Category Archives: Hook

The Making of a Book Cover by Katy Lee

I received a sneak peek of my book cover for my October release, WARNING SIGNS, a few weeks ago. I tried to share the link, but it stopped working, so please forgive me and allow me another chance to show you my new cover.

Here it is!

Warning Signs Cover

It was so neat to see the end result after working with Harlequin’s art department back in December, especially since I had to repeat the process because I failed to do it correctly the first time. Oops! Now that I know what they want, my next books will hopefully be easier.

I write for their Love Inspired Suspense line, and if you’ve ever taken notice of this line, you will see the ominous, nail-biting mood each title expresses. They really are all about the suspense, which is what I messed up on in my first run-through.

I was making it all about the romance, and not about the intrigue.

The key to making the art department happy was to provide three scenes that set the tone and the premise of the book. I had to provide one scene that included my characters, but the other two scenes couldn’t have any people in them. But that does not mean there wasn’t a “character” in the picture.

For you writers out there, I’m sure you understand what I mean when I say that your setting is a character of your story. Well, that setting comes through on your book cover.

The scenes I provided depicted a small New England Island and fishing community where danger seeps in, lurking, and ultimately rocks the town upside down.

Do you think the cover captures this?

Warning Signs Cover

The mood on the cover needs to reach out to a prospective buyer perusing the shelves for their next book. It needs to say, “Something’s not quite right in this picture. What is it?” and it needs to make them pick it up to find out what this book is about.

Now, when they pick up WARNING SIGNS, they will read the back cover. And this is what it says:

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

When a drug-smuggling ring rocks a small coastal town, the DEA sends Agent Owen Matthews to shut it down. A single father with a deaf son, Owen senses that the town’s number one suspect—the high school’s new principal—doesn’t fit the profile.

Miriam Hunter hoped to shrug off the stigma of her hearing impairment when she returned to Stepping Stones, Maine. But her recurring nightmares dredge up old memories that could prove her innocence—and uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder. Yet Owen’s help may not be enough when someone decides to keep Miriam silenced—permanently.

The Unlocked Secret: Even the though WARNING SIGNS won’t be released until October, it is up for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and ChristianBook.com now at discounted rates! If you plan on purchasing it, and you like a deal, take advantage of the lower preorder prices now!

And let me know what you think, and if you’re a writer, please share your pointers on making an eye-catching book cover with us!

Websites, tag lines, and titles, oh my!

PJ Sharon here today, and I’m asking for your help with some of my more immediately pressing concerns. First off, prioritizing my duties as an indie-published author and entrepreneur is challenging to say the least. There are many moving parts to this job and I wear more hats than guests at a royal wedding.
While I await my second round of edits for WESTERN DESERT, I have time to work on my marketing strategy for the release next month. Priorities include scheduling a short blog tour, setting up an advertising budget for paid ads, a possible launch party of some sort, sending out press releases, and finishing my back cover copy and art. The list goes on, but sometimes, I just need to let my instincts take over and tell me what is most important for the day.

Of course, writing this blog is always on my Sunday to-do list—though it often falls over to Monday night at midnight—but today I was talking to my DH about a new website. Those of you who know me, know that I have talked about switching over to a WordPress site for my website and blog for at least the past year. Currently, I have a blog on Blogger and I have a website that I love, but it has some significant limitations. My Circle Pad site, which I pay the requisite $8.95 a month for hosting, has some quirks that make it not compatible with Apple products for one. Search engine optimization is lacking, and the interface, as user friendly as it is to work with, is antiquated and doesn’t stand up to today’s market equivalents. Even with all of that, I have resisted switching to WordPress because,

a.) I’m tech-phobic and,

b.) I can’t seem to make decisions about details such as colors, design, theme, or whether to go with .org or .com?

In a come-to-Jesus moment, I have decided to just suck it up and do it! No matter how overwhelmed I feel, the website change is a must-do. In forcing the issue, I have come to realize that part of what holds me back is that I still haven’t clearly identified my brand. I’ve gotten as far as to say, “I write romance fiction for teens and beyond,” but other than that I don’t really know what defines me as a writer these days.

