When the Hero Comes Home
≡ Menu


Sooo… ya’ll like the TardisGown, right?

Want to see it -and me- up close?

September 27th, in London Ontario, I will be a guest at the Southern Ontario Cosplay Social. There’ll be panels about cosplay, vendors, and most importantly, a masquerade dinner and dancing!

And of course, I’d be happy to talk books or sign anything as well.

And yup. I’ll be wearing this light-up, hand-embroidered gloriousity. Come join me!

Photos by Amanda Irwin

It turns out, in my mad rush to be my regular type A self and make sure I get THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS kickstarter project up and running, I totally forgot to add two perks.

Two really important perks. They’ve been added now.

#1 – At the $35 level, you get:

A personal thank you tweet + your name in the back of the book on the Backers page + Paperback copy of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, signed by J.M. Frey.

#2 – at the $200 level, you get:

Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book + eBook of HERO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD + Paperback copy of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, signed by J.M. Frey + one of the original interior illustrations, signed by Jennifer Vendrig. (Only 3 available).

Well, now that I’ve cleared up that. *coughs* I’m just going to go, um… sit in the corner with my dunce cap on.

Publishing:  no one ever said it would be easy! ^_^


Ladies And Gents, Devils and Angels, Cosplayers and Con-Goers; 

The very talented people at Kelly-Francis Costuming got in contact with me to tell me that they’re so enamored with THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS that they’re willing to help us reach our goal!

Kelly-Francis Costuming is a company that provides costumes to film, television, theatre, circus, ren faires and for custom individual creations. They’ve worked on Hannibal, Pacific Rim, Hemlock Grove, The Shaw Festival, Resident Evil, The Stratford Festival, The Strain, The Baker Street Carollers, and Zero Gravity Circus, among others.

For a $100 donation, you’ll get:

A personal thank you tweet from me -Your name listed on the backers page in the book -ebooks of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, and my short story anthology HERO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD -A paperback edition of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, signed by me -$50 from Kelly-Francis Costuming to use on their products or services.

Thanks, Richard!

My agent, Laurie McLean, has posted my guest post on Kickstarter over at the Foreword Literary blog today. Go give it a read!

So there’s been a lot of great interest in THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, and for that, I thank you! There have also been some questions, so I wanted to clear those up, and explain how Kickstarter works for those who are new to the program.

When you pledge for a project on kickstarter, the money doesn’t immediately come off your account. I, the creator, only receive money if the project is successfully backed. That is – I have requested $5,000 – if I get $5,000 of pledges, and the project is 100% backed, only THEN does the money come off your account and get funneled into my project account. If I don’t get 100% of my backing (or more!), then I receive 0% of the money. So you can pledge now, without worrying about payday, and arrange for the money to be available after September 13th, when the project closes.

To thank you for pledging/providing funds to help get this book made, I am offering little prizes and thank you gifts when you pledge at different dollar levels. Let’s take a closer look at them!

If you have any questions about the perks, please leave a comment below and I will answer!


  • Pledge $5 or more

Personal tweet thanking you for your donation, and our eternal and undying gratitude.

  • Pledge $10 or more
    Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book.
    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $25 or more

    Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book + eBook of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $35 or more

    Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book + Digital copy of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS + eBook of HERO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $50 or more

    Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book + eBook of HERO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD + Paperback copy of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, signed by J.M. Frey

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $100 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + black & white custom commissioned sketch from Jennifer Vendrig, the book’s illustrator.

    Estimated delivery: 
    Add $20 CAD to ship outside Canada
  • Pledge $100 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + Query Letter critique from J.M. Frey.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $100 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + J.M. Frey will dress up and sing a Broadway or Disney (yup, that’s me singing in those samples) song of your choosing, substituting your name, and post the whole ridiculous video to You Tube.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $100 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + Two (2) hand etched, dishwasher-safe tumblers kindly donated from Red Moon Glassworks in the design of your choice.

