Well, Katie Freeman #5 is in the hands of my beta-readers! Yay! I spent the weekend taking a break and having a little fun. While they were doing the hard work, I was splashing in the pool with my nieces and nephews – they had the tough job of reading about Katie Freeman’s latest case and giving feedback.
Beta readers are an important part of my process. It’s through them that I know whether or not my book hits all the buttons that I intended. They tell me if something is off, or doesn’t flow, or just doesn’t fit. Sometimes, they say, “Are you sure you want to say that, it doesn’t make sense?”
Basically, they keep me in touch with reality. It’s thanks to them that I have a story without major holes. They have a very different job than an editor, but one that is just as important. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Well, my beta readers are my village – they raise my “children” to higher standards and help make them the books they become. So, here’s a huge THANK YOU to Michelle, Sarah, Nancy, Laura, and Dana – I couldn’t do this without you!
I’ve had a rough two weeks. I’m sure all of you all can relate – more to be done than there are hours in the day? My pay-the-bills job has been over-the-top for the past few weeks – I hired two new employees who report directly to me, so I have to train them. We had a board meeting and then I had to prepare for facilitating a two-day seminar. All of that while still staying on top of Katie Freeman #5.
Good news: the book is written!
Slightly less good news: It’s in the editing stages. Whoa can editing be a chore. I’m not one to edit as I go. Some authors do, but I get so bogged down and change the story line too many times. So I do a full version and then go back and attack. Sometimes that’s good – I have a whole manuscript to look at. Other times, that’s bad – I have a major mistake that will require rewriting major portions of the plot…but that’s how I do things.
What I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that self-care is very important. I didn’t do a good job of it and as a result was completely exhausted this weekend. So, I decided to treat myself. I took a float out to the pool on Sunday and the most strenuous thing I did all day was roll over. I’m slightly burned…but much more relaxed. Now I can finish Katie Freeman and get her newest escapade out to you!
Who knew the process of publishing a book was so involved? When I started this dream, I thought, “Hmmm, I’ll just write and put it out there.” Wow, was that ever wrong! There’s writing, revising, editing, sending it to beta readers and an editor…and that’s just the book. Then there’s the website, social media, and book covers. Whew, it can be exhausting.
Now, there are several sites out there that offer pre-made book covers, and some of them are pretty good. But I happened to have a friend who is a really talented photographer and graphic artist. I can describe to him exactly what I have in mind and he makes it 100% better than I could have imagined. And then there are the times he just creates a masterpiece from his own thoughts.
Free to Kill in the Katie Freeman series was the first book I completed and published. It was also the first time I had to actually think of what to do for a cover. Michelle (my social media guru), Ryan and I sat down to begin brainstorming. I gave them a pretty in depth description of the book and what I had in mind. Ryan asked what the church I envisioned looked like, so I started searching online. I found a church in a small town in Kentucky that was PERFECT! But who had the time or money to go to Kentucky? So I started looking for similar architecture in Tennessee. I found the church on the cover of Free to Kill in downtown Nashville – and BONUS! it even had the red door!! The only problem was that it was on a weird street corner with traffic all around and electrical wires obscuring every view. But Ryan took his camera and somehow made the church look like it was in the rural setting from the story. It was the first time I realized what a master he was behind the lens.
From that time on, we have worked to build a theme between the books in a series. This was something I didn’t really think about in the beginning. Take a second to go look at the covers of your favorite book series. Do you see a similarity? That’s called Branding – and it’s vitally important. Who knew!?
With this information, Katie Freeman covers had a color scheme and a main attraction – that was always red. In Free to Kill, it was the door. In Free to Deceive, it was the fountain. In Free to Live, it was the front door of the house (Ryan actually had this cover designed before I published book 2, but it was so perfect for book 3, that we held off on using it). I can’t wait to see what it is in Free to Believe – book four (no release date yet, but shooting for June…).
The same theory applied to the Devil Mountain Shifters books that I released in October. They all had the same mountains in the background and the same physical look.
The Tip of the Spear series was a little trickier. I said from the beginning that I wanted the large spear on the cover with the main image in the center. Ryan still argues with me to change that, and one day I might let him win. But changing that now would mean redoing all the covers so that they are consistent. I think both he and I struggle more with the Tip covers than any other. He sends me beautiful first drafts that would be sufficient if I used them. But there’s just something that doesn’t hit right. He’s become a mind reader when I say “there’s just something not right about it.” One thing I’ve learned is to actually tell him when something doesn’t sit right. That’s a difficult thing to do for a person who hates to make waves. I’m one of those people who will never send food back in a restaurant, just because I don’t want to upset anyone. I’ve had to adjust that mentality for my books. After all, these are my babies. If I don’t speak up for them, who will?
I am so excited for the release of the third installment in the Katie Freeman Mysteries: Free to Live. For all of you who have followed this series from the beginning, get ready to find out what happened to Charlene Stephens. You first met Charlene in the prologue of Free to Kill, book one. You’ve gotten glimpses of her story throughout both book one and book two. Who is she? Did she kill her husband? How will these answers impact Katie? I hope you are as excited to find the answers as I was go write them for you!
Just to get you ready, I’m giving you the first look at the cover for this book, coming out one week from today. My fantastic cover artist, Ryan Bukowski, outdid himself this time. So, get ready to step through the door into the past, but keep an eye out for all the ramifications that will ricochet through the characters lives today.
In America, this week is for giving thanks. That is sometimes difficult to do, especially with all that is going on in the world. The recent terrorist attacks show us a dark side of humanity. Instead of dwelling on all the negative things going on in the world this week, take a minute to hug your family and pull them close.
I was fortunate this past weekend to have Thanksgiving lunch with my grandmother and all my aunts, uncles, and extended family on my mother’s side. I spent an entire day over the stove – baking, roasting, cooking, mashing, and all that comes with making a huge meal. But I was able to do it one more time for my grandmother, and that makes it worth it.
My grandmother taught me to bake and make a meal large enough for an army. We spent several years in a row in her kitchen while I cooked and she supervised. Sure, after the first year I could have done it by myself – but where was the fun in that? My grandmother has been in failing health for several years, and this past year she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. We honestly didn’t think she would be with us for another holiday season. So when it came time to celebrate with the family, I was more than happy to be able to cook her a meal.
There were five generations present at lunch this year. The picture here is of the oldest and youngest of the generations. I am so thankful to have family to hold close.
This year has been full of changes. New job, new friends, new house. It has also brought sadness. The loss of some people I held dear. Through it all, I had family and friends that never stopped supporting me. I was able to publish six books this year, with a seventh coming in December. I have also reached a larger number of fans than I could have anticipated.
All of this to say THANK YOU! Thank you to all of you who have purchased and read my books, whether it was Katie Freeman, Tip of the Spear, or Devil Mountain Shifters. I started this journey to let the characters in my head have a voice and you all have surpassed my expectations with the response to my books.
So even if you are not in America, take the opportunity this week to express your thanks or appreciation to those who make your life whole. Then curl up with a good book and celebrate all you have accomplished in 2015!