Happy New Year, and welcome to my first blog post ever. There is so much I have been wanting to share with you all from new books to new illustrations, to new projects. In the past I have relied on social media to connect with the reading and writing community as well as inform readers of updates with The Breadwinner Series. However, last summer I removed myself from Instagram as it quickly became too much to manage with the chronic pain I experience from nerve damage I sustained giving birth to my son back in 2021. As for my YouTube Channel, I am dying to return so that I can share videos of my illustration process ... but I don't think that's going to be happening any time soon. In the meantime, I hope this blog will do!
So what's new for 2023?
The Star Catcher
As of now, I am planning on releasing The Star Catcher (Part 2 of the Two-Part Prequel, following The Dream Chaser) this June! Like The Dream Chaser it is more historical-fiction heavy than the main series but will include a fantasy subplot involving Staccato and the gang. The story picks up a few years after The Dream Chaser ends and nine months prior to when The Breadwinner begins. Unlike previous books, The Star Catcher is primarily a romance. If you haven't noticed by now, I sometimes have a tendency to wander into various genres while still trying to stay under the umbrella of Historical Fiction Fantasy, haha!
While I'm still trying to wrap up illustrations on The Dream Chaser, I have managed to make nine illustrations for The Star Catcher so far, and plan to have many more come publication day.
Side note: If you are planning on waiting to read The Dream Chaser and The Star Catcher until after the series is finished, take it from me and don't wait. Both books, particularly The Star Catcher contain relevant information to the final book that readers won't want to miss.
The Audiobook ... what happened to it?
Sigh. Guys. I am so, so, so, sorry. You all have been waiting for this audiobook for at least three years now. And I am sure you are wondering what on earth happened, or perhaps you have given up on me altogether. Well, I am here to remind you not to give up hope yet, and that an audiobook is just on the horizon!
As for what has taken me so long, well ... basically, my perfectionism blew up in my face. When I first published there was a huge push from my family and friends to narrate my own audiobook because I have a theater background, I love reading my book out loud, and I do all the voices including the accents (which, I'm going to say now, before anyone comes for me, that does not mean they are perfect, in fact I botched some of them pretty badly, but more on that in a minute).
When you record audiobooks it is recommended that you do the entire chapter in one recording and try not to make any mistakes. Unfortunately, that is not what I did. If you've read The Breadwinner then you know there are SEVERAL different accents flying around including Russian, German, New York, Heightened Received Pronunciation British, a hybrid of a Russian and New York accent, Received Pronunciation British, and working class British. That's just a few. And often it's in the SAME SCENE.
If you have any experience doing accents then you may have heard of oral posturing. Basically, oral posturing is the way you position your mouth, tongue, etc. in order to do a certain dialect. Hopping back and forth between that many accents and your narration voice is INCREDIBLY difficult. Not only do you feel like your brain is going to explode, but it's like doing a bunch of tongue twisters. Now I understand why actors in movies will often talk in the dialect of their character in between takes. Fun fact: Renée Zellweger maintained her British accent off-screen when filming Bridget Jones' Diary, fooling co-star Hugh Grant into thinking she was British.
To get through all the different accents without sacrificing quality (I still managed to botch them at times anyway) I did two things. First, I made separate tracks for recording each character's dialogue. Second, during recording if I thought I didn't say a line correctly I would rerecord it ... several times. I would record it despite everyone else's insistence that I sounded fine. But I was so caught up in making sure everything was perfect that I just couldn't risk believing them. What resulted was an absolute editing nightmare for my poor husband Michael. I had so many repeats of lines that Michael ended up just taking the first recording of every line regardless of how bad I thought it sounded, which according to Michael it all sounded fine. If he did think I did poorly then he would have me do it again, or search for a better recording. I'm not even going to tell you how long it would take that man to edit one chapter, because it was a ridiculously long time, and it was all because of the ridiculous standards I was placing on my abilities.
Oh, and then of course, I had a baby. That factored in a lot. And while we were able to finish editing what was recorded during my pregnancy and while Magnus was an infant, sitting in our makeshift recording studio became very difficult for me with the nerve damage I sustained during child birth. Any remaining recordings have had to be done between pain flare-ups.
So where are things at now? I am proud to say the audiobook is 90% done, with only a few chapters that need to be rerecorded. My parents now live close by, and we are currently making plans to arrange one day a week where they take Magnus so Mommy can record. If all goes well it's very possible an audiobook of The Breadwinner will be available sometime at the end of 2023.
Illustrations! Updating the old and adding to incomplete galleries.
It's been a total of four years since I first published The Breadwinner and started illustrating the book. I was twenty-five. Now I am just a few months out from thirty. In all that space of time my skill has improved, and my style has even changed a bit. It was bound to happen. I knew it then. And now I'm desperate to redo the illustrations from The Breadwinner as well as several from The Glassblower. And considering I never actually finished doing all the illustrations I wanted from either, you can expect to see some new artwork from both books in the future, and more than likely during this year. I've already begun sketches on several from The Glassblower. I can't tell you how happy I'll be once I've gotten rid of Staccato's sculpted cheekbones from all the illustrations where he's twenty and under!
Suffice to say I've got a lot of new things planned for this year. Let's hope I can deliver! Heck, let's hope I can get in a second blog post! That's all for now!