Tag Archives: book trailer

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?

 

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Fur Friends in Fiction

In honor of my dog Zak, I wanted to write a post about adding animal characters to our stories. Zak was a handsome and faithful ten year-old lab/husky mix who I had to say goodbye to this weekend. The house has been all too quiet since and we will no doubt miss him terribly. When we invite an animal into our lives, we are taking on a partner of sorts. They don’t become our pets as much as we become their people. As authors of romance and love stories, it’s only right that we should include our furry soul mates in our stories. I don’t know about you and your first encounter with your fur friend, but I fell in love with Zak at first sight. We quickly became best friends, forging a bond that would last his lifetime. I love the idea of incorporating that kind of relationship into my books.

In SAVAGE CINDERELLA, my main character Brinn befriends a bear, rescuing it as a cub after its mother is killed. Since Brinn was still a child at the time, she named the bear cub Kitty, stole milk from a farmer’s goat, and cared for the bear until it was grown enough to fend for itself. From then on, the two were friends for life, Kitty coming to Brinn’s rescue just in the nick of time. (see book trailer here).

It was fun creating that relationship and showing the connection between humans and animals even under the most unusual of circumstances. Animals have a way of getting under our skin right from the start, reminding us that unconditional love is the truest form of love we can express or receive. The bond that we form with them goes beyond pet and master. There is a soul-deep affection and trust that is difficult to explain to someone who has never befriended an animal and spent years living with them side-by-side.

Adding an animal character to a story is challenging, which is why I don’t think we see it done often. You need to make them into a believable, continuous thread of the story.To do it well, in my opinion, you have to sprinkle in the personality traits of the animal and show how they impact the main character. Aren’t we always a perfect match for our pets? By sharing how animal characters interact with the hero and heroine, it can deepen character and connect the reader even more than the hero/heroine relationship itself.

I’ll use Kristan Higgins again as an example because she does this so well. Her fur friend characters are engaging and lively, and are just as quirky as her main characters. They are clearly just one more member of the family. I think Kristan’s success with this is that the dogs aren’t just thrown onto the page to add color. It would be easy to have them distract from the story, but instead they are real secondary characters who are present in the background at all times, affecting the emotions and actions of our main characters, just like our real companions. They also have unique personalities–always ready to express themselves through a bark, a pant, or a set of pathetic big brown eyes begging for some love and attention, or a treat.

In my upcoming YA Dystopian release, WANING MOON, genetically altered teen Lily Carmichael, is accompanied on her journey by a pair of grey timber wolves. Bo and Pappy are brothers, distinguishable only by the scar that Bo carries across his eye and snout from having fended off a polar bear to save Lily. (Don’t ask about polar bears in the Northeast. You’ll just have to read the book.) I had fun writing the wolves into the story and used a lot of Zak’s character traits in doing so. I’ll describe him and you tell me if you don’t see the heart of a wolf in him.

Zak was a fiercely protective dog who thought nothing of challenging a bear or moose if he thought his domain was being threatened. He was stubborn and loyal, and not always terribly bright (just ask the skunks and porcupines that he thought were cats).  But he was also totally goofy and handsome the way his ears perked up and shifted at the slightest sound, like two satellite dishes on his head. My biggest challenge after taking him in as a six month old pup was that he had been taken out of two other homes for neglect and he had major abandonment issues, did not get along with other animals, and would become aggressive if threatened or fearful. I tried socializing him, but he had his mind made up that he was going to be a loner. Eventually, we became his pack. He was friendly to children, neighbors and even strangers, but if you tried to do something he didn’t like, he let you know in no uncertain terms that if you didn’t have a tranquilizer gun, you ought to just back off.

Against the advice of vets, I didn’t put him down as a pup. Instead, I moved him out into the country. Here, he was surrounded by woods where he could run free. Amazingly, he never strayed from our property or even far from our sight. He was a great companion for me on our hikes on the vast trail system behind my house. If my husband traveled, Zak was on guard and would no doubt protect me with his life. His daily presence was a comfort to both my husband and me, always greeting us with a bark and a wagging tail. He lay by my side more than once when I was sick, ever watchful and responsive to my moods or energy shifts. Though he sometimes made it difficult to appreciate his quirks, we always loved him unconditionally and that love is what I believe made him the great dog he was. He had a happy life here, and I’m so glad we could give that to him. In return, he gave us his all. It seems fitting that I should have him immortalized in some way through my Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. I’m sure you’ll get to know Zak a little better as you read about Bo and Pappy.

Until then, what do you think about animals in fiction? 

Buyer Beware-Standard vs. Extended licensing

            PJ Sharon–Indie-publishing author, here. I’ve learned so much about the e-publishing world these last few months my head is ready to explode. It’s like cramming a college education into one semester. I’ve always been a multi-tasker so you would think I could handle the influx of new info, but I have dropped more than a few balls in this crazy juggling act. I thought I would pass on an example of what NOT to do when Doing-it-yourself.

            It took my husband and me an entire weekend to upload all of the required files to
CreateSpace when I finally sent the book to print. I spent most of one day
checking through the formatting to ensure that my final draft would fit the
template that CreateSpace provides, including setting up margins, page size,
headers, footers, additional pages, etc. In all honesty, it was time consuming
but not really difficult. I received my proof copy and now I need to go through and
make any last changes to the interior of the book. I should be celebrating,
right?

