Descriptions for heat levels in book list

------holding hands, perhaps a gentle kiss
♥♥ ---- more kisses but no tongue-- no foreplay
♥♥♥ ---kissing, tongue, caressing, foreplay & pillow talk
♥♥♥♥ --all of above, full sexual experience including climax
♥♥♥♥♥ -all of above including coarser language and sex more frequent

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

cover model and more

For indie writers who are looking for information on creating covers, I just watched a very informative video on YouTube at

As I have gone into this experience of marketing, I have more and more seen it cannot be ignored for its importance. I'd  like to say writing the book matters the most. That is true, but you have to get it seen. For someone like me without the money for all options, I have had to learn as I go using profits as the books sell.

Learning can be free, and I recommend time with this video as it is not only the cover model, Jimmy Thomas, but others in the field who discuss their end of branding and marketing. Particularly interesting to me was hearing from the cover artist and the partnership between artist and model. Fascinating.

One thing I have learned this year, after I got past the initial--you are kidding-- regarding covers for books, is that it's not about you as the writer anymore. It's about what is wanted by the reader, what will attract interest and it's knowing your genre.

Jimmy Thomas is the leading male model for romances and there are several reasons I can instantly list. One is he's handsome as sin. Two he seems like a genuinely nice person. Three he can put expression onto his face that tells a story. Four he's darned good at marketing. Five and maybe most important-- he projects the strength of the heroes in these books including several of mine. Handsome is nice but handsome alone doesn't cut it.

Jimmy Thomas has put together a site that helps indie writers with these covers, most especially those without a lot of money. He recognized a need and has created a place to fill it. That's not only good looking but smart.

 Limited though I am for money, I have bought 15 images from his site, many at the full size, but a few just intended for trailers. In short, I've put most of the profit from my books back into images with a lot more on the CanStock site where I also have purchased a license to use certain images on covers or for trailers. Some I alter and change to suit the books but a lot work as they are.

Earlier I wrote about how I took one of the Thomas images, bought another of a man on a rearing horse from Canstock, and used one of my own landscape photos to put together something that won't even be out until the fall as a trailer for an historical romance. I did it now because I wanted the energy from it as I worked on the final editing for this book.

Now after watching that video, I am wondering do I need to get a real cover artist for the first of the Oregon historical novels that will appear next year. If my other books continue to sell, I might be able to save up enough... maybe.

Monday, July 30, 2012

books that just don't go over with readers

One of the books I have found most challenging to market is also one of the books that publishers likewise didn't know what to do with. As is the case with most of what I have written, I don't know what year I wrote Moon Dust. I don't remember what year I sent in the query and got back a-- send it to us.

I do remember, after reading it, that the editor wrote back that the story began way too harsh for a romance. You see, it opened with the hero as a small child and how he was hiding from someone who was going to abuse him if he was found. It's a scary moment even though it's not about what happens to him but the fear and helplessness. Reluctantly I redid it but had the memory still happen but as dream later on, maybe too harsh still as it came back with a rejection-- and no suggestions. Even if it had though, it wouldn't have helped. It's what the story is about.

Then and now I understood why it's had a hard go with readers. Moon Dust is about a tough subject-- the adult ramifications of sexual abuse. You don't learn until two-thirds through who the abuser was and that might prove even more traumatic to a reader.

Despite how it seems, this book is not about victimization. It's about victory-- but not victory without cost. It's about what people can do (20% or more of women and  at least 10% of men in our country) because for those who were molested, more are impacted by this through their relationships.

Before I wrote Moon Dust, I researched the topic of how this kind of crime impacts men. It seems to me given what has come out since that time with both priests and now that football coach, it's even more a pertinent story, but it simply doesn't attract romance readers, I guess. And the energy of this book is also that of a romance.

Anyway, I have done a new trailer for it as well as a new cover, one that I think is a lot more apropos for the story. The heroine starts out a woman with a lot of innocence but she cannot handle this marriage any longer,  not when she has no idea why her husband behaves as he does. She does a remake of herself, but she doesn't leave the question of this man she has loved so much and still wants but not in a damaged relationship which is leading to stress and ulcers.

 When I found the above cover at CanStock, I knew I had Susan as she so exactly depicts the feelings I wrote about for that woman and her appearance. I put it with a backdrop (which I might play with again) and we redid the cover with it.

