Six a.m. central time came awful early the next day in Goddard, KS. It seems the earlier I have to get up, the later I fall asleep. This time my brain was victimized pre-sleep by the work Eric and I had done plotting Heaven to Betsy, the tentatively-titled planned first book in the series starring Emily, the big-haired West Texas friend of Katie in the Katie & Annalise books. The worst part of it was that because I got so little sleep I was too dumb to remember most of the brilliant thoughts I’d had the night before. I scribbled as fast as I could once I’d had coffee, then settled in for a long, long day.
First order of business: seven libraries in KS and OK. We hit Haysville and Wellington KS as well as Moore, Guthrie, Purcell, and Ardmore OK, all before lunch.
Actually, we tried to eat starting in Purcell but their barbecue place was closed, and we had the barbecue bug. Luckily we found some in Ardmore (Budro’s Rib–sooooo good), but it meant canceling our last library in Marietta. We felt bad about that for nearly 10 nanoseconds, then not.
Last fall we mailed books to nearly 1000 libraries in Texas, so once we hit the red, red Red River and the OK/TX border, our work was done, other than driving friendly and waving back to people who were intrigued by our Bookmobile signage.
Here came the suckage, though: after four-weeks together 24/7 and my plan to remain in Dallas with Eric, returning as a a duo to Houston late, late Friday, things had changed. I had to go all the way back to Houston on MONDAY night.
Teenagers. Waddya gonna do?
Well, I did miss them, a little, and Layla too, and Petey most of all. So . . . we’re motoring into the DFW-area as I type this, to pick up hundreds and hundreds of Preventing Workplace Harassment books for me to give away at some of the Human Resources conferences I am speaking at this fall. I’ll drop Eric at his hotel, wait for traffic to die off, and drive away, without him.
NO! I’m not known for emotionality, but I suspect I’m going to shed a few tears.
Tomorrow I will get all of SkipJack Publishing’s ebooks submitted to Overdrive, the library ebook distribution system, as we got news that we were approved as a publisher. This is fantastic and we’re super excited. Wednesday I will do the final formatting of Tides of Possibility, the scifi anthology that SkipJack is publishing in partnership with the Houston Writers Guild. Then . . . it’s time to finish the outlines for Heaven to Betsy, Earth to Emily, and Hell to Pay, the trilogy featuring Emily that I mentioned above. I’m sending Going for Kona out to my beta readers in August, when I’ll be writing Heaven to Betsy. It’s exciting times for me, diving into this new series, and releasing a non-Katie (although she appears in it several times) romantic mystery in October.
Meanwhile, I have this tour to reflect on, and all that has happened since I went on the road last year. Here’s what two summers looks like:
- 60-cities-in-60 days: In the summer of 2013, we drove 17,000-miles across 37-states in 68-days to 60-cities in which we had 60-book signings, 30-interviews, and a handful of speaking engagements as well. We focused on chain stores, and, over the summer, we sold 3000-books. Leaving Annalise and What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too? came out by summer’s end. It was exhausting and very difficult to recover.
- In August I took over the Houston Writers Guild as President. Saving Grace went to #7 on Nook and #34 on Kindle in November of 2013. In February of 2014, Finding Harmony came out, Leaving Annalise hit #134 on Kindle, and the Houston Press named me to Houston’s Top 100 Creatives of 2014. By April, Finding Harmony had been dubbed a Quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and the Houston Press honored me as one of Houston’s Top 10 Authors of 2014.
- Redneck Writer Road Trip: In the summer of 2014, we drove 7000-miles over 18-states to 14-cities/towns in 28-days for 14-events, focusing on on the Northwest and going where my readers are: libraries, indie book stores, coffee shops, bakeries, and even RV parks. While we were on the road, Saving Grace went “perma-free” and in one month 200,000 free copies were downloaded. Meanwhile, my respectable sales of my full-price books went from less than 50 a day to over 300 per day in the next four weeks, with some days nearer to 600; we sold 9000 books in four-weeks. Both Leaving Annalise and Finding Harmony moved into the top 1000 on Kindle, COMPLETELY UNPROMOTED, and stayed there. Saving Grace went from 200-reviews to 400+, and kept its 4.5-star rating; Leaving Annalise went to over 100, with a 4.7-star rating, and Finding Harmony went to over 80 with a crazy-high 4.9-star rating. My only regret during this heady time was that I didn’t already have my next series of novels out, although Going for Kona was available for pre-order and even had its own fully-funded Kickstarter campaign. The Redneck Writer Road Trip was a blast, and I came back bouncing up and down on my tippy toes, ready to write.
- So what will the next nine months bring? The release of Going for Kona, and the writing of my next series, which I hope to launch before Thanksgiving holidays next year.
That’s all I’ve got.