Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Paperback Odyssey

Going to paperback has been an adventure. I've learned a lot about RGB vs CYMK (Which I can do nothing about given the program I'm using) and how to tackle how printers read images. The first image of Twist I pretty much let 'er rip by brightening the cover up slightly. Then I received an oversaturated DARK cover.

boo

I decided to really lighten and brighten and reduce contrast and saturation on the other one. I stared at the image on the computer tearing up a little, because it looked so washed out! As it turns out, this is what you need to do to get a good print when you are using heavy colors. You'll have to forgive my crappy camera with all the glare because I was next to a lamp.

Notice how in the 1st proof, Silver looks like Violet, the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka. I was really disappointed at how dark it all was, and there was too much blue. So the second image on the right is the second proof, which I'm very happy with. I'm still going to tweak it a little bit more to lighten it (CLICK HERE TO SEE FINAL RESULT)


Here is a comparison of the back. Twist is meant to be lavender with subtle blue tints. But the one on the left is crazy blue, and you can't read the cover art at the bottom. The interesting part is that this pic doesn't even capture how dark it was because of the flash.

So it really pays to run several proofs, even more than three. I'm SO happy with the second proof and will only be making minor adjustments, particularly working on some of the darker areas on the front matter. On a side note, when I get a proof copy directly from the printer, they don't package it very well like Amazon does. Look at the ding on the righthand book!



All this time I thought designing the covers myself was hard work, but having to do a full cover and then contend with inconsistent prints and learning about image language - gah! The great part is I'm learning, and it will make it easier for me with each cover to know what I need to do up front. Yes, I'm taking lots of notes through the trial and error. I'm SOOOOO (lots of o's, look out) happy with the overall look and can't wait for this book to be issued in paperback. I hope that you consider adding it to your shelf!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Writer's Block

I've often said that writer's block is something that I never worry about. It's true. Could it be my approach in how I write a novel? I should probably talk with more authors to see how they come up with a concept for a story. Do you outline a main idea "girl meets boy, she has a broken past, he's got a secret, explosive ending" and build from that, or just start at Chapter 1?

My brain operates a little differently. I get an idea - an image - in my head. With "Closer", it was the bloody shoelace. My mind began imagining the man it belonged to, studying his clothing and body language. It was dark, and in an ally. Why were we there? Did he kill someone? I expand from an idea that may be a scene in the book, but not always the opening chapter. It's the character trying to wave their arms and get my attention.

So if I were to write a short snippet:

Morning light pierced my eyes through a crack in the heavy drapes. The sound of a cleaning lady rolling her cart by the door woke me up.
"You awake?" he asked.
I slept too late, I thought, staring wistfully at the cheap radio clock beside the bed. Beside it was his wallet, a set of keys, and thirty dollars.
"Let's go," he said, getting out of bed and cracking open a warm soda. "One more day and we'll be there."

What would you get from that? If I were just writing a scene in my head without putting any thought into it, I could really expand from it. I could be in a hotel, but if I heard the cart rolling by, I'm probably in a motel. Especially since the clock radio is cheap. "He" (whoever he is) doesn't kiss me or rub his hand across my hips when he's asking if I'm awake.

So, who is he? Could be a lover, friend, brother, or even a kidnapper. I slept in, which meant that I had intended to wake up earlier. Was I going to escape? Is that why I'm staring at the clock "wistfully"? It also sounds like we're broke. The keys are beside me, so now I'm thinking he's not a kidnapper, but we're also not taking a bus. Where are we going? Do we have enough money to get there? Then you start looking at what kind of motel you're in. What's the temperature outside, and what does the tell us about where you are? Why does he want to get there more I you?

Stuff like that excites me. It's taking a small block of information and build an entire story around it. That's a skill I can thank most of my elementary school teachers for, whose class I would daydream in. I've always been like that in life. I'll look at a twenty dollar bill marked 1984 and think of what an interesting story it would be to see all the people who used that bill, and what they were going to buy with it.
A box of candy for their dying mother?
A pair of shoes?
Food for their baby?
A gift to a homeless man?