I imagine there are other writers with the same issues where they know they have written a good story, but they also understand why readers want to avoid the topic which in this case is also about physical abuse involving three teen boys and how it is impacting their life decisions.

The story illustrates the danger in our world as well as how we can change others. Moon dust is also a fairy tale in the book, but it's about a truth in relationships and how we do help others. The fairy tale is how when we think something mystical will help, like prayer. We find the real help came through connection and sharing positive energies. It's not magic at all.

The book has a lot more to it than boy meets girl. Or even how a marriage can be healed when it's been broken. For most people though it won't get a chance, and I am not sure what I can do to give it that chance given the topic is a culturally tender issue.

One of those teen-age boys ends up the hero of a book eight years later-- Second Chance. Moon Dust would be a good beginning to it but Second Chance is the one that has found more readers maybe because the story is experienced through the world of wildlife rehabilitation.

Anyway marketing to me is often a mystery but I keep plugging away at it. What I will do is stay true to the stories as I have seen them, make changes when I see there is something I hadn't earlier gotten, but not sell out just to sell out.

Friday, July 27, 2012

animals are part of the story

There is not much that I like better than when a reader reminds me that I missed something. It's a real plus for writers to have those who are astute enough to catch such omissions. In this case, I got the word that when I did the trailer about inspiration for From Here to There, I had missed an important character.

That was sooooooooooo true, and I realized it was big enough to want to immediately correct the problem. Hobo, Amos's dog and a major part of ranch life is very much a part of the book.

He was inspired by a dog I had known years ago. He lived next door to us when our children were babies. Sometimes I'd go for a walk in the neighborhood, and Hobo would come with me which probably wasn't so great for leash laws, but he wasn't my dog and I hadn't invited him. He was intelligent, loving and very much the inspiration for the Hobo in From Here to There.

So I went looking for the right personality of dog on CanStock as I had no photos of Hobo from so many years before. When I found it, I redid the trailer as it was obvious it wasn't finished without him.

From where stories come

When you begin publishing your books, another element enters your world-- one beyond the story. It's even beyond the marketing as such. It's about why some books sell and some do not. It's what are you doing that worked or did not for readers.

There are a lot of places to find answers to that question. One, which I have been reading other writers discussing, is using a computer  to help organize your book. So basically there are certain known formulas that work. You pick one of them and then insert your own dialogue, actions and characters. The end result supposedly will be a computer-generated, with human help bestseller.

The very idea of approaching writing that way turns me off even if it worked. It would mean following a program instead of the story that had come to me. Approaching writing that way would take all the enjoyment from it-- best seller or not. It would deny the flow of my own work. I would have to force mine into what the computer had decided worked.

It might explain though why so many books today disappoint me. They do feel like they follow a formula whether the formula was learned from a class or a computer dictating it. To me, they are boring.

But maybe some could say the same thing about mine since I also have a certain amount of consistency in what I enjoy writing, certain elements that will be in any book of mine, but they are there because they are the stories that come to me and are emotionally satisfying-- not because a computer dictated them.

I began doing something a few weeks ago that more firmly convinced me I don't want that kind of computer help with plots or structure.

As I was fooling around with extended trailers, I began to think that there are a lot of images in my head that are part of how each of my books have come together. I don't particularly think of it at the time; but when I do, I recognize it for what it is.

My books haven't come out of some perfect structure. I haven't published non-fiction, but the fiction comes from experience which expands into imagination. It comes out of dreams. It comes out of visualizing these characters, and then coming across a face that fits them perfectly even though I had never seen that face before.

Below is one example of what I mean with the images that led to one of my books-- From Here to There.

The images don't all come from Montana where the story was set. They come from my own photos in various western states over a period of years, and they come from those I found online buying the license to use.

These images are not the plot. They are the essence. No computer can give them to me; and if I forced them into a computer generated formula, I think it'd suck out their energy. Maybe this is why I didn't end up trying to fit them into the boxes desired by traditional publishing. The books belong to the energy, not the formula. If a particular book proves to be unsuccessful with readers, well at least it remained true to itself.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

music and the trailer

Creating trailers is like any other art project-- the ideas never end for what might be done and how I can improve them. In this case it's the music that came along and gave me an option I had missed earlier to make this video closer to the feeling of the book. It came about by chance.

