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1. Player Profile: Rjurik Davidson, author of Unwrapped Sky

RjurikDavidson2-300x245Rjurik Davidson, author of Unwrapped Sky

Tell us about your latest creation:

 Unwrapped Sky sits somewhere between fantasy and science fiction, in a little subgenre sometimes called the New Weird. It’s set in the fantastic city of Caeli-Amur, which is something like an industrial version of Ancient Rome. Steam trams chug along the streets. A ruined forum lies close to a huge arena. Three dictatorial Houses rule the city. It’s filled with strange wonders. Ancient Minotaurs arrive for the traditional Festival of the Sun and New-Men bring wondrous technology from their homeland. Hideously disfigured Wastelanders stream into the city and strikes break out in the factory district.

Unwrapped Sky Cover ImageThe novel tells the stories of three people. The philosopher-assassin Kata has debts that need settling and will do anything to ensure they’re met. The ambitious bureaucrat Boris Autec rises through the ranks, turning his back on everything he once believed, and soon his private life turns to ashes. The idealistic seditionist Maximilian resolves to overturn the oppression dominating the city, and hatches a mad plot to unlock the secrets of the Great Library of Caeli Enas, drowned in the fabled city at the bottom of the sea. 

Unwrapped Sky is a novel of adventure and suspense, but also – I hope – a book that has something to say about oppression and liberation, progress and destruction, gender and class, love and betrayal.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

 Originally, I’m from Melbourne. At the moment, I’m splitting my time between Australia and Finland. As a child I spend a fair bit of time in Europe. I lived a few years in Paris. So I feel equally at home in Australia and in Europe, though I guess, in the end, Melbourne is my place. That’s where my friends and most of my family are. They become increasingly important as you get older, I find.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 For some time I used to say I wanted to be a scientist, and I did show some proficiency for it as a child. As a teenager I switched to writer, and though it’s been a long trek, that’s how I make my living now – for the moment at least.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

 There’s a story recently republished in the Time Traveller’s Almanac, called ‘Domine’, which I’m particularly proud of. It’s a ‘slow’ science fiction story, a character-driven story about a man whose father is on the first serious trip into space. Because of the laws of relativity (what’s called time dilation), the father returns to Earth younger than his son (thirty or so years pass for the son, but only one for the father). So for the son, the father is in some ways younger and older than he. I’m proud of that little Carver-esque story. Having said that, the world of Caeli-Amur is my most sustained creation. So the stories and the novel set there will probably be the way most think of me.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 At the moment, I’m writing standing. The laptop sits on a chair, which is itself set on a table. I’ve had some back and neck problems, so I must stand up nowadays. I quite like it, though my feet get sore sometimes. Gone is all the bohemian mess I was used to! But I do occasionally walk off to find reference books and cookies. Or just cookies.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 This year I’ve resolved to read more, though my tastes are varied. I’ve always thought it important to read outside one’s genre. You need to know what else is happening. Opening yourself up to many influences is one way of developing original work. On my list at the moment are: ancient history, quantum physics, Hilary Mantel, Jean-Paul Sartre and Scott Lynch. The only thing you’re unlikely to find is poetry, not because I don’t like it, but because I don’t know where to start.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 No doubt there were sundry fantasy novels, but I think the ones which really get you are ones you read at about nine or ten years old. For me, I think, there were novels of Henry Treece and Rosemary Sutcliff: books about Vikings and ancient Romans. The love of other worlds was with me already. I wanted to go back in time and see those places. I still do.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

 Maybe Tristan Smith, from Peter Carey’s strange and wonderful novel The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith. For those unaware, Tristan Smith is a young, four-foot man with a stutter, who spends much of the second half of the novel dressed in a mouse suit. I’d like to spend more of my time in a mouse suit. I’m ordering one over the internet now. Thanks for the idea.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 Books about hypnotism and the unconscious. In particular, hypnotist, spiritualist and magic shows of the nineteenth century fascinate me: that unusual combination of emerging science, performance and demonstration really fires the imagination. I’m going to include some of it in my third novel, a steampunk book set in Melbourne during the 1880s or 1890s.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

 Authentic Indian gets me every time. The deep, rich flavours, the meat which melts in your mouth, the heat. In terms of drinks, white spirits are nice. I once went to a bar in Russia where the vodka was free but you had to pay for the soft drinks. It wasn’t very good vodka, mind you.

Who is your hero? Why?:

 Most heroes are unseen and unheard: nurses, teachers, carers. But I admire Jean-Paul Sartre, who is an example of a writer who is engaged with the world. I’d like to write books that might do more than simply entertain. If you’re going to spend a year or so writing a book, it should be about something. Sartre’s ability to move between literary forms – theatre, essays, novels – is enviable, and he stood for something. That’s all too rare.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The digital revolution means that books – and films and television – are easily reproduced (with the click of a mouse. So it’s going to be hard to sell them in the future, especially as this current generation grows up. The result will be that the current structure of the industry won’t be able to support writers. Quality will go down: just look at paper journalism nowadays. In the short term, I can’t see a way around this, but we live in hope.

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2. Player Profile: Anna Jaquiery, author of The Lying Down Room

mjKPYQE-Anna Jaquiery, author of The Lying Down Room

Tell us about your latest creation:

It’s a crime novel set in France and the first in a series. The main character is a senior French detective at the Criminal Brigade in Paris. This book opens with an investigation into the murder of an elderly woman. Others will die. The main suspects are two evangelists, a man and a boy, who go door-to-door distributing religious pamphlets. I won’t give the rest away – I hope you’ll read the book!

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

There’s no simple answer to this. My father is Malaysian and my mother is half French, half Spanish. My father was a diplomat and we moved every three years or so. I went to French schools, but only lived in France once I’d turned 17 and enrolled in university. I love Southeast Asia and feel very comfortable there. New Zealand holds a special place in my heart and is possibly the place I would call home, if I had to choose. I spent many happy years there. It’s where I met my husband and where one of our two sons was born.