Everything has a story, and I think with a creative imagination that is nurtured, a story can be written from a single image.

Sometimes from this comes a book, a spinoff idea, a scene, or maybe you just gave birth to a character. If I ever posted the horrible Vampire book 20 years from now, you'd be surprise how many ideas I extracted from the book. Characters, names, concepts for Breeds that morphed, etc. Consider the above writing exercises to keep the kindling burning on your imagination. Don't start at a blinking cursor trying to come up with the "bestseller idea". Just write.

Perhaps that's why it's so difficult for me to be editing two books at once and suddenly have an urge to start a new one. There are not enough minutes in my day to write it all down when these bubbles of ideas that are constantly surfacing. I guess that's why I created "the box" - a wooden box that sits on my desk with notes in it of ideas, if it's not a project I can immediately work on.

So when you look at this photo, what is your story about this couple?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Planning ahead

In anticipation for handing off the book for the beta read, I've secured a week off at the end of February. This will allow me to do any last minute editing that I wasn't able to finish up with the month. If I'm done editing by then, I can use that time to work on other projects.

I've also started a Mageri Book 4 title document. I do this with each book so that I can stress myself out coming up with the right title. It won't come together until I have a cover nailed down. I'll be doing the same thing I've done with all my book releases: A title release, a cover release, and maybe a giveaway. The books should all be in paperback by summer. Always have something new to look forward to.

Sterling will be on sale for a short while. Please feel free to use this image and spread the word. :-)
As much as I love all of my covers, Sterling holds a special place in my heart. It's become a symbol for this series and I love having it on my bookshelf at home.

But the first proof of Twist will be delivered very soon, and I'm VERY excited to have this book in print.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Drafting near complete

I'm feeling pretty good about this draft for MB4 and after this, it will probably be moving into the editing phase. Whoever came up with the blurring feature on one of my photo programs is an idiot. The "Horizontal" blur feature actually blurs in a vertical direction.

And vice versa.


Don't bother blowing it up, you're not going to see anything. If you can, then you probably deserve a brownie or something.

If you look at my lefthand menu, you'll see I'm about 87% in with this draft. Yay! After this I think it's just going to be a matter of cleaning up the flow, missed grammar, etc. Phase 1 of editing is my editing software, then phase 2 will be the text to speech. Meanwhile, I'm doing something I call "Caboose editing" which is helping a lot.

And then there's that Book White thing. Here's the deal:

Chances are, I'm publishing this book/series next year. It's going to the editor in the summer and I'm going to try and start writing the sequel (or at least get started on in) fairly soon. I'd love to have at least two books ready to publish (stretched apart, of course) to give me a breather. It will allow me to sit back and edit at a slower pace. But I also have to write Book 5 of the Mageri series, so I have to be careful about writing two books at once. I don't like to head-hop. Serious writing time may occur when the books are with the betas for the one month period.

But tucking a series in my pocket is a great idea. It may mean that I'll have more book releases next year, because I'll be a little ahead. I'm anticipating that Mageri book five will be late this year, but I can't nail down any approximate since I haven't written it yet.

Wish I could write faster, but I don't think it would be fair to readers to crank them out like a candy factory. Some authors can, but I promise you that sometimes the scenes readers talk about are the ones that I penned on my later drafts. You guys have been patient and completely awesome. I plan to continue writing, so here's hoping for an even better 2013.


The headless Torso cover model

I thought about putting a slew of cover images on here, but I thought I'd just make one of my own! I have had this conversation on a number of occasions with my friends on this phenomenon of headless torsos. Back in the old romance days, we knew the cover models. (Fabio, I guess, being the rock star of them all). For quite a few years, we've been bombarded with headless figures.

With the exception of Paul Marron who has modeled for a number of covers.
He gives good face.

I have friends who do not want a head on their man. They want his looks to be left up to their imagination. I agree that sometimes the wrong model can ruin a cover if it doesn't fit with the main character. On the other hand, I've seen some EXCELLENT models that draw you in, and make you want to read that book. Make you wish he could pop right off that cover and come to life while reading.

