If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, again because the third time's a charm. I'm finally happy with the cover for Dream Kisses. I tried my hand at designing the cover and my husband said, "Verna, stick with what you do and let the experts do what they do." After trying twice and not creating the perfect look, I asked Elaina Lee (For the Muse) to design the new cover and I love it! She was also the artist for the Shapeling Trilogy. So, the cover is up on my website and will soon show up on Amazon.
Blurb for Dream Kisses:
Sarah Carter a.k.a. Mims Murphy, meets Sage Tanner at Imaginings Publishing while he's posing for the cover of her soon-to-be-released western romance novel. After being bulldozed into a coffee break with him by her publisher, Sissy Johansen, an embarrassing incident makes Sarah furious, and she walks out. Of course, fate has a wonderful way of intervening in matters of the heart. After deciding her book needs a touch of reality, she signs up for "dude" lessons at Lazy M Dude Ranch. Imagine her chagrin when she discovers the owner of the ranch is none other than Mr. Tanner himself!
The photo shoot had already begun when they slipped into the studio. Sissy motioned her to a spot near a side wall. Mims leaned against the wall, her eyes riveted on the models. Lights flashed and the photographer, a short skinny man with a balding pate, called instructions. "Move in, Sage. Yeah, give her that sexy, hot hot HOT look. Make her sizzle. Chastity, let him know who's in charge."
Sissy smothered a giggle and whispered, "Can you believe her name is Chastity?"
Mims bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing out loud.
"Okay, models, let's try a kiss. The title of the book is Dream Kisses, so how about some dream kisses. Make my toes curl."
With a rather bored expression, the male model glanced in Mims direction. Her heart tripped when their eyes met, something that only happened to characters in her books.
Sissy whispered, "He's absolutely the most gorgeous model I've ever seen, and I've seen my share. If I were twenty years younger, I'd throw myself at him unabashedly." She sighed.
"Sissy, you're kidding, right? You're married," Mims shot back.
"I think I'm kidding; not really sure."
Mims shook her head and looked back at the models now sharing a passionate embrace and kiss. The female had hit the genetics jackpot: curvaceous body, flowing blonde hair, sexy sky blue eyes, and full pouty mouth. Of course, maybe it wasn't genetics; maybe it was implants, hair salon, contacts, and Botox. Whatever, she's still gorgeous.
A fan gently billowed the female's lavender silk drape around her luscious body and lifted her golden hair off her shoulders. The male model bent her slightly backwards, all evidence of his boredom gone when he laid a whopper on her. His hair, the color of rich mahogany laced with sunlight, also moved in the breeze of the fan. His linen shirt, falling off his shoulder and open to the waist, revealed tanned skin and washboard abs.
Sissy said, "My God, I think I can scrub clothes on his abs."
Mims choked and shook her head at Sissy's forthrightness.
For the past few weeks I have devoted my time to completing the first book in the Kisses/Romance on the Ranch Series: Dream Kisses. I first got an inkling for the series while writing Book One in the Shapeling Trilogy: Roth. In that book, I used the phrase "dream kisses." I liked the feel of the words and tucked them away for further exploration, and Dream Kisses was born. While writing Dream Kisses, secondary characters begged for their own stories, thus Honey Kisses and Baby Kisses, will become books two and three.
I've wanted to write a contemporary/western/romance without fantasy elements for some time and I'm happy to say Dream Kisses was uploaded to Amazon about a week ago. However, I have yet to promote it because there are always a few bugs to work out. No matter how many times I reread a story, it seems a few typos get by. I'm also redesigning the cover. I decided the first one (dream cloud with blue sky) does not convey the idea of a western romance. So, I went back to the drawing board. After a couple of hours searching photo sites, I found one showing the boots of a man and a woman standing close to each other (perhaps kissing?). I designed a new cover and now await Amazon's replacement of the first one. After that, I will begin promotion.
On another note, the first book in the Shapeling Trilogy is available for free at Amazon for a limited time. I guess you could say this happened accidentally on purpose. About three weeks back, I put the book up for free on Smashwords and left it up too long. The web crawlers for Amazon picked up on it being free and made it free on Amazon. Now I have to wait for the web crawlers to discover the book is no longer free before they will restore the price of .99 cents. In less than a week there have been about 1,300 downloads. I must say, I am speechless. I hope readers enjoy the Shapeling Series. I agonized over the characterizations and plots for months. There had to come a time when I said, "Enough, move on!" With that being said, I am elated that Dream Kisses is complete and looking forward to writing Honey Kisses. With each book, I endeavor to improve my writing and simplify the whole process from conception to publication. That's my rambling for today ((-:
So...I've got Shapeling Trilogy launched. And, as always happens, I've had to work out a few bugs the first days after publication. Now the bugs are taken care of and I'm happy with the ebook. I've got the paperback in process and great ideas for the third book swimming in my head, and ...I haven't cleaned my bathrooms in six weeks! So...instead of going directly to the bathrooms (I hate cleaning bathrooms), I scrubbed the kitchen (even cleaned the refrigerator), then grabbed the vacuum and hauled ass around the living room. Suddenly, my writing addiction made itself known. What's an addict to do? I fought the urge, but to no avail. Alas, here I sit writing this ridiculous blog.
