Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fun Ideas and Tips #9: Make Your Story Newsworthy

You've written the first draft of your novel and now it's time to go back and begin revisions. Whether your first draft is thick or thin, you're going to have to do some analysis on the whole thing and see if what you wrote makes sense, needs a complete overhaul, or perhaps needs better focus.

I have a fondness for reading news headlines. They're short and to the point, giving you enough information to whet your curiosity so that you will try out the actual article. Headlines also give readers the option of not reading, if the article isn't about something they care about. They streamline the reading process. I love that.

How do news headlines factor in to revising the first draft of your novel?

By giving you another outlining option.

The pantser argument doesn't hold weight right now; you've finished the rough draft of your novel. It's time to make sure the story is solid, to tie up loose ends, expose those plot holes, strengthen your characters, and put all your story ducks in a row. An outline can streamline the process.

I've highlighted many easy to construct outlines in the past and I'm not going to rehash them or other more complex versions. No, today I want you to think like a journalist coming up with news headlines. So here's what you do:

1) Break up your story into sections. It can be chapters, or POV switches, or even by page. And don't feel like you have to sit and spend a few hours dividing up your novel for this step. You can do this as you go along reading it.

2) Write a simple, one sentence headline for each section. The rule for this is: What is the most important event, twist, or discovery in this section?

This should be more thought-provoking than it first suggests. Remember, headlines have to garner attention. What is going on in this section that would capture your readers' attention? Is this section even worth keeping in the story? Is anything happening at all?

For example, say you decide to do a headline for each page and the page you are reading is basically describing a journey, or a building, or a scientific processyou're not going to come up with a very good headline for it. What the lack of a snazzy headline does is give you a red flag that you have too much description going on in that section. There's nothing happening. You're going to lose readers' interest here. Ah hah! You mark that section for demolition or a complete make-over.

Let's say you do have something going on. Are new questions being raised by this section? A new mystery unfolds? The characters have reached a pivotal choice? Creating headlines for the section will give you a chance to lock down the exact dilemma, point, or argument this section needs to be about. Ah hah! You may find you need to beef this part up, or even play it down. Perhaps you discover you're in danger of creating a bunch of unnecessary subplots due to tangents in your original material.

Or, maybe this section deals with an action sequence. "Creating a headline should be easy", you thinkor is it? "Good Guy is Attacked by Bad Guys but Comes Out on Top!" is rather bland. Ah hah! Are you putting in action for the sake of action, or does this section actually move the story forward? What is learned in this section? What is gained or lost? Have you made it too easy for the protagonist? Have you devoted too many paragraphs or pages to reporting each movement or play-by-play? Do you even need this kind of action here? How predictable is this section? It's a lot to think about. Sometimes the sections/scenes we think are done deals are the most predictable to readers and maybe need a lot more brainstorming to make them different or unpredictable.

*A further note: Don't stress about giving things away in your headlines, or about using too much hyperbole when creating them. This outline is for your eyes only. Have fun with it.

3) Make sure you are taking notes as you do step #2, whether in the document or in a separate notebook or file. Line up your headlines when you are done, in story order. Read through them. Does one flow well after the one before? Do you notice significant gaps?

This gives you a very basic outline, and a very valuable revision tool. Maybe you need to rearrange some of the events. Maybe you need to add new sections, or delete others. Really think about the overall theme and goals of the story. What exactly do these headlines say about your story, the characters, the plot, and the differences between Point A and Point Z?

If you're writing a more complex novel with multiple POVs, consider not only a master list of all the headlines, but also separate story-order lists for each POV used. Or come up with a color coding method in your master list to help you see how your POV characters are cycling. What's good about this, is you can still look to see if your POV switches are happening in the right places. Are the events or questions leading to the next section? Are you overusing POV switches for the sake of following a definite pattern? Do you need all of those POVs to begin with? Having a concise reference for the whole story can really show how well you are using multiple POVs.

4) If you want to take your headline analysis one helpful step further, as you go along making them, jot down the number of pages or the word count devoted to each section. It's a huge eye-opener. When tallied up at the end, you can see what aspects of the story you felt were the most important when you wrote that first draft. This can help you stay true to your original genesis for the story, and/or can show you your weaknesses by revealing what key story elements you put less effort into developing. This can also help you target areas for trimming or adding to your word count, all nice and neatly marked out next to your headline outline. Altogether, a handy, quick reference for your story as you go into the actual revision process.

I'm sure that anyone who tries out the headline outline will find even more good uses for it. Think of a simple outline as if it were a thumbnail revealing your entire story at a glance. It's always better to go into the revision process with access to the overall picture. Without it, a writer is like someone trying to figure out a maze for the second time; you have some idea of where it goes and how you got through it before, but you don't remember every twist and turn and you still can't see alternate routes.

I know some of you will shrug your shoulders and stubbornly refuse to even try outlining. That's okay. There are different kinds of writers, but take a second to consider what you might be missing out on by not trying a simple outline. And just because So-and-So Big-Name-Author doesn't outline, that really shouldn't be an argument, after all, you aren't them.

I've written many stories and used different methods for each one. I learn new things from each experience. However, I know now that having a simple outline can make a huge difference in the number of revision passes I have to make. I hope you'll at least try out the headline outline, or one of the others in the list below. See what works for you. Develop your own version of a simple outline. Be creative and have fun, but most of all, take the opportunity to study yourself as a writer.


Other outlining methods you can try: (Note: Some of these are for outlining before writing your first draft.)
National Novel Writing Month Preparation: The Easiest Outline Ever
How I Outline, Guest Post #4: NCB
How I Outline, Guest Post #3: Ian Isaro
How I Outline, Guest Post #2: Derrick Camardo
Fulfilling Your Promises to the Reader
How I Outline, Guest Post #1: Darke Conteur
When Outlining Breaks Down (A guest post I wrote on another blog.)
Outlining: The Simple Version
Because: One of the Most Important Words a Writer Can Use ...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I'm Going to be Hard to Catch This Month

Hi everyone,

It's National Novel Writing Month and usually I only do it every other year, but I need the extra support and focus to concentrate on finishing the second book in my Trefury trilogy. So please bear with the lack of of posts this month. If I need a breather, I'll post one, or if anyone would like to guest blog, let me know.