    Estimated delivery: 
    Add $10 CAD to ship outside Canada
  • Pledge $200 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + Query Letter critique from J.M. Frey + Manuscript critique up to 50 pages.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $500 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + Personal ringtone recorded just for you by ED THE SOCK & LIANA K.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $500 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + naming rights for a character in J.M. Frey’s new fantasy novel.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $500 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + a white scarf with the entire poem printed on it, provided by LiteratiClub.

    Estimated delivery: 
    Add $10 CAD to ship outside Canada
  • Pledge $1,000 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + a white scarf with the entire poem printed on it, provided by LiteratiClub + ‘Tea’ party personally hosted by J.M. Frey in Toronto.

    Estimated delivery: 
    Ships within Canada only
  • Pledge $1,000 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + a white scarf with the entire poem printed on it, provided by LiteratiClub + Custom hand-drawn, fully coloured and inked art piece by Jennifer Vendrig.

    Estimated delivery: 

Week number five billion (it seems) of my Self -Publishing Adventure is here, and my Kickstarter Campaign  has launched. I don’t think I’ve slept in that time, although I’m certain I’ve stared at my bed longingly.

There’s been a lot of tea, a little wine, and lots of learning moments guided by friends and mentors, and my own small mistakes.

If you’re thinking of self-pubbing, here are the four most important things I’ve learned so far:

#1 – Have  A Deadline

… and give yourself an extra two weeks of wiggle room, just in case.

Like with NaNoWriMo, the pressure of a real live, actual and professional deadline will not only help you plow through your To Do list, but will make certain that everyone else working with you knows exactly what is due when, and to meet their own deadlines.

This also helps to avoid confusion regarding what’s due when, and how long it actually takes to do everything. Do lots of research into how long it takes for the books to get printed, the files to be approved by the printer, for the books to be shipped to you, etc. Also, confirm with your team what their realistic goals are, and then drop an extra few days onto it, just to be safe.

It’s always much better to deliver early than to be scrambling at the last minute.

#2 – Have A Contract

… and make sure it’s clear.

Contracts should be  easy to read, straightforward contract that outlines copyright (who owns what), delivery schedule, payment terms and schedule, and any other expectations. If you’re running a crowdfunding campaign, be sure to include what payment or percentage your team can expect, and what other extra work it may cause for them. (For example, my illustrator has agreed to donate some sketches and original art from our book as perks for the campaign.)

Contracts might seem scary and big, and perhaps unnecessary between friends. However, I’ve found the best way to keep friends is to make the contract, and be as non-confrontational about it as possible. Usually I say something like, “Hey, I don’t plan on suing you and you probably don’t plan on suing me (I hope), but just in case, I don’t know, I die horribly in a moped-and-gelato accident, why don’t we get it all laid out in black and white? Deadlines, payment, royalties, all of it, and that way it’s clear, and off our minds, and we all know where we stand? That good?”

And if someone really, really resists a contract, then I really, really rethink working with them. If they’re not cool signing a contract, then what are they planning to do that’s so unprofessional and terrible that they think having a contract will screw them? If they’re claiming it’s because we’re friends, then I for the sake of our friendship, I’ll insist.

You can find templates for contracts for just about anything online.   If a contract really does scare you, then if nothing else put together a very clear, bullet-pointed list of expectations, deadlines, work division, delivery dates, etc. and have everyone on the team print it out and sign it and scan it to you. That way it’s guaranteed that they’ve read it.

And that way, everyone is starting from the same place.

#3 – Have a Budget Plan

…  and be realistic about it. Budget as if you’re paying your creatives full professional rates.

Figure out where the money is coming from – and if you’re doing a crowdfunding campaign, figure out how you’re going to pay for everything if it fails. Will you continue and publish, perhaps with a delayed timeline, or just let the whole project be put to bed?

And if you are crowdfunding, you’ll have to share your budget with your backers, so be very honest with it, too.

Lastly, find a way to pay yourself, too. Generally speaking, as the writer/publisher, you’re the one who collects and keeps the royalties, so that’s your cheque there. If you’re not planning on keeping the royalties, then be realistic about how much of your own money you can throw into the project without going into debt or endangering your own finances. And also be realistic about what happens to you, financially, if the project comes to fruition but nobody buys it.

