Monday, 15 December 2014

Festive Flash Fiction Winner

There were nearly 200 entries to our festive flash fiction competition so it was extremely hard to pick just one winner.

We had so much fun reading all of your entries, and there was a vast range - from the humorous, to the inventive, to those that tugged on our heartstrings, it was fantastic to see so many different approaches to the theme.

So, without further ado, the winning entry was ... 


Tony Riggs for his entry Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor
Stayed one night mid-winter. With no rooms available, we took the garage as we had to park the transport. A sleepless night due to the traffic: tradesmen on quad-bikes, toffs in limousines. Even the light outside kept us awake. Can’t complain though; we paid for a room for two and when another one came along, we weren’t charged any extra. 


This entry really stood out for the judges as a clear winner. Very clever and succinct, exactly as flash fiction should be!

Congratulations Tony, you will receive a year's supply of HarperCollins books!

The judges also selected three runners-up as there were a few we wanted to give a special mention to:

David Bending

Diary-24th December-

Father died yesterday, but already dismantled. Rolled out of bed but injured left arm. A beautiful indigo sky greeted me as I drew back the curtains, songbirds singing electric ballads on snow covered window-sills. 
At breakfast, Winthrop, my servant, downloaded the morning news. May retire him. Old, electric knees are failing! Expensive to replace. DIY on my arm by rewiring.
Front page news-China builds second prison on moon-Ancient gravestone discovered on beach. Poodle, my search engine, gave no results for tombstone. 
It's minus 20 outside. Cleared icicles off sledge. Electric reindeer-away... 

An imaginative and humorous sci-fi Christmas scene, this was one of the more original and inventive entries.


Cheris Yates

Snow softly fell, masking the horrors of the previous days. Reginald stared at the decimated landscape; a ground ravaged by the vengeance of man. His friends, frozen in a snap-shot of time, stared accusingly at him through lifeless eyes; why was he alive when so many had perished?
“Positions, lads. 5 minutes.”
Reginald picked up his rifle and stood at the foot of the wooden ladder. He looked up and down the line; some cried, some prayed. Looking to the stars, he closed his eyes. “Happy Christmas, sweetheart.” He whispered.

The shrill call of the whistle sounded…

There were a few entries inspired by the anniversary of WW1 but the judges felt this was particularly poignant one, and tells a story effectively in a short amount of words.


Federhirn

The snow fell early in the morning. It dusted, then covered the grass and the soil and the paths in equal measure. Bushes and trees looked delicious under their icing. Here and there, ice crystals waited for their chance to sparkle. The moment the sun broke through the clouds to light a pristine world: heavenly. 

I cherished those hours, knowing they could not last.

Robins hopped through my garden. I watched their restless quest for hidden sustenance. Their tracks criss-crossed the patch where, for now, only I knew the ground was disturbed.

This is a lovely descriptive piece. It's not a contained story as such, but a beautifully crafted moment of stillness and peace - something we all yearn for during the hectic festive season!


Congrats to the winner and runners-up and thank you so much to everyone who entered, it really was a pleasure to read your festive flash fictions!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Announcing our Festive Flash Fiction competition!




Inspired by the wonderful Flash Fiction Friday threads on the forums, we’re running a flash (AKA micro) fiction competition and our theme is, you guessed it: Christmas.

The winner will receive a book for every day of advent, which we've calculated unless you’re a super speed reader, is pretty much a year’s supply of books! 

For those not familiar with flash fiction, there's no strict definition but it is usually a piece of fiction under 1000 words. For our competition we're going even shorter than that – 100 words. Apart from the length, the only other rule is that it must be seasonally themed in ‘some way’, so not just Christmas specifically. There is so much scope here so have fun with it! 

Here's a bit more on rules and how to enter: 
  • Each entry must be 100 words or less.
  • Only one entry allowed per person.
  • The winner will receive a HarperCollins book for every day of this year’s advent – 25 books!
  • Entries must have a seasonal theme, but don’t have to be directly related to Christmas.
  • The winner will be selected by a panel of HC editors.
  • Entries can be made on the comments section below or by email to yourauthonomy@harpercollins.co.uk (Please put ‘Christmas Flash Fiction entry’ as the subject. And feel free to post your entry in the forum, though make sure you comment or email too).
  • The competition closes 8th December. The winner will be announced 15th December.

