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.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Calling all Sci Fi fans: get involved in Voyager's short story competition and festival

Our lovely colleagues at HarperVoyager have teamed up with the also-brilliant BFI to launch a Sci-Fi short story competition and virtual festival. That’s not one but two opportunities to get involved with two of the leading names in contemporary Science Fiction.

The virtual festival will take place on the 15th and 16th November.

And it's free. All you need to do is register, and check in when you want over the weekend. Would-be ‘attendees’ can register for the festival here

The event will use the hashtag #BFIVoyager, so you can follow all the action on Twitter.

The BFIVoyager festival will explore the link between science fiction literature and film with events on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and lots of other places, worldwide.

And, more exciting still, as part of the festival, HarperVoyager will be running a sci-fi short story writing competition to be judged by Voyager Editorial Director Natasha Bardon, with the winner seeing their short story published by HarperVoyager as a free e-book, alongside other prizes.

Here’s how to enter!

Voyager are looking for stories of up to 5,000 words. The entries must reflect one or several of the themes:

Tomorrow’s World – from post-apocalyptic wastelands to megacities to far-flung dystopia – best described by Ray Bradbury as ‘sociological studies of the future’

Altered States – the science fiction of ‘inner space’ mad scientists, mutants, man-machines and mind-bending trips – what points us towards the fragile and untrustworthy thing that is consciousness.

Contact! – time to explore life from all corners of the universe and across multiple dimensions.

Terms & Conditions do of course apply, and you can find them here.

You will need to enter by 5pm on Friday 21st November by email

The winner will be announced at an event at the beginning of December at the BFI Southbank and the prize will be your short story being published by HarperVoyager as a free ebook and widely available through HarperVoyager and BFI’s marketing channels. You will also receive 2 pairs of tickets to the BFI film season (subject to availability) and a special goody bag of HarperVoyager books.

Go go go!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

How to Get the Most Out of Authonomy

There's the old saying that writing is a solitary pursuit, but as members of Authonomy you'll know that it doesn't have to be. Authonomy published author Mary Vensel White said, when we interviewed her earlier this year, 'One of the benefits of Authonomy (is) the feedback from other writers and readers'. There's the chance to be discovered and have your manuscript read by an Editor, but there's also so much to gain from the community aspects of the site. The entries to our review competition (which closes tomorrow!) prove it, there are so many insightful and helpful reviews. 

But if you're new to Authonomy - well, we're all newbies to the new Authonomy - you might be wondering where to start. Whether you've been working on your manuscript for years and are finally ready to share it with others, you're just starting out and want help along the way, or you're a reader who enjoys discovering unknown talent read on for some tips on how to get the most out of Authonomy.

Reading – There are so many great books to discover on Authonomy and lots of different ways to find them. From seeing what is heading towards the Editor’s Desk, to searching using a tag, e.g. #ChickLit or #Comedy, you’re sure to find plenty to read. The more you read and rate, the better our recommendations to you will be. You may want to recommend a book you’ve found in the forums, to share your discovery with other members and give the author a boost.

Rating – Giving a book a star rating is a quick and easy way to indicate the quality of a book to other readers. Remember that all ratings are anonymous and you can change them at any time, so never feel pressured to give any other rating than the one you think a book deserves. Here’s some guidance on how to rate books:

6 stars – Excellent: Publish it. I’d buy it myself and recommend it to everyone!
5 stars – Very good: Should be on the bookstore shelves already!
4 stars – Good: Shows real promise.
3 stars – Average: Readable, but still needs work.
2 stars – Poor: Unlikely to attract readers in its current form.
1 star – Awful: Pulping is too good for it!

Commenting and Critiquing Giving and receiving feedback can be one of the most helpful and rewarding features of Authonomy. Sometimes you might just want to tell an author how great you think their book is, or you’ll spot some things that you think will help the author improve their work. Honesty is the best policy here as most authors are on Authonomy to improve their work and will welcome constructive feedback. Writing is rewriting, so while it can be hard to accept that a reader thought your male lead was diabolical rather than dashing, it’s a really valuable part of the process.

Backing – This one is simple: back the books you think should be published. While your shelf is visible, authors can’t see a list of whose shelves their book is on, so back the books you love.

Do you have any tips on how you get the most out of Authonomy?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

One to Watch Wednesday - The Life and Lies of Danny Diaz

This week’s One to Watch is a bit different, it’s a short story: The Life and Lies of Danny Diaz by A. Paine.

The problem with short stories is that there’s a lot of pleasure to be had from reading them without knowing anything about them. You don’t generally get a blurb for a short story and I only read the short pitch before I read this. So if you’re like me, stop reading this blog and go and read the story now.

For those who need a bit more convincing, here’s why I liked it. Spanning a single conversation between an ageing rocker and a music journalist, this is a brilliant example of a great idea being conveyed in the best form possible. Extend this premise over the length of a novel and I don’t think it would work, but as a short story it’s clever and effective. There’s an intriguing opening, which sets the scene quickly, then the secret is revealed almost straight away, keeping the reader’s attention. The body of the story manages to cover an entire career, but economically, with only the details that add to the tale. Then finally there’s a little twist at the end, and with that you've got a recipe for a great short story.

