HELP! What Should My New Cover Look Like?!?

As smaller publishers are catching up with Big 5 illustrators in terms of style and quality, Big 5 YA covers have been differentiating themselves by shifting away from photomanipulation people on the cover and more toward high concept minimalism (think Hunger Games and Twilight). So if I want to follow in the trend of Big 5 covers, this is something I should consider.

With 18 Truths set to come out on January 28th (YESSS, I have an official release date *squeeee*), I wanted to keep the banding the same between its cover and that of the first book in the series, 18 Things. But to do that, there was no way I could lean more toward a minimalistic cover.

I emailed the powers that be at Curiosity Quills about this (my publisher), and asked them about some smoother graphics and a bolder color scheme  for 18 Things, because after a discussion with another author/blogger, we both thought it could do wonders for the cover.

If you’ve ever spent some time browsing covers in the Young Adult section at Barnes and Noble, you see what’s striking, and have probably discovered it doesn’t matter how good the book is; if the cover is exceptional, it will appeal to readers.
I didn’t know if the scene of the 18 Things cover was necessarily the problem of keeping it competing with other YA best sellers, and I thought asking my publisher to redo the whole thing was too bold to ask. But then CQ responded to my concerns with an offer to completely reimage the cover, and I enthusiastically accepted. From there, we can brand 18 Truths and later on, 18 Thoughts (the last book of the trilogy, which I plan to write the entire novel during November for NaNo, so say some prayers for my sanity please), in the same vein.
But now I’m left with the task of telling my publisher what I actually want for the new cover of 18 Things and well . . . I’d LOVE your ideas! Because artwork is not my strong suit! So please, please, please give me your thoughts (hopefully you’ve read 18 Things and know a little about it, lol). And hey, if we use your idea, I’ll thank you in the updated version, and you can be sure a free copy of my next novel is on its way 🙂
~Thanks, everyone!!!

You Don’t Want To “Evade” This Good Read!

So I literally just finished reading Evade, the sequel to Ever (one of my all-time favorite YA paranormal romance books). Of course, I had to post a review right away (because that’s how I roll!), but here is the low down on Evade, in case you haven’t heard of it yet:

EvadeFront-Cover

In this thrilling sequel, Ever Van Ruysdael’s race to beat the odds—and the clock—begins with the introduction of an integral part of her past. As secrets are revealed, and truths uncovered, she learns her imminent death is the least of her problems: Ariadne did more than just put an expiration date on her life; she marked Ever’s soul by upping its value for greedy collectors looking to buy their freedom. Condemned by the countdown on her life, and hunted by hired Seekers, Ever’s journey leads her to question everything she’s known and everyone she’s trusted, while growing closer to the one person from her past she was determined to avoid—and the one guy she never could—Toby James. With her ex-boyfriend by her side, and the countdown clock rapidly ticking away, Ever tries thwarting fate’s plans. But as her nineteenth birthday approaches, and desperate Seekers follow her every move, she may be too late. A marked soul is hard to come by . . . and even harder to escape.

My Review: When I read the first book, I read the whole thing in one sitting. I practically read Evade in one sitting as well. I planned to read it this past weekend, but time got away from me. So last night and tonight I pretty much read the entire thing. And OMG! This one is definitely way more paranormal, whereas the first one was more contemporary with a paranormal twist. Ever left us with so many questions, and I loved the way Russo filled in the blanks for us. There’s a lot of information to digest, so get your pot of coffee ready when reading this one! I know Jessa and she’s a total pantser, so I loved reading things that tied together so neatly . . . that I don’t think she had any idea about when writing the first one. As a writer, I can definitely relate to just having to struggle until the right answer presents itself.

Let me just say this, to readers and writers alike: Never underestimate the power of the holy crap moment. The twists and turns and flips may make you sick at times, but at the end of the day, that’s what sticks with us in a book. So yes, some of this book may drive you crazy at times, but it’s also what makes the story epic! So if you love paranormal, romance, and plot twists, then pick up Evade today!

