Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Joyous Yule!

Dear friends and family,

 The wheel of the seasons has turned again, and once again we look back fondly on the joys and accomplishments of 2013.  The highlight of the year was a chance for the whole family to get together in Borrego Springs, California in March. After a stop-off to pick up Thomas and Rachael in San Diego, we enjoyed several days of desert warmth at an “old Hollywood-style” resort, complete with an Olympic-sized tile pool, gorgeous palm trees, beautiful night skies, a variety of birds, odd long-tailed squirrels and a tiny frog with a startlingly loud croak that reverberated through the night.

Back home in real life, Thomas continued with his online graduate program at the University of Southern California. He started student teaching this fall, and after the challenges of a kindergarten class, is looking forward to working with older students. He will finish next March and he and Rachael will be married the following week on the spring equinox. Rachael was promoted at the San Diego car dealership where she has worked the past two years, which is good except now they consider her so indispensable, she has a hard time getting time off. Thankfully, they will manage to live without her the week of the wedding, as well as for the Cheyenne reception in May.

Pat continues with the mineral oil business, but also finds time to run several times a week with Aengus as well as exploring new fishing spots and revisiting old ones. In July, he and Mary took a Wyoming vacation to Buffalo and Sheridan, with a return trip through the Big Horn Mountains and a fishing stop in the Wind River Canyon.
Moira assists Pat in the office during the week, but on weekends can usually found in Denver with her boyfriend, or attending music shows around the West. She also experienced a different sort of adventure with a backpacking trip on the Olympic Pennisula with several girlfriends in August.

Mary continues writing, with a new romance out this summer, bringing her total ebooks to thirteen.  She also went hiking on the Olympic Pennisula this summer while visiting her sister Nancy. Her passion for garden continues, and she enjoyed a good growing summer with enough rain to make her roses happy.

This fall brought lots of rain, a lackluster Wyoming football season, but a busy harvest season for the business that helps fund everything else. As the year draws to a close, we are all fairly content and thankful for our health, each other and our beloved pets.

Sine Matu,

Pat, Mary, Moira, Thomas, Nikki, T-Cat, Benjamin, Aengus and Badger    

Friday, August 30, 2013

Editing Agony

It's been over seven months since I posted. (That's how much I suck at social media!) My last post was about why I had signed with a small press to publish my next book rather than publishing independently.  The book, Saint Sin, just came out yesterday, so it's far too soon to decide if it was a good economic decision. But I can report on some of the rest of it.

I thought working with a publisher would save me a lot of time... and it did, at least initially. They came up with the wonderful cover (above) and not having to search for stock art, decide on a design and work with a cover artist allowed me to keep writing steadily on another book, which I finished in April.

Before I sold Saint Sin, I did my usual revising and proofing process, but I didn’t go over it nearly as intently as I would have if I were sending it to a formatter. I figured having someone else proofread and copy edit would catch minor errors. My new editor (who didn't acquire the book, but was assigned to me) told me that my first edits would come in mid-June. Since the book was scheduled to come out August 21, I thought that would give us plenty of time. But I didn't get the first edits until almost the middle of July and she gave me only a week to work on them. The first edits were time-consuming. Some it was the formatting issues that in the past my formatter had dealt with. But the editor also pointed out some of my bad writing habits, my use of extra words and qualifiers. I know this helped tighten and improve the book but it took a lot of time.

Apparently, the first edits were the equivalent of copyediting. The second edits, which I didn’t get until August 11th and which she wanted back by the 16th (!!!), were the real edits. I was shocked when I saw she’d deleted a number of paragraphs in multiple places, either because she thought they were redundant or the quick viewpoint change amounted to head-hopping. The more I read, the more upset I got. She was taking out my characters’ thoughts, particularly the hero’s, during some crucial, emotionally-charged scenes, especially love scenes. 

I’ve had four editors previously, but admittedly, they didn’t do much more than copyedit. Worried that I was being unreasonable, I contacted a couple of my multi-published writer friends and asked for their opinion. They said they’d had editors ask them to add scenes and rewrite others, but they were usually given several weeks to do this and they’d never had an editor who just took things out. They also confirmed that changing viewpoints in a love scene was pretty standard these days and as long as you made it clear whose viewpoint you were in, it shouldn’t be an issue..

