Saturday, March 7, 2015

Doings at Drakenheath

Dear Imps, as you all know, I'm taking a step back on regular blogging while this current manuscript swamps my life. However, I do want to try to keep up the Doings posts. (If nothing else, they give you a good indication why I've had to step back on regular blogging . . . .) So here are the March Doings, and I hope you will enjoy hearing about them!

The BIG task which I just finished up were the first-round edits on the Five Enchanted Roses submissions.

 This is always a much bigger task than I expect it to be, particularly considering how much we love the stories we picked as winners. But even the best stories need thorough edits . . . and sometimes the better a story is, the more editing work it requires. That's just the nature of the business. My favorite story from the Five Glass Slippers collection (which shall remain nameless . . . officially ALL of them are my favorites) required the most extensive revisions at this stage as well.

But it makes all the difference when working with talented writers! Last year's crew dove into their revisions with good will and turned in amazing second drafts. I do not doubt the writers this year will do equally well.

Still, it's a big task, and editing swamped most of February up until Thursday morning, when the last of the edits were sent out. Thank heaven I don't have to do it alone! I have a wonderful team to work with, and we were able to thoroughly dive into these stories, researching details (even fantasies require research!) and discussing our findings, commenting on what we saw as the major strengths and weaknesses of each tale, brainstorming solutions to problems, etc.

Now it's up to the writers themselves, and I won't see these stories again until mid-April. Pretty soon is the really fun part, though . . . finalizing the design of the individual title pages for each story. We've got mock-ups in the works, and oh my! These are going to be sooooo pretty.

Since the edits are complete, I'm back to working like CRAZY on Poison Crown. I've got some interesting news concerning this particular book which I will be posting sometime in the next week or so. Good news, I promise! News that includes the finalization of a November 2015 release . . . which was in question for a little while there as I keep chipping away at this enormous block of literary marble.

I had hit a really tough spot at one point last week, but when, on an impulse, I posted on Facebook asking for prayer, the response was enormous. I didn't even have to look and see all the sweet comments from people promising to pray to feel the difference. Encouragement and inspiration struck that very same day, and Poison Crown is once more proving to be entirely the Lord's work, developed according to the Lord's plan. I hope only to be a willing vessel . . . and to not interfere with my own insecurities and anxieties as God perfects His good work in me. Thankfully my insecurities and anxieties are no match for His will.

So keep your eyes open for an exciting announcement concerning this particular project. I haven't gotten the official go-ahead from my Rooglewood Press team to post it, but I think it'll be soon.

In the meanwhile, here are three interesting things you can expect to find in Poison Crown this autumn:

1. Seven-league boots. Yes indeed, they make an important appearance in this story! They also receive an origin story which is loosely inspired by a number of "our world" legends about seven-league boots, but ultimately all original Goldstone Wood stuff. We learn how they work (which is not quite how you might expect), who made them, and why. It's a small but important little tidbit.

2. You will see my version of elves. Which are inspired by pre-Tolkein elves of classic literature and are, therefore, much more suited to the world of Goldstone Wood. I'm super excited to see them getting their first features in this book, which I had not actually expected. These folks were meant for a story I plan to write much later about Queen Varvare and Lionheart . . . but you know how I like to slip in hints and tidbits many books in advance. So Poison Crown is the first TINY hint and tidbit of an idea that will someday develop in to the Varvare/Lionheart tale. Fun times!

3. You're going to learn about some of Dame Imraldera's adventures in the Wood Between and the Far World since Eanrin left her. She's been very busy and she's made some new friends . . . and enemies. Including a whole sisterhood of witches known as the Vila, who are terribly frightening and terribly tragic all at the same time.

All right, that's enough about Poison Crown for the time being.

Let me take a moment to talk about the Fan Art Contest!