Good luck! We can't wait to read your entries!

Updates to the Chart

Scott mentioned a couple of changes in his last post, but there is one change, and perhaps the most notable change, which we were holding back on: the Authonomy chart. As this change was only finalised in the last couple of days, it didn't feel fair to fully implement it so close to the end of the month and the chart selection. 

Getting the Authonomy chart right is a real priority for us, but it’s not easy. Without any financial or value exchange, it’s difficult to create a system that can’t be easily gamed. The new chart is based on an algorithm that is widely-approved as a way charting and evaluating popularity. We believe in it, but we know there may be work to get it right.
As part of the latest changes, we’ve tried to shake up the chart by taking out some of the very old data that may have been clogging up the system. The result, we hope, will be that fresher, better books hit the Editor’s Desk.

One of the downsides of this new system is that many books don’t have a ranking right away. This is because for the chart to work it needs a fixed level of data on a book. The benefit is that we don’t have hundreds of books tied in the thousands. We have introduced a number of new ways books can be discovered on the site, such as social media links, recommendations and a latest books scroll bar on the books page. And we plan to make this the focus of our next improvements.

As always, please share your thoughts on the chart and recent changes in the comments below.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Scott's Blog - Some Changes

After six years at HarperCollins I am heading off to start a new, exciting project elsewhere. It is frustrating to leave before all of our revamp changes have kicked in here at Authonomy, as I really wanted to see them bear fruit, but this is too good an opportunity to turn down and so I will be heading off at Christmas.

I have read and discovered some great books here at Authonomy. I was the editor who first reviewed Mary Vensel White’s wonderful The Qualities of Wood, and it was a random ‘Pitch Me’ moment which meant I stumbled across The Lighthouse by Kat French that went on to become the bestselling Undertaking Love.

I have also read some, ahem, not-so-good books but I hope my comments have helped some of them to be improved.

I wish you all the best with Authonomy. Thanks for sticking with us. It has not been easy but your patience and perseverance is hugely appreciated.

On that note, you may have noticed a few changes have been rolled out in the last couple of days. This has caused some problems with performance, with the site being slower than usual or not loading at all for a few minutes. We're sorry for the inconvenience but it's an unfortunate side-effect of making improvements. 

You can now delete messages, delete books, and hit a simple reply button when you want to respond to a post on your wall. 

We’ve also introduced an activation process at registration to help us stay on top of spam and keep Authonomy clean of unwanted material.

The improvements are on ongoing process and there will be further changes in the next few weeks.

We’d love to hear what you think about these latest updates. And, as ever, please share with us your thoughts on what you’d like to see next!

We're extremely sad to see Scott go but we wish him the best of luck with his exciting new venture. HarperCollins' commitment to Authonomy remains the same and we're excited about what the future holds for us too!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

One to Watch Thursday – Tangled up in Blue by Francoise Lemieux

This week's One to Watch is Science Fiction space opera Tangled up in Blue by Francoise Lemieux.

I found this on the active books thread in the forum, the description ‘Rock and roll and space ships… 'nuff said’ was intriguing enough for me to take a glance, and I kept on reading.

Humanity exists precariously: earth has been uninhabitable for centuries, people live in daily fear of  the search for an alternate is home all but forgotten. However, there is hope in the form of the long-ago-launched mission to find a new earth-like planet, but with the population of the universe so divided, who will claim it as their own?

There are some brilliant characters with great potential – a space cowboy who takes no prisoners and thrives on the dangers of her job, and a space ship computer programmed to find a hospitable planet to begin a human colony who has become self-aware and emotionally attached to her living cargo.

