Harper Voyager Submission Update for February

It’s been a little over a month since Harper Voyager posted their last update for digital submissions, so I thought I’d check again. There is a new update, dated February 1, 2013. It states in part:

We received slightly over 4500 entries. We have now responded to approximately 2220 entries that unfortunately were not for our list.  This leaves us with roughly entries. Of those, about 543 are to be considered further, and just under 1800 still need to be read. So we are almost halfway through.

You can read the entire update here.

So, if you haven’t heard yet, sit tight. You’re still in the running! Many thanks to Harper Voyager for being so good about keeping anxious authors updated.

If you received a rejection from Harper Voyager, or didn’t make the deadline back in October 2012, you may want to consider submitting your manuscript to Random House. The publisher recently launched three new digital imprints and is seeking unsolicited manuscripts. This is a great opportunity to be published by a major publishing house. You can find more information here.

Is your manuscript not quite ready yet? Need a little advice to help polish your prose? I found a few free-for-now writing guides that look interesting and informative. One is a humorous essay written by a New York Times bestselling author and published for free by HarperCollins.

How to Write a New York Times Bestseller in Ten Easy Steps (eBook Original)  How to Write a New York Times Bestseller in Ten Easy Steps by Jason Mulgrew
For a few “glorious” weeks, Jason Mulgrew’s first book, Everything Is Wrong with Me, appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, before dropping off and returning to the deep obscurity to which it belongs. Jason Mulgrew has not been able to shut up about it since and now believes that he is qualified to write the following primer, “How to Write a New York Times Bestseller in Ten Easy Steps.” Please accept our apologies in advance.

  Hook Me: What to Include in Your First Chapter by Rebecca Talley
Writing a book can be daunting, especially when it comes to writing the first chapter. Improve your writing skills and learn to write the best first chapter possible with these writing tips. A checklist and a first chapter analysis are included in this easy-to-understand, concise guide on writing fiction.

Writer's Block: Vanquished! Using Images, Oracles and Brain-Hacks (Practical Writer)  Writer’s Block: Vanquished! by Nancy Hendrickson
Most writers experience a block at one time or another. It may manifest as procrastination,lack of inspiration or any number of personal issues. The good news is, there are easy solutions to get you writing again, including the use of Images; Oracles; Brain-Hacks. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, are a budding novelist or a freelance magazine writer, you’re guaranteed to find at least one technique to vanquish writer’s block forever!

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I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Mythic Fiction

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Moving on to one of my favorite subgenres, mythic fiction. This type of fiction retells or uses elements from fairy tales, folklore and mythology. Since all the cultures of the world have their own unique folklore, there is plenty of material to draw from.

Mythic fiction crosses over with many other genres, including fantasy, horror, science fiction, romance, literary fiction, mystery, the list goes on. One of my favorite examples is the “Snow Queen” by Joan Vinge. This science fiction novel, set in a distant galaxy in the far future, borrows liberally from the fairy tale of the same name.

So, what is the appeal? Familiarity could be one aspect. A fairy tale such as Beauty and the Beast can be retold faithfully with a few twists, like Robin McKinley’s novel “Beauty,” recreated as a romance novel, such as Christine Feehan’s “Lair of the Lion,” or placed in a contemporary setting and told from the point of view of the Beast, like the YA novel, “Beastly” by Alex Flinn. In all these novels, we recognize the story while enjoying the variations.

Mythology is also a popular resource to borrow from. Myths of divine beings interacting with humans are among the oldest stories known. C.S. Lewis put a fresh take on the tale of Cupid and Psyche in “Till We Have Faces” by telling the story from the older sister’s point of view. Placing the Greek pantheon in modern times is a popular concept used by a number of authors, including Rick Riordan and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Kylie Chan does the same with Chinese gods in her “White Tiger” novels.

Some mythic fiction simply has the feel of a fairy tale rather than actually being derived from one. “Silver Metal Lover” by Tanith Lee tells the tale of a young woman who falls in love with an android.  The torment of loving a beautiful object incapable of affection is evocative of Pygmalion, but doesn’t retell the myth.

The undeniable appeal of mythic fiction can be seen in the popularity of recent television shows “Grimm“, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Once Upon a Time.”

Interested in knowing more? Why not go to the source? Many collections of fairy tales and myths are in the public domain and available for free. I’ve listed a few below.

