Posts Tagged: Tip of the Spear

Don’t Stifle the Creative Genius!

There are a lot of debates about writing styles. Are you a plotter or a pantser? This is one of those I hear most often. I think I’m a combination, depending on the book I’m writing. I come up with ideas from several places and my creative mind takes over. I can’t fully be a pantser, or my books would have no purpose or cohesiveness. They would wander from scene to scene without ever accomplishing a plot.

As I found out this week, I can’t fully be a plotter either. I generally start off by outlining a book – especially my mysteries. I need to have an idea of where the story is going. The evidence and innuendo needs to be set up so that it comes together at the end. I generally have an idea of who committed the crime before I start writing, though sometimes the characters talk back and let me know it wasn’t them.

Well, I’ve been writing book 4 in the Tip of the Spear series and I started with an idea for the occupation of one of the characters. I was determined that this character had to have this occupation. I researched what that would entail, how much money he would make, the restrictions he would face, etc. I’ve been working on this book for a few weeks, but over the last week, I’ve been stuck. No matter how I tried to tie the events together, it just didn’t work. I rewrote sections, I tried to mentally rearrange events to make them fit. I wore myself out trying to defend my decision that this character had to have this occupation. Finally, I put the book aside for a few days and let the ideas swirl – and came to the decision that he just couldn’t be what I wanted him to be. And you know what? The story started flowing furiously!

My conclusion: don’t stifle the Creative Genius!

Writing Erotica

JM & MFIf you have followed my blog at all, you’ve probably heard me mention Marie Force a time or two. I started as a HUGE fan of her work – I even went to her first Reader Weekend in Rhode Island where I got to meet her. I was a total fan girl! I had just started my journey on becoming an author. My goals at that time were to write and publish one book in that year…you’ve heard me talk about how that went…

Fast forward to today. Marie recently gave an interview on what it’s like to write erotic novels for a living and in addition to being a fan girl and reading it, I also related as an author. Now, I’m far from an erotic author – in fact, by most standards, I’m really tame. But I could definitely understand the reactions she encountered from people who knew her when she published her first erotic novel (Virtuous – in the Quantum Series – an excellent book/series). I was born and bred in the Bible Belt – we simply don’t talk about such things. And we definitely don’t admit to reading them! Imagine the surprise from the people who know me when they picked up the first Tip of the Spear book!

I published my first romantic suspense novel, In the Shadows, in March of 2015. This was the first of what will be six (possibly seven) books in the Tip of the Spear series. I will admit that I had to be totally alone to write the first sex scene of my career. I’ve yet to progress to being able to dictate one… When it was finished, I re-read it and thought it was not too bad. There wasn’t anything too graphic. I avoided all the weird words for body parts that drive me nuts as a reader. Overall, I thought it walked the line between too much and leaving you wanting more.

Then my family read it…

My aunt was the first to call me. Thankfully this conversation took place over the phone. All she said was she had gotten to “that part” in the book. She was surprised that something like that came from me – the good girl of the family. I think I turned five shades of red. Really, I don’t know why I was embarrassed. I mean everybody has sex, don’t they?

Then my mother called. Thankfully I live in a different state. She said, “Julie Louise (in the south, pulling out the middle name is dangerous…), I cannot believe chapter sixteen!” We now use “chapter sixteen” as a euphemism to warn about upcoming questionable content. I’m just thankful that she hasn’t read the Devil Mountain Shifter series!

I’m still not sure why they found it so shocking. But I do know that if I ever venture into anything more steamy, I’ll be using a pen name!

Cover Art

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.

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FtoK thumbnailFree 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?

blog pic

Goofing around during the photo shoot for the In The Wind cover.

Ryan Bukowski

Ryan Bukowski, my cover artist and photographer

 

Comments: the good, the bad, the ugly

review

Thanks Nancy!

One thing I continually hear from other beginner authors is the difficulty in getting reader reviews. There isn’t a good or proven strategy in getting readers to leave feedback – good, bad or ugly. I’m finding myself in the same boat. Comments do so much for an author. They get the word out on what readers really think of a story. They boost an author’s visibility. They allow an author access to certain publicity sites – like Bookbub. Without feedback from you, an author doesn’t stand a chance at getting his/her name out there. Ratings and comments from readers can make or break an author.