9781447244448When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Yes. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Nothing else.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

This is my first published novel. Hopefully, my best work is yet to come!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I’m not a particularly tidy person but my writing room is reasonably ordered. It’s probably the only room in our house that doesn’t have action figures or pieces of Lego lying around. It’s filled with books and photographs. There are books everywhere in our house, but my favourite books are in this room. I also have lots of photographs here of my two boys. I write next to a window that looks out onto the garden.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read everything. Lots of crime fiction – Ian Rankin, Denise Mina and Robert Wilson are among my favourites. I also love the books of Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lionel Shriver, Jonathan Franzen … I could go. Non-fiction authors I like include Patrick French, William Dalrymple, Orlando Figes and the BBC journalist John Simpson.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

My earliest memory of reading intensely dates back to when I was a teenager. I devoured books by Jane Austen, F. Scott. Fitzgerald, the Bronte sisters, Henry James, Thomas Hardy …. I remember reading the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell and being mesmerized.  Reading the Catcher in the Rye was a defining moment. The authors I come back to again and again are Graham Greene, Anton Chekhov and William Trevor.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

That’s a difficult one. Maybe Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo! Not for her asocial and introverted nature, but because of her strength of character. She takes charge of her own destiny. I see her as a moral character. She is a fantastic creation. I absolutely loved the Stieg Larsson trilogy.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 

I have two young boys and so family life is what takes up most of my spare time – no surprises there, I’m afraid. I recently went back to university, and I also work with an amazing group of people who provide support to refugee families here in Melbourne.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My favourite drink has to be red wine and my favourite foods tend to be Asian, be it Vietnamese, Thai or Indian. My parents live in Malaysia and I love going there for visits, because it means I get to eat all my favourite things.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I don’t really have one particular hero. But the people I admire are generally intellectually passionate and engaged with the world. At the moment I am reading a memoir by Penelope Lively called Ammonites & Leaping Fish, in which she reflects on her life. She is eighty and yet so full of life still, and intellectual curiosity. I admire people like Salman Rushdie and the late Christopher Hitchens for their brilliance and for having the courage to speak their mind, even at the risk of offending others.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

 The biggest challenge is keeping independent bookstores in business, and libraries open. So that our children and their children will continue to read and to understand the immense value of books – the many ways in which they enrich our minds, our lives and our communities.

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3. Children’s Book Trends | April 2014

This month's top ten hot spots on The Children's Book Review feature some great book giveaways; including our 6th anniversary Kindle giveaway. Amongst the familiar articles to feature in TCBR's top ten hot spots, the best selling young adult booklists from March and February have been perused by many.

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4. Book Spotlight: Panic by Lauren Oliver

HarperCollins.com | HarperCollinsChildrens.com | HarperTeen.com Copyright © 2014 HarperCollins Publishers. All Rights Reserved. HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022 ...

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5. Player Profile: Kathryn Fox, author of Fatal Impact

bf7c232487990ad8976f06.L._V192219222_SX200_Kathryn Fox, author of Fatal Impact

Tell us about your latest creation:

 It’s Anya Crichton’s latest adventure. This time she’s in Tasmania, visiting her increasingly erratic GP mother. Anya becomes involved in the death of a young girl and a fatal outbreak of food poisoning. Evidence of the source points to an organic farm, facing ruin. However, delving deeper, Anya discovers a world of corporate corruption, genetically modified foods, a murdered scientist and buried scientific research. Meanwhile, Anya questions her mother’s sanity. Then the stakes turn deadly…

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Suburban Sydney, the part most people forget exists. I’ve lived here for about twenty years now.

Fatal ImpactWhen you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 No. From the age of five I wanted to become a doctor and cure autism. I knew if I studied medicine, I could write in the future. I didn’t cure autism, but the writing worked out.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

 My children, definitely! In terms of books, I think Fatal Impact is my best and most ambitious story. Hopefully, an author learns and improves her craft with each book!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 I like order and peace, so I spend mornings writing at a quiet café without internet distraction. The staff is fantastic and know me pretty well after four books there. After that, I head to my home office and catch up on emails/speaking/plan workshops before another session of writing in the afternoon. I love order, but often the desk is messier than I’d like.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 Newspapers, blogs, biographies, and at the moment there are so many good YA books around, as well as crime. Anything but unsolved mysteries.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 I must have reread Pollyanna dozens of times because of the mix of characters. In high school, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood made me question whether or not evil actually existed. Loved Othello and learnt what I did not like – Sons and Lovers, for example! I also devoured everything I could on Helen Keller in a quest to better understand how a blind, deaf woman learnt to communicate and inspire the world.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

 Probably Pollyanna. It sounds trite, but I have so much to be grateful for. After seeing so much death and tragedy in medicine, suspect I suffered before my art. It’s easier now to find the positive – or learning potential – in most situations. You learn not use catastrophic language for non-catastrophic events and it helps see the world differently.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 Scrapbooking, struggling to learn the harp and piano (not at the same time!) and watching Days of Our Lives. Yes, that’s my guilty vice.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Anything flavoured Chocolate and orange. That’s food and drink!

Who is your hero? Why?:

John Lasseter, head of Pixar studios. He is the Walt Disney of our generation and a brilliant story teller, crusader and humanitarian. Who else could have given us Toy Story films and Monsters Inc? Then there’s UP and the list goes on! He was fired from Disney because the old animators believed computer animation would ever take off. His story is now history.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

 Keeping the public interested and aware of what’s new. Publishers need to adapt. Some were slow to accept ebooks, but they’re here to stay, and print books will never be completely replaced. I suspect on demand printing will become more common. Reading is living multiple lives in one lifetime, time travelling, relating to people from other worlds and cultures. As long as there are great stories, reading will thrive.

Charles Dickens serialised his books over a century ago, and the internet may mean authors do the same, leaching chapter by chapter in an insanely busy information age. Writers are already adapting with blogs and branding, so it will be interesting to see how books evolve.

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6. Guest Post from Tristan Bancks – Stuck in Head. Forget You Have Body

‘All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.’

Friedrich Nietzsche

A few years ago, on a stopover in Singapore, I had reflexology on the fourth floor of a haphazard shopping mall on Orchard Road. The man charged with the unfortunate task of reviving my crusty, travel-worn hooves asked, ‘What your job?’ I replied, ‘Writer.’ He clicked his tongue several times as he continued to punish my feet. I eventually asked why he was so disappointed by my occupation and he said, ‘Tch,’ again. ‘Stuck in head. Forget you have body.’

