Today I’m taking part in the Book Birthday Blitz for Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella for it’s first book birthday! Whilst I haven’t had a chance to read this yet, it looks AMAZING, and I’m excited to bring you a guest post from the author! I really enjoyed that the post was about ‘how my writing group helped me get published’ as I have writing groups that I adore, and I definitely would struggle without their support!
Without further ado, some info about the book and the guest post itself!
Ashael Rising (Vessel of KalaDene, #1) by Shona Kinsella
Published by Unbound on February 6th 2017
Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe.
The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.
Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.
When Iwan and Ashael meet and she invites him to stay in Oak Cam, neither of them realise that she is the one the Zanthar seek. The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on Ashael's shoulders.
How my Writing Group Helped me get Published
Around May of 2014, I decided to try my hand at writing a book. I sat down at my computer with nothing but a vague image in my head and the name Ashael. Over the next few months I wrote about three chapters and then stalled, overwhelmed by the size of the task before me.
I joined the online writing group, Scribophile. It was scary to begin with. Everyone there seemed to know so much more than I did. Like what a dangling modifier is, not to mention a gerund. I read short stories and chapters by some very talented writers. I read lots of critiques written by other people and some of the techniques they talked about scared me off. So, I stopped visiting the site.
I went back to the novel and messed about with another chapter or two, but I felt out-of-my-depth. Eventually I went back to Scribophile, hoping to learn something that would help me move on. Scribophile works with a system of karma points – you critique the work of others to earn karma points which you then spend to post your own work for critique. The problem was that I felt completely unqualified to critique anyone else’s work. I was a baby writer who hadn’t finished anything, let alone published anything! Luckily my husband pointed out that I was eminently qualified to critique as a reader.
Eventually I found my feet with critiquing and posted a few chapters of Ashael Rising. I got some really helpful feedback, but I realised that it would be best if I had a group of regular readers, so I joined the smaller Ubergroup.
I was welcomed into a team with four others, all writing speculative fiction. Each week, we all posted a chapter for feedback and read and critiqued each other’s work. This made all the difference. When I joined the team in May 2015 I had written about six chapters and tweaked and rewritten them a few times, but I was struggling. So, that’s a year to write the first five or six chapters. I finished the first draft in January 2016 and it’s in large part thanks to my team.
The feedback I received from my team helped to shape the novel as well. For example, I had no romantic interest for my main character and one of my team pointed out that it would be unusual for a woman of her age, in her culture, not to have a mate or at least be thinking about it. He thought I should give Ashael a love interest or explain why she didn’t have one. That discussion set off one of the major subplots in the book and turned a minor character into a major one.
In February 2016, I pitched Ashael Rising to Unbound, hoping to get some feedback on my pitch. Instead they asked for the manuscript. Four weeks later, they offered me a publishing contract. I have no doubt that was in large part due to the influence of my writing group.
I only hope that someday my feedback will be as helpful to them.
Thanks for sharing this and letting me host your guest post Shona!
Do you write? Have you got a writing group?