A friend was asking how to make JewelBeat work as she wants to add music to her own videos. As I was verbally trying to walk her through it, I thought it'd be easier if I was looking at music.  In the search box, I wrote Native American (something I thought I had done before but must not have) and came across some wonderful music which could be useful both for extended trailers, the short zippy ones, and slide shows of scenery when the terrain fits.

To me, music is a critical part of creating these trailers and finding the right notes is always a challenge. I think this one is it now. Other than the music, I changed nothing else. See what you think for Hidden Pearl--

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Philosophy and character development

When a writer knows the philosophy of a character-- from hero to villain, writing their dialogue and action becomes easier. If the character is a person without a star, that also is a life philosophy and enables them to be loose cannons with no idea what will come next.

Sometimes as the writer we know more about the character's philosophy than they do. Okay basically we pretty much always know more if we developed a full character. We know the places they lie to themselves and those where they won't want to admit to anybody their truth.

Fully knowing a character does require knowing their philosophy of life. This is probably as true or more so for villains especially if the villain is a character throughout the story. If a book has only a place holding villain as an opportunity for the hero/heroine to show their stuff, then the writer might feel they don't need to know much about why the attack/s happened. I think it still matters as otherwise it isn't a real villain attack, it's an author attack.

There isn't much I enjoy writing more than villains and I sometimes give them their own point of view because it's fun to write their motivations as they plot and the reader gets a chance to know why they've done what they did. Other times I let them show their character and philosophy only through their dialogue with the main characters.

From Evening Star is an example of one of my villains and how in one scene he shows a lot of his life philosophy by actions and dialogue. I decided to use his point of view in this book because the only other POV was that of the heroine and I wanted something that took the reader more into the danger of the situation.
Gus leaned against the table, his mind on the football game he'd just switched off and the five hundred bucks he'd won on its outcome. His hands toyed with a length of rope, twisting it into a knot, pulling one end, and watching as the knot pulled free.

He looked up when the two men, one small and quick, the other tall and handsome, came through the door. "About time you two got back," Gus said with a grin. "You get it?"

BrotherRat set a package on the table as he sat on a chair at the table. The other man leaned one broad shoulder against the door jamb.

 "You guys have any trouble?" Gus asked, opening the package and assuring himself that everything was in order.

BrotherRat said, "It was a piece of cake. If I hadn't seen it for myself, I'd never have believed how smooth it could go down."

Gus rubbed his beefy neck thoughtfully. He glanced toward the sullenly handsome man, who was moodily staring into space. "You don't look so pleased as Rat here, PrettyBoy."

"I told you I don't like being called that."

"Too bad," Gus said with a chuckle. "I name all my boys. It's safer that way. So, PrettyBoy, what else is wrong?"

"We took a lot of risk for nothing, so far as I can see." He gestured toward the box. "What's that? A couple of hundred G's." He reached into his shirt pocket for a cigarette, lit it, and took a deep draw, exhaling the smoke. "We go to the slammer for that kind of money, and I say we're fools."

"You got a brain, PrettyBoy," Gus said with a laugh. "I like that. But don't worry about going to the Big House. Who says it's the problem?" He shaped his rope into a noose.

Gus played with the rope watching as the younger man paced to the other end of the room, his body as streamlined as an alley cat, his face when he turned that of an angel--in this case, Gus grinned, more likely a dark angel. Gus liked pretty things around him. It was one of the things that had caused him to take the risk of bringing in a stranger based on someone else’s say. One of these days he’d show PrettyBoy some games he might like, or if he didn’t, well that would be even better. He grinned with anticipation.
You know a lot about Gus's philosophy of life after that brief piece of text. More will be shown each time he appears dealing with his gang. He's shallow, pleasure oriented, no patience, and only really cares about himself. He trusts no one very much and enjoys inflicting discomfort on others.

If someone told him he had a virtue, he'd laugh at them. Gus lives for pleasure and gain-- for himself. Anyone else who counts on him is a fool, and he'd laugh at them too. The thing about Gus is-- he knows all of this about himself and is fine with it.

He would never put a name to his philosophy of life; but if the author felt compelled to do so, she'd call it egotistical hedonism on the shallowest most base level. He's a sadist and psychopath which means no concern for rules-- only his own benefit. If he wasn't so smart, he'd be less dangerous. If he didn't operate so much on that base level, it would be harder to beat him.

