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The Evolution of a Book Cover

Or everything you wanted to know and more . . .

I have a new book cover. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve seen way more about this cover than you ever wanted to know, but I thought it might be fun to share how I got HERE from way back THERE. The need to change came, of course, when the publisher with whom I’d been under contract decided to eliminate several books from their publication schedule—including mine.

In a former life I was a graphic designer. I’ve gotten rusty over the past 11 years, and Adobe programmers stand still for no one, so I didn’t feel qualified to re-design my own cover. I talked to an illustrator and other designers, and hadn’t come to any conclusions about which way to go.

The final cover is shown above. I really liked the concept below, which the publisher’s designer came up with.  I was not comfortable, however, with the price they set for me to purchase it. I decided to give it a go myself. They informed me they owned the copyright for the design work. I decided to start from scratch and create something similar, but not too similar. (Okay, it turned out quite similar, but only after I had a revelation along the way. More on that later.)

 

After some false starts, with chocolaty wooden spoon designs, and a storefront that was absolutely a bakery rather than a chocolate shop, the in-house designer and I settled on the design above. This is what I’ve been promoting for the past 8 months. It fits the genre, but has few hints about the story. And I begged for a bit of bling, but was thrilled, for the most part with the bling-less outcome.

When the publisher said they’d be willing to sell me the cover, but had to get me to the right person, I made some tweaks, since I wanted the original title back, anyway.

Upon learning how many smackaroos the “copyrighted” cover would cost, I started from scratch. I purchased the black graphic (above) for the overall shape of the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I simplified the shape and added awnings. I liked that there were upstairs windows, because, in my story, there are some mysterious things happening in the attic. I needed to re-do all the windows, though, to make them work.

 

 

 

 

 

New windows and a dancing couple upstairs. A friend suggested “glitter” and I remembered about that bling I’d begged for. I added the gold foil letters.

 

 

 

 

I continued to play with colors and fonts as I added chandeliers. I decided the smooth foil letters translated better than “glittery” ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, BINGO! I stumbled across this graphic, which is quite obviously where the the in-house designer began with the “copyrighted” design. I purchased the graphic and was now free to use whatever I wanted from it, including the facade shape at the top. See those adorable flags? They’d been covered up by the book’s title before. I had to use them, and they are my very favorite element!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This part is kind of funny. See all those cute little chocolates? I spent well over an hour putting all of those on the trays, even though no one will ever see them. They’ll be about the size of a pinhead. But if you look really closely, they’re in the right window of the shop. That’s the cool thing about vector art. You can infinitely resize it, without turning things into a blur.

 

 

 

 

Eventually, I got to the final product. The colors are warmer, the shop windows say “chocolaterie,” there are people dancing in the attic, with little flags fluttering above them in the breeze. I have the shiny gold letters I always wanted. This cover tells the story of my story in a way I didn’t know I could hope for. I’d thought I’d have to hire out everything but the writing, to be taken seriously as an indie-published author. Yet another example of how Impostor Syndrome can mess with our heads. I did the cover myself, and it turned out just fine.

Don’t forget! Join Tana’s Insiders Group to learn about upcoming books, events and giveaways. Sign up, and be entered to win the most delicious cookies you’ll ever eat!

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The Good, The Bad, & The Delicious

I’ve been waiting a month to make an announcement. I can let out my breath now. (Breathing is always a good thing.)

The Frustrating News (I won’t say “bad news,” because I am a true believer in “things happen for a reason.”)

I signed a publication contract at the first of the year. My book was to release in September 2017, then it was pushed back to January 2018. With the new publication schedule, I was to have begun working with my editor in August. As it turns out, the publisher was going through major staff and policy changes. They felt their schedule was overloaded by fiction titles, they were cutting back. My book was out.  After a month of wheel-squeaking, I just received my publishing rights back.

The Good News

Well, the best news is that I probably dodged a bullet. No one wants to work with chaos.

No. That’s not the best. The best is that I’m going to indie-publish this book, through my own company, SRE Ink. I’ve hired an experienced editor, I’m working toward keeping my cover, because I love it, and I’m taking my original title back—because it was always more clever than the one they came up with. It’s all good. AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE will still release in January!

The Delicious News

I’d started a giveaway, and I had to postpone it because of the above conundrum. Now that I have the rights back in my hot little hands, it’s time again for the GREAT COOKIE GIVEAWAY!

Why cookies? Just look at these cute little shops, owned by Brown Butter Cookie Company, in Cayucos and Paso Robles, California. (Their brown butter sea salt cookies are to-freaking-die-for!)

The heroine in AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE, Kate Hannity, restores a shop with this much history and charm, and opens a gourmet chocolaterie.

A little nepotism. My family of origin was very complex. There’s a story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls–Traci, Kim, and Christa. From a legal standpoint, they became my step-sisters for a decade or so. From the standpoint of my heart, they will always be my little sisters. Traci & Christa are business partners, who together own Brown Butter Cookie Company and The Cass House. (From very complex families of origin, my brothers, sisters and I turned out okay.)

