Sunday, November 13, 2016

Doings at Drakenheath

As you can well imagine, dear imps and readers, my doings have been primarily caught up in the service of Her Tiny Highness, the Princess of Drakenheath. But I have managed to get some other exciting projects underway as well, and thought I'd let you know about some of them! (If you're just here for cute baby pictures, however, scroll down to the bottom of this post . . . )


Cover Reveal

So you remember that short story about Beana which I promised all of you? Well, as of yesterday, it is drafted and the cover is officially revealed! What do you think?


She is a Knight of Farthestshore, a woman of courage . . . and secrets. She has faced many perils in her time, but nothing has prepared her for the evil she is about to encounter in the treacherous Wood Between.

DECEMBER 16, 2016

This short story will be available (ebook only) for FREE to all of my readers. That's right . . . this one is a freebie! It's pretty short, only about half the length of Goddess Tithe. But it's exciting and serves as a fun prequel to both Veiled Rose and Moonblood.

This cover design is the very first cover for the Goldstone Wood series that I did entirely myself. I've been at least somewhat involved in the design process for all of them, but I've never actually DONE one before . . . so that was a fun new experience! I even got to arrange the photo shoot with the model (my lovely friend, Stephanie Anderson), and my husband took the pictures. Here are a couple of the shots.


After finishing the photo shoot, I built a background out of a variety of photos. Then I tried a couple of the model poses on that background until I found one I really liked. Then it was a matter of painting and manipulating to make the model look like she was truly part of the background.


 It was great fun. A lot of work, but work I really enjoyed doing. And it was just super exciting to actually do a Goldstone Wood book cover design for the first time ever! I'm quite pleased with how it turned out and how well it matches the rest of the series.

Other Writing

So my major writing focus these days has been The Ridiculously Huge Project.


That's right--that writing endeavor I mentioned several times last year is still very much on my plate. Life got in the way of me making it the major priority I had hoped, but I am still plugging away at it like crazy every opportunity I get. The first novel in the series is complete, book 2 is about two-thirds done, and book 3 is half-written. If all goes well, I hope to launch all three of these books sometime next year. (Fingers crossed!!!) Now this project is planned out for twelve books (I told you it's ridiculously huge), so it's far from finished. But the first three books definitely get you well into the unfolding story and, I do hope, bonded to these characters.

As we get closer to launch, I'll reveal more about the characters and premise.

Other Writing News

On top of The Ridiculously Huge Project, I am also working on an exciting co-writing project . . . with my mother! Yes, after years and years of casually tossing the idea around, Mum and I have decided to collaborate on a book, possibly a whole series of books. The first volume is only JUST started (two chapters into the rough draft), so I can't tell you much about it yet. I'll just say that it's YA fantasy and a bit of a Diana Wynne Jones sort of flavor. But maybe a little spookier. Keep your eyes peeled for more news!

We're currently figuring out exactly how co-writing is going to work for us. We developed the concept and first book outline together, but the actual WRITING is trickier. But I like the method we're currently attempting. If it works, I'll tell you more about it later . . . but it's still new to us at the moment, so I don't want to jinx it!

Special Offer

Do you like free books?


Well, if you do, Rooglewood Press is offering a special deal--sign up for our newsletter, the Rooglewood Quarterly, and you will receive a free copy of Draven's Light. Then not only will you get to read this exciting adventure, you'll also be kept up-to-date on any of our newest releases, our writing contests, and more!

So click here right now to find out how to sign up and get your free book.

Princess

And, of course, the majority of my time these days is caught up in the service of Her Tiny Highness, Princess Una of Drakenheath . . . who is two months old today!


 And she just keeps getting more and more beautiful.

So that's it for now! Not as many doings as usual. Motherhood keeps me pretty busy, and all my spare time is spent pouring into the writing projects. But hopefully this means that I'll have quite a few fun reads for all of you in 2017. Here's hoping, anyway . . .

What are YOUR doings this November? Any fun projects in the works? Any fun plans for the coming Holidays? Any great reads you're currently enjoying? Do tell in the comments!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hot Off the Press

I know, I know . . . most of you probably don't even bother to check this blog anymore, it's been SO long since I posted! But I am finally ready to let you know the reason behind my distraction and busyness this summer.

After nine months of hard work drafting and polishing, allow me to introduce my newest release!

