Buried Editor's Book Club

So, while I've been gone (from the blog) putting my office in order, I've been seriously thinking about the Buried Editor Book Club idea that was suggested as a use for the forum.  I really liked the idea, but I didn't really know what books we should start with.  And then we started the character discussions.

Last night, I had a scathingly brilliant idea, and I have decided that the first books for the Buried Editor Book Club should be books that are great works of character.  And since we've been discussing primary and secondary characters and using secondary characters to help you show characteristics of your primary character, I have selected some books that I think exemplify this concept.

17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do AnymoreSo, the first Buried Editor Book Club Selection is: 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill.  In this book, the reader learns a lot about the first person narrator (the little girl) by how the other characters react to the things she does.  However, what makes this book so extraordinary is that there is no dialogue, and the other characters never once say a word.  It is all told in the pictures and in the way the girl reacts to the reactions.

That, at least is my opinion.  However, this is a Book Club, and thus the book should be discussed.  I would like to hear what others think about the book and the characters.  I've already set up a discussion board.  Go there and let me know what your ideas have been.


Primary vs Secondary Characters (Part 2)

Yesterday we looked at primary characters, so today we'll look at secondary characters -- basically everybody else in your story.

He may be fully developed
with distinctive traits, a
personality, and back-story,
but Dumbledore is a
secondary character.
Secondary characters can be divided into 3 groups:
  1. Major secondary characters: These are the ones we think of when we say secondary characters.  These characters are nearly as important as the primary character(s) and may have their own backstories and subplots.  In Harry Potter, some major secondary characters would be Ron, Hermione, Malfoy, Dumbledore, and Snape.
  2. Minor secondary characters: These characters are less well-developed but are still distinctive enough to possibly be memorable.  In Harry Potter, this would be the Weasley twins, Professor McGonagall, and Neville.
  3. Filler characters: In a movie, these characters would basically be extras.  They are the folks you need to fill out a scene or the world, but they are generally stock characters with no real distinctive features. In Harry Potter, most of the student body falls in this category.


Primary vs Secondary Characters (Part 1)

Today we are starting at the very basics of character -- the primary versus the secondary characters.

Which have your read?  I've read all of HP
and only the first 2 in CB.
Just like in real life, the book world has your A-list, B-list, C-list, etc. characters.  And no, I don't mean the difference between Harry Potter and Charlie Bone.  (Both are wizards at school in series put out in America by Scholastic.  One is a household name, the other is less known, a B-lister if you will.)  Here, I'm talking about the A-list (or primary) characters and the B, C, and D-list (or secondary) characters in your story.

Your primary characters are the leads in your story.  These always include your protagonist and may include your antagonist (if there is only one or a primary antagonist).  Your primary character may or may not be your narrator.  However, your primary character is, literally, the most important character in the story.  This is the person that wants or needs something, and the entire story will be about that character trying to fill this want or need.


A Character Study

Who doesn't know this famous character?
Last month when we practiced the parts of the book proposal, we looked at the overall manuscript.  Each of us took our manuscript and worked on how it was presented to the world as a whole.

Now though, we are going to start looking at the individual pieces that make up a great manuscript.  And of course the key thing that keeps a reader reading is the characters.

Don't  get me wrong.  Lots or other parts of a story are important too, especially plot.  I know I'm the kind of person that is less interested in a character's growth than what happens next.  I have been known to even finish books I don't like simply because I want to know the ending.

However, the sad truth is if you don't have compelling characters none of the other stuff matters  You have to write characters that readers are going to be interested enough in to find out what happens to them.

Book Proposal Contest

I only had 3 people enter the book proposal contest, so congratulations!  All three of you are winners!  I'll have your proposal critiques back to you by the end of the month.

I must confess to being a little surprised that there weren't more entries, but I'm going to chalk it up to the fact that I was overwhelmed by TLA the last 2 weeks and wasn't able to post a flurry of nagging reminders.


