The Journey Together

November 11, 2017 
All of Jack's books (so far...) are showing up here and there- good reviews, radio interviews, book events. I have to be honest that it's been a struggle to get him the recognition I feel he deserves, but going the Indie route, rather than letting Jack waste away in the door, was going to be a difficult road. But, who knows what lies ahead? To all who've given Jack the love, I'll post again when anything new breaks... Wish us luck!

July 24, 2017 
Look what arrived!


Jack's out in the wild! The series is complete (for now). Unfortunately, because I'm having trouble getting into schools, libraries, and bookstores (it's that whole Indie book snobbery thing), I've had to cancel the educator's guide with Marcie Colleen. Maybe if I get more interest, I can add it in the future. I may invite Jack back to share some more of his adventures. He's a busy guy, but I hope he remembers me. Here's a sneak peak into what's happening in his latest story:


Looks like he's got quite the war on his hands...

I'm going to concentrate on getting him more attention; he deserves it for what he's accomplished. If you can, share some Jack love and spread the word. We'd both appreciated it. And then there's still the agent search going on. Sadly, I thought the agents that I queried, that I'd met and known from, and worked with, at the NJ SCBWI conference and events would at least have answered to say 'Thanks anyway, but...' I guess it's the way of the world. And the search goes on!

 June 26, 2017 
The last one!


Jack's series is complete (but that doesn't mean his story is over). It's with relief, and sadness, that I move forward. Indie publishing is not for the faint of heart- it has been an uphill battle since the beginning but worth it to see my favorite novel in print. I'm hoping with the endorsement by a NYC educator (you can read it on the Evolution Revolution series page), and some good reviews, it will take off. I'm always open to going traditional route if an editor expresses interest. I need to return to traditional publishers for my YA novels because of the lack of love for Indies. I'm working on a number of manuscripts: here's a quick tease: time travel, medical mystery, psychological thriller, modern faery, vampire (doesn't everyone have one?) and 2 sci fis. So, I have enough to keep me busy all summer, fall, & winter! I'm just enjoying not having to drive to events, my son's activities, and my own. Any good news, I'll be posting.

March 15, 2017
The agent search goes on, but there's some interest in a manuscript. I'm ever hopeful. In March, I'm attending a craft weekend with an editor and agent giving me feedback on two different manuscripts. I'll be reviewing and revising all those manuscripts in the drawer (about 8) and finishing up 2 others. Evolution Revolution: Simple Lessons is in its final polishing stage. Cathy is working on the cover and inside illustrations, and Marcie is starting the Educators Resource Guide. May, 2017 is the projected launch. Any good news, you'll be the first to know!

January 17, 2017 
It's here! 

The ARC (advance reader's copy) arrived today! It's already been proofed and the thumbs up given. Copies arrive at my house on January 30th! This week I hope to finish combining books 3 and 4 as this is going to be a trilogy. It's more expensive, time consuming, and technical than I want to deal with, so from 6 down to 4, down to 3. My publicist Rebecca Grose and I are gearing up for the release. By June I hope to have my Educator's Resource Guide finished by Marcie Colleen, a fellow SCBWI member and picture book author among her many hats. Who knows, maybe Jack will find a publisher and longer life down the road; the reviews coming in are all so favorable (check the Evolution Revolution page). One may continue his story. Or, I may still go back to it, but only if I become successful enough that I can pay someone to do all the formatting, etc. "The future's not ours to see, que sera, sera," as the song goes (what will be, will be). Check back!

January 11, 2017 
Hopefully the final revisions for Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans are done! (If not, it'll cost me. One thing to be aware of when you go Indie- if you have someone else do the formatting, they charge you for every little change. And if you change your manuscript, that throws off the formatting, which requires changes, which they charge you for... See? And if you format it yourself, you could spend weeks (months??) trying to get everything right.) But the cover is done! Looking good for a January 30th debut!

January 5, 2017 
Just received the galley proof for Evolution Revolution: Book 2, Simple Plans and this is what it looks like after I 'reviewed' it!


Still more edits! Hopefully, this will be the last time because I hope to debut on January 30th! Stay tuned!

December 22, 2016
Evolution Revolution:Simple Plans is off to be formatted! One last review/revision and it will all come together. The cover is debuting today, so then it's on to book 3! Phew! Look for that book to release in April/May. Book 4, the final in the series (unless Hollywood or a publishing house want to make a big deal of it).

