Monday, February 24, 2014

The Book Cover Designer--a great resource for Self Publishing Authors

I adore book covers! Especially the hot and steamy ones! I mean, c'mon. Nothing says "Read me!" like a book cover with some hot looking male or female in a provocative pose.  Book covers are absolutely crucial to selling your book--even if your hawking an ebook!


Because many of your readers are visual people. If a cover intrigues them, catches their eye, makes them go "WTF?," then odds are good you might make a sale. Book covers are the best piece of advertising you have!

So what do you do when you are a self published author? How do you get the same quality cover as someone publishing through a traditional house? Do you hire an artist? Graphic designer? Your neighbor who won an art contest that one time when they were twelve? All of the above can be great ways to go, but they can also be expensive...except maybe for the neighbor thing. (Don't pick that option. Please.)

I recently stumbled across a fantastic site called The Book Cover Designer. Here, you can find pre-made book covers at inexpensive prices from a wide array of designers in all genres. That's right. All genres! You can even order something custom which may be a bit more expensive if that floats your boat. The font, the title, the placement on the cover--all you have to do is let the artist know what you want.

Of course, I do recommend that you be choosy and that you read the fine print for each cover. Many of them are a one time sale, meaning that once you buy the cover, it is taken off the site so that no one else can use it. However, that is not the case for all--so be sure to check what your designer says he or she will do once you purchase a cover.

Also, there are some really awesome designers and some poopy ones, too. Just browse and see what you come up with! Check out a few of the covers I picked out and then click on The Book Cover Designer to find your next cover! The Book Cover Designer.

By the way, my favorite designer is Madelene Martin! Great to work with and has a wide variety of ideas for covers! Here is her site! Madelene Martin

Monday, February 17, 2014

Creating the Love Triangle in YA Fiction

Nothing takes me back to my youth more than reading a great tale of unrequited romance in high school or  young love gone bad. As someone who was falling in love at every turn in the road as a teenager, teen heartache is something I remember all too well. The highs, the lows (oh god, the lows)--it's how we learn the basics about relationships. My latest book, Butterfly Suicide, has a love story in it, but not a love triangle. I love a good triangle, but in this book, it just wasn't necessary. In a story about the aftermath of high school shooting for the shooter's brother and the sister of one of his victims, the drama is pretty strong without adding in an additional element. Currently, Butterfly Suicide is part of the Kindle Scout program! Please click on the link to nominate it for publication! ONLY 9 DAYS LEFT!!!! BUTTERFLY SUICIDE NOMINATE HERE

But I digress from the topic...

Love triangles...they certainly do make for interesting reading material. It seems like every young adult fiction series has one, too. Not that I'm complaining. Let's face it: a little love intrigue can really spice things up!

But what are the elements of a good love triangle? Here's one simple formula that we will look at today:

Girl has best friend who has the hots for her and she sorta reciprocates. He is nice, good looking, and makes her laugh. Then the new guy enters the scene. Like Guy 1, he is good looking, but with a devil may care quality that she finds fascinating and repellent all at the same time. Usually, he's hurt and burdened by a dark past. Guy 2 still sweeps our Girl off her feet, though at some point he will screw up so that she can fall into the arms of Guy 1. However, Guy 2 will redeem himself in some way and that's when the decision moment happens: who does she pick to be with?

Spoiler alert---it's probably going to be Guy 2. As much as we like Guy 1, somehow he always gets overlooked.

How did I do? Does the above scenario sound familiar? Have you encountered it in your reading or perhaps in your own writing?

While there are always variations to the love triangle scenario (hey, sometimes Guy 1 might win after all), it's usually pretty much the same thing. And that's not necessarily a bad thing! The fun part is seeing how it all works out in the end and what the author does to hold the reader's interest.

I'm talking, once again, about the emotional connection.

I love it when an author can surprise me with the love triangle scenario or more importantly, get me emotionally invested. Now, most of you are probably familiar with the whole Bella, Edward, Jacob situation from Twilight.  The thing is--that triangle is so famous because the author was able to make a strong connection with her readers and they couldn't stop talking about it. Heck, they were even picking teams, hence the Team Edward/Team Jacob phenomena.

Another example of this is The Mortal Instruments series and The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Both tales sucked me in, but for different reasons. Both also had strong love triangles that evoked an emotional response from me.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: Do not read further if you don't know how this series ends. I'm going to be talking turkey here and I don't want to ruin it for you.

