More on the subject of book covers

Last week I threw out a question about creating book covers and admitted that, having designed only one, I don’t know much about the process. Today I’m welcoming Rachel Elizabeth Cole who knows a whole lot more! In fact, she’s made a business out of designing them. She says, “I’ve only worked with a few small publishers, but otherwise mostly self-publishers. So I can’t really tell you what goes on in, say, Random House’s art department.” But she was willing to answer questions, so here we go…

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Rachel Cole

Rachel Cole

Hi, Rachel. Thanks for sharing with us today. How did you get into book cover design?

Quite by accident, really. I’d decided to self-publish a few of my previously-published short stories on Amazon and, having a background in art and design, I opted to design my own covers.

A few months after I published, a writer friend contacted me and asked if I’d design a cover for a short story he was planning to self-publish. I agreed and he loved the results. I’d received comments from other author friends suggesting I might make a business of book cover design. So I decided to give it a shot. The rest, as they say, is history.

What do you think makes a good book cover?

Ask one hundred book cover designers and you’ll likely get one hundred different answers. But there are several areas where many designers agree. First, a good book cover is eye-catching. There are literally thousands of books out there–in book stores, libraries, and online–vying for reader attention. A good design will stand out from the other book covers out there, causing readers stop browsing the shelves or scrolling down the screen.

Second, a good cover design conveys genre. Is your book literary? Then it should have a cover that reflects that. If it’s romance, then it should have a cover that looks like a romance cover. Readers may only give a book cover a few seconds’ glance before moving on to another. If your book’s cover does not represent the genre accurately–or worse, doesn’t represent any genre at all!–readers will keep on shopping till they find what they’re looking for.

And lastly, a good design creates interest. It raises questions in the reader’s mind so they just have to read the back cover or click through to the description to find out more. 

I hear some authors mention that they get to approve their covers before publication, but others don’t, or get very little opportunity for input. Why don’t publishers give authors more say in their cover design?

Authors often aren’t familiar with design concepts and what will both look good on a cover, and, more importantly, draw in readers. Also, authors can be far too close to their work to see it objectively.

Some authors have a very specific idea of how their characters look, or their setting, or a scene in the book and they want that recreated on the cover. But that’s not always the best choice for a book cover. With the exception of a few genres (SF/F, historical, and children’s fiction come to mind), most books don’t have scenes on the cover. They’re usually far too busy. Or require expensive custom artwork or photo-shoots that aren’t in the budget. And finding stock photos of a model who looks exactly like the MC (or MCs in the case of a romance) can be excruciatingly difficult. Ditto the setting. Plus, some buildings, locations, etc. have trademark issues connected with them that would require expensive licensing and legal work to be usable on a book cover.

This isn’t to say publishers won’t try to create a cover with a model who looks like the MC or put a scene from the book on the cover, but they realize that every reader will have a different perception of the characters, settings, scenes, etc. and so recreating these images exactly as the author sees them isn’t necessary to good design.

How have ebooks influenced cover design? 

Until the ebook revolution, book covers were designed to capture attention when viewed from about five feet away on a book shop or other retail store shelf. Today, however, more and more books are purchased online, where they are viewed as tiny 100 pixel (or so) high images. Design that would cause a reader to walk closer to view the details, in effect drawing them in, doesn’t always translate so well onto the screen. Readers often scroll right past covers with small text, low contrast, faded colours, overly dark, or intricately detailed images. Good ebook covers usually have clear, eye-catching images, high contrasts (either colours and bright/dark), and easily readable titles. Though there’s debate over whether a title needs to be readable at thumbnail size, there is definitely a shift from the way book covers were designed before ebooks to the way they’re being designed today.

What are your favourite genres to design for?

Literary fiction, women’s fiction, children’s fiction, and historical fiction.

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Thanks so much for giving us your take on this topic, Rachel. I browsed some of your available premade covers and discovered one you’ve identified as ‘The Beach House’ which I’ve fallen in love with. I think I’ll have to reserve it and then write a story to go with it! (If only it worked that way!) :D

Rachel can be found on the web in various locations:

Now it’s your turn. Readers, what kind of covers appeal most to you? If you’re a writer, what do you envision for the cover of your next book?

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Book Review & Giveaway: REBELLIOUS HEART by Jody Hedlund

Author Jody Hedlund

Author Jody Hedlund

When I first encountered Jody Hedlund back in mid-2009, she was a new blogger seeking representation and publication for her writing. She often used examples from PILGRIM’S PROGRESS in her posts, and admitted a passion for John Bunyan. So it was no surprise when her first published novel was a story loosely based on the second marriage of John Bunyan. (THE PREACHER’S BRIDE, Bethany House, 2010)

In that book Jody’s writing transported me right into the story’s mid-1600s setting… something that rarely happens unless an author has done a remarkable amount of research and used the information effectively.

