Anyway, let me update you on the doings.
Poison Crown . . . is coming along.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This book is far and away the most difficult thing I've ever tackled. However, while the last Doings post saw me bemoaning my sorry fate, this month I'm feeling ever-so much more chipper about this project. I'm well into the second draft now--or, at least, I just finished Part One of Four--and I am delighted with how it's shaping up. The rough draft was probably the worst rough draft I have ever written. But this second draft is another story altogether . . .
You may remember the post I wrote a few months about about the difference between Plot and Approach? Well, Poison Crown is proving my theory, at least as far as my own writing is concerned. In the rough draft of this manuscript, I got the approach wrong in most of the introductory material. I didn't quite introduce all of the characters and major story arcs in the right manner, and as a result, the subsequent material never really came together. In this second draft, however, I approached those introductions very differently--the same basic information, same basic plots and personalities--but approached from new angles.
As a result of this new approach, I'm discovering that quite a lot of the rough draft material in the bulk of the manuscript is salvageable. It didn't work in the previous iteration because of improper introductions, but with the adjustments made, much of it now slides quite nicely into place. I think I'm ending up able to use about 40% of the rough draft in this second draft . . . which is a decent percentage when all is said and done!
Anyway, all that to say: Writing is tough! Let no one try to tell you otherwise. But at this stage in the game, I really, really love it. I can't imagine wanting to do anything else! There is no feeling more satisfying than seeing a difficult manuscript finally start coming together.
I had hoped all along to be able bump the winners announcement up to February like we did last year, but wasn't certain if I'd be able to get all the reading in on such a tight deadline. I shouldn't have worried. When all the finalists' stories landed on my desk, it was all I could do to keep myself from reading them in enormous gulps! They were just too fun and too exciting.
Some of you have asked about the judging process for this contest. Since I cannot give away the winners or even drop any hints, I'll try to satisfying some of your curiosity by telling you how the judging works. Basically, we have four judges--editors, authors, and one publicist from a major traditional house, all of whom kindly volunteered to participate. As each story comes in, it is sent to the next judge on the cycle, so each judge ends up with one quarter of the total submissions. They read all of these submissions and then compile their top five picks, which are then sent on to me.
This means, I read only the top twenty picks--which is still quite a number of stories to pick from! And by this time, they're all excellent reads, which makes the decisions that much more difficult. I read with an eye not only to storytelling and narrative strength, but also to how the five winners will fit together as a whole. In this particular instance, I wasn't quite certain of my own top picks until I read the story that will be the fifth one in this collection. When I read that one, the whole of the collection suddenly fell into place and made sense to me--but I needed that final piece of the puzzle before I could see the whole picture.
Once I've finalized my top picks, I enter into discussion with the two Rooglewood Press editors who will be working with me during the polishing stage. I make certain they are on board with my decision, and we discuss the pros and cons. In this instance, they agreed with very little discussion.
This whole process was much easier than last year, when I read all of the submissions and then sent my top twenty picks out to the other judges. Basically, we reversed the process so that no one judge has to carry the bulk of the reading. And a good thing too! We are not revealing the exact number of entries we received, but I will tell you that we saw a 25% increase from last year's submissions. I would have been completely overwhelmed trying to read every last one of them.
I will also mention that, along with the top twenty picks sent in, several of the judges sent me their "very close runners-up" as well. There were so many strong submissions!
This stage of the game is both so exciting and also a little sad. I am thrilled for the five winners we will be naming on Sunday, excited to begin working with them to see this collection launched later this year . . . but simultaneously, I am sad for those writers I have to turn down. Talented voices with great opportunities ahead of them, but just not quite the right fit for this particular project. I can only hope that every writer who participated will feel a great sense of accomplishment and worth having produced the stories they have told. Ultimately, that's what contests like these are about--writing excellent stories.
All right, on to some other doings now . . .
I am working hard on the final stages of getting the Goddess Tithe audiobook ready for launch. It's been a bit difficult finding time to listen to the recordings and check for glitches, though when I do get a chance to sit down to it, it's quite a delight! Stephen John Rees has such a gorgeous reading voice, and I look forward to sharing this project with all of you.
And, of course, we saw the Draven's Light cover reveal launch earlier this month. Huzzah! It's now almost exactly a year since I wrote that project, so it feels like it's been a long time in coming. Still several more months before the official release, though you can pre-order your copy now if you like.
During my "spare time," I am going through the manuscript of Draven's Light, making minor adjustments and checking for typos. I found quite a few passages where I've gotten a bit repetitious, so I'm trimming down and streamlining the text. Otherwise, it's pretty much ready to go. And just wait until you see the pretty interior design! I think this might be my favorite interior look for a book yet! And that cover? Can I just say again how much I love that cover?
Don't forget, you can help me out tremendously by sharing the blog button--either on your blog sidebars or as a Twitter or Facebook photo. Just don't forget to include the pre-order link.
Speaking of covers . . . We are officially in the process of designing the next Fairy Tale cover for this year's contest. Julia Popova will be working her magic yet again, and dare I say it? I believe this one will be the most beautiful yet. The color schemes . . . the mood . . . the setting . . . oh, my! But you'll have to wait until June 1st and the official announcement of that contest to see it. Unless you participate in the cover reveal, in which case you'll get to see it in May . . .
I'm very eager to see what stories we end up with this year as well. The fairy tale we have chosen is not quite as popular as the last two (though still very well known and loved, believe me), and somehow, I feel that might lead to even more exciting retellings. We'll see if I'm right, but I personally would find this story very interesting to explore. I've had several ideas myself which I might store away for future reference.
Other than that, we have several fun features coming up on this blog. I am currently hosting a feature and giveaway for Shonna Slayton and her debut novel, Cinderella's Dress. And on Friday, I'm participating in a Coming Soon feature for Gillian Bronte Adams and her exciting upcoming release! Many more fun interviews and giveaways will be forthcoming, so be certain to visit often.
And, of course, I will be continuing with the Q&A blog series I began last fall. I probably will need to get Poison Crown drafted before I can tackle regular blogging again, however. You understand . . . .
Those are all the Doings for now! How has your January been?