Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Well, I've been busy. . . .

In early April, when I had my art booth at Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, I got a commission to sculpt a horse pulling a two-wheeled carriage (with a driver in the carriage, of course) which will be used as a world championship trophy! I normally take about three months to do a single horse sculpture, and the foundry takes two to four months to cast that horse in bronze, but this trophy has to be awarded in October, so I have to HUSTLE to get the original made and shipped to the foundry! So that's one of the many reasons I haven't kept this blog up-to-date - I've been slaving away in my studio getting three months of work done in about one month's time! The horse is nearly finished (WHEW!), and I'll be starting on the carriage in the next day or two, hopefully (I'm waiting for the client to send me some measurements so I can get started).

On the writing front, I've been working on a new Harry Potter story to keep my HP readers happy, and letting both novels "rest" so I can read them with fresh eyes when I get back to them. I sent out queries to six agents back in March, all of whom stated on their websites that they report in six weeks. Each also accepted "partials" (a few pages up to 50 pages of the novel), which is why I chose these agents to contact first. I figure the novel will sell itself better than any query letter of mine! I heard back from three of the six, and have yet to hear from the other three, which seems rather odd to me (but maybe they're just swamped, I dunno). It's been way more than six weeks now.

The published writers on the Critters news group said to allow six months to hear back from them, but I'm beginning to have second thoughts, thanks to one of my betas. He suggested I try to benefit from the Harry Potter insanity that's coming this summer (due to film 5 and book 7 coming out within a week of each other!) and get my book out there ASAP. He thinks my HP fans will flock to buy my book now while they're waiting for Harry's next film and last book. So I'm researching self-publishing now, just to see what's involved in self-publishing fiction.

I self-published a non-fiction book, "Sculpting 101: A Primer for the Self-taught Artist" a few years ago (and that edition is nearly sold out - I need to revise and reprint it!), so I'm a "registered" publisher already, and know how to get the ISBN number and get my book listed on "Books in Print" as well as submitting the copyright application and a copy of the book itself to the Library of Congress. I did all of that for the sculpting book. I've had good art sales this year, so I can afford to print a certain number of books if I go the route I used for the sculpting book, which means shipping every book myself rather than having a Print-On-Demand (POD) company handle all that work for me (which is WAY expensive!!). So now I have a query into the local digital printer who did my sculpting book to find out what it will cost to print my novel.

I've spent a lot of today revising the formatting of my novel to a 6" x 9" "trade paperback" format and cleaning up some of the other formatting stuff that appears in a draft of a novel rather than in the finished book - and I'm only up to chapter 2, argh!! It's painstaking, annoying, frustrating work to reformat a 124,000 word book by hand, but that's how I have to do it. I can't do a "search and replace" because every instance of whatever needs to be changed is different!! For instance, the "internal monologues" (thoughts) had to be formatted with an underscore _before and after_ the internal monologue for proper "submission" formatting (or so I've read and been told numerous places). In the printed book, the "before and after" shown between underscores would be printed as italics. Apparently it's easier for a typesetter to find underscores than italics. Also, the existing format (the way I wrote it originally) is in 12 point Courier New, which is not a fun font to read in a book. I've changed the font to Bookman Antigua, which is attractive as well as easy to read, and I'm making the chapter headings in a different font to make them more attractive, as well (well, I AM an artist, after all!). I have to delete the extra space between paragraphs, indent each paragraph three spaces, and center the * * * that denote a scene change (they didn't have to be centered before). Argh. . . talk about a labor of love!!!! *sigh*

That same beta suggested I check into e-book publishing too, but I don't know if I want to go that route. I've done some research already, and found a software that SAYS it encrypts the files so they can't be pirated or shared, but who knows?? That's too much for me to think about right now!

The good news is, a friend of mine who's a *fabulous* painter (Elin Pendleton, has agreed to do the cover art! Now we just have to figure out what image would make the best impression as cover art! I have some ideas, but I've asked my betas to give me their ideas, as well. I may ask a few more folks for their opinions before I'm done. But getting Elin, who's a truly exquisite artist, to do the cover art is a real COUP!!!! And she's excited about the book and believes I'll make a great success of it! From her mouth to God's ear, that's all I can say!!!! LOL!

My horses are home from winter boarding at last, so some of my time is being spent doing barn work and taking care of my horses as well as riding. And that's on top of doing yard work, sculpting (of course), keeping up with orders (I just shipped two trophies to Kent, Ohio, and the week before shipped six trophies to a race track in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! And I have fine art orders to fill, too - only one left to fill, but that piece hasn't arrived from the foundry yet).

On top of all that, I'm teaching a sculpture workshop at the K-12 Gallery in Dayton, Ohio, in late June. I need to do some preparation work for that. Then I have a sculpture show in Botkins, Ohio in July. By that time, the horse and carriage piece should be at the foundry and being cast, so at least that pressure will be gone. In the middle of all this, I have the Harry Potter story to finish and get to the betas, and the first novel to re-format, re-read and decide if I'm going to self-publish it, and the preliminary beta jobs on the second novel to read through and work with. Sleep????? Who has time!!!!!!! :D