The Keeper and the Rune Stone is the first book in The Black Ledge Series.
An unholy ritual, a ticking clock. Four children discover there are things that go bump in the night ...
Centuries ago a group of Elves committed an unholy ritual. But the ritual was a spectacular failure. It transformed the Elves into the Noctivagi - the beings we know as vampires.
Striving to maintain a fragile peace, the ancient Elves and Dwarves negotiated an Accord, which they've renewed every year on the Summer Solstice. The ceremony depends on the magical Rune Stone, but it's missing. If it is not found—and quickly—the consequences could be dire, and not just for Elves and Dwarves.
Four children, Rob, Jack, Eleanor, and Flora, stumble into a world of magic and mayhem when they move into Black Ledge, the old estate on the Maine coast, and discover they aren’t the only ones who live there.
Do you have a favorite character?
I have quite a few. In The Keeper and the Rune Stone, I’d have to say Ralph, the cellar-dweller Hafling who lives in the basement of Black Ledge. He is grouchy, especially when he is woken from a nap (those scenes almost write themselves).
Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Gunnr, the Night Elf, stepped onstage in the last third of Book One, and he took over. I really struggled to keep him in what I thought was his place, but he was quite insistent. Finally, we compromised, but only if I let him have his way in Book II, The Keeper and the Alabaster Chalice.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did. I thought I had a great query letter but apparently I was the only one. I couldn’t really get anyone to look at the manuscript. Two agents did, and I received very nice rejections and encouragement. I realized this would be a challenge. I had great feedback, though, and some other encouraging signs, so I decided to learn as much as I could, and put them out independently. It was the right decision.
If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I am so lucky! Long sordid tale of scheduling mishaps and disappearing team members, and then, at the last minute, I found a super, super book designer, Brion Sausser at Book Creatives, and I feel very fortunate. Brion knew just what I wanted, maybe better than I did.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Oh, gosh, yes. I am the newest writer in that fold, which is a fabulous place to be. The members of my writers’ group have taught me so much.
What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
Music helps me a lot. Just the right music — it might take me 15 minutes to find just the right piece(s) for the mood of the scenes I am working on. Just in the background, nothing that distracts, but the right music definitely contributes.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Both. I have a broad purpose for each chapter, but then I let it happen. I don’t wring ink. If it isn’t flowing I walk away. I mull and I ponder, and that always seems to fix it.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I did. I had three excellent editors on The Keeper and the Rune Stone, and lots of other help, too. I had a lot of very helpful critical feedback when I placed the book on Authonomy, a website for writers to critique each other’s work. I also belong to a couple of excellent writers’ groups, locally and on FaceBook. Invaluable information, and laugher.
I also have beta readers, friends, and family. My daughters are ruthless critics. They have been invaluable.
There are so many people that have helped me along the way. It’s almost impossible to name them all, but one very special person is Thomas Block, who is doing the art for The Black Ledge Series.
What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
That I need a maid, a chef, a gardener, a laundress, and a publicist. Fortunately, my friends help with publicity. A lot!
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
All of the above.
And friends! My friends have been huge supporters!
Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
I love to sail, ride, garden, read, of course, and cook. My daughters show cattle, and we love being on the periphery of that.
What’s next for you?
I have a few things I am juggling. I have the first book of a juvenile mystery series due out later this year, Unattended. No magic, just murder. Besides the juvenile mystery series, I am plotting two adult fiction projects.
I am consumed with the Black Ledge Series, though. It’s the most fun, as Thomas Block is doing illustrations for each of the books, and they are magnificent! I catch myself writing things just for him to illustrate.
Thank you so much for having me today!