Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG: My Book Cover Designing Experience!
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IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

Today, I'm sharing an adventure of book cover making--sorry, it's not a tutorial but a rough outline. After a painful learning curve with using an art program (it took me about a solid week of over 8 hours a day to learn it!), a lot of authorly graphic making stuff has become so easy for me!

My favorite art program to use is Medibang Paint Pro. I can cut and paste and duplicate and layer and edit photos.

Meet My Perfect Match: Ryan Greyson, all-star football player, lives a life of parties, kissing, and Friday night games. He believes all girls are made equal until his first blind date with Kimber who’s everything he’s not, and he can’t keep his mind off her. Will he lose his royal status with the team?

First, I decided on the concept art of the cover. Because it's a YA clean romance, I studied Amazon's book covers for that genre and the idea was born: A girl leaning into the boy as though in a kiss.

I next spent many hours searching through football pictures through Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash. I was very picky with the images I needed. I had to get a player all by himself. Like this:

Photo by Football Wife @ Pexels

Next, I needed to find a photo of a woman who faced "Ryan". I cut around her and pasted her onto his photo, but I had to adjust the lighting on her dress so that it matched the daylight of the field. It was no easy feat.

Photo by Allison Heine @ Unsplash

I found a separate photo of those red curls and carefully cut them out and pasted them. I inked in shade after matching the color between the two characters, the grass beneath her feet, and anything along her dress.

I used this template from Amazon for a 6x9 book cover (I was able to download it after setting up my other book, My Christmas Miracle) and placed it as the first layer and started playing around with font styles and lined them up.

I drew in my own flowers--not using any type of font. I can draw my own flowers, thank you!

My Perfect Match is book 3 of My Perfect Kiss Series--it's all still a work in progress. I'm not sure what prompted me to try doing the book covers out of order. Artist prerogative?

What cool stuff have you learned as an author?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

What are Writing Secrets?

IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

June 3 question - Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

What? Secrets? Every writer has them? Where have I been!? lol

blue and black butterfly
Photo by Beckett Ruiz @
Okay, seriously, my secret is that I used to feel so left out of the loop of writerhood, I'd get frustrated at how other writers refused to share their "secrets" with me.

Secrets as in how did they learn how to format an ebook and a print book? How did they get marketing to work for them? Why didn't they ever let me join their critique circles? Why was I always so left out?

One day after that, I had a friend tell me that books are consumable--there is no such thing as really getting ahead of anywriter else. I agreed and yet, I was stuck in this loop where others refused to help.

blue butterfly on hand
Photo by  Christian Wiediger @
Fast forward 8 years and it seems as though everyone has realized the wisdom of the philosophy that books are consumable items and we all need each other!

I learned how to format a print and electronic book, there are writing communities now who are actually willing to share painful experiences as well as the mechanics of problems that arise (such as losing reviews on an existing book when all you want to do is update the cringy story text on Amazon).

Butterfly, Blue, Forest, Fantasy, Woods, Dream, Surreal
Photo by Stergo @

My "writing secret" is that I don't have any; I'm the kind of person who loves to share growing pains with others so that they won't have to suffer. The key is, getting them to actually talk to me--people are too busy being busy.

I know this is probably not what IWSG meant by writerly secrets but there you go.

What are your writing secrets?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

When Dreams Fall Apart
click on image to join other IWSG writers!
IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

Sometimes the path we have set changes so suddenly, we lose ourselves especially when it shatters our dreams. A perfectly-not-so-perfect world is thrown off its axis and it becomes difficult to hang onto.

man leaning on wall

Without saying too much, something in my life has changed so drastically that I've lost my will to write, to create! I've been living in survival mode to the point that almost everything has lost its pleasure. I think of writing as something glorious I once enjoyed and yearn for those days of old (it was only earlier this year that I'd written something, so 2 months without writing is a lot for me).

Today, I decided to read a few children's stories to my 7 year old that I'd written several years ago and am feeling some small stirrings awaken.

Writing has always been a part of me--through thick and thin. It's my source of escapism, my place of sanity. Knowing this brings peace because I've always come back to it.

landscape photography of person's hand in front of sun
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on

I find the best way to awaken my desire to get back into writing is by reading a few of my works for the fun of it. I will start there. I hope to bring it back to life.

woman wearing white and gray striped sleeveless dress smelling the air standing in the pink flower field at daytime
Photo by Johen Redman on

As for the rest of me, I will be good to myself and appreciate the little things in life that have always brought a smile.

How do you get back to your writing after facing a crisis?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

IWSG: Marketing
click on image to join other IWSG writers!
IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

As published authors living in 2020, much has changed since 2011. Back in the day when my first book, Darkspell, released, we did shoutouts and book launches on Facebook, Twitter, held blog tours, bloggers reviewed like crazy but now ... things aren't the same anymore!

woman wearing white and red blouse buying some veggies
Photo by Renate Vanaga @ Usplash

I'd taken a step back from publicity into my writerly cave for the past eight years and kept writing and writing and have since published a few more books. I've seen major changes from the way I used to market my book to now. They have drastically changed.

