Sunday, November 13, 2016

Doings at Drakenheath

As you can well imagine, dear imps and readers, my doings have been primarily caught up in the service of Her Tiny Highness, the Princess of Drakenheath. But I have managed to get some other exciting projects underway as well, and thought I'd let you know about some of them! (If you're just here for cute baby pictures, however, scroll down to the bottom of this post . . . )

Cover Reveal

So you remember that short story about Beana which I promised all of you? Well, as of yesterday, it is drafted and the cover is officially revealed! What do you think?

She is a Knight of Farthestshore, a woman of courage . . . and secrets. She has faced many perils in her time, but nothing has prepared her for the evil she is about to encounter in the treacherous Wood Between.

DECEMBER 16, 2016

This short story will be available (ebook only) for FREE to all of my readers. That's right . . . this one is a freebie! It's pretty short, only about half the length of Goddess Tithe. But it's exciting and serves as a fun prequel to both Veiled Rose and Moonblood.

This cover design is the very first cover for the Goldstone Wood series that I did entirely myself. I've been at least somewhat involved in the design process for all of them, but I've never actually DONE one before . . . so that was a fun new experience! I even got to arrange the photo shoot with the model (my lovely friend, Stephanie Anderson), and my husband took the pictures. Here are a couple of the shots.

After finishing the photo shoot, I built a background out of a variety of photos. Then I tried a couple of the model poses on that background until I found one I really liked. Then it was a matter of painting and manipulating to make the model look like she was truly part of the background.

 It was great fun. A lot of work, but work I really enjoyed doing. And it was just super exciting to actually do a Goldstone Wood book cover design for the first time ever! I'm quite pleased with how it turned out and how well it matches the rest of the series.

Other Writing

So my major writing focus these days has been The Ridiculously Huge Project.

That's right--that writing endeavor I mentioned several times last year is still very much on my plate. Life got in the way of me making it the major priority I had hoped, but I am still plugging away at it like crazy every opportunity I get. The first novel in the series is complete, book 2 is about two-thirds done, and book 3 is half-written. If all goes well, I hope to launch all three of these books sometime next year. (Fingers crossed!!!) Now this project is planned out for twelve books (I told you it's ridiculously huge), so it's far from finished. But the first three books definitely get you well into the unfolding story and, I do hope, bonded to these characters.

As we get closer to launch, I'll reveal more about the characters and premise.

Other Writing News

On top of The Ridiculously Huge Project, I am also working on an exciting co-writing project . . . with my mother! Yes, after years and years of casually tossing the idea around, Mum and I have decided to collaborate on a book, possibly a whole series of books. The first volume is only JUST started (two chapters into the rough draft), so I can't tell you much about it yet. I'll just say that it's YA fantasy and a bit of a Diana Wynne Jones sort of flavor. But maybe a little spookier. Keep your eyes peeled for more news!

We're currently figuring out exactly how co-writing is going to work for us. We developed the concept and first book outline together, but the actual WRITING is trickier. But I like the method we're currently attempting. If it works, I'll tell you more about it later . . . but it's still new to us at the moment, so I don't want to jinx it!

Special Offer

Do you like free books?

Well, if you do, Rooglewood Press is offering a special deal--sign up for our newsletter, the Rooglewood Quarterly, and you will receive a free copy of Draven's Light. Then not only will you get to read this exciting adventure, you'll also be kept up-to-date on any of our newest releases, our writing contests, and more!

So click here right now to find out how to sign up and get your free book.


And, of course, the majority of my time these days is caught up in the service of Her Tiny Highness, Princess Una of Drakenheath . . . who is two months old today!

 And she just keeps getting more and more beautiful.

So that's it for now! Not as many doings as usual. Motherhood keeps me pretty busy, and all my spare time is spent pouring into the writing projects. But hopefully this means that I'll have quite a few fun reads for all of you in 2017. Here's hoping, anyway . . .

What are YOUR doings this November? Any fun projects in the works? Any fun plans for the coming Holidays? Any great reads you're currently enjoying? Do tell in the comments!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hot Off the Press

I know, I know . . . most of you probably don't even bother to check this blog anymore, it's been SO long since I posted! But I am finally ready to let you know the reason behind my distraction and busyness this summer.

After nine months of hard work drafting and polishing, allow me to introduce my newest release!

Una Rochelle de Silva
Born September 13th
7lbs 14oz

And she is, in fact, the most beautiful thing in the world!

Here she is, mere moments after her epic delivery . . .

Rohan: "OMG this is my DAUGHTER!"
AE: "She's so little and adorable, isn't she??"
Una: "Well that was . . . interesting."

So we decided not to tell anyone (save family and friends) about the pregnancy for various reasons. One of them was that Rooglewood Press had SO MANY big releases, relaunches, and projects this year, and I didn't want to distract from any of them. But I am taking a short maternity leave now . . . I'll still be working on my novel-in-progress (because I can't help myself), but most of the other Rooglewood-related projects are on hold for the time being. Not for long; just until I've fully recovered and gotten into more of a rhythm with Princess Una in the house.

Speaking of . . . here are some gratuitously adorable pictures of her tiny highness for you . . .

Kissy face--three days old!

Una Bakamuna's first bath!
(Bakamuna is the Sinhalese word for "owl" . . . and also Una's nickname. So she has a lot of owl-things!)

Marmaduke is SO thrilled with his tiny new human! Look at that happy face.

In fact, all of the Drakenheath beasts have been pretty excited about the newest edition!
Me soon after coming home, with Minerva in my lap, Magrat at my feet, and Milly guarding us faithfully. This Princess Una has LOTS of faerie guardians, apparently!

Here she is at two weeks old with her handsome daddy! My two beautiful loves . . .

Smooshy face sleeping in Daddy's hands! 3 weeks old.

