Tag Archives: cover artists

#WW Real-Life Characters Behind a Novel

15 Jul

Everyone knows the author is not the only person behind a novel’s creation. Publishers, editors, cover artists, and formatters are just a few of the technical people behind the masterpiece. Bloggers, reviewers, beat readers, and readers are just a couple of the people who help spread the masterpiece. But there’s another type of person who helps create the novel, and that type of person is vital to the creation of a great story. Who am I talking about?

I’m talking about “the team.”

What is “the team”?

Well, it’s different for everyone. Some people may not even have a team, but I know I sure do. I have a wonderful group of people who deal with my writer’s insanity on a regular (if not daily) basis. They listen and argue and push me and sometimes inspire some of my characters, scenes, and lines. So, today, I want to introduce you to three of them, whether they enjoy the spotlight or not. (They’re definitely not used to it. That’s for sure.) These are the people behind the actual names you see mentioned in the back of my book, tucked away into the acknowledgements page, and scattered throughout my posts with vague nicknames and references.

Today we thank them. (And today, I use nicknames again.)

The Spray Painter

He’s an artist himself, armed with a spray paint can and horror movies, and he’s one of my best beta readers. He’s probably read everything I’ve finished so far, and he continues to talk to me on a regular basis about every last aspect of every single novel. He knows what could’ve happened, what happened before, what happens now, and what I plan to have happen. He deals with every last draft I’ve written. He is a walking spoiler alert (except he never tells anyone a thing). Without him, I wouldn’t have anyone to bounce possibilities off of, especially the more confusing ones, and his dedication has helped future stories more than ever before. When we get together, it’s “what draft was that?” And by the end, we’re talking about what draft we should stick with.

The Fashionista

A close friend of mine for over ten years, this chick-a-doodle has helped me with more than my novels. She’s also helped me pick appropriate clothes (for both myself and my characters). I would be lost without this personal shopper. She’s stylish, and she reads just as much as I do. We often consider friendship our own little book club, and her insight of the industry mixed with my knowledge has helped me figure out which aspects of my novels are unique and which ones need more work. She’s not afraid to be honest. (She can tell me when a character is weak while simultaneously confirming that, in fact, I do look fat in that dress). She’s also the one behind the camera of my Instagram feed.

The Dream Guy

He’d kill me if he saw me call him that, but it’s true. He’s the dream, and he inspires many of the dreamy moments in my male leads. Do you have a crush on Eric or Noah? Yep. This guy. He also helps create a lot of the political and military references scattered throughout many of my works, and I have a document dedicated to quotes he’s said in real life that I use in my novels (with permission, of course). He’s a walking character. He might even have dark hair and light eyes. But he definitely deals with my continuous ranting, and questioning, and idea-making the most. This is why he keeps me in check. He especially enjoys reminding me of the blatant loopholes I, somehow, missed on my own. He also doesn’t mind helping with fighting scenes. But who doesn’t like those?

These are three people behind my team. Hopefully, I’ll get to share more soon. They definitely don’t get enough credit, but they deserve a million acknowledgements.

Let’s make this even more fun.

Who would you want to meet? Would you want to ask them any questions? Let me know, and I’ll see what they have to say. We might have to do a follow up. ;]

~SAT

teaser5We only have 13 days until Minutes Before Sunset releases! And there is so much going on.

Pre-order Minutes Before Sunset for only $2.99 until July 28. You can also enter to win a paperback in this Goodreads Giveaway. 

Pre-order Seconds Before Sunrise too.

While you’re at it, pre-order Death Before Daylight. (EEEE. I still cannot believe this novel is finally available.)

And see me next Saturday, July 25, at Penned Con in St. Louis!

Death Before Daylight Cover Reveal

6 Nov

I first want to thank everyone who took my poll on November 1st! For those of you who asked for more YouTube videos, you watched a secret video on my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – and you got to see the cover one day early. Check it out below if you want. I plan on sharing more secret videos in the future as well!

