Nine Months to Publication with @shewritespress . . . and Counting

For those interested, I’m going to chronicle my publication experience with She Writes Press, a hybrid publisher for women writers.

On November 7th, I signed with She Writes Press. Immediately, they welcomed me with a lovely email. The email also asked to fill out an information sheet about me and my novel. They needed my bio, a photo and a synopsis (actually two, the back-of-the-book copy and a full, true synopsis) for my story. On December 4th, I joined my first SWP Authors call. After the call (which included a webinar), I was sent a tip sheet to fill out (Yep! More homework already – just like you’d expect from a publisher). This requested even more information about my book such as keywords and the BISAC category (i.e., where people will find it on the shelves – both virtual and physical).

On December 15th I was sent my editorial schedule which told me me my publication date will be October 4, 2016. WOOT! Did you hear that? I said, “My publication date.” How I do love the sound of that phrase.

Anyway . . . I digress! I explicitly requested a publication date of October because it’s my favorite month.

October is the month that holds my birthday, my wedding anniversary (to the most amazing man ever), and my favorite holiday (Halloween). And now it will hold the birth of my debut novel! I couldn’t be happier.

This is one of the wonderful things about She Writes Press. Do you think any one of the “Big 5” book publishers would have taken my wishes regarding my publication month into consideration? I think not.

And thanks to my editorial schedule, I know what’s coming and when deliverables are due – both what I owe the publisher and what they owe me. For example, on December 11th I was sent the first concept for my book cover. (Even though they weren’t due to me until January.)

I loved it immediately!

My novel is a science-based thriller. The artist really captured the mystery of the story. It just needed a bit of tweaking to give it a more mainstream “thriller” vibe. I liked it so much I printed a 4 1/4″ x 7″ color copy of it and pasted it onto a book so I could see what it will look like on my bookshelf. (I created the spine too – it’s very realistic!) This is visualization at its finest, my friends.

After I’ve started working with my publicist, I’ll post images of all these things so you can see what I mean in full-color.

Speaking of publicists, I’ve elected to go with BookSparks. She Writes Press and BookSparks are both a part of the SparkPoint Studio family. I interviewed other publicists but none of them seemed to have the personal touch that BookSparks does. My contract with them begins in January.

My manuscript is due to the publisher on February 2nd. My husband generously offered to read it out loud to me. Thankfully, we both enjoyed the story and found no major plot problems. (Whew!) Thanks to his feedback, I spent three days on minor edits (mostly having to do with word choices, etc.). If he stumbled or stopped when reading an awkward sentence, that was my cue to fix things. It was an excellent experience. I’d advise other writers to do the same. Even if you have to pay someone!

Next up, I’m writing a bit for the end of the book where I’ll discuss the science behind the story in the tradition of Michael Crichton’s State of Fear or The Sixth Extinction by James Rollins. I’m hoping readers will want to know more about the science.

Because isn’t that why we love science-based thrillers?

I’m excited to announce that I’ve signed with She Writes Press! (@shewritespress)

Today I signed a contract with She Writes Press for the publication of my first novel!

It has been a long journey to get to this day. I spent four years writing the novel and almost another year querying agents. Some of the responses I got were:

[An agent at a Writer’s Digest pitch slam] “Sounds really interesting! Send me your first 50 pages.” I sent them, then . . . *crickets.*

“This project does not seem right for our agency.”

“This has a bit of overlap with a novel I recently handled [sold], so I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of representing both.” (Really? Why? Doesn’t that tell you that mine would likely sell as well?)

And the one that hurt the most – from my dream agent (who will remain unnamed): “You clearly have the ability to write, but this didn’t grab me by the ears.”

Sound at all familiar, fellow writers?

Anyway, as I get closer to the publication date (Fall 2016) I’ll speak to why I think they really didn’t want to take a chance on it. But that’s not important anymore.

I decided to approach She Writes Press, a hybrid – or “partnership” – publication model. While it is an author-subsidized press, what you get for your money is a team that is behind you and your book 100%. They help you with the back cover copy, the cover design, and the layout for each of the seemingly endless array of eBook formats. They project manage your book journey. Which is just what I needed.

Brooke Warner, publisher at She Writes Press, has been so patient and supportive through the whole due diligence process (I’m sure she began to dread my emails) as well as extremely flexible throughout contract discussions. She ROCKS. And I’m sure everyone else on my new team will be just as amazing as she is.

And as of 12:54 PM Pacific Standard Time on November 6, 2015 I am a signed author!

How to find time to write

Ever since I started writing in earnest I’ve been struggling with the idea of WHEN to write.

Many writers say they use every spare moment to write. They write at their kid’s soccer game, while waiting in line at Starbucks, and so on. And while I do a lot of this, it’s mostly for general concepts. Maybe I’ll come up with a good inciting incident for my new novel, or jot down entertaining bits of dialogue I hear around me. But I’m not inclined to write my next novel on my iPhone, yanno? For one, I can’t stand the tiny little keyboard. And for two (what DO you say after “for one” anyway?), I still love the old fashioned feel of pen to paper. I’ve tried other ways and the words just don’t flow as well.

