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websites with character

  • Jim Feuerstein

Four of our clients have new books out

Updated: Mar 16

When we work with clients on their websites, we get to know them pretty well. Over the years, a lot of our clients have become friends outside of the work world. So when one of them scores a professional success, we get pretty excited. When four of them have new books published within a few months of each other, we get really excited.

And that’s the case right now.

Terri Laxton Brooks

Journalist Terri Laxton Brooks has just published a nonfiction work, ‘On Loneliness: How to Feel Less Alone in an Isolating World’. It’s both a powerful work of journalism and a very personal book that sometimes reads like a memoir.

Terri has a long resume. She started out as a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, became a freelancer for big-name magazines, and then spent almost twenty years as head of the journalism department at NYU.

Book cover for 'On Loneliness: How to Feel Less Alone in an Isolating World'

Her book is actually a re-publication — with updates — of a book she first published in 1976, under the title ‘Bittersweet: Surviving and Growing from Loneliness.’ At the time, the book was truly groundbreaking. The subject of loneliness was just being recognized — and studied — as a serious social problem.

Terri re-published the book, she says, at the urging of an agent with whom she was discussing a separate idea. The agent had read the book and felt that it was even more important today than it had been in the seventies. The suggestion came at the right time — Terri found herself trapped for a couple of months by Covid restrictions while visiting family in Boulder, and she took the time to dive into the rewrite.

“I was surprised,” Terri says, “that ninety percent of the original book still holds. The other ten percent has to do with society today and how it’s causing more loneliness.”

As she researched the rewrite, Terri came to share the agent’s conviction that the book needed to be republished.

“I really believe in the importance of it,” Terri says, “and I’m hoping it reaches the people it needs to reach, particularly people under the age of twenty-five, who are suffering the most from this loneliness epidemic.”

“There’s a direct correlation,” Terri told me, “between the rise in suicide rates for that age group and the reported rise in loneliness in surveys on loneliness.”

“And,” she adds, “within that age group, the people reporting the highest degree of loneliness were also the heaviest users of the internet.”

Editor’s Note: When we started work with Terri, she already had an author website. The site we built for her was for a non-profit organization she leads. The site is Severe Clear Healing.

Gretchen Rose

Novelist Gretchen Rose published two books in the past year, ‘A Christmas Charm’ that was published in November and ‘A Little Vice in Paradise’ -- part of her Vero Beach series of romantic suspense novels -- that came out earlier in the year.

Gretchen doesn’t lay claim to a genre specialty. She has published multiple romantic suspense novels, but she’s also published a memoir and a children’s book, and she’s in the process of arranging the publication of her first historical novel.

“I just write what interests me,” Gretchen says.

Gretchen Rose isn’t tied to a genre, she says. Her published works include a children’s book, a romantic suspense series, a Christmas romance, and a memoir. And now she’s working on a novel set in the 1960s.

“I loved writing the children's books. But I just finished a historical fiction and I'm starting another one, and that's a whole different thing — a lot of research and interviews. It’s really interesting. Then there's romantic suspense, and that's just pure imagination and your own personal experiences and what you've known. I like mixing it up instead of just doing the same old thing.”

Gretchen is currently doing research for a historical novel that’s placed in Michigan, in a small lakeshore town where she spends her summers. “I know so many zany characters in that town,” she says, “so I started digging up stories, and I’m weaving them together into a historical fiction novel set in the '60s, with a working title of ‘They Call Me Empire.’”

“And, of course,” she adds, “there will be a murder.”

Kay Freeman

Novelist Kay Freeman is busily rolling out three books, the first (‘Hitman’s Honey’) came out in January, the second (‘The Devil You Know’) arrived in mid-February, and the third (‘Truth Moon’) will be published on April 5.

Kay is always in motion — always doing something, always trying something, always making something happen. But even for Kay, three books in four months seems a bit hectic.

It’s not what it seems, she laughs. Yes, they’re all arriving together, but they didn’t all get written together.

These three books by Kay Freeman are all coming out within a few months of each other. We're proud to note that Loft 2203 designed the cover for 'Hitman's Honey'.

Kay's first novel, ‘Truth Moon’, was written over a period of three or four years, she says. Then, while she worked on getting it published, she was also writing two novellas, ‘Hitman’s Honey’ and ‘The Devil You Know’. Combined, those two books took about eight months to write. Of course, that’s significantly less time than she spent on ‘Truth Moon’, but — in addition to each novella being only half the length of ‘Truth Moon’ — Kay says she’s become a better, faster writer, too.

‘Hitman’s Honey’, she says, “just spun out of my head.”

Kay thinks she has found her niche now. ‘The Devil You Know’ is a gothic romance, and she’s currently working on another novella, ‘Leatherman’, that will also be a gothic.

Gothic Romances, Kay explains, have darker elements — stormy weather, a spooky house, and a hero with a dark side. “That’s what I enjoy doing. It comes naturally to me, and it’s actually a very hot trend right now.”

After this burst of publication, Kay intends to slow down a bit.

Al Rendon

Prints by photographer Al Rendon hang in museums throughout the Americas, including the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. For nearly five decades, Al has documented the life and culture of San Antonio, especially the Mexican culture, and his photography has become synonymous with that experience. His website lists more than a dozen books about the city that include his work.

The latest such book came out in December. 'San Antonio: City on a Mission' is full of Al’s photos.

A man leaning against a counter.

Al says that the book had been in the works for a while before the editors approached him with a description of the photographs they needed. Looking at the specifications, Al realized that almost every shot they wanted could be pulled from his archive. So, working with the editors, he selected photographs for every topic they were covering in the book.

Al is happy with the result. “It’s a beautiful book,” he says.

But he’s already shifted his focus to the next one.

This September, San Antonio’s Witte Museum is mounting a major exhibition of Al’s work, a retrospective covering his entire career, entitled ‘Mi Cultura: Bringing Shadow into Light. The Photography of Al Rendon.’

Al is working with the museum on a companion book for the exhibit.

‘It will be more than a catalog,’ he says. ‘It will have additional photos that aren’t in the exhibit. But even so, I know I have to cut, so I’m trying to focus on the photos and the themes that have been the most meaningful for me; the ones that are the most iconic; the ones that tell the story of what I’ve done over the past fifty years.”

Getting books published

Getting a book published — and purchased — isn’t easy.

None of the three writers I’ve mentioned above would recommend writing as a way to get rich, especially in the current publishing world.

Terri has witnessed the change. When she originally published her book back in the seventies, her publisher paid her an advance and sent her on a national tour to promote it. Now — unless you’re a big name — the publisher is likely to expect you to share the risk in getting the book printed and then expect you to do all your own marketing.

Gretchen talked about the work involved in getting a contract with a traditional publisher — one that doesn’t charge the author for printing the book. “You need to send out a lot of queries,” she says. “And you need to send them to the right people. And you need to do research to find those people.”

“You get a lot of rejection letters,” she says. “And that’s really hard.”

“The nice thing,” she jokes, “is that — as your writing gets better and better over time — you start to get glowing rejection letters.”

And eventually Gretchen did connect with a traditional publisher who is handling her Vero Beach series.

But in any case, money isn’t what drives any of these writers.

“Writing is good for you. It keeps your mind engaged,” Kay says. “I love to write. I love to engage with my characters and make worlds for them. I love that.”

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