Archive for October, 2013

Tales for Tatas

Posted October 31, 2013 By Jennifer

Today is the LAST DAY to check out this awesome auction!!! As we wind down Breast Cancer Awareness month, we have a chance to help a family in need. AND we have a chance to take home some really cool prizes from some generous authors. Signed books, “name a character”, Skype chats, etc. are all up for raffle. 100% of the money raised will go to help a family fighting breast cancer. Read more about Teresa, her family, and how you join the authors and readers who have contributed already by clicking the link above. THANK YOU and GOOD LUCK!!

(I’ve got my tickets in for #s 27 and 47… so NONE OF YOU GET TICKETS FOR THOSE, lol!!!)

Be the first to comment

IWonder

Hello, my lovies 🙂 And welcome to a new mid-week feature, called “I Wonder…”. Basically, this is my chance to chat with you all about something I’ve been pondering. Every week’s topic will be book/publishing/author related in some way. I’m looking for feedback on these posts… so I’d love to hear your thoughts. (It’s lonely over here in my little corner of cyberspace!!)

To start us off…

I noticed an article in the most recent Where To Retire magazine. (I work in a bookstore, I notice what’s on the magazine rack. No one try to sell me a timeshare or dentures, lol!!) Their cover article is “8 Novel Places To Retire”. Now, THAT’S an interesting idea! The article was primarily focused on places with literary history, or with active writing communities, but it got me thinking about places I’ve read about in books. Some places I would NOT. EVER. WANT. TO. GO. But there are some that seem like pretty cool spots to settle in.

I narrowed my choices down to two. I’d either shack up with Cory, Bracken, Green, and the crew at Green’s Hill in northern California (from Amy Lane’s Little Goddess series), or I’d be neighbors with Claire Waverly and her family of friends in Bascom, North Carolina (from Sarah Addison Allen’s GARDEN SPELLS). There are a LOT of places I’d like to visit from various stories. But many of them have entirely too much action and danger for me to stay long. (Not that the ass-kicking men and women who occupy those places can’t HANDLE it, I’d just like to steer clear.) Both of my choices are places filled with magic, and friendship, and crazy cool people.

So… now it’s your turn. If you could pack up your stuff and settle down in a storybook town, where would YOU go??

2 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Going UnderCOVER with Skyla Dawn Cameron

Posted October 29, 2013 By Jennifer

GoingUnderCOVER1

DOB_tourbanner

Today we get an unusual cover treat. Skyla Dawn Cameron has designed covers for many, many books. But today we’re talking about the evolution the covers for her own series, Demons of Oblivion. After you finish checking out the cover info… be sure to check out book one in the series, BLOODLINES, it’s free during this blog tour, from Oct 28 – Nov 1!!

Bloodlines…has had a few different covers.

It was first released in 2008. Covers using 3D art were fairly common at the time. Poser used for covers still has quite a negative bias against it, in some cases for good reason; as a digital artist, I’ve always found it quite useful, though (more on that in a second).

The first Bloodlines cover was done by an excellent digital artist, Ana Winson.

Bloodlines1

I felt Ana did a wonderful job with this cover as it did the most important thing: it exemplified the main character of Zara Lain. You look at that cover and know she’s about to pull out a weapon on you.

It was 2011 when I was able to do a rewrite of the book (I’d originally written Bloodlines in 2004 or so; several years later I’d grown enough as a writer that, when I had the opportunity to clean it up, I jumped at it…and added about 25K words and gutted the whole thing). To go with this and the release of the next few books in the series, I received permission to redo the cover myself and give it an update.

Bloodlines2

Astute viewers will know this is also done with Poser (same model and outfit, in fact). And I love this, not just because I made it, because it also so completely encompasses the character of Zara Lain.

This one was a bit of a hit or miss with readers. Interestingly, it wasn’t the Poser that seemed to get people (in fact, many I know who are specifically anti-Poser were impressed with this one), but the sheer boldness of it—the stark white background, the blood—was polarizing.

The reason Poser was used for the initial redo, and for the Hunter and Lineage covers at that time, is because stock photos are quite limiting the more particular you want to be with your characters.

I’ve worked as an artist and I know how ridiculously caught up authors can get in the fine details of a cover, missing the overall picture; I skylastrive to not do that. For example, Zara never wears a corset in the course of Bloodlines—does that matter? No, it doesn’t; the point is that she would wear a corset, which is why I gave her one there. The tone and feel of the book/character is more important than what colour nail polish she’s wearing.

But Zara Lain is a very particular sort of person and, not to sound like I’m insane, but she would not let me use just any stock photo. It couldn’t be a black-haired chick with a sword, as she doesn’t use a sword; it couldn’t be a blonde with a gun, as she isn’t blonde; and by god she’d better have good clothes.

