|In my blissful, pre-published days, I erroneously believed that once an author received the coveted “call” and turned in a complete manuscript, she could relax and put her feet up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being published means honoring contracts in a timely fashion, along with a multitude of details. No longer was I squeezing time to “write a book” into my daily routine of tending home, family and day job. With each new release, the juggling act increases from three balls in the air, to four, five or even six.
Let’s take a look at how five projects could potentially demand your attention simultaneously:
First, there’s the book you’re currently writing and editing, according to your publisher’s expectations for word count, level of violence, etc.
Secondly, the book you recently submitted is by no means done. A plethora of add-ons must be finished before the book heads to the printer, such as developmental edits, line edits, back cover copy, book cover suggestions, and blurbs for catalogs and sales brochures.
Thirdly, if this was a series, chances are a book was recently released and requires promotion. Your title will either sink or swim during the first several months. An author must get the word out to readers through blog interviews, website and newsletter giveaways, and book signings, along with social media. Otherwise, with so many fine books releasing each year, how will potential readers find yours?
Fourthly, an author needs to research the next book she intends to write, and that often involves travel or at least long hours spent in the library. Not everything on the internet can be trusted for accuracy, so first-person travel, when possible, is especially helpful.
And finally, what happens when your current series draws to a close? If you don’t wish to be out of a job, you must devise an irresistible proposal that your publisher cannot turn down. Publishing houses consider projects well in advance, so authors need to think far down the line too. Considering all this stress, hard work and long hours, you might conclude that I’m complaining. Nothing would be farther from the truth. I love being an author and pray each night for God to make me a better juggler. Happy reading!
Mary Ellis has written twelve best-selling novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances. Her latest, Magnolia Moonlight, is third of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. She enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog, and cat. Sunset in Old Savannah releases in early 2017. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or www.facebook.com/Mary-Ellis/Author
Without Losing Your Mind!” She’ll be giving away a copy of her Amish cozy mystery, BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE, nominated for a 2016 Carol Award
Friday, Suspense Sister Mary Ellis will interview author Rachel McMillan. Rachel is giving away a copy of her book, THE BACHELOR GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER!
Don’t forget, readers, this is the release week for Magnolia Moonlight, which has already made CBD’s fiction best-seller list, top 20. Thank you to everyone who pre-booked a copy. It is still 7.99 at http://www.christianbook.com . It will release for electronic readers on August 1st. Also on August 1st, books one and two of series will be on sale in all e-formats. Midnight on the Mississippi will be .99 and What Happened on Beale Street will be 2.99.
Don’t you just love a sale?? Have a great week. Mary
Write what you know…is a quote usually attributed to Mark Twain. Twain might have been a great American novelist, but his advice better suits authors of the 19th century. What are authors supposed to do in the 21st century when expected to produce two or three novels a year? As books become shorter and faster-paced, some writers are releasing books faster than that. If as a full-time professional writer you only write about subjects you’re familiar or experienced with, won’t you run out of story fodder? On a personal level, how many stories about a schoolteacher, living on the edge of Amish country, who loves gardening, animals and American history will readers tolerate? Perhaps more practical advice for this day and age would be: Write about what fascinates you, or perhaps the person you hope to one day become.
I have reached the stage when retirement isn’t a distant pipedream. As much as I love Ohio, winters have grown intolerable. My husband and I are determined to live three or four months of the year in the warmer and sunnier South. Recently we’ve combined our quest for inexpensive spots to “snowbird” with my new mystery series. The setting for my first story was easy…New Orleans, a city we visited while family lived in the area and many times since. After several stays in Cajun country I was playing the washboard with spoons and cooking gumbo from a roux. My second mystery, What Happened on Beale Street, allowed me to indulge my love of the blues while researching Memphis and the Mississippi delta where rice and cotton fields stretch to the horizon. For my current work in progress, I prowled the streets of Natchez, a charming town overlooking the mighty Mississippi where the police captain turned out to be the nicest person I ever interviewed. As we check out new places to live, I’m discovering wonderful spots for fictional dead bodies to wash ashore or characters to go missing.
If you’re looking for new story ideas, why not consider places you’ve always wanted to visit? Start with research at your local library and on the internet. Then create the characters of your dreams. Maybe you can give them the talents you always longed to have. Your enthusiasm will turn your story into a page-turner readers can’t put down. And just think…when you visit the area to tweak the details, your trip becomes a tax deductible expense. Sounds like a win-win situation, no?
What Happened on Beale Street , book 2 of Secrets of the South Mysteries, releases in late March in print and April 1st in electronic versions in bookstores and online everywhere. Book one, Midnight on the Mississippi from Harvest House Publishers is available now.
Happy Monday, readers!
