The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen but Now Prize is for aspiring novelists older than 18 living in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth who have not had a book published. The winner will receive a publishing contract with Transworld plus a big advance. Entries close at the end of the year.
From Sir pTerry: “In short, the story must be theoretically possible on some version of the past, present or future of a planet Earth.”
You can read more at the Terry Pratchett website.
I received the following question the other day:
Does a historical fiction novel have to have a murder in the storyline?
No, not at all -– think of the historical timing as the setting. The plot can still be anything that works within the confines of that setting –- romance, family melodrama, spy thriller, mystery (without murder), or indeed murder mystery (or police procedural), or any other plotline you care to use.
Anyone got anything to add?
Author: Owen Sheers
Year of publication: 2007
Genre: Literary alternate history
My rating: 4 stars or B
Just days after news of the invasion came crackling through on Maggie’s wireless…the men, lit by a hunter’s moon, met at William’s milking shed and slipped out of the valley. Moving in single file they walked through the higher fields and up over Hatterall ridge; an ellipsis of seven dark shapes decreasing over the hill’s shoulder, shortening to a last full stop and then nothing, just the blank page of the empty slope.”
Resistance is set in a 1944 where the D-Day landings have failed and the German have invaded Britain. A young woman in a remote Welsh border valley, Sarah, wakes to find her husband gone. She soon discovers that all seven of the men in the valley have disappeared, leaving their wives and children behind, with circumstantial evidence to suggest they’ve become resistance agents (as per real plans laid in 1940). When a small German patrol appears on a mysterious mission and becomes (deliberately) trapped in the valley for winter, the women must come to an accommodation with the enemy to keep their farms running and their sheep alive through the harsh weather.
I admit to a certain impatience with this book for the first third Read the rest of this entry »
Title: White Star
Author: Beth Vaughan
Year of publication: 2009
Genre: Fantasy romance
My rating: 3 stars or C-
Orrin is a man with a dark past. His evil overlady the Baroness is dead and he must surrender himself to save his men. Lucky for him, they recently took captive Lady High Priestess Evelyn, one of the leaders of the rebellion against the usurper (though Orrin doesn’t call him the usurper, as you would expect given he’s on his side) and he can use her as a bargaining chip for the lives of his men, though he accepts his own imminent execution. He and Evelyn have more than a little bit of a thing for each other, which comes into play as her goddess tells her to save his life and he takes steps to atone for his past behaviour by going zombie-fighting.
This book did not work for me. Read the rest of this entry »
Author: Gail Carriger
Year of publication: 2009
Genre: Mixed — Steampunk paranormal romantic comedy
My rating: 4 stars or B+
Given it features both vampires (boo!) and werewolves (slightly smaller boo!), and is the first in a new series (biggest boo of all!), it took a bit for Soulless to make it on to my reading list. However, a romantic comedy with an overbearing spinster lead set in the steampunk Victorian age was too much to resist.
Alexia Tarabotti is soulless, but that’s the least of her problems: she’s also past the age of marrying, an outspoken trial to her family, and descended from the wrong father (he’s Italian. At least he wasn’t Read the rest of this entry »
WEbook is a community place for writers to get feedback and possibly a shot at publication. They have in beta their PagetoFame set-up, where readers vote submitted manuscripts through a series of ratings, from the first page, to the first chapter, to the first 50 pages, to the whole thing – submissions making it through each round get glanced at by an agent, and submissions that make the final round get the full attention of literary agents. It’s a “talent-discovery vehicle” kind of like an online Idle style thing. It’ll cost $9.95 to enter, which as they point out is about what it costs in photocopying and postage to submit to agents the old-fashioned way anyway.
Probably more importantly, it’s also a way to get in touch with other writers and get feedback (though there are plenty of established online critiquing sites for that already) and also they list lots of agents and provide an online submission form to get in contact with them (AgentInbox, currently free, may cost in future…this is a little iffy).
