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Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella - Guest Post

Wales, UK
So here we are at the end of the Ashael Rising book tour. Today I have the honour of posting a guest post from the wonderful author herself Shona Kinsella. 
Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella

Shona Kinsella is a fantasy author who lives near the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, in the west of Scotland. She is a member of the British Fantasy Society where she writes reviews of indie books. Shona has a degree in Law from the University of Strathclyde where she learned a lot about narrative structure.; everyone loves a story. 

Shona enjoys spending time outdoors and much of her writing is inspired by the environment that she lives in, at the edge of Scotland’s first national park. When she is not writing, she enjoys geocaching with her husband and children and reading as many books as she can get her hands on.

Why you Should Consider Joining a Writing Group
Around May of 2014, I decided to try my hand at writing a book. I sat down at my computer with nothing but a vague image in my head and the name Ashael. Over the next few months I wrote about three chapters and then stalled, overwhelmed by the size of the task before me.
I joined the online writing group, Scribophile. It was scary to begin with. Everyone there seemed to know so much more than I did. Like what a dangling modifier is, not to mention a gerund. I read short stories and chapters by some very talented writers. I read lots of critiques written by other people and some of the techniques they talked about scared me off. So, I stopped visiting the site. 
I went back to the novel and messed about with another chapter or two but I felt out-of-my-depth. Eventually I went back to Scribophile, hoping to learn something that would help me move on. Scribophile works with a system of karma points – you critique the work of others to earn karma points which you then spend to post your own work for critique. The problem was that I felt completely unqualified to critique anyone else’s work. I was a baby writer who hadn’t finished anything, let alone published anything! Luckily my husband pointed out that I was eminently qualified to critique as a reader
Eventually I found my feet with critiquing and posted a few chapters of Ashael Rising. I got some really helpful feedback but I realised that it would be best if I had a group of regular readers so I joined the smaller Ubergroup.
I was welcomed into a team with four others, all writing speculative fiction. Each week, we all posted a chapter for feedback and read and critiqued each other’s work. This made all the difference. When I joined the team in May 2015 I had written about six chapters and tweaked and rewritten them a few times but I was struggling. So, that’s a year to write the first five or six chapters. I finished the first draft in January 2016 and it’s in large part thanks to my team. 
The feedback I received from my team helped to shape the novel as well. For example, I had no romantic interest for my main character and one of my team pointed out that it would be unusual for a woman of her age, in her culture, not to have a mate or at least be thinking about it. He thought I should give Ashael a love interest or explain why she didn’t have one. That discussion set off one of the major subplots in the book and turned a minor character into a major one. 
In February 2016, I pitched Ashael Rising to Unbound, hoping to get some feedback on my pitch. Instead they asked for the manuscript. Four weeks later, they offered me a publishing contract. I have no doubt that was in large part due to the influence of my writing group. 
I only hope that someday my feedback will be as helpful to them.
Book links

Author links

Twitter: @shona_kinsella
Instagram: shona.kinsella

*This book review is part of a book tour in which I was gifted the e-book for the purpose of this review. All opinions are honest and my own.

1 comment

Thank you all so much for your comments, I read every one and I try to reply to every one as well. They are very much appreciated. ♥