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!