Out in the Cold–With Prophet

The weather report on my computer said ten degrees.  The temperature on my car dash generously reported thirteen.  I grabbed the long-johns, ski pants, scarf, hats, two pairs of gloves, and, oh yeah, the dog.  Time for Prophet’s morning walk.

Taking your dog for a walk when the weather is bad may be one of the most difficult jobs for dog caregivers.  For me, unlike my healthy friend, Daisy Arthur, cold weather is a real threat.  I have had chronic bronchitis for nearly 45 years, ever since I walked home from school in inappropriate clothing and weather cold enough to make the most hearty among us run for a scarf.

Still, I skipped Proph’s walk yesterday (the temperature was listed as seven on my computer weather report) so I really needed to get my guy to the park.  After all, he needed to wear off the bits of chicken that “fell” to the floor, the marshmallows snuck from my bowl and whatever else it was that made his tummy so grumbly this morning. I forgot my camera to illustrate today’s post.

Miracles are part of this special time of year, and today we had ours. The walk was easier than I’d expected, and we bumped into a few friends along the way. Have you ever noticed that when you force yourself to do something good, good things usually happen to you?  For me, I was okay with the weather–amazing how proper dress keeps a person feeling good.  Then, Prophet actually played nicely with a little German short hair who chased and ran off a little excess Christmas energy.

We also bumped into Indy and her caregiver, John, who has become more and more of a friend over time.  This past fall, John was the one who brought apples from his fruit tree.  We loved them.  Indy is a shepherd mix, but probably a good 60 pounds shy of Prophet’s 115.

Proph and I are back home now.  My cheeks, while not glowing, feel fresh from the cold, and my fingers are okay.  I am breathing easy and looking forward to a nice cup of tea.  The snow was lovely to walk through.  Denver and Littleton had a “white Christmas” without any blizzard or other hazardous over-the-top snow and sleet to wreck the spirit.

Sometimes, Christmas doesn’t have to be a big, lalapalooza of an event.  Sometimes the holiday season is special just for the snow, the smiles and the walks with your dog.

Daisy Update: We Have A Cover!

Cover design for "Faith on the Rocks"

Wow! They captured the spirit on this one.

As Grover from Sesame Street would say, “Oh! I am soooo excited!”

At last, this watched-pot of book publishing seems to be getting ready to boil.  The Acquisitions Editor for Five Star Publishing sent the cover design to me last week, and I have been anxious to share it with you since.  I hope you like it.

Some of my friends and acquaintances have been asking lately–in a very polite way–“where’s the book?”  It starts a wonderful conversation on the publishing process and even though I’m a total newbie at this, lets me think it through too.  Why the heck does it take so long to produce a book?

Here are some things I believe happen in the process (but don’t hold me to these as the absolute truth):

SUBMISSION & REVIEW – This “stage” is constantly happening.  Who knows when the next best-selling author’s muse will wake up and inspire work?  Authors work all the time to generate story ideas, blog posts, character sketches and more.  When they finish a novel, they’re going to submit–whether it’s acquisition season or not.  Many editors and agents are reading samples of hundreds of books a year in search of that special book they’re ready to get involved with.  I can’t imagine them doing this on a schedule of any kind other than constantly reading.

ACQUISITION STAGE – I found out that a team of people at Five Star had reviewed my submission (meaning they had to have read the entire book–at least some of them) and accepted it as a sales-worthy product in February (several months after submission), but was asked to keep the news quiet until an official offer came up.  That offer arrived in my inbox in March.  After that, I received the official contract for my review, and that’s when the publishing clock began.  Although the contract allows for 24-months to publication, publishers have no desire to go that long between and acquisition and getting the book out the door, so I was put on schedule to have the book release about one year later.  Still seem like a long time?  Read on.

EDITING — The editing process was a lot better than I thought it would be.  I believed that editing was the big obstacle to publishing on a timely basis.  Not so.  I received my first set of edits at the beginning of June.  As that is one of my busier months, they allowed a few extra days for my to respond to Alice’s work.  She was thorough, but kind and that stage went well.

Then I had something called “line-editing” by Tracey, who went through the manuscript in a lot more detail.  She kept me on track with the consistency issues that drive readers nuts, and made sure my grammar and punctuation were the best possible.  Tracey was done by the end of September.  At that point the book went to design.

DESIGN — I think this is a stage that many people don’t know well.  I had sent “Ancillary Documents” way back in June, but I think the book people were working on the January releases at that time (Five Star launches twice a year from what I understand).

Ancillary Documents include my own stab at cover copy, my thoughts on what the book should look like, and a short author’s bio.  While I think of myself as a “graphic designer” as well as writer, the team at Five Star took my suggestions and ran in their own direction with them.  I believe this is to keep a consistency of look and feel for the publishing house, and, judging by last week’s email, I think they did a terrific job.

