Whose Series Is This Anyway? by Janine M. Donoho

Mistborn Chronicles

Mistborn Chronicles

A comment from my MISTBORN CHRONICLES page:

Josh  Mar 08, 2014.@ 06:29:44    Is this sanctioned?

My first novel KALEIDOSCOPE began moving through the submittal cycle shortly before Danielle Steele’s book by the same name hit the shelves. Amazon.com alone now lists over 25 titles by that name. While mine received a slew of encouraging rejection letters, it will never see the light of day. You see, I’ve moved on and KALEIDOSCOPE served as a terrific lesson on ‘how to write a novel’.

Borne of Mist Book 1

Borne of Mist
Book 1

My complete and original epic fantasy series MISTBORN CHRONICLES started crystallizing in the early 1990’s while I studied for my biology degree. I wrote the first novel of my MISTBORN TRILOGY after graduation. If MISTBORN TRILOGY sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone—it’s out there. Thus my tweak to MISTBORN CHRONICLES when in fact, my series is a trilogy. Great minds? Perhaps.

When BORNE OF MIST, Book 1 of MISTBORN TRILOGY, was complete, my then-agent sent it to Claire Eddy at Tor. She wrote a heartening thanks-but-no-thanks, referring to another series in the pipeline that ‘was too much like mine’. Well, long story short, that series was listed as MISTBORN TRILOGY and has done very well.

I recently read the first two books of this other fantasy series, which has expanded from the original trilogy format. Contrary to Ms. Eddy’s comment, TOR’s MISTBORN world has nothing in common with mine in which:

A rapacious mage rips the veil between realities to pursue an escaped captive. Into a world innocent of magic and meager science, mysterious powers and creatures surge through the rift. This triggers events leading to earth-shattering changes to this world and others. Two Mistborn must learn to trust each other, developing tactics and strategies even as their evolving talents become paramount. Meanwhile a mage war escalates, promising to quench the spark of this world—and others.

Forged in Mist Book 2

Forged in Mist
Book 2

So please, potential readers, understand the way of the written word. Titles describe a fictitious world and invite you into them. There may be times when one novel or series’ title appears to mimic another. Consider another view.

It takes time to finish and edit a 340,000 word trilogy. Add in the years spent going through multiple traditional publishers, who insist upon single submissions, then hold your works hostage for 6-12 months before deciding it’s ‘not-quite-right for them, but please send any other work you have’. Consider an indie writer, winner and runner-up in multiple writerly contests, who decides to take her work to an alternative platform. Because really, what more does any writer want than to find those readers who love her stories?

Chosen by Mist Book 3

Chosen by Mist
Book 3

Then understand this proposition. We writers tap into an infinite river of creativity, allowing what comes to flow through us and onto the page. Some have dubbed this process ‘writing to the bone’ or ‘ripping open a vein’. We humbly offer this gift to you.

In answer to those readers who take issue with titles that appear to provide more of what they already love: why not try the new? Decide for yourself. What do you really have to lose?

Have other writers and authors dealt with this issue? What worked for you?

Build the Foundation & Story Will Come by Janine M. Donoho

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince joining online communities, then enjoying the first steps of writers new to their craft, I delight in their growth. The freshness of their vision and their infatuation with words reveal elements leading to stories I want to read.

I suspect that’s how many of us writers begin. Then if we want to publish, we dig deeper and learn more about craft. One of my early ‘ah-ha’ moments occurred thanks to seasoned critique partners and great library systems.

With that in mind, let me share a simple technique for building story foundations. Since many grandmasters have gone out-of-print and indeed, gone elsewhere, here’s what I distilled from their works. Prepare to be dazzled:

Goal, Obstacle, Resolution.

Okay, dazzled may be too strong a word. Yet on longer projects, applying this method calmed my pre-project jitters so I could begin. Often I view story as scenes leading to chapters leading to a completed novel or even as scenes leading to acts with a progression of rising and falling actions. Here’s how I apply necessary groundwork:

MB Bk 1 Kindle Cover w. Ctr. LtgTake the first chapter from Book 1 of MISTBORN CHRONICLES*, Borne of Mist:

Goal: Introduce the world’s increasing strangeness via Zenadon MelʹChaime, who must accept the challenge to save his world.

Obstacle: Zen doesn’t want to believe that what’s happening has anything to do with him–he’s happy and comfortable as Master Merchant.

Resolution: He chooses to meet with the Mist-Spawn.

I know, I know. It’s clunky. That’s not the point. After beginning, then finishing a dozen novels, this process alleviates my boggles. Boggles, you ask? Well, the trepidation that there’s not enough story to grow a novel, a series–or even a short story, for that matter.

You can also use this technique for developing character arc. Here’s an example for Elishandra ser Danche′ sere Jillian:

Goal: Her survival depends upon placing Morchem on the defensive, then neutralizing him.

Obstacle: He’s stronger than she and obsessed with her; their last conflict ended with her teacher dead and Lisha crippled.

Resolution: Motivated by her commitment to this world and others, she discovers the strength to rebuild her magic within the confines of the world’s natural systems.Forged Cvr. 4

Don’t judge me. I lifted these directly from my early visions of MISTBORN*, circa 1998. With the series complete, it’s surprising how much of the original structure endured–a matter of modifying framework versus carving stone.

Here are a few keepers from my private shelves: Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, Writing the Novel from Plot to Print and Spider, Spin Me a Web by Lawrence Block, Story – Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee, Writing the Short Story by Jack M. Bickham. Yes, yes, lots of boys in this club–but also master storytellers. You can take what you choose from them and crystallize your process.

Let me know if this helps or hinders you in your quest for story. I wish you joy in your writing.

*Caveat: I originally called my series MISTBORN TRILOGY, which my then-agent sent to TOR, who had another series in the pipeline and passed on mine. Lo and behold–Brandon Sanderson’s MISTBORN TRILOGY, which except for the series title is nothing like mine. So there.


Free Verse Gratitude to 1st Reviewer of BORNE OF MIST by Janine M. Donoho



5 stars dropped5.0 out of 5 stars E book, December 27, 2012

By Judith F. Reel (Smithville,Mo USA)
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is for Borne of Mist (Mistborn Chronicles) (Kindle Edition)

Great story line and well written. I have read this author on Fanfiction.net and that is why when I found out that this author wrote a e book I bought it.

Thank you so much for my very first reader’s review of BORNE OF MIST, Judith. You’re officially a pack member.

As I finish editing FORGED IN MIST, Book 2 of MISTBORN CHRONICLES, I visited my Amazon site for an update. And there your review was–the equivalent of lightning bolt and plant root starter. Yes, a seemingly mixed metaphor even though both fulgarites formed by strikes and root starters can be rich in phosphorous–but that’s another story.

You see, we writers often write in isolation, impelled by story worms that drill into our brains and refuse to leave until we do their will. Then we offer our finished works to readers, hoping with little credence that someone will come along who gets the story. When that person goes even further and reviews with 5 stars dropped   …well, expect tears and crazy dancing.

The New DayNo longer quite so alone in the Okanogan Highlands. Thank you, my sweet, for both your interest in reading my story along with the added fillip your review bestowed. Joy to you and yours.

Fellow authors, how does a great review from a reader affect you? And Dear Readers, what compels you to write reviews?

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27, 2015
The big day is here.

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