Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review for "Out of the Snare"

"Out of the Snare" kept me on the edge of my seat. I was hooked at the prologue. This book has intrigue, suspense, drama, and wonderfully developed characters. The author also dwells on the ability of Christ to change any person, regardless of his or her upbringing, life-choices, or mistakes, and the duty of Christians to keep trying to show Christ to the lost.

I would recommend this book to any who enjoy suspenseful fiction, written with a strong Christian influence.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts on "Nan's Journey"

Nan's Journey, by Elaine Littau is an apt title. In her first published work, Mrs. Littau deals with difficult issues such as abuse, neglect, and loss in a manner that quite often stuns the reader. We travel with our heroine, Nan, as she faces a lifetime of tragedy in just a few short months. However, in the midst of pain and suffering she finds hope, healing, and love.

This historical novel transports the reader back in time 150 years with its descriptive imagery and dialogue. The author writes as if she herself were living during the age of "Monday wash days", daily farm chores, Native American tribe issues, and travel by horseback. Although written in simple language, the tragedies faced and the truths found within the pages of Nan's Journey are as relevant today as they would have been during the time the story takes place.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Second Chance "Funny"

I have to share a "Second Chance" story that was just told to me. A friend's husband (who will remain nameless) wanted to read the book, and my friend graciously allowed him to begin before she started reading it.

He was enjoying it so much, he wanted to take it with him to the hospital recently when he was going in for some "minor" surgery. My friend tried to dissuade him, saying he probably would not be in any condition to focus on reading. He packed it anyway.

Once out of surgery, before his wife left for the night, he asked again where the book was, saying he wanted to read it before going to sleep. (His wife laughed because he was on so much pain medication she knew he wouldn't be awake long.) But she placed the book by his bedside...where it remained all night, as she predicted!

But I was so excited to hear that a GUY was enjoying the book so much, that it was on his mind even while on drugs:) heehee! So here is testimony that "Second Chance" is not only for women!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reviewing The Island of Time

Touted as "juvenile fiction", Matthew DeBettencourt has created a storyline that is anything but simple. In his novel, "The Island of Time", we find a curious mixture of innovative futuristic science, time-honored detective investigation, and old-world primitive culture.

Mr. DeBettencourt manages to use the premise of time travel in a believable manner, producing a basis for an amazing tale of adventure and intrigue. His main characters, one a respected detective, the other a dedicated scientist, find themselves on paths that seem to be leading in different directions. Yet fate and circumstance cause those paths to merge in a very unexpected and explosive manner. This novel will keep the reader wondering what will happen next right up until the last page and beyond.

I would recommend "The Island of Time" for readers who enjoy science-fiction, but don't mind a pinch of eighteenth century pirate!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unexpected Blessings

The past month has been especially hectic, though I am not complaining! The books arrived. I began selling them. I set up three different book signing events, made promotional posters/emails for each, and started a bi-monthly newsletter. Oh, and I made the front page of our local newspaper with an article telling about "Second Chance". The response of friends has been overwhelming. I can not say enough about how wonderful everyone has been!

Yet, in the midst of this buzz of activity, I have received blessings that I hoped for, prayed for, and then was surprised when I received them. Please allow me to explain.

As most of you know, I have been an elementary school teacher for 13 years. One outcome I hoped for through the recognition of being a published author was the opportunity to speak to and inspire children and teenagers. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity of speaking to three different third grade classes about my experiences with writing and getting published. In one class, two little girls brought me stories they had written. It was so wonderful to share encouragement and enthusiasm with them!

Today I was in another teacher's room for a few minutes. Out of the blue, a little boy quietly raised his hand and said my name. When I walked over to him, he whispered, "Mrs. Harris, I'm working on a book. It's called Karson and His Brother." It brings tears to my eyes even now, just thinking about it. I told him how awesome that was, and that I would love to read it when he was finished with it.

Children who come to me for Reading intervention are asking if we can work on getting their books published while in my class. (I must reluctantly say no to this request...)