Other writers say they write as soon as they get home from work, up until they’re ready for bed (or putting the kids to bed). That doesn’t really work for me either. I have this day job that is great – I really appreciate the income and the people I work with. But by the time I get home I just want to do NOTHING. So I have a little wine and watch my favorite TV shows, making mental (or actual) notes about why I like them – snappy dialogue, love-to-hate-them “bad” guys, and story pacing. That counts as research, right? Ahem.

Some writers say a good time for them is very early in the morning before work. They get up at three or four in the morning (there’s a four in the MORNING??!) and write until they have to go to work. My husband, bless his tall-dark-and-handsome head, gets up at this time to workout. He heads to the gym, then goes for a walk or a run and THEN gets ready for work. I love that man with all of my heart, but he is NUTS. Crazy as a soup sandwich. But it does make for one gorgeous-lookin’ hubby! Yum.

But I digress.

Where was I? Oh! Yes….

So it finally hit me. My lunch hour!

I’ve never been one to take a proper lunch hour unless it’s with a friend. It’s more like a half, non-lunch hour. I eat at my desk and try not to work but people still call, stop by and IM me. Then I realized that when I’m at work, I’d rather be doing just about anything else. And – as a bonus – I’m actually AWAKE during the day! It’s my mental PRIME TIME baby.

So why not do something I love?

Therefore, it was yesterday that I took my first real lunch hour. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. An hour.

I found a table outside that was far from other folks, pulled out my notebook and wrote for 45 minutes. (Even with an hour lunch, I still need a buffer for travel time.) It was amazing. The words flowed. No one interrupted me. And I did it again today! Holy hell! Why didn’t I think of this before?

Now I’m sure many of you out there are thinking, well DUH. You’re supposed to fill every spare moment with writing. Morning, lunch hour, and night. But that’s just not for me. I’d spend more time writing crap that I’d just have to fix later.

So children, gather ’round. The moral of the is this: You have to find what works for YOU. That’s all there is to it. Not what works for David Baldacci (awesome writer, by the way).  Not what works for Diana Gabaldon (another awesome writer who happens to get up in the MIDDLE of the NIGHT to write! Talk about crazy pants.).

Find out what works for you and do THAT.

You’re welcome.

Finished @Whole30 – Woot!

finishedwhole30It’s true, folks! I finished Whole30 on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

And I feel amazing! I plan to continue with this way of eating because it just feels right for my body.

  • I now drink my coffee black – and love it more than ever,
  • My energy levels are even keel throughout the day,
  • I am (or was??) hypoglycemic, but I don’t snack as often anymore and don’t “crash,”
  • I used to wake up multiple times a night, but now I sleep like a log,

My biggest challenge was work lunches. I had to buy a lot of salads for lunch (with my own dressing) because lunch prep was a major challenge for me. But I did it!

Based on how wonderful I feel, my mother, two friends and boss are all doing Whole30 as well.

I highly recommend this – even if you don’t continue after the 30 days, you’ll never look at food the same way again.

Doing the #Whole30 Challenge – Today is Day 1!

Whole30 Challenge

So I purchased a book called Well Fed 2 and that led me to Whole30 – a challenge to eat well for 30 days. This means 30 days without alcohol, sugar, dairy, and grains.

I already eat about 70% paleo, and I’ve never really been a big fan of grains. So I’m hoping this won’t be too much of a culture shock to my body, but honestly I’m a bit nervous.

I do love cream in my coffee and various kinds of cheese! And everything seems to have sugar in it. When I started really reading the labels, I couldn’t believe how many foods have this added in.

Another challenge will be giving up my OPC-3 (it has 2g sugar to make it more palatable). I’ve been taking this dietary supplement with bioflavonoids for years and have managed to avoid the common cold. Or was it due to my paleo-ish dietary habits? How will I know which has kept me healthy?

Perhaps this will help in that regard.

So we’ll see how I do! My husband is doing this challenge with me (whew!) so that should make it easier. I was able to give away all of our sugar-filled things. Removal of temptation is a big part of this for me.

Wish me luck!

Getting to know you . . . Getting to know Australopithecines



I just love our fascinating little ancestors, the Australopithecines.

Who are they, you ask? Have you heard of Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis)? She is perhaps the most famous of her genus. In her, we see traits that strongly suggest bipedalism.

Read more about them in Archaeology’s The Human Mosaic.

A new dating technique has put an Australopithecus prometheus skeleton at 3.67 million years old.

Truly amazing stuff!

Amazing Cover Art

I just love Stephan Martinière’s Cover Art for Shield and Crocus.


Such an incredible juxtaposition of the skull, the city, and the hero – facing apparently overwhelming odds.

“Holy $@%&’ chills” indeed!

Read more about it on Follow the author on Twitter @MikeRUnderwood.

Someday, I hope to have such an incredible cover on my novel.

Where does the time go?

I keep thinking to myself, “I need to find time to post something! I’ll do it this weekend.”

Right after I deal with X, Y, and Z. Oh, and I can’t forget to finish reading that Writer’s Digest issue. And this weekend is this or that event.

Excuses, excuses!

More posts to come. Before this weekend. I swear.