Friday, February 28, 2020

# Guest Posts

The Inspiration Behind Britfield & The Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart @britfieldworld #fiction #writing

The Inspiration Behind Britfield & The Lost Crown
By C.R. Stewart
First, a little about myself. I am originally from Newport Beach, California, and I have always been creative. I loved reading, movies and storytelling as a child, so all these areas had a huge influence on my life. Some of my favorite books growing up were The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary; James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl; and the Hardy Boys series. 

As I grew older, I enjoyed Charles Dickens and his ability to take a Shakespearean cast of characters and seamlessly weave them through his stories (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations). I was heavily influenced by C. S. Lewis, his amazing depth and creativity as an author. Jane Austen captured the aristocracy, the intrigue, the forced etiquette and the psychological games and hypocrisies of the upper classes. The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, wrote mysterious, romantic gothic novels that are powerful, moving and deep, such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Thomas Hardy took simple characters living in a rural setting and created complex, multilayered stories. And Daphne du Maurier, such as her epic novel Rebecca. I have visited most of the places these stories took place or were based on.

The Writing Assignment
My first real writing assignment, the one that I remember and that impacted me, was to write a book for sixth grade (around 30 pages). What a wonderful teacher and an amazing class. Can you imagine an assignment like that, where do you start? Well, you write about what you know and what you love. I loved the James Bond movies, so I wrote James Bond Eat Your Heart Out. I was a secret government agent working for the British government and had an assignment to track down a notorious villain. My partner was Jaclyn Smith (that should date me). We traveled all around Europe tracking down the villain and were involved in high-speed chases and plenty of combat. I had so much fun writing this and the experience never left me. I still have this book, wrapped in a leather binder with embossed lettering. This was when I knew I wanted to be a writer, it just took a long time to get there.

By eighteen, I was attending script classes and started writing feature-length films, which I worked on for the next 20 years in my free time (great training for a writer). I shifted to non-fiction and was eventually published for a non-fiction series I was writing, but felt I was getting away from my creative background of writing something fun, exciting and adventurous. Fast-forward to 2010 . . . 

Britfield & the Lost Crown
This is an interesting 2-part story. About 13 years ago I was traveling through Eastern Europe. I was in a local shop in Bratislava, Slovakia when I saw this wonderful ceramic balloon hanging from the ceiling. It was a round balloon with three ropes attached to a basket that had a boy and a girl. I can still see the image. I purchased the ceramic for my sister and her children, thinking nothing more about it. 

Three years later, I was working at an investment bank in Boston and was at a boring weekend seminar in Providence, RI. I started to drift so I began to doodle. I simply drew an image of a circle (balloon), three lines, and a basket with a boy and a girl. The idea for Britfield suddenly hit me—two orphans living at a horrible orphanage (Weatherly) in Yorkshire, England escape the awful conditions, commandeer a hot air balloon and head towards London. However, they are relentlessly chased by the illustrious Detective Gowerstone, who is renowned for finding missing children and runaway orphans. 

Four years and 2,500 hours later Britfield & the Lost Crown was completed. From conception to finally launching the first in the 7-book series (15 August 2019), it took ten dedicated years of patience and discipline. Since our launch, it has been amazing. As part of our 2019/20 Britfield School Tour, I have traveled 7,500 miles, through 15 states, and presented at 125 schools to 20,000+ students. Our 2020 Spring Tour will be 27 states, 150+ schools, and over 30,000 students. Our European/Eastern European Tour hopefully begins in Summer/Fall 2020.

As an author, I was previously published by Pelican. The process is long and difficult. Everything from finding a proper literary agent, to finally getting a publisher. The little secret that no one tells you is that publishers do relatively nothing to help authors sell their book (it’s all up to you), an archaic publishing model fast becoming extinct. It becomes a full-time job if you want success, such as marketing, media, book signings and events. 

I knew for the launch of the Britfield series (7-books) that we would need complete creative freedom and build a team to support the marketing, nationally and globally. This is why I founded Devonfield Publishing: we have built a national infrastructure, marketing company, and work with over 50 independent contractors, everything from graphic design, editing and printing to advertising, and media.

Advice for aspiring writers
I have heard three important things about writing: Write about what you know, write about what you love, and Write! I believe that for every final, published page, it will take an author around 4-5 hours to complete. Which means a 100 page book will take between 400-500 hours to complete. Also, writing is 10% writing and 90% rewriting (editing). If you asked most writers what is the one thing that they most need, it’s uninterrupted time. 

Story is everything. It can be simple or complex, but it must be interesting and well told. Find a unique story and start writing. First create your structure: beginning, middle and end. It’s easier when you think about the story in chapters: where’s the book going, what happens next and how will it end? Develop your characters and know them well—give them depth and obstacles that they must overcome. Do your research and master the subject you’re writing about. Also, read. Enjoy reading and understand what’s out in the market. Find writers you like and learn from them: how they tell a story, the way they structure or pace their narrative, how they describe things. Analyze these books and figure out what makes them interesting or compelling—why they’re successful or why they work as a novel. 

