Saturday, December 31, 2011

See Bob Market Like a Boss

Marketing. That ever-evolving, never-ending, stress containing part of authorhood. It's a necessary evil and something that can make or break your career.

We've all seen it ... those really bad books that do inexplicably well simply because some marketing genius got a hold of it and morphed it into a 19th century regrow your hair! tonic.

Likewise, there are brilliantly written books out there that never see the light of day because the author isn't a marketing god. In most cases, you have authors who are indie, self-pubbed, or small press who go into publishing with the same mindset the rest of us had at one point or another: I'm a writer. I have good books. People will automatically want to read them, and I can focus wholly on my craft.

Um, no.

What most writers don't know is, without marketing, your career will crash and burn like one of those high school movie spoofs. The market is competitive enough with books that are highly promoted. Your little indie project is already at an epic disadvantage.

So, how do you market without being a Bob, you ask? (To find out about Bob, click here.) I'm still figuring that one out myself, but I do have a few tips on the things I've learned or have worked for me. Keep in mind what works for one may not work for all. Find your groove, and stick with it. The important thing is consistency!


Twitter has become my largest marketing tool BY FAR! It's free. It's easy. It's pretty much idiot-proof. There are #hashtags and RT's galore. Readers, writers, and bloggers abound making it easy to find those who share your passions. Twitter should become your best friend. Trust me on this one.

How to Utilize Twitter

Because so many people are on Twitter, it takes a matter of seconds to be inundated with quotes, and rants, and cheers in the timeline. For this reason, it's both easy and challenging to leave a mark in the feed. The good thing is, there's a lot of wiggle room to shout out your stuff, because it's going to get buried beneath a mile of Beiber and Damon Salvatore love before you can even send the thing. So tweet and tweet again!

Personally, I tweet about HAVEN 5 or 6 times a day, trying to leave a few hours in between. It's good to watch your sales, RT's, and shout outs to see what time people are online. Before 9AM, lunch, and oddly late hours seem to be my running theme. Yours may be different depending on whether you have more work friends or school friends. Teens keep different hours than adults!

Create a catchy one-liner or description to capture attention. A line from your book or one sentence from a glowing review works well. Also, the use of popular hashtags is a nice touch. #YA #urbanfantasy etc work well for those readers looking for something specific!

Last, but by no means least, NEVER, EVER, EVER direct message, email, or inbox someone you've just met saying: Thanks for the follow. Here's a link to my book if you want to buy it! This is rude and presumptuous and just plain irritating. If you're polite, 87% ( <-- a="" all="" always="" an="" at="" book="" check="" comment="" cover="" do="" for="" goes="" great="" i="" if="" interesting="" is="" it="" like="" long="" me.="" my="" on="" or="" out="" p="" people="" positively="" possible.="" premise="" reciprocate="" respond="" retweet="" sounds="" statistic="" theirs="" them.="" them="" this="" to="" want="" way="" when="" will="" you.="" your="">
Follow back! Seems like such an obvious thing, but for some, it isn't. If a fellow writer, reader, or anyone who looks remotely sane and non bot-ish follows you, follow them back. I'm not saying hop on board all trains, but blogger cars, reader wagons, and writer buses are win-win. You're going to want pals on your team when it comes time to get the word out. I can't tell you how many times I've seen promotions fall by the wayside because an author expected his 32 followers to chip their nails clicking away for free advertisement on their computers. If you don't shout out their stuff, they won't shout out yours. Try not to be self-serving, yo!


Facebook is a little more difficult to navigate. If you have a good base such as a blog with tons of followers, it can work well. For the most part, I don't have any sales generate from Facebook friends. Though I will say, friends of friends sales are excellent. For example, I get messages all the time from people I don't know, saying: I'm friends with your mom, or your husband and I went to school together. So, while personal sales aren't the highest, that friends and family bonus plays nicely!

How to Utilize Facebook

First thing, Facebook is more of a get-into-your-life social platform. Conversation is limited to 140 characters on Twitter. Harder to get to know people. Facebook has About Me, Interests, Photos, Education, Criminal History...

Okay, I made that last one up. The point is, heavy marketing here is just frustrating to people who haven't blocked you ... yet. In my opinion, it's okay to talk about what's going on with your work. It's okay to showcase interviews, blog tours, and giveaways, but no one wants the same sales pitch showing up in their timeline six times a day. Guaranteed block. Sell here sparingly, guys.

Also, if you're active on FB as a normal person -- i.e. you have pictures of your kids and you talk about watching underwater polo games all the time -- that isn't the page to talk about your writing. Start a fan page. As much as your college mates love and support you, they aren't nearly as excited as your book blogger mates. Confine the book stuff (that isn't epic news) to an author page. Keep your personal life and your author life separate as much as possible.

On this same note, if you do have an author page, a personal page, a book page, and a fan page for your blog, don't swamp your friends and fans by posting the exact same thing on each page. I see this often. Bob is excited to show latest interview, so he posts on EVERY frakkin feed he has. Suddenly, I can't see the bottom of my page. Now, I've missed out on Bob's life, because I've hidden all but one feed simply so I can stay in some sort of loop. I know it sounds backward, but I swear, posting on every feed is the opposite of helpful, and honestly, there's usually no reason.

There are countless opportunities to market! I've only highlighted a couple for now, but it's a good jumping off point. Just remember, be courteous and at least act like your interested in other people's lives. No one is going to support a douche-canoe.

Happy writing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What exactly are you trying to tell me ... and why?!

By Fellowship of the Rich

 "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov

This is one of my favorite writing quotes! I love the simplicity and the way Chekhov captures the very essence of showing vs telling -- which is, in my opinion, one of the biggest turn offs in writing.

Telling is one of the fastest ways to kill a story. It pulls the reader out of the driver's seat and puts them on the passenger's side.  If you write 1st person, this is just an epic fail. The reader won't relate to your character. They won't feel what your protagonist is feeling. After all, shouldn't a 1st person story be an experience?

I've come across a LOT of (potentially) wonderful stories lately, but the writing has been so ... not enticing. From the opening paragraphs, I find myself cringing and disappointed. This isn't to say I haven't been there or don't have my own struggles in writing. It's just a learning process. And, to be honest, we don't always have the best examples to go on. With the easy and cheap options of self-pub out there, and Tom, Dick, or Sally can be published. 

That brings us here: What exactly is showing vs telling?

Here's an example of something I've seen many times. (This is ONLY an example. It isn't taken from anyone's work.)

"I walked outside and went down the stairs of the old house. The wind started blowing, and a strange feeling came over me. I sniffed and made a face. A mean looking dog waited by the corner of the yard. He growled as I got closer."

Now then, this is boring and senseless sentence. It tells us what the writer might want the reader to know, but sheesh. It's a story, not a police report.