Personally, I read every comment made every one of my books. So far that hasn’t been many… I look forward to the day when there are too many to keep up with. With that being said, thank you to all of you who have left a comment or rating. Please spread the word and encourage others to do the same. If you have read one of my books and haven’t left feedback, please do so – even if you didn’t like it. I love hearing from you and would love to know what you think!

 

Book Sales

TOS#3 - Cover Hi Res (1)It’s been a few weeks since In the Wind came out and I am continually surprised when I check my sales information and see results. I started this journey simply because I enjoy writing so much, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to see that people are reading my books. I love that my readership continues to grow and I would just like to say a huge THANK YOU!!!! to all of you who have purchased In the Wind.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it, grab your copy here:

Kindle
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Three Years and Counting…

My friend, Michelle, and I sat down three years ago and had a conversation about where we wanted to go with our careers. Both of us were in jobs that didn’t really call to us. They paid the bills and paid the bills and provided health benefits – you know, the things people want and need to feel secure. But the long-term prospects for those jobs just weren’t satisfying. Instead of letting this conversation become a ‘woe is me’ pity party, we decided to set goals – with time limits and action steps. My goal for that first year was to write and publish one book. Looking back, that was a very naïve and uninformed decision – good thing I’m adaptable.

During the first year, I went to two conferences, signed up for many courses on self-publishing, and started researching the success of some of my favorite authors. Not only did I learn how much more was involved in being a self-published author, I finished not one, but four books. I had headshots taken, got a website up and running, joined several social media platforms, and, yes, published my first book.

Year two brought some major changes to my personal life. I spent several months in transition between day jobs and finally ended up with a job that is perfect for accommodating my second career. I can now leave work at work and go home to spend my evenings and weekends writing.

The third year is coming to a close with my 40th birthday in June. My original goal wasn’t to become a successful, self-supporting author. It was to see if my books had gained traction and, more importantly, if I still enjoyed the process. I’ve worked in the professional world for over 20 years, and the last thing I want is to be pursuing something that doesn’t bring me joy. So, what have I decided, you ask? I love writing! It still fulfills me every time I sit down at a computer. I love dreaming up new stories. I’ve discovered that even something that I do for fun can strike a chord with a reader. Putting in humor has become easier. And, I’m almost over the embarrassment when my parents read an intimate scene that I’ve written…not sure that will ever go away completely!

Blue TempestWhat about my friend Michelle? Well, she too has made adjustments to her day job. She’s expanded her art to several retail spaces around town, started her own social media campaign (in addition to running mine…), and sold several paintings/mixed media art pieces. If you’d like to see her talent, take a look at the photo attached to this blog – it’s one of many of her pieces I’ve purchased.

We might not be successful by society’s definition, but we made it! We’ve set out to do what we outlined. And we’re going to continue to grow and expand and adapt and learn. Most importantly, we’re going to keep creating. Because that’s what brings joy.

Giving Thanks

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.

IMG_0027There 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!

The men from Tip of the Spear are back!

Sneak peak of image for book cover! Photo by Ryan Bukowski

Sneak peak of image for book cover!
Photo by Ryan Bukowski

As promised, the men from Tip of the Spear are back! In the Dark is coming September 1, 2015. Just in time for Labor Day vacation!!

Avery Powell has a problem – well really, someone has a problem with her. After discovering dead flowers and a cryptic note on her front porch, she turns to the one person she knows will keep her safe – Jeremy McCall. She has been chasing after him for more than a decade. Despite his continual rejection, she knows that under all that armor beats a heart made for her.

Jeremy is a founding partner in the investigative firm Tip of the Spear and best friends with Avery’s brother. He has silently been in love with Avery for eleven years – since the first time he laid eyes on her. The last thing he’ll allow is for any harm to come to her, even if he can’t claim her as his own. But can he keep his emotions out of the picture long enough to keep her safe? Or will he give in to those forbidden desires and make them both happy?

