Friday, June 18, 2021

Book Publishing Secrets with Connie Berry, Author of 'The Art of Betrayal'

Name: Connie Berry

Book Title: The Art of Betrayal

Genre: Traditional Mystery

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Links to book

Amazon: The Art of Betrayal: A Kate Hamilton Mystery: Berry, Connie: 9781643855943: Books

Indiebound: The Art of Betrayal: A Kate Hamilton Mystery |


Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?

Connie: Like many, probably most, authors, I’ve been writing all my life. As a child, I wrote and illustrated my own stories. Interestingly, most of them contain a mystery although not a murder. My fascination with books and reading came from my mother, who’d been a teacher. She read to me every day and brought the words on the page to life by adopting different voices for the characters. In junior high, while wandering the stacks in my local library, I discovered P. G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, and the other writers of mystery’s Golden Age. I was hooked on books set in the UK and especially on mysteries.

As an adult I wrote academically and for business. I also did a lot of editing for others. My teaching career required me to prepare a fifty-minute lecture each week, so that required writing as well. When I retired from that job, I decided it was now or never. I’d pursue the dream that had been lurking in the back of my head for decades—writing a mystery. I wish I could say it was easy. That first book was written and rewritten over a period of almost ten years.

Is this your first book?

Connie: No, The Art of Betrayal is the third in the Kate Hamilton Mystery series. One of the joys of writing a series is the opportunity to follow characters over an extended period of time. They learn, grow, change, adapt. Sometimes they make mistakes and have to pay for them. They fall and have to get back up and go on. I recently moderated a panel of historical mystery writers, and the participants all said that as you write multiple books, you learn to write faster. I still waiting for that to happen. 

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

Connie: From the beginning, my goal was to be traditionally published. That’s certainly not the only path, nor is it necessarily the best path for a writer to take. But being traditionally published does give you a certain standing in the writing community. Your book is eligible for industry prizes, for example, like the Agatha Awards, the Lefty Awards, The Edgars. My first novel, A Dream of Death, won the IPPY Gold Medal for Mystery and was a finalist for the Agatha Best Debut.

Being traditionally published also provides some support in the way of publicity and marketing. Plus the distribution is handled. Some authors love the business-end of publishing. They’re great at social media and love having their finger on every stage in the process. Other authors (like me) just want to write. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about printing costs, cover design, and distribution. 

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

Connie: My story isn’t typical. As I said, getting published took me almost ten years. That in itself isn’t unusual. Many writers have a similar story. For me, a lot of that time was spent learning craft. Although writing has always been one of my top skills, and in spite of the fact that I had a graduate degree in English Literature and had read literally thousands of mystery novels, I didn’t have a clue how to produce a good story. I had to learn, and one of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. I made plenty of them. 

During those years I did a few good things, though. One was reading a wonderful book on craft—Don’t Sabotage Your Submission by Chris Roerden. Another was joining writers’ organizations such as Sisters in Crime, Guppies, and Mystery Writers of America. These groups offer valuable opportunities to learn and receive feedback. The problem is, you have to listen. Some of the advice I was given meant major revisions. I dug my heels in and kept trying to polish my words. Finally in the fall of 2017, I decided to do a final, massive revision that involved changing from third to first person, eliminating all but one POV, and cutting out several characters and an entire story line. I finished that revision on January 1, 2018. In February, I went to the SleuthFest Conference in Florida and met my editor at Crooked Lane. She offered me a two-book contract. I got an agent, signed on the dotted line, and that was that. 

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Connie: I learned that my publishing journey is unique. Even though the lead-up to publication was long, once I’d whipped my story into publishable form, the contract came quickly. That rarely happens. 

