Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - the mad science of book covers (part 2)


Welcome to part two of the mad science of book covers, class! If you need to review what we talked about in part one, or borrow a few notes, please feel free to do so.

Now that you know the basic elements of your genre's book covers, it's time to take the next step and come up with a general concept for your own.

Do you have an image in your head of what you want the cover to look like? If yes, forget about it. Don't go into this with an idealized version in your head. You'll never be satisfied. Trust me, I know.

The basic elements I need for my urban fantasy covers are: mood creating background, silhouetted villain, unsmiling protagonist, and something to tie all covers together for the series. Possibly the shifter's animal.

I left out the villain. Why? It was just too much. Go as simple as possible. You want to hook a reader with your cover and capture their attention so they read the blurb. If the cover is too busy, they'll just be confused.

Background: my Totem series takes place in Alaska. Thankfully there isn't a lack of beautiful and mystical images of the northernmost state. But you need to be more specific than just a general area. Where does the most intense scene(s) of your story take place? Or, if you don't want to give that bit away, where does the majority of the story take place?

Totem book #1 - late summer forest.
Totem book #2 - base of a mountain.
Totem book #3 - tiny Native village.

Unsmiling protagonist: Do you have detailed descriptions of your protagonists? Good. Keep the notes stash them away, and make a very generalized profile about them. If you're very lucky, you'll find an image of a model that looks exactly how you imagined your character, but that's unlikely, and it's okay.

One of the things I learned from the marvelous cover artist who designed the cover to Of Blood and Sorrow was that covers aren't exact representations of the story inside. Readers are going to picture the characters in their heads totally different than you and from each other. What the model on the cover needs to do is portray certain characteristics like strength, sass, or vulnerability.

Write down the main characteristics of your character. If you aren't going to use a person on your cover, the place, animal, or object you do use should portray certain aspects that represent your story. Make these clear.

Something to tie all covers in a series together: You can do this in several ways. The same character on all covers, the same background with different characters on each cover, a theme like the four elements or pet loving ogres, different color washes for the same cover, etc.

As you've done your research, you will have seen how other authors in your genre tie the book covers in their series together. What do you like best? What would work with your series best?

For me, I created a partial frost border that will be the same on all of the covers along with a Totem logo which will contain the book number.

The final extra bit. The shifter animal: The Totem series features three sisters who are polar bear shifters. I considered putting a bear in the background on each cover, but it felt like too many bears. Instead, I went with totem animals since in each book, the heroes are seeking a different one.

These are all just pieces at the moment. Again, don't get an idea in your head of how it's going to look. You must collect each element first. How they fit together or don't fit together may surprise you.

Next class will be about finding the right images.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cover Reveal for Love In The First Degree

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Title: Love In The First Degree (a charity anthology raising money for the Innocence Project)

 

Authors: Sarah Elizabeth & Ashlee Bryan, Kyra Lennon, Kirsty-Anne Still, Clare Dugmore, Allana Walker, and Laura Morgan

 

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Blurb:
Love In The First Degree is a collection of short stories written by seven authors who have
come together to help raise money for The Innocence Project. This anthology includes stories by Kyra Lennon, Sarah Elizabeth & Ashlee Bryan, Kirsty-Anne Still, Laura Morgan, Allana Walker, and Clare Dugmore.

Each story speaks of crime, passion, determination, and most importantly, intense romance that will leave you thinking about the characters long after you have finished turning the pages.

Being wrongfully accused of a crime could happen to anyone, anywhere, and The Innocence Project works hard to overturn wrongful convictions and help innocent people get back to their real lives where they rightfully belong. All proceeds from sales of Love In The First Degree will be donated to The Innocence Project.

Genre: Romance (Contemporary/Paranormal)
Release date: July 18th
**
Author: Sarah Elizabeth & Ashlee Bryan
Title: Forbidden Innocence
Synopsis:
Let there be love, or let there be hate.
But, what if there is both?
She’s from the good side.
He’s from the bad side.
We both hate.
And we both love.
We are a sin.
But, in the end, it all comes down to being in the wrong place, at the right time.
Only she can protect my future.
Only he has the power to allow that to happen.
Apart.
Together.
The end result is just the same.
One of us has the option to make the ultimate sacrifice.
But will she?
But will I?

