COVER REVEAL: THE ART OF THE KISS

The Art of the Kiss

A young photographer, an old camera, and a bit of magic disturb the dust, setting in motion events that will reawaken a love story fifty years in the making.

Art of the Kiss final

This is not your typical love story.

It’s about the guts of a long-term relationship. It’s about dreams and the loss of youth and fame. It’s something of a reinvented fairy tale. It’s a little bit magical.

So sure, it’s about love. But it’s also about much, much more.

I’ve been working on The Art of the Kiss off and on now for over a year. Told in snapshots, in a non-linear format, with multiple POVs. This novel demanded it be written in a somewhat non-conventional way.


From the back cover:

Can you have more than one happily ever after?

Taken in a flash at the beginning of their life together, Sharon Minyard’s portrait of herself and her husband, Michael, hangs on her studio wall as a testament to the possibility of love.

Once drawing crowds to gaze in wonder, it has since become all but forgotten—until a young photographer, an old camera, and a bit of magic disturb the dust, setting in motion events that will revive its meaning…

Showing—in black and white—that in a town named Fairyland, the dream of forever is but a snapshot away.


Okay, that was more than just a cover reveal. But you don’t work on a book for more than a year and not get excited it about actually seeing it in the world!

To celebrate, the book is discounted during its pre-order period. You can snag a copy here.

DELUXE SUPERHERO WRITING JOURNAL

 

I’m delighted to announce a deluxe edition to my writing guide, INVENT YOUR OWN SUPERHERO, is now available on Amazon as an e-book and paperback.

What makes it deluxe?
Superhero Deluxe Edition Cover 3

A new cover! This one’s brighter, and features a wider array of kids’ faces. I wanted to make sure all kids had a better chance to see themselves represented on the cover.

The deluxe edition still uses the superhero story structure to hook kids on writing. I’ve included all the same story prompts to introduce young writers to concepts like protagonists and antagonists, conflict, backstory, etc.

In this edition, I’ve also included the full text of my own original superhero story:

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPER SUSAN

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I invented (and illustrated) this character when I was a young author: a hero with superhuman kindness!

 

I dusted off the Super Susan character and wrote a new story featuring her last year. (I felt that nothing was quite as timely as a hero whose superpower was kindness!)

The deluxe edition includes reading questions that illustrate how the concepts introduced in the superhero journal come into play in Susan’s tale. It proves all those prompts and concepts really do gel into a single cohesive story.

Susan’s story and the reading questions will help young authors who have worked their way through journal prompts but still aren’t quite sure what to do with all the ideas they’ve brainstormed.

The deluxe edition truly is two books in one! Part fiction, part how-to…and the supplemental reading questions help tie the whole thing together.

Great for classrooms or individual use, the book will be available in wide-release. If you’re a wholesaler, it will also be available via Ingram. You can snag an e-book or paperback at Amazon now.

NEWS, NEWS, NEWS – REVIEWERS NEEDED!

I feel like I’ve been posting incessantly about copyediting and polishing…now, I’m finally ready to start talking about publishing!

I’ve got a couple different projects–for two different age groups–about to release.

ADULT

The first is an adult general fiction novel. I’ve been working on this one in fits and spurts for more than a year. I know, I know–on blogs and on social media, us writers (yep, myself included) have always had a tendency to slobber over pending releases like proud parents. How many times have you heard all of us proclaim, “This is the book of my heart!”?? I’ll soooo be guilty of this if I spend too much time describing the work. (In fact, that sentence popped into my head as I started to write this post.) I’ll just say here I’m really excited about this one. I’ve experimented slightly with overall structure, and my main characters are again somewhat non-traditional.

I’m also looking to expand my pool of reviewers. I’ll be distributing my initial review copies through my newsletter. I hope you sign up for my adult newsletter–which will also provide early cover reveals, etc.–here.

MG

The second soon-to-release book is a new MG work. It’s a blend of fiction and how-to; if you’re a teacher or tutor or a parent who knows you’ll soon be looking for something to keep your kids’ minds engaged over the summer months, I hope you’ll sign up for my MG-specific newsletter. Again, I’m looking to expand my pool of reviewers, and I’ll be offering opportunities for newsletter subscribers to get their hands on a copy for review. Sign up for the MG newsletter here.

WHEN GHOSTS AREN’T SCARY

Something cool happened at Amazon recently. They changed how they show the Amazon Best Sellers Rank, which I’m sure directly affects quite a few books. It also affects my latest release I REMEMBER YOU.

I REMEMBER YOU is the sequel to last year’s CHRISTMAS AT RUBY’S. Like last year’s installment, I REMEMBER YOU is a non-horror ghost story.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good creepy tale. In fact, my favorite holiday is Halloween. Right now, my porch is covered in undead clowns that hang on chains. Their voices are on timers, and every two minutes or so, they wail and cackle and beg to be taken down.