 One of the most fun times of the year is in process RIGHT NOW. And I am very excited about it. If you haven't seen anything about this yet, you can read the rules for it here. The pieces have started showing up already, including beautiful images for Golden Daughter, Shadow Hand, Heartless, and more, not to mention some portraits of major characters, including Rose Red and the Dragon King. So much fun and so much talent! I can hardly wait to see the rest of the submissions and share them with you early next month. And don't forget . . . the first place winner gets a pretty epic Eanrin Hat for his or her prize:

Draven's Light is coming along beautifully. I was finally able to go through the galleys and fix some little glitches in the text. Nothing major at this point . . . some instances of repetition and a few places where the clarity suffered. I've got a revised text ready to send to my copy editor now for a last once-over . . . and then that book will be ready to launch! Which is good, because there's not a whole lot of time between now and the end of May. You may THINK there is, but in the publishing world . . . oh, no. No, there isn't. That time will go by in a blink.
Don't forget that you can pre-order Draven's Light if you are feeling so inclined.

Oh, and the Audiobook for Goddess Tithe is officially released now as well. Huzzah! This one was a lot longer in coming than planned due to a couple of glitches along the way. However, the end result is very beautiful, with voice-actor Stephen John Reese performing the narrative with great expression and drama. I particularly loved listening to all the climactic moments with Risafeth herself! Plus Mr. Reese sings the "Where Did the Songbird Go" lullaby, having created a haunting tune to go with it. Be certain to grab your copy. 
So you might be wondering if this means we'll be doing more Goldstone Wood books in audio format. The answer is . . . yes, we hope to! Someday. The truth is, it takes SO MUCH time and effort to put together these audiobooks. Even though I don't personally do the recording and mastering, I have to listen through the project several times over, and that's hours of work. Even for Goddess Tithe, which is quite short!

We plan to offer audiobook formats for the Fairy Tale Collections, such as Five Enchanted Roses and the upcoming Five Something Something (Ha! Did you think I was going to give it away early? Not on your life!). But the Tales of Goldstone Wood may have to wait a little while yet.

Speaking of Five Something Something . . . this next week, Julia Popova, our wonderful fairy cover artist, is going to begin the final version of the new collection book cover! She did the mock-ups a month or so ago, but has been away on vacation through most of February. But now she will work her magic to get the cover ready, and we will begin seriously prepping the third annual Fairy Tale Retelling Contest!

On a different topic . . .

So the other day, my darling husband pointed out to me that I don't really do anything for fun that isn't related to work somehow. Which is absolutely true . . . I love what I do for work and thrive on all of these crazy projects, so it's very difficult to turn my mind to other, non-work-related pursuits. But, as he sagely pointed out, this is not a terribly healthy way to live. There are few moments in my day (other than when he and I crash together at night to watch our favorite TV shows. Doctor Who . . . Agents of Shield . . . Sherlock . . .) when I'm not working away at some task. And TV doesn't really count as a for-fun hobby, being completely mindless way to pass the time.

Thus he encouraged me to pick up some sort of non-work-related pastime to simultaneously challenge and relax my brain. I had to think about that for a bit . . . I like quilting, but I don't really have a quilt in the works at the moment (though I have one I could start). But it's not really challenging to the brain. I love art and design, but I do often delve into that side of my brain for work, so it's probably not different enough.

But you know what else I enjoy? Music. I used to compulsively practice the piano for three hours a day, and while I certainly don't play at that level of proficiency anymore, I can potter along quite well on the whole.

Rohan thus challenged me to learn a new classical music piece on the piano. He pulled up a favorite of his on Youtube for me to listen to: "Handel in the Strand" by Percy Grainger. It sounded cute and cheerful and fun . . . and Percy Grainger was a friend and contemporary of Edvard Grieg, who is my favorite classical composer. I've played quite a few Grieg pieces, and while he's challenging, he tends to write things that sound much harder than they are . . . which is perfect when you're a vain little musician like yours truly, who wants to be impressive without doing a crazy amount of work! So I agreed. I would learn "Handel in the Strand" for my husband, thus exercising my brain in a fresh direction. Rohan went ahead and ordered the music for me.

Oh. Dragon's. Teeth.

That cheerful little piece of piano-y sweetness? It's killer. I mean, KILLER! It's more like Bach than like Grieg, with several voices going at once in different fingers on each hand! I don't have the finger strength for this kind of playing anymore! Not even the one Liszt piece I learned in high school compares to this, and Liszt is notoriously difficult!

