Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What On Earth Takes So Long? Behind the Scenes from Book Contract to (not quite) Publication

Since I signed my publishing contract with Howard in February I've been asked a few variations on the question of "Why is it taking so long for your book to come out?" So today, for all of those who wonder why on earth it takes fourteen months (in my case) to go from contract signing to book publication, I thought I'd share a little bit about what had been going on behind the scenes :)

February: signed contract - hurrah!

Macro edits (also known as developmental edits). This was the point where I got a twelve page memo from my editor with overarching comments like "your heroine's character arc needs strengthening" and "I'd like you to think about changing X part of the plot to Y" and "I think you should consider removing X characters and replacing them with Y type of characters". I got four weeks to pull Close To You apart, apply her comments, and put them back together again :)

Line edits. This was where my editor went through the whole book line by line and made specific comments about each scene. And I did more rewrites :)

Cover and title development. We started with over thirty potential cover options and quickly narrowed it down to a short list and then the preferred option.

Line edits round #2: After I'd gone through my editor's line edits and submitted my changes an associate editor then went through the book again and made her comments line by line and I got to do it all over again :)

Cover and title finalised. It starts getting real...

Copy edits: In this edit a new editor went through at a very detailed level. She specifically looked at sentence structure, spelling, continuity issues, grammar, and fact checked everything. I went through and answered a whole lot of questions, okayed most of her changes and explained why I didn't want to accept others.

In the US sales teams sell into retail six months in advance. At this point Close To You went into the Howard/Simon and Schuster sales catalogue for the sales team as one of they Spring 2016 books to talk to retailers about.

First proof edits: this is the first time I got to see what Close To You will look like typeset as a book. Hurrah! After so many edits you'd think there wouldn't be much left to find? Wrong! I flagged up almost 200 changes that needed to be made.

Galleys sent to potential endorsers: Last week my publisher sent copies of Close To You to five authors who we are hoping will read it and, if they like it, write an endorsement to go inside the front cover. This is particularly important when you're a debut author so some readers will take a chance on you based on if another author they like recommends your book.

At the same time as all of this I've been writing Book #2 that is due in this month, getting my website designed, growing my social media presence, doing my "real" day job and chasing after my two pre-schoolers, among a range of other things :) Oh, and eating quite a few of these...

Over the next couple of month there will be a final set of proofs which will be signed off to go to print. Then, early next year the publisher will send copies to book reviewers in the hope that some will review Close To You in April when it comes out.

In February-April there will be a whole range of marketing activity to try and generate interest in the book and encourage pre-orders (which are really important but that's a whole different conversation!). And then FINALLY on April 26, Close To You will officially be released!

So that's the process (as I've experienced it!). Every publisher is different but would love to answer any questions and chat about the last eight months and what is still to come!

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand. It will be an April 2016 release from Howard Books. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connnect on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Writer and Twitter @KaraIsaac

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Swooning...romantic? Not!

I confess as a teen, I grew up on hand-me-down penny-dreadfuls. And another confession, I loved it when the heroine swooned. How romantic, especially if the right man was there to catch her.

But you know something?
Phial of smelling salts. photo Rita Gerlach
I could never swoon. Couldn't even faint. Oh, I wanted to so badly. Not one measly time could I even try to force myself to delicately crumple.

Mind you, when I saw my mother faint one day, I sort of retracted that desire. Poor mum just keeled over without warning and landed with a thump. I found out later she was expecting.

Hmm, being pregnant was something I wasn't ready for at that stage. So I figured I'd have to leave it to all those fragile heroines to deliver the romantic swooning stuff.

Seriously though, I'm sure the tight corsets had a great deal to to with it. The way their undergarments pulled in their waists and then were tightly laced, they could hardly get a deep breath. And imagine that in sweltering hot weather! No wonder the poor gals keeled over. So instead of loosening their nipped in torture garments, they carried their own personal phials of smelling salts. Who wouldn't be shocked back to their senses when those ammonium carbonate salts were waved under their noses?

He was an aristocrat. She was in service. Will they dare cross this invisible line?
Windsor Castle, mid 1800s.
Separated by the class barrier, handsome aristocrat, Nicholas Forbes-Mannering and kitchen apprentice, Charmian Kintrairy can't ignore their mutual attraction. But conventions are strong, and as their love grows, they struggle to find equal footing.

When she discovers her mysterious family history, she is convinced their differences are insurmountable. Can she use her culinary skills to make a new life in a new land?

Only a tragic event causes their paths to cross again.... 
Will Charmian find the courage to hold fast to her faith and face the ghosts of her past? 

