Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 Year-end Writing & Publishing review

2015 Year-End Writing & Publishing Review

After reading Brandon Sanderson’s State of Sanderson 2015, I thought I’d do something similar, but obviously not quite as extensive since Brandon Sanderson’s writing and publishing is simply that: extensive. I’ve read many of Sanderson’s books, in fact, the first one I read was Elantris. I’m not an avid fan of science fiction or fantasy, but I absolutely fell in love with Sanderson’s storytelling abilities. Since Elantris, I’ve read the Mistborn Series, Warbreaker, The Rithmatist, and the first book in his middle grade Alcatraz series. There are probably others that I’m not remember off the top of my head, although Sanderson’s books are all unforgettable.

This blog has turned into more of a publishing journal for me. The past few years, life has intervened (3 teenagers and one up-and-coming) and I’ve spent much less time on-line reading blogs, and interacting with others through social media. When I’ve had computer time, I’ve had to hyper-focus on my writing deadlines and whenever I find myself “clicking” I’ve had to reign back in and focus on my work. This is all good, but it also puts me a bit out of touch with many other writers and friends I had previously felt more connected with.

When others ask me what I’m working on, I literally hesitate. I’m dealing with a multitude of projects, and this past summer I finally put together a production schedule so that I could keep track myself. I usually say “I’m editing . . .” since it’s the easiest way to not let someone realize that I might be a little over the top in some things in my life. But after reading the State of Sanderson, I loved what he said about how he’s been forty, “an adult,” since he was twenty. I definitely identify with that. And how he said he always intended to make his dream happen. “Friends of mine would tell me to relax, but I couldn’t . . .” Yes, that’s me too.

So, to the year 2015.

January: January started out with the release of A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Regency Collection that I self-published through my indie imprint Mirror Press. I’ve been publishing these romance anthologies since October 2012, in conjunction with authors Annette Lyon and Sarah M. Eden. For each collection, we invite an additional three authors. With a January release, I quickly realized I’d never do that again since December was spent coordinating editing and formatting, and some of it over Christmas. Not too fair to those editors. By the end of January, sales had taken off for the All Regency Collection, and that began a series of thoughts and discussions that would eventually lead to a new anthology line called Timeless Regency Collection, which would debut in October.

But January wasn’t over. I had another book released January 12, The Boardwalk Antiques Shop. This was book 2 in the Tangerine Street Romance series that I co-write with Julie Wright and Melanie Jacobson. We call it a 3-part novel, and it contains 3 contemporary romance novels that are inter-connected. The first book in the series The Fortune Café (March 2014) was well-received, and this November saw the release of book 3: The Mariposa Hotel. This book was my summer writing, and although it was 100-page novella, Julie and Melanie and I had to do a bit of coordinating as well as editing for each other. This series is also released under my imprint Mirror Press.

I spent most of January working on a historical novel based on my 10th great-grandmother Susannah North Martin, who was hanged as a witch. To date, I still need to go through revisions, beta readers, and figure out where to submit.

February: I’d been looking forward to February 3 for months for the re-release of Finding Sheba with my new publisher Thomas & Mercer (Apub imprint). For more details about this book’s multi-faceted publishing journey, through 2 publishers and 2 agents, read this post. Sales for Finding Sheba took off and I reached the Top 60 overall on Amazon. I’d ranked higher in 2014 with the Romance Through the Ages box set that hit the USA Today list (another post). So I was pretty excited. Although books published through Apub imprints won’t hit national bestseller lists because their e-books are single platform, and the national lists require multi-platform sales. With the release of Finding Sheba, per my contract, I could submit book 2. I sent Lost King to my agent (Jane Dystel) mid-January, and she read the book and loved it. This was a monumental achievement for me because Finding Sheba did not go through the traditional agent-acceptance route. Within a week, I had a new book offer and contract for Lost King, and the release date was set for December 1, 2015.
February also saw the release of Loving Helen by Michele Paige Holmes, part of the Hearthfire Romance series that I took under my wings when Michele said she wanted to self-publish her historical romance. Her first book, Saving Grace, did very well in sales, so Michele got busy writing the next two books and novella in the series, all of which we put out in 2015.

