Monday, February 20, 2017

A Book Cover Quick Fix

"A great cover image makes a promise to the reader.
A poor cover image chases potential readers away." ~ Derek Murphy

Readership has been low for this book, so I took a step back for a moment of quiet review. Is something wrong with the cover? Yes, it's blocky, dark, static, and there's nothing eye-catching. 

RHOH, version 1

For some help on where to go from here, I watched a video by Derek Murphy called 7 Must Have Qualities For a Book Cover That Sells. I have a graphic design and illustration background, so things like contrasting colors, negative space, and balance aren't *necessarily* where I have problems, it's the marketing side I find très difficult. After watching the video, I made some notes:
1.) Did I choose the correct font? Does it speak to the genre I'm writing, which is teen romance? [No.]
2.) Is there enough interesting elements here to catch the readers eye? Derek Murphy says orange and teals make a rocking combination. Is the shirt color against the brass zipper enough? [Probably not.]
3.) Is there a humanizing element? [No face, but there is a hint of someone behind the clothes...right?]
4.) If I were to strip away the words, does the image convey what the story is about? [leather jacket means bikers, gangsters, something sinister perhaps. White-ish tee means clean, good... so together it could show a conflicted person, which is half the story...but it certainly doesn't say "teen love."] 
5.) Does it mesh with the other teen romances in the same genre? [No, there isn't a girl on the cover and the font choice is off.]

I'm an indie author in exploratory mode, learning as I go, and since I enjoy creating my own covers for the time being, I'm gonna stick with it. I'm not ready to give up on my image just yet, so I aimed at quicker fixes like color and font.

RHOH, New and Improved

Here's what I did to help seed the cover and story into the Young Adult (YA) genre:

1.) I over-layed the dark part of the cover--the black leather and the asphalt road--with an autumn brown. Instead of feeling cold, it took on a warm tone. The brass zipper stands out a bit more, which helps identify it more as clothing. 
2.) I changed the font to match Dealing with Blue since Will Sullivan is in both books. A sidekick in the first and now the main character in Riding with the Hides of Hell. Plus the font looks young and fun. 
3.) I tilted the title to create a feeling of action and speed. It's an adventure romance; the kids are going places on their motorcycles. They're feeling a bit off-kilter with the danger surrounding them and with their growing love. 
4.) I swapped the gritty, squat-looking heart with one that is clean, but not perfectly shaped. It's sort of stretched like it's about to turn into action lines, riding into the distance. It also matches the new font, young, energetic, and fun.

What do you think? I'm open to hearing how I can improve. Does the font work? Should I look for a different cover image? Does it say, "teen romance and road trip adventure" to you? Let me know in the comments! Thank you.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Heart Art Challenge: Week 3

Day 13: The thing I like about this blackout poetry business, is that it's one big doodle. I find the words, create an image to go with them, and overwork it to the point the paper looks exhausted, but it's fun! I let my pens and pencils walk all over, and it gets messy, and I'm okay with it. Very freeing.

"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." ~ Pablo Picasso

Heart Doodle

Day 14: Happy Valentine's Day! It's a day that some people detest and some people await with open arms. I've been on both sides, so I get it. Friends all around getting love notes and I get zip. Or the time of red roses, a night on the town, and a heart bursting with love. Now? Where's the time? I'm thinking about lunches for kids, traffic, lines of people, homework, what's due tomorrow...that type of thing. But doing this Heart Art Challenge has been fun...everyday has been about love. Sometimes, I see it all around, and when I don't...I have to create it. 

I carved the heart in my swiss cheese.
Sometimes you have to make the magic happen.

Day 15: Don't forget about the little things, like a favorite pair of jeans or a silver heart or its reflection...

Tilly Bean!

Day 16: Fourteen words of romance for Goodread's Romance Week: "He was lost. It was true. His soul had been touched, heated and altered." ~ Dealing with Blue

Blackout Poem

Day 17: What an intense day of writing. Today, 6 pm, was the deadline for entering the PNWA Literary Contest. I admitted my YA romance earlier, but then tried to brush up my Middle Grade story at the last possible moment. I worked steady up until 5:30 pm when my husband drove like a bat out of hell (#meatloaf) to get me to the Writer's Cottage on time. Boom! Five minutes to spare. Sweet relief!

Who cares about dirty windows when you've got
sunshine, Christmas lights, and hearts?

Day 18: Many moons ago, I wanted to be an illustrator. Paper, scissors, glue...collage is my specialty. I love all the textures and trying to cut little scraps for details. I haven't created anything new in a long time since I've been writing. Not enough hours in the day. But the King of Hearts is out again, worried about the Queen eating his cookie heart. Poor fellah.

King of Hearts

Day 19: What's a king without a queen? 

Queen of Tarts

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Heart Art Challenge, Week 2

Day 7: I'm writing blackout poetry from an old proof copy of Dealing with Blue. I was about to shred it, but why toss it when I could upcycle the pages into a new way to look at words? It's like those adult coloring books...totally relaxing.

You stored feelings in a teapot,
but there was not room for me.

Day 8: make my heart feel good, I went shopping with my best gal pal, who wanted to stop in at a specialty chocolate shop. Who am I to say no? Hearts galore!