Thank you, Lord, for putting children in my path. Help me not to forget that others are always watching. And may whatever I write be not only entertaining, but uplifting and inspiring as well.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Review for Wisdom Hunter

I will confess that I almost gave up on this book. Halfway through the novel I felt overwhelmed with the sense of hopelessness and despair, the anger towards God, and the tragedy of loss experienced by Jason Faircloth, the main character. I wanted to give up as much as he did. The continual struggles and unanswered questions were almost more than I could bare. Honestly, it was only a sense of duty to Multnomah publishing, who had provided the book for review, that prevented me from putting the book aside.

Let me say that I am now very glad I didn't. As much as the first part of this story is filled with heartache, tragedy, anguish, and self-hate, the second part is filled with healing, renewal, and the ministry of God's faithful once they realize and accept his love for them.

This is not a "feel-good" read. It is not an adventure story. It is a thought-provoking tale of one man's journey from living life in cold, self-righteous piety to discovering God's true purpose for him: being an unreserved, compassionate, selfless servant of God.

I would like to thank Multnomah for giving me the opportunity to review this book, and Randall Arthur for having the courage to author it. I would recommend this to other adults who are willing to bare up through the pain of this novel to discover the underlying truths within its pages.

--Karina Harris, author of "Second Chance"

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Review for "The Life of Bud"

What an unexpected gem! I thought I was getting a children's book on " plant life cycles". "The Life of Bud" is so much more.

Simple, vibrant illustrations beautifully match the gentle poignancy of the text in the story of how Bud begins life as an oak bud, and grows into a leaf. Laura Eckroat does a remarkable job of expressing fears of growing up, changing, and even death as she chronicles the life of a tiny oak leaf.

I cried as I read it, thinking about the lives of loved ones and the impact that we all have on each other. This book is a must have for parents and teachers of young children.

Available at and, as well as Tate Publishing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lessons Learned

I finally received the proof copy of "Second Chance" a couple of weeks ago. I was told this was my final opportunity to read through the novel and correct any layout or punctuation errors. I confidently and excitedly sat down to read through it, feeling certain I wouldn't find many.

Let's just say my ego has taken quite a bruising. Most of the errors I found questioned comma usage. But I had everything from missing words to backwards quotation marks. If I had a nickel for every time I asked myself, "how did I miss this?"....

I read through the book twice, listed all the possible errors, and mailed it back to the publisher today, anxious that I might have missed even more mistakes.

Being a compulsive problem solver, I have already thought of a couple of things I will do differently before signing that "content approval form" on the next novel:

1. I'm going to print out the entire book. It's amazing how different it looks on paper.
2. Before I print out the book, I'm going to change the font, so that it will have an even different appearance, because let's face it, once you've read something 15 time, you tend to gloss over parts that you "know by heart".
3. I will read it through once looking for "content" and once more looking strictly for punctuation type errors.
4. I'm going to purchase a book on grammar and punctuation usage, so I will have a reference when those annoying questions pop up such as, "should this be a comma or semi-colon".

Hopefully this will help solve at least some of the issues! Stay tuned for the release date of "Second Chance"! It should be out before Christmas.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Step Closer

This weekend I received the initial layout for "Second Chance". I almost cried just printing pages from my computer that "looked" like a book! It was absolutely overwhelming to actually see my name on the same line as "Copyright 2009". Wow...the little things!

I immediately went through each page as directed, checking for layout errors. The only ones I found were instances where the beginning of a new chapter had not been denoted. I emailed this information to my layout designer and have already heard from him that the corrections have been made.

We are practically at the end of this amazing journey now! The final step before book production (as I understand it) is this:

The layout designer will use the layout design which I have just approved to print out a single "proof" copy of "Second Chance" and mail it to me. I have this one LAST chance to proof the book, looking for other layout errors or spelling/grammar mistakes. Then I mail the book back to him, and its off to the printers!

Folks, it's really looking as if you may be able to gift your loved ones (and yourselves) with a copy of "Second Chance; a Summers Series Novel" for Christmas. How about that?!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brand New Novel

I woke up from a dream one Saturday morning, after which I immediately went to my computer and began to write it down. Ten pages later I asked myself, "is this the beginning or the end of the story?"