November 27, 2016  
Still no agent, but that's expected; everyone's wrapping up open projects, trying to clear their desks and be free for holiday parties. For my NaNoWriMo project (after I wrote the entire book 4 of Evolution Revolution) I interviewed a former Fire Commissioner/Fire Chief/Firefighter. Lots of good details. I like having the facts correct even though this is a work of fiction. Nothing's worse than a story where something happens and I (or someone else) calls bullsh*t! on an aspect. Even though I had to interrupt my writing for research, it will help me keep the flow going and maybe I'll catch up before December 1st. Maybe not, but at least the facts are in! I'm starting to get some good reviews in for Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines and that has me so excited! Marcie Colleen- author/educator will be designing the educator's guide which encompasses all 4 books. Can't wait!

November 14, 2016
Yikes! It's been a while. I've gotten the rough drafts of the illustrations for Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans. Can I just say SWOON! The cover is blue. That's all I'm going to say, a reveal is in the works. Check in and find out when! In other projects, I finished the rough draft of the fourth and final book in the Evolution Revolution series. While I'm sad to say goodbye to Jack, he's in the woods somewhere, sharing what he's learned. Who knows, maybe he'll pop up again later. And because the book was only (ha!) 21,000+ words, which did not fulfill my NaNoWriMo goal, I'm starting on a YA project that's giving me the creeps. No ghosts, nothing paranormal, no gore, but scary. It's delicious! It won't be finished until the new year because November has Thanksgiving, the NJ Assoc of School Librarians conference, family visits, bell choir performances, and the start of the Christmas season which is a big thing for me. December is December and all that goes with it. So, January will be filled with revisions of Jack 3 for publication, Jack 4 initial review, and finishing my new YA. What will YOU be doing?

October 31, 2016
After attending an NJ SCBWI workshop for PABL (published and/or listed) authors on marketing (the bane of my writing existence), writing the next novel (never a problem) and booking school visits (a terrifying new adventure I hope to undertake soon), I'm hunkering down for NaNoWriMo. I will be writing the fourth, and final, book in the Evolution Revolution series. (Unless I hear from an editor....? Bueller?) Since it is a middle grade book it may not be as long as my usual novels, but one can never tell since I have to wrap up Jack's story and work in the last simple machine, pulleys. Jack now has a broader understanding of simple machines and a variety of human words, and I have a new character to add in which will help move the story. I'm going to be sad to see this series end, but if I ever feel the compulsion (or readers demand it, or best scenario, the rest are bestselling), I can always find more trouble for Jack to get into. At least now I know how to deal with formatting the manuscripts, and what to expect. I've learned from my mistakes. The second book, Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans is ready to go- I'm just waiting on art which my illustrator is shooting for December. I'm hopeful for a late December debut, but maybe January would be more realistic. Check back!

October, 14, 2016
My agent and I have parted ways.

October 4, 2016 
Ooh, the frustrations! Notice I use the plural form. I've been struggling with a few things. But, I'm to the point where I should have everything worked out. First, I got most of my revisions in the manuscript. Two or three, like one page being one sentence shorter than the others- had to stay because it would have wreaked havoc on the formatting of the entire manuscript. So, I had to let them go. I will address this issue in the next book, Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans. I have learned that it is better to pay $150 and have CreateSpace do all the formatting. Any mistakes and they will have to fix it. I think I spent more money on upset stomach and migraine medication. I should have done this from the start. The next issue was formatting the book for Kindle. Even though CreateSpace and Amazon are owned by the same company, and do business back and forth, they don't TALK TO EACH OTHER. It's like when we added an addition onto our house. The Zoning Dept. and the Code Enforcement Dept. were next door to each other, but when an issue came up, I was running back and forth because they wouldn't talk to each other. It was totally silly and stupid and proves government waste because why the hell did I spend $1300 on duplicate building plans so that even the janitor had a copy and could easily have answered their questions? I was going back and forth and clearly, Amazon hires people who don't know as much as they should. I was told that the book would only be available for the Kindle Fire. Which means me-the author, who owns a plain Kindle- could not get a copy of my own book unless I bought a Kindle Fire. Which is pure b.s. I went back to CreateSpace and just paid them $79 to format the book. The cost is adding up, but faced with the choice of listening to some twit who doesn't know what they are talking about, and trying to figure it out on my own, wasting time that could be spent writing other books and doing PR, I paid them. Keep this in mind. Unless you're a computer whiz or very tech savvy, talking to so called company 'experts' is going to keep you hopping like a blind rabbit on a hot skillet. Then there was the shipping delay. CreateSpace told me my copies would arrive in time for the Collingswood Book Festival. But four days before (they waited a week) they called me to say the book underwent an extra review because I'd ordered a good amount. Why did they wait a week? That meant I wouldn't have books for two events. I cried and told them they couldn't do that to me. Wah, wah. Surprisingly, they rushed 30 books to me just in time for the events. (A one time deal, they said.) Even though this was not a problem of my making, I appreciate how they expedited enough books for these events. ER was my best selling book that day. Hopefully the rest of the books, and the Kindle version, will be ready within two weeks and the only frustration will be trying to sell the book. Then it's on to book two...