If you’re extra-counting on that royalty cheque, you may want to do some rebalancing.

#4 – Hire a Professional

… and pay them at professional rates. You plan to make money on your book, so share the wealth with the people on your team.  I’m not saying you have to cut them in on the royalties or back ends (unless that’s the agreement that you come to); paying a fee is just fine, too.

What I am saying is discuss and provide a fair and reasonable rate for the professional work that the other members of your team are providing. If possible, get as close to professional rates as you’re able. When you pay people as professionals, they provide professional work.

So why hire a professional? Well, in terms of editors, they can always catch mistakes that you didn’t see. In terms of cover artists, interior designers, and cover designers, it just makes sense. Why not hire the people who have the expertise, the experience, and the tools (do you know how much InDesign costs?)  to do the job well, on time, and in good order. Learn from them as they do the job, so next time you can maybe do some of it yourself, or at least set things up so it’s easier for them the second them you work together.

It will make your product look polished, professional, and more importantly, formatted correctly.

Nothing kills a self-published book faster than sloppy design, poor editing, and incorrect formatting.

#5 – Have a Mentor

If you’ve never done this before, talk to other self-pubbers (preferably ones with well-reviewed books) and discuss earnestly the pitfalls, research, and hard work that goes into publishing a book for yourself. Try to walk into the project with no illusions about how much the marketing is going to cost, in both time and finances, and also the expectations of the emotional rollercoasters and pitfalls. Try to have a support group, if you can, and be honest with yourself about why you’re publishing and what your realistic goals are.

A mentor can help you navigate schedules, websites, and rules that you’re encountering for the first time, but they can also help you sail smoothly over the waves of being an author before, during, and post-publication, too.

And a bonus point:


Do all the research, know all the things, and THEN jump into the doing of the things.

Best of luck with your books, everyone!


The Dark Lord and the Seamstress by J.M. Frey Illustrations by Jennifer Vendrig

Illustrated love story told in verse about the importance of looking beyond someone’s (poorly dressed) exterior and into their heart.


The goal: $5,000 The reason: to help fund and offset the book marketing, paying the creatives involved, and printing costs.

What is it?

The Dark Lord and the Seamstress is an unconventional love story told in verse. The finished product will be a picture book with a full colour cover, filled with beautiful black and white drawings illustrating a fun, romantic poem.

The book is suitable for kids, though it does have some dark humour.

Original interior art by Jennifer Vendrig

Original interior art by Jennifer Vendrig

This book has been in development for twelve years! But now illustrator Jennifer Vendrig and I are ready to share the story – and her gorgeous artwork – with you and your family!

The Dark Lord, a brooding demon from the depths, is tired of being the butt of all the devils’ jokes for his outdated wardrobe. When he invites the world’s most famous Seamstress to Hell to make him some new threads, he doesn’t expect to be struck by love at first sight. Now he has to figure out how to convince her to marry him and stay and Hell forever… and the Seamstress has to try to figure out how to convince him that it’s a terrible idea!

It’s the perfect gift to bring into your geeky family, and is a lovely story about looking for the good heart beneath the (style-deficient) surface for people of all ages.

The Perks

Query and manuscript critiques, personal serenades, a ringtone recorded by Ed The Sock, custom etched glassware, poems printed on scarves, commissioned art, and a ‘tea’ party personally hosted by yours truly! Check out the perks list for everything!

The Stretch Perks

J.M. Frey has a new novel coming out, playfully hashtagged #EpicFeministFantasyNovel. If the campaign reaches $6,000, she will announce the name of the new novel_ and_ post the entirety of the first chapter online for free!

For every subsequent $1,000 we raise, then she will post another chapter. (Hey, that means if the stretch goals get to $40k, everyone will get the whole book for free! How cool is that?!)

Interested in helping out? Head over to the kickstarter page and check it out!

Q: Your books are for a grown up audience, I was wondering what inspired you to do a children’s picture book?