All contests for a free copy of Trefury: Mendi's Curse have ended. Congratulations to the winners! There will be future opportunities for free copies when the paperback version comes out. Thank you to everyone who offered support in any way. It feels good to have a project done.

Now, if I can get the same euphoria from NaNo ...

Joyce

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tidbits and Reminders

Today is a housekeeping post.

Contest!
For members of the Speculative Fiction Group on Agent Query Connect, this is the last week to submit your short story for our Anniversary Contest. Remember, it's a Halloween (or equivalent) theme. The top prize is a partial critique from an agent. Second prize is a collection of books published by fellow group members. Third prize (depending on the number of entries) is a partial critique from me. Details are in our forum.

NaNo!
National Novel writing month is eleven days away; are you ready? If not, you might like my post from last year regarding the Easiest Outline Ever. Instead of pounding out a first draft this year, I'm going to set goals to try to get through a second draft. The second book in my Trefury trilogy is coming along. We'll see how much I can get done by the end of November.

Other posts to get you brainstorming ahead of time:
Because: One of the Most Important Words a Writer Can Use ...
Outlining: The Simple Version
Fun Ideas and Tips #7: Mix and Match
Fun Ideas and Tips #5: Find Your Truths
Fun Ideas and Tips #3: POV Reversal

Regarding My Book!
There's still time to enter to win a free copy of Trefury: Mendi's Curse on Goodreads. It's open to people living in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia. The giveaway ends November 1st.

If you've marked Trefury: Mendi's Curse as want to read on Goodreads but are having a hard time locating a copy, that's because it's in the queue for distribution for places like Amazon. At the moment, you can get a copy directly from Lulu.com. I'll be sure to announce it when it becomes available elsewhere. Want to read a sample? There's a preview link under the cover picture of the book on Lulu.

After you've read Trefury: Mendi's Curse, try your memory with one of the three quizzes I've set up on Goodreads. You can also ask me questions on my profile page.



... And that's all I have for the writing side of my life. Be glad you're not seeing the housekeeping for everything else. ;) Have a great week everyone. Happy writing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What I Learned at Book Club

I belong to a mother-daughter book club at my local library. We have about a month to read a book then have a meeting where we discuss the book, do a craft, and eat a treat; sometimes we watch a corresponding movie. My girls and I love it.

I keep my writing life and my personal life pretty separate, so the other people in the book club don't know that I'm an author. I like that because then I get to see very honest responses to books.

We had one of our meetings last week. The book we were reading had been written around eighty years ago. It's still a very popular kid's book today and the start of a series that has had several spinoff series made and a huge extended world of movies, games, merchandise, etc.

What struck me as we discussed the relevance of the story to today's readers and how it pioneered some things and at the same time reflected the age in which it was written, was that the other women and girls who had read it said that they liked what an easy read it was. The story was intense in places (it's a mystery book) but everyone agreed they liked how they weren't running into one twist after another in order to complicate the story. Relationships between people were pretty straight forward. The book took a piece of the main character's life and displayed it without feeling the need to have ominous undertones in the ending. The author didn't have to wonder what to do with their character at the end.

For me, as a writer, this was my opportunity to sit up and listen. We writers get so caught up in what others in the writing world are saying books need to be that we don't see the disconnect between us and normal, every day readers. These readers were saying they appreciated that the book we'd read didn't have all the flash, bang, and pop of modern novels - especially for a children's (technically YA) novel.

I've been thinking a lot about older books versus newer ones and how it reflects upon society then and now. Being a writer and seeing what agents, publishers, and readers seem to be clamoring for, and being someone who loves to read older books, I confess I feel a little sad. We live in thrill-seeker times, a time when we want more as fast as we can get it. People join reading groups like Goodreads and then churn through novels as if they were eating potato chips. Some people are fast readers, but stop for a second and think - are we tasting our food or simply devouring it? Modern books are tailored to be inhaled, not savored.

Why is this?

Compared to eighty years ago, our world has become very complicated, fast-paced, and competitive. We have so many options for leisure and entertainment no wonder we've become gluttonous and easily bored. Writers are often expected to turn one book into an entire series and then churn them out yearly to sate the insatiable appetites of voracious readers. And if we don't? No big deal. There are millions of other books and writers out there. Books have to compete with TV, movies, games, sports, fine arts programs, contests and competitions, thrill chasing, and so much more. Most people don't plan on spending more than a few hours a week reading, if at all. So books have to be choppy, condensed, pared to the bone, but super exciting and full of twists and turns to keep the easily distracted readers from straying.

Yes, it's sad.

Eighty years ago, people didn't have a plethora of entertainment options. No computers or TVs. They were lucky if they had a radio or could go to an occasional movie (which was still a very new technology). Books were more valuable then and readers liked meat on the bones of their stories. Books helped them wile away the free hours. Authors could describe more back then. Books were an escape to other worlds most people had never been to or couldn't begin to imagine. People didn't have the advantage of easy travel or the internet for looking up information and pictures or video footage. Books didn't have to have shocking twists, or a lot of extremes to keep readers' attentions.

My challenge to you when you next pick up a new novel to read, is to slow down and try savoring it. Don't think about your ginormous to-read pile. Don't think about giving reviews and ratings. Decide to block out all the other options for entertainment. Just read to enjoy a book. Don't see how fast you can whip through it. Take your time and really explore the story as you go along.

If you take me up on the challenge, let me know in the comments. Did you enjoy your reading experience? Did the book seem too thin when you slowed down? Think about the kinds of books you are reading and buying. Will you pick them up again, or are they really thin potato chips? Did you learn anything about your attention span? Did you notice a difference in your weekly routine by blocking out other forms of entertainment? Good results or bad?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Filling the Void

A couple of nights ago my husband and I were trying to decide on a movie to watch and ended up putting on an old tape recording of a movie that came out in the 80's that he really wanted me to see. It was based on a comic book series and the main character had supernatural powers. The sets were well made, the costumes glamorous, and there were a handful of A-list actors playing out the parts. The special effects were pretty good for a movie made back then. Even the brief premise my husband had told me had potential.