September 20, 2016 
It's 10 days before the planned debut- and it looks like I won't make it until sometime in October. As soon as I could, I ordered a proof. And immediately went through it word for word, correcting mistakes. Then I tried to edit it. Because my agent used Adobe Pro, Adobe wouldn't let me edit my own manuscript unless I bought a subscription to the program. (Note: you DON'T NEED Adobe Pro. Don't be hoodwinked. And pardon my French- Bastards). Needless to say, this is creating havoc with my plans, book signings, and my publicist. Adobe Pro is now on the list of things NOT to save during the zombie apocalypse. So, after much crying and screaming, I've given up trying to finish this book myself. My agent has agreed to finish it, and I can only hope that it's not too far into October that it finally debuts. In the meantime, I've already started formatting the second book, Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans. In the end, to get the pictures just right, I will end up paying CreateSpace $150 to do the layout. Indie publishing with illustrations is not cheap (at the end, I will tally up the the costs so you get a clear picture. Success does not come cheap.) 

September 8, 2016 
After much hair pulling trying to finish up all the downloading and illustration issues, I ordered a physical copy of the book to proof. Here's what the cover looked like:

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Unfortunately, you can see the title is a little squished. Cathy will fix this and send me a new file to upload. The interior pics are all perfect! (Even if CreateSpace is telling me that the illustrations are only 200 dpi (those are the dots, like on your TV, that make the picture. More dots, more detail.). But Cathy says they are 300 dpi, and CreateSpace admits there is a problem on their end, so that shouldn't be a problem. Now I have to fix the grammatical and format problems; missing periods, duplicated words, chapters starting on the wrong side, etc. I have to go into the original files formatted by my agent and see if I can fix these issues. Honestly, I'm not looking forward to it. Wish my computer-savvy boys would jump in to help (I pay well) but they're reluctant... (I'm not totally lunatic..) Been in contact with Rebecca Grose, my pub relations person, trying to pull together signings and events and marketing. Stick around, we're coming down the home stretch.

August 23, 2016
Wow, it's been INSANE. Cathy and I have been tweaking the cover and interior illustrations. I'm going to share one interior pic that I'm not posting on my main blog just for you loyal people. First, here's the final cover!!


If you've been following my blog, you've seen it. I wanted to put it here for the record. Some changes I wanted, like the font for the title; others Cathy put in, like featuring Jack and his wheel. This beautiful result makes my heart sing. Ten years + in the making. Now for the interior pic...



This is the young boy who teaches Jack about wheels and simple machines. The wheelchair plays an important part of Jack's intellectual 'evolution' and that's all I'm going to say!

But it's not all ahhhs and oooohs. There have been a few rough bumps. While my agent started this journey with me, the agency will no longer assist authors on an Indie journey, so I'm left to finish the job. It's been confusing and hard and frustrating. Note to all aspiring Indie publishers- it's not as easy or simple as they claim. Using CreateSpace and more so Smashwords are an exercise that will test your patience, determination, and deciphering skills (so much of the 'directions' are gobbledygook unless you're really up on computer lingo.) Plus, while their customer service is available 24/7 (so they say), they don't give you a phone number so you have to wait around for them to call. Okaaaaay; raise your hand if you can do that. Yup, not too many. 