What would happen if we watched and thought through the character's eyes? You don't decide to walk outside and decide to go down the stairs. You don't feel the wind, and think, "Geez, I'm cold." Bring in your senses! How would you react to that chilling wind? What do you see, smell, taste, hear, or feel when you step outside? The reader wants to experience the journey. Make them.

Let's try it again with some F-E-E-L-I-N-G!

"The steps groaned in protest as the rail's paint flaked under my fingers. A gust of wind howled across the yard, raising goosebumps on my skin. The scent of rotting earth and mildew filled the night air. A low growl emanated from the shadows as a hulking dog emerged. I froze. Foamy white drool dripped from his fangs and spattered the dirt."

Okay, this isn't the best in the west, but it gets my point across. You can show what's happening just as easy as you can tell it. The latter, however, gives you more information in a way that's exciting rather than to the point. Use every tool in your physical arsenal to paint a living picture.

I will say this though ... it's okay to tell certain things. You don't want to inundate people with details either. If you're writing a scene where you want the reader to be fully immersed, yes, go sensory all the way. If your character just needs to go from point A to point B, don't weigh people down with senseless rambling. We don't need to know what color the airport is, or the exact angle of a fence post. Think balance :) It's all part of the learning process.

Writing is a journey, but as most authors can tell you, it's never really over. Learn as you go, and enjoy every second of it! And remember, we all struggle with different aspects of the craft. Don't let it discourage you, and never give up!

What are some of things you deal with or bother you in writing?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review and Giveaway! -- THE SECRET OF THE KEEPERS by Elizabeth Isaacs

The Secret of the Keepers: Kailmeyra's Strength (Kailmeyra, #2)

Life for Nora couldn't be better; she has married the man of her dreams and loves living in the pristine land of Kailmeyra.

That is, until the darkness threatens her perfect world.

Now war is upon the land. She and Gavin must strengthen their clan and prepare to fight. But the enemy has an ally—one that not only wields power, but holds knowledge of the ancients' secrets. Secrets that could destroy creation itself.

As the darkness grows, doubt seeps in ... protectiveness hinders progress ... and the unthinkable comes to pass.

Bewildered and alone, Nora shoulders the responsibility of leading an entire race to war. As she struggles with decisions that seem impossible to make, she is haunted by one choice.

"No one has ever doubted that you would die for those you love. The question then becomes ... would you live?" (From Goodreads)


Wowza! That's the best word to describe The Secret of the Keepers! Isaacs delivers a knock-out with the sequel to her debut novel, The Light of Asteria! Action, romance, mystery, and betrayal... The Secret of the Keepers can't be missed!

The story kicks off with Gavin and Nora traveling to the most incredible place anyone can imagine. If that isn't enough, their journey is leading them to the place they'll spend their honeymoon. As always, Isaacs doesn't let us down in the swoon department, but more than that, you truly feel the love between the Gavin and Nora. Elizabeth has a way of crafting her words and setting the scene to include the reader, to truly bring them into the story. It's an experience, I can promise you!

While Gavin and Nora's time is spent  growing together and becoming one, that connection also proves to be a challenge in a way neither expected. With each one possessing certain traits and abilities, adjusting to the onslaught of an a Alfar mind becomes a struggle for Nora. But she takes it in stride, allowing Gavin to help her adjust to her newfound gifts and abilities even though she fears overwhelming the emotionally-private lives of her clan.

Before long, the honeymoon comes to a halt when word travels from the capital of Kaileyra that the Dokkalfar are growing in power and reviling in knowledge they should've never held. Now, Gavin and Nora must work together to operate as one as well as strengthen their clan to prepare for battle with the Dokkalfar. 

Most of the original characters are in this story as well as a few, new friends. One new "guy" in particular, Rune, has quickly become one of my favorites! His gruff, straightforward ways are endearing, and his love for Kailmeyra heartfelt. Rune is a valiant and passionate character in the most unusual of packages! Not to mention, he's a hoot ;)

It's nearly impossible to put into words how I felt reading this story! Seeing the growth in the each character, making a few new friends along the way, and truly feeling everything Nora does is an opportunity few readers experience. I laughed, I cried, I rode a whirlwind of emotion throughout this journey! Isaacs' ability to create such an amazing world full of vibrant characters that feel as real as in any in our own is enviable! Her fluid style and sensory writing leaves you satisfied yet wanting more! Don't miss the opportunity to read this story!


 Want to know more about the incredible author? You can find Beth at her website, on Twitter, and through her Facebook page! She loves to hear from fans, so shoot her a howdy and "Like" her page ;) 

Now, for more fun stuff! If you'd like a chance to WIN a an ebook of this fan-freaking-tastic book, just leave a comment with how to reach you! That easy!

Thanks to Beth for allowing me the privilege of reading and reviewing this one-of-a-kind story! I can't wait for the final installment! 

***This giveaway is now over***

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog Tour -- BRIDGER by Megan Curd. This vs. That!

Ashlyn McVean doesn't believe in fairy tales. That is, until Ashlyn is thrown into the crosshairs of grudges her grandmother created long ago. After finding out she is one of two people able to cross between faerie realms, Ashlyn is faced with trying to understand her abilities, along with navigating a new relationship with her boyfriend, Liam. As if being on a centuries old hit list and dealing with crazed pixies isn't enough, her new abilities mean trouble for Liam. Knowing her new life puts everyone she loves in danger, Ashlyn must decide what's most important in her life between friends, family, love, and ultimately, realms.
(From Goodreads)
Hey all! I'm so very excited to have two of author Megan Curd's characters with us today. Please give a warm welcome to Ashlyn and Memaw and a round of This vs. That!
Sweet or Salty?
Memaw: Salty - really, do you see me as a sweet type of person? Don't answer that.
Ashlyn: (Laughs) Do you really think you're anything other than -
Memaw: I said don't answer that! (laughs)

Pop music or Jazz music?
Memaw: Jazz. It is nice to listen to something I actually understand. All that popping booties and grinding up on people isn't really my kind of thing.
Ashlyn: Popping booties? You pop people! Who are you to judge?
Memaw: I never popped my booty, and I never pop people who don't deserve to get popped. And if I ever catch you popping your booty, I'll pop you!
Toe socks or Normal socks?
Memaw: What are toe socks?
Ashlyn: They're like gloves, but for your feet.
Memaw: Why on earth would you wear gloves on your feet?!
Ashlyn: ::hands on face::

Pen or Pencil?
Ashlyn: Pencil. You can change things if you make a mistake.
Memaw: Pencils give me the heebie jeebies. The way they sound when you use them - eugh. Give me a pen. I don't need a second take, anyway.
Ashlyn: You would say that.
Memaw: I would, and don't question your elders. I have a story about that...
Ashlyn: You have a story for everything.

