If you've been following me and @bloodinkfire accounts (thank you!) you've probably noticed there's been a little buzz lately about the exclusive reader group for my novel. So I thought I would dish the dirt on The Hundred, including where the idea came from, and what it means to me as a first-time novelist. Ready? Here we go!
A little backstory...
I began writing Blood, Ink & Fire just over 6 months ago. I began planning it around 9 months ago. I began conceiving the world, the characters and the story about 6 YEARS ago. Yes. It takes a long time to create an entire dystopian future and populate it. It takes even longer to craft a story that will hopefully stick around for a while thereafter.
If you are a writer, you know this about writing: it can be a lonely process. You spend hours, days, weeks on end by yourself in your own head talking to fictional characters that feel real to you and only you. I can imagine, as far as I am able, that it must be a little like insanity.
Here’s the other thing about writing: it’s usually a one-way street.
The readers out there, powerful in their fervent desire for stories, clutch their books and glimpse hungrily inside the author’s imagination to discover the oddities, the fantasies, the strange corners of the human mind that lurk between the pages.
Yet authors rarely get the pleasure of true insight into the power of their readers’ imaginations until long after the book is finished. Until readers and fans have taken the story as their own and claimed, quite naturally, parts of the fiction that seem to speak to them and only them. Often, writers do not have the opportunity to glimpse whether the story they’ve created truly has the depth of reach that they imagined until it’s too late.
As I began my writing journey with Blood, Ink & Fire, I often wondered, what would it be like if an author could harness the power of many readers through the voices of just a few? What if a chosen group, through their intense passion and hunger for stories, could come together to represent readers everywhere? What if they could do it when the book wasn’t yet fully formed, so that the author, equally as hungry for the readers as they are for the stories themselves, could infuse the book with the powerful insights of those very readers that were the first to discover their world? What would happen if that one-way street suddenly became two?
It was with these burning questions in mind that The Hundred was born.
Why "The Hundred"?
Believe it or not, we spent a long time thinking about the appropriate number of bibliophiles to gather and what to call the group itself. Twenty-five felt like too few. Five-hundred too unmanageable. But one hundred? It was this wonderful, even, circular number that just made sense. And from there, well, it's all history folks.
What's the skinny?
Team Blood, Ink & Fire and I are gathering one hundred passionate bibliophiles and bringing them together through their love of books and stories. Together, we will keep books alive. We will read my debut novel Blood, Ink & Fire, the story of Noelle Hartley, a reader living one hundred years in the future in a time when books no longer exist. Through feedback and critiques, we will work together to make it the best book it can be. We will bring something great to readers far and wide.
What kind of feedback will you look for?
As an author, I have endless questions for my future readers. Literally. They never stop. They keep me awake at night (like, right now I'm writing this post instead of doing something normal like sleeping.)
No seriously, questions for my readers haunt me like the ghosts that haunted Ebenezer Scrooge. But I welcome them instead of shun them because they mostly help me make good choices when it comes to writing.
So. I want to know whether I made the desired connections, and whether those connections had some modicum of impact. I want to know about the characters I’ve been living with, and whether I’ve succeeded in making them as real for readers as they are for me. I’m interested individual insights and opinions about the novel, as well as group feedback that takes place in a communal coffeehouse setting like on Friends from way back when. I’d like for The Hundred to act as an insanely cool and mysterious portal of joy for readers who want to connect and share their experiences inside the world of Blood, Ink & Fire with each other as well as with me. Ambitious? Perhaps. But perhaps, too, great readers deserve nothing short of ambition.
How will I use the feedback I receive?
I will use it thoughtfully and with gratitude to produce:
- More rewrites.
- More edits.
- A finished novel that is publishable.
I will use it make the story more of what it is supposed to be, and less of what it isn’t. In doing so I will attempt to make it better. This is my mission. I may or may not succeed, as only readers after the fact will be able to judge.
So, what’s in store for The Hundred?
Oooh. Here's where it gets good. Readers hand picked for The Hundred will be in for something truly special. They’ll get advanced access to Blood, Ink & Fire, (An ARC!), and participate in shaping the story through discussions, feedback sessions and chats with each other and with me – the author - directly. There will be plenty of time throughout the reading for everyone to ask questions and share thoughts and ideas. They will also get access to exclusive content, something I think bloggers and booktubers are going to love.
What’s more, each and every reader will receive their own dedicated number and a reader pack with official goodies. And each reader’s number isn’t just a number – they will all have special significance later on during the reading.
To thank everyone for participating, there will be some awesome special treats to give away, plus the chance to complete Missions and win rewards.
About the Missions
Blood, Ink & Fire is all about keeping books alive. Readers in The Hundred will have exclusive access to Missions and the chance to earn book-lover worthy rewards for their efforts. Everything will happen online at bloodinkfire.com through a part of the site only readers in The Hundred can access. Super 007. Super fun.
What happens after The Hundred?
That’s up to the readers and getting the word out about the novel so that one day it will be on the shelves for book lovers everywhere. There will be more details to come on how you can help make this happen.
When will Blood, Ink & Fire be published?
My goal is to make 2015 the year that Blood, Ink & Fire makes a splash!