And these two I took just last night as we were settling down for bed.

Yes, I know I'm completely biased . . . but I am quite convinced that she is the most perfect little princess in all the worlds (mortal, Faerie, or Between!).

And she's awake and fractious right now, so I must go . . . cuddles are in order . . .

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A New Tale of Goldstone Wood Chosen By . . .

Dear Imps, the time has come to announce the winner of the Short Story Raffle!

For those of you who are unaware, this was a raffle in which readers offered the names of Goldstone Wood characters about whom they would like to see featured stories. The winner of this raffle will have a story written about the character of her choice . . . and a special dedication!

The story itself, once complete, edited, and given a cover design, will be offered TOTALLY FOR FREE for all of you to enjoy.

Are you ready to learn the character selected? I'm pretty excited about this one . . .The chosen character is:

Chosen by: Christa Scott

That's right! The nanny goat/lady knight, who featured majorly in both Veiled Rose and Moonblood is about to get a story all to herself! And I have JUST the adventure for her . . . one I think all of you will enjoy. One which might just give you a few surprises about the character and her super-secret backstory.

We might even learn her real name . . .

Whoops! Didn't you know? That's right: Beana is not the lady knight's actual name. You'll notice in her Big Scene with Sir Oeric at the end of Moonblood she is never referenced by name . . . because we only know her as Beana, but that isn't the name by which Oeric knows her.

So get excited, dear readers! We've got some fun ahead of us with this character. And big thanks to Christa Scott for choosing her. (In fact, I am told that Beana was far and away the most popular choice among the raffle participants, featuring four or five times in the drawing . . . so the odds were highly in her favor!)

I have got a rough outline for the story already worked up and plan to start refining and drafting the adventure in the next few days. No promises yet as to a release (I am working on a big novel project at the moment, and I don't want to take too much time away from it just yet), but I'll keep you all posted.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this fun little raffle! I look forward to sharing this exciting new Tale of Goldstone Wood with all of you soon.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Golden Daughter - Re-Launch Edition!

Dear Imps, something exciting is brewing in Goldstone Wood . . .

That's right! My huge novel, Golden Daughter, was just released in a four part serialization . . . with all-new covers!!!

I have to say, I'm a huge fan of these new covers. This year in particular I have received NUMEROUS emails from male readers who love the series but who almost didn't read it simply because of the incredibly "girly" covers (except for Dragonwitch. That one has a great cover, we all can agree).

Sadly, though I am in complete agreement with the poor guys--who just want to be able to read an adventurous fantasy novel without getting funny looks from people--I have no control over those first six covers. But Golden Daughter is a different story . . . and after much discussion (and a little debate) with my people at Rooglewood Press, we decided a re-launch the book as a stand-alone serialization, with new covers.


Also, we're offering them as a special this weekend:

Even those of you who have already read it might want to go ahead and download that first FREE book . . . just to see the gorgeous, full-color MAP, painted by amazing German artist, Frank Rene Stark (who also happens to be a Goldstone Wood fan). This map is currently exclusive to the re-launch edition, so grab it for free and enjoy all the many gorgeous details!

And . . . all right, I know this sounds like a broken record . . . but if some of you who have read Golden Daughter wanted to write up short reviews for these editions, it would be SO appreciated. I would love for new readers just discovering the story and series through this edition to see some of the enthusiasm you devoted Imps feel for these characters and adventures. Reviews don't have to be long or complicated. Even single sentences are perfectly acceptable!

Anyway, I'm glad to be able to share this fun new endeavor with all of you, and I hope you love those new covers as much as I do! My personal favorite is The Long Fire. My husband's favorite is The Dying Moon. Which one do you like best?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Doings at Drakenheath--abreviated edition!

Dear Imps, there are so many THINGS happening and/or coming up this month, I feel I must give you at least a quick Doings post just so you don't miss out on any of them!

First of all . . . acclaimed fantasy novelist Rachel Starr Thomson is hosting a HUGE giveaway this month, featuring the Tales of Goldstone Wood. She is generously offering three different enormous prizes, including a Grand Prize win that includes a Kindle Fire 7” Tablet with Wi-fi and 16 GB, plus the complete Seventh World Trilogy and the entire Tales of Goldstone Wood collection . . . in paperback!

So hurry on over HERE to get your name entered in this amazing giveaway. This is epic adventure to last you the rest of the year, people!

In other news . . . 

Have you been waiting for the 2016 Goldstone Wood Fan Fiction Contest? Because the time has come, dear Imps!

You have until August 28 to create your own Goldstone Wood story and/or poem. All of the contest details may be found HERE, but I'll let you in now on the exciting prize being offered. Are you ready for it?

The winner of this year's contest will receive a collection of eight, beautiful, Goldstone Wood pens!

These are some nice pens too, let me tell you (I own a few of this brand). Perfect to inspire all of that writerly creativity. 2nd and 3rd prizes are being offered as well, and the winners will be chosen (as per tradition) via fan voting.

The Fan Fiction Contest is probably my favorite event of the year (though the Fan Art is right up there . . . apples and oranges, people). I hope you are as excited as I am to dive into the creativity these talented writers dream up for this year!

More news . . . 

A young man named Matt Young has composed a complete and original soundtrack inspired by my first novel, Heartless. How amazing is that?

He is offering this soundtrack for sale in an effort to raise money for an upcoming missions trip, so I thought I would share about this opportunity with all of you. His music is whimsical and pretty (with some great intense moments for to go with those more intense scenes!), conjuring up lots of great Goldstone Wood imagery in my imagination. So if you'd like to support this talented composer's venture, go ahead and download a few or all of his songs HERE. You can enjoy listening to all of the samples as well, which offer a taste of his creativity.

Okay, here's some news that I think all of you will be pretty excited about . . . 