Winter or Summer?
Memaw: Winter. Definitely winter.
Ashlyn: (sighs) I hate to say this, but winter.
Memaw: Why do you hate to say it?
Ashlyn: Because anything that makes it look like we might be alike is scary.
Memaw: We're McVeans, Ashlyn. Of course we're alike. I have a story about that...
Ashlyn: I know, I know, I know. There's a story for everything. We've been over this. (smiles)
Modern clothes or Vintage clothes?
Memaw: Vintage. These new clothes show too much skin. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
Ashlyn: What does that even mean??
Memaw: Well, let me tell you a story...
Ashlyn: No! No more stories! I believe you!
Cats or Dogs?
Memaw: Cats. Dogs are too dependent. I like being able to go and not worry about an animal. I'm busy.
Ashlyn: When are you busy? You fall asleep on the couch every afternoon!
Memaw: I'm busy sleeping, then, aren't I? (laughs)
Urban or Suburban?
Ashlyn: Urban! I like the cities.
Memaw: There's more crime in the cities.
Ashlyn: Then stay in the sticks.
Memaw: (rolls eyes) Maybe I want to visit the cities.
Ashlyn: Are you sure you won't pop someone? There's more crime in the city!
Memaw: (grips cane) I can take care of someone if they're trying to stir up trouble.
Ashlyn: Next time I see on the news someone's been beat to death with a cane, I'll know it was you. (laughs)
Fruit or Veggies?
Memaw: Can I say both?
Ashlyn: It's an either/ have to choose.
Memaw: No, I don't! That doesn't make any sense at all.
Ashlyn: if you have an either/or, you choose one or the other.
Memaw: But if both options are good, just keep them both. That's why you should keep both Reese and Liam.
Ashlyn: (blushes) Memaw!
Memaw: Hey, I'm just saying. If you can have the milk without buying the cow, might as well have two cows! (Laughs)
Ashlyn: MEMAW! (Looks @ Hope) Are we done yet??
Polk-a-dots or Stripes?
Memaw: Stripes.
Ashlyn: Why?
Memaw: Because you told me last question I had to choose one or the other.
Ashlyn: But why do you like stripes?
Memaw: I didn't say I liked stripes any more than polka dots. I just was told to choose one or the other. I choose stripes.
Ashlyn: (hand on forehead) Okay, Memaw, okay. (laughs)

Thanks Ashlyn and Memaw for stopping by! Readers, be sure and comment for a chance to WIN an eBook of BRIDGER! The drawing will take place November 7th!

Follow along on the tour for a chance to win an eBook at each stop and enter the grand prize giveaway on November 13th!!! You can also find BRIDGER and Megan here:
FYI: During the month of October, for every Bridger eBook Megan sells, she will be donating $1 to a community of single moms & low-income families in Ecuador! Megan spent time with this particular community during a mission trip.

Much thanks to A Tale of an Reviews for hosting this amazing tour!
Oct. 1 ~ Bookbriefs: Review
Oct. 2 ~ Bookworm Lisa : Review
Oct. 3 ~ Unabridged Andra: Author Interview Part I
Oct. 4 ~ YA Bound : Author Interview Part II
Oct. 5 ~ Supernatural Snark: Excerpt
Oct. 6 ~ Off
Oct. 7 ~ The Reader Bee: Review
Oct. 8 ~ The Magic Attic ~ Excerpt
Oct. 9 ~ Reading Angel ~ Review
Oct. 10 ~ Crazed ’bout Books: Review
Oct. 11 ~ Faery Ink Press: Review
Oct. 12 ~ Death Books and Tea: Review
Oct. 13 ~ The Wannabe Knight: Review
Oct. 14 ~ Great Imaginations: Guest Post
Oct. 16 ~ Tamara’s Book Ramblings: Review
Oct. 18 ~ An Avid Reader’s Musings: Review
Oct. 19 ~ A Casual Reader’s Blog: Review
Oct. 20 ~ Candace’s Book Blog: Excerpt
Oct. 21 ~ Nicole’s YA Book Blog: Review
Oct. 22 ~ Second Bookshelf on the Right: Review
Oct. 23 ~ Ya-Aholic: Review
Oct. 24 ~ Novels on the Run: Review
Oct. 25 ~ Off
Oct. 26 ~ Reader Girl: Review
Oct. 27 ~ Letters Inside Out: Review
Oct. 28 ~ Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf: Review
Oct. 29 ~ My Shelf Confessions: Where You Write Guest Post
Oct. 30 ~ The Fairytale Nerd: Review
Oct. 31 ~ A Lilliputian’s Journey: Halloween Pairing
Nov. 1 ~ Mundie Moms: Review
Nov. 2 ~ Kristie Cook: Guest Post
Nov. 3 ~ Words I Write Crazy: Review
Nov. 4 ~ Braintasia Books: Review
Nov. 5 ~ Seeing Night Book Reviews: Review
Nov. 6 ~ Off
Nov. 7 ~ YA Book Lover Blog: Author Interview
Nov. 8 ~ Laine’s Fiction Book’s Corner: Review
Nov. 9 ~ Stuck in Books: Review
Nov. 10 ~ Off
Nov. 11 ~ Mercurial Musings: Author Military Post
Nov. 12 ~ Supa Gurl Books: Review
Nov. 13 ~ The Fiction Fairy: Review
Nov. 13 ~ A Tale of Many Reviews: Final Stop and Author Wrap-Up

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Problematic Prose (Part III)

 Continuing with our Problematic Prose series, here we are with issue #3.

Sensuous vs. Sensual:
The word sensuous usually implies gratification of the senses for the sake of aesthetic pleasure. The word sensual usually describes gratification of the senses or physical appetites as an end in itself. (  

~ The sensuous curve of her mouth was accented by a smile.
~ The sensual tone of his voice caused her heart to race in anticipation.

Flaunt vs. Flout:
The word flaunt means to display or show off proudly. Whereas the term flout means to show contempt for, to defy, or to spurn.

~ The rebellious boy flaunted his ability to flout school rules.

Emigrate vs. Immigrate:
These are quite closely related. To emigrate your home country is to leave it. You then immigrate to another.

~ Dmitri emigrated Russia to immigrate to America.

Eminent vs. Imminent:
The word eminent means outstanding, noteworthy, or famous. The word imminent  means about to happen.

~ The arrival of the eminent actor was imminent.

Site vs. Cite:
The word site refers to a place. The word cite means to quote or make reference to.

~ Annabeth cited the mayor's speech at the site of the new memorial.

For more Problematic Prose click here for Part I and here for Part II.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Bloggers are the Best

I <3 Book Bloggers!!!

With Haven's ARC tour wrapping up, I wanted to take a moment and say a few things.

First of all, thanks to everyone who's participated in one form or another:

1) Those of you who commented (sometimes daily) along the tour stops, I love your enthusiasm. It drives us writers to create and strive to give readers a story worth their time. 

2) My wonderful and supportive friends who tweeted and re-tweeted (sometimes multiple times a day), I love you guys. You are the most amazing and encouraging people on earth. I know it's tough because most of you are writers yourselves, and taking time from marketing and story-telling is a huge sacrifice. I love you guys.

