Sunday, November 30, 2014

Jorja Matthews, Book #3, is published!

This has been a long year for me and it has taken a bit longer to get the third book in the series published, but the time has finally come…Ties That Bind is now available in paperback and as an eBook! 

Why did this book seem to take longer?  It was a number of things, from my schedule to the editor’s schedule, to the additional time it took to review the book, run through the edits and then review those edits.  The cover took me a little time as well – starting with a test cover, just so that I could order a proof copy of my book, which meant that I later had to spend the following weekend working on the real cover. 

I’m now in that place with my writing that I enjoy…I’m moving on from one story and completely moving on to another.  I’m in the same series, of course, but adding new characters and new mysteries to solve.  I’m away from the review and revise status of writing that can really drain me.  I can finally take that deep breath as I move to the beginning of the line and start the process all over again with a new book.

So if you’ve been waiting for Ties That Bind to finally become available – it’s here.  In paperback and as an eBook on Amazon, in paperback via my eStore and at some point in the near future, I will also take care of making the book available on the Barnes & Noble website, as well.  That, I believe, is the last thing to do on my current to-do list.

Next on my future to-do list will be to schedule a book signing or two but because of the time of year, it won’t be happening anytime soon.  We’ll have to get through the holidays and into next year before I can even think about when and where we might be scheduling a book event. 

For now, if you read the book, please let me know your thoughts, leave me reviews on Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or where ever you frequent, post on my Facebook page…whatever works for you.  I’d love to hear the feedback. 

And last, but not least, thanks for following me on my journey as a writer.

Have a great week – I know I will!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ties That Bind – Cover Reveal!

After making some changes to the initial cover, the proof of Ties That Bind with the new cover was finally delivered yesterday.  Really, even Christmas has a hard time comparing to the feeling I get when I discover there is a box with my latest book waiting for me at the post office.  I feel like a kid opening a gift every time.

Ties That Bind by P.J. Howell
Now that the cover is complete, I can check that task off my list as we move closer to the publishing date.  Since I am nearing the date   when the book will finally be available on line, I’d like to share the book cover with you – here it is:

I would ask what you think of it…but I won’t.  Right now I like it and that’s what’s important at this point.  If I keep second guessing myself, this book won’t get published before the end of the year and I fear many of you will never forgive me if it isn’t available to you before Christmas!

I will admit to something I should have put more thought into when my first cover was revealed, and that’s the fact that I wish I had stuck to a certain look that could have carried over from book to book so that it was apparent they were part of the same series.  While I like the fact that they each have their own character, as far as covers go, I think it would have been better if they had a similar look (and it would have been easier and less time-consuming too).  Now that I’m three books into the series, I’m past the point of no return; however, I was at a local bookstore the other day and I was reminded of the fact that not all book coves are set in stone.  That reminder came from the Hunger Games when I saw that all the books recently got a face lift – new covers with a different look.  I’m already thinking ahead to how fun it might be to redo all the covers for my series once (if) I reach an end to the series so that they all have a similar look.

But that’s obviously a long time from now so I will focus on the covers as they stand.  Now that I have the proof and have thumbed through it again and again, I do feel happy with the result so that I can move forward with finally getting this horse out of the gate.  There are just a few more details to finish with and right now the expectation is that Ties That Bind will be available next week (December 1st is the plan). 

Just one more week! 

I will post an update during Thanksgiving weekend – until then, have a great week.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NaNoWriMo, not really for me, no

I shouldn’t be so negative – I’m only half way through NaNoWriMo but based on how the first part of the month has gone, I am fairly positive I won’t be able to complete the contest this year. 

I do have good reasons for not being able to write, so I really shouldn’t give myself a hard time.

The best reason for getting behind on my writing is that I’ve been working on completing the steps necessary to publish the third book in my series.  It has taken me and others time to review the paperback edition of the book, in order to spot any errors that may have snuck in during the editing phase (and I very much dislike that they do sneak in!).  In addition, there was a fair amount of time I had to spend on putting together a decent cover because I absolutely hated the first version.  I like the second version of my cover much better – I hope everyone else will like it too. 

Another reason for not writing so much involves the family – last weekend I spent a day away to search the streets of Portland for books, gifts and food, and this weekend I spent another day away north of Seattle to celebrate my niece’s first birthday and my nephew’s eighth birthday.  Obviously, writing must take a backseat to such events.

Since the day job takes up most of the daylight hours during the week, I’ve only been left with weekday evenings and Sundays to actually spend any time on my writing.  And here comes my other reason for not writing as much as I’d planned…I was sick with a head cold at least four days last week and by the time I arrived home after work at the end of each day, all I wanted to do was cuddle up on the couch under a blanket with my tissues and a cup of tea.  The creativity just couldn’t flow out of me when I was fighting a constant sinus headache, sniffles and tired, itchy eyes.

Thankfully, I’m on the mend.  We still have half of the month left, so I will do what I can to add as many words to my word count as possible, even given the fact that we still have more family gatherings to attend before the month is up.  Whether I complete NaNoWriMo this year really isn’t going to be an issue for me because at this point, I’m happy with the fact that I’ll finally have the third book in the series published and I’ll have a good start on the next book, regardless of the actual word count.  That’s progress and the fact that I’m moving forward in a positive way is not something I can be negative about.  

