Brittiany Koren 1

Writer’s Wednesday: Award-winning Author Julie E. Czerneda on Writing Fantasy

I met Julie and her husband a few years back, when she came to visit Green Bay. It was a fun afternoon of laughter and stories. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and her novels and short stories are extraordinary! We are thrilled to have her with us today. Please welcome Julie E. Czerneda to The Editing Essentials.

Photo Copyright by Roger Czerneda Photography

Canadian author and editor Julie E. Czerneda transformed her love and knowledge of biology into science fiction novels (published by DAW Books NY) and short stories that have received international acclaim, multiple awards, and best-selling status. Know of her Clan Chronicles series or a fan of Esen the Blue Blob? Just out is something completely different, Book One of her new Night’s Edge series, Julie’s debut (and really fat) fantasy novel, A Turn of Light. There are toads. For more about Julie’s work, events, and treats, please visit www.czerneda.com or find her on Goodreads or Twitter @julieczerneda.

 

Leaping Toads or a Leap of  …?

In the fall of 2009 I remade myself. In a writerly sense. Not that I felt there was anything wrong with the original writerly me, but I was set to leap into my first full-length, no holds barred, give me dragons or no chocolate for you fantasy novel and, well, that would be different.

Should be different, in my estimation.

Elsewhere I’ve talked about building a scale model first and my research, but here I want to tell you more about how I changed the writerly me. For I did. An obvious place to start was my office. I like my office. I love my chair and clever footrest thingie Roger made me and all the rest. That said, what I could change, I did. Down came my wall collection (body parts were among them) and up went painted silk. (I can hear you laughing, Russell.) Away when the memorabilia from cons past — and bones — to be replaced with statuettes of dragons and horses. I’d had some of those since I was little, but they’d not been allowed in my office till now.  I refused to use any playlist from a previous work. And yes, it’s true. I wrote the first few thousand words by candlelight, said candles being red and held in dragon claws. Any notes? Done using a fountain pen I’d put aside to use for this book and no other.

Why?

I didn’t want to write fantasy like a science fiction author dabbling at it. I wanted to be a fantasy author. A real one.

Okay, and there was also the hilarious fun of it all — which it was, trust me. Surrounding myself with toads — and rose petals — and little white pebbles. Being able to shout “I don’t do dishes anymore. I write FANTASY!” never got old. (On my side of it.) I’d walk away from the writing at whim, because, yup, “I write FANTASY!” and that entitled me to as much whim as I wanted. Especially gardening whim, because, hey, I might find a toad. There was wine whim, when going over notes.

Cover art by Luis Royo (www.luisroyo.com)

Unlike my previous work ethic, I allowed myself to indulge in rereading favourite passages whenever I felt like it, which was often. Though I’d been ruthless before, now I deleted what I didn’t like without a care. Tens of thousands of words at a time. Pop! Gone. Looking back over my day-before word counts, there were weeks I’d write prodigiously yet have a negative sum. For some strange reason, I was happy about that. When I blew past my previous word length for a novel at less than half done? I did confirm that was okay with my editor, Sheila Gilbert, but really, I didn’t care. “I write FANTASY!” Muhhahhaaa With toads!

The result was A Turn of Light, of which I’m extraordinarily proud and fond. It’s long, lush, and full of my favourite stuff. And, in the opinion of those I trust to know, it reads as though written by a fantasy author.

Hurray! I’d remade myself!

Or had I?

Earlier this week, I read a very thoughtful review of Turn on Goodreads, where the reader (Karen) made this point: “Fantasy offers a writer the freedom to invent an entirely new reality, not dependent on the our (known) universe’s laws of physics and other constraints on our reality. But I think it also requires more discipline, too – the writer must then make sure that everything in the book conforms to the rules of the invented reality…Czerneda may have an advantage over some other authors going from science fiction to fantasy, because in her sf novels, she always creates aliens with a richly detailed, “invented” biology, and then bases their behavior and culture on the “rules” imposed by that biology. That seems to require a similar form of discipline.”

Oh.

