On the Taleweaver’s Desk: Issue 1

Hello, hello, hello! So, for a while now I’ve been meaning to start a new regular blog series, one that would orient readers both old and new to the “big picture” of what’s going on in the world of what’s-Sarah-writing-now. My daily and weekly writing goals (posted on Facebook and Instagram), I think, do a pretty good job of showing what’s going on right now, and, of course, my Doings! posts include monthly progress updates. But I also want y’all to know how those daily and monthly updates fit together in the long term, which is the gap I hope this series — On the Taleweaver’s Desk — will fill.

7.23.2021_TD_July 2021

On the Taleweaver’s Desk will cover four categories of projects, which I’ll explain once I get into them, and will include both projects-for-hopeful-publication and side projects that are just for me and my friends (aka D&D campaigns, because I like talking about them, they’re important to me, and they do take up a decent percentage of my writing time at this point). It’ll go up four times a year; I’m thinking a month into each season. (So, July, October, January, and April.) It’ll be posted on Light and Shadows, Dreams and Dragons, and  here on my author site, so you’ll see it no matter where you follow me.

And now, with those words of explanation out of the way, let’s get on with the actual post!

On the Taleweaver’s Desk Issue 1: July 2021

On the Desktop

These are the projects you might find open on my laptop or desk if you took a peek at it during a normal day. They’re currently in progress and at the top of the priority chart.

Gilded in Ice (Bastian Dennel, PI #2)

What is it? Gilded in Ice is my next upcoming book and the sequel to The Midnight Show. It’s a mystery retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” and “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.”

Status: Waiting for beta feedback, working on preliminary formatting

Not a lot has changed with this project since my last Doings! post. I’ve started to get a little bit of feedback from some of my betas, which means I can begin thinking about what needs to be adjusted in edits. The paperback cover is about 90% done (I just need to adjust the spine width), and the actual content formatting is . . . well, I haven’t started that yet. But, since a lot of it will carry over from The Midnight Show, it technically isn’t completely yet-to-begin.

D&D Campaign: Defenders of Serys

What is it? Defenders of Serys is the homebrew D&D campaign that I run for my D&D group.

Status: Writing Season 4 and thinking of what to do during our break.

As a word of explanation, since this campaign started during our senior year of college, I set it up to run more like a TV show than your average D&D campaign, with linked one-shots and breaks every so often for me to take a break from DMing and get ahead on writing the adventures (thus the term “Seasons”). While we’ve shifted from the linked one-shots to a more traditional campaign format, we still take breaks every so often, and we’re coming up on one now. I’ve written all I need to get us to that break, and I’ve started prepping the first adventures for when the break ends. I have three in mind, and I’m very excited about ALL of them.

Stacked on the Side

These are the stories that I’m not actively working on (at least not officially), but I’m keeping close at hand because I plan to get back to them soon (or I just work on them sporadically as the urge takes me).

Blood in the Earth

What is it? Blood in the Earth is the sequel to Blood in the Snow and a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with the myth of Hades and Persephone.

Status: First draft finished; awaiting revisions.

I finished the first draft of Blood in the Earth last October, right before I started writing Gilded in Ice. It’s a mess, but there’s a lot of good bones in it . . . it’s just that the bones are, currently, the narrative equivalent of a Brontosaurus: mostly the right pieces, arranged in the wrong way to create an incorrect story. I’d like to start edits on it sometime this year if things work out.

Once Upon a Dream

What is it? A light steampunk (or gaslamp fantasy?) Sleeping Beauty retelling; the predecessor to The Midnight Show

Status: Edited several times over. Awaiting another round of rewrites/expansion/edits.

Once Upon a Dream was the novella I wrote, oh, some years back for the Five Magic Spindles Rooglewood Press collection. Like Blood in the Snow, it was a finalist in the competition, but it didn’t make it into the actual collection. I’ve been meaning to polish it up and expand some of the parts of the story so I can publish it for a while now, especially since The Midnight Show and Gilded in Ice are set in the same world (albeit several decades later). That said, it’s not a top priority, especially since I’d like to get at least a few more Bastian Dennel, PI mysteries written and published before I jump back in time.

