by Rie Sheridan Rose
I no longer remember the original inspiration for this book, but that is understandable when you look at its entire journey. I do remember working on this book when we lived on Applegate in Austin, Texas. (We moved to Georgetown, Texas from there in 1973.) In other words, it was started a very long time ago.
I remember that the original tale was about two boys, a prince and his page, who got lost in the woods and were captured by tiny men who turned out to be elves. There was an ivory tower in the middle of a pond with a wicked sorceress involved somehow. And the prince discovered some truths that changed his world. The book was called Where Elves Are King at this point – and remained so titled until I realized the acronym…
Well, soon after that – before we moved still – I discovered The Lord of the Rings at the Austin Public Library. I was reading the books individually, handing on every word. (Unfortunately, someone else was reading them ahead of me and wasn’t as fast a reader, because I had to wait a couple of weeks at least to find out what happened after the end of The Two Towers when Frodo and Sam were in Shelob’s lair. I was not a patient waiter either!) After reading these books, my elves got taller…but no pointy ears.
I dabbled with the book off and on over the years, until I thought I had it in a fairly good place. I was in college by now, and I gave my copy – the only copy, you understand, still handwritten in the late ’70s – to one of my best friends to read and critique.
And I forgot to get it back.
I didn’t even realize this until we were out of school, she had moved away, gotten a divorce and changed her name. (Tosca, if by some miracle you read this and still have that envelope…I sure would like it back…)
So, I had to start completely over from my vague memories and even vaguer notes. This turned out to be a very good thing in the long run, as the fragments that I do have from that early draft look like they were written by a twelve-year-old.
I managed to reproduce a manuscript that was better than the original, had the epiphany about the name, and, after much brainstorming, had settled on the title The Blood that Binds (shortened from The Sun, The Moon, and the Blood that Binds which referred to the three articles of jewelry key to the plot.) I started shopping it around, and got mostly form rejections, but one editor asked for a full. I was ecstatic.
I sent her the full, and waited with baited breath for a response. Unfortunately, she didn’t accept it, but she gave me a very good piece of advice. She told me that the pacing needed work, and suggested that I look for a “Book Doctor” (professional freelance editor) to help me fix it.
I put the book aside for awhile, because I had no idea where to find one of these, and – by pure chance – hanging out in the “Student’s Lounge” at Writer’s Village University’s online site one day, I saw someone mention that they were a Book Doctor.
I contacted her, and she helped immensely in polishing the book. First major edit here.
A fellow student at WVU suggested that I send the book to her publisher, a small press which is no longer with us. I did, and it was accepted. I couldn’t believe it!
I received a marvelous edit from the company, and learned a great deal about writing along the way, some lessons that I still use today. Second major edit here.
The book was published as The Blood that Binds in 2001. I was now a published author, and it felt wonderful. But I kept learning. And when the company folded, I let the book lapse out-of-print rather than finding it a new home, because I just didn’t feel it was the best it could be.
At a convention in Dallas several years later, I got into a conversation over breakfast with Jim Reader, a fellow author who happened to live a few miles away from me. We decided to form a writing group to share work back and forth for critique. (It’s still a small group of two, but I don’t think anyone else would put up with our level of picky.)
This seemed like the perfect opportunity to rework The Blood that Binds into the book I had always wanted it to be. We went through it chapter by chapter, and Jim pointed out stupidities I had never thought of. I realized as we worked, that it was the first male input I’d had on the work. I highly recommend not falling into this trap. Make sure you have male and female beta readers/collaborators along the way.
I made the changes he suggested, and then we went through the whole thing again. By now, Jim was swearing he never wanted to see the thing again…and I was close behind him. But it was a much better book for the work. I added characters, built up other characters, and created entire plot threads. Third major edit.
I had always wanted to have something published by Zumaya Publications. They are one of the major small presses in my opinion, and at last I had something to pitch. I sent in the manuscript, now entitled The Luckless Prince after realizing that The Blood that Binds was overused, and it was accepted last August. In March, we edited the book through Google Docs. Best editing experience ever (not counting meeting Jim for dinner and page exchanges every week, because that was a different kind of working,) and the fourth major edit for this book.
It’s been a long, long journey to where we are now, but the book is the better for it. It is a polished gem that grew from a lump of rock. I am very proud of it, and will finally name it “done.”
Rie Sheridan Rose has been writing professionally for the last ten years or so — though she has just added the “Rose” on the end. After putting up with her for the last eight years, she figured her husband deserved the recognition. Prior to last year, her work appeared under “Rie Sheridan.”
In that decade, she has published 4 novels, 1 short story collection, 2 chapbooks of collected stories, and five poetry collections as well as contributing to several anthologies.
Her stories have also been published in The Eternal Night, ShadowKeep and Verge ezines, as well as the EOTU and Planet Relish websites.
Her poetry appeared in the print magazines Mythic Circle, Dreams of Decadence, and Abandoned Towers as well as the Electric Wine and Tapestry ezines.
The Half-Price Books 1999 “Say Good-Night to Illiteracy” Anthology contained her children’s story “Bedtime for Benny”.
Both her short story anthology RieVisions and poetry collection Dancing on the Edge were finalists in the 2003 EPPIE awards. Poetry collection Straying from the Path and Young Adult novel The Right Hand of Velachaz were finalists in the 2004 EPPIE awards.
Her most popular stories to date are the Adventures of Bruce and Roxanne, humorous horror shorts several of which have been collected into two print chapbooks by Yard Dog Press.
She has also written the lyrics to several songs for Marc Gunn. Their “Don’t Go Drinking With Hobbits” CD is due out in August.
Her latest book is The Luckless Prince, published by Zumaya Otherworlds.
Rie lives in Texas with her husband Newell and several cats, all spoiled rotten.
You can visit her website at www.riewriter.com.
Connect with Rie at Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/riesheridanrose.