In each of her successive books, Jody’s knowledge of historical times – i.e., 1836 Oregon, 1880s Michigan, and 1763 Massachusetts – evoked the same reaction, and I’ve been drawn into reading a genre that previously had never appealed to me. I eagerly devoured her newest book, REBELLIOUS HEART, when it was released in September by Bethany House.

At the end of this post you can leave a comment and be entered in the draw for a copy of REBELLIOUS HEART. :)

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Rebellious-HeartREBELLIOUS HEART takes us into the lives of two people from vastly different backgrounds. Susanna Smith is a bright young woman of good social status who, despite being denied the education she desires, displays her intelligence and asserts her independence as she works for social justice. When she seeks to aid a runaway indentured slave, she is assisted by the son of a farmer, country lawyer Benjamin Ross, who is also involved in the pre-Revolutionary discontent of the time. Their developing friendship places Susanna and her family in great danger.

Inspired by the unique friendship of US president John Adams and his wife Abigail, the story places richly detailed and believable characters into historically correct settings while playing out a fascinating and fast-paced plot.

I asked Jody which scene in the story she found the most challenging to write…

“Which scene in Rebellious Heart was the most challenging to write? I’d have to say the first scene in the courtroom where Ben is defending Hermit Crab Joe. I always want the first chapter to accomplish many goals. But often that’s hard to do without being wordy (and potentially boring the reader!).

“My original version of the scene was MUCH too long. And once I’d written it, I realized right away that I would need to pare it down quite a bit. But at the same time, I was told I needed to add more period detail to the scene so that readers could understand right away that they were in Colonial Times. So essentially I had to cut AND add at the same time!

“Fortunately, I’m not married to my words and I can usually cut and chop without mortally wounding myself. The hard part was trying to figure out exactly what was necessary for the scene and setting and what was overkill.

“Once I had eliminated as much as I possibly could, then I had a Colonial “expert” give me advice on where I could add a little more period detail to make the chapter/book more authentic.”

That authenticity stands out in all Jody’s writing, but especially in REBELLIOUS HEART. If you enjoy good historical fiction, you’ll want to add this book to your list of must-reads!

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If you’d like to have your name included in the draw for a free copy of REBELLIOUS HEART, please leave a comment below and be sure to provide your e-mail addy when prompted. The draw will close at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24th. I’ll be taking a blogging break during Christmas week, but will post the name of the winner on Friday, December 27th.

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You can find out more about Jody and her books on her website: jodyhedlund.com

She hangs out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund and also loves to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund

She is represented by Rachelle Gardener at Books and Such Literary Agency.

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eBook Giveaway and Author Interview: Susan J. Reinhardt

I first met Susan Reinhardt on Facebook and in exchanges around our blogs, and have always appreciated her thoughtful comments and responses. I’m delighted to be among those who are getting the word out about the recent release of her debut novel, THE MOSES CONSPIRACY

“A trip to post-terrorized Washington, D.C. in 2025 and a buggy accident in Bird-in-Hand, PA set in motion events that expose a diabolical plan to destroy the Christian community. Ellie and John Zimmerman find themselves embroiled in a life-threatening investigation, fighting a shadowy enemy.”

Thanks, Susan, for dropping in here to answer a few questions about your book. And thanks, too, for providing a free eBook for one of my readers. (See info below.)

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flatecover(11)Readers often wonder where the idea for a book originated. What inspired you to write THE MOSES CONSPIRACY?

My late husband and I visited Gettysburg prior to Christmas in 2004. While standing in the old town square, surrounded by history, I could “hear” the forefathers’ voices. However, they were like fading echoes.

After several failed attempts to write non-fiction pieces, I put it on the back burner and prayed for direction. In August 2005, my husband and I were talking about “the Gettysburg experience,” and he said, “That’s it!  That’s your book! And you’ll write it in four months and call it Ghosts of the Past.”

I thought he was crazy, but caught the vision. The name changed to Echoes of the Past and later to The Moses Conspiracy. When I sat down at the computer, I had no clue what I was going to write. By Christmas 2005, I had 55,000 words.

How long did it take you to write the book and what was the journey like?
The first draft took four months, but then I had to learn how to write fiction. I cut my writing teeth on this book. There were multiple re-writes while I shopped it around. It took eight years to write, get a contract, and an agent.

The journey was far from easy. From 2006-2007, I wrote very little due to my husband’s battle with leukemia, death, and the subsequent challenges. When I came through the grief process, I knew I had to finish the book both in his memory and because I felt the Lord had directed me to write it.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

There are several messages, including the faithfulness of God during difficult times, the importance of protecting our freedoms, and building strong family relationships.

What genre is THE MOSES CONSPIRACY?

