Renee Hand is represented by Pump Up Your Book Promotion, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion.
Siblings Max and Mia Holmes, along with their good friend Morris and their flamboyant Granny Holmes, are known as The Crypto-Capers, a group of detectives who unravel crimes by solving cryptograms that criminals leave behind. This is the premise of a charming new children's mystery, The Crypto-Capers in The Case of the Missing Sock, by Renee Hand.
Renee was on hand to answer a few questions about her new book and her life as a published author.
Thank you for this interview, Renee. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
First, I would like to say, thank you so much for having me. It is a pleasure to be here. I have been writing for over 20 years. I have four books to my credit – two romance novels and two books for my children’s detective series. I am an award winning author and have won two awards, one Best Book Award and one National Literary Award for best romance. I am married and have two children.
Do you write full-time?
No, I write part time. I usually write in the early morning or late at night. I do take breaks to recharge my brain.
At what point in your life did you make up your mind you were going to become a published author?
When I was in high school I made a promise to myself that I was going to be an author one day. I got to a point in my life where I had read literally hundreds of books and I started getting very picky about what I was reading and how it was written. So, I began writing stories the way I wanted to read them, with lots of action, character-driven plot with relatable characters, and meaning. Whatever I write and do always has some kind of meaning. That is how my career started.
What is your favorite book at the present?
My favorite book is The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
Book one of The Crypto-Capers Series, The Case of The Missing Sock, leads the Crypto-Capers to Florida where they are hired by a man named Mr. Delacomb. In this story siblings Max and Mia Holmes, along with their good friend Morris, and their flamboyant Granny Holmes, are known as The Crypto-Capers. They are a group of detectives who unravel crimes by solving cryptograms that criminals leave behind. Mia is an expert puzzle solver. Max is great at deduction and reasoning. Morris is a computer genius, while Granny… well Granny is the muscle of the group. Don't let her size or age fool you… she is quite handy. The mystery leads the team to different locations. Clues flourish throughout the mystery. Suspects by the handful seem to pop up at every turn, but who really committed the crime? The reader must help the detectives solve the case by solving the cryptograms and puzzles.
What was the inspiration behind your book? Why did you feel a need to write it?
I wrote this series because I wanted children to be involved with what they were reading. Too many times kids will read a book and remember nothing about it. This series is fun and entertaining, always keeping the reader’s attention. It can also be used in many ways, at home or in the classroom. Not only does the series challenge the avid reader, but also keeps the reluctant reader’s attention. As soon as the reader picks up the book, they have instantly joined the team as a detective. They will see what the characters see and will do what the characters do. It is almost like the reader is involved in a game, and who doesn’t love to play games? The reader will be asked to look up different things and to participate in the story in different ways. My goal was to have kids remember what they were reading because they were learning information with value, yet having fun at the same time. Reading comprehension is very important. I found a fun way to help kids remember what they were reading.
What kind of research did you have to conduct to write your book?
I have done different kinds of research for each book in the series. For The Case of the Missing Sock, I have been to Florida many times. The places that I talk about in my story are actual places. The story is fictional of course, but the locations are real. My readers can visit the places I talk about in my stories and see what I have seen, which is pretty cool. I have changed the names of a few places, but the rest are as they are talked about. Now, if I can’t physically go to one of my stories locations, then I do a lot of research, via internet or books, and learn as much as I can about a place. As I am doing my research, I come up with all sorts of ideas and – voila — I have an awesome story.
What message are you trying to convey with this book?
That kids can do anything they want if they set their minds to it. No goal is too big. Whenever I write a story, no matter if it is a romance novel for adults or for my children’s series, I put a lot of heart in it. When a reader gets done with reading one of my books, they are not just going to set it down and say, “That was a good book!” They’re going to say that my story meant something to them in some way. I love to have that connection with my readers.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I chose the mystery genre because I love to read and write mysteries. It is challenging and fun, making the reader think about what is really going on in the story and why.
Where do you get ideas to write your books?
I get ideas for my stories by doing research right now, as well as using the things I see and hear. I can be sitting in the car and suddenly an idea comes to me. When that happens, I immediately write it down and re-visit the idea later, expanding on it. Most of the time, my ideas just come to me.
Do you have an agent? What were your experiences finding her/him?
No, I do not have an agent, and in truth, you really don’t need one. There is definitely a benefit to having a good agent that cares about you and your work, but really, you can do it all yourself. When dealing with a publisher, you are really selling yourself. The publisher must not only believe in your work, but in you and your abilities to promote and sell it. You can convince a publisher of that the same as an agent can. Remember that no one can sell your book better than you. You wrote it!
How long did it take your book to be published from the time you submitted and was accepted to the time it was finally released?
It took around six months.
Do you have a website? Do you manage it yourself or do you have someone run it for you?
I do have a website and I do manage it myself, constantly updating it when new things come up.
What’s next for you?
I have more books in the series coming out. The Crypto-Capers is a series. Book 1 is The Case of the Missing Sock. Book 2 is out and is titled, The Case of Red Rock Canyon. Book 3 will be out in the fall with two coming out every year. I should also have a new romance novel out this year. Readers can check out my website for all upcoming books at www.reneeahand.com.
Thank you for this interview, Renee. Do you have any final words you’d like to share with my readers?
My books are available at various bookstores, as well as online at Amazon, www.amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles, www.bn.com. Please check out my website at www.reneeahand.com and e-mail me or visit my blog. Thank you again for having me.