You know how you've been asking me for YEARS now for a Goldstone Wood Map?

Well, at long last, I have (partially) succumbed to the fan pressure! And as of June 17, Rooglewood Press will be revealing the first ever Goldstone Wood Map in our upcoming issue of the Rooglewood Quarterly!

Now be forewarned . . . this is NOT a map of the entire Goldstone Wood world. That would be impossible, considering how enormous the world is and how much things change over the course of centuries. But it is a stunning rendition of a significant PART of the Goldstone Wood world.

Funny story: I hired this amazing German artist based on his incredible proposal for the project and what I saw of his portfolio. Turns out, after he got the contract, he went home and told his wife--only to discover that she is a fan of the Goldstone Wood series! Small world, right? So he's reading the series now in preparation for future maps (because I doubt very much we'll stop at just one now that we're started!).

So if you haven't signed up for our exciting mini-magazine, go do so now. Aside from the gorgeous new map, this upcoming issue includes lots of great articles, including a special feature by Stephanie Ricker (one of our Five Glass Slippers authors), an article on historical research by award-winning novelist Jill Stengl, and an official introduction of Rooglewood Press's newest author, Camryn Lockhart.

Oh, and speaking of cool Rooglewood-related doings . . . .

Five Magic Spindles is now officially available for pre-order (on Kindle)!

Print pre-orders should be available soon as well. The book itself is scheduled for launch on July 22 . . . and let me tell you, I could NOT be more excited to see this collection hit the shelves. I have absolutely loved all of our collections thus far, but I truly think this one is the best yet. These five writers have produced incredible work, each story vastly different from all the others, and all beautifully written. This is definitely a do-not-miss release this summer!

And as if that wasn't exciting enough . . . we have ANOTHER fantastic release launching this summer as well. The Spinner and the Slipper, by Camryn Lockhart, is ALSO available for Kindle pre-order and will be in print by June 27. Because it's just so pretty, I'm going to share its wrap-around print cover . . .

We haven't made as much of a to-do about this upcoming release since it isn't part of our internationally popular fairy tale contests . . . but don't take that to mean that we aren't completely thrilled to be sharing it with everyone! This story is utterly darling, creative, and romantic--a perfect curl-up-with-a-cup-of-tea-for-the-afternoon sort of book. Plus it's so pretty, both in the packaging and the writing style . . . I just love it! And I rather think you will love it too.

And don't forget . . . 

For those of you who have read (or are reading) my latest release, A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold, I am offering a fun giveaway/raffle opportunity!

All of the details may be found HERE, but basically, it involves YOU getting choose the main character of a NEW Goldstone Wood story. So don't miss out! We've had some pretty awesome submissions sent in already, and I have a variety of cool ideas percolating. I know it's going to be a fun story, one I am looking forward to writing.

Wow. That's a lot of doings.

And I'm sorry I don't have time to share any other fun things with you. I might try to write a PROPER Doings at Drakenheath post in July, once things have settled down a little bit. And I do still want to share about my epic adventure with Rohan in India and Sri Lanka last winter! It's getting to be a while ago now, but we had such a fantastic time and took so many pictures that I want to share . . . but I get the feeling it will be a rather HUGE post, so I keep putting it off in the face of all the other more pressing doings happening right now.

We've also added yet another rescue pet to our menagerie. I'll tell you all about him in the next Doings post as well. (We now have six cats and two dogs . . . I know, I have a problem. But I just can't say no to a kitty or puppy in need! And we love all eight of them dearly.)

In the meanwhile, please know that I am working away a novel, related to The Ridiculously Huge Project mentioned in posts from last year. Sadly, The Ridiculously Huge Project itself got a bit side-tracked due to overseas adventuring and contest crazies . . . but I've not given up on the stories themselves, and I hope to have something pretty fantastic to share with you next spring/summer. More news on that later as well.

So tell me, which of these Doings are YOU most excited about? Did you enter your name in Rachel Starr Thomson's amazing giveaway? Are you listening even now to a lovely Heartless soundtrack? Are you gearing up to write the next great Goldstone Wood fanfic? Do tell!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Update on Fourth "Five Something Something" Contest

Dear Imps, Writers, and Dreamers,

I have a quick update for all of you concerning the next Rooglewood Press fairy tale collection contest. And, unfortunately, it's kind of sad news . . . .

Due to a health issue, I've asked my Rooglewood Team if we could postpone the fourth contest for a full year. The last three years of hosting these contest and launching these collections have been a blast . . . and completely overwhelming at the same time. With this new health consideration in the works (nothing serious, don't worry, but certainly time-consuming!), I am looking ahead and realizing that I simply HAVE to cut something out of my work schedule, at least for a little while. The only options are my books or the contest.

After much debate and deliberation, my team and I have agreed that it would be better to postpone the contest for ONE year rather than postponing my own projects for . . . well, who knows how long. With a single year off from the contest, I hope to not only finish and launch the novel I'm working on right now, but also get the enormous epic that is Poison Crown (the next in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series) ready for publication.

Believe me when I say we didn't make this decision lightly . . . though I know it's coming suddenly, only a few weeks before the fourth contest was supposed to launch. I know this is the right decision to make at this time, both for me and for all of you. After all, you wouldn't want me to end up doing a poor job of launching the fourth collection OR my own works, would you?

And we will be bringing back the contests as of June 1, 2017. We've got a gorgeous cover all ready to go, and I might even give you some hints as to the tale selected sometime in the next few months (so watch for those!). I will look forward to reading all of your amazing retellings, and I have no doubt you will all blow me away . . . even as you have these last three years!

