In 1997 author Francis Eugene Wood and his wife, Chris, formed Tip-of-the-Moon Publishing Company for the sole purpose of producing and promoting his stories. Francis had been writing for outdoor sports magazines for a number of years when he decided to publish a Christmas story he had written titled The Wooden Bell. The release of that little book in November of 1996 would cause such a stir in the author's hometown that he would be forced to reprint it three times before Christmas.
I wrote The Wooden Bell for my youngest son, Daniel, because I wanted him to know that anything is possible in one's life as long as he has faith and a positive attitude. Daniel is special and so is that story. The little boy named Shingle was inspired by Daniel. It will always be very special to me. The book has been sent all over the world and just keeps selling. Folks tell me they read it every Christmas and that makes me feel real good to know that it touches hearts like that.
Chris transcribes her husband's stories from handwritten pages he gives her and enters them into a computer where the editing begins.
Francis goes into his study and comes out with his beautiful stories. I don't know where they come from. He tells me he opens a door in his mind and they are playing like movies for him to watch and record. He never writes down any notes or anything that I have ever seen. It all seems just to flow out of him. I can tell when he's ready to write. He is quiet for days, as if he's in another place. And then he goes into that study. You can't touch him when he goes in. He's in that place he is writing about. And when he comes and shares what he has written I can tell he's only halfway back. He told me once about the lights that go off in his brain and signals him to write. I can see it in his eyes when it's happening.
Once the author and Chris have edited a work into a suitable manuscript it is put in the hands of trusted "readers" for even more editing.
I send my stories to my aunt Jeanne Claybough, Tina Dean, and Jon Marken. These people know me as a writer and understand what I am doing. I am very protective of my work and do not like for people to mess with it. There's no fluff in my books. If I can tell the story in less than fifty pages then that is fine. Every line, every word is the way I want it to be. Large house publishers want fluff. They can have it. Tip-of-the-Moon is about getting the stories to the people the way I saw them in my mind. I could care less what some stranger wants them to be.
While editing Francis works with an artist whose work has caught his eye.
I enjoy meeting and working with artists on my stories. We come from the same place and communication is natural. There are so many talented people here. I should never have to look elsewhere. It is exciting when an artist paints your imagination and gets it right. I paint pictures with words. But I can also see stories in illustrations and paintings. Some of my most recent work has been inspired by drawings and paintings of one of my favorite artists.
Chris does the behind the scenes work while her husband writes, works with artists and puts together a book. There is copyright, bar codes, ISBN, contacts with libraries and stores and promotions to be done. There's tv and radio and newspapers.
Getting the book done is one thing. Marketing it is another. He's stubborn and won't just do anything. If he senses the least bit of disinterest he's out of there. I think he's happiest when he's meeting and talking with readers. He is a storyteller so he shines in front of an audience. If Francis Wood had to take care of all this business behind the marketing I don't think you would see his stories. He'd write them and put them in drawers and closets, which is what he used to do. I would like to some day see a large house publisher take his work to the world. But it would have to be with his full support. He doesn't write for money so that won't sway him. A letter from a child or from a person he has never met who has been touched by The Bell or Angel Carver is better than money to him.
Tip-of-the-Moon Publishing Company is small. The author and his wife. The readers (editors) he trusts and a select few who work with them in the production of what some readers and critics have called "masterpieces" and "delightful family stories." Francis has been called "a gifted writer" and "a natural storyteller." Who better could give his stories to the world?
I don't like to be too crowded. I like the folks who work with me at Farmville Printing--Dan Dwyer and all the good folks in the office and back in the shop. Jon Marken is like my very own George Martin. Sometimes I pour out all these ideas to him and ask him to "fix" it. What a talent! That's hard to come by.
I saw the world from the tip of the moon and it was like a familiar ornament...small and beautiful.