several other projects, but the main items would be two completely different novels which are currently titled Good-bye and Bystanders. Good-bye really focuses on the value of relationships and how they can change at any given moment. Bystanders is a story that solely focuses on the supporting characters of the novel, rather than the main character because it aims to show how standing by when negative situations are happening and not doing anything, can be just as bad or worse than being in the situation.

JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?

KW: I honestly think I would become the author of “Of Mice and Men”, originally written by John Steinbeck, which I’m sure you know. I chose this book simply because it is all that I dream to accomplish in one story. It has a dynamic story line and has the ability to draw you in and make you fall in love with the characters. It also teaches many valuable lessons without coming right out and saying it. It is a story that has stuck with me and that’s what I want to be able to do with my writing. I don’t want people to be able to forget.

JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?

KW: No, I think that’s about it. I just want to thank you for your time and I truly appreciate your efforts.

You can find Looking Past the Mirror on Amazon, or at Khiana’s web site.