Frequently Asked Questions

Answers

When is the next book coming out?

Green Rider #6: Firebrand the sixth book in the Green Rider series, will be released February 28, 2017.

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How many books will there be in the series?

There is no set number of books in the series. I will leave it up to the story to determine the number.

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How did you get started writing?

From a very young age I loved to read, and that love of reading evolved into a love of writing. Through my school years, I received enough encouragement from teachers that I grew confident enough of my writing to stick with it. In the fourth grade, I began an undersea fantasy novel, but was embarrassed by it by seventh grade, and tore it up. During my teen years, I tried another fantasy novel, and this one I took to completion. It will never see publication, but it’s at the root of the Green Rider story, and gave me the confidence that I could complete a long work. As time passed, I published some nonfiction, but received only rejections for fantasy short stories. I tired of the short story rejections, and so returned to my true love: novel writing, and began writing what eventually became known as Green Rider, my first published piece of fiction. It’s a process that took many years, but I used that time to hone my craft and learn a little bit about the world.

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Where do you get your ideas?

Unfortunately there is no mail order catalog that sells ideas. Then again, a mail order catalog of ideas probably wouldn’t do too well because ideas are everywhere free for the taking. Ideas are born in the slant of late summer sun on evergreens, or in an overheard conversation. They could be as simple as a person’s gesture, or as complex as a dream. Input is everywhere, but it’s up to the imagination to sift it all and discard unneeded information and details, or to hold it all in reserve when a need arises during the writing process. Somehow the brains of writers know how to process information and ideas in a way that helps build stories. Most authors have more ideas than they know what to do with.

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Can I send you my stories or ideas?

Please don’t. I’ll send them back to you unread. Why? Well, there are several issues at work here.
            Time: I have my own stuff to write – that’s my job – and it generally leaves me little time to focus on someone else’s work.
            I’m not an editor: I can’t help you if you are looking to get your work published. Only an editor can make the crucial decision as to whether or not your work is publishable. I have no influence in any editor’s decision-making process, which is based on many things, including business. Also, editing requires a different set of skills than writing, which I do not possess.
            Legal issues: My reading of unpublished work/ideas could lead to legal entanglements everyone would rather avoid. I don’t wish to be accused of “stealing” your work should anything similar pop up in mine. This has happened to other authors, and I’d rather avoid the situation.
           
Advice: If you are simply in need of feedback on your work before submitting it to an editor, seek out a writing workshop/class, or acquaintances/friends whose opinions you value, and who can provide you with specific feedback. Even published authors – myself included – rely on the feedback of discerning friends before turning in manuscripts to their editors.

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How do I get published?

Since I have no personal experience in self/indie publishing, my comments reflect traditional publishing only.

There is no magic formula, and entire books have been written about the subject, but here are some general guidelines:

            Story: Write the best possible story you can; get it as clean and final and polished as possible.
            Business: Publishing is a business, and it would serve you well to learn something about it if you are determined to break in. Your story or novel is a product you are trying to sell. Figure out which publishers are most likely to be interested in your particular type of work. Look at your bookshelves – does one publisher dominate over another? Each publisher has editors with particular tastes. Some might prefer romantic fantasy over heroic epics, for instance. Target your publisher/agent appropriately.
            Professionalism: Since publishing is a business, present yourself as professionally as possible. No manuscripts written in crayon! Your query letters and correspondence should be as highly polished as your manuscript.
            Agent or publisher?: You can sell either way, but more and more, many publishers prefer to see agented works. Most major publishers have websites with guidelines telling you how you should submit your work. There are market guidebooks out there as well, listing publishers and agents.
            Publishing Resources: Unlike the days of yore when I was first trying to get published (a time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and we had to wind up cars to make them run), there is now an Internet full of publishing resources, including the websites of individual publishers, authors, and organizations. It would take pages to list them all, so if you write SF/F (and even if you don’t) why not start at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a professional organization of authors, publishers, and others striving to advocate for one another and promote the genres we love.

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Why does it take so long for your books to come out?

The publishing process seems to be a mysterious world to many, and there is little understanding of why books don’t emerge instantaneously from author’s manuscript to book form on bookstore shelves. Here is a rundown of the process of creating a book (which may vary from publisher to publisher):
            The author must first write a publishable manuscript. Some authors take longer than others. Sometimes a story will turn out to be a lot more pages than the author anticipates, thus taking more time to create than planned for. Sometimes life interferes. People get sick, people die, financial catastrophes occur, etc. Authors are human, and therefore subject to the vagaries of life that afflict all other people, which can affect writing output.
            When the manuscript finally leaves the author’s hands and finds its way to its publisher’s office, the editor has to fit reading the manuscript into her schedule. Since an editor usually has several authors she oversees, as well as numerous other duties, it can be months before she gets to read said manuscript. (Plus, she’s human, too.)
            Once the editor has edited, the author begins revising the manuscript. Meanwhile, other things start to happen. The artist is contacted to prepare the cover art, and the editor has to shoehorn the book into the publisher’s schedule, taking into account what month is best to bring out a particular title (some months are better than others), which books are already scheduled (they don’t want to lump all their books into one month – that would be foolish), and how long it will take for the book to go through production. The book may be introduced to sales representatives at sales conferences, and the manuscript turned into an uncorrected reading copy to obtain publicity quotes for the cover from other authors.
            After the author finishes revisions and sends the manuscript back to the editor, the editor once again has to fit a reading of it into her schedule (more months may pass). The editor may or may not have further suggestions for the author. From here, the manuscript is sent to copyediting.
            The copyeditor line edits the manuscript and proofs for such things as grammatical mistakes and continuity errors. Once this is done? Publishers send the copyedited manuscript back to the author to look over.
            Meanwhile, a designer has been putting together the cover art with title and cover copy (the text on the cover that summarizes the book), while someone else designs the “look” of the interior pages, including typeface. Once the page proofs are printed up, copies are sent to proofers, including the author. This is the last chance to catch any major goofs and typos.
            Once the corrected page proofs are collected from the various proofers, the corrections are consolidated into one master copy, which is sent to the printer. The printer fixes the mistakes (hopefully), and eventually begins printing out pages. The pages will then be bound into actual books and sent to a warehouse. Electronic editions are also created after all the above processes to ensure the reader receives a quality product.
            Meanwhile, the publicist has been doing publicity type things, such as ensuring that advance reading copies go to various book review venues.
            Newly made books sit in boxes in the warehouse, waiting to be shipped out to bookstores (or queued up to be uploaded to online bookstores). Once at the bookstore, it is up to the booksellers to put ‘em on the shelves or online for you to see.
            And hopefully, during the production phase, the author has been busily, ahem, working on the next book, so the process can begin anew.

