Jeanne: Under Cover

Back in February, I posted about a local bookstore owner who suggested that my covers might not be doing my books any favors.

After running an Amazon ad for Book One for a couple of months, I’ve decided she’s got a point. While the covers are eye-catching and unique, they don’t say romance. So I decided to have them redone. This week, I received the initial drafts from the designer.

Here’s my original cover for The Demon Always Wins:

The Demon Always Wins - Copy

And here’s the (first draft of) the new version:

Draft Book 1

I”m planning to make a couple of changes:

  • Get rid of the snake completely (sigh)
  • Increase the font size for my name by a couple of points so it’s more visible.

What do you think?


Nancy: Will They or Won’t They?

When we read romance books, we know that, by definition, the couple will get a happily ever after (HEA). The joy isn’t the destination; it’s the journey. Not the what, but the how and, as Lisa Cron would remind us, the why.

But one thing I’ve been pondering as I finish my final round of revisions on the next Harrow’s book (Two Scandals are Better than One) is whether part of that journey should be the sense that this couple’s obstacles are so great, they just might not make it. Two Scandals doesn’t have that burning question. One of my beta readers listed it as a problem, although she liked the overall story. And as the writer/god of this story universe, I can thank her for that input and then choose to ignore it. But that bit of critique has stuck in my brain, because I think she might be onto something.

Let me give you some of the story deets. Edward and Lucinda (Luci) are friendly, acquainted through his sister, and of the same social class and tangential social circles. She had a girlhood crush on him but decided he’s dead boring (spoiler alert: he’s not), and he finds her mesmerizing but believes she’s from a family of dangerous men (spoiler alert: she is). They work together to rescue her father from a treacherous criminal gang, which leads to visiting houses of ill-repute, playing dress-up and assuming aliases, and crossing a group of cut-throat smugglers.

Neither of them is betrothed or promised to anyone else. Neither is hiding a dark secret that could keep them apart. Neither is being forced into close proximity against his or her will. There’s no impediment to them being together. Instead, this story is the journey of each discovering themselves while falling for the other.

Each of them is trapped in the proscribed life their families expect of them while dreaming of the life they wish they had. When they join forces against outside entities, they each doubt themselves but believe in the other. They each help the other recognize his/her own potential and achieve it, which makes them feel ready for and deserving of their HEA. All while on a dangerous foray into London’s seedy underworld.

Have you read (and liked!) any romances where there was never a point when you wondered how these crazy kids were ever going to end up together, but instead were watching them fall–perhaps  predictably–in love? Does the fact that the story involves mortal danger and weapons, most of them deftly wielded by the heroine, make the set-up any more appealing 😉?

Justine: Tips for Reader Groups on Facebook

caitlyn oleary fb group header

This is the Facebook header for Caitlyn O’Leary’s Facebook group called Caitlyn’s Crew. You can get an idea of not only what she writes, but the general vibe of the group based on her group logo. Image copyright Caitlyn O’Leary.

A couple weekends ago, I attended the California Dreamin’ Writer’s Conference. It was a lot of fun, and, as I promised when I originally blogged about it, I have some goodies to share with you from some of the workshops I attended.

One of the most fun workshops was about creating Superfans, put on by Caitlyn O’Leary (who is devilishly funny and very sarcastic…she puts it all out on display, and I think it’s one of the things her readers love about her, besides good writing, of course!).

One of the first things Caitlyn talked about was creating an author “brand.” However, she didn’t quite mean it in the “what-do-your-business-cards-look-like” kind of way. Nor did she mean it as “book branding.” Rather, it’s a personality brand…what sort of person are you? Romantic? Whimsical? Practical and to the point? Funny vs sensitive? Goofy vs. serious? Whatever your personality brand, that’s what has to come out and shine in your interactions with readers.

I won’t get into the “how’s” of creating that author brand (because I don’t want to pilfer too much from her presentation), but when determining it, think about Continue reading

Michaeline: Surfing Through My Mind

A young Hawaiian lady looks at an airplane as an outrigger with four people ride the wave in.

Read this, and then look back here. Do I know how to mix a metaphor, or what? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Since Wednesday, I’ve been trying to shape a metaphor about my writing. At one point, it was looking really good – writing is like surfing. I catch that wave, I ride it out to its thrilling conclusion, and then look around for the next.

Yeah, it’s just like that. But then I extended the metaphor. I don’t write at the same time every day. It’s like I’m out in the juice shack, tending to my dayjob or doing my night chores, and sometimes, I can feel that great wave building off in the distance. I ditch the juice shack, run out, and catch that wave and boom! Best feeling in the world!

Then I chided myself. If only I’d just head out into the ocean every day around tide time. Sure, maybe I wouldn’t catch a wave every day, but I’d be there to catch the little waves, and I’d be able to ride the big ones a little longer because I was prepared.

I don’t like it when I chide myself. The chidden part Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

I am definitely happy to see the end of this week.  I spent most of it in “Leadership” training at Ye Olde Day Jobbe.  Long days of talking, networking, group exercises, and more networking are draining, especially for an introvert / non-people-person like me.

Fortunately, I’m all done (for now) and can look forward to a relaxing weekend and (maybe) a visit from the Easter Bunny . . . well, as soon as I take care of some of the work that accumulated while I was out in training I will.

After I catch up on work, and before I start thinking too much about chocolate bunnies and colored eggs, I’m going to carve out a little time for some writing.  Though I keep getting distracted in the midst of my efforts, I’m determined to give today’s story prompt and random words the old college try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Kay: The Plot Thickens

Photo: The Harris Poll

It’s always something. Just a few days ago, Jeanne talked about how she used enneagrams to clarify who her characters are, because she thought they weren’t behaving consistently. I usually have a pretty good grip on my characters right from the start—that’s almost always why I write a story to begin with. Somebody out there speaks up.

My problem is plot. And conflict. Which, if I had enough conflict, I’d have more plot. It’s a vicious cycle.

A few months ago, when I was ready to start a new project, I didn’t have any new ideas. Nobody spoke to me, demanding to be put on a page. The girls in the basement didn’t send anybody up. So I decided to write a story that’s been noodling around in my brain for a few years. It would be the continuation of a two-book FBI series, of which the second book was finished in 2012. Continue reading

Elizabeth: What’s Your Shelf?

Terry Pratchett’s shelf seems to be quite full.

Earlier this year I attended a business conference in a lovely resort hotel in sunny Phoenix.  The days were packed with workshops and networking sessions, which I was eager to escape from at the end of the day for a little down time.

While other attendees were engaging in even more networking over dinner or dancing the night away in the silent disco, I was lacing up my sneakers and setting off to explore the surrounding area.

There wasn’t much around the resort itself – rocks, cactus, golf course, cactus, parking lot, cactus, rocks and more rocks and cactus – but a little less than a mile away there was a sprawling shopping center with dozens of stores, restaurants, and random works of art. More importantly, there was both a Starbucks and a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

After caffeinating and enjoying the “12 WEEKS. 12 ARTISTS. 12 MURALS“ art installation, I made my way to the bookstore, lured by the promise of wonderful bargain books just waiting for me in the clearance section. Continue reading