Dare to Read

November 17, 2012

A Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop: A Touch of Fantasy

 

 

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

 

 

I love stories. That’s why I read, that’s why I write.

I like my stories the old fashion way. I like them to have a beginning, a middle and an end. A happy ending, thank you very much.

And the stories I like best are those that have a touch of fantasy.

No surprise then that Two Moon Princess, the first book I wrote, takes place in an imagined fantasy world. This allowed me to play by my own rules and create a world that fit my fancy. And I enjoyed living there so much, I wrote a sequel and then, yet another book in a medieval alternate Spain.

As every writer knows to write the book is just the first step towards publication. The next step is to convince an agent to represent your work.

In real life, it took me a year to get my agent. But while I waited, I started writing a fictionalized account of my struggles. In this parallel world I created Carla, my protagonist, did not have to wait so long. In fact, she finds her agent in the first chapter.

But her agent is, she soon finds out, an immortal. The introduction of this paranormal element meant that, once again, rules could be broken and history rewritten. It meant that I could give my favorite poets, Lorca and Becquer who died young, a chance to live again.

And live they do in my latest novel, Immortal Love, taking Carla into their world and into an old blood feud that could cost her what she loves most.

Meet Bécquer.

He’s handsome, well-read, and can get you that book contract you always dreamed about. Never mind that he’s also an immortal and lives on human blood. Why would that matter? Your relationship is strictly business.

Or so you thought.

Until Bécquer’s life is threatened, and you discover that walking away is not an option, because he was hurt while protecting your son, because you are the only one who can save him now, because you care for him.

Welcome to Bécquer’s world.

Please, come inside. He’s waiting for you.

This is my contribution to the Crimson Romance Blog Hop.

Please, leave a comment for a chance to win dozens of giveaways and 3 grand prizes: One Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift certificate for $100!!! And two gift certificates for $50 each!!

To get more chances at winning, visit my fellow Crimson Romance authors’ blogs by clicking their name below.

1. Sharon Clare 2. K.M. Jackson
3. Lynn Cahoon 4. Tessa Berkley
5. Black Creek Burning 6. Erin Richards
7. Shay Lacy 8. M. J. Schiller
9. Terri Herman-Ponce 10. Sylvie Fox
11. Ashlyn Mathews 12. NLSScribe/Scribbles
13. Carol Ritten Smith 14. Beth Yarnall
15. Peggy Bird 16. Rowena May O’Sullivan
17. Suzi Love 18. nora snowdon
19. Tara Mills Romance 20. Vristen Pierce
21. Embrace the Shadows 22. Alicia Dean
23. Heather Thurmeier 24. Rena’s Ramblings
25. Dare to Read 26. Denyse Cohen
27. Pam B. Morris Blog 28. Becky Lower Author
29. Nikkie Locke 30. Nicole Flockton
31. Rionna Morgan 32. Elizabeth Boyce
33. Amanda L. V. Shalaby 34. Meline Nadeau
35. Kate Fellowes 36. Lola Karns
37. D’Ann Lindun 38. Jerri Drennen
39. Kristina Knight Romance Author 40. Morgan O’Neill
41. Shelley Wall Blog 42. Holley Trent
43. Karen Sue Burns 44. Patti Shenberger
45. Tamara Gill

May 17, 2012

My Road to Publication: Kit Grindstaff

Filed under: Author's Interview,Fantasy,On Publishing,On Writing — carmenferreiroesteban @ 5:47 am
Tags: , ,

 

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

 

 

Today we have here at Dare to Read a dear friend of mine who came to writing from an unusual and fascinating background (no spoilers here. If you want to know you must read on).

Her first book, a middle grade dark fantasy, The Flame in the Mist, will be published in the spring of 2013 by Delacorte.

Here is her story:

 

The start to my book came from a homework assignment in a writing class: write a short synopses. It took 3 tries before one leapt onto the page: Girl discovers she’s been abducted by evil family who live in castle. Ooh. I was hooked. The whys and wherefores of that kernel unfolded later, as I wrote.

