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Saturday, January 19, 2013

One Year Ago

I've been reflecting today on all that has happened in my writing career since one year ago. A year ago, I had just begun the process of editing The Six for re-release with TWCS. We'd not even begun marketing efforts yet on that book, and I was looking forward to months ahead of editing, marketing, and writing. I'd barely begun work on writing The Enchanted, and terms such as "blog tour" and "swag" were strange and unfamiliar to me. Over the course of the months that followed, I wrote The Enchanted, edited, re-released (or, in the case of book 4, released for the first time), and promoted all four books, including new cover designs for the first three, took part in an official PR tour, travelled to Texas for a writer's festival, and wrote and submitted book 5, The Scroll. 12 months, five books (two from scratch), one trip, over a thousand E-mails, and hours and hours of quality time with my keyboard.  It was a productive year, to say the least.

Looking ahead, while I'm not one for New Year's resolutions per se, there are some goals I'd like to see realized by one year from today. First off, of course I'll continue editing The Scroll and will be completing all the marketing and promotion associated with that. I will also have completed my draft of book 6 by this time next year, and I hope to have started work on the next series of books I want to write. My sales and readership base have undoubtedly broadened since I signed with TWCS, and I'd like to see it broaden significantly more in the year to come. By this time next year, I'd like to have been listed on some bestseller list somewhere-whether it's through TWCS, Amazon, or the New York Times (hey, I'm not picky!), I just want to see it happen! I have a couple more writer's festivals to attend this year, and I'd also like to schedule some speaking engagements on top of those. By this time next year, I'd like to be a known author, and with enough word of mouth, it could happen!

Thanks so much to all of you who read my books and tell others about them. Your support means the world to me. Keep it up! And maybe we'll see a movie made of my books someday...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Once Upon a Time...

Every now and then I am reminded that my adventure with TWCS Publishing House is still quite new, and once upon a time, not so long ago, I was laboring away as a self-pub author, begging, borrowing, and stealing help wherever I could get it. Many of you who purchased my books before I signed with TWCS know that I had three students working on cover design for me. What you may not know is that they finished the cover for book 4 before I signed with TWCS, which nullified my need for the cover they had created for me as we changed the covers entirely. I thought perhaps some of you might be interested to see the original cover for book 4, however, because the girls did an excellent job of bringing to life my description of an item from the book: Tellius's coronation crown. I believe I described it something like this when I explained it to them. "It's like, sorta, a cross between an Olympic victory crown with olive leaves and a medieval-type simple crown with a single point in the center. It should be gold, and the leaves should touch top and bottom. Simple, but rich-looking. No jewels." And from those scattered thoughts, they created something pretty much exactly like I pictured it in my brain:

It's a beautiful picture, and hopefully it fits what you imagined when you read the coronation scene. I'm glad, however, that I didn't decide to have the crown on the cover of the official version of book 4. As The Enchanted came together, it became a much darker story than I once envisioned it, and the coronation sequence figured in less prominently. Still, though, I love having this image saved on my computer, and I thought it was high time to share it with all of you! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Good Day to Finish Book 5

As I told several friends and family members just a couple weeks ago, I needed a Christmas miracle to finish my fifth manuscript. With final exams for my students upon me, three sick children, and planning for upcoming family visits over the Holidays, I didn't see where the time would come from to get the book finished. This was all exacerbated by the fact that with a new baby in the house, my already limited writing time over the fall had shrunk to virtually non-existent, leading me into Christmas break with just under 200 pages complete in the manuscript... My manuscripts usually clock in at around 385 pages in rough draft form. I was having virtual panic attacks trying to think about how, HOW, I was going to finish that book! Well, final exams came and went, my children got better, and family came in from all over the country. We celebrated Christmas (I don't remember much of it), and I picked away at the manuscript, a couple pages here, a couple pages there... fall asleep at laptop, wake up, rinse, repeat... Essentially I ended up in a situation where by the time everything calmed down after Christmas, I faced 5 days until my manuscript was due, and still around 175 (actually turned out to be more like 195) pages left to write. My manuscript was due on January 2nd. To make a long story short (ba dum ching!) I inverted my sleep schedule so I could catch snatches of sleep during the day while my kids were napping, and I stayed up all night, every night, writing. At about 3:30 on the afternoon of January 2nd, I finished! 410 pages, done! I almost cried . . . but I was sitting in Panera, so that would have been awkward. (A special thanks goes out to Maggie Rapier for HOURS of free babysitting!) Now, I could have turned it in then and been on time-as I tend to be a late person and I desperately wanted to be on time-but I just couldn't present it to my editing team full of typos, so I took the next twelve hours, from 3:30pm-3:30am to do a full proofread of the manuscript. So, technically, I finished on January 3rd. The rough draft of The Scroll is complete!