Today is all about Death Before Daylight. Both the cover and the synopsis are finally available, and I hope you enjoy them! Get excited for the last installment of The Timely Death Trilogy. In future posts, you can expect excerpts, a cover explanation, the back cover, quotes, and more! But special thanks goes out to the cover artist – Viola Estella – today.

Seconds Before SunriseTwo eternities. One ending.

“Harmony would only come with destruction.”

The moment Eric and Jessica are reunited, they are torn apart. After the appearance of a new breed of shades and lights, the powers shift for the worse, and all three descendants find themselves face-to-face in the Light realm. When Darthon is in control, the last thing everyone expects to hear is the truth.

While Jessica learns the reason of her creation, Darthon’s identity is exposed to Eric – and only Eric – but Eric can no longer defend himself. With the eternities of the Light and the Dark resting on Jessica’s shoulders, she must chose who she will be – a light or a shade – and both have dire consequences.

In the end, someone must die, and the end is near.

We’re still on schedule for a late January release, and I’ll be sure to let everyone know when it’s available on Goodreads or Amazon for pre-order! Until then, keep up-to-date right here, and be sure to catch up on Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, in the meantime.

~SAT

Click today!

Click today!

What I’ve Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

19 Aug

What I’ve Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

As many of you know, I am currently rewriting November Snow – my very first publication. Although I started writing it when I was 11, it didn’t get published until I was 16. I took it off the shelves for many years, and it is basically off the shelves right now for many reasons, but the main reason is how unprofessionally it was handled. (Mainly because the publishing world has changed a lot since then, but we’ll get into that in a minute.)

So I’m rewriting this older tale, and I’m looking forward to day I can share it again, but today, I wanted to talk about all of the little lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. I was a terrible writer, and I probably still am

Seriously. I hope I look back when I’m 59 on what I’m writing now with the same amount of horror. That means I’ve grown. That means I’m still learning, and changing, and morphing into what the new art demands.

2. I needed help. Lots of help. Professional help.

By this, I mean editors. Yes, I’m talking about you, editors. You are lovely. I’m practically preparing my altar right now. If only I had known you existed back then… Now, before you judge me for not having one, 2007 was a very different time in publishing (and I was 16.) Kindle had just been released, but it was brand new. There were no supporters online or fellow indie writers just waiting to speak with you in chatrooms. I don’t even think Wattpad was around yet. (Okay. I just looked it up. It launched in November of 2006 – but I already had November Snow written by then, and I definitely didn’t join Wattpad until 2010.) But the Indie world hadn’t started marching proudly yet. That goes for cover artists, too. You may have seen the weird cover I had. That’s because affordable cover artists – like editors – didn’t exist in easy-to-reach places, and I was 15 when the publisher wanted a cover. I didn’t exactly have the ability to network or pay a large sum of money or drive around town to find a photographer. So my older brother drew my vision on a napkin. What I TRULY wanted actually looks a lot like the designed covers of The Mortal Instruments series. (which is probably why I refused to read the series for such a long time. That was my cover, dammit.) Speaking of which, if you know a cover artist you think could design something wicked for November Snow, please – suggest away. I’m looking right now.

Burning city? Check. Orange on purple? Check. Giant people looming over everything. Check.

Burning city? Check. Orange on purple? Check. Giant people looming over everything. Check.

3. Despite all of that, things aren’t as bad as they seem

The storyline rocks, and the characters melt me and break me at the same time. They’re challenging, and the dark twists and turns don’t stop. People have enjoyed it despite the mistakes, and it’s more or less going to have the same plots, secrets, and betrayals. For all you original November Snow fans, I beg of you – please refrain from spoiling the story for new readers. (That is my only worry.) But if you must know, yes, whoever you’re thinking about still dies. Yes, them, too.

4. And it’s getting better

Some characters have actually formed MORE than before, and I’m only on November 4. (For those of you who don’t know, November Snow literally takes place over one month, and yes, it’s November.) While the original beginning was rather forced, this new beginning builds up the world of Vendona with honesty (and brutality) that I was unable to show when I first wrote it. The characters aren’t as cheesy, and the extra fluff has been trimmed into a fashionable haircut (who needs speaking tags anyway?) Physical descriptions have been shifted for the better, and the scenes connect in a cleaner, more concise way. Many names have been changed as well, but the main characters will remain largely the same. (Ex. Caitlin to Catelyn, Michelle to Michele, but Drew is now Floyd. I’ll announce more on this later.)