But if you asked me what my favorite ghost story is, I’d tell you this:

Actually, THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR is one of my all-time favorite movies–not just ghost stories. I think it’s one of the best love stories ever told.

Is it creepy? Fit for Halloween? Ghoulish? Does it make the hairs stand up on your arms?

Nope.

My RUBY’S PLACE series follows the same romantic-ghost sentiment. And yet, when I listed the books as “ghost” stories, the Best Sellers Rank on Amazon looked something like this: #00000 in Fiction – Horror – Ghost Stories.

Which always made me sigh with disappointment.

Until recently, when I noticed my Best Seller Rank for I REMEMBER YOU:

ghost fiction

 

It’s a small thing, I suppose. But I clapped when I saw it. I’m so glad “Ghost Fiction” is no longer merely a “Horror” sub-genre.

How about you? What’s your favorite non-horror ghost story?

LIKE MILES LEFT YET? TRY FOREVER FINLEY

51dhmvjqm1l-_sy346_First, I have to thank you guys for grabbing copies of MILES LEFT YET. I originally released the book in ’16, and it’s always been one of my faves, but it just never managed to get in the hands of as many readers as I’d hoped. A new cover, a little advertising, and voila! It’s finally starting to get out in the world. In the last month, I moved triple the entire lifetime sales of the book.

But ads alone don’t give a book legs. I know this book is starting to move because of word-of-mouth with my readers. So I have to take a moment to thank anyone who has personally recommended the read.

 

A New Request

If you enjoyed MILES LEFT YET, I do hope you’ll take a moment to leave a review on Amazon. Just a sentence or two helps tremendously. Right now, the book’s reviews on Amazon remain fairly low. Upping the number of reviews will help me expand into a new round of advertising, getting the book into the hands of new readers, who can work their magic again with word-of-mouth.

I can’t emphasize enough how much authors appreciate reviews…

Like Norma? Keep reading!

Haunted creek

If you liked Norma (who emerges, I think, as the real star of MILES LEFT YET), please do check out FOREVER FINLEY. This one centers on the mystical small town of Finley, the town the Norma drives into at the end of MILES. FOREVER FINLEY is an “episodic novel,” meaning that it’s constructed of loosely connected, stand-alone stories. Each story works together to culminate to the book’s magical conclusion. A new cast of characters is introduced in FOREVER FINLEY, but Norma makes an appearance fairly early on (you’ll find her in the stories titled “Dearest March…” and “A Hundred Julys”).

 

I’ve also done a little repackaging of FOREVER FINLEY–new cover, etc.–and to celebrate, I’ve reduced the price of the e-book to $1.99 temporarily. It’s available as a wide release at:

Amazon

Kobo

B&N

iBooks

I’ve also got a few signed paperback editions of FOREVER FINLEY at my Etsy store!

I hope you’ll decide to spend some time in the town of Finley. It’s become one of my own favorite places to visit.

MILES LEFT YET – ONE OF MY FAVORITE INDIES

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I’ve always had a soft spot for this book.

It’s one of the first I wrote for the indie platform. And for some reason, it just never “took off” (driving pun intended). Probably because I wasn’t doing quite as much advertising (or even newsletters) when I first started indie pubbing.

One of the reasons I have such a soft spot, though, is that my first reader / main editor is a “senior”–nearly 80. And the characters in this book are seniors as well. It’s not a group we see quite as often in literature–not as main characters, anyway. Usually, they’re part of the supporting cast. But that seems so strange to me; these characters have seen and done and experienced so much. They’re rich with development possibilities!

With characters this age, I get to say things in the narration that I wouldn’t with a younger cast. Seventeen-year-olds certainly don’t have the same world view as seventy-year-olds, after all.

I loved writing this book. And it is spring, after all, the season of deep-cleaning and gardens, of opening the windows, dusting off our old favorites, getting back out in the sunshine.

Sooo…

I decided to dust off this old fave. A new cover, a new synopsis. A wide release. It’s available in e-book form for $1.99 for a limited time. The paperback is available for $9.99. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the synopsis and links below:

 

None of them really expected to wind up at the Granite Ridge Retirement Community for Active Seniors. And yet, here they are—Jim arriving after his wife’s unexpected passing, Norma after selling her home to rescue her financially strapped daughter, and Mildred after her lifelong neighborhood becomes overrun by crime. It’s an odd place to be, for sure—put out to pasture, some might phrase it. At the end of life’s road.

And yet, inside, they all still feel as young as ever.

When a figure from Mildred’s past emerges, a motley crew from the retirement community embarks on a road trip—in a vintage Mustang convertible, no less—which quickly turns into an adventure of second chances, fresh starts, and the discovery that love is never a landmark in the rearview mirror. No matter what the odometer reads, as long as there’s gas in the tank, there are always still new roads to explore…plenty of miles left yet.