What I’ve learned about the publishing business as a whole is no secret. Publishing is profit-driven—period, end of story. Publishers want to sell books; they need to sell books; and that requires exposure. You might have the most beautifully written book in decades, but if no one knows you and if no one hears about your book, it may languish near the bottom of the all-important Amazon rankings. That’s why it’s so important for aspiring writers to make connections in the writing and publishing world. If the ivory-tower days for writers ever existed, they certainly don’t anymore. I love the saying I heard first at Malice Domestic, the annual mystery fan conference that takes place near Washington, D.C.: “No one must fail so that I can succeed.” Writers don’t compete against each other. We support each other and promote writers we know and respect. Jump in and make friends.

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Connie: Oh, yes. Writers need to know, however, that publishing traditionally will take time—lots of time. For most people, that means a long query process, first for an agent, then a publisher. After that, the process of editing can take many months. I signed my first contract with Crooked Lane in March of 2018. A Dream of Death was published in April of 2019. That’s more than a year. There was a lot to be done besides editing. A book design had to be chosen, then the cover art and back cover copy produced. ARCs were sent out to solicit reviews and endorsements. I had to have an official author photo taken and write my author bio. I honestly had no idea all that went into producing a book. 

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Connie: I love this question because I wish someone had given me this advice when I was starting out. My best advice is four-fold:

1. Begin writing as early as you can. In my case, my teaching career was so intense I didn’t have time to focus on outside projects. But many people can. If you can mark off time during the day—or even just on the weekends—write, write, write.

2. Read widely—in your genre and outside. This trains your eye and your ear to recognize excellent writing. Notice how successful authors construct scenes, how they develop character, setting, and plot.

3. Take the time necessary to learn craft. Check out available resources such as classes, seminars, and workshops. Don’t be too quick to throw out queries. You usually get one shot. Don’t waste it.  Listen to the advice of those who’ve gone before you. You aren’t required to take that advice, of course, but do listen. Be willing to make changes.

4. Join writing groups in your genre (MWA, SinC, RWA, SFWA, Authors Guild, CFWA). Attend conferences if you can afford it. Make connections with other writers, both published and unpublished. They will become your advocates and encouragers.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Book Publishing Secrets with Amy Rivers, Author of COMPLICIT

: Amy Rivers

Book Title: Complicit

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publisher: Compathy Press

Find out more HERE.


Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?

Author: I’ve always loved writing. As a former director for a sexual assault program, I developed a passion for violence prevention and social justice. After moving to Colorado, I had an opportunity to write full time and I began writing stories about women and the things that they juggle in life. As a voracious reader of crime fiction, it seemed natural to mingle women’s narratives with some of the harder social justice topics. 

Is this your first book?

Author: No, this is my fourth novel. It is the first book in a series featuring forensic psychologist, Kate Medina. 

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

Author: I worked with a small press for my first two novels, before deciding to self-publish. Complicit is the second book I’ve self-published under my imprint Company Press. 

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

Author: My first published piece was an essay in a Chicken Soup book. When I started writing novels, I was in a rush like most emerging authors. I wrote my NaNoWriMo project at the end of November and was ready to send it to print in December. Thankfully, the process of revision slowed me down and the reality of pitching was a shot of much needed perspective. I went through all the paces—pitches, queries, rejections—and eventually published my first two women’s fiction novels with a small press. 

That first experience taught me many lessons about what happens when you sacrifice control of your work for the sake of having a publisher. And when I wrote my first suspense novel, All The Broken People, I was determined to get an agent, sell it to a big publisher, and become a New York Times Bestseller. Then, at a conference, the keynote asked me why I didn’t self-publish. And I didn’t have an answer. Up to that point, I’d been allowing myself to be carried on the current of advice, publishing industry standards, and a healthy dose of fear. Until then, I hadn’t considered that my fear of “failing” wasn’t even related to my own work or career. 

I had a long talk with myself, established actual goals based on my life and what I wanted to accomplish through my writing, and I decided that self-publishing was actually the best choice for me. It’s a ton of work, but I have a background in marketing and business, so part of what usually scares authors away is not terrifying to me. But I did decide that if I was going to self-publish, I was going to do it as if I were a traditional publisher in terms of hiring professionals who could help me do everything well. Editors. Book cover designers. Publicists. 