Someone like Gus is easier to identify than like minded sorts who have risen up the social ranks and can hide their nature more effectively while they operate just as ruthlessly.

Since I don't have an image for Gus, I used one of the author who created him.  She doesn't look nearly as ruthless as he does-- unless, of course, she's one of those who has learned to hide her ruthlessness. You never know, do you...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Philosophy and Fiction

phi·los·o·phy  (f-ls-f)
n. pl. phi·los·o·phies
1. Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline.
2. Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods.
3. A system of thought based on or involving such inquiry: the philosophy of Hume.
4. The critical analysis of fundamental assumptions or beliefs.
5. The disciplines presented in university curriculums of science and the liberal arts, except medicine, law, and theology.
6. The discipline comprising logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology.
7. A set of ideas or beliefs relating to a particular field or activity; an underlying theory: an original philosophy of advertising.
8. A system of values by which one lives: has an unusual philosophy of life.

Although I have read a lot of books (and enjoyed them) with no clear philosophy of life in their plots, it's not what I like to write. Philosophy has been a major interest of mine from as far back as I can remember. Why do we do what we do? What would be better? If we follow this path, where will it lead?

Even an action story, like Luck of the Draw which is set into the world of rodeo, has a philosophy of life within its pages.  When men and women live life on the edge, might they not more than others, stop sometimes to consider what makes it worthwhile? Well, not all of them and that's why a book has different characters to juxtaposition ideas with how they are lived.

Frankly I'd find it boring to write any other way. Sure a writer can put together a plot with some characters, have this and that happen, but in the end-- why?

Well there is make money as a possible goal but that wouldn't be rewarding enough for me. No, what I like to do is come up with a plot that interests me, set of problems, intriguing characters, good love story, but put within ideas regarding life and how we benefit (or not) from certain actions. The problems in that story will determine the themes of the philosophy.

This doesn't have to come out like a lecture. It just requires a few characters that think about more than making money, physically surviving, having sex, or finding adventure. IF the characters are also looking for meaning in their own lives then it's not hard to find places to put that into the book.

It's not only not hard but it's extremely rewarding as a way of writing. Now whether it finds readers, well that's a whole other problem. For me, philosophy belongs in good fiction.

Excerpt from Luck of the Draw:
She remembered then a quote by Tagore, one she’d memorized. ‘Let my love like sunlight surround you and yet give you illumined freedom.’  The words fit this situation for what it’d be like if she loved Billy.
With some man, someday, she’d learn to love that way. Love but don’t hold too tight. Even if she had thought she loved Billy, he’d not have wanted such words from her, not now. She would though share it with Jean someday that she knew she had been right. Jean might blame herself for the accident, but she would be wrong to do so. Nick had made his own choice.
If she had loved Billy, she wouldn’t let her love box him in, try to change him into something he wasn’t. She would not let love do that to her either. This wasn’t the right time for such words to Jean or Billy. It was how she wanted to live, but the knowledge was new to her. She had to live with it for awhile to be sure she could really follow that road.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Benefits from creating book trailers

Doing trailers is a lovely break from words as well as causing me to think more deeply about the physicality of the characters and their world. Whether they sell books, who knows, but they enrich my own experience in the books. We won't go into their addictive quality of making me want to buy more stock images. I want them all! I am just lucky that mostly I have all the background photos my stories could need after a lifetime of photography as a hobby-- also that I determined in the beginning to only use dollars the books have made.

For the first time, before I started the hard work of editing, I began a trailer for the historic book I plan to put out in the fall. Working with the images of the characters at this point has added dimensions I hadn't expected. It makes me think more about the physical reality these people faced (heroes, secondary players and villains) and provides grace notes to add to the story when I seriously go back into it.

My trip to the region where it's set was part of that enhancement as I heard the sounds, felt the land all over again in a fresh way from which the book is benefiting. Even though I haven't begun editing, you'd be amazed, if you don't write, how much happens in a writer's head before they sit down at the keyboard.

What wasn't in the land or my photos were the characters, and it's what I can put there through stock images. It's like bringing my words alive, but it takes time and research to find images, then alter them to be able to use.