But the movie felt flat to me. The screenplay jumped around too fast for proper story development. The characters were stereotypical and I couldn't get into any of them. I was never even sure who to root for, since the main character was a bad guy to begin with and who channeled his bad side to fight other bad guys. (His motivation to do this had been completely omitted from the screenplay.) I had to give my husband a ho-hum response afterwards and as I explained why, he admitted I was right.

It got me thinking about how often we encounter a creative work or endeavor and while we can pick out one or two good things about it (sometimes really good things) the rest leaves much to be desired. I've gone browsing for movies to rent and end up frowning most of the way through the store, because while a certain genre or premise or even actor piques my interest, when I look at the rest of the product I'm disappointed. We live in a day of remakes, rehashing, too many special effects, and worn out plot lines. Even TV shows string you along through all kinds of sludge, holding back that one vital piece of backstory just to keep you hooked to the whole series.

Many of us take to our own creative endeavors to try to fill in those voids. Say we like the idea of certain setting or type of character and we want to make the kind of story we can champion all the way. We write it. Why do you think fan fiction came about or the deluge of similar novels after one story has reached bestsellerdom? Individually, we want to add to that story, fix it, or make it go the way we hoped it would to begin with. Sometimes we want to revel in that kind of a world for a bit longer. We reflect borrowed light. And creative people have been doing this forever.

Have you ever been in the mood for a particular type of story, or story atmosphere? Have you ever shaken your head during a book or movie and thought about alternative outcomes? Do you lay awake at night thinking, "Wow, that was amazing. How can I do something that?" or "That story could have been better, they were so close, but they ruined it by adding in ..."? It's like an itch that won't go away. And having that itch can lead to productive writing.

However, I've always felt that once you've identified what you love or what needs changing, that you then find your own story path to play with, not someone else's. Spin-offs and alternate versions of something are okay, but people know that these versions are merely playing in the shadow of something else. Do you really want to relegate your time and effort to a shadow?

There's a market out there for shadow novels, I won't deny it. And some people are happy to be there.

But how much better it is to come up with something shiny and bright of your own. It's more work, and more to be proud of. To create something that fills in the voids of your desires and then send it out to hopefully fill in the voids of readers is a wonderful accomplishment.

Write to fill in the voids. Revise and polish until your story needs are satisfied. Find joy in your work. I challenge you to come up with something not in the shadow of someone else. Be a light. Create your own borders, be bold in your imagination, think carefully about how you tell the story, and have fun.

People who do are the trend-setters.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Release Day for Trefury: Mendi's Curse! Info, Soundtracks, and Quizzes

Copyright 2014 Nicolle Raty Murray; original artwork
My debut novel, Trefury: Mendi's Curse, is now available for purchase in hardcover format.

The land of Callorin is dying, cast off from divine aid and adrift in cold seas, with dark powers swooping in for the kill. As they have for thousands of years, Callorin turns to Thssk to fix the problem, but Thssk wants to avoid everyone. He failed last time, and his human handler put a curse on him as he abandoned her on a battlefield. She would be avenged through the next girl Thssk forced to become his handler.

Thssk is sent on a mission to another world to rescue the long-lost heir of Origiba, in the hope of developing outside support for Callorin. While there, Thssk tries to thwart the curse by taking Cortnee, a tech savvy, arts major as his new handler. It is only when Thssk has gained the upper hand over his enemies and everything seems to be working out for a change that he discovers he is not the game changer anymore—Cortnee is.

On a world where starships are born, homes grow, and flowers can flatten entire cities, millions of lives are at stake. More importantly, Thssk’s notorious past comes back to bite him. The girl who has become a catalyst politically and astralgically won’t communicate with him, and she has some crazy ideas about how to get their job done. With her, Thssk may fail for a second time, without her, he may never attain the great future he was promised.

You might like Trefury if you are into:
1) Adventure stories.
2) Stories spanning multiple worlds.
3) Diverse characters in both gender and race.
4) Fascinating, exotic, and mind-boggling settings.
5) Entwining plot lines.

 Trefury also fits into a rare niche, it's clean speculative fiction. No sex, no profanity, no graphic violence. The readership age range is from 15 on up (based on vocabulary and themes in the story).

While I am very excited to finally share this story with everyone, I am mostly feeling a sense of relief and calm. It is very satisfying to complete a project like this. And it's also nice to realize that achieving a dream is neither a summation of who I am, nor is it a place of arrival. This is a milestone in my life and I'm grateful that I have it as a foundation for writing future novels and improving my talent as a storyteller.

I want to thank the many people who helped me brainstorm, revise, edit, and who supported me in this effort. You've made me a better writer and have helped me make this story something to be proud of.

And to finish off my writing soundtrack, at least the big highlights, here are the last two tracks, including the song that epitomizes the whole thing.

First up, "Whiplash" by Selena Gomez. (No pun intended, for those of you who have read the book.)



This song became my "Trefury mode" anthem.

And here is the song that is my book, "What You're Thinking (Pure Energy)" by Information Society. While I listened to the original version a lot, the remixed version is my favorite. If you listen to any of the soundtrack songs, make it this one.

Original Version:

*Remixed Version:


For more soundtracks and previous Trefury posts click here.

And finally ...
Read the book and think you know it? Try out one of the new quizzes about Trefury: Mendi's Curse on Goodreads.


Today's the last day to enter for a free copy here on my blog, but starting tomorrow you can get a second opportunity to snag a free copy on Goodreads. The link in the sidebar will be updated to direct you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trefury: The Other Side of the Story

By now you've probably read the official story summary of my book, Trefury: Mendi's Curse, but what many of you don't know is that that summary only spells out one side of the story. There is another big storyline going on and there are other character threads which are woven into both sides.

May I introduce you to three of those other main characters?

1 - Ientadur
He's a young adult with a heavily-monitored medical condition who just wants to marry his childhood sweetheart and become independent. But his parents don't approve and are doing everything they can to prevent him from marrying. Then Ien's old history teacher gets in contact with him and reveals that everything he's been told is one big lie and that Ien has a genetic legacy that will allow him to save the lives of thousands of people as a war with another country threatens his home. Life will never be the same again. He is separated from the one he loves, estranged from his family, and hunted by the most powerful and dangerous group on the planet. Ien must grow up, become pro-active, and face obstacles and decisions that could tear him apart. If he does, everyone else needs to watch out. The legacy of the half-murlynn is nothing to be trifled with.