Similarly, with Hunter, it was difficult to find a woman of colour carrying a katana. Ryann’s also a nun and the hot-chick-in-leather-pants or bare midrift sort of cover wasn’t going to work for her. And Peri from Lineage is Asian, and finding a non-sexualized image of an Asian woman with a weapon wasn’t easy (Japanese school girl carrying a sword, though? Oh, that’s doable).

In a perfect world, they’d have custom art like books from large publishers (my dream for these books? That would be Chris McGrath, no question). But I don’t live in a perfect world: I have lived in small press and epublishing, where the budget just isn’t there.

With the 2011 covers, sales still weren’t where we’d hoped. It’s one thing if people pick up a book and don’t like it, but if they’re not picking it up to begin with, well, there’s a problem. So I went back to the drawing board one last time in the hopes of injecting some life in the books: I loves these characters and this world, and I’d love it to be financially viable enough to spend more time with these stories.

This time I decided to forget about swords, guns, and leather pants urban fantasy heroines, and start by finding people who look like my main characters. Not merely their physical features but the overall feel of the character.

1-Bloodlines

That. That right there is Zara. The model is naked under the curtain and is certainly sexualized, but Zara is an overtly sexual character to begin with. And the look on the model’s face says she doesn’t need to be holding a gun on the cover to kill you.

I did have some people question as to whether this made the book look more paranormal romance than urban fantasy. They’re likely right but there’s some sex in the book and…and my particular brand of romance (which never ends well), so it’s still somewhat fitting.

Similarly, with Hunter, it was important for me to find someone who looked at least similar to Ryann. I absolutely refuse to whitewash people of colour on my covers. The model also had to have a vulnerability to her without looking weak, and couldn’t be sexualized in the way Zara’s cover was.

2-Hunter

And then there’s Peri:

3-Lineage

Her hair’s too long, her clothes are too nice/girly, but she’s holding a gun and she will not hesitate to shoot you; this was as appropriate as I could find for Peri (as most of the Asian models were too cutesy and smiling; Peri is vaguely sociopathic and suicidal, and Happy Fun Time just did not work for her).

So there you have it. For better or worse, my art graces the covers of my books, and where they succeed or fail rests entirely on my shoulders. The first purpose of a cover is to draw the reader’s attention to maybe read the jacket copy or a sample of the writing, and it’s my hope the revamped art does just that.

The remainder of the Demons of Oblivion series covers…

4-Exhumed      5-Oblivion

Thank you for having me, Jennifer!

4 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Words & Music Monday: LGBT History Month Edition

Posted October 28, 2013 By Jennifer

WordsAndMusicMonday

Usually, each of my Words & Music Monday posts features an author talking about their musical influences. Today we’re taking a bit of a different approach to the post. October (among other things) is LGBT History Month. I’ve had the fantastic luck, the last few years, to find myself involved with the M/M fiction community. I’ve been introduced to the stories, the authors, and the amazing fellowship they share.

Wilde City Press is spotlighting posts that commemorate moments, both good and bad, in the ongoing struggle for equal rights. Whether it’s a personal moment, or a national one… they’ve all contributed to the gay community as a whole, and to its place in time.

lgbt_history_month

I have a tendency to keep my head in the sand when it comes to unpleasantness. I’m aware of the world around me, but I don’t spend time on negativity and heartbreak if I can help it. This may not always be the most pro-active way to live, but I generally go through my days pretty happy. Today, I’m going to share a moment when my head was yanked out of the sand, and my heart broke.

I have had, and do have, people in my life who are gay. It’s such an odd thing, for me as a straight person, to focus on, because it honestly DOES NOT MATTER TO ME WHO THEY’RE ATTRACTED TO. It’s not a concern for my non-gay friends, so it makes exactly zero sense for it to be a concern for my gay friends. I want everyone to find their own happiness, and it really shouldn’t matter if that happiness comes with a penis or boobs. However… many years ago, I was given a glimpse of the absolute horror that some people face at the hands of others who are afraid, or judgemental, or are just plain assholes. I was introduced to the memory of Matthew Shepard, through a song by Melissa Etheridge.

GLAAD-matthewshepardI’m not going to go into all of the details of Matthew’s death here. I will tell you that he was a friendly, 21-year-old college student who was beaten bloody, and left pinned up in a Wyoming field to die. Because he was gay. You may know his story. I’m sure I heard something about it, in passing, when it happened. I vaguely remember it being on the news. But I had long since stopped listening to all of the horrible stories that made “news”. That whole “head in the sand” thing.

I hadn’t stopped listening to music, though. And one of my favorites is kick-ass, singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge. (Who is openly gay, but that’s not the first thing I think of when I think of her.)  I’d seen her live in 1993 or 1994, and had become addicted to her music. When her 1999 album Breakdown was released, I bought it immediately, and proceeded to devour the music. Every song was better than the one before it, and I was thrilled. Then… track 8… “Scarecrow”.