I loosely define The Moses Conspiracy as Christian Speculative Fiction because it takes place in 2025. Although it takes place in the future, I’ve avoided a lot of techno-babble. One take-away I wanted for the reader was the possibility this or something similar could happen.

What are you working on now?

The Moses Conspiracy is the first book in a trilogy. Book 2, with a working title of The Scent of Fear, takes place three years after the initial story. The rough draft is written and is now in the editing stage. The third book, Lost and Found, is still in its infancy. Each book is a stand-alone novel, but builds upon the previous plotline.

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the moses conspiracy on kindleSusan is offering a free eBook (PDF version) of  THE MOSES CONSPIRACY to one lucky reader.

Over this weekend, from now until midnight Sunday, those who leave a comment on this post will have their names entered in a random draw — one entry for each comment — and the winner will be announced on Monday. (This giveaway is available internationally. Be sure to include your e-mail address when prompted so we can contact you.)

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SusanReinhardtAbout Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt’s journey to publication began as a non-fiction writer. She’s been published in The RevWriter Resource, Devotions Magazine, A Secret Place, Vista, Live, and numerous other compilations and periodicals. Her appreciation for using fiction techniques inspired her to use fiction as a vehicle for truth. A widow, stepmom, and active church member, Susan enjoys reading, couponing, gardening, and searching for small treasures in antique shops.

Susan is represented by Joyce Hart, of the Hartline Literary Agency.

THE MOSES CONSPIRACY is an eBook available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Kobo.

Visit Susan on her BlogFacebook, and Twitter.

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‘The Next Big Thing’ Meme


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There’s this Meme going around, called The Next Big Thing. Folks have been sharing details of their current writing and up-and-coming projects. My DD, Shari Green, was tagged and I was happily reading her post when, wham! I came across my name. So I’ve been tagged now, too.

The idea is to answer the questions and then pass them along to another writer. It’s a great way to learn about each other’s work and to do a little self-promotion. Here are my answers:

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What is the working title of your book?

Since I don’t have a working title for my current w.i.p. yet, I’ll use the previous manuscript, and its title is UNLIKELY SHOWDOWN.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve been involved with the world of purebred dogs and dog shows for more than thirty years, and have seen some bizarre situations and behaviour. I heard of dogs being killed by obsessive competitors and that got me thinking about what might drive a competitor to murder someone.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s fallen all over the place, from cosy mystery to romance to inspirational romantic suspense! The revision I’m currently querying is simply a romantic suspense.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If it wouldn’t be considered too arrogant I would love to see Meryl Streep as the MC and David Strathairn as her husband. On stage they both display the strong, independent personalities that cause so much conflict in this story.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

UNLIKELY SHOWDOWN is the story of what happens when one woman’s addiction to purebred dogs and the competitive world of dog shows speeds out of control and turns deadly.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have friends who have very successfully self-published so I know it’s possible, but it’s not for me. I can’t imagine myself venturing into today’s tough publishing scene without the guidance of a knowledgeable agent and the help of an experienced editorial team. Does that make me a wuss?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

If I said ‘forever’, I’ll bet other writers would understand. Much of it was written during last year’s NaNoWriMo month, but I continued to work on it right through the spring. I guess that means about nine months for the first draft, but I was still rewriting  parts of it earlier this fall, and am continually tweaking it now… especially since attending a recent workshop by Donald Maass on the topic of Writing Twenty-first Century Fiction.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I left this question until last, but even now I can’t really pinpoint perfect titles. I’d like to say a movie match-up would be combining the quirkiness of BEST IN SHOW with the out-of-control adventure of THE RIVER WILD, but that’s not exactly right either. Let’s just move on, shall we?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think my earlier answer covers this. The plot reveals an aspect of the dog show world few people know about, and should. Once the idea germinated, the story pretty much blossomed on its own.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Everyone loves a dog story, but this one is more about the people who love dogs. There are many wonderful people involved in the dog show world, but also many eccentric ones. I was the official consultant for the filming of ‘Best In Show’ and if you’ve seen it, you’ll remember how passionate some people are about winning at any cost. There might be “eight million stories in the Naked City”, but there are a whole lot of them lurking behind the scenes at dog shows, too.

There! Now you have it. And now that I’ve done my share, I’m to tag others and invite them to participate. So, in alphabetical order…

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Laura BestFirst victim:  Laura Best

Laura’s first novel was an historical YA story, although I think I recall hearing her hint that there’s a non-fiction project somewhere in the works, too. She can be a little kooky at times (yes, you have to read her claim to the Booker Award) but when she talks about her little Miss Charlotte, you know she has her priorities straight.

KeliGwyn-V4-SmallSecond victim:  Keli Gwyn

Keli writes inspirational historical romance. Long before she was published herself, she interviewed me on her Romance Writers on the Journey blog. There is nobody with a heart like Keli’s when it comes to supporting and encouraging her fellow writers.

