Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I should be writing

The title of the post says it all.

I should be writing.

And I am. In the way that this book is being written.

To explain: I have never written a book like this before. I am a fairly linear writer. The story comes out of my head in the order that it will appear. Usually. This book is quite defiant, though, in that it doesn't want to be linear in my head at all. It wants me to write a scene but it doesn't necessarily want to be in the place that I have written it. I am constantly cutting and pasting, moving bits of text around to find where it fits best.

I am also spending a lot of time thinking about what is going to happen next, or what should have happened before, or what's going to happen at the end. So when I "should be writing," much of the time I am "thinking about what I'm going to write."

I have finally hit 40,000 words, though, which means I am about halfway done. I have two months to go. But the book isn't the only thing on the agenda this summer. I have a daughter who has just graduated high school, we have just hosted a graduation party, we have to start organizing what she's going to need to bring to school. We are heading to New York City for the Boomer Esaison Foundation's Run to Breathe in a couple of weeks; we have a trip planned to Montreal in August.

So I grab at moments to sit and write, move more text around, see if the story is jelling, even though it's not linear and I don't know where it's going to end up. Except that I do. Know where it's going to end. Or at least I know what the big reveal will be at the end, or close to the end. Or maybe in the next page I write.

That's the way this book is going. I have no idea what's going to happen from one day to the next.

So I should be writing.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Nods and breaths and other victims of copy editing

I've just gotten the page proofs for HIDDEN. This is the last stage of the editing process, when the book has been typeset and I get to look at it one last time for any errors. I really like seeing how the pages are going to look inside the book, because I notice that sort of thing when I'm reading a book. Because the pages have been typset, though, I can't make any huge changes at this point; it's merely to look for spelling or small grammatical issues. It was in the copy editing stage that those bigger fixes can be made. And I made them.

I was appalled at how many times characters in the book were nodding. They nodded here and there, sometimes two or three times to a page. That's not all, either. Everyone seemed to take deep breaths. All. The. Time. There was so much heavy breathing going on, it could've been an erotic romance. Or a long description of an asthma attack. How I didn't see this before I sent it off to my editor is a mystery. And I'm embarrassed that I didn't see it. But not looking at the book for four months helped me look at it with much more open eyes. So there is a lot less heavy breathing and nodding going on now.

I have a superb copy editor at Severn House. Sara caught a lot of those little nitpicky grammatical problems that are the bane of the copy editor's existence. I admit to loving being a copy editor, so the copy edit stage is one of my favorites. One thing about being published by a British publisher is that sometimes my Americanisms were questioned. As an example, there was a sticky note asking what it meant when one character said he had to "hit the head."

There were times while I was looking at the copy edits that I wondered if I didn't like this more than the actual writing. But that came from the fact that the second book in the series is very slow going at the moment, and copy editing was so much easier because HIDDEN is already written. (There are a ton of reasons why writing is slow right now, most of them external, like the fact that my daughter is going to be graduating high school in less than a month and there is so much to do that isn't writing.)

I have a week to go over the page proofs and then the book will be out of my hands completely. I won't be able to change a word, and what's there will be there when you open the book to read it. That scares the daylights out of me, she says while nodding and taking a deep breath...

Friday, March 27, 2015

HIDDEN cover revealed!

I have a cover for HIDDEN! My new publisher, Severn House, has created the perfect cover for the book. It evokes the atmosphere I've created perfectly. Check it out!


Severn House has also sent me the cover copy:

Nicole Jones – if that is her real name – lives off the grid. She doesn’t have a license, passport or bank account. She definitely doesn’t own a computer. She hasn’t left her refuge, Block Island, in fifteen years. She’s hidden from the world and she likes it that way. Nicole doesn’t use a computer, not because she’s afraid of it, but because she’s afraid of what she – a badass hacker in her past life – would do with it.

When the last person Nicole wants to see suddenly reappears, using a name he knows will draw her out, Nicole realizes that her time hidden is now ending. Her past secrets tumbling into the open and her carefully constructed new life set to fall apart, Nicole must re-hone her long-suppressed computer skills in order to escape from an island that is no longer a haven, but suddenly a prison. 



I can't wait to see it in print!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A strong sense of place

I'm so excited that my new book HIDDEN will be out in the UK on July 31 and in the US on November 1. I hope to be able to share the cover with you soon. But in the meantime, I'm working on the second book in the series, which is due at the end of August.

When my agent asked if that deadline was possible, it was before Christmas, I did the math, and said, sure. And then I started the book. And started it again. And started it again. Whatever I wrote just wasn't working. Finally, after many mis-starts, I finally had a first chapter I was happy with, a launching point for the book.

It's hard writing a sequel to a book that wasn't supposed to have one. But the more I'm writing, the more I realize that Nicole's story isn't entirely over yet, and I'm glad that Kate, my new editor at Severn House, saw that.

However, I did leave Nicole in a place that is so remote, I couldn't figure out how to get her out. Because get her out, I felt I had to do.

At least at first.

Nicole is in Quebec. A beautiful place, a place I've loved to visit. And while it is remote, I'm discovering that she needs to stay there for a while. Maybe even through the whole book (although I'm only 50 pages in, so that can change, too).

