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I’ve talked about the Whitney Awards before here, and here. The nominations run from Jan 1st to December 31st of the year of publication, so the time is running out to nominate this year’s books (meaning, books published in 2014 by LDS authors). Of course, there will still be books coming out before the year is over, and some of them might very well be worthy of a nomination. Since the finalists in each category will be announced in February of 2015, any last minute nominations will have the committee scrambling to get all the reading done in time, which is why they ask for early nominations.

I’ve read a lot of good books this year already, and some of them are written by LDS Authors. If it’s a book I like very much, one I give a rating of 4 or 5 stars, then I nominate it (as long as it falls within the categories described in the parameters of the awards).

Here’s a list of the books I’ve nominated so far this year (with links to Amazon), in random order:

Chances Are by Traci Hunter Abramson

Hope Springs by Sarah M. Eden

Eye on Orion by Laura D. Bastian

Rules of Engagement by Amber Gilchrist

The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress by Sally Johnson

The Husband Maker by Karey White

Falling for You by Krista Lynne Jensen

Infinity + One by Amy Harmon

As You Are by Sarah M. Eden

Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard

Sense and Sensibility: a Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca H. Jamison

Painting Kisses by Melanie Jacobson

Saving Grace by Michele Paige Holmes

 

This is not the final list for me as I expect I’ll read a few more before the year is over.

Here’s the link to the Whitney Awards website, and the nomination page (be sure to fill in the form on the website instead of sending an email).

I’ll be looking forward to the list of finalists in February of 2015.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

It’s that time of the month again, first Wednesday, which means, it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

I should start calling these posts “Procrastinator Wednesday” because here I am, just a few hours before midnight, scrambling to come up with something to write about.

I’ve started rewrites on my novel. In July and August I applied all the edits suggested by my editor. It was a chore, and I struggled (not because I didn’t want to do them but because it was hard to see how badly I wrote), but I learned a lot. I’ll be able to apply this knowledge to other stories I’ve written (and future stories), and it’s been an invaluable lesson.

After brainstorming with a friend, I was able to rework new plot ideas to fill the holes, add more conflict, and raise the stakes for the main characters. One of the things I decided to do was to add the male main character’s Point Of View (POV). The first version of the story is told from the female main character’s POV in 1st person/past tense. I didn’t want to lose her 1st person voice but I also don’t like romance stories with male POVs (the guys always sound too whiny). This means I’m adding the hero’s POV in 3rd person/past tense.

For clarification sake and story rhythm, I’m alternating chapters in each POV. I’m taking a chapter that was previously from the heroine’s POV and turning it around 180°. The scene is still the same, and so is the setting, etc, but the dynamics are different, as is the voice, and, obviously, the point of view.

It’s not an easy task, but it’s exciting to infuse something new into the story. So far, it’s working and I like the direction it’s taking. He’s got a strong voice and he’s glad to let it out.;)

From another point of view.

Sometimes, we could all benefit from seeing things from another perspective.

Insecure Writer #213

 

What changes have you done recently?

 

  • Mark KoopmansSeptember 3, 2014 - 1:46 AM

    Aloha!

    Oh yes, sometimes a change is perspective is much needed- and wanted :)

    Good luck with that :)ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth HeinSeptember 3, 2014 - 7:16 AM

    Changing POV can be tricky. I went through that process a few years ago when I rewrote an entire novel from the third person past tense to the first person past tense. It was painful but well worth it because I could capture the MC’s inner thought better in the first person.
    Good luck with the edits.
    Elizabeth Hein – Scribbling in the Storage RoomReplyCancel

    • LucindaSeptember 3, 2014 - 9:20 AM

      Yes, changing POVs is hard work but I’m confident it will make the story better. Thanks for the visit!ReplyCancel

  • Diane BurtonSeptember 3, 2014 - 8:44 AM

    Like you, I procrastinate on blogging. I wrote my post this morning. LOL Great attitude toward your edits. Pass some of that over here. I need it.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaSeptember 3, 2014 - 9:18 AM

      Thanks for the visit, Diane! Sending you lots of editing vibes!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle WallaceSeptember 3, 2014 - 9:19 AM

    I’m sure it’s a challenge writing in more than one POV. You’re approaching it with the correct attitude, so that’s a plus!
    Good luck!
    Happy IWSG Day!ReplyCancel