Una Rochelle de Silva
Born September 13th
7lbs 14oz

And she is, in fact, the most beautiful thing in the world!

Here she is, mere moments after her epic delivery . . .

Rohan: "OMG this is my DAUGHTER!"
AE: "She's so little and adorable, isn't she??"
Una: "Well that was . . . interesting."

So we decided not to tell anyone (save family and friends) about the pregnancy for various reasons. One of them was that Rooglewood Press had SO MANY big releases, relaunches, and projects this year, and I didn't want to distract from any of them. But I am taking a short maternity leave now . . . I'll still be working on my novel-in-progress (because I can't help myself), but most of the other Rooglewood-related projects are on hold for the time being. Not for long; just until I've fully recovered and gotten into more of a rhythm with Princess Una in the house.

Speaking of . . . here are some gratuitously adorable pictures of her tiny highness for you . . .

Kissy face--three days old!

Una Bakamuna's first bath!
(Bakamuna is the Sinhalese word for "owl" . . . and also Una's nickname. So she has a lot of owl-things!)

Marmaduke is SO thrilled with his tiny new human! Look at that happy face.

In fact, all of the Drakenheath beasts have been pretty excited about the newest edition!
Me soon after coming home, with Minerva in my lap, Magrat at my feet, and Milly guarding us faithfully. This Princess Una has LOTS of faerie guardians, apparently!

Here she is at two weeks old with her handsome daddy! My two beautiful loves . . .

Smooshy face sleeping in Daddy's hands! 3 weeks old.

And these two I took just last night as we were settling down for bed.



Yes, I know I'm completely biased . . . but I am quite convinced that she is the most perfect little princess in all the worlds (mortal, Faerie, or Between!).

And she's awake and fractious right now, so I must go . . . cuddles are in order . . .

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A New Tale of Goldstone Wood Chosen By . . .

Dear Imps, the time has come to announce the winner of the Short Story Raffle!

For those of you who are unaware, this was a raffle in which readers offered the names of Goldstone Wood characters about whom they would like to see featured stories. The winner of this raffle will have a story written about the character of her choice . . . and a special dedication!

The story itself, once complete, edited, and given a cover design, will be offered TOTALLY FOR FREE for all of you to enjoy.

Are you ready to learn the character selected? I'm pretty excited about this one . . .The chosen character is:

BEANA
Chosen by: Christa Scott

That's right! The nanny goat/lady knight, who featured majorly in both Veiled Rose and Moonblood is about to get a story all to herself! And I have JUST the adventure for her . . . one I think all of you will enjoy. One which might just give you a few surprises about the character and her super-secret backstory.

We might even learn her real name . . .

Whoops! Didn't you know? That's right: Beana is not the lady knight's actual name. You'll notice in her Big Scene with Sir Oeric at the end of Moonblood she is never referenced by name . . . because we only know her as Beana, but that isn't the name by which Oeric knows her.

So get excited, dear readers! We've got some fun ahead of us with this character. And big thanks to Christa Scott for choosing her. (In fact, I am told that Beana was far and away the most popular choice among the raffle participants, featuring four or five times in the drawing . . . so the odds were highly in her favor!)

I have got a rough outline for the story already worked up and plan to start refining and drafting the adventure in the next few days. No promises yet as to a release (I am working on a big novel project at the moment, and I don't want to take too much time away from it just yet), but I'll keep you all posted.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this fun little raffle! I look forward to sharing this exciting new Tale of Goldstone Wood with all of you soon.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Golden Daughter - Re-Launch Edition!

Dear Imps, something exciting is brewing in Goldstone Wood . . .


That's right! My huge novel, Golden Daughter, was just released in a four part serialization . . . with all-new covers!!!

I have to say, I'm a huge fan of these new covers. This year in particular I have received NUMEROUS emails from male readers who love the series but who almost didn't read it simply because of the incredibly "girly" covers (except for Dragonwitch. That one has a great cover, we all can agree).

Sadly, though I am in complete agreement with the poor guys--who just want to be able to read an adventurous fantasy novel without getting funny looks from people--I have no control over those first six covers. But Golden Daughter is a different story . . . and after much discussion (and a little debate) with my people at Rooglewood Press, we decided a re-launch the book as a stand-alone serialization, with new covers.

Huzzah!