Don't try to look guileless, Percy! I'm on to you.
But I promised Rohan. And, as he pointed out, the point is to focus my mind on something not-work-related. And a piece like this . . . well, it definitely requires focus. So I am practicing my scales and strengthening my fingers. And I am slowly learning "Handel in the Strand" one measure at a time. One hand at a time. Often one finger at a time.

Maybe by next year I'll be able to get through the whole thing? We shall see! (But don't hold your breath.)

In other Drakenheathean news . . . 

My family is coming to visit next week! Well, not all of my family. But a goodly portion of them! My parents and youngest brother, Peter, are driving down from Wisconsin to stay with us for a couple of days. Then Pete and my Papa are heading back up north, leaving Mummy to visit for another week before flying back home.

I am SO EXCITED. I haven't seen these members of my family in person for nearly two years now. And I am really looking forward to showing them the house, introducing them to the new Drakenheath beasts (they've only ever met Marmaduke and Minerva Louise in person). Mum and I have grand and glorious plans for her visit as well, which include pulling out the sewing machine for some fun projects, and possibly shopping for an outfit for me for an updated "author photo." And we will drink much tea and feast upon the delicious foods Rohan prepares! And take Milly for long walks down to the river and all sorts of loveliness.

Seriously, I can hardly wait.

 First, however, Rohan and I have to put together our guest room so that it's livable. Since moving into Drakenheath, we've pretty much left the guest room as a large storage closet. But last night, we hauled out boxes, organized, and began putting together the pretty new bed we bought for the room. Today we plan to spend on getting the room finished. Should be really pretty when it's done. I'll try to post some pictures, maybe for next month's "Doings" feature.

So, as you can see, March has some fun projects and plans in the works! Plenty to keep me very busy, but all very exciting and fun.

So what are you up to here at the end of winter and the beginning of spring? Is it starting to feel spring-like where you are? Do you have any cool projects in the works? Plans in mind for the summer?


Meredith said...

These doings are simply marvelous! I just finished Golden Daughter last night and am still reeling from its beauty. I cried, laughed, wanted to physically assault that odious, horrendous Dragon, and ultimately feel blown away by the depiction of grace. All this to say that Draven's Light and Poison Crown have me chomping at the bit with excitement. Thank you for using the gifts God has given you, Mrs. Anne Elisabeth. You truly don't know how inspiring you are. And, you are always in my prayers. Isn't it amazing how God works despite our own doubts?

Good for Mr. Rohan for pointing out that you need some time for yourself! So glad you're taking some time with your family. And, that piano piece is outstanding! I love playing the piano but am woeful at it, so I really admire you.

And, possibly more audio books in Tales of Goldstone Wood? Yes! Yes! Yes! Goddess Tithe is phenomenal, by the way. Everyone should get a copy. Mr. Reese does an outstanding job. I'd be willing to listen to the audio proofs for you? Just a thought. Amazon has a new company called ACX that creates audio books in timely fashions. The narators are great, and you have control over every aspect, so it's a really good company.

Thanks again for this post, and I loved your hints regarding Poison Crown. I will continue praying. Have fun this upcoming week with your family. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for Draven's Light and Poison Crown. I especially can't wait to see your own unique interpretation of elves. I'm making my way through the series, and I just finished Moonblood, which was fabulous. Rose Red has quickly become my favorite character. I love how selfless and courageous she is even though it would be easy for her to be selfish and jealous.

Of course I'm really excited for the next fairytale retelling contest. I have resolved to enter this year, and I can't wait to see what the featured fairytale will be. I have some guesses...

Hannah said...

Oh how wonderful!!! Everything writing-wise sounds wonderful!!! Those elves and witches, my, oh my!

And ooh...that can do it! :D And I'm so thrilled a goodly portion of your family is coming! :D :D :D

Well, I'm working on lots of art including the fan art! And the second draft of Moonscript is coming along splendidly!

Unknown said...

