Yes, the new book cover is here, and I love it! When I start writing a new book, I always begin with the title. It gives me a framework within which to build the story. Then, over the next year (It takes that long because my career in handwriting forensics takes precedence), I write it.
Working with Ellen Larson, the independent editor who has been with me since Poison Pen, the story slowly takes shape. I send Ellen chunks of material, she provides feedback and offers suggestions for improvement, or argues against some scene or character. I also read it aloud to my friend, Bob Joseph, a longtime published author himself. Most of the time he is wildly enthusiastic, but he has no qualms about telling me when what I’ve written is bad.
So, by the time the manuscript goes to my publisher at Suspense Magazine, it has been well worked over. Even then, though, I’ll keep tweaking it. By the time editor Shannon Raab sends back comments, there will have been countless small changes, additions, and hundreds of deletions.
Once I’ve written “The End,” I run the manuscript through software called SmartEdit. I adore SmartEdit. It saves me from using too many dreaded adverbs (those “ly” words that weaken writing), and from redundancies. In my manuscript, I discovered over 300 uses of the word “know,” 215 “when,” dozens of “always,” etc., etc. Believe it or not, there were more than 50 exclamation points!!! (that’s a big no-no in mystery writing). Going back over those places gives me an opportunity to find alternate words, rewrite, and improve the story.
So, after addressing any comments Shannon has made, I run SmartEdit again and send the manuscript back. She sends it to another staffer for a final round of edits and when it comes back to me, I’ll make my final SmartEdit run-through. That’s the very last opportunity I’ll have to tweak. This process reminds me of what Dashiell Hammett said. Paraphrasing (or maybe correctly quoting) the famed author of the Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man (Nick and Nora Charles) series: “I could edit a book down to one line if given the chance.” Yep. I know the feeling.
But at this point, we’ve reached an exciting moment (I had written “really exciting moment,” but that useless adverb does nothing for the sentence so I ruthlessly lopped it) . . .
The new cover
When I used to write for Penguin, they would send me an email, always with the same message: “Here’s your new cover. We hope you love it as much as we do.” They wanted no input from me, the author, and no changes were allowed. Sometimes I did not love that new cover at all.
I’m thrilled to report that the situation could not be more different with Suspense. They welcome input. If there’s something I don’t like (which is rare), their wonderful cover designer works with me until I do. Which brings me back to where we started–the new book cover is here, and I love it!!!
Proof of Life occurs five years after What She Saw, reintroducing Jessica Mack, and taking us with her on her reluctant journey into the realm of spirit. Sage Boles is back, too, from the more recent Claudia Rose book, Written Off.
Proof of Life is scheduled for release on May 7, 2019 and will be available for pre-order on Amazon in the next week.
If you’re in the Ventura area and would like to attend the book launch party (date TBA), sign up here. There will be food, prizes, networking opportunities, and, of course, BOOKS!!!