3) To everyone who has bought the book, y'all are priceless. I truly hope you enjoy it. But even if you don't, I appreciate your taking a chance regardless. I couldn't do this without you guys.

4) Those of you who've taken the time to leave reviews and ratings, if you're anything like me, it's a challenge to sum a book and its qualities in a single post. I appreciate your effort!

5) Finally, I want to offer a special thanks to book bloggers. Those people who took time out of their lives to participate in promoting an author they didn't even know. Without book bloggers, authors, especially new/indie/small press authors, wouldn't do nearly so well. Your guys' constant participation and promotion means the world to writers. Thanks for doing what you do :)

I especially want to thank Julie at A Tale of Many Reviews for hosting the tour! You did an amazing job. I can't thank you enough!!!

Julie is also the last stop on the tour. She has the grand prize giveaway consisting of some "Thanks for participating in my tour" swag. There are 5 days left to enter. The swag bag, or box rather, consists of: a trunk similar to the one Ashton found in the attic, a charm bracelet with charms representative of different things in the story, a signed (personalized, if the winner wants) copy of the book, and two bookmarks. Click here to enter. The contest ends 10/12/11 at 12:01AM CDT.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Let the ARC tour Begin

As you should know, or would if you stalked me because I offered free cupcakes, my very first novel debuts this month! Woot for finally having a product 2 years later :D I swear, the gestation of this book was worse than a preggo elephant.

Anyway, my ARC tour is under way as we speak. I'm going to try and not inundate you with posts, but rather update this page each day with links to the featured blog. Keep in mind, if you comment (and encourage others to do the same) you might win a free eBook. AND at the end of the tour, we'll be doing some nifty swag-bag type stuff, so keep up :D

I do want to offer a massive Thank You to the Wonder Woman mastermind behind all of this, Julie at A Tale of Many Reviews, you are simply the greatest! Thank you for all your hard work in bring this together!!! I'm so glad you made those book recs on Twitter that got us talking. I need to buy you some indestructo gold armbands and a Lasso of Truth! (That would be wicked cool regardless.)

Without further ado, here's the schedule!

Thursday, September 1: The Worm Hole -- author interview, book review and giveaway.
Friday, September 2: Me, My Shelf, and I -- book review and giveaway.
Saturday, September 3: Words I Write Crazy -- review and giveaway.
Sunday, September 4: Stuck in Books -- excerpt and giveaway.
Tuesday, September 6: Mocha Latte Reads -- Dream Cast and giveaway.
Wednesday, September 7: Live to Read -- review and giveaway.
Thursday, September 8: Two Readers Reviews -- review and giveaway.
Friday, September 9: Bookworm Lisa -- review and giveaway.
Saturday, September 10: We Fancy Books -- Interview with Gabe.
Sunday, September 11: A Tale of Many Reviews -- review and giveaway.
Monday, September 12: A Casual Reader's Blog -- review and giveaway.
Tuesday, September 13: Songs and Stories -- review and giveaway.
Wednesday, September 14: Fantasy Fairy -- review and giveaway.
Friday, September 16: The Light of Asteria -- guest post and giveaway.
Saturday, September 17: Paper Cut Reviews -- review and giveaway.
Sunday, September 18: Cici's Theories -- review and giveaway.
Monday, September 19: Literature Monsters -- review and giveaway.
Tuesday, September 20: Letters Inside Out --excerpt and giveaway.
Wednesday, September 21: A Written Rhapsody -- review and giveaway.
Thursday, September 22: aoBibliophere -- review and giveaway.
Friday, September 23: Turning the Pages -- review and giveaway.
Saturday, September 24: The Life of Fiction -- review and giveaway.
Sunday, September 25 : YA Bound -- Interview with Ashton and giveaway.
Monday, September 26: Young Readers -- excerpt and giveaway.
Tuesday, September 27: The Ending Unplanned -- review and giveaway.
Thursday, September 29: Alison Hess -- review and giveaway.
Friday, September 30: Megan Curd -- guest post and giveaway.
Saturday, October 1: Cup of Tea Reviews -- review and giveaway.
Sunday, October 2: Charissa Weaks -- review and giveaway.
Monday, October 3: The Awesome Magic Attic -- review and giveaway.
Tuesday, October 4: Tori Scott -- review and giveaway.
Wednesday, October 5: Jessie Harrell -- review and giveaway.
Thursday, October 6: A Tale of Many Reviews -- video interview with yours truly and swag giveaway.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Willows: Haven is officially live...

This is the full cover, by the way! Pretty sweet, huh? Neil Noah is a genius.

In celebration of my debut novel going live, I'm thinking something fun might be in the works. Now, mind you, this is the eBook going live. Paperback will be up at the end of the month. Speaking of which, y'all should keep up with my ARC tour here. And you should all go follow A Tale of Many Reviews for being amazing and hosting this blessed event!

So, here's what I'm thinking. How about a couple of FREE eBooks? All you have to do is comment here and give Haven a shout out on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads...whatever you're a part of and link it in your comment. Please don't forget to add your email in there so I can let you know if yo win! I'll give you guys 48 hrs to see what goes down, and then I'll use to select TWO winners. Simple right?

So don't make me look like I have no friends and only like two people comment. Not that I wouldn't appreciate those two ;)

Ready. Set. GO!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Willows: Haven Dream Cast

Well, the ARC tour is well under way and going fantastically! Julie at A Tale of Many Reviews is just masterful. Thanks again, Wonder Woman ;)

I've had several people mention wanting to see my idea of a Dream Cast, and since that was part of the ARC tour, I thought I'd throw it up on my site as well!

Here we go!

Ashton Blake -- Alexandra Daddario.

"I gazed into the mirror over the sink, taken aback by the change of my oddly blue eyes. The color seemed more vivid, even through the tiredness. ... Loose brunette strands curled out along my temples and the nape of my neck — an unmanageable feature I inherited from my father, though the waviness and color were the only genetic similarities I shared with the man."

Gabe Willoughby -- Kevin Zegers.

"His eyes were the most distinctive color, like the Caribbean ocean — a faint orange circled his pupil, turning the palest shade of blue in the center, before fading into a deeper blue-green toward the outer ring. ... He tucked a mop of longish auburn hair beneath a Gatsby style hat. ... He grinned, and I lost myself in his dimples."

Allie Taylor -- Taylor Swift.

"Allie’s sapphire eyes crinkled into a grin. ... (She) tossed her blonde curls over her shoulder."

Kevin Hawthorne -- Sam Witwer.

"Images of gray eyes and wicked smiles filled my dreams."

Kyle Hawthorne -- Jesse Metcalfe.

"(Kyle) stared at me, his black brows low. ... He sat down in front of me, an olive-toned arm resting across the top of his knee, the other falling along the ground. "

Harry Waterford -- Simon Baker.

