Tag Archives: cover art

Interview with PJ Sharon about her Latest Release

Suze here, posting outside our regular schedule. But PJ Sharon’s new novel, PIECES OF LOVE, has just released and I couldn’t wait to ask her some questions about it. PJ will be in and out today to answer your questions too!

She’s got a heck of a schedule planned for her blog tour where she’ll be giving away some neat prizes like signed books and a nifty beach bag!

1.  Okay PJ, tell us a little about PIECES OF LOVE.

So cool being on this side of the interview questions, Suze! Thanks for being here with me to celebrate and chat about the book.

PJSharon_PiecesOfLove_800pxIn PIECES of LOVE, a Contemporary YA Romance, sixteen year-old Alexis Hartman wants nothing more than to play her guitar and get high, hoping to escape the pain of losing her sister. But when her second arrest for pot possession leads to her mother’s breakdown, Lexi is sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer. While embarking on a Mediterranean cruise hardly sounds like punishment, being forced to face her demons and falling for a guy she may never see again gives Lexi a chance to discover what it means to love someone—even when you have to let them go.

2. A trip to the Mediterranean inspired the setting for this novel. What was the most beautiful or memorable place you saw on your trip?

An impossible question to answer—mainly because they were ALL beautiful. But honestly, it was such a whirlwind trip, the days and ports kind of melted together, LOL. I remember LOVING Barcelona and thinking I had to go back to see more of Gaudi’s amazing work and the passionate artistry that infused every part of the city. I also remember not having a good impression of Cannes, France, but that’s because of a bad allergic reaction to the perfumes! The Greek Islands are heavenly, but I’d have to say Dubrovnik Croatia was one of the loveliest, most interesting locations. Old Town is a spot not to be missed! I have to go back just to walk the mile long, 19-foot thick wall surrounding the village.

3. A little birdie told me that there’s some extra special companion content that goes along with PIECES. Want to tell us about it?

Um…you must be referring to the PIECES of LOVE theme song. This came about because my character, Lexi, is a song writer and singer. In an effort to get readers into her head, I decided to write a song for her sister in the book. In spite of the fact that I’ve never written lyrics before and don’t write music, the words flowed onto the page and a tune popped into my head to go with them. Funny how those creative little miracles happen. So I downloaded a recording app onto my phone and sang the song so I wouldn’t forget the tune. With four years of voice lessons behind me, it didn’t sound half bad. I approached my neighbor and good friend, Ozone Pete, who is a professional musician. Once he saw I was serious, he helped me with the arrangement. He happened to “know a guy” who runs a recording studio in Westfield, MA. A month later, I had recorded the theme song for POL. I was pleased enough with the outcome to put it up on i-Tunes for sale and used part of the song for the book trailer.

4. So, what was it like being in a recording studio? How long did it take to get the final version of the song and what’s the process?

Jim Fogarty of Bing Studios is awesome to work with and he gave me a great deal on studio time! Adding his piano skills as well as his sound engineering expertise, Jim spent ten hours with me and Pete the first day and another five hours two weeks later for the finish work and editing. He hooked me up with a mike and headphones, and played Pete’s instrumental version in the background for me to sing with. He gave me a few tips along the way, but essentially, it was just singing take after take and then editing the best pieces together. It’s really an amazing process, especially when he starts manipulating things with auto-tune and adding background and harmony. He was able to take out any excess vibrato in my voice (opera training has its downside), and clear up any pitchiness. As he put it, “It’s still you. We just accentuated the excellence and removed the suckage.” To keep things fun, and not drive himself totally crazy listening to the song a thousand times, he would change the words once in a while, singing “Pizzas of love, pizzas of looove…” That’s when I knew it was time for a lunch break. I won’t even tell you some of the other lines he added. When it all got to be too much, he’d flip over to Three Stooges movies for a short giggle break.

5. The cover for PIECES OF LOVE is just gorgeous! Can you give us an idea of how you work with a cover artist to get just the right look for your book?