Also, we're offering them as a special this weekend:


Even those of you who have already read it might want to go ahead and download that first FREE book . . . just to see the gorgeous, full-color MAP, painted by amazing German artist, Frank Rene Stark (who also happens to be a Goldstone Wood fan). This map is currently exclusive to the re-launch edition, so grab it for free and enjoy all the many gorgeous details!

And . . . all right, I know this sounds like a broken record . . . but if some of you who have read Golden Daughter wanted to write up short reviews for these editions, it would be SO appreciated. I would love for new readers just discovering the story and series through this edition to see some of the enthusiasm you devoted Imps feel for these characters and adventures. Reviews don't have to be long or complicated. Even single sentences are perfectly acceptable!

Anyway, I'm glad to be able to share this fun new endeavor with all of you, and I hope you love those new covers as much as I do! My personal favorite is The Long Fire. My husband's favorite is The Dying Moon. Which one do you like best?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Doings at Drakenheath--abreviated edition!

Dear Imps, there are so many THINGS happening and/or coming up this month, I feel I must give you at least a quick Doings post just so you don't miss out on any of them!

First of all . . . acclaimed fantasy novelist Rachel Starr Thomson is hosting a HUGE giveaway this month, featuring the Tales of Goldstone Wood. She is generously offering three different enormous prizes, including a Grand Prize win that includes a Kindle Fire 7” Tablet with Wi-fi and 16 GB, plus the complete Seventh World Trilogy and the entire Tales of Goldstone Wood collection . . . in paperback!

So hurry on over HERE to get your name entered in this amazing giveaway. This is epic adventure to last you the rest of the year, people!

In other news . . . 

Have you been waiting for the 2016 Goldstone Wood Fan Fiction Contest? Because the time has come, dear Imps!



You have until August 28 to create your own Goldstone Wood story and/or poem. All of the contest details may be found HERE, but I'll let you in now on the exciting prize being offered. Are you ready for it?

The winner of this year's contest will receive a collection of eight, beautiful, Goldstone Wood pens!


These are some nice pens too, let me tell you (I own a few of this brand). Perfect to inspire all of that writerly creativity. 2nd and 3rd prizes are being offered as well, and the winners will be chosen (as per tradition) via fan voting.

The Fan Fiction Contest is probably my favorite event of the year (though the Fan Art is right up there . . . apples and oranges, people). I hope you are as excited as I am to dive into the creativity these talented writers dream up for this year!

More news . . . 

A young man named Matt Young has composed a complete and original soundtrack inspired by my first novel, Heartless. How amazing is that?

He is offering this soundtrack for sale in an effort to raise money for an upcoming missions trip, so I thought I would share about this opportunity with all of you. His music is whimsical and pretty (with some great intense moments for to go with those more intense scenes!), conjuring up lots of great Goldstone Wood imagery in my imagination. So if you'd like to support this talented composer's venture, go ahead and download a few or all of his songs HERE. You can enjoy listening to all of the samples as well, which offer a taste of his creativity.


Okay, here's some news that I think all of you will be pretty excited about . . . 

You know how you've been asking me for YEARS now for a Goldstone Wood Map?

Well, at long last, I have (partially) succumbed to the fan pressure! And as of June 17, Rooglewood Press will be revealing the first ever Goldstone Wood Map in our upcoming issue of the Rooglewood Quarterly!


Now be forewarned . . . this is NOT a map of the entire Goldstone Wood world. That would be impossible, considering how enormous the world is and how much things change over the course of centuries. But it is a stunning rendition of a significant PART of the Goldstone Wood world.

Funny story: I hired this amazing German artist based on his incredible proposal for the project and what I saw of his portfolio. Turns out, after he got the contract, he went home and told his wife--only to discover that she is a fan of the Goldstone Wood series! Small world, right? So he's reading the series now in preparation for future maps (because I doubt very much we'll stop at just one now that we're started!).

So if you haven't signed up for our exciting mini-magazine, go do so now. Aside from the gorgeous new map, this upcoming issue includes lots of great articles, including a special feature by Stephanie Ricker (one of our Five Glass Slippers authors), an article on historical research by award-winning novelist Jill Stengl, and an official introduction of Rooglewood Press's newest author, Camryn Lockhart.

Oh, and speaking of cool Rooglewood-related doings . . . .

Five Magic Spindles is now officially available for pre-order (on Kindle)!