Along the heels of that question came several others:
*Is this part of the Summers' Saga?
I didn't really think it was, and the thought of beginning a completely new story line was both intriguing and frustrating. But I reasoned, the third book in the Summers' Saga was coming along very slowly, so perhaps it was time to put it away for a while...especially if this one was begging to be told!
*When does the story happen?
I have written only in present day thus far. This story, however, had a more historical feel to it. So instead of taxis and planes, we have buggies, wagons, and trains. The time frame is during the late 1800's. It takes place in a fictional town in the midwest.
*What are the characters' names?
Names are always very important to me. If I don't like the name of a character in the book (even if I'm reading the back cover, considering a novel for purchase), I have a hard time getting engrossed in it. The names of these characters eventually made themselves known.

Here is a small teaser. Let me know what you think!

Ella Ferguson moves to the small town of Manchester when she is ten years old to live with her Aunt Grace because her parents are struggling to feed the six children they have. Ella and her aunt form a fast bond that grows stronger as the years quickly pass.

Alec Chamberlin is the oldest son of a large family who moves to Manchester around the same time as Ella. The Chamberlins are not accepted at first, because Mrs. Chamberlin is of Spanish descent. But they quickly prove themselves to be upstanding people, hard-workers, and good Christians.

Ella and the Chamberlins' second oldest daughter, Susan, become best friends. As the girls grow up together, Ella realizes one day that Susan's pesky brother, Alec, has turned into quite a handsome young man. But she is certain he continues to see her only as his little sister's best friend.

Heart-ache, danger, and the bonds of friendship continue to throw them together. Join the story and discover if Ella and Alec ever declare their love for each other, if their feelings can survive suspicion and fear, or if even their friendship will be destroyed by factors stacked against them.

This novel is as yet untitled! I'll keep you posted on its the way...the "dream" was not the beginning of the story:)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Five Stars for "Fearless"

Max Lucado has once again produced a work that not only is biblically sound, but spiritually uplifting and timely. In short, concise chapters he tackles particular fears we all either have faced, are facing, or will deal with in the future.

Mr. Lucado uses scripture to show us how important our fears are to Jesus, and how specifically our Savior can vanquish each one. He chronicles the disciples' fear during the storm at Galilee, and parallels their reactions with our own when we face upheavals in our lives. He recreates their doubts after the crucifixion and how Jesus helped them, just as he longs to show us he is still real today.

Mr. Lucado also uses personal anecdotes to illustrate how he has dealt with particular fears, such as the fear of death and doubt. Again, the scriptures play a large part in teaching us how Jesus wants to guide us through those debilitating feelings.

I can't think of any area where fear might creep into our hearts that was left unmentioned in this book. I was touched, chastised, and brought to tears on many occasions as I realized how fear was affecting my own life. Yet each time the message of Christ's love for me, his concern for my whole being, and his ultimately perfect plan for my life came clearly through the words of Max Lucado, as he encourages us to become and remain, "Fearless".

Mr. Lucado has also provided an extremely helpful study guide at the end of the book. This can be used individually or in small groups to more deeply delve into the chapters and the corresponding scriptures in order to truly face and deal with our own personal fears.

I would recommend "Fearless" to any adult, young or old. Some part of this book will hit home with you, and hopefully help you to turn your fear over to the One who is ultimately in control, and who is certainly big enough to handle whatever it might be.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Update

"Second Chance" is now in the Layout department of Tate Publishing.

I received an email Friday letting me know what to expect during this stage of the process. In a couple of days I will receive an initial layout design. Once that is approved (by me), it will take about a month to complete the process of putting the manuscript into book format.

I will receive one "proof" copy of "Second Chance" to review and approve. Once that occurs, we should be ready for distribution!!

My prayer is still for the book to be out before Christmas. Although I do not have a set date from Tate, it seems like that prayer might be answered!

God is so good and gracious to give us the desires of our heart!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Golden Opportunity

As a teacher by calling, I tend to look for those "teachable moments" that are, by definition, not written in the lesson plan books. One such instance occurred last week.

[A little background information for those who may need it: I teach fourth grade Reading Intervention. This means I pull small groups of struggling readers for 35 minute classes. I see eight groups of students a day.]