            The challenge came when we uploaded
the PDF version of my book cover. It was rejected several times because of
formatting issues. My husband had to recreate it using several programs until
he finally decided on power point. But still something wasn’t right. The stock
photos I downloaded for cover art were not high enough resolution (the files
were too small), there were transparencies that needed to be removed, and the
PDF didn’t fit the template. After several reconfigurations and about sixteen
hours of agonizing to figure out how to resolve the problem, we finally
discovered that my original purchase of the standard licensing fees was not
adequate to obtain the highest resolution of photographs. Worse, my cover photo
does not currently have an extended license option.

            What all of this means is that if you decide to do your own cover art, using stock
photos that advertise ‘royalty free’ pics, realize that you will have to pay
anywhere from thirty to a hundred dollars per picture for extended licensing
that allows you to use a photo for a book cover or book trailer. Read the fine
print. The same will likely happen when you look for music for your book trailer
or video. There are some exceptions, but don’t count on the ‘royalty free’
items being ‘free’. Also check to make sure that there are extended licenses
available for the photos you choose. I now have to wait for the company, 123rf,
to contact the photographer and ask permission to use the photo as is. I’m
biting my nails because I’ve already ordered promotional materials and marketed
the cover. I would hate to have to change it now, but I may have no choice.
We’ll see, and I’ll let you know how it plays out.

            I’ve seen some professional sites that will design covers for about 2-300 dollars,
or make a book trailer for about the same fee. My idea for saving money by
being my own creative director and maintaining control of every aspect of the
process now seems both idealistic and foolish. Although I have great technical
support, we are treading on new territory and there are a ton of things that
only insiders are aware of. I’m beginning to see the benefit of simply hiring
these tasks out from the start. I may have to invest initially and lose some creative control,

but avoiding all of the hassles might be worth delegating and paying out the up-front costs.

            On the other hand, if we can work out all of the kinks in this first go-around, it
might fall into place for the next book. My juggling just might need practice.
I don’t see mistakes as failures as much as I see them as guidelines on what
not to do twice.

            Anyone want to share a ball you dropped and
how you got it back in the air?

Buyer Beware-Standard vs. Extended licensing

PJ Sharon–Indie-publishing author, here. I’ve learned so much about the e-publishing world these last few months my head is ready to explode. It’s like cramming a college education into one semester. I’ve always been a multi-tasker so you would think I could handle the influx of new info, but I have dropped more than a few balls in this crazy juggling act. I thought I would pass on an example of what NOT to do when Doing-it-yourself.

It took my husband and me an entire weekend to upload all of the required files to
CreateSpace when I finally sent the book to print. I spent most of one day
checking through the formatting to ensure that my final draft would fit the
template that CreateSpace provides, including setting up margins, page size,
headers, footers, additional pages, etc. In all honesty, it was time consuming
but not really difficult. I received my proof copy and now I need to go through and
make any last changes to the interior of the book. I should be celebrating,
right?

The challenge came when we uploaded
the PDF version of my book cover. It was rejected several times because of
formatting issues. My husband had to recreate it using several programs until
he finally decided on power point. But still something wasn’t right. The stock
photos I downloaded for cover art were not high enough resolution (the files
were too small), there were transparencies that needed to be removed, and the
PDF didn’t fit the template. After several reconfigurations and about sixteen
hours of agonizing to figure out how to resolve the problem, we finally
discovered that my original purchase of the standard licensing fees was not
adequate to obtain the highest resolution of photographs. Worse, my cover photo
does not currently have an extended license option.

What all of this means is that if you decide to do your own cover art, using stock
photos that advertise ‘royalty free’ pics, realize that you will have to pay
anywhere from thirty to a hundred dollars per picture for extended licensing
that allows you to use a photo for a book cover or book trailer. Read the fine
print. The same will likely happen when you look for music for your book trailer
or video. There are some exceptions, but don’t count on the ‘royalty free’
items being ‘free’. Also check to make sure that there are extended licenses
available for the photos you choose. I now have to wait for the company, 123rf,
to contact the photographer and ask permission to use the photo as is. I’m
biting my nails because I’ve already ordered promotional materials and marketed
the cover. I would hate to have to change it now, but I may have no choice.
We’ll see, and I’ll let you know how it plays out.

I’ve seen some professional sites that will design covers for about 2-300 dollars,
or make a book trailer for about the same fee. My idea for saving money by
being my own creative director and maintaining control of every aspect of the
process now seems both idealistic and foolish. Although I have great technical
support, we are treading on new territory and there are a ton of things that
only insiders are aware of. I’m beginning to see the benefit of simply hiring
these tasks out from the start. I may have to invest initially and lose some creative control,

but avoiding all of the hassles might be worth delegating and paying out the up-front costs.

On the other hand, if we can work out all of the kinks in this first go-around, it
might fall into place for the next book. My juggling just might need practice.
I don’t see mistakes as failures as much as I see them as guidelines on what
not to do twice.

Anyone want to share a ball you dropped and
how you got it back in the air?