That is a challenge, Suze. I start with gathering stock photos that I like to represent the characters. Some cover artists will do this for you and give you some choices, but I generally know what I want and it saves time. I pay anywhere from $10-20 for a high resolution stock photo from Big Stock Photos. Cover artists usually have a form for you to fill out, asking you to detail the tone of the book, genre, color preferences, story concept, etc. Once they have all that information, they will work up several covers to choose from. It takes a few times going back and forth to decide which font works best, and to make necessary adjustments until I’m satisfied. It’s a relatively quick process if you have a good cover artist and you know what you want. If you’re picky like me—or unsure of your vision, it can take a little longer. Kim Killion from The Killion Group, made this cover for me in only a few days. Granted, she had a design concept already made because I had original hired someone else who came up with the basic design but just got too busy and wasn’t able to make the changes I wanted. It was a bummer starting all over with someone new, but I’m so pleased with the results of working with Kim, I’m planning to re-brand my Lily Carmichael covers this summer.

6. What are you working on now? What’s your next book and when can we expect it?

Gulp! Isn’t that always the question? I’m working on HEALING WATERS, book three in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy, and hoping to have it done later this year.

Thanks, PJ! Can’t wait to read (and review!) PIECES OF LOVE.

Readers, until June 30th, PJ has her book on sale for only $2.99 for Kindle, Nook, and i-Tunes e-readers. The price goes up to $4.99 on July 1st, so don’t miss out!

Thank you, Suze, for taking time out to set up this interview. The support and generosity of my Scribe sisters is what keeps me going some days. In case I haven’t told you lately…you’re awesome!

Questions, comments? Any good books on your vacation TBR pile?

 

It Never Gets Old – Cover Reveal – Mystic Hero

Hey there! Casey here.

Since I’m hard at work penning my next novel – Over Easy – a contemporary romance (*gasp* – it’s not a paranormal), I thought I’d share the cover for book 3 in my Mystic Series.

One of the joys of working with a smaller publisher is getting cover art super fast. Once again, another great design from Rae Monet. Don’t you agree?

Mystic Hero

Here’s the back cover copy. This book is coming soon – Fall 2014. I can’t wait to share Devlin’s story.

A wise Satyr always pays his debts: Pawn shop owner Devlin Ward isn’t stupid. When Karma appears on his doorstep to cash in an old favor, he can’t refuse. It’s a simple request – accept a delivery and keep it safe. Unfortunately for Devlin, the “package” is a sullen teenage oracle who insists that he locate the Feather of Truth. Or else.

A promise is a promise: Mary Swain, aka Ma’at, Goddess of Truth, always honors her word. For the first time in centuries, she’s finally free of her debts and wants a new life, preferably away from Mystic, where every quaint shop and cozy restaurant is a reminder of her unreliable ex-boyfriend. Finally, she’s leaving and nothing’s going to stop her.

But when Devlin approaches her with the oracle’s dire warning and a frazzled plea for help, she can’t resist a tempting new adventure or his quietly sexy allure. Despite his best efforts to feign indifference, she knows Devlin is attracted to her too. He claims to have deep, dark secrets that even the Goddess of Truth can’t pry out of him. Or can she?

That’s all I got! Until next time, happy writing or reading!

Cover Reveal – Misfortune Cookie!

Happy Friday! Casey here!

I hope everyone didn’t overindulge their sweet tooth yesterday. I was surprisingly good. Largely, because we decided a few years ago, to stop buying tons of Halloween candy.

I don’t have much to say today other than . . .

Feast your eyes on the cover of Misfortune Cookie! Another outstanding design from Rae Monet!

In other news – Mystic Hero is done (well, the first draft) and is in the hands of my beta readers. Yay!

But don’t think I’m sitting around doing nothing. Next up – completing Lachlan’s Curse. I hope to finish the first draft by the end of November.

Wish me luck!

What’s on everyone’s plate these days?