You continuously amaze me, Anne Elisabeth. Even when you're not "working", you're accomplishing such impressive feats! I can't wait for POISON CROWN, DRAVEN'S LIGHT, or FIVE ENCHANTED ROSES!! (Or the announcement for FIVE SOMETHING SOMETHING).

Currently, I am exploring more of the English countryside, looking for summer employment, and picking courses for my fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree. As well, I am brainstorming stories and just allowing my experiences to inspire me where they will. We just visited Broughton Castle today, and it was lovely. Part of the newest JANE EYRE film was shot there--it has a moat and we walked about on the roof...

Also, I am exploring my genealogical roots. I learned that on my maternal great-grandmother's side, I am very Scottish, and my ancestry traces back to King James V of Scotland (the dad of Mary Queen of Scots), which was really cool to learn. Also, it has set my writer-ly inspiration cells on fire.

I hope you have a lovely time visiting with your family--I am sure you all have such fun when you're together! :) Blessings on you all!

Galadriel said...

What did you think of Aftershock?

Unknown said...

Ah, Grieg! His Peer Gynt Suite is my FAVORITE! I am currently drowning beneath a disturbing amount of schoolwork, ACT prep, an operetta, one Jacobin comedy, housework-- and, buried beneath it all, reading, writing, and music. : )

That piece does sound super tricky. ; ) Best of luck with it!

Sarah Pennington said...

Oh my goodness. You definitely are busy. O_o

Poison Crown sounds more awesome every time I hear about it. :D (Elves! Seven league boots!) I'm looking forward to actually hearing about it!

My life at the moment consists mostly of: schoolwork (which, thankfully, is slowing down- by the end of the month, I'll be done with several subjects), SAT prep (which only lasts another week, thank God!), editing two novels (or trying to, at least), and trying to finish Monster in the Castle, my dragon-eaten WIP of two years which I want to be done with before Camp NaNo. So . . . yep.

Anonymous said...

Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Agents of Shield are my favorite shows lol. All these projects you're working on sound amazing...and I nearly forgot Draven's Light release is so soon. Eeee!

I've been working on fanart, and so far, everything has failed. Oops. XD I will continue, though, if not merely for that awesome hat.

-Sarah Grace

Meagan @ Blooming with Books said...

Love the updates.
At least we're having nice weather expected in WI this upcoming week perfect for traveling.

Enjoy your visit!

Looking forward to all the reading delights coming our way!

Anonymous said...

Yay Draven's Light! Yay Five Enchanted Roses! Yay Five something-something! Yay Goldstone audiobooks! Yay Poison Crown! I love doings posts!

Anonymous said...

I've drawn four things for the Fan Art so far and will be sending them in shortly!

OOOH Poison Crown things! :D Imraldera stuff, hmm. :) AND LIONHEART AND VARVARE SOMEDAY!!! (Someday. But someday is much better then never! :D)

Good luck on all your stuff and God bless!

-Rebekah L. AKA Stargazer

Psalms w guitar said...

I was able to tell someone at the post office who has a 13-year-old daughter about your books. She is an avid reader who loves clean fiction and is interested in fairy world. I told her your spelling was more the f a e r i e type, but as soon as I told her about a cat with no eyes who was moonlighting as a knight (seriously, no pun intended), she got very interested.

Heartless or bust.

Merenwen Inglorion said...

*jaw drop from sheer overwhelming amount of projects and fun stuff listed here*
Oh. My. Goodness! Varvere and Lionheart? Imraldera (can an Imraldera story be told without Eanrin and his shenanigans in it??)? Seven-league boots? ELVES???
*fan girl squeal worthy of earplugs*

I read Goddess Tithe. Words nearly fail me. I'm just going to say that it was so good, that when I finished, I cried! So much desperation, goodness, funny moments (because we know who Leonard is but Munny doesn't ;)) and grace!
I'm greatly looking forward to the audio book. :)

As for the weather over on my end of the country...winter never really set in. We had four snowfalls total, and the first three didn't count because the snow only stuck for about an hour. The last snowfall was last week, and it stuck for a WHOLE DAY! XD

Jenelle Leanne said...