In the meanwhile, be watching for Five Magic Spindles, coming later this summer. I am hoping to have the official publication date set in just another week (a few things have to come together first!), and it should be available for pre-order in less than a month (as long as everything keeps on track!). It is going to be a glorious collection of stories. All of these authors have worked so hard, and I can hardly wait to share the results with all of you!

In the meanwhile, be sure to add it to your Goodreads shelves . . .

Saturday, April 16, 2016

My New Toy

For my birthday last week, Rohan decided to surprise me something absolutely extravagant: a Wacom Cintiq.

What is a Wacom Cintiq, you ask?

Basically, it's a huge (about the same size as a TV screen) tablet with an easel and a pen-cursor for the purpose of creating digital drawings and paintings. I've wanted one for a loooooong time. But didn't really feel like I deserved one since I'm not a real artist.

But my handsome husband felt otherwise. Because he's the sweetest like that.

Anyway, I finally set it up and created my very first digital painting today! I LOVED how quick and easy it was to make! (By "quick" and "easy," I mean it only took my about 6 hours.) This first endeavor is pretty rough and very simple, but I hope it will give all of you a smile!

Recognize these two?

Don't look TOO closely at his hand, 'cause it will start looking a bit warped under  close scrutiny! But still, considering I haven't actually sat down to an easel in nearly five years, I feel pretty good about this. Most basic drawing and painting techniques still apply, but the digital format allows for some pretty cool variations that make the whole process easier.

I'll probably add some cool details to this as I get more comfortable with these tools. Maybe some embroidered edging on shirt. And a starflower in her hair. We'll see . . . I'll post updates if I get around to them . . .

Anyway, I had a blast! And I can hardly wait to start my next painting!


I thought perhaps all of you would enjoy seeing a step-by-step of how I created this painting, since the process is, in some ways, more interesting than the result itself. And with digital painting it's SO easy to save the steps along the way! So here you go . . .

Step One: I roughly sketched my characters based on a photo reference. This sketch was done directly onto the screen (and you're seeing a refined version, rough though it is!). The original models had weird piercings, and the girl was not the right nationality, but those were simple enough fixes.

Step Two: I filled in very basic color blocking for hair and skin. Not really sure that this stage accomplished much other than just getting me comfortable with the characters, color schemes, and wielding my new tools! As you can see, I did not concern myself with "staying in the lines," but simply tidied up those edges later using my eraser tool.

Step Three: Feeling utterly intimidated (!), I decided to apply all the shadows and dimensions to their skin in shades of gray. This way, I could focus on getting the right depth and dimension without concerning myself just yet with actual skin tones. (When I painted in acrylics way back in the day, I would do this stage in shades of green.) I left the original sketch layer on through much of this stage, just to give me one more visual guideline.

Step Four: After a tea break to clear my head, I came back to tackle their hair. Which wasn't so bad as I thought it would be! I built up layers of shadows and highlights until I had something that looked pretty much hair-like! Around this stage, I removed the sketch layers and started working primarily without it, too. They look a bit sickly with their gray complexions, but otherwise, they're coming along pretty nicely!

Step Five: Working very quickly, I blocked in an abstract background and their clothes. My interest has always been faces, not clothing, so I kept their garments pretty minimal. I MIGHT go back in and add some interesting trimming and embroidery later, now that I'm more comfortable with the tools. We'll see.

Step Six: All that remained now was transforming those robotic complexions into flesh-and-blood! This stage took quite a lot of patience and fine-tuning (particularly on the hand!), but I did it by simply applying transparent "washes" of color, building up the layers until I achieved the effects I wanted. This is the same technique I used back when I did fine-art portraits (I was specifically trained in this technique by my college mentor, Professor Davis, who recognized my love of all things classical, and therefore trained me in this classical, Renaissance style). So yes, same technique, but digital! So much quicker, much easier, with more immediate results. What would ordinarily have taken me several days, I managed to do in about an hour and a half!

Ta da!

I hope you had fun seeing this step-by-step process. It probably wasn't the most efficient ever, since I'm still getting used to this equipment. But it was a ton of fun!

But people and faces have always been my comfort zone. Next, I plan to tackle a tree, which is much harder for me. All those textures? All those leaves? Eeeeek! I probably won't post any more paintings for a while until I have some good results again . . .

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A New Goldstone Wood Story - Chosen by YOU!

Well, Imps, I think this might just possibly be the most exciting giveaway I've hosted yet. I know I am excited about it, anyway!

How would YOU like to pick the star character of a Goldstone Wood adventure?

Here's how it works:

1. Everyone who writes an Amazon review for my new title, A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold, between now and June 25 will have his or her name entered in a randomized name drawing. (And yes, reviews ALREADY up on Amazon are eligible.)

2. Each applicant to this contest must send a link to their  Amazon review to David Cross ( along with THE NAME OF THE GOLDSTONE WOOD CHARACTER THEY WOULD LIKE TO PICK AS THE STAR OF A NEW STORY.

3. On June 30, we will randomly select a winner and post his or her name, along with the name of the chosen character, here on this blog!

4. I will write the story . . . which will, upon completion, be made available ENTIRELY FOR FREE to all of my readers via Kindle. I'll also feature it on my website for those of you who do not have e-readers.

This story will have its own beautiful cover design (not the one displayed here, which is just a mock-up to advertise this event), and the dedication inside will be to the winner of the giveaway (or whomever he or she would like to honor).

And yes, you may pick ANY character you like just so long as that character has been mentioned by name in at least one published Goldstone Wood novel. (So, if I've mentioned characters on my blog who have not yet featured in a published book, they are not eligible.)

I will decide how long the story will be. I'm thinking approximately 5-10,000 words, but it might be longer (since I tend to have an easier time writing longer stories than short!). I will also decide the plot, setting, other characters, etc. But I promise that the selected character will be the central character of the story (if not the main view-point character).