Our story last week was about a teacher who set up a sort of scavenger hunt for her students. After they had discovered all the clues, they found her in the gym, where she had set up a "Career Day". The last words in the story were her words of advice. "Always do your best and hand in your best work. Keep trying and don't give up, and you can get any job you want."

I took that opportunity to share my own experience with perseverance. I was able to share with my students that I had decided to write a novel; that after I had finished it I thought it was really good and wanted it to be published; that I sent the book off to publishers (didn't go into the whole "literary agent" explanation), and how the first several to respond back said, "no thanks." I shared with them how those rejections hurt my feelings, but I didn't give up.

Then I showed them the cover of the novel (which is my screen saver) over the projector screen. The amazement on their faces was heartwarming. My prayer is that the next time they try out for the team, or read a hard book, or have trouble with their homework, they will remember...hard work and perseverance DO pay off!

Wouldn't it be awesome if my experience with writing a book and getting it published made a positive impact in the life of an underprivileged, academically struggling child?! Who knows what plans God has for us! My prayer is that he use me as he will.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A New Review

I just finished reading Kathleen Fuller's novel, "A Man of His Word". I have never read a book set in the Amish country, because I didn't imagine it would be very interesting. I will admit that I was delightfully surprised at how quickly I became engrossed in this story. It didn't take many pages to realize that the simple lifestyle of the Amish does not equal a dull story.

Ms. Fuller does a fine job of weaving a touching tale through lovable characters and honest emotions. She portrays the Amish way of life in a manner that truly puts the reader in that setting. Fuller's characters struggle with the same deep emotions many of us have faced in our own lives; questioning God's will during times of crisis, struggling with love, betrayal, and heartache. It was refreshing to read how these characters dealt with their troubles in a manner often foreign in our non-Amish world.

As I raced to the end of the story, trying to predict how the author would resolve the emotional and relational conflicts the characters faced, I was never bored. Although I knew what the end would be, I enjoyed the way Fuller brought the story to its conclusion.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a quick, easy read on a lazy afternoon when there are no interruptions to take one out of the world that Ms. Fuller so completely and charmingly pictures for us.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Review of Rick and Bubba's New Book

I have recently signed up to be a book reviewer with Thomas Nelson. I have just finished reading Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage.

This was a fast-paced, quick read. I found the short chapters very entertaining. Having listened to Rick and Bubba's radio show for years, reading this book was very similar to that in many ways.

I found myself laughing out loud at some point in almost every chapter. I enjoyed the various "top ten" lists, such as Rick and Bubba's Surefire Ways to Know She's the One". I discovered new insights into the way men view certain issues, in particular, "puddin' heads" and "DD (Daddy Discipline)." I was charmed by the way both men clearly adore their wives, even when discussing some of their less lovable habits (such as over-spending and having no mercy during sickness).

I often found myself nodding and smiling during the numerous stories of marital disagreements and misunderstandings. Many of these brought to mind instances in my own marriage and made me realize the common issues we all face.

However, this is not a simple "tongue-in-cheek" parody of self-help books. Nestled in the midst of the wonderful comedic anecdotes that have made Rick and Bubba famous are real gems of Godly wisdom regarding marriage and spousal relationships. The chapter R-E-S-P-E-C-T was perhaps one of my favorites. Rick and Bubba do an outstanding job of emphasizing the differences in how men and women view love, based on Paul's advice in the scriptures.

I would reccommend this book to any adult, whether you are happily married, in need of counseling, or even single and hoping to one day get married. This book is a fun read, packed with biblical truth, often disguised as "good ol' boy" wisdom.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What's In a Name?

If I had been smart, my main character's family name would have been Johnson, or Hall, or Miller...any name that doesn't end with an "s". There is a completely different set of punctuation rules for names that end with that letter! And I have been diligently trying to utilize them correctly, regardless of how odd it looks to me on paper.

