Contract Signed for sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance

“When is your next novel coming out?” Bless you, dear readers, you’ve been asking that question since Her Deadly Inheritance released in January last year.

Good news! We will soon know the answer!

Today I signed the contract for the sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance. According to the U.S. mail, publisher Eddie Jones at Lighthouse of the Carolinas will receive the three copies in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, May 30.

As soon as managing editor Darla Crass lets me know the new novel’s projected release date, I will pass that happy information on to you!

Thank you for your continued interest. You are great encouragers.

Selah Award Winner: Her Deadly Inheritance

Tonight was a night to remember! Her Deadly Inheritance–the novel that had taken me years to write–won the Selah Award for “Fiction: First Novel.”

Though unable to attend the gala Awards night at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I watched at home in Wisconsin through live-streaming, clapping for every recipient. It was such fun! I had plenty of friends who were up for awards. Suddenly I heard my name and jumped back in my office chair. Me? My novel?

It seemed too much to take in. Yet publisher Eddie Jones was running onstage in my absence to receive it. Yet I couldn’t help but remember of all who helped make this incredible honor possible.

My deepest gratitude to the One who makes all things possible. My thanks also to:

  • the hard-working the staff at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference
  • coordinator Eva Marie Everson who organized the contest
  • contest judges who put in many hours
  • Eddie Jones at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
  • editors Rowena Kuo and J. Christine Richards
  • agent Jim Hart
  • my two critique groups
  • and my faithful prayer team

God bless you all!

Debut Novel: Preparing for Launch

Congratulations! You’ve sold your first (debut) novel to a publisher who loves it. But wait! Your work has only just begun. A long–and sometimes bewildering–road looms ahead as you and your managing editor and other staff prepare to present your novel to highwaythe public!

It’s sort of like the biblical story of Esther. Chosen along with other beautiful maidens in the empire, she endured a whole year of preparations–beauty treatments, etc.–before the person in charge considered her fit to present to King Ahasuerus. And that year was time well-spent.

Just as a year or preparation for your novel will be time well spent. May I share my story?

Preparing Her Deadly Inheritance for Publication

With the contract signed and a projected release date in place, I was suddenly thrust into edits. My managing editor, Rowena Kuo, assigned me to another editor, J. Christine Richards, to help professionally polish my novel. For the next three months, we sent my novel’s manuscript back and forth between us by e-mail. Chris pointed out problems and made suggestions. Then I reviewed them and decided which would work. I was smart enough to realize that at least 99% of them were necessary. I made the needed changes, and every one improved the book.

Next came the proofreader–another editor hired to help catch as many grammar mistakes as possible. Again the manuscript came back to me to approve each of those changes.

In the meantime, I also worked hard on improving my Internet presence–web site, Facebook, blog, and many others. How else would readers get to know me and realize I had a book coming out? Lots of study, trial and error, but I made steady progress. Though, actually, I’m still working on that. Well, and having fun because contact with readers is one of the best things about being an author.social-media

Back to the preparations. Every book needs a cover, and toward the end of summer cover design began in earnest. When asked, I suggested using my heroine and her house on the cover, and after a tweak or two, the design team came up with the most marvelous cover. I will always be grateful for their dedication and skill.

Next came the back cover copy. Color me totally embarrassed because my every try was a bust. Finally, my publisher threw it open to other LPC authors. Fortunately, one of them came up with the exciting copy we needed, I only had to tweak it a tiny bit to more nearly natch the story..

Another need for the back cover cropped up. I hired a local photographer, and we held a photo shoot in my backyard. Crystal did an amazing job, but then she photographs models. What a blessing to have a friend whose daughter has such talent.

Next came the beta readers. Friends–both writers and readers–agreed to read advance e-copies of my novel. They kindly pointed out other trouble spots. Some wrote endorsements while others wrote reviews ready to post  on my novel’s release date.

The pre-launch sale on Amazon opened in December–one month before the novel’s January 2 release date and the race was on to be ready for my novel’s debut to the public.

