May 2021 Update

Posted on May 21st 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: News, Writing

Sorry for the late blog post. Just have a few quick updates.

Grand prize basket for the Courting the Dragon giveaway. A gray dragon plushie, physical copies of Saving the Dragon and Courting the Dragon, a coffee mug, two bookmarks, and a small magnet with a dragon on it are shown.

First, the release-related news. The release party giveaway for Courting the Dragon is currently open. Check out my Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook for instructions on how to enter. The prize baskets are pretty sweet if I do say so myself! Check out the grand prize basket pictured here.

Speaking of the release party…

The current plan is host a digital release party event. The platform and start time are still TBD, but some polling on Twitter has indicated a preference for Twitch. Since the streaming options there are a bit more robust than FB or Instagram Live that currently seeming like the best option. I will try to have the details nailed down this week. Tentative event information is currently posted on FB; the event will be updated by the 1st of June.

By the way, you can use the hashtag #CourtingTheDragon to find the latest tweets and Instagram posts about the release, including sneak peek snippets, the giveaway, and what ARC readers are saying!

On to the writing.

I have made some progress on Finding the Dragon. The major plot points, who the antagonist is, and all those sorts of important bits are mostly ironed out. I’ve written a couple chapters’ worth and I’m pleased with what I have so far. A few snippets have been posted to my Instagram, so if you’re looking for sneak peeks, that’s the place to be. Maybe sometime in June after Courting the Dragon goes live I’ll do a cover reveal. I don’t have a specific release date in mind for this yet (at least not that I’m comfortable sharing), but you definitely won’t be waiting another six years for it.

Meanwhile…

For some reason yesterday I got the itch to write a fairytale retelling. I’m about a chapter and a half into an interesting shifter-romance retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Why does “Baby Bear” have insomnia? Why were the village jerk and a wereweasel chasing “Goldie”? Is there a plot to this beyond the classic fable? I don’t know, but my muse says we’re going to find out. Not sure how long this is going to be or what format it will be released in. I’m toying with the idea of trying it as a Kindle Vella serial. Or maybe it will be a short, 99 cent novella. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write a whole dang novel and Goldilocks and Baby Bear will save the world from impending doom. My brain is also insisting that whatever this is, it’s the start of a new trilogy because Baby Bear’s older brothers are going to need their own Happily Ever Afters. Oy vey.

I’ve also been seriously looking at The Foundling again. I recently purchased a cover for it, and the itch to get it finished and out the door is getting strong. It’s about half written, and as I start actively working on it again is probably a good time to start thinking about alpha readers for it. I’m not sure when I’ll do a cover reveal or what the release timeline will be for this yet. Sometime in 2022 would be nice. I’ll keep y’all posted.

I think that’s all for now folks. Here’s a sleepy kitty picture to brighten your Friday.

Mayhem (orange/buff tabby) and Zoe (diluted tortie) sleeping in a large, teal saucer chair.
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April 2021 Update

Posted on April 30th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: News, Release Announcements, Self-Publishing Woes, Writing

My performance for Camp NaNoWriMo was, predictably, abysmal. Finding the Dragon is sitting at just shy of 8000 words (some of which I think will be thrown out) as I write this. That’s a far cry from the “modest” 23k goal I set. Still, I’m not beating myself up about it too much; April was a very busy month.

My sorry excuse for a word count chart from Camp NaNoWriMo

Let’s start with the highlight, of course, which was getting ARCs out for Courting the Dragon. Printing ARCs through Barnes&Noble Press worked out much better than I could have anticipated. Depending on when I get the copy edits back I may be able to do a second run of corrected ARCs, which would be super swell.

Paperback ARCs of Courting the Dragon still in the box.

Which brings me to an update about the paperback availability of both Courting the Dragon and Saving the Dragon. Saving was priced at $9.50 and Courting was planned to be priced at $14.99. This was due to the price restrictions with KDP’s Expanded Distribution (this is what put my KDP paperback in Barnes&Noble stores, BAM, etc). I’ve decided after seeing how the Barnes&Noble printing works to cut the KDP Expanded Distribution and simply run print editions on both platforms. This means that the paperback will only be available from Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. However, it also means that I can drop the prices to $7.99 for Saving and $10.50 for Courting. I plan to do the same for Finding, and may even offer paperback pre-orders through Barnes&Noble. We’ll see.