Photos that show still action from a book simply don't exist in the stock image world except for writers who have made mega bucks and can hire actors. For indie writers, you find pieces of it. Once in awhile, you get very very lucky and find the background and model where it's perfect as it is.

There have been complaints that so many times the model on many romance covers is the same person. Writers worry about it -- trying to find different models but can't readers do what film viewers do--imagine this as a movie star playing different roles?

The story might be about real people, but the role could be played by Matt Damon or Ben Affleck. Then they go out and play two other characters in different movies. Viewers can adjust to that so why can't readers where it comes to covers or trailers?

When I find a stock model who doesn't quite fit my characters but is close, I purchase the image but then use photo tools to alter the faces just enough. I want them to 'feel' right, but if they look exactly as I imagined that character, I consider myself lucky.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A partnership of images and words

The week-end pretty well dissolved into taking it easy but with a big emphasis on the trailer for a book I am not supposed to be editing but am beginning to nibble at. I have mostly decided it will go onto Kindle but not until fall.

I am really enjoying looking again at this historic romance set in Southern Arizona of 1883, a year after the fight at the OK Corral; but I hope I can leave the writing alone for the summer. I think everyone needs to do a variety of things and for over a year, writing has been most of what I have been doing.

Is it really taking a break when I work on the images? It takes a lot of time but doesn't feel like work. Since I love the area so much, love these characters, (not to mention like playing with images a LOT), I love doing it. I don't know if I'd enjoy it as much for someone else's book because this is like doing it for my own children.

The image above is one of those I created for an extended trailer; but it is not the trailer I will make public. And much as I like this one is, it won't be in the extended trailer either.

Before I have discussed how an image like the one above comes together. I might have new readers since then and because I am particularly happy with this one (one of the best I've done not to mention more complicated), I thought I'd go into the way it happens.

With two minutes to play instead of one, I knew one addition I wanted-- a spirited black stallion. The hero's horse is almost a secondary character in the book. I found the right horse and pose with a man on it. Wow-- but not the right man. A very nice looking man but not the hero of this story. I could have just cloned him out of it leaving a rearing stallion, but as I purchased it, I already had another idea.

Because I already had several planned images for the hero, I looked for another that could be adjusted to sit on this horse. There it was-- Eureka! Actually I didn't say that. I just paid me money, took the image and began to adjust it a bit to be the right angle for how that rider had sat on the horse. (This would be so much easier if I ever learned how to do layers...)

Now I had spirited man and horse but wanted background. Here's where my recent trip to Southern Arizona paid off. One of the sets of photos I had wanted was in those desert washes with the big trees. One of them worked beautifully.

Lovely image but wrong setting for the ranch yard where I felt this really should be placed. That meant I had to set that horse and man into yet a different background, create the feel of early summer on the land and beyond his ranch. It is the one that will be in the extended trailer.

I don't consider the one above to be a loss, not just because of its beauty, but by cropping it could someday be a cover if I come up with the right project. I could also see painting it for a landscape if I ever actually do some painting this summer. No reproductions though. My licensing rights don't extend to that (the owner of those rights is no dummy).

What I am thinking now for the future books (assuming the other three go to Kindle), which will be historic, is they will come with the link at the end to extended trailers like this one will be, available only to purchasers of the book with the suggestion that they view it after they have read the book. Afterward it wouldn't ruin the story and would be an enhancement of the experience as the trailer brings to life the energy of the story, the land, and these people.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What If and If what

 When writing a story where there is some kind of dilemma, there are two ways to look at it-- what if-- or if what? It might seem they say the same thing but they do not and how a character approaches problem solving will be part of how the reader goes along sympathetically and with interest or gets turned off totally. Let's put it another way-- it's when I get turned off.

To expand my meaning a bit further-- What if we did this? Or if what happened hadn't happened...

It's easier  with a few more words to see the issue of how there are two ways of looking at any situation. If only it hadn't happened gets us nowhere, because it did. How can we use it, that is what moves us forward. It's hard not to do an 'if what' now and then. Characters aren't perfect either and basically should have the same flaws the rest of us have. Although if they truly did, why did we bother reading their stories?

If a character is consistently looking backward, I think the reader quickly gets bored with them. Secondary characters might do this to form a counterpoint but the main character? Not so much.