"(Harry) had thick blonde hair and eyes the color of faded denim; his smile was to die for, and all of my girlfriends had crushes on him at one time or another."

So, there it is! What do you think?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Problematic Prose (Part II)

Today is part two of the Problematic Prose rounds!

Founder vs Flounder:
The word founder means to fall or sink down. The word flounder means to struggle clumsily and helplessly. Something that helps me: If a ship goes under, a diver might claim, "I found 'er!" Whereas a Flounder fish will flounder on the shore.

~ The ship foundered in the rough ocean.
~ The fish floundered in the sand.

Altar vs Alter:
The word altar means a shrine or place of worship. The word alter indicates a change in being.

~ The groom met his bride at the altar.
~ They vowed their undying love would not alter. (Not the best, but you get the picture ;)

Bated vs Baited:
Bated means to moderate or restrain. Baited indicates to hook or trap. Remember, if it has an "i" you use it to lure something/one in.

~ We baited out poles and waited with bated breath ;)

Lose vs Loose:
This is one we use on a daily basis yet is oftentimes hard to get right. The word lose means you can't find it or you didn't win. The word loose means you've released something or it isn't tight together.

~ If you lose your cash, you can't go shopping.
~ Because the the pens came loose from their package, they were 50% off.

Amount vs Number:
Another booger of an issue because these terms are often used interchangeably when they shouldn't be. Number refers to items which can be counted such as people, crayons, flying monkeys. The word amount means a measurable substance such as cough syrup or food coloring.

~ The amount of starch you add to the dinner is determined by the number of servings.

Principle vs Principal:
I still remember learning this in elementary school. Gotta love the good teachers who use mnemonics to help their kiddos! A principle is something that governs the way an item or person behaves or reacts; a law, truth or professed rule of action; standards. A principal is the man or woman who runs your school. My mnemonic device: Your princi-pal is your PAL. Easy, right?

~ The principal at Edgar Allan Poe Elementary was hired for his sound principles.

Did you miss Problematic Prose (Part I)? No worries! You can find it here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Do You Get When Shame Eats Too Much Stupidity? A Pointless Blog Post.

Okay, so I know you've all been waiting anxiously by your computer, shouting at the screen for something amazing to pop up. This isn't it, but I thought you could kill some time while you waited.

It's quotable quotes day! ::throws confetti::

I didn't have anything really earth-shattering to blog about today. Honestly, between trying to post on this site and 2 others, as well as return a jillion emails and play on the social networking sites, my brain hurts. So, for today, I thought it'd be fun to pick a few random quotes that mean little to nothing...unless useless quoting somehow fuels your muse. In which case, You're Welcome.

Some of my favorite tv/movie quotes:

It's the so-called "normal" guys who always let you down. Sickos never scare me. Least they're committed. ~Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman. Batman Returns.

The following are brought to you, courtesy of one of my all-time favs, Steel Magnolias.

Ouiser, you sound almost chipper. What happened today - you run over a small child or something? ~Clairee Belcher

What's the matter with you these days, M'Lynn? You got a reindeer up your butt? ~Ouiser Boudreaux

He is a boil on the butt of humanity! ~Ouiser Boudreaux

There's so much static electricity in this room, I pick up everything but boys and money. ~Truvy

Then there's King of the Hill. Oh, how I miss thee, Hill family.

That boy ain't right. ~Hank Hill

This taste like turtles. ~Bobby Hill

Hoo-yeah! ~Peggy Hill

Look at that one, bouncing around in front of God and everyone. Would it kill a tree if she wore a bra? ~Hank Hill

This is what happens when shame eats too much stupidity! ~Dale Gribble

Let's not forget Juno!

I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into? ~Juno MacGuff

You better pay for that pee-stick when you're done with it. Don't think it's yours just because you marked it with your urine! ~Rollo

Juno: I mean, can't we just, like, kick this old school? Like, I have the baby, put it in a basket and send it your way, like, Moses and the reeds?
Mark Loring: Technically, that would be kicking it Old Testament.

You should've gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events. ~Juno MacGuff

That ain't no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet. ~Rollo

Friday, August 19, 2011

Screw Reading Rainbow. I Vote for Reading Robots!

Okay, so I recently discovered that text-to-speech programs are insanely helpful when it comes to editing and revisions. Yeah, the voices are robotic and somewhat reminiscent of a bad, futuristic 70's movie. Even still, hearing "Lola" read my MS out loud is handy. Here's why:

1) Lola doesn't read the words my brain insists are there -- I'm terrible for leaving words out when I write. No idea why. I think my brain just works faster than my over-sized, man-hands can keep up. (Yes, I have inordinately large hands and feet. We're not talking water skis here, but I'm 5'6, and I wear a size 10.) Anyway, it's really hard to for me to NOT see that word, because my brain thinks it's there whether it is or not. Lola doesn't let me skim.

2) Lola doesn't care that my sentence is one, long nightmare of a sentence -- She pushes right on through, letting me know, "Hey, genius, break it up!" I will say this though, she's great to pause in the right places. She recognizes ellipses, commas, etc. Way to go, Lola!

3) Lola lacks emphasis when she speaks -- This is a good thing! At the party in my head, all the characters have their own voices and inflections. I read my MS with these, but just because I see them doesn't mean it comes across in an obvious sort of way. Hearing someone else read it aloud, even Lola, let's me know if that sentence sounds like a distinct, I-meant-to-draw-that-out kind of phrase, or if it just sounds stilted. Without italicizing the words I want emphasized, more often than not, it's the latter. We all know the we can't italicize everything!

4) Lola reads to me for as long as I ask -- One chapter or ten, Lola keeps on going long after I would've quit. She's the Energizer Bunny of the robotic, text-to-speech realm, plus I don't feel like an idiot reading out loud to myself.

So, there are few pros for having a Lola of your very own. You can download my version of her here for free. There are upgrades available as well for different prices. I'll probably do this one day for the sake of entertainment. There are few joys as freaking awesome as typing inappropriate things in the "Try It" box and sending them to your spouse. Anyhow, they have a smooth talking guy named Rich. He's all suave in Johnny 5 (Short Circuit) sorta way. Then there's Claire. She's what the witch in Hansel and Gretel might've sounded like had it taken place on Alderaan.

My point is, uberhelpful + epic funny = All-time WIN!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Problematic Prose (Part I)

It's about the time again...though random and intermittent as it is. Wordsmith Wednesday!

Today I want to talk about the oftentimes problematic use of the following:

Okay, here we go!

Continual vs Continuous:
The word continual means something happens on a regular basis, but not at all times. The word continuous indicates an occurrence without breaks.

~The continuous beat of my heart keeps me alive.
~A continual routine of exercise makes it beat longer.

Disinterested vs Uninterested:
Believe it or not, these two are not interchangeable. Disinterested indicates indifference. Whereas uninterested means you simply don't care.

~Because Jill is a disinterested editor, she can make corrections without being biased.
~Jill didn't want to edit the latest sci-fi because she was uninterested in the plot.