So here's our language lesson for the day kiddies:

Avalin Summers (singular proper noun)
the Summerses (plural proper noun)
Avalin Summers's parents (singular possessive noun)
the Summerses' disappearance (plural possessive noun)

I have always prided myself on using grammar and punctuation correctly...I know some of you are nodding and laughing at the amount of understatement used here. For those of you less familiar, I have been called the "Grammar Police". But I must humbly admit that I have learned something new and that I'm thankful it was discovered and hopefully all the corrections made before the book hits the stores!

My editor, being the wonderfully helpful person that she is, offered the suggestion to just change the name. After all, the book hasn't been published yet. But for me that would be the equivalent of when Prince changed his name to that symbol thing, and was referred to as "the artist formerly known as Prince" for several years! That was just idiotic! Everyone knew he was Prince, it was already set in their minds. Thankfully someone knocked him back to his senses, and its not an issue any more.

The family's name is Summers. There is no other option now. I just thank God for computers. Making the appropriate punctuation and spelling corrections took a whole lot less time than it would have fifty years ago!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Surround Sound

For this final edit, my publisher suggested that I read the manuscript aloud. I arrogantly laughed at the request. Then I took a step back and remembered that she is the professional in this instance, I'm the novice.

So whenever I have found time alone (because reading aloud as an adult is pretty embarrassing, when you're not reading to an audience), I have read aloud. To my surprise and delight, it has been a completely different experience!

I have said previously (maybe not on the blog, but I know I've said it...) that writing this book was much like a movie in my mind. There were many nights that I just had to stay up late, even got out of bed, to write down the next scene that was begging to be told. Well, hearing the words aloud simply sharpened the images, sort of like adding surround sound to a DVD.

It has also helped me to find more errors, either in grammar or poor word usage. This has increased my anxiety about sending it off with the approval: "This is ready for publication." I hate it when I come across an error while reading a book. It's one of my pet peeves. And every time I read my own manuscript, I find one! Yikes!

Here's where I hope that the four of you who are reading this one last time for me will have great eyes as well. Between the five of us (six counting my editor), surely we'll find all the mistakes and present an error-free story to the public. Thanks again:)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Faithful Friends are Priceless

I wanted to take a moment to thank each of my wonderful friends! Every time I have needed someone to help in any part of the process of getting Second Chance published, I have had more than enough volunteers.

I have had people offer to read the manuscript (even unfinished and unedited) to look for typos and grammatical errors. I appreciate those of you who unapologetically circled mistakes I had made.

Several of you happily offered your opinions on the book cover choices, sharing what you liked and didn't like about each one. Your insight helped to create a cover that I absolutely love!

I am in the final stages of publication now, and when I needed someone once again to read through this last edit, no less than four of you volunteered, even though I had a deadline of only ten days to have it proof read and returned to me.

Thank you for you support. Thank you for your enthusiasm. Thank you for your friendship.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back on the Wagon

I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of getting Second Chance published...well except for all the waiting...but that's another post. I finished the manuscript rather quickly, and was so engrossed in the characters that the second book was also finished in roughly six weeks.

Now June and July have passed, with edits required on SC, decisions to be made on the cover, marketing tips to be started. I have been busy with other summer projects as well as the book.

I woke up this morning and thought, "I haven't written anything in a long time."

I began working on the third novel shortly after completing the second one...again I think it was momentum. But life and other responsibilities have kept me away from the story for two months. So I have to get back on the wagon and begin writing again.

Jaden is begging to have his story told! Wish me luck:)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I am trying to get ahead of the game.

Thanks to the invaluable advice of another Tate author, I have begun to think of ways to advertise my book. I'm not naive enough to believe it will sell 5000 copies on its own. I realize I'll have to put a lot of effort into selling it (which is not my favorite part of this process, by the way).

So, at the advice of my new friend, I visited a marvelous website: They sell everything from banners to business cards, magnets to t-shirts. If you want it, they have it. The great thing about this company is that they offer free products. Last week I ordered business cards, a stamper, a pen, and a car magnet. Each had my name and website information on them, and all I had to pay was shipping. They arrived today.

This week they offered free shipping on anything over $30. So in addition to more freebies, I ordered address labels, notecards, a banner, notepads, and more business cards. And all of these have the book cover for "Second Chance" printed on them as well!