So you have a hero such as where I am currently editing on his story and he knows he had a bum deal when they passed out parents. Born to a whore in a brothel, with no idea who his father might've been as there were many possibilities, then his mother dies of tuberculosis when he's still a small child. The whores weren't the golden angels of the history books or fiction. They were as cruel as they had been treated (more like those who have been downtrodden hence tread on others).

Take this hero, who is an adult when the story begins, and have him spend the rest of the book whining over his tough lot in life and tell me how well the story would go? How well would his life?

The truth is how you see those two words-- what if and if what-- will determine a lot of how you see solutions to life. What if I did this and then that would improve things looks forward. Or if what happened, had not, I'd be a different person.

I'm not one who looks back a lot in life (not on the good or the bad), and I don't want to spend a book writing about a character who does. I know of famous books where the main character does exactly that, is terrible and you hate that person all the way through the book-- if you bother to finish it. No way am I going to spend the months it takes to write a book (years even) with that kind of person. I have a life also that I want to make good.

When I write about a hero and heroine, they might start with flaws, but they are going to work on them as it's what I think life should be about. Move forward and change what needs to be changed. Whining is only good for the first day (okay, sometimes longer), but after that, the emotionally healthy person starts thinking-- what if I did this or that? How can I change this? So does a healthy character.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Taking a break-- or not

Although I said with my ten contemporary romances now on Kindle that I would take a break from writing/editing fiction until the fall, I can't seem to leave it alone-- addiction apparently. I did resist taking my computer on a recent family outing, but my mind went to the writing whenever there wasn't something going on. My thinking is not on the ones out there. I'm happy with where they are right now, but those set in the 1800s where I am not yet decided whether to publish online.

The one with which I am most emotionally involved right now was set in Arizona 1883 between Tucson and Tombstone. I wrote it probably twenty years ago (although I am guessing as I would have to do for the beginnings of most of these stories). As I have begun looking at it actually it's in good shape without seemingly any big editing job ahead.

Although I just said that, it seems no matter how many times I do these books, I always miss something, but it's usually minor these days. In the case of this book, it looks as though it will mean tweaking the way a sentence is put together more than its meaning.

What I also have been doing is beginning to create a trailer, a process which I already admitted has proven to be addictive. When I was in Arizona last trip I  collected quite a few images I knew I'd need; so I have most background stills. Now it's been looking through the photos I have purchased for ones I can change to meet the need of the heroine and her transitions as well as finding new ones for the hero.

As I visualize several secondary characters I am trying to decide if any should be in a trailer.  It's pretty unusual for me to use them in trailers that are 60 seconds. Then it's looking for main characters, their primary motivations and the setting of the story as 12 or 13 images are about all I can use. Doing the longer trailers are more rewarding in terms of story-telling but also evidently far less popular  when the project is aimed at selling the book to potential readers.

It's surprising me how much help doing a trailer can be to the writing especially for something like this where I am beginning the trailer before I get into serious editing. It gives me a visual reality to the characters and story; and in this case getting me back in sync with what was happening. I think this will help me be sure the plot and people hold together when I do begin the serious editing.

I should wait for the fall. If the weather continues as good as it is, I might because plein air painting will be more appealing. To add to it, I still haven't decided whether I even want to publish it online. This is one story that never saw a publishing house. I wrote it simply because I loved the story and characters, loved the setting and that was enough. Now, I am not sure...

Incidentally-- summer seems to be going way too fast. Of course, in my neck of the woods, it just began.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hidden Pearl-- free today and tomorrow

This business of giving away books is more nuanced than it might seem. On the one hand, Amazon simply doesn't have a way to show books that don't sell. Selling isn't giving away; but if you give away books, they are seen, which leads to selling. No giving away means the books go farther and farther into the darkest corners of Amazon. I have mixed feelings for how I feel about giveaways.

A big negative side for me is what about readers who just bought the book? It makes me feel like when I have gone into a store, bought something at full price and a week later, it's half that price. I don't like it. I don't like it for those readers and it's no wonder if a lot of readers hold off buying anything for that thinking-- it's bound to be on soon.

But if I do no free days, have no give aways with good ratings for how many are taken, it hurts the chance my books will to be seen by anybody who might buy them after the giveaway is over. These times always improve sales after they are finished and do bring the ratings closer to a place where an ordinary reader might stumble across the books-- at least if they do a search for their general category.

