Both publisher Kira Henschel and I have completed our edits of the proof for Dead Reckoning and it has been sent to the typesetter. There were more typesetting errors edits which I found both disheartening and encouraging. It was disheartening because typesetting errors and technical and indicates a lack of attention to detail. Writing edits never end, that’s the truth, you just stop at some point to get the book out to readers.
The original plan was to send Advance Reader Copies to both individuals and book reviewers to solicit those wonderful comments on the cover and sometimes the interior page of the book. Comments like – “damn good writing” or “a fitting conclusion to the Irish Troubles series . . .”
We have run out of time. I have four author events in April, the first on April 7th at the Milwaukee MATC and I will need books to sell. Kira and I had a frank discussion and decided that the initial printing will be a “first edition” – enough books to get me through at least April and most likely May. Kira still plans to send out Advance Reader Copies to a list of folks I provided and will include their comments on subsequent editions.
As a stopgap, I contacted my editor Christine Keleny of CK Books, https://ckbookspublishing.com/ her for an enticing sentence or two about the book. She did a great job and it can now appear on the “first edition”.
So for now, I’m waiting in the wings, the theatrical analogy is perfect. I hate waiting. How many of you hate waiting?
I’m going to digress from writing about publishing Dead Reckoning this week. It is in the typesetter’s hands and there is nothing I can do but wait.
Recently our local library joined the Rotary Club and as Board President I was invited to participate in the induction ceremony. I learned the Rotary has the Four Way Test
Of the things we think, say or do . . .
I found myself thinking that if each of us in our everyday living used the Four Way Test we would create an open, civil, empathetic culture and cast away the divisive culture we tolerate currently.
I now challenge myself every single day in everything I do with The Four Way test. Try it. Watch how it changes your life.
Those few paragraphs on the back cover of a paperback book are called - back of the book blurb. The purpose of the blurb is to entice potential readers, tell a little bit about the story with the hope of the reader purchasing your book.
Blurbs are intentionally brief, often 100 words or less. Blurbs are a challenge to write because you don't want to "give away" the story. I've been working on the blurb for Dead Reckoning for a month. I ran into a brick wall and enlisted the help of marketing guru Valerie Biel from Lost Lake Press www.lostlakepress.com. She provided focus to the project. Below is the blurb for Dead Reckoning - - -
After Ian Murphy’s life-long friend, Kieran Fitzparick, dies unexpectedly, Ian’s brief sobriety is shattered, and his life is set adrift. Ian feels incapable of fulfilling Kieran’s last request—to serve as mentor to his 22-year-old nephew—but accepts the role to honor Kieran, never anticipating how important this relationship will become.
Shouldering his reluctant role as mentor, Ian returns to his life in Cork but suffers insurmountable writers’ block. When a new friend suggests that guilt may be standing in Ian’s way, Ian agrees to offer an act of contrition to the Irish people for his role in the IRA.
With the belief that a work of art is a confession, Ian writes a memoir stage play, “Dead Reckoning”, where he reveals his secret life in the IRA, and relies on the aid of Kieran’s nephew to direct this act of remorse. Can Ian’s repentance for his complicity in the horrors of The Troubles alleviate his guilt and allow him to truly live again?
I have experienced the “Third time is a Charm” affect with my third novel, Dead Reckoning. It began with the responses received from the query letters I sent out in search of a traditional publisher. Of the eight query letters I sent I had positive responses from three. One I had to decline because I did not clearly understand the nature of their publishing business. Of the other two I had a telephone interview with one and an in person interview with the second. After the interview I was offered a contract with Henschel Haus Publishing and of course signed on the dotted line.
In addition to publishing Dead Reckoning, Henschel Haus offered to re-publish Murphy’s Troubles and Out of Darkness with fresh book covers and a few interior changes. They will be published in June 2018. I couldn’t believe my good fortune.
