Introducing Team Queen's Book Asylum for SPFBO 9

SPFBO 9 – Introducing Team Queen’s Book Asylum!

Guess what, Team Queen’s Book Asylum is back for SPFBO 9! We could have stopped and quit while on top (Small Miracles, our champion won SPFBO 8!), but we enjoy ourselves way too much, and we are not quite done with bringing the pandamonium to your doors. I’m sure some of you despair over this news, but that’s life for you. As some would say: suck it up, buttercup!

Right, now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get down to business. For SPFBO 9, we have a slightly changed line-up in the team – we have a wayward daughter returning, and we also have two first-timers! Our process will remain mostly the same with some tweaks (details below), and this year we’ll have only one SPFBO 9 hub page instead of two (one for Phase 1 and one for the Finals) to keep everything in one place. This is where you can check out how we divided our books and keep track of our progress throughout the season.

So, come and meet Team Queen’s Book Asylum and check out what we are sending into the Cover Contest at the end of this post!

What is SPFBO?

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off is hosted by none other than Mark Lawrence, author of several highly popular fantasy novels. 300 books compete, judged by 10 blogs, and at the end of 11 long, bloody months 1 winner will emerge. You can find every detail on Mark’s SPFBO page along with the process of all 10 blogs in Phase 1.

Our Process

As we did in the previous years when we participated, we will try to put out content regularly once we get the (fur)ball rolling. We will also attempt to write at least minireviews for books we’ve cut and full reviews for our semi-finalists and eventual finalist.

This year Team Queen’s Book Asylum will have 6 judges with varying degrees of participation when it comes to allocating our batch. Bjorn will keep the ghostie title, partly because he just likes it too much, and partly because, come on, we are an Asylum, we *need* at least one haunting presence in our halls who is also willing to play tag with our pet demon.

So what our process will look like?

  • Every judge got to pick 3 books from our batch they really wanted to get allocated to them and 3 they thought wouldn’t fit their tastes. Every judge got 2 or 3 of the books they wanted – after some long and bloody fights over who gets what -, and the remaining titles were divided randomly, taking into account which they really didn’t want to get.
  • Each judge is free to handle their lot as they see fit, but they are required to read at least 20-25% before they decide to move on.
  • Each judge has to sample/read their allocated books by early/middle of August and choose their semi-finalist(s). Judges can pick up to 2 semi-finalists or none at all, but we’d like to keep the number somewhere between 3 and 5, if possible.
  • Each judge will get one or two posts (depending on how many books they have) on Queen’s Book Asylum to write minireviews of the books in their batch and announce their semi-finalist(s). Books that get cut won’t be rated, only the semi-finalists.
  • Between August and October, we all will read the semi-finalists (ideally up to 50% at least), rate them, and eventually, our finalist will be the book that got the highest average score from us.
  • We’ll do joint review posts of our semi-finalists before announcing our finalist sometime in October. Our scores for each semi-finalist will be revealed when we announce our finalist.
  • The judges are welcome to read and review any book not allocated to them, and chip in with their opinion but the final decision regarding its place in the competition (i.e. cut or advanced to semi-finalist) remains with the judge it was allocated to.
  • In the Finals our judges will be able to opt out of reading any of the finalists, but we’ll aim to have at least 3 reviews/scores for each.
  • Both in the Semi-Final and Final stages we’ll have a DNF rule in place: if a judge reads a book (either semi-finalist or finalist if they didn’t opt out beforehand), they have to read at least 25% of it. If they decide to DNF between 25% – 50% they’ll have to give a score but can opt out of writing a review, and if they DNF after 50% (or not) then also have to score AND write a review.
  • Our scoring system is on a 1-10 scale, we can give .5 scores. How a judge actually decides to score their books is completely up to them, as we all look at books differently.

As usual, you’ll be able to follow our progress on the SPFBO 9 page or on social media if you follow the #TeamAsylum, #SPFBO, #SPFBOreviews hashtags. Or you can follow the slightly creepy noises our pet demon makes when excited about new people, but let me warn you that it might not result in the desired outcome. It likes to make detours along our corridors and get people lost in the process. But hey, we love that you are so adventurous, keep up the spirit!