  • Donna K. WeaverSeptember 3, 2014 - 12:55 PM

    Isn’t it fun to see where the suggestions take you?ReplyCancel

  • EE GiorgiSeptember 3, 2014 - 5:35 PM

    I’ve never done that but it sounds like a great exercise to rework exactly the same scene from a totally different POV… one can learn a lot from it!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaSeptember 3, 2014 - 8:01 PM

      Yes, it’s required a lot of concentration and an ability to turn a mirror on the same scene. Thanks for the visit!ReplyCancel

  • Shannon LawrenceSeptember 5, 2014 - 2:26 AM

    I’m working on changing POV on something (possibly removing one person’s POV, because I don’t feel I’ve made that character strong enough.) It’s a lot to ponder. Good luck as you do your edits!ReplyCancel

  • AngelineSeptember 5, 2014 - 10:57 PM

    I’ve done exactly the same thing before. When I’m writing, if the story simply isn’t working, I tend to find it is one of two things – either I started the story in the wrong place (too early or too late), or I’m using the wrong POV character. It’s amazing how much you can change a story by changing the POV.

    And I’ve had times when I’ve written a story in 1st person, and gone onto my next story in 3rd person, and I struggle to keep the 1st person out of it; I keep slipping up. So well done on doing it chapter by chapter – that must have been quite a feat!ReplyCancel

  • Shannon LawrenceOctober 2, 2014 - 9:21 PM

    I’ve been focusing on short stories, so have been in heavy edits of the ones I’ve gotten critiques on the last few months. I was so focused on submitting the ones I had edited and writing new ones for critique group that I got behind on editing the new ones.ReplyCancel

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A Timeless Romance Anthology, Summer in New York (Janette Rallison, Heather Moore, Luisa Perkins, Sarah Eden, Annette Lyon, Lisa Mangum)

Blurb:

In USA Today bestselling author Janette Rallison’s delightful novella, JOB HAZARDS, Lydia Robinson is posing as a prostitute. Undercover of course. Lydia’s job as a police officer hasn’t reeled in her prince charming yet. That is, until Harrison Aldridge, old high school flame, pulls up to the corner to rescue the fallen damsel. Lydia can’t exactly give Harrison the truth without blowing her cover, and it takes a series of mishaps and another whole set of misunderstandings before Lydia will even consider letting Harrison back into her life.

In Heather B. Moore’s enchanting novella, A TASTE OF SUN, Winona Grant embarks on a summer-long visit to NYC to house-sit for her great-aunt after a nasty break-up with her boyfriend Paul. But when her aunt commissions neighbor Steve Monti to tour Winona around, they strike a deal. Winona has too many deadlines to play tourist, and Steve is looking for a distraction from his looming gallery opening. So Steve goes on the tours by himself, and Winona reports back to her aunt as if she’d gone too. The longer this happens, the more Winona wants to change her mind. Seeing the city with Steve might be the perfect solution to forgetting about Paul.

In Luisa Perkins’s sweet romance novella, DULCE DE LECHE, Marisol is desperate for another nanny job after being unfairly fired from her previous position. She has only two more semesters of college, but she’s too proud to ask her wealthy parents for financial help. When her potential new employer, a single father working long hours as an anesthesiologist, decides she’s too young and pretty to hire, she practically begs him for the job. Darius finally agrees, and as he watches her work miracles with his Asperger’s son, he realizes there is much more to Marisol than he first believed.

In TAKE A CHANCE, a captivating story by Sarah M. Eden, Miguel Santos has a stopover in New York. When the announcement of delayed flights comes over the PA system, Miguel is looking at spending several hours at the airport. Determined to get comfortable for the long wait, he’s surprised when he spies a familiar face amongst the stranded passengers: Jane Schoonenburg, the last person he expected to see. Three months have passed since he asked Jane to marry him—three months of misery. And now he knows that he must talk to her, if only to find out why she broke his heart.

Annette Lyon’s entrancing novella, FIRSTS AND LASTS, begins with Dani’s last week in New York. She’s failed in her dreams to catch a break as an actress and is now ready to return home and dust herself off. As she visits the places on her final to-see list, she meets Mark, another New York City transplant with big dreams. Except Mark hasn’t given up on his. As they spend the day together, Dani realizes that even though she hasn’t hit the “big time” she might be living her dream after all. Only problem: she has a one-way ticket back home.

