Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Robyn Lane Books

Cats + Rainbows + The Internet = Perfection…Right?


You can ask anyone who has ever worked with me, and they will tell you how rare it is for me to feel like I’ve done a job that is even close to good enough (*cough*Nicole*cough*).  It happens once in a blue moon.  So, imagine my surprise to complete two publishing projects with two very different beginnings, and actually feel really good about them.

One project was a lark to entertain my son, born out of his imaginative tangents in the car.  The other was a Phoenix, rising up out of the ashes of another much-loved-but-lost project.  I didn’t expect either of them.  I certainly didn’t expect to want to show them to anyone.

And yet…

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What If One Day is available now on Amazon & CreateSpace, and My Rainbow World will be available through Robyn Lane Books, all over the place on August 17.

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I think a lot of my pleasure (and pride) comes from the models.  Of course What If One Day is based on my boy.  My Rainbow World’s model was inspired by my boss’ granddaughter.  I love looking at my son, so it only follows I’ll love looking at illustrations of him.  And my boss’ granddaughter is DARLING, eat-her-up-cute.

Thor and I dedicated his book to my father because he always told me the best, crazy stories, and I have kept up that tradition for my [poor, long-suffering] child.  Rainbow is dedicated to Thor, to Robyn’s daughter, to my boss, and her granddaughter–and to grandparents and grandbabies everywhere.  Half of the art in this book got an unexpected second chance, with a whole new set of words and different story, kind of like how grandchildren are happy chances to enjoy our families all over again.

I enjoyed every second of the artwork in these books.  If readers can enjoy them a tenth as much, I’ll feel really good.

Thor reading his own book.
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Posted in books, Career, Friends of Mine, guest article, Interview

Interview with the Editor: Kendel Flaum of Henery Press


LynDee Walker’s new book, Buried Leads, is due out in October.  I am very excited to start talking about it, but you’re going to have to wait just a little longer–ee!  Meanwhile, I had the great pleasure of meeting LynDee’s editor, Kendel Flaum, and thought you’d enjoy hearing from her.  As the managing editor of Henery Press, she has great insight and is, of course, very interesting.

But don’t just take my word for it.  This is Kendel’s bio:

Kendel Flaum is a Southern California native who now parks her flip flops in Dallas, Texas. Deciding to combine her fifteen years of entrepreneurial savvy and over a decade of designing, writing, and editorial experience, she launched Henery Press, an independent publishing house focused on mystery and suspense. As managing editor, she’s always looking for captivating stories — from cozies and crime capers to paranormals and PIs. She’s got a coop full of award-winners and nominees in the Hen House, and just loves finding a gem in the slush pile.

LYNN-pic

Henery Press is an independent publisher in the mystery/suspense genre focused on engaging stories with sharp twists and lively characters. We want every reader to enjoy a captivating story written by a talented author wrapped in a pretty package.

Q)  I love the story of how Henery Press came to be.  Will you please tell it for our audience?

Let me nutshell it for your readers: It started from a love of writing. Which led me to an amazing organization, Sisters in Crime, and its upstart sub-chapter, the Guppies. I met my mentor there, I met my bff there, and I met 500+ mystery writers looking to be published there. After several years, Diane Vallere, the aforementioned bff, and I decided to create a sub-chapter of the Guppies called called Press Quest where we’d spearhead the efforts to compile information on every mid-to-small-to boutique press open to mystery writers. We researched until our fingers cramped – we detailed lists, facts, databases, interviews, websites, and on-the-ground commentary.

Some of that commentary proved scary: contracts that fell apart, offers to publish in weeks (weeks! oy.), cringe-worthy covers, non-existent support. After years of being in the trenches, writing, editing, designing, I decided there had to be a better way. One with a chicken at the helm. (Side note: In a previous life, I spent over fifteen years building a completely separate business from dollar one into a multi-million dollar company, so I knew what it would take.)

That’s some nutshell.

 

Henery: Where it happens.  And by "it", I mean "great fun."
Henery: Where it happens. And by “it”, I mean “great fun.”