Crunch time during that last month. I scrambled to set up a blog tour, an online book launch party, and a local book launch party for January. My publisher gave me a lot of help through another staff member. Without my publisher’s help I don’t know what I would have done.

Preparations for a book’s release can overwhelm, but a good and caring publishing house like Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas can make all the difference.in your books success. As the old saying goes …

Many hands make light work!

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Dear Reader, I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at book publishing. Next week I’ll share the tumult and excitement of releasing your first novel. Until then, may the Lord bless you!

Aspiring Writer: Breaking Through to Publication

Not many writers receive “the call” by phone anymore. These days the coveted call usually arrives by e-mail, yet breaking through to publication is still the longing of every writer’s heart …

The Breakthrough

Monday night. Rushing around, trying to leave on time for my Word & Pen critique group meeting, I quickly gathered the printouts of my next chapter and reached out to shut down my computer. Oh, maybe just a quick peek at my e-mail.

fireworksA message from my agent? I stared at the subject line: “Lighthouse of the Carolinas offer for Deadly Inheritance.” (Later titled Her Deadly Inheritance.)

My heart skipped a beat. I held my breath.  A respected traditional publisher wanted to publish my novel? Had the soon the Lord had promised actually arrived?

I scanned the brief message, “Hi Beth, Lighthouse has offered you a contract for Deadly Inheritance. I’ve attached it for you to look at … if you have any questions … Jim Hart.”

Quickly printing the contract, I grabbed it and left for the meeting–not to read it to my critique group, but to hold it in my hands while I told them the amazing news. Excitement erupted as they cheered and congratulated me. It was a victory for all of us.

Two days later on December 11, 2014—with my questions answered and having prayed to know God’s will—I signed the three copies of the contract. As I mailed them to the publisher that day, I realized that a year ago in 2013, the Lord had first indicated that my novel would publish soon.

Days after signing the contract, I was still stunned. Though deeply grateful to the Lord, my agent, and the editor who had brought me to this place, I had not told anyone except my critique group. But now was the time to share the good news with family and friends.

God had kept his promise at the right time and with the right publisher.

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Dear Reader, as impossible or far away as it may seem now, one day you, too, will share the good news of your novel’s breakthrough. You can count on it because our ever-faithful God always keeps his promises. Work hard and believe!

~ Beth

Copyright 2015 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Author Interview: Cindy Ervin Huff

I’m excited to welcome my friend, Cindy Ervin Huff, as my first author interviewee. Her debut novel, Secrets and Charades, will release in March 2017. Can’t wait for readers to get to enjoy your historical romance as much as I did, Cindy.cindy-huff-headshot-2016

Here’s a sneak preview of Secrets & Charades’ plot:

Jake Marcum’s busy ranch leaves him no time for courting, and his wounded heart has no place for love. Battlefield nightmares add to his burden, but his tomboy niece, Juliet, needs taming, and a mail-order bride seems the logical solution. When an inheritance threatens to reveal a long-buried secret, Dr. Evangeline Olson abandons her medical practice and travels west to become Jake’s wife.

Jake soon realizes Evangeline is more than he bargained for, especially when her arrival causes a stir in the community. As the two try to find their way in a marriage of convenience, they are faced with cattle rustling and kidnapping. Will they be able to put aside their differences and work together to save the ranch and their fragile relationship?

Now, back to Cindy: How did you decide to take up writing?

I worked at writing for many years, though there was a season when I gave up. Then on a mission trip, God said it was time to pick up my writing again. “If you want me to start writing,” I said, “I want to take a writing course to sharpen my skills. If you really want me to write, I need ($$) to take this online course.” I had just enough doubt in myself that I needed definite confirmation.

Within a month of the mission trip, I received a letter from a law firm about a class action suit against a company who had run credit reports and targeted specific people. I was one of them and agreed to put my name in the lawsuit. Well, you can guess the outcome. I received the money I needed to take the course.

The Lord does provide, doesn’t he? So, Cindy, what sparked the idea for Secrets and Charades?

It came about the same time. I not only have a serious reading addiction, I also have some near-and-dear people who struggle with serious emotional baggage due to their past.