Is it still a children’s book if it takes place in Hell? :3

While I do generally write for the adult market, with the occasional forays into YA or NA, I have always wanted to write for kids, too. Picture books are so fun, aren’t they? I’ve always wanted to write comics or a graphic novel, as well. Maybe one day I’ll have the chance to do that.

And as hokey as it sounds, I don’t begin a writing process with saying “I’m going to write a story for __________ market.”  I let the story dictate the audience. Usually when I’m done writing a story I step back and evaluate it and say, “Okay, so what market does this fit in? What’s the demographic? Does it need tweaking to fit into that market better?”

And when I wrote the poem that comprises the book, I was working in a primary school library, so there was a lot of kid lit around me, influencing the story. It was also before I actually began to write novels for the adult market, so perhaps I, myself, was youthful, too!

Q: How did you and the artist find each other?

Jennifer and I were introduced in… uuuuhm… 1996? Yeah, Wiki tells me that DBZ aired on YTV in 96.

Anyway, I had become enamored of Sailor Moon in 1995 when it aired on YTV (and lucky me, later I got to work with one of the voice directors and take some voice acting workshops from directors and talent alike), and followed that into DBZ. From DBZ I found fanfiction, and in fanfiction I found author Ruthanne Reid.

(Although, at the time, she had her fanfic pseudonym and so did I.)

Ruthanne introduced me to fanartist Jennifer, and we all chatted. I stayed in touch with Jennifer through university, where she sent me fan art and did a poster for my first play, and did some art based on the novel I was writing at the time.

In 2002, when I wrote the poem that comprises the book, Jennifer and I noodled around with the idea of doing some sort of illustrated version of it, but a webcomic was too involved for both of us (being, as we were, in school and part time jobs), and frankly self-publishing as we know it now hadn’t been invented yet.

We lot touch after Jennifer got married and began a family, but a few years later I had the opportunity to offer up the poem to a morbid little poetry chap book. The publisher and I discussed having all the poems illustrated, and I remembered the doodles Jennifer had already conceived. I got back in touch with Jennifer, and we had some discussions. She mocked up some thumbnails, but then unfortunately the publishing house collapsed and the project was cancelled.

Several more years passed, and I forgot about the poem. Eventually I was interviewed by Arial Burnz of ParaNormalRadio, and she reminded me that the poem existed. I discussed it with my agent, and we agreed that it would be a fun project for me to selfpub the poem as a picture book, and I got back in contact with Jennifer again! I figured there was no point in going elsewhere when Jennifer and I had already done so much work on the book.

And here we are!

Q: How do you choose which images to illustrate for the book?

I mentioned in a previous answer that illustrator Jennifer Vendrig and I had had the opportunity to talk a lot about the poem before we came to project, so that was very helpful. We already had a “look” established, and we already knew what the characters looked like through a few weeks of trial-and-error pencil sketches where she mostly said “Well, what about this, this and this?” and I said, “Yes! I love that, that, but maybe make that like this?” and she said “Yes! And–” (You get the point.)

When I reapproached Jennifer about doing the picture book, one of the first contractual items we discussed was how much drawing she would be doing. We agreed on the number of illustrations – one for every two stanzas – and Jennifer broke the whole thing down into a sort of a story board.

She provided me with three doodles for each stanza to choose from, and when I made my choices we discussed why I thought those were best, and what she wanted to do with it. The nice thing is, I really like Jennifer’s art, and I’ve known her as an artist for so long that in commissioning her to illustrate the book, I knew exactly what to expect. I wasn’t disappointing – I love the work!

Once we had the doodle-thumbnails locked down, Jennifer began doing pencil sketches of each illustration. She sends them to me in batches, and we discuss little changes or additions as needed. Then I sign off on the pictures. Once I’ve signed off on all of them, she’ll begin the inking process and creating the illustration for the cover.

In the meantime, Jennifer is drawing to a size spec, and the interior designer and I are working together to get the draft-layout together so that when Jennifer provides the final inked pictures, we can just drop them into place and go!

Jennifer also illustrated the announcement picture! Isn’t it cute?