I wasn’t overjoyed with this, but the feet don’t lie. Indeed, much of the time, I am stuck in head, forget I have body. I think it was Jerry Seinfeld who said that he looks at his body exclusively as a vehicle for transporting his head around and, once upon a time, I agreed but, apparently, this approach is a killer. Australia’s recently released Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines link inactivity with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity. Not great news for writers. (Especially the bit about doing 300 minutes of physical activity each week.)

Ernest Hemingway, famously, wrote standing up. So, too, did Lewis Carroll, Nabokov and Thomas Wolfe (although he died at age 37. Sadly, standing up is not a cure for tuberculosis.) And, since that fateful reflexology session I have tried to inject more activity into my writing process.

Most of my latest book Two Wolves was written outdoors. It’s a crime-mystery story about two kids who are kidnapped by their own parents and taken out on the run to a woodsy cabin. Connection with Nature was an important part of the story and over the five years of writing the book I spent many weeks on the beach in Byron, jotting Notes on my iPhone or capturing ideas in Voice Memo. Something about being grounded, shoes off, breeze on skin, with the white-noise roar of the ocean, allowed the words to flow more freely and honestly. In the space of four hours I could write 2500 words – far more productive than my indoor, desk-bound efforts. And writing on the beach has the added advantage of not feeling like real work. An iPhone Note doesn’t look like an ‘official’ manuscript page, which relaxes the inner critic and allows you to get on with the business of sketching a draft (while simultaneously staving off cancer, obesity and depression, it seems.)

Like many writers, I still sit for too long most days, I still get trapped on the Web, but I believe in the mental, creative and physical benefits of activity, whether it’s beach-walking or yoga, a treadmill desk or simply setting an alarm every hour as a reminder to stand up and walk to the fridge. I like to think that my best work is ahead of me and it would be nice to be alive in order to write it.

As I type these words I’m in a restaurant with durian fruit, bananas and chickens hanging all around. I’m on another short stop in Singapore, and I have a good mind to track down that smarmy reflexologist guy with the clicking tongue, and thank him for potentially adding years to my life.

Tristan Bancks is a childrens and young adult author. Two Wolves is released in March 2014 by Random House Australia. www.tristanbancks.com

9780857982032

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7. Player Profile: Jaclyn Moriarty, author of The Cracks in the Kingdom

moriartyjaclyn02Jaclyn Moriarty, author of The Cracks in the Kingdom

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Cracks in the Kingdom is the second book in ‘the Colours of Madeleine’ trilogy.  The Royal Family of the Kingdom of Cello are trapped in our world.  Madeleine, who lives in Cambridge, England has been exchanging letters with Elliot who comes from a farming town in the Kingdom of Cello, through a crack in a parking meter.  Now Madeleine and Elliot must work together to locate the Royal Family, figure out how to open up the crack, and bring the Royals home.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in the north-west of Sydney, spent a few years living in the US, the UK and Canada, and now I’m back in Sydney.  I live close to the harbour and beaches. I like being near water.  When I lived in Montreal, I kept looking for the coast.

9781742612874When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an author from when I was about six.  I also wanted to be an astronomer, an astronaut, a flight attendant, a teacher, a psychologist, and a movie star.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I always have trouble with this question.  I think it’s a bit like being asked to choose your favourite child.  And what if I chose one, and then one of the other books happened to see my answer here?  How hurt would he/she be?  I’d have to pay for therapy for him/her for years.

I like all my books for different reasons eg Feeling Sorry for Celia, for being my first book and having a lot of me in it; Finding Cassie Crazy (or The Year of Secret Assignments) because I love the characters; Bindy Mackenzie, because I feel protective of Bindy because everybody hates her, and so on.  I’m proud of A Corner of White and The Cracks in the Kingdom because I spent years imagining the Kingdom of Cello, months researching colours, science, and music, and they are closest to what I want to write.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Most mornings I work at one of the outside tables of a local cafe.  So my writing environment is noisy, sunny (or rainy, cloudy, stormy etc) and cluttered (there is nowhere to put my tea because the table is always covered in notes, textas and pens).  In the afternoon I work at my desk in my study.  It’s always important to me to clear the desk completely and tidy up the room before I begin writing.  That’s probably just procrastination.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read a lot of children’s and YA books.  Some of my favourites are Diana Wynne Jones, Louis Sachar, Libba Bray, Frank Cottrell Boyce, David Levithan, Rachel Cohn, E.L. Konigsburg.  Some of my favourite writers for adults include Lorrie Moore, Lisa Moore, Virginia Woolf, P.G. Wodehouse, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Carol Shields, Alice Munro, Barbara Kingsolver, Karen Joy Fowler.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

In primary school, the defining books were E. Nesbit’s The Phoenix and the Carpet, Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger and James and the Giant Peach, Madeleine L’Engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time,  Enid Blyton’s, The Folk of the Faraway Tree.  I could go on for a long time.

In high school, it was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Virigina Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. 

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I always imagine I am Elizabeth Bennett, but I think a lot of people imagine that about themselves.  I grew up identifying with Clover, the second sister in What Katy Did.  Like me, she was a second sister with a charismatic older sister she adored, and she was quiet but sometimes funny.  And I was very taken with her name.

Also Eva Ibbotson wrote some great historical romances with heroines who were quite ordinary-looking but whose faces scrunched up when they smiled, and who therefore caught the attention of the sexy male hero.  I’m pretty sure my ordinary face scrunches up when I smile.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I have a seven-year-old son named Charlie so mostly I spend my spare time trying to get him to do his homework, or trying to get him to stop throwing balls around the apartment. (‘There’s quite a lot of thudding up there,’ the man who lives downstairs said to me the other day.)  I’m also addicted to baking cakes (especially anything with ginger and cinnamon), and I am learning the cello, and, if there was a frozen lake anywhere, I would like to skate on it.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Favourite foods include chocolate, blueberries and fine-quality peach; favourite drink, champagne or hot chocolate.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My hero is my mother because she raised six children, took care of over 50 foster children, and made every single child feel special.  She seems like a gentle, quiet person but actually has a wide streak of stubborn strength and a wicked sense of humour. My dad is also very impressive to me because he built up a big successful surveying business out of nothing, learned how to fly planes and helicopters, and he can fix things.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The fragmentation of the concentration span.  Nobody wants to read more than two or three lines any more.