2 - Sabriel
Everyone's heard of the damsel or princess in distress, well this time the one in distress is a man. Sabriel has just graduated from university, ready to take on a career as a composer. He's handsome, young, and independent. But then he's kidnapped twice, nearly dies in transit, stuck in a life-support chair, and people are trying to kill him. He can't catch a break. Well, except one. He's got a girl with a powerful weapon who has stepped up as his bodyguard. Maybe together they can piece the clues to find out why someone's after him and more importantly, who. If the bad guys don't get to him first.

3 - Damon
Haunted by his wife's mysterious death, Damon is a single-parent determined to make a decent life for himself and his daughter. But then his life starts unraveling. Financial accounts are closing without his permission, his job is being taken from him, and both friends and strangers are bringing up his wife's name. On top of that, his daughter has become a target as her anonymous involvement in a drug sting is leaked. When she goes missing, things get really surreal. Damon is soon forced to leave his world for another, forced to rely on strangers to track his daughter's whereabouts. It's hard to know who to believe and who to trust. Lies unravel and new lies are formed. For Damon, only one thing is clear, he's got to do whatever it takes to get his daughter back and find out the truth about his wife's death.

Hee hee, and now you're probably wondering why these aren't separate books and how in the world they fit in with the main storyline. Trust me, they all come together and are interwoven. I take a lot of pleasure in working with complex storylines, but I won't lie, it isn't easy or quick to do. Trefury has been a massive undertaking, I mean years of development and revision. And this book is only the first part of the story. There is more to come. I hope you enjoy it.

There's still time to sign-up for a free, autographed, hardcover copy of the book. Click on the picture of the cover in the right sidebar to find out how.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Tracks 9 - 10

There's still time to sign-up to get a free, hardcover copy of my debut novel, Trefury: Mendi's Curse. Just click on the picture of the cover to your right and it will take you to all the details.

Continuing to highlight some of the music that helped me stay in the zone while writing the novel, both of these songs were done by Delerium, a group I highly recommend for mood music.

These songs had that international, especially eastern vibe that I wanted. This is a reflection on the country and planet my character Cortnee comes from. I had a fun time meshing different eastern cultures, while retaining some western foibles and customs in this half of my world-building.

Trefury is a novel taking place on two very diverse planets. That meant I had more than the average amount of world-building to do. Fortunately, I've been working not only on this story but many others from two different (yet connected) collections of worlds for over thirty years. It's not something I just threw together overnight. There is a giant scheme behind every planet I've made and they are all connected through a special passageway that I call, in simple English terms, The Beltway. (It has another name in one of my made-up languages.)

I've found it's good not to overuse my languages and dialects because it can alienate readers. A smattering will do, and eventually, the more they read my books, they will be able to handle more and understand more. But the point of world-building and making up languages is more for originality and authenticity rather than reinventing the wheel, and the focus of my novels is telling the story rather than showing off what worlds I've created.

So first up is "Terra Firma," a song many of you have probably heard before:




The second song is "Remembrance," which probably isn't as widely known. I love the deep horns at the beginning. They were an inspiration to me for the "prayer horns" that go off every night on Cortnee's world. The song then evolves into eastern/western mix and then goes techno. It couldn't be more perfect.


I'm very excited to share a very small piece of my world-building with you. Those who have already read earlier versions of the novel, or who have followed the blog for awhile know that world-building is very dear to my heart. And while world-building is a magnificent skill to possess, bear in mind that it is no substitute for storytelling. I've read many manuscripts where the writer put all their thought and effort into creating their world and the story (what little there was) dealt with showing the world and everything in it to the reader. A tragedy. Worlds that well drawn should have great stories revolving in them and characters not only unique but that are relatable and compelling populating those worlds.

What do you think?

You may also like to read:
World-building: Think Big, Be Creative, Have Fun!
How Much World-Building Do You Need?
Falling in Love with Your World
What Justifies an Epic Series?
What Makes Epic Fantasy Tick

Cover reveal for Trefury: Mendi's Curse, including book summary.
Behind the Scenes #1: Forbidden Without Knowing Why
Behind the Scenes #2: Let's Talk Hair
Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Track 1 
Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Tracks 2 - 3
Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Track 4
Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Tracks 5 - 8 
BOOK GIVEAWAY ON THE THIS BLOG from Sept. 2 - 30, 2014 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rethinking the Process: Formatting Your Novel for Print

*Note: This post is a compilation of what I've learned while putting together my first book, and is in no way authoritative. Everyone's experience is different, but hopefully this post will help those of you thinking about indie publishing, or who are trying to figure out the ropes.

I've discovered you develop an entirely different perspective when you decide to indie publish, especially when it comes to formatting your manuscript.

When you are getting your manuscript polished, formatted, and ready to be viewed by agents and publishers, you get stuck on guidelines like these:

1 - Double space
2 - Use Times New Roman or Courier font only (or else!)
3 - Page numbers go in the upper right hand corner
4 - Use a header to state the title of your book and your name
5 - When printing it out, print on only one side of the paper
6 - Don't add spaces between decorative breaks in the narrative
7 - Word count

And so forth. There are lots of tailored guidelines, depending on the publisher or the agent, but the ones I've listed are pretty general.

But, once you've decided to become the publisher, it's a whole new ball game. You can throw out those guidelines once your manuscript is completely polished, edited, and proof edited.

1 - Double spacing serves to help your editor, or critique partners make notes in your manuscript. You won't need it for your print copy. 14.4 pt. or 1.5 pt. spacing is your new target range. You still want enough white space so your lines don't look crowded, but you don't need as much white space as when you double space. (Different fonts have different spacing built in.)

2 - If you're using MS Word, the Styles and Formatting section becomes your best friend. If you aren't familiar with it, you must do the tutorials to get familiar. It will save you tons of time, and avoid a lot of mistakes and irregularities in your manuscript. You can find Styles and Formatting by looking up at your top menu bar and clicking on Format. Under the Format menu, you'll see Styles and Formatting. Click on it. From there you can set your font and font sizes for different parts of your manuscript. Things like chapter headers, or special pages where you want things centered or in italics; you can set these in Styles and Formatting.