Short stories are notoriously difficult to market and it’s a difficult form to get right, but there is a market and when they're as pithy as this, they can be brilliant. Here’s the pitch, if I haven’t managed to convince you yet.

An ageing rocker, a journalist, and a small, seemingly inconsequential object. This is the tale of the greatest musical theft in history.
Such a small, seemingly inconsequential object. Yet for ageing rocker Danny Diaz, journalist Henry Lapthorn, and indeed the entire population, it is an object that has aided in the greatest musical thievery in history, forever altering the historical landscape of music as we know it. After years of wilful theft and deceit, Danny's life has come full circle as he reaches out to the one man who forever doubted him, intent on telling his story, and finding peace with his past. For Henry, it is the story of a lifetime, an unbelievable tale of deceit, addiction, regret, and redemption. But can it possibly be true, or is it just another ruse? Is this tale the fulfilment of Henry's career, or yet another deception in the decades long animosity between two men who know each other so well, and yet not at all.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

One to Watch ... Thursday - Gone for a Soldier

This week's One to Watch comes a bit later than usual, but is no less highly recommended. The book we want to bring to your attention this week is Gone for a Soldier by Kathleen KellyGarlock. I’m a sucker for historical fiction, particularly when there's a strong female protagonist as they can offer a new perspective which may previously have been overlooked in fiction. This has a bold premise, and while I think the story needs some fleshing out, I found myself hooked.

Gone for a Soldier tells the story of Lucy Tessier, a young woman who disguises herself as a man and enlists in the Union army. As you can imagine, you do have to suspend your disbelief a bit (I found myself getting slightly frustrated by the ease with which she disguises herself and there are a few plot holes) but after a few chapters you’ll be swept up by the story, as I was. I couldn't help but think of the film Some Like it Hot, when reading the pitch, and there is a danger that this complicated love triangle storyline could stray into farcical, slapstick territory, but what I have read so far suggests the author will handle this very well.

I’d like to see a bit more of the time in training, and see how the friendships between the men in the company develop, as I’m sure these relationships will be at the core of the story as it progresses. The reader roots for Lucy more and more as we learn more about her past and what she puts herself through to escape it.

If you haven’t already, why not give it a read? If you have, what were your thoughts? 

Here’s the pitch:

Life can change with the blink of an eye. Or the thrust of a knife. On the run from the law, Lucy Tessier disguises herself as a boy and joins the Union army.

Alone in the world and brutalized by a neighbor, Lucy Tessier fights back--with a knife. A year has passed since the first woman in Minnesota was hanged for murder and Lucy has no plans of being the second. She cuts off her hair, dresses in her dead brother's clothing, and joins the First Minnesota regiment as Private Rob Edwards. Lucy's plan to eventually desert changes once she realizes how much she relishes the freedom and respect extended to her as a 'man' in a man's world. 

Before long Lucy falls in love with a fellow soldier, but he likes another girl, and that girl is infatuated with Rob Edwards. Complicating things further, the doctor who saved the life of Lucy's attacker is the regiment's new surgeon. He's guessed Lucy's secret, but for reasons of his own is keeping the knowledge to himself. And as the regiment battles almost to the gates of Richmond, Lucy is tested physically and emotionally and learns that friendship, and love, are always worth the fight.

Historical fiction with a bit of romance--Gone for a Soldier is the story of a real Civil War regiment and a fictional girl.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Authonomy Review Competition

Publishing isn’t just about great books, it’s about great people building a supportive community around writing. That’s what makes sites like Twitter, Wattpad and Authonomy so good to be a part of.

Today we’re launching a competition to not only celebrate great writing, but great reviewing.

Write a review that you think is just top notch, and you will be in with a chance to get not only that book noticed by a HarperCollins editor, but your book too.

To enter, you simply need review an Authonomy book and share your comment with us on the blog as well as the book. The review can be long and detailed or short and snappy, lyrically positive or critical but instructive; we’ll be picking a winner based on the quality of the review. 

The review should make us want to read the book, but don’t be afraid to be constructive.

A HarperCollins editor will review at least the first chapter – or up to 2,000 words – of both the reviewer’s book and the reviewed book.

This is your chance to recommend a book you think is worth a look, AND get your own onto an editor’s desk.

What you need to do
  1. Read and review a book on Authonomy. The review must be published between 14th and 31st October. You cannot enter using a review written before this date, but you can re-review a book you’ve previously reviewed.
  2. Post your review in the comments for the book and in the comments section of this blog post. Please also tell us the title and author of the book you are reviewing and the author name and title of your own book.
  3. Repeat. You can enter as many times as you like, but entrants who repeat their reviews, or write very similar reviews on each book, will not count.
  4. The winners will be announced on 10th November.
UPDATE: If you are unable to post below because you do not have an Open ID log in, please email your submissions to:

Let the reading commence!