So, I’ve chosen self-publishing, but I am surrounding myself with amazing people who will help me get my stories into the hands of readers in as polished and professional a manner as I can. 

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Author: I’ve learned so much I could write a book about it and still keep on learning. My two main takeaways, though, are this. First, self-publishing is a lot of work. If you’re looking at self-publishing as a way to avoid rejection or negative feedback, you’re in the wrong place. Self-publishing is a great way to maintain control of your creative works and guarantee that you get to tell the story you want to tell, but it takes dedication, ingenuity, and lots of hard work. Second, no author is an island. You know the stories we hear about authors working in isolation and magically turning out brilliant, bestselling works while avoiding contact with the outside world? Well, those stories are a myth (until you reach Stephen King fame maybe). Regardless of the publishing method you’ve chosen, authors these days should expect to do some of the work related to get their book out in the world. As a self-published author, you are responsible for all the work and unless you have endless financial resources and a whole lot of coffee, you’ll probably need some help with editing, distribution, promotion, and other business-y things. And that’s ok. As it turns out, there are wonderful people in the outside world and it’s also where your readers live. Embrace it. 

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Author: I would recommend that every author take an honest look at their goals and make informed decisions about their publishing journey. Self-publishing is absolutely the right choice for me and it is probably the right choice for many others, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to have all the facts before moving forward. 

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Author: Keep writing! A lot of people want to be authors but finishing a book and then doing all the work to get it out in the world is an arduous process. It’s totally worth it but you have to keep going. When you finish one project, start the next one. 


About the book:

A tangled web of deception and duplicity where predators are shielded by respectability and no one is safe.

Kate Medina had been working as a forensic psychologist and loving every minute until a violent attack left her shaken to the core. She’s retreated to her hometown where it’s safe, accepting a job where the prospect of violence is slim to none. As a high school psychologist, Kate tends to the emotional needs of the youth. It’s not the career she envisioned.

Five years later, a student disappears, leaving the school in crisis. Roman Aguilar, the lead detective, reaches out to Kate for assistance. Kate’s position at the school and her training make her an ideal ally, but her complicated relationship with Roman puts them at odds. 

When the girl’s body is found, changing the focus of the investigation to homicide, Kate finds herself in the middle of a situation she never anticipated. What started as her desire to help puts Kate directly in the crosshairs of an enemy who remains largely in shadow. As her past and present collide, Kate is dragged into the middle of a dangerous game where only one thing is clear—no one can be trusted. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Book Publishing Secrets with Evy Journey @eholychair #books #bookpublishing

Evy Journey, SPR (Self Publishing Review) Independent Woman Author awardee, is a writer, a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse who, wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. Armed with a Ph.D., she used to research and help develop mental health programs.

She’s a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her despite such preoccupations having gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen to spin tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue.



After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home in California and Hawaii where she grew up. An adventure in which she can also make some difference. She ends up in place where she gets more than she bargained for.

Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. He has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it. But they don’t stop him. His decision to go on reading changes his life.

Months later, they meet at a bookstore where Luna works and which Lucien frequents. Fascinated by his stories and his adventurous spirit, Luna volunteers for the Peace Corps. Assigned to Cambodia, she lives with a family whose parents are survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide forty years earlier. What she goes through in a rural rice-growing village defies anything she could have imagined. Will she leave this world unscathed?


Amazon →


Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?

Evy: I did a lot of “academic” writing as a social science researcher. I guess I needed a respite from the rigid rules of that type of writing. Fiction-writing has been an antidote. The Shade Under the Mango Tree is my sixth novel.

Is this your first book?