MisfortuneCookie

A New Face for a New Year

PJ Sharon here wishing all you Scribe’s followers a Happy New Year!

We are so thankful for your support over the past year and hope you’ll continue to join us for fun, informative, and entertaining posts about writing, publishing, and all things books. You’ll be treated to an occasional secret recipe, guest authors, interviews with industry professionals, reviews of our favorite books, and tips on everything from  craft to the everyday pitfalls of trying to manage this crazy writer’s life.

As the first Scribe to post in 2013, I’d like to talk about the most important selling point of a well-written book–aside from it being well-written, that is.

In this day of digital publishing, when as many as 350,000 new books a year are put in front of readers, the burning question is, what will help your book to stand out in the deluge? I can’t help but think the answer goes back to the basics. Most of us judge a book first by its cover, then by the blurb, and then by reading the first page or so. Most readers, many who are buying from their e-reading devices, only see a thumbnail version of a book cover and often decide to look closer only if something about that tiny image pulls them in. Having a breathtaking cover, a well-written and captivating blurb (back cover description), and a grabber of a first line can only up your chances at being noticed.

As you may know, I had moderate success with a FREE promotion last week and I think the results prove my point.  After having my cover redone by a professional cover artist, downloads for Heaven is for Heroes outnumbered my previous bestseller, On Thin Ice, 3 to 1. You can read about my results here.  Since the only thing I did differently to showcase Heaven is for Heroes was a $5 paid ad on Facebook, I’m betting that the new cover had something to do with the increased numbers. My results tell me two things. Facebook ads do work, and cover art matters. Either way, I took the hint and had a new cover made for Savage Cinderella. **Incidentally, I did see a small bump in sales this week after my FREE days, so IMO it’s still worth hopping on the KDP Select gravy train if you’re looking for a boost in sales and visibility.

Although I’d had lots of feedback from friends and fellow writers who liked the original cover, the black and white just didn’t stand out on the thumbnail version. The title and author name didn’t “pop,” and the image didn’t really give a clear impression of the genre or the story, at least not when competing against the cream of the crop with their photoshopped masterpieces.SC SW cover

One of the benefits of independent publishing is that we can easily adapt and change with the market. Young adult cover art has evolved over the past year or two, leaning toward “darker” images, bolder colors, haunted faces with intense expressions, and beautiful young men and women looking tormented but relatable on the covers. The tone of a book should be clearly expressed through the cover art, and there should be some hint as to what the story will entail via the title fonts, tone, and cover image. I’m hoping that my new cover does all of those things, perhaps even tapping into a new readership who previously may have overlooked the other cover simply because it didn’t stand out enough or they didn’t “get” a feel for the book.

There’s no doubt that I’ll run across those who would rather not see a face on the cover, preferring the character’s features be left to the imagination, but the idea is to make an impression–to grab a browsing reader and make them look twice. If you’ve read the book you’ll probably understand why this image is so powerful. If you haven’t read the book, you can find it on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, or you can read a chapter a week for FREE on Wattpad.

As always, I’d love your feedback.

Savage Cinderella WEBSITE USEThis cover is the work of Melody Simmons, who also did my Heaven is for Heroes and Waning Moon covers. She is super easy to work with and reasonably priced, not to mention, fast. She had this cover and my HIFH cover back to me in a day or two, offering me several options from which to choose, and working with my suggestions to get to the look I wanted.

I hope you’re looking forward to 2013 as much as I am. I have a feeling it’s going to be a stellar year for the Scribes and we’d love for you all to share the journey with us.

Blessings of good health, peace, prosperity, balance, and harmony to all,

PJ

Do you have any exciting plans for the coming year? What do you think about trends in cover art? Too many faces on YA covers, or do you like to see those smoldering and desperate looks?