Traditionally published authors have no say so with their covers. There may be a rare few who can give their input, but it's left up to the cover artist. This may also apply with Indies who hire a cover artist, although they can at least negotiate models if they work with someone good.

The real deal is that most covers are obtained from stock websites. Buying exclusive rights to a photograph is $$$  If you have ever visited a stock website, you'll quickly find that there are not a lot of options to choose from. Finding the right pose, the right imagery you are trying to project, AND fitting that with the perfect model? Almost impossible.

Now the guy above is one of the most popular Indie cover models; I've seen his head everywhere. Yes, I own some of his images and if I use them it will be in such a way that no one else has. I have to say I'm not having any huge objections to that image above...

Except maybe the white spandex. Brings back memories of David Bowie in Labyrinth.

For me, there's nothing more engaging than a riveting gaze or bone structure. Even if part of the face is obscured and all you see are the eyes, jaw and a helmet, I'm good with that! I personally enjoy a good cover with a face, because the headless torsos do absolutely nothing for me. Even if there's just a glimmer of a profile, It's better than nothing.




In the future, I do plan to publish some books that may call for a man to be on the cover. I will do my very best to do justice to these covers (eek, I almost wrote Justus). I realize the headless torsos sell, but I don't design my cover for the sole purpose of sales. Part of the design that goes in is capturing the essence of the story and characters.

Lords of the Underworld is a series where you get a glimpse of the face. It may not match my image, but that's what happens There is a danger in the face-on pose because you see everything and some people get a very clear image of who they want to imagine. But honestly, I'd take it any day over the headless torsos only because I'm so tired of seeing them.

I'm also tired of seeing the same male models used for cover art because of lack of options. Please, please photographers out there! Go to a Gold's Gym, find us some men and give us worthy stock art! You can do it!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Twist in Paperback - Almost!

I spent this afternoon working on the full cover for Twist. I am 98% complete. I have to tweak a few things and will of course run some proof copies to see how they turn out since the printer likes to make the ink really contrasty and dark.

The image you see here will be on the inside back page since I can't get it on the inside cover.

I didn't want it on the back cover because I'd have to write a blurb over their faces. But I did want to include it, because I love the image.

It's swoonworthy. ;-)

Having finished earlier than I thought, I'm really excited to be editing again. Five hours of my morning was shot by going into work. Pfft.

If you haven't seen that Sterling is in paperback, you can grab it here.






I have no scheduled release dates this year for any of my novels. It's up in the air and seriously, locking down a date gave me serious brain spasms. Especially when I couldn't meet the deadline because things happened. When is book four due? Springsummerish. How's that? ;-) I'm anticipating Junish.

Some of you may be visiting that WIP page asking yourself, "When is this "Book White" going to have a title and be released?"

Not sure.

I have a few options I'm weighing to actually HELP me during the writing process, and not hurt me with juggling too many projects.

My blogs lately feel like constant updates, but I do like readers to know what's going on. But how about Q&A? If you have any questions, you can reply to this msg and I'll review those, or send me an email. A reader had a question that had been nagging her about Justus from Book 1, so I provided her with a detailed answer. Some things I can answer, some I can't.

Doesn't hurt to ask.





Thursday, January 10, 2013

Confession

Sometimes I edit with Morgan Freeman's voice in my head.




Because he's just awesome.


This girl is on fire

For those who don't follow me on Facebook, I'm reducing my time on the net for a short time. With Mageri Book four on the fire and my looming deadline to get it edited for the beta read, I need to focus on it completely.

Which comes as no surprise, but my day job has been requiring me to work mandatory overtime. I've already pulled in a ton of hours this week and will work Saturday, which will put me over 55 hours or something. I don't get paid for that, it's just expected when they demand it.

And yeah, I'm exhausted. I got home last night at 9pm, did an hour's worth of editing and crashed hard. So let me dispel any belief that a writer's life is easy. Although, there are some who do this full time because of a supportive spouse, or maybe they have a large body of work out there and can pull in a reliable income. I hope to be in a position someday where I can do this all day and really be able to have my life back. People use the phrase, "Don't quit your day job," a lot, but hopefully someday I'll be told the opposite, and will be in a position where I can.

