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2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2012

It's time for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for March 2012!

As part of this year's Debut Author Challenge I thought it would be fun to choose a favorite cover from each month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2012 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month that the novel is released in the US.

January 2012  Winner - Control Point (Shadow Ops 1) by Myke Cole. Cover Art by Mike Komarck.

February 2012 Winner - Dead Harvest (The Collector 1) by Chris F. Holm. Cover Art by Amazing 15.


For March you have 9 covers to choose from.





























Interview with Deborah Coates - March 13, 2012

Please welcome Deborah Coates to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Deborah's debut, Wide Open, is published today. You may read Deborah's Guest Blog - Everything in its Place - by clicking here.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Deborah:  This is not so much a quirk or (I'm afraid) all that interesting, but if it were possible I would probably do better if I could plan the entire book in my head before I wrote anything down. I can't do that because given all the other things in my head there doesn't seem to enough room for an entire novel. Frankly, my subconscious is a better writer than my conscious mind.

TQ:   Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Deborah:  I always wanted, not to write what Jane Austen wrote, but to write the sort of novel that could be read in a number of different ways. Pride and Prejudice can be read (and I've probably read it all these ways at different times) as a romance, as a comedy of manners, as beautiful writing, as literature and of course as several of those things at once. I'd like to write that sort of book, something with multiple layers, that pulls in readers with different sorts of interests. So, while I don't want to write in the style of Jane Austen, she's definitely influenced what I think about when I write.

I also greatly admire good writing, good plotting and good characters, especially when they're all together in one book.

Current favorite writers or current writers of favorite books: Louise Penny, Justin Cronin, Ariana Franklin.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Deborah:  I think I'm a pantser who wishes she were more of a plotter. I've coming around to the idea that I should write a really fast, really bad first draft and then figure things out from there. You COULD say that was my outline, but I'm not sure it's even good enough to be an outline. Some of my best ideas and some of my best plot problem-solving come from just sitting down and writing but I also often go seriously off the rails plot-wise and have to do some big, sweeping rewriting and rearranging. It's not efficient even if it all turns out fine in the end.

The thing is, as I said above, my subconscious really does the heavy creative lifting and sometimes I just need to let the story sit back there for awhile before the answers come forth, like it was easy all along.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Deborah:  For a long time the most challenging thing for me has been to write every day and, particularly, to write a certain amount--500, 750, 1,000 words--every day. Because my subconscious does so much of the work I really do need time to let things simmer and sometimes I just don't have that time available. Walking dogs helps. And sometimes just writing helps--I figure things out as I go. These days, though, I think the most challenging thing is switching from writing to editing, which for me is a very different skill set and way of thinking.

TQ:  Describe Wide Open in 140 characters or less.

Deborah:  When Hallie returns to South Dakota to investigate her sister's death, she finds ghosts, magic and a deputy who knows more than he's telling.

TQ:   What inspired you to write Wide Open?

Deborah:  I figured if I was going to work on a novel, it should combine as many things I'm interested in as possible. I like strong characters, I like contemporary fantasy and particularly stories that are heavily grounded in everyday details, with a strong sense of place and time. I like interesting fantasy elements and that juxtaposition of fantasy and everyday living. I like writing about prairies and farms and small towns. In general, my stories start with the characters and the place and grow from there.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Wide Open?

Deborah:  There were two major areas that I researched for Wide Open--women soldiers in Afghanistan and western South Dakota. It turns out--or at least this was true when I was actually writing Wide Open--that there's much less written about the war in Afghanistan than the war in Iraq. There was a brief time when I considered changing Hallie's deployment, but the thing is Afghanistan is more the right place for Hallie to be returning from than Iraq. It's clearly a liminal space. It's the place that historically groups have gone through on their way to somewhere else and it's sometimes the place they get bogged down or even buried.

Hallie is in a liminal space in more ways than one throughout the story--she's come back to South Dakota, a place she once thought she'd left for good. South Dakota sits in a space that's not quite West or Midwest. Hallie herself didn't quite die and is not quite in the world the same way she was before.

My second main research area was South Dakota. I have been to western South Dakota and I grew up on a farm, though in a different part of the country. One thing I was concerned about was how different rural South Dakota might be from other rural places I've lived. What I learned was that some of it is quite different--the openness, the weather, the things people raise and grow--and some of it is exactly the same.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Deborah:  Hallie was by far the easiest to write. She opts for action when there's action to take and for a writer--as long as I can figure out what kind of action Hallie would be likely to take--that makes her pretty easy to write. I just let her go. Having said that, though, I did have to work to show more than one side of her. It's easy to make her anger and grief the only facets to her--because they are really important in the story. Hallie IS angry and she's grieving, but she's capable of other feelings too.

