Although client work has been light this week, I've been working hard on the next book due for publication: Russian Revival. It's in my editor's hands now. I look forward to seeing what she does with the manuscript, because her insights and comments help me produce a better story each and every time.
I hired a cover artist for Russian Revival. We're going in a bit of a different direction. Yes, the cover art will still align with genre expectations, but I don't want the cover art to be lost amid a sea of similar covers. So ... we're going with actual art, not just a stock photo with the author's name and the book's title slapped over it. The cover artist, Drew Robinson of Spork Design, has produced the most lovely charcoal drawing. In his words, "I’m really lik[ing] the texture and composition and texture on this. It accentuates her innocence and his shadowy past."
Once the cover is finalized, Drew will create the cover art for the rest of the series. I look forward to seeing what he'll produce. By the way, the cover art absolutely blows my budget out of the water, but I believe the results will be totally worth the extra expense. (And if you're looking for a dynamite cover artist, I cannot recommend anyone more highly!)
I've drafted a new cover blurb: you know, that sales copy that goes on the back cover of the book. Amazon calls it a book description. The blurb is now in the hands of a publicist to revise or rewrite. She also has a synopsis of the book, because you can't write a cover blurb without knowing what happens in the book.
Russian Revival is due for release on January 15, 2023. Stay tuned!
Next in the queue is the sequel to Triple Burn. In this book, I introduce a new alien species, the Ahn'hudi. I envision them as a venomous, ophidian-like race. (Is ophidian a new word for you? Look it up!) As per the sub-genre's tropes, the heroes (the plural is deliberate) are dominant types who coddle their mate—regardless of whether she wants to be coddled. It's up to her to establish herself as competent adult with her own thoughts and opinions. That's where the conflict comes in. Everybody loses something important, but the trick is to make what they gain worth that loss. (Yes, like Triple Burn, it's a polyamorous romance. If that's not your thing, try something else.)
This manuscript has been somewhat problematic for me, because the characters are determined to write themselves into a deep dark hole. I have decided not to rescue them by deleting a large portion of the story and rewriting it so that it progresses as I intended. What I am going to do is let them dig that hole and continue digging, but I'll redirect them so that the hole becomes a tunnel which, at the end of the book, will erupt from the side of the mountain into daylight. Redemption and the truism that life has no do-overs are running themes throughout many of my books; this will be no different.
I hope to release this book in early March 2023. I still don't have a good title for it, but am thinking of Doubleheader, Double Play, or Douple Dip. I want to stick with the first book's titling terminology (except double instead of triple, second word up for grabs). If you have a suggestion for an M/F/M alien romance, feel free to contribute. If I use it, you'll get the credit for it.
Finally, I hope to have Champion of the Twin Moons ready for release by midsummer. This book will be a good deal longer than either Russian Revival or Double-whatever.
After a 2-year hiatus, I need to be productive again.
After finishing Knight of the Twin Moons (book #4 in the Twin Moons Saga), I started three new manuscripts:
I've only got one chapter—maybe two—to go on the third manuscript which will be titled Russian Revival.
Working Book Blurb
Here's a quick summary of the story. This is where I'm starting with the back cover blurb:
Former concert violinist Evelina lives under WITSEC protection because her testimony sent ex-boyfriend Carlos Farillo. Carlos wants revenge. Getting out of prision early gives him that opportunity sooner rather than later.
Inessa alerts her cousin to the danger and persuades her husband, Giovanni, to extend his protection. Giovanni dispatches his underboss, Ciro Mancini, to Cleveland, Tennessee with two assignments: expand the Maglione territory as the new capo of southern Tennessee and protect his wife's cousin from the Farillo cartel. Shortly after arriving, Ciro realizes the cartel already knows where Evelina has been hiding and has been keeping an eye on her for Carlos.
Attracted to the pretty violinist, Ciro decides that changing her identity once again by giving her the Mancini name will not only help to conceal her but will also cement the Maglione mob's protection over her. Not at all enthusiastic about the idea, Evelina agrees to his scheme after her apartment is invaded. And off they go to Las Vegas for a quick wedding.
The journey to Las Vegas puts Ciro in another mob boss' territory. That boss happens to be the father of Lorenzo Iscarus, a world renowned concert pianist. Lorenzo's father entertains ideas of having musical prodigies for grandchildren, which puts Ciro in danger and compounds Evelina's peril, assuming Lorenzo falls in line with his father's aspirations.
Evelina wavers between wanting to return to the stage and wanting to return to the relative obscurity of being a landscaper. She soon finds herself depending upon her husband and succumbs to her attraction to him. Ciro struggles with protecting the wife with whom he's quickly falling in love, saving his own skin, and building a business to expand his boss' empire.