The story is set in an imagined Olde England called Anglavia. The main character is 13-year-old Jemma, who has magical Powers she’s initially unaware of. Her supporting cast includes her colorful but bad-to-the bone “false family”, their sinister old servant Drudge, her 2 magical rats, her friend Digby, as well as ghosts, supernatural monsters….

I initially thought I’d finished the book in late 2008, and began querying agents a few at a time. Meanwhile, I attended conferences and critique groups, and soon found that my ms was far from finished! Friends loved it (never completely trust friends’ glowing reports!), but agents still weren’t getting it. So I kept revising-especially those vital first pages. Then, almost 2 years and 25 rejections later, I decided to shelve it and focus on my next ms.

In early 2010 I heard about the NJ SCBWI summer conference. I went for broke and signed up for agent, editor and author critiques. You could only submit a finished ms, so I dusted mine off and sent in the first 15 pages.

Now, you can choose who critiques you, but I was assigned to Michelle Poploff, snr. Ed and VP of Delacorte Press. I immediately liked her—but while she was cautiously encouraging about my pages, I couldn’t gauge how much she really liked them. So when she asked to see the whole ms, I almost fell off my chair. Excited? Ecstatic!

Michelle responded within a month—Gasp! But…by no means a deal. She mailed a 9-page editorial letter: She loved the idea, but wanted a major rewrite of the middle, and would be interested in seeing it again “with a view to acquiring” if I chose to take her suggestions on board. In truth, I’d known it suffered from the proverbial sag, but not how to remedy it; her ideas were just what I needed. Those “view to acquiring” words carried me through months of reworking. Almost a year later, “send” again. This time, I heard within 3 weeks: Michelle loved what I’d done, and was ready to “move forward”!

Since then, more revisions, and a new title (quite commonly requested, writer be warned!). The cover artist is Chris Rahn, who’s done a wonderful job of capturing a sinister mood in a magical way. You can see the background—brooding Mist-shrouded castle, complete with bats and belfries—on my Facebook author page www.facebook.com/kitgrindstaff and website holding page www.kitgrindstaff.com (website, and the rest of the cover reveal, coming soon).

My advice to writers with mss they feel are ready is: Don’t be too hasty in querying! Get plenty of feedback, but be discerning about it. One person’s opinion is just that, but if several say the same thing, take note. Be ruthless, prepared to kill many darlings. Keep honing your craft, making your prose as tight as possible. Ask: Does this drive the plot? Is this passage/phrase/word really needed? NY agent Donald Maass says every paragraph should have tension in it, to keep the reader hooked; either large – a major antagonistic confrontation, or small – an internal conflict, like doubt or regret. His books contain terrific advice for any author, aspiring or published.

Thank you Carmen, for inviting me to contribute to DARE TO READ. It’s been fun to revisit the journey!

THE FLAME IN THE MIST will be available from Delacorte Press in April 2013 in hardback, e-book and audio formats.


Bio: Kit Grindstaff was born near London, and grew up in the rolling countryside of England, a country which is curiously similar to Anglavia. After a brush with pop stardom (under her maiden name, Hain), she moved to New York and embarked on her still-thriving career as a pop song writer. Kit now lives with her husband in the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania. The Flame In The Mist is her first novel.

March 12, 2012

Where Ideas Come From – 6

 

From THE KING IN THE STONE

 

“…the ancient people of these mountains believed time was a spiral turning continuously onto itself.”

As Doña Irene spoke, her fingers traced the intertwined spirals carved in the silver medallion dangling from her neck.

“Occasionally, the walls between different times grow thin, and the past, the present, the future, they all become one.

“These are dangerous times, because when this happens, the very course of history can be altered.”

February 2, 2012

My Road to Publication: Sabrina Benulis

Interviewed by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Today, the talented Sabrina Benulis, author of Archon (Harper Voyager, December 2011) has joined us at Dare to Read to talk about her book and her road to publication.

Please make Sabrina feel welcome by leaving your comments below.

