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Thankfulness #106: More Painting

Today I am thankful because the dining room painting is almost done – and we have a full gallon left at this point:

So we have plenty of paint – yay! I was afraid it wouldn’t be enough, but then I am a bad judge of how far paint will stretch. When we get this room done we’re going to redo the woodwork in the bathroom/kitchen because we used cheaper paint and it is coming off already, then it’s on to the front room. Yay!

In other news, I did some book cover and formatting stuff today:

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And my poor doggy was not feeling very well, I don’t think:

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But he is very soft and silky since his bath yesterday. let me tell you he needed it!

What else… Oh, Snapchat was fun…

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I wish I looked that good in real life, sans the nose ring. I think it would be uncomfortable.

I also got the pre-orders for Goddess of Night going, so I can share links soon… and I did some other boring stuff no one cares about, so I’ll end this.

Have a painted kinda day!

Jo ūüôā

 

 

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Thankfulness #69: Endings

Today I am thankful for the end of the dragon race. I play Dragon City, and for the last ten days – maybe longer, or maybe it just feels like it – there’s been a “epic race”. These work by pairing up players in groups of eight. To race, you complete laps by finishing “nodes” (like lap one, node one, node two, node three, etc.) to finish those nodes, you have to do certain actions a number of times, like feeding dragons, or growing food, or hatching dragon eggs…anyway, the prize of the epic races are High dragons – the difference between a regular and high dragon is 20,000 hitpoints or more, even at the same levels. zso getting those high dragons is important if you want to beat the league battles (because you just can’t beat someone else’s three high dragons with common dragons) and if you want o beat certain people on your friend’s list who are at like level 50-something. 9I love ya,Candice, but I am looking at you!).

Usually in these races most of the players don’t play and so long as you can qualify you got it – but not this time. Oh no! I was pitted against a girl from Norway who wanted that dragon, and though I lapped her early on, she refused to be broken. SO, instead of getting to participate for a few days and kind of chill, I’ve had to stay on top of it. I am happy to say that it ended this morning and I came in first, so the high dragon is mine (Just wait Candice, the day will come, Gwahahahaha!) and I can now quit having to hatch hundreds of dragons in my dragon mill just to complete nodes.

In other news, worked on some book covers today, including the one for the anthology:

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And now I have some writing to do, so i shall see you later.

Have an Epic Race kinda day!

Jo ūüôā

Thankfulness #15: Crunchy Leaves

Today I am grateful for crunchy fall leaves!

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The city cleaned out the storm drains or something today (I forget – we got a notice about it) and so they went around town and scooped all the leaves out of the gutters and left them in fantastic crispy piles all along the edge of the street:

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As a leaf crunching addict, I was quite delighted to stomp through their lovely piles and crunch my way all around the block while walking the dog. It was not only fun, but also therapeutic as well.

Crunch. Crunch.

Other than that I worked on book covers today. Here’s the lineup of rough drafts:

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No doubt they will change greatly before you see them again. Or maybe not. Who can say?

I didn’t do much writing today because instead I concentrated on reworking the plot – I think it will be better to have them there sooner after the action happens rather than coming in cold the next day, but it means moving some things around and I had to refigure times, and do travel calculations and… anyway, tomorrow I should get to work on the rewriting. I’m not deleting words from my NaNo count, though. I’ll cut and paste them at the end of the document, and then write the new ones in their place. I wrote them during NaNo, FOR NaNo, and I’m not dismissing that work.

Dad and I also finished Season 2 of Dark Matter and – AHHHHH! What a horrible place ot end it. I have to say, in the first few episodes of season one I hated Three, but he has really grown on me and is now maybe my favorite character. I still don;t like Five – she waggles her forehead around too much when she talks and everything she says is ultra dramatic – amusing since I think I do the same thing, but hey, that’s the way it goes. I did really like Four, but after… the throne room (no spoilers) I don’t know anymore.

And now it is beddy bye time for me.

Have a crunchy autumn kind of day!

Jo ūüôā

 

Fangs & Fun

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As you can see, it’s not my book, but it is my cover – and one I really like, namely because I got to do 100% what I wanted with it. I think those are always the best kind. Now if someone would only pay me to design exactly what I want…

PS: If you’re looking for this book, it is FREE on smashwords –¬†https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666592

Recovering the Classics: Jo’s Boys

Recovering the Classics is an awesome project that attempts to take classic novels and “re-cover” them to make them appealing – most ebook versions of the public domain books have generic, plain, or horribly ugly covers that turn people off, and the folks at RtC want to excite people about the books. ¬†The books are then made available to libraries and, if I am correct, to consumers as well. They also sell merchandise like t-shirts and other cool things with your choice of artwork. Though the artists release their images under CC license, they do receive royalties on the merchandise.

How cool is that?

