Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Doings at Drakenheath

I realized January is almost over, and I haven't taken time to write up a Doings at Drakenheath post! My apologies, dear readers. I suppose I did warn you that I wouldn't be blogging quite as much over the next few months, so this is not entirely unexpected.

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 know many of you have come here today to learn news of the Five Enchanted Roses contest. Alas, I am not breathing a word until Sunday, when the winners will be announced! By the way, for those of you who haven't seen, the winners are being announced this Sunday, February 1.

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?


Unknown said...

This is so cool! I still can't believe you read ALL the 5 Glass Slippers entries... *shakes head* It's really great to know how the judging process works; thank you! : )

I cannot tell you how excited I am for Draven's Light and Poison Crown, even if they mean a Tales of Goldstone break after... If the break coincides with my college years, I might actually get some work done without waiting anxiously for the next novel. : )

Unknown said...

And a question for the series: what are some of the differences between writing professionally and writing for fun? Is it still... dare I ask... fun?

Sarah Pennington said...

I'm glad to hear Poison Crown is coming together well! I can't wait until it's done so I can read it.

On the fairy tale remake series: I'm not sure if I'm more excited for the announcement of the winners of this contest or the cover reveal for the next! 'Cause I really want to know the winners (and I'm hoping that a sequel to BROKEN GLASS is among them . . .), but I also want to start plotting my entry for the next contest, since I think I'll actually have all my WIPs done in time to write something this year!

Anonymous said...

AHHH! I'm so excited for Poison Crown and Draven's Light. I might just burst of excitement. Is Rooglewood Press a self publishing house? Because I know some of the earlier Tales of Goldstone Wood books were published by Bethany House.

It was really cool to see how the judging process works for the fairytale retelling contest. I couldn't enter this year, but I really want to enter next year. But...But...May?!? *cries* Why must I wait that long to see the cover? The wait is so painful.

Tracey Dyck said...

I'm glad to hear that POISON CROWN is starting to shape up! Those rough drafts can be hard.

And I liked getting a peek at the judging process too. I'm about to burst--Sunday can't come soon enough!!

I second Sarah's comment. I can't wait to see the next cover either. :D Really curious about which fairy tale you've picked...

Ooh, and I'm also looking forward to the continuation of your Q&A posts (you know, once PC allows it). :) So many exciting things to anticipate!

Kendra E. Ardnek said...

My January has been going pretty good, mostly focusing on fine tuning editing for the third book of my Fairy Tale series so I can publish it next month. Lots of fun there.

I can't wait to see the authors in this year's collection! And I can't wait to learn what story we'll be retelling this year! I WILL enter this next contest. I just didn't have my Cinderella done in time, and was uninspired by B&B.

Anonymous said...

Wow, your life must be very busy!
This January I have been wandering around the house looking for things to read :) I simply cannot WAIT for Draven's Light and Poison Crown!
Or Five Enchanted Roses for that matter.

Becky said...

So many wonderful projects to look forward to! Draven's Light sounds so good... and Poison Crown, a cover reveal, and contest winners...well, we all just have to wait, hard as it is. Oh! And it will be great fun to read Gillian Bronte Adams feature. She is so creative, fun, and inspiring. God bless and keep all at Drakenheath.

Meredith said...

I always love the Doings posts. So thrilled that the second draft of Poison Crown is going so well.

I'm so thrilled that there were even more Beauty and the Beast retellings submitted this year. That's incredible and so encouraging because Beauty and the Beast is such a wonderful story. The tale clearly speaks to a lot of people. Know it definitely does for me. It was really interesting learning about the judging process, too. I definitely don't envy you the task of having to choose. What a challenge yet what fun I'm sure.

So excited about Goddess Tithe audio release! The narrator's name sounds very familiar to me, so it'll be interesting if I've heard him read before. Becky Doughty was phenomenal for FGS, so I'm eager to hear Goddess Tithe. Of course, Draven's Light will be phenomenal I know.

Your projects and dedication are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing the talent God has lavished upon you. Thank you as well for your candor about the writing process and all your insights. God bless.

Hannah said...

Well, this is the third time I've tried to leave a comment. I'm just so so excited for Poison Crown and for the new fairy tale cover! Thank you for your hard work!

Jenelle Leanne said...

Shew! You constantly amaze me with all you've got going on! January was kind of a crummy month for us health-wise... but I did get a lot of progress made on my current WIP, so that's good.

I think I'm going to just absolutely burst waiting for Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO nerve wracking!!!!!

RJ said...

Excited to see the winners of the Beauty and the Beast contest!