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Fiction Archives - In 30 Minutes Guides

Soulene wins IPNE book award

By | Blog, News

Soulene: A Healer in Paris IPNE Book awardOn this blog, I have documented the ups and downs of running an experimental nonfiction publishing venture—i30 Media, which I founded four years ago to publish In 30 Minutes guides. But one thing I seldom mention on this blog or elsewhere is the fact that i30 Media is also a publisher of fiction. I am pleased to announce that one our fiction titles, Soulene: A Healer in Paris, recently received an award from the Independent Publishers of New England for young adult fiction. Congratulations go to author Ursula Pearson, who put in a lot of hard work over a period of several years to tell the story of Soulene, a young healer living in medieval France and England.

You may wonder how a publisher of utility nonfiction got involved in publishing YA fiction. I’ve learned that once you hang out your shingle as “publisher” all kinds of people will approach you for help with their work. As the self-publishing explosion has demonstrated, there is an incredible well of untapped writing talent out there. Unfortunately, the process of publishing a book can be difficult. Not only are the tools unwieldy, but also most prospective authors don’t want to deal with the work associated with editing, formatting, designing, and marketing a new book. So they turn to people with more experience to help them get their books published.

While I have said “no” to most prospective authors who have asked me to edit or publish their works of fiction, I made an exception for Ursula. At the heart of her stories was a strong character, a young woman pursuing a passion to help the sick and injured. Soulene lived in an unjust and cruel world, in which poverty, plagues, and war were a constant presence. Only a small class of educated men (most of them from noble families or the clergy) could ever hope to become doctors. Yet Soulene was able to find an alternate path through a religious order for women, the so-called Red Heart Healers, who specialized in working with the poor of France and parts of England.

Soulene also had a fascinating backstory. I won’t reveal it here, but suffice it to say that it rivals a Mexican soap opera for plot twists, villains, and vengeful plots. Ursula also paid close attention to important historical details, including the types of herbs and plants used for treating wounds and illness, the spread of plague in medieval towns, and even the layout of 13th-century Paris.

These qualities, along with the short length of the books, convinced me to take on Ursula’s trilogy. Book 1, Soulene: A Healer’s Tale, was released in 2013. The following year Soulene: The Art of the Red Heart Healers came out. Last year, Soulene: A Healer in Paris, was released. While the first book required a lot of rewrites and editing, by the third book Ursula had hit her stride. The characters were fleshed out, the dialogue was strong, and the pacing was just right. We found talented graphic artists—Steve Sauer and Malgorzata Godziuk—to handle the covers and interior maps. Reader feedback was great, but I also thought there might be an opportunity to get wider recognition.

award-winning Soulene trilogyEnter the IPNE Awards. Every year the Independent Publishers of New England holds an awards contest, the winners of which are announced at the annual conference. A panel of librarians handles the judging in more than a dozen categories, which include art, literary fiction, mystery, and several nonfiction categories. i30 Media entered Soulene: A Healer in Paris as well as two In 30 Minutes titles. Last month, Soulene was named a finalist in the YA category, and at the conference in Portsmouth New Hampshire it won the IPNE 2016 Book award for YA fiction. It was a pleasure to pick up the award on the author’s behalf.

Does the award mean that i30 Media will be developing more fiction titles? I am not sure, but I have told Ursula that when she starts work on another book I will be ready to read her manuscript.

To learn more about Soulene, check out the official Soulene.com website.

How to create conversational dialogue

By | Blog, Industry

Over the weekend, author Ursula Pearson sent me the manuscript for the sequel to Soulene, one of a small number of fiction titles published by i30 Media. Soulene is set in feudal times, and tells the story of 16-year-old girl mastering the healing arts as an apprentice of Hospice de Coeur Rouge, known as the Red Heart Healers by the local peasantry. Using a backdrop of 12th-century English and French history, Pearson weaves a fascinating tale about a young woman discovering her identity in troubled times. The sequel, called “Soulene II” in its draft state, continues the story of the young healer, and her trials and tribulations in early medieval Europe.

Image from blog of Professor Steven Graff of CUNYIn this blog post, I am going to describe an issue that I spotted in parts of the draft manuscript for Soulene II: Dialogue that doesn’t seem conversational. It happened a few times, usually with new characters whose relationships with established characters hadn’t been fleshed out. I gave Pearson some suggestions on how to turn these one-sided passages into true dialogue, and I am going to share my way of handling it, using an example from the manuscript.

The issue that Pearson experienced is a common scenario for authors. How do you write conversations that carry the plot along? There’s a character, and he or she has something to say, but when it comes out, it’s more like a long statement or speech. To readers, it doesn’t seem realistic — nobody talks like that in real life! But it’s also a missed opportunity to develop the characters involved.

Here’s a sample from the first draft of Soulene II. The speaker is Lucille, and she is describing to Soulene some of the changes taking place in and around the hospice they will be working at.