Evy: It’s my sixth novel and my seventh fiction book. I have a short collection of my short stories and a short story in a collection some other authors put together.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

Evy: In the beginning, I submitted to trad publishing. But it seemed to me they had “rules” I couldn’t follow since I usually write cross-genre. I wanted to maintain my independence, to some extent anyway. So: self-publishing. Still, I pay good, thoughtful attention to what my developmental editors tell me. They and beta readers have been a great help in shaping my stories.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

Evy: For me, independence means an awful lot of work in the writing and publishing process. Part of it is because I’m obsessive-compulsive about my writing. But publishing doesn’t equate to getting read. Promotion and marketing is where I fall apart. But I keep trying.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Evy: As I’ve said above—publishing  doesn’t equate to getting read.-If someone out there will take on the bigger chunk of promoting my books and charge me a reasonable fee for it, let’s connect.

My view on the publishing industry? It’s a business. Money is their be-all and end-all. It’s fortunate for us, readers, that there are great writers they do publish.

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Evy: If you like to be independent, are willing to work, and take the boring with the exciting, go for it. If you love or are adept at promoting, much better.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Evy: Money-wise, prepare to be disappointed. By that criterion, maybe 10% or less of the thousands upon thousands of books published every year make it. If you publish because you have to write, then you’ve won half the battle of fulfilling your dreams. Enjoy that book in your hand with your name on it. The feeling can be quite heady.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Book Publishing Secrets with Joan Schweighardt, Author of 'River Aria'

: Joan Schweighardt

Title: River Aria

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Five Directions Press

Buy now from Amazon


Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published, Joan!  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book.

Author: I decided to become an author a long time ago now, so it’s hard to remember all the relevant factors. But I can say this: I was really shy as a kid, and I had no confidence in myself at all. If an adult asked me a question, I froze and could not answer. But I realized early on that I was skilled at writing, and when I saw that writing enabled me to have a voice without actually having to open my mouth, I latched onto it and I stayed there.

Is this your first book?

Author: No, this is my ninth if you don’t count a couple of children’s books and some books I’ve ghostwritten for clients.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

Author: Five Directions Press is a “by invitation only” publishing co-op. I feel very fortunate to be with them. As you might guess, the idea of a co-op is that everyone pitches in to ensure that each author’s book is as good as it can be. Decisions about what books to publish are based not on what the founders feel is likely to be a big commercial success but on their collective idea of what makes a great read. All the authors at Five Directions are talented storytellers. I’m pleased to be in their company.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

Author: Over the years I’ve had books published by a array of small to mid-size presses. I was with my first publisher for three contemporary novels, but they didn’t publish historical fiction, so when I wrote my first historical I had to find another publisher. My second publisher was great, but they didn’t publish memoir, so I found a third publisher. That’s pretty much the way it has gone throughout my writing career. I’m happy to have had multiple publishing experiences.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Author: Back when my first few novels were published, in the late nineties, there were only two publishing options. Either you were published by a  traditional press or by a vanity press. This was before the digital age and before the technologies that support books on demand. If you couldn’t find a publishing team that thought your book was really worthy and you didn’t have the money (and back then you would have needed a lot of it) to pay a vanity company, you just didn’t get published. I was very fortunate to have a traditional publisher. Now the industry has changed and there are many small publisher options that sit in the gray area between traditional and vanity. And because it’s possible to market your book yourself online, there is even the option of self publishing. Anyone who wants to get published can, but of course driving traffic to your book is about 400 times more challenging that it was back in the old days.

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Author: I would tell emerging authors to explore their options. Ask questions. Will the publisher you’re talking to provide sufficient editing and proofreading? Will they do marketing? If so, what exactly and for how long? What percentage of retail sales will you receive? Will they pay to enter your books in appropriate contests, or will you have to do that yourself? And don’t be afraid to make deals. If you have six thousand friends on social media, maybe you can suggest they up your profit percentage. If that’s contrary to their business plan, maybe they can think of another way to compensate you, such as overseeing contest entries.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Author: This is probably a very common answer, but it’s the best advice I can offer: polish your work. Read it over and over again for content; if you find there is a particular chapter that you don’t feel like rereading, ask yourself why. Get others to read your work too, people who are writers, or at least good readers who will give you honest opinions. If you don’t like their suggestions for changes immediately, wait some. Some suggestions may be wrong for your book, but others may be spot-on—once you’ve taken the time to think about them for a while. I almost always chafe when someone tells me something I’ve written isn’t working. But then I sleep on it—for weeks sometimes—and I often begin to see that they are right. And proofread, and when you are done, have others proofread. Or, if you can afford it, pay a professional proofreader to give it a sweep.  