Cover reveal for WANING MOON

Oh happy day! PJ here, and I’m thrilled to share with you the cover for my upcoming release, WANING MOON, Book ONE in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. In the past, my husband and I have designed my covers. But this time, I enlisted the help of the wonderful and fabulous Melody Simmons, who has been very accommodating, I must say. Because WM is part of a trilogy, I wanted a cohesive look to the books and I was ready to take my covers to the next level.

We’re still tweaking fonts for the back cover,  but she came up with this front cover after I gave her my ideas for a concept and picked out the stock photo of the model. I think she did great! Let us know how you like it, and if there’s anything about it you don’t like. We’re thick skinned and there’s still time to make changes. Have I told you lately that I love Indie publishing?

Meet Lily Carmichael!

Here’s the back cover blurb to give you an idea of what the story is about:

In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a global shift threatens the remainder of the population with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Carmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey into the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.

Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the tension between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put Lily in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.

Enjoy this short excerpt:

We both groaned as we lifted the heavy iron cover. I dropped down into the icy churning water, sucking in a breath while Will climbed down the ladder. He paused, grunting as he pulled the heavy cover in place behind him.

 
Just in time. We heard rushing footsteps overhead, voices loud and angry. Will and I exchanged a look and then turned toward the dark tunnel. Will’s hand slipped into mine as he took the lead. “Stay with me. Don’t let go, okay?”
 
I let him pull me forward. The water deepened as we dragged ourselves along. The sound of rushing water ahead had me backing up against the current. “This is not a good idea.”
 
Will tugged me by the hand, wincing in pain. “It’s the only way out. Trust me. It’ll be alright.”
 
“Trust you? That’s a joke, right?” 
 
 “Can we fight about this later?” 
 
Before I could argue, a wave of turbulent water rushed in from a connecting pipe, and swept us off our feet. Will’s hand tightened around mine and we dropped abruptly downward. As the slope steepened, the water picked up speed. Darkness and the stench of sewage overwhelmed my senses. I prayed a quick prayer that the end of the tunnel was near. What I worried for next was how far of a fall it would be to the murky waters of the Hudson below when we reached it.
 
Another rapid decent shot my stomach to my throat and Will’s hand pulled free. “Noooo!”
 

But the thunderous roar of the cascading waterfall swallowed the sound of my scream.  It launched us into the darkening horizon like a torpedo, and then dumped us thirty feet into the icy roiling waters of the Hudson River.

Well, that’s it for today, folks. Stay tuned for more exciting excerpts from WANING MOON, which is set to release September 28th. Let me know what you think of the cover, and if you want to get in touch with Melody Simmons or see some of her pre-made covers, check out her website @ http://ebookindiecovers.com/contact/.

Savage Cinderella Cover Reveal

Good morning Scribes fans! Today I’m doing my big cover reveal for my next book, SAVAGE CINDERELLA, due out, March 15th. I’ve mentioned before that my husband makes my covers so I’ll give you the skinny on how he does it, in case you’re curious.

First, we talk about the book and my vision for what I want the cover to project. Then we peruse the stock photo sites looking for that one picture that screams at both of us, “I’ll tell the story, pick me—pick me!”. I found both the front and back cover photos for  this book at Big Stock Photos. After much research, reading the fine print, and following several discussions on the Indie Romance Ink loop, I realized I didn’t need to pay extended licensing fees on the stock photos for book covers unless I was planning to sell over 5000 print copies or use the photos for merchandising, neither of which seems likely. I can always change the cover later if I need to. So compared to the $300 we spent on Heaven Is For Heroes,

Available September 24th
Heaven Is For Heroes

the $100 I spent for On Thin Ice,

On Thin Ice

and the $13.98 I spent on Savage Cinderella, I can safely say I’ve cut my production costs by several hundred percent. That’s what I call a bargain! I can use those savings for editing services or advertising. A learning curve, indeed!