* Book III of the Victoriana Series, A Parcel of Promises, is at the printers as this goes online. But sadly, this heroine never got to swoon! She was too busy in Windsor Castle's kitchens. But she has shared her scrumptious recipe of a genuine boiled rag pudding for the Christmas table.

See: for updates.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Team Bride... and a Giveaway

Fall is in the air! At least it is in the Northern Hemisphere. My Riverbend Romance novella series takes place in a small town in Canada, and each celebrates one of the seasons. Team Bride is quintessentially rural BC the way I know it, with a fall fair, bike rides over crunching fallen leaves, and a day of juicing apples. Oh, and a good dose of romance!

Here's what Team Bride is about:

Sarah Jamieson has avoided weddings since a traumatic stint as a flower girl, but reluctantly agrees to stand up for her best friend. Only why does the best man have to be one of those confident, life-of-the-party types? Even worse, why does the bride make her promise to go on one date with the guy? Easy enough to agree, because she'll make sure he never asks.

Corbin Morrissey takes his responsibilities for Team Groom very seriously, but coaxing smiles out of the maid-of-honor is harder — and more addictive — than he expected. To his surprise, she agrees to go out. There really isn't any way a date to the Fall Fair could go amiss. Is there?

Can Corbin convince Sarah he's ready to settle down and make her the head of her own Team Bride, or will their past keep getting in the way?

Chapter 1

The wedding rehearsal was about to start without Sarah Jamieson.

Thankfully, it wasn’t her wedding, but that didn’t mean her best friend wasn’t going to kill her. As maid of honor, Sarah had responsibilities. She tapped her fingers on the car’s steering wheel and craned her neck to see why traffic was stopped on the bridge across the Sandon River.

She’d counted on twelve minutes to get from her apartment to the River of Life Church. That’s all it ever took. With only two stoplights, the town of Riverbend, British Columbia, was no metropolis. Also, she hadn’t seen any need to get there early. Not with the way she felt about weddings. The things she did for her best friend. At least she’d talked Lindsey out of a flower girl.

Sarah opened the car door and crossed to the sidewalk on the other side of the bridge along with several other drivers. Oh, no. A semi had flipped on the bridge’s access, blocking both lanes. This could take a while.

She slid back into her car and tapped the Bluetooth on her dashboard, selecting Lindsey’s cell. It went straight to voicemail. A bride too busy to answer her phone at two minutes to rehearsal? Imagine that. Maybe the groom was carrying his. It was worth a try. She scrolled through the list and found Nick’s number. It rang three times.

“Corbin Morrissey of Team Groom. How may I direct your call?”

She rolled her eyes as she craned to see if there was any action getting the eighteen-wheeler moved yet. A few sirens wailed in the distance. “This is Sarah. I’m stranded in the middle of the bridge because a semi-truck flipped over, blocking both lanes. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Sarah from Team Bride?”

She narrowed her gaze and stared at the Bluetooth display. “Lindsey’s maid of honor.”

“Team Bride affirmative. Expected time of arrival?” He chuckled. “Besides late.”

Where had Nick found this guy, anyway?

Sarah leaned out her open car window as sirens approached. “Sounds like the RCMP are here. Tow trucks. And a woman in a safety vest coming this way stopping at every car.”

“So you’ll know what’s up in a minute. We might as well keep talking until she gets to you. Tell me about yourself, Sarah. Have you known Lindsey long?”

She shook her head as she settled back in her seat. Some guys had all the confidence. She preferred them quiet, herself. Not like... Corbin, he’d said his name was? “I’ve known her since we were kids. We’ve been best friends since third grade then lost touch until she came back to Riverbend last year.”

“So you must have gone to high school here. Did you know Nick?”

Sarah wasn’t going there. She had memories of the groom in high school she’d rather forget. Good thing he’d changed. “Yeah, some. How about you? Where did you meet Nick?”

“Bible school, actually. I’ve lived near Riverbend for a couple of years now.”

The woman in the safety vest was still a few cars away. “So are you a pastor now, too?” There were other churches in town. Maybe he worked for one of them.

“I’m a farmer.”

Seriously? He said it with some kind of pride. “You went to Bible college to become a farmer?” Now there was a waste of four years.

Corbin laughed. “Not exactly. But God had His reasons.”

The woman approached as Sarah glanced out the window. “They expect to open single-lane traffic in under an hour.”


“Whoa, Team Bride is losing this competition. Huzzah, Team Groom is rocking it.”

Did that require a reply? “It sounds like I’ll get there when I get there.”

“Try the bridge down by Arrowsmith?”

