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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Writing a Book Review


Last weekend our group blog talked about reviews and how difficult it was to get people to write them. I think that’s one of the reasons it’s hard to get reviews for our books.
Right after that I was sent a link to this article by Daisy Hartwell. I thought you might be interested in it.

Writing a book review is not as hard as it might seem at a glance. Students often confuse this assignment with summary writing. This is the first and the most common mistake you should not make. Summary is not an objective critique or review.
Writing a book review requires attention and patience, for you will need to read a book first and then make some serious points on what you think about it. This is called a book review.
It seems to be simple to write book reviews if the book you are going to work with is your favorite one or you can read faster than anybody else. However, it might seem very frustrating to complete such an assignment if the book is three hundred pages long and you have neither time nor desire to read it by the deadline and do considerable review.
Unfortunately, there is no way out here except ordering a custom review from a reliable online writing company or simply fail your assignment. Therefore, think beforehand and read the tips presented below to get a simple structural plan of how you should prepare book reviews.
·         Before you start working on this assignment, you might want to write down some points you are going to lay out in your book review. Remember, the book you are reviewing was written by the author for you to read it and get your own impression of this piece of art, not plain criticizing and such annoying rhetoric questions’ posing as: “Why would anyone call the sunset bloody...?”
·         While writing your future masterpiece, deserving an A+, imagine that you are telling a story to your friend about this book.
·         Important: The title of the book and the author’s name have to be mentioned in the first paragraph. This is really frustrating to read a book review not even knowing the title of the great book!
·         Using separate paragraphs for each point you want to make will emphasize the ideas stated.
·         Try to reveal the book’s theme in the beginning of your review. Thus, you will introduce the readers to what they are getting into.
·         Write about your likes or dislikes. Did you enjoy the writing style? What stylistic devices did you like? Did it grab your attention till the very end?
·         No doubt, using some quotes from the book will make your points more supported and vivid. This is not necessary, though it might help your reader get the author’s style.
·         Make sure your book review is not a plain retelling. It should contain your personal opinion, the way you feel about the book. It should persuade the reader to share your viewpoint: to read the book or avoid reading it.
·         Carry out research on the author and his/her biography. It will help you understand the author’s opinion better. Knowing personal information, you will be able to make conclusions on what exactly pushed the writer to create such a book with this very content.

The article also discusses how to write a movie review. You can check the whole article out at https://custom-writing.org/book-review

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kayelle Allen Talks About Covers


This week we’re going to find out a little about author Kayelle Allen. April‘s theme is ‘Covers’ so Kayelle will be talking about book covers. She’ll also tell us a little about herself and her writing, and answer some fun questions.
And I'd like to apologize to Kayelle, because I messed up a couple of her answers in the middle of this blog. But they are fixed now.
Kayelle Allen is a best-selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr. She writes Science Fiction, Science Fiction Romance, Mainstream Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance, Gay Romance, and non-fiction. She is a current nominee for the 2016 Ariana Cover Art Award, the winner of the 2010 EPIC award for Science Fiction and the 2008 Honorable Mention for Science Fiction Fantasy. Kayelle likes to attend Science Fiction conventions and has been a speaker at DragonCon, GaylaxiCon and NerdaCon. She holds an honorary lifetime membership to OutlantaCon, an Atlanta Scifi convention where she is often a panelist. Kayelle is the founder of the author-mentoring group Marketing for Romance Writers and manages the successful Romance Lives Forever blog, where readers can meet authors and find new books every day.