River Aria is narrated by Estela Hopper, who, as a ten-year-old girl living in the impoverished fishing village of Manaus, Brazil in the early 20th century, is offered a twist-of-fate opportunity to study opera with an esteemed voice instructor. During her years of instruction, Estela, who is talented, passionate and dramatic by nature, dreams of leaving Brazil to perform in New York. But as her beloved instructor is not able to convince the managers of the great Metropolitan Opera that they should bring on a mixed-race immigrant who grew up on the banks of the Amazon River to become an elite performer, Estela accepts what they do offer, a position in the sewing room, and leaves Brazil on a ship with her cousin JoJo in the year 1928.

The challenges that befall Estela and JoJo in New York are plentiful. Estela’s father, an Irish American who came to her village nearly twenty years earlier (at which time she was conceived), has a plan for what her life should look like once she is settled. Her relationship with JoJo changes drastically when he learns he was lied to about his own parentage, and again when he takes a dangerous job working for the owner of a speakeasy. And of course her personal challenges of finding some modicum of success in a place like New York are not only enormous but crushing to her once robust sense of self.

Check out the complete series at

Friday, July 10, 2020

Book Publishing Secrets with Memoirist Marilea C. Rabasa

Name: Marilea C. Rabasa

Book Title: Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation

Genre: memoir

Publisher: She Writes Press


Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?

Marilea: Writing is a tool I have used all my life to try and make sense of some of the things that had been happening to me. My diaries go back to when I was a child. Whenever I am distressed about something, I write about it. Putting my thoughts on paper usually helps me to arrive at some form of clarity. And now I share my thoughts with others, another important part of the process. Other people are critical mirrors to help me take in valuable perspectives on what’s going on. Take in…and consider. There is much that I don’t know, and accepting help from others is an important part of the healing process. It’s also an important part of the writing process. I would be lost without all the great editors who have helped me shape my books.

When I wrote my first book six years ago, I had been dealing with losing my daughter to the hellish world of heroin addiction. It was the biggest challenge I had ever faced in my life, and so, as I had always done before, I decided to write about it. My writing started out as an angry rant, but over time evolved into a powerful memoir, one full of self-discovery.

Life keeps happening, doesn’t it, and I realized that my first “memoir of recovery” wasn’t quite finished. I still had more substance use issues to face that I hadn’t dealt with in my first book. Throughout my battle to save my daughter, my emotional pain found relief, just as my father’s had many years before this, in a bottle. So Stepping Stones is really a sequel to my first memoir, though the focus is on me and not my daughter. I wrote it to  try and heal from the alcoholism that was threatening me. I’m hoping to gift my children and grandchildren with the salient lessons I have learned on how to live well and happily. I want to pay it forward for the next generation and make a difference where it most matters to me.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

Marilea: I chose to publish with She Writes Press, which is a hybrid company in business for a while, with Brooke Warner at the helm. I chose SWP because of their first-rate reputation and their success rate with authors. Traditional publishing was not an option for me, and the small press I used with my first book was lacking in some areas, so SWP seemed like a nice compromise. It also vets potential authors carefully and that matters to me. Many small publishing houses will publish anything that crosses their desk. But She Writes Press is very discriminating, and publishing with them carries a certain amount of distinction.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