Business, Tree, Growth, Success, Team, Teamwork, Profit
photo by geralt @ Pixabay

Whether we are self- or traditionally published, no one will love our books as much as their creators, and we are still urged to market them even when done the traditional route.

Bearing this in mind, what strategies work or have worked for you? Where are your goto platforms? How do you keep the marketing alive for a book that released four months or later?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG: Book Life after Life?

IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

person stepping on garbabe
Photo by Quinten de Graaf on

So, your rights revert back to you and you want to breathe new life into the old book. Maybe a new cover and a rewrite since you published it some odd years ago and it has a cringy feel.

How do you go about doing this without losing all the many existing reviews?

I know some update the book and save it as a minor change so as to keep the same ISBN and reviews. Others republish altogether but lose the preexisting reviews.

three pupas
Photo by Suzanne D. Williams @

Yes, I have a book I published a while back and I'm not happy with the cover any longer. I've rewritten the book, too. Made it tighter. Cleaner. Improved characterization. I've yet to format it. I'm still mulling over the new cover.

Have you encountered this dilemma? Is it best to put out a second edition with a different ISBN? Any thoughts? Suggestions? Help!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Inside John's Brain: an author interview

Welcome John D. Payne to my blog, author of 
Joined in Silence a story from the steampunk anthology, A Mighty Fortress!

Let's see what's in his brain and what he reveals about his writerly antics. Ready? Here we go!

1) Tell us a little about yourself. 

I'm a full-time dad to four small children, including a newborn who recently won Best in Show at the county fair. My previous job was assistant professor of security studies, for which I taught classes on terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and homeland security. One of the big surprises of the last few years has been discovering the small, but non-zero, overlap between those two knowledge bases. 

I grew up on the prairie, but now live with my wife and family in southern New Mexico, where I’m learning all about the wonders of the desert. (Did you know there are cactus that will shoot needles at you? Ever hear about werewolf mice?) I’m also learning to appreciate how lovely, green, and temperate our town is compared to our nearest neighboring city, El Paso. 

I know what you mean, John--I grew up in El Paso and it is very brown there. Very brown.

2) What started you on the writing path? 

I've always had creative outlets of various kinds. When I was in elementary school, I did a lot of creative writing, played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, and made a bunch of delightfully violent comic books with my best buddy. Also a Garfield / Star Wars mashup that I think Disney will be optioning any day now. 

For one semester in college, I was an English major. Then Orson Scott Card said writers should learn to write by writing, and should study something else so they have something to say about the world. So I changed majors, but kept writing. 

That's smart advice, John! Thanks for sharing that.

When I started my doctoral program, I thought I had better focus, and so I gave up fiction writing completely. But that made me miserable, and didn’t help me get my degree faster, so I returned to writing, like a dog to his yummy and very appetizing snack that is definitely not vomit. 

Lovely visual, John. Thanks.

So that’s where I am now, writing fantasy fiction and role-playing games. Hooray! 

3) Do you believe personal experience has influence over your writing? If yes, in what way has it manifested? 

Well, I write a lot more stories with babies in them than I used to. 

4) How was writing this story different from what you typically write? What challenges did you face as you did? 

This was a weird one. I thought it would be a two or 300 word coda at the end of another story (“Strange Pilgrims,” published in the first Mormon steampunk collection, All Made of Hinges). But then the story just kept growing and growing. 

Hey, I have a story in All Made of Hinges as well! It's "Avenger's Angel". Glad to have you join me in A Mighty Fortress as well!

One challenge for me in writing this piece was that the viewpoint character is a real person who lived and wrote hymns and had descendents who might read this book. I didn’t want to do him an unkindness, so I read as much as I could about him. In the end, though, the real Hans Henry didn’t live in a world of Juggernauts and Automatons, so I hope his progeny can forgive me for taking a few liberties with their honored ancestor. 

5) Have you written steampunk before? What do you like best about it? Least?

I’ve published one other steampunk story (see above), and I really enjoyed creating the world. I certainly hope I get the chance to revisit it in the future. I love my Helvetic machines! 

6) What is the title of your story in which anthology? In a few lines, what is your story about? 

My story is called “Joined in Silence,” and it’s about the secret origins of a hymn. It features an escaped labor robot, two Danes, and a mystery guest, debating in the middle of the night about who can be a child of God. Also, there is a baby that at first is crying and later is not crying anymore. 

Ooh, this is fascinating. Delving into the human mind in relation to the mechanical man. I wonder what he has to say about it as well?

7) What factors influenced the plot, characters, and setting?

 Well, basically the whole story is a re-telling-- or, re-imagining, if you will-- of Die Hard, mixed with the creation myth found in the Popol Vuh. So every element had to be chosen carefully to fit the source material. 