Hallie's father was hard for me to get right. I liked writing him and I like how he turned out, but people kept reading him in ways that weren't as I intended him. He can be sarcastic and cranky, but he's got good qualities too and, in a way, like writing Hallie--or maybe any characters--I had to find ways to show those other qualities. It was harder with him because he's not on the page nearly as much as Hallie is.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Wide Open?

Deborah:  You know, I'm actually kind of fond of the scene where Hallie and Boyd meet for the first time. Hallie is probably at her very worst--she hasn't slept in twenty-four hours, she's still trying to absorb the fact of her sister's death, she's just been greeted by her sister's ghost at the airport, she's got a car with a flat tire and no lug wrench. Boyd arrives and he's calm and courteous and helpful and it really pisses her off. It all goes forward from there, I think, for the two of them.

TQ:  What's next?

Deborah:  There are two sequels to WIDE OPEN. The second book is with my editor and I'm expecting to get feedback from her very soon. I have a draft of the third one that I've set aside for a bit, though I hope to get back to work on that soon as well. There will be more South Dakota, more Hallie, more Boyd and more magic.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Deborah:  Thank you for having me! It was a pleasure.


About Wide Open

Wide Open
Tor Books (March 13, 2012)
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Deborah Coates - March 13, 2012
When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave, her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie doesn't believe it. Something happened or Dell's ghost wouldn't still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell's loss, think Hallie's letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn't have to.

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone's trying to beat her up, burn down her father's ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie's going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.


About Deborah Coates

Deborah Coates lives in central Iowa and works at Iowa State University. Her short fiction has appeared in Asimov's and Strange Horizons, as well as Year's Best Fantasy 6, Best Paranormal Romance, and Best American Fantasy 2. She's been a farmhand, a factory worker, a statistician, a researcher, and an IT professional. You can find her at http://www.deborah-coates.com and on Twitter as debcoates.

Release Day Review - Wide Open - 4 Qwills

Wide Open
Author:  Deborah Coates
Format:  Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher:  Tor Books (March 13, 2012)
Price:  $24.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  978-0765328984
Review copy:  ARC provided by Publisher


Release Day Review - Wide Open - 4 Qwills
When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave, her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie doesn't believe it. Something happened or Dell's ghost wouldn't still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell's loss, think Hallie's letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn't have to.

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone's trying to beat her up, burn down her father's ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie's going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.

My thoughts:

Hallie Michaels sister has died. She returns to South Dakota on compassionate leave from the war in Afghanistan. She only has her leave to figure it out what may have happened and she's not exactly thrilled about seeing ghosts including that of her sister, Dell. She's sure that Dell has not committed suicide.

Hallie is a woman of action and very few words. She's angry and often acts without thinking, but her actions elicit responses that give her clues to what is going on. At times I found Hallie grating. By the end of the novel she seems to be opening a little. There are glimpses of something more than just anger in Hallie.

Boyd Davies, a local Sheriff's Deputy, offers a nice counterbalance to Hallie. Where Hallie would rush in swinging, Boyd would hold her back both to protect her and because he's a Deputy. He often knows that holding Hallie back is not going to happen, but he is there for her... if she'd accept the help. Hallie reluctantly teams up with Boyd to figure out what is going on.  Boyd has his own secrets too, which may or may not help Hallie.

Hallie interacts with many of the people she grew up with and most of them are there for supporting roles. We certainly get glimpses of Hallie's life before she joined the Army. With few exceptions it does not seem that much has changed back home. Most of her friends and acquaintances are unaware of the magic swirling around them and the bad things that have been done.

The South Dakota setting makes a wonderful backdrop for Wide Open. Deborah Coates does a terrific job of creating the 'place' of the story. Wide Open is an enjoyable rural fantasy. I'm looking forward to reading more about Hallie and Boyd.

I give Wide Open 4 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Wide Open - 4 Qwills

Guest Blog by Deborah Coates - Everything In Its Place

Please welcome Deborah Coates to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challlenge Guest Blogs. Deborah's debut novel, Wide Open, will be published on March 13, 2012.



Everything In Its Place

I grew up in the Northeast, in upstate New York specifically, though I've also spent time in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. The rural Northeast is a place of winding roads, small(-ish) farms, rolling hills, rocks, and trees. The specifics vary: New England has ocean and old mountains; New York State has lakes and glacial drumlins. But still, primarily rolling hills, rocks, and trees.