I'm ready to advertise...and the book hasn't even been published yet. But hopefully people will see these and will think about going online and ordering it once it arrives!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Cover is Here!

Wow! My graphic designer is so awesome! After being out of town for a week, he was back at work today, had emailed me by 9:00 am to say he would be working on the changes I suggested.
I had the cover revision by 5:00 pm.

I've posted it at the side of the blog. We have to fix the subtitle. It should read "Summers'" instead of "Summer's"...but I wanted you all to see it as soon as possible.

Feel free to leave comments and let me know what your thoughts are about the end result!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cover Designs

I am extremely excited about this coming week. By Friday I should have the finished, approved cover design for Second Chance!

A couple of weeks ago, my designer sent me three choices, all of which were unique, and had different appealing characteristics. I immediately printed each choice, took them to church with me (it was a Wednesday night) and asked all of my friends' opinions.

Most of the people at church had heard about the fact that I was writing a novel, but none of them had read the manuscript. I received varied opinions, but more people liked the second choice than any other.

Next I began to email copies of the choices to my friends who had read the drafts. Without a doubt, each of them said they liked choice number three (some suggested minor changes to it, however.)

This was an interesting dilemma for me. Did I go with the second choice that appealed to people who had no idea what the book was about? Or should I choose the third option, which seemed to match the book the best, according to those who knew the story?

I decided to trust my cover designer, who felt the the third choice was the "strongest" option. However, I wasn't completely sold on parts of the design. So I emailed him with these suggestions: I wanted to go with the third choice, but change the font of the title, add a subtitle, and change the background colors to resemble a sunrise. (The background was very pale, and I thought vibrant colors would attract attention on a book shelf. Plus, dawn is a recurring element in the story.)

Now for those of you who have not seen the choices, I apologize for this seemingly senseless rant. I am posting this to give those who have seen the choices and voiced their opinions the "news" of what I decided to do.

As soon as my designer sends me the final design, it will be posted for all to see!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The second scariest situation I have survived thus far in this process has been the thought of dealing with an editor.

Don't misunderstand me.

I respect my editor. She has been absolutely supportive and enthusiastic in all of our discussions. At this point I truly hope that she will be my editor for the next books as well.

But turning over my manuscript to someone I had never met, knowing they were going to scrutinize it, and not sure if they would even like it was rather nerve-wracking. By the time my editor, Hannah Tranberg, saw the manuscript it had already been read (and wonderfully approved of) by at least eleven people. Of course these were all friends I trusted, who had asked to read the book, and whose opinion on several elements I had asked for and received favorable answers. They did a wonderful job of feeding my enthusiasm for the manuscript, as well as my ego:)

But this was different. I had never met this person. I trusted that she was a professional and would know her stuff. That wasn't really the fear I had.

I'm not exactly sure why this was such a gut-wrenching process. Perhaps it was because I had to wait a month to find out what she thought. But I think it had more to do with the fact that this was a stranger. She had no personal ties to me that would color her perception when reading this book. She actually represented the "readers" I hope to attract.

I know (or at least believe) that my friends will buy this book. Many have told me they can't wait to get a copy. I am so thankful for each one of you.

Realistically, however, if I want to continue to be an author, I need more than my friends to fall in love with my books. So as I waited the four weeks to hear Hannah's opinion, I was also waiting to hear if I was good enough. Had I really written a novel that would speak to, pull at the heart strings of, and be enjoyed by others? Her opinion of my novel would not only be a reflection of the manuscript, it would be a reflection of me...and that fear of rejection is very deeply ingrained in my psyche.

Did I mention that I respect my editor?

Her initial response was exactly what I needed. She loved the story. She enjoyed the characters and the plot twists, and the way God was incorporated into it. She also did her job well. There were three or four issues that she suggested I address. So I knew she wasn't just "rubber stamping" a manuscript to get it published because the author had made an investment with her company. It took me two weeks to go through and make the changes she suggested.

Now she gets to look over those and my hope is that she will approve. We have worked together well. I believe she has helped me to produce an end product that is even better than the original!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Internal Debate

I didn't set out to write a "Christian" novel. This was one of the great personal conflicts I dealt with during the writing of "Second Chance".

