Letitia Coyne Guest Post and Give@way

One of the things I found exhilarating about the freedom of digital publishing, both free online content and working with an independent publisher, was the lack of editorial guidelines. All of our mainstream publishers define their various imprints through rigid criteria, each specializing so that their readers get a predictable package with every purchase. Length, complexity, and adherence to a form are all elements of the guidelines authors are required to write to if they want to be accepted for publication.
Now, that is not a bad thing. Readers have come to expect certain things from the books we buy, and we feel comfortable in the knowledge that we won’t be disappointed by our purchase. We like a book to meet a certain set of expectations, and what we expect from a genre is part of the deal.
If we are buying a romance, for instance, we want passion, sensual tension, and a happy ever after ending. If we are buying science fiction, we want good sound science and credible world building. We say we want something different and we mean it, but what most of us want, if market analysis is to be believed, is a new take on the story that fits within the structure we are familiar with and enjoy.
When I started reading widely in online fiction, especially serial fiction or from directories of free novels like bibliotastic.com and obooko.com, I found stories that were able to blend and blur genres in ways that were not possible in the mainstream fiction world. I found fairy tales completely re-imagined, where truly wicked witches were the heroines, and Christian sci-fi, and erotic sci-fi with sexy aliens, and fantastic military thrillers that discussed the deep philosophies of good and evil.
And none of that is a bad thing, either. I love it. It doesn’t always work, of course. Authors still need to give us what we want from their stories; we have to get the payoff we are craving. But where it does get difficult, is trying to use the genre labels we are familiar with to describe something that just will not sit comfortably in any one box.
With Touchstone, the best label I’ve been able to come up with is: historical fiction – medieval tragedy/romance. I hope I managed to combine the best of all those genres into a compelling story, without sacrificing the important strengths of any of them.
Touchstone is certainly historical fiction. It is based on 13th-14th century northern Europe and Scandinavia. Customs, tools, and lifestyles of the characters are carefully drawn from the history I love, but Freya and Dragan live in a world that never was, even if it is not unlike our own.
They live in an empire which has been at war for centuries, but whose boundaries never change. Nothing is won or lost, and yet generations are raised to know that there is an enemy out there who must be resisted. Year after year, young men and women go off to die for their nation, nursed on fear and patriotism along with their mother’s milk. It is an empire in which the wealthy have power and the poor are fodder for the war, and questioning that order means questioning the very reasons they live.
The central relationship of Touchstone is certainly a romance, but there is no ‘boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy loses girl, finds her again and lives happily ever after’. This is a couple who have lived and fought together for twelve long years. They know the best and worst of each other, and their love is not built on infatuation but on mutual respect.
It is, at its core, a tragedy. It is not common to find tragedies in today’s fiction. We are all too used to imagining the world can be remade to suit our hopes and dreams. We prefer to believe that if we want something badly enough and if we work hard for it, the universe will somehow reward our good intentions.
In the distant past, tragedies were common and adored. Readers, or audiences who heard stories told, didn’t want false hope. The world is harsh and that every man should find what happiness he can in his own life, rather than pine for the impossible. The only way to challenge the inevitable is to be willing to change ourselves.
For those of you who decide to give Touchstone a try, I hope it exceeds all your expectations, even if it is hard to label.

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http://www.bibliotastic.com/genres/historical-fiction - All free ebooks in all formats
http://www.obooko.com/obooko_period/free_ebooks_historical_fiction_001.html - Free ebooks in all formats - [requires fast non-invasive registration]

Latitia Coyne has offered to giveaway two e-copies of Touchstone to two lucky readers. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. You must fill out the rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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