Hi Sabrina, welcome to Dare to Read. First of all could you tell us where the story started. In other words:

Q. Why did you write Archon?

A. Initially, I wrote ARCHON and what would be the framework for its sequels for the sheer enjoyment of it.  The novel had been simmering in the back of my mind, slowly building itself up on its own for quite a while during my latter college years.  At that time, there were hardly any novels that had angels in them to be found–especially in fantasy–and I had a rich reading background in mythology and world religions.  That, combined with my desire to create a very original story, something that hadn’t been done before, spurred me to write and revise, and revise and write, until the trilogy was (at that time anyway) finished.

Q. What genre is it?

A. THE BOOKS OF RAZIEL trilogy is gothic fantasy.  However, the plot is written in the style of a thriller as there are many mysteries important to the story.

Q. Who is the expected audience?

A. Older teens and adults would be the appropriate readers, especially people who like paranormal thrillers and unique fiction.  I’ve been told Anne Rice’s work is similar to mine in tone and atmosphere.  Perhaps I could also compare it to dark fantasy like Holly Black’s.  I’ve also heard mention of Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewels series.  The marketing has thus far tried to wedge me in with other paranormal romance authors with novels about fallen angels, but that is ultimately a skewed comparison.  There is romance in my story, but it develops slowly and does not put the novel solidly in that category.  In essence, I’m what you want to read if you’re tired of the same old thing.

Q. Who designed your cover which, BTW, is outstanding?

A. A graphic artist who goes by the name of Nekro was contracted for the cover.  He does great gothic-style illustrations and is apparently becoming quite popular lately.

Q. How does the cover reflect your story?

A. The two characters on the cover are the protagonist of ARCHON, a red-haired girl named Angela Mathers, and a great angel named Israfel who would be her love interest if not for the fact that he comes off as a villain.  Whether or not this is true is revealed in later books.  Overall, the colors of the cover are perfect for the book, as coincidentally black, white, and red are quite prominent in the story for different reasons.  Also, the gothic sensibility with the cathedral and Angela’s tattered dress fit the atmosphere of the novel almost perfectly.  As she stands in front of the church doors, you get the sense that both she and the reader are being invited to experience something special.

Q. In which formats is your book available?

A. ARCHON is available as a hardcover and most e-book formats.  The paperback should be coming out around fall of 2012.  From what I understand, the international version is also a paperback.

Q. Could you share with us how did you get your agent and publisher interested on Archon.

A. I got my agent the old-fashioned way, by query.  After she read my query, she immediately wanted to read the entire novel (as it was back then), and after a preliminary revision, I was taken on as a client.  I then had to go through another revision before the book could be sent out to publishers, and when Harper Collins took me on as an author, I had to do an entire rewrite of the book! (And in a month and a half!)  They  initially took a keen interest in my novel series mostly because of the unique way I protrayed angels and demons, which fascinated them.  It was they who also emphasized that they wanted me to make the book more gothic, bringing out a very supernatural atmosphere.
ARCHON was not the easiest book to get published, mostly because it is so very different.  It crosses a lot of genres, takes a lot of chances, and does things with the plot that just haven’t been attempted before, especially in its sub-genre.  But at the same time, that uniqueness was what got it published in the end, and if anything, it should be a lesson for authors to write what they love.

Q. Any final advice you want to share with our readers who are considering self-publishing?

A. For any reader who wishes to be an author, remember that as long as you believe in your story, others will too.  In this industry, it’s all about perseverance.

Thank you so much Sabrina for being with us today and answer our questions so honestly.

Let’s hope your audience embrace Archon for its uniqueness and loves it as much as I did.
For my review of Archon please go to http://www.myshelf.com/teen/fiction/12/archon.htm

Sabrina Benulis lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and a short-tempered cockatiel.  When she isn’t hard at work revising and writing that next novel, she can be found watching anime, reading, or anxiously awaiting her next beach vacation.  Sabrina has a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and ARCHON is her first novel.  When asked how real her angels might be, she often shrugs and smiles mysteriously.

January 31, 2012

Where Ideas Come From

Filed under: Fantasy,On Writing,Pictures,Two Moon Princess,YA — carmenferreiroesteban @ 5:43 am
Tags: , , ,

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Where do you get your ideas? is a question every writer has been asked at one time or another.

For me, in many occasions, the idea for a story comes from a real place or person.

To illustrate this, I’m going to post every week, a picture of one of these places or people and explain why / how they made it into my books.