I’d considered my science fiction writerly-self to be an impediment, not a help, going to admittedly silly extremes to shed old habits. Hindsight being a lovely thing, I realize now what I actually did was use my training as a behavioural scientist on myself. I created a stimulating work environment and approach for this particular story, as I’ve done far less consciously for each and every one of them. As for the science fiction? The attention to detail in worldbuilding Turn is no less or more than I’ve given to Survival or Beholder’s Eye or Reap the Wild Wind or any other.

It seems I’d simply given myself permission to have blatant fun on the job. It shows in the work. A leap indeed and one I’m glad I made.

Cover art by Matt Stawicki (www.mattstawicki.com)

Now it’s your “turn,” fine folks. The science fiction writerly-me and the fantasy writerly-me, apparently the same person after all, are here and happy to answer your questions.

Giveaway: Post a comment or question today for Julie on the blog to win a copy of A Turn of Light.

Thank you, Julie, for being our guest today. Julie will be checking in throughout the day, so please feel free to post a comment or question for her. Thank you!

 

Brittiany Koren 1

Written Dreams in Social Media

Did you know Written Dreams has pages at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? Like our pages to hear about news about our services, contests, awards, and fun tips related to the craft and business of being a writer!

We’re very excited to share that last weekend one of the books Brittiany Koren edited, Perfidy by M.E. May, won the Lovey Award for Best First Novel! 🙂

Facebook.com/writtendreams

twitter.com/_WrittenDreams

linkedin.com/writtendreams

 

Brittiany Koren 1

Don’t Stress The Small Stuff

E. Tip of the Week: Don’t stress the small stuff. It’s okay to ask for help.

                                Two Contest Drawings!

Writing a synopsis or query letter can be difficult. Instead of stressing about it, let us help you. This month, send us your query letter or synopsis that you’ve  been struggling with writing, and we’ll enter your name into a hat. On Dec. 21st, a winner will be chosen for a Query Letter Edit. That winner will receive a free edit on their query letter.

On Dec. 28th, we’ll choose another winner for a Synopsis Edit.

Emails can be sent to contest@writtendreams.com. One winner will be chosen randomly for each contest.

For more details about writing a great synopsis, read the blog post by Dorothy McFalls on The Editing Essentials from July 11th, 2012.

Brittiany Koren 1

Building a Local Readership

E. Tip of the Day: Having a successful writing career takes many different skills. Knowing how to market your novel(s) to a broad audience is one of the most important skills you need to be educated in. Contact us if you’re struggling to market your novel. We can help!

How to build local readership:

1.      Visit all book stores, libraries, schools, universities, craft fairs, and any other large gathering places in your area. Ask if you can do book signings.

2.      Send over-sized post cards out to libraries/book stores/businesses. Cross-market  especially with those businesses that may have an interest in displaying the theme of your novel. An example would be: Dorothy St. James writes the White House Gardener series and promotes the books in flower shops/greenhouses.

3.      Take out small print ads in community magazines/newsletters/musical programs. For instance, local ads in a school sport or music program. This is a great way to build local readership, and support the fine arts in your community.

4.      Ask your favorite local radio and TV stations to do an interview with you. Send them a short summary of your novel and an author bio. Tell them you are a fan of their show.

5.      Arrange to read a selection of your story or chapter 1 to high school students in English class, or in the library, with a Q & A session afterwards. Leave a signed copy of your novel with the person who helped you set up the event.

6.      Give out a free copy of your book for the holidays to three winners for gifts on your website, blog, Twitter, or Facebook page. Send the winners an autographed copy and a nice letter thanking them for entering the contest.

Good luck! If you’d like more tips on marketing, contact us at brittiany@writtendreams.com. Thanks!

Brittiany Koren 1

Nose in a Book Photo Challenge

My kids are all avid readers, and all year long can be caught with their nose in a book. Post your photos of someone reading your novel on our Written Dreams Facebook page to win an exclusive blog review about your book. Keep it clean, folks. Photos should be a PG rating. We’ll notify the winner in December. Here’s a sample photo:

Sami reading a Sookie Stackhouse novel