Happy book birthday to LynDee Walker! Buried Leads launched this morning, and it is already shooting up the Amazon charts. Hop on that train early. Then, when it becomes a movie, you can roll your eyes at all the people who are only just getting into it after it’s earned Emma Stone an Academy Award. (I’m casting Emma as Nichelle. Who would you cast?)
I will be in Boston in 3 days, and I can hardly believe that. Several of you have asked where the Cozy Cat Press booth will be. I don’t have an answer to that yet. We will get our placement at 7am on Saturday. Until then, all I can tell you is that we will be in Copley Square, surrounded by books, booksellers, and book writers. The first person who comes up to me and yells, “TWO IF BY SEA!” gets a special copy of TIARA TROUBLE. I am so into this whole Boston thing, you have no idea.
I will be tweeting from Boston, so follow @lanelese for details as they develop. I know my publisher will be tweeting, too. Follow @CozyCatPress and you’ll be in the know on all things Cozy Cat Press related.
Now, I have to share an anecdote.
I was telling an acquaintance about TIARA TROUBLE, and gave her a bookmark. We have a bit of a language barrier, so she understood that I had written a book, and that I was heading to Boston for the Boston Book Festival, but she misunderstood that my book was fiction. She thought I had written a memoir and was so upset for me that my friends had died. She also thought I was telling her that my actual first name was Tiara, and I had been in Trouble.
She was very concerned, and then, I think she felt a little gypped when I explained the situation as it actually is.
It’s going to take some doing to top this as my favorite book story, so far. I expect big things, Boston. Big.
However, as much as I have enjoyed my Advanced Reader Copy of BURIED LEADS, I can’t tell you what happens. I can tell you that LynDee’s series is only getting stronger, and I asked if she would come talk to us about what it’s like the second time around.
Q: So, LynDee, what differs from the release of your first book to your second?
A: Not much, that I can see, except I have readers who know who I am. The first time, I was really nobody from nowhere. I wondered what kind of reception Nichelle would get from readers, but it was all theoretical, because no one had ever heard of either of us.
This time, there are people who read Front Page Fatality and really enjoyed it, and they’re waiting for Buried Leads to launch. It’s a little wild for me to wrap my head around the fact that there’s even one reader who’s not in my immediate circle who is waiting for my book to launch. And it’s really cool.
Q: What do you know, going into the second release, that you wish you’d known with the first?
A: That an author can only do so much. I’m a control freak, and I planned everything and booked blogs months in advance. And don’t get me wrong, it helps. A lot. And I think as an author you have to put that effort in (and I am doing it for Buried Leads, though I do have a tour organizer and my fantabulous Henery Press marketing folks taking care of a lot of the blog tour stuff this time). But you have to understand that you can write guest blog posts until your fingers fall off and it will not magically make you JK Rowling.
In the end, the very best thing that can happen is that you do the work, and then the retailers decide to help you.
Q: What role does your editor play in getting your book shelf-ready?
A: Oh, I could go on forever about this. But I won’t, because my editor would slap my hand. I am blessed to have an editor who really gets Nichelle and understands what I want my stories to be. That is so, so important in this business.
She is brilliant and very good at her job, and she sees things in the books that don’t come across the way I intended and offers suggestions to make them better. But she listens to me. If I say, “wait, that’s important later,” or “I adore that character, how can I keep him?” she brainstorms with me and we figure it out together. I love the feeling of teamwork, and knowing that she cares about my career.
And all that “tightly written, fast-paced” praise I get? That’d be because my editor is a master of trimming and speeding the story without losing anything. One of the things I love most about working with her is that she’s teaching me to be a better writer.
Q: Now that you are releasing book 2, writing book 3, and are involved in a couple of other Nichelle mini-novels, what advice would you give writers who are looking for the big break?
A: Why, Miss Lane, I think we had this discussion very recently, didn’t we? [Yes! Which is why I want TOL readers to hear it from you! Lane] Here it is, y’all, as crazy as it sounds: enjoy writing just for the love of writing. It should always be true, in my opinion, but it’s easy for that to get lost in the pressure of deadlines and edits and marketing after you have a contract (or three). I owe my friend Gretchen McNeil thanks for telling me that about a year before Front Page sold, and now I have paid it forward. Your days of editors and deadlines and reviews will come in their own time. If you’re a writer, it’s part of who you are. Take joy in sitting down and creating.
Q: Tell us about the audio books.
A: *Squeals* That was the most amazing thing yet! I think. Maybe tied with that amazon #1. But really: an actress (no, I do not know who yet) is going to read my books out loud. Holy crow. All I really know about it right now is that the rights to both Front Page and Buried Leads have sold, and as the production process moves along, we’ll have more information on the narrator and release dates.
Q: What is the most fun part of the book release?
A: Meeting people. Getting to know different folks was always my favorite part of being a reporter, and whether it’s online or at a signing, meeting people—readers, other authors, bloggers, booksellers—is my favorite part of this, too.
Q: Tell us where your release is going to happen, and why that is awesome.
A: It IS awesome! The Buried Leads launch party is part of this year’s Virginia Literary Festival! I am just over the moon about this opportunity. The people who organize the festival are amazing, and it’s such a great event. And and AND, we’re launching this book at the Library of Virginia, which is a breathtaking building that houses the state’s most important historical document collections. In Virginia, that’s some pretty amazing stuff. Nichelle would be honored to be so close to that much history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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.