Looking Ahead to Play It Again: The Playing Hurt Sequel

Hey, all,

I’m in the midst of a couple of new projects–one being the conclusion to the Ruby’s Place series, and the other being the sequel to Playing Hurt. I’ve so enjoyed reading your reviews and hearing from you directly regarding Playing Hurt–but here’s the cool thing: with a sequel in the works, the end of Playing Hurt is really kind of like intermission in Clint and Chelsea’s story. It’s unfinished. At the midpoint.

So–with that in mind, I’d love to hear from you all about the sequel. What are you most hoping to see? What issues would you like addressed?

Feel free to enter all your thoughts in the form below–I’m open to any and all suggestions! If you can’t access the form below for any reason, you can see it here, or you can hit me up directly.

Design a Book Cover in Photoshop (Blend Modes)

I discussed the basics of book cover design in a previous post. Really, a cover is no more than a photo with some words on it. As I discussed in that earlier post, you can truly create a professional looking cover for minimal expense (somewhere in the thirty to fifty dollar range) even without using Photoshop.

I now use both Photoshop and InDesign for my covers. I primarily use InDesign for the print cover layout and Photoshop for the e-book. (The e-book cover is also the image that winds up being on the front of the 3-D print cover.) InDesign is really all about text layout, so it can also give more options when designing your title. I sometimes find it helpful to edit the cover image in Photoshop, then bring it to InDesign to add text–you can save InDesign files as JPEGs.

The main benefit of using Photoshop over another photo editor is that it’s so widely-used, you can always find a post or YouTube video in which a graphic designer explains how to accomplish a task you’re stuck on.

Recently, I’ve been using a basic Photoshop editing trick (blend modes) in order to get some interesting results:

Create a New Project or File

This gives you your blank canvas. Here, you’re going to need to size your cover. If you know you want to offer a print version of your book, go ahead and plug in your paperback or hardback’s trim size. If you’re planning to release an e-book only, I might suggest using a 5.5 x 8.5 or 6 x 9 trim size for your cover. Those are used fairly often in the pub world.

Now Open the Cover Art Image

As I discussed in that previous cover post, the easiest way to get a professional looking cover is to get a professional (stock) image. You’re going to need to do some resizing to get it to fit your nice 5 x 8 or 6 x 9 canvas. The easiest way I’ve found is simply to open the image as a new file, then choose: Select – All, then Edit – Copy. Now return to your blank canvas and chose: Edit – Paste. Your cover image will now be its own editable layer. Your hi-res image will be quite a bit larger than your canvas, though. Select Edit – Free Transform in order to size your image to fit.

Of course, your image doesn’t have to all be on the canvas. It probably won’t be. You’ll crop to get the portion you want on your cover.

Experiment with Basic Editing Modes (Blending)

Here’s where I’ve been having some fun lately. It’s also a great way to easily add some mood to your stock image. Add an image or overlay as a new layer (you can accomplish that using the same cut and paste method outlined earlier), then use Photoshop’s blend mode, usually found in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen:

photoshop

Head for the drop-down menu set to “Normal.”

You’ll find a ton of options for blending the layers together. By playing with the various settings in this drop-down menu, you can instantly make a stock image look vintage, as I did for my cover for Sentimental Journey:

sentimental journey final 7

I used a stock photo of old paper as a layer to blend with the image of the cardinal. Not only did it add a vintage look, it also gave the book a warped-paper effect at the bottom of the cover, which I really loved.

You can also use overlays to help create mood. I added three different rainbow overlays using various blend modes for the cover of my forthcoming Playing Hurt:

Playing Hurt Cover Final

Yep, that’s three different rainbow overlays: one somewhat blurry rainbow to add color to the entire sky, one round rainbow to add the effect of sun peeking through the trees, and of course, the most obvious rainbow over the title.

Overlays can be purchased affordably as well, through several different digital goods sites. I found my rainbows at The Hungry JPEG.

These additional layers and overlays don’t just offer something fun to look at, either. They can help you convey what the book is about–every bit as much as your main stock image. Sentimental Journey contains several historical (Depression-era) passages, and Playing Hurt is about two broken-down athletes that learn their lives can have light and love again. Hope can spring eternal. I hadn’t planned on a rainbow, but was utterly delighted when I found the overlays. I think they make the cover.

Have you used blend modes? I’d love to see the results! Comment here or find me online: Twitter or Facebook.

I’m looking forward to the official re-release of Playing Hurt!