3 - Understanding fonts. Just because your writing program comes with a list of fonts, doesn't mean you have permission to use them. Fonts cost money. And depending on where you are publishing your print book, your printing company may or may not have the rights to print in the fonts you want. You need to check. I went through Lulu.com, and they make it clear which fonts you can use and which fonts you need to purchase. They'll upload a MS file and convert it to a PDF. If you don't use one of their recommended true-type fonts, they'll change your font. If you have purchased a specific font, you need to embed it into a PDF file. Check with the company you are going through to make sure you're following their guidelines and are using a font legally.

Make sure when you choose a font for your text that it is easily readable. Decorative fonts are pretty, but they're better used for party invitations and banners. It's your responsibility to choose a font that reflects the genre/tone of your novel and that is essentially invisible to readers, meaning, they aren't going to stop and stare at your pretty or complicated font instead of reading the actual story.

Some authors like to use a slightly more decorative, or a different font for their chapter headings. You don't have to. It's a style choice.

Likewise, don't make the size of your font so tiny it's hard for most people to read. You'll alienate potential readers. If you've written an extremely large book, think on the possibility of breaking it into two books versus keeping it together. Some printing companies have limits on the number of pages you can have for a book. Don't freak out and try to make your font smaller or reduce your margins to nothing, in order to cram more words on the page. That screams "Unprofessional!" A good average for lines on the page is between 30 - 35.

4 - Forget about the standard 8 x 11 inch paper size. You need to go into your document and resize your paper to the size it will be printed at. For me, that meant resizing to 6 x 9 inches. And boy, does that open up your eyes regarding the size of your book! Forget about word count, you'll be dealing with page count now. Printers usually print 4 pages per sheet. If you don't want unnecessary blank pages added to your novel, make sure your total page count is divisible by 4.

5 - Watch out for widows and orphans, those bits of text that end up on a new page all by themselves, whether it's part of a sentence, or just one sentence or small paragraph. You're using up an entire sheet of paper for that one little bit. You'll either need to take out things from your chapter to get rid of them, or add things to make use of that extra page.

6 - Set your margins, including the side ones (gutters). One inch all around is pretty standard. Decide where you want your page numbers. For hardcover books, page numbers are usually centered at the bottom. For paperback, they are in the right and left corners. Some books have even put page numbers in the center of the side of the page. It's a style issue.

7 - Learn something about book design. Follow book designer blogs and pay attention to what they are sharing. Get a feel for what you like and what elements reflect the tone and subject of your novel. Realize that you probably won't be able to do all the bells-and-whistles on your own (unless you are book designer). There are a lot of style elements you can do, but if you want something really unusual or spectacular, it would be a good idea to hire a book designer to help you.

8 - Learn recto and verso. From The Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition:
"Publishers refer to the trimmed sheets of paper that you turn in a printed-and-bound book as leaves, and a page is one side of a leaf. The front of the leaf, the side that lies to the right in an open book, is called recto. The back of the leaf, the side that lies to the left when the leaf is turned, is the verso. Rectos are always odd-numbered, versos always even-numbered."

Certain pages are expected to be either recto or verso. For instance, your half-title page and title page are always recto. Your copyright page is usually verso. The first chapter of a novel is always recto. I have divided my novel into three parts, so I had to make sure the Parts pages landed recto with a blank verso page after them before starting the next chapter. (Don't forget to factor in your blank pages into your overall page count!)

9 - More on page numbers. Your front matter (the pages that come before your actual story starts) aren't numbered. The same goes for your back matter (the extra pages that come after your story ends). You will need to learn how to use section breaks to divide up your novel in order to start and stop your page numbering. There are online tutorials for using section breaks and adding and altering page numbers. I didn't know before that there are two ways to add page numbers and that one way is trickier than the other.

10 - Use page breaks for each of your chapters. If you go up to the top of your MS Word toolbar and click on Insert, choose Break, then you can access both page breaks and section breaks. Page breaks are handy because they keep the text of one chapter from bumping the text of the next chapter down the page. So your chapter heading formatting doesn't have to be double-checked and realigned. Don't use hard returns (hitting the Enter key on your keyboard) to separate one chapter from another because it's a formatting nightmare (time wise) to fix.

11 - The pilcrow button is your friend. If you look up at your toolbar, you'll see a button with what looks like a colored in, backwards P with a line running parallel behind it. This is the pilcrow button. If you click it, is shows the formatting in your manuscript; nifty things like spacing between words, hard returns, page breaks, and where you've used the tab key. This is a great tool to help you spot places where you have hidden formatting issues.

12 - Want a drop cap at the start of each chapter? (A drop cap is the over sized first letter at the beginning of the first paragraph.) Highlight the letter, go up to your toolbar and click on Format. There should be a Drop Cap button. Click on it and you're taken to a little window with drop cap formatting options. *Note: Not all fonts work well with drop caps. Some fonts will make the drop cap letter too high or low compared to the regular letters. You can click and drag your drop capped letter to realign, but it doesn't always come out right when you print the page.

13 - For easier uploading to your printing company, keep your entire novel in one file instead of a bunch of little ones. (Learning page and section breaks will help you format everything just the way you want it.) *Note: Do not include your cover art in the same file. Just the interior of your novel.

14 - If you have illustrations or maps, make sure they're resized to the proper page size and that you've inserted them properly into your manuscript. Don't use a link and hope it sticks. Also, bear in mind, that if you want them in color, it's going to cost more to print the book. If you want to keep costs down, make sure your color pictures are converted to grayscale or black-and-white.

15 - You've been used to using a left alignment in your manuscript. Guess what, you'll need to change it to justified before sending it off to the printing company. And along with justifying the text, is deciding where to break up larger words to avoid huge gaps in your lines. Don't go overboard with dividing words. It's okay if there are some small white gaps, you just want to avoid really big ones. Another thing to watch out for is having the same word right on top another. This usually means reading through your newly formatted manuscript with a fine-toothed comb, slowly, with your focus on spotting gaps, too many broken words, or stacked words.

16 - Spacing between gaps in the story. Some people will insert an extra return so there is one line of space to indicate a change in the setting, POV, or that you're heading into a flashback. More common for the first two is to insert something symbolic or a tiny illustration between story sections. You need white space above and below these so they don't look crammed. It's a style issue. Keep your readers in mind. If you use a tiny illustration, make sure you own the rights to it.

