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.
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?