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8. Children’s Books Trending & Book News Hot Spots | March 2014

This month's top ten hot spots showcase our awesome selection of book giveaways up for grabs; including two amazing classics: The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Velveteen Rabbit. Amongst the familiar articles to feature in TCBR's top ten hot spots, the Newbery Medal book and the Alex Awards (10 best adult books for teens) are still trending … rightly so!

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9. The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: The Mystical Nature Diary of Opal Whiteley

The nature diaries of Opal Whiteley are amazing for their magical, wide-eyed descriptions of forest and farm life. Raised on a Willamette Valley settlement in the early 20th century, Whiteley claimed to write this diary on scraps of paper at the age of six. Though her claims were disputed both in her lifetime and after, [...]

0 Comments on The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: The Mystical Nature Diary of Opal Whiteley as of 1/1/1900
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10. First Novel Award: The Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

This annual award was created in 2006 to honor the best first novel of the year and carries with it a $10,000 prize. Each shortlisted author will receive $1,000. The shortlist for the award will be announced in September 2014 and the prize will be given at The Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner held in December this year.

2014 Submission Guidelines

Any U.S. publisher may enter books that will be published between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. We prefer that these be submitted as finished copies, if available. Bound galleys and bound, edited manuscripts are also acceptable. There is an entry fee of $50/title. You may pay online and apply with this entry form, or you may send the entry form and fee directly to:

The Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
The Center for Fiction
17 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017

Small independent publishers may apply for a fee reduction; please contact us at:

saraATcenterforfictionDOTorg (Change AT to @ and DOT to .) or call 212-755-6710 for more information.

All entry forms and books must be postmarked no later than March 14, 2014. Entry forms and books may be sent separately. The Center for Fiction must receive eight copies of each book, bound galley, or bound, edited manuscript.

Publishers are urged not to hold submissions until the last possible date, but to send books, bound galleys, or bound, edited manuscripts AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. Our reading process begins immediately upon receipt.

ELIGIBILITY

Only first-time novelists who are American citizens or permanent residents are eligible for this award.

Only full-length first novels written in English are eligible. Novellas, collections of short stories, whether related or unrelated, and YA novels are NOT eligible.

Novels in ALL genres are welcome.

Only books published for the first time in the United States between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 are eligible.

Books previously published elsewhere are NOT eligible.

Self-published books and eBook-only editions are NOT eligible.

There is no limit on the number of books entered by each publisher, provided each submission complies with the rules as above.

In the event of a dispute as to eligibility, The Center for Fiction will decide whether a book is eligible, and its decision will be binding.

Any books entered for the Awards process by the publishers that are subsequently determined to be ineligible, will still be subject to the stated entry fee of $50 per title.

The panel also may request titles that have not been submitted by publishers. Publishers are then asked by the Center to submit these titles for consideration and the entry fee will be waived.

SELECTION PROCESS

The selection of the shortlist and winning novel is determined through a two-tiered process. The Center’s network of booklovers, which includes writers, librarians, and staff, will act as first-tier readers. The long list recommended by these readers is then forwarded to a committee of distinguished American writers. From those recommended novels, our panel of judges chooses the shortlist and the winner. (Our judges in 2013 were Victor LaValle, Roxana Robinson, Christine Schutt, Luis Alberto Urrea, and the previous year's winner, Ben Fountain.)

ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS OF THE AWARDS

Publishers of the winning and shortlisted books must agree:

A. To indicate that the book is a finalist or winner of the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize by including the award medallion or approved text on future editions.

B. To inform authors of entered books that if chosen for the shortlist they must be present at the Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City and The First Novel Fête, both held in December. Travel and accommodations for each shortlisted author will not be covered by The Center for Fiction.

C. To inform authors that, if shortlisted, they must agree to participate in the Center’s related publicity, including a finalist reading (The First Novel Fête), at The Center for Fiction, just prior to the Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner. The shortlisted authors agree that their readings may be used in audio and/or video formats on The Center for Fiction’s website.

D. All shortlisted writers agree to be interviewed for the Center’s website in audio and/or print formats. The shortlisted writers also agree that the interview may be used in an anthology of first novel finalist interviews.

E. The recipient of the Award must agree to allow his/her acceptance speech to be published in print, audio or video formats by The Center for Fiction on its website, and to be published in the Center newsletter and in a future anthology of first novelists’ interviews.- See more at our website.

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11. 5Q Interview with Marion von Adlerstein

marion-von-adlersteinMarion von Adlerstein worked as an advertising copywriter in Melbourne, London and New York in the fifties and sixties. Between 1976 and 1998 she held several posts with Vogue Australia publications, including Travel Director. During those years Marion wrote about many subjects, including fashion, beauty and interiors. She is the author of The Passionate Shopper, The Penguin Book of Etiquette and The Freudian Slip.

1. Can you remember the first story you ever wrote and, if so, what was it?

I was in my early twenties, newly married. The story was entitled Aren’t they Sweet? and it was about the difference between how a relationship seemed and how it really was. I sent it to The Ladies Home Journal in America and I can’t remember ever having received a reply.

97807336293962. How many novels did you write before your ‘first novel’ was published?

Only one completed manuscript. It was turned down by the publisher with the words, ‘Marion should stick to non-fiction.’ Fortunately for me, I ignored the advice.

 3. What sorts of books do you love to read?

For the past several years, I’ve been stimulated by the fiction of contemporary North American writers: Deborah Eisenberg, Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon, Paula Fox, Alice Munro, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, William H Gass (Middle C is wonderful, but I had to give up The Tunnel, his hefty, famous and grubby endurance test, after the first 500 pages.) I can’t write the kinds of books they have written which may be why I’m attracted to them.

But I also love: the mournful works of W.G. Sebald; Amanda Mackenzie Stuart’s biographies of Diana Vreeland and Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt; Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes.

 97807336317884. If you were forced to co-write a novel with someone (as we’re not presuming that you’d want to co-write with anyone necessarily) who would it be?

I couldn’t imagine collaborating with anyone. I must be too possessive of my words. I don’t show anyone my work until I consider it finished.

 5. What are you working on now and next?

A few disparate ideas are scrambling about in my head. I find that I have to lie fallow for a while after my latest novel has been published until I’m so bored with uneventfulness I have to start living in my imagination again.

 

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12. Random Notes...