**Includes book club discussion questions.**

It’s Never the End of the Road

None of them really expected to wind up at the Granite Ridge Retirement Community for Active Seniors. And yet, here they are—Jim arriving after his wife’s unexpected passing, Norma after selling her home to rescue her financially strapped daughter, and Mildred after her lifelong neighborhood becomes overrun by crime. It’s an odd place to be, for sure—put out to pasture, some might phrase it. At the end of life’s road.

And yet, inside, they all still feel as young as ever.

When a figure from Mildred’s past emerges, a motley crew from the retirement community embarks on a road trip—in a vintage Mustang convertible, no less—which quickly turns into an adventure of second chances, fresh starts, and the discovery that love is never a landmark in the rearview mirror. No matter what the odometer reads, as long as there’s gas in the tank, there are always still new roads to explore…plenty of miles left yet.

**Includes book club discussion questions.**

Links

Amazon
iBooks
B&N
Kobo

Happy spring, everyone! I hope your gardens are growing and your flowers are blooming and you get a chance to read beneath your favorite shade tree. (Come on–aren’t shade trees the perfect place to read?)

–Holly

INDIE / SELF PUBLISHING TIP: COVER ART FOR BEGINNERS

I still bump into indie or self publishers who are hesitant to create their own cover art. The task of creating a cover often seems far more daunting than actually writing a book. Each author has to weigh the pros and cons of farming out certain jobs when taking on self-publishing, and every author knows his or her own abilities. But I do think cover art creation can be not only a rewarding activity for indie publishers, but an informative one, too.

For those who have decided they’d like to take the cover art plunge, a few tips or ideas:

At its simplest, an e-book cover is an image with a few words on it. That’s it. To start out, a professional-looking cover can be had for a pretty small amount of money (under $50—most of my covers range around $30). All you need is an image and a font.

BUY A STOCK PHOTO

This is how most traditionally published covers are created, actually. (It’s also why you sometimes see the same image on multiple covers by different authors or publishers.) I usually frequent Shutterstock or iStock, where you can get a quality image for around $15.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A STOCK PHOTO

If you’re new to image editing, try to grab a photo that needs the least amount of work done to it. Refine your search for photos composed vertically (the natural shape of a book), and look for large open areas in the photo where your title and your name can be placed.

My own covers for MILES LEFT YET and ALL ROADS are stock images I found using this method—neither required any editing on my part beyond adding text:

GET A FONT

Don’t use the fonts already installed on your computer. Times New Roman does not convey any feelings regarding what’s in your book. I mean it—GET A FONT. You can actually find fonts that are free for commercial use (just Google it), but I’ve also found some really great, paid professional fonts on both Etsy and Creative Market. I’ve paid as little as $2 for a font, but I’d say $10 is pretty average. And it feels good to support another creative person who is independently selling their products online.

ACTUALLY, GET TWO FONTS

Rarely do I use a single font for a cover. (MILES LEFT YET may be the one instance I did). Think in terms of opposites for your fonts—try a script or cursive looking font combined with a sans serif. Again, fonts have personality—every bit as much as the image you choose! Be sure to reflect the content of your novel with your font. A good way to get a handle on appropriate fonts used for different genres is to either hit the shelves of your library or do a quick Amazon search. Examples: Romance novels have more calligraphy-style fonts, horror novels have drippy blood fonts, thrillers often use bold sans serif fonts, kids’ books frequently use childlike handwriting, etc.

USE A PHOTO EDITING PROGRAM

It doesn’t have to be Photoshop, especially if all you want to do is plug in text. GIMP is a perfectly good photo editor—and it’s completely free. It’s also fairly widely used, so if you ever get stuck, you can simply search for a how-to vid on YouTube.

That’s literally all it takes. A stock photo, a couple of fonts, and a program like GIMP. Of course, as you go along, you’ll have additional needs and ideas. You’ll begin to look for different stock photos that you can then edit / splice together, etc. You might even begin to take your own photos for covers. You’ll begin using Photoshop. But this is a great, low-cost way to get started. And the good news is that because you have used a professional photo and a professional font, your cover winds up intrinsically looking, well, professional—even if you’re not a professional designer.

THE NUMBER ONE ADVANTAGE OF SELF-DESIGN

You learn. I’ve actually learned far more through indie publishing than I have through traditional publishing. Not just about covers, either, although that’s been part of it. Some covers will hit and others won’t—since you’re in control, and since you spent little money to begin with, switching a cover isn’t going to break the bank. Doing it yourself means you’re adding design skills and promotional skills to your résumé (and yes, covers are promotional objects).

Now, get out there and design a cover!