Distraught, I contacted the editor who’d acquired the book and asked if I had any say in the editing process. She defended the editor but assured me it was my book and everything could be worked out. I didn’t hear anything for several days (which meant it was impossible to meet the deadline of the 16th). Finally, with obvious reluctance, the editor agreed we should try and compromise.

I went through everything she’d cut and seriously weighed whether it was important to the story. In the end, I accepted four of her cuts, changed things in several other places to satisfy her concerns, but still ended up with four places I didn’t want to cut. I sent the manuscript to the editor and waited… and waited. Six days later, I received word that the book was in production. The end result was that the book didn’t come out until the 28th, which meant that the promo on the USA Today romance blog on the 20th I'd arranged was virtually useless. Anyone who read it and was interested in the book wouldn’t have been able to buy it.

Although it seems like these editing issues should have been no more than a minor inconvenience, in fact, it was pretty traumatic. Up until this winter, I hadn’t sold a book in over ten years. Maybe there was a reason. Maybe I was a terrible writer. Or my writing style was so out-dated that it annoyed readers. Was all this agonizing and struggle going to be worth it? After the new release surge, most of my self-published ebooks make a pittance. By publishing through this publisher, I will get half or less the amount in royalties. Was I ever going to make enough money to justify going through this editing hell?

My moods are intense but fleeting, so by now I’ve arisen from the abyss and have a little more perspective. I have a finished Regency historical very similar to Saint Sin that I could offer to the publisher. If having a publishing house’s support makes a significant difference in my sales on this one, then I would consider selling them another, although I would ask for a different editor. Probably this editor wouldn’t want one of my books anyway, as all through this process she never said one positive thing about my story and it’s obvious she doesn’t like my writing style.

So, the verdict is still undecided on whether going “dependent” and selling to a publisher was worth it. I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


            A few months ago I was giddily posting about the joys of being an “indie” publisher and the thrill of having some of my backlist, as well several new titles, finally available for readers. In this post I announce I’ve returned to the yoke of traditional publishing. I recently signed a contract to sell one of my historical romances to a small press. I won’t get an advance, but only make royalties on sales. And those royalties will be half or less what I make on books I publish myself. So, why did I do it? What soured me on being an “indie” so quickly?

Having control over my own work was fabulous. But as I discovered, it came at a pretty high price. With control comes responsibility…enormous and time consuming responsibility. I had to proof, edit and oversee formatting and cover art for my books, as well as market them once they were published. During the year it took me to release ten ebooks, and two print editions, I found I had no time to write anything new. None.

Since being an indie publisher meant I was spending all my time doing things I don’t enjoy (and in some cases hate), I felt I needed to rethink things. I began to explore the option of selling to a small press, and after some research found one that seemed like a good fit. Soul Mate Publishing publishes quite a number of historical romances, has a decent website and Facebook page and designs nice covers for their books. After communicating with a couple of their authors, who seemed pretty satisfied, I sent them a query. They requested a full manuscript, and within a few weeks, made me an offer.

Several aspects of their contract enticed me. They would initially own the rights to the book for six years, at which point we could renegotiate payment arrangements. They would not require any option on my future works, which means I can sell anything else I write anywhere else I want without offering it to them first. They would edit, format and, with my input, produce the cover for the book. Once it was released, they would sell it through their website, distribute it to other ebook outlets and market it through Facebook and blog. In return for giving up about half of my potential profits, I would escape the majority of the self-publishing tasks that I find most time-consuming and onerous.  

I will still have to market my book. Any author nowadays has to maintain a website, Facebook page, do blog tours, etc. But that’s something I already have to do for my self-published books. But the other time intensive aspects of publishing are now at least partially someone else’s responsibility. Having made this decision, I started working on a new project (or, actually an old one: I wrote a proposal for this book over ten years ago). I’m now over halfway through the first draft, and would be even farther if I hadn’t gotten the flu over the holidays. If I were still going the “indie” route on the one I sold, I would have only three chapters finished of this new book.
There are so many publishing choices nowadays, and every author has to decide what is right for them, and right for each book. I recently "dusted off" another manuscript and plan to enter it in a contest with the goal of getting it in front of an editor from a New York house. Even if that doesn't work, I intend to start submitting it, first to larger houses and then smaller ones. I could publish this book myself, but at least for now, I've decided to spend what little free time I have after my on-going marketing chores are done writing rather than publishing.