Further vs Farther:
This is one of those I have to think about each time I use it. The word farther indicates a physical distance. The term further refers to a length of time, degree, or anything else but time.

~The farther we traveled from home, the further I fell into sadness.

Discrete vs Discreet:
Ohh, tricksy ones these are! Confession: Until recently, I'd never considered there was a difference. Sad, I know. Anyway, discrete means separate or distinct. Discreet means private, prudent, or circumspect.

~Interesting characters, good pacing, and a unique story line are discrete factors in a great book.
~To avoid spoilers, one should be discreet in discussing the novel.

Hanged vs Hung:
This one is pretty easy. Things are hung. People (who are executed) are hanged.
~A rope was hung around his neck before he was hanged.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Today's Top Story: Flying Monkeys Feed on Joy

(Photo: Greg Springer)

It's Quotable Quotes day again! On the agenda: Positivity. <--I had no idea that was a real word.

"Thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break your world by thinking." -Susan S. Taylor

Now there's a true statement if I've ever heard one.

Like so many writers, I tend to live too much in my head. My friends laugh at me because I joke about being happy/sad/excited/angry/etc over a situation that never happened. I assume I know how something would go down in real life (should it occur at all!), and I react accordingly. The problem is, more often than not, it's not real. It's just a flying monkey in my brain, howling about how someone might steal his unicycle.

As sad as it is to confess, I've been angry with my husband for something he never did or said. I know him well, so I figure, "Hey, if I blah, blah, blah, he'd just come back at me with blah, blah, blah." BAM! Now I'm mad! No, it doesn't make sense, but that's the way my mind works. Flying monkeys, people.

Needless to say, I've had to learn to rework my brain.

"Yeah, but what does this have to do with your thoughts being energy and the rest of the sane world who doesn't flip out over nonexistent issues, you freakish woman?" you might ask on a really long breath. And my answer to that is, "A lot."

So many people stress over things that are way beyond actual fact. Just like me, they assume then the monkey kicks in. Take this thought for example: "What if so-and-so doesn't like my book? What if they give it a bad review? Maybe I should just scrap the whole project, give up on writing, and become a monk!"

Well, first of all, calm down and take a step back. Now then, you can go two ways here. A) Shut your brain off, which is super hard and oftentimes leads to death, or B) Rewire the crazy thoughts and direct them toward something useful or origami.

Seriously though, why worry about something that might never happen to begin with? Why get angry at someone who may very well LOVE your story? Why? Don't focus on things outside of your control, and don't worry about tomorrow--it'll take care of itself. When you do this, you carry that energy with you. And we've all heard it in various forms: You are responsible for the energy you bring into a room. Why make that energy bad?

My wonderful friend Chi and I have these unspoken rules.
* We only send positive vibes out into the universe. No doubting allowed.
* We say when this happens instead of if when it comes to goals. We expect it no matter what.
* We have guidelines in place so one never focuses too much on the outside world's idea of what works. Goodness knows that is never a great idea!
* After a fit of irritation, we take a deep breath and find the good things that are happening.

It's been pointed out in the past, your mind is a battlefield. Good thing is, you're the one waging war and you get to decide what thoughts are on the front line. Angry monkey or relaxing origami? Choose wisely though. I wholeheartedly believe your energy will carry you as far as you like!

What does your energy say about you?

Friday, July 22, 2011

My name is Hope, and I'm a write-a-holic

"We are shaped and fashioned by what we love."

Today's Quotable Quote comes from the supreme genius of modern German literature, Johann von Goethe. Goethe is right about that, no doubt. I'm a self-proclaimed write-a-holic, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Writing is my escape, a place where I get to do anything and be anyone. There's something magic about conversing with a group of characters in my head. They show up at the most random, and oftentimes inconvenient, times demanding attention and resolution. They want me to explore their world, to share in their joy and pain. And I enjoy it almost as much as I would with my "alive" friends.

Sharing the trials of your MC and overcoming their obstacles is powerful stuff, and building a world your imaginary friends are proud to call home is a notable goal. Granted, you may only ever be recognized by that group of non-existent beings. If you're a true writer though, that will be all you ever need to drive you on to more.

Every setting in my life, every experience, every song, every person becomes a story in my head. I think about how I could work that into a usable plot and just image the characters coming to life. I would say 90% of my (waking) life is spent in writer mode and even more so when I'm sleeping. I have multiple streams of thought, but one is always focused on a story.

Some say it's a curse that writers can't be happy. There's always more to do, more to accomplish than one has the time. For me though, it's just awesome. I know nothing will ever be exactly what I want. I've learned that much in this process. But it will never stop me from trying or enjoying every second of it.

So for Goethe to say we are shaped by what we love...yeah, I would have to agree with that. I've become who I am now, shaped by my love for writing.

What shapes you?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music: Because One Addiction is Never Enough

I'm sitting here, trying to drum up enough enthusiasm to blog about something important, or at the very least, interesting. I tried to write a post about book reviews, but it wasn't fulfilling, and I lacked a point. I thought about doing a piece on writing--something along the lines of style, grammar, or another rant about the loss of the Oxford comma. Several minutes later, I walked away frustrated.

Finally, I cranked up Rhapsody (which is my version of heroin, by the way) for inspiration and set my playlist to shuffle...then it dawned on me.

MUSIC! Someone once said, "Music is what feelings sound like."

I couldn't agree more. I am a music junky. Music is playing somewhere in my house almost every waking hour, and even some of the non-waking ones. If it were up to me, the world would work like the movies. Each person would have a theme song, and every scene in life would have a melody tied to it. Because in my head, it already does.

As I've said so many times before, music is like a heartbeat to me. I find more in a song than the rhythm and lyrics. The very essence of it plays through me like an emotion or a memory. Entire scenes work themselves out in my mind, inspiring stories and characters I wouldn't have known otherwise. That might sound crazy, but I'm a writer. It's a given.

More moments in my writing have been a result of a song than me actually coming up with it out of nowhere. In fact, if it weren't for Luke Asher, my book might have played out in a completely different manner. Yeah, soak that up. When it comes to music, I'm passionate to say the least.

So, I thought it would be uberfun and easy to talk about a song I've recently discovered and fallen in love with. This is one of those bizarre tunes that gets into your soul and never leaves. It's also one you'll either love or hate. Just weird, like me :)

Stateless-I'm on Fire

Now, the song is great in and of itself, but at the 3:44 mark, there's about a 5 second pause before the music picks back up with a dramatic flair. Sensational! If I could ever get the scene in my head onto paper here, I'd officially be the female version of Tim Burton. Man.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Big Day

Today is the big day, guys! It has been a long time coming, but I'm so excited to share The Willows: Haven cover.

I want to thank the incredible Neil Noah for beautiful work. I love a cover that's symbolic but subtle, and Neil captured everything I wanted and more!

