Write On by Kindle

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Write On by Kindle. It’s an Amazon sponsored writing community where writers openly share their writing projects, and readers provide feedback. I just signed up yesterday and posted the first chapter of my novel. From the little I’ve perused thus far, the quality of writing and feedback seems really good.

The first chapter of my novel can be found under my profile. I look forward to posting more here as well as following other writers and giving feedback on other stories. There is an option to browse by genre, and it looks as though the most recently revised stories show up at the top. So if you post new chapters or stories or revise your current stories, this should be a way to have your stories filter back to the top of the queue and hopefully gain more visibility and followers.

Dinsdale Imber Literary Agency

For those searching for agencies that specialize in fantasy and historical fiction, you might take a look at Dinsdale Imber. They do accept and encourage submissions from new authors.

Dinsdale Imber is a dedicated independent literary agency, specializing in the best of genre writing: historical fiction, thrillers, fantasy, science-fiction and horror.

It works in association with AM Heath & Co Ltd, one of the world’s leading literary agencies.

Dinsdale Imber’s clients are represented by Robert Dinsdale, formerly of AM Heath and the HHB Agency, and supported through all stages of the editorial process by the agency’s editor, Kirstie Imber.

A while back, I also posted another list of agencies you might consider. Or this one.

Hope this helps.

Character Background

I’ve been working on editing the first three chapters of my novel and re-working my query letter and synopsis. I also thought I’d spend some time on my character backgrounds. I found this set of questions which addresses various aspects of your characters. As an exercise, I am planning to fill these out about my main characters, just to make certain I know them well enough and I’m not leaving out anything important. These types of exercises should help in filling in gaps and further refining/developing your own characters.

The following character sketch is for my protagonist.

Name and age?
Caelen – 21

What is most noticeable about your character’s appearance/physical presence? How does he feel about it?
His nervous habit of constantly touching the hilt of his sword. He is mostly unaware of it, but others around him notice this behavior.

Describe his voice, verbal ticks, pet phrases etc.
Middle range to deep tone. “Justice and vengeance are not the same.”

Describe a gesture your character makes.
He is always putting his hand on the hilt of his sword.

Where does he now live? Describe the city, town or village, the house itself. Be very specific. Any feelings about this place?
He doesn’t have a consistent home. He is a soldier that moves about as war dictates.

Has he lived elsewhere? What does he remember of these places?
His heritage is of minor nobility, so Caelen has a small family estate in the southern part of Aricin. He has not been there in many years.

What part of his home is his favorite? Least favorite? Why. Describe, using specific details.
His favorite part comes from his childhood memories when he used to hunt with his friend Guibert in the woods near his home. He loves the open spaces of his family’s estate: the forest, the streams, the fields, the orchards.

What does your character dream of at night?
Killing the man, Cobus, who murdered his father and brothers.

Who are/were his parents? Rest of family? What does his feel for them?
Caelen has no family left. His father and brothers were murdered, and his mother died of an illness. He loved his mother, but he is indifferent for the most part to his brothers and father. His father was a drunk and sometimes abusive, and his brothers took after their father. They only wanted to drink, sleep with women, gamble, and fight. Caelen vows to avenge them, not because of his love toward them, but because it is his family duty to settle the blood price of their deaths.

Class, ethnic group, religious background?
High to middle social status. Minor nobility. His religious background is split. His father followed after the newer religious order, and his mother believed in the older ways, the religious beliefs of a group known as the Casari. The newer religious order seeks to eradicate the older beliefs through inquisition.

Who does he love, or has he loved? Or what. Detail.
He is in love with his lord’s daughter, Nevina. He has loved her ever since he first saw her at a winter festival when he was 15. They kissed once at the festival. Since Caelen’s family is of minor nobility, the Nevina is of too high standing to ever marry someone like him.

Who loves him?
Only his brothers-in-arms, which includes his best friend Guibert. Since his family is dead, and Nevina does not seem to recognize that he even exists, he is loved only by the men who stand next to him in battle.

Married/ in relationship/single? Give names and specifics.
Single.

Who or what does he fear?
He fears what will happen to his soul after he dies. He is conflicted regarding the beliefs of the two major religious orders, since his father believed one way and his mother believed another.

What about his or her life would he change if he could?
He wished he never had to be involved in the war between Cobus and the supporters of the former king of Aricin.

Does the character have a hobby? Secret passion?
He enjoys spending time alone in nature. He enjoys riding, exploring, hunting, and fishing

What would be his or her favorite smell ( why)?
Woodsmoke. The smell of burning wood evokes memories of his childhood when he used to explore the forests near his family estate in winter. It also reminds him of the winter festival where he first kissed Nevina.