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 Third victim:  Ruth Logan Herne.

Ruthy is a multi-published inspirational romance author, a dog breeder, and an out-of-this-world cook, plus she has an outrageous sense of humour. I met her on Seekerville, but she has multiple websites for her books and a couple personal sites as well.

Katherine WagnerFourth victim:   Katherine Wagner

Katherine writes Gothic horror, but I like her anyway. Anyone who has attended the Surrey International Writers’ Conference more times than I have has to be on the right track. She’s the co-facilitator of my writing critique group, Golden Ears Writers, so I have to be nice to her and her red pen.

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If you’re tagged and don’t have time to take part, or would prefer not to, it’s okay to decline… although since I’m dying to hear more about your “next big thing”, I’m going to be very curious about your answers to this meme, so I hope everyone will choose to participate. :)

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Interview Elsewhere (at Charlie’s blog)

Charlie Holmberg

If you’ve ever wondered what my latest book is about, or who is my favourite author… you know, earth shattering questions like that… then I invite you to skip on over to the “Myself As Written” blog where I’m being interviewed today by freelance editor and aspiring fantasy author Charlie Holmberg.

If you’re not up to skipping, I won’t mind at all. But since I’m not writing anything else here today, it’s gonna be a mighty boring place if you decide to wait around.

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Secrets and a giveaway from author Jody Hedlund

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Today I’m sharing in the excitement of author Jody Hedlund’s newest release, UNENDING DEVOTION. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end.” This is stop #2 on Jody’s blog tour sharing fun secrets you probably didn’t know about her.

There’s also a signed copy of her book to be won. Check out the details below.

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Secret #2: The secret source of my writing inspiration

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

The secret of my writing inspiration is my bed. Yes, I really do get most of my story ideas when I’m lying in bed at night before I fall asleep.

Ideas stay in my heart and mind at all times during the course of writing the first draft. But it’s at night, in the quiet of the house, when my mind slows down and when my body is at rest, that I can hear my characters, that I fall in love with them, and they become real to me.

Interestingly, the moment I turn my book in to my editors, the characters leave my heart and head. It’s as if hitting ‘send’ severs the tie with them—which thankfully prepares me to be more objective with my work during the editing phase.

After the story is out of my hands, then usually the very next night, as I lie in bed, I begin the search for a new story and new characters. I begin to sort through ideas, always trying to find something fresh and exciting.

In fact, if I don’t have direction for a story, I start to feel lost. Then when I’m lying in bed, my mind is restless. And that undercurrent of restlessness remains until I latch onto another story and new characters.

Of course, I do find inspiration from many other places besides my bed. I glean ideas from biographies, history books, interesting people, old photographs, etc.

But it takes a quieting of the mind and the peacefulness of rest for those ideas to simmer and to come to fruition.

Are you building enough quiet and rest into your life to fuel your creative energy? Where do you find your greatest inspiration?

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Thanks for sharing with us today, Jody! Next time I’m lacking a good story idea maybe I should just go to bed! ;)

 To celebrate the release of UNENDING DEVOTION, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Leave a comment  on today’s post (along with your email address) to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, September 6th. Winner’s name will be posted on Friday.

For more secrets about Jody and additional chances to win her newest release, visit her Events Page to see where she’ll be next in her “Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund” blog tour. Also join in the Pinterest Photo Contest she’s hosting. Find more information about it on her Contest Page.

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Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:

Website: http://jodyhedlund.com/
Blog: http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/
Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JodyHedlund
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jodyhedlund/

 

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Book Giveaway Reminder (and Winner!)

It’s Tuesday! That means tonight’s midnight draw deadline is fast approaching. If you missed Friday’s interview with author Jody Hedlund, this is your opportunity to check it out and leave a comment to be eligible to win a free copy of her newest release, The Doctor’s Lady. Jody’s historical romances are getting great reviews — a third book will be released in 2012, and news is just out of another three-book contract with her publisher, Bethany House — so don’t miss this chance to win a copy.

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All the names!

It’s Wednesday morning now and we have a winner!

All the names of those who commented were included, except mine, Jody’s and her crit partner, Keli Gwyn, who already has a copy. Then I enlisted the aid of the very amazing DH, who, as you can see, pulled the name of Susan Reinhardt.

Congratulations Susan! I’ll be in touch shortly to make arrangements to get your copy to you. And thanks to everyone who joined in the conversation following Jody’s interview. I hope you all get an opportunity to read The Doctor’s Lady, too.

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Book Giveaway and Author Interview: Jody Hedlund

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I’m in two places at once today. You’ll also find me posting about sources of power on The Pastor’s Wife Speaks blog. After enjoying today’s interview with Jody Hedlund (and leaving a comment to be eligible for a free copy of her new book) perhaps you’ll click over and join me there.