Even though I've been there, it's been a while, so I hunted down the travel pieces I wrote for the New Haven Register after our trips there. As I read them, they brought me back, and I could close my eyes and see the mountains edging up to the St. Lawrence, see the pinks and oranges of the sunrises on Ile-aux-Coudres, still smell the exhaust of the car as it struggled up the incline after getting off the ferry going back to Baie-Saint-Paul. Since I'm probably not going to get to Quebec again before I finish the book, I have to rely on my words and memories from before.

I believe setting is a huge part of every book. It is a character in and of itself, and I tried hard to bring Block Island alive in HIDDEN. As I hope I can bring Quebec and the Charlevoix region alive in this second book.

Are you drawn to books with a strong sense of place?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

HIDDEN to be published!


I'm so thrilled to announce that the Manuscript from Hell, which now has the title of HIDDEN, will be published by Severn House!

Here is the official announcement that was in Publisher's Marketplace:

Tattoo Shop Mystery series author Karen Olson's HIDDEN, a new series featuring a woman who has spent 15 years hiding from her criminal-hacker past with zero carbon footprint, only to be discovered on Block Island, where she's been living as a bicycle tour guide and painter without a cell phone or bank account, to Kate Lyall-Grant at Severn House, in a two-book deal, by Josh Getzler at Hannigan Salky Getzler (World English). Translation: Dburby@hsgagency.com Film/TV: jgetzler@hsgagency.com. 

I have been working on this book for a long time. Years, in fact. It is a huge departure from my previous books in that it's not a mystery, but a suspense novel.

I am also very excited to be joining the Severn House list. HIDDEN will come out first in the UK, possibly even as soon as July 2015, and then here in the US, possibly in November 2015.

I did write HIDDEN as a standalone, but my new editor saw a series potential in it, so I am now working on plotting out the second book, which is due at the end of August. While I have been busy this past year, I will be busier in the new one.

It promises to be a very Happy New Year!





Friday, April 11, 2014

Procrastination: Friend or Foe?

Some days I just don't feel like writing. Yes, I can hear that voice in my head: But real writers force themselves, make themselves sit down and put something on the page. Anything on the page. Every day.

Does writing a Facebook status count? I mean, I did write something. How about Twitter? Oops, can't use that excuse, since I haven't updated my Twitter status in a long time. Okay, what about an email? A long email. One that sums up what's been going on my life for the last week or so to friends I haven't written in a while. That should count.

Despite what anyone says, procrastination isn't always easy. I mean, there's the guilt. Lots of guilt. Why didn't I write today? Because I felt that doing two or three loads of laundry should take priority? Or maybe the bathroom needed cleaning? Or I had to work on the taxes (oh, can't use that excuse, since I submitted everything to the accountant two months ago). And then there's the library book I put on hold that just happened to be available this week. I only have two weeks to read it, so I have to get started. Now.

How can any of those things be more important than sitting at my keyboard creating fictional worlds?

Maybe it's because I finally finished up the Manuscript from Hell and am feeling a bit like a vacation from writing. That book took a lot out of me, although it's been done for a couple of months now and is out in the world waiting to see if an editor likes it enough to publish it, so that's not a great excuse.

Maybe it's because I've been trying to work out what to work on next. I have about 60 pages in what I call my Suburban Mom Thriller, and I do want to go back to that. I re-read what I've got and I like it, but I still need to work out some plot things in it, so I'm using that as excuse. And in the meantime, I have revisited an idea for a possible new series, but while I've got a nugget of an idea, I have no plot and no well-formed idea of character yet. I also need to do some serious research before I can develop either, and I'm not a huge fan of research. I like to just make it up as I go along, but this one needs research and I can't fudge it.

So while I'm working all this out in my head, I'm not writing. I look at my laptop across the room while I play yet another level of Jelly Splash, check Facebook, see if anyone besides Macy's and William Sonoma has sent me an email, decide that it's time to clip the cats' claws.

 Do you procrastinate?



Thursday, February 20, 2014

New year, new post

How does time go by so quickly? It's been almost a year since I last blogged. So, I suppose, it's time for an update.

My year has been eventful and uneventful at the same time. Life is settled into a quiet hum of activity.


I have spent much of this year working on what I have been calling my Manuscript from Hell. After rejections on two YA books, I went back to a book I started in 2009, right after NAL dropped my Annie Seymour series and right before they contracted me for the tattoo shop mysteries. This book is totally different than anything I've ever done before. It's not a traditional mystery, but more a suspense thriller about a fugitive who has been missing for 15 years and how her past finally catches up to her. It is about love and betrayal and no matter how hard you try to change, deep down it might not be possible. I have called it my Manuscript from Hell because it has challenged me in a way that no other book has. I have stepped far out of my comfort zone and developed a character and a voice that my readers might not find familiar but I hope will resonate with them. Although first it needs to resonate with an editor somewhere!

When I haven't been writing, I've been reading a lot. Mostly crime fiction, but I got two Tudor England books for Christmas that I need to start dipping into. My daughter is in her junior year of high school, and the college search and visits have begun. It reminds me of when I was looking at schools. I remember walking onto the Roanoke College campus and thinking, This is where I have to go to school. It struck me immediately. But back in my day, it was a bit easier and not so competitive to get into the school that you absolutely wanted to go to. I am hoping that my daughter will be able to go to that school that speaks to her as Roanoke spoke to me.

The days seem to move into each other so quickly that there isn't time to reflect. But this past year has been a year of decisions and thoughtfulness and creativity that hopefully will feed into this next one.

For now, though, I wish it would just be spring already.

If you want to say hello, please leave a note in the comments!