My heroine, Evangeline, appeared to me in a mid-1800’s dress. As a doctor, this intelligent woman struggled with a society that felt women were a bit feeble-minded and helpless. She also had a dark secret from her past and problems in her present. I suggested she go west as a mail-order bride. She was appalled. But, of course, I am the master of her fate and brought in a few other surprises that gave her little choice.

gate-to-texas-ranchJake is a great guy who had his hands full with a tomboy niece to raise, and a large ranch with a too-small crew. His only experience with women left him feeling betrayed, and he had no idea how to make a successful marriage, especially with an educated wife. Other characters added stress and drama to their fragile relationship along with mystery, intrigue and some I-did-not-see-that-coming moments.

Ten years ago, I wrote the rough draft in five months. I edited it over the next year, and promptly got rejections. I had no idea that if publishers request the proposal or even the whole manuscript, they could reject it. Some publishers gave me edits. Those were precious even though it meant a lot of rewrites and deleting. I discovered I had a lot more to learn about the craft of writing a novel.

After 20 rejections I almost trashed the manuscript. Then I won the 2014 Editor’s Choice Award at Write-to-Publish. My novel and I then went on an editing journey through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I knew that even after receiving the award, I might not get published through LPC, but God is good, and they offered me a contract.

Ten years and twenty rejections–wow! You really hung in there. What was it like when you finally received “the call”?roses

I got “the call” by e-mail. How did I feel? Grateful, surprised, and stunned that my ten-year journey was nearing the finish line.

And what surprised you the most during this year of preparation to launch your novel?

This year of preparation has been daunting. I have a great editors working with me, Andrea Merrel and Kathy Davis who is acquisitions editor for Smitten, the new romance line for LPC.

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas gives their authors lots of training and encouragement to help them succeed. I had so much to learn. I’m still trying to get my head around the best time to accomplish various tasks.

What’s it like as you continue to prepare–challenges and solutions?

I am a deadline person, so I asked writer Erin Curtis to help me meet my personal deadlines. A recent graduate from Taylor University, she made me her beta test to see how well she can help me launch my book. She not only has a heart to launch debut writers and become a mentor, but is young and willing to do what it takes. I am grateful God brought us together in our critique group and has kept us in contact for such a time as this.

And what do you count as the best thing that’s happened during your preparations?

I was so blessed by the seven people willing to endorse my novel. Sometimes getting one is tough. I’m still looking for more launch team members. My “Stage Crew” consists of four people so far. So I seek the advice of my more experienced author friends for the how-to. Those friendships are golden and their insights will make this new phase of my life successful.fear-and-doubt-meme-from-cindy-huff

While I wait for Secrets and Charades to release, I am working on a sequel, and my agent, Cyle Young from Hartline Literary Agency, is sending out proposals for New Duet, a contemporary romance. I realize if I wait for fear my first book doesn’t sell well, I’ll miss opportunities. Fear and doubt are a writer’s worst enemies.

Any advice to aspiring novelists?

If I could share one piece of advice with aspiring writers, it would be “network.”

  • Get to know other writers. If you don’t know any, go to conferences to meet them.
  • Join a writer’s group with members who are serious about getting published.
  • Have a presence on social media long before you’ve written the rough draft of your first novel. There you establish friendships and future fans who will want to buy your book because they know you.
  • Pay it forward by promoting other authors on your social media. Do book reviews.
  • Before your book comes out, people should know you from the way you’ve helped others.
  • Your social media presence should be easy to find if someone googled your name. Don’t wait until you have a contract. Those face-to-face and social media contacts are a catalyst to book sales.

Thank you so much for sharing your writing journey, Cindy, and for that great advice. All God’s best to you in your new life as a romance novelist.

Here’s more about Cindy:

Cindy Ervin Huff is a multi-published writer and winner of the 2014 Editor’s Choice Award from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is a contributor to Splickety Publishing Group’s anthology and has been featured in The Christian Communicator, Suburban Dog, ChristianDevotions.us, and Splickety Lightning Blog. Cindy is President of the Aurora, Illinois, chapter of Word Weavers where she and her husband make their home.

You can connect with Cindy on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.