The boss speaks. And I listen.

Last week, my husband and I stopped by his work place for a quick look at some gardening materials. While there, my husband made a point to stop and talk to his co-worker, Tonya.

She has the weekend off so she was buying supplies for the snow storm we are expecting in Spokane. Tonya said she planned to reread Celebration House this weekend. I was surprised at this. Reread it? Huh?

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “I want to read it a second time so when the sequel comes out, I’ll be ready. You are working on the next book, right? When will it be done? Shouldn’t you be at home writing now?”

I felt a little taken aback because to be honest, Celebration House hasn’t sold well. While I write this, the book is 616,310 in the Amazon ratings. If I am reading my royalty statements correctly, and there’s no guarantee I am, about fifty people have purchased the book since it debuted in August. So here’s the math:

The royalties I have received minus my expenses of promoting it equals  -$5.

But you wouldn’t know that to see Tonya’s enthusiasm, which I can sum up with one word: hungry. She is hungry for Celebration House to resume and for the characters she met on those pages to once again share their struggles and triumphs with her. One of Tonya’s comments hit home for me. She said she liked the book so much because she related to these characters. Yes! (Fist pump).

Indie authors only have one boss: our readers. Tonya reminded me of this. Thank you.

Hands and arms inside the cart. Next: A man’s point of view. Specifically, Geno’s point of view.

Shhh! Can you keep a secret? Yeah. Me neither.

Everyone who knows me knows this about me: I can’t keep a secret to save my life.

On New Year’s Eve, I received an amazing gift, but it came with one caveat: don’t tell anybody. Eeek! I could feel the tug of war begin inside me: how can I not tell everyone?

Here’s what happened. During the last days of December, I was reading a blog post by Hugh Howey. He’s a self-published author whose book, Wool, has broken records. New York Times bestseller. All that jazz. Hugh has done well for himself, and one of the results of his success, is reaching out to help other self-publishing authors. Indie authors, we’re called.

On this blog post, he talked about the sequel to Wool, a book called Sand. He also mentioned how thrilled he was with the cover art. Cover art is an author’s first and sometimes best means to convince readers to buy the book. It’s the way we first grab a reader’s attention.

I looked at the cover art for Sand, and it was perfect. I saw the author’s name, Jason Gurley, and I thought, wow. What I wouldn’t give to have a cover that nice. And I thought, heck, I’m going to write to the guy. Sending an email is free. I’ll ask him what he would charge and if he would work on a book like Bone Girl, which isn’t his usual science-fiction genre.

I did this. I sent an email to this stranger, thinking I would probably not hear back. I’m a new author with only one title, Celebration House, which isn’t really selling. But, the next day, there was a response. He said he wouId consider it. So we corresponded some more, and he agreed to do my cover at a price I could afford. I couldn’t believe this news. But it gets better.

On New Year’s Eve, I filled out the form he requests of all authors, talking about the characters in the book, the setting, what I thought were the most visually important elements. And I thought, maybe I’ll hear back in a month or so. Meanwhile, I got busy and drafted the blurb, the short paragraph on the back of the book readers scan to see if they want to buy it.

Excuse me. Could you hand me a Kleenex? I get teary-eyed when I relate this next part.

I woke on New Year’s Day and at 8:25 a.m., there in my email inbox was the first draft of cover art for Bone Girl. Not just one version, but three I could choose from. Holy. Buckets!

For the first time, it felt like someone besides me and my family believed in Bone Girl. Someone saw my vision and added to it. I felt empowered. I felt like I’d grown wings and could fly. After hearing so many no’s, I heard a loud yes.

And I know the marketing department – if I had one – would say, let’s keep this under wraps for now. Show no one. Tell no one. We’ll plan a cover-release event.

But as I’ve already explained, I can’t keep a secret.

So then, here, dear reader, is my cover art for Bone Girl. All credit to Jason Gurley. Stand back. This. Is. Huge!