A Tower of Portals Campaign

What is it? A second D&D campaign inspired by one of my favorite video games.

Status: On hold; worked on when I have new ideas.

This is a side project that I worked on for a few months in 2020, but which I set aside once I started running up against deadlines on other projects. It’s very different from any of the other writing I do, and the format of the campaign and the need to adapt certain elements from the inspirational material to D&D 5e in a way that’s interesting and fun and isn’t just a carbon copy of the original makes it an interesting challenge. I’m not actively working on it, but when I have time and come up with ideas for a new section, I’m prepared to pull it out and write more.

Shelved for Now

These are stories that are also on hold, but which I don’t have specific plans to work on very soon. They’re still within easy reach should I decide to return to them, but they aren’t a top priority.

Dust of Silver

What is it? Classic-ish fantasy retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with Rapunzel, the first book in what has the potential to be a rather long series. Also, a rewrite of a book I wrote years ago that won’t let go of me because CHARACTERS.

Status: Several chapters into the rewrite.

So, yeah. I started rewriting this for the Golden Braids Arista Challenge, about two or three years ago. I didn’t finish rewriting it because I decided to rewrite Mechanical Heart instead . . . I think because I thought it would be less work, or at least easier to finish on time? I’m not sure. I want to get back to it eventually because I want to eventually write the whole series and do all the characters and relationships the justice they deserve. (This is one of the most romance-heavy series I have, which . . . is still not saying a lot, to be honest. And most of the couples don’t really show up until the sequel. But two of them get their start here, and I’m very excited about them.)

Between Two Worlds

What is it? A portal fantasy adventure about what happens when you come home from the adventure, only to discover that the adventure isn’t quite as done with you as you thought.

Status: The first draft has been done for some time; the second version should probably just be restarted at this point.

This story sits near and dear to my heart, and I am going to finish it and publish it if it kills me. (It won’t kill me. Unless I die of self-inflicted feels because there is so much pining in this book.) However, since it’s not a fairy tale retelling or a D&D campaign, it hasn’t fit nicely into my writing schedule since I started publishing things. That’s ok, though, since this book gets into the multiverse of my storyworlds more than anything else on this list, and I really should have the workings of said multiverse figured out before I start doing more stuff with it. On the upside, I think rewriting it will take less work than some of the other projects on this list when it does move up the priority chart.

The Way of the Pen

What is it? Self-aware fantasy adventure about a girl and her author.

Status: The first draft is sitting on my shelf, patiently waiting for its turn back in the spotlight.

I wrote this around the same time as Between Two Worlds — I think Between Two Worlds came first, though I could be wrong. Anyway, they’ve both been sitting on the shelf for a while. Again, I love this story, and I want to go back to it, and I think it could be rewritten with less effort than some other things on this list, but it hasn’t fit neatly into my writing schedule. Quite frankly, Rinna would probably be very happy if I just moved on and continued to leave her alone, but the whole story is about her dealing with being in a story, so I’d hate to waste all that character development. This is also one of the few books that still doesn’t fit in the multiverse as a whole (or if it does fit, it does so in a different way), so it’s my best candidate if I decide to submit something to small-press or traditional publishing.

Berstru Tales series

What is it? A classic epic fantasy series and the longest-running series I’ve worked on (either in the number of books written or in how long I’ve worked on it.

Status: Needs to be rewritten from the ground up, but the bones are good.

Some people might question why this is even on the list. I started writing it almost ten years ago at this point, and it shows in the storyline. But, as I said, the bones are good, and the characters are good (though some of their ages will need adjusting), and — look. The Way of Kings originated from the first character Brandon Sanderson ever wrote. The character and the story around that character changed and grew a lot before it became the story we know today, but I’m calling that proof that I shouldn’t give up on Berstru just because I wrote it so long ago. It’s going to take a lot of work when I do go back to it; like I said, it needs as dramatic a rewrite as Mechanical Heart did. When I go back to it, it’ll probably be a project that I do primarily for myself (and to set up some other elements of the multiverse) more than something I write because I know a lot of my readers will be super into it. But I’m not letting go of it — not when I find myself thinking about it on a weekly, even daily basis at times.