I also promise that whatever I write will be considered proper Goldstone Wood canon. So, depending on who you pick, you might be able to wrangle some series spoilers out of me!

You are welcome to pick a fan-favorite, a side character, a hero, a villain, or even someone who has merely been referenced by name once. Faerie or mortal . . . they're all up for grabs!

As for those reviews--They don't have to be long or complex. Single sentences are perfectly acceptable. Even one-word reviews work fine! The winner will be chosen at random, not based on the complexity or even enthusiasm of the review submitted.

So what do you think, dear Imps? Do you know what characters YOU would like to learn a little more about? Do tell in the comments! I am very much looking forward to exercising my imagination and creativity for this event . . .

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fan Art Contest is LIVE!

Dear Imps, this year's Goldstone Wood Fan Art Contest is now LIVE and displaying two fantastic galleries absolutely BRIMMING with incredible talent!

To see all of this brand new, sparkling, wonderful artistry, visit Dame Imraldera's Library.

Browse through all of this brilliance, and be sure to cast your votes for the top three pieces. This year, there will be two winners--one selected by fan voting and one selected by me! Both winners will receive a print copy of my brand new novel, A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold . . . 

First thing this morning, Rohan and I got up, fed our swarm of kitties and hounds, then he made tea while I pulled open the gallery. Sipping our morning brew, we browsed through all of these images, analyzing each one in detail, exclaiming over our favorites and all the little details. It was SUCH a delight to see all of these images for the very first time this morning (usually I see them as they come in, you understand).

 And O! Great Iubdan's Beard! Am I EVER going to have a time of it trying to pick my personal favorite! There are so many tremendous pieces, both by favorite fan artists of previous years AND by new artists bringing breathtaking new vision to these stories and this world. I will have to agonize over this decision for several days, I'm thinking.

 Anyhoodle, be certain to go and enjoy, and send your votes to Maid Bryn of the Haven will tally them up.

Be sure to thank Maids Hannah, Beka, and Bryn for all of their hard work putting this together, particularly Maid Hannah, who headed this rather daunting project. They really turned this year's contest into a smashing event!

Don't forget to leave some love for the artists themselves in the gallery comments (over on the Dame Imraldera site). They all worked SO hard to produce these wonderful pieces, and they deserve lots of praise for their efforts.

Huge thank you to all of the dear Imps who participated! I cannot tell you how delightful and encouraging it is to see such affection demonstrated for this series and these characters. Una, Lionheart, Rose Red, Sairu, Sunan, Draven, Daylily, Eanrin, Imraldera, and all of the others mean so much to me . . . I love seeing how much they mean to each one of you as well.

Happy gallery browsing!

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold

Over the weekend, Rooglewood Press revealed the cover of my new book to all of the mini-magazine subscribers. TODAY, I get to reveal it to everyone else! So allow me to present to you . . .

You can learn the story description and even read the first few chapters on the website page. And the pre-order option for print is now available as well (info also found on the website). The story itself launches on May 16, 2016.

Sometime in the next week I hope to write up an article on how this story came about. It had quite an interesting journey, one that I think would be both interesting and inspiring to other aspiring young novelists. So be watching for that article, which will be shared in my personal newsletter, The Haven Chronicler. Sign up for it if you haven't already!

So what do you think of the look of this cover for the new series? A little different from the Tales of Goldstone Wood books, wouldn't you say? This is the first time since my publishing career began that I've had a publication in a NEW style, so I'm pretty excited about that!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, dear Imps . . .

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Note on the Mini-Magazine

 A quick note to those of you still looking for your copy of the Rooglewood Quarterly: ALL copies have been sent and, according to our stats, delivered. So if you are subscribed to the mini-magazine, your copy has been delivered to you, but you might not have seen it. It's likely it got delivered to your "Promotions" folder or even to your spam. Sadly we have no control over WHERE exactly it ends up, only when we send it out.

So if you are not seeing your copy of the Rooglewood Quarterly, take a moment to check these various locations. My own copy always ends up in the "Promotions" folder.

Look quickly, though! Today is the last day of the special deal for our mini-magazine subscribers to purchase my new novel at just $0.99, two months before the release date!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Special Edition of the Rooglewood Quarterly

Don't forget, dear readers, that this coming Friday is the launch of the Rooglewood Quarterly Special Edition! It will include the following . . .

1. The cover and story reveal for my Super Secret Spring Release! Not to mention a special offer for our subscribers to purchase the book for just $0.99 a full TWO MONTHS before the actual release date. So that means, if you are among my more eager readers, you could be reading my new novel by Friday . . . just so long as you've signed up for the newsletter.

2. A BIG feature of our new Five Magic Spindles novelists, including expanded hooks for each of their stories and short interviews for each author! Get to know these exciting new voices and see what they have in the works to share with us later this summer.

As always, we'll be offering a Flash Giveaway to one lucky subscriber, a prize that will remain secret until the day of. And we may have a sneak preview of yet another exciting release coming later this year, of which I have not yet breathed a word to any of you . . . but which I know you're going to love.

Surely at least one of the reasons listed above is enough to make you want to subscribe to our mini-magazine. So be certain to sign up today by clicking HERE and entering your email address in the appropriate space.

I look forward to sharing with all of you!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Goldstone Wood ART CONTEST!!!!!

One of my FAVORITE times of the year is here! The annual Goldstone Wood Fan art Contest!!! HUZZAH!!!

This year is a little bit different in that I am not actually hosting. Instead, Maid Hannah of Dame Imraldera's Library is organizing this fantabulous event. But don't worry! Other than the online location, the event is JUST the same as it has ever been! Same rules for submission, Fan Voting, the whole works. You'll just send your art to her instead of to me, and on the day the art gallery launches, you'll visit Dame Imraldera's Library rather than here. See? Easy.