5. I started off second-guessing, and now, I’m really happy

I wasn’t sure why November Snow has been haunting me for all of these years, but I’ve figured it out a few weeks ago when I wrote My 11-Year-Old Self was a Better Writer. I am meant to write darker stories. I know this about myself. I write darker fiction. I enjoy it. I find myself in it, and that’s where my creativity belongs. Returning to November Snow is allowing myself to find that passion again, but – most of all – it’s helping me fully embrace it.

Just the other day, I received an email from a reviewer of Take Me Tomorrow. She talked about how much darker it is from the trilogy and how she is definitely looking forward to my future works. On Twitter, two readers translated November Snow into Spanish, and an old friend from my high school messaged me when they heard that I was rewriting it. They couldn’t wait. They’ve been waiting for a rewrite ever since I returned to my novelist ways. Another longtime fan offered to beta read it since they know the story so well. (They wanted to make sure I didn’t forget anything.) And a graphic designer already offered to help design a cover, even if I choose to use someone else.

These moments bring tears to my eyes.They do.

I won’t lie. I’m nervous. I’m terribly, sickeningly nervous. When I wrote a controversial scene the other night, I could barely get through it, but I did, and afterward, I felt like my readers accomplished it with their encouragement. (And my typing helped a little bit.) But I ultimately hope to learn more lessons along the way, so I can share them, and we can discuss them as we go. Have you ever learned anything about rewriting? Any advice? Warnings?

~SAT

Website Wonders

28 Jul

Announcements:

All day today, I’ll be on The Authors Show, a radio station, and I hope you check out the interview by clicking here. Share it around if you want!

But if you’re more into the reading side, Elaine Jeremiah wrote the latest review of Take Me Tomorrow, and you can click here to read her thoughts. She ends her review with, “On the whole I thought that this was an excellent book, gripping and exciting and well worth a read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys an exciting, edge-of-your-seat, thrilling story.

Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just plain awesome. Below, you’ll find all of July’s Website wonders categorized into these categories: For Writers, Publishing News, Reading, and Inspiration. Between each category is a photo. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

For Writers:

If Strangers Talked to Everybody like They Talk to Writers: “Cool, I always wanted to be a car salesmen. Maybe when I retire I’ll settle down and just work on selling that Buick I’ve had in my head for years.”

Periodic Table of Storytelling: This is amazing. The element Kni = knight in shiny armor, but my favorite is Bbw = badass bookworm

12 Useful Websites to Improve Your Writing: The Hemingway App is on here! But so many other great tools are, too.

12 Amazing Sites with Breathtaking Free Stock Photos: Bootstrap Bay: Perfect for cover artists or writers who want to pick out the artwork for their cover artist.

Diary of Purple Prose: A collection of beautiful words.

New York Times 50 Most Challenging Words: I loved chimera – an imaginary creäture composed of the parts of several different animals, wild or impossible idea.

From Writers Write

From Writers Write

Publishing News:

If I Stay Trailer #2: I just can’t wait.

J.K. Rowling has released a new ‘Harry Potter’ story online:

20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Have a Meaningful Life: Fun fact, Hunter S. Thompson is the reason I became comfortable using my real name in publishing.

 1010719_10152450258948856_1224726922587651237_n

Reading:

50 Signs You’re Addicted to Reading: Between book hangovers, book boyfriends, and book adaptations, this list is pretty accurate.

10 Books Guaranteed to Make You Cry: Two of my favorite novels are on here. One of my friends will never forgive me for giving her my copy of One Day, although – I have to say – that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of the only books AND movie adaptations to both make me cry.

55 great books under 200 pages: fun infographic

Two Anonymous Students Sneak into a Classroom Every Week and Literally Blow Everyone’s Mind: Since these were quotes, I thought this fit in the “reading” category more, but their chalk art is gorgeous.