"Alas! there is no instinct like the heart..." ~Lord Byron

You won't find this in a survival handbook. Lol.

Alas! Chocolates filled with booze.

Day 9: Our diets have changed at my house, so I've been looking for new heart healthy recipes, like how to turn quinoa from bland to amazing. Found one! Try this quinoa salad. Wow! So easy: throw in some spinach, avocado, walnuts, cherry tomatoes and what-have-you, then drizzle with some honey, mustard, olive oil, and white wine vinegar. Flexible and de-lish, even for the quinoa curious.

Show the Love!

Day 10: While writing book #3, I perused my workspace for a heart sign and found on my favorite pencil (yes, I have one) the words "I [heart] Australia," a gift from a friend. Then, it was back to blackout poetry time, scouting out the right word...

I Heart Hearts

Day 11: A found object! When I was in high school, I made this with my dad's jigsaw. Let's just say that was a l-o-n-g time ago and leave it at that. I've always kept it but it ends up tucked in strange why was it in the medicine cabinet? Who knows? But now it's on my desk as a  nice reminder.

I Heart U

Day 12: I was collecting fortunes from cookies as "research" for my current writing project and this one seemed apropos. A good message for starting another week:

Have no doubt.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Fabulous Five: Another Round of Blackout Poems

A little bird,
Black, precious, and quiet
Hatched where a hole was.

Fly in the rainbows.
Explore, hug yourself, and laugh,
Unless you want time to put you away.

The dark tree looked back
and her heart buzzed.
I live in a thicket
of salmonberries.

What you say? What?
There seem to be
holes in this conversation.

The real answer was
She was right.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Fabulous Five: Heart Art Challenge, A Reading List

It's the start of week two of the Heart Art Challenge, and I'm on a roll. Ready for a reading list? I went on a scavenger hunt for books on my shelf that either said "heart" in the title or had hearts on the cover. Here's what I found:

February's TBR Pile
A Short Stack

1. One Pink Line by Dina Silver (already read and loved it!)

2.) The Trouble with Valentine's Day by Rachel Gibson (already read: a cute, small town romance!)

3.) The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance (Currently reading: Middle Grade)

Tango and Tilly Bean
Anticipating a Good Read

4.) InkHeart by Cornelia Funke (On my TBR: Middle Grade)

5.) The Husband List by Janet Evanovich (Romance) to add to my TBR pile for February.

6.) Bonus! Riding with the Hides of Hell is an adventurous YA story about grief, survival, and love. It has a heart on the cover, too.


"A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair." ~ Katrina Mayer

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Fabulous Five: Heart Art Challenge, Week 1

The #HeartArtChallenge has begun. Here's me #PuttingLoveOutThere for #ValentinesMonth.

1.) I decorated the art wall at school with a heart art project, which inspired this month's challenge.

2.) It made me think of 28 ways to fill 28 days, so I made a list and started a board on Pinterest to get the creative juices flowing.

3.) How about a haiku, blackout poem with hearts? Boom! Done.


Like a beating heart,
Of course, you're a part of me.
This door is open.

4.) Then, like kismet, a young friend posted a link where she is jumping rope to raise funds for the American Heart Association, a great cause, and one that hits pretty close to home. It gave me the idea to make a donation based on how many hoops were made at a girls basketball game yesterday. The team is a community league, and they call themselves the Jawbreakers, "Sweet but can hurt you." Nine baskets! Great game.

$90 to Hoops for Hearts

5.) Finally, I'll sign off with a cute picture of Tilly Bean disrespecting the heart pillow:

Hospital Heart Pillow

Hospital Heart Pillow with a 9-pounder,
Not the "elephant on the chest" feeling.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

February's Heart Art Challenge

This is DAY TWO of my 28-day challenge...the one I'm calling the Heart Art Challenge where I dedicate some time to seeing or finding or showing love.

"You don't need the love, you are the love."

Since I've been thinking about hearts lately: organs, shapes, love, Valentine's Day, and Pop Art and seeing them around me, I've decided to explore things a little further with a list of ideas:

1.) Read a love story or a book with a heart on the cover
2.) Eat a donut with heart sprinkles
3.) Donate to a cause, like the American Heart Association
4.) Photograph hearts in nature
5.) Find a heart in your workspace
6.) Draw one
7.) Paint one
8.) Make a paper collage heart
9.) Make a list about the things you love
10.) Blackout heart poetry
11.) Bake heart-shaped cookies
12.) Wear a heart
13.) Do something that makes your heart feel really good!
14.) Exercise your heart
15.) Make someone else's heart feel really good!
16.) Give a heart away
17.) Make a Valentine's Day card
18.) Sculpt a heart
19.) Make a heart healthy meal and share the recipe

Okay...this list is getting hard. Let's see...

20.) Call your Mom or your dad or someone who needs to hear the words, "I love you."
21.) Write a haiku poem about hearts.
22.) Listen to a song about hearts.
23.) Read articles like: 13 Things That Are Good for Your Heart

The pressure!

24.) Make an origami heart 
25.) Share a love-inspired quote
26.) Make a Valentine's Day craft with kids
27.) Sew a heart pillow
28.) Make your own heart-shaped bath bombs

Yeah! I also made a Heart Art Challenge board on Pinterest for more ideas.