You can check out the contest rules on this page.
As you will see, we are offering TWO first place prizes! One for Fan Voting and one for MY personal favorite submission. Both of these winners will receive a print copy of my SUPER SECRET NEW BOOK, which launches in May. There's not much out about the book yet, but I'll tell you that it is set in the world of Goldstone Wood (though it is Book 1 in a new series) and is a VERY loose retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." And it's a wee bit spooky . . . but in a good way!

Anyway, if you're an artist AND an Imp, you simply must participate! If you are not an artist but feel a creative inclination, you simply must participate!

You can browse through Dame Imraldera's Library to see the fan art and fan fiction of previous years. There is a lot of really wonderful creativity to enjoy for all true fans of Goldstone Wood!

Enjoy, dear Imps! I can hardly wait to see what wonders you create.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FIVE MAGIC SPINDLES - the winners!

Today is the day, dear writers! The day we announce the winners and celebrate with them this momentous achievement! I cannot even tell you how excited I am to share about these five fantastic stories . . . which are, none of them, anything like I could possibly have imagined would end up in this collection, believe me. I am still surprised by the variety and creativity demonstrated by these talented novelists!

But don't take my word for it--go have a look at the contest page on our website. See for yourselves!

Don't forget to come back and leave a comment or two. Congratulate the winners! Tell us about your own experience writing for this contest! Let us know which of these five stories intrigues you the most (though we're only revealing the short summaries today . . . longer summaries coming with the March issue of the Rooglewood Quarterly!)

Take a moment to congratulate our Top Ten authors as well. While they may not have won this year, they accomplished something really exciting making it as far as they did, and they deserve the applause!

Everyone who leaves a comment down below will have her or his name entered in a drawing to receive an Advanced Reader Copy (print, of course!) of Five Magic Spindles . . . just as soon as it's available (which won't be for a few months yet).

Well done, all of you, on this year's contest. It's been a crazy journey for all of us, but a tremendously exciting one! I can hardly wait to work with all of you again on the 2016 contest, which is coming very soon now. (Actually, I just received the final cover design for it yesterday . . . and oh, my! Is it gorgeous!) I look forward to June 1 and getting that whole new creative venture underway for all of us.

Celebrate your own efforts, every one of you who finished a story and submitted it . . . that took courage and fortitude! Celebrate the authors who won . . . they agonized right along with everyone else, and today they are enjoying a well-earned victory! Celebrate as readers . . . you've got one thoroughly engaging collection of novellas just around the bend!

It's a good day for fairy tales and creative writers alike.

Monday, February 29, 2016

A message to all of the competitors

Dear creative minds and writer-types . . . today is the last day before we announce the winners of the Five Magic Spindles creative writing contest! I know, you thought it would never come, but here it is!

Today I want to take a bit of time to let you know first how the announcement will go down tomorrow. Then I have a word (or several!) of encouragement to those of you who will not be named as winners in the morning. Because you're important to me too, I promise!

So first, here's the scoop:

Unlike previous years, the announcement will NOT be going up at crack of dawn. So please don't bother to set your alarm for 4 in the morning or whatever craziness! The winners will be posted before 9am Eastern, but other than that, I cannot tell you an absolute specific time. I would recommend waiting until 9am Eastern to check, just so you don't drive yourself crazy!

You can check here on my blog page, but I will not be posting the winners here--only a link to the website. This is different from previous years when most of the fun has centered on this blog. But the contest is growing in reach and prestige with every passing year, so we are more and more turning things over to the website for a more "official" appearance.

That being said . . . I don't want to miss the sense of encouragement and community we have enjoyed for the last two contests! So while the winners won't be announced here, I WILL invite all of you to return to my blog to leave comments and congratulations! Everyone who comes back to this page and leaves a comment celebrating this exciting day will be entered in a drawing to win an Advanced Reader Copy of Five Magic Spindles later in the summer. So don't just vanish to the website page and never return . . . come back and participate. Celebrate with the winners. Offer encouragement to those who did not win this year, because hey! They successfully submitted stories, and that's an achievement in and of itself. Let's maintain all of that fun and camaraderie, even as the years grow us toward bigger and grander things.

So there you have it--come around 9. Check the website, not my blog for your answers. But come back to my blog to participate in the celebration and community!

A couple of other things:

1. This year we are also revealing the Top Ten Finalists. We haven't done this before, but this year was such particularly stiff competition, I feel these Top Ten authors deserve a little extra recognition. You'll see a button on the winning announcement page to take you to that list if you want to see it. There will only be FIVE names listed, of course, which might look odd--but remember, the other five are the winners!

2. THREE of our judges wrote out judging feedback forms for all of the stories they read. So many of you are going to get feedback on your work. However, not all of the judges did this (it was not a requirement, but a generous extra that some of them volunteered to offer), so you may not be one of the authors to get feedback. This is not a slight on you or your work . . . the stories are given out at random. Also, some of the judges wrote out VERY detailed feedback, while some offered just a line or two. I cannot guarantee which kind you will get. But I will be sending those feedback forms to the appropriate authors both tomorrow and the day after (there are a LOT of them, so if you don't get one right away, it might be just taking me a while to get there!). If you do not get one by Thursday, assume that your story was not with one of the judges who offered this perk.

3. There were twenty-five finalists from whom the Top Ten were chosen. If you do not see your name in the Top Ten list, this does not mean you weren't a finalist! And with ALL of the stories we had submitted this year, just being a finalist was a huge accomplishment. Seriously, the competition was fierce!

Okay, I think that's all the business-related stuff I needed to cover . . .

Now, I want to talk to those of you who did not win (even though you don't know who you are yet). Because the truth is, there are only five winners's slots. Most of you will not see your names on that list tomorrow. Which will be sad. Disappointing. I know there may be tears. I've been there myself, so believe me when I say I know!

