Besides . . . Flexibility is the key to air power!
So, all that aside, what have the Doings been of late? Many indeed. Let's take the plunge . . .
The BIG doing is, of course, Poison Crown: The Smallman's Heir. Though I have to say, one of the main struggles of this last month has been the tendency for Poison Crown to get put off, despite its being the BIG doing. So many pressing LITTLE doings will insert themselves as vital, and . . . truth be told, the little doings are easier, not to mention most of their deadlines are more up-and-coming. So Poison Crown gets bumped.
I am still in the revision stage of this project just now. The book is technically drafted, but requires smoothing in a number of places. I DID manage to get through That Scene which had been holding me up for so long. By the grace of God alone . . . and the inspiration of Diana Wynne Jones, Ghandi, and Tolstoy. How's that for an odd trio?
I'm not kidding, though. While struggling through that scene, I read a book by Diana Wynne Jones, an essay on the life of Ghandi, and a short story of Tolstoy's, all of which inspired aspects of the scene in question. Can't tell you how, of course, without giving away something vital, so you'll just have to mull over it. Like a riddle. Or the beginning of a really bad joke: "One day Diana Wynne Jones, Ghandi, and Tolstoy walked into a bar . . ."
I also found myself turning to old writing techniques as a means to overcome one of the most severe attacks of writer's block I've had in some time (probably since Dragonwitch). I'm pretty much certain this attack stemmed from utter overwhelmed-ness. There was simply too much on my plate this last month, and even when I had a day devoted to nothing but writing, I couldn't make myself write. At least, not on the computer. But I COULD make myself write by hand . . . for a set period of time . . . if I started first thing in the morning . . .
So, last month found me rising early, picking up a notebook by about 7:00 am, and "jam writing," as I like to call it, for about an hour and a half. ("Jam writing," for those of you who don't know the term, is the art of blathering on a page. You tell yourself, "This doesn't have to be perfect. Lumé love me, it doesn't even have to be good!" And then you just start writing and see what happens. In this instance I focused on That Scene, of course. It wasn't just any jam write. But the principle is sound.)
Once the jam writing was complete, I typed up what I had and found it to be surprisingly all right. I really do like writing by hand, and if I lived in a perfect world that did not involve writer's cramp, simple fatigue, or the devilish temptation that is a word processor, I would write whole novels this way. But it is a very, very, very slow process. A process that saw me achieving 4,000 words in a week. Which, when you consider my normal pace is 4,000 words a day . . . yeah, it's a bit pathetic.
But, as my father so wisely stated (as seen in the previous blog post), "Flexibility is the key to air power." So I'm being flexible. And I'm writing slowly. If that is what it takes, I'll finish these rewrites by hand and draft the whole of the next volume in a followup notebook!
Lord willing, this won't be the case.
So anyway, that's Poison Crown: The Smallman's Heir for you. Oh! Except and it has a cover now! Yes, indeed. After one of the most frustratingly drawn-out cover processes I have yet to experience, this novel has its very own bright-and-shiny new face, and it is, if I do say it myself, rather beautiful. Though "beautiful" might not be the right word, since this is a serious epic fantasy, not a pretty little fairy tale. I'll amend it to: It's rather awesome. "Awesome" is a great word for it. And I think you are going to love it!
For those of you who have signed up for my newsletter, you'll get to see the new cover along with some exciting sneak peeks on July 1. For those of you who have not signed up for my newsletter . . . well, no time like the present!
On to other doings . . .
I have a new website! I'm sure most of you have seen this already, but since it's a Doing that emerged over the last month, I'm going to mention it anyway. It is an actual, honest-to-goodness, not-a-blog-anymore, www.AnneElisabethStengl.com website. And I am very proud of it.
I know, I know. It's been a long time coming. Truth is, I had a very specific idea in my head of what I wanted this website to look like. And while we tossed around hiring a designer for the last several years, budget limits meant I really wasn't going to end up with a look I wanted.
But times have changed. I've learned a LOT over the last few years. Now I've got the ability to make myself quite a nice looking website (with some input from my brilliant husband, of course).
But yeah, spending time on putting that together took up rather a lot of last month too. I feel it's worth it, however. Now that it's built, it's all a matter of upkeep, which is much simpler. And I was very pleased to have it done, ready in time to introduce to readers at the Draven's Light launch party.
Speaking of . . .
It's been interesting since I wrote it seeing how much that story has influenced Poison Crown. I did not originally plan Poison Crown with Draven's Light in mind (Draven's Light came to me rather suddenly out of the blue . . . Thanks, Beka!). But because of that little story, my big story has taken on some fascinating themes which I have had great fun (and great difficulty) exploring. Again, I can't give it away . . . though, looking at the subtitles for the volumes might give you a clue what I'm talking about . . .
Okay, I know many of you are eager to learn how the other HUGE doing of this summer is coming along. I am, of course, referring to Five Enchanted Roses.
