Jennifer Neri's Blog

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur. Henry Miller


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Congratulations, Linda!

One of my very first blogging friends, in fact I think the second to ever leave a comment on my blog, Linda Cassidy Lewis has lots to celebrate this weekend: On Friday she released her debut novel, The Brevity of Roses! This coincides with her post being freshly pressed!!

I have just downloaded the Kindle version of her novel, and can’t wait to begin reading. Linda has poured her whole being into this novel, and I’ve shared so much of the ups and downs of it with through her blog. I’m so proud of her achievement!

She’ll be here guest blogging in a few weeks after the hard version is released.

Go on over, say congratulations, and take a look at The Brevity of Roses. I’m certain it will be a fantastic read.


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Teresa Frohock talks about traditional publishing

Today Teresa Frohock is here talking about the path to publication of her debut fantasy novel, Miserere: An Autumn Tale. Last week, Cathryn Grant spoke about how Indie publishing has led to wonderful things for her. Two weeks ago Andre K. Baby spoke about his debut thriller, a story which shows that there are possibilites we never even imagined.

Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.

Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel and is scheduled for publication by Night Shade Books on July 1, 2011.

Welcome, Teresa!

I would like to thank Jennifer for her gracious invitation to me to write this post. I think Jennifer and I began blogging at approximately the same time, and it’s wonderful to see how both of our blogs have grown over the years.

Of course, after the invitation comes the hard part of deciding what to write about. Jennifer shot some ideas my way, and in a brainstorming e-mail session, we touched on why some writers choose to self-publish and why others seek a more traditional route to publication.

I thought since Cathryn talked about why she chose to self-publish, I would tell you why I chose to go the traditional route.

I’m a masochist.

Well, there is more to it than that; otherwise, this would be the world’s shortest blog post.

Going the traditional route to publication was very comfortable for me. One thing not many people know about me is that Miserere: An Autumn Tale is not my first novel nor is this my first time through the traditional route to publication. When I was in my early twenties I wrote a novel that interested James Allen of the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency. (There is a cool blog post about the agency here and yes, Jim really did smoke that much.) Jim knew I was unpolished as a writ-at.htmler, but he believed in my writing enough that he offered me representation. Unfortunately, I was too smart to listen to his advice, so my first novel never sold.

We eventually parted ways and I stopped writing fiction for many years. A few years ago, I saw an online class for writing fiction, and I wanted to see if I had what it took to become published. I signed up for the class and learned a lot about constructing a story. It was all the same things Jim had tried to tell me, but this time I was older and more teachable. I used what I learned in those writing classes to construct Miserere.

Once Miserere was polished and ready to submit, I examined my options. I thought about self-publishing, and although some people might not like what I’m about to say, anything less would be a lie. When I looked at self-publishing, I examined several self-published novels. In other words, I wanted to see the company I would be keeping. I wasn’t impressed.

The self-published books I found were riddled with spelling and grammatical issues, dialogue and setting were poorly executed, and each book would have greatly benefited from editorial oversight. The cover art was downright atrocious, which made the whole product look cheap and unprofessional.

That was two years ago. I’ve recently noticed that the cover art is getting better for self-published novels, and more and more self-published authors are turning to editors to get their books in shape prior to publication. I think that speaks well for all indie authors.

However, based on the works I was seeing a year or so ago, I decided I wanted to attempt to acquire an agent. I figured that if I could not interest an agent or a publisher in my writing, then it was possible that I didn’t have what it took to be a professional writer. If that was the case, I was perfectly willing to work on helluo librorum as a fan blog and let those who were more qualified tell the stories.

I submitted four queries and two agents asked for my manuscript. Of the two agents, I went with Weronika Janczuk of the D4EO Literary Agency, and I’m delighted with her as my agent. Weronika immediately saw the concepts I was trying to get across with Miserere, and she showed me ways to strengthen Miserere to make the story more marketable.

Within five weeks of Weronika sending Miserere out on submission, Jeremy Lassen of Night Shade Books made an offer. I was ecstatic, because I’ve loved Night Shade Books for some time. Jeremy picks the dark, edgy kind of fiction that I love to read, and the award-winning quality of Night Shade’s fiction speaks for itself. I am really honored to be associated with all of Night Shade’s authors.

Two things are going to rock a novel off the shelf, and those are the cover art and the story. Cover art is the most vital part of selling a novel. The art draws the reader’s eye and the story holds them there.

Night Shade is known for producing excellent cover art for their novels, but I was astounded by Michael C. Hayes’ interpretation of Miserere. He took the time to read the novel and he captured the entire story in their faces. He totally got the themes in Miserere.

So now we are moving into the final phases of constructing the finished work. I love being part of a team effort, which is exactly what traditional publication is all about—several talented people pulling together to create and produce a piece of art.

Have there been long waits? Yes.

Doesn’t it make you feel powerless while other people judge your work? Absolutely, but even if you self-publish, there will be readers judging the viability of your work.

Should everyone try and acquire an agent, then a publisher? Hey, everybody’s journey is different. Mine worked out great for me. My only advice is for you is this: examine the pros and cons of both options then roll with the option that best fits your lifestyle.

