Research Rewards

This is one of the books I’m using to research my second book in the “Jane in St Pete” series. When I decided on an amateur sleuth series, I made Jane a retired art lecturer because I thought the research would be fun. And it is. I’ve read three books about Frida. A biography, then a book of her portraits, and finally this one, her diary. The diary plays a key role in the mystery.

But my interest in Frida Kahlo goes beyond researching my novel. I’m a devoted fan of her work and admire most everything about her short, painful life. There’s a painting, watercolor with colored pencils, from the diary that shows Frida consumed by fire in the midst of greenery. The title, Te Vas? No. Alas Rotes, translates to “Are you going? No. Broken Wings.” The diary Frida kept in the last ten years of her life, when for medical reasons she was mostly confined to her home near Mexico City, is a made thing. There are drawings, paintings, and poems along with some actual diary entries.

I’ve just ordered a few more research books, not on Frida, because in the Jane in St Pete novels, I don’t want to overwhelm readers with art. As with all research in fiction, you don’t want to do an info dump. This can be tricky, as I always find one more thing I want to say about Frida. A light touch works better for the reader and the book.

Galley Proofed

All was quiet. Al had gone golfing. I’d turned off my phone. And I read my book one more time. In galley, which is the final form before publishing. There are line numbers on every page as well as page numbers. This is the last chance to change or fix any errors. There was one thing my editor found (a song lyric) I needed to eliminate. I know my publisher does not run down copyright holders to ask if they can reprint a song lyric. But I seem to sneak a lyric or two into every single book.

Then there was the weird thing where a sentence starting with a number must be spelled out. Jane lives in unit 202 and sometimes I did the shorthand, and started a sentence with a number. Last edit, editor told me that rule and I said, okay well just spell it out then. But when I got the galley, it looked funny, so I changed the first word to Unit, which editor said was an option, so I could have the number not spelled out because “Two oh four” seemed ugly on the page. Especially phonetically spelling “oh” instead of zero.

So I changed those.

Then I spied a space between a quote mark and the word. Bored yet? It’s like that. With galleys I do not go in and revise unless I absolutely have to. I’ve been through three rounds of edits, all the major plot problems have been ironed out and the minor ones too. I still want to change a few things, but I don’t because that’s not what galley proofing is about. An author will always want to change things, but if a book is going to be published in a timely manner, it’s done when the galleys are proofed.

So, it’s done. Now I need to wait for what the publishers do next. Editor said “copy edit” and I am not sure why that is different than the other edits except maybe because it’s a galley? But whatever it is, I don’t have to do it. My job is done. For now. Still don’t have a pub date…but it won’t be too much longer. Meanwhile I can work on book two called (for now) Death on the Bayou. I looked and there are no other books with that title.

And then under the title, on the inside front matter, it will say “A Jane in St Pete Mystery” and maybe under that Book 2. I did see “A Jane in St Pete Mystery” Book 1 on the galley proofs. Should have taken a picture!

Jane’s Cover!

I just got the finalized book cover for Jane yesterday. I have been slapping it up everywhere I can. I used the larger jpg they sent on this page. (We get four sizes). With my publisher, authors fill out a art fact cover sheet. You can list three images and mine were blue sky, white sand, palm tree. The artist, Diana Carlile, did such a good job adding to that very brief description. I really like how she used all caps in the title and all lower case for my name. And the nice coordinated colors.

There’s another thing authors can do on our art fact cover sheets. We can check a box for “no people” on the cover. Which I did. A few times, when I had people on a cover, they came as a shock to me, like, that’s not who I pictured when I was writing the story. The shirtless man was really a disappointment because he looked nothing like my husband. Next book, I requested “no shirtless men” and got one in a wife-beater.

This cover is among my favorites. I love The Paris Notebook cover, which was my first with The Wild Rose Press. She’s a teacher so that apple just makes me smile. Paradise Fields is my only book of poetry (it was privately printed and is now out of print) and I have a photo from one of my sons on the front and another from my other son on the back cover. So that’s special, as is Sister Issues that has a post-it note with my daughter-in-law’s photo with her sister. And now this sweet Jane cover. Still no pub date but things should start happening pretty fast now 🙂