Print pre-orders should be available soon as well. The book itself is scheduled for launch on July 22 . . . and let me tell you, I could NOT be more excited to see this collection hit the shelves. I have absolutely loved all of our collections thus far, but I truly think this one is the best yet. These five writers have produced incredible work, each story vastly different from all the others, and all beautifully written. This is definitely a do-not-miss release this summer!

And as if that wasn't exciting enough . . . we have ANOTHER fantastic release launching this summer as well. The Spinner and the Slipper, by Camryn Lockhart, is ALSO available for Kindle pre-order and will be in print by June 27. Because it's just so pretty, I'm going to share its wrap-around print cover . . .


We haven't made as much of a to-do about this upcoming release since it isn't part of our internationally popular fairy tale contests . . . but don't take that to mean that we aren't completely thrilled to be sharing it with everyone! This story is utterly darling, creative, and romantic--a perfect curl-up-with-a-cup-of-tea-for-the-afternoon sort of book. Plus it's so pretty, both in the packaging and the writing style . . . I just love it! And I rather think you will love it too.

And don't forget . . . 

For those of you who have read (or are reading) my latest release, A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold, I am offering a fun giveaway/raffle opportunity!

All of the details may be found HERE, but basically, it involves YOU getting choose the main character of a NEW Goldstone Wood story. So don't miss out! We've had some pretty awesome submissions sent in already, and I have a variety of cool ideas percolating. I know it's going to be a fun story, one I am looking forward to writing.

Wow. That's a lot of doings.

And I'm sorry I don't have time to share any other fun things with you. I might try to write a PROPER Doings at Drakenheath post in July, once things have settled down a little bit. And I do still want to share about my epic adventure with Rohan in India and Sri Lanka last winter! It's getting to be a while ago now, but we had such a fantastic time and took so many pictures that I want to share . . . but I get the feeling it will be a rather HUGE post, so I keep putting it off in the face of all the other more pressing doings happening right now.

We've also added yet another rescue pet to our menagerie. I'll tell you all about him in the next Doings post as well. (We now have six cats and two dogs . . . I know, I have a problem. But I just can't say no to a kitty or puppy in need! And we love all eight of them dearly.)

In the meanwhile, please know that I am working away a novel, related to The Ridiculously Huge Project mentioned in posts from last year. Sadly, The Ridiculously Huge Project itself got a bit side-tracked due to overseas adventuring and contest crazies . . . but I've not given up on the stories themselves, and I hope to have something pretty fantastic to share with you next spring/summer. More news on that later as well.

So tell me, which of these Doings are YOU most excited about? Did you enter your name in Rachel Starr Thomson's amazing giveaway? Are you listening even now to a lovely Heartless soundtrack? Are you gearing up to write the next great Goldstone Wood fanfic? Do tell!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Update on Fourth "Five Something Something" Contest

Dear Imps, Writers, and Dreamers,

I have a quick update for all of you concerning the next Rooglewood Press fairy tale collection contest. And, unfortunately, it's kind of sad news . . . .

Due to a health issue, I've asked my Rooglewood Team if we could postpone the fourth contest for a full year. The last three years of hosting these contest and launching these collections have been a blast . . . and completely overwhelming at the same time. With this new health consideration in the works (nothing serious, don't worry, but certainly time-consuming!), I am looking ahead and realizing that I simply HAVE to cut something out of my work schedule, at least for a little while. The only options are my books or the contest.

After much debate and deliberation, my team and I have agreed that it would be better to postpone the contest for ONE year rather than postponing my own projects for . . . well, who knows how long. With a single year off from the contest, I hope to not only finish and launch the novel I'm working on right now, but also get the enormous epic that is Poison Crown (the next in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series) ready for publication.


Believe me when I say we didn't make this decision lightly . . . though I know it's coming suddenly, only a few weeks before the fourth contest was supposed to launch. I know this is the right decision to make at this time, both for me and for all of you. After all, you wouldn't want me to end up doing a poor job of launching the fourth collection OR my own works, would you?

And we will be bringing back the contests as of June 1, 2017. We've got a gorgeous cover all ready to go, and I might even give you some hints as to the tale selected sometime in the next few months (so watch for those!). I will look forward to reading all of your amazing retellings, and I have no doubt you will all blow me away . . . even as you have these last three years!

