A girls trip in Boise. When they saw my books, they insisted on a pic. They're excitement was kinda cool. : (At the fabulous Rediscovered Books in Boise.)

What I’m Up To

**A girls trip in Boise. When they saw my books, they insisted on a pic. Their excitement was fun, since it reminded me it’s always been my dream to have books in a bookstore. :) (At the fabulous Rediscovered Books in Boise.)**

Hey my peeps!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here, so I thought I’d let you know what I’ve been up to, and tell you what’s coming in 2017.

I could tease you and make you read this whole post before answering the ONE question I know everyone has (I know, because it’s the question I hear at signings from pretty much everyone):

Will there be another book in this series?

YES! And it’s going to be hella AWESOME. I’m just saying. I would tell you the title, but I’ll save that until I have some sort of idea when this sucker is going to be ready for you. (But if you see me at an event, ask me and I’ll tell you.)

Next most important question: WHEN?

I wish I freaking knew. I really do. I wish I could say soon! But I’ll tell you right now, I’m almost 100% sure it won’t even be this year (2017).

There are several reasons for that. One, it takes me a crazy long time to write these books. As you know, they’re very intricate, so it’s a ton of work to put these books together. (I once made the mistake of estimating how many hours it took me to write The Lost Branch. The answer was 900 hours. Honestly, I didn’t need to know that.)

Two, this is not the only gig I’ve got going on, so unfortunately, my prime hours have to go to things that pay the bills. That’s the short answer. If you want to hear more about what else I’m working on, keep reading.

When I was writing The Lost Branch, 80-95% of my working hours went to editing other people’s books (I’m a freelance book editor). While I do really enjoy working with my fellow authors, my first love is writing. I found it incredibly frustrating to spend so much time on other projects when I had so little for my own.

In the latter part of 2015 and through 2016, I worked my tail off to change that. In addition to finishing and publishing The Lost Branch at the end of 2015, I launched a pen name in 2016. These are category romances that I actually have a blast writing, and because I can put them together much more quickly without the story suffering, (also, they’re WAY shorter), I was able to release six titles in 2016. You read that right: SIX.

I hesitate to share that with you, my loyal and patient fans of the Realm of the Phoenix. But I’m sharing it anyway, because I don’t want to hide it from you. I also want to assure you that this has not slowed down production of the next Phoenix book. The time I’m spending on romance books would’ve gone to editing, because those are the two things that bring sufficient income into the household.

It all comes down to the realities of the book world, which is that these days authors need to have 10-15 titles out for the same readership before they start making a living from those books. For those of us who have managed to put together three books for one readership and six for another, and still not be able to make a living solely from our books, that reality can feel a little harsh at times. But it is what it is. And this author is determined.

So, my plan is to release the next Phoenix book by the end of 2018. (This is not an announcement, just what I’m thinking at this point.) That’s a 3-year gap between books 2 and 3, which is the same gap I had between books 1 and 2. It’s the same gap I’d be facing if I weren’t writing romances and still putting the majority of my time into editing work. So while I understand that it may be frustrating to hear I’m releasing so many romances while the fantasy is still taking longer (it frustrates me, anyway), I can confidently say that this potential release schedule is pretty much what we’d be looking at regardless.

I also plan to put out another 5-6 romance titles a year, ongoing, with the hope that by the end of 2017 I can eliminate editing work all together. That is my ultimate goal, because then I’ll have more time to build the fantasy titles more quickly, instead of having such long gaps between books. I also have a new fantasy series (that’s been not-so-patiently waiting it’s turn for years) that I think will be just as fun as the Phoenix series, but less complicated for me to put together on the back end and so will come together more quickly.

This can all be summed up to this: I’m COMMITTED to my fantasy books, and my fantasy fans. I know I have a sloooow release schedule, but I am working on the next book. It just takes time.

I’m so appreciative of those of you who meet me at signings, enthusiastically ask when the next book will be out, and then tell me it’s okay if it takes awhile because it’s worth the wait. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

On another front, one of my long-standing clients asked me to publish her book last year. I gave this serious thought, and almost didn’t do it, (in fact, I said no at first). I didn’t want being a publisher to distract from my own books. I have enough going on as it is! But I’ve been working with her on this book for some time, and it has a very special place in my heart. We discussed how to make this arrangement work for everyone, and I said ultimately yes. I’m sooo glad I did! It’s worked out swimmingly!

So, in 2016 I became a publisher. Of this amazing book right here…

I-Call-Myself-Coca-Joe-Web-MediumI Call Myself Coca Joe is a literary novel with a very unique and compelling approach. It’s about a girl with multiple personality disorder, who doesn’t know she has it. The chapters alternate between her point of view, and the point of view of her multiple personalities (presented in “The Boarding House” chapters). It’s fantastic, and I love it!

Here’s the blurb:

Spunky, funny Coca Joe Stratmore knows the safest place to be is away from the house and in the Montana badlands with her only real family, her loyal collie, Chief.

When Chief goes missing, Coca Joe embarks on a dangerous search. Her drive to find her beloved Chief attracts unexpected help from hobos and a band of Lakota Indians. They find more than anyone bargained for.

Layer by layer, her search uncovers secrets about her family, while the intriguing residents of The Boarding House reveal secrets buried deep inside Coca Joe herself.

What if everything Coca Joe thinks she knows about herself is a lie?

This touching tale, told through the eyes of young Coca Joe, presents a uniquely positive portrayal of multiple personalities. Unlike any book you’ve ever read, I Call Myself Coca Joe is the first in a compelling series, exploring the themes of truth, redemption, loyalty, and hope.

This is the first in a series, so if it sounds like your speed and you end up checking it out, keep an eye out for the next two. :)

Lastly, on a more personal note, I still have three children at home, which keeps me plenty busy too. I tell you what, once the kids are grown and gone, I’ll be spitting out books like crazy! 😉

We’re at the beginning of that transition. My oldest is a senior in high school and ships out to the Navy in August. My youngest is in junior high. It’s crazy.

Some of you know, Gift of the Phoenix was inspired by a story I told my three boys when they were itty bitty. The story was short, and bad, and nothing like the one I have now, but it did have three brothers as the heros, and they each had a different colored stone. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, and ended up running with it. :)

The Lost Branch is dedicated to my boys, who both inspire me and give me joy. My greatest accomplishments to date.

Thanks for reading, dear fans. Keep an eye on the website for news, stalk me on my Facebook page for news and upcoming events, or sign up for newsletter updates. (I send something like one email a year, but I might get ambitious this year and send two. Either way, I promise not to pester you.)

Happy 2017!


2 thoughts on “What I’m Up To

  1. Michael

    I’m a big fan of your Phoenix series books. Thanks for the update. I’m looking forward to your upcoming projects. In 2014, my wife and I had our first child, a boy we named Phoenix. We read Gift of the Phoenix to him as an infant. It was our favorite book that we’ve read to the kid(s). We now have two kids. Every night we read them a few children’s books then a chapter from a longer book (including the Lost Branch). I’m so excited that you are continuing the series. Way to go on keeping your writing ambitions alive while being so busy. I do have one question: where can I find a print book of Nashua’s Choice like in the picture? I have it in digital form, which is all I’ve ever found.

    1. DonnaCookDonnaCook Post author

      Hi Michael. I love that you named your son Phoenix! I even more love that you’re reading my books to your kids on a regular basis. Coolest. Thing. Ever. 😉 Thank you! The print form of Nashua’s Choice is in production. I’ll make announcements everywhere once it’s available, but it shouldn’t be more than a couple weeks. So soon! Thank you again for being such a great fan of the books. Readers like you give me the strength to keep pushing. :)


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