More announcements!

First, check out this spiffy draft of my Dutch cover! I’m gathering that “The Half-Drowned King” does not translate particularly well into some European languages, so the Dutch title is “The Legend of Svanhild”. And the German title is “Crown and Fire”.

I had a great meeting with my agent last week about marketing and publicity, so this is where I start spamming you every few minutes with reminders to…wait, where are you going????

Nope, this is NOT where I start doing that. No matter how much I love an author’s writing, I end up annoyed if they spend all their time prodding people to buy their book. I’ve done some rearranging of this website, and will do some more, but this will continue to be a space where I write about my life, what’s on my mind, what I’m doing, and what I care about.

I have made some changes to the website based on my agent’s feedbac:

  • The landing page is now my books page
  • My bio page now has more pictures of me
  • I have links in the right nav to pre-order the books from all major booksellers
  • I now have a Goodreads author page–where you can ask me questions!

Some people have been asking what you can do to help the book’s success:

  1. Pre-order it! Amazon | B&N | Google Play | IndieBound | iBooks | Kobo
  2. But even if you don’t, you can set it as “Want to Read” on Goodreads and that helps
  3. If you have read it *waves at my mom and dad*, please leave a review, or even just a star rating on Amazon
  4. If you have a book blog and you’d like an Advance Reader Copy so you can read and write about it, please let me know

Thanks for being here with me on this journey!

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I started book 3, and other news

Have a picture of a shaggy seal in the Orkney Islands! Book 3 will have quite a bit of action set here.

The Half-Drowned King is in Goodreads!


I added some blurbs and praise to my Books page. Check it out to read what authors Paula McClain and Madeline Miller have said, as well as Luit van der Tuuk, the Conservator of the Dorestad Museum in the Netherlands.


A few weeks ago I started working on Book 3, The Golden Wolf, which I think is going to be harder than Book 2–it covers more time, and has two separate climaxes. The beginning is certainly hard. I haven’t settled into a routine yet. I have some new POV characters and I’m not sure what’s going on with them. My previous POV characters are older and more settled but they still need to grow and change. It’s taking a little longer to get into this book than the last one…I think. I’m not sure. It’s hard to compare.

This time my process for getting it off the ground is:

  1. Put all the major historical and narratively necessary events/proposed chapters into Aeon Timeline. So far that’s 25 items. The previous two books have 39 and 38 chapters, so I know there will be more, stemming from various subplots. Create those chapters in Scrivener as well. (Aeon and Scrivener work very well together.)
  2. Start writing 500 words a day. This is a pretty small number of daily words. The main point is to put my mind in the world and characters; it is not as much about making forward progress.
  3. Do a lot of longhand writing in my notebook to ask myself questions about plot and characters and answering them. I find this incredibly helpful at any stage in the process. Whenever I feel slightly stuck or blah about characters or story lines, I write to myself about them longhand. I will write down, “Why am I bored of character X’s story line?” and then write down anything that comes to mind as an answer. I can’t recommend doing this enough.
  4. Recently I upped my daily word-count goal to 1000 words a day. This is still pretty small, but it’s important to me to end each writing day with a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the next day, and that means stopping well before I’m written-out. I think next week I will up it to 1500 words. I max out at 2000 or so.
  5. At this stage I’m still working on whatever story lines and POVs that seem the most fun, to keep my momentum going. At some point I will end up working more linearly. Still, the previous book, the first chapters were some of the most vague, written later, rearranged frequently.

It all feels like pulling teeth right now, and I’m just trying to trust that it will come together and gain momentum like the last book, that the more I work on it the more clear it will be and the more my brain will solve plot problems without me consciously thinking about it.

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Three Pieces of Good Book News

It’s honestly very hard for me to get excited even about good book news right now. I’m feeling very grim about the future of both the US and the planet, but life does go on, and hopelessness is dangerous. So here are some pieces of good news for The Half-Drowned King.


The Half-Drowned King is available for pre-order on, due to be released August 1, 2017.



The Half-Drowned King and its sequels will be published in:

United States and Canada by HarperCollins

Germany by Ullstein

Spain by Salamandra

Italy by Giunti

France by Presses de la Cite

United Kingdom by Little, Brown

And now I can add Netherlands by Luitingh Sijthof! (The Dutch contract is for the first book, with the sequels if it does well. So if you know any Dutch people, urge them to buy it next year!)



The other news is my German cover, which I think is wonderful.


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Announcing the US Cover for The Half-Drowned King

The crown will be in gold foil.

One of the things people always ask about book publishing is how much say I get in the cover, and the answer is that I don’t get much, but I didn’t want much. I appreciate good design, but I’m not a visual artist. When people asked me about the cover, I always said I just hoped it didn’t involve a woman clinging to the ankle of a bare-chested viking warrior–but I’d be happy with that if my publisher really thought it would get the book into the hands of readers who would like it. I maybe pictured the prow of a viking ship, maybe with some misty figures. I never pictured something as beautiful as what HarperCollins did above.