 

Q)  When we met, we talked about how covers sell books. The cover art coming out of Henery is every kind of eye-catching, captivating, and charming.  Who creates the art, and how do you fit the art to the book?

Why, thank you for the kind words! I absolutely believe the cover is essential to the book, everyone likes to see a pretty package. We consult with the author to get their take, then meet with the in-house staff to discuss. Once we have a concept, we’ll either design here or hire freelance – or both.

 

Just a few of the eye catching covers coming out of Henery.
Just a few of the eye catching covers coming out of Henery.

 

Q)  What are the most challenging, and the most delightful aspects of your work?

The nuts and bolts of publishing can be the most challenging, probably because it’s not as much fun as engaging artwork and intriguing editorial. It’s also quite a challenge to find manuscripts – our catalog has limited space (about 2 books per month), and we’re building quite a niche in the mystery market. 

Q)  A good editor can help an author craft a decent manuscript into a great book.  How do help an author on the edge of greatness make that leap?

Agreed, an editor can see things the author can’t. Mostly because the author has read the manuscript about 113 times. I’d say the most useful tool in the box is remembering “less is more.” Truly, tighten, tighten, tighten. Keep the dialog snappy, the scenes vivid, and the narrative on point. And when if your beta readers all love your work, you need new betas.You need the beta who enjoys your writing, but dishes out the sharp critiques. Like you said, it’s turning decent into great.

 

LynDee's new book, due out on October 15, 2013.  In an upcoming interview with the author, LynDee will give you her take on the importance of having a great editor like Kendel.
LynDee’s new book, due out on October 15, 2013. In an upcoming interview with the author, LynDee will give you her take on the importance of having a great editor like Kendel.

 

Q)  How can an author make an editor’s job easier?

Don’t forgo the beta/editor stage when writing the second, third, fourth books. When you wrote your first, it probably went through 57 drafts, plus a multitude of critiques, contests, betas, and revisions. Over and over and over again until that baby sparkled. Now that you’ve sold it, and it’s published, and you’re onto the next, take the same care. Only more. Push yourself to be better, stronger. And that generally means better betas. (I’m sensing a theme…)

Q)  What advice would you give to aspiring editors?  Or people looking to break into publishing on the publishing house side of the industry?

Start freelancing. Even if you don’t get paid in the beginning, just to prove your work. Start with 50 page critiques, and move on from there. Read every writing book you can get your hands on, read lots of genres to understand techniques. Then grab an internship if you can find one. Nothing like learning from the inside.

Q)  What was your favorite book growing up?

Just one? I’m torn between A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, and The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot.

Lane, thank you so much for having me. It was a delight to meet you in person, and an honor to be featured on your blog!

Stay up to date with all the great books coming out of Henery Press.  Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; add them to your RSS Feed, and connect with them on LinkedIn.

Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior

Tampons, Trials, Babies, Gay Marriage, Books–Oh yeah. It’s a Grab Bag!


I have many thoughts and not much spare brain resource, which means I start writing blog entries, then do the internet equivalent of crumpling them up and tossing them in the trash can. There is not so satisfying a bump sound, though, and I don’t get the joy of actually seeing the wad of paper arc into the can. I’m a writer. I find great comfort in seeing crumpled balls of paper overflowing from a trash can. That means the process is working.

Granted, I quit writing on paper over a decade ago.

So here are some random thoughts about things that I have taken very seriously. I ask you to forgive the poor structure, as I am writing with raw nerves and am utterly lacking in any poetry:

1. Tampons being verboten in the Texas Capitol
I have heard the reasoning behind why potential and potentially meaningful projectiles were confiscated from citizens trying to attend a vote on an extreme abortion measure in Austin. Those reasons may (or may not be, depending on how upset you are at the idea of a Senator being smacked in the head by a wrapped tampax) be valid, but the execution was flawed with a capital FLAW.

I’m not even going to get into the controlled handgun license issue, which has a lot of people upset. I have been focused on the fact that had I appeared at the Capitol doors while menstruating, I wouldn’t have been able to go in after they took away my feminine products because I need that stuff. If you take away my panty liners, we’re going to have a problem with your chairs. So, as a woman, I would have been barred from participation.

