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: Film/TV: 

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! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The return of the Naked Authors

I really should pay attention to this blog. But I'm afraid it's sadly neglected, like the plants in my living room. Those poor plants have to be droopy and starting to turn brown before I notice and water them. I can't be trusted with plants. And clearly, I've forgotten what it was like to blog religiously once a week, like I did with the First Offenders. Maybe it takes a village to keep a blog going these days.

My friend Patty Smiley emailed me about a week ago to tell me that the Naked Authors are back blogging. They stopped blogging about a year ago, maybe. And somehow they all talked themselves into blogging again.

I don't think the First Offenders are coming back, although the Who and the Rolling Stones have had a lot of comebacks, so we can never say never. The Naked Authors said never, and, well, here they are again.

I didn't want to break it to Patty, but I'm not reading the book and writer blogs anymore. They are all here, bookmarked to my left, but I rarely visit. I'm not quite sure why, except that since I got my iPad, I spend a lot of time with Angry Birds and the Weather Channel and the New York Times. I even check out the wait times for Soarin' and Space Mountain in Disney, even though I'm a three-hour flight away, but a girl can dream, can't she? It's easy to waste time on an iPad.

In full disclosure, however, I am reading some blogs. But they aren't the writerly kind. Since I was diagnosed with a labral tear and CAM impingement in my right hip (Lady Gaga and I have a lot in common these days), I've discovered a world of people who blog about their hip arthroscopy surgery. I haven't had surgery yet, and my surgeon is being very conservative at this point, but it's nice to be informed for when that day arrives.

Not very exciting, is it?

I think I'll go over to Naked Authors and see what's going on. But I know better than to promise I'll be here more often.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking ahead to the new year

It's 2013.

Last year was a tough year in a lot of ways, but it was also a turning point. I challenged myself and branched out more with my writing and found a new agent whom I couldn't be more happy with.

I get a lot of emails from readers who want me to continue my tattoo shop mysteries and even Annie Seymour has fans who would love to see me write more of her stories. It's hard to explain to people why when I wrote "the end" on Ink Flamingos and Shot Girl that it really was The End. I don't like to look back; when I'm done with something, I'm done with it. I thoroughly enjoyed writing Annie, since she was the reporter I always wished I could be, and Brett, who was so entirely not of my world that it was fun to spend a couple of years with her.

But I am not inclined, as many have suggested, to write and then self-publish more books in both series online. I have been watching the rise of the ebook self-publishing phenomenon, but I am not yet ready to take that leap myself. I feel I still need to have my work vetted by a publishing professional. Are there problems in traditional publishing? Sure, as in every business. But my ego is not big enough to think that my work can go out in the world based solely on the fact that I think it's just fine the way it is and people should read it.

So with two series over and no desire to self-publish, I am perched on the aforementioned turning point. I have written a young adult novel and a middle grade boy adventure book. I have tons of short starts on my flash drive, one of which I have focused on at the moment. I also have another idea for a young adult book and am fleshing out the characters and a plot. I have no idea what will happen with any of these projects, but they are all completely different than what I've published before.

I don't like writing the same thing over and over. I like to stretch myself creatively, and that's what I plan to do in this new year. I want to hear new voices and embark on new adventures, pulling myself out of my comfort zone just to see if I can do it. My agent said recently that when he opens one of my files, he has no idea what he'll be reading. That's exactly the reaction I'm looking for. I know readers do like the "sameness" of series and an author's voice, but writers like Stewart O'Nan and Jess Walter intrigue me because I never know what I'm going to read when I open one of their books.

So here's to the new year!