Cover Art Victory!!

Do you remember my blog post from late October?  The one where my cover art plans disintegrated into dust.  Yeah, well that little disaster actually was a prime opportunity in disguise.  I knew I wanted to use a photo for my cover art, given that Seeking Solace is a contemporary romance.  However, the cover was going to require someone with a lot of contacts—models, stylists, etc.  I live in the middle of nowhere in Eastern North Carolina (Yes, we capitalize Eastern here; it’s a thing.), where in heck was I going to find that?  And on top of that, how was I going to find someone local who wouldn’t completely hatchet my miniscule budget.  (Key point to self-pubbing—budget, if you have one, is a prime commodity.)

So, after a week of wringing hands and muttering to myself about “What about I going to do?”, I made a contact through my local writing group.  I was able to meet with the owner of Siberius Photography.  He had the team, he had models, he had equipment, he had ideas.  This guy was the complete book cover package.  On top of that, he was EXCITED TO DO IT!  Bonus!  I mean, let’s face it…if other people can get excited about your own pet project, then the work they do for you is going to be even better than you anticipate.

There we are, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, setting up shop to shoot the picture that would become my book cover!  I hardly slept the night before.  Honestly, I felt like I was waiting for Santa to come!  We had managed to get a local pub to agree to let us shoot there, which was perfect since the majority of my novel takes place in a small pub.  Rich, the photographer, was there setting up lights and tripods and different equipment.  Elizabeth, the stylist, was bringing in wardrobe options and bags of makeup and hairstyling supplies.  Me?  What I was doing?  I was standing in the corner by a fake suit of armor, grinning like an idiot and trying not to get in the way.  (I was petrified of becoming “the annoying observer” and someone finally just yelling “Out!  You, just OUT!”  But they didn’t and were absolutely gracious about me being there and often asked for my input.)

Then, our models came in.  Elizabeth had already gotten them styled and prepped for the most part, and I wanted to jump up and down and squeal in delight.  I restrained myself…barely.  Kate and Kris absolutely looked just like my characters, Sarah and Bret.  One year earlier, when I was typing away at my keyboard—sleep-deprived, anxious, addicted to the story, and trying to finish my blasted novel in thirty days (which is INSANITY, people, glorious insanity)—and picturing these two characters, they were what I had been seeing in my head.   It was kind of surreal, watching them during the shoot.  They had a sweet chemistry (they’re married, which was just perfect to me given the novel’s story), and Kris would do or say something that would Kate laugh, or they’d have this expression as they looked at each other.  I was watching my story come to life in front of me.

I was nervous and awed at the same time.  It was just so right that I was afraid it was really just a dream, and I’d wake up still wondering what I was going to do for a cover photo.  But it wasn’t a dream, and I’m sharing with you a first look at what came out of that shoot.  This is NOT the cover for my book.  This is NOT even one of my teasers, but rather a little prequel of what is to come over the next month.

 

Leaning on Bar

 

You can check out Siberius Photography on Facebook at Siberius Photography and on the web at www.siberiusphotography.com .  Check them out.  They’re good!

Love Your Beta (and Other Thoughts on Self-Publishing from a Whirling Mind)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my writing blog.  I find that I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to juggle this writer thing with the day job and still finding time to just “be me” and “have a life”.  Hopefully, one day I’ll get it all figured out, but until then, I hope those of you who are reading bear with me.  🙂

Since I’m going the indie route, I’m finding that I have to be all things to all people as I work towards publishing the first novel.  I am author, editor, secretary, finance manager, public relations staff, social media analyst, CEO, and I don’t know what all!  I’m in the middle of final edits to my debut novel, and in and around finishing those, I am also researching blog tours, who will take an ARC to review my book, which site is the best distributor for ebooks, Kindle Select—Do I?  Don’t I?, planning a release party, setting up my business name so I can collect royalties…. “ET CETERA, ET CETERA, ET CETERA (**cue Yul Brunner from The King and I here).

More often than not, I’m left just wondering if I’ll ever get it all figured out.  The successful indie authors I follow and love make it all look so easy and effortless, although I am positive they’ve been where I currently am at some point when beginning their life as a publisher/author.  The one thing I can say is that many of them have been so very kind to share their insights and tips and tricks with newbies like me out here.  That means the world to someone carefully inching their way down the path to publication.

The other thing I am finding is my life preserver in the ocean of self-publication—my beta-readers.  Do not underestimate the contribution of an excellent and thorough beta-reader.  At this point, two of them are more like critique partners than betas.  Line by line, page by page, chapter after chapter—copious notes and markings indicating what is working and also what isn’t and habits I tend to have with phrasing.  (Apparently, my characters were tending to blink and wink a LOT, also cocking/raising/lifting/wagging/shifting eyebrows.  I’m guessing when I was writing the original draft during NaNoWriMo I was giving them temporary Tourette’s or something… )

For a long time, I’ve been very apprehensive about giving my drafts away for first-looks and/or beta-reads.  You spend countless hours over many months crafting and writing a book that feels like it has become part of your soul, and you don’t want anyone else telling you it sucks (or your characters have so many facial tics going on that people will think they’re tripping on some kind of experimental drug).  It’s scary revealing this deeply personal work of art to the world.  It’s your baby, your “precious”, and you don’t want it harmed.   So I put it off for as long as remotely possible, afraid of what people would say about it.

Nevertheless, if I want to become a published author, then I have to eventually let people read my book.  So I finally sent it out to my betas.  Surprisingly, when I got my draft back, marks and notes on every line, I found that my feelings weren’t hurt.  I found that I was excited!  I was dying to clutch those pages to my chest, speed away home, and begin working on “my precious”.  Why?  Because I knew that going through the feedback would only make my story better.  The notations weren’t only just corrections or negatives; they were also positive comments on what was working or what my beta was liking.  I also found that many of the second thoughts or changes I had already been thinking about myself were often being confirmed by my beta’s notes.  That made me feel secure in the knowledge that I was in tune enough to the story to know what needed shifting and confirmed my hope that I wasn’t so attached to the story “as it was” that I would be too obstinate to make it better.  That in itself was quite liberating.  I have embraced completing this final revision of my novel and know that in the end, this story and these characters will be even more engaging and touching than I had originally conceived them to be.  Don’t be afraid of your beta-readers!  Love your betas!  (Especially if you have awesome ones like I do!)

 

**Publication update:  Seeking Solace now has an April 2015 release date!  Stay tuned for cover reveal and release day announcement!

**Meme credit to compositionatthebeach.com