But I want you to remember something:

If you did not win, this does not mean that YOU are a bad writer or that YOUR story is a bad story. That is always a false assumption to make. Contests like this are subjective. Creativity is subjective. And, in a collection, it's all about finding the right blend of five stories to go together.

That being said . . . you need to keep something else in mind as well (and I don't usually say this half of the equation, but it's equally true and equally important for aspiring novelists to understand):

Your story is not perfect.

Yes, I just said it. And it's not something we like to hear, but it's true. If your story did not win, it wasn't just because it wasn't the right fit for the contest. It's also because your story is flawed.

Now, keep in mind--all of the winners wrote flawed stories as well. Just ask the winners of the previous years! They'll tell you what kind of edits and revisions they had to do to get their stories into publishable shape! It's not easy being a winner. It's not easy signing a contract with a traditional publishing house and then having to deal with all the editorial comments and demands. It's not easy being turned down by yet another agent or yet another editor.

We ALL write flawed stories. I do. You do. The winners of this contest do.

So don't walk away from your loss saying, "Well, I wrote EXACTLY what I was supposed to, and I wouldn't change a thing even if it meant the difference between winning and losing." That's the wrong attitude entirely.

Don't walk away from your loss saying, "Well, I'll just go out and self-publish it and not bother to get a professional edit or have a stranger's eyes go over it." That's the wrong attitude entirely.

Don't walk away from your loss saying, "I'll just submit it as-is to other houses and one of them will appreciate me." That's the wrong attitude entirely.

Instead, say, "Okay, I didn't win. My work isn't perfect. What can I do to make it better?"

Because even the winners are going to face that same question: "What can I do to make it better?"

The big difference is, of course, the winners are going to have a crack editing team to work with over the next few months, while you don't have that luxury. Which is a shame, because honestly, for all it's fun to see your work in print, for all it's a thrill to get it out there to readers, to get those reviews and the acclaim . . . in my opinion, that opportunity for fantastic editing is THE BIG PRIZE of this contest.

So, because not all of you are going to have that advantage, I have decided to give you something--I am going to offer you a detailed critique of your work, here in this blog post. This is a critique based on an accumulation of problems I observed in the twenty-five finalist stories I read. And these are tough, I'll warn you of that right now. And if you don't want to read them, I totally understand.


But if you do want to take advantage of this offer, read on . . .


Here is the second half of my message for you. Please try not to take this as a personal attack. This is not aimed at any ONE writer or any ONE story. Every point that I am bringing up is something I saw reiterated across several stories. I am not here to deal with specifics, only with generalizations.

And let me be honest—some of the winners this year also feature several of these problems in their winning stories, which they will be asked to edit and refine. Because at least 70% of good writing is rewriting. That’s just reality, for all of us.

Now here’s the list:

1.      Passive Heroines. I saw this over and over again. Much of this, I’m sure, is due to a misreading of the original fairy tale. People read that story and think, “Oh, the heroine just sleeps, so she’s passive,” and as a result, they construct passive heroines for their own tales. But this is an inaccurate interpretation of the original . . . and even if it was accurate, it’s a REALLY bad idea for your retelling.

By passive heroines, I mean heroines who have no agency in their own stories. They are pushed around by other people’s actions and decisions. They don’t actively decide to do or try anything for themselves. They might randomly act, but those actions are not firmly founded in decision-making. This makes for weak and unappealing reading.

2.      Characters without Motivation. This goes hand-in-hand with those passive heroines, but it’s actually a different problem. MOST of you understand and effectively give your characters large-scale, story-wide motivations—an ultimate goal toward which to strive. That’s a pretty basic aspect of storytelling, and while some struggle with the concept, the competitors in this contest are usually more advanced and understand the importance of motivation. So what am I talking about here?

I’m talking about small-scale motivation. Individual actions and responses to circumstances. Characters who simply do and say things because the author needs them to do or say these things, not because the characters themselves have any actual motivation for doing or saying anything of the kind. A few instances of this are not a problem, but I saw whole stories made up of small-scale lack of motivation. The big-scale motives were in place, but the small-scale motives lacked authenticity.

To fix this problem, a simple trick is to simply ask yourself, “Is my character acting like a PERSON or like a CHARACTER?” Characters are too easy to turn into puppets, doing and saying things for our writerly convenience. People aren’t that easy and are much more difficult to write as a result, but MUCH more satisfying to read as well!

This is a problem I see a great deal of every single year of these contests. It’s a difficult one for writers to peg in their own work, and I’ve even selected winners who struggle with this (and who have had to revise significantly). It’s very common, so be on the look-out for it.

3.      One-dimensional reactions. In this instance I am referring to characters whose emotional reactions to circumstances and events are entirely limited to physical reactions. I have written about this before, but it’s an ongoing problem, stemming from a mishandling of the good advice: “Show, Don’t Tell.” If you ONLY show me emotional reactions—using physical responses to indicate surprise, fear, happiness, sadness, anxiety, etc.—you are limiting yourself. Crippling yourself, even. Your character becomes someone who is exactly like everyone else, because physical reactions are universal.

And I have seen more lip-biting heroines in these contests than I have EVER seen in real life.

4.      Too much summary. In tandem with #3, however, is the reason why the rule “Show, Don’t Tell” exists. Stories that depend on huge chunks of summary are not going to be winners. A little summary is fine—every novel has that, and it’s not a problem. But if I have to wade through long passages summarizing events and scenes and don’t get to READ those events and scenes for myself, I feel as though I’m being cheated out of the whole story.

Usually this problem stems from the writer simply having too much plot for the word limit. Which is entirely understandable! But it also means the story will not be a winner, because I do need stories that fit within the contest guidelines.