Taking this case will light a match, but will the inferno ignite the sparks, or will it consume them?

Keep checking back for sneak peeks in the coming weeks.

 

Meet Adala Reger

Four score and seven years ago…okay, not that long, but sometimes it sure feels that way.

Let’s try again.

Once upon a time…well, this isn’t a fairytale…unless you like people who turn into monsters…so maybe it is a fairytale.

Several years back I had four very good friends decide to have opinion on what I should read. Jenny pestered me to read this book she was finishing simply because I said, “I don’t like books with vampires and werewolves.” Boy was I wrong…

Over the last several years, I occasionally picked up other books involving vampires and werewolves, not together, of course. I have discovered that I still don’t like vampires…werewolves, on the other hand – definitely my thing.

full-moon-460314_1280I have discovered a love for shapeshifter romances. Who knew?! Bear shifters are my favorite and I now have several authors from whom I anxiously await new releases.

On a separate note, that I will connect back to this if you have patience through my rambling, I love anything related to WWII. Now, I was never a history buff. In fact, I hated anything to do with history, especially memorizing dates – ironic when you consider that my pay-the-bills profession is numbers related. But as I have grown older, I have discovered a sincere interest in the things that have happened in this world before me – just don’t ask me the dates they happened!

This past year marked the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust and I was addicted toany and all coverage that I could find. Such a travesty from those years. The waste of human life. The poisoning of generations. The effects of what happened there have trickled down.

That all got me thinking: we have several documentaries that have tracked what happened to the Jews who survived, but what about the Germans? Sure, those that were arrested and tried for crimes have been documented, but there were several others who played a part in the atrocities that were never convicted of wrong doing. But their evil remained.

So, just as a creative project, I decided to look at what happened to some of these people after the war and how it has impacted today’s generation. The result was a novella about shapeshifters. I let a friend read the story and she loved it. I have to say I had so much fun writing it that I decided to release it.

But then a second character stood up and howled (yes, he is a wolf) that he deserved attention too. So, now I am writing a second part of what I think (characters permitting) will be a trilogy of shapeshifter romance novellas.
The first book, tentatively titled Only Wolf will be arriving in September.

Adala Reger is searching for answers. Her parents were killed in an automobile accident that should have claimed her too. But somehow she survived. Now she is left on her own wondering how and why she turns into a wolf. To make matters worse, she is getting weaker. No longer able to work, and with the insurance money from her parents running out, she heads to Alaska – toward the only clue in her parents left her as to her real identity and destiny.

Dirk has taken over as the leader of the pack of shifters on the Seward peninsula in Northwest Alaska. Struggling to keep his clan safe is his number one priority, especially with the neighboring pack constantly threatening their borders. When Adala arrives, the last thing he expects is to find his mate.

Can they survive the invasions? Does Adala’s past hold answers to why the neighboring pack is attacking?

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. But never fear, Katie and Michael will be returning in December with the answers you have been waiting for concerning Katie’s past. And the crew from Tip of the Spear will be returning in September with Jeremy and Avery’s story. Look for inside peeks and previews in the weeks to come!

Julie

In the Shadows – Tip of the Spear Book One

Check out the first book in my Tip of the Spear Series.

Jessica Ross is on the verge of achieving her dreams until one poor decision threatens to derail everything she has wTOS---3dorked so hard for. Now on the run from her ex-boyfriend, will she have to give up everything in order to survive?

Jason Powell has everything he ever wanted. After years in the military, he lives life on his own terms. Now a partner in a private investigation firm, his job allows him to travel to exotic places and he has his pick of women – what more could he ask for? Then he meets Jessica and his world is turned upside down.

Can Jason protect Jessica from her ex-boyfriend while also accepting his feelings for her? Can Jessica trust her growing feelings for Jason, or is she convinced that they exist because he is her savior? Will these two live to see a happily ever after, or will the danger hiding in the shadows take everything away?

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Nook
Kobo
Paperback

Thanks so much for reading! If you read In the Shadows, I’d love it if you would leave a review on the platform where you purchased my book.

Best,
Julie