Beverley: How important are book covers in marketing your books?
Kayelle: I consider them vital. If a cover can induce someone to click it or pick up the book, then the blurb and a few pages of the story will do the rest
Beverley: What elements are important in the design of a cover?
Kayelle:  They must be clear and easy to read in thumbnail size, have a large font for the title and/or author name, and should fit the genre. I once saw a cover that had an old west style six-shooter and leather holster, but when you looked at the blurb, the story was set in outer space. It always wondered if there was a western novel somewhere with a spaceship on it. At first glance you should know the genre, author, and title. If those three things are obvious, then the rest is easy to manage.
Beverley: What don’t you like on covers?
Kayelle:  I'm not a fan of covers with 3D CGI people on them, especially ones that have faces with no expression. If the book has a cheap cover then I wonder what the writing inside the book must be like.
Beverley: If you self-pub, do you design your own cover or hire someone? Which ever you do, why did you go this route?
Kayelle:  I am self published and have the rights to all my books. Since I have training in graphic design, I create my own covers. I have done cover design for small press publishers and my private clients. When I'm working on a book, I create the cover first. I'm a visual person and having that cover helps me gel the story. I think a picture is worth far more than a thousand words.
Beverley: Is there a difference between an e-book and a paperback cover? If yes, what is it?
Kayelle:  An eBook cover only needs a front. A paperback needs the front, back and spine.
Beverley: Tell us about the cover of your latest book.
Kayelle:  It's science fiction set in the far future and opens on a space station in a section of the galaxy called The Colonies of Man. I wanted plenty of blue to contrast the bright red of the title. The words "Bringer of Chaos" are in a font called Sabotage. It's jagged, raw, and spattered -- and perfectly matches the personality of the hero, Pietas. I purposely wrote the title sideways and out of alignment to emphasis the chaotic nature of the hero as well.
Beverley: How long have you been writing?
Kayelle: Since I could hold a crayon. But professionally, for thirteen years.Beverley: What genre do you write in and why?
Kayelle:  I write in several, including science fiction, science fiction romance, mainstream fantasy, contemporary romance, holiday romance, gay romance, and non-fiction. I have varied interests and if a story appeals to me, I want to pursue it. I've never believed in limits when it comes to writing.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Kayelle:  My mother was a writer and though she had only one poem published, she wrote many stories. I always thought it would be cool to do that. In high school, a literature teacher opened the door to writing by revealing how various writers pulled us into their stories. I was fascinated by that. But it was books by Anne Rice, Mary Renault, and Heather Gladney that propelled me into the business. I loved their books and wanted to write like they did. I studied everything they wrote, trying to understand how they made me see, feel, taste, hear and smell their worlds.
Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?
Kayelle:  I was told when I was in my forties that I'd never be published because I was too old. It took me a while to overcome that and try, but my first book came out at fifty-three. I'm in my mid sixties now and have thirteen books and several short stories. I'm producing work all the time. If I had to write all the stories I have plans for before I die, I would live forever.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Kayelle:  Music, movies, a drive, walking in the park, talking to other writers... I am a creative person and have no shortage of ideas. I can get a spark of excitement from anything.
Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?
Kayelle:  Criticism. Not critiques - negative criticism. I think most writers are this way. You get a bad review and it throws you off. I have to let myself deal with the negativity for a bit before I can get back up and move forward. But I do move forward.
Beverley: What do you have for breakfast?
Kayelle:  Nearly every day, I have a glass of low fat milk, a banana, and a dark chocolate almond Zone Perfect bar. Once a week I have something like eggs and grits, or I go out for breakfast with a friend. Bacon, egg and cheese biscuits are my favourite. I don't like to change my routine for breakfast because I write when I first get up. I don't want to waste time or energy trying to make a decision what to eat. I can grab these and go.
Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?
Kayelle:  Comfy clothes. Usually a T-shirt and pants. I seriously do not own a dress. There is not a single one in my closet and I have no immediate plans to buy one. I am not a girly-girl. I don't wear earrings or much in the way of jewellery. I don't take off my single gold band wedding ring (no stones in it). When I pack for a trip it's quick and easy.
Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?
Kayelle:  At my desktop computer. I have a tablet and Smartphone and I keep notepaper near me, but the PC is my favourite input tool.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Kayelle:  I will laugh myself sick watching the Roadrunner cartoons. I used to watch them with my father as a girl and I think that's where my love for them started.
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Kayelle:  That's very tough. Houston Havens is one of my closest friends. She lives in Florida and we talk almost every day by phone or Skype, but we've never met in person. I've designed multiple covers for her books and dozens of promotional banners. I'd dearly love to sit down and talk to her face to face and give her a huge hug. Now if you were wanting me to name a celebrity, it would be Lee Pace who played Elven King Thranduil in the Hobbit films and portrays Joe McMillan in Halt and Catch Fire. I'd love to see him as my character Pietas. He'd be perfect and I know Lee would do him justice.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Kayelle:  I should probably say rest because I tend to be busy all the time, but if I could do anything I wanted I would most likely write.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Kayelle: I'm writing the sequel to Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas. This book is Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire and picks up where the previous book ended. Both books have been cathartic for me. Pietas was the villain in most of my other books. When I was trying to write one in particular, I kept doing rewrite after rewrite. I didn't understand the motive for Pietas. So I decided to write an origin book and use what I already knew about him to put it together. He was more complex than I ever expected! I've spent the last two years getting to know him. Surprisingly, he isn't a villain at all. He's working in a behind the scenes way to create a catalyst that will change everything in my story universe. I had written all the clues already but hadn't put them together. Odd, how the writer sometimes is the last to know! But true.
This series is science fiction, set hundreds of years from now. My other series features the same immortal characters and is set thousands of years in future.