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Jody Hedlund

I’m honoured to welcome author Jody Hedlund to my blog. I’ve been sold on Jody’s writing since before she published her first book. Her blog caught my attention back somewhere in mid-2009 as she shared her writing journey with great transparency and wisdom. Her faith also shone through each post, and I remember thinking that she was destined to have a ministry through her words.

Her debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, was published last year by Bethany House, and her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, has just been released.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Preacher’s Bride, so was surprised to discover I liked The Doctor’s Lady much more. Its writing is tighter, the story line is smoother, credible conflict immediately captures attention and builds throughout.  It’s quite an adventure! Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop, and believe me, that isn’t usual for me with an inspy historical romance.

The blurb about The Doctor’s Lady says, “Priscilla White knew God wanted her to be a missionary, not a wife. Then, the missionary board declares the only way she can serve is to be married. Now, married in name only [to Dr. Eli Ernest], her epic journey west will test her spirit… and the new longings of her heart.”

INTERVIEW

Jody, what was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?  

This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.

It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

What message do you hope readers take away from TDL?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

I know you’re busy working on another book. What’s coming next? 

In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

People always seem curious about the life of a writer, so I have to ask, what do you like most (and least) about writing and being a published author?

As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I’m always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.

I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit—called the Galley Review—I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. During the Galley stage, I’m fraught with insecurity and fear. My agent did a great job of talking me off the cliff during my fears with The Doctor’s Lady. She encouraged and inspired me to keep going no matter what happens.

Now for a more personal question… one that our family always seems to toss around during summer picnics and BBQ’s: “If you knew you were going to be stranded on a deserted island for a month and could only take multiples of one meal with you, what would it be?” Our children always choose something very different from the adults. What would you take? 

If I were going to be completely honest, I’d have to say I’d bring nachos–the kind piled high with cheese, taco meat, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato.

However, my motherly responsible answer would be to say that I’d bring a big taco salad–with lots of lettuce, tomato, taco meat, cheese, and chips. I think this would be a bit healthier than the nachos, and of course it would be one that included most of the food groups.

Could I sneak in a pan of gooey brownies too? =)

Of course! I think all writers depend upon chocolate to fuel their inspiration, don’t they? I like your food choice; nachos with cheese is my absolutely favourite snack!

Many of my readers are aspiring authors. Do you have any advice to share? 

Write a couple of books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading books that explain how to write. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing. When you begin reaching a level in your writing where you think you’re ready to start querying, get a critique partner to read your work, vamp up your online presence, and immerse yourself in the writing industry.

Thanks, Jody. I’ve loved having you here today. If readers would like to connect more with you, where can they find you? 

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GIVEAWAY!

I received a copy of The Doctor’s Lady from the publisher to review for this post, and I’m going to give it away to one lucky reader who leaves a comment here between now and midnight next Tuesday — that’s 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21. Be sure to leave your e-mail when prompted so you can be reached. I’ll announce the winner Wednesday morning. The draw is limited to addresses in Canada and the USA.

UPDATE!

The draw has been done (see here) and Susan J. Reinhardt is the winner. Congratulations, Susan!

(The Doctor’s Lady can also be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders, and ChristianBook.com, as well as at most of your local bookstores.)

CONTEST!

Jody has an incredible contest running on her website. The Be a Trailblazer Contest has a pioneer prize package valued at $300! The contest is limited to residents of the USA, age 18 and older, but visit her contest page for all the details.

AUTHOR BIO

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher’s Bride. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of the WordServe Literary Group. Jody received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, was released earlier this month by Bethany House Publishers.

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Author Interview: David Ebright

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Everyone knows I don’t write for young adults (well, except for once, under a pseudonym), and I normally don’t read YA novels either. My preference is for mainstream mystery and suspense, and in recent years I’ve found my way to inspirational romantic suspense. But I never, hardly ever, read YA.

Then again, when I think back to the author interviews I’ve done, several have been with YA writers. When I like the people, and I like how they write, I read their books. Today’s guest is one of those people.

I’m not sure how I first came across Dave Ebright’s blog, but I remember finding his humorous post on getting a new computer just at the time I’d gone through the teeth-gnashing frustration of replacing all the electronics in two offices, thanks to a nasty power surge. He had me laughing, and I was hooked. That was back in January 2009. He had just released BAD LATITUDE, and before I could figure out why I was barking, “Ahoy, mate!” I was reading all about pirates, ghosts and teenage treasure hunters… and loving it.

Now he’s published the second book in the Jack Rackham Adventure series and I think it’s about time you met the Haunted City Writer himself. He’s every bit as interesting as the stories he writes.