The Willows: Haven is slated for release late summer 2011 with Soul Fire Press. Sign up for the ARC tour here.

Thanks to all my friends for being so supportive and encouraging through this whole process. You guys keep me sane and never let me settle. You're the best!

I have lots more to share with you guys, but that's for another day. For now, if you're reading this, thanks for being awesome!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Exciting News and Haven Cover Reveal

Hello all! Happy 4th of July to you guys. I hope it has been a great one for you. I have some really exciting news I've been sitting on, but I'm free to share now.

This has been driving me crazy sitting on this, but I'm SO excited to announce that my debut novel, The Willows: Haven is going to be published by Soul Fire Press, an imprint of Christopher Matthews Publishing!!!

To celebrate finally being able to share this with you guys, A Tale of Many Reviews and I are partnering up for a Teaser Tuesday and cover reveal. Please stop by and check out the new cover and read an excerpt from the book. While you're there, sign up to be part of the ARC tour!

Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


It has recently come to my attention through GalleyCat that the University of Oxford Writing Guide has recommended writers avoid the Oxford comma (or serial comma) "as a general rule."

(See below for an example.)

Wait. What?! You Punctuation Police can't just take something that has been a rule and decide it doesn't work any more. Oh, wait. This is the English language we're talking about? Yes, by all means, randomly change the rules so it's nearly impossible for anyone to keep up. Have to say though, you guys keep us on our toes.

***The Oxford comma is the one that separates three ideas and an "and." For instance: I bought a pen, notepad, and bookmark. The comma after notepad is the Oxford comma. It tells us that notepad and bookmark are two, distinct objects.

In the past, you only clumped things together that went together. Example: For lunch, I had chips, peanut butter and jelly, and a milk. The peanut butter and jelly are part of the same notion, so you wouldn't use a comma. There are countless debates regarding the Oxford comma. You can find a list of pros and cons at the ever nifty Wikipedia .

While I mourn the loss of the necessary and functional Oxford comma, I won't go too deep into myself in search of answers. I'm sure Oxford, or some other rule maker, will decide the comma is pertinent once again...right about the time we adjust to not using it.

So where do you guys stand on the Oxford comma? Are you as devastated by this loss as I am, or is it just a thing of the past?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

As a Matter of Fact, You Can Judge a Cover. Pt III

Part III of III: The Analytical post.

Congratulations, you made it! Today I want to wrap up the cover discussion with actual layout and design. Now, mind you, I'm a bit peculiar in my ways, so me liking or not liking something doesn't always follow the trend. However, there is still a general template to follow no matter your tastes or preferences.

As we discussed before, you need to know your reader and your subject matter. For me, choosing the perfect cover was as paramount as the story itself. The cover is the first thing a reader will see. It needs to send the right message, fit into the YA paranormal-romance field, but yet be unique and striking. Not an easy task, I'll tell you, but my cover designer is brilliant, and his skill made all the difference.

Step One: Your Background Image
Is your story the one with Princess Fluffernutter and the search for her one true love? You're probably going to want a background image that portrays such a scene. Castles, dragons, cyclops fairies...whatever. The point is, your background needs show the setting of the story without drawing the eye fully. It needs to be subtle, but noticeable. This is your first option. Think Harry Potter.

Harry is the first thing you see, but the background is full of other characters and creatures that are vital to the story.

Your second option, you can go the less obvious route and choose a solid or textured background. This is a great idea if you're going for something striking or if you have an A) excellent focal point (see the following section), or B) a busy focal point. Think all of the Twilight covers or Bree Despain.

Plain, black background makes for a more vivid focal point. Consider your storyline, or simply a striking image to figure out which suits you.

Step Two: Your Foreground Image or Focal Point
This is the image you want to capture your audience. It needs to stand out and draw immediate attention to the cover. This is your selling point! Faces are the trend at the moment (though I thoroughly dislike full-on faces for most covers) so here's where you're going to add the beautiful princess looking pouty, irresolute, or whatever her purpose is in the story. Readers need to see her and wonder why her expression is set the way it is. They need to marvel at her vividly red hair and mysterious eyes. You get one chance to capture the reader's attention. Take advantage of it! I really liked this one. I'm intrigued by her role in the story.

She looks like she's up to something, doesn't she? And what's with the flowers? I would pick this up, despite my aversion to faces, just because it's eye-catching. Whatever style you choose, whatever your focal point, stand out, be bold even if it's subtly, and make an impact.

Step Three: Font
This seems like such an easy task, but for me, it was one of the more difficult. I wanted a font that captured the title of my story as well as the story itself. Not so easy! In my mind, I was looking for something like the font on Beautiful Creatures.

This is a great cover all around, in my opinion, but the font really pops. In this case, the font is actually the focal point. It captures the feel of story and in conjunction with the background, you get a good idea of what to expect. Very well done. If you don't have a dark, mysterious story, this font likely wouldn't work for you.

**Take note however, if your cover is busy, unless your story warrants it, keep your font simple. Think about where you want the readers focus and concentrate on that. Keep it clean, simple, and easy to read when you can.

I hope you guys have learned more quickly what it took me a while to understand!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordsmith Wednesday: Who Needs Two Spell Rite?

Wordsmith Wednesday is a running series which features some our favorite things: Words! My wonderful friend Chi, AKA Elizabeth Isaacs, started this with the hope that writers and readers would take something useful away. I personally love it because I'm a nerd, but I struggle with certain things just like everyone else. It's nice for me to have a reminder.

Spelling--the order of the day.

Good spelling is imperative, yet more often than not, it's one of the most difficult things to nail down. Poor spelling, however, makes us seem less intelligent than we really are...or in my case, want to be perceived ;) Thankfully, on one hand, we have spell check on our computers and auto-correct on our phones. While I'm as guilty as the next person for a good deal of misspellings, I can't help but wonder if all the backup we get from technology isn't a bad thing. **Remember, just because spell-check didn't highlight something, doesn't make it right!

When I type, and Word auto-corrects my ignorance, I never see that I spelled it the wrong way to begin with. Since Word is so gracious as to allow me to skip over my idiocy, I'm going to address it myself with a few of the words I struggle to spell correctly.

Rhythym: Even now, I didn't spell it the correct way. It's actually r-h-y-t-h-m. I never get this one right, and I try so hard. I know there's a Y in there, but the placement always throws me.

Separate: Two A's, one E. I often see this spelled s-e-p-e-r-a-t-e because that's how we pronounce it. We can thank the funky and inconsistent English language for that one.

Succeed, Committed, Embarrass, Recommend: And ALL those random, two letter words. I know they're frustrating to learn. I hate not having my auto-correct crutch to lean on for the few occasions I have to hand write these. Believe me, I keep a dictionary around at all times for this reason.

Judgment: This one is just off for me. There should be two E's in my opinion, yet there aren't. Who gets to decide this stuff?