Blurb for Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas
The immortal Pietas leads the fight against his people's oppressors: humans. To end the war and save his kind, he agrees to exile. But when he submits, he's betrayed and imprisoned within an unpowered lifepod. His unlikely ally is Six, a human. Though Six captured Pietas, he had no part in his betrayal. Together, they must cross an alien world and find the other Ultras. That is, if they can overcome their desire to kill one another...

Blurb for Forged in Fire
A step beyond human, the Ultra known as Pietas inspired fear in humanity, but his scientist side instilled terror. Detractors among his kind betrayed him and humans isolated him and half a million of his followers on an alien world. Left without food, shelter, or a means of escape, death would be imminent for anyone else, but no matter how many times Ultras die, they come back. On the planet Sempervia, with its lack of resources, death will not be a mercy. Immortality breeds endurance and a good soldier is endurance made flesh. But how much pain can a soldier--even an immortal one--endure?

Buy Links:
You can find all of them on my books page. https://kayelleallen.com/books/

You can find Kayelle at:
Homeworld/Blog https://kayelleallen.com
Kayelle's Books https://bit.ly/kayelle-books
Twitter https://twitter.com/kayelleallen
Facebook https://facebook.com/kayelleallen.author
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Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview and next week we’re talking about Heroine’s.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Different Covers, Different Countries


This month we’ve been posting on covers – designing, blurbs and critiques. Today I thought I’d look at covers from different countries.
At RWA I attended a workshop on covers by an author from England. Her focus was the difference in covers in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and some European countries as compared to those in the US. She said that in comparison the UK covers are more subtle – no bare-chested, sexy men.

In the UK they usually didn’t show actual people, or if they did it didn’t usually show their head. Or they use very small images. The reason is that people use their own imagination when reading a book and fill in how they see the person. The colors are usually softer; blues, pinks, pale yellows, not bright, vibrant covers. Lots of scenery backgrounds; lakes, meadows, hills.
My book ‘Targeted’ had recently been released and I thought it might not sell in other countries because of the design. So I had a second cover designed for the UK, Australia and New Zealand. I’m not sure it made a difference.

What about your covers? Do you cover designs affect your sales in other countries besides the US and Canada?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reviews - Love 'em or Hate 'em

Victoria suggested this month’s topic. Reviews - Love 'em, hate 'em or totally ignore them. Amazon tells us the more 4 or 5 reviews the merrier, but how to get them?

When I read the topic I sighed. I’m one who totally ignores them, both as a writer and a reader. As a reader I don’t find them helpful. It’s one person’s opinion – or two peoples. I’ve read books with horrible reviews because I know the author and loved the books. I’ve read books by popular authors with great reviews and hated them. So I ignore reviews of books. When I’m looking at buying or reading, I check out the author, the cover, the blurb and maybe a short excerpt. 

When it comes to my writing and books, I did try and get reviews when I first published. The small publishing companies expected you to get and publish your own reviews. I spent a lot of time trying to find reviews and get people who read my books to write a review. It took away from my writing and at that time it didn’t make a lot of difference to my sales. Today, I write, I have it critiqued and I critique other authors. I have it edited. I have a cover artist and a formatter.  I’ve read about Amazon and it’s not 4 or 5 reviews, people are trying to get hundreds. I don’t know how to do that and I don’t think I want to learn.  I am looking at doing more advertising and promoting this year. I think that will do more for sales than reviews.
So I hate reviews and I ignore them. I look forward to reading what the authors have to say.  Off to check them out. Hope you will, too.

And I’d love to hear what you think of reviews from a reading or writing perspective.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cailin Briste on Bookcovers


This week we’re going to find out a little about author Cailin Briste. April‘s theme is ‘Covers’ so Cailin will be talking about book covers. She’ll also tell us a little about herself and her writing, and answer some fun questions.
Cailin has been writing fiction for five years and non-fiction for two decades. Her non-fiction work has been published in magazines and in a non-fiction anthology. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, the RWA Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter, and the RWA Passionate Ink Chapter.
Cailin likes to flip convention on its head, creating a universe in which each planet is a study in different what ifs. What would happen to alpha men on a matriarchal planet where the women are not Dommes in the strictest sense but certainly have the attitude down pat? How would society handle it if girls born on their new planet developed empathic senses? Cailin throws her characters into these settings, heroes and heroines whose kink is a major defining attribute of their personality.
 