I’ll start with my first book: TWO MOON PRINCESS (http://goo.gl/VX0r1) and the place where this story began for me:

Arch at Playa de las Catedrales (Cathedral Beach) in Spain

Once upon a time, when I was a child, I saw a broken arch on a beach in northern Spain. In my mind, the arch was magical. It was a portal to another world, I called Xaren Ra. Later, I moved to California and Andrea, a sixteen year old princess from Xaren-Ra came with me.

In TWO MOON PRINCESS Andrea travels from her wold to California through an arch the full moon rising turns into a portal between Xaren-Ra and Earth.

After I wrote my story, I found out that, a couple of miles north of the town in California where I first lived when I moved to the States, there is an arch similar to the one in Spain.

Goat Rock, Sonoma Coast, CA

Coincidence? Perhaps.

January 26, 2012

My Road to Publication and Giveaway

Interview by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Today, we have with us Emily Casey the author of the YA fantasy The Fairy Tale Trap, a delightful and imaginative retale of my favorite Fairy Tale, Beauty and the Beast I highly recommend.

Emily has generously agreed to give a free copy of The Fairy Tale Trap to one lucky commenter. So, don’t be shy and leave your comments below.

Hello, Carmen! Thanks for letting me visit your blog. And hello to all the book lovers out there! I’m really excited to announce the release of my book The Fairy Tale Trap

Hello Emily! You’re very welcome. And talking about your book, why don’t you tell us

Q. Why did you write this book?

A. I wrote it because… well… you’ll think I’m crazy, but the honest truth is that my main character (Ivy Thorn) made me do it. Ivy is a fictional character that I created to fill some creative space. I was between books and wasn’t ready to start my next one, so I created this character that hopped from fairy tale to fairy tale, wreaking havoc wherever she went. Ivy became such a strong character, that I felt like she needed at least a whole book, maybe even a series.

Q. Who is the expected audience? (List 3 books similar to yours)

A. She’s around fifteen years old and even though she’s running around with princesses and fairies, she has a voice similar to Rachel Hawkins’ character Sophie from the Hex Hall series (spunky and smart). Gail Carson Levine also comes to mind, since she likes to put strong heroines into fairy tales with a twist. And of course, anyone who ever enjoyed a fairy tale would be a match for The Fairy Tale Trap.

Q. In which formats is it available?

A. At the moment, The Fairy Tale Trap is only in ebook format. Since I’m self-published, all the costs come out of my own pocket, so a print version hasn’t been a possibility. I’m currently trying to make that happen, though.

Q. Why did you choose to self-publish?

A. I chose to self-publish for two reasons: 1) I couldn’t put Ivy in a drawer. I realize she’s a fictional character, but whenever I tried to move on and write something new, the stories always fell flat because I was thinking about Ivy’s next adventure. 2) I couldn’t stop reading about self-publishing. Eventually, I realized I was putting a lot of time into researching it, so I prayed about it. I felt strongly that I should at least move in this direction. I was never promised success if I self-published, but I feel that I’m meant to be on this path.

Q. One of the perks of self-publishing your book is that you get to choose your own cover. This is also a challenge for those of us not artistically oriented. How did it work for you? Did you design your own cover or hire somebody to do it.

A. The cover for The Fairy Tale Trap was a collaborative effort. A friend of mine (Ryan) is really good at Photoshop. He chose the photo of the girl running and put it into the woods and worked on blending and lighting. I added the text, extra color, and sparkles. I love the cover. I’ve already made the cover for the second book in the series, based on its design. I did this one all on my own, but I credit Ryan’s creative mind for laying the groundwork.

So you have already finished the second book in this series. Congratulations. I hope you publish it soon so we can have you again at Dare to Read to talk about it.

Q. Before we end this interview, is there any advice you want to share with our readers who are considering self-publishing?

A. Self-publishing is a hot topic and a lot of people are considering it. My advice is to take a step. Don’t sink a lot of money into it, but go ahead and act on it. You may find that the stress of marketing and coordinating release dates isn’t for you. If that’s the case, what have you lost? A little time. But if you turn back to traditional publishing, you’ll understand a lot more about the process and you may be a bigger asset to your future publisher.