This brings me to my second dilemma of the day:

Should I change my tag-line, and what should I change it to? My first three books, being contemporary YA romance with hopefully ever after endings fit fine with my “Extraordinary Stories of an Average Teenage Life” tag line. But now that I have added dystopian to my repertoire, “average” doesn’t seem suitable—not for genetically altered teens in a futuristic setting. There is still a romance, but the story clearly fits in the YA category of dystopian fiction rather than upper YA/NA stories. Romance readers are not necessarily sci-fi readers and vice versa, so I feel like maybe I need to change my image a bit to reach out to a broader audience. It occurs to me that maybe I’m having trouble pinpointing my target readership because I haven’t truly discovered my “hook”—that message in our style and voice that makes us unique and offers readers the promise of something different.

Once I understand what makes my stories extraordinary, and have narrowed down my tagline to who I am and what I write, then the web design should be easier. I also just finished taking an online web-design course to get me over my tech-fear, and DH has vowed to help me get set up on a WordPress site by the end of June when I launch Book Two in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, WESTERN DESERT.

This takes us to my third issue of the day, month, year…a title for the third book in the trilogy. Here are the parameters:

1) Title must be in adjective/noun format (Waning Moon, Western Desert)

2) It would be nice to keep with the “W” alliteration, but I’m not attached to that.

3) The title should reflect that Lily and Will are embarking on the final stage of their journey across a post-apocalyptic US. This time they are leaving Las Vegas and heading east along the southern route, which will take them through the Southern Swamps. (I already thought of that as a title but I think that would only work if there were a fourth book since this one will culminate in the final battle with the Industry and will take place in Chicago and then Vegas again. I do wish I had made it a series and not a trilogy…another lesson learned.)

4) Basically, I want a title that sounds catchy alongside the other two, is different enough to not be competing with a dozen other books by the same title, and one that metaphorically shows the shift to a hopeful ending rather than a title that focuses on gloom and doom.

These are a few of my ideas. I’d love to hear yours!

CHANGING/SHIFTING/RISING TIDES (you get the drift)
SHIFTING/RISING WINDS
STORM SURGE
HEALING WINDS

Thanks in advance for any help, advice, or suggestions!

Never Do What They Want

TGIF! Casey here.

This is a continuation of last week’s topic – When in Doubt Throw in a Flying Monkey or Three. I guess I have monkeys on the brain. Or it could be that I’m in the next phase of editing – clean-up!

And it got me thinking of some very excellent writing advice from Orson Scott Card (and I’m paraphrasing here) – never take the reader where they want to go.

At least not until the very end.

What a wicked web we weave.
What a wicked web we weave. . . .

As a writer, I like the way that rolls off the tongue. It makes the Author Goddess inside of me delirious with happiness. It means I have the freedom to do what’s necessary to my characters (like send in the flying monkeys).

And readers love it too. Doing the unexpected is what keeps the reader turning the pages. That’s why many chapters end on hooks or with uncertainty. Just when you think the hero or heroine has found happiness, a sudden wrench in the plot sends them into disarray.

Deliciously evil if you ask me. Wonderful too! So how do you accomplish those twists and turns?

1. Be receptive to wild ideas. I’m a plotter, but, I’m always ready to write something crazy (like the flying monkeys). I have also found this comes with practice. The more stories you finish, the more willing your mind becomes.

2. Trust your characters. They can help you find those twists and turns. Again, even plotters can do this by letting them off the leash once in a while.

3. Be mean to your characters. If they are cruising along, getting what they want all the time, that is a huge red flag. Remember, like the readers, they don’t get to go from point A to point B. They have to get lost. A lot!

4. Never end a chapter at a natural break. Think back to television shows – end with a Yarntwist. The old advice: don’t end a chapter with a character going to sleep is true. The reader might stop and not pick your book back up again.

5. Follow through. Don’t forget to eventually tie up all loose ends. So, it’s fine to dangle the reader from the edge of a cliff or leave them with an intriguing puzzle, but by the story’s end you’d better tie it in a bow. Either solve the mystery, provide that happily ever after or create suspense for the next book (if there is one) or your reader will walk!

These are just a few ideas. What are your favorite ways to ensure the reader keeps turning those pages?