After about 3 1/2 years, Heart of a Lion has returned with a new face on! I'm honestly super excited about this second edition because I've wanted to revamp the cover and design of this book for a while now, and somehow this happened much sooner than I could've anticipated. I loved the old cover, and I definitely wanted to incorporate the old lion head image into this one, but I love the professional quality that this one has about it maybe a bit more than the last one.
Namely, the only difference is in appearance. The content is exactly the same, save for a few paragraph breaks that I caught during overviews. The cover is different in that I got to design all sides, including the spine, to my wishes; and the size is shorter but enabled the formerly 194 page novel to be 246 pages, which makes the overall size more proportional. The pages themselves are also cream instead of white while the cover finish is matte instead of glossy, which is how The Realms Series books are finished.
All this to say, Heart of a Lion was my first book. It was the test-child of the bunch because I hardly knew what I was doing when I published it - I still hardly know what I'm doing. The entire design of the book was a what-not-to-do as far as proportions, page color, and finish. By the time Wonderland came along, I'd done enough research to know the basics of cover design and size. So since then, I've been wanting to revamp Heart of a Lion, give Sam and Will's story the face they deserve. And I'm really happy with how it turned out.
Revisiting this story was incredibly nostalgic for me. As I mentioned, this was the first story I really got to explore. This taught me a lot about writing and storytelling, not to mention patience and determination (Writing a book is hard, guys), and these characters are very near and dear to my heart.
Sam popped into my head when I was nine years old. I had a prologue and the first few chapters, with Will tagging along soon after Sam. I still remember being in the car with my mom, my sisters, and one of my sisters' friends to drop her off at home when some of us kids started writing stories. I'd already dabbled in storytelling. I had a lot of ideas and a Peter Pan adventure book I'd made with crayons under my belt. During this particular car ride, I wrote the prologue about this orphaned girl who saved someone's life and was then adopted by a childless king because he saw a goodness in her that little else could see. My sisters liked it, the friend loved it. And after introducing Will to the story and establishing a tournament, I put the notebook away and didn't see it again for a few years.
Eventually, of course, I rediscovered the story. I typed it up and added a few more pages, then forgot about it again. I think this repeated itself again before I picked it up at fourteen and actually decided to finish the book. Whew! I'd done it! Or at least I thought I did. I didn't really know the definition of "First Draft" yet. But after my family read it, and my parents chipped in with their personal Spell Check, I was ready to try the publishing game.
Pro-Tip: Always always always do your research. I wanted to try out the big-dogs in the publishing industry (Fourteen-year-old girls can dream!), but I quickly discovered that I qualified as one of the Unsolicited Submissions that these big publishing houses didn't accept. I also didn't know the first thing about book agents, so I got this impression that I couldn't be published unless I was already published - kind of like how you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience; a paradox. Of course, there's a lot more to it than that, but I didn't know at the time.
Then I tried this smaller publisher that did happen to take Unsolicited Submissions. Lo and behold, they accepted! I was so excited about the whole thing! Someone besides my family liked my story enough to publish it. But then there was the catch: I would have to pay so much money to have it published. Like an investment. Now, as a fourteen-year-old, I had no money. So there was that problem. My parents would've helped, but they were also suspicious about the situation. After a polite email to the publisher, they did come back with a much better offer with a lower price tag. Dad looked into it some more (Always do your research!) and after talking through the whole situation, we decided to decline the publisher's offer. They were very gracious about the whole thing, for which I am thankful, and they said that if I changed my mind, the offer would still stand.
So then I found another publisher that was free and also accepted my manuscript. However, I did not consult with my parents about it, I didn't research it, and I didn't know the definition of SCAM yet. Thankfully, my parents are rational and great at research, so we declined this offer as well.
If you haven't caught the common thread yet: Always Do Your Research.
Shortly thereafter, we met this woman named Sunshine who was one of our milk customers (Yeah, my family owned a micro-dairy of three Brown Swiss cows for a few years) and happened to be a book editor. Over the next year, she helped me edit both Heart of a Lion and Wonderland manuscripts thoroughly. She was kind but she was honest, and she not only helped these stories to become the best they can be, she helped me to push myself as a writer and an editor. I really learned the importance of rewriting and editing. Today, this is my favorite part of the writing process. I'm forever grateful to her for that.
Eventually, I did decide to undergo the self-publishing route through Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace (what used to be the paperback publishing branch before Amazon combined it all into KDP). I've enjoyed the freedoms of it, as I've had complete say in what goes on with the book, aside from the rules and stipulations of KDP. So it's kind of spoiled me. One day I'll reach out into the world of book agents and publishing houses, but as I've been a college student for the entirety of my published-author career thus far, self-publishing has been convenient for my own scheduling and stress levels.
Now here we are three and a half years later! My dad is still begging me for a sequel to Heart of a Lion - an idea I'm not entirely opposed to, but the only issue is that I can't for the life of me think of a conflict for such an endeavor. For now, I'm satisfied with the story as is.
Thank you to all the readers who've loved on Sam and Will as much as I have over the years. I'm glad for everything they've taught me and everything I've gone through with them. And I thank God for giving me this story of love, courage, and adventure at such a young age, for giving me something to work towards and share with those around me.
Emory R. Frie
"Stories help us remember what we never want to forget" - Neverland (The Realms Series, Book Two)
Emory R. Frie is the award-winning author of debut novel, Heart of a Lion, and the Realms Series. Emory is attending Berry College to further pursue her writing craft. Raised in Oregon, she now lives in Georgia with her family and rambunctious Scottie pup.