Wednesday, 16 April 2014

One to Watch Wednesday

Sorry there was no One to Watch last week, but I’m back this week recommending Forsaken by Artorius Allen, a YA Fantasy novel which is making a speedy rise up the charts. I’m making a conscious effort to read more Fantasy and Sci-Fi as they’re not my usual go-to genres, but what I have read, I’ve loved. Forsaken’s attention grabbing pitch and cover compelled me to click through and read.

The main character can look into the future of every person he meets, yet has no clue as to his own past. This ability to see inside people makes for a detailed and fulfilling narrative. From scenery to central and minor characters, this is a world built up piece by piece.

Here’s the pitch:

Lucian doesn't remember his past or know if he's human. Can he discover the truth before losing the only thing that has ever mattered to him?

Lucian had banished himself to the shadows for half a century. When he steps out into the light and into a world he doesn't belong to, he does so in search of a normal life. With one look into someone's eyes, their life and future flash before his own. The endless parade of broken hearts and captured dreams reveal everything he can never have. It's his punishment, Lucian believes, for his existence. But, when Lucian looks into the eyes of an ordinary girl, for the first time in his life, a complete future isn't revealed to him and she awakens something inside of him he didn't know existed.

It’s got a lot of support so far, but if you haven’t yet, why not give it a read and offer your thoughts.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Authonomy and Avon First Lines Contest: The Shortlist

After many cups of tea and much deliberation, we have finally selected our shortlist!

We really enjoyed reading all the entries, so thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.

The top 10, in no particular order, are as follows:

1. Three things happened in 1959, the year I turned twelve: Mom got married, I started my period, and Teensie Henderson got in big, big trouble.

Phoenix Hocking, Keno Deane and the Trouble with Teensie

2. It was in the spring of my youth that I met Cun├ęgonde, a girl of vast beauty, high intelligence, and low morals.

Thierry Sagnier, 50: A sexual Autobiography

3. As with beauty, evil is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s revenge is another man’s just cause. One man’s vendetta is another man’s justice.

Kelly Martin Betraying Ever After: A Forbidden Fairy Tale

4. Anne is writing her Golden Notebook; this isn't fan fiction, fan fiction disgusts Anne; what Anne is writing is her life; she is writing it in a style; she has copied it from Doris Lessing; Doris Lessing is like a big sister to Anne, or a mother; the mother she never had; the intellectual mother who discusses everything from sex to money; Anne's mother never talked about sex or money, and now she has cancer; she has had cancer twice, once she lifted her top up and showed Anne her new breast, Anne was astonished, disgusted and amazed all at the same time (the bit about disgusted isn't true, but Anne is writing fiction, not truth, and she thinks that someone else, who had never had the privilege of doing English the way Anne did, part time for five years, would be disgusted).

Hermione Wilds, Anne's Book

(We know this one’s a bit longer than 100 words, but it is one sentence and we were too intrigued not to have it on the list!)

5. Thirteen year old Ambrose Langtry, the Tenth Duke of Stonebridge, touched his fingers to his lips as the taste of blood registered across his senses. He was on his arse, sprawled across the School Yard cobbles and wondering about the blood in his mouth, when a shadow loomed over him; blocking the meager morning sun.

Amy Quinton, What the Duke Wants

6. The trouble with male strippers is that not everything stops moving when the music ends.

Isabella Rose, Love or Lust No Strings No Trust

7. It is impossible to say, with any measure of certainty, what the true consequences of our actions are. For the world is an ocean, a sea of stillness, and all that we do casts a stone into its depths. Yet even if we spent a lifetime watching, we would never see how far our ripples truly spread.