Emily Casey is a writer from Tallahassee who chases two crazy kids around the house all day before collapsing in front of her computer. Her debut young adult fantasy, THE FAIRY TALE TRAP is on Amazon and Smashwords. If you want a taste of the book first, you can watch the book trailer.

You’ll find Emily on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thank you so much Emily for being with us and best of luck with your book.

January 16, 2012

The King in the Stone – Teaser

 

 

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

 

 

Writing the first chapter of a sequel is tricky.

You must give enough background information on your characters and their stories so that new readers can follow. Yet, you don’t want to over explain for you risk boring those who’d read the first book.

But because so many things have already happened before the sequel begins, (enough to fill a whole book, as a matter of fact) and these things define who your characters are and where they stand now, to hit the right balance is difficult, and the first chapters can drag a little.

That’s why it’s so tempting for the writer to add a teaser before Chapter One.

And by a teaser I mean an action scene from further on in the story, that will lure the reader to stay with you through those slower first chapters.

I don’t like teasers when I am the reader. Yet, I must confess I have written one for The King in the Stone. Whether I will include it or not in the final version I do not know.

In the meantime, here it is for your enjoyment.

Hope you like it.

The King in the Stone

Teaser

 

A flash of lightning shatters the sky and, almost immediately, the deafening explosion of close thunder shakes the ground. Startled out of her trance, Andrea looks up. Dark clouds, heavy with rain, have turned the day almost to night, dressing in shadows the valley below and hiding the peaks across the ledge from where she stands.

As if waking from a dream, Andrea takes in her surroundings, surprised to find herself  by the tomb of the unknown king, for she has no recollection of climbing the mountain. The last thing she remembers is Kelsey’s voice, so eerily clear through the phone even though she was six thousand miles away, telling her about Julián.

Andrea moans at the memory and, bent in two by the sudden pain twisting her stomach, leans forward. Images of the man she has tried so hard to forget flash through her mind. Julián bleeding in her arms, an arrow through his chest. Julián by the broken arch telling her how much he loves her. Julián rejecting her, stealing the ring from her finger . . . From the slab that covers the tomb, the lying figure of the king carved in the stone stares at her with unseeing eyes.

Another lightning flash streaks the sky and the earth trembles under her feet as thunder rolls once more over the mountains. Heavy drops fall on her face, washing away her tears.

Andrea forces her mind to reason. She has no claim over Julián. He broke their engagement and made it clear he didn’t want to be with her. That was the reason she left California these three weeks past. Whether he’s with Kelsey now or with somebody else should make no difference.

But it does. She can’t lie to herself. She’s hurting too much to pretend anymore. The truth is that moving to Spain has changed nothing. She has not forgotten Julián. His memory has haunted her dreams every night, stolen itself into every one of her waking thoughts.

Her hands clenched into fists, Andrea hits the stone, swearing at Kelsey for her betrayal. How could she? Kelsey is her cousin, her confidant. Kelsey knows how much she cares for Julián. How much she wants him back.
Not anymore. Knowing he doesn’t love her is one thing. Learning he is with Kelsey quite another. Now, at last, she will forget him.

She turns her back to the tomb, and starts toward the trail. But the rain has turned the soil to mud, and, losing her footing, she falls face down.

Spitting water and dirt, Andrea scrambles to her feet. By the light of the next lightning flash, she sees the gap on the mountainside, an open mouth calling to her, and dives through the sheets of water pouring from the angry sky toward the wall. The rope she remembers from the previous evening is still hanging down into the cave. She grabs it in her slippery hands and climbs down.

She has barely reached the ground­­—welcome, dry ground, firm under her feet—when the mountain shakes again. Andrea stumbles and, falling on her knees, raises her arms over her head, a weak protection against the gravel falling around her like solid rain.

When the noise finally stops and Andrea opens her eyes, the cave is in total darkness. Has she gone blind? she wonders as she fights back her fears. I’m not blind, she reassures herself. That’s absurd. But if she isn’t, why is it so dark?

