Friday, October 9, 2015

Doings at Drakenheath

Hello there, dear Imps! I know I've been quiet for a while, but we've been very busy out here at Drakenheath. Which means I hope that this Doings post will be full of interesting little tidbits for all of you!

Can you believe it's already been a year since Rohan and I moved to Drakenheath? We have sure loved living here in our pretty country estate . . . and the kitties have all loved it too, particularly the big staircase and the "chasm bridge," as we like to call the open walkway above our living room. I love my pretty little study (which is actually about twice as big as my old study, so not so little!) with its view of the gazebo down the street. Milly and I just took a walk all the way up and down the neighborhood, enjoying the green and the pretty gardens, which are still quite lush, here at the edge of autumn.

Now my poor dog is panting under my chair (her shaggy black coat is a bit much even for this early autumn weather), and I am settling in to update you on the Doings.

First of all, let me introduce you to this exciting new marketing endeavor from Rooglewood Press!

That's right! We decided to offer one of our fairy tale novellas as a standalone ebook. What's more, it will be PERMANENTLY FREE. That's right . . . you will ALWAYS be able to grab this novella on your e-reader for absolutely nothing.

This is, of course, a marketing strategy on our part. We are hoping that those who are hesitant to purchase Five Enchanted Roses or Five Glass Slippers will sample this story to see if it's for them. And if so, we do hope those readers will go on and buy all of the other stories available.

So if YOU are one of those readers, uncertain whether or not you will like our fairy tale retellings, go ahead and give The Wulver's Rose a try. You can grab it on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or Smashwords. I have no doubt you will enjoy this very sweet, very classic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in the Highlands of Scotland.

Oh, and do you mind if a brag for just a moment? *whispers* That cover design is mine. *end whispers* And I really had a BLAST doing it! I'm most proud of the background, which I built out of an assortment of images my brother and sister-in-law took while on vacation in Scotland. So yes, that background IS actually made up of the Scottish Highlands. That particular view does not exist . . . it was created out of several photos to bring the most dynamic impact. But the MOOD should be very Scottish nonetheless.

Okay, on to writing news now . . .


Let's see, last time I was still working on Book 2 in The Ridiculously Huge Project. That rough draft is now done . . . though it is VERY rough. So rough, it doesn't even REALLY have an ending, just kind of an assortment of scene ideas. However, I learned a ton about the world and the overall series while drafting it, and I already have a good idea what I'll need to do to transform this rough draft into something polished. But that won't be for a few months, because my fifteen drafting days are over, and it's time to move onto Book 3.

I have just completed the first week of Book 3, and I'm right on track with 20,000 words of manuscript. If you remember from my post on that topic, the goal is to write 60,000 word rough drafts in 15 days. A bit intense, but very doable.

I am trying an experiment with this particular manuscript, something I've not tried before. I was feeling distant from the characters, who are only VERY slowly unfolding to me as interesting people. They're coming, but it takes time to learn a whole new character. So, out of pure curiosity, I decided to have a go at writing Book 3 entirely in first-person. And it's been surprisingly fun!

Now I have written a certain amount of first-person narrative before. Fans of my series will recall that a chunk of Starflower was told in first-person as my heroine relates her story to the Dragonwitch. And then again in Dragonwitch we have the titular villainess telling her backstory in first-person chunks at the beginning of each chapter. But I have never written an entire novel in first-person, preferring omniscient third-person.

But this series is not the same as Goldstone Wood. While Goldstone Wood is all about trying to create a strong sense of classicism, this new series is much grittier. Much more real-world in its style and magical system. And I'm really liking the first-person tense and how it's adding to that overall sense.

The whole of Book 3 is told from the point-of-view of one of the series heroes. Which is interesting, since the series itself is actually very heroine-centric. And she is at the center of this story, but she is not the right character to use as a view-point, so I'm going to learn about her through this fellow's eyes. So far it's been great. This as been far and away the easiest draft to start, and I am so pleased with the material I'm writing, I even have hopes that a lot of this might actually make it into the final draft! (Not something I felt about either Book 1 or Book 2).

Anyway, I promised more of a tidbit about the series each month. So other than the first-person narrative, what else can I tell you without giving away spoilers? Hmmmm . . .

Well, I've spent quite a lot of time researching trolls and troll lore. I have never used trolls (that I remember) in Goldstone Wood, and it's been interesting getting a sense of how they fit into classic mythology. And how I can use that mythology for my own ends. For instance, trolls traditionally cannot stand the sound of church bells and may be driven away by their ringing. A fascinating little tidbit . . . and my question is, how can I work that into my world effectively?

So I've been developing my own variations on classic troll lore, creating some interesting new mythology appropriate for my world. And then these troll characters started scratching on the edge of my imagination . . . and we will see where they take me!

Now you know: there are trolls in The Ridiculously Huge Project.

Moving on . . .

I am excited to share the Big Doing that has been swallowing a lot of our focus these last few weeks. Rohan and I are about to set off on epic, unforgettable (and somewhat unexpected) five-week sojourn into India and Sri Lanka!

I say "somewhat unexpected" because, while we've known it was coming for about a month now, if you had asked me two months ago if we would be traveling outside of the country any time soon, I would have told you an emphatic, "No!" After all, even if the opportunity came up, what in the world would we do with all of our beasts?