I have two other announcement related to the availability of both books.

First, in addition to Kindle, Nook, Google Play, and Apple iBooks, both books will also be available from Rakutan Kobo. The regular price is still $4.99 for Courting.

Second, for this week only (April 30th to May 8th), Saving will be on sale across all the eBook platforms. For this one week you can pick it up for just 99 cents.

Saving the Dragon and Courting the Dragon in paperback, each with a bookmark sticking out of the top. In front of them is a mug that says "I just happen to prefer spells to sewing needles."

Another fun thing this month was lining up some prizes for the big giveaway in June. I won’t tell you all about the grand prize basket yet, but I will tell you about the awesome coffee mugs! You can’t see the whole phrase in this photo since it wraps around, but they say “I just happen to prefer spells to sewing needles.” I got these from the wonderful @skyekelrose. Check out her Etsy shop here.

On a more personal note, things have taken a minor left turn for me recently. A few days ago I started having more than my usual twinges in my neck and wrists. My right hand was basically unusable for a day. Just placing my hand on a computer mouse was intolerable. This didn’t help my already lacking word count for FtD. After much icing, sleeping with a wrist brace, and Advil, I am feeling much better. However, things are still tender and I don’t know how well I will be able to keep up with writing and the blog in the short term. For now I am going to plan on maintaining my upload schedule and social media presence, but please be aware that there may come a time that I have to step away for a week or two. We’ll see what the doctor says.

You can find all the retail links for Saving the Dragon here.
You can find all the retail links for Courting the Dragon here.
Digital Advanced Review Copies of Courting are still availble. You can request one here.
Read my FREE short story “The First” here.

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The Laundry Basket Novel

Posted on March 12th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: Writing

Anyone who has been following me for a little while has probably heard/read me make mention of “the laundry basket novel.” It’s even referenced obliquely in the dedication of Saving the Dragon when I promise my mother “no more laundry baskets.” But what was the laundry basket novel?

The laundry basket novel was an epic fantasy titled “The Magic Book.” It was my first attempt at writing a full novel-length work, and I was in 8th or 9th grade when I started it. The entire thing was written on a typewriter that I was so excited to get for Christmas. Sure, home computers were definitely a thing by then, and my family had one, but I’ve always been an old soul. Typewriters appealed to me on a visceral level. To this day, I prefer the clackitiest keyboard I can get for writing. (Yes, I know clackitiest isn’t a word.)

To be clear, I was maybe 13 and had no idea what I was doing. But I had read and re-read Holly Lisle’s writing articles. I had my map. I had my rules for my magic system. I had encyclopedic articles about all the major political bodies and cultures in my world. I had the beginnings of a fantasy language. I had everything, and it was mostly hand-written on crinkled pieces of paper all hodge-podged together in a laundry basket.

Let’s face it, 13-year-old me was no more organized than 31-year-old me.

My mother, in her defense, had absolutely no idea the labour that went into all that paper. She had no idea that barely contain mass of scribbles was my entire world-bible and what I estimate now to have been roughly 25K typewriter written words. What she saw was a laundry basket being used in place of a waste basket and she <whimper /> threw it all away.

I cannot begin to express the heartache and tears when I discovered it was all gone. All of it, except for a tiny percentage of the manuscript that had been copied (by re-typing it!) to the computer and saved to a floppy disk. To this day I want to cry if I think about it too hard for too long.

Over the years I’ve re-written a lot of The Magic Book. Several times, in fact. Adeirea is a much different world now from the one I envisioned almost 20 years ago. The characters are older, more mature. The overall tone is different. I won’t say that I really know what I’m doing at this point, but I do feel that I am more the writer today to actually tell the story my younger self first conceived of.

The legacy of The Magic Book is that it taught me how to do the business of writing. It taught me not to get bogged down in revisions and edits before the first draft is complete (although I admit, I still struggle with this lesson). It taught me the importance of back-ups. Saving the Dragon then went on to teach me about LABELING those back-ups appropriately. It taught me what it takes to build a world that big. And so many other things.

I do plan to publish The Magic Book (and hopefully its sequel) one day. I don’t know when that day will be. There’s still a lot of Adeirea I need to rediscover. And there’s still some growing I need to do as a writer before I can really tell Michele and Jennifer’s stories the way I feel they deserve to be told.