You know what I'm currently working on :)

And I think I'm busy... your schedule is amazing.

I totally get the need to do something that isn't writing-related, but still exercises your brain.

Hey, if you ever need to go do something fun that's not at all writing-related, I'm available for hanging out and having coffee (except I'll be having hot chocolate, because: coffee = yucky) and chatting about anything BUT writing... love Dr. Who, Sherlock, and Marvel Super Heroes! Or... if you like board games, my husband and I love having people over to play things like Dominion, Shadows over Camelot, Pandemic, Settlers of Cataan, Ticket to Ride and LOTS more of various strategy levels! We're very into Euro-gaming. :) Y'all would be welcome anytime.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Meredith--I am so glad you enjoyed GOLDEN DAUGHTER and the audiobook of GODDESS TITHE! That makes me so happy. :)

One day, ideally, we would like to have Rohan do the audio recording for the full-length Goldstone Wood novels. Most of you haven't met him in person, but has a really lovely, polished speaking voice (I thought he was British when I first met him!). That's many years down the road, but it's one of our dreams!

In the meanwhile, Stephen John Reese does an amazing job, and we are considering hiring him to do DRAVEN'S LIGHT later this year . . .

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Thanks for all the notes and encouragement, everyone!

@Beka--I just . . . well, I just kinda want to BE YOU during this semester of yours! That is all.

@Allison--Peer Gynt is WONDERFUL.I also particularly adore the Holberg Suite. For the first birthday I spent with Rohan (when we were just starting to date), he bought us tickets to go hear the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields play Holberg . . . I kind of HAD to marry him then! I mean, seriously.

@Galadriel--We haven't seen Aftershock yet (NO SPOILERS!!!). We are waiting until there are four or five episodes backed up on Hulu so we can binge-watch them altogether. We have a system . . . ;)

@Psalms w guitar--Thank you SO MUCH for telling potential new readers about my series! That means so much to me.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Jenelle--Best of luck with your current big project! Which, I have no doubt, is going to turn out beautifully. I am looking forward to seeing it on my desk in another month!

I think a non-coffee date would be lovely. (I don't like coffee either. Tea for me, please!) Though you might have a difficult time getting me to talk about something other than books and writing . . . ;) I confess I am absolutely TERRIBLE at strategy board games. Embarrassingly bad at them. My mind, alas, is not a strategic one. Rohan is quite good at chess and RISK, but I don't know if he's played any of the more complex ones yet.

Anyway, all that to say, a game night sounds fun (if embarrassing for yours truly). Non-coffee does too, perhaps AFTER all the current craziness settles down a bit. :)

Jenelle Leanne said...

Yeah, we might have to talk books a little, because honestly, I can't go an entire conversation without talking about stories of some sort... we could talk television and movies, though!

Euro-games don't have to be complex. We've got some easier ones, and some cooperative ones (where everyone plays together against the game) those are a lot of fun. Euro-games mostly just means less dice or luck-based. :)

Yes, after craziness dies down (er... does that ever happen in your life?) LOL

Jenelle Leanne said...

I meant to say this earlier, and got side-tracked... but thank you so much for the sweet encouragement at the beginning of this post about the editing. And how the amount of editing needed does not necessarily reflect negatively on the quality of the story.:)

Esther Brooksmith (wisdomcreates) said...

It's so exciting to hear about the process that Five E.R. is undergoing. Edits and title pages and fun stuff!
It's also intriguing to hear your hints (aka, not-hints) about Five Something Something. I can't wait to hear what your next contest will be.
I love the way you asked for prayer when you got stuck in your story. It's like asking advice from the BEST AUTHOR EVER. And there's a good humility in turning your story over to Him and letting it be His story. :)
Last, but not least: I wanted to echo what Jenelle said. You have a way of encouraging your writers, and that's not something I usually see in contest hosts. Thank you!

Meredith said...

Oh, you're considering hiring Mr. Rease for Draven's Light? Wonderful! I'm so excited about that book and know he would do it justice! And, I would love to hear Mr. Rohan read sometime. Keep up the outstanding work.