Have a question you want to ask about the book or the process? Ask in the comments below, on my Tumblr, on Goodreads, or via Twitter.

I opened my inbox to questions about The Dark Lord and the Seamstress, and here are the questions I received, and my answers!


Q: About how many drafts of TDL&TS did you have to go through before you got to the finished product? And what’s your process there, do you write everything and then edit, edit as you go, or shoot the first draft to a beta and go from there?

Strangely enough, there weren’t actually a lot of drafts of The Dark Lord and The Seamstress. How it looks now is essentially how it was when it came out.

At this point, I think it’s on draft three or so.

I’ve had 12 years to tweak it, and I added about three stanzas to make the store run smoother, but beyond swapping out words to make lines scan better, I’ve changed practically nothing.

I think it helps that the story itself is very straight forward and simple, with a happy ending. There’s no editing required to clarify, or rewrite, or to address B plot, or to remove/add/merge characters. It doesn’t require all of the Hard Thinking And Mapping that a novel might.

Usually when I write a story, I write the whole thing all at once. Not usually in order, I jump around and lay, as I call them, paving-stone-scenes all along the narrative path. Eventually I get them all to join up, and then I do a top-to-bottom-read-and-edit. From there the story goes to a group of beta readers, comes back to me with feedback and suggestions and I  edit it. Then it goes to a different group of beta readers (or the same, if some of the readers really wanted it back), and I edit it again. Usually at that point I give it to a professional editor to give it a polish, I get it back and edit it, and then it’s off to my agent. She gives feedback, I edit again, and then it goes on submission. The acquiring editor gives feedback, I edit, and off it goes to be made into a book!

Sometimes this process is only four or five drafts. Sometimes, like the one book I’m working on, it can get to upwards of seventy passes between my hands and someone else’s in order to get it settled and tweaked just right.

Q: Where do you get your inspirations for stories from? Or, more properly, where do you USUALLY get your ideas – I know sometimes they just pop up out of nowhere. Share your brainworkings, please!?

Some ideas I’ve gotten from dreams. I had a recurring nightmare as a teenager that I dwelt on and let expand, and it just filled up my imagination. Eventually I started writing it, and though I’d like to share it one day, it’s just not good enough right now.

Some ideas I’ve gotten based on prompts, writing challenges, or story requests for anthologies. I’ve written a few shorts where I’ve later gone back and asked permission from the editors to expand the story into a novel.

Some ideas I get from conversations or arguments with friends. I had a very frustrating conversation with someone once and I was so angry that I immediately went to my desk and began pounding out a diatribe on my laptop. That eventually became a scene, and when I had the time to calm down and reread what I’d written, that scene eventually became a book.

Most ideas I get from a sentence. Triptych came from the sentence “There was a UFO in my strawberries.” Oh, I thought. That’s an intriguing image. How did the UFO get there? And why?

Some sentences are things I’ve overheard on the street, or are misheard lyrics, or some strange arrangement of words that have rattled themselves into a plausible, grammatically correct arrangement in my brain. Then I usually ask myself, Is there possibly a story here? If so, what format is it? And how can I tell it in a way that’s different from other tellings of similar stories? Whose POV will be refreshing? What would I want to discuss with this story? Is there something viable in this?

If there isn’t, I usually just write the sentence down on a scrap of paper or in a notebook to get it out of my head and away from my imagination.

One of these days I’m going to publish a book of these sentences-that-went-nowhere, I think! My little collection of not-novels.

Q: I was going to ask about how you decided on the artwork, but someone else already did (thanks for answering that, btw!), so I’ll ask my second-choice question: Do you think you’d like to do more stories like The Dark Lord and the Seamstress?

I absolutely would! We’ll see how this one goes, and then I might consider writing another fun, epic poem. It depends on if an idea-sentence rattles into my brain!

Q: What would be your dream novel to write/publish? What genre, what kind of protagonist(s), lots of world-building or minimal?

Oh, that one’s easy!

My dream novel would be the full-length version of The Maddening Science!  It is such an involved manuscript though, that just the research alone is taking me years. I wish I had the time and the freedom to do nothing but work on this book for a year.