TLA Wrap-up

So, it turns out that if you stay in your booth the whole time repeating your pitch over and over again (yes, even I have to know how to pitch books), you generate interest and name recognition for your company, but you don't produce much interesting material for the blog.   However, here were the highlights of the TLA conference for me:
  • Giving out over 200 copies of Dry Souls to the teens at the conference on Thursday--  If the kids had a yellow shirt, they got a book.  Many of them thought the premise was pretty cool too.  I hope we start seeing reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and the web from them.
  • Having the booth next to Candlewick-- I can sum up the greatness of that in one word: Traffic.
  • Having my authors sign-- 3 out of 5 my authors were able to make it this year.  Besides being wonderful to see them again, I now have lots of signed stock.
  • Selling 42 Emerald Tablet to Taylor Middle School for their bookclub-- They are going to read the book and then come join us in Austin one day to meet PJ.
  • Having the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels have an ice cream social at my booth-- There was ice cream.  There were authors.  There were librarians.  How could it not be great?
And now, after that very long week, I'm taking the next 3 days off.  But you shouldn't be doing the same.  My book proposal contest ends on Monday, so this is the last weekend to polish them up and make use of the forum for feedback.  See you back on Tuesday.


TLA Setup

I am excited to announce that I have survived my very first TLA setup day all by myself.  I've only been to TLA as part of Blooming Tree.  CBAY has never exhibited before, and it's very exciting to have enough books to fill a whole booth.  I posted some pictures over on Facebook if you're curious to see the booth.

My plan for this week is to do a bunch of tweets, Facebook, and video updates throughout the conference.  So, be sure you're subscribed to everything so you can see the fun!


Convention Preparation

I have just spent the last few weeks getting ready for my booth at TLA next week.  I have been ordering bookmarks and buttons and tshirts and posters, buying tables and table cloths and book stands.  However, this is not what the usual person does to get ready to attend TLA (or BEA or ALA or any of the other large book trade shows).

So, since most of you are published and soon to be published authors, I thought I'd examine preparation for a large convention from that perspective.

Convention exhibition halls are a great place for authors to network and get a good look at what is happening in the publishing world.  All authors, even unpublished ones, should try to go to a convention if at all possible.  Before you go, here are some things you should do:


Goodbye, Diana

Howl's Moving CastleIn what sometimes feels like a lifetime ago, back when I was still in grad school (you know, last year), back when I was still working on actual class-work instead of my long, drawn out thesis, I wrote a paper on a brilliant fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones called Howl's Moving Castle.  A fun, exciting book that turns fairy tale conventions on their heads, I loved both this book and its companion, Castle in the Air for years.  So, you can imagine how excited I was when a third book, House of Many Ways, came out two years ago.  Ever since, I've been eagerly awaiting Jones next book.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait a very, very long time.

Archer's GoonFire and HemlockYou see, last week, Diana Wynne Jones passed away at the age of 76.  Although a collection of her articles will be released in 2011, it is not the same.  We will no longer see great Jones works like her masterpiece of form, Archer's Goon, or her greatest work of style and thematic subjects, Fire and Hemlock.

Personally though, I will miss her more light-hearted fare like her parody of sword and sorcery fantasies, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and the darker Chrestomanci books.

If you have never read one of Jones's works, I suggest you take the opportunity now.  Her books, besides being highly enjoyable, have also been a source of inspiration to children's fantasy authors for some time.  Her imagination and witty writing will be sorely missed.

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant  The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 2: The Magicians of Caprona / Witch Week  The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. 3 (Conrad's Fate / The Pinhoe Egg)

Picture Book Cover Letter Contest Winner

I meant to post this yesterday, but I got distracted and forgot.

My picture book cover letter contest winner was Oliver Collosal submitted by Debra Mayhew.


And thank you to everyone who entered the contest.


Book Proposal Contest Rules & Info

The Buried Editor's Book Proposal Contest has officially begun.

In order to enter all you have to do is send your full book proposal (and if you don't remember what all the parts are click here)to the dedicated email that I have set up for this contest:  All emails need to be received by April 18, giving you two full weeks to polish those proposals up.

Here are the complete rules:
  • All entries must be received by 11:59 PM CST April 18, 2011.
  • No attachments.  Just copy and paste your proposal into an email.  I realize this will make some long (and sometimes ugly format-wise) emails, but I that's fine for this contest.  I would not encourage that for an actual submission somewhere.
  • Only do the parts of the book proposal that are pertinent to you.  If you haven't written a series, don't write a series overview.  If you've written a picture book, send that complete manuscript instead of the first three sample chapters.
  • Entries must be a proposal for a children or teen book; however, you can enter any kind of children/teen book in any genre.  Even ones that CBAY doesn't normally consider (including non-fiction).