Justine: Finding My Own Cover Models and Staging a Shoot (part 1)

photo shootThis will be the first in a many-part post (which will happen over several months) about finding my own cover models and doing a custom photo shoot for my future book covers.

It stems from a lovely conversation-in-the-comments the Eight Ladies had with Ron Miller from Black Cat Studios, who designs many (if not all) of Lois McMaster Bujold’s covers. He talked about the creative process and showed us, via a series of links, how he goes from a simple picture of his wife or daughter (frequent models for him) to the final cover.

This and other conversations on various Facebook groups got me thinking that it might be worthwhile to find my own cover models, because here’s the problem in historical romance: there is a lack of original stock photography (assuming one wants a lady or man in proper historical clothing…I could always go for the 80s prom dress look as some authors have done, but that doesn’t suit me).

His Lady Protect Sml-1

These faces have been on dozens of covers.

A handful of sites, such as Period Images (where I got the couple for my first two book covers), Trevillion, Hot Damn Stock, and Lee Avison (just to name a few) use a regular cadre of models whose faces have graced many a cover, to the point that when scrolling through book covers, I can identify some of the models by name.

I want my covers to be a bit more original. And I also want a particular look from my covers, namely the hero looking at the reader, not the heroine. There’s remarkably few stock images where the hero is looking at the camera.

So when Ron started telling us about what he did to find models and use them for his covers, I started thinking that perhaps I could do the same thing. I can see that I’ll have some challenges, but I think I can overcome those, and the best part (I hope) is that I’ll have a collection of original stock photography using fresh, never-before-seen faces to work with to create both covers and a variety of associated marketing materials, as well.

My first challenge was actually the easiest….finding a model. My next door neighbor’s son, who attends college here in Arizona, is quite a hunk, if I’m to be honest. And he’s blond, which is different than the two men I already have on my covers, making his look unique. I ran into him the other day and asked him if he’d be willing to model for a book cover. I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth before he was nodding his head and saying, “Yes, absolutely. Yes!” When I showed him some of the photos from Period Images (to give him an idea of what I was going for), he said casually, “I’m doing a weightlifting competition this spring, so I should be even more ripped than those guys.” He even offered to grow sideburns!

Ahem. Well, okay. If he insists. *grin*

His girlfriend was with him and she also agreed to be a model. And when I asked him if he had friends who might be interested, he said absolutely. He even had a friend who is into photography, wanting to build her portfolio, so I might have that part covered, as well.

So…models? Check. Photographer? I won’t say “check” yet, because I want to see what she’s done, but I have a good, solid lead.

My next challenges are wardrobe and the legalities of copyright and usage. More on those in a future post.

What would you do if you were able to create your own cover shoot?

Justine: Don’t Be a Victim of Data Breaches

keyboard1In case you hadn’t heard, there was a massive data breach at Facebook this week. Over 50 million user accounts were compromised. I thought it would be appropriate to remind everyone of a few basic digital safety precautions. Below is a repost (with some tweaking) I did a couple years ago. The information I presented then is just as important now, if not more so.

The three key things to remember are:

  • Variety (as in having more than one password — there’s a tip below on how to create one that’s different for every site, yet easy to remember)
  • Frequency (backup your data frequently, change your passwords regularly)
  • Redundancy (have more than one backup, preferably a cloud-based backup as well as something local)

Keep yourself — and your data — safe!

***

Today’s post is admittedly not that inspiring…unless you don’t want to lose your work. Awhile back, I happened upon a post by Mat Honan about how his iPhone, iPad, and Macbook were completely erased, and his Twitter and Google accounts compromised. The hackers did it with a few digits of a credit card number that show up readily on Amazon. He lost EVERYTHING. All the pictures ever taken in his daughter’s life. Documents he saved no where else. In a word, it was Continue reading

Justine: Mood Music Playlists for Writing Sad Scenes

working to musicI know several of the Eight Ladies (myself included) have used music playlists for writing, either because it “goes” with the book they’re writing or, like with me, there’s a certain Mozart playlist that generates a Pavlovian response within me to write. When I hear the music, my inner storyteller kicks in.

This is all well and good except the music I listen to is pretty upbeat (for Mozart, anyway) and I was having a hard time getting into the right mood to write some really dark, painful, sad scenes (not my typical mojo).

So I pulled up Google and searched “saddest classical music” and the first hit that came up was Continue reading

Justine: Prepping for a Research Trip

49665157 - travel holiday vacation traveling laptop technology conceptIn a couple weeks, I’ll be headed across the pond for 10 days of research in London for my next couple Regency romances. It’ll be my third time in the lovely country of England and I have some very targeted sites I want to see. For the most part, I’ll be in London (renting a flat via Airbnb this time that puts me right in the heart of Mayfair, near Grosvenor Square and Hyde Park).

If you’ve never taken a research trip before, here are my tips for things to bring (or do) when you head out one one. Continue reading

Justine: Seeking Out Rejection to Overcome It

Are you sitting on your finished MS, dying-but-hating to send it out to the A-list of agents and editors you met at a recent conference? Perhaps you’ve signed up for a mentor program, but you’re anxious about putting your 60,000 word baby in the hands of someone else. Or, you found a great new critique partner, but you keep putting off sharing your chapters because “it’s just not quite right yet.”

You’ve got a rejection problem…or really, the fear of it.

Cue Jia Jiang, an entrepreneur and educator who formed an early association to rejection anxiety when he was six years old. Watch in this humorous TED talk as he explains how exposing himself to rejection for 100 days actually lessened the anxiety he felt about being rejected, and actually opened up opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have had. It’s a lesson we can all learn from (although I don’t think I’ll be asking for “burger refills” at the local burger joint).

What is your worst rejection moment? Your best? What lessons can you share with writers who are afraid to put their work out there?

Justine: When Family Crisis Puts the Kibosh on Writing

44725499 - vintage stop sign on city asphalt floor.We’ve all had (or we likely will have) a situation where our writing has to take a back seat to life…whether it’s our own health that we must cater to, a family crisis or tragedy, or the care of a loved one.

The latter has been my situation for much of July. I had grand goals of getting the second half of my Beggars Club Series Prequel finished and ready for distribution, flipping the switch on my website for a go-live date no later than August 1st, and finishing the storyboard for my book His Lady to Protect so I can cultivate the 467th draft of it into something that resembles a book.

I got nothing done.

My mom’s health took a quick decline Continue reading

Justine: A Lesson (or at Least an Exercise) in Author Branding

41323542 - brand branding marketing commercial name conceptI really don’t like branding. At least the coming-up-with-it part. Just to set the proper expectations. Some people go nuts for this kind of stuff. Not me.

What you read below is my lesson/exercise in personal branding. I am no expert, that’s for sure, so caveat emptor. I knew after deciding to self-publish that I’d need to rebrand myself, and I’m oh-so-lucky that I attended an awesome Damon Suede (DS) seminar last weekend on marketing and branding.

Brand new author brand? Here I come!

One of the key things that we learned from Damon was Continue reading