March: No releases this month. I spent time coordinating the upcoming release of A Timeless Romance Anthology: California Dreamin’ and writing madly my second Moses book, Deliverance. My publisher Covenant Communications was hoping for a Fall 2015 release, and requested that I turn in the book by May. This was really pushing the production schedule, but I was determined to meet it. Book 1: Bondage was about to come out, so I started working on marketing plans.

April: The contemporary romance anthology A Timeless Romance Anthology: California Dreamin, was released, and I was a bit nervous since my novella in the anthology was the lead title. This means that anyone who downloads a “free sample” gets the first chapters in my novella. But reviews came in positive right out of the gate.
May: Release of The Moses Chronicles: Bondage, my new historical fiction series on Moses. When I first started brainstorming this series, I realized that the story of Moses delivering the children of Israel from the hands of the pharaoh of Egypt was not a single-volume book, but at least a 3-book series. Fortunately my publisher Covenant Communications agreed. In May, I met my writing deadline, and after sending the manuscript through beta readers, I turned it in. Phew!

June: On a personal note, my family moved from our home of 15 years to another home in June. This of course cut into all kinds of writing and editing time, and I’m not sure if I slept more than 4 or 5 hours a night for about 60 days. I received a letter from Covenant with several concerns about my manuscript which would require a significant revision. After reading through the notes and thinking (and praying), I decided there were some things that did need revision, but it wouldn’t be as significant as first presumed. I was able to turn in the revision by the deadline, but now that it was the end of June, a fall release was out of the question. Neither myself or my publisher wanted the production to be rushed. Also, the sales on Bondage were not what expected and my publisher decided to change the covers for the series to hopefully better reach the target readers. Book 2: Deliverance would now be released Spring 2016.

July: This month had two fun releases under my imprint. A Timeless Romance Anthology: Annette Lyon Collection and Marrying Christopher by Michele Paige Holmes. I was also able to finish writing The Mariposa Hotel novella and write my next novella for A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Hallows’ Eve. I’d also gotten into the habit of putting all my indie publications on pre-order which meant the book was for sale before I’d written it. Sort of a freaky thing if I allow myself to dwell on it. I started writing my Power of the Matchmaker novel, Love is Come, that I’m self-publishing in April 2016. This series is the brainchild of Rachael Anderson, and along with 11 authors, we are releasing a book a month in 2016, all connected to the same matchmaker.
August: Release of A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Hallows’ Eve. We released this with plenty of lead time for Halloween promotion. And by October, Annette had put together a Murder Mystery Dinner that ended up being a lot of fun with our readers and Timeless authors in attendance. I finished up writing a Christmas novella for the upcoming Under the Mistletoe anthology.

September: This is where my writing schedule ballooned. With Lost King coming out December 1, I could turn in the next thriller that week. But I needed to get it to my agent in advance so that she’d have time to read it before submission. Also, in an August meeting with Covenant, they said they needed my 3rd Moses book in December so that they could have enough time to schedule a Fall 2016 release. I looked at the estimated word count for each book (90,000-100,000 for my thriller, and 80,000 for Moses #3), and realized that I would have to write the books back-to-back, 5 days a week, 3,000 words a day. I would not be able to take one weekday off of writing or skimp on the word counts. I had to put my WIP Love is Come on hold for the time being. Because I knew that that my thriller would be more complicated and stressful to write, I started that one first. Coming up with the title Slave Queen, I dove in. Some of you have heard of Nanowrimo, a November writing program where authors will draft 50,000 words of a new book. This is essentially writing about 2,000 words a day. For me, I was about to do 2 “nanos” in 8 weeks. It’s one thing to write 3,000 words a day (physically and mentally challenging), but when the criteria comes in that my agent has to fall in love with the book, and then the publisher enough to offer an advance, the emotional challenges come into play. I was vigilant in writing 3,000 words a day, breaking it up into 1,000 word chunks, as well as vigilant about taking every weekend off from writing so that I could re-charge.

