Most important question first: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ADORABLE TEAPOT DRAGON.
IS IT NOT THE MOST DELIGHTFULLY MISCHIEVOUS BABY DRAGON?! Please direct all compliments on the wonderful artwork featured on Tea Princess Chronicles to Leigh Wallace, who is the actual greatest.
NOW THEN. Who are you, and how can I support this wonderful project of yours?
How did this project come about? Why are you writing a serial?
I wrote in more detail about how this experiment came about in a post on my author website. The short version is:
- I wanted something fun to work on during slogs on other writing projects that I could do regularly and reliably, that wouldn’t add an undue amount of stress or work to my already full schedule. And what’s more fun than tea and magic?
- I wanted to have some work of mine out and available. For various reasons I don’t do short stories and am not going to self-publish at this time, but a serial is novel-adjacent enough to work for me.
- A serial gives me an opportunity to interact with readers in a way that my normal novel writing process doesn’t, and I’ve loved being a part of that experience.
What do you mean by “serial” anyway?
There are multiple ways to do a serial! What I’m doing, essentially, is posting a novel in chapter-length chunks. Unlike other episodic fiction, you’ll need to read them chronologically to follow the plot. The goal is for each chapter to be long enough and have enough character/plot movement that it feels like a satisfying read, but they won’t be stand-alone episodes.
When/how often will you post?
I will be posting biweekly, every other Thursday!
…Really? What if you’re late?
The short answer is: you get a bonus Tea Shop Interlude! I will go on vacations without bringing my laptop along, and sickness and emergencies occur. I’m not going to fret about living my life, but if I’m late, you get bonus fiction.
The longer answer is, with full transparency, I have adjusted this schedule a couple times. This was actually a weekly serial for two and a half years, and may become so again! (For A Coup of Tea, I didn’t even skip weeks. If I was out of town or deathly ill, that week’s chapter went up early or doubled the following week.) Unfortunately this policy caused problems, because I had no time to catch up, and I ran out of buffer more than once and had to scramble. Part of the point of this project is to not cause me undue stress!
Due to some unrelated life complications—by which I mean, I still have a full, working outline and am able to write, so the story is not in any jeopardy of not finishing—I made the decision two thirds of the way through Royal Tea Service, Book 3, to switch to a biweekly schedule. Hopefully this is a temporary measure to get through the end of this book! I’ll update on that front as needed when I launch the next project in the Tea Princess Chronicles.
But what happens if you get stuck?
I won’t. At least, not for so long that it’ll make me late to post. I’ve completely drafted ten books prior to starting this project, I’m writing multiple chapters ahead to give myself room to maneuver, and I have a thorough enough outline to keep me from running into plot potholes. There are things I worry about with regards to this project (maybe everyone will hate the story!), but my ability to deliver is not among them.
How long are the chapters?
Each chapter is generally in the range of 3,000-4,500 words, which is about the average length of a short story. I’ve had a few in this project go up to 6,000, but none shorter.
What does this cost?
How can I stay on top of updates?
For regular chapter updates, you can follow this blog or its Twitter account. If you’re looking to just be notified about big news–like if I publish an ebook version, or announcing new books and future projects, that sort of thing–consider signing up for my author newsletter. It’s not a regular publication; I’ll only email you if I have writerly news worth sharing.
Why do you call this “cozy fantasy”?
Tea Princess Chronicles is firmly in the fantasy genre, but it shares a lot of tropes with cozy mysteries–a community-minded protagonist who isn’t a professional detective but nevertheless solves mysteries, the focus on female friendships, the plot relevance of witches and even more cats (sometimes familiars!), inordinate instances of baking, lighter tone, and so on. Calling it “cozy fantasy” is a more efficient way of conveying the kind of story this is than how I talked about it in the beginning! I’ve also adopted cozy mystery titling conventions, which is to say they will all be thematic tea puns.
What kind of editing are you doing before posting?
I, of course, will do my best to proofread each post. I have taught English professionally, and I promise I know my way around semicolons and the nonsense that is English spelling. Beyond that, though, these chapters and scenes are coming to you raw: they’re not being read by anyone but me before they go up, and at the moment I don’t have anyone lined up for more serious through-line editing. As I mentioned earlier, this project is intended to be fun for me, so if there’s a huge emphasis on dialogue and not as much physical description as you’d normally see in a published book, well, so be it. While I will do my best to deliver a quality piece of writing, please remember that ultimately, I am writing this for free.
Can I proofread for you?
Feel free to comment on typos in the comments if you’re the kind of grammar nit-picker (#grammarnerdsolidarityfistbump) who can’t help noticing anyway. If you’re volunteering to help clean up the posts before they go up, thank you so much for the thought, but I can’t accept. This project is intended not to create an undue amount of work, stress, or financial cost for me, and I don’t have the bandwidth to take anyone up on this offer at this time. There will be the occasional typo or run-on, and I’m not going to fret about it.
Will you publish this as an e-book?
I’d like to, but we’ll see! It depends both on demand and on how well the Patreon does. The serial as it appears on the website is essentially un-edited, and if I put out an e-book I’d want it to be at a professional level. That means developmental editing, proofreading, cover art, and layout, all of which require time and money. Since this whole project is an experiment, I’m going to hold off on any final decisions on this count.
I love this SO MUCH and want it to be more widely available. Why don’t you try traditionally publishing this?
I’m honestly delighted to have gotten this question more than once. There are a few sides to the answer. The first is that, since it’s already posted online, I couldn’t submit it through the normal process for traditional publishing now anyway. The second is that I don’t want to: doing it this way lets me do whatever I want with the project in a way that cuts down on my stress. I have the freedom to write this however I want without worrying about commercial concerns. (If you’re an editor and think this is commercial and want to help me get this published traditionally, by all means please ping me!) But essentially, the way I’ve set this up lets me write the story in the way that works best for me at this time.
What happens once you finish this book?
I’m glad you’re looking that far ahead! I planned Tea Princess Chronicles as a trilogy, so once I finish a book for this project, I’ll take a little while to re-group and then get started on the next book in the series! After THAT, I have some ideas already for future novels in the same world centering some side characters, but we’ll see how it goes!
What is your policy on fanfiction?
I was hugely flattered to be asked about this. Fanfiction is amazing, and I’m thrilled anyone would consider writing fanfic of my work. Please feel free, as long as you’re not attempting to make money off my work, and understand I won’t be able to read any of the fic of my work you write.
Do you have a comment policy?
I did ultimately institute one: the short version is respectful comments are welcome! This is my space, though, and comments are subject to moderation. The longer version is here.
Still have questions? Feel free to email me at tea.princess.chronicles [at] gmail [dot] com! I’d love to hear from you.