So off we go…we’ll see how the second half of November treats me and I’ll do what I can to keep up the progress! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

It’s that time of year…the time to declutter!

It’s the time of year to prepare for colder weather, upcoming family gatherings, extra baking and cooking, shopping, fighting traffic and also fighting longer lines at all your favorite stores.
But that’s not what I’m thinking about right now.

What I’m preparing for is what decluttering my desk actually means: it means moving on from one book as I finally get to focus on the next. 

I seriously enjoy this particular time of “year” – I enjoy the fresh start and I completely enjoy the fact that I finally get to play with all the ideas that have been running through my head with regard to old characters, as well as the new characters and mysteries I plan to bring to the series.

Creative Chaos
My desk has been an absolute mess while I finished going over the edits my editor proposed and also while I was formatting the manuscript so that I could obtain a printed proof copy of the book for review.  But the mess was all part of the creative chaos required when it comes to making sure I check off all the tasks I need to complete before I finally ordering a proof copy.

Now that the proof is on the way via snail mail, I’m moving onto the next book in the series and with that means a new clean notebook, new ideas to research and a new folder to fill up with printouts of all my research and anything this next book might include. 

To prepare for the decluttering, I had to spend valuable time cleaning my desk and organizing all my notes and printouts relating to Ties That Bind in order to dig out that work space I haven’t seen in quite awhile called a desktop – the old-fashioned kind, as in the working surface of a desk, not the digital version.

Well, I finally found it…my desktop.  

Where the Magic happens!
I know have a nice clean surface to work from.  I have the story mapped out, somewhat, as I know there will be many twists and turns as I work through this next book.  It just happens that way since I’m more of an organic writer.  I like it when my characters surprise me and I’ll never stifle them from doing so by limiting my books to a set-in-stone outline.  The prologue of this fourth book in the series has been pestering me for quite awhile and I’m glad I can finally use it in this next mystery involving Jorja and the rest of my characters.

While I will still be spending some time on Ties That Bind so that I can finally get the book published and out to everyone who’s been anxiously waiting for it, I can also spend the quality time on my new book without the added stress involved when I feel buried at my desk.  Now is not the time to feel buried, while I do what I can to participate in National Novel Writing Month, because I want to get a really good start on the fourth book during NaNoWriMo.

I know my desk will soon be a mess again as I move into the creative chaos phase but it’s so nice to have a clean surface to work from again! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

NaNo, yes? Or Nano, no?

It’s that time of year again…when writers who are in for a huge challenge enter the National Novel Writing Month during the whole month of November.  I don’t know who originally decided November would be a great time to plug away on a computer in an attempt to come up with 50,000 words, but I have to say it’s not always the best time of year to suddenly become less available to your family.

That being said, I have taken part in NaNoWri Mo two separate years now. I won with Best Kept Secrets but ended up short on the monthly required word count with Ties That Bind

So I had to make a decision this year…enter for the third year in a row and hope for the best?  Or pass up the challenge and just write as I find the time during, or even after the busy holiday months finally end?

I guess I’m just one of the thousands of writers who are just crazy enough to take on the challenge – I decided to join.  I have two books I’m ready to get started on, Jorja Matthews #4 and a young adult book I’ve decided to finally write.  For NaNoWriMo, I decided to stick with Jorja #4 (haven’t figured out the name just yet) since it’ll be easier to get my word count in after having just completed the third book in the series.  I’ll begin the young adult book sometime after the New Year, I think.

I will admit…I’m not sure if this will be a good month for me when it comes to finding time to write.  I’m still finishing with Ties That Bind, the third book in the series – although it’s pretty much complete.  I’m just formatting the book so that I can order a proof for review and I plan to have it ready and available to publish sometime this month.  But I’m also completing my second short story, titled 1111, and I’m formatting it so that it will also be published this month in paperback and as an eBook. 

If I have any real complaints about the writing process, I guess formatting my books for publishing would be it.  The time and effort it takes to format my manuscripts so that they can be published both in paperback and in eBook form is a bit time consuming and also frustrating because there are many steps I always seem to forget about until I’m stuck trying to remember how I did it so well the last time.  It can be so simple, and yet so difficult, all at the same time.  I think it’s because there is just too much involved, after the book is written and edited, before you can really say your book is truly ready for print.  Just little things like tabs, margins, font size and type, headers/footers (hate them!), widows and orphans, extra spaces, extra returns, section returns, and beyond…it never fails that I forget to do something or something I do changes something else I already thought was perfect.  And this time I learned something new, about the program wanting to keep all the lines together so that if I had any large paragraphs, they automatically ended up on another page by themselves, leaving the previous page only about half full…that took me some time to figure out.

However, this does mean my books are that much closer to being ready for print.  I’ll be receiving proofs for review soon and then I’ll make any necessary changes before committing to actually publishing them.  In the meantime, I’ll fit in whatever writing time I can so that I can do my best to make my goal of 50,000 words on my next book!