Marilea: It was all pretty straightforward. There was an early glitch that was easily resolved. My project manager and all the editors and hidden faces at She Writes Press were endlessly helpful and supportive.  There’s also a well-thought-out timeline to get things done in a timely manner. They’re very organized at SWP. I think the most distinguishing factor in my mind is the thoroughness of their work, their willingness to do and redo the work until everyone—and not just the publisher—is satisfied with the end product. That takes professionalism, time, patience, and a determination to turn out their best product. I’m happy to be part of such a process, as well as its beneficiary.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Marilea: The industry is changing. Traditional publishing is no longer the best way to go and fortunately there are many other options for writers who want to become authors. Brooke Warner and her team have written a handbook for all the authors which has been instrumental in educating us about parts of the industry we may not have known about. One thing that Brooke stressed to all of us is the importance of investing in some form of publicity campaign. There are simply too many books out there to choose from, and if we don’t make an effort to publicize what we write, few people will know about it. I learned to put my faith in the professionals and to avoid small skirmishes which might have been draining. My experience with She Writes Press has been a positive one, and I highly recommend them.

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Marilea: Self-publishing? Absolutely! Many of us, myself included, have no other option. But do your research. There are many publishing houses to choose from, and a thorough search is necessary to find the best one for you. Something else I’ve learned, because there is a huge variety of self-publishing houses out there, is that you get what you pay for. 

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Marilea: Keep writing. Write every day. Be disciplined about it, like calisthenics, or healthy eating, or pruning your fruit trees. Don’t procrastinate. We always find time in life for things and people that matter to us, so if you want to be a writer, then write. Our daily routines and activities say everything about what is in our hearts and our minds. When writing is there, it becomes a natural and effortless part of our daily routine.


About the Book


Addiction is a stealth predator. Unrecognized, it will grow and flourish. Unchecked, it destroys.

Marilea grew up in post-WWII Massachusetts in a family that lived comfortably and offered her every advantage. But there were closely guarded  family secrets. Alcoholism reached back through several generations, and it was not openly discussed. Shame and stigma perpetuated the silence. Marilea became part of this ongoing tragedy.

Her story opens with the death of her mother. Though not an alcoholic, it is her inability to cope with the dysfunction in her life that sets her daughter up for a multitude of problems.

We follow Marilea from an unhappy childhood, to her life overseas in the diplomatic service, to now, living on an island in Puget Sound. What happens in the intervening years is a compelling tale of travel, motherhood, substance use disorder, and heartbreaking loss. The constant thread throughout this story is the many faces and forms of addiction, stalking her like an obsessed lover, and with similar rewards. What, if anything, will free her of the masks she has worn all her life?

Read Marilea’s inspiring recovery story and learn how she wrestles with the demons that have plagued her.     



Thursday, June 18, 2020

Book Publishing Secrets with Rie Sheridan Rose @riesheridanrose #books #bookpublishing

Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. A lot. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers Vols. 1 and 2, and Killing It Softly Vols. 1 and 2. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs. These were mostly written in conjunction with Marc Gunn, and can be found on “Don’t Go Drinking with Hobbits” and “Pirates vs. Dragons” for the most part–with a few scattered exceptions.

Her favorite work to date is The Conn-Mann Chronicles Steampunk series with five books released so far: The Marvelous Mechanical Man, The Nearly Notorious Nun, The Incredibly Irritating Irishman, The Fiercely Formidable Fugitive, and The Elderly Earl’s Estate.
Rie lives in Texas with her wonderful husband and several spoiled cat-children.


Website:  and
The Marvelous Mechanical Man is the first book in a Steampunk series featuring the adventures of Josephine Mann, an independent woman in need of a way to pay her rent. She meets Professor Alistair Conn, in need of a lab assistant, and a partnership is created that proves exciting adventure
for both of them.

Alistair’s prize invention is an automaton standing nine feet tall. There’s a bit of a problem though…he can’t quite figure out how to make it move. Jo just might be of help there. Then again, they might not get a chance to find out, as the marvelous mechanical man goes missing.

Jo and Alistair find themselves in the middle of a whirlwind of kidnapping, catnapping, and cross-country chases that involve airships, trains, and a prototype steam car. With a little help from their friends, Herbert Lattimer and Winifred Bond, plots are foiled, inventions are perfected, and a good time is had by all.