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I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

High and Low Fantasy

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The high and low fantasy genres appear to be polar opposites. Appear. But is it really that cut and dry? Can there be crossovers between the two genres? First, to get a better idea of the genres, here’s a quote from Wikipedia, by way of Goodreads:

Low fantasy contrasts with the sub-genre of High fantasy. Low fantasy is characterized by being set in the real (“Primary”) world, or a rational and familiar fictional world, with the inclusion of magical elements. The opposite, high fantasy, is set in an alternative, entirely fictional (“Secondary”) world with its own, albeit internally-consistent, rules that separate it from the real world. Low fantasy can be described as non-rational events occurring in a rational setting. It is important to note that the use of the word “low” is not an indication of quality but of the relative level of “fantasy” contained within a particular work of fiction.

It should also be noted that high fantasy, also known as epic fantasy, usually concerns the fight between good and evil. Low fantasy, not so much.

Seems cut and dry. In high fantasy, you have elves, wizards, orcs and some kind of magic totem that must be salvaged or destroyed. In low fantasy, you’ve a got a real world setting, serious social issues, and encounters with the supernatural.

Then we come to George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice”, on which HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series is based. At very first glance, it may seem like standard high fantasy. Then, as you read the first book, you are in an alternate, yet familiar, medieval world with lots of politics, backstabbing, sex and political, backstabbing sex. Good and evil are relative terms. There are strong fantasy elements, like dragons and the reanimated dead, but they are not the driving force of the story.

This is low fantasy. Yet, as I did research for this blog post, I often found “A Song of Fire and Ice” listed as high fantasy.  On Goodreads, the books in the series are listed in both categories. I also came upon forums where the series’ genre was debated. Could it be that “A Song of Fire and Ice” is a crossover that bridges the gap between the two genres? Possibly.

Of course, most readers don’t care about such details. They just want to read a good story. However, those who love a tale of elven knights, warrior maidens and quests to save the Silver Realm may not care to read a series with complex politics and a conflicted protagonist, set in a real world only sprinkled with magic. And visa-versa. This is why genre classifications really are important.

Popular authors of high fantasy include Katherine Kerr, Robert Jordan and Patricia McKillip.

Popular authors of low fantasy include Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Susan Cooper.

I couldn’t find any free-for-now low fantasy, but I can recommend Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Deerskin by Robin McKinley.

The Weight of Blood  The Weight of Blood by David Dalglish
When half-bloods Harruq and Qurrah Tun pledged their lives to the death prophet Velixar, they sought only escape from their squalid beginnings. Instead, they become his greatest disciples, charged with leading his army of undead. While they prepare, Harruq trains with an elf named Aurelia, to whom he owes his life. She is a window into a better world, but as war spreads between the races their friendship takes a dire turn.

Sword Bearer (Volume 1)  Sword Bearer (Return of the Dragons) by Teddy Jacobs
Locked in his room in the castle, young Anders yearns for adventure. Until the day he opens a magic portal and a girl bursts into his locked room with a chemical warlock hot on her trail. And adventure finds him. An adventure full of danger, full of blood, fire, demons and evil. To face it, he’ll need the sword given him by his blademaster, need the ancient words his grandfather gave him on his deathbed. Need the song that runs in his own blood, in his veins. A sword will be reforged, magic words discovered, battles fought, friends made and lost, secrets revealed. And blood will be spilled.

The Book of Deacon (Volume 1)  The Book of Deacon by Joseph Lallo
Myranda is a young woman more interested in staying alive than being a hero. Orphaned by a continent-spanning war that has gone on for decades too long and shunned for failing to support it, she has been on the move since she was only a child. One can hardly blame her when she thinks that the chance discovery of a fallen soldier’s priceless cargo is the moment that will change her life. No one could predict just how great that change would be. It will lead her through an adventure of rebels and generals, of wizards and warriors, and of beasts both noble and monstrous. Each step of the way will take her closer to the truth of her potential, of the war, and of the fate of her world.

The Flame Weaver  The Flame Weaver by Tania Elicker
On the far side of the mountains, where the light still shines, people muddle through their everyday lives oblivious to the approaching doom. But as the darkness grows nearer, a young man named Kazen is awakened to a secret past. With the help of his uncle, a powerful wizard, Kazen discovers a magic within him he never knew he had. A rare conjurer of fire, Kazen learns he may be the only one able to turn back the tide of darkness. But time is running out, for once the living shadow passes over the mountains, its evil will be unstoppable.

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Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.