Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Abandoned Towers Has Moved!

In case you stumble upon this location, or are still subscribed to the feed here, this post is to inform you that Abandoned Towers Magazine has a new managing editor: K.E. Abel.

The new location for Abandoned Towers Magazine is www.abandonedtowers.com

The content from here has been merged into Abandoned Towers: News & Blog here www.abandonedtowers.com/weblog/

It is currently a transition period while the magazine evaluates it's current structure and content and recruits additional staff and volunteers.  We expect to relaunch officially in the next couple of months, but content is available during the transition period should you want to check out the site.

Thank you for your interest in Abandoned Towers, we hope that you'll join us at our new home.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Insider Tips for Writing Middle Grade Novels: What Are Kids Reading Today?

If you have aspirations of writing a popular middle grade novel, there are certain factors to consider to make it truly attractive to the kids out there. Much of this has to do with excellent storytelling skills mixed with a little bit of imagination that will have middle grade kids eating it right up.

• Give a familiar setting an interesting twist. Kids love to use their imaginations, so add a twist to an everyday setting that they can relate to, like a new student in the class having magical powers or Santa Claus going to their class by accident on Christmas Eve.

• Add something mystical. Middle grade kids are definitely attracted to the world of fantasy, like dragons and wizards. Of course, you don’t need to copy Harry Potter altogether, but this is a component that kids truly love.

• Add a small mystery to the story. This will keep kids captivated as they read, and it can be something as simple as a favorite class pet suddenly missing from the classroom or even a new kid in class coming from a mysterious location overseas.

• Make your characters memorable! Kids love something memorable and quirky since it sparks their imagination. Make sure that all characters have their own unique personality traits that have not already been used in popular middle grade books.

• Have your characters get into trouble. Of course, this is something that all kids can relate to, and they will be on the edge of their seats to see what happens. Santa could get trapped in the classroom and not be able to deliver presents to the children of the world, or perhaps the dragon is in danger of getting caught by the local zoo and taken away.

• Don’t forget physical comedy! Kids absolutely love physical comedy, whether it is a character slipping in a puddle on the floor, spilling their lunch all over themselves, or getting embarrassed by tripping at school. This is definitely something that all kids can relate to!

If you want to write an exceptional middle grade novel, it helps to spend some time with kids you know, ask for their wildly imaginative opinions and ideas, and get writing!

For a great selection of Bunn o matic coffee maker, check out Bethany Ramos' website, The Coffee Bump.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Abandoned Towers Magazine Issue #7 now in print!

If you'd like to look through the issue before you snag your copy of it, I've created a nice flash flipbook for you. You can find it here:

Abandoned Towers #7 Flash Flipbook

Now what are you going to find inside? Here are a few excerpts:

Observations of Bravery by Chad Weiss
To better understand cattle, I’m going to relate several background stories. Normally, our cows calve on their own in a field around April, unless a spring snow storm strikes. But over the last few years I have been building a purebred herd by buying a couple bred heifers each year. And being purebreds, they’re bred to calve in January, thus the calf will grow enough to be sold as a yearling bull the following year.
Typically these animals are gentle, but last year it was a cold January evening when I was going out to chase the heifer in the barn, and found a wet, slimy calf floundering on the straw. Back to the house I went for re-enforcements; me and my parents returned to get the calf into the barn. Normally a heifer won’t chase, so with a blanket to keep most of the embryonic fluid off of me, I grabbed the calf.
It was near dark and cows can’t see well at night. The heifer had calved and was half-scared of her own calf as she rooted it around, licking and bellowing at it. When I appeared and with a bed sheet flapping, grabbed her calf. Even under all these circumstances a heifer typically won’t chase, but she did.
Her first bunt caught me on the right hip as I carried the eighty pound calf. I flew into the air, landed on my feet and desperately tried to run, but she caught me again. I skidded and flew across the pen with her rooting me while I held her calf. If I’d dropped the new born, she would have charged overtop it while rooting on me. Finally, my mother yelled at dad to do something. He ran in and spooked the heifer past me, letting me run through the gate and to safety.
This aggressive maternal instinct isn’t always a bad thing. When our cows are on their own, they need to protect their calf from predators such as coyotes, and take care of their baby. Unfortunately, this one didn’t recognize the difference between me and a coyote!

Azieran: Creed of the Desert Kings by Christopher Heath
In the scorching, sandblasted lands of the Arubis desert, there walked a hero swathed in white wraps from head to foot, akin to a bandit but undeniably something more. The filigreed shield upon his back gleamed of polished steel, reflecting the sun’s unrelenting kiss as a burning, lidless eye. Several guardsmen within the great walled city Hatarri spied his ghost-like form wavering through the heated air, and choked back their fears at the champion’s approach. The rumors of his coming were true, almost prophetic.
“Emir Mahtta!” cried a messenger, “The one called Kizil’ky is at the front gates.”
The portly but muscular noble choked on a grape, nearly spat it out, before swallowing with instinctive greed. He wiped the juice from his braided beard using the back of a hand, causing minute attached bells to chime in exultation. Mahtta’s cheeks flushed red, showing embarrassment at being unnerved before a score of personal guard, and suddenly his anger flared; he kicked a bowl of fruit from the woven carpet onto the flagstone floor and all shuddered, wondering if his displeasure would soon be directed toward them. The emir stared at the sea of faces blanched by fear, and found comfort.
The aristocrat composed himself, leaning back against the many colorful silk pillows which comprised his throne, and tried to relax among the winds of his fanning girls as the plumb-colored incense smoke swirled wildly about like mercurial gossamer ribbons. Before his third deep breath, the thin-framed vizier, Al Qadif, had crept forward between gold-plated censors and spoke.
“Would you have me send him away, my emir? Perhaps tell him that we do not deal with mere couriers; The Grand Mage should request a proper audience and show himself alongside utmost respect.”

