Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cover Design - Does It Really Matter?

I look at a lot of book covers. These days, that means almost exclusively e-book covers. I subscribe to eighteen different advertising services. You’ve probably seen some of them – they send you a daily e-mail, listing free and discounted e-books. This type of service is ideal for those readers who want to be specific about what they receive. For example, I receive a range of romance books plus women’s fiction, and sometimes I check the box for thrillers and action books. That means you don’t have to slog through listings of books that don't interest you. It’s a great system.

Since I get so many of them each day, I’ve become adept at scanning them. And do you know what? I’ve found that the book cover is even more important than many experts indicate. No doubt I’ve missed out on some good stories, but if the cover doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t look at it. Why should I when there are so many from which to choose?

From the point of view of a writer, this is where a good cover designer comes in. I need my covers to stand out from the rest – or at least be attractive enough that a potential reader will stop and check it out.

I had the good fortune to discover a new cover designer recently. New to me, that is. Elizabeth Mackey has designed covers for some of the most popular authors of the day, such as Melissa Foster, Russell Blake, Nick Russell, Kate Aaron, Anna J. McIntyre, Traci Tyne Hilton, George Wier, and Billy Kring. You’ll find many more authors on her website: Elizabeth Mackey.

Elizabeth has now re-done seven of my covers and is working on another as we speak. Those of you who know my books will recognize Between a Jock and a Hard Place. Since Elizabeth worked her magic on the cover, sales have gone up about four-fold.

Elizabeth has also designed the covers for a new series I’ll be releasing throughout 2015. She excels at this – putting thought, plus her talent into coming up with a look, or a theme, if you will. I’ll be excited to share them with you when the time comes, but right now I’d better get back to writing them.

So when you see an outstanding e-book cover, remember that there’s a talented designer behind it. And of course … enjoy!

Check out Elizabeth's covers HERE

Links to my author pages:

Book Review: I Must Say by Martin Short

I still do it... all the time. I think I know someone based on their public persona. A foolish notion, but in this case Martin Short's autobiograpy exceeded my expectations. His book I Must Say (My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend) is at once funny, poignant and honest. He allows us a peek into his evolution as one of the funniest and most respected comedians of today.
   You won't be disappointed. He talks about his family, his friendships, and his loves. As a fellow Canadian, I applaud him for his success. An excellent read.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love is in the air

  Valentine’s Day will be here in a couple of days. This year, February 14th also marks the release of the long-awaited movie version of 50 Shades.

   And that got me wondering if we’ll be inundated with another avalanche of “sexy” books, as we were when 50SOG was first released. The answer? I don’t know. Perhaps. There are authors and readers for every level of heat in romance books.

   But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s to write the type of romance I want to read. Readers can tell if an author isn’t into the story – if they’re just churning out sex scenes to follow the current trend. Besides, by the time an author has spent the proper amount of time writing, and having their book edited, who knows what the hot new thing might be?

   As for me, I’m excited about a new series I’ll be writing this year, once I finish Book Four in The Women of Independence series. Readers wanted to know what happens to Katie, and frankly, so did I. So that’s what I’m working on now, then I’m going on to the new series.

   All of the books in the new series will be individual stories, built around a theme. I don’t want to reveal too much right now, but I would class them as Romances, leaning toward Women’s Fiction. Anyone who has read my books knows I like realism in my stories, and I’ll continue to write in that vein. If you’re looking for billionaires on the cover revealing their six-pack, tatted chests, you’ll have to keep on looking. Hey, I like those once in a while myself, but as a reader, not as a writer.

   Don’t get me wrong, my Heroes are usually successful alpha types, but I like to write stories that make the reader say “I can relate to that.” Romance? You betcha! There’ll be romance. After all, it’s what makes the world go ‘round. But these stories will be… how can I say it... grown-up romances. Romances I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

   In the meantime, have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

ps: I send out newsletters once in a while – usually to announce free offerings, or new books. I’d love to see your name on my mailing list. Right now the link is at my author facebook page. See the little envelope on the left-hand panel. That’s where you sign up. Happy Reading.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What did you read in 2014?