The book has been updated and includes several new scenes. To be notified of the official release, subscribe to my Steamy Romance Newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

TOTALLY OBSESSED

What’s the old saying? “There’s no good time to have a baby?” I always took that to mean there’s really no perfect time for any life shakeup: new relationship, a move, a new job, going back to school, starting that novel that’s been in your head for ages…

And so, when the opportunity appeared, I took the plunge. Even though I was in the midst of finalizing my Christmas novel. (Enter Gus the Peke puppy.)

And now, to be honest, I am completely obsessed with my new addition, who is a handful and a time consumer and a sleep stealer supreme.

(If you want to get off social media or do a digital detox, get a puppy. You have absolutely no time for scrolling.)

But seriously, though, who wouldn’t be obsessed?

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I love this pic. It’s like he’s looking out the door, trying to figure the place out. The world according to Gus.

 

A HARDBACK POETRY COLLECTION IN TIME FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m delighted to announce a hardcover edition of my poetry collection TANGLES officially releases April 2 (but is already available for purchase)!

The book design’s my doing: gray cloth cover with a matte dust jacket. The interior also includes several visual design elements to tie the work together.

But the most important part of a poetry collection is, you know, the collection. The words on the page. TANGLES is not a head-scratcher. These love poems read like song lyrics. They’re accessible and digestible. One of my favorite aspects of the collection is that the poems age as they go along–the speakers in the earliest verses are clearly quite young; by the end of the collection, the speakers are looking at love from a more seasoned, experienced angle.

You can grab a copy of the hardback on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you’re a bookseller yourself, the book is also available from Ingram.

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?

COVER REVEAL: I REMEMBER YOU

Okay, it’s a little more than just a cover reveal. I REMEMBER YOU (my sequel to CHRISTMAS AT RUBY’S) is now available at most retailers. It’s a big part of why I haven’t posted much the past few weeks–while CHRISTMAS AT RUBY’S was a short read, I REMEMBER YOU turned out to be longer (more novel than novella). I’ve been eyeball-deep in copyedits and uploads, making sure I had the book up in plenty of time for the holiday season.

ChristmasatRuby'sLast year, CHRISTMAS AT RUBY’S introduced readers to a magical bar (actually, it’s not really a “bar” in the sense you usually think, not a dank and dark place of escape, but a classy supper club) in which the “spirits” aren’t just the liquors behind the bar. The “ghosts of Christmases past” are still around, showing up at happy hour, just like they once did to celebrate all their life’s accomplishments.

CHRISTMAS AT RUBY’S also introduced readers to Angela, who is middle-aged and somewhat aimless, in need of an accomplishment of her own. She accidentally finds herself inside Ruby’s Place, empty by that point for decades, and learns what’s still inside…

WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR:

I don’t think it’s spoiling too much to say Angela did buy the old Ruby’s Place bar. She’s been working the entire year in anticipation of a Christmas Eve opening–and for the magic that she believes will accompany it.

This year, we learn more about Angela’s glamorous Aunt Elizabeth. We’re also introduced to a fairly wide range of characters who all live in Sullivan, Missouri–and who have all had some experience with Ruby’s Place. The central story of this year’s installment focuses on a message that had been scrawled into the sidewalk just outside of Ruby’s when the cement was still wet:

Rob & Geena 4Ever 1987

We meet Rob and Geena during the course of I REMEMBER YOU. We relive their “Jack and Diane”-style ’80s love story. As Christmas grows closer, the potential for a first-love reunion grows increasingly stronger…

Think last year’s CHRISTMAS AT RUBY’S was magical and uplifting and heartwarming? I promise it’s got nothin’ on this year’s I REMEMBER YOU:

The Ultimate Christmas Wish

i remember you border2

To see that special someone once more. Tell them everything you didn’t get to say while they were alive. Right wrongs. Mend disagreements. Or simply relive special moments spent together. Fall in love for the first time all over again.

At Ruby’s Place, where “spirits” are more than the dusty liquors in bottles behind the bar, where voices from the past celebrate yet another Christmas Eve, your ultimate Christmas wish might just be granted.

AVAILABLE NOW AT:

Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Kobo

B&N

The book will also soon be available through iBooks, available for library purchase through Overdrive and Bibliotheca, and the paperback will have a wide release through Ingram.

TANGLES: A FIRST!

ANNOUNCING MY FIRST POETRY COLLECTION

TANGLES HEADER

Lyrical writing, metaphors, and wordplay have all been part of my work from the beginning.