Anyway, so I couldn’t stay away when I found out that Louisa May Alcott’s Jo’s Boys had no cover submissions. Zero. Nadda. I LOVED Alcott as¬†a¬†child and still have an extensive collection of her work (including the aforementioned Jo’s Boys), so here are the cover submissions I sent in:

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As they are already submitted, it is a little late for feedback, but you can drop your opinions anyway. For those who have not read this, i admit the covers are a bit literal, but oh well. Not my usual style, which made them fun to do. I have no idea if they will accept them, or even like them, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, have a good one, and check out RtC!

Jo ūüôā

The Woes of the Cliche

This should probably go in my author blog but the people who primarily read my author blog are… wait for it… wait or it… authors! And authors, god love them, will generally regurgitate all of the¬†marketing¬†guru advice they’ve been busy absorbing (and often paying for) along their quest to make oodles of money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad thing, if it’s your goal, but, it’s not the perspective I am looking for just now.

Off and on over the years I’ve gotten flak for my book covers (see above).¬†They don’t look like 90% of the vampire book covers because they aren’t actually written for 90% of the vampire readers. My¬†strongest¬†reviews usually come from¬†people¬†who say “I don’t normally like modern vampire books, but…” ¬†On the other hand, there is a percentage of PNR fans that do like them, and it’s a market I haven’t really tapped into. It’s also a market that may not like the books, but I digress.

With that in mind, I decided to experiment and made more “traditional” – ie clich√©¬† – covers for my Special Edition versions of the books – this is a combo of two books in one, along with special content, at a savings.

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Despite the new covers, the two book combo, and the extra content, together, in their first three months, they sold only 40 copies. Meanwhile, the first two books with “bad covers” ¬†(Shades of Gray and Legacy of Ghosts) sold 153. ¬†Why? Perhaps the clich√© covers are blending in. Or ¬†is it ¬†a lack of reviews on the Special Edition pages? It could be advertising – they were featured on different sites – or maybe it’s a lack of deeply entrenched back links. In other words, there are a lot of variables to consider.

With that in mind I decided to remove a few of those by temporarily creating new covers for the books on Amazon only. If my Amazon sales leap upwards at a higher rate than B&N etc. then that *should* tell me that, yes, the covers are an issue. But, what should I do for those new covers?

A tour around Amazon using search words like “vampire” or “vampire romance” reveals that there are only six kinds of book covers for paranormal books – but¬†which¬†one should I use?

1. Hunky man/Sexy scene.¬† This cover demonstrates that the focus of the story is on the hunky male and/or the sex between him and his counterpart. If I buy this book I expect lots of sex. I expect the hero to be called “beautiful” and “sensual” at least ten times. There might be some violence. If the hero is alone on the cover, I expect violent scenes to end with the female trembling from fear or shock and being rescued by the hunky hero so that they can go have sex and¬†I wouldn’t be surprised if he has at least one¬†monologue¬†where he feels regret and angst and tells himself that he should “stay away” from her .¬†If the couple are pictured together she may be tougher than the solo counterpart, but they will still leave the battle and have hot, steamy sex.

2. Kick ass/sexy/sad woman. This kind of cover says that the woman is the main¬†component¬†in the story. If it has a “kick ass” woman I expect her be ¬†super tough and not need a man, while also outwitting those whose paths she¬†crosses. I also expect violence since she is probably some kind of hunter. If it is a sexy woman then I still expect her to “need no man” but she will be having hot,¬†tumultuous¬†sex with at least one, and possibly two or more. I expect very light violence, with the main focus being on her sensuality or her burgeoning relationship. If she’s in modern clothes I expect it to be clicky and feminist ala Sex in the City, but if she has¬†more¬†historical attire then the hero will “tame” her. If the woman looks sad or lost then I expect the book to focus on her emotional journey as she overcomes some terrible tragedy. There may or may not be sex in this story. Violence will be light.

3. The totally clich√© vampire element. Dark castles. Bats. A man/woman with fangs. A goblet of blood. This cover shows that the main element of the story IS the vampires –¬†everything¬†else comes second. I would expect¬†something¬†heavy, historical and traditional ¬†ala Dracula. Someone will use old fashioned/obsolete words. There is a good chance of violence and it will probably be bloody, though the descriptions may or may not be ¬†gruesome. There will probably not be explicit sex (if the fanged woman is pictured alone, see #2. If she is posed with a man in a sensual scene, see #1).

4. Cutesy art work.¬†This cover says “Chic-lit” and makes me think of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and stuff like that. Cute, modern, edgy and feminine. I expect the vampires to be worried about fitting into their skinny jeans, or cleverly outwitting their boyfriends. They will drink margaritas and have girls night.

