the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Monday, May 28, 2012

The (Cover) Art of Selling

I've been absent because I've been busy writing.  That's a good excuse, isn't it?  I like it.  Sadly, it's not true.  Mostly I've been freaking out about how much I'm not writing, because the creative portion of my brain is frozen and I'm not doing much of anything.

In case my editor's reading this: don't panic.  This paralysis is normal for me when my book is due in six weeks.  I always find something wrong with the way I said the story would end, and I have to re-think the whole thing.  I'll annoy everyone around me with my anxious hair pulling and distracted muttering, but I'll figure it out.  My creative process isn't pretty, but it works.

Meanwhile, my publisher has revealed the covers for my next novel and my e-novella, both in the Barringer's Pass series.  We had some disagreement over the cover for the novel, Gold Fire.  They want to change the style from the first novel in the series, Silver Sparks, and I don't like that they no longer seem to go together.  But it's not about what I like, it's about what sells.  (By the way, this is the answer for ANY disagreement in publishing; get used to it.)  Since odds are they know what they're doing, I'm good with it.

So these are the covers:

This is the e-novella, about a horse trainer who has no intention of giving her heart to a man who won't stay in her small mountain town, and a man who has no intention of staying in the small town he left years ago for a successful career in Boston.   
This is book two in the Barringer's Pass series, Zoe's story.  She's the ambitious, image-conscious assistant manager of the prestigious Alpine Sky resort.  He's Jase, a washed-up athlete and the current owner of the Rusty Wire Saloon, who's most far-reaching ambition is planning his next fishing trip.  He has what the Alpine Sky wants - the land under the Rusty Wire - and it's her job to convince him to sell.  Her repeated failures don't seem to deter the handsome owner of the Alpine Sky from espressing a personal interest in Zoe.  He's the opposite of Jase - polished, ambitious, and attentive.  And his kisses are more than nice.  But one impulsive clinch with stubborn, irritating Jase has her head spinning.  She might need to get the wrong man out of her system before she can concentrate on the right man.

The big question is, how much does a book's cover influence your decision to buy it?  Or to even pick it up?  Marketing research seems to indicate that it matters a lot, and I'd have to agree.  The question is whether these covers will work well for these stories.  In the end, it's all a gamble.  (My publisher would probably call it an educated guess.) 

What makes you reach for a book?  If you'd never heard of it before, would you take a second look at these books based solely on the cover?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Brave New e-World

I have recently agreed to a new contract with my publisher, Pocket Books, for the third book in my Barringer's Pass series.  It will release early next year as a digital-only book, with the possibility of going to print later.

When I first began writing for Pocket Books, Pocket Star was a line of mass market paperbacks.  Then the name disappeared.  Now it's back, with an impressive list of authors like Cindy Gerard, Laura Griffin, and V.C. Andrews, and featuring new titles you will only find in e-book form.  Including mine!  I'm honored to be included in this group.

And a bit embarrassed - I think I need to buy an e-reader!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

That Certain Point In The Book

You can always tell when I get to the sexy parts in my books.  Most of the time that dark blue dictionary sits on top of the pile and gets occasional use as I double-check meanings or whether to hyphenate.  But when I get to the sex scenes, that thesaurus flips open and stays that way until the hero and heroine get their clothes back on.

You wouldn't think it would be so hard to write a sex scene after you get over the fact that your mother might be reading it.  Or your daughter.  Standard disclaimer here, and I cannot stress this enough - it's fiction!  When I kill a character I am not writing from my own personal experience with murder, and when my hero and heroine get into bed they aren't consulting my personal playbook.  Like any other scene, what happens depends entirely on what came before and what sort of characters they are.  So you'd think I could do what I do in every other scene - just imagine it and write what plays out in my mind.

Nope.  Can't do it.  I can see it, alright.  But have you ever tried to describe a sexual encounter without veering into porn or sounding like an anatomy book?  Not so easy.  How many ways can you say "lust" or "desire?"  And how many "heated looks" can he give her without sounding like the bed is about to go up in flames?  Forget "pulsing" and "throbbing"; some words are just too descriptive.  But trust me, readers don't want to be yanked out of the story just when it gets to the most emotionally charged part.  They want to see what happens, and they want it to take a few pages, not a couple paragraphs.  So out comes the thesaurus.  And yes, there's one built into the Microsoft Word program, but it thinks "lust" is the same as "hanker after," so unless I start writing about old ranch hands who sit around the bunk house saying, "By jimminy, I've got a hankerin' for that gal," I won't be getting much use out of the Microsoft thesaurus.

In case you're wondering, the papers under the dictionary and thesaurus are my notes on things to go back and change.  Also my outline so I don't lose track of what's supposed to happen next. 

Oh, and the squirt gun?  That's for cats that think digging their claws into the family room chair while Mom's not watching might be a good idea.  Surprise, it's not.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Harley's A Winner!

My local Tractor Supply store is running a promotion for their new line of cat and dog food. You submit a picture of your cat with a bag of their food, and each month it goes into a drawing for a free bag of cat food, value $17.50. Today I got a call that Harley had won! Actually, that I had won, but it was Harley's picture that did it.

Here's Harley, showing her winning form.  I didn't tell her it was a random drawing because, really, isn't that a good picture?  She's interested in the cat on the bag.  (Or in Frieda, who was on the other side of the bag, but why quibble over details?)

I lined the other 8 cats up and told them it was time to start earning their keep, like Harley.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kittens At 5 Weeks

Cute trio!  And they're all so different you might not guess they came from the same litter.
Giving her brother a hug

How could anyone resist this face?

Scratching?  I have no idea what you're talking about.