 
Beverley: How important are book covers in marketing your books?
Cailin: A good cover is vital to catch the eye of prospective readers and to give an idea of what the book is about. I’ve written two sci-fi romances with marshal in the title. It’s important that the covers convey that the books are not westerns.
Beverley: What elements are important in the design of a cover?
Cailin: Every cover should have an attention-grabbing image and easily read title and author text.
Beverley: What don’t you like on covers?
Cailin: Two of my dislikes are Images that misrepresent what the book is about or that are repetitive of similar titles within a genre. Similar in a series is fine.
Beverley: If you self-pub, do you design your own cover or hire someone? Which ever you do, why did you go this route?
Cailin:  I have designed covers for my free short stories and one novel I intended to self publish.
Beverley: Is there a difference between an e-book and a paperback cover? If yes, what is it?
Cailin: A paper back cover requires the spine and back cover, which allows more room for blurbs.
Beverley: Tell us about the cover of your latest book.
Cailin: My latest book, Maon: Marshal of Tallav was designed by April Martinez at Loose Id. Loose Id has a process of providing information to the artist who then creates a cover from that info. The author can express her opinion and request changes. Whether those changes occur is up to the Loose Id editor who makes the final decision.
Beverley: How long have you been writing?
Cailin: I’ve been writing for many years, but only began writing fiction in the last five.
Beverley: What genre do you write in and why?
Cailin: I write sci-fi erotic romance, but will soon be branching out into contemporary romance. I’ve been a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy for most of my life. It’s the what ifs that I love. I’ve had a sci-fi trilogy rattling around in my brain for a long time, but getting down to writing it was daunting. I stumbled into writing romance by first becoming a romance reader. Thank you free Kindle eBooks! Romance novels are shorter and not so convoluted and seemed less intimidating. I didn’t know if there was much of a market for sci-fi romance, but that’s the kind of story I wanted to tell.
The contemporary romance I’m plotting began from something that happened in real life. It was too good to pass up. We’ll see if I can make it happen.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Cailin: My biggest influences came from the many writers who wrote books I fell in love with. I’m one of those people who perennially says, “I can do that.” Not that I thought I could write at the same gifted level, but I believed I could learn.
Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?
Cailin: Time spent in the seat writing is an absolute necessity, but it’s also the hardest thing to establish doing on a regular basis. If you never write, you’ll never publish a book. I also had to give myself time to learn as I wrote rather than decide on a specific date when I would complete my first draft.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Cailin: Images are a very effective way to prompt the writing muse. When I see a particularly expressive cover, I often find myself imagining the story behind that image. But the actual writing requires more. Some days I have to sit down and hammer out a really dreadful sentence or two before something clicks inside and the words start to flow. I’ve spent entire writing periods dredging up what I thought was sludge only to discover it wasn’t so bad. The bones of a scene were there. Revision would give it the snap it needed.
Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?
Cailin: Brain slump. This happens when I’ve worked for several hours or when I’m hungry. Or in pain. Or interrupted. It seems there are quite a few things that stop my muse.
Beverley: What do you have for breakfast?
Cailin: Cottage cheese or a chocolate Muscle Milk Light protein shake. When they’re available, I eat donuts.
Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?
Cailin: Most days my pajamas until about noon. I usually get dressed by then, but definitely before my husband gets home. He likes to make a big deal about me sleeping in all day.
Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?
Cailin: I write at my cluttered desk on a Dell Touch PC with a 27-inch screen. Ginormous, I know, but I have vision problems.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Cailin: I was in love with Aquaman when I was little. So handsome! And he could swim underwater for a long, long time.
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Cailin: I’m something of an introvert, so I’d rather admire from afar rather than meet in person any of my heroes. But having said that, I would love to have a nice long chat with Queen Elizabeth II. A girl chat where we could talk about her life, her kids, grandkids, and great grand kids, and her memorable moments.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Cailin: The same thing I do every day. I don’t have an outside job. I write because I enjoy it. If my husband has the day off too, I’ll do whatever he wants to do. I’m an easy and a cheap date.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Cailin: I have a novella, It Takes a Cat Burglar, releasing May 7 on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited. A wealthy businessman and cat burglar trains a woman to become his partner in the most important break-in of his life. Falling in love wasn’t supposed to be part of the bargain, not with his sister’s happiness at stake.
My novel-in-progress is the third book in the Sons of Tallav series. This book will be about the third member of a group of best friends. Randolph, or Rand for short, is a sadist who is beginning to feel dissatisfied with life as the owner of a BDSM club. I’m putting him through a host of problems including the murder of his sister before he finds the happily ever after he never knew he needed.

