Friday, 27 September 2013

A Grain of Sand - where can you get it?

Where can you buy our new short story and for how much?
Wordsmack's first short story, A Grain of Sand is out. You can read my review on Goodreads here.

For some reason this is still cheaper on than on - something to do with us being in South Africa. The cheapest option, however, is to buy it on Kobo, because Amazon makes the book more expensive because we are in South Africa.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Covers and how to appeal to all audiences

Covers differ from country to country. In printed books, the same book has many different covers all over the world. The different covers we see regularly is between US and UK covers. 

In South Africa we have traditionally mostly seen UK covers, but we are being exposed to US covers more an more because of ebooks and Amazon. In my course at Oxford Brookes we did a whole section on the difference between the two, but this is all changing now. How does a publisher appeal to both audiences now that we have ebooks?

So, which covers do you prefer? 

US vs UK

US vs UK

US vs UK

And would you ever go for a Japanese cover?
 Game of Thrones
Thanks Litreactor for this comic relief (especially the Twilight one). 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Young Adult: The Explosion

Young Adult: The Explosion

When I was a kid, I read compulsively. In fact, I never stopped. And after I finished the early teen books like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and the classic young adult books To Kill a Mockinbird, The Catcher in the RyeLord of the Flies, etc. there was nothing left for me to read - a bit like Roald Dahl's Matilda at 5, but only at 13. So, my mom, in her desperation, took me to the Mosselbay Library where I could take out anything I wanted. And like many a South African geeky teenage girl, I was left with Daniele Steele, John Grisham and Wilbur Smith. Talk about age-inappropriate! I still remember some of those raunchy scenes. And I bet a lot of kids didn't have such an awesome mom or was put off and just stopped reading. 

What has changed since? The Young Adult fiction scene has exploded. It is simply incredible. If I only read good Young Adult now, I would almost never stop reading. 

My favourites - most are sci-fi/fantasy, but I tried to choose most that aren't:
Skulduggery Pleasant 
The Fault in our Stars
Harry Potter
His Dark Materials (This wasn't available in SA when I was a teenager)
But actually, just go here, because it's a brilliant list: 

Soon, Wordsmack will also be publishing some brilliant Young Adult books and I look forward to sharing those with you then.

If you're writing Young Adult, here is some advice: 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Fan fiction. Why?

Fan fiction. Why? 
When I was a kid, I read Narnia over and over and I played in that world and imagined myself as the fifth Pevensie kid... And this is true of a few other books too. So I understand  why you might write fan fiction - that you might want to immerse yourself into a world further. 

What is fan fiction? Briefly, it's writing a 'new' story within an already created world. 

But my question is, why would anyone read it? Why is it so big? As someone who just can't stay ahead with my reading list, who always has at least 10 'real' books lined up to read, I just don't get it. 

On one platform, Wattpad one story set in the Hunger Games world, Pregnant in the Hunger Games (yes, I kid you not), has been read 992 000 times!! Almost a million times! 
One of the biggest fan fiction worlds is Harry Potter. On  there are over 657 000 stories and on Harry Potter's Fanfiction site there are over 80 000 stories and this site gets over 30 million hits a month… The top read story has been read 1 585 108 times! This particular story is set in the next generation - i.e. the Potter and Weasly kids are the main characters. 

So, clearly this is something massive. My question though, is why? Will someone explain it to me please?  

But as always, if it gets people reading, what's wrong with that? 

Monday, 2 September 2013

The top 5 magic systems in traditional fantasy

If you enjoy a clever, original and well thought out magic system in your fantasy read, here is a list of our Top Five. Our super-editor Kim McCarthy listed her favourites. Which are yours?

Brandon Sanderson - Mistborn Trilogy

Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): Allomancy.
Allomancers burn or ingest one of 16 specific metals and then draw powers from these metals. A 'mistborn' is someone who can draw on all 16 metals and is very rare. A 'misting' is someone who can burn one of the 16 metals. This was such a unique and fascinating magical system. I loved the idea that all magic was linked solely to manipulating certain metals.

David Eddings - The Belgariad and the Mallorean
Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): Sorcery, also known as 'The Will and  the Word'.
A sorcerer concentrates his or her strength through willpower, and then releases it with a word. This system is so simple and yet is wholly dependent on the personality and willpower of the individual characters. As a result, all of the characters use it in a slightly different way. This has some very unique and humorous results.

Robert Jordan - The Wheel of Time
Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): The One Power which is composed of male (saidin) and female (saidar) halves.

A fascinating magic system where all male channelers (users of the One Power) are thought to eventually go mad. This poses a problem for the male protagonist who has to deal with being a reincarnated champion of the light and saving the world. It is fascinating in the later books to see how the main character copes with his decline into madness.

David Eddings - The Elenium and The Tamuli
Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): Spell-casting
The Pandion Knights learn the arts or 'secrets' of spell-casting from Sephrenia, a Styric instructor. Spells are cast using certain words and hand-gestures. They are often cast or 'directed' towards a specific God or Goddess. I love the idea that a God or Goddess is responsible for 'answering' a spell. They don't always 'answer' in the expected manner.

Jim Butcher - The Codex Alera

Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): Fury-crafting
Furies are elemental spirits (earth, water, fire, wind, metal and wood) that are found throughout Alera.
The Aleran people manifest personal furies in their adolescent years and then control these furies with their minds. Furies can be used to increase the personal strength of their wielder, or they can manifest in the shape of an animal or person and do the wielders bidding.

I love the way all the furies are linked back to natural elements. All the furies have strengths and weaknesses depending on their type. 

Now go forth and create your own systems.