Thus the reduction in extracurricular activities so I can focus on the editing and get it done. I'm 54% in that's not good enough. My goal is to hand it over to the betas around March 10, but I also want to comb over the document a number of times using various methods, refining sentences and tightening the scenes.

Head over to Goodreads and enter the giveaway for an autographed copy. Only a few days in and over 300 people are signed up. I still encourage fans to be brave and post a short review on Amazon or Goodreads to show your support and help other readers find the books, and check out my Facebook page and feel free to hang out there and talk to others. I have a post going on asking others what they're reading, so talk about some of the books on your Kindle!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Who is that dude on Impulse?

This has come up a few times, so I thought I would reveal the big mystery question.

Who is the guy on the cover of Impulse?

As you may (or may not) know, finding the right stock images is a tremendous challenge. I've decided that it's hard enough to find good ones, but finding those who resemble your characters? Impossible. Although I have to say, I really like who I chose for Silver. That being said, I try to embody the spirit of the characters in other ways.




So what is the answer? A lot of guesses have been thrown around: Christian, Justus, Logan, and even Tarek.


The answer? (drumroll)
 Justus De Gradi.

I thought about putting Tarek on the cover and actually found a couple of images, but they looked totally wrong. Plus, I didn't want to give it that stalkerish "someone is out for you" vibe. I had to find an image of a man in a hoodie when I decided who I wanted on the cover. That was insanely impossible, because it had to be a full body shot and there were hardly any! This one had a nice walk going, but no face or body, just a black shadow. I had to layer other stock clothing on him just to give it a little depth by showing sleeves and a front pocket. One complaint during the process from a few who looked at my covers was that he was nothing but a shadow, as the original stock image was. So I cropped face in the shot. I tried using the one below that I use often for Justus and is how I see him the most, but it didn't work from a distance. Most models I had were facing the wrong direction, bearded, or giving that "i'm too sexy" face.

The image is the idea. I liked a protector behind her, someone walking toward her, and it also represented a critical scene in the book. There were a lot of developments with Justus in this book, as this series is not entirely about Silver. I kind of think of it like "The Young & The Restless" (Only my version is "The Old & Immortal) of Urban Fantasy Romance. I wish I could spotlight every single character in the series in a bigger way, but those would make for impossibly gigantic books and would require a longer series.

The thing is: that is the design I had in mind doing the cover. I made it work given the tools that I had, and limited choices. But I think is awesome is that it does allow room for the reader to use their imagination. So if you want to see that as another character and have a different little story about the cover in your head, then I support you! :-)


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Huge Book Giveaway

Check out this amazing giveaway with over fifty authors, including myself.  These are all indie books and while most are in YA, you'll find variety with new adult, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, etc. Enter as many times as you want, but only one entry per book. The link below will take you to the details, and since many of you like to look at covers, I quickly put something together below. (Grr on that white space!)

http://ellecasey.com/january-anniversary-indie-book-giveaway/


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writing time

I added a progress report to my blog (left hand side) for mostly my benefit. I don't feel like creating yet another worksheet in Excel to track this kind of thing, so I'm just going to log it here. That way, you can see where I am and scold me if I'm not making enough daily progress.

My goal is to do whatever I can until 9pm each night. I do not want to burn myself out editing, so I need to establish a cutoff time. That will allow me to work on other projects after that hour. That pace may change when I get close to crunch time, but right now, it's all I can afford since my day job is amping up the overtime hours and working me to the bone.

I thought I'd do something random on this post. I was drinking my coffee thinking about how nice it is to have a regular mug. Sometimes I go to someone's house and they try to give me those fancy mugs with the tiny little handles where I burn my knuckles holding it. Or it has an uneven lip, or is shaped like an hourglass. I just like a straight-up mug.

On that note, here are some completely outrageous mugs I found on the Internet.



I could really see Knox owning one of these.











Darth Decaf






Cute!









Totally Justus!












That would be a really neat gift idea for anyone you know who is a reader. A small little basket with a unique mug, coffee, and a book.