While I’d been deciding which chocolate company to partner with for the giveaway, it was Captain Awesome Man who asked, “Why not your sisters’ cookies?” (He is brilliant. I should marry him.)

To enter the drawing, become a Tana Lovett Insider, and be the first to learn about more giveaways–and my upcoming books & events. (Don’t worry. This just means you’ll receive my newsletter, and you can unsubscribe at any time.) Not a cookie person? You have no soul, but sign up as an insider, anyway. These cookies make terrific gifts!

 

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Shatter, by Nikki Trionfo, & a Giveaway!

I’m a sucker for great opening lines. Here’s how gifted debut author, Nikki Trionfo, opens Shatter:

The playfulness of the lines gives a glimpse into the innocence and vulnerability of main character, Salem Jefferson, yet belies the tragedy and darkness that soon follow. It was my love of playful first lines that let Nikki Trionfo have me at “hello” with this book.

And it’s no secret I love kissing books.

Shatter is a YA murder mystery, written in first-person, present-tense. To be honest, not something I’d normally pick off the shelf. I’m so glad I did. Within the mystery also lies a slow burn of young love that builds at the same level as Salem’s ability to trust and break down her own prejudices. SPOILER ALERT: There wouldn’t have been a clever line about first kisses, without a payoff later. If you like kissing books as much as I do, trust that amid all the sleuthing and intrigue is found your sweet reward.

The real story, though, is about Salem finding her own strength—the strength her sister, Carrie, always knew she had.

Definitely worth the read!

Shatter Blurb

“We never knew there could be people in the orchard. Dangerous people.”

When a mysterious explosion kills her sister, Salem becomes convinced the death was no accident—it was a conspiracy. But no one else at her high school believes her, and all she has so far are theories and clues. With Carrie’s killers still out there, Salem’s not sure who she can trust. If she can’t she prove she’s right before it’s too late, the conspiracy might take another life—hers.

Excerpt

The class is dead silent. Mr. White’s lips tighten. He swallows. There’s something dangerous about the new guy. The teacher leans over AddyDay’s desk and spins her packet so he can read the list of partnerships. “Fine. We’ll break up the threesome. You’ll pair with . . . Salem Jefferson.”

At the sound of my name, I turn to look at my new partner.

The guy near the door is tall. He has the kind of incredible good looks that invite stares, but that’s not the only reason he’s getting them now. The cursive lettering of a tattoo rises from the opening of the guy’s worn flannel shirt. Two gold chains hang from his brown neck. A guy accessorized in gang paraphernalia, not caked with it. His only completely visible marking is an upside down V inked onto his right cheekbone, black and distinct. The tattoo calls my attention for some reason, even though I’m sure I’ve never seen a symbol like that before. An upside down V . . . it seems so familiar.

His expressionless, dark eyes dart to meet my gaze from under a stiff, backward-facing ball cap. My classmates watch him stare at me.

“Salem Jefferson,” he says slowly, putting a slight emphasis on my last name. He waits for my response.

I realize he knows exactly who Salem Jefferson is. Exactly who I am. I’m Carrie’s sister.

Terrified, I whirl back around to face forward. Gang members targeted Carrie, made her frightened. Was he one of them? The skin between my shoulder blades tightens. Why were gang guys after Carrie?

Pick up Shatter Here

Did I say “Giveaway?” Check out the Shatter drawing below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My New/Old Day Job

This is the last day of my “day job.” The one I started only five weeks ago.

I’ve had a difficult time convincing anyone that this is the right move. I can understand how it looks from the outside looking in. I get it.

After taking a couple of years off the old eight-to-five, punch-in, punch-out grind, to focus on the writing business, this new, perfect opportunity fell squarely in my lap. It seemed like manna from heaven, and that passing on it would be the ultimate ingratitude. And even though my gut-instinct—or that still, small voice—was not giving me the brilliant green light, it wasn’t giving me a screeching warning either. It was as though the answer was, “It’s not going to hurt to check it out. Go ahead and apply. Go ahead and interview. Everything will be okay.” Not really a feeling of peace, but not one of sheer dread, either.

On the surface, this would seem like the perfect opportunity. A former co-worker contacted me, asking if I was looking for a job. I hadn’t been, but I knew I probably should have been.

After a year of serious pitching, querying, and submitting, I had a growing stack of kind and encouraging rejections on my first completed novel. I knew I hadn’t used my time and potential as well as I could have. I thought that maybe having an externally-imposed structure might improve my writing productivity, because I’d be forced to use my limited writing time with more focus. (Yeah. That didn’t happen.)

At this new place, there were ten people I’d worked with at the “great and spacious building” I left two years before. Joining them seemed like becoming part of a David and Goliath story. It felt like sticking it to the man. It was closure for an open wound. I’d be working in a familiar industry, fighting the good fight for those in need. And I’d be good at it.

Two days into the new job I received an email from an acquisitions editor at a publishing company.