In Lisa Mangum’s whimsically titled story, &, Lucy is riding a wave of success at having found a bestselling novel in the slush pile at an exclusive New York publishing house. If only her personal life was storybook perfect as well. Her relationship with Devon is on the rocks, and even though she’s been put in charge of the house while her boss is gone on business, Lucy isn’t sure she’s up to the task. It will take a chance encounter with a handsome wordsmith to help Lucy claim the courage that has always been a part of her heart.

Purchase links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Add it to Goodreads.

 

My review:

I’ve read other titles in the A Timeless Romance Anthology and this one is among my favorites. The stories are short, sweet romances that read fast yet have developed engaging characters. The New York setting in the summer came across vivid and fresh in all six stories, each bringing something a little different from the others. It surely made me wish I could go to New York for a week or two.

It’s really hard to pick a favorite story from this collection. The characters are all distinctive and each story had a sweet taste of romance, funny situations, and even poignant moments.

Highly recommend this one.

 

An excerpt:
&
Lisa Mangum

“Are you sticky yet?” Devon asked.

“Excuse me?” I looked up from the computer screen, but my fingers kept typing, finishing the last sentence of the last rejection letter I had to send today. We wish you the best in finding the right home for your manuscript— fifty rejection letters in thirty minutes; a personal best— Sincerely, Baker Publishing House.

Devon scrubbed his hair from his forehead, the ends spiked from the specially ordered coconut-scented gel he used. I wondered if he was still using the bottle I bought him for Christmas, or if he’d picked up another one from the Village by now. With the stuff costing $17.99 an ounce, I hoped he hadn’t splurged and used it all at once.

“Sticky,” he said again. He sighed and leaned against the doorjamb of my office. “I hate summer in Manhattan. Everything is so… sticky.” He examined his fingernails, his mouth turned down in distaste.

 

You can enter to win an ebook of Summer in New York Collection! Answer the question in the comments: if you could travel to New York City, what would you see first?

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • SaraSeptember 2, 2014 - 3:27 PM

    I would have to go see Central Park first!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaSeptember 3, 2014 - 9:21 AM

      Sara, I’m with you on that: Central Park first!ReplyCancel

  • Lara MortensenSeptember 2, 2014 - 4:20 PM

    The first place I’d have to see is the Serendipity coffee house to see if it is as magical a place as it seems to be in the movie of the same name! Thanks for the chance to enter!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaSeptember 3, 2014 - 9:21 AM

      I’ve seen that movie and I liked it a lot! I wonder if the coffee house is still there.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle J.September 3, 2014 - 7:57 AM

    I’d see a Broadway play!ReplyCancel

  • Heidi RobbinsSeptember 4, 2014 - 9:58 AM

    I’d want to visit the Statue of Liberty first! I love the history and symbolism behind it. Thanks for the giveaway!!!ReplyCancel

Today on the blog I have E. M. Tippets, owner/founder of E. M. Tippetts Book Designs, and a best-selling author on Amazon.

 

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background. What did you study in college?
I studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in college at Oxford University, so I spent undergrad as a foreign student. Then I went to law school at UCLA. I always wanted to be a writer, but I also wanted to have a good fallback should I ever need one. There’s nothing quite as secure as knowing that if it became necessary, I could rebuild that first career and keep my kids fed.

 

What is your position at your company and what do you do there? How many employees do you have and what do they do?
I’m the founder/owner of my company, E.M. Tippetts Book Designs, and these days I basically work as the office manager, making sure projects stay on schedule and files get where they need to go. I employ three formatters as independent contractors, and they do the heavy lifting (and make most of the money, as is only fair.) The three of them now do nearly all the design of the paperback interiors and ebook headers and do a spectacular job, in my opinion. I’m always excited to see what they’ll come up with for each book that comes in.

 

Can you tell us a bit about the designing process? What does that entail and how long does it take?
So, we do a few different kinds of design at E.M. Tippetts Book Designs. Our main business is taking an author’s manuscript and turn it into a paperback interior and an ebook. The design process is only a small part of the job – though an important one. We always start by looking at the book’s cover, as we want the interior to match the exterior. The ebook formatter can get started even before the cover’s in because of the way ebooks work. It’s easier to insert graphics afterwards and size them however seems best.

The paperback formatters always need to wait until they see the cover, because they’ve got more constraints and need to know how everything is going to lay out on each page. Once they see the cover and have the fonts, they get to work putting together an attractive interior that’s more upmarket than what a publisher would provide anyone other than their star authors. The time varies with each project, but they tend to get winning designs on the first try, though the authors are always at liberty to ask for a redesign. This happens so rarely that it hasn’t been much of an issue.