Author: Kyra Lennon
Title: Reasonable Doubts
Synopsis:
Darcy Ryan is a woman on a mission.
A mission to take down the corrupt cops who ensured her best friend, Matteo Torres, went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit – the murder of his wife, Rebecca.
Darcy is willing to do just about anything to prove his innocence, including getting up close and personal with the case’s lead detective, Finn Drake.
She knows she’s playing a dangerous game, but it gets more dangerous then she could have ever imagined when she discovers everything she thought she knew about Rebecca Torres was wrong, and Finn Drake isn’t the man she thought he was either.

Author: Clare Dugmore
Title: Seeking The Truth
Synopsis:
Erin Reynolds has been on the West Midlands Police force for seven years. She’s seen some strange things in the line of duty, but nothing quite like this.
On her first day working as a detective Erin witnesses something that makes the whole department question her sanity, and leads to her being sent on a leave of absence.
Desperate to prove what she saw was real, Erin tracks down the only other witness, Arcane Specialist Morgan Jackson. The occult expert is as infuriating as he is charming.
When the killer leaves a disturbing message on her answer phone, Erin is forced to work with Morgan in order to catch the culprit and get her job reinstated.
The hunt takes them around the West Midlands, visiting a flirty priestess, a druid on the wrong side of the law and a sorcerer from Morgan’s past. As Erin learns more about the supernatural world, she also realizes there’s more to Morgan than just his sarcastic wit and arcane knowledge.
She's drawn to him almost as deeply as she is to the truth of what she saw. Her feelings for him are bought into sharp when Morgan gets on the wrong side of the murderer and it's up to Erin to rescue him, and stop the occult forces plaguing the area before the darkness takes over.

Author: Laura Morgan
Title: Ensnared
Synopsis:
A hand outstretches amidst the chaos of a brutal attack, offering safety and protection—but only in the arms of a villainous gangster who certainly isn’t going to be good news. Take it and accept the consequences? Or refuse and risk losing it all in the aftermath?
That’s exactly what happens to Bree Locke the night she meets mobster Alexis Ramon.
What seems like a good idea at the time ends up being the turning point in her life, but how will things pan out, and will she be able to survive the consequences of her decision?
Because when you fall from the frying pan into the fire, you’re going to get burned…

Author: Kirsty-Anne Still
Title: Love Me Not
Synopsis:
I love him. He loves me. Our love story was that easy. I stuck by that, making sure he knew I was his person, his rock when he was arrested for murder. A murder that I knew he didn’t commit. But here I am, breaking his heart, unravelling our love story. All to save him. I’d break his heart – and mine – a thousand times over if it clears his name.
*** I wasn’t raised to be a good man. I was loved to be one. She was the one constant when my world started falling apart. Until she wasn’t. I was no longer the man I had become. I was a murderer, a criminal, a broken man. She started to see me as the murdered I was branded, but mark my words, this doesn’t end here. When I’m a free man I’ll tear this world apart to get her back.

Author: Allana Walker
Title: Believe
Synopsis:
What happens when the one guy you thought would protect you, doesn't? What happens when your
own family and friends turn against you in your time of need? What happens when all you want is someone to
believe you? What happens when the one person you least expect does? Find out how one girls life turns upside
down only to turn back with a few simple words... "I believe you."

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Parallel Universes - guest post by Cherie Reich


Parallel Universes and Alternative History Are Alive and Well
by Cherie Reich

The anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here resides in the speculative fiction genre’s subcategory alternate history. TV, movies, and books have handled the subject of alternate history as well as parallel universes. My story “Folds in Life and Death” posits the question: If the Curse of Tippecanoe is true and President Reagan had died in 1981, what does that mean for the President elected in 2000?

Today I have listed a few of my favorite TV shows and books that are alternate history or have parallel universes.

1. The Flash (TV show) – It’s official. Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash is my new favorite superhero. This CW TV show includes some great parallel universes, such as Earth 2 and the Earth with Supergirl on it.

2. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (TV show) – Can these heroes become legends by changing history to stop Vandal Savage from destroying the future? This show, also on CW, pulls characters from The Flash and Arrow. Leonard Snart a.k.a. Captain Cold is one of my favs on this show, but all the characters are fantastic.

3. Timeline by Michael Crichton (the book) – Yes, there is a movie too, but I haven’t seen it yet. I loved the book. Then again, I am a huge Crichton fan. This book made me love quantum physics and the theory of multiverses.

4. Oath of Empire series by Thomas Harlan (books) – Although I haven’t read all the series yet, I thoroughly enjoyed Harlan’s take on alternate history where the Roman Empire did not fall.

What’s your favorite example of parallel universes or alternate history?

Enter the realm of parallel universes! 

What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever? 

Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. KeltnerCrystal CollierHart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra CoxYolanda ReneeMelanie SchulzSylvia NeyMichael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another dimension!

Purchase the anthology at AmazoniTunesKoboNook, and Smashwords.
Add to your Goodreads list.
Follow the blog.

Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer and library assistant living in Virginia. You can find more information about her on her website.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - the mad science of book covers (part 1)


I've spent a lot of time creating book covers this year. I put as many hours into them as I did writing the first drafts! Maybe I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, but readers do judge books by their covers. It is the first thing that needs to grab their attention.

I'm going to share with you my process over the next few months, and end with the reveal of the first three Totem covers.

The first important thing you need to do before you start creating is know your genre. This is vital. The cover will need to declare where your book fits. If it has a sub-genre, be aware of that too.

My genre: the Totem series is urban fantasy. My sub-genres: there is a strong element of romance, and the protagonists are shifters.

Once you have your genre, it's research time. Google makes it very easy. Do an image search and compare several covers of books in your genre. What are the common elements? What makes some covers stand out from the others? What makes you want to pick up a book?

Urban fantasy cover common elements:
- urban background at night. Usually cityscape or forest.
- protagonist the central feature. Typically ready to fight. And nobody smiles. (Seriously. It's like smiling is against the law on urban fantasy covers!)
- dark colors, sometimes misty, to create an ominous atmosphere.
- books in a series need to share a common look.

Sub-genre common elements:
- a little bit of sexiness for the romance. But not the oh-la-la type!
- the animal or a hint of the animal the protagonist can shift into.

Optional:
- silhouetted villain/danger lurking in the background.
- silhouetted love interest lurking being protective in the background. In human or animal form.

What makes me want to pick up a book? A protagonist that looks unusual. Not your typical beauty with a sword or tattooed beefcake. A background that tells a story as much as the character featured. A hint of brilliant color along with the dark and mysterious colors.

A big order, but I'm determined to fill it.

Next post on the mad science of book covers: your general concept.

P.S. I'm calling this the "mad science" of book covers because piecing the elements together is science. Yet there is something magical in making it all come together as a whole. An awesome cover artist is a little mad with the magic, and that's what makes their art stand out.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

#IWSG for June 2016


The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

The awesome co-hosts for today are: Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner!

My insecurity today: it's summer break!

There are lots of reasons to cheer that, but it also means precious little time to myself to write and all the writing related things. I already feel I'm behind on where I want to be. There's never enough time.

I will attempt to try to get into hyper efficient mode. If I get one hour at night, I must use it to its fullest.

Of course, that's easier said than done. Hot weather drains me. I prefer to hibernate in the summer, and I'm lucky if I have any energy after my little guy goes to bed at night.

If you have kids, how do you or did you as a writer get through summer breaks? Are you a summer person? If you only get a little time for writing, how do you keep yourself focused?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Swept Away Tour - guest post by Elizabeth Seckman

I'm excited to have the amazing Elizabeth Seckman on my blog today. I see some nerdiness coming up! I'm super excited. Take it away, Elizabeth!

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Hi Christine!  Thanks for having me over.

I know you like geeky things, so I thought I'd come and share my favorite tips for researching for fiction.

Have fun. Einstein can't be wrong. I enjoy museums, documentaries, and non-fiction books. By indulging in that sort of fun, I am not only working, I am becoming the one very wicked Trivial Pursuit competitor.