Just to satisfy my habit, I guess I'll write some goals for the rest of this year and next. First, I'd like to finish the edits on a middle school novella I started about three years ago, entitled Restoring 'Tween Time. I'm so close. It just needs edits and a cover. Next, I want to begin the third book in the Shapeling Trilogy, which is Davide's story. The plot is intricate and the locations fantastic. It's going to take a lot of brain power, which I'm kinda low on right now with all the effort I've put into the first two books. I also have a gem of a story I started about four months ago entitled Dream Kisses. I just love this story about an older woman (45ish) and a younger guy (35ish). It's not fantasy; it's contemporary romance. There's a unique twist that I think readers will love. The story keeps calling and I keep ignoring the call.
In November, I'm participating at a book fair where I'll be selling paperbacks of Shapeling Trilogy books one and two. If Restoring 'Tween Time is ready, I'll also be selling it. The Oregon Book Fair's location is Padgham Pavilion at the Jackson County Expo Park in Central Point, which is near Medford, Oregon. I'll post more about this as the time approaches; very exciting for me!
In the midst of pursuing my goals and cleaning house occasionally, I'm editing a book for Sarah Schofield. It's a fabulous YA novel with an awesome cover. We're aiming to have the book published by the end of the year.
Well, having written the above, I feel better. I guess I can face the bathrooms now.
The book cover for Shapeling Trilogy Book Two is almost complete. Elaina Lee has done it again...another fabulous design. I love the way she creates a cover that tells a story. When I look at the pictures, I'm immersed in Fawn and Wade's story. I can't wait for the unveiling.
The paperback ended up being 177 pages. I had hoped for at least 200, but the stories write themselves and when they're done; they're done. I'm aiming to have the ebook posted on Amazon the first week of September and the paperback shortly thereafter. This release date is a month earlier than previously anticipated. My fingers are numbs from typing so much!
I've been pleased with the sales of Book One, Roth's story. I hope Book Two, Fawn's story, is as well received.
Here's an excerpt of Wade taking Fawn on a tour of Dream Catcher Ranch:
Wade opened the kitchen door and waited for Fawn to exit. Her glossy black hair in its pony tail bounced back and forth. He wanted to reach and circle his fingers around it to see if it felt as silky as it looked.
Sam bounded around the side of the house and ran straight to Fawn. She knelt and scratched him behind his ears. He barked his 'happy bark'. Wade shook his head at the dog's antics.
Fawn looked up and said, "Your land is beautiful, Wade. How many acres do you own?"
"Around two thousand, give or take. The house faces north, so we're looking south toward New Mexico; southwest is Arizona, and west is Utah. The Four Corners area is where the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet. We're about forty miles from there."
"It's where the Anasazi lived, correct?"
"Yes, their ancient dwellings are scattered throughout the area. I've even found some in a canyon on my own property." The minute Wade said the words; he'd wanted to take them back. If the information got leaked, he'd have archeologists and government people swarming his land. He cleared his throat and said, "Uh, Hidden Canyon is not public information and I'd like to keep it that way."
"No problem, I won't tell anyone."
"Thanks. Come on, I'll show you the stables and living quarters for the ranch hands." He walked the length of his two-story ranch house and into the blaze of a late afternoon sun setting the gradually rising western hills aglow with myriad shades of pinks and reds. His great-grandfather and grandfather had cleared the surrounding land with its outbuildings, corrals, and pastures with their own hands. He led Fawn to the stable, with Sam at her heels. He turned to Sam and ordered, "Go guard the house." Sam looked innocently at him and whined. Wade couldn't believe it. The dog never disobeyed him.
Fawn knelt before Sam again, and said, "You know you're supposed to follow Wade's orders. We'll spend time together later."
Wade's mouth dropped when Sam turned, with his tail between his legs, and slowly walked back to the house.
Leading Fawn inside the coolness of the stable, he walked to Misty Morning's stall.
Rubbing the mare's head, he said, "Hello, girl." When Fawn patted Misty's shoulder, he introduced his horse. "This is Misty Morning; I rescued her from ending up at the glue factory. She'd been mistreated and looked nothing like she does now. She's the best horse I've ever owned. I call her Misty Morning because I was driving past an old farm house at dawn and almost didn't see her because of the mist. I made some inquiries about the owner of the farm and got some bad vibes, so I went back and purchased her from the old tyrant."
