Rejection dejection!

Are you an aspiring author who is feeling down about the number of rejections you’ve received? Instead of engaging in some retail therapy this Black Friday, take five minutes out of your writing schedule to peruse this incredible collection of rejection snippets.

Future best-selling author.

Future best-selling author.

Here are a few good ones:

Despite 14 consecutive agency rejections Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight goes on to sell 17 million copies and spends 91 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

“An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.” Rejection letter sent to William Golding for The Lord Of The Flies. 15 million sales.

“You have no business being a writer and should give up.” Zane Grey ignores the advice. There are believed to be over 250 million copies of his books in print.

Apparently, continual rejection may even be a sign of future success, so hang in there!

Photo credit: KatLevPhoto / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Underwriting can be deadly to any story

Great advice from Rachel Starr Thompson about the pitfalls of underwriting. No, that’s not the insurance industry kind of underwriting, it’s when an author tries too hard to show without telling and then skips the interesting stuff going on in the characters’ heads that actually makes any story compelling.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Photo credit: free pictures of money / Foter.com / CC BY

The grim reaper. No, not Death – the book editor!

Nice little post about the pain and ultimate pleasure of the editing process, written by fellow Montreal author Alice Zorn. This is something I’ll be facing very shortly…

An environmentally conscious editor on the way to work.

An environmentally conscious editor on the way to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Bill Gracey / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

A great way to start a trilogy

From now until the end of November, book 1 of the Embodied trilogy of Young Adult fantasy-sci-fi novels, Silent Symmetry, is priced at only 99 cents or 99 pence for the Kindle ebook. (Due to international currency shenanigans, the book is $1.32 in Canada.)

But there’s more! This weekend, subscribers to my eNewsletter will be receiving a special coupon code for 33% off the second ebook in the series, Starley’s Rust. So sign up by clicking here – it takes about 15 seconds – and you’ll receive hot-off-the-press news about my upcoming work in your inbox every couple of months, plus exclusive offers like this.

Silent Symmetry has received some great independent reviews, with people saying things like, “I’ve never read about such mysterious creatures before and this book had that and more,” “I loved the natural way the author wove the tale, interlaced with questions resolving and mysteries uncovered. Even the ending left questions begging for a sequel,” and “I would recommend it, not only to my young adult friends, but my adult friends as well.”

Silent Symmetry photo

The paperback version of Silent Symmetry. Click on the image to go to the ebook’s Amazon.com page.

Starley’s Rust has received acclaim from Broken Pencil Magazine:  “Dutton is in his element crafting together a sci-fi adventure with a good blend of sincerity and humour that, without such a fine balance, can be the downfall of any YA fiction,” and CM Magazine: “Imaginative concepts, and well-written … this trilogy should appeal to readers looking for an unusual thriller. Four stars out of four.”

The mysteriously untitled final novel in the trilogy is with my editor right now and will be out in early 2016.

An agent query letter that brought home the six-figure bacon!

Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency has kindly shared the query letter by author Scott Reintgen that convinced her to sign him. I’m guessing Scott was already pretty happy about that. But when Kristin brokered a mid-six-figure deal with Crown Books for Young Readers for Scott’s debut science fiction young adult trilogy, he must have been ecstatic.

Use the link above to read the full query letter that Scott sent Kristin and with one click on the Send button propelled his career into the stratosphere!

 

Where do you get your ideas?

This is a question that authors get asked a lot. I’ve thought about my own creative process before and produced unsatisfactory answers like, “They just come to me,” “When I’m in the shower,” or “I dreamed up my second book. Seriously, it literally came to me in a dream.”

But today an idea popped into my head as I was making my lunch. So that just proves that I have ideas because I’m hungry. No wait, that’s not it. This idea was about having ideas. And what I realized was that ideas come from reading a lot of non-fiction, be it news articles, books, scientific studies or bathroom graffiti:

graffiti

Thought-provoking bathroom graffiti.

Here’s why non-fiction can provide the inspiration for fiction: it’s because the human brain is wired to make connections and produce those sought-after eureka moments. That’s why human beings are so successful; our evolutionary advantage is that we can create solutions to problems. Of course “divine inspiration” is the non-scientific explanation for this phenomenon…

Even invertebrate animals come up with ideas based on their surroundings, so people definitely can (even those who lack backbones). The key thing is the fuel. Reading fiction might produce ideas – and it’s definitely important to read a wide range of fiction to learn about craft and style – but it’s all-to-easy to consciously or subconsciously fall in love with another author’s idea and simply reproduce it with a twist. Truly original creation comes from the juxtaposition of unrelated information that sparks something new.

Reading extensively is essential for any author, whatever their level of experience, but I would argue that while immersion in the very best fiction can provide stylistic inspiration, unique ideas are sparked by non-fiction. Maybe even by blog posts…

Photo credit: Chris Blakeley / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Story Structure and Character Arcs in Breaking Bad

Novelists can learn a lot about crafting stories from the structures and character arcs that play out across many of the stunningly successful non-network TV series that have been produced over the last fifteen years. I’m talking about shows like Mad Men, Sopranos, The Wire, House of Cards, True Detective, and Breaking Bad. Therese Walsh of the great Writer Unboxed website has written a very insightful article about the latter and delved into how Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan managed to turn mild-mannered chemistry professor Walter White into a scheming drug lord over the course of six seasons and still keep the audience rooting for him.

The article ends with this golden piece of advice:

  • Persevere. Considering Breaking Bad’s incredible success, you’d think it was in a Hollywood bidding war or something, right? Nope. The show was famously turned down by many before AMC picked it up. Sometimes different is scary to the Establishment. Don’t let that stop you from creating innovative works or pursuing publication.