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Dave (Pop) and grandson Jack on the real "Laffin' Gaff'"

CG:             Welcome, Dave. I’m so pleased you agreed to this interview. You keep telling me you’re not a serious author, and yet RECKLESS ENDEAVOR is your second published novel. How do you explain that?

DE:           Thanks for inviting me. This is my first-ever book-related interview and will no doubt drive your readers away in droves. It’ll take months for your blog to recover. Sorry.

Do I really have two books out now? Wow. I had no idea. To begin ‘splainin’… being an author never crossed my mind. I DO remember the very day I started this craziness. Something clicked and I discovered that writing was enjoyable and relaxing, so I kept working at it. What started as a short story for my grandson (Jack) turned into BAD LATITUDE. While BL was in the works, I had several spin-off ideas so I did a major rewrite to create a lead into the next book. The Rackham name did not, in fact, become part of the story until well after the first draft and rewrite was finished. One day I was thinkin’ what if Jack (my primary character) was the descendant of a real pirate? Rewrite. And now there are two books with a third underway – all part of the Jack Rackham Adventure series. How strange is that?

CG:            What’s the story about? This is a sequel to BAD LATITUDE, isn’t it? Does it work as a stand-alone book, too, or ?

DE:           RECKLESS is a sequel and it absolutely stands alone … and once again leads into another adventure. I could say it’s a ghost story, but that would be only partly true, though the ghost (Calico Jack Rackham – a pirate hanged in 1720) is a key character. The story follows the summertime high seas voyage of four sixteen-year-olds (one being a homeless girl) aboard an 82 foot schooner with special features, from St Augustine through the Bermuda Triangle and into the Bahamas in search of another lost treasure. It’s about family, friendship, loyalty and facing fears and challenges.

CG:            In the first photo I saw of you on your old website, the one I’ve posted above, you resembled a biker guy in your sleeveless t-shirt, bandana, and tattoos. Somehow I didn’t picture you as a writer of Young Adult novels. What prompted you to choose this genre?

DE:           Hah! I hear that biker guy stuff all the time and I don’t even ride. YA sorta chose me. For years I coached teenagers. Deb and I were always surrounded by kids, including our two boys and their friends, and our house was always a very busy place. (This is where Nan and Pop received their training?) I guess, to a degree, it’s an example of ‘write what you know’ and I do know kids. 

CG:            How long did it take you to write RECKLESS ENDEAVOR compared to your previous novel?

DE:           Getting the draft down didn’t take long at all – but the work was interrupted by a lot of business related travel. I’d hoped to have RECKLESS out in late 2009 but it ended up taking two years.

CG:             With your home in St Augustine, your company’s office in Jacksonville, and a more-than-year-long work project in Ft Lauderdale, you must spend a lot of time on the road. How do you fit in writing time, and how much marketing have you been able to do?

DE:           I’ve been out of town (thankfully, Deb travels with me) since October 2008 with the exception of a few consecutive months at the end of ’09. I usually grab chunks of writing time late at night – starting at 9PM and going non-stop ‘til 4AM a couple of times a week. As for marketing… what is that exactly?            

CG:            Do you have support in your writing… a mentor, critique group, etc.?

DE:             I wish.

Dave with what he calls his "book signing for kids" face

CG:            What’s your writing process like? Do you plot and outline first, or do you dive in and let your characters take charge?

DE:             On RECKLESS I did some outlining to keep timelines straight. It seemed helpful, so with my current WIP I’ve created a pretty thorough outline – minus the ending. I never write any part of the ending ‘til the end.

CG:            Where do you do most of your writing? Have you built that nautical themed writing outbuilding yet?

DE:             The outbuilding will have to wait. I do have a very comfortable writing room at home in St Augustine, which now gets minimal use – it does have a tropical theme. In Ft Lauderdale I have a smallish antique desk in a bedroom – which works out okay. Both houses have screened-in porches, perfect writing spots when it’s not too hot.

CG:            Every writer has a story about the publication process. What led you to self publish and how has the experience been for you?

DE:            Self-publishing was the right path for me, and I have no regrets. Keep in mind, I was 50 years old (it was July 19th, 2007) when I started writing, already had and still have a successful business career, and had no aspirations to be the next Mark Twain, though that would be cool – except for the part where they take away the house to turn it into a museum. With self-publishing I liked the idea of controlling content, cover, title, etc. I really had no motivation to go through the query/rejection process. Had I started writing when I was younger, maybe I would have approached it differently. So nowadays, kids and adults(!) are reading my books and asking when the next Jack Rackham Adventure will be available. 

The Dave I know best

CG:            Looking back, is there anything about the process that you wish you’d known before you started writing?

DE:              They say ignorance is bliss. Then you get into that whole old dog/new tricks debate… besides, I don’t know anything now. 