31 Beautiful Ideas for a Book-Inspired Wedding: There you go, Buzzfeed.

I’ll make my own library :D

I’ll make my own library 😀

Inspiration:

26 Real Places That Look Like They’ve Been Taken Out of Fairy Tales: Beautiful castles, striking country roads, and caves with built-in nightlights.

Fairytales Come to Life in Magical Photos: Trust me. Fairytale photos are one of three things: stunning, haunting, or both.

This Landscape Body Art Lit Up by Black Lights

It Took 126 Photos, but Scientists Finally Fit the Biggest Tree on the Planet into One Amazing Image: Yes. I’m obsessed with trees. But anyone can appreciate this photo.

 This Looks Like An Ordinary Park, But Look At What Happens When the Season Changes: This is something that would honestly be unbelievable in fiction but so amazing in real life! (Which is sad!) But oh so cool.

Hope you enjoyed these sites as much as I did!

~SAT

Guest Post: So You Want To Make A Book Cover

4 Oct

Shannon here for one second: I spend a lot of time talking with authors and reading their blogs. Because of this, I often come across some great information that I think you guys will like, and this is one of those gems I had to share. This post is written by Alianne Donnellya published and self-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance novels, and it’s all about creating your book covers, efficiently and effectively. (Speaking of which, the cover for Seconds Before Sunrise is in the works) Enjoy!

Admittedly, I haven’t been doing this very long, but in the last two years or so, I have learned a great deal, most of which I have condensed here for your viewing pleasure. This is something everyone who wants to embark on the arduous journey of creating cover art should know and be aware of.

1. Know Your Tools. Microsoft Paint does not count as a tool. To truly make a presentable (read: marketable) cover, you need to use what the pros use. If you can’t shell out $800 for Photoshop software (and, let’s face it, who can these days?) then GIMP is your next best option. It is free, open source, and, in my humble opinion, much easier to use. Still not a breeze, though. Expect to put a lot of hours into this project. Download yours today at http://www.GIMP.org

2. Stock Up On Essentials. Think of your cover as a new recipe you are cooking up. Here are your necessary ingredients:

– Stock Images (sxc.hu, morguefile.com, fotolia.com, istockphoto.com, etc.)

– Fonts (dafont.com, fonts2u.com, fontfreak.com, 1001freefonts.com, etc.)

– Textures (optional)

– Patterns (optional)

– Scripts (optional)

Sometimes a good stock image and a pretty font is sufficient. Other times you need to play around a little more. But no matter what you use or how much, always, always, always check the licenses and use agreements. If you’re not sure if you can use something, ask. Better be safe than sued out of your home and hearth by an artist scorned.

3. Learn To Love Your Size. And by that I mean industry standards for cover image sizing, of course. The size of your cover will dictate the size of the stock images you need. You need an image large and detailed enough to look great as a thumbnail as well as a full screen shot on an iPad. For eBooks, expect to make something at least 1,000 pixels wide at the absolute minimum. Bigger is better. For print book covers, ask for a template. Printers have very specific in terms of what has to go where. Be aware of them and follow the rules.  

 

And lastly…

 

4. Learn From The Masters. I’m not saying copy a design exactly. That would be wrong and ultimately not worth it—you want your book to stand out. I’m saying spend some time on research. Look for covers you like. Study them. Look at the details and try to figure out how they were achieved. Mix and match and play around. You can take a shadowing skill from here, a special font from there, a texturing idea from somewhere else, and create something brand new and beautiful, and all your own.

And whatever you do, don’t forget to have fun!

 

Good Luck!SONY DSC

Alianne Donnelly is a published and self-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance novels. When she’s not at her society-prescribed 9-5, she is diligently working on her next masterpiece and/or tinkering with another graphic to outdo the last one. Or possibly Facebook. Most days all three at the same time. Her books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and anywhere else eBooks are sold. Check out her latest release and other shenanigans at http://aliannedonnelly.com or like her page at http://www.facebook.com/alydonnelly

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