There is a satisfaction in the giveaways in knowing 10,000 readers (guessing at the numbers as I haven't actually tallied it up but about that) have the books to read and if they ever get around to reading them (who knows how many read books they are given?), it might mean they look at others I have written and buy one of those.

Four of my books we are taking out of Select (still at Kindle for sales) with no give aways possible. That is being done so they can be put into other media such as Kobo, Barnes and Noble and wherever else we can figure out. But that leaves six than can be given away.

For today and tomorrow one will be Hidden Pearl.  It seemed a good time for it with its new cover.

I like this book and hope some of you, who haven't already read it, will give it a try while it's free. It's a story of a search for a missing person but ends up being a search for a self and what really has value-- hence the title. Things of value aren't always easy to see, find or keep.

It is all set in Oregon mostly between Portland and the Umpqua country to the south in both the big city environment (well, it's big to us), and that of the backcountry as well as inside a cult that is on the rise.

The information I put into this book regarding the cult comes out of research but not having actually been in one myself (I have been in religions though and the motivations can be somewhat the same). Oregon had a rather famous cult some years back which became quite unpopular which led to it striking out against others and eventually leaving the state. There are other cults that stay quiet and are little known.

What interested me was what makes them succeed, what might be the motivation of their leaders, and what are people hoping to find who join one? Exploring that kind of question seemed like a good place to set a romance of two people not in the cult but investigating it for different reasons.

The cult itself in Hidden Pearl is totally fictional-- not about any real cults now or in the past and set in area I have no reason to think ever had a real cult. The title Hidden Pearl comes from the idea that I believe people join such looking for that of great value. Perhaps some find it and later the cult becomes a successful religion... Who is to know? ;)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The do, re-do, and do again

Probably everybody knows this can be an issue with painting-- just can't call it done. I recognized it could happen with books as you keep seeing something you missed in an earlier editing. What I didn't know is how powerful that urge can be where it comes to creating covers for novels.

Writers in the past (or those today coming through a major publishing house) never had this issue. A publishing house decided on the cover, and I guess the more powerful authors get/got a thumbs up or down but less well known pretty well took what was offered. Not to mention they would assume the publishers knew best.

Well with indie writers, you either create your own or buy someone else's skills who you trust to know how to do graphic art and find the heart of your book. Even then it is your say so whether the cover is the right one-- although if you paid for one you hated, there might be incentive to stick with it.

From the beginning I knew I'd want to do my own covers because I am an artist and after all isn't that what a cover is all about? I had been doing digital painting for several years; so I thought I could pull it off.

Turned out the readers didn't like what they perceived as amateur paintings which I guess is anything a graphics artist didn't create. I liked my original ideas. I liked the ones that came next, but I will say that as I found pressure to create different covers, I saw more pluses to doing it.

When you create a cover, you have to think of the essence of your book. You are looking for one image to say it all. That's not easy, but it does add to your grasp of what your book is all about.

For fun I thought I'd post here from the various lifetimes of one book cover-- Hidden Pearl. As I thought more about what image really would say it all, I stayed actually fairly close to my original concept but with a more polished twist to it. I should add here that my publisher (also my husband) always critiques and gives suggestions and additions to these covers. I think everyone needs some second thoughts from outside their own head.

If someday I became a well-known, best selling author (I won't hold my breath), I could put up any covers I liked and who knows what they'd be. As a beginning, independent author,  I have to stick to what I believe the reader wants. Marketing is the only way a book is ever seen by anybody who might love it-- if they found it.

The first two are my own digital paintings. Second two come out of stock photo site and my own photographs. The object in all of these was to show a very important location in the book. It's where not only the couple come together but also where the hero finally comes to peace with who he is. Nature and love are key points and in different ways, I think each image shows some of that.

I am actually happiest with the last one-- but I guess I always think that. Since this is one of my plot driven books with the romance important but not the main point of the book, it seems this kind of setting and dress suits the energy of the story. Also this couple look very much as I imagined them looking when I wrote them.

Hidden Pearl explores the question of what is really most important in life, what is it that we will die and even more importantly live for? Many are ready to tell us the answer to that-- most strongly cults. But how do we find it for ourselves?

There is also a trailer for this story which is on Rainy Day Trailers.