But the opportunity DID come up. Rohan's work is sending him to help train a team in Pune, India. We'll be there for three weeks, working during the week and traveling on the weekends. (Yes, we are planning to see the Taj Mahal!) Then, because it's just a short jaunt away, we'll be flying down to Sri Lanka for another two weeks for a fantastically magical vacation in Rohan's home country.

I promise to take bazillions of pictures to share.

Now I'll be trying to write one of the books in The Ridiculously Huge Project while we're in India, but I don't think I'll be doing any writing while we're touring about Sri Lanka. Which means I might get a little bit behind . . . But oh well! I kind of think it will be worth it.

My youngest brother Peter is traveling down to stay at Drakenheath while we're away and babysit all our fur-babies. He's been thinking about moving down to this area for a little while now, so he's going to take this as an opportunity to get his feet wet, do some job hunting, and find an apartment. Should work out beautifully . . .

And when Rohan and I get back from our adventure, I'll HAVE A BROTHER LIVING NEARBY! I haven't lived near any of my family since I was eighteen. So I am VERY excited about that!


Oh, I remember, I mentioned last time that I was planning to take a week and draft a children's book idea. Well, that notion has been put on hold for the time being. I came up to that planned week and realized that I was on such a roll with The Ridiculously Huge Project, I kind of hated to stop and write something else, possibly jarring out of my world and characters. I still plan to write that story . . . I've got a great little outline and cast of appealing characters, after all. But it may not be for a while yet. I'll keep you posted . . .


I am thinking about trying dictation as a means of rough drafting. I've been doing a lot of research and reading on the subject, and it seems like it might be worth experimenting with. From what I understand, there's a bit of a learning curve . . . after all, I'm a writer. I'm much more comfortable expression myself with WRITING, not with SPEAKING.

However, I've read articles by authors claiming to manage draft 4,000 words an hour using dictation

4,000 words . . . AN HOUR.

That's an entire work day for me!

So yeah. Might be worth it.

I mean, if I could significantly cut down the time it takes to write a rough draft, I could spend all of that spare time working on POLISHING that draft. What a time saver that would be! Getting that rough draft down on the page is always the hardest part for me. It's not for every author . . . some folks love rough drafting and hate polishing. But I definitely prefer the polishing stage of a manuscript, any day of the week. I am happy to try anything to efficiently speed up the rough drafting process.

Today I purchased the book you see pictured here and plan to start looking it over, maybe trying some dictation exercises. We'll see if anything comes of it. I'll keep you posted on that as well!


Five Magic Spindles is coming along beautifully these days. I still feel pretty separated from it all as I'm not reading stories yet, but the Show and Tell last month certainly got me excited! We have already received stories from a couple of new places this year . . . Germany and Ireland, to be exact. We've had submissions from Canada, Australia, England, and Rwanda before, but Germany and Ireland are new ones to add to that ever-growing list.

And we're getting more guys submitting this year too, which is exciting! Half of the stories that have come in have been written by guys. I don't know if that will last much longer as the deadline gets nearer (according to the Show and Tell stats, we still have LOTS more girls submitting than boys), but we'll see!

I'm still getting little hints and glimpses of stories along the way, besides those that were featured in the Show and Tell. Little comments on  blogs, Tweets, etc. Yes, I do a bit of Magic Spindles stalking to see what buzz is happening out there. And oh my! There are so many fabulous stories being developed for this contest. Really looking forward to reading the judges' top picks!


The kitties are all doing well, thanks for asking. I meant to take new pictures, but didn't get around to it. Sorry! Here's an old picture of Little Miss instead. (She's hugging my leg, if you couldn't tell.)

Little Miss Muffet is definitely feeling better these days. She actually came downstairs to hang out with me in the living room for several hours yesterday evening! Usually she sticks to my study and study closet as her safe place (she's pretty nervous of Milly and the kitty horde around here). Our social-time mostly consists of her sitting on the desk next to my computer while I work, occasionally reaching over to "cheek" the edge of the screen or kiss my fingers. But last night she came downstairs and spent time on the couch. Then she moved to the bookshelf, third shelf up. Probably to feel safer from Makoose (who was making crazy-eyes at her). Or maybe she's just very literary.

She really is the sweetest, most gentle little girl. She likes to "chat" to people, telling them all of her opinions on everything in a dainty, squeaky little voice. Super cute! After a month of indoor-kitty living, her coat (which started out pretty coarse and very dirty) is getting really soft and glossy. It's amazing what a difference a good diet makes. Her skinny little belly has rounded out nicely as well, and she's just as pretty as she can be.

But seriously, people. I have SIX cats of my own. I cannot keep her, much as I would like to!!!So if any of you know a family around this area that needs the gentlest, sweetest, calmest, chattiest little kitty cat to bring some extra love into their household . . . let me know!!!

We're enjoying her in the meanwhile, though.


Random Doing . . . I have had THIS song absolutely stuck in my head for the last two weeks or so. And this version is particularly gorgeous, so I'm going to share it (listen for strains of Debussey and Rimsky-Korsakov in the piano arrangement! Stunning.)

It's probably got something to do with this gorgeous end-of-summer-early-autumn weather we're having (now that the hurricane is gone).


 And that's all for this month, dear Imps! Hope you found something here to make you smile. And I REALLY hope you'll grab your free copy of The Wulver's Rose because . . . well, it's free! So why not?

How has your October been treating you? Any interesting Doings you'd like to share? How are your Magic Spindles stories coming along? Is the new semester going well? Do tell!