Favorite meal? Attitude to food?
Roasted lamb. He especially enjoys the food they use to eat at the harvest festivals, summer festivals, and winter festivals, but those days of enjoyment are long gone. He feels that if he savors food too much he will remember and long for those days once again and want to return home and forget the war. He cannot let himself grow complacent because he has a blood price to collect that will only be settled once he has killed Cobus.

Favorite clothes?
A simple tunic and breeches with his sword strapped to his side.

What is the worst thing that could happen to him or her right now?
Someone will kill Cobus before he has the chance to do it.

What is his most treasured possession?
The wooden cross he wears about his neck that his mother gave him.

What’s his philosophy of life? What are his or her most strongly held beliefs?
He is so focused on getting revenge that he confuses justice for vengeance. Religiously, he associates his actions, good or bad, on the kinds of blessings or curses he will receive. If he does good, he will be rewarded. If he does bad, he will be punished. This is what the new religious order of bishops teach. These were his father’s beliefs, but he is also conflicted because he wants to believe like his mother did. His mother believed in a gracious God, a God of mercy. This is the old religious order, an order full of prophets who preached a merciful message. This old religious order is seen as heretical.

What does he feel guilty about?
He feels guilty when he does wrong morally. He feels guilty for not protecting his mother more, for not trusting completely in her religious beliefs and teachings. He feels guilty for not protecting his father and brothers from death. He feels guilty for allowing Abbot Darius to die at St. Thomas.

Biggest mistake ever made?
Allowing Abbot Darius to die in front of his eyes.

Best thing he ever did?
Not giving up completely on what his mother taught him.

What, right now, does your character want most of all?
To settle the blood price. “Justice and vengeance are the same.”

Writing a novel synopsis

I’m finally getting around to writing the dreaded novel synopsis. The synopsis is probably the most challenging item when putting together materials in order to be considered for publication. Not every agent I’ve found requests a synopsis. Everyone is different. Some want a query, synopsis, and the first few pages of your novel. Others do not require the synopsis, at least not initially. Everyone will ask for the query, however, so you’ll definitely need to write that.

I decided I would go ahead and write my synopsis even though not everyone requires it. And for those that do require it, I will now be ready to submit to them as well. What I have found is most everyone is different when it comes to advice for writing a synopsis. There does not seem to be a set formula for writing one. Some say to condense your novel down to one to three pages, others say five to ten pages, and still others say length does not matter. General consensus seems to be between two and three pages for the synopsis.

Most everyone also agrees that you should include your major plot points, major characters, and your character motivations. Beyond that, it’s pretty much up to you how you write it.

You also want to avoid simply writing in a chapter by chapter format where you say: in chapter one this happens, then in chapter two this happens. While I think that’s a good place to start, you likely do not want your final synopsis to read in that format. My plan is to start with the chapter by chapter format and then go back and pare it down to two to three pages, blending the major characters and plot points into a seamless summary that reads more like the copy you find on book jackets than in an instruction manual. The chapter by chapter format has also been helpful for me in determining the most important events and characters and giving me an idea of where something might be lacking.

Resources for writing a synopsis:

Writing secrets of prolific authors

*Source: WriteToDone.com, guest post by David Masters

Isaac Asimov, one of the big three science fiction writers of the twentieth century, published over 500 books including novels, short story collections and non fiction, making him one of the most prolific writers of all time.

Asked by Writer’s Digest magazine for the secret to his prolific writing, Asimov said:
“I guess I’m prolific because I have a simple and straightforward style.” ~Isaac Asimov

The above article covers 9 points:

  • Write in a clear, conversational tone
  • Try to get your first draft down quickly
  • Start with a question
  • Use established structures and plots
  • Treat your writing as a craft
  • Know your motivation for writing and keep it with you as you write
  • Write every day
  • Never give up
  • How much do you need to write

Query Letter Resources

Below is a list of resources I’ve compiled for writing good query letters:

Literary Agents for Fantasy / Historical Fiction

I went to the bookstore last week and went through the Writer’s Market Guide in order to put together a list of literary agents that accept fantasy submissions, as well as some historical fiction. I wanted to pass this list along to any who are interested:

First Issue of Alt Hist Magazine

The first issue of Alt Hist magazine is available. The current issue features six short stories:

Alt Hist Issue 1 also includes an interview with Brandon H. Bell, co-editor of Aether Age, and information about the alternate history anthology Columbia & Britannia.

There are not a lot of outlets for authors who write short stories of historical fiction or alternate history, so here’s hoping this publication has success.

Letters of Note

In a departure from my normal routine of posts, a friend of mine sent me a link to this site, which I wanted to share. It’s not medieval and it’s not fantasy related, but it is writing and it is historical. Letters of Note is a site that gathers and sorts fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos from modern history. It’s a blog-based archive of correspondence complete with scans and transcripts of the original documents. There are some interesting transcripts from authors like Dr. Seuss and Edgar Allan Poe, among others.