The author describes this as a work in progress and it feels like an early draft, but one with promise. I think the next stage at this point is reading through to see where things are over-explained (the description of the herd in the first chapter, and the explanation of Io’s mission and back story do go on a bit), where there’s repetition (I think you say ‘she liked the kid’ three times in the early chapters), and with an eye for grammar and spelling (including the pitch). Have you read it? What did you think?

Earth is a faded memory, Space is a failed dream. But, beyond that, this is a tale about a Boy who meets a Girl, seduces her and convinces her to fly into the Sun to try and salvage what is left of humanity's soul.

Remnants of space-faring leviathans litter a dozen solar systems. Their aluminium and plastic carcasses float like so much flotsam and debris around ancient space stations and habitats. The few surviving pockets of humanity eke out a living where they can, in the shadows of these behemoths. No one remembers nor can be bothered to care in this age of mere survivalism and mankind teeters on the brink of irrelevance.
Then. Suddenly. Out of the darkness comes unimagined hope; a chance for rebirth, an opportunity to start over. But, as factions fight for the right to possess this new light, will the spark of hope become an all-consuming conflagration.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

One to Watch Wednesday - The Grim Adventures of William Rose

Our One to watch this week is The Grim Adventures of William Rose by William Rose.

On a cold winter night in an unlit study, William Rose made the mistake of choosing writing over love.
What lover of words could resist that short pitch. This is a book for writers and is a powerful exploration of loss, loneliness and the mind of a writer.

William Rose sets out to ‘catch the audience’s attention’ and he does just that. This is very well written, and Rose has created a distinct voice. While slightly more florid in style than I would usually enjoy, I found myself skipping over some of the longer descriptions, this has a natural flow to it. One thing, which another reader has commented on, is the dialogue tags and I tend to agree that these trip the reader up.

I was glad to be provided with a bit of blurb on the muses as this is a complex concept and premise. That said, Rose is more than capable of telling this story. Here's the full pitch:

On a cold winter night in an unlit study, William Rose made the mistake of choosing writing over love.
Since the death of his fiancĂ©e Shana, Will, a millionaire writer has lived the life of a recluse, pacing through the halls and gardens of his estate, the imaginary muse Cleo his only company over the two years he’s spent wallowing in guilt and regret. The world, however, is about to call him back into the echelons of society. 

In an attempt to come to terms with his loss, Will turns to what he knows best – writing. 

A work of meta-literature, The Grim Adventures of William Rose follows the life of the introverted writer, his both fictional and factual adventures with friends – the reality of which he dares the reader to decide – and the story of the choices he must make between living within the fantasy of his past, facing the guilt of his present, and grasping at the hope of a better future.

Step into a world where fiction clashes with reality as you, dear reader, follow this 70,000-word collection of tales about love, life, tragedy, and the adventurous lifestyles of unforgettable characters. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Review Competition Winners are ...

We are very pleased to announce the winners of our review competition! There were so many brilliant, insightful reviews that we really did struggle to pick a winner. But in the end, the prize goes to:

Katie O'Rourke, author of Finding Charlie, for her review of Fait Accompli by Elizabeth Warner


The judges thought that Katie's review was very well-balanced: it wasn't overly praising but it effectively highlighted the strengths of the manuscript. Katie wasn't afraid to make bold statements, but backed these up with sound reasoning. The review picked up on details, such as shifts in POV, but also posed broader questions on genre and structure. Overall, a great review and like Katie, we're deeply intrigued by Fait Accompli.

Congratulations to Katie and Elizabeth!

We'll be contacting both authors, who will receive a review of their first chapters, or up to 2,000 words of their manuscripts.

We also wanted to give special mentions to a two other entries the judges thought were particularly good:

Anna Wisham, author of Against All Odds, for her review of Pangalax by SM Koz
This was a very helpful review as it was a detailed reader perspective. Anna raised questions the author, from their different viewpoint, probably didn't notice.

John Bayliss, author of Serpentinefor his review of The Wind Maker by Cas Meadowfield

John showed a good, in-depth understanding of the novel, and offered specific line edits for how the work could be improved.

Congratulations and thanks again to everyone who entered.