P.S. To Jessa, if you’re reading this, I can honestly say I ended book 1 clearly favoring Frankie. But now, I’ve changed my mind. Please have Ever end up with Toby! I’ll send cookies 🙂 And that is all.

Why Sci-Fi? . . . and Booking Time Trips!!

Today I’m asking M. Pax, author of Beyond the Edge, the question: Why do you write science fiction?

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M. Pax:  Wonder and curiosity. What’s out there? There’s no way to know in my lifetime, Voyager just recently left the solar system. I can imagine it, though, and travel the stars that way.

About M. Pax: MPax2

Inspiring the words she writes, she spends her summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where she lives with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. She writes science fiction and fantasy mostly. You can find out more by visiting her at:

Website / FB / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Wattpad

Beyond the Edge Blurb:

Some truths are better left unfound.

For two years Craze’s dear friend, Lepsi, has been missing. The murmurings of a haunted spaceship might be a message and may mean his old pal isn’t dead. The possibility spurs Craze and Captain Talos to travel to uncharted worlds, searching. Out there, in an unfamiliar region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

Meanwhile, Rainly remains on Pardeep Station as acting planetlord, dealing with the discovery of her lover’s dark and brutal past. Alone and questioning her judgment, her introspection unlocks more than heartache. Latent protocols in her cybernetics activate, forcing her to face a sinister secret of her own.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe.

This is the fourth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

Amazon / AmazonUK / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo / Other Outlets

And now, PK Hrezo is asking me this question as part of her blog hop:

If you could walk into a time travel agency, where and when would you book your
time trip to, and why?

This is a tough one! I’d want to travel into the future . . . say, 75 years from now. The zombie apocalypse should’ve happened by then, right?

Or there’s always going back to the past . . . I’d shoot for 13 years ago. I’m okay with missing the first 5 months after Kid #1 was born, but everything after that I’d love to relive. My two babies have grown up waaay toooo fast 😦

If time travel appeals to you, then you might want to check out this book:

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated

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We are a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. Family-owned and operated, we offer clients one hundred years of time travel experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.

Anxious to attend a special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply

Conference us directly from our Website. Our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

About the Author: PK Hrezo is a native Floridian whose life could easily be a Jimmy Buffet song. She shares her home with her firefighter husband and their two children. When not creating characters and their worlds, PK can be found at her other job of rearranging passenger’s itineraries for a major international airline. The only hobbies she loves more than traveling, are reading, writing, and music, and when the four are combined she exists in total bliss.  Visit her online:

BLOG  ~ WEB ~ TWITTER ~ FACEBOOK

*What about you? Where and when would you want to time travel to? Come on, join the fun, it’s Hump Day!

Songs of Destruction and Dating Nerds

Today I’m so excited to let one of my favorite publishing sistas from Curiosity Quills take over my blog to promote her new release!

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Let me just say that I LOOOVED her first book, Fade, and recommended it to anyone looking for a paranormal read.

Let me also say that Ayden has been served a pretty large cup of suffering as of late, and she could really use our help promoting her new book right now. You can visit her blog if you’d like the full story. But as always, Ayden is keeping strong and carrying on . . . . so take it away, Ayden!

Songs of Destruction:  FALL’s Playlist by @AKMorgen

Music is such a big source of inspiration for me. Nothing invokes a certain emotion, memory, or frame of mind quite like the perfect song. Naturally, one of the first things I do when I sit down to write is to create a playlist that reminds me of the story in some way.

In my new release, FALL (The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two), we see this struggle unfolding between Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews, our apocalypse stopping heroine and hero, where they both have their own ideas on what’s best for everyone. They end up clashing over those differences of opinion and reacting to this added element of angst in their relationship in some pretty intense ways at times. As a result, this created a sort of dark, melancholy tone for FALL in places.

I’m not exactly a dark and melancholy kind of person, so it was critical that I found music that captured that feeling or it simply wouldn’t have worked. But because FALL took over a year to write, I often reached this point where I literally could not listen to a specific song again without wanting to scream. I had to switch things up for my sanity, so the playlist for FALL evolved and changed a lot while I wrote.