Thanks again to Jennifer for giving me this time! If you want to hang out with me, I’m in quite a few places. You can visit my blog and website follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook and I have an author page at Goodreads where I post reviews of books that I read and enjoy. I run mostly guest posts at helluo librorum, but I do pop in to give my two cents worth from time to time. Join us there where we talk about dark fiction and writing.

I hope to catch you all somewhere online or at a convention soon!


Thank you, Teresa, for the great post!!

We all look forward to this summer’s launch for you – a most exciting time, and can’t wait to hear all about it on your blog! And, I’m very excited to read Miserere: An Autumn Tale. From the bits I’ve read on your blog I’m certain it’s amazing!

Much success to you!!


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André K. Baby talks about his novel.

Today André K Baby will be talking to us about his debut thriller, La Danse des Éveques. His is the first of three guests on this blog. Next week Cathryn Grant will be speaking, followed by Teresa Frohock.

André K. Baby is a Montreal-born lawyer and writer. After early beginnings in criminal law as a Crown prosecutor, he switched to corporate and commercial law, eventually becoming General Counsel to a Swiss multinational. He has mined the wealth of his varied legal background to forge the intrigues and characters of his first thriller, “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie.” The French version, “La Danse Des Éveques,” was published and launched in the fall of 2010 at the Salon du Livre de Montréal by Les Éditions Marcel Broquet.  André is currently writing the stand alone sequel, “The Jewish Pope”. When not writing, André enjoys reading, sailing and playing classical piano. He and his wife Louise live in Pointe Claire, Quebec.

Welcome André!

JN: You wrote your thriller, La Danse des Éveques originally in English.  Why?

AKB: Actually, it’s easier for me to write the thriller genre in English. I think it’s due to the fact that my imagination has been fueled by the likes of Graham Greene, Lawrence Durrell, Sidney Sheldon, Ken Follett and others. Although the French have great mystery and police procedural writers such as Simenon and Levy, there are less really good French authors in the thriller genre.

JN: Were you concerned that the translation might not be as good as the original?

AKB: I must admit at first I was a bit apprehensive.  But when I read the end result I was really excited.  With the help of Hélene Larue’s excellent editing, I feel La Danse Des Éveques is as good as if not better than the original.

JN: How did Dance come to be translated and published in French if it was originally written in English?

AKB: Preparation and Perseverance. When I sent out queries to agents for my English manuscript and my inevitable pile of rejections grew to unflattering heights, I became extremely frustrated. Self-confidence eventually reached an all time low. Did I really need this sort of existence? Was I becoming masochistic? Was this what writing was all about? A lot of pain and no gain? After a period of serious introspection, I decided to keep writing for myself, for the fun of seeing the end product improve as I rewrote, and rewrote and rewrote some more. Then one day at a party, I met a Quebec French publisher, who was kind enough to take a look at my English manuscript and to suggest changes. I incorporated his recommendations and kept sending out queries to agents. Still no takers. About three months later, that French publisher phoned me one fine morning and said that he wanted to publish my novel. After getting off the floor and back into my chair, I heard him continue: “There’s one condition. You’ll have to get it translated it into French.” That’s how  “La Danse des Éveques” eventually got published before the original,” Dead Bishops Don’t Lie”.

JN: Three months after the launch of La Danse des Éveques, how are sales going?

AKB: Better than expected. The first print run is almost sold out. Since publishers (including mine) don’t like to spend money on advertising, we have to rely mainly on word-of-mouth. I’m amazed at how effective that is.

JN: How is your publisher marketing?

AKB: I’ve found it to be a sensitive issue with the publisher. The margins in the publishing business are so small that publishers are unwilling to spend on advertising. Yet it’s a catch 22: don’t advertise and the author remains unknown, and sales don’t grow. Yet so far, I’ve been lucky.

JN: What are you working on now?

AKB: I’m currently reworking the ending of my second thriller,  “The Jewish Pope”. After that, I’ll be integrating my line editor’s (my wife Louise’s) many comments.

JN: When and why did you begin writing?

AKB: I began writing a few sailing related articles many years ago, for local publications. I have also written a few law related articles during my career as a corporate lawyer. I began thinking about writing “The Novel” about five years ago. Coincidentally, I broke my leg around that time, so I remained more or less immobilized for three months. I found that lying on the living room couch was a good position to enhance the creative process. I still use it now.

JN: Any advice for writers?

AKB: Having only one published book to my credit, I am loath to give advice to others.  More seasoned authors than I have written about the many, sometimes daunting issues that face writers on the road to publication. I found that these authors each had variations on a main theme, which included however two recurring ideas: preparation and perseverance. When those two qualities were present, writers usually got published.  I think each writer must find his or her way. My path was arduous, a bit circuitous but in the end, the result was and continues to be extremely fulfilling. Plus I’ve met some great people along the way and made new friends.

JN: Are there plans to publish La Danse Des Éveques in English?

AKB: I’ve recently received good news from my publisher, Marcel Broquet: a Canadian Anglophone publisher has requested the English version “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie” and will be taking a look at it. Also, I ‘m awaiting news from an agent whom Broquet met in Ottawa recently.

Thank you, André, for sharing your experience with us. We wish you continued success, and look forward to Dead Bishop’s Don’t Lie, and The Jewish Pope.

Visit André’s website to learn more about him and his novel, La Danse des Éveques.

André would love to answer any comments or questions you have for him.

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