Just typing the song title gives me goosebumps. I haven’t listened to it recently, and I’m not listening to it while I type this, because I’d like to make it though this post without crying. “Scarecrow” is Melissa’s tribute to Matthew, and essentially a “wake-up call” to the rest of us. It’s haunting, and beautiful, and ugly, and heartbreaking, and raw, and true. It stopped me in my tracks that day. I checked the liner notes… then researched Matthew Shepard. He hadn’t been too much younger than I was at the time. It took a lot for me to wrap my head around the idea that people could be so unimaginably closed-minded. It scared me to death that something like that could happen to one of my friends.

I think that was the beginning of my awareness of how “unequal” society, and legal rights, for the LGBT community were. I had been involved in local politics, pretty heavily, a few years before (that may have contributed to my “head in the sand” lifestyle, too) but gay rights didn’t really play a role in anything we were focusing on. It wasn’t something I really thought about too much before then. In my head, there’s no reason NOT to be equal, so what’s the big deal?

I’d like to think I’ve become a bit more knowledgable since then. I don’t believe that “tolerance” is required (gay people are not unruly 2 year olds that need to be “tolerated”), I believe that “acceptance” is what we should all strive for. Matthew and Melissa (and no doubt my religious beliefs and upbringing) helped me to understand how important it was to demonstrate that acceptance in my life, so that other people might see me as an example. There are still crimes like what happened to Matthew happening every day. There are still people who are afraid or ashamed of who they are. It’s mind-boggling to me.

Thankfully, art (as a whole) seems to be a place of some relief and pride for the gay community. Words and Music (specifically) seem to melissa-etheridgebe more accepting. There has been a thriving LGBT fiction community for a while, comprised of both gay and straight authors. And the number of gay characters finding their way into “mainstream” fiction seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Authors are embracing the “gay couple” as A COUPLE more and more, and readers are supporting them. Authors like J R Ward, Lori Foster, Karina Cooper, Yasmine Galenorn, John Green, Maureen Johnson, Diana Gabaldon, Mercedes Lackey, Suzanne Brockman, Lauren Dane, Kim Harrison, and Cassandra Clare, to name just a few. In music, there are themes of acceptance coming out of every genre, and the songs are topping the charts. Most recently, “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (featuring Mary Lambert).

This month, and Wilde City’s spotlighted posts, are good reminders of how far society has come. There have been tragedies and triumphs, some more publicized than others. I think it’s interesting that as I’m prepping this post to go live, an author buddy is about to marry his partner of 20 years. We have really come a long way. But we’ve got so much farther to go.

As for me… I say CONGRATULATIONS to Andrew and Dominic. THANK YOU, to Melissa… for all of your music, including “Scarecrow”. To Matthew, I wish there had been more for you, I hope you’re at peace. And to each of you… I hope you find your own happiness.

To learn more about Matthew’s story… and find out about the foundation that operates in his name… click HERE.

To learn more about Melissa and her music, click HERE.

Be the first to comment

Entangled COVET: October Book Blast

Posted October 28, 2013 By Jennifer

Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, LIKE their Facebook page, and join the  Book Club.

Today I’m happy to be featuring Covet’s October releases!!

Bad Cop by Angela McCallister

Bad Mouth Sequel
A cop who tosses the rulebooks to get his way…Vampire Ian McCready doesn’t care for Alice Capshaw’s opinions about his version of justice. Her humanity makes her off-limits, but that does nothing to lessen his overwhelming desire for her. To Alice, Ian is just another bad cop as detestable as the one who destroyed her family. She’s attracted to him, yes, but he threatened his way into her agency’s murder case and has too many secrets.When a new case resurrects ghosts Ian believed long dead and buried, his law-bending ways might result in his execution. The second Alice becomes a target, his cold heart flares into blinding existence. But following the law for her sake may end with devastating results.

Four Weddings and a Werewolf
Seattle Wolf Pack #2

To have and to howl…

Logan Black, former Marine and bodyguard for the Seattle Wolf Pack, hates weddings and has no plan to walk the path to matrimonial misery. But when he’s hired to protect a hot-to-trot wedding planner with a werewolf stalker, he’s forced to put his feelings aside. Not such an easy task when the damsel can turn him on with a single smoldering glance.

Wedding planner Veronica Vale knows werewolves exist, but hates them. One bit her sister, changing their lives forever. When a sexy Marine shows his gorgeous face at one of her wedding appointments, Veronica finds it hard to focus on the task at hand.

The chemistry drawing Logan and Veronica together seems fated, but with Logan’s playboy attitude, Veronica’s hatred for werewolves, and a stalker lurking in the shadows, these two need more than passion to keep them together.

What’s more fun that adding two awesome new books to your TBR pile??? WINNING COOL STUFF!!! Check out this month’s contests from Entangled’s Covet line by clicking the links below 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be the first to comment