Amazon →

Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Rie: I don’t think there was ever any question in my mind that I would eventually be an author.  From the time I knew what writing was, I wanted to do it. And share it with as many people as possible. I know I was writing poetry by the third grade. Writing this book was mostly a dare for National Novel Writing Month. My writing partner suggested I do it—I think he was supposed to do one as well. I finished mine. I’m still waiting for his.
Is this your first book?
Rie: No. By the time I wrote The Marvelous Mechanical Man, I had at least four other novels in print—one of them completely re-written and re-packaged to become a brand-new book basically—several poetry chapbooks and a short story collection. This one WAS, however, the first time I actually managed to write a sequel. There are now five books in the series, and a spin-off on the way.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Rie: Originally, it was published by a small press in Texas. I chose this route because the publisher was a friend who asked to see the book and was very supportive from the beginning. She did a lot to make the first edition a success—including commissioning the gorgeous cover.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Rie: I think the biggest problem I had with the first edition was that the publisher is probably more of a micro press. She does excellent work, and is one of the best editors I know, but she has a stable of dozens of authors. There was no way she could devote the same resources and time to my book as I could. That’s just the reality of every press. Even the traditional presses don’t offer every author the budget of say Stephen King. As an independent author, I can try as many crazy ideas as I can pay for. And I’ve come up with some doozies. The other problem with small presses is that it is hard to maintain one. I’ve outlived probably a dozen including my first and second publishers back in 2000 when I started.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Rie: I think the main thing I’ve learned from my publishing journey is be flexible, and don’t take anything for granted. Publishers come and go, and even if you are with one of the traditional houses you can be dropped in a minute if your sales start to fall. It isn’t always a matter of talent, either. It is sometimes a matter of luck. Knowing the right people; being in the right place at the right time; making a successful pitch. You never know what might be the piece that catapults you forward to the next level of the journey. One thing I’ve always tried to remember—never burn a bridge. Don’t badmouth other people along the way, or it might come back to haunt you later.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Rie: I wouldn’t have self-published any of my novels if they hadn’t been published by someone else first...until I got to Book Three of my series, that is and stepped into uncharted waters—but by then there is a bit of a following. Otherwise, I look for the validation that someone else is willing to put resources into the project. I never wanted to publish my own work just because it was the only way it would ever be done. Does that make sense? Except poetry. Poetry is hard to find a publisher for. ;)
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Rie: Never quit learning. Read books about writing and apply what works for you. Research if you are writing about a place or time you didn’t live through, or just having a character do something you don’t know how to do yourself. Get feedback—don’t release a child into the world without having several trusted beta readers to tell you what doesn’t work. Revise your first draft. Almost no one is perfect out of the gate. Besides, revision is where the fun starts. Now you know where you are going, you can polish the story till it shines. (This works for any form—short, long, poetry...all of them.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Book Publishing Secrets with David Armstrong, Author of 'The Rising Place'

Name: David Armstrong

Title: The Rising Place

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Find out more: The Rising Place by David Armstrong


Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Is this your first book?

No, this is my debut novel, but The Rising Place is actually my second book. My third novel, The Third Gift, will be released this summer, and I’m currently working on a fourth novel. I have also written four screenplays. I had an aunt who wrote murder mysteries and who was successful at it. I used to brag about having an aunt who was a writer—that seemed so cool to me. And though the idea of following in her footsteps was intriguing, I never cared for her genre. I was a huge William Faulkner fan, though, growing up, and I still am. After I read his last novel, The Reivers, and Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, I was hooked on writing. I think most southern writers—if not all southern writers—have been influenced by both these great authors, to some degree. And then came John Kennedy Toole’s, A Confederacy of Dunces. After I read this wonderful novel, there was no turning back.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

I went with an independent fiction publisher based in New York. I initially tried going the traditional route with a major publisher but had absolutely no luck with this. Unless you’re already an established author, it’s virtually impossible to get one of the big publishers to give you a look. I believe I read somewhere that the odds of this happening are 1/1000, but I think it’s much greater than that. There’s just too much competition out there for a big publisher to consider a new writer—even a very talented, new writer.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