   2014 was a productive year for me, working on The Women of Independence series, as well as completing three books in The Gold Rush Romance Series.
   In spite of that, I found plenty of time to read, and I’d like to share with you some of my favourites.

   I first discovered Russell Blake’s Jet series, and enjoyed it immensely. But, dedicated as he is, he still can’t write ‘em fast enough, so I scoured the rest of his impressive list and came across his Assassin series. I’m not sure how he does it, but he’s created a likeable character out of an assassin. If you’re not sure if this is your cup of tea, the first book in the series is free. Check it out HERE.

Nick Russell is another author I first discovered through a series. His Big Lake books are difficult to pigeonhole. Part police procedurals, part character study… humorous and exciting all at the same time. Check them out. But in my opinion, Dog’s Run is his masterpiece (so far). A beautifully crafted story that you won’t soon forget. Check out the Amazon blurb HERE. You won’t be sorry.

Since I was writing historical romance this past year, I felt compelled to read a few historical romance authors. Here are two I enjoyed:

Jo Beverley’s The Company of Rogues Series.
Christie Caldwell’s Heart of a Duke Series. HERE’s the link to Book 1:

In contemporary romance, I enjoyed Catherine Bybee’s Not Quite Series

Bryce Courtenay is my all-time favourite author. My granddaughter turned me on to him some years ago with The Power of One. If I was marooned on a desert island and could only take two books, they would be:  Four Fires, and  Whitethorn.

I discovered Billy Kring somewhere around the middle of the year and quickly gobbled up his books. I like his Ronny Baca mysteries, but for a gritty, honest look at the life of a border patrol agent (which Kring has been), take a look at his Hunter Kincaid books.  I recommend you start with Quick. 

On the recommendation of a friend, I discovered Wayne Stinnett. His Fallen Palm is Book One in the Jesse McDermitt series. I ran through them quickly and await the next in the series.

And, along with many others, I read Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. I’m not sure what it was about this book, but I found it fascinating.

And lastly, I haven’t read this one yet, but I already know I’ll enjoy it. I Must Say, by Martin Short. If I get a chance, I’ll post a review.

Happy Reading in 2015!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Restless Hearts is Now #FREE Everywhere

Amazon has just price-matched Book One in my Gold Rush Romances series. As of now, Amazon hasn't extended the FREE to the UK or Canada, but I'm working on that!  Here's the description:
   Boston, 1849. Denied her dream of attending medical school, Sarah Howard is desperate to leave Boston far behind. Determined to prove that she can make it on her own, she poses as a married woman and boards a schooner bound for San Francisco.
   Stuck working in his family’s merchant bank, Jamie Thompson eagerly accepts the challenge of setting up a branch in San Francisco. He’s been restless for some time now, and barely escaped the clutches of the woman determined to marry him.

   The attraction between Sarah and Jamie is instant and powerful, yet each has something to prove, if only to themselves. Will their single-minded determination derail a blossoming romance?

...and here are the links to all of the stores where you can pick it up for free. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Three has just gone live!

Marriage by Mistake is Book Three in my Gold Rush Romances series. Like the others, it is a stand-alone story, featuring Nalani Hoapili, a Hawaiian girl who's being forced into marriage. As with my other series (The Women of Independence), the characters overlap, which offers continuity in the reading experience. These stories contain historical references, but are at heart romances.

If you haven't read a historical romance before, I encourage you to try Book One - Restless Hearts. It's free at B&N, iTunes, Kobo and Scribd, and hopefully will soon be free at Amazon as well. Enjoy!

Links for Marriage by Mistake:

Links for Restless Hearts:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Really? I didn't know that...

I thought I'd pass this on. It came from one of my Ontario cousins who always finds the most interesting things...

Where did "Piss Poor" come from? Interesting Story.
They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. And then once it was full it was taken and sold to the tannery...
If you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor". But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot...  They "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature Isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500's:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all, the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.
Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.
Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings Could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.
That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." 

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery In the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, It would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a threshold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.
Hence the rhyme:  "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.
It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon."
They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, And guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.
Hence the custom; "holding a wake."

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people.
So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, "saved by the bell" or was "considered a dead ringer." ... And that's the truth.

Now, whoever said history was boring!!!