Jennifer's Journal


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New beginnings

Today is the first day of the rest of my blogging life. After months of confusion while reading articles and books on how to blog, what to write about and how often to post, I’ve decided to ignore all the advice and do it my way. This means returning to my original plan when I named this blog Jennifer’s Journal: it will be an online record of my days to let readers know what’s happening with my life and career. And if I sometimes post the odd thought that runs through my mind, perhaps you‘ll bear with me.

This is such a minor decision compared to some I’ve taken recently!

Last November, I submitted a proposal for a new medieval trilogy called the Tudor Heiress Brides Books. My editor approved it and made an offer. The advance was somewhat less than for the previous Three Graces trilogy, but came with promises of a sizeable commitment for promotion. Three-way negotiations began between me, my agent and the editor.
But in the middle of these talks, my husband had a heart attack that resulted in quintuple by-pass surgery. It was a traumatic time, with long weeks spent in hospitals. It seemed something was telling me I needed to get off the merry-go-round of constant deadlines I’d been on for over 30 years and enjoy our time together. I turned down the offer for the trilogy and withdrew the proposal.

As one door closes another opens, so they say, and that’s how it turned out. I’d been in contact with a niece who writes as Phoenix Sullivan ( She had indie published two of her books on Amazon, as well as an anthology of stories by several of her online friends. Not only was she familiar with the process, but she had impressive data geek credentials, as well as having held writing and editing positions at a series of high-tech firms for more than 20 years. As it happened, I’d been reading about the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing phenomenon. We began to talk about the possibility of putting some shorter titles of mine online, novellas I’d done in the 1990s for which rights had reverted to me as the author. The more we talked the bigger the plans become—and in December we established Steel Magnolia Press.

A sizable factor in this undertaking was that several of my full-size backlist novels, out of print but out there as ebooks from E-Reads, Inc., were coming up for rights reversion. Then I had another niece, Tamelia Tumlin, who had worked with several online publishers, a daughter, Lindy Corbin, who had published a book with a traditional house that went belly-up, and another daughter, Katharine Faucheux, who was at a place in her life where she might finish a couple of great stories she’d started. A couple of other relatives had writing ambitions, Phoenix was working on new material and I had several things in my files that could be revamped. Then that new medieval trilogy lurked in the background. With lots of possible books lined up for publication, we forged ahead.

Discussion about the reversion of my backlist titles began immediately, but turned into a lengthy dialogue. Agreement was finally reached for the release of 36 titles, but more weeks passed while previous ebook versions were removed from their online sales outlets. Meanwhile, much work went on behind the scenes at SMP. New covers were commissioned from Dara England of LFD Designs, and new text formatting put into place. Different descriptions were created and more complete copyright and review details added. A production timetable for all titles was finalized and promotion schedule established.

The changes made did not affect the stories, in case you’re wondering. Beyond minor editing on a couple to comply with modern usage, the text in each case is the same as when these books were printed by traditional publishers. The main purpose behind the revamping was to give them a brighter, more romantic look and feel for greater reader appeal.

The first quartet of books now out includes ARROW TO THE HEART, MIDNIGHT WALTZ, SILVER-TONGUED DEVIL and TENDER BETRAYAL. As the stories are all set against the backdrop of antebellum Louisiana’s aristocratic plantation society, they’ve been dubbed the Louisiana Plantation Collection. Each is a stand-alone book, however, with no connection to any of the others. Special promotions will be coming up for these titles in the near future, so check back often for information on them.

August will see another four titles released in a collection which chronicles different time periods and events in my home state's colorful history. Others will follow in additional groups of four to six over the next eight or nine months. And I can't wait to have them all online!

Mine weren’t the only titles released this week by SMP. I’m delighted to announce the debut of NIKO’S STOLEN BRIDE by my older daughter, Lindy Corbin. Set on Sanibel Island, Key West and the Bahamas, it’s an exciting tale with a gorgeous Greek hero who is determined to prevent a bride from changing her mind after canceling her wedding to another man. My niece, Tamelia Tumlin, also has a new book out. DEADLY IMAGE is a different genre for her, a Christian romantic suspense tale about a young woman who must depend on a handsome but suspicious FBI agent to find her missing daughter. Tamelia has updated her web site in honor of this release. See it here:

Something new and different seems to happen every day with this venture into independent publishing. I’ll be keeping a chronicle of these events, as I said before. Meanwhile, what do you think about this development in the book world? Do you prefer reading "real" books or on an electronic device? If you use an e-reader, how many books do you download per month, on average? Leave a comment, and let’s start a conversation!

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