By way of reward that night, I went to see The Hobbit. With all the illness and busyness, it was something I had had to put off, which just killed me! You see, the book The Hobbit has a very special place in my life and heart. It is one of the first books that I can remember independently reading as a child, and one of the first I remember reading over and over again. I've become something of a collector of copies over the years, and that leads into kind of a fun story in and of itself. You see, fantasy literature has always been important to me, and in particular the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, so when I first met my future husband, Adam, in college, I knew that would have to be a love that we shared. Adam and I had just started getting to know each other, and there was undeniable mutual attraction, but he admitted to me early on that he had never really read a book "just for fun." He grew up on a farm, and the only books he'd ever read were those assigned for school. Well, that simply wasn't acceptable, so I thought a test was in order. The first Lord of the Rings movie had just hit theaters (and of course I'd already seen it), but I invited him to go and see it with me (an unofficial date, as we were still in the early friend stage). He agreed, and when the movie was starting, I remember thinking, "If he likes this movie, we're good to go. If he doesn't, I don't think I can consider dating him." Movie viewed, end credits rolled, and I turned to him and said, "So what did you think?" I can still remember the look on his face when he turned back to me and said, "I LOVED it!" Score! And then he said those sweet words, "I think I need to read that book now." *sigh* It was practically love then and there. But here's the thing, you can't read The Lord of The Rings without first reading The Hobbit, and I told him so. He could have walked away then and there thinking I was a total crazy person, but instead he said, "Okay," and he did it! And then he read The Lord of the Rings! By this time we were dating, of course, and we spent many a long car ride with me reading it aloud to him. Nine months later, he took me out to a WWII France-themed restaurant and gave me a collector's edition of The Hobbit as a gift. Written inside the front cover was a proposal of marriage. I said yes, and it's been a match made in literary heaven ever since. So as a first read, The Hobbit was important to both of us, and also important in starting our lives together. The sad part of this story is that we did NOT get to see The Hobbit together in theaters. Adam went with my brother-in-law and father over break while I was writing, but I fully intend not to let us miss out on going together to either of the next two installments. I may not have gotten to see it on opening night, or with my husband, but I did go with my sister, and it was on January 3rd-Tolkien's birthday. To say that I loved it would be an understatement. I'm one of those people who can appreciate that certain things have to be changed to make a book into a more successful movie, so adding scenes or tweaking things, as long as they don't mess with the essence of Tolkien's material, doesn't bother me in the slightest, especially when it's things we get passing mentions of in the books and never really get to see (such as the Necromancer, or Radagast the Brown). But I digress too much; if I'm not careful I'll write a complete movie review. It was the perfect reward for hours of hard writing, and for years of waiting. And I know it may have been the extreme sleep deprivation acting on me, but I spent most of the movie grinning like an idiot and restraining myself from cheering. *sigh* I love being a nerd.

All in all, I just felt that January 3rd was a good day to finish book 5. I achieved a significant literary accomplishment on Tolkien's birthday, then proceeded to go and see a movie based on a beloved book by same said author, and the movie struck to the core of everything I love about the story. All the day really needed was a pint at the Green Dragon at the end of the night and a few of Gandalf's fireworks.