Will they neutralize the threats against them without igniting a mob war?
The Process of Publishing
Writing the book is only completion of the first big step in the publishing process. Once I get that last chapter (or two) drafted, I go back to the beginning. I'll review the manuscript, self-edit, "machine" edit, and revise. Then the document will go off to my wonderful editor, Cindy Draughon.
When she has finished editing the manuscript, it's back to the beginning to address her recommended changes. That's something a lot of people don't realize: the editor suggests changes. Nothing the editor does is set in stone; however, since I'm paying for her professional expertise, I'd be remiss in not giving every suggestion thorough consideration. I generally accept anywhere between 75 to 95 percent of her changes. I truly appreciate her insight when she points out where my plot drops the proverbial ball or when what I've written makes no sense. I ask for candor: "Don't worry about hurting my feelings. Let's get this right."
In the meantime, I'll be getting a front cover professionally designed. With this book, I will likely have new covers for the entire series done, budget willing.
Of course, there's formatting: the interior pages of the book have to look good and read well, too. And, last but not least, there's marketing. Expect to see a lot more promotion of this book in the coming weeks. I will, of course, announce here, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter when it goes up for pre-order. The pre-order price will be discounted, so take advantage of that opportunity while you can!
There's nothing scientific about my observations and the conclusions I draw, but I've come to rely on these insights to inform decisions about which events work best for registering as a vendor.
My books (and paintings) do best with an eclectic crowd. I've noticed that at such events as the Beech Grove Artists' Collective Art Walk in Beech Grove, Indiana and the Clifton Gorge Arts & Music Festival. These are "country-style" arts and crafts events where it's okay to be a little different, but not necessarily avant garde. My work tends to be a little too traditional or tame for events that celebrate the outrageous and avante garde. This was made evident at Art on Vine where passersby praised the paintings as beautiful, but few were so persuaded by that appeal to purchase them. That doesn't mean I'm going to change what I write or what I paint, but it may help me focus on what to stock.
The economy also plays a huge role. The well-heeled shoppers at Art on Vine and those shoppers in lower tax brackets were equally choosy with their spending, many opting not to spend their money on what they could not consume. The coffee, tea, and other consumables vendors did pretty well. Vendors selling art had a much more difficult time. The two jewelry vendors near my table seemed to do a brisk business. Should I return to Art on Vine, I hope my sister-in-law who makes chain mail jewelry will join us. She'd be a welcome addition and would probably do quite well.
The type of crowd matters. Several attendees at the Northwestern Band Association Craft Show informed me that they either did not read for pleasure, read little, read only nonfiction, or read Christian fiction. That's all well and good. I have no objection to their reader preferences or non-reading preferences. It just shows that I ought to vary the type of books I bring to events of a similar caliber. At events like that one, readers expressed preferences for historical fiction and mysteries (preferably the clean and sweet kind) and young adult fiction. At Art on Vine, readers expressed more acceptance for grittier, more explicit fiction, even if they didn't buy it from me.
Very few people overall will admit aloud to a preference for explicit romance. There's still a stigma attached to the genre. Interestingly, a lot of people will answer "mysteries" when I ask them what they like to read. That response has led to my book FOCUS being my bestselling book at events.
The organization of events means a lot. Event planners who are organized and current on the details are surely underpaid and underappreciated. When the planner makes things easier for the vendor, the vendor—at least this one—is more willing to return the following year. I was glad to have printed my receipt for vendor registration and brought it to Art on Vine, because the organizer questioned my presence after he'd assured me that he believed me when I stated I'd paid for it. That left a bad taste in my mouth, but I was glad to have had that proof of purchase and not be forced to move my display and merchandise. (I was also glad we brought chairs, because the venue provided a table, but no chairs.)
Hours of operation influence an event's success. Strong attendance was cut in half on Saturday's craft show, because people left to go home and watch the OSU football game. At Art on Vine, the crowd thinned after 4:00 PM. I think event hours could be trimmed accordingly.
All in all, I appreciate the various opportunities to bring my books and paintings to the public and am deeply grateful to those who purchase them. Their support is immensely gratifying.
I'm finished with events this year. The next may be as early as March, pending approval as a vendor. I will continue to seek appropriate venues that offer a good mix of pedestrian traffic and opportunity. If you know of any such event coming up in the next 12 months that's within a 5-hour drive of Springfield, Ohio, please let me know. Send me the URL so I can check it out.
I'll be seeing you in person next year!