It's coming along quite well, actually! My part of the process is very stop-and-start these days. The book has been through it's final round of honest-to-goodness edits, has received its basic typesetting, and is now simply going through layers of proof reading. At the moment, the galleys are in the hands of the five authors themselves (plus one more proof reader), checking for issues in the text and typesetting. They have two weeks to get their finds back to me, at which point the document will be polished up . . . and then sent out to proof readers one more time. (Proof reading is a never-ending journey. A tragic one at that, since I have yet to read a single book in my life that did not boast its share of typos. But you have to KNOW that you did all you could.)
I'll be one of the last proof readers, and I fully intend to read the whole thing backwards. "Eh?" you say. "Aye," say I. I'll read it backwards, one page at a time. Helps the eye to catch things it would otherwise miss. One of the first editors I worked with at the beginning of my career taught me that trick, and it's a classic.
We will also be sending out the Influencer Reader files by June 27! So if you are interested in reading this wonderful collection a full month before the actual release date, do click this link and check out the rules. We'd love to have you on the team!
|Mutti, looking stylish in her post-surgery collar.|
She's doing very well, thank you for asking. They ended up having to remove all of her teeth, poor girl, but she is so much happier now! Indeed, this former feral, who used to run at the sight of any human, has transformed post-surgery into a loving lap-baby. I think it may have been the trauma. Or the drugs. Possibly both. But the day after her surgery, when she was out of her mind on pain killers, she crawled into my lap, purring (and drooling rather badly . . . poor numb little mouth), and stayed there for several hours. I couldn't move, of course. Can't disturb the kitty. So I got a much-needed sitting-up nap, and she rolled around in my arms, made herself ridiculous and adorable, and ultimately learned the joys inherent in the life of a lap cat. She's sold out on that way of life now, and will come to my lap at the smallest beckoning. I never thought I'd see the day!
So thank you for all of your prayers. Mutti is so much happier now without all those rotten teeth in her head!
Here is a picture of Marmaduke for you:
Here's a picture of Minerva Louise for you as well.
Oh, Evil. Thou art so precious!
I gave my husband a big birthday party this last weekend. I haven't hosted a large birthday party since his 30th, so this was quite the endeavor! He helped out a ton, of course, because he's sweet like that. And he absolutely deserved some extra love this year, as he has been so helpful and encouraging and wonderful to me through all the work craziness . . . Why, just last night, he emailed right before coming home from work to say, "Put on something nice! I'm taking you out for dinner." And he proceeded to sweep me away to what might have been the best meal I've had in a LONG time. What's more (proving yet again what an angel he is) he allowed me to talk/gripe about work almost the whole time! I love him so much.
So yes, he had to have a party. A big one. And it really was lovely! He asked for pound cake stuffed with strawberries, topped with blackberries, with an orange sugar glaze. Fancy. But if that's what my Handsome wants, that's what he's going to get!
|Two of them, even!|
Oh, and he got THE MOST EPIC BIRTHDAY CARD EVER this year. I really have to share:
And what is that you ask? Why, yes. Yes, I do wear flowing white dresses every day while I write. I wouldn't be caught dead in penguins-with-pink-hearts pajama pants at 5:30 in the evening (the time at which I am writing this post). Only flowing white dresses. Thank you.
"Handel in the Strand." I'm still learning it. Sometimes. It's actually ALMOST done, with just a few ticklish passages I haven't refined yet and some dynamics that could use some . . . like . . . existence. I also desperately need to tune my piano (which hasn't been turned since our move, so you can imagine how pleasant it sounds about now). Once these things are done, however, I shall endeavor to record a full performance for all of you.
Oh! Speaking of!!! I almost forgot!!!!
Don't forget the Goldstone Wood Music Contest is still running! I am accepting submissions through June 24, so don't miss the deadline! It's still a pretty small contest at this point, with just a few fun pieces submitted. Hopefully we'll get a handful more so that we can offer a proper concert for all of you . . . and a goodly pool of songs for Melanie J. Morgan to pick from for her animatic! Rules are here if you want to refresh your memory. Let me know if you have any questions!
I probably shouldn't let a Doings post go by without at least mentioning the Five Magic Spindles creative writing contest! I am so pleased to have finally been able to share this gorgeous cover with all of you, not to mention the secret of this year's theme. Are you excited about "Sleeping Beauty"? Getting some good inspiration for your entries? Do tell . . . or at least, tell as much as you feel you can at this point. Wouldn't want you jinx your inspiration!
Well, there are other Doings, mostly little ones. And some big ones I can't talk about yet. It's been a busy month, and this month bodes to be busier still. So say a few prayers for me if you think of it!
What are YOUR Doings these days? Any great projects? Plans for your summer? New jobs? Old jobs? Travel?
Are you writing a fairy tale retelling???