Luckily, there is an endless supply of music out there that really captures the more angsty parts of FALL, so I had a lot of good choices. 🙂

Here are some of my favorite angst-ridden songs from FALL’s playlists:

  • Letters      From The Sky – The Civil Wars      – This song so perfectly captures Ari and Dace’s relationship, and the      whole hopeful yet melancholy apocalypse theme of the series, I added it to      the list the first time I heard it.
  • Closer      – Burn Season –      This song reminds me so much of Dace at times. He’s so screwed up, and yet      so amazingly good at the same time, I always feel a little sad for him.
  • Maybe      Tomorrow – Stereophonics – I      can’t think of any other song that says so much with so little. It’s sad,      it’s hopeful, and just all around powerful.
  • All      Falls Down – Adelitas Way – This song was an early favorite.      I love it for Ronan, who we see a lot more of in FALL, and really start      getting to know. It also perfectly captures some of the darkest points of      the entire Ragnarök series.
  • Radioactive      – Imagination Dragons – This      song has such a great feel to it. There’s that apocalyptic vibe, and then      that self-loathing vibe, and then underneath all of that is the story of      an awakening or desire to change. We see a little of each in FALL.
  • Always      – Saliva – This is      one of my all time favorite pissed off songs. It’s so spot on when it      comes to that “breaking point” of relationship angst. I rocked      it a time or five.
  • One      More Night – Maroon 5      – This is another great dysfunctional relationship song. Plus, I don’t      know anyone who can make dysfunction sound as hot as Adam Levine does.
  • Hold      it Against Me –      Sam Tsui – Speaking of hot, I love, love, love Sam Tsui’s cover of this      song. It’s so raw and lovely at the same time. There’s a specific scene in      FALL where this song fit perfectly.
  • Tears      of an Angel – Ryandan      – If I had to pick a single song to listen to while writing the entire      Ragnarök Prophesies series, this song would be it. It’s haunting,      beautiful, sad, hopeful, and just all around amazing.

You can listen to this playlist, as well as a few bonus tracks, here.

About the Author:

A.K. Morgen lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband, three dogs, and demonic cat. She has a graduate degree in Criminal Justice and Law, and plans to save the world some day. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching her niece and nephews how to cause mischief. You can also find her dancing in the grocery store, building a spork army, and fundraising for nonprofits close to her heart.

You can learn more about Ayden at http://akmorgen.com or by following her on Twitter, GoodReads, or Facebook.

FALL – The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two (summary)

RagnarokProphesies1

How do you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?

Those called to stand guard against the end are broken, and Sköll and Hati run free. Now Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews face a threat unlike any before. Ragnarök is coming and they aren’t strong enough to stop it.

Arionna thought she understood sacrifice, but she never counted on her destiny tearing Dace apart. Ever since she nearly died, he has been consumed with guilt. Now it threatens to turn him into the monster he always feared.

It’s up to Arionna to stop him before it’s too late, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and Dace is hurtling toward self destruction. This time, Arionna isn’t sure she can save him from himself. Can she convince him to let the past go, or is her true destiny to sacrifice her heart in exchange for the lives of the people she loves?

You can read the official prologue to FALL here.

FALL – The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two will be available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble on October 5, 2013 from Curiosity Quills Press.  FADE – The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book One is available now at Amazon US, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

*Thanks for visiting, Ayden! You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers! I loved your playlist! Maroon 5 and The Civil Wars are two of my favs!

What song is at the top of your playlist right now? I don’t know why, but I’m loving Royals by Lorde. I heard it for the first time on the way to my retreat last weekend when I was in the car with teenagers, and now it’s stuck in my head. Sooo catchy . . . .

Last but not least, I’d also like to give a shout out to the hilarious Cassie Mae! Happy Book Birthday, chica! Be sure to pick up her new release on Kindle today for only $2.99!

how to date a nerd Blog banner

Harry Potter, Evade, and Taking the World By Storm!!!