October: A Christmas non-fiction anthology was released by Covenant, with a contribution by me:

Two releases came out under my indie imprint. A Timeless Romance Anthology: Under the Mistletoe Collection, in which I had a novella, and the debut Timeless Regency Collection: Autumn Masquerade, in which I didn’t have a novella in. Mid-October I finished the first draft of Slave Queen, and I started writing Moses #3.
November: Several releases happened this month. First, my Power of the Matchmaker novella, which is a prequel novella that tells the matchmaker’s own love story. I’d written it Fall 2014, and the wait was long for this release. But we didn’t want it to come out too far in advance of the 2016 full-novel releases.

Next, The Mariposa Hotel was released, the 3rd in the Tangerine Street Romance series.

Then, A Timeless Romance Anthology: Sarah M. Eden British Isles Collection came out, part of the anthology series that I indie publish. The Monday before Thanksgiving, I submitted Slave Queen to my agent, and the wait began. In November, I decided to pull my YA book Solstice from the SwoonReads contest. This book I wrote under pen name Jane Redd. I had my agent submit to the Apub imprint Skyscape. It was turned down, so I decided to enter it into the Kindle Scout contest. This started a rather crazy month of promoting the book and trying to get voters to nominate the book. Kindle Scout is kind of like American Idol for books. The campaign ended December 5, and 10 days later, KS emailed me to say that my book was selected. It will be published February or March of 2016.
December: Lost King came out December 1:

And another multi-release month with my indie imprint. The 2nd Timeless Regency Collection called A Midwinter Ball came out. Also, Michele Holmes’ novella Twelve Days in December released. Although I’m not the author, as the producer and publisher, it was an accomplishment to see both released to critical acclaim. I guess I got the publishing bug because I decided to re-publish a novella that was originally in the Winter Collection. So A Fortunate Exile went live December 17.

On Tuesday, December 15, I received notice that Solstice was chosen as a Kindle Scout winner and would be published through Kindle Press. On Wednesday, December 16, my agent emailed me to say we needed to talk. Thomas & Mercer had made an offer on Slave Queen. Talk about relief! Slave Queen is slated for September 2016 release.

Depending on release date of Moses #3, I might have a busy fall promoting. Speaking of Moses #3, which I’m calling Exodus, I turned in the manuscript to beta readers around December 10. I’m hoping to get through revisions and submitted to Covenant by the end of this month. Not sure how it will all fall into place as I also have revision notes on Solstice and the soft deadline for that is early January. But I will prevail. At this moment, I’m on the last chapter or two of Love is Come, and once I finish the draft, I’ll put my full attention to Solstice revisions. Then I should have Moses #3 feedback in and I can do the revisions on that. While I was taking a bit of down time after sending Moses #3 to readers, and starting to read what I’d written so far on Love is Come, I drafted a few thousand words of a novella that will be in the Timeless Romance Anthology: Road Trip Collection.

While doing a book signing in December, I found that my 2010 non-fiction book Women of the Book of Mormon has been released in paperback. The interior artwork is in black-and-white, but it's one of my best-selling books, so I'm hoping that readers will be happy with the reduced price.

2016 Release Schedule:

February 2016: Mail Order Bride anthology (written, in edits now)

February 2016: Solstice by pen name Jane Redd (editing)

March 2016: The Moses Chronicles: Deliverance (completed, awaiting cover)

April 2016: Love is Come (Power of the Matchmaker series) (writing final chapter now)

May 2016: Road Trip anthology (written a couple of chapters)

September 2016: Blind Date anthology (haven’t started)

September 2016: Slave Queen (submitted, editing not started)

Fall 2016: The Moses Chronicles: Exodus (not submitted yet)

Other: Write Solstice sequel Lake Town. Write next thriller in Omar Zagouri series. Finish writing novella for Road Trip Collection. Write novella for Blind Date Collection. Submitting Salem Witch book. Write another Tangerine Street Romance?






Debra Erfert said...

You are a writing demon! I'm amazed at the sheer number of words you have to push through on a daily basis. Love your books! Have a happy new year, one that's maybe a little less hectic.

Karlene said...

Holy cow! You are a writing machine!

Taffy said...

You're awesome and inspiring! I love hearing about your writing (and cats) adventures when we get together.

Heather Moore said...

Thanks, Ladies :-)

Mindy said...

I've said it before, you are a rockstar!

Charissa said...

This was jaw-dropping to read. I've always wondered how you were able to put out so many books. Thanks for walking me through your crazy, successful year. Wishing you more success in 2016.