There are always pros and cons about anything or anybody. The writing cons are: writing is hard, demanding, and time consuming—especially if you’re working another full-time job, as I currently am. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for a working mother to find the time to write! Writing is a lonely pursuit, and it costs money to get your book noticed by readers. Some people pay to have their book published. That wasn’t my choice, but I did pay an excellent publicist to help me get The Rising Place noticed. Writing is a cathartic, artistic endeavor, but it’s also a business. And, as in any business, you have to spend money to make money. So, find and hire a good publicist to help you sell your book. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a major publisher take you on and promote your book, you still have to be willing to do whatever it takes to help promote it. With over 2000 new books being released worldwide every day, it’s unrealistic to think you can write a book, have it published by whomever, and that it will sell like COVID19 masks. Not this day and time.

Now to the pros: Like I said above, writing is a cathartic, artistic endeavor which can be one of the most—if not the most—rewarding experiences you will ever have. It can also be financially rewarding. If you have the talent, dedication, and discipline to endure in your writing and querying of an agent or publisher, you will probably succeed. And even if you don’t, you will be so much better off for simply having tried—sort of like that old saying, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.” Corny, perhaps, but true. One more pro: When I write, I am literally “in the flow”—meaning, I’m basically oblivious to everyone and everything around me, except my story and my characters. Sometimes, I can sit at my laptop for eight or nine hours and be totally unaware of how long I’ve been writing. And I’m somehow able to get inside my characters heads and feel, experience, what they’re doing and saying. For me, this is a major turn-on. Nothing has ever done this for/to me, like writing has. Well, there was this young woman once, who….

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Unless you self-publish or pay a vanity press (I know, they really don’t like to be called that, anymore, but….) to publish your book, the publishing industry is a tough nut to crack. I compare it to trying to get into Harvard Law School or make it in Hollywood. Yes, it can be done, but it’s very hard to do so. That’s why dedication and discipline are so critical to a writer’s success. And you have to have tough skin—really tough skin. When I first started writing in the early 1980s (Yep, I’m an old dude.), there were no computers or emails. So, you hand-mailed query letters to potential agents and publishers. They usually wrote you back (there wasn’t as much competition, then, prior to the advent of self-publishing avenues, like Amazon), generally via a form, rejection letter. I received so many that I could tell if it was a rejection letter, just by examining the envelope. And you’ve heard this story before: I received so many rejection letters that they could have covered my bedroom walls. Funny, but also true. But this all was before the advent of a lot of small presses and independent publishers. I feel blessed to have found (or have been led to) an excellent and successful, Indie publisher, The Wild Rose Press.

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Absolutely. Forget the big publisher route. Find a good, small publisher, or an Indie publisher with a successful track record, write a great query letter, and email it to them. It’s still challenging, to say the least, but this is the method I’d recommend. And don’t forget to find and hire a good, experienced publicist, like I did, once your manuscript is accepted. It’s never too early to find a good publicist. They’re in high demand and well worth the investment.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Write something every day. It’s like playing the piano or practicing your golf swing (both of which, I’ve never done well)—you have to just do it and keep on doing it. Also, be patient and never give up. And like Joseph Campbell once wrote: “Follow your bliss.” If you do, you’ll never be disappointed.

About the book:

The Rising Place is an epistolary novel with an intriguing premise: What if you found a box of love letters written during World War II—would you read them? And what if you did read them and discovered an incredible story about unrequited love, betrayal, and murder that happened over seventy years ago in a small, southern town?

A young lawyer moves to Hamilton, Mississippi and meets Emily Hodge, a 75-year-old spinster, shunned by Hamilton society. The lawyer is intrigued by her, though, and can’t understand why “Miss Emily” lives such a solitary and seemingly forgotten life. But the letters Emily leaves for him reveal how her choices caused her to be ostracized, though definitely not forgotten.