A major element of my book marketing is to attend author/book festivals and writers conferences. When feasible I like to make presentations and have the opportunity to sell a few books. In the past I’ve done a great deal of research and made cold proposals to as many events as possible. In the past few years I’ve built a record and developed a number of presentations specifically designed to fit a conference and or audience.
Using this approach I’ve participated in: Irish Book and Music Festival – Chicago; Wisconsin Book Festival; Milwaukee Irish Fest; Oshkosh Irish Fest and many others. I have learned the art form of making proposals.
For the first time since I began publishing in 2013, this year I have been invited to present at two events: Write, Pitch, and Publish Conference April 7th in Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Irish Fest August 17-19, 2018.
So, having the third book launched with a traditional publisher is having unexpected benefits. The third book is a charm. I’m looking forward to receive more invitations and filling my 2018 calendar.
No, this blog is NOT about Valentine’s Day. A blog title of Facelift has the potential of being very cruel on Valentine’s Day.
Reading today’s blog means that you are visiting my website www.rexowens.us. Did you notice the difference? Gone from the home page is the dark, out of perspective banner. Gone is the blurry image of my article from the Writer magazine a few years back.
Here are a few things to notice on the home page. In the upper left hand corner I have named the series ‘The Irish Trouble Series’. The banner picture show in dramatic fashion the peace walls or peace lines in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The center of the page displays the covers of the books in the series. The bottom of the page is my Irish welcome to all of my website visitors and of course the various links.
All of the tabs have a new, single color banner and a lighter background to make it easier to read. The Books tab is still under construction because I need to write the blurb for Dead Reckoning. In June Henschel Haus publishing will re-issue Murphy’s Troubles and Out of Darkness with new book covers and interior design.
The IRA History tab now includes a few introductory paragraphs to provide historical perspective on The Troubles. The events page has been redesigned and now includes information of the presentations I can provide and information on my radio show ‘My World and Welcome to It’. Of course, the events page will be populated with new information as I am scheduled for events throughout the year.
Credit for this ‘facelift’ goes to Valerie Biel at: www.lostlakepress.com.
Cruise on over to: www.rexowens.us
Oh yes, Happy Valentine’s Day!
I don’t know who came up with that adage but as an author it is something we accept as true. As I noted in my blog last week I’ve selected book covers to reflect the theme of the book.
Working with a graphic designer is an interesting and sometimes frustrating. Graphic designers are visual artists so color, form, positioning are elements of a book cover that are important to them. Theme – theme they don’t care about at all. This makes the effort to collaborate between the graphic designer and the author stressful and the language we use to express our respective art forms is very different.
Last week I reviewed three images for the new book cover for Out of Darkness. One image contained bright colors across the page that made my eyes hurt and I rejected it quicker than you can say “Ireland”. Two other book cover concept images both contained an aerial view of Belfast Northern Ireland. It was the type of image a tourism agency would use to convince potential visitors that Belfast is a lovely city to visit and not a city at war with itself. The only difference in the two concepts was the placement of the title and my name at either top or bottom of the cover. In the center of the cover was a bold Celtic knot either in gold or white. I rejected both of those images, too.
From those covers it was clear that the graphic designer knows nothing about me or my work. I’m old fashioned; I believe the graphic designer should be required to read at least the first three chapters of any book when developing a book cover. In my ideal world the graphic designer would read the entire book but that isn’t realistic.
My direction was that if we use any aerial view of Belfast in the book cover, it must clearly show the peace walls. Period.
My guess is that the next “concept” I see won’t have a city view at all.
One of the first suggestions Kira Henschel, owner of Henschel Haus Publishing, made when we signed our contract was to re-imagine my book covers. I confess my skill set doesn’t include book covers and how I think about a book cover is not the norm.
For my first book, Murphy’s Troubles, I worked with graphic artists to select and alter an image. My idea was to portray the destruction to buildings that was a large part of the IRA bombing campaign. The graphic artist found an image that fit my idea and then we altered color and other technical aspects of the image. We chose a Celtic font because I thought it added authenticity.