In the meanwhile, be watching for Five Magic Spindles, coming later this summer. I am hoping to have the official publication date set in just another week (a few things have to come together first!), and it should be available for pre-order in less than a month (as long as everything keeps on track!). It is going to be a glorious collection of stories. All of these authors have worked so hard, and I can hardly wait to share the results with all of you!

In the meanwhile, be sure to add it to your Goodreads shelves . . .

Saturday, April 16, 2016

My New Toy

For my birthday last week, Rohan decided to surprise me something absolutely extravagant: a Wacom Cintiq.

What is a Wacom Cintiq, you ask?

Basically, it's a huge (about the same size as a TV screen) tablet with an easel and a pen-cursor for the purpose of creating digital drawings and paintings. I've wanted one for a loooooong time. But didn't really feel like I deserved one since I'm not a real artist.

But my handsome husband felt otherwise. Because he's the sweetest like that.

Anyway, I finally set it up and created my very first digital painting today! I LOVED how quick and easy it was to make! (By "quick" and "easy," I mean it only took my about 6 hours.) This first endeavor is pretty rough and very simple, but I hope it will give all of you a smile!

Recognize these two?


Don't look TOO closely at his hand, 'cause it will start looking a bit warped under  close scrutiny! But still, considering I haven't actually sat down to an easel in nearly five years, I feel pretty good about this. Most basic drawing and painting techniques still apply, but the digital format allows for some pretty cool variations that make the whole process easier.

I'll probably add some cool details to this as I get more comfortable with these tools. Maybe some embroidered edging on shirt. And a starflower in her hair. We'll see . . . I'll post updates if I get around to them . . .

Anyway, I had a blast! And I can hardly wait to start my next painting!

EDIT:

I thought perhaps all of you would enjoy seeing a step-by-step of how I created this painting, since the process is, in some ways, more interesting than the result itself. And with digital painting it's SO easy to save the steps along the way! So here you go . . .

Step One: I roughly sketched my characters based on a photo reference. This sketch was done directly onto the screen (and you're seeing a refined version, rough though it is!). The original models had weird piercings, and the girl was not the right nationality, but those were simple enough fixes.



Step Two: I filled in very basic color blocking for hair and skin. Not really sure that this stage accomplished much other than just getting me comfortable with the characters, color schemes, and wielding my new tools! As you can see, I did not concern myself with "staying in the lines," but simply tidied up those edges later using my eraser tool.


Step Three: Feeling utterly intimidated (!), I decided to apply all the shadows and dimensions to their skin in shades of gray. This way, I could focus on getting the right depth and dimension without concerning myself just yet with actual skin tones. (When I painted in acrylics way back in the day, I would do this stage in shades of green.) I left the original sketch layer on through much of this stage, just to give me one more visual guideline.


Step Four: After a tea break to clear my head, I came back to tackle their hair. Which wasn't so bad as I thought it would be! I built up layers of shadows and highlights until I had something that looked pretty much hair-like! Around this stage, I removed the sketch layers and started working primarily without it, too. They look a bit sickly with their gray complexions, but otherwise, they're coming along pretty nicely!



Step Five: Working very quickly, I blocked in an abstract background and their clothes. My interest has always been faces, not clothing, so I kept their garments pretty minimal. I MIGHT go back in and add some interesting trimming and embroidery later, now that I'm more comfortable with the tools. We'll see.


Step Six: All that remained now was transforming those robotic complexions into flesh-and-blood! This stage took quite a lot of patience and fine-tuning (particularly on the hand!), but I did it by simply applying transparent "washes" of color, building up the layers until I achieved the effects I wanted. This is the same technique I used back when I did fine-art portraits (I was specifically trained in this technique by my college mentor, Professor Davis, who recognized my love of all things classical, and therefore trained me in this classical, Renaissance style). So yes, same technique, but digital! So much quicker, much easier, with more immediate results. What would ordinarily have taken me several days, I managed to do in about an hour and a half!


Ta da!

I hope you had fun seeing this step-by-step process. It probably wasn't the most efficient ever, since I'm still getting used to this equipment. But it was a ton of fun!

But people and faces have always been my comfort zone. Next, I plan to tackle a tree, which is much harder for me. All those textures? All those leaves? Eeeeek! I probably won't post any more paintings for a while until I have some good results again . . .