Though I've been, as I mentioned, completely snowed under (TOTALLY metaphorical, as I live in California, for which nobody on the other side of the country is going to feel sorry for me AT ALL) with work, I did run across a couple of interesting... Read the rest of this post

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13. Player Profile: Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar For Life

wilsonsarah01Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar For Life

Tell us about your latest creation:

I see this as a follow-up book to help make cooking, eating and our health more elegant and joyous. A framework for simple, no-brainer health that supports sugar-free living. Which is what we’re after, no?

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I’m from Canberra, or the outskirts of… but these days Sydney is home.

9781742613734When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

When I was seven I told mum I’d be the first female prime minister of Australia. I studied law and politics with that ambitious vague aim in mind, but soon realised i wanted to do something that could actually impact the world. My writing career very much evolved in an organic way, as did the I Quit Sugar journey. I never sat with a whiteboard to map out my career, I’ve stumbled from one step to the next.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Setting up IQuitSugar.com where I’ve been able to employ eleven incredibly talented and passionate people and provide a livelihood for them and their families.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Definitely chaotic and changeable! I write my best on planes, in airport lounges and in doctors waiting rooms. Which is fortunate given that my lifestyle doesn’t allow for very much writing time anymore. I’m always envious of writers who talk about having a specific, beautifully laid out spot where they write each day. But my personality adjusts well to chaos, and I’m quite possibly more creative on the fly.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Evolutionary biology texts, and memoirs about physical adventure treks.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Heidi, by Johanna Spyri. My only memory of it is the description of the smell of the goats, and the goats milk in the mornings. It’s still in my nostrils to this day.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Winnie The Pooh

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Bush walking. You can follow my adventures on Instagram (check out the hashtag #bushexcursion). And eating. I spend a lot of time cooking and thinking about food!

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Drink – at the moment its a natural pinot noir from Harkhams wines.. I’m not generally a fan of pinot noir, but this one is an exeption. Food – it’d have to be something involving pork. Roast pork with sweet potato would have to be up there!

Who is your hero? Why?:

Victor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. His capacity for clarity and forgiveness and understanding of the human spirit shortly after being imprisoned in a concentration camp is truly beautiful.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I think it’s a positive one – to embrace people’s hankering to get away from their digital lives and back to “old school” engagement.

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14. Alice Hoffman: Cover Designer

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled Alice Hoffman and focused on the input she has on the covers of her books. We live in a society that certainly does judge books by their covers and the art of cover design is one that is highly scrutinized from all angles (sales, design, art, appeal). Authors typically do not have a say in the covers of their books. Oftentimes they are sent a cover (possibly a few versions if they are lucky) and are told this is how their book will look. According to Nan Graham, senior vice president and publisher at Scribner, “Never in the history of the world does the author come up with the perfect cover, and certainly not the day you get the manuscript.”

In 2010, when Hoffman sent her editor the draft for her historical novel, “The Dovekeepers,” set during the siege of Masada in ancient Israel, she included a photograph by Joyce Tenneson she found while writing the book. The image, of a long-haired woman with a white bird on each shoulder, became the novel’s cover.

This week, Ms. Hoffman’s newest novel, “The Museum of Extraordinary Things,” was published with another cover she proposed. The glowing image is of a creature that appears part-fish, part-fairy, with a long tail, wings and the suggestion of a human torso. Ms. Hoffman found it in a coffee-table book while browsing a New York bookstore. “As soon as I saw it, I thought, this is the photograph I always wished I’d taken,” said Ms. Hoffman, who submitted it along with her draft. (via Wall Street Journal)

Summary of THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS

Mesmerizing and illuminating, Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things is the story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century.

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding.

 

What are your thoughts on book cover design? Do they impact your decisions? Do they play into your overall perception of a book?

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15. Book Competition: Waxing Press, the Tide Lock Prize

Waxing Press announces its inaugural contest for works of fiction, the Tide Lock Prize. We are seeking new work in the form of a novel, novella or collection of short stories. A single prizewinner will be selected and awarded with publication in both print and digital editions. There is a modest $5 entry fee.

Submissions are due February 1st, 2014.

For more information and guidelines, please visit our website or our submissions page. We are also on Facebook and on Twitter.

About the press:
Based out of Cincinnati, OH, Waxing Press is an independent small book publisher. We prize, above all else, literary excellence and work that pushes the bounds of what fiction does, what fiction can do and what fiction should do. Writing that is deeply intellectual. Work with big ideas, and navigates risk and experimentation with a masterful hand.

All other inquiries can be directed to us at:

info[AT]waxingpress(DOT)com (Change [AT] to @ and (DOT) to .)

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16. Call for Book Submissions: 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Award

THE 2014 ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARD

SMALL PRESSES * ACADEMIC PRESSES * MICRO PRESSES * SELF-PUBLISHERS -- $2,000 GRAND PRIZE -- LOW ENTRANCE FEE ($50) All books accepted. 

The Eric Hoffer Book Award recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Prizes awarded by genre, press, the Montaigne Medal, the da Vince Eye, the First Horizon Award, and the Hoffer grand prize. (See submission guidelines below, in Writer’s Market, or by visiting HofferAward.com.) E-books also accepted.

A single registration qualifies you for:
* $2,000 grand prize (the Eric Hoffer Award for Books)
* Winner of the Montaigne Medal for most thought-provoking books
* Winner of the da Vinci Eye for best covers
* Winner of the First Horizon Award for debut authors
* Winner and First Runner-Up in your selected category
* Honorable Mentions for your selected category
* Individual Awards for Micro, Small, and Academic Presses, as well as Self-Published Books
* Legacy categories for any book older than two years (fiction and nonfiction)
* Award coverage in the US Review of Books and on the Hoffer Award website
* Gold Seal Certificates
* Worldwide Exposure Categories include Art, Poetry, General Fiction, Commercial Fiction, Children, Young Adult, Culture, Memoir, Business, Reference, Home, Health, Self-Help/Spiritual, Legacy Fiction, Legacy Nonfiction, E-book Fiction, and E-book Nonfiction. (There is a category for every book.)