A lot of these tips are good for formatting for ebook too, like using the pilcrow button, learning Styles and Formatting, etc. I've included some resource links to help get you started in your research. Don't be frustrated by all you have to do and learn. Once you get it down, your next published book will be easier. Take your time and do it right.

Helpful Links:
Front Matter, Back Matter, Why Does It Matter?
Indie Writers: Make MS Word Work  for You Instead of Against You
The Book Designer
Lulu
Createspace

*Note: Createspace is the more popular printing company, but I went with Lulu because they put out hardcovers as well as paperbacks, and I liked their simpler pricing and payment structure.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giveaway with No Strings Attached

Today starts my blog giveaway for my debut novel, Trefury: Mendi's Curse. Trefury comes out in hardcover Sept. 30th, with a paperback edition to follow and eventually an ebook version. I prefer the good, old hardcover for my personal library, but I know they can be expensive. So if you're serious about wanting to own this book and want the best print version of it, you'll want to sign up for the giveaway.

No strings attached. Simply enter to win through any of the available options. I'm not asking for reviews or ratings. If Trefury sounds like the kind of book you want to read, then read it. If it doesn't, then don't. At the moment I'm offering one free copy of the book here through my blog, but if there are a lot of entries, I'll add more.

And to my writer friends: You're under no obligation to buy or read my books just because you know me. In fact, if after reading the story summary you're truly not interested, I prefer it if you don't. Life's too short and there are too many books out there; no one should have to read fun novels by obligation. I write because I enjoy telling stories and I'd rather reach my target audience than a superficial one. Thank you for the support and help, but know it won't hurt my feelings if you pass on my novel.

If you read Trefury, love it, and want to help promote it, thank you. The best promotion is simply word of mouth. If you want to read the book, but aren't sure you want to plunk down the money for a copy, request it through your local library.

Here's the story summary:

Meet the oddest, most-likely-to-fail partnership the planet Niyhel has ever known. He’s cunning, intelligent, and dangerous. She’s slow to trust, reckless, and loyal. And both of them have their own ideas about how to do things.
Thssk, a six-thousand-year old norhendra, has unwittingly caused the near extinction of his kind. Then he abandoned his handler, momentarily forgetting that she was an astral. She curses him as he flees the battlefield: the next handler he chooses will avenge her. Hunted by his past, it takes a divine summons and a volcanic eruption to rekindle Thssk’s competitive spirit after a long hibernation. Racing against his enemies to rescue a boy from another planet?—he’s the only one capable of pulling it off. But there’s a catch, he has to select a new human partner to work with.

Tech savvy Cortnee Feyandihar is tracking down the people responsible for her mom’s death while trying to gain a footing on a career path in the fields of music and dance. But when she goes too far with a corruption exposé, a last-ditch effort to salvage her future sticks her in the middle of an inter-world showdown and right into Thssk’s coils.

On a world where starships are born, homes grow, and flowers can flatten entire cities, the fates of two lands hangs in the balance, as do the lives of millions of people. Yet it all pales in comparison to Thssk confronting the repercussions of discarding his previous partners as he struggles with his unpredictable new one. Everything Cortnee thought she understood has turned inside out and she must utilize every skill in her arsenal to get a grip on her new reality. If they can’t learn to communicate and work together, he won’t achieve the great future he was promised, but if they do, Cortnee could fall like her predecessors—into madness.

If you enjoy books with multiple points of view, complex plot lines woven together, detailed world-building, intense adventure, and characters that aren't strictly good or bad, then you'll probably enjoy this one. And this book is clean: no sex, no profanity, and no graphic violence.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don't win this time around, there will be a second opportunity through Goodreads that starts at the end of the month. More details to come. 


Contest is closed.
And the winner is ....









 Angie!

 Congratulations! I'm sending you an email with the details.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Tracks 5 - 8

As exciting as great world-building or conflict is to a novel, one of the most crucial elements are the characters and their relationships. How do they act and react around each other? Is their relationship fraught with tension or do they buoy each other up? How does their relationship change during the course of the story? Which relationships break? What new ones are forged? It's fascinating to think about.

Real life focuses on relationships. In my opinion, a good novel should reflect on real life by exploring relationships and their outcomes. My debut novel Trefury: Mendi's Curse gave me the opportunity to study and write about several different kinds of relationships.

Some of these relationships are:
1 - Parent to child
2 - Extended relatives
3 - Friends
4 - Enemies
5 - Partnerships and ex-partnerships
6 - Societal versus personal
7 - Work associations
8 - Divine to mortal
9 - Human to non-human
10 - Stranger to stranger

I'm grateful for the multiple opportunities to reflect and analyze relationships. I think in a subtle way, doing so has helped me strengthen the real relationships I have. I was a very introverted, reclusive child who developed into an introverted, reserved adult. However, those people I truly came to know and who grew to know me have developed something special, fun, and unique. I look forward to making more good relationships, and it's one of my goals to be more open and out-going.

So which songs (that I haven't featured already) helped with creating the writing zone I needed for some of these relationship scenarios? I hope you have a few minutes and are in the mood to listen to music, because there were several. I'm only featuring a few here.

First up is 'Dilemma' by Selena Gomez:


This one describes pretty well the frustration of one person who wants to have a relationship with someone else, but there are communication issues, and the point of view person doesn't quite understand the other. They don't want to just walk away and forget about that person, they're drawn to them. I had to do a little male-female flip-flopping in my mind because it's the male whose baffled by the female in my story.

The second one is 'Outlaw' by Selena Gomez:


When I first heard this song I smiled and thought "Wow, that fits one of my lead characters perfectly." There's a price to be paid for discarding people.

The third one is 'Uninvited' by Alanis Morrisette:


There's a lot of psychological action in this book, including telepathic and emotional intrusions. Characters literally get in the heads of other characters, but there is one character who has such a strong will that no one gets in "uninvited." It makes this character a mystery to the others, even though this person seems pretty readable and easy-going.

The last song I'll feature this week is 'Silent Movie' by Natasha Bedingfield:


We seldom know what one interaction with someone else will snowball into. Lives criss-cross; we touch each other and pass on, but we leave a mark on each other. Our actions can lift someone up or destroy them. And perhaps we're more interconnected than we think.