About the Team

Now, we are a friendly bunch – contrary to the rumors 😛 – and don’t mind interacting with people on Twitter or in the SPFBO Facebook group, and we are more than happy to help you if you have any questions. But please don’t step over the boundaries. We believe in civilized conversation and problem-solving. The aim of this competition is to forge friendships and connections not to cause drama. We aren’t what you’d call harsh reviewers – I think 😬 -, but we’ll be a touch more critical since this is, after all, a competition. I believe the process explained above, will help to make sure that every book gets the same amount of attention from us. What I can promise you, is that we are going to be true to ourselves, we are going to be honest about our opinions, and we will never be hurtful intentionally. We are not here to tear you down and it’s not our style anyway.

That said, let me introduce to you Team Queen’s Book Asylum, and let’s get the (fur)ball rolling!

Bjørn aka our ghostie

Bjørn Larssen

Stabby-nominated and Qi winning Bjørn is a curious medical phenomenon – most of him lives in a Dutch suburb, but his heart got lost in Iceland. He self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one, following this achievement several decades later with books containing multiple sentences. His writing is described as ‘dark’ and ‘literary’, but he remains incapable of taking anything seriously for more than 60 seconds. He has never judged anything before and is terrifiedly excited about the coming 11 months.

Being a ghostie is fun. The other judges all wonder “who moved my panda?” or “where is my favourite whip?” or “did I really score this book I didn’t like 9.5?” as I cackle invisibly. Joking! I cackle visibly. Once I decide which books are my favourites, I will proceed to never shutting up about them, because everyone deserves to know how wonderful, weird, twisted, complex, funny, interesting self-published books can be. For you – for us, indies – there are no limits. Indies can do anything and take me anywhere, and there are 300 new worlds to see. You’ll mostly find me admiring the funniest, somewhat romantic, bloodshed-free, weird, and “ooooh pretty” ones.

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I live in the northern part of BC, where it’s winter for more of the year than I’d like. The plus side of not liking to be out in the cold, means I get to cuddle up under a blanket next to a fireplace and read.

I’d say ninety-percent of my reading at this point, is probably self-pub or new authors. I love finding great new authors and books. I read across most genres but the bulk of my reading is fantasy/sci-fi and a smattering of romance.

My husband and I have a few horses, free run some chickens, and of course there are bunnies… a lot of bunnies. The horses are his and the bunnies are mine, but he’s a good man and tries to love them too-even when they eat all his newly transplanted saplings. 

When I’m not reading, or doing farm and animal chores – I love listening to music, painting, tv and movies, and walking.

Hello! I am Jen (aka bunnyreads on Twitter). Most of you will know me by now and for those who don’t – I’ve been a judge for SPFBO for a few years and have been a heavy reader on the self-published side of things, for probably a good ten years. I’m team-hopping again and am returning to the Queen’s team for SPFBO 9. I’m looking forward to meeting new authors and old ones, and of course, I am so excited about all the great books. Hope to see you in the competition!

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Amateur book blogger, amateur everything, passionate reader! Always busy. Believer in no gods, hater of systems and lover of metal. After living in Ireland for 12 years, Liis has moved back to her roots in Estonia with her Irish husband in tow. They now enjoy the 4 full seasons of varying weather in Estonia.

Hi! I’m Liis, newbie judge for SPFBO 9 from Estonia. Although a bit of a lurker, the years of book blogging took me to new heights when Timy asked if I wanted to get involved by joining the Queen’s Book Asylum Team. Now, I’m not a girlie girl, thus definitely not one to squeal, but there may have been a spicy-worded celebration because that’s how I roll. New level unlocked! I look forward to the year ahead. I am a firm believer in self published gems. Indie has, over the years, proved itself to be quite the goldmine for refreshing and mind-blowing fiction. I mainly read fantasy, dig horror and occasionally dabble in sci-fi, but I am also partial to classics and thrillers and… well, actually, if it’s something that can keep me engaged and excited, I’ll read instruction manuals. Having said that, my method of judging will be based on the entertainment factor, the feels. I am not a literary analyst so I will not pick on nitty-grittys, but if the book hits just right, it can really get my thoughts running wild so some debating may come up, who knows?! So, bring it on, bring it all!