In the Mortal Instruments, our triangle is Clary (Girl), Simon (Guy 1), and Jace (Guy 2). They pretty much fall in line with the earlier example I gave you. However, there are some cool twists that I didn't see coming like...wait for it...the possibility of incest. Clary and Jace are supposedly brother and sister though they don't know that at first. This throws a kink in the relationship and drives her back to Simon. However, the author doesn't let us get too comfortable with that since she turns Simon into a vampire and introduces a werewolf that has designs on him. There's also a possible distraction to the triangle from Alec who is Jace's best friend and his sworn "soldier" partner. In the end, everything works out fine and readers everywhere celebrate when we discover that Jace and Clary are not related to each other and free to love. Simon and Alec both find other love interests so the reader is left with the feeling that all's well that ends well.

For me, the emotional connection in this book was that I was not rooting for Jace. I actually didn't really even like him. I wanted Simon to win Clary's heart and the author briefly gave me that satisfaction only to jerk it away. I should have stopped reading right then, but damn---the emotional connection made me keep going.

In the Infernal Devices we have something a little different. Tessa is our Girl. Will and Jem are Guy 1 and 2 but they are a little different. They were close friends which made the love triangle even more interesting because you knew it would probably break up a strong relationship that had been established prior to Tessa's arrival on the scene. Once again, I had trouble liking Will and rooted for Jem. However, to my surprise I started to really like Will and that complicated my feelings. Who was going to win her heart? Who deserved it more? Was it possible she could have a relationship with both men? Without giving it away, I have to say that the author did a good job of giving me what I wanted in the end.

But again, she stuck to the basics of the love triangle rule and established a strong emotional connection with the reader.

So what can you take away from this? What's the point? When writing a love triangle, find ways to deviate from the formula, but give us solid, developed characters that are flawed, but still easy to relate to.

Take a look at your own work. Do you have the love triangle? What are your characters doing that make us care about them? How are you establishing that emotional connection? Is your heroine torn about who she should be with? Is the reader supposed to see things about the men that she doesn't? Are we privy to the inner workings of the minds of the love triangle members?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tackling the World of Self Publishing by Guest Author Jessi Gage

I reviewed Jessi Gage's fabulous book Wishing for a Highlander a few months back. Click here for the review: Wishing for a Highlander Review! This is the perfect Valentine's Day read! And, I have to say that I adore the new cover--though I'm biased! I'm delighted to have her blog for us today, and I hear a sequel is in the works for her Highlander series. Can't wait to read it! Enjoy and Happy Valentines Day!---Mary Ann

Thanks for hosting me on the day of luurve, Mary Ann! I’m celebrating Valentines Day by shouting from the rooftops news of my re-released time-travel romance Wishing for a Highlander.
With the sale of my publisher, Lyrical, to Kensington last month, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to try self-publishing. It’s something I’ve been curious about and have learned a lot about through friends who have done it. It felt like the right time, so when I had the opportunity to get my rights back, I jumped at the chance to launch myself as a hybrid author (author who does traditional and indie publishing).
So what’s new in the second edition of Wishing for a Highlander? Pretty much just the cover (which Mary Ann helped me with *winks*), blurb, and price. I made a few minor edits, but for the most part, the story itself is just as fast-paced and sweet as ever.
Being able to price the book myself, I reduced the price to $3.99. It’s wonderful to have such control over every aspect of my baby, but the benefits come with risks and hard work. So far, I’m pleased with my new indie venture, and I hope it pays off for readers too!
Wishing for a Highlander
In a nutshell, it’s about a single and pregnant museum worker who accidentally wishes herself back in time and is forced to marry a Highland warrior with intimacy issues.
Here’s the blurb:
Be careful what you wish for. It might just come true.

Single-and-pregnant museum worker Melanie voices an idle wish while examining a Scottish artifact, that a Highland warrior would sweep her off her feet and help her forget her cheating ex. The last thing she expects is for her wish to be granted. Magically transported to the middle of a clan skirmish in the sixteenth-century Highlands, she comes face to face with her kilted fantasy man.

Tall, handsome, and heir to his uncle’s lairdship, Darcy Keith should be the most eligible bachelor in Ackergill. Instead, thanks to a prank played on him in his teenage years, he is known for being too large under his kilt to ever make a proper husband. “Big Darcy” runs his deceased father’s windmills and lives alone at his family manor, believing he will never marry.

But a strangely dressed woman he rescues from a clan skirmish makes him long for more. When the woman’s claims of coming to Ackergill by magic reach the laird’s ears, she is accused of witchcraft. Darcy determines to protect her any way he can, even if it means binding her to him forever.

Buy Links

About Jessi Gage
Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. In addition to writing paranormal romance, she’s a wife, a mom, an audiologist, a church-goer, a Ford driver, a PC user, and a coffee snob. Her guiding tenet in her writing is that good triumphs over evil, but not before evil gives good one heck of a run for its money. The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.

Jessi Gage links
Thanks for stopping by to wish me well on my first indie venture, and thank you, Mary Ann, for hosting me!

Happy Valentines Day!