I was consulted quite a bit in the development of the cover. We considered adding more viking imagery (knot work, an arm ring, etc.) but eventually decided on this, with the clear symbolism of the crown, and I love it.

There will be different covers from all of my overseas publishers, so I will share those when they are available. But here is what you will hopefully see in Barnes and Nobles, airport bookstores, people’s hands on the subway…and it has my name on it!

Here’s the full cover jacket.
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My Second Novel!!!

Today I sent a draft of The Sea Queen to my agent. It is 193,000 words long or 650 double spaced 12pt Times New Roman pages in MS Word. I love reading long novels, so it’s not surprising I would like to write them too, but DANG. That is long.

This is a huge milestone because this is only the second novel I’ve ever finished to the point where I am willing to let someone else read it from beginning to end.

Steps so far:

  • Very rough outline
  • Write 70% of the rough draft (120,000 words)
  • Re-outline with much more detail
  • Re-write/write first draft (170,000 words)
  • Let sit for 2 weeks
  • Read quickly, make notes about overall structure
  • Do slow, detailed edit from beginning (193,000 words)
  • Do quicker read-through for typos and infelicitous sentences
  • Send to agent!

It is due July 2017 to my editor at HarperCollins. At that point it might still need a few edits but it should be mostly ready for copy-editing. The Sea Queen will probably be released in Summer 2018. My next steps, I hope:

  • Agent reads it and gives me big picture feedback
  • I make changes based on that feedback
  • Repeat these steps as necessary
  • Send to editor
  • Editor reads it and gives me big picture feedback
  • I make changes based on that feedback
  • Repeat these steps as necessary

I probably won’t get feedback on The Sea Queen for several weeks, so I’m going to take a few days off, then maybe do a rough outline of the final book, The Golden Wolf, and then maybe dive into a novel I have mostly complete that is not part of this trilogy. I don’t want to do too much work on the third book when plot aspects of book 2 may change a lot.

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News and Revisions

This has been an exciting few weeks in author land. I saw some first mockups for my US covers and gave feedback. I saw a a finished version of my German cover. I saw mockups for the inside pages of my US edition. I’m incredibly excited about the covers, which are both gorgeous. And most importantly, they have my name on them. Right there on the cover! It says Linnea Hartsuyker! Or actually LINNEA HARTSUYKER since both editions are using an all-caps font. SO MANY PEOPLE WILL BE MISPRONOUNCING MY NAME SOON!

I also got my first blurb from a reader, which was incredibly complimentary, and good to read, because this week I also tackled my current draft of The Sea Queen.

In late January 2016, I started writing The Sea Queen. On May 31, 2016, I was about 70% through writing a rough draft that followed my plot outline, but the thing with writing a rough draft, for me anyway, is that I’m always adding plot points. Oh, I should have a feud. That feud is based on this event. That I forgot to put in the first time around, but now I will leave a note that says ‘insert event that incites feud here’. And I can go on, working forward, making notes to myself for a while. But as I neared the end, I realized I had a pile of vaguely defined plot threads, some missing beginnings, some missing endings. I knew I needed almost all of my characters to come together at the ending, but I didn’t know where some of them were coming from, so I didn’t know how to get them there.

I spent all summer working on what I’m calling the first draft, which is a complete, somewhat coherent novel, 178,000 words, which I finished writing 2 weeks ago. I took 10 days off from it (longest 10 days of my life), and then over the last 4 days, I read it on my Kindle, making overall notes and notes on each chapter about what needs fixing. The short answer: EVERYTHING.

The longer answer is 4500 words of notes, dividing into chapter-related notes and notes overall.

  • Overall, the whole thing is very rushed, which is concerning because it is also quite long already. Almost every scene needs more set up, more time to live, and a better off ramp. Almost every scene needs more description. Almost every scene needs more explanation and more inner life for the characters. (Not the first sea battle though. I wrote an awesome sea battle.) Some scenes are hardly better than notes.
  • I indulged in any number of annoying writing tics, and must have thought they were cute at the time. They are not.
  • Every character’s arc needs to be amplified and clarified. Motivations and emotions are muddled right now. They need to be clear and sharp, except when ambivalence is the point.
  • A few characters need more to do.
  • I’ve neglected or flattened some points of conflict that I can make much more dramatic
  • A few plot threads don’t connect

The good news is that overall the plot is very solid. Many disparate threads come together for an ending that is both surprising and inevitable. I was pleased about that when I finished writing the first draft, and am still pleased about that now.

And I shouldn’t be so surprised that on a more micro level, this draft has so many problems. I chose not to massage scenes or sentences, since the purpose of this draft was to get the plot right. I wanted to be able to step back and look at the book as a whole before doing detailed work on sentences that might not survive into another draft.

I think for the next book, though, I will do the 70% thing again, but when I move from the rough draft to the first draft, I will pay more attention to scenes, paragraphs, and sentences, because this book was quite a chore to read, except for a few shining chapters.