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Olivia Atwater

Olivia Atwater writes whimsical historical fantasy with a hint of satire. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fantastic, prose-inspiring husband and her two cats. When she told her second-grade history teacher that she wanted to work with history someday, she is fairly certain this isn’t what either party had in mind. She has been, at various times, a historical re-enactor, a professional witch at a metaphysical supply store, a web developer, and a vending machine repairperson.

For the last few years, SPFBO has been a wonderful community experience for me. It has always been my belief, however, that if you’re going to enjoy a community, then there comes a time when you have to take your turn spiking the punch and stacking the cards. Er… by which I mean, of course, MAKING the punch and stacking the CARD TABLES.

Let’s not dwell on phrasing.

I’m particularly honoured to be joining the Queen’s Book Asylum team as a guest judge this year, after being their SPFBO 8 finalist of choice. I look forward to taking a glimpse behind the mysterious SPFBO curtain and adding more wonderful indie books to my TBR pile!

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Paul English-Wolfe

Paul is a man of few words but the owner of many, many books. While he is predominately a reader of sci-fi and fantasy, he has a passion for all things ancient and medieval, so historical fiction/non-fiction litter his chaotic shelves like potsherds at a dig site.

Raised on The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, he fell in love with fantasy at an extremely young age but soon began devouring science-fiction after his mother stole him a copy of 2010: Odyssey Two from a hospital library.

In a previous life, he’s been a biomedical scientist and an immunological researcher, but these days is a civil servant who spends his days wishing he wasn’t. Paul lives on the gelid shores of North East England, where he lives with his glorious wife and two cat-shaped demons. 

Hello, it is I, Paul, the samsquanch (IYKYK) of the blogging world – rarely seen but very real. As Lord Em of Inem famously sang, “Guess who’s back? Back again,” in this instance, it’s me, though there is thankfully no obligation to tell your friends.

Last year was my first year being a SPFBO judge and it was quite an experience. There were so many books to read, which is always a challenge when you’re a slow reader, but it was great to read outside of my normal genre preferences and to find so many fantastic new books and authors as a result.

This year I’m hoping for more of the same, great judges, great authors, and great books.

As far as I’m concerned every entrant is a winner, but ultimately there can be only one so… LET THE YEARLY MURDERBOWL BEGIN (good luck everyone)!

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Timy, also known as Queen Terrible Timy hails from a magical land called Hungary, born and raised in its capital city, Budapest. Books have been her refuge and best friends ever since she can remember along with music and her favorite stuffed panda(s). She might or might not be obsessed with said animals. Timy is the owner and editor of Queen’s Book Asylum. In her free time (hah!) she likes to create things, collect panda stuff, go to concerts, travel, and take the literary world one book at a time.

It’s always an honor to be part of the SPFBO family, and even though this is my 5th year judging, I still can’t believe I get to be here, championing self-published books from all over the world, making friends left and right (believe me, making friends is not something I know how to do, so this is WILD for me).

I’m happy to see so many unfamiliar names on this year’s submission list! When I’d think the indie world is small, then the next SPFBO season comes along and proves me wrong. And so, I’m excited to make your acquaintance through spotlights and other fun activities. I also look forward to seeing what gems our batch holds for us and which books we’ll be talking about in the coming year.

But of course, without this amazing team around me, SPFBO wouldn’t be the same. I see much laughter, tears, and probably blood too in our near future. I only hope that it will be an equally enjoyable time for you brave Asylum dwellers who entered our halls in pursuit of the glorious stick and everything that comes with it. We know it’s not easy from the other side, but my advice would be to enjoy it as SPFBO is truly an excellent experience that would be a shame to miss out on.

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Go and check out all of our books and how we divided them between us on our SPFBO 9 page!

Cover Contest

Last but not least, let’s talk a bit about our books. Specifically their covers. We seem to have a good year of excellent covers. Here are ours (clicking on any of the covers will take you to their respective Amazon pages):

And now, feast your eyes on those three we decided to send into the Cover Contest!

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