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES (entry deadline January 21st, 2014):
Awards are open to academic, independent, small press, and self-published books that were released or copyrighted in the last 2 years, including unique books with small print runs. (Books over 2 years enter the Legacy Fiction or Legacy Nonfiction category.) One grand prize will be awarded for the entire contest. In addition, each category will be awarded a winner, runner-up, and multiple honorable mentions. Books must be registered by category and then are automatically considered for Individual Press Awards, the Montaigne Medal, the da Vinci Eye, and the Hoffer Grand Prize.

For each entry, submit the book, entry form, and $50 fee (check, money order, or Internet payment receipt) to:

Hopewell Publications, LLC
PO Box 11
Titusville, NJ 08560

Be certain to specify award category and press type. Registration will be confirmed via e-mail. In May, all entrants will be notified of winners. Submissions must be postmarked by January 21, 2014.

ENTRY FORM on our website. (submit one entry form per book). Click on the “Nominate” link.

AWARD CATEGORIES (select one per entry application):
* ART: titles involving the experience, execution, or demonstration of the arts, including art, fine art, graphic art, architecture, performing arts, design, photography, coffee table books, and poetry.
* POETRY: Titles with poetry or highly stylized prose.
* GENERAL FICTION: non-genre specific fiction, including literary, short story collections, and mainstream.
 * COMMERCIAL FICTION: genre specific fiction, including mystery, thriller, suspense, science fiction, religion, romance, and horror.
* CHILDREN: titles for young children, including stories and picture books.
* YOUNG ADULT: titles aimed at the juvenile and teen markets.
* CULTURE: titles demonstrating the human or world experience, including multicultural, essay, women’s issues, sexuality, gay, lesbian, memoir, aging, travel, sports, true crime, and current events.
* MEMOIR: titles capturing specific personal experience.
* BUSINESS: titles with application to today’s business environment and emerging trends, including general business, career, computer, and Internet.
* REFERENCE: titles from traditional and emerging reference areas, including history, psychology, biography, science, philosophy, education, sports, recreation, training, travel, and how-to. * HOME: titles with practical application to home or home-related issues, including general home, gardening, cooking, parenting, family, interior design, animals, and pets.
* HEALTH: titles promoting physical, mental, and emotional well-being, including psychology, fitness, and sex.
* SELF-HELP: titles involving traditional and emerging self-help subjects.
* SPIRITUAL: titles involving the mind and spirit, including religion, metaphysical, and mystical. * LEGACY FICTION: all fiction titles over two years of age. (Unlike major trade organizations, we think good books last more than a single season.)
* LEGACY NONFICTION: all nonfiction titles over two years of age. (Unlike major trade organizations, we think good books last more than a single season.)
* E-BOOK FICTION: any fiction titles published in e-book format.
* E-BOOK NONFICTION: any nonfiction titles published in e-book format.

INDIVIDUAL PRESS AWARDS (select only one): In addition to the above category awards, books will be singled out for additional awards in the micro press, small press, academic press, as well as self-published arenas. Please check one of the following types on the application.
* SELF-PUBLISHED – title financed by author or not by the publisher (regardless of press size).
* MICRO PRESS – title from a press producing 24 books or less per year.
* SMALL PRESS – title from a press producing 25 books or more per year.
* ACADEMIC PRESS – title from a press with an academic or library affiliation.

ADDITIONAL AWARD DISTINCTIONS: All registered titles will automatically be considered for the following:
* MONTAIGNE MEDAL – most thought provoking book(s).
* DA VINCI EYE – books with superior cover art.
* FIRST HORIZON AWARD ¬– superior books by debut authors.

If you don’t see your category or cannot determine your press designation, please e-mail us with a description and our staff will guide you. A great book will supersede any category designation. QUESTIONS: Visit our website.

Email:

infoAThofferawardDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

Fax: (609) 964-1718

The Eric Hoffer Awards
PO Box 11
Titusville, NJ 08560

Please be patient, we receive many inquiries this time of year. We will help you.

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17. Fiction Competition: Waxing Press


Waxing Press announces its inaugural contest for works of fiction, the Tide Lock Prize. We are seeking new work in the form of a novel, novella or collection of short stories. A single prizewinner will be selected and awarded with publication in both print and digital editions. There is a modest $5 entry fee.

Submissions are due February 1st, 2014.

For more information and guidelines, please visit us at our website or our submissions page.

We are also on Facebook and on Twitter.

About the press:
Based out of Cincinnati, OH, Waxing Press is an independent small book publisher. We prize, above all else, literary excellence and work that pushes the bounds of what fiction does, what fiction can do and what fiction should do. Writing that is deeply intellectual. Work with big ideas, and navigates risk and experimentation with a masterful hand.

All other inquiries can be directed to us at:
 
info[AT]waxingpress(DOT)com (Change [AT] to @ and (DOT) to .)

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18. Poetry Book Competitions: Trio House Press


Trio House Press gives two awards annually: the Trio Award for First or Second Book for emerging poets, and the Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence for a book of poems contributing in an innovative and distinct way to American poetry. The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence is open to all poets, regardless of publication history. Each award winner receives $1000 and twenty copies of his or her book. Additionally, each winner must serve as a Collective Member of Trio House Press for twenty-four months after publication in order to assist with the press and bringing more Trio books into print. 
 
Our reading period for both awards is November 1st through April 30th. Manuscripts received outside of this reading period will not be considered. Our submissions fee is $25 per manuscript for all award reading periods.
We are an environmentally conscious press and only accept manuscripts through our online submissions manager on our web page.
Carol Frost is the 2014 judge for the Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence and Peter Campion is the 2014 judge for the Trio Award for First of Second Book of poems. For their bio information and to submit, visit our website.

Guidelines for Trio House Submissions

· The Trio Award for First or Second Book is only open to poets with less than two books published.
· The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence is open to ALL poets, regardless of publication history.
· Manuscripts must be between 48-70 pages, written in English by a poet residing within the U.S.
· Translations are not eligible for publication.
· Manuscripts must be sent in a single word doc. or docx. file.
· Include a cover letter with your bio as the first page of your file.
· Include an acknowledgement page of individual poems published. The manuscript as a whole must not be previously published.
· Include two cover pages, one with the title of your manuscript and your name and contact information, and one with only the title of your manuscript. Your name or other identifying materials must not appear anywhere else upon your manuscript.
· Payment of $25 is required for all submissions during our award submissions period.
· Multiple award submissions are accepted as long as a $25 fee accompanies each award submission.
· Simultaneous submissions are accepted as long as we are notified immediately if your manuscript is chosen elsewhere.
· Relatives and current or former students of the judge are not eligible for awards or publication during our contest submissions period.
· No edits can be made to manuscripts after you submit your manuscript. However, if chosen for award or publication, edits can be made prior to final proofs.