Those who follow me on Facebook know I’ve been on a month long research trip and overdue family vacation. For those of you not on Facebook, I recently visited the settings I used in What Happened on Beale Street, namely Memphis and the Mississippi delta. Since blues music comes front and center in my March release, I especially enjoyed the Ground Zero Blues Club, owned by actor Morgan Freeman, in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Then I researched in Natchez, Mississippi and Bay St. Louis, along the Gulf Coast. Both settings are used in my current book in progress, Magnolia Moonlight, book 3 of Secrets of the South Mysteries from Harvest House Publishers. I fell in love with the Gulf of Mexico, especially Ship Island and Bay St. Louis, a small town hard hit by Hurricane Katrina, but almost fully restored. Next we visited the French Quarter of New Orleans, setting for Midnight on the Mississippi, just for fun. Finally we finished up with a week in the beautiful Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, including Balsam and Hendersonville.
While I was gone my publisher released a novella collection with Murray Pura and Jerry Eicher called Amish Christmas Memories. It’s available only in electronic versions at CBD, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.
As much as I love researching and travel, it’s good to be back. They don’t call it home, sweet home for nothing. I hope you’re enjoying autumn wherever you live. And keep on reading! ~ Mary
Happy Autumn, folks! Without further ado, here’s the winner of Kathleen Fuller’s new book, Never Broken. Katy Emmert, come on down. I will send you an email and Kathy will send that right out. Thanks to everyone who left Kathy a comment.
Also, if you have a moment please drop by Clash of the Titles to vote for Midnight on the Mississippi as a book you would like to read. I have been selected to participate in a “clash” between titles based on the appeal of the book cover. Thanks so much!!
Thanks, readers, and have a lovely week from the Gulf of Mexico where I’m researching book 3 of Secrets of the South mysteries set in Natchez and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. This photo was taken on Ship Island in the Gulf Shores National Seashore. Not so autumn-y here….
Today I wanted to share photos of the best part of being an author….research. I was fortunate enough to travel to England several years ago for background for my latest book, The Last Heiress. The story which starts in Manchester and continues in Wilmington, NC features a pair of identical twins. During the American Civil the English textile industry nearly ground to a halt due to the blockade of southern ports. No export of cotton….no raw materials to for the mills. My British twin, Amanda Dunn, is heir to the largest textile mill in Manchester, England. After the blockade of southern ports threatens to destroy the family business, Amanda’s father sends her to Wilmington to restore trade. Her estranged twin sister, Abigail, eloped at 17 with an American cotton broker, lives in Wilmington. Blockade runners, such as those owned by Abigail’s husband, would leave the southern coast of the United States bound for the ports of Liverpool or Swansea, and then the mills of Manchester.
Amanda plans a long overdue reunion with her twin, conduct business for her dad, and hurry back to England. Fate has other plans for our heiress. Amanda butts heads at every turn with her brother-in-law, a slave-owner, in a town not used to dealing with businesswomen. When she falls in love with a local shopkeeper, a man who refuses to fight for the Confederacy, class distinctions, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance.
My trip to England allowed me to reconnect with an old friend, Caroylne Way,
who lives in Gosport (near Portsmouth in southern Hampshire.) Carolyne’s great grandfather owned a mine which supplied coal for the garment mills during the nineteenth century. I was able to use real events which took place at his mine in my story. Of course as you can see from my pictures, I had plenty of time to see merry ole England too.
Research also took me not less than a half-dozen times to the beautiful city of Wilmington, NC on the Cape Fear River. Lucky for me, the riverfront area, some of downtown, along with Fort Fisher on the peninsula looks like it did 150 years ago.
Fort Fisher was the final definitive battle of the Civil War, fought on both land and sea.
Ahhh, research. For some authors, the topic draws beads of sweat to the brow. But if a writer is able to pack a bag, book a flight and travel, then history…and the story can truly come alive.
Hope you enjoy these pics from England
and Scotland. And I hope you’ll look for The Last Heiress, a book from Harvest House Publishers which was a pleasure to write!! Have a great week, readers….Mary
Happy Tuesday, readers. I do hope you’re keeping warm wherever you are. It’s all of 11 degrees here in Ohio, but at least it has stopped snowing.
I’m thrilled to announce my new book is about to release, The Last Heiress, which I researched both in England and Wilmington, North Carolina. My British pal, Carolyne Way, inspired my story during my last visit to the U.K. Carolyne told me about her great grandfather who owned a coal mine near Manchester. This mine supplied the lucrative garment industry along the western coastline. She also relayed the true story about a mine collapse which killed both miners and textile workers alike which figures into my story. My book is about twins who become estranged when one sister, Abigail, elopes with an Southern cotton broker from North Carolina. My heiress twin, Amanda, sets off for America to restore shipments to her textile mills curtailed by our Civil War.
When Amanda meets Nathaniel Cooper, a Wilmington shopkeeper, her desire to conduct business and return home changes. Amanda’s family deems the hardworking merchant unsuitable for an accomplished heiress. And when Nate loyalties regarding the war begin to shift, Amanda has her own battle on her hands. As the Union noose around Southern ports tightens, Nate contemplates joining the Glorious Cause—not in support of slavery but to watch his brother’s back. Class distinctions, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance for Amanda and Nate.
The Last Heiress is available for pre-book from CBD and will ship the same day books arrive in their warehouse. It will be available in electronic formats on February 1st. Here’s the link for a hot-off-the-presses print copy at 25% off retail:
I hope you’ll look for The Last Heiress at your favorite library or bookstore. Happy reading! ~ Mary