I also design covers, and those can take anywhere from six hours to forty. It really depends on what the author wants and how many tries it takes to produce the desired result. The important thing to know about designing a book cover is that it is actually an advertisement, like a billboard poster. You don’t want to be too intricate and muck around with details. You want as clear and compelling of an image as possible, something that attracts the right kind of readers for that book to pick it up. That means finding an effective image and making a title block and author name style that compliment it.

www.pinterest.coma

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Is it worth the time and expense to set up a custom photo shoot instead of using stock art for a cover?
It depends on the genre and your expected sales. I wouldn’t do it in, say, LDS fiction – which is one of the genres I write. Of course, if you are a professional photographer like my interviewer here, you can afford to get beautiful pictures at a decent price! For a popular genre with a lot of sales potential, custom photos can make a huge difference. Nowadays there are so many books coming out that even stock photo sites with millions of photos are selling multiple copies of the best ones. If you see a photo that looks perfect for your cover, odds are someone else has already used it.

If you have a good designer, though, you can get by with the stock photos until you’re earning enough to pay for custom photography. A good image alone won’t necessarily sell a book. It’s a matter of putting a good image together with good layout and design.

 

What about formatting and typesetting? What sets you apart from others?
A few things.

1) Of all the formatters who do the fancy headers and such, we’re one of the only ones that isn’t a sole proprietor. There are four of us at the company, so we can take on projects at short notice and provide good turnaround. Formatting can be a tedious job, so it’s easy to burn out. Each of us has three backups if we hit our saturation point, and thus we are better able to keep deadlines than most.

2) We’ve got formatters who specialize in their formats. The paperback formatters do a lot of paperbacks and know the ins and outs of how to make a book interior attractive. The ebook formatter has done over 150 ebooks in this past year alone and knows what does and doesn’t work, both aesthetically and technically.

3) We use the same software as the pros. More and more formatters are adopting InDesign for their paperbacks, but we’ve used that right from the get-go. That’s what all the major publishers and magazines use, so we are able to replicate their look much more easily than someone working in Word.

4) Finally, while I myself am no expert in indie publishing, I am an indie author and a former attorney. Because I handle customer service almost exclusively, I have the opportunity to answer questions authors may have. We watch books launch every few days, and I can provide up to date information on what the big names are using and how it’s panned out for them. I can also walk brand new authors through the most common publicity practices prevailing at the time. Other formatters may also be authors, but they rarely have time to answer a lot of questions and really engage with the client. I do have that time because I’m not also formatting the books, most of the time.

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Do you offer branding services to your clients? What does that involve?
I do, and it usually involves picking a color scheme, an image, and a font for the name style. My name on my books is branded, and I recommend that. I chose my branding after researching other top-selling romance authors. Then the idea is to use the name style, an image if that’s appropriate, and the color scheme on all their materials, from their website to their FB banner to their business cards and Twitter background. My branding can be seen at www.emtippetts.com. And then if you go to www.emtippettsbookdesigns.com, you’ll see I’ve used the same fundamental colors, but in a different way. My name has the same style as well.

 

You’re also a best-selling author. Do you do your own covers? Why/why not?
Rarely. I do sometimes, again for a book that I think has less sales potential – which in my case is usually my LDS novels. Not because I think LDS isn’t as worthy of a genre, but it’s a necessarily smaller readership. There are only 14 million of us in the world, and while that may sound like a lot, only half speak English, half again are active in the faith, and of that smaller segment, a very small proportion read LDS fiction. LDS bookstores have very little circulation outside Utah and Idaho.

www.pinterest.comb

 

So, the cover to Paint Me True is mine, but for all my other romances, I’ve hired Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations. It’s important to me to have another perspective on how to sell my book. Because I’ve written it, I know all it’s little details and nuances (or I think I do, at least). It really helps to have someone else take a glance at it and say: “THIS is what will move copies.” It’s always something simple and straightforward, that I would never get on my own. Doing your own covers is like painting a self portrait. It’s very hard to be objective.

 

Thanks, Emily, for the great interview! Don’t forget to visit her portfolio on Pinterest, and check out her Facebook and Twitter pages.

ORavvenn the blog today I have Ravven, who is a book cover artist (among other things), out of Staffordshire, England.

You can view her website here, and her Pinterest here.

She was very gracious and agreed to answer some questions about her job and the cover designing process.