It would be a fiction-memoir, but also filled with lots of “found artifacts” that, when slotted in between the pages of the memoir and red between the chapters, tell a secondary story simultaneously that intertwines with the narrator’s memoir. Sort of like The Watchmen, but revealing a whole B-plot of action going on with the memoir’s transcriber character outside of the transcript of the memoir she’s transcribing. If that makes any sense at all!

And there is a metric ton of worldbuilding that has to happen, which is why it is taking me so long and why I wish I had the chance to do nothing BUT this book and just focus for such a long stretch of time.

I will continue to hope that one day I will have the ability to write full time!

Q: What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about writing scenes involving sex?

That they’re about sex.

Unless one is writing pornography simply for pornography’s sake (like some titillating erotic scenes or some lovely PWP slash fanfic), then like every other bit of writing, the scene should only exist to either:

a) further the plot,
b) further understanding of or provide development for a character,
c) or, ideally, all of the above.

If the sex scene is literally only in the book to titillate, then usually it’s a plot-interrupter and frankly, can be skipped. It’s more appreciative to your audience and less boring to just say “they had sex”. (I have literally flipped past sex scenes in books because there’s no reason for them to be there. Like, excuse me, get your sweaty bum out of the way of the story I was reading, thank you.)

Of course, that is to say that the sex scenes can’t be well written and titillating and make you want to go tickle the pope. Like a book that makes you laugh out loud, or sob in public, a well written sex scene should have people who feel sexual attraction squirming in a good way.

Do I think non-erotica books should have sex scenes in them? Well, that depends entirely on the book, the protagonists, the situation, their lives, the culture in which they live, and what putting the sex scene in will do for the plot and people.

And I have all the respect for well written erotica, because it is not easy to make porn the plot and write a damn good novel to support the fun times.

Q: Do you plan on doing more stories like The Dark Lord and The Seamstress, or is this just an experimental step?

This was a bit of an accident, really! I forgot I’d even written the poem, and had sort of discussed illustrating it with Jennifer, until Arial Burnz reminded me it existed after our interview.

If things go well with this picture book, and everything comes out and the process doesn’t make me fall over Teh Deadz, then I think I absolutely would consider writing more poetry-picture-books.


If you have questions for me, please feel free to ask them below, or via Tumblr!

I opened my inbox to questions about The Dark Lord and the Seamstress, and here are the questions I received, and my answers!

Q: What is your criteria for success for TDLatS? How does self-publishing shift your goals in this endeavour and what, if anything, do you miss about traditional publishing, here?

Criteria for success: That I actually manage to get the book out! I’ve never done anything on this scale before, and I’ve certainly never done a picture book before. I love this little story, and of course I love Jennifer’s art, so what I would really call a success is people enjoying it. Either with their kids or not, if people are talking about how fun and pretty it is, if they’re having a good time with the book, then that’s all I really ask. I just want it to work.

Shifting the goals: This who publication journey has been less a race to the finish as it usually is for me, and it’s really taught me patience with the publishing process. Not that I’m a nag – I hope! – to my editors, but once the book has been bought and edited and turned over, from the author side it feels like a whole heck of a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. There are huge gaps of time when you hear nothing from the publisher because they’re very busy getting on with the process of turning your manuscript into a book with a marketing plan. And that silence can sometimes make me antsy and impatient, especially when all I have to look toward is the moment I hold the book in my hands.

Instead of one big goal at the end – hold the finished book – my life is now filled with lots of little goals, all of which are necessary and have to happen in a certain order to make sure the book comes together properly and on time.

And of course, it’s my first picture book, too, so that makes things doubly nerve wracking and weird. I have to learn so much. It’s wonderful, and fascinating, but it’s certainly changed what I consider a goal and a success to be.

