Archives: SparkPress

Ta-Da! Cover Reveal


It’s getting real, folks. I love this cover designed by Julie Metz, art director at SparkPress and She Writes Press.

She’s a creative whiz with more than 25 years experience designing book covers.  I had given her a detailed memo that included a novel synopsis, adjectives describing what my story was and wasn’t, and key images and symbols (including Raven). Julie ran with the raven idea, but it took us a couple of tries before we found the right raven. I wanted  friendly — as opposed to scary, Gothic — and this handsome guy fills the bill, don’t you think?

The Big Dipper was my (late) idea, and Julie incorporated it nicely. I love the way the stars skip over the title, creating movement.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you!

Up next: I describe what it’s like to ask really busy authors to please read my book and write me a blurb (endorsement) in their spare time.


I have a pub date!


I love using that cute abbreviation. It’s so offhand, so casual, like I’m meeting someone for a beer. It makes me sound cool, when in fact, I’m FRICKIN’ JUMPING-OUT-OF-MY-PANTS EXCITED.

On August 14, 2018, my young-adult novel, The Leaving Year, will be published by SparkPress. I’ll be able to hold this slippery, all-consuming dream I thought would never happen, IN MY HANDS.

Please forgive the shouting, but it’s been SEVEN FRICKIN’ YEARS since I quit my day job to write a novel.

This book is the most momentous thing I’ve ever done outside of marriage and parenthood. (Read a by-the-numbers accounting of my journey here.)

And now, at long last, I will have something to show for the years spent writing and rewriting – so much rewriting that I probably wrote two novels’ worth of words to get the approximately 84,000-plus I ended up with.

There were days when I wondered if I was delusional. There were nights I’d lay awake despairing. I couldn’t take pleasure in reading a really good book. Instead, I’d think, God, my novel sucks compared to this!

And it did.

As a first time novelist, I still have a huge inferiority complex, but I’m anxious to put my work out there. I believe my story deserves to be read. Getting to that point took more faith, persistence and hard work than I thought myself capable of.

And it’s still not over. While going through a professional copy edit of my book recently, I discovered a continuity problem that forced me to add a small scene and shuffle things around. That’s what I mean by slippery. Just when I think I’m done, I find some chunky bit of dialogue (that seemed just fine the day before) or a brother that started out older and ended up younger.

But the edits are getting smaller and smaller with each pass through. Once this copy edit is complete, my novel will go through a proofread. We’re talking missing words and other picky stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s still a lot to do between now and my pub date – I’ll be blogging about it — but please indulge me as I OBNOXIOUSLY mark this milestone.

Coming soon: COVER REVEAL!

My book journey so far – an accounting


46 (give or take) years I’ve wanted to write a novel

Nine years spent actually working on a novel

Countless times I edited and/or rewrote my first paragraph

Five-plus full drafts

14 beta readers/listeners

One time I read my entire novel aloud to my husband, Mark Funk, and sons, Casey and Charlie.

Four (additional) books on writing/craft I’ve read to guide and inspire me

About 2,200 dollars spent on professional editors/consultants/classes (online)

Ten(?) pounds dark chocolate consumed in pursuit of my art

1,240 games of Words with Friends played when I should have been working

13 blog posts written about a book that’s yet to be published

Four small presses queried

One small press that asked to see the novel

31 agents queried

20 agents who responded with a thanks, no thanks

Five agents who responded with a nice thanks, no thanks

Three agents who asked to read all or part of the book

One agent who was complimentary. Peter Knapp called my novel “quite compelling.” I love Peter Knapp.

Zero offers

All of which means I needed to find another way. Plan A – trying to get traditionally published – hasn’t worked, so I’ve moved on to Plan B — hybrid publishing or co-publishing. Yes, I will pay to play.

Am I disappointed that I haven’t been able to secure a deal from an agent and/or publisher? Yes, a little.

Could I still if I just kept at it a while longer? Maybe. But I’m 57 going on 58. I want to write more books, not spend the rest of my life shopping this one.

Is my failure to secure a traditional deal a sign that I should abandon this project? Hell no. I’ve worked too long and hard on it. That doesn’t guarantee quality, I understand, but I’ve read and re-read my novel ad nauseam, and I still like it. In fact, I like it a whole lot more now than I did in the beginning.

Bottom line: I believe my book deserves to find an audience.

I could self-publish, but putting out a professional-looking book takes skills I don’t have – cover design, for example – and I would have no way of distributing it. Book stores typically won’t consider self-published works.

The hybrid press I’ve contacted offers assisted self-publishing with some traditional-publishing perks, i.e. distribution. Yes, I’d have to pay upfront for editing and other services, but I’d have to do that anyway to produce a quality self-published book. And I don’t know enough to do everything a la carte.

So on May 1, I submitted my novel to SparkPress, which puts book submissions through a vetting process to ensure they’re publication worthy. According to their website, SparkPress “gives authors a traditional house experience, complete with an experienced editorial and production team, while allowing them to retain full ownership of their project and earnings.”

Sounds good to me. I’ll, of course, keep you all posted. Meanwhile, I welcome your thoughts.

Photo credit: Narayana Prasad