I cannot express to you how I despaired over this. I have tried, and tried to put it into words, but I can’t seem to knit anything around this bubble of despair. It is just naked, raw hurt and disappointment that officials would bar me from participating in government because of my gender. –and maybe you won’t get this if you’ve never had a bad period, but you have to trust me that if you take away a woman’s sanitary napkins, you are being demeaning, ugly, and unjust– You just can’t do that. It’s wrong.

I told my [horrified] husband that if I could spontaneously menstruate, I’d have driven to Austin specifically to bleed on something. I am not ashamed of my uterus, and no “official” is going to bar me from participation by trying to humiliate me into submission. I’ll ruin every pair of light colored pants I own before that happens.

2. George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin
This is one I feel like should have been cut and dried. If you kill someone who has entered your personal space and threatened you, I can see there being just cause. If you kill someone you have pursued, and whose personal space you have entered, I don’t see the just cause.

You break into my house and I shoot you, that’s fine. You look like you might fit the description of someone who broke into Susie’s house, and I chase you down, yell at you, engage in physical confrontation with you and shoot you…well? Come on. I started it. If I start it, do I get to kill you when I don’t like how it’s ending up?

It’s how I feel about people who climb into the tiger enclosure at the zoo. If you throw yourself at the tiger–who is at least KNOWN to be dangerous–and are then surprised when the tiger defends its territory and starts to eat the hell of you, killing the tiger isn’t the solution to the problem.

There’s no happy ending to this, though. Whether or not Zimmerman ever spent a day in jail, a child is dead. A Skittle eating, best friend having, hoodie wearing, loved child is dead. Eye for an eye doesn’t change that. No court in the world could change that.

I am disappointed that charges were not filed differently, to impress upon Zimmerman the cost of his own stupidity, but that’s done. There’s always civil court. That’s where OJ bit it.

3. Royal Baby
I really need for this Royal Baby to be born because it will make me all kinds of ridiculously happy. I have been in love with the Royal Family since Shy Di first came to my notice on her engagement to Prince Charles. I was 11, and she was a beautiful princess–it was also quite a shock to find out that not all princes were handsome. Rude awakening, frankly.

I need that baby to hurry up and get here.

4. Gay Old England
Some happy breaking news out of the UK, not involving heirs to the throne: The Queen signed off on the Gay Marriage law, and it will become legal in just a small matter of time. Equality! Justice for all! Huzzah!

Just think of the economic boost. Just think of how much busier the wedding industry is about to be. Love who you want, kids. Be happy, and be equal.

5. Rolling Stone cover
I am DONE with Rolling Stone.

6. Artistic Emotional Roller Coaster
I’ve been writing, writing, writing, editing, writing, editing, working on queries and making submissions. Writing is easy for me. Editing isn’t hard. Writing queries is painful (thank you, Arwen, for easing the pain), writing the synopsis for submissions is excrutiating.

You’ve spent however long birthing this brain baby, and you go through all these various emotions during the process: Pride, excitment, worry, upset, fear of failure, fear of success, hope, despair. You worry your work isn’t good enough. You worry that this thing you love isn’t what you’ve cracked it up to be.

Then, once you’ve gotten it into the shape you prefer (and given it to people whose opinions you respect and asked them to dent it up, and then reshaped it according to their sagacious suggestions) you have to boil it all down to 3 paragraphs that 1) Tell what the story is about, 2) Tell why the story is different and marketable, 3) Tell why YOU are different and marketable.

That’s bad enough, but then you have to write between 1 and 3 pages summing up the entire manuscript. You have to tell the whole story in a way that is interesting, entertaining, and engaging, giving away the whole plot, without being so explicit that the reader of the synopsis doesn’t feel the need to read the manuscript. I think most writers would tell you that if they felt it possible to write the whole story in 3 pages, they would never have sweated blood over the 213 pages the story turned out to be.

THEN, when you’ve written your query and your submission, you start casting it upon the waters. Messages in a bottle: Please love me! Please want me! Please validate me! Please tell me that I wasn’t wasting my time!