· All award winners and poets published must serve as a Collective Member of Trio House Press for twenty-four months after publication. They must assist with the press and bringing more Trio books into print. They must work on the Production and Design Committee, the Distribution and Sales Committee, the Educational Development Committee, or the Fundraising and Marketing Committee.

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19. Player Profile: Eleanor Learmonth, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

OFFICAL HEADSHOT Eleanor CompressedEleanor Learmonth, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

 Tell us about your latest creation:

“No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality” considers the fate of stranded, isolated groups from 134 BC to 2010 AD. What causes these small groups trapped in hostile and remote locations to turn on each other with catastrophic results? No Mercy outlines the physical and psychological changes that affect stranded disaster victims, and compares them to the rapid social implosion imagined in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. Does reality support his dark, dystopian vision of an isolated micro-community? If anything, these historical groups descend deeper than even Golding pictured.

9781922147240Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Sydney, lived in Japan for a decade, then returned to my birthplace to have a family (just like a salmon).

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Either a psychologist or a writer.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I have to say “No Mercy” for the simple reason that the subject matter is so intriguing. The dark side of human nature is a creepy place to explore, but I find the permutations of a malfunctioning group to be endlessly fascinating. How thin is our layer of social conditioning? Paper thin. What lies beneath? Instinct, aggression and a sharp-focused will for self-preservation.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

It’s a disgrace! My desk has paper everywhere and I have an almost fatal addiction to post-its. My worst nightmare? Hard-drive meltdown. The ideal workday is to have a head full of ideas and spend the entire day glued to the keyboard in my pyjamas and ugg boots. I also find swearing a lot very conducive to the creative process.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Old historical journals, the New Yorker and the International Herald Tribune. (Also the occasional novel).

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Narnia books, anything on archaeology, history or fish, “Catch 22″, and “Lord of the Flies”.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

My family says Lady Macbeth (Way Harsh!), but I think Beowulf. He never took ‘no’ for an answer, and never ran away from a fight.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I like to snorkel – most of all with sharks, turtles or any members of the squid/octopus/cuttlefish family.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My dream dinner would be top quality sushi – sitting at the counter with the chef making me a perfect pair of uni (sea-urchin roe) sushi. I’m also very partial to a Cherry Ripe, as long as I don’t have to share it! My all-time favourite tipple would be a generous Moscow Mule made with freshly grated ginger, and garnished with a lychee.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Captain Thomas Musgrave, who kept himself and his men alive through the worst possible circumstances on a miserable sub-Antarctic island for 19 months following a shipwreck, and then facilitated the rescue of the entire group at great risk to his own life. He is an unsung hero, but they are the best kind.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

It might be adapting to the digital age, and stopping the kind of piracy that has gutted the music industry.

Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/EKLearmonth

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20. WIN a Donna Tartt, signed and numbered, collectors edition boxed set of The Secret History & The Little Friend worth $350

goldfinch_preorder_banner

9781408704950Donna Tartt is a true enigma. She is a phenomenal bestseller with a cult following. There isn’t very much known about her but you wouldn’t call her a reclusive author either. The Goldfinch is her third novel in twenty years, a decade gap between each book. All of them worth the wait.

And the wait is almost over. The Goldfinch will be released on October 23rd and we have a very special, exclusive prize to giveaway.

9781408802922Pre-order The Goldfinch before October 23 and go into the draw to win a signed and numbered collectors edition boxed set of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History & The Little Friend worth $350.

This is a must for any Donna Tartt Fan.

Pre-order The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt…

Also available in hardback and a special limited deluxe edition

Here’s the blurb..

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.

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21. Scary New Releases: KILLER OF ENEMIES and THE MONSTER IN THE MUDBALL!

Just in time for Halloween, we’re excited to announce the release of two new novels from our science fiction and fantasy imprint, Tu BooksKiller of Enemies, a post-apocalyptic retelling of an Apache monster slayer legend by award-winning Native American author Joseph Bruchac, and The Monster in the Mudball, a hilarious supernatural mystery set in England.

Killer of Enemies coverIn Killer of Enemies, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen hunts monsters to ensure the protection of her family from the Ones, maniacal warlords who rule in a post-apocalyptic Southwest. Fate has given Lozen a unique set of survival skills and magical abilities. Soon she realizes that with every monster she takes down, Lozen’s powers grow, and she connects those powers to an ancient legend of her people. It soon becomes clear to Lozen that she is not just a hired gun. As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.

Monster in the Mudball cover

In this Junior Library Guild selection, eleven-year-old Jin must run around the English town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne trying to track down a monster named Zilombo. Jin teams up with Chief Inspector of Ancient Artifacts A. J. Zauyamakanda, or Mizz Z, for short. Zilombo gains new, frightening powers every time she hatches. Now the monster is cleverer than ever before . . . and it appears that Jin’s baby brother has disappeared! Will Jin’s baby brother be next on Zilombo’s menu? As the monster’s powers continue to grow, Jin and Mizz Z must find a way to outsmart Zilombo!

Happy birthday to both titles! We can’t wait to hear what you think of them!

*Today marks the release of the hardcover versions of both titles. E-book versions are also available.


Filed under: Book News, New Release, Tu Books Tagged: Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies, middle grade, New Release, S.P. Gates, the monster in the mudball, Tu Books, YA, young adult

1 Comments on Scary New Releases: KILLER OF ENEMIES and THE MONSTER IN THE MUDBALL!, last added: 9/19/2013
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22. A masterwork by one of Australia’s best writers

Review- The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

9781741666700Richard Flanagan has been working on this novel for over 12 years, writing other novels in between. He’d gone through countless drafts, reworked the story, started completely over. The reason it troubled him so much was because central to the story are the Australian POWs who worked on the Thai-Burma death railway. An experience shared by his father. He didn’t just want to get the story right, he had to get the story right. And I believe, deep down in my guts, in my heart and with every fibre of my being that he has got the story right.