This song also deals with a lack of communication with a surprising outcome. One who scoffs at another will eventually find they care about the other character, a lot more than they thought possible. Just like in real life, we may think someone else might not suit us and then find out we were wrong.

Question for you:
What relationships do you like to explore when reading or writing? Do you have a favorite or a must-have?

Previous Behind the Scenes Posts:
Forbidden Without Knowing Why
Let's Talk Hair 
My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Track 1
My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Tracks 2 & 3 
My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Track 4

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Track 4

Okay, this soundtrack dates me, but that's okay, because Trefury: Mendi's Curse was conceived back when I was a teenager and this song was playing on the radio. It's been twenty years, roughly, since I wrote the first draft. I still have it, written in blue pen on notebook paper. I even have the graph sheets where I diagrammed the infamous East Wing and my early drawings of Cortnee and Thssk.

Trefury's come a long way since that rough draft. Time periods, settings, characters, and even plot lines have drastically changed. The best parts haven't changed much at all.

Track 4 is 'Elevator Man' by Oingo Boingo. It fits in well with my Thssk character, his notorious reputation and personality. I won't give away too much. Once you've read the story, you'll see the parallels in the lyrics of the song. I only ask that you take away the romantic connotations, because this story isn't a romance story. It's the battle of wills between age and youth, compulsion and agency, a seductively persuasive character versus a closed and guarded one. One takes the other away from everything they've known with the intent to use them (Note: there's no sexual content of any kind in this book.). I'm talking about mental and emotional seduction with the intent to manipulate.

Thssk's voice is hard to resist. My critique partners fell for him. Will you?

Here's my track 4 song. I couldn't find a link that showcased the words, but if you listen they aren't too hard to depict.


Previous Behind the Scenes Posts:
Forbidden Without Knowing Why
Let's Talk Hair 
Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Track 1
Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Tracks 2 & 3

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tips to Help Indie Authors Help Their Cover Artists

I used to work in travel as a tour wholesaler, which basically means I would package together travel elements such as a plane ticket, a hotel stay, and transfers to and from the airport then turn around and sell the package to travel agents, who would then sell it to the public. The most annoying part of my job was dealing with travel agents and/or through them their clients who had no idea what they wanted.

I'd get calls that ran something like this:

Travel agent: "My client wants to go to the Caribbean."

Me: "When would they like to go?"

Travel agent: "Oh anytime between June and August. When would they get the best airfare?"

Me: "That depends on where they want to go."

Travel agent: "Somewhere cheap. I'd like pricing on four, five, six, and seven nights."

Me: "I need you to narrow it down."

Travel agent: "Why?"

Me: "Because you know your client better than I do."

Travel agent: *gives a big, annoyed sigh* "Try Jamaica, Barbados, Aruba, and Turks and Caicos."

You get the idea. Often people don't have a clear idea of what they want. Dumping their vague expectations on someone else is not only unfair, but it's always bound to lead to disappointment for both sides.

If you're an indie author getting ready to publish your book, you need a great cover for your book. Sometimes this means working with an artist. It's important to do your research when selecting an artist, checking into pricing, availability, and getting an idea of what an artist's work is like. But your job isn't over once you have all that figured out and lined up.

In fact, even before you select your artist, it's a good idea to do cover research first, since that will give you a pretty good idea of what you want and help you find an artist that has that vibe or capability.

1 - Visit bookseller or reader websites. Select the genre your story is written in (or genres if you're writing a cross-genre book) and scroll through the list of books. Don't spend time reading the book summaries. Examine the covers. Take note of which covers leap out at you and make you curious to read the summary. Look for patterns in not only layout, but color, and the type of art being used for your genre. Take copious notes.

***Your cover needs to reflect the genre it is written in. A potential reader should be able to glance at your cover and instantly get a feeling for what type of book it is.***

2 - Doodle. Experiment with layouts for your cover. Use block shapes and circles. You don't have to be an artist. Doing this helps you realize how important the placement of the title and other words are, how big the images might be, and whether you have too much or too little in mind.

***Coming up with two or three possible layouts will cut down on time for your artist. Which could save you money.***

3 - When choosing elements to go on your cover, think about your novel. Maybe you want the lead character(s) featured on the front. How much of them do you want to show? How much do you want to leave to the reader's imagination? Maybe you want a setting which will showcase your world-building. Maybe you want something symbolic. What elements are going to entice readers without giving too much away? Don't throw these questions at your artist. They didn't write the book. You did. Your artist will need you to come up with the details, such as what your characters look like and what they are wearing, or what your setting looks like. Make up a list or even better, give you artist excerpts from the book to show them what you want.

Sometimes it's helpful to make up a sort of scrapbook, using pictures that have the flavor, look, or idea of what you want. Models in the right stance, people who look like your characters, scenery (whether real or made-up) that have echoes of your world, fabric or color swatches, even fonts or decorative script samples. These samples don't necessarily represent your idea in full, but they will help your artist stay on track.

***This will also save time and money. It will also help prevent your artist from having too much freedom of interpretation that could mean coming up with characters, settings, or symbols that look nothing like what you want.***

4 - If you are not purchasing a font for the words on your cover, you will need to design your own, and that made-up font will need to be embedded into the artwork. Check to see if your artist will help you design a font. Make sure that you consider carefully your word placement on your cover. Will your name or the name of the book be bigger? Do you have a subtitle? Which words will get the flashy treatment and which ones will be plainer? What colors are you going to use?

5 - Know your deadline. Make sure you give your artist plenty of time to complete the project, with extra time for revisions. Don't demand a great cover within a few days or even a week. You'll need time to discuss your ideas with your artist, time for preliminary sketches, time for them to do the actual artwork, and then revisions (there will always be revisions). Your artist may have other clients at the same time. Check with your artist to find out their timetables, availability, and how fast they can work.

***Remember, the more research and prep work you've done, the less time the artist should need to complete the project.***

6 - If you have a good rapport with your artist, and they have both the time and inclination, let them read your novel before starting on the cover. It makes a world of difference if they understand the story and where you're coming from when you give them your list of cover elements.

7 - If your novel is the first book in a series, or you plan on hiring this same artist again for other novels, you'll want to cultivate a good relationship with your artist. Be grateful for their time and work. Promote them to your other writer friends. Make sure you've mentioned them on your copyright page and in the acknowledgements of your novel. Artists, like authors depend on that precious word-of-mouth recommendation for their work.