I wanted to write a romantic suspense...a "clean" romantic suspense. I have read many in which I loved the plot, the characters, even the comedic dialogue in some of them, but so many were proliferated with such language that I had a difficult time.

So I wanted my novel to be readable by people who would appreciate the lack of more "colorful" language.

On the flip side, I feared that if I touted a Christian novel, it would immediately put a stigma on the book, and turn off some people. Let's face it, I wanted to reach as many readers as possible if I was going to have a book published.

Then halfway through the novel, issues within the plot began to arise. And I simply could not have the characters continue to try to deal with these issues without turning to God for help. It's just something I personally do, and after all, isn't writing an extension of oneself? It is for me, anyway.

I also began to be burdened with the question, "If I don't honor God in the book, how can I ask Him to bless it?" At this point my father, who has been one of my heroes in the faith for many years, made a point to tell me this: Sometimes we can use our gifts to gain recognition, then give glory to God through our actions. He used the example of Christian athletes. While I understood his point, it didn't resolve my issues within the book itself.

So what did I decide?

My characters turned to God. Not because it would make a good impression on my Christian friends. Not because I could say, "this is a Christian novel". Not because I was using a Christian publisher, or because it might gain me speaking engagements with Christian organizations. It was because that was what the characters should do.

In times of crisis, we who know the Lord, usually turn to Him. Even people who only know of the Lord and have no personal relationship often cry out to Him for help in those extreme circumstances. And sometimes, God uses those events in our lives to draw us closer to Him. I know he has done it for me personally. It certainly made a difference in the lives of my characters.

So I still say that my book is a romantic suspense novel. Many who read it will enjoy it for that fact alone. And that's okay.

My prayer is that God will use this book to remind some of us that He is always there, even in the midst of troubles. Even when we have been so angry with Him that we have rejected His presence. And perhaps He will bring someone back to Him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Tate?

I have not really been asked this question much. Most of my friends are so delighted for me, that they haven't questioned why I chose to go with this publisher. The question I am most often asked is "how did you find them?". That is a much easier one to answer: "Through the web."

But I asked myself the "why Tate" question for several weeks.

When I first felt that I had a manuscript ready for submission (remember the 48,000 words?), I naively began to search for publishing companies to send it to. Tate was one of the first to "pop up" as a company who eagerly sought out new authors. They accepted finished and unfinished manuscripts for submission. Their only stipulation was no extreme language or sexual content. My manuscript didn't have either of those elements, so I thought I would submit to them, and see what happened.

That was in February.

In the meantime, I began doing more research, and read that having a literary agent was the way to go. Most publishers didn't accept nonpublished authors, and an agent would have the knowledge of the business to help me get to a publisher. So I began to investigate agents. The frustrating part of this was that different agents have different submission requirements. Some just wanted a query letter (another round of research on what that was ensued), others wanted the first few pages along with a synopsis of the book.

Let me pause here and say that I'd rather have a root canal than have to write another book synopsis. But I managed to spit one out, painfully.

I sent in submissions to seven different agents. Four responded with a very kind, "your book is not what we're looking for" rejection letter.

During all of this, remember that I was also adding to my manuscript and editing it daily.

I also received offers from Vanity Press and Dorrance Publishing, but upon further investigation, knew I did not want to go that way. These are publishing companies you pay to print your book. That's marketing, no editing, no help.

I was trying to convince myself not to get discouraged. After all, many authors received many more rejection letters than I had. Friends were reading my book and loving it! I had a "waiting" list of people who wanted to read the rough draft. It had to be good, right?

Then one day, I received an email from Janey Hayes at Tate Publishing, congratulating me on being selected. They wanted to publish me! After my heart started beating again, I knew I would have to find out all I could about them before making my decision.

I began to read online chat threads with the subject "Tate Publishing". Tate didn't have a very good reputation with the 'watercooler talkers'. Basically the main complaint was that Tate asks for an author contribution (which cause traditional publishers to immediately cry "subsidy publisher" and "vanity press"). I will admit that the contribution was not a small one, and it was a concern for me. I began to weigh the pros and cons.