5.      Sexism.  I see this every year, and it frustrates and saddens me each time. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s overt. Most of the time, I don’t think the writer sees it at all. But it’s a massive problem for me. I won’t go into details now, but might write a blog post on this topic later. EDIT: Due to some of the comments I'm seeing, I'll add a little more to this point--When I refer to sexism, I am talking about sexism toward women. I have yet to see a story submitted that portrays a sexist attitude toward men. And allow me to also mention that NONE of the men who have submitted for these contests have been sexist in their characterizations of women. I don't know if I'll write a post on the topic or not . . . it depends on time, and I don't have a lot of spare hours to my day to pursue this weighty topic. But I do encourage all of my writers to take second glances at their work and decide what sorts of female characters and attitudes toward female characters they are representing. The infantalizing of women is the most prominent sign of sexism that I have repeatedly observed. Sometimes its overt. Most of the time its subtle. It always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

6.      Racism. EDIT--I'll add to this point as well. Most specifically I have observed stereotypical representations of other races. Stereotypes are never strong writing anyway--taking a stereotypical and disrespectful characterization of a specific race or culture and plunking it down in the middle of a fantasy setting is ugly. I HAVE seen excellent stories dealing with characters of other races and cultures . . . stories depicting CHARACTERS, not STEREOTYPES. But for every good one, I get a bad one thrown in as well. (Note: This issue does not crop up as often as sexism. Neither sexism nor racism crops up as often as all of the other points on this list. But they are both important issues and deserve a place on this list.)

7.       Forced religious message. I am ALL ABOUT a writer expressing what she or he believes . . . just so long as it naturally flows and fits into the story being told. Anything that’s shoe-horned in simply because the writer feels like she ought to say something is not going to be a fit. Anything faith-based needs to be a natural facet of the story being told.

8.      Convenience, coincidence, or contrivance. This is SUCH a difficult one for writers to pinpoint and deal with it, but it’s a tremendous problem. If your story depends on convenience, coincidence, or contrivance to move forward, you are going to lose me. All fiction has a little bit of all three of these  . . . that’s pretty much the nature of fiction. But if I see the whole stories depending on any of these three elements, they’re not going to be winners.

9.      Appropriate language. I’m not talking about cursing. I’m talking about writing in a language appropriate to your time period. If you’re writing a historical or even a fantasy with a historical-ish setting, you need to be certain that the language you use feels right to that time period. It doesn’t have to be perfect by any means! That’s impossible. But you need to create a sense of your chosen time. If you write a historical or historical-esque fantasy using modern lingo, you’re going to jar me so far out of the story, I won’t be able to enjoy plot or characters. It’s totally fine to rough-draft in a language that is comfortable for you. But second draft, you NEED to refine to something a bit more sophisticated and old world. And don’t have historical characters using slang or idioms inappropriate to their time!

10.   Lack of consequence or sacrifice. Too often I see climaxes and resolutions that just “happen” to turn out all right, without consequence or sacrifice for the characters. This is disappointing reading. Good fiction is all about the losses as well as the gains. Don’t go for easy answers. You don’t have to write tragedies to write climaxes and resolutions that actually mean something.

11.  Too Perfect. Heroes and heroines without human flaws are not relatable. And physical perfections do NOT endear a character to me, ever.

12.  Static secondary characters. I saw this most often with parental figures, but also with best friends, villains, and other secondaries. Writers would put some effort into developing strong heroes and heroines, but leave the other characters as stereotypes. This was always disappointing.

All of our winners this year wrote ENTIRE CASTS of dynamic characters, not just the heroes and heroines. If I can name any one consistent theme across the winning board this year, that would be it. Static characters will kill a story every time, whether they are primary, secondary, or tertiary.

Let me reiterate—if one or several of these is YOUR problem or writing struggle, don’t feel bad, and don’t feel as though “this was the reason I lost!” All of the winners have problems with their stories, some of them the same problems you see listed above. But all of them are going to work with my editing team and have the opportunity to turn their good work into professional work.

But those of you who didn’t win . . . well, I feel sad not to get to work with you, because so many of you are so talented! And so many of you will go on to self-publish or start submitting to publishing houses before you are ready. You might vaguely sense that something is missing from your work but not know what it is. Your friends and family will tell you you’re a genius, and that’s flattering . . . but not actually helpful.

We have to learn to be our own worst critics. Not in a self-battering way that leads to depression and giving up. But we must NEVER be satisfied with where we are when it comes to creative writing. This is why I tell people that my favorite quote is:

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?” (Robert Browning)

Browning is not talking about materialistic grasping here. What he’s saying has to do with striving toward that unattainable goal of perfection. In creative writing, this means always seeking to be better, always struggling to be worthy of standing among the Greats, whether or not you actually make it.

The truth is—if you think you’ve made it, you’ve already lost. Because your reach is no longer exceeding your grasp.

So are these critiques discouraging to you? I am sorry for that—I only like to encourage. But what a shame it is for talented writers to continue struggling on in ignorance!

My hope is that all of you will see this list as an extra perk of the contest. I may not be able to give you specific guidance, but I hope that this generalized guidance may be of assistance, not only for your contest stories, but also for any stories you write from here on out.

Because that is my ultimate goal for these contests—to build up new talent, to encourage new voices, to push for better and better work from all of you, for all of your endeavors. Let this be a community of creativity always striving for excellence!

Will you be on the list of winners tomorrow? Maybe. Maybe not. If you are, congratulations! You worked so hard and deserve your win. If you are not, take heart! It’s not that you are somehow on a lesser level than those who won. Maybe your story needs more refinement than theirs before it’s ready to take that next step. But the winners’s stories need refinement too! We’re ALL growing and polishing, refining and developing. That is the writing life—that is its beauty and its agony.

And without agony, how can there be true beauty?