To a great extent, that’s because I’ve been writing poetry for years. In high school, I kept journals that were nothing but poetry–and a few of those poems were included in my first YA (which was also my first-ever published book), A BLUE SO DARK.

Tangles is an adult collection of love poetry, but it would certainly appeal to teenagers or fans of YA, as well. And it most certainly will appeal to readers of sweet romance–these are emotional rather than erotic poems

This is NOT a stuffy, boring, or hard-to-read collection of poetry.

Just the opposite. I’ve also been writing songs for years–ever since a member of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils taught me basic guitar-playing and songwriting skills. The love poems in Tangles certainly run the gamut–from more formal rhyme schemes to complete free verse–but they are also heavily influenced by songwriting. My goal wasn’t to write head-scratching, obtuse poetry, but poetry that readers could understand and feel and connect with instantly…just as we all connect with the lyrics of songs.

Available now at Amazon

Tangles is available in both ebook and print formats. I strove to make the ebook clean and simple (and therefore readable on whatever device you have–tablet, e-reader, phone, etc.), but I designed the print version to be as visually enjoyable as possible. (And let’s face it–there’s just something about poetry that lends itself to print…)

Ebook: bit.ly/TanglesEbook

Print: bit.ly/TanglesPrint

Other Poetry Goodies

I started a Tumblr blog a few years ago, but didn’t really do as much with it as I would have liked. Now, I’m revamping the site in order to use it to talk specifically about all things poetry. You can follow along here: hollyschindler.tumblr.com

I’ve also started a newsletter dedicated specifically to poetry releases–both adult and juvenile. You can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/dmExEH 

As always, happy reading!
–Holly Schindler

NOW AVAILABLE! THE ADVENTURES OF SUPER SUSAN

Last year, I bumped into a real gem hidden away in the personal archives–a superhero I created (I think I was about 8 years old). The heroine, Super Susan, had a superhuman…kindness.

Susan served as the inspiration behind my writing journal, Invent Your Own Superhero. I even blogged about Susan as I announced the release. Response and interest in Susan was so strong, I decided to give Susan a book of her own! I even incorporated my original drawing of Susan into the cover.

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Kindness is a superpower!

Award-winning author Holly Schindler turns her attention to superheroes in this short adventure story. Using a character Schindler created when she was eight (a hero whose superpower is kindness), The Adventures of Super Susan offers a humorous, fast-paced read in which Susan is forced to face-off with a new arch-enemy, Blaze, a boy with super-jealousy who threatens to keep anyone at South Westport Elementary from outshining him…for good.

Can Super Susan melt Blaze’s heart? Or will he simply be too much for even the most powerful kindness on planet Earth?

A great read-aloud for grades 3-6, and a perfect companion piece for Schindler’s Invent Your Own Superhero.

Grab a print copy of The Adventures of Super Susan

Available at Amazon or B&N.

Also available as an ebook

Available at Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo.

As always, happy reading!
–Holly

REVISION TECHNIQUE: TELLING YOUR STORY OUT LOUD

No, I don’t mean reading your work out loud. I mean telling the story. To another person.

“Sounds weird,” you’re saying. Maybe even, “What’s the point?” Or, “Nope. What I really need is an editor.”

Here’s the thing:

There are two main components of a story – 1. The story itself. 2. How the story is told.

No matter how beautifully your story is written, no matter how many literary bells and whistles you use, if the story itself isn’t sound, the rest of it just plain doesn’t matter.

Before you worry about rewriting–reworking scenes, rearranging the order of events–you need to make sure your plot, your storyline provides a solid foundation.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to tell your story out loud, to another person, allowing them to interrupt you as you go.

Feel free to keep your manuscript in front of you to remind you of the turn of events. Tell the story simply, the same way you might tell an anecdote about something amusing that happened to you that day. But don’t feel as though you have to stick to simply the events. Tell your listener about your characters, too–who they are, what their desires or fears are, what their backstory is, etc. Whatever it takes for them to understand the story.

Let them ask you questions along the way. Things like, “Why would that character want to do that?” Or, “Why wouldn’t they just do __ at that point?” Or even make observations: “Come on! No way would that happen!”

Don’t take it personally. Bounce other ideas off of them: “Okay, so if you don’t buy that, what about…?”

It’s a much smaller job for your bouncee (you’re not asking them to read a manuscript), and it can be really fun. And of course, the best part is that you wind up with a sturdy framework where you can then begin hang all your beautiful turns of phrase!