Blurb for Maon: Marshal of Tallav Book

Maon Keefe has always been told he’s doomed to fail as a husband. He decides never to marry instead focusing on living life as a player and becoming a capable marshal of Tallav. When he is shot and the most-wanted criminal he’s escorting escapes, he fears that his career, his one success in life, is doomed. Assigned to ferret out the cause of missing shipments for a VIP aristocrat, he meets Selina Shirley CEO of the House of Shirley. He finds himself inexplicably attracted to her despite her frumpy appearance. When he meets a hooded and masked, scorching hot Domme, Lasair, at his friend’s BDSM club, he’s torn between the two women. Both fire his imagination and call to his submissive nature. Either might be the woman to change him into successful husband material. Selina Shirley organizes her life like she organizes her business, taking control of all aspects of each. She’s concluded that she must marry to get an heir and that her future husband must be totally submissive. Mentored by the sector’s most famous sadist, she learns what it takes to be a proper Domme. Then, hidden behind a hood and mask, as Lasair, she meets Maon and her instant attraction to his full submission at the BDSM club leads her to break her own rules and become involved with him. But he’s also the marshal assigned to investigate thefts at her company. When his broad streak of protective alpha male comes into play, it obvious he’s not a 24/7 submissive. To stick to her plan to marry the perfect husband, she must ignore her heart and dump Maon.
Buy Links:
Loose Id http://www.loose-id.com/marshal-of-tallav-maon.html
Online Retailers http://books2read.com/maon/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33292910-maon

You can find Cailin at:
Website: http://cailinbriste.com/
Blog: http://cailinbriste.com/category/all-posts/
Email: mailto:cailin@cailinbriste.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/CailinBriste
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cailinbriste/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102592935378667862505
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cailinbriste/

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview and more discussion of book covers.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Cover Critiques


The Goldfinch is a prize winning cover. This month we're talking about book covers. My plan was to blog on prize winning covers. I went online and came across the site below.
I was expecting to see the prize winning covers from some contest. What I got was covers with their critiques. Some covers were good, like The Goldfinch. Others looked okay, but had titles that didn’t were difficult to read, author’s name you couldn’t read and many other comments. I thought you might find it interesting and could compare them to your own covers or future covers.

Let me know if you enjoyed this or found it helpful.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Elaine Calloway Blogging on Book Covers


This week we’re going to find out a little about author Elaine Calloway. April‘s theme is ‘Covers’ so Elaine will be talking about book covers. She’ll also tell us a little about herself and her writing, and answer some fun questions.
Elaine grew up in New Orleans with a love of all things paranormal. She recently released her final Elemental Clan Series book, PENANCE, and is now returning to work on her Southern Ghosts Series. When she’s not writing, reading, or hanging out with family and friends, she speaks at writing chapters and conferences about story structure, marketing, and self-publishing.