For the second book I wanted the book cover to portray a central theme of the book – the peace walls in Belfast. I found a free image and then had second graphic artists alter it to fit the dimensions of the book cover. I was delighted with the image.
For my third book in the series my idea, once again, was to have the book cover reflect the theme of the book. Searching the web I found a free image of an old nautical map with a compass and quill pen. Again, I thought it was the perfect cover.
Do you notice the pattern here? To this date I have wanted each book cover to reflect the theme of the novel. The book titles also reflect the theme of the novels. I thought this approach was reasonable.
A publisher thinks differently. Kira Henschel called saying it was time to work on new book covers, she asked me what the overarching theme as for all three books. I answered – redemption, atonement, contrition. “No- no she said – something physical, you know Ireland.” I told her I would have to think about it and shoot her an email later.
Initially, I wanted a geographic scene of Ireland on each cover until I realized most people couldn’t tell the difference between scenes from Ireland versus Pennsylvania unless it was dramatic like the Cliffs of Mohr. I mulled over what to add to the geographic scene that would show readers the topic was Ireland. Simple – a symbol all would recognize as Irish, for example, the Celtic cross, an Irish Knot, or the Tree of Knowledge. With a quick Google search I found free images of all of them and sent them off to Kira Henschel in an email.
She was pleased that I understood her concept of making all three books “look” alike. Having a publisher opens up my world as an author and gives me a new perspective.
When Henschel Haus Publishing offered to give my first two books in the Ian Murphy series, Murphy’s Troubles and Out of Darkness new covers and interior design I was thrilled. All three books in the series would have the same publisher.
I didn’t plan on doing any work on the content of either book until I received this email from Kira Henschel last week.
“. . .it seems that you could go through it and modify some of the paragraphs so not (almost) everyone starts with "I" -- perhaps vary that a bit. I'm attaching the word doc here.”
I recall having the same issue when I worked with Christine Keleny from CK Books Publishing when the book was first launched. I thought I had edited quite a few “I” paragraphs before Out of Darkness was launched.
I opened the document Kira attached to the email and was embarrassed. Especially in the first three chapters nearly every other paragraph began with “I”. There was improvement as I read through the document. Yet, in my first pass editing only “I” paragraphs I found 55 paragraphs that had to change.
Out of Darkness was my first book in first person point of view. I wanted to write in this view point because I wanted the reader to see the world through Ian Murphy’s eyes and to delve deeply into his psyche. At the time I consulted with several past teachers on the mechanics of writing in first person point of view and completed addition online research.
My problem remained. I hope I’ve learned a lesson. One lesson is certain. Editing never ends.
(How many “I” paragraphs do you count in this 292 word piece?)
Like most of you I’ve struggled with the annual self –inflicted torture known as The New Year’s Resolution. I don’t know the history of this practice, I could research it on Google but that seems like too much effort.
Like most of you reading this blog I’ve had miserable success actually achieving any resolution I’ve made. Today with minimal research you can learn how to make and achieve your resolution with some common sense and some ridiculous strategies.
I’m too old for strategies, at one time or another I’m sure I’ve tried them all and I’m no better off today.
Various news programs always have pieces on how to make and keep a resolution that doesn’t send you to therapy. I saw a piece, I think on PBS TV that resounded with me.
The approach is to discard the grand over arching annual resolutions like, losing 20 pounds, the Number 1 resolution in America. The new approach is to make a mini-resolution – one each day and then congratulate yourself on achieving your goal.
A mini-resolution for a day might be to exercise 30 minutes today. I check my calendar and my list of tasks to get done then plop a time into my calendar – 2:00 pm exercise. Another day might be – write blog which I like to do before breakfast. Each day you give yourself a mini-resolution. Today’s is clearly to write my weekly blog.
This approach makes sense, feels right and recognizes the many small steps need to accomplish any resolution, like wanting to lose 13 pounds this year – the odd number helps, it is more unique.
Give it a try. Ten days into 2018 and it’s working for me.
I write to tell the story of our human saga.