CG:            Where can people buy copies of RECKLESS ENDEAVOR and BAD LATITUDE?

DE:            Amazon.com or several fantastic shops in St Augustine and (now) Key West. It’s spreading … like a disease. Hint: It’s only $2.99 on Kindle.

CG:            What’s next? Do you have other stories in the works?

DE:            Yep. There’s another Jack Rackham Adventure underway – the title is still up in the air. And… (picture the biker guy again?)… I’m working on a book for little kids called “Spanky and the Speckled Butterbean.” I’ve teamed up with an awesome artist from Atlanta for the illustrations.

Lizards beware!

CG:            Anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to take the opportunity to mention? Like what is it with those lizards in your pool? 

DE:           Hey, I had no idea lizards couldn’t swim when I swatted that poor fella off the screen. It was just bad luck that he landed in the pool. I’ll never forget the look of pure terror on his poor reptilian face as he sank below the waves… I mean surface.  (*sniff*)

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Bio:

Dave Ebright lives in St Augustine, Florida where he creates the characters and stories for the action packed Jack Rackham Adventure series.             

Blog:           http://jaxpop.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dave.ebright

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Author Interview: Joylene Nowell Butler

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 I’m delighted to have Joylene Butler as my guest today.  Joylene and I met as a ‘happy coincidence’ when she discovered my pen name on the Federation of BC Writers’ website and followed the link to my blog.

We continue to be surprised by things we have in common: we’ve both lived in Langley and Maple Ridge, BC, both now have homes on beautiful interior BC lakes (well, truthfully, mine is just a cabin), both suffered through the loss of children, both lean heavily on our faith for sustenance, both love the natural world around us, both are passionate about writing… indeed, we’ve decided our meeting was no coincidence at all! 

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CG:             Welcome, and congratulations on the imminent release of BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD, Joylene. This is your second novel. Can you please tell us a bit about the story?

JB: First of all, thank you for having me as your guest today, Carol. I’m grateful to call you my friend even though we haven’t met, and I’m appreciative of all you do for our community.

As for my new novel, because I’m still so terrible at summarizing my stories, I’m going to cheat and copy the blurb from the back cover. Yes, shame on me!

Brendell Kisêpîsim Meshango is of Métis heritage and a PhD university professor in Prince George, British Columbia. When Brendell resigns from the university and retreats to her isolated cabin to repair her psyche, she is confronted by a masked intruder. His racial comments lead her to believe she is the solitary victim of a hate crime. However, is all as it appears? After two bizarre days inflicting a sadistic captivity, the intruder mysteriously disappears. 

Taught by her mother to fear and distrust the mainstream-based power structures, and with her stalker possibly linked to a high level of government, Brendell conceals the incident from the police. But will keeping quiet keep her safe?

Then her beloved daughter, Zoë, is threatened — and Brendell takes matters into her own hands. To save Zoë, Brendell searches for the stalker and confronts not just a depraved madman but her own fears and prejudices.   

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CG:            Where did the idea for this story come from?

JB:            It was an onslaught of hot flushes. The story’s premise began as a question: Could a menopausal woman lose control and kill someone to protect a loved one? From there I met 50-year-old Brendell, a broken but not dead woman who felt overwhelmed by her history. As her secrets were revealed, I got a sense of who she was, and that brought me to the opening of the story. From there I jotted down what happened to her. Sounds easy, but in reality it took years.

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CG:            Everyone has a story about “how I found my agent/editor/publisher.” Can you share a bit of the journey that led you to Theytus Books?

JB:             Not until after everything happened did I realize my story is unique. I self-published my first novel. Overwaitea Foods got hold of a copy and asked me for more. I didn’t have more, so they introduced me to Hignell Book Printers in Manitoba, who introduced me to Sandhill Books, who in turn suggested I query Theytus with my next manuscript. Theytus bought the book. It was all surreal and exciting, but to sum it up in one word, I’d have to say: Providence.

CG:            How long did it take you to write BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD compared to your first novel, DEAD WITNESS?  Was the first draft close to the finished product or did it go through multiple revision transformations?

JB:             Dead Witness was my second novel, and took me three months to write, then five years to edit. My first manuscript was a learning tool that took seven years to write. Broken was a challenge, but it actually took me less time to write because of raging hormones. The first draft was finished in three months, then I spent three years editing. I’m one of those writers who is never satisfied. My biggest problem is to know when to stop.

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CG:            Are you a writer who plots and outlines first, or do you dive in and figure things out as you go?