Beverley: How important are book covers in marketing your books?
Elaine: Absolutely essential! The book cover is the first thing that gets the reader’s attention. Not only does the image need to convey something about the character(s) and story, but also the colors and images have to stand out even when the image is a thumbnail size online. That’s harder than most people think. Many books have decent covers in regular size, but will they catch a reader’s eye when there are fifty thumbnail book cover images on a page?
Having great covers and ones that can connect a series together also helps with book marketing in terms of having postcards, bookmarks, etc. printed out with the book series covers all displayed.
Beverley: What elements are important in the design of a cover?
Elaine: I prefer to have at least one character on the cover. My graphic designer says that this approach humanizes the story and helps connect the reader to the cover, as opposed to just a landscape scene and the book title.
Vivid colors and page layout also matter. You need to have colors that represent the book’s genre but still grab the reader’s attention. You wouldn’t want pink pastels for a Stephen King horror novel, would you? Color and placement send subliminal messages, whether we are conscious of it or not.
Beverley: What don’t you like on covers?
Elaine: I never liked those 1980s romance book covers, the ones with a Fabio-looking guy and his hair being windblown and looking...fake. That is a key thing for me when I seek out stock images for my characters on a book cover: the model has to have a sense of authenticity and being intelligent. The eyes are truly the windows to the soul. You wouldn’t believe how many stupid-looking images with dull, soulless eyes that I page through in order to find one intelligent, fiery set of eyes on a character model.
Beverley: If you self-pub, do you design your own cover or hire someone? Which ever you do, why did you go this route?
Elaine: I do self-publish and I found a fantastic graphic designer that I’ve used for all my books. Even though I designed websites way back when, I never went to school or learned how colors and layout can work together enough to do book covers myself. When I first starting asking for recommendations for book covers, I was saddened to learn that some people charged $500 for a cover! I couldn’t afford that for every book, so I started looking on various sites like Fiverr and Deviant Art.
I found someone on Deviant Art (www.deviantart.com) who had done book covers before and I liked her designs. We’ve worked out a great system. I search through stock image sites and pick images I like, and then I send those to her and give her a sketch of what I’m thinking. She brings me back to reality and explains that she can’t put 50 images into one book cover, and we narrow it down and come to a mutual agreement of what will work and what won’t. She’s very talented and extremely patient with me!
One tip I will say for anyone looking on Fiverr or Deviant Art: Make sure that the designer or you, the author, purchase all photos for the cover legally. There are many people who are not doing so, and it’s copyright infringement. So just be sure all your legal ducks are in a row.
Beverley: Is there a difference between an e-book and a paperback cover? If yes, what is it?
Elaine: There is a different layout, but the image is the same. My designer sends me the image file and then I do the page layout for my paperback covers in Photoshop or Fireworks. I use a template from CreateSpace, an Amazon company that handles my paperbacks. There’s a section for the front cover, back cover blurb, and then the book spine for the title and author name. Once I have the final book cover PNG and JPEG from my designer, I can easily layout the paperback cover by using the template.
With ebooks, I just upload the image to the vendors when I self-publish.
Beverley: Tell us about the cover of your latest book.
Elaine: My graphic designer and I followed our usual process (described in one of the Q&As above) and we had everything selected except for one thing. My book’s main character was a Fallen Angel who had been trapped in Hell for over a year. And I had chosen the main image for the hero, the background, the fiery spots at the bottom, but when I tried searching for Fallen Angel or a man with wings, I was frustrated to learn that every winged male photo/illustration on stock photo sites is ridiculous looking!
We began seeking other alternatives, and finally came up with wings that worked. So the book cover (you can view PENANCE on Amazon here:  http://amzn.to/2nY02fw) has one stock image for the hero, one image for the fiery lake, and the wings on his back are from some wild bird in Louisiana! It may have even been a vulture, I don’t remember, but I do know finding a giant bird did the trick at making the wings work because my other options were so silly looking! LOL.
Beverley: How long have you been writing?
Elaine: I’ve written novel-length fiction for about twelve years, but before that I wrote short stories and anthologies. And I’m probably one of the few people that has every day of high school written down in a journal, LOL! Writing always helped me calm down, helped me process confusing things, so I enjoyed it from a young age.
Beverley: What genre do you write in and why?
Elaine: I’ve written in a variety of genres, but my two published series are Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance and Romantic Suspense/Ghost Stories. I’ve always been attracted to the supernatural; perhaps because I grew up in New Orleans which is a unique city. The dead and the living tend to blend together there, so it seemed only natural I’d wind up writing about ghosts, mysteries and add in some romance.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Elaine: Wow, there are so many people that could be the right answer to this question. I would say that I really fell in love with the “music that the words make” in a book when I read Dennis Lehane’s books. He’s one of my favorite writers, along with Pat Conroy, because the words are lyrical and the characters so vivid.
Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?