Just kidding. I don’t know how to answer this question. 


8) Who is your favorite character and why? 

My favorite character is actually never seen in the story, at least by the protagonist. He’s a house-gnome named Mr. White, and like all his kind he hides from humans. He’s actually the one who wrote the words to the hymn, and he’s lurking under the floorboards during the whole conversation. The little sneak! 

Um, not sure if I can believe you on this one. I suppose I'd just have to read the book to find out! 

9) If you got sucked into your story, what would be the first thing you’d do? Be honest: do you really think you’d do well with your current skillset? Explain. 

First off, I think I’d have to explain how I got into Hans Henry’s house, and that would be a tough job because it’s the middle of the night and he’s already got uninvited guests. But if I could talk him out of showing me to the curb, I think I could help him work out some harmonies for the song, at least for the men’s parts. 

10) What is it you hope your readers will take away from your story? 

A desire to sit down at the piano and sing a few hymns with someone you love. 

11) What’s your favorite quote? Any last words? 

Well, here’s a little passage from the story that I like: 

The mechanical man’s face remained fixed in a calm, mildly pleasant expression. Because that was its only expression. “True, my body was created by human beings. But so was yours. After a fashion.” 

Hans Henry shook his head vigorously. “You cannot compare the sacred act of procreation between man and wife to, to…” he spluttered with indignation, “factory workers assembling a machine, no matter how sophisticated.” 

“The process is very different, I will admit…” 

Thanks, everybody! Buy the book!

Clever clever, indeed, John. Thank you for humoring me and answering my questions no matter how odd they might have felt to you. I look forward to reading your story! 

Here are author John D. Payne's links so you can stalk him to your heart's desire! Muahahaha!

"Hans Henry did not expect the knock in the night, or the self-emancipated labor automaton, Brother Pilgram. A simple request to have a song written has Brother Pilgram, Hans and his wife at odds about what life means."


Monday, February 17, 2020

A Mighty Fortress Anthology!

A Mighty Fortress Steampunk Anthology! The title alone left to the interpretation of 17 different authors. A walking temple gets away, women vanish, time-traveling, and more!

*My story, Eternal Round, is featured in this teaser with David West! 

Releases tomorrow. WhEeEeEeEeeeeee!

It's on pre-order right now Amazon.

*post has been updated

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

IWSG: NaNoWriMo no?

IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

Who's heard of a cowboy who doesn't like the outdoors? Or a swimmer who's afraid of water? What about a teacher who's scared of students? 

aerial photo of pine trees
Christopher Rusev on

I love my writerly friends. I love designing book covers and editing and brainstorming. I enjoy helping out my author friends and connecting with them. I adore writing as it's my only way of escapism in a home of homeschooled kids. I've been at it since I was in 4th grade (I'm 40 something), and have taken a creative class, and entered contests. It got serious in 2011 with my first published book. To this day, I have a few things out in the publishing industry--book covers, illustrations, and short stories. You can safely say that writing is in my blood. With this in mind, I feel like I'm blaspheming when I say this: I really don't like NaNo.

I tried it once and was excited to see that I can write 50k words within that timeframe. While I enjoyed challenging myself, the weight of pushing myself hard felt like a hard race against others and myself. I don't like boxing myself in. I'm a free-thinker when it comes to creativeness (you should have seen me in my high school art class when my classmates told me I was doing it all wrong when I started with the lips and not the eyes). I was like, "Excuse me? In my opinion, there should be no rules when it comes to making art, it's all heart!"

But I'm thinking that I could view NaNo differently--a time to bond with other writers, right?

What are your thoughts?

Friday, January 17, 2020

ReyLo Spoiler Illustration

My daughter couldn't stop crying after watching Rise of Skywalker--it was heartwrenching!

So I painted this in her honor with a reinvented ending. If Shmi could do it, why not Rey? :P

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

IWSG: Author 24/7?

IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

First off---

Happy New Year! What are your goals?

I dropped off a coloring page for Christmas at the local library--she commented on how pretty it was but all I did was thank her as she looked over it. I didn't say that I illustrated it or that it went with my newly released book.

(Here's the coloring page I gave her--you're welcome to print it if you'd like, though it's out of season but seek-and-finds are always fun no matter what season it is!) 

Typically, I don't proclaim myself as an author but prefer to not be outspoken about it. For the most part, I don't like to bring unnecessary attention to myself because I feel awkward with it. I suppose I'm an introvert?

Just like a writer, right???

Do you believe that authors, by nature, are introverts? Or not necessarily? Do we love living in fiction than real life? How do you step out of your comfort zone and up to a pedestal to discuss your books (in casual settings)? Do you have a way of doing it so it doesn't sound like you're a merchant hawking his/her wares at a local flea market?

I understand that it's necessary when you're at a writers conference or a book signing, but that's an entirely different hat--do you wear your author hat 24/7?