Next, I should receive something called ARCs — Advanced Reader Copies.  Although Five Star will send some out to their contacts, I will also be responsible for getting these into the hands of public book reviewers.  Do you know anyone I should consider sending to?  I’d love to hear from you about this.

BOOK REVIEWS & PROMOTION — I think the people who do book reviews have tons of reading to do as well, so we need to give them plenty of time to look at a new book by a first time author before launch.  I’m guessing that six months  in advance lets the reviewers read the book and write their notes. This also gives me time to enter the book into competitions–another way to garner credentials and awareness.

With smaller publishers, there is no real budget for non-standard book promotions.  That will be up to me.  This is part of why I started this blog.  As I learn more about what an author’s supposed to do, I’ll let you know (and may be asking for your help here).

LAUNCH — I still believe my book will launch in June.  Not really sure what that is about, but I’ll keep you posted.  Meanwhile, if you’d like to host an author signing, I hope you’ll use the contact page of this site and let me know.  If I can get to your area next summer, I’ll be sure to do so, and work with you for a good event.

Meanwhile, I need to go back to the Submission and Review Stage, and get Sliced Vegetarian done.  Now, where did I put my muse?

On A Somber Note …

Last week, the tragedy of Newtown reminded us all that murder is an unacceptable element in our communities.  I write cozies more for the puzzle and the quirky characters than for the act of taking another human life. I hope one day that  murder is only a fictitious event on the pages of books, and not the horrific reality that our society has come to accept as normal.  Let’s all send our positive thoughts to the community in grief, and work together to solve this issue of violence in American society.

It’s A Mystery: Holly and Homicide

Isn’t it exciting when you come across a new author whose work satisfies your need for a good read?  Such was the case for me, as I read Leslie Caine’s Holly and Homicide for a nice cozy Christmas mystery.

Cover for Holly and Homicide by Leslie Caine

A Domestic Bliss Mystery

Erin Gilbert, interior designer, and her significant other, Steve Sullivan, have formed a thriving decorating company set in Crestview Colorado.  For Holly and Homicide, however, there’s more afoot in the mansion they’re decorating for Christmas than some misplaced mistletoe.

Sullivan and Gilbert are putting the final touches on the old Goodwin estate in Snowcap (about 70 miles from home base) when things begin to go terribly wrong.  The Goodwin estate, recently sold by Snowcap’s mayor, Henry Goodwin, is besieged with angry citizens, building inspection woes, and dead bodies in its transformation from stately home to Bed & Breakfast.  Erin and Steve do all they can to keep on schedule for opening The Snowcap Inn on Christmas Eve, but their problems keep mounting.

The Inn is an investment by Wendell Barton, a property mogul who’s gobbled up as much prime skiing property as possible (and robbed Snowcap’s Citizens of their quiet, small-town ancestry) Erin’s friend and interior design guru, Audrey Monroe, and a pop-singing star, Chiffon Walters, who is more of an over-grown spoiled child, than powerhouse investor.

As building codes are flunked and tempers flare, Wendell brings in his fix-it man and director of operations, Cameron Baker.  Talk about sparks flying!  Cam, as Erin knows him, is her long-lost lover from ten years before.  Their surprising reunion results in a passionate kiss that Steve–remember Steve? Current love?–is none too happy with.

It isn’t long before Erin is wrapped up in a love-triangle, a decorating triangle, and a murder of the local building inspector that leave her and the town sheriff at odds.  When the sheriff accuses Erin of the murder and another body shows up, it’s time for Erin to put down the decorator’s measuring tapes and pick up on her ability to solve crime.

While this book doesn’t have a lot of humor, the characters are delightful and tips about decorating from Audrey Munroe help keep the reader in a Christmas spirit.  I also liked how the author edges up the tension, as much with the twists on who makes the best suspect this chapter as with the incidents that keep you turning the page.

A LITTLE ABOUT LESLIE CAINE

Holly and Homicide is just one of a series called the “Domestic Bliss” mysteries. Some other titles include Fatal Feng-Shui, Killed by Clutter, and Manor of Death by Leslie Caine.  Ms. Caine is a certified interior designer who has also has been taken hostage at gunpoint in her life.  She says that “writing about crime is infinitely more enjoyable than taking part.”

Ms. Caine has also written under her birth name, Leslie O’Kane and has two other mystery series:

I don’t have any rating criteria or “stars,” at this point, but I’d recommend Holly and Homicide for a quick holiday murder.

About the Holly and Homicide Book

Title: Holly and Homicide
Author: Leslie Caine
Publisher: Dell – 2009
Pages: 337 in paperback