If you’re a reader, you might like to join it at WEbooks rating some of the first pages and following your favourites as they progress through the rounds. I often bemoan that I rarely find books that match my tastes as much I would like — allowing readers input into publishing selections may be one way to broaden the range of what is published.
ePub ebooks sold through Apple’s iBookstore will only be able to be read on the iPad, not even on other Mac devices. At least for about three seconds, before someone breaks the DRM and then they can be read on any device you like.
What should you read next?
Here’s one of those projects dedicated to increasing access to the beautiful rare books stored in museums and national archives around the world.
I was reading Soulless by Gail Carriger over the weekend, which is an enjoyably light read featuring both vampires and werewolves in a steampunk setting. Being a romantic comedy in which the male lead is a werewolf (thank goodness; wouldn’t have touched it if he’d been a vampire), there’s lots of references to Alpha and Beta males (and also, given the main character, Alpha females).
Alpha males are a staple of the romance genre and pop all over the place in urban fantasy and other genres with werewolves, vampires, and/or romance. They’re usually not so blatantly labelled except when talking about werewolves, given the classification comes from pack animals like wolves. They’re really meant to personify physical and mental strength, leadership and confidence, but badly or simplistically written, they tend to be jealous, arrogant, violent arseholes who in real life would be stalkers, rapists, and domestic violence perpetrators.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I generally cannot stand the alpha male Read the rest of this entry »
Title: Curse of the Spellmans
Author: Lisa Lutz
Year of publication: 2008
Genre: Mystery — Comedy
My rating: 4.5 stars or A+
Curse of the Spellmans is the second in the Spellman series, which I believe has now reached four (The Spellman Files; Curse of the Spellmans; Revenge of the Spellmans; and newly released The Spellmans Strike Again — it can be a little hard to tell, as they’ve been released in so many different editions, but I think I’ve got that right). I haven’t read the first but I’ll definitely be seeking it and the sequels out.
Izzy Spellman has been working for her parents’ PI firm since she was 12; it’s made her a little odd and more than a little nosey. The story opens with her fourth arrest (or possibly second, depending how you count it) in three months. Bailed out by her pastrami-loving lawyer, she tells the whole story, complete with dates, times, transcripts and footnotes, documenting the suspicious behaviours of the various people in her life — parents, sister, brother and sister-in-law/best friend, woman with the seasonal art installations down the road, ex-boyfriend/neighbour who’s had to put a restraining order on her… Read the rest of this entry »
Title: Of Bees and Mist
Author: Erick Setiawan
Year of publication: 2009
Genre: Fantasy — Literary
My rating: 3 stars or C+
Of Bees and Mist is touted as a adult fairytale, which is usually the wording used when publishers or reviewers don’t want to admit they’re reading a fantasy. It’s probably closest to magic realism.
Meridia grows up in a house haunted by yellow-eyed ghosts and coloured mists. They take her father away every night, and return him home each morning. Her mother, Ravenna, seems mad as she haunts the kitchen. Gradually, as Meridia grows up, she learns more about her parents’ tragic history. Her escape comes when she meets the charming Daniel. However, when she moves into his parents’ house, she soon discovers her new mother-in-law, Eva, is not the loving, supportive woman she appeared to be before the marriage. Daniel’s house is haunted too, by swarms of bees rather than mist. Read the rest of this entry »
Twists are the big surprises to do with plot or character motivation or hidden information that are usually revealed towards the end of the book, if not the very end. Often they’re just about throwing a spanner in the works of the story (the last minute betrayal by the trusted friend, for example), but when they’re very good, they are such that they change the interpretation of all that has gone before.
Twists are pretty tough for writers to pull off, because readers are such a diverse bunch that you’ll never get the same reaction out of more than one of them. As a writer, I tend to avoid them except where the narrative ends up requiring it (and they’re the simple sort that add a bit of complexity to the current plot, not the interpretation-changing sort). As a reader, twists tend to fall into a handful of categories for me. Read the rest of this entry »