ABOUT IDENTITY CRISIS
When rumors of how Dan Hamilton actually died reach the Cheyenne Chief of Police, Brian Koski is forced to resign his position as captain of the Sixth Precinct and go into business for himself as a private detective. His partner? A mahogany colored Belgian Malinois named Sinbad. A former NYPD police dog, Sinbad is vicious when need be and reliable to a fault–unless a train goes by or there’s a thunderstorm, then chances are he will turn tail and run.
Brian’s first clients are Jeff and Melody Patten. He’s an explosives expert for a local demolitions company, she’s a stay-at-home Mom. Both are devoted parents to their young daughter, Angela. The problem comes in the form of one Collin Lanaski, an unstable ex-Air Force lieutenant and Angela’s second grade teacher, who suddenly starts insisting that Angela is his daughter—the same daughter who died in a tragic car accident four years earlier. What does Collin base this incredible revelation on? Dog tags and car seats. Brian is convinced the man has suffered a psychotic break. He’s delusional and dangerous, and it becomes the P.I.’s job to protect Angela from a madman.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Jean! Can you start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published? I actually have 13 books in print, including Identity Crisis.
When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published, or self-published and why or how did you choose this route? I started out with a small press called Port Town Publishing. That company went out of business in 2008, at which time I switched to Inkwater Press, another small publisher. I won’t say that I haven’t tried to place a book with a larger publisher. In fact, I’ve tried very hard. But, without an agent, it is virtually impossible to break into the larger markets, and finding an agent can be almost as hard as finding a publisher. I do have to say that the small presses have some definite advantages. They use a much more personal approach. My emails are usually answered the same day, and I can even pick up the phone and call my editor. A definite plus!
How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract? Approximately six months.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate? There is no other feeling like it in the world, except for maybe giving birth to a child. In fact, I’ve often said that writing a book is very much like having a child. As an author, you nurture the idea from conception to birth. The characters become very much like family. You feel an overwhelming pride when you first hold the finished product in your hands. Yes, it’s very much like becoming a mother. With my very first published book, my family actually held a book release party for me, complete with champagne. Nearly fifty people attended, and nearly all of them bought the book. It was awesome.
What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time? My first book, Wagons To The Past, was published in 1995. My publisher issued a press release to local newspapers and set up a couple of book signings in my local area. I was also interviewed on the evening news during their “Homegrown” segment.
Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author? I started out writing simple romances; the kind of books I loved to read. You know…boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl break up, boy and girl get back together and live happily ever after. I’ll admit, though, that after a few years and a few books, I got tired of the same old, same old. I wanted to add a twist, so I then wrote one of the first time travel romances out there. Charmed Passage became the first book in my Passage Time Travel Romance Saga, co-authored by Kathe Birch It was so much fun to put a modern heroine (and in one book a modern hero) into a world that existed a hundred to four hundred years before they were born. It required a lot more research than I was used to, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It also gave me the opportunity to add action and adventure to my romance novels. Readers also loved the fact that the characters they had come to love reappeared in later books. It also got me hooked on writing sagas. As I said earlier, my characters become like family, so I, too, enjoy resurrecting them in book after book. Hence, the B.K. Investigations series was born.
What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole? I don’t know if this actually applies to the publishing industry, but I am always amazed at how involved my readers get in my stories and my characters. With the Passage saga, I was totally flabbergasted when I started receiving emails clamoring for another book. (Originally, Charmed Passage was to be a stand-alone book, not the first in a series.) Readers wanted more, however, and Kathe and I were happy to oblige. It is so rewarding to know that there are people out there who value your story-telling abilities and are chomping at the bit for more. I’m hoping to have the same experience with the B.K. Investigations series. I know there were a lot of people anxiously awaiting the release of Identity Crisis after reading Checkmate. Hopefully the third book in the series will be received with an equal amount of enthusiasm.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author? Okay, maybe my answer to the last question would have better fit this one. Again, there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that your work is appreciated and well-received. I find that my readers follow my name more than my genre. I’ve written several books that are well-removed from the romance genre, yet my readers buy them because they are a very devoted group. While Checkmate was basically a romantic suspense, Identity Crisis leans more toward the detective genre. It does contain a modicum of romance, but definitely cannot be classified as such. In fact, I am currently co-authoring a science fiction novel with my son. Now, how much further from the romance genre can you get than that?
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day? Never give up, and don’t try to shoot for the moon. Don’t feel that your only option is to be placed with a large publisher, or that you’ve somehow failed if you don’t achieve that dream. There are many small presses out there that work just as hard, if not harder, for their authors. It’s also a heck of a lot easier to get a small press to consider your work. They generally don’t require that you have an agent and, as I said previously, finding an agent can be just as hard as finding a publisher these days. So, just keep plugging away. If you’re determined enough, you will succeed.
ABOUT JEAN HACKENSMITH
I have been writing since the age of twenty. (That’s 37 years and, yes, I’m disclosing my age.) I am the proud mother of three, stepmother of two, and grandmother to twelve wonderful children. I lost the love of my life, my husband Ron, in November of 2011 when he died in an accident at work. He took my heart with him and, for a time, my desire to write. Time, as they say, heals all wounds, and I have again discovered my passion for the written word. In fact, I find it strangely comforting to delve into the intricate webs that are my character’s lives and immerse myself in their existence instead of dwelling on my own.
Next to writing, my second passion is live theater. I founded a local community theater group back in 1992 and directed upwards of 40 shows, including three that I authored. I also appeared on stage a few times, portraying Anna in The King and I and Miss Hannigan in Annie. I am sad to say that the theater group closed its final curtain in 2008, but those 16 years will always hold some of my fondest memories.
My husband and I moved from Superior five years ago, seeking the serenity of country living. We also wanted to get away from the natural air conditioning provided by Lake Superior. We moved only 50 miles south, but the temperature can vary by 20-30 degrees. I guess I’m a country girl at heart. I simply love this area, even though I must now enjoy its beauty alone. I love the solitude, the picturesque beauty of the sun rising over the water, the strangely calming effect of watching a deer graze outside your kitchen window. Never again, will I live in the city. I am an author, after all, and what better place to be inspired than in God’s own back yard.