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Can I write fanfic based on your novels?

Fiction written by individuals and based on the copyrighted worlds and characters of others tends to stir the passions between its practitioners and those who oppose it. Once upon a time (again, back when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth), fanfic was not much of an issue because it was mainly shared between a few friends for fun. With the advent of the Internet, suddenly everything changed – fanfic could be openly distributed to a vast audience, leaving copyright holders and their licensees scrambling. The conflict? Placing a story on the Internet is akin to publishing and distributing it. Only the original copyright holder has the right to authorize other individuals or agencies (i.e. one’s publisher) to publish and distribute his or her work, or license it to others for adaptation in another form (i.e. film, audio, etc.).
            The unauthorized use of an author’s copyrighted novel could endanger that author’s right to his or her own creation, sort of like property squatting. Personally, I like that copyright protects my work so I can license it to publishers, and by doing so, earn enough of a living to pay the mortgage and keep the dog in kibble. Not to mention I love my job. Without copyright, I would not be able to support myself doing what I love to do.
            Copyright is confusing enough, but adding to the confusion are the authors themselves who express varying degrees of permissiveness toward fanfic. Some promote it without reserve, others discourage it absolutely. Therefore, I can only speak for myself when I request fan writers to please abstain from publishing and proliferating stories based on my copyrighted material via the Internet or any other highly distributable form.
            Likewise, please do not inform me of any fanfic based on my work that you might stumble upon. I do not want to see it. I do not want to know about it. Thank you. And if you have a legitimate query about licensing any of my material, please contact my agent. (Contact Information)

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Can I adapt a screenplay based on your novels?

If you have a legitimate offer to make to obtain the right to do so, then you know you must contact my agent. (Contact Information)

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E-piracy isn’t a big deal, is it?

E-pirates are thieves who knowingly place illegal downloads of copyrighted books and stories on “share” sites and other places on the Internet. Usually the downloads are offered for free, but increasingly there are thieves who have the gall to charge readers for the downloads. Authors earn a small percentage off each book that is legally sold, which helps them earn income for everyday living. Illegal downloads deny authors that income.
            Maybe one would like to “stick it to the man” and be the big hero by posting illegal downloads. Who is “the man?” Publishers may seem like faceless, evil corporate overlords, but they employ real people also trying to put a meal on the table, pay college tuition for their kids, and pay off medical bills. By “sticking it to the man,” one is sticking it to everyday, working people.
            Yes, E-piracy is theft, like pick-pocketing a wallet or walking out of a store without paying for a book. It is punishable.
            Want a free read? Libraries, both virtual and physical, would love your patronage. And some authors and publishers permit free downloads for promotional purposes, either for a limited time or…forever. Be aware and beware, and make sure you get your reads from a legitimate source.

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How do you know stuff about horses?

When I was a kid, not only did I read every horse book and magazine I could get my hands on, but I also spent a lot of time around horses. I earned riding lessons by working at a stable (cleaning tack, mucking stalls, throwing around hay bales, etc.). I even earned a dollar or two hotwalking horses during polo matches, and one year, I had the care of a big gelding named Fox that I had to condition for the hunt season. I rode primarily English hunt seat, and dabbled in dressage. I didn’t really care about what style of riding I participated in, I just wanted to be around horses. I haven’t been involved with horses much since those long ago days, but if I have questions pertaining to horses in my stories, I know who to call on.

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Will Karigan and King Zachary ever get together?

Believe it or not, I get this question often enough that it deserves its own topic. It still surprises me how taken with this romantic subplot many readers have become. I want to say to them, in defensive reflex, but- but there’s other “stuff” worthy of notice in them thar books, too! In any case, I’m endlessly pleased people like what they’re reading, whether it’s the romantic subplot, or some other element of the story.

As for the question, even if I knew the ultimate answer, I would not tell a single reader, not even my editor! It would constitute a rather hefty spoiler, don’t you think? And if you haven’t noticed, I rather enjoy torturing my characters as well as my readers.

Kristen Britain Photo credit: Leila Saad

Kristen with friend, Sally, the Fjord draft pony. Sally lived and worked on an organic farm in Maine where she helped with haying and timber harvesting. Kristen learned about harnessing and driving from the Fjord ponies on the farm, an experience that informs her writing. Sadly, Sally, and numerous other farm animals perished when their historic barn burned down in May 2012. The farm has since risen from the ashes, but Sally and her fellow hoofed, feathered, and woolly barnmates are still sorely missed.