Today I am going to start revisions which will mean going to go through each chapter again and actually making the changes I have in mind. I will edit each chapter a couple times on this pass, asking myself the following questions about each scene:

  • Who is in the scene? Make sure the reader knows this.
  • Where is the scene? Make sure the reader can see/hear/smell/taste/touch it.
  • What are the emotions in the scene? Make sure the reader can feel them.
  • How do the characters react in the scene? For the love of all that is holy, stop ending your scenes with a piece of dialog and no reaction from anyone. Maybe once or twice it’s okay, but for sure not every time.

I’ve also created a list of danger words that are signposts for when I’m about to mangle a sentence, and another list of words I use too frequently. I will be examining each chapter for these words and making sure that if I use them, I’m doing so with purpose and clarity.

It’s a lot to do, but I can’t wait to get started.

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Author Photo!!!

Last Friday, I packed up a bag of clothes, washed and dried my hair, and went over to the studio of Nina Subin, who I engaged to take my author photo. This was something I had to do, rather than the publisher, because this photo will be used by my international publishers as well, and all promotion material.

She brought in a hair and makeup artist, so the first 45 minutes was doing that, and then we spent almost four hours with me in different outfits, poses, and backgrounds, to try to get a nice professional photo, and here it is:


Ooops, nope, that is me, and I am writing, but it’s not serious enough. Here it is:


Hahah, no, that’s not it either. It would probably be better if the photo conveyed some life experience. Seriously this time, here is the photo we chose:


But wouldn’t it be awesome if I could use one of the baby ones?

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First round of publisher edits

Image by Nic McPhee (
Image by Nic McPhee (

Last week I got my edits back from my editor. For a first book, these are the steps I went through:

  1. Researched and planned novel
  2. Wroted part of novel
  3. Realized novel needed to be trilogy and started to break it up and figure out a good end point for the first installment
  4. Workshopped novel with friends and fellow students at a variety of writing classes in NYC
  5. Several drafts later had a draft I was willing to show potential agents
  6. Massive edit with agent, cutting 60,000 words and writing 40,000 new words, with substantial rearranging and cutting of plot elements
  7. Second edit with agent, still a little rearrangement
  8. Third edit to nail some little stuff
  9. In my case, at this point a second agent entered the picture for reasons I’m not going into here, and I did another 2 round of edits with her, one that added a few scenes, and one that fixed some words, mostly
  10. Finally submitted to publishers

Something that a lot of people outside the industry don’t realize is that most agents do a ton of editorial work. Novels need to be in pretty good shape to be purchased by a publisher, so most writers do a few rounds of revision with their agent before an editor ever sees it.

By step 10 above, the novel was in pretty good shape. The edits I got back from my editor at Harper Collins were rather minor. I inputted 30 chapters worth of edits in about an hour of work. (The book is 36 chapters long, 521 pages double spaced 11pt Times New Roman in MS Word, 153,000 words.)

There was a little more plot and motivation clarification I needed to do in two later chapters, but otherwise, it was in very good shape. And that was largely because of the huge amount of outside editorial input I’ve gotten. I like to think I learned many lessons on this first novel that I can apply to the sequels, but I know that the sequels will not be as smooth at this stage of the game.

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Blog Updates

If you haven’t heard the news yet, I sold my trilogy of historical novels set in Viking Age Norway to Harper Collins for publication in the US and Canada (as well as publishers in 5 other countries and counting). Yay!

The first book, THE HALF-DROWNED KING, will be out in Summer 2017. I am working on getting a sign up form up and running so you can sign up to be alerted when the book goes on sale and get other news from me.

So I’m dusting off this blog and my other social media enterprises, and will be making posts here far more frequently. I’m aiming for once a week to start with, coming out on Mondays, and then probably going to twice a week. Gotta start small.

And the most important thing for me to be writing right now is the sequels to THE HALF-DROWNED KING, which will be coming out in subsequent summers.

I’ve also been reading a lot of fiction that has literal gods as characters, and I plan to write a bit about that soon. In the meantime, if that kind of thing interests you, I highly recommend City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennet, and the Lucifer comics by Mike Carey, which, in eleven volumes, form one of my favorite works of literature, so much that I’m a little intimidated to write about them.

I’ve been watching iZombie, Rob Thomas’s current show, and it is wonderful for genre fans.

I’ll probably also write here about knitting and cooking and travel and lifting really heavy things and moving them around, because those activities make up a large part of my life.

Today I am getting my author photo taken by Nina Subin, which I am both nervous and excited about. I don’t think I photograph very well, unless I am extremely happy from having accomplished something difficult, which is why I tend to like pictures of myself from Strongman competitions–see below.

lah at strongman mania
The author, having just won a sandbag carry event at Strongman Mania.

Posed, however? We shall see. We have a long session planned, and she told me to bring several different changes of clothes so we can see what works best. I’m getting my hair and makeup done there.

And I’ll think about how extremely happy I am about getting to start this new part of my life, and then maybe I will get a good picture.

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