I grew up auditioning, so I know that a rejection isn’t personal. A rejection only means, “This doesn’t fit.” Like a cute dress. If it doesn’t fit, you don’t buy it. You may love it. You may agonize over wanting it. You may nearly talk yourself into letting it hang in the back of your closet until you lose 10lbs, but if it doesn’t fit, it won’t work. I’m sending my cute dress out to publishers and agents, and if it doesn’t fit, they are going to have to tell me no.

But it’s going to fit someone. Even if that someone is me, and I end up self publishing.

Still, I have exhausted my adrenal glands with all the Up Down of the process.

Aren’t you lucky I blog? Ha!

Posted in books

Lane of ARC


I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by creative, ambitous, interesting people, and even more fortunate that some of them are related to me–so they are stuck, and have to claim me whether they want to, or not.  (Do any of you ever have flashbacks to 8th Grade English when you are writing?  I am terrible with commas, and whenever I am writing I flashback to diagramming sentences on the blackboard, and start worrying about parts of speech, diagram tails, and progress reports.  Clearly, I do not worry too much about rabbit trails.)

One creative, ambitious, interesting relative, who knows her way around a comma is my Cousin-in-Law, LynDee Walker.  LynDee is the creator of the Nichelle Clarke mystery series, and her second book, Buried Leads is available now for pre-order.

Last night, LynDee was at the Frisco Public Library for a reading and signing event, so we loaded up the SUV and trekked on over.

Here we are with LynDee's poster.  And you thought the cover art was cute on its own?  I want my LIFE to look like this poster.
Here we are with LynDee’s poster. And you thought the cover art was cute on its own? I want my LIFE to look like this poster.

LynDee did a reading from Buried Leads, and I can already tell you that you’re going to want this book.  How can you not love a mystery that starts with Armani shoes and–spoilers–never mind.  Just get the book.

lyndee reads
LynDee explains the importance of research when writing crime scenes.

I was excited to win an ARC of the new book, and as soon as I have that in my hot little hands, I’ll tell you all about it!  And by “all about it”, I mean, “absolutely nothing about it.”  I’ll just tell you where to get it.

She looks good with a Sharpie!  LynDee signing books for her fans.
She looks good with a Sharpie! LynDee signing books for her fans.

Read up on LynDee and find out when she’s going to be near you.  If you happen to be in Virginia, she will be launching Buried Leads at the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Literary Festival on October 16.  The website says wine and cheese follow.  I can’t think of anything much better than books and cheese, so please check it out and tell me how awesome it was.

Posted in books

First Place Front Page Fatality!


Have you bought your copy, yet?  Because it looks like everyone else has!

LynDee Walker's first novel is #1 on the Amazon  Hot New Releases chart.  I'm betting it's the first First of many to come.
LynDee Walker’s first novel is #1 on the Amazon Hot New Releases chart. I’m betting it’s the first First of many to come.

 

Get yours here:

Signed copies available from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond: http://www.fountainbookstore.com/product/front-page-fatality-autographed

 

Amazon kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Fatality-Nichelle-Headlines-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00B623AW6/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1359294938&sr=8-4&keywords=front+page+fatality

 

Amazon paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Fatality-Nichelle-Clarke-Headlines-Mystery/dp/1938383125/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1359294938&sr=8-4

 

Barnes and Noble (nook book and paperback): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/front-page-fatality-lyndee-walker/1113507547?ean=9781938383120

 

Kobo ebook: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Front-Page-Fatality/book-wHVafz3nIUmoyPt6VdjJAQ/page1.html?s=CdlSoiD55UGTRsje-d5yCQ&r=1

 

And if you have an apple device, you can find it in the iBookstore.

 

You can find LynDee online at http://www.lyndeewalker.com (sign up for the quarterly newsletter in the right margin to stay up-to-date on news about her and Nichelle).

LynDee Walker

LynDee Walker

She also hangs out a lot on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lyndeewalkerbooks) and twitter (@LynDeeWalker).