Once Grace and I got the contract hashed out (which required a little research from both of us, but happily, no involvement of dueling lawyers/barristers), I set to work polishing my manuscript of The Muse in detail. I began by making several complete passes through the story myself, looking for any holes or logical disconnects in the plot, inconsistencies in the characters, and mechanical errors--typos, grammar, punctuation, etc.
I also farmed out the manuscript to several outside readers for input. I was fortunate to gather a nice cross-section of folks--young, old, male, female, writers, non-writers, and both fans and non-fans of the genre. Some of the critiques are still in progress, but the feedback they've provided so far has been very helpful. You might think that after going through this story a couple dozen times, I'd be intimately familiar with every letter and be able to recite the entire thing in my sleep, but this process has shown me how easy it is to develop blind spots and how important a fresh set of eyes can be to turning out a quality product.
At the same time, Grace and I discussed concepts for the cover art and a promotional video clip. I hadn't anticipated how tricky the choice of font and color can be. There are so many subconscious flags associated with the shape, size, and color of letters that it's very easy to inadvertently communicate a misleading message about the story. Some fonts are indelibly linked to famous works of literature or particular kinds of stories. For example, there's a font called "Agatha" that was used for a long time on the cover of all the Agatha Christie mysteries. The font is so distinctive, it's almost a trademark for that author.
There are also land mines buried in the video development process. How do you pique a reader's curiosity in under two minutes and summarize the book's theme without giving too much away? Are there actors available to stand in for the book's characters, and do they look and sound right? Will there be background music, and if so, what sort? How can you stage a professional-looking video despite a tight budget?
It's challenging, but it's also a lot of fun. Grace has been very easy to work with, and her creativity, writing experience, and skills in graphic design have kept things moving along briskly.
I plan to post updates about once a week, but I'm hoping this blog will be very interactive, so if you have any questions for Grace or me, fire away, and we'll do our best to answer them.