I was finally swayed to go with Tate because of three reasons:
1. Tate is a Christian company, has won awards for their service, has an A+ rating with the BBB, and was voted "the best place to work" in OK. (They couldn't be scam artists with those credentials.)
2. Along with the contribution Tate asks from its authors, it promises to contribute 5x's the amount of money. They also offer editing, cover design, and a market representative for the life of my book. Plus, once 5000 copies of my book are sold, I will receive a full reimbursement of my investment.
3. This was the chance of a lifetime. How many people can say that their dreams can come true with a "little money"? As my mother pointed out, if I let this opportunity pass by, in two years I would certainly look back with regret. I didn't want to live with a bunch of "what ifs".

So I bit the bullet, signed the contract, sent in the check, and this journey has been incredible so far!

Monday, July 20, 2009

To Subtitle or Not To Subtitle

I've never been a huge fan of subtitles. They always seemed extraneous to me. My opinion has been, if the title is great enough, why do you need more explanation?

So when asked by my editor, in a list of questions, if I was going to have a subtitle for this book, I immediately answered, "No". That was a few months ago...

I have recently made the acquaintance of another Tate author, Elaine Littau, who graciously sent me a long list of "Marketing Tips". One of those tips suggested having a subtitle, especially if your book is part of a series.

So I started thinking, "Should I add one, or not?" I posed the question to my editor (who is awesome, BTW). One issue I had was that I had no idea what I should "name" the series! Another was that same old question, was it really necessary? But she was completely on board, and had actually been thinking we needed to add one as well.

Now we are simply waiting for my cover designer to get back in town, to find out if it's too late to add "Book One of the Summers Saga" to the cover.

I'll keep you posted:)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Starting the the Middle

I have created this blog in order to chronicle the journey from passionate writer to published author. I should have begun this months ago, hence the name of the article.

My New Year's Resolution was to write a novel. I know, sounds cheesy, and presumptuous. But on several "goal" lists I created over the years, "publishing a book" was always on the list. So this year, I decided, "by golly" I was going to do it.

My journey began with characters. I spent several days dreaming up who was going to be in this novel, and trying to make them as real as possible. Once I had my characters, the next step was a plot...much easier said than done!

As has often been the case with my writing (always short stories until now), the actual writing comes from a "scene" that forms in my imagination. In this case, a snow storm. The snow storm had nothing to do with the plot of the story, but was a wonderful way to introduce the characters, and begin with a "bang". After that initial scene, it took several days to decide where my story was going from there.

Not wanting to give EVERYTHING away, I will let you read the book (shameless plug). Fastforward several weeks. I felt I had a pretty good manuscript. It had great characters, an intriguing plot, several twists, suspense, and romance. It was 48,000 words. I began to research different publishing companies' submission guidelines and discovered, that my "pretty good manuscript" was way too short!

So I stepped back, cut the ending, added a whole new dimension, and another 50,000 words.

I also found out that my protagonist was in the wrong agency to be working overseas...but I REALLY didn't want him to be CIA, although for about three weeks he was. I did some further investigation and found a loophole. FBI agents do work overseas, with international organizations. They simply don't have any jurisdiction, meaning they couldn't make an arrest. I could live with that. My hero was once again with the FBI.

I was ready to submit my manuscript. Through online searching, I discovered Tate Publishing. To make a long, and boring story short, by March, I had signed with them and was on the way to becoming a published author!

In the meantime I was so excited, I began work on the second novel, "Third Time Around." It was "finished" by the end of May.

In June, "Second Chance" began the editing process. It spent a month with a lady who scoured it for grammatical and syntactical errors. After that it was sent to "conceptual editing". After another month I received my manuscript back with my editor's comments. We are still in the middle of the back and forth process. It is scheduled to be concluded by August 15th. In the meantime, I have worked with a cover designer, and we should have the final cover approved by the end of July.

As I said before, I have started in the middle. From here, however, I hope to keep you up to date with shorter articles, letting you know step-by-step how this process is working. I hope you will walk with me, and enjoy the story as much as I have!