“That’s another thirty kilometers south. Besides, I don’t think the car behind me left enough room to turn around. No, I’d better stay put.”

“Your call. So you know, the pizza just arrived, and it smells awesome.”

Sarah’s stomach growled as she glared at the Bluetooth.

Corbin chuckled. “What’s your favorite kind?”

“If it’s Panago, the correct answer is Mediterranean with olives and extra feta.”

The sound of other voices and laughter became louder. A few glasses clinked. “Yup, there’s one of those. You must have an in with the bride. Want me to save you a piece?”

How about saving half a pizza? She hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

He lowered his voice. “We could sit out on the fire escape later and share it. Get to know each other.”

Um, right. Nick should have left this bozo out in the chicken yard where he found him.

“Who are you talking to, Cor?” Nick’s voice. “Is that my phone?”

“Yup, it rang, so I picked it up. Talking to Sarah from Team Bride.”

“Well, give it here already.” The phone switched hands. “Sarah? Where are you? The food arrived.”

“Stuck on the bridge. A semi turned over just a few vehicles in front of me. The tow truck is trying to clear it enough for one-lane traffic now.”

“But rehearsal...”

Like she didn’t know.

“Right. Well, I guess I don’t need to tell you to get here as soon as you can, eh?”

She drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. “I have that part figured out, Nick. There’s not much I can do at the moment.”

“I’ll tell Lindsey you called.”

“Thanks. I tried her cell first but she didn’t answer.” Neither had anyone else. She could wish no one had answered Nick’s, either.

“Okay. See you soon, I hope.”

“Hey, pass the phone back here.”

Corbin? Like she wanted to sit and chat with him any longer? Not a chance. She reached over and tapped the screen to end the call. That’d fix him.


Interested in reading Team Bride? I'm offering one reader a copy (e-book only, worldwide). If you'd like to put your name in the hat, please add your email address with your comment before Friday, October 10, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com.

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Coming Up This Week


Valerie Comer: Team Bride... and a giveaway


Rita Galieh


Kara Isaac: What Take So Long? From Book Contract To (not quite) Publication


Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Friday Devotion


Upcoming Releases

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance novella set in Canada, Merry Kisses, Book 5 in the Riverbend Romance series, releases independently in November 2015. 

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Berry on Top, Book 6 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in Winter 2016. 

Kara Isaac's contemporary romantic comedy set in New Zealand, Close To You, will be an April 2016 release from Howard Books.

Christine Lindsay's historical romance set in the US, Sofi's Bridge, will be an April 2016 release from Pelican Book Group.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, October 2, 2015

DEVOTION: Losing My Mind! ~ by Kathi Macias

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation
(Daniel 4:34, NKJV).

Have you ever caught yourself saying something like, “I think I’m losing my mind”? I have, and it’s usually because my brain is overloaded with multi-tasking. All I really need to do is slow down a bit and things come back into focus.

It wasn’t that easy for the once great King Nebuchadnezzar, who had gazed upon his empire and boasted that it was all of his own doing. God quickly gave the arrogant ruler a reality check, driving him out into the fields to eat grass with the animals. It wasn’t until he lifted his eyes to heaven that his understanding returned to him and he finally gave glory to God, recognizing Him as the sovereign ruler over all.

How easy it is to become like Nebuchadnezzar and gaze out over our own little kingdoms (home, family, occupation, possessions) and begin to think that we’ve achieved it all in our own strength! And how important it is to keep our eyes lifted toward heaven so we don’t do such an evil thing! Apart from God’s mercy and grace we could not take our next breath, let alone amass fame or fortune. May we never be so foolish as to think we are in charge of anything, for it is only in Him that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Personally, I find that very comforting, don’t you?

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. 

A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. 

She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


I recently read for review I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS, the debut novel by fellow author Sara Goff.

Here is my 5-star review. LOVED IT. 


I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS is a wonderful romantic comedy for those of us who are tired of Christian romances that always seem to be set in pioneer days, dude ranches, or Amish communities. I’ve watched many a romantic movie set in New York. So, reading I Always Cry at Weddings felt like that---being inside a contemporary romantic comedy taking place in the Big Apple.

Ava Larson is a young woman like most of us, or like our grown up daughters or granddaughters---she makes mistakes. Big mistakes that accumulate a frightening amount of debt in a short period of time, all for making the right decision. Ava decides to not marry the rich man she’s been engaged to for the past five years and receives the bill for her high society wedding that will never take place. Ava then starts a journey of self-discovery that adds problems on top of problems, that have her squeaking pretty close to losing everything and facing the terrifying prospect of becoming one of New York’s homeless.

