Today I’d like to welcome a guest on Trees Are Not Lollipops: Marti Norton, author of “Unchosen Mage”. I first ‘met’ Marti back in 2006 when I joined Critique Circle to have Treespeaker critiqued. She critiqued my first chapter, noticed I came from Australia and wrote to ask where exactly I was from. I was very coy with my answer, wary of giving away too much information to a stranger (especially one I thought was a man – how embarrassing). It turned out though, that she had spent eighteen months at the same school as I attended for my final two years. Unfortunately she had left the year before I got there, but the coincidence was incredible all the same. It’s not every day you meet someone on the other side of the world who’s been to the same small country school you did. Since then she has been a faithful critic of all my books, in all their drafts. So it’s an honour to have her here today to talk about her new book, Unchosen Mage, which I have read and critiqued in its various drafts. I have never known anyone so dedicated to getting her book perfect as Marti and I’m delighted that it is finally out there where it should be, for people to read…
Hi Marti. So tell us, who is Marti Norton?
I'm a native Texan and live in the Piney woods of East. I've traveled the world, visiting twelve countries outside the US, and lived in Western Australia for a year and a half. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Communications-Media from California University of Pennsylvania, and a Masters of Education from Stephen F. Austin State University. I taught science in the public schools for nine years.
In college, I was a member of Army ROTC Ranger and Orienteering units and have always enjoyed the outdoors: camping, hiking, rappelling, spelunking (caving), and fishing.
I'm married to a wonderful man, named Rudy, and have three children and five fabulous grandchildren. I also have three dogs, a cockatiel and two turtles.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a writer?
About fifteen years ago. I enjoyed reading at a young age, but not what they wanted me to read in school. After high school, I really began enjoying reading much more because I could read exactly what I wanted. Even though I enjoy thrillers and action novels, my greatest loves are science fiction and fantasy. In the process of reading so many novels, I found that I wanted to try writing. I knew I could put together a story that would be just as good as the novels I had been reading all along.
I wrote my first novel many years ago, a science fiction piece, but after I decided to try my hand at writing fantasy, I was hooked.
What, in your opinion, makes a good book?
Multi-dimensional, believable characters; a great story that's unpredictable; action, lots of action; and a story readers can relate to in some way.
What do you most like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy gardening, mostly vegetables; I'm hooked on home canning, and I really enjoy going to Renaissance Faires. I sew, draw, and sing karaoke (although not very well).
Where do your ideas come from?
Nowhere in particular. They just come to me. And when I think of a possible storyline, I let it hang out in my head for a while and grow. I allow my ideas to take on an uninterrupted life of their own before I start fleshing them out.
You’ve put a lot of work into this book, writing and rewriting numerous times. Why was that important? How much do you think your book has improved from the original?
Writing the first draft of a novel is easy, at least for me it is. The hard part starts when it reaches the revision stage. Only by revising can the story grow.
How much has it improved? A LOT! The first draft, for me, is more like an outline where I work on basic storyline and fairly developed characters. In revisions the difficult job of flow, continuity, and deep character development takes place. Through all my revisions, my stories grow more complex and the characters become real. The plot of "Unchosen Mage" remained basically the same throughout my revisions, but there were major changes made in parts and the beginning of the story changed a number of times. In addition, the title changed three times before it was definitely decided. So I would say the changes in the story, from conception through final version, were like night and day. I would like to add that the revisions would have been MUCH harder had I not had an awesome critiquing team that always let me know what wasn't working. If you are a beginner writer, the BEST thing you can do for your writing is to have a solid writing circle that you trust. Having extra eyes on a project is paramount to its success. There are always things the writer misses after reading their own work over and over again.
Did you try the traditional publishers before you went Indie? If so, what sort of feedback did you get?
Yes, I tried the traditional publishers and literary agents before I decided to self publish online. Generally, I got good feedback from the experts in the industry, but, being a previously unpublished author, I had no track record. Either that, or a particular publisher or agent was not looking for mid-grade fantasy at the time.
On the subject, I would like to add that I believe publishing for ereaders is going to grow in popularity quickly. With the increase in technology, I think readers will begin to prefer ereading more and more due to the amount of very good stories now available online for instant download at a reasonable price. Most of the more popular ereaders can hold thousands of full-length novels making it possible to carry an entire library with you.
What other writing projects do you have underway?
"Unchosen Mage" is the first book in a series entitled "The Legend of Ravenwood". The second book in the series is currently in revisions and the rest of the series is written in first draft version. I'm also working on an adult action novel, which is currently about half-way complete. There are also three other stories I have milling around in my head, growing and forming.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
Designing and sewing Renaissance/medieval costumes, bags, and shoes; home canning everything in sight; and experimenting with different ways to garden in a drought-stricken area. I also enjoy researching things online for my stories.
Where can readers find your latest novel?
"Unchosen Mage" is currently available for download at Smashwords and will soon be available on Amazon Kindle, Apple ipad, Barnes and Noble Nook, and the other major ereaders.
Short blurb for "Unchosen Mage" : Fourteen year old Krys Anderwood lives in a small village in Lanterra. His world changes in one terrible day, right before a centuries-old prophecy and an ancient tome reveal that he must leave home and find a cursed wizard lost 200 years earlier. Barely able to perform basic magic, Krys fears he will fail, and his beloved homeland will fall victim to evil magic.