Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Author Interview with Jamieson Wolf
Or...The Dragon hosts the author of Valentine

Today we talk about publishing, writing and the new romance novella Valentine from Paranormal Romance Author Jamieson Wolf. He's on a whirlwind promotional binge during the month of June, participating in two online book tours: one hosted by his publisher, one he put together himself. It's marketing insanity at its finest. And, to top it off, he's the featured author at The Romance Studio Blue for the entire month. You can check that out here.

How does he do it? I asked him to share some of his publishing secrets with aspiring authors here at The Dragon.

The Dragon: Good morning, Jamieson, and welcome back to Today the Dragon Wins. It's great to have you here again.

Jamieson Wolf: It’s great to be here. It’s always a pleasure to stop by so thank you for having me.

The Dragon: I'd like to ask you two different sets of questions today. We'd all like to hear about your latest romance novella, Valentine, of course, but I also want to talk a little bit about technique. Some of the visitors today are aspiring writers, and I've always known you to be magnanimous in the way you offer advice and assistance to others. So let's start with a little information about the craft and work our way into the story of Valentine.

Jamieson Wolf: That sounds good to me!

The Dragon: Great! Right off the bat, I'd like to ask about the cover art for Valentine. On your title page, the cover is credited to Croco Designs. Is that someone you selected, or is that an artist/company that Cobblestone Press works with frequently?

Jamieson Wolf: The author isn’t able to design their own cover at Cobblestone Press. Croco Designs frequently do cover designs for Cobblestone Press. They also have in-house cover designers.

The Dragon: Did you have any input on the cover, and how pleased are you with the way it turned out?

Jamieson Wolf: Oh very much so! I was asked to fill out a detailed cover art questionnaire detailing what I’d like to see on the cover, what the heros looked like, that kind of thing. It’s wonderful that the author gets to be so involved in the cover design process, even if they don’t have a hand in the actual design element.

The Dragon: How did that experience differ from other books cover selections you've been involved with, and how would you guide a new author in dealing with either disappointment or anticipation of a cover that he or she doesn't get to participate in creating?

Jamieson Wolf: Well, normally, I design my own cover art. So it’s actually a nice break for me not to have to do that. With regard to Cobblestone Press, if you’re disappointed in the first mock up of the cover, the art department will work with you until you are happy. Just be patient and remember that others may not see the characters as clearly as you do.

The Dragon: Let me ask about the publishing process as well. First, about how long did it take to write Valentine, including research?

Jamieson Wolf: Well, including research, it took me about two months to write. I’d say a month's worth of research and about a month of writing it and self-editing. A long process but worth it!

The Dragon: Then once you had it complete, how long did it take to select a publisher to submit it to? And did you submit it to more than one publisher at a time, or did Cobblestone Press have a policy against simultaneous submissions?

Jamieson Wolf: Cobblestone doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions so I was lucky that they were the first ones I submitted it to. I searched the internet trying to find what looked like reputable publishers for gay fiction and Cobblestone looked amazing! I’m so glad the initial impression of them turned out to be correct a hundred times over. They’re an incredible publisher.

The Dragon: Once Cobblestone Press received the manuscript, how long did you have to wait for an acceptance?

Jamieson Wolf: Their usual acceptance rate is between 60 to 90 days. I know it seems a little long, but it was such a nice surprise to get that acceptance contract in my email box! It was like Christmas!

The Dragon: And were you nervous, or did you feel a certainty about the process? What advice would you offer new authors who are waiting for that "call back" from a publisher?

Jamieson Wolf: Well, I always advise authors to research a publisher before submitting; it’s a good thing to do to make sure your work will be a good fit. I had already done that so I was darn excited when I got my acceptance. They’re very good too at letting you know their process, how long editing will take, the procedures for editing, etc.

The Dragon: Once Cobblestone Press had accepted the Valentine manuscript, how long did the editing and production process take before it was released to the masses?

Jamieson Wolf: It’s usually six months from contract to publication. It seems like a long time, but trust me, you’ll need it. There’s a lot of editing to do, even if you don’t think there is, and it’s a lot of work getting a manuscript ready to go out into the world.

The Dragon: Waiting for our characters to get their chance to shine can be nerve-wracking. Did you have any aspirations of writing a sequel or did the characters of Valentine, Anna, or Asterius "speak" to you while you were waiting? Have they spoken to you about a sequel since?

Jamieson Wolf: You know, originally, Valentine was going to be a one off. I had planned to explore other areas of history. But I never really planned to write a sequel. But that was then, this is now. I’m now thinking there will be two more books, one more for sure. I’m thinking of calling them Valentine’s Promise and Anna’s Wish.

The Dragon: When you were writing, did the character of Anna ever try to take on a larger role than what she has in the final version of the novella? She strikes me as a strong, caring, vivid support character. I don't want to give anything away, but her actions show great love, great friendship, and a willingness to sacrifice if necessary. That puts her at the top of my list for "return characters," if you know what I mean.

Jamieson Wolf: Well, she will be in the sequels but she was never pushy about it or wanting to get in the limelight. She’s very patient; it’s a good thing too. Asterius is a bigger-than-life character. I’m surprised that he wasn’t more vocal about a sequel!

The Dragon: You admit in your preface to taking "some liberties" with the old legend of St. Valentine and Asterius, and I'd like to hear about the act of betrayal that you worked into your story. I don't want to give too much away, but when Asterius betrays his new lover, for reasons that are explained in the story, I found it, as a reader, very difficult to forgive him. Even though various characters were able to overcome the betrayal, I wasn't right there with them for a while. How were you, as the writer, able to deal with Asterius after his treatment of someone he was supposed to love and cherish?

Jamieson Wolf: Well, I wanted to play around with the history of the legend a bit. Asterius had been Valentine’s jailer and nothing more. I wanted to find out what would happen if they were more to each other, if there was some sort of spark there.

I always knew, even before I began writing Valentine, that Asterius would (sort of) betray Valentine. I think that I had much longer to come to terms with it than any reader would.

But think about it this way: in any romance novel, there is always a conflict toward the end of the novel that the hero and heroine (or hero and hero in this case) must overcome before they can be together.

It’s a cliché, but it produces such lovely results.

The Dragon: These characters tend to get into us. Jamieson, as always, it is a delight to have you stop in to talk about your work with us. Would you let visitors know how they can get more information about you?

Jamieson Wolf: Sure I can! You can find my web site at http://www.jamiesonwolf.com/ or you can visit my blog at http://www.jamiesonwolf.blogspot.com/ I’m always working on something so make sure to check the blog often! Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Valentine blog which has a puzzle, excerpts, book trailers and more! You can find it at http://www.valentineanovel.blogspot.com/

The Dragon: And where can we pick up a copy of Valentine?

Jamieson Wolf: You can buy Valentine here. If you buy the novel and you’d like an interactive experience, why not download the soundtrack to Valentine? You can find it available for a free download here.

The Dragon: Thank you, my villain!

Jamieson Wolf: My pleasure Sandy! Thanks for having me again, it’s a treat as always!

The Dragon: Everyone, please note that the lovely Anna from the story Valentine will be Nigel's guest at http://sandylender.blogspot.com/ tomorrow morning. We invite you to join them for that interview to learn more about that powerful character and the novella by Jamieson Wolf.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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