She looks up, squinting her eyes. But it’s useless: no ray of light steals through the wall of rocks. The opening is gone. Of course, the thought breaks into her mind. The earthquake has provoked a slide and closed the entrance.

A wave of panic washes over her as she realizes she’s on her own. No one will ever come looking for her. Why should they? She told no one where she was going when she left. She’s buried alive, and this cave, up in the mountains of this world that is not hers, will be her grave.

Andrea screams, a name, a broken word, a feral cry for help that, as she feared, dies unheard against the cavern’s walls.

 

December 12, 2011

Blurb for The King in the Stone

 

 

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

 

 

Here is my latest blurb for The King in the Stone, a sequel to Two Moon Princess:

A full moon,

A silver key,

And the relentless passion of two young lovers

will bring hope to a defeated kingdom

and, through their sorrow,

deliver a king who will change its fate.

Vivid visions have haunted Andrea since her arrival in northern Spain. In her visions, the medieval village she is excavating with the Spanish team comes alive, and, around the fires burning in the no longer buried hearths, she sees people dressed in furs sharpening old fashioned swords.

Even more upsetting for her that the headaches her visions leave is the fact that Julián appears in them—Julián, the king from her world whose rejection she is trying hard to forget.

But when a slide bury Andrea under the mountain, Julian comes to help her. That evening, as the full moon rises a portal opens and sends them both over a thousand years into the past, to a time right after the Spanish king has been defeated by the Arabian invaders.

Separated by a bitter winter, Andrea and Julian are caught in opposite sides in the battle between the Spanish last unconquered settlements and the Arabian army. A battle for survival that will determine the fate of a kingdom and demand of them the ultimate sacrifice: As the Arabs close on the mountains, Julián makes a decision that will break Andrea’s heart and change them forever.

Would this blurb make you pick up the book?

October 10, 2011

Steampunk versus Gaslight Fantasy

 

 

Steampunk is the new “it” in the wish list of agents that represent YA and MG authors.

But there is another term for a similar genre. The term is “Gaslight Fantasy,” and I learned about it today while reading Lia Keyes’ s wonderful post “A Past That Never Was” at the Enchanted Inkpot.

If you are intrigued by these terms and you want to know more about these hot sub genres of SciFi/Fantasy please join us at:

http://enchantedinkpot.livejournal.com/104323.html?view=1610115#t1610115

October 5, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Title

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Given that my agent has requested my full manuscript, I have stopped rewriting my query and, instead, dedicated my efforts to another, if possible, more difficult task: finding an enticing title.

I must confess that if writing a query/blurb/pitch is intimidating for me, looking for a title is paralyzingly scary. My track history of naming my books having been one of utter failure so far.

I called my first novel Leaving the Castle, a title that, in my opinion, conveyed my protagonist’s goal of leaving her father’s castle to find freedom and live life on her own terms. My editor didn’t agree and published it as Two Moon Princess (http://www.amazon.com/Two-Moon-Princess-Carmen-Ferreiro-Esteban/dp/1933718277/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1317490293&sr=1-1).

I thought I had found the perfect title when I named my most recent YA fantasy, Requiem for a King. But when I published my first page for critique at the writeon.com conference last year, I was told my writing was engaging but the title made my book sound terribly boring. Humbled by such comment, I changed the title to The Revenge of the Wolf King and, voila, my rate of manuscript requests increased substantially after I queried with the new title.

Seeing that my instincts cannot be trusted when it comes to naming my book, I studied the titles of many classical and modern books looking for inspiration. I also read many articles on the subject.

From Jane Lebak’s recent blog post, You Called it What? (http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2011/09/you-called-it-what.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+QueryTracker+%28QueryTracker.net%29) I copied the following advice:

“Your title should fit (and be specific for) your book.”

“It must fit your genre.”

It “should convey tension” and “elicit an emotional reaction.” A good title allows you to “predict the central conflict without knowing any more about the story.”

Overall the purpose of a title is to intrigue, to “entice someone to learn more about the book.”

It’s all great advice, yet still I can’t decide.

Here is the list I have compiled so far:

Becquer Immortal

Becquer Eternal

Meet Becquer

Becquer’s World

Becquer Forever

Any preference?

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