Elaine: I attended a lot of writer’s club meetings and conferences to learn the craft, so the main obstacle I faced was trying to get my books published the traditional way before self-publishing became a viable option. After a few years of writing, I met agents and editors who always said they liked my writing and my books, but because I blend genres, they didn’t know how to market them. My books don’t fit into a neat little box. They aren’t just paranormal romance, they’re also ghost stories with a mystery and some humor. Agents had no idea what to do with that, though they often complimented my work and wished me well. Self-publishing has been a fantastic opportunity. I realize there are many people who don’t edit their work and they upload draft-type work instead of a polished book, but readers will weed those authors out. The reader is the new gatekeeper and the reader doesn’t care if my books blend romance, urban fantasy and paranormal. This makes it a fabulous time to be a writer! I’ve even put together my own success strategy for marketing my books into a free 7-day email course.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Elaine: Anything visually artistic sparks the creative juices. I love Pinterest because I can spend a few moments viewing beautiful colors, landscapes, and more before starting to write. I enjoy going to art galleries, reading a chapter of Pat Conroy, watching a fight scene from a favorite movie. Music also helps. I put together soundtracks for each book I write, and that music keeps me in the zone.
Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?
Elaine: Stress. Seriously, it’s a creative and inner joy killer of all things good. When my brain is stressed, it’s like putting up a super-efficient security system and my mind won’t let anything else enter in. So any ideas, connecting the dots of a few plots, etc. can’t penetrate through the stress layer and reach me. It’s one reason I’m a morning writer; I write the best before the day job stresses overtake my brain.
Beverley: What do you have for breakfast?
Elaine: On healthier days, yogurt and berries with a side of toast. Granola bars are always a handy option. Strawberry Pop-Tarts (not frosted) are a favorite but I try not to eat them too much.
Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?
Elaine: Jeans and a comfortable shirt, most days! I’m not a t-shirt person so I guess the type of shirts I wear could be likened to a polo shirt. I’ve always wanted to dress like one of my characters or wear an enormous hat when writing some of my books. However, I haven’t done that yet!
Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?
Elaine: I like to mix up my locations; it keeps my creativity on its toes. Some writing I’ll do at home, but many times I’ll go to a local café or shop. My favorite spots are ones that have unlimited caffeine refills and are quiet enough that I can duck away in a corner table and write for a few hours. The great thing about writing away from the house is that there are less distractions competing for my attention.
My writing critique partner and I will go to a Comfort Inn once or twice a year and do writing retreats. These are great for bursts of creativity because we literally get away from all distractions. We pick a location that is remote but has plenty of cheap and mid-range restaurants nearby, and then we write all day and then go to dinner and brainstorm/plot at night.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Elaine: I always loved Scooby-Doo and that love of mystery and clues helped influence my writing romantic suspense. I also loved Bugs Bunny, but Scooby-Doo was my favorite!
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Elaine: Stephen King. I think he would be fascinating to meet and have a conversation with, and I have missed out on his recent public appearances. Another one would be Joss Whedon. I love his creativity and think he’d be a cool person to meet.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Elaine: My ideal “free” day would be to get up early, go to a café and write for three to four hours. Then I’d meet friends for lunch, maybe take in an afternoon movie or read for a few hours, followed by a nap and then dinner with family. No stress, no tasks to “have to” do, just time for creativity and relaxing.
If I had an unexpected weekend and the time, I’d go to Savannah, Georgia, one of my favorite getaway places. I set my first Southern Ghosts Series book, No Grits No Glory, there and enjoy being back in a port-city atmosphere that reminds me of New Orleans.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Elaine: I have 10 books planned for the Southern Ghosts Series. Right now, there are three books and one novella available, so I’m working on the fourth full-length book in the series. Each book has a mystery, a main character able to see/talk to ghosts, and a bit of romance and humor.  My latest release, PENANCE, was the final book in my Urban Fantasy series so I want to focus on my ghost series for now. As with all my books though, each one is stand-alone. Readers can read them in order, but it’s not required.

Blurb for Penance
Going to Hell changes a person. Changes a Fallen Angel even more.For betrayal to his own kind, Cristos has been totured in Hell for years. He will do anything to get out of Lucifer’s grasp. Even those actions on Earth that he once found despicable.
When the Master gives him a second chance on Earth to reap souls, Cristos is an eager servant.Ready to do whatever is needed—until he meets the mysterious woman in New Orleans.

Rachel has fought demons in her head all her life. Adopted at a young age into a family of cops, she has yearned to know more about her biological parents and her background—yet no one will tell her. One night, she wanders into the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Montleone and meets the handsome Cristos.
But what neither of them knows is that they share a history and a haunted past which is about to collide…and could cost them their future—and eternity.


Buy Links:
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Website for More Links

You can find Elaine at:
Website:www.howtoselfpublishyournovel.com andwww.elainecalloway.com
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Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview and more discussion of book covers.