J. Kathleen Cheney’s second novel, THE SEAT OF MAGIC, came out last week. It’s an amazing novel, sequel to THE GOLDEN CITY, which was a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel and received special acclaim as a best book of 2013 from Library Journal and Ranting Dragon! She’s here today to talk about what she’s learned since then.
The Second Time Around… by J. Kathleen Cheney
For a bit of background, my novel The Seat of Magic debuted last week, right before the July 4th weekend, which was wonderful timing. The sequel to The Golden City, it’s a Historical Fantasy set in an alternate 1902 Portugal, with nonhumans and humans working together to stop two strings of murders in a city where the nonhumans have been banned.
Yes, my new book is a sequel. I’ve been through this book debut business before, and I learned some things from my first debut that have made this one much easier. So here are a few hints—for those aspiring writers out there—of what to expect when your turn comes around.
1) Reviews trickle in.
I don’t know why I had this perception before, but I believed (wrongly) that all the major outlets (Publisher’s Weekly, RT, Library Journal, Kirkus, etc.) would review my book months in advance.
Where I got that idea, I have no clue. They’re human, just like me, and they have to juggle a TBR pile far larger than mine. So this time around, I haven’t spent hours refreshing the webpages, wondering when they’ll get my review up. I’ve been more patient, and it’s been a less stressful experience for me. (The same goes for reader reviews, by the way. Not everyone will read your book the day it comes out…because hundreds of other books will come out on the same day!)
2) Things will go wrong, and it won’t be the end of the world.
Of the three signings I had set up for the debut of Book 1, two were hit by ice storms. Yes, even though you plan months in advance for everything to be perfect, things will happen that are simply beyond your control.
3) You don’t control those sales numbers either, so spend your time elsewhere.
As a brand-spanking-new writer, it’s easy to get hooked on refreshing Amazon every few minutes to see your author ranking change. (Going up, one hopes.) But knowing your sales figures doesn’t improve them. Concentrate on the things that you can affect to build readership instead, whether it’s blogging, making appearances, of writing something good. In fact, that has to be your first priority, because as a writer, you always need to be working on something new.
4) Expect a troll or two.
I’m a fairly inoffensive person online, so I was surprised to be hit by a troll reviewer within a day or two of my book’s debut. I couldn’t imagine why this reviewer was passionate enough about my book to write two full pages on why she didn’t like it, but she did. The truth is, someone is always going to dislike my writing, and they are going to talk about it online. I learned very quickly to spot that kind of reviews and walk away. It’s going to happen, but I don’t have to read them.
5) Enjoy where you are.
Not enjoying your novel debut is a bit like climbing to the top of Mt. Everest and not stopping to look around. Thousands of people would love to be where you are.
So expect a few things not to turn out like you’d hoped. That’s inevitable. Enjoy all the ones that do turn out the way you planned. Enjoy the signings and tweets from happy readers. Enjoy the blog posts and good reviews and friendly FB comments. Enjoy.
And then get back to writing…
Magical beings have been banned from the Golden City for decades, though many live there in secret. Now humans and nonhumans alike are in danger as evil stalks the streets, growing more powerful with every kill….
It’s been two weeks since Oriana Paredes was banished from the Golden City. Police consultant Duilio Ferreira, who himself has a talent he must keep secret, can’t escape the feeling that, though she’s supposedly returned home to her people, Oriana is in danger.
Adding to Duilio’s concerns is a string of recent murders in the city. Three victims have already been found, each without a mark upon her body. When a selkie under his brother’s protection goes missing, Duilio fears the killer is also targeting nonhuman prey.
To protect Oriana and uncover the truth, Duilio will have to risk revealing his own identity, put his trust in some unlikely allies, and consult a rare and malevolent text known as The Seat of Magic….
Great Quotes for the Series
THE SEAT OF MAGIC
“[A] killer sequel…Intriguing and fun, the mystery unfolds like a socially conscious tour through a cabinet of curiosities.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[M]esmerizing.” —Publishers Weekly
“This second entry in the Golden City series is even better than its predecessor. Readers will be completely enthralled with the characters and the organic development of their relationship. It is a sheer delight to see more of Oriana and her people… Add to that an engaging world filled with selkies, sereia and the prohibition of magic and you won’t want to put The Seat of Magic down. This reviewer couldn’t help falling for the hot hero, whose banter with Oriana is awesome; their sweet romance is utterly charming.” —Romantic Times
“VERDICT Cheney’s debut is a masterpiece of historical fantasy, set in early 1900s Portugal, a time and place rarely explored in English-language fiction. The fascinating mannerisms of the age and the extreme formality of two people growing fonder of each other add a charmingly fresh appeal that will cross over to romance fans as well as to period fantasy readers.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“Cheney’s The Golden City pulls readers in right off the bat, as the story kicks off with our heroine in a desperate situation that will leave you rooting for her almost instantly. Oriana’s “extra” abilities are thoroughly intriguing and readers will love the crackling banter and working relationship between Oriana and Duilio.” —Romantic Times
“An ambitious debut from Cheney: part fantasy, part romance, part police procedural and part love letter to Lisbon in the early 1900s.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The Golden City is easily my vote for this year’s best debut novel, and Cheney has made her way to my must-read list.” —Ranting Dragon
“I honestly cannot wait to read what Cheney writes next.” – Bookworm Blues
J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, “The Golden City” is a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel).
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