“Hello Tana, I have read your entire book and am going to pitch it to the board.”

It didn’t have the word “love” or even “like” in it, but those things are implied. Editors do not read an entire manuscript if they aren’t in love with it.

That one sentence changed my whole perspective about the new job.

(Long story less long, I signed with them. Much more on that in a different post.)

I believe everything happens for a reason.

The writing thing is still a crap shoot. There’s no guarantee this book or future books are going to sell even one copy, much less become a viable income stream. But having this one success has at least given me an indication I’ve been on the right track. This experience has shown me what I DON’T want to be doing for a living. It’s given me a renewed sense of purpose. It’s reminded me that I MUST treat the writing like the business I’ve always wanted it to be.

Thanks for listening. I need to jump in the shower and get dressed for that last day.

Next week I’m taking my new writing career on a road trip to visit family in Vegas. Because you can do that with a writing career. Writing IS my day job. I remember that now.

And I finally feel that peace again.

 

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Take Care, Scout. Take Care, Miz Lee.

harperlee
Harper Lee has passed at the age of 89.

Her Pulitzer Prize winning book, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, the only one we know for sure she approved of being published, is my all-time favorite novel. Or at least that’s what I’ve always believed. I’ve just recently picked it back up after 43 years.

My thirteen-year-old self fell in love with the relationship between Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout. I’m told by others that every little girl wished they had a daddy like Atticus, but, at thirteen, I thought I was the only one.

In the book, Leto-kill-a-mockingbird2_9855e describes Atticus like this: “Jem and I found our father satisfactory; he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment.” A girl being raised by a single mother, with a very charming but mostly absent father, longed for a relationship with that kind of “courteous detachment.”

Scout learned to read while sitting on Atticus’ lap every evening with the paper. She and Jem were comfortable enough with their relationship with him to refer to him by his first name—but always called him “Sir” when speaking directly to him. It was Alabama, after all. He spoke to them almost as contemporaries, and he never talked down to them

At thirteen, the worst time of my life (yours too?), I felt, at turns, both micromanaged and neglected (because everything is a blown way out of proportion when you’re a thirteen-year-old girl). Atticus’ “courteous detachment” meant neither of these things, and I adored him for it.

I’ve been afraid to re-read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, in case it didn’t live up to the “favorite” status I’ve given it all these years. I’m not done with it yet, but so far, it’s holding its own.

I’m sad to see Harper Lee go, though her quality of life had suffered over the past several years. It’s bothered me that her younger relatives sold her second book, GO SET A WATCHMAN, last year, likely without her express legal consent. She had decades to publish it, if that’s truly what she really wanted, and she didn’t.

I will read it anyway, hoping my Atticus/Scout ideal won’t be bruised too badly by it.

Goodbye, Miz Lee. Goodbye Scout. I will miss you. Y’all take care, now. Hear?

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I Said I Was a #Twitterspaz

twitterthumbsDo #PitchMAS, they said. It will be fun, they said.

Who knew tweeting was such a fine art?

This week was filled with pitching opportunities for those with the talent of distilling the very essence of their story to 140 characters, spaces included.

I am, apparently, not one of them. Today I came, I tweeted. I was ignored.

My friend, writing buddy, and tweeting Sensei, @debra_elise, got a quiver full of requests for partial and full manuscripts.

I got quivers.

Here are my attempts of the day at twitter pitching AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE:

Going against resolve, new chocolatier falls for small town royalty. Is he too good to be true, Casanova &con man, or her destiny? #PitchMAS

After chaotic childhood & bad divorce, chocolatier chooses happily ‘independent’, over ‘ever after’ Small town hero doesn’t buy it. #PitchMAS

Wanting roots, new chocolatier in town gets more than she bargains for Hot widower’s family is EVERYWHERE& they want him married. #PitchMAS

Romancing the Stone meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding-in Mayberry Confectioner &widower-next-door find room untouched for 30yrs-&LOVE #PitchMAS

He attracts women like a weepy-day carton of Ben&Jerry’s. She avoids him like Ebola. Is he just a pretty face?Can she trust again? #PitchMAS

Heartbroken CPA gets do-over as Chocolatier. RealEstateMogul returns to family deli @wife’s death. She’s who he’s waited 5yrs for #PitchMAS

CPA-turned-Chocolatier & RealEstateMogul-turned-deli-guy find HEA & that every day is a good one-AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE #PitchMAS

And the final Hail Mary Pass:

“Sweet Lord of the Dance!” “Holy Hannah & her sisters” “Mother Mary Tyler-Moore” “Dalmatian!” “Hell O’Kitty” –Heroine’sPottyMouth #PitchMAS

 Many a terrific book has been overlooked because of a horrible pitch or query. Getting the right person to read a manuscript is 90% of the battle. It’s a very good thing for me that twitterpitching isn’t the only option.

I’ve never said 20 words when 40 will do. Ask the Captain. He’ll nod, because I won’t have paused for a breath.

Sigh.