As of today, I haven't figured out Smashwords and because of suddenly having to finish up the first book, the series will be delayed. I had planned on releasing book 2, Simple Plans, in December, but with book 1 and events around the holiday season and sons returning to school, it will take time for me to completely decipher and understand formatting, illustration placement, etc. If anyone knows of someone proficient (and with references) that I can hire, let me know because when it comes down to it, I'm a dreamer, writer, plotter. Computers just ain't my thing. 

And the journey, though bumpy, continues.

July 18, 2016 
My illustrator Cathy has been hard at work on the cover. Below is the initial very rough draft:


No, this isn't the cover. Cathy, after some input from her artist critique group, scrapped this idea. Why? Too general, it wasn't specific to my book. I have a rough, and a revised new cover, but I'm waiting on Cathy to get back from vacation to color and refine it. The squirrel, Jack, is the main cover, so that I liked him being front and center. But the critique group, made up of outstanding artists, some of whom I know personally, urged Cathy to stretch her creativity. When you see the new cover, I know you'll agree with me that it's way more fabulous. This rough was good, the new one....it's what I dreamed of, but couldn't articulate. That's why you hire a pro! I'm hoping in two weeks I'll have the formal cover reveal. Stay tuned!

June 28, 2016
New author photos! Revised illustrations! Things are starting to move now. I wish I had final proofs to show you, but soon enough. My illustrator, Cathy, is revising the cover and I love the direction she's taking it. That's why it's important to have a good relationship with your illustrator. She needs to 'see' what I'm not articulating because she has the better artistic sense, and she needs to implement changes which I want for my 'vision.' My photographer, Suzy Key Ryan, is a long time SCBWI friend and colleague. She's a whiz with a camera. I can't believe how good she makes me look. I told her I must seriously consider giving up writing to be a supermodel- that's a testament to her talent, not my looks! She'll be appearing in a blog post, along with her great and my not-so-good shots and will offer advice on getting the right author photo.

June 16, 2016
My publicist Rebecca, is starting to put together our launch campaign. I'm writing bios, gathering information on people, blogs, websites that can help me with the launch. My illustrator Cathy sent rough sketches for the cover and several chapters. They need a little tweak, the cover needs detail and color, and then off to the printer! The text is all set. Next week my good friend Suzy Ryan is taking new author photos which I hope to debut in late June, early July. We are on course for a September debut!

June 6, 2016 
I've just had another wonderful experience at the NJ Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator's annual conference. Got to meet (briefly!) with my agent, Natalie Lakosil of the Laura Bradford Literary Agency (we were both super busy), catch up with old friends, make new ones, and hopefully give some useful guidance to new/beginning writers. The BEST part? The workshop I did with Woodbridge, NJ Forensic Crime Scene Detective Guy Olivieri. We did "Scene of the Crime" which focused on being authentic in writing believable crime scenes in your novel. I handled the fiction part (do your research, don't be obvious, be creative), and Guy focused on actual forensic protocols and information. We both set up a crime scene. Mine was from Blonde OPS where the main character, Bec Jackson uses real science to help her solve a crime relating to her computer. I'm not going to ruin it for you, so just buy the book. Guy had actual bullet casings, crime photos, and some really cool props (can't use real cut off human hands or blood). Attendees were encouraged to study the crime scenes up close and participate in their own investigation. It was so much fun, I could have done it more than twice. And it seems to me my partner 'in crime' has his own fan club now. Guess I've got to be cooler! It will take me all year to come up with a new idea for next conference...

May 9, 2016
T! E! A! M! Goooooo Team!

Now that all the contracts are signed, here's the team I'm hoping will make my middle grade adventure series a winner:

My Agent:

Natalie M. Lakosil is an agent at the Bradford Literary Agency. An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. After nearly four years at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and a brief dabble in writing author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune, Natalie joined the Bradford Agency in February of 2011.