Samuel A Williamson, Redemption

8. I’ll start at the beginning, but you have to understand: it’s not the beginning, not really. There’s only ever been one of those, the Beginning of Everything, and that was ages ago. This here is just one tiny piece of the story that started when I became a rebel, a Revolutionary, a proud member of that subversive faction of the Human Relief Corps known so well for ending things, not beginning them.

graygarcia, Revolutionaries

9. Confluence, Colorado.
Tiny. Beautiful. Safe.
Not the kind of place where women vanished into thin air.

Dldauthor, Longshot

10. I suppose I have always known him.
He is etched on my hands like indigo dye, the blue of his iris embedded in my skin. I cannot look at my fingers without thinking of how his interlock with mine. It is a strange thing, to know your flesh is haunted.

Alcifer, Devil's Advocate

Shortlisted authors should send their 1000 word synopsis by 22nd April and we’ll announce the overall winner 5th May.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

One to Watch Wednesday

This week’s One to Watch is a YA fantasy with a terrific female heroine. Blood Magic by Rebecca Bryan is the story of orphan Lyra, feisty and a bit of a troublemaker, she reminds me of Arya Stark, or one of Celia Rees' protagonists. Taken in by the Watch Captain after the surviving the attack on her village that killed her parents, Lyra manages to convince the Master that she has what it takes to become a Knight. Lyra hopes to one day avenge her parents’ deaths, but soon after completing her training, there is a raid on the keep and Lyra is taken prisoner and forced by an evil lord to use her training for .

The pitch:

A female Knight must face her past to save herself from what she is becoming.

Lyra was orphaned after raiders destroyed her village. Fueled by the desire to revenge herself against her family's murderers, she learns the way of the sword. Her resolve is put to the test when she is captured by rogue knights and bound to serve their dark master. Lyra must learn from the past in order to save herself and her kingdom from Lyra's worst enemy: herself.

It’s incomplete and feels like quite an early draft, the available chapters need fleshing out, but I can see real potential here. The author has recently updated the manuscript and I’m sure she’d love to get some feedback so why not have a read and offer your comments?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

One to Watch Wednesday

YA thriller, Shuffle, by Pippa Whitehorn is this week’s One to Watch. The protagonist is sixteen year old Della, whose best friend Jemma has just died from an apparent accident, but Della knows different: this isn’t the first person she has known who has died.

The relationships and characters here are well drawn. Della has a distinct voice and is a likeable character. She is mature beyond her years, sometimes this can go too far, but mostly she comes across as a relatively normal teenager, as normal as could be expected in the circumstances.

Here’s the pitch:

People are dying. The police think it’s accidental. Della knows it’s murder. Proving it will change her world.

When Della Harris’ best friend dies she realises that her death, like the deaths of three other people she knew, is no accident. Della thinks she knows who’s responsible, but who will believe her? Jemma didn’t. Not until it was too late. The police think the deaths are accidents. Her Dad’s not on this planet most of the time. He wouldn’t notice if you set fire to the room around him. She has no friends at her new school. Humiliating Lauren, the most popular girl in the year, wasn’t the best start there.

Della wonders if what she suspects is real or if it is all in her mind. When the murderer starts to follow her she decides she needs to find out what is going on. She investigates the deaths with Les and together they discover secrets from Della’s past. Can she handle the truth? Does she have a future? 

The first few chapters throw out some exciting questions and hook the reader straight in. If you’re a fan of YA thrillers, why not take a look? 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Scott’s Blog: Editor’s Desk Reviews

Many you have noticed and remarked upon the fact that some of the books making the Editor’s Desk in recent months have received rather negative, although hopefully constructive, reviews and the responses have ranged from ‘bad luck’ to ‘these guys don’t know what they are talking about’. I thought it might be useful to explain why we sometimes disagree with the opinion of a great many people on here when it comes to the books that make the Editor’s Desk.

And I speak from first hand experience, as I am one of the people who have written some of these contentious reviews.

As a publisher I am often surprised by the glowing member reviews some books receive on this site, books that, to my professional eye, are nowhere near good enough to be considered by HarperCollins for publication. Now, this may well be because the members of the community are trying to be supportive of each other, and it is hard to be overly critical of people for just being nice, but it does lead to disappointment when the same book gets a poor review from our editors.