It's pretty. I'm happy I grew up there.

Then, a number of years ago, I needed a job and the job I got was in Iowa, which, along with most Midwestern states and particularly most Midwestern states west of the Mississippi River, was not actually on the list of places I wanted to live. But a job's a job and so I moved. Ames, Iowa where I was moving to is built on a flood plain and is, consequently, stereotypically flat (much of Iowa is actually gently rolling hills). In addition, the day I moved there the temperature was over a hundred degrees.

Whoa.

But I grew to like Iowa and its extremes of weather (it's both the hottest and the coldest place I've ever lived) and particularly the wide openness and the ability to see for miles. Iowa was my starter state, an entry point to the High Plains, to Nebraska and to South Dakota, which I also love and wish more people had the chance to see.

Guest Blog by Deborah Coates - Everything In Its Place


The best urban fantasy makes the city a character, makes it essential to the story and how the story plays out. I love that about urban fantasy and I love that urban fantasy is set solidly in our world, but slightly twisted. I wanted to do that same thing, give that same solid sense of place, for the Plains states I love so much. And I wanted other people to see them as I do, not as places of rural stereotype, but as real places with real complicated people.

I chose western South Dakota as the setting for WIDE OPEN because it's a liminal space. It's not green rolling hills like Iowa, gently and largely cultivated. But it's also not what people commonly think of as the romantic West, as cowboys and justice and frontier spirit (even though many of the things we associate with the historic West actually happened in South Dakota, we mostly think of it as cold, windswept, desolate).

Hallie Michaels, the main character in WIDE OPEN, is also in a liminal space. She's had a near-death experience in Afghanistan which has left her able to see ghosts and she's come back to western South Dakota, to a place she's no longer sure she belongs, for her sister's funeral.

I hope that WIDE OPEN is a good fantasy and a good story, but I also hope that the sense of place comes through, that when you read it you can feel the openness and the scope of the place and the wind. I hope you can feel how small we are in a place like this, how the earth can shake us loose, how we hang on anyway because we want to and because we have to.

Guest Blog by Deborah Coates - Everything In Its Place


From WIDE OPEN:

Brett dropped off the interstate onto old State Highway 4, back in Taylor County, finally. Things began to look familiar.

Familiar and different because she had changed and the county had changed. The track up to the Packer ranch, which they’d just passed, had gone to prairie. The Packers had tried to sell up two years before Hallie left, and then they’d just disappeared, left the ranch to the bank, let it all go. Hallie wondered what the buildings were like up there, because things didn’t last on the prairie; even things you thought were permanent could disappear in the dry and the cold and the endless wind.

Brett turned off the state highway onto an uneven county road. Hallie looked at her. “Aren’t we—?” She stopped. “We’re going to the ranch, right?”

Brett bit her bottom lip. “Your daddy says you’re going to pick the casket. And . . . the rest of it.”

Hallie gave a sharp half laugh and pinched the bridge of her nose. Of course he did. When their mother died, she and Dell had picked out the casket with help from Cass Andersen and, if she remembered right, Lorie’s mother. Because her father could wrestle an angry steer and rebuild an old tractor engine and even mend a pair of ripped jeans, but he couldn’t face the civilized part of death, when the bodies were cleaned up and laid out and someone had to decide how to dress them and fix their hair and what was going to happen for the rest of eternity.


Photos included under CC license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
1. Rolling Bales and Clouds--Josh Kellogg (http://www.flickr.com/people/kelloggphotography/)
2. Little Shack on the Prairie--Sam Klein (http://www.flickr.com/people/cubedude27/)


About Wide Open

Wide Open
Tor Books (March 13, 2012)
Hardcover, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Deborah Coates - Everything In Its Place
When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave, her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie doesn't believe it. Something happened or Dell's ghost wouldn't still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell's loss, think Hallie's letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn't have to.

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone's trying to beat her up, burn down her father's ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie's going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.


About Deborah Coates

Deborah Coates lives in central Iowa and works at Iowa State University. Her short fiction has appeared in Asimov's and Strange Horizons, as well as Year's Best Fantasy 6, Best Paranormal Romance, and Best American Fantasy 2. She's been a farmhand, a factory worker, a statistician, a researcher, and an IT professional. You can find her at http://www.deborah-coates.com and on Twitter as debcoates.
2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2012Interview with Deborah Coates - March 13, 2012Release Day Review - Wide Open - 4 QwillsGuest Blog by Deborah Coates - Everything In Its Place

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