In the meantime… no more laundry baskets.

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February 2021 Update

Posted on February 26th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: News, Writing

Let’s get non-writing updates out of the way first. We’ve been at a bit of a stand-still with the house reno just because it’s so. freaking. cold. Matt did get the carpet ripped out of the office and we slapped some paint on the walls, so it’s usable. With any luck, I’ll be including some photos in my March Update.

Here are the milestones I accomplished in February:

  • I re-released an updated version of Saving the Dragon. More details on that can be found here.
  • I also got involved with a fast-approaching anthology project. I wrote a whole post about that. You can find the pre-order here.
  • The first revision for Courting the Dragon is done. I am currently waiting on beta reader feedback.
  • I wrote an unusual amount of short fiction.

A big area of focus for me this past month has been figuring out what I want to do with the blog. As of now, I have a tentative content schedule planned for the next few months that will have me posting once a week on Mondays. I’m thinking of adding Fridays to the rotation.

Along with the blog content, I’m working to revive my stalled attempt at a YouTube channel. I recently posted a review of The Fires of Treason by Michele Quirke to the blog (I filmed a video, but due to technical difficulties have not been able to finish editing it). My goal is to keep that up as much as possible; one review per month. I will be reviewing indie/small press books only for the foreseeable future. Even if I cannot get a video out for some reason there will be one book review blog post each month.

I’ve started doing some preliminary writing for book 3. Mostly so far I just have notes about things I want to include and a brief sketch of the overall plot. It’s definitely a different sort of story than CtD, and I’m excited about telling it. I don’t currently have any sort of timeline in mind as to when it will be released.

That’s it for February!

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January 2021 Updates

Posted on January 17th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: News, Website Updates, Writing

Where do I even begin? 2020 was a crazy year for me in more ways than one, and not just the obvious. You would think being largely trapped at home I would have had plenty of time to get some writing done, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

So let’s just hit the highlights. Last year in August I married the love of my life.

Matt and I at our wedding

Matt and I at our wedding

Before that we adopted a kitten. Her name is Zoe and she’s spoiled rotten. She loves her big brother Mayhem.

Zoe and Mayhem

Zoe and Mayhem

I went back to school for my bachelors. That’s been a trip. I may have a post about that in the future if anyone is interested.

And finally, we sold our house (finally closed this month) and moved into my childhood home. The first thing we did upon moving in was replace the flooring. A lot of flooring. We still have the room that will be my office to go. I hope to be uploading some pictures of my sweet new office set-up by the end of the first quarter. In the meantime I am doing my writing and my normal day job sitting at a desk crammed in the bedroom. Since I sometimes start work super early in the morning my poor husband has learned so sleep with me typing literally three feet away. The things we do for love, right?

But Sara, what about your writing? Are we ever going to get that long-promised sequel to Saving the Dragon?

Yes, my friends. I have finally had a breakthrough and am once again making good progress. I’ve been stuck in this sort of in-between state where I’m not really revising but also not really writing the first draft anymore and it has been hell. At this point I am writing the “first draft” of the remaining scenes that are needed to complete the ending and go back and fill in some things I now know I need back at the beginning. Once that is complete I have a list of revisions I know I need to make to the first 2/3s based on some serious character changes. After that I can go into a full, normal revision pass and work on cleaning it up before getting it to some beta readers. I am optimistic about getting the draft completed sometime in the first quarter. Be on the look-out for a new release date announcement.

In other news, I’ve started working on an overhaul of the website. I know that doesn’t seem like a productive thing to be doing in light of the unfinished writing I have, but hear me out. In addition to being a part of my platform as an author, my website also serves a more practical purpose. It gives me a real-world project to experiment with for skills that apply to my day job, the thing that still pays the bills (because let’s face it, writing ain’t paying no bills right now). So the website re-write has been an on-and-off work in progress for a while. I’m playing with a framework I have some experience with, but have never built a site from scratch with before. I have to say it’s been quite fun (and frustrating). I hope y’all like the finished product. If I’m lucky I might be able to coordinate the launch of the new website with the release of Courting the Dragon.

I think that’s pretty much it for this update. As part of my plan to get back into the game here I will be trying to post at least one monthly update to the blog, plus some meatier posts as the opportunity arises. So stay tuned, and Happy New Year!

 

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