“Ah, that’s the first big change. The population has been growing at an amazing pace. A new Cathedral is being built in Poitiers. All the stonemasons, laborers and their families have come to live and work in this area. The shrine, at the Church of St. Hillaire was recently rebuilt and more and more pilgrims have come to the Hospice. Of course, the Crusaders are always passing through, either returning from the Holy Land, or beginning their journey. The Directress recently announced that twelve new acolytes will be accepted this year and that three senior trainees will remain at the Hospice every second year. Coeur Rouge trainees will no longer go to England for at least the next five years until our staffing issues here are resolved. Think of what this means. We’ll need larger living quarters for our instructors and trainees, more beds, bigger gardens. I could go on and on about the changes that will occur. But we are thrilled that our Hospice mission has become even more important.”

This isn’t a conversation. At nearly 200 words long, it’s an address. It’s too long, and too one sided. People don’t talk this way.

But this is an important passage. The speaker, Lucille, has experienced terrible personal tragedy. She is finally opening up to Soulene, and Soulene wants to put her at ease. Further, there is an opportunity to show the personality and character of both young women. Here’s my alternate version:

“Ah, that’s the first big change,” said Lucille, jabbing a grimy finger in the air. ”The population has been growing at an amazing pace, and a new Cathedral is being built in Poitiers.”

Soulene smiled. “Our Lord has truly blessed Poitiers and its people,” she exclaimed. “I can’t wait to see it.”

“That’s not all,” continued Lucille. “All the stone masons, laborers and their families have come to live and work in this area. The shrine, at the Church of St. Hillaire was recently rebuilt and more and more pilgrims have come to the Hospice.” She gestured with her hands to indicate the height and breadth of the new structures.

“It sounds more like Paris than Poitiers!” Soulene joked.

Lucille nodded. “Some day it will rival the great city. Militarily, it already is. The Crusaders are always passing through, either returning from the Holy Land, or beginning their journey.”

“What about the Order?” Soulene asked.

Her companion answered, “The Directress recently announced that twelve new acolytes will be accepted this year and that three senior trainees will remain at the Hospice every second year.”

“Our Lord smiles upon on us!”

“Yes,” Lucille agreed. “But there will be some adjustments. Coeur Rouge trainees will no longer go to England for at least the next five years until our staffing issues here are resolved.”

Soulene’s brow furrowed. “What does this mean, in practical terms?” she asked.

Lucille enumerated the changes. “First, we’ll need larger living quarters for our instructors and trainees, and more beds.” She said. “Second, bigger gardens. Third …. Actually, I could go on and on about the changes that will occur. But we are thrilled that our Hospice mission has become even more important.”

I took some liberties with my characterizations, and Pearson will probably end up throwing a lot of it away, but I wanted to impart how big statements can be turned into true dialogue.

If you’re interested in learning more about Soulene, the title is available on Amazon in paperback and as a Kindle edition. Soulene II will be released this spring.

New paperback edition of PATRICK released in the U.S.

By | Blog

New paperback edition of PATRICK released in the U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PATRICK: A novel by Kevin G. McGuireNewton, Mass., October 21 – Publisher i30 Media has just released a new paperback edition of PATRICK by author Kevin G. McGuire. The novel, set in New York in the 1980s, relates to a story of a young man using a wheelchair who has several coming-of-age experiences during a visit to a New York City hospital. The author’s statement about the book and how it relates to his own experience growing up is published below.

The i30 Media edition of PATRICK (ISBN 978-1939924094) can be purchased online via patricknovel.com or in bookstores around the country. International editions will be available in November.

AUTHOR’S STATEMENT

In 1968, at the age of seven, I was struck by an intoxicated driver while playing baseball. This accident left me paralyzed from the waist down and has since forced me to use a wheelchair. Every summer following the accident, I was required to check into a New York City hospital for one week of physical evaluations and tests.

At this hospital, I was treated by the same physical therapists, nurses, and doctors; I was also assigned the same room. This room was invariably occupied with individuals who were from different ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds. They were admitted to the hospital for various reasons.

I quickly realized that no matter how different my roommates were, the bonding that took place during these short visits was incredible. It was amazing both in celerity, as well as intensity. Our injuries, sicknesses, and the hospital room seemed to insulate us from the prejudices and hatred of the outside world.

I also discovered that as quickly as this bonding took hold in the hospital room, it left just as quickly as we returned to our natural environments. All the promises about visiting and keeping in touch vanished as soon as we were discharged. More importantly, the prejudices that dissipated within our hospital boundaries reappeared as we left our cocoon.

At the age of seventeen, I shared the most intense seven days of my life with three roommates at this New York City hospital. I will always love but will never see or talk with my roommates again.

I entered the hospital that week not yet an adult, but left no longer a child.

PATRICK is inspired by those seven days.

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For more information about PATRICK, please visit the official PATRICK website located at patricknovel.com. For other inquiries, please contact Ian Lamont at i30 Media at ian@i30media.com or 617 213-0811.