Once I pick out the photos, my husband–the creative genius techspert–takes control of the next step. He downloads a template from CreateSpace that is based on the size of the book (in my case 5.5×8.5). I chose this size because it puts my 80,000 word young adult novels at a manageable width for readers. The print is large and readable, there is adequate white space on the page, and they are distinct from the typical 4.5×6.5 romance novel sized book. Anything I can do to have my books be reader friendly and stand out in the crowd, is a good thing. The spine width is automatically determined by the page count of the book.

Next, he sets up the template on Power Point and starts fitting the photos onto the template and adding the layers of text. I’d love to give you all the specs of step by step processing, but I’ve watched him do it three times now and the details still befuddle me.  He alters coloring as needed, we agonize over fonts for a while, and finally, when it’s as perfect as we can get it, he saves it to a PDF which is the format required by CreateSpace. Voilà! Hubby crops and saves the cover photo as a jpg. or png. file so I can use it for blogs, advertisements and on my website.

So there you have it. Above is the front cover and to the right is the back cover. We’ve added a QR code with a link to my website and Createspace will add the UPC with ISBN number. I’d love your feedback about how you think we did. We’re still learning and are open to constructive criticism so we can keep improving with each cover. I love each of them for different reasons but it’s fun to see the evolution.

Titles, Teasers, and Cover Art

It’s time for the big reveal! My next book, ON THIN ICE, is coming out next month—five weeks to be exact. It hardly seems possible that it was only two months ago that I released HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. Back to back book launches are one of the many benefits of Indie-publishing. As long as I can meet my production schedule for cover art, editing, setting up promotional plans, and producing quality material, I can add to my cyber bookshelf as frequently as I’d like. Of course, that’s a BIG if!

 Especially when I find out two weeks before sending the book off for final editing that the title, ON THIN ICE, has just been used by someone else…in fact several someone else’s. It turns out that this title has been used numerous times in recent years in several genres. So I scrambled, sweated, and panicked for a few days before deciding, “Yup, I’m gonna’ keep it.” No matter what other titles I tried, none fit quite as perfectly as my chosen title. ON THIN ICE seemed the ideal metaphor for a young figure skater dealing with an eating disorder and confronting some devastating life issues like her mother’s cancer and a teenage pregnancy—issues I dealt with myself in the year between sixteen and seventeen.

So rather than focus on the negative aspects of a title overuse syndrome, I decided that there was an upside to my predicament. For one thing, every time someone looks for one of those other books, mine will show up too. Tag team PR. As my fellow scribe, Casey Wyatt pointed out, if you type in the name of her book, Ascension, a ton of others come up as well. Common titles like, THE EDGE, SAVING GRACE, REMEMBER ME, or dare I say, BREAKING DAWN, have all been used more than once. I’m happy with my title and I’m sticking to it!

The next order of business was nailing my husband down…er…keeping my husband to his deadline with cover art. This is what he came up with. Although, the girl on the cover doesn’t exactly match my character Penny’s description, and the mountain peaks in the background are not likely to resemble any you might find in Connecticut, I felt that the facial expression, the metaphoric mountains my character faces, and the general “feel” of the cover were right for the genre and the book. It grabbed hubby, grabbed me, and shows up fairly well in a thumbnail size, which is where most people will see it. So again I say, I like it, and I’m sticking to it! Oh, the joys of DIY Indie-publishing.

With all that I’ve learned about this process so far, there were a few things I decided to hire out to save time. One is the final copy edit. I must have re-uploaded HIFH four times due to typos and errors that my editor and I both missed. I will also have the book formatted for me. It’s not rocket science, but it is a frustrating and time consuming chore, and for less than fifty dollars, I can have it professionally done—well worth every penny.

As for a teaser, click on over to my website and read an excerpt of ON THIN ICE (the scene where Penny and Carter meet), and check out a few songs on my YouTube playlist. You’ll need to scroll down the Extras page to get to it, but feel free to check out the excerpt of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES while your there.

The book cover hasn’t been uploaded yet, so if you have any comments, recommendations or suggestions, now’s the time to spill. Let me have it, people!