5. Totally random object/scene. Think Twilight, or Fifty Shades. Though the artists will cite symbolic bull, this cover tells you nothing. But, the font choices and colors on these covers will tell you whether it is a “masculine” or “feminine” book. If it has a funky font I expect a YA novel with light violence and some romance, probably a girl who is discovering her “abilities”. A serif font leads me to expect a more serious story, possibly with a male protagonist who has deep regret over something. Sex and violence are both¬†possibilities. A sans serif font will tell me that the protagonist (be they male or female) is tough, there is plenty of violence, and it’s probably going to be fast paced, but also¬†likely¬†to be contemporary. A script/cursive style font says it is a romance and more than likely the protagonist is a female. There is probably sex involved, violence is doubtful. If it’s super curly or cutesy then see #6.

6. Completely out there. This cover says “I may have vampires, but I’m different”,¬†which¬†makes me expect different. In fact I will expect it to lean heavily¬†towards¬†another genre, depending on the style, such as fantasy, sci-fi etc. That there would be lots of violence would not surprise me at all. The same with sex. There may even be deeper themes involved.

So what do I do? My series doesn’t fit into the first¬†category¬†(though book one might me able to), so hunky heroes and steamy sex scenes are out. I might have a female¬†protagonist, but she’s not kick ass, she’s not sultry and she isn’t lost and weeping, so¬†category¬†two is out. The books are a quick, light read, with no heavy history, so¬†category¬†three is out. Katelina might¬†drink¬†margaritas, but the series is the anti-thesis of chic lit (or at least I hope it is) so¬†category¬†four is out. This leaves me with “completely out there” – which I’m already doing – or “totally random object/scene”,¬†which¬†is what I have decided to go for.

Remember how I said that artists of these abstract covers will give you a lot of symbolic bull? Well I’m no different.

Since the first book does have a heavier romance element it got a hunky hero silhouette. I could give you a lot of crap about the symbolism of the tree, but really I just like trees.

For book two I swapped out the heavy pink/red color of the original cover for a simple blue because, though there is some heavy romance moments, the main challenge in the story is the characters’ regret and how to deal with that. This also contributes to the choice of the graveyard motif, which not only conveys the regret and lost moments, but also gives it a gothy, vampire-ish tone. Plus it looks cool.

Book three ¬†is faster paced with less emphasis on the hunky hero and more on a new character, who wants desperately to involve himself in a triangle just because I told him not to. The highway and the red color scheme reflect the fast pace, as well as the conflict. Not to mention red happens to be the new character’s main color.

The fourth book¬†has even less¬†emphasis¬†on the romance, and more on the culmination of the story arch with Oren and Malick. A lot of things are wrapped up. I went for purpley-blue to give it the edge of feminine. The bulk of the heavy action takes place underground,¬†which¬†doesn’t lend itself to a silhouette, but there are some defining scenes at a country house, so I went for that. I could also claim that the lonely scene emphasizes that, as a human among vampires, Katelina is alone among the monsters.

In book five the romance is still taking a backseat, but there’s a bit of a triangle that refuses to go away, so it got a feminizing purple color. The vampires leave the US and do some globe hopping as they search for an ancient relic. Not only do they visit Japan, but the Japanese images evoke tradition, agelessness and a bit of mysticism, which fit the theme of the book perfectly.

And if you’re still reading this mindeless pap, there’s blood splattered on them to symbolize violence and vampirism and all that.

The question is: Will the clich√© covers make more people buy? If so will it lead to people who feel they were promised something the series doesn’t deliver? Or, like the special edition covers, will it make no impact at all? Place your bets now!

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¬†P.S. All the images are still my own. I’m not really interested in the various limits stock photos place on usage.

PPS – I’ll do an official announcement on my author blog in a couple of days maybe.

The first shot at the wraparound

 

I managed to squish some time in today to work on the rough draft of my wraparound. If you’d like to read the blurb and/or leave some feedback on it, you can do that on my author blog.¬†¬†You’ll notice there’s a big black box that’s empty. I decided to go out on a limb this time and solicit some blurbs before it was published.¬†Okay, I got lucky and a couple¬†of¬†people offered. Who am I kidding? Ruth Ann Nordin was ind enough to let me use a blurb from her review of Shades of Gray on the last book, and then I used a quote from Daniel Kennedy. He just has a very “weighty” sounding name – like he;s someone important. Or is that just me? ¬†I thought about hitting Jonathan up for one, but 1) he hasn’t finished the second book yet, so book 3 isn’t going to happen for awhile and 2) I thought it might conflict with his genre a little. ¬†Some people might frown on a devotional written by a guy who’s being quoted all over vampire books. Though if they get offended that easily his book (Shades of Plaid) will aggravate them, anyway. I think it’s great, but then I’m twisted, so I hear.

Enough yacking, here’s the rough draft:

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I have to get back to work on a cover for someone else, now. The one with the high heel, as a matter of fact ūüėČ

Awesome song playing at the¬†moment¬†– “I’ll Give You Sympathy” – The Rascals

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