This is it. The very first progress report. Much has happened to reach this point, six years of stuff in fact, but now is not the time for backstory! It's time for me to seize the surreal moment, and tell you what's going on with this book that's really, truly getting published.
CASEY GRIMES & THE SENTRY OAK
As you may know, my middle grade fantasy debut is coming out in 2020—but there's already a lot going on behind the scenes. My plan is to write occasional posts to give you an idea how this works. It's all new to me too, so I'm sure there will be some unforeseen challenges and surprises. Hopefully good ones. Not the horrific kind that Casey typically gets.
Ahem. Let's get to it.
In the last several weeks, I've been doing a final read-through with my most trusted local critique group, i.e., my wife and kids. Technically, they're also my only local crit group, since culture of any kind is in pretty short supply out in the suburbs/farmland where we currently live. In fact, there's a rabbit trail here about how much I like writing in coffee shops and how impossible that is in Piper, KS, but I'm not going to follow it. Not for even a second.
Happy to say, no major changes are taking place in the manuscript at this point, just stuff like tightening dialog, smoothing transitions, and me yelling at my kids to stop wrestling. Also, I decided to add chapter titles, because why not?! Brainstorming those with the kids has been delightful, although certain titles seem to come up over and over. Seems they would name every other chapter The Showdown if they could.
Not that it wouldn't be appropriate. My fav title so far may be Dark, Horrible Tentacled Thing, but it's a close race, with many worthy contenders.
Do you know what I like most about your book? It's great for kids...and it's great for grown-ups. Not just kids. Not just grown-ups. Both. - Miles, beta reader, 8 years old
My press, INtense Publications, is about ready to wade in with their round of edits, so I'm trying to finish up quickly. The ball has also started rolling with cover design. A couple days ago, I sent off my design preferences with a wish and a prayer: Color palettes, design style, a few of my favorite middle grade covers. Word is, I get to have a pretty big say in the cover design (not typical in the industry), so I'm dreaming big. Also, fingers crossed...hopefully my designer can handle whimsical illustrations.
In more scary news, as per my publisher's wishes, I've started approaching several established authors to ask if they'd consider giving me a positive blurb for the back cover. This is as uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing as it sounds.
In a final bit of writing news, I've started drafting CASEY book 2. The working title is TRICKERY SCHOOL. While avoiding spoilers, I can confidently say there's just as much danger and intrigue, just as many near-death experiences. Heck, there are even some DEATH experiences. I'm at 53k words and closing in on my target of 55-57k pretty fast. Drafting new books in the fall is kind of my jam.
By my next update, I hope to have a release date for you. For now, I'm sticking with mid-2020. For those interested, I did a short interview with WriteMentor, a cool program in the UK. I'm still figuring these updates out, so if you have suggestions, blog topics, things you'd like to hear about, feel free to get in touch.
Thanks for following along!
P.S. My publicist wants me to add this note. So in the classic words of Batman, but without his threatening raspy whisper...Tell your friends about me. If you feel inclined to point your literate friends to this site, my email list or Facebook author page, I'd love help getting the word out about Casey.