Time Is Flying!

It was almost two years ago that I signed my contract for the Clock Shop Mystery Series, which I am writing under the pen name Julianne Holmes for Berkley Prime Crime. Last week, on Wicked Cozy Authors, I wrote about how Julianne Holmes came into being. Today, I thought I’d write about the journey of the book, Just Killing Time, which will be published October 6, 26 months after I signed the contract. In a lot of ways, that is a long time. But in others? Yeesh, it is flying, especially since there are three books to write.

Just Killing Time debuts October 6!

Just Killing Time debuts October 6!

Just Killing Time has taught me a lot about the process of writing and publishing a book. Although other journeys will be different, many of the steps will be part of the process. Here’s what the past year has been like for me:

  • Writing the first draft of Book #1 (Just Killing Time). Seems obvious, but until you write the book, which can be a slog, you can’t move forward.
  • Reading, revising, and editing it yourself.
  • Having someone else read it, to see if it is a book. My friend Jason is my first reader. He loves the genre, reads a lot, is supportive, but can also give me tough love.
  • Take those notes, make changes, and polish it a bit more.
  • Have an editor look at it. That person can help in two ways. First, to make sure the story hangs together logically. Second, with wordsmithing, grammar, and other stylistic choices. There are a number of folks on this blog who are freelance editors. Finding one to work with can be tough. You need help, but you don’t need someone to rewrite your book.
  • Work on those suggestions. Polish, polish, polish. Then take a deep breath, and hit send to your publisher.
  • Wait for comments back. This can days, weeks, or in some cases months. My editor at Berkley is incredibly attentive, and it didn’t take long for her to come back to me with her editorial letter. This is the moment where you really need to get out of your own way. I had to do a massive rewrite on Just Killing Time. The rewrite made it a better book, but my ego had to step aside so that the writer could get to work. I also had to put Book #2 aside, so I could work on Book #1. That has been something that I am still learning how to do, keep two projects moving forward at the same time.
  • Resubmit, and wait for the next round of comments. This dance can go on for a while, but at some point the work will be done, and the book will be accepted. Do not, however, lull yourself into thinking the next time you will see it will be when it arrives as a book.
  • Around this time, I got to see the cover. I love it! I was asked for some ideas for the artist, but left it in their hands.
  • Copyedits are the next phase. These edits are from another source who is looking at consistency, making sure you are following the style sheet for the publishing house, and making clarifying edits. At this phase you can add, subtract, change. But it is a dialogue. Again, there is some back and forth.
  • Ask other writers to read it, and give you quotes that can be used in marketing. I will admit, this was a vulnerable moment for me, since I had to let the public see my baby. It all worked out, and was made easier by my Sisters in Crime relationships. Knowing other writers makes all the difference in so many ways. Don’t wait to find those networks.
  • Proofs are the next step. This is what I am working on now–reading the book again, looking for mistakes. This is not a time to rewrite. One great part of this phase is that I get to see how the book will be laid out, how the chapters look, etc.

These are all the book steps I’ve gone through so far. Next up will be marketing, getting ready for the launch (figuring out what that will be!), and hitting send on Book #2 by July 15.

These days there are lots of paths to publication, but the steps are going to be very similar. I am one of the lucky ones. This is a lot of work, but it is a dream come true, and it is getting more real by the day. Now, back to the editing of Book #2…

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J.A. Hennrikus writes short stories. Julie Hennrikus is an arts administrator. Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series. They all look alike.

11 thoughts on “Time Is Flying!

  1. This does sound like a dream come true and congrats. I think I’ve secretly been too scared to finish a story/novel because I’m afraid of having people read it. I don’t like feeling vulnerable and it’s definitely a hurdle. What did you do to get over the fears of what others would say?

    • The fear is real, which is why getting your support team in place is critical. I once took a workshop that was so brutal I didn’t write for a year. BUT I had a couple of friends in the group who got me through. What type of fiction do you write? Is there a group that supports writers? For my mystery world, both Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America are great places to meet like minded writers.

      Also, a friend once told me that fear is excitement without oxygen. In other words, BREATHE. Take the leap. And let me know how it goes!

      • Thanks so much for the reply. I love that definition of fear. I’ve started to write a fictional story about a girl learning she has a sister (who happens to be a hot mess), and I’ve started a science fiction about a girl who gets wrapped into a whole different life of fighting other worldly monsters with her long-lost sister (see a common theme here)? I just start, get a few thousand words in and quit, thinking that no one in their right mind would enjoy this. Maybe I just need to breathe 🙂 Thanks!

      • Don’t quit. Keep going, and then edit it, and then edit it again, and then give it to your trusted reader. But don’t quit. If nothing else, I’ve learned that that novels in the drawer that will never be published were necessary in order to teach me what I needed to know. This is an apprenticeship craft–we all learn the more we do it.But we have to do it in order to learn.

  2. How exciting! I wish students would understand that rewriting IS a huge part of writing. I’ve never written anything like a novel, so I have to ask…how do you keep re-reading your own work without getting sick of it and/or overlooking mistakes?

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