Talk to people. People are so full of stories and little-known facts. And all you need to do is ask and listen. My novel,  Past Due, is set in 1999, right after the Cape Hatteras lighthouse's historic move inland. I found all the boring facts on the net- things like distance traveled, who did it...yada, yada...All the stuff that would probably make a reader's eyes cross. The best information, I got from islanders. You'd be amazed how many people are eager to put in their two cents when they know you're researching for a book.

Watch people.  We all know this one, right? Watch how people move...how they respond to situations...your world is full of amazing characters. You just need to take what they're doing and turn it into words.

Read memoirs and diaries. In writing Bella's Point, a historical novel set after the American Civil War, I read diaries from that era. It helped get my brain in that time period. Now, I know not everything is historically accurate in that story, but I like to think the flavor is palatable.

Use the net to your advantage. The world is at your finger tips. You can search pictures and facts- heck, you can even find people to chat with who are in the situations and places you are writing about. In Swept Away, Tucker is a former Marine. As a Marine, he should have picked up a certain amount of military lingo. I've never been in the military, so I went to Facebook (and my big brother who is former Army) and asked people who have served...what would you call this and that? Facebook is a great place for input. In writing Defying Reason, I wanted to know...if someone is arrested and put in jail, do they get to make phone calls home? I found out that all states have their own communication rules and at the time of the story, West Virginia did not allow calls to cell phone numbers. That tidbit worked perfectly into the Defying Reason plot.

Research after you write the story. For the minute details, research what needs filled in after the story is done. You want details to be accurate, but at the same time, you want those facts to be part  of the landscape of the story, not the highlights. Fiction isn't meant to read like an encyclopedia of facts, and I think sometimes, when we get excited about all the research we've dug up, we can dump it all in and bog a story down. So, finish the story, then during the edit stage, find the facts that support or compliment your tale. 


He came looking for a ghost. Instead, he found a girl. 

Tucker Boone is a war-hardened Marine on a ghost hunt. Fresh out of the corps, Tucker learns he has a missing half-sister, Maddy. The only clue to her whereabouts is a cryptic note…I’ve gone Mad, Mags. Tucker agrees to search for her and heads to Ocracoke, North Carolina where a ghost named Mad Mags is said to haunt the ancient graveyards dotting the island. 

The note doesn’t bring him any closer to finding Maddy, but it does offer him a diversion to the doldrums of civilian life— his new island neighbor, Josie McCoy. Tucker is drawn to her quiet spirit. There’s something special about Josie…a connection he can’t quite explain. 

By summer’s end, he’s mixed up in deception, murder, and the love of a lifetime. Logic tells him to head home and forget the truths he found on the island. But can he walk away? Josie offers him more than love; she offers him hope. When the clues pile up and it looks like she can never be the girl for him, he has to make a choice- play it safe and break her heart, or risk everything for a chance at being swept away.




Elizabeth is a multi-published author and family laundry wench.  She is the mother of four boys, who are quickly all becoming men! Her life is filled with stinky size-twelve shoes and beard clippings in the sink. Is it any wonder she enjoys days spent writing women's fiction of stories of romance and happily ever after? 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Five for May 27, 2016


1. I survived talking to the university class. I didn't lose my voice or faint, and I remembered to wear pants. I even got a few laughs. So I'll count that as a win. Though, it was extremely awkward and nerve-wracking for me. Speaking in front of people is just not for me.

2. I'm still fussing with my Totem covers and their fonts. I think I might have one that works. Maybe. Ack! I need to stop messing with them and be done. It's stealing my writing time.

3. One short story competition loss this week. One short story submitted. Very little writing was done. I blame it on the fonts!

4. Yesterday was my son's kindergarten awards. He wore his bow tie shirt. So cute! Every child received a medal and a certificate. So sitting through eight classes took quite a while. My son also won a medal for the highest academic achievement for boys in his class. Proud mama right here. Today is his last day of school, and then it's ten weeks of summer break!

5. Friday Five will be on summer break too. It'll be back in August with a new logo. My blogging will be very light over the next two months. I have some incredible guests scheduled, though. Please come visit and let them know how awesome they are.

Have a fantastic weekend!