It is important that our reviews are honest and if that means disagreeing with the reviewers on Authonomy then so be it. Titles that make the Editor’s Desk get a rare privilege: the chance not just to be read by the editors here at HarperCollins but also to receive some detailed feedback. Most submissions to HarperCollins will never receive that sort of response.

When I write an Editor’s Desk review I try to pick out both positive and negative elements of the book. If I do not think it is suitable for publication then I need to explain why, what it is that means I am not interested in taking it further. If that means pointing out clich├ęs, poor writing, bad plotting, clunky dialogue or whatever it may be then that’s what I’ll do. It is only my opinion, and other people will disagree, but I try to offer that opinion with the aim of helping the author improve the book – do these things and your book should be better. Any other approach is unfair to the authors who make the desk as well as those who miss out.

I do accept that with the growth of self-publishing the perceived wisdom of what makes for a good or bad book has been challenged with books that numerous publishers have rejected going on to become bestsellers when self-published, And I welcome that change, but these successes are very much the exception. The self-publishing revolution has mainly been responsible for lots of unfinished books in dire need of an edit and in even greater need of a decent cover clogging up the lower reaches of the Kindle charts.

Our commitment to you with the new Authonomy is that everything we do will be geared towards finding more talent, publishing more books and helping to kickstart the careers of writers. If that means disagreeing with some of the Editor’s Desk selections then so be it. I hope that approach makes sense. I am happy to answer questions via the comments here or messages direct to my profile.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

One to watch Wednesday

Our One to Watch this week is The Glass House by Lesa Clarke This is a good example of the women’s fiction genre. The dialogue feels natural and flows well; the sisters’ relationship is believable and drives the narrative. What is just as interesting in this story is what the sisters don’t say. Two intriguing plot lines are introduced in the first chapter, indicating that there are more than a few secrets between these sisters.

Caitlin is independent, spirited and seemingly the opposite of her sister: working hard on her new gardening business and restoring her Victorian glass house – a labour of love. Meanwhile her sister, Niamh, is something of a mystery. I won’t give too much away, but scheming and manipulative might be appropriate adjectives to use.

It needs some fleshing out, but we think this deserves a read. Here’s the pitch:

Her sanctuary and workplace. When a blackmailer finds a use for it, what secrets will Caitlin's glass house cultivate?

 Restoring her Victorian glass house, growing her horticultural business and rescuing her crumbling home, force Caitlin into accepting a job offer from TV producer, Stuart. As the presenter of a gardening show she thinks she's found a solution to her money worries.

Niamh is revamping her new husband's house. Tom may be twice her age but he's given her the financial security she's never had. When Ellie, his teenage daughter, is expelled from boarding school, letting her move in is a price Niamh must pay. After all, what trouble could an eighteen year-old girl give them?

Some people will do anything for money.

In rural Northern Ireland, the Maguire sisters are about to find out.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The 4th Estate Literary Salon

The 4th Estate Literary Salon is back! Come and hear Damian Barr, Alexandra Heminsley and Andy Miller discuss the matter of memoir writing.

The panel, chaired by the wonderful Sunday Times deputy literary editor Robert Collins, will be discussing everything about memoir writing, from how to get started to how they formed their own very individual takes on the genre.

Damian Barr’s gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and profoundly funny Maggie and Me is about surviving the tough streets of small town Scotland during the Margaret Thatcher years, whilst Alexandra Heminsley’s inspirational Running Like a Girl takes us on a journey both physical and emotional as it charts her progress from running for the bus to completing five marathons. And Andy Miller, a former 4th Estate Commissioning Editor, will be bringing us an insider’s perspective having both been both a publisher and now author of his own story The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life.

From taking the plunge to the fine line between sharing and over-sharing, we will be dissecting the bravery, honesty and, some would say, downright foolhardiness it takes to put yourself out there and tell your story.

            Monday 31st March 2014
          The Book Club, 100 Leonard Street, London EC2R

Tickets are £7, on sale here: