Interview with Renee Hand, Author of The Crypto-Capers in The Case of the Missing Sock

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. We interviewed Renee to find out more about her work and her life as a published author.

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Welcome to The Writer's Life, Renee. Can you tell us a little bit 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 twenty 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.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

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.

I wrote this series because I wanted children to be involved with what they were reading. This series is fun and entertaining, always keeping the reader’s attention. 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. The reader will be asked to look up different things and to participate in the story on different occasions. My goal was to have kids remember what they were reading because they are learning information with value, yet having fun at the same time.
What kind of research was involved in writing The Crypto-Capers: The Case of the Missing Sock?

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.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I was actually pretty fortunate to be able to work with my artist on the book cover and the other drawings pertaining to the book. We have spent quite a bit of time together talking over what my vision is for the books in the series and where I am going with it. However, my artist is great with taking my ideas, while incorporating her own, and creating something wonderful and memorable.
Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

My journey to getting published was in-between bumpy and smooth. It took some time, but my patience paid off. I never gave up along the way. I have been fortunate to be picked up by a great publisher who believes in my abilities and strengths, and that means a lot to me.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

It took around six months.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

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 who 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!

Do you plan subsequent books?

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.
Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Both! All depends on the day and mood.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

That’s a good question. Probably buying ad space in a nationwide newspaper or magazine where I knew millions of people could see it.
How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self promotion is huge! My book will not sell itself. I am not famous or a celebrity where my name is well known, so I have to do my share of promotion to sell it. Offline, I do book signings, presentations, libraries and workshops. I have also created some of my own opportunities. Online, I have a website, a blog, I advertise, and of course, joined up with the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tour.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

The biggest words of wisdom that I can say are—no matter if you get rejected by a publisher or an agent, or if you feel like you will never get published, be determined and keep trying. Never give up on a dream. However, also be realistic. Not everyone gets a huge dollar deal with a big publishing house. Keep in mind that sometimes you must start small before you go big. If that means going with a smaller publisher then that might be exactly what you need to get out there, especially if it’s your first book. Getting your foot in the door somewhere helps build your reputation as well as readership. Having a product to sell is better than having nothing in your hand other than an unpublished manuscript with tears on it. The one thing I have learned is that you have to get your book out into the world so people can see your talents and what you can do. Be strong and keep trying!

Thank you for your interview, Renee. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

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.
The two books in the series available now are:
The Case of the Missing Sock ISBN# 978-0-87839-304-6
The Case of Red Rock Canyon ISBN# 978-0-87839-309-1
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