You never want to copy a style or another writer, but it’s essential to study the literary world you want to enter. If I were a painter, I would study other painters. If I were a composer, I would study other composers. It’s very important to develop your own style and what makes you unique, but this will come with time and experience.

Remember, nothing happens overnight. It takes commitment, discipline and endurance to produce an engaging and inspiring novel. To write and finish a book, you must first begin and spend time with it. Don’t worry about your first draft; just get your ideas and words onto paper (or the computer). Challenge yourself each day to produce a certain amount, perhaps two or three new pages. If you’re stuck on the next chapter, but you know what happens in another section, then jump to that scene. Just keep writing. If you can’t think of anything new, then start editing what you’ve already written, but just keep writing. 

This is the discipline and commitment needed to finish a book. However, it’s one thing to create your story, structure, characters and a compelling narrative; it’s another to edit. The more you edit, the better your story becomes; the more you edit, the more polished your writing becomes. Nevertheless, there is a time when you must finish and let it go, so you can move onto your next story. Most importantly, have fun. Write because you enjoy it.

Originally from Newport Beach, California, C. R. Stewart has twenty years of experience writing fiction, nonfiction, and movie screenplays. His areas of expertise also includes film and media production, global strategy, and international marketing.

Britfield & The Lost Crown was conceived as an idea over 10 years ago while I was enduring a boring finance seminar. It started as a sketch of a hot air balloon with a young boy and girl trapped inside. From this simple drawing sprang the entire concept and story for Britfield.”

C.R. Stewart received a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature and European History from Brown University; did post- graduate work at Harvard University; earned an MBA from Boston College; and is pursuing a Master of Science in Advanced Management and a PhD in Strategy.

Now based in San Diego, C.R. Stewart is a strong supporter of education and the arts. He enjoys world travel, reading, riding, swimming, sailing, tennis, and is currently on a National School Book Tour with Britfield & The Lost Crown speaking to students on the importance of creativity!


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Enter the World of Britfield: Adventure, Intrigue, Conspiracy, Mystery, and Suspense!

Tom has spent the majority of his life locked behind the cruel walls of Weatherly Orphanage, but when he learns that his parents might actually be alive, Tom is determined to find them. Together, with his best friend Sarah and armed with only the word “Britfield” as a clue to Tom’s mysterious past, the two make a daring escape. Now, they are on the run from a famous Scotland Yard detective and what appears to be half of the police officers in England! The hunt is on, but will Tom and Sarah be able to evade capture long enough to solve an even bigger conspiracy that could tear apart the country?

Multiple Award-Winning Britfield & the Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart, is the first book in a thrilling seven-part series based on family, friendship, loyalty, and courage that is written for pre-teens, Y/A, and readers of all ages. Britfield and its heroes, Tom and Sarah, take readers on an epic adventure as they travel across England. With its stimulating language and stunning historical and geographical asides, Britfield engages the reader from the very first pages and doesn’t let go until it reaches its exciting conclusion!


“A perfect mixture of fast-paced excitement, heart-stopping surprises, fascinating history, and endearing characters with historical references scattered along the way. Tom and Sarah’s devotion to each other provides an excellent backdrop to the many mishaps and dangers in which they find themselves. I could see this book being used in a classroom setting both as a
literature piece and as a geographical and historical resource. Stewart’s clever narrative draws you in and doesn’t let you go till the end!”
– Dawn Weaver, Reader’s Favorite Book Reviews5 Stars!
“Tom just barely escapes the evil orphanage with his friend Sara to follow the clues that his long-lost parents may still be alive! Could Tom really be the heir to the British throne? Such a thrilling book filled with so much awesome history about England, crazy mysteries, and truly amazing characters. It had me hooked every second of reading it! I can’t wait for the sequel.”
– Hannah, Age 13, Kids’ Book Buzz5 Stars!
“An intriguing first-in-series read that is sure to capture the attention of the middle grade and young adult crowds. Readers journey through English cities and countryside beautifully rendered in the narrative. The book also includes maps and intelligent background information about the setting and history with access to online illustrations and commentaries. Britfield weaves plot, texture, storytelling, and fascinating characters into a winning combination and enriching experience.”
Chanticleer Book Review5 Stars!
“As a middle school English teacher of 28 years and a multiple bestselling author for middle grade books, I can honestly say Britfield and the Lost Crown has all the right stuff. Intriguing characters, foreshadowing, and suspense will draw readers in deep and have them gasping for breath for the next chapter and the next.”
– Wayne Thomas Batson, bestselling author of The Door Within Trilogy

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