But Ava finds that all is not as it seems. Like who is that really cute guy that lives on the street just outside her apartment? How can this seemingly homeless guy appear to have his life in control while hers is spinning out of control?

This story has brow-raising but plausible twists and turns if you read it keeping the average young person of today in mind. Financial security is a thing of the past. Life can change on the spinning of a dime.

So while this book resonates with the honking horns of 5th Avenue, car fumes from New York cabs, the bright lights of Broadway, the thumping of the dancing shoes in night clubs, it still comes across as a breath of fresh air in Christian romance. The steadfast sweetness of Christianity is brushed into the novel with the lightness of a feather, enough to uplift you, as the flawed characters find strength and truth in ageless faith.


Ava gave a hopeful smile and exchanged a glance with Josh, her fiancé. The last couple they expected to go simple and cheap was Courtney and Brad. They had the money to throw a knockout wedding, like theirs would be. Plus they had a vow of chastity to wrap up. Wouldn’t that be all the more reason to go big? In a church, or under a chuppah? What about God’s blessing? Instead, they opted for a public building with fluorescent lighting and stale air. A room where couples and their witnesses waited in long, grim lines to get their licenses signed, stamped or whatever. How unromantic. How could they?

Ava looked down at her skirt and blouse, her long legs in red opaque tights, and then to Courtney, who had on a pair of low-cut jeans and a pink T-shirt, both on the clingy side. Brad wasn’t dressed any better in grass-stained khakis and an old yellow polo shirt. Here they lost her completely. A bride wore a white dress of some kind. White wasn’t just tradition. It symbolized the innocence of a new beginning and the purity of commitment. Without white, it wasn’t a wedding.

“I guess we overdressed.” Ava blushed as it became obvious that she was staring.

“You guys have seen these outfits before.” Courtney winked. “The Bridgehampton Polo Club, a year ago today…”

“When Josh and I introduced you, of course!” They had gone divot stomping at halftime, Courtney and Brad competing and hitting it off at once. 

“That’s so cute you’re wearing the same clothes. Wow, our first date was so long ago…” She turned to Josh. “Remember? I wore a vintage bubblegum-colored dress with pleats down the front. Ugh! I was going through a ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ phase, on a budget.” She pictured the elegant French restaurant, Daniel, and her meal of goat cheese stuffed escargot and peppered filet mignon…warm and buttery madeleines…a taste of champagne.

“I remember you got a little tipsy.” Josh smirked.

She laughed, as if it were a silly mistake. After dinner, she had naively gone back to his apartment. In a dream-like moment, which she could barely recall, she had given up her virginity. Gone. She felt the sting of regret now, thinking that their first time could’ve meant something if they had waited until marriage, until they knew and loved each other, like Courtney and Brad.

“You look beautiful,” Ava said, softly, almost to herself. Courtney didn’t need the white dress, the veil. She still had that special glow.

ABOUT SARA GOFF recently moved to Connecticut with her husband of 14 years and their two sons after living in Sweden and then London for nearly seven years. I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS, her debut novel about figuring
out life and finding love in New York City, was recently released by WhiteFire Publishing. A part of the proceeds from the book will go towards her educational charity Lift the Lid, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Visit for more information on the charity. 


Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Writers often spend an ample amount of time figuring out which name suits a character best.

Research may include checking:

  • name definitions, to see if the meaning matches the character’s traits, arc, etc.
  • when the name was popular, to match it to a specific time period
  • region, to make sure the name matches where the character lives

With all that goes into naming, and creating, characters, is it any wonder that sometimes people name their children after their favorite characters?

Would you ever name your child (or pet) after a favorite character, or perhaps a favorite author?

Better yet, are you named after one? Or do you know someone who is?

In case you might like to see some name suggestions, here’s a site that lists 50 names inspired by authors.


Eva Maria Hamilton is the author of Highland Hearts, a Love Inspired Historical novel published by Harlequin. Her novel, Highland Hearts, won 2nd Place in the Historical Romance, as well as the Traditional/Inspirational Romance Categories in the Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Awards, and was an Inspirational Series Finalist in the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

Highland Hearts
Scotland 1748
The Battle of Culloden is over, but one Highlander’s fight has just begun…
Logan McAllister survived years of indentured servitude in the Americas to reach this moment. Now he’s returned to Scotland, ready to redeem the secret promise from Sheena Montgomery’s father – that his years as an indentured servant would earn him Sheena’s hand in marriage. But when he arrives home, he learns that Sheena’s father has died, his contract has been lost… and Sheena is engaged to another man.

To connect with Eva Maria Hamilton online, please visit her at