Richard Flanagan has written a tragic love story, a deconstruction of heroism and mateship, and captured a side of humanity I’ve never read before. Wars, according to our history books, have beginnings and ends but for those who take part in wars, who are swept up in it’s maelstrom, there is no beginning or end. There is only life. And the damage war causes must be endured by those lucky or unlucky enough to survive it.

Dorrigo Evans is a Weary Dunlop type character. Revered by his fellow soldiers/prisoners and mythologized by his country’s media, politicians and people. But Dorrigo’s experience of War and being a POW doesn’t equate to the image his men needed during their imprisonment nor the one thrust upon him later. He battled his role in the POW camp and tried to hide from the one at home. At the expense of family, friends and love. It is not that these images are based on lies, they just don’t ring true to himself. And after surviving the horror of internment he can no longer make sense of the emotions of the life he must now grapple with.

Flanagan structures this novel uniquely. I think he was trying to base his story on a Japanese style but am not 100% sure. We start with Dorrigo’s early years growing up in rural Tasmania and his journey to becoming a surgeon but in between we start to get snippets of his time in the POW camp. We jump to Dorrigo’s later years before jumping back to his time just before the war and an affair that will change Dorrigo irrevocably. When we get to his time at the POW camp the story is contracted around one day, one 24 hour period, but it doesn’t feel like just one day, it feels like many lifetimes. We barely follow Dorrigo through this day as we have already glimpsed bits and pieces and will re-live yet more. Instead we get everyone else’s story. The other prisoners, the guards, the Japanese officers in charge. Flanagan clearly shows us each characters’ motivations, desires, inner turmoil and demons. As the day unfolds we experience the terror, the devastation, the depredation, the hope, the loyalty, the betrayal, the choices of life on the Thai-Burma death railway.

But Flanagan’s novel is not just about what happened on the death railway but also what happened after. How it was explained and justified. How it was hidden and run away from. How justice can be escaped but is also used as revenge. And how it never really ended for anyone involved.

We often talk about the Anzac spirit in Australia but we rarely confront it. War is never altruistic, no matter which side you are on. Survival brings out the best and worst in people as does victory, as does love. Flanagan explores this warts and all. Dorrigo is not a hero, nor is he a bad man, father, husband. He is all of theses things and he is neither. This is a masterwork by one of Australia’s best writers.

Buy the book here…

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23. Player Profile: Walter Mason, author of Destination Cambodia

NSWWC_Kosal and WalterWalter Mason, author of Destination Cambodia

Tell us about your latest creation:

“Destination Cambodia” An affectionate journey through one of Asia’s most fascinating destinations.

Destination CambodiaWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in a country town in North Queensland, but these days I live in Cabramatta in Sydney’s Southwest.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I remember when I was 8 my mother was reading through my Composition Book (remember them?) and she said, “You know what? You write really well. I think you might become a writer.” My grandfather (whose name I inherited) was a keen self-publisher, writing local histories that actually sold quite well. I recently had a sweet email from a man asking me if I was the Walter Mason who wrote books and who he went to school with in 1932. I had to let him down.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My office is tiny, and jammed full of books, I have worked with books all of my life (I have been a bookseller, distributor, marketer and academic)and I have thousands of volumes to show for it. I have an enormous pile above my computer of books that are maked up and that I have to do something with urgently. The one at the bottom of the pile has been there since 2010.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love E F Benson and Nancy Mitford. I read something by them every year, over and over again. Perfectly crafted comic novels – you have to be really sharp to pull them off, and Benson and Mitford were the best. I like books about ideas and marketing. I am a Seth Godin groupie. I take copious notes. And then
ignore them.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

In order of reading:

“Mr. Galliano’s Circus” by Enid Blyton (I blame this for my love of the limelight)

“The Shark in Charlie’s Window” by Keo Felker Lazarus (a forgotten 70s classic)

“I Own the Racecourse” by Patricia Wrightson (probably the first book I read that was really morally complex)

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Hmmm….Father Brown from Chesterton’s mystery stories because I am portly, religious and always wondering why things happen. On a less kind day Ignatius J. Reilly from “A Confederacy of Dunces,” – that portly thing again, plus I have delusions of grandeur. I always imagine I am A J A Symons, the genius who wrote “The Quest for Corvo.” I don’t think he was portly. I wish I was Edith Sitwell or Elinor Glyn – they had style. So did Ouida.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I meditate, I pray at my local Buddhist temple, I eat (a lot).

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My all-time favourite dish is probably kimchi jigae – a hot and delicous Korean stew. I have that once a week. Drink wise I can never refuse a Long Island Iced Tea.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Oscar Wilde – style, substance and outrageousness. He lived life and made it all worthwhile. I try to ignore the tragic end. I am also a Boy George groupie – have been since I was 12. I love that man!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The lack of imagination in the industry. Publishers have been too slow to respond to changes in the market and they still operate, more or less, according to models established in the early part of the 20th century.

Website URL: www.waltermason.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/waltermasonauthor
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/walterm

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24. Are You Ready to Write Your Way Out of Your 9-5 Job–And Into the Career of Your Dreams?

Writing Your Way Out - High ResolutionI am so excited to announce that my new e-book Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love is officially launched and available for sale–and through Monday, you can get all the goodness for just $1.50!

I won’t post a big description here because it’s all on the e-book web page. Read all about what you’ll get for your buck-fifty, including 175 pages of goodness and free downloads from thought leaders in the field.

Grab a copy of Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love today, and if you like it I hope you’ll leave a review on Amazon!

Also, if you know anyone who is in a job they don’t love, please send them to the e-book website: http://www.therenegadewriter.com/write-your-way/. Thanks much, and here’s to starting a leaving-the-rat-race revolution!

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25. Book Competition: New Rivers Press MVP Competition


New Rivers Press MVP Competition
Deadline: November 1, 2013
Entry Fee: $25
Website

E-mail address: 
 
davisaATmnstateDOTedu (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)
 
 
Two prizes of $1,000 each are given annually for book-length manuscripts of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by emerging writers. The winning works are published by New Rivers Press and distributed nationally through Consortium. 
 
Submit a poetry manuscript of 50 to 80 pages; a collection of short stories, novellas, or personal essays of 100 to 200 pages; or a novel or memoir of up to 400 pages with a $25 entry fee between September 15 and November 1. Visit the website for complete guidelines. Submissions accepted either as hard copies or via Submittable.

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