Guarantee and Restaurant: After rhythm, these two are the biggest thorns in my side. Something about that random U just knocks me off kilter. In my head, I've learned to say them like they're spelled. My head is a interesting, and oftentimes unintelligible, place to be. I do find that saying the words to yourself the way they sound helps.

Fact Monster has a nice Word Wise section with tips and saying to keep things straight. Tip #8 follows my whole, say-the-word-like-it-sounds idea. In this case though, you can say them out loud ;)

**Side note, certain words and their spellings vary by style guide and country. I just thought I'd throw that in there since spelling is so easy to begin with ;)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Can I Bite My Own Teeth?

As I recently tweeted, I love quotes. They're everything I want to say but never can. So, I thought it's be fun to have a Quotable Quotes day, which apparently is going to be Tuesday since that's today.

Every time I see or hear a quote that strikes my fancy, I'll jot it down or email it to myself for later reference. For those of you who don't know me very well, I tend to ramble about the inconsequential without ever making my point. A quote for me is a lifeline. And in the (sort of) words of John Mayer, quotes help me "Say what I need to say," in a charming and succinct fashion.

Today, for the first ever Quotable Quotes day, I'm drawing from the obvious yet brilliant Alan B. Watts. I read this and couldn't help but laugh at the truth behind his statement.

"Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth."

As I've been working on my author bio, putting together missing pieces for various blog posts, and generally answering questions about myself, I've come to the conclusion: I'm not that interesting, and it's really hard to sound otherwise.

When I read other people's bios I think, "Oh wow! How cool it must be to have a jellybean farm or a pet worm rodeo. I don't have anything like that." And so, a moment passes by with me pouting about my lack of general interesting-ness before I realize, "Hey, Alan B. Watts felt the same way as me and he was all kinds of awesome!"

That little revelation keeps me motivated. I'm odd and quirky and all around backwards, but I have a wonderful family and a great group of friends who love me for me. If those are the only two things I could ever claim in a bio, well that's more than a lot of "accomplished" people can claim in a lifetime. I'm blessed to be me :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

As a Matter of Fact, You Can Judge a Cover. Pt II

Hey guys! Thanks for coming back for part II of our cover discussion. Today I want to address the ever lingering questions: How do I find a good cover designer? (The word "good" is super important there.) And of course, What should I expect from them?

Well, coming at this from a what-I-experienced-myself mindset, I'll tell you. Finding a the designer(s) is the tough part. There is countless talent out there, but one talent isn't a fit for every project. You MUST find someone who shares your vision. Being an awesome designer is a broad term.

I'll give you some examples. Just image for a moment you see this:

That's a sick cover, right? I mean, it's enticing. It alludes to some darkness in the story. It feels creepy and mysterious. Brilliant design.

Now, what do you see here?

I see something light and girly that is probably full of whimsical felicity and charming princes.

**Disclaimer: I haven't read either of these. This is just a cover post ;)

Now, perhaps the same person designed both these covers and he/she is very good. Most likely though, a designer was chosen by their experience and taste in that particular field. They both did an outstanding job, but if you have a dark, mysterious story with a Tim Burton-esque feel to it, you don't want whimsical. (If you do have a dark, Tim Burton-esque story, please email me with details ;) Likewise, if Princess Fluffernutter is seeking her one, true love, an ominous forest surround by glowing eyes isn't going to fit the bill.

Now then, what should you do? Search through several designers. Talk to them. Get a feel for their personality and style. SEE EXAMPLES OF THEIR WORK. Get referrals and compare prices. Tell them what you want up front, and ask them what they envision. Clear the path before you sign a deal! And please don't think you have to spend a fortune to get a great cover. I promise you that isn't the case. But shop around to find the designer who will best suit your needs.

Next time, we'll discuss ideas, styles, and layouts. By the end of this mini-series, you will know what I learned the not so easy way!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

As a Matter of Fact, You Can Judge a Cover. Pt I

This is going to be a mini-series of posts since I have a knack for following the most difficult path possible, before I randomly stumble over the writing-stone of obvious.

As many of you know, I've been on the all-encompassing journey to develop the perfect book cover. I openly admit, I went about it somewhat blindly, and it made for a very stressful adventure. **I don't recommend this route, just so you know.**

A book cover is the first thing people see when they're Googling your novel or perusing the shelves at the local bookstore. It has to stand out, to beckon the wandering eye with promises of excitement, romance, or mystery. A good cover tells the story of what's inside without being overstated. A good cover is hard to come by.

There are may factors that go into cover design. I'm by no means an authority on the matter, but I've learned a few things in my own process. Shall I share them? It'll cost you 25 cents. If you said "No, thanks. I don't like you anyway," well, you can have your quarter back. If you answered, "Yes! Why shouldn't we benefit from your ignorance?" then you can keep your quarter as a reward for your honesty!

There are a couple of ways of going about design.

The first way is the easiest: You don't care what's on the front or what your font looks like as long as it's eye catching and awesome. Good for you. Your designer loves you.

The second, since easiest is taken, is the hardest: You have an idea of what you want...or better yet, you have a whole vision of how your cover is going to look sitting next to NYT best-sellers! You imagine the perfectly formed Ocelot no one can create, overlaid with embossed spots made from every texture imaginable, and you smile. Congratulations, your designer hates you now. Just kidding! ...but not really. It's true.

If you follow the same path as me, there are a few things you should know about your cover and how things work. Today, I'll address images since you have that complicated little Ocelot in your head. This is an Ocelot by the way...

STEP ONE: Images.

Your image MUST be A) public domain. What does that mean? It means it belongs to no one in particular, B) your own image that you created either on your own or a combo of PD pics and Photoshop, C) a picture you yourself took, or D) you have written permission to use a copyrighted image for profit. That profit word is very important in asking for permission. People are less generous when there is money to be made. Just a fact.

STEP TWO: Fonts.

Fonts fall under a similar agreement, but with a couple of differences.
Option One: Standard fonts. These come on your computer when you buy it, and are fair game. No worries when you use them for any reason profit or otherwise.
Option Two: Downloadable fonts. There are multiple factors here, and more factors to those factors. I'm going to attempt to break these down further.
*Free to download: You are free to download them. You MUST check user license from the CREATOR to use these for profit. I myself had to do this. Just because it's free to download does not mean it's free to use if you're going to benefit from it. Under this falls the question: How frequently will you profit from the font use? You can only sell so many if you don't have an unlimited user licensing agreement. Be forewarned!
*Purchasable fonts: Those are pretty self explanatory. You pay for them from the get-go. Each site is different when it comes to user licensing. There are Standard End, Multi-user, Web-server, and so on. Please research each site's requirements and find the one that best suits your needs. Most of these people are pretty helpful.

STEP THREE: Anything written on the front or back.

If you have a quote from your favorite author, poet, or song, you'd better give full credit. Seems like an obvious, and I hope it is, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it.

So, for part II of the series, I'll be talking about finding a good cover designer and what to expect.