What I miss: I’ve had things published through my agency, with their arm FastForeword, which is not self publishing, but is a lot more hands-on than most traditional publishing. I’ve also been pubbed small press, and I’ve put a few shorts up on Kindle. Nothing I’ve done so far has really been on the large-trad-publisher scale, so I’m used to having to do a lot of marketing on my own, and being far more involved in the process of turning a manuscript into a book than large-scale publishing generally invites the author to be. The only real difference here is that at the very end of the process, someone isn’t going whisk away my MS and magically return a book to me. I will be sitting with a student interior designer and we will be muddling through the process together. Thank god for CreateSpace templates, that’s all I can say!

The nitty gritty things like getting the book registered for an ISBN and getting it up online in all the stores, and contacting the brick-and-mortar stores, and paying for the editing, and interior design, and cover art, and cover design… those are things that are all part of the process that I am very happy to never be a part of, and as the author in trad pub, never gets put into my hands. I fear I’m dropping the ball and forgetting something important every single time I turn away from the computer!  So, in short, I guess I miss not having to worry about the small process items.

On the other hand, I’m learning a lot about books now, and so when I sell my next trad pub book, I’ll have a much greater understanding of what I, the author, can do to make everyone else on the team’s jobs easier.

Q:For the visuals of the book, did you decide what the Dark Lord and the Seamstress were wearing, or the illustrator, or a combination of both of you?

Oooh, good question.

Here’s one of the first concept sketches Jennifer did. I don’t recall the exact conversation, though I’m sure I could dig it up somewhere, where we both agreed that something quintessentially fantasy-medieval would be perfect.

This was Jennifer’s final sort of attempt, after we’d had lots of discussions about their size difference (what would be enough to be silly but not enough to be unrealistic, if the Dark Lord had wings, and what kind, or if the Dark Lord had horns and what kind, etc.)

I really like the look of this style of overdress, so Jennifer found a way to translate that into the look, and after a bit more discussion about what would be period appropriate yet still easy enough for her to draw over and over again for the Seamstress’ hair, Jennifer sent me some character finals and that was that!

It was actually a pretty painless process, because she’s very professional, and listens very actively, but also pushes back when my suggestions are unworkable or unrealistic.

I think we have an excellent dynamic, and I’m lucky. That’s partially because we used to be forum and fanfic buddies back in our DBZ days, and that’s helped because we have a common history and departure point.

Q: Who is your favorite character in TDLatS and why?

I should say the Seamstress, of course, but I really like the Dark Lord and his complete lack of style and inability to dress himself! And his pout is adorable.

Of course, the narrator is a pretty awesome lady, too. *hint hint*

Q: Can you talk a little bit about what inspired TDLatS?? Even if you don’t want to be too spoilery!

I was working in a children’s library, re-cataloging and re-barcoding every. single. book. in the place. This was 2002. I kept stopping to read the picture books because they were so colourful and fun, and I was so BORED.

One afternoon, I was scanning, sticking, scanning, sticking, and thinking, and wondering if I could write a children’s book. At the same time, I had been reading the collected works of Byron on my off time, so I had a lot of epic-length poetry on my mind.

The line “Once upon a time, oh yes, so very long ago, there came to be a lovely girl, who came to learn to sew” jumped into my head and I wrote it down. From there the story really just unfolded and told itself! I think I had the whole thing jotted down in about forty minutes. I don’t know why the poem had to be set in hell, exactly, except that I liked the idea of a Devil who can’t dress himself. He’s always shown all dolled up and dapper in pictures/TV/Film, but what if he just has really terrible fashion sense?

The hardest part was getting all the scansion right. That took me a few weeks of trial and error to figure out. When it was done I shared it with some friends, but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I wrote it in a book and put it on my shelf.

I’d very nearly forgotten about it until recently, and decided now that I was a hybrid author, I should do what I’d always dreamed with the poem, and make it a picture book! Luckily,Jennifer Vendrig, my illustrator, and I knew each other waaaaay back in the day, and she was one of the ones who read the poem in 2002. We had talked about doing the poem illustrated before, so she had some sketches ready, and we made up a contract, shook virtual hands, and here we are!

Have a question you want to ask about the book or the process? Ask in the comments below, on my Tumblr, on Goodreads, or via Twitter.