My Illustrator:
Cathleen Thole-Daniels has been a published illustrator since 1990. Her clients include Simon & Schuster,Barnes & Noble, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Legend Entertainment, Fleer Trading Card Co, Topps Trading Card Co. Her professional awards include Best Logo Design NJ-SCBWI 2009, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Visual Artist Fellowship Award 2008, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Illustrators & Writers Of The Future Contest, Honorable Mention 1992. Cathleen was also a N.J. State certified Commercial Art educator from 2002-2014. Her educator awards include N.J. Governor's Award in Arts Education 2006, Outstanding Educator in the Arts Award, VSA Arts of New Jersey 2006. VSA is an affiliate of the JFK Center for Performing Arts. Cathleen now spends her time illustrating for kids, playing with her cats and bugging her husband, daughter and neighborhood squirrels to pose for photo reference! You can find her work at  http://cathleendaniels.com/



My Publicist:
After years of working in children's publicity at Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and other major publishers, in 2003, Rebecca Grose started her own freelance literary publicity firm - SoCal P.R. (www.socalpr.net). Using her experience and relationships with media, booksellers, and other key contacts, she works closely with her clients to strategize, design, and implement successful publicity campaigns. She has worked with several of my friends, including Yvonne Ventresca, for her Pandemic release.




So that's the team. We're all excited for this project and I think working together it will be a dream realized for me. This is the first children's book that I wrote (if you don't count all the verbose picture manuscripts I tried). And as I've mentioned, it has a special place in my heart.



Next week, this post will move over to my journey page and my blog posts will go back to writerly and world musings. When something big or exciting (hopefully not upsetting) occurs, I'll post it to the main blog then move it over.



Next, I hope to show a rough draft from Cathleen as our projected debut is September for the first book, December for the second. If all goes well, March for the third and June for the fourth.


April 25, 2016

Moving steadily forward, I have signed a contract with Cathleen Thole-Daniels (who is also the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators regional advisor for New Jersey). I'm sending a deposit for the first one third now that I have a binding contract. After I publish the books, I will put up a post showing the expenses so you'll have an idea what it costs to produce a series like mine.

Hiring an illustrator is not as simple as saying, 'Hey, can you draw well?' While I knew Cathy from working with her at the NJ SCBWI conferences, I asked to see some of her work- and checked out other illustrators. I reviewed portfolios to see if the artist had a style that I wanted. I'm not a big fan of very advant-garde work; no 'Picasso-ish' or ultra modern; I wanted a more traditional style because the only color in the book will be the cover; all interior pictures will be pen and ink. Plus, I have to keep an eye on expenses since the series is a planned six books. Cathy had a style that I wanted as soon as I saw it. Plus, I knew I could work with her, having known and worked with her at the conferences.

Liking a person and their work is still not enough of a basis for hiring them. "Get it in writing." I live by this code for almost everything. Cathy has a standard contract and while I was sure it was fine, I sent it to my agent, Natalie Lakosil, because she looks at it from where it will benefit/hurt me. Only minor changes were needed and we both signed.

Cathy, Natalie, my publicist, and I have all agreed to have book one released in September, book two in December. If all goes well, book three will be March, and book four June. I hope it works out that book five will debut September the following year and the final book six (unless I get an attractive contract from a traditional publisher or make oodles from self-pubbing) will come out that December.

And that's where I am today in this journey. I will formally introduce you to my team next. So stay tuned!

April 2, 2016

As I travel the road of self-pubbing my middle grade adventure novel, you're invited. I'll share the process, the pitfalls, the perks.

Here's where I am:

  • Books 1-3 are written, books 4-6 are (roughly) outlined. When I start book 2, I'll start working on the others. I'll need some time to get them written, edited, revised and ready to go.
  • I've found an illustrator and am working out the details of the contract. I'm doing a full color cover, with pen and ink illustrations. Originally I wanted one illustration per chapter, but it's too costly, so there will be a pic either every other chapter, or every 2 chapters.
  • I'm working with my agent, Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary. She'll continue to submit my other novels to traditional publishers while we work on this project. She has valuable insight, knows which companies to avoid, and will make sure I stay on target to produce a quality product.
  • I've decided to go all in and work with a publicist. Not only will this help with sales for this project, but I'll learn a lot to help me with future releases. As soon as I have a contract, I'll introduce you to her. In the meantime, I'm brainstorming ideas.
  • I'm considering a title change. Going to run that by both agent and publicist. While I love my title, it may not catch the interest of my targeted readers: third and fourth graders.
So, that's it to date. I'm updating my blog and social media accounts and trying to work on revisions to another novel.

Stay tuned....


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