Awaiting Delivery

These are the stories that are on their way, but haven’t quite arrived yet to the point where I can write them: ideas I’m toying with but haven’t even started to draft because they’re still too nebulous.

Novellas from the world of Blood in the Snow

What are they? Currently, three and a half ideas for spinoffs, most of which are also fairy tale retellings: one Puss in Boots (no, really), one Orpheus and Eurydice (probably crossed with a similar Japanese myth, Izanagi and Izanami), one Snow Queen (that’s the half an idea), and one that’s not currently a fairy tale retelling but would be about Gan and Azuma before they were animal-keepers at the emperor’s palace.

Status: Well, one is, as I said, only half an idea. Of the others, I have rough ideas of scenes in two of them, and a general concept for the last.

I’m not sure what else there is to say about any of these? I think they’d be fun, but the actual sequel takes precedence. Also, of the two I’m most excited about, one (the Orpheus and Eurydice one) doesn’t even take place until after said sequel, and the other (the Gan one) would, I think, be best read after the sequel as well.

Mechanical Heart Sequel

What is it? Exactly what the title says.

Status: Half-formed ideas that have yet to coalesce into anything actionable.

I will be frank: writing a sequel to Mechanical Heart is not a priority right now. It ranks above some of the Shelved for Now projects, but not above all of them. Why? As things stand, it works well as a standalone, better than anything else I’ve published thus far. Also, Mechanical Heart was hard to write even though I loved the story, so I don’t want to start a sequel until I have a well-formed idea that I’m really excited about. I apologize to anyone who’s disappointed. (Don’t worry, I doubt I’ll be able to stay away forever. I never can.)

Unnamed Fantasy Murder Mystery

What is it? Exactly what the headline says. A prominent noble is murdered; his adoptive daughter is poised to inherit his lands and position — but some are saying her hand was behind his death.

Status: A growing, but often-shifting idea.

I’ve had this in mind to write for a while — since before Cedarville, in fact. I’ve mentioned it in a few posts, though none are recent. But until recently, I haven’t had the courage to try my hand at writing a true mystery, let alone one that would be so heavy on politics and so light in magic. That’s probably good, since that gave this story enough time that I think it’s stronger now than it would’ve been if I’d written it when I first imagined it. Still, I don’t think I’m going to tackle this until Blood in the Earth is done.

Worldhoppers Inc./Mythology D&D Campaign

What is it? Yet another homebrew D&D campaign. Or two. Technically it’s two possible themes for series of connected one-shots and short-term adventures, with a few adventure ideas for each theme and a chance that I’ll just try to combine them.

Technically it’s two separate ideas that I might combine into one. Idea one focuses on Worldhoppers, Inc., an organization that takes care of your magical, strange, and paranormal problems . . . for a price. Idea two is more of a series of one-shots and short-term adventures based around fairy tales, folktales, and myths. If I combine them, Worldhoppers, Inc. becomes a more noble organization whose agents maintain the storyline in both fandom worlds and folktales.

Status: Mixed?

So, these ideas came from a few places — a realization that a particular Welsh myth would make a pretty good D&D adventure (though it wouldn’t fit into my current campaign), players in my current campaign commenting on how fun it could be for their characters to end up in different fandom worlds, a few songs that gave me concepts for adventures, and so on. Eventually it settled into two ideas — Worldhoppers, Inc. (think adventuring guild, but in multiple dimensions!) and the mythology campaign (in which storylines would be pulled from myths, folktales, and fairytales) — which might be combined into one concept (an organization that deals with magical problems throughout realms while making sure the “storyline” of each world isn’t interrupted). A few of these adventures, I’d like to write so I could have them on hand if I’m asked to run a one-shot or a mini-campaign. But, like many things on this list, I haven’t had the time yet, especially since I prioritize novels over D&D writing.

All right! Hopefully that was interesting. I recognize that it was a lot of information; in future posts in this series, I hope that the status of most of the non-active projects will be much shorter. (I also hope to use some of this post to update my Novels page on this blog so I can point people there for more information.) But I think writing all this down was helpful for me, and I’d like to think it was helpful for some of y’all to read.

Is there any story or project in this list that you’re especially excited for me to write? What are your current projects that you’re working on? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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