"Hello, Misty Morning. I'm happy to meet you." The horse whinnied and turned her head toward Fawn.
"Looks like she's takin' a liking to you. She's usually skittish around newcomers."
"I have a way with animals."
Obviously, thought Wade as he watched Fawn lean her forehead against Misty's snout. He'd never seen his horse or his dog bond so quickly with a stranger.
Wade motioned past the stall. "We'll leave the stable through the back entrance. The kitchen building and living quarters are just past it."
Fawn gave Misty one last pat and followed him. He said, "The guys are out repairing fences, looking for strays, that kind of stuff."
Fawn chuckled, "Doing 'cowboy' stuff?"
Wade smiled. "Yeah, 'cowboy' stuff. They'll be returning in an hour for supper." He opened the door to the cafeteria style room. As if to underscore his words about supper, they heard a loud clang, and what sounded like French cursing coming from the kitchen.
Wade sighed. "Prepare yourself to meet Pierre. For the last ten years he's done nothing but complain about having to prepare 'American slop'. Every now and again, he sneaks in some fancy French dish which the guys razz him about. Pierre claims all cow hands have no 'palette discernment'. The fancy dish usually ends up being fed to the hogs." He laughed. "The hogs love Pierre."
Leading Fawn down the length of the room and past two rectangular dining tables pushed end-to-end with benches for seating, he held open a swinging door. "Hey, Pierre, watch your language, we've got company."
"Que? What? Company?"
Fawn entered the kitchen. Looking over her head, Wade saw Pierre quickly adjust his chef's hat that had fallen cockeyed across his forehead. The stubborn little man refused to cook without that damn hat, even though he was cooking for cowboys.
"Pierre Dubois, I'd like you to meet Fawn Woods. She'll be taking care of Zoe and the household."
Pierre started to roll his eyes, but caught himself. "Mademoiselle Woods, or is that Madame?" he asked with a slight bow.
"Monsieur Dubois, je suis Mademoiselle Woods."
"Oui. Je suis heureux de vous rencontrer."
Pierre's eyes rounded and his middle-aged but smooth baby features lit with a big grin. "Ah, finally, we are blessed with culture in this cowboys' den. I am happy to meet you, too."
"What's for dinner, Pierre?" Wade asked.
Pierre gave him a sour look and said, "Beans, beans, and beans, of course, but with the most heavenly cornbread in the State of Colorado. And, of course, the boring American apple pie for dessert."
"Good, I don't think the guys are ready for more Escargot," Wade laughed.
Although I have two publishers that I like, I have a "do-it-yourself" personality. Thus, my venture into self-publishing.
Approximately one week ago, I self-published the first book in my Shapeling Trilogy. To my pleasant surprise, I started selling ebooks immediately at Amazon and Amazon UK, and I thought I would share my experience. Keep in mind, however, I am not an expert, and it has taken months of investigation and preparation to get to the place where I could self-publish. For those of you thinking about going this route, here are some considerations.
For this blog, I will share how I accomplished the paperback part of number 1. Please check back for the ebook part of number 1 and the other numbers.
Through trial and error, I discovered I like having my writing displayed at the "get-go" in a 5x8 book format. My word processing program is Microsoft Office Word 2003. First, I create the book template by setting the top and bottom margins at .75, the inside and outside margins at .5, and the gutter at .35. I choose portrait orientation, mirror margins, and apply that to the whole document. Also, in set-up under the paper tab, I change the paper size to 5x8. Next, I insert page numbering beginning on the first page, but suppress the number so it doesn't show until page 2. You may prefer starting your numbering at the beginning of your first chapter. I've had problems with that, which is the reason I start with the first page. At first I worried that this was bad etiquette, but have since seen many books done this way.
You now have a document to begin typing your masterpiece into. Also, it looks like a book from the beginning, which I like. Here is how I order my pages: the first page is blank, the second page is the copyright page with necessary info (disclaimer, ISBN number, etc.). The third page is for dedication and words to your readers, the fourth page is blank, the fifth page begins chapter one.
I use normal formatting for the body with Times New Roman 12. I have experimented with the chapter headings. "Heading Two" is nice. Also, you want to keep your font characters for your chapters no larger than size 14. Whenever you come to the end of a chapter, insert a page break. Do not press the enter key multiple times to reach the next page (bad...bad).
This is the template we will use to create the paperback by converting it to a .pdf file later. Also, we will extract the words and create another template for the ebook. Ebook templates look nothing like paperback templates.
I hope this information is useful. If you're a self-publishing guru, I welcome comments and tips.