JB:             If/when I get stuck, I do a thorough outline. Otherwise, I start at the beginning and work my way slowly to the end. I use the 3-Act play formula eventually to make certain I’ve created a strong foundation. When I suffer from writer’s block and can’t seem to go forward, I read everything and anything. Finally, I visualize the book as a video in my mind with my finger on the replay button. At the rough spots, I keep hitting replay while I’m vacuuming, gardening, experiencing insomnia, during hockey intermissions, and waiting at the doctor’s office. Eventually, the story plays itself out in my head, then I race for my computer.

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CG:            Do you have support in your writing… a mentor, critique group, etc.?

JB:             I belong to DeadlyProse, an online writers critique group. Great bunch of writers. I also work with a small intimate Alberta writers group through Skype. I’m the only one from BC. And I work one-on-one with a very talented American historical writer. I’m fortunate to know some great authors who have supported my work since the mid-90s.

CG:            Give us a glimpse of where you do most of your writing.

JB:             My computer is positioned in the corner of my dining room at a picture window that overlooks Cluculz Lake. That way I can keep track of the eagles, loons, and kingfishers. When I need to focus, I close the blind. We live in an open-concept log and stick house. During the cold winters it’s hard if I have family home, but I’ve learned to tune them out when I have to. I can edit anywhere, even during hockey intermission, but if I’m writing something new, I need complete quiet. Early morning works best, or after midnight.

 

Joylene's view of Cluculz Lake

CG:            Were there doubts, low times or obstacles for you along the way? How did you overcome them?

JB:             More doubts and low times than I can number. I quit writing once, for an entire year. I hit bottom a few times and bounced back only to have something happen that sent me into months of writer’s block. I started writing novels in 1984 and didn’t publish until 2008. That’s a long time of supposedly paying my dues. Being pigheaded helped. I kept reminding myself how could I teach my sons to never give up if I did.

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CG:            Do you have any advice for writers who are a step behind you in their pursuit of publication? Anything that you wish you’d known before you waded in yourself?

JB:             I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times: write. But please know that being published is not going to fix anything that’s wrong with your life. It’s only going to give you new experiences. It’s not a replacement for the love of family or their health and welfare. But because I’ve been where you are and can remember someone trying to tell me this, I would urge you to learn your craft in earnest. Know your grammar to the best of your ability. Understand POV. Study the 3-Act Play. Learn to give and get critiques. It’s amazing what a wonderful tool critiquing is. Though others will tell you it’s your story and you know what’s best, don’t assume you do. Educate yourself. You have access to the internet? Use it. And read. Read everything in your genre that you can. Study why you love your favourite authors so much. Then get back to writing. Oh, and don’t forget to be stubborn. It helps.

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CG:             What is your role in the marketing and promotion of your books? Do Theytus and Sandhill Books have specific distribution plans?

JB:            I’m about to learn exactly what Theytus’s marketing plans are. Luckily I made a lot of contacts with my first book. I’ll put out the word and sign up for as many readings and signings that I can this summer. My local radio station has been very supportive, and I’ll do readings for their storytelling nights. I’ll blog regularly. I’ll keep in touch with Friends of the Library. I’ll attend the northern conference again this winter. I’ll sponsor book giveaways on my blog. I’ll tour as a guest online. I do know Theytus will enter my book in applicable contests. Sandhill will take care of making certain it arrives at the stores before I do. That in itself is a big load off my mind. And I’ll keep writing more books.

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CG:            Where can people buy copies of BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD and DEAD WITNESS?

JB:            Any independent bookstore in Canada, plus Chapters/Indigo, Books & Company, Amazon.ca, and online at http://www.theytus.com.

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CG:            What’s next? Do you have other stories in the works?

JB:            I’m almost finished the sequel to Broken But Not Dead, titled Omatiwak: Woman Who Cries. I have another completed manuscript called Kiss of the Assassin, which I’ll probably edit some more. I have a WIP called Wrong, or Dead Wrong, I’m not sure yet. And I’m working on a children’s illustrated book about a spirit eagle.

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CG:            Anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to take the opportunity to mention? 

JB:             I don’t know where the need to write came from, but I’m very grateful I write novels that people actually pay money to read. If I could do it for free, I would. Thank you to all those readers who took time to read my novels. You’re the reason I’m able to keep doing this.

As for news, an e-book version of Dead Witness is due for release through MuseItUp Publishing this summer. I’ll post information on my blog when it’s out.

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Joylene Nowell Butler, Metis, was born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, grew up in Maple Ridge, and raised her children in Prince George, BC. She began writing in 1984 after the death of her father. Her first novel Dead Witness, published in 2008 is distributed across Canada by Sandhill Books. Her current works in progress include a political thriller, a children’s book, a suspense thriller, and the sequel to Broken But Not Dead. Joylene, her husband, and their three stray cats live in Cluculz Lake in central BC. They are expecting their ninth grandchild in September. In her spare time, Joylene teaches Tai chi.

Websites:
     Blog – http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com
     Webpage – http://joylene.webs.com