Question for you: Do you have an artist you've been very satisfied with? What was your working relationship like? Go ahead and promote them in the comments.

Do you know of any other good tips for indie authors who will be working with an artist?

You May Also Like:
Interview with My Cover Artist, Nicolle Raty
Cover Reveal for Trefury: Mendi's Curse

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Tracks 2 & 3

Sometimes you just need mood music as you write. Here are a couple of songs I listened to a lot to help me stay in the zone as I worked on my debut novel, Trefury: Mendi's Curse.

The first one is found on OC Remix: Chrono Trigger 'Crying Mountain' by Saiko:


This song was my transition song, or the travel theme song. Appropriate transitions are important to storytelling, and the beat helped remind me to keep them brief and to the point. You want to keep moving with a story, not get bogged down in one place.

The next song is also found on OC Remix: Diddy Kong Racing 'Shiva Nataraja' by Guifrog:


I really went for a heavy mishmash of Asian and Middle-Eastern (with some Western) vibes when designing the country and world a couple of my lead characters come from. It helped listening to upbeat Asian-techno and Indian dance music. Pandora was also a help when I really wanted to get into that mindset.

These are just a couple of the mood music songs on my playlist. I have several more. Many writers prefer this kind of music to write to, rather than songs with words. I limit my non-worded music, trying to especially avoid soundtracks, as these tend to make me think of the movies they come from and the characters in those movies. But there are times when I don't have any specific song that fits the theme, emotion, or situation I'm writing about. Then I queue the non-movie, no-words music.

Question for you:
How important is mood music to your writing process? What do you look for when choosing your mood music?

Previous Behind the Scenes Posts:
Behind the Scenes #3: My Writing Soundtrack for Trefury, Track 1
Forbidden Without Knowing Why
Let's Talk Hair

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Interview with My Cover Artist, Nicolle Raty

 As promised last week, I'm featuring my cover artist, Nicolle Raty, on the blog today. Nicolle and I go way back, I mean, way, way back. She's one of my best friends and she's watched me develop as a writer as I've watched her develop as an artist. Naturally, she was the first person I turned to when I needed a cover for my novel. Finding a reputable and good artist can be tricky or a lot of work, so for you authors still searching for an artist, I'm making one possible choice a little easier today by giving a personal reference. If you like what you see here on the blog or by following Nicolle's links, she may be the right artist for your next novel.

Copyright Nicolle Raty
J.A.: Nicolle, what do you love about being an artist?
N.R.: I love learning about things I draw or paint. I love the realm of discovery as you sketch and create, and magical moments when something suddenly appears or works out better than you originally planned. Seeing the excited looks on authors'/clients' faces when their ideas become tangible.

J.A.: What professional credits do you have?
N.R.: I earned my Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design/Illustration with a minor in History from Brigham Young University Idaho in 2004. Since then I've worked on a variety of projects form book illustration, graphic design, murals, Native American crafts, and more. 
 
Copyright Nicolle Raty
J.A.: What are your artistic specialties? What kinds of art projects do you want to do?
N.R.: Fantasy and/or children's books.

J.A.: What should a writer do to help you visualize their project?
N.R.: Be specific and detailed. Giving me a "whatever you think is best" means I decide how things look. Extra corrections and adjustments will cost you more.

J.A.: How do you prefer to be contacted by prospective clients?
N.R.: Via email: nicolle.nic.inc(at)gmail.com
You can also contact me through my Facebook or Behance portfolio sites.

J.A.: Do you have any limitations, restrictions, or art projects you won't take on?
N.R.: I won't do anything extra-violent, sexually suggestive, gay or lesbian, political, or last-minute rush projects (2 weeks or less) unless it's very simple.

Copyright Nicolle Raty
From my own personal experience with Nicolle, she's fast, fun to collaborate with, has a great sense of humor, and is one of the sweetest people I know. I'm very pleased with the cover she did for me and I can't wait to see the interior illustrations she's been working on.

Be sure to click through and check out her links for more samples of her artwork. She's been doing a fun series of coloring book pages for kids on Facebook.

And congratulations are in order as Nicolle is getting ready to get married in September. It's going to be a big month for both of us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cover Reveal for Trefury: Mendi’s Curse

And here it is, the first cover for my novel, Trefury: Mendi's Curse, coming out September 2014. This will be for the hardcover edition.

This cover is original artwork and copyright protected.



An ancient legend is remade.

Meet the oddest, most-likely-to-fail partnership the planet Niyhel has ever known. He’s cunning, intelligent, and dangerous. She’s slow to trust, reckless, and loyal. And both of them have their own ideas about how to do things.

Thssk, a six-thousand-year old norhendra, has unwittingly caused the near extinction of his kind. Then he abandoned his handler, momentarily forgetting that she was an astral. She curses him as he flees the battlefield: the next handler he chooses will avenge her. Hunted by his past, it takes a divine summons and a volcanic eruption to rekindle Thssk’s competitive spirit after a long hibernation. Racing against his enemies to rescue a boy from another planet?—he’s the only one capable of pulling it off. But there’s a catch, he has to select a new human partner to work with.

Tech savvy Cortnee Feyandihar is tracking down the people responsible for her mom’s death while trying to gain a footing on a career path in the fields of music and dance. But when she goes too far with a corruption exposé, a last-ditch effort to salvage her future sticks her in the middle of an inter-world showdown and right into Thssk’s coils.

On a world where starships are born, homes grow, and flowers can flatten entire cities, the fates of two lands hangs in the balance, as do the lives of millions of people. Yet it all pales in comparison to Thssk confronting the repercussions of discarding his previous partners as he struggles with his unpredictable new one. Everything Cortnee thought she understood has turned inside out and she must utilize every skill in her arsenal to get a grip on her new reality. If they can’t learn to communicate and work together, he won’t achieve the great future he was promised, but if they do, Cortnee could fall like her predecessors—into madness.

Stay in the know with the book's release by following this blog, my page on Facebook, or my Twitter account. A couple of giveaways are forthcoming.

If you love the look of the cover and want to know more about the artist, come back next week when I interview her. 

Enter to win a copy of the book.