 

 

 

 

 

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background. What did you study in college?
Actually, I didn’t go to college.:)I’m a great believer in doing and learning for the love of it (obviously this doesn’t apply to vocations such as the medical profession!). I was all set to start my first year as an English major, planning to write, when I decided to just go travelling. I haven’t regretted it since.

The only thing I do regret in terms of my art is that I didn’t take art classes and actually learn how to draw properly. I do think it’s true that you have to find your personal path of creativity, but it helps to have a solid foundation of skills in place to jump off from.

My personal path kind of meandered through web design and web development, and I was lucky enough to work with a few art directors who generously shared tips and technique with a code monkey. I learned so much about layout, positioning, balance, etc., that I never would have learned on my own.

Over two years ago I left a job where I had been managing the web and SEO teams at a digital media company and went freelance. I’m so much poorer now, but much happier.

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Can you describe the designing process? What does that entail and how long does it take? How do you involve the client?
The process goes from initial brief through rough mockups to a final image. I can’t stress enough how important a good brief is to the eventual success of a cover. I ask for descriptions of characters and the world that they live in, as well as information about the genre of book, the target market, and try to get an idea of what covers the author admires (or hates, just as useful). You never copy another cover, of course, but description is pretty subjective even for writers and using images allows you to get a much better idea of what they mean by words like: dark, lush, suspenseful, hard-edged, etc.

 

How does the process differ for illustrated covers?
I don’t do many illustrated covers (see my statement above about my unfortunate lack of proper drawing skills!). The handful of illustrated covers that I have done have involved initial sketches, which are then fleshed out into a full image. It’s very similar to the process that I use for photomontage covers, where watermarked stock is roughly composited together to give the author an idea of what the final image would look like. The image is then put together much more carefully with the high-res stock and the whole thing is overpainted with the correct detail: dress, hair, shadows, highlights.

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Do you offer branding services to your clients? What does that involve?
I’ve offered advice in the past, but I don’t offer it as a service. It’s too similar to the corporate work that I was so glad to get out of – that is the same reason why I don’t do SEO or web work for clients. Obviously I could, but I didn’t want to go from designing and developing large-scale ecommerce and social networking sites to doing small sites for very little money.

 

What are your favorite and least favorite things about your job? What frustrates you and what excites you about this job?
My least favourite thing is looking at stock. On really tricky covers with a very specific brief I can spend a full day looking through thousands of images and at the end of the day have nothing. You’d be surprised how soul-destroying spending hours looking at beautiful people can be.:)

My favourite thing is being able to be a part of wonderful books, and to support the indie author community. When the partnership between author and artist really clicks it feels amazing, and you tend to come up with images that are far beyond what you would have come up with without that input and shared creativity.

Also, I absolutely love holding the physical books in my hands. I really do love it!

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Can you talk about some of the books you’ve worked in?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of extremely good authors who are also very lovely people. The level of generosity and support in the community is astonishing. I don’t want to mention anyone by name, of course, because I would be leaving so many people out.

I do have some descriptions of the process of working on specific covers, which can be seen here:

http://www.ravven.com/blog/2012/08/rainbird-birth-of-a-book-cover/

 

Thanks so much, Ravven, for doing the interview!

  • LauraAugust 26, 2014 - 12:34 PM

    Very cool. She’s now been bookmarked for future reference in finding covers for my projects. Thanks Cindy, and RavvenReplyCancel

    • LucindaAugust 26, 2014 - 12:37 PM

      Thanks for the visit, Laura! And yes, she’s so talented!ReplyCancel

  • Anthea SharpAugust 28, 2014 - 11:06 PM

    Ravven is a wonderful designer! And too modest – she forgot to mention she’s won awards for her covers. The cover she did for my YA fantasy, Spark, won 2nd place in the Judge a Book by its Cover contest, in direct competition with the best that traditional publishing houses have to offer. Plus, she’s just awesome to work with~ReplyCancel

    • LucindaAugust 29, 2014 - 4:48 PM

      Yes, she definitely should have mentioned that! Congrats on the awards, Ravven. Thanks for the visit, Anthea!ReplyCancel

  • Tamara LeighAugust 29, 2014 - 4:42 PM

    I adore the covers Ravven has created for my books. She is a uniquely talented lady and a dream to work with. Thank you, Ravven. And thank you, Lucinda for the lovely interview!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaAugust 29, 2014 - 4:50 PM

      I agree, Tamara, her work is impressive! That book of yours is one my favorite covers done by Ravven. Thanks for the visit!ReplyCancel

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