Nessie by Doug Hilton
Day 131: The trip here wasn't easy. The landing was worse. Now we're in big trouble. This is my diary, but I doubt that anyone will read it. Our commo gear is hosed – too bad I didn't upload the other 2 volumes when I had a chance – now it's too late, meaning that bandwidth is too precious to waste on the trivia of a diary. Still, I wish that it would get back home someday.
My lovely Maggie died 2 months ago and I still don't sleep well at nights. There was a small fire while she was sleeping and before the alarm roused her, the toxic chemicals in the air overcame her. The rest of us were able to get our breathing apparatus on, and I tried to get to her, but Maggie was independent and liked to sleep in the escape pod, away from the noise and bustle of non-stop activity. By time I got to her, she was dead and gone. I can't get the picture of her bulging eyes and swollen tongue out of my mind.
Sue, Don, Glenn and I are going to bury Maggie here if we can get the mech-shovel to work, but that's taken a low-priority compared to getting us to the Martian Pole. We have to get there in order to get water. And that's not going to be a cake walk. We landed 100 klicks south of our planned destination and now we will have to make a forced march, dragging along all the gear we can stand to carry. Captain Don keeps reminding us that our chances are "non-zero," but we all know that things can be mighty small and still be non-zero.

The Ghosts of Memories by Timothy A. Sayell
The Instinct led her out here. She tried to convince herself that she was scrounging for the glowing toadstools, but in her heart, she knew the truth. It didn’t stop her from telling herself the comfortable lie. Visha drew her beetle to a halt and dismounted beside a colony of toadstools growing from the cavern floor. Theywere almost as tall as she, and the skins on their caps were smooth.
“Weird, unnatural urgings,” she muttered in sulking tones as she stepped towards the glowing fungi. “Compelling me to journey into the wilderness! Home! Civilization! Two whole days behind me!” Shereached for her skinning knife, and the darkness came alive with a spine-chilling shriek.
A hairy shadow as large as her beetle sprang at her. Its eight spindly legs hit the rocky cavern floor; its hideous body knocked her off of her feet. Her dark face turned upward and she saw shiny, black fangs clicking in the dim light. The monstrous head lunged toward her. She rolled to one side, and then sprang to her feet, drew the katana from its sheath on her back, and leapt at the spider. The spider drew away and Visha landed beside the glowing toadstools. She swung her blade back and forth with all her strength, grunting with the exertion of each pass, and drove the monster back. A loose rock stole her foot from under her and she collapsed to one knee with a pained and panicky, “Oh!”
With a nightmarish hiss, the spider struck her with one of its forelegs. The impact plucked her from the ground and flung her several feet away, knocking the air from her lungs, and the katana from her hand. Her weapon slid across the cave-bottom and came to rest near the feet of her beetle.
Visha’s expression twisted with horror. Sword, she thought, Get the sword. She scrabbled for her feet, but the monster shouldered her back to the ground, its stiff, quill-like hairs digging into her naked arms like darts. The black beast lunged at her with its clicking fangs, and she rolled to one side. It lunged again. She rolled the other way, swung her foot and slammed her heel into one of its eyes. It shrieked in pain and Visha scrambled to her feet, snatched her sword from the floor and plastered her back against her riding beetle.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Can a Literary Agent Help You?

If you have a manuscript just waiting for exposure on your computer, you may be wondering exactly what a literary agent will do for you. Many novelists are stuck between whether or not they should self-publish or use a literary agent for their work, so here is a little more information as food for thought.

Perhaps you’ve noticed by now that most publishing houses do not accept any unsolicited manuscripts, so they require the go-between of a literary agent to work on behalf of the author. A literary agent will represent your manuscript to give you a better chance at getting published, yet many authors are reluctant to work with a literary agent because they charge up to a 15% fee. Still, this is something that should be considered acceptable, similar to the commission that is paid to a real estate agent.

Help Editing Your Work

A literary agent will also be able to help contribute in editing your work so that it is ready for final publication. Writers need help seeing their work through a fresh set of eyes, and since a literary agent reads so many manuscripts per year, they will be the objective opinion that you have been looking for. It is important to understand that you should not work with a literary agent that charges a reading fee since all of their payment should come from the commission in selling your work.

Find a Publisher

The major component of a literary agent’s job is to understand the market and represent a specific genre for publication. You may have found by now that literary agents often only list the type of works that they will accept based on a genre that they specialize in. Once your manuscript is ready, a literary agent will work on your behalf to contact publishing houses who may be the best fit for your book. Knowing the market is essential to effectively publishing a novel, which is why it is worthwhile to pay out this commission to an agent.

Contract Negotiation

This is a very sticky and confusing part of the publishing process, and you want to make sure that you are getting a fair deal in your contract. There is a serious amount of paperwork in contract negotiation, and your agent will be able to explain the process to you each step of the way so that you get the best deal for your work.

Lastly, an agent may be able to help you with other topics related to your manuscript, such as e-book, audio, movie, and foreign rights, if necessary. This is why pays to look for an experienced agent that specializes in your genre for representation!

For a great selection of the Bodum French Press, check out Bethany Ramos' website, The Coffee Bump.