So, if you’re a follower of Pottermore News, you might’ve heard a few days ago that the President and CEO of NBC Universal, Steve Burke, revealed during his remarks at a conference that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, the expansion of the current WWoHP in Orlando, will open in Spring 2014. As luck would have it, we got free tickets to the Universal and the Islands of Adventure theme parks yesterday, so I was able to take a sneak peek at Diagon Alley! Here’s the view from Universal: DSC06987As you can see, I’m trying to hurry up construction with my magic skills. It didn’t seem to work though . . . .
DSC06990And that’s the view from the Islands of Adventure side. But Harry Potter news isn’t the only thing making my heart happy this weekend!
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One of those great things is arriving October 1st . . . that’s when Evade will release, the anticipated sequel to Ever!
In this thrilling sequel, Ever Van Ruysdael’s race to beat the odds—and the clock—begins with the introduction of an integral part of her past. As secrets are revealed, and truths uncovered, she learns her imminent death is the least of her problems: Ariadne did more than just put an expiration date on her life; she marked Ever’s soul by upping its value for greedy collectors looking to buy their freedom.
Condemned by the countdown on her life, and hunted by hired Seekers, Ever’s journey leads her to question everything she’s known and everyone she’s trusted, while growing closer to the one person from her past she was determined to avoid—and the one guy she never could—Toby James.
With her ex-boyfriend by her side, and the countdown clock rapidly ticking away, Ever tries thwarting fate’s plans. But as her nineteenth birthday approaches, and desperate Seekers follow her every move, she may be too late.
A marked soul is hard to come by … and even harder to escape.

This weekend, sites around the blogosphere have been revealing Evade‘s cover, so let’s take a look-see!

EvadeFront-Cover
EVADE’S LINKS:
JESSA RUSSO’S LINKS:
GRAB A COPY OF EVER: Book One of The EVER Trilogy!
COVER CREDIT: 
Cover Photo: Face On By Tamara Website | Facebook | Twitter

Also, this week I commented on the Head Ninja’s blog and asked him the million-dollar question for a chance to win a Cassa mug, mousepad, magnet, and swag! The last book in his trilogy is releasing this Tuesday, September 17th!

Q: Burger or steak?

A: Burger as long as it’s a turkey or chicken burger. I rarely do beef. Too unhealthy.

CassaStorm

By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“Cavanaugh has created wonderfully moving moments of great poignancy… CassaStorm could have been a dark story full of hardship and angst, but instead it’s a cleverly balanced story about hope and triumph.” – Lynda R. Young, author of Make Believe

“Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together.” – Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

“One thing Alex does really well is ‘sell’ the reader on his world building. …an enjoyable, fast-paced read that not only delivered on the final climax, but also managed to pleasantly surprise me.” – Bob Milne, Beauty in Ruins

Find CassaStorm:

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Amazon Kindle

Goodreads

$16.95 USA, 6×9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera

Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019

$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Website

Twitter  

Goodreads

*Are you excited about these things too? What other things are coming up that I should be excited about? I love to hear from you 🙂

P.S. Any advertisements you see at the end of this post are not from me . . . just another annoying perk of a free wordpress account!

Are Ya Looking For the Next Summer Read? Introducing Debut Novelist Teshelle Combs!!!

Tessie, Tess, Tessa, T . . . no matter what you call her, Teshelle Combs is just one huge batch of awesomesauce! She’s a UCF graduate like me (except she wasn’t afraid to take a chance and actually majored in English/Creative Writing), a soul singer with goosebump inducing abilities, a brutally honest Beta reader, a super nanny, and frequent volunteer for all things at our local church.

Now she can add published author at the ripe old age of 24! Add having a baby to the midst of all this, and well, you can see why I named one of my new characters in 18 Truths after her! Not even sure if she knows this, since it’s after page 100 where she left off in Beta reading. She might totally be creeped out now while reading this, but too late! I already got my interview *shakes fist in the air* Haha, sucker! Oh, and you can stalk her too at her new official FB author page!

Tessa's photo

Thanks for joining us today, T! Help me introduce you to my 5 fans (heehee, inside joke from last week’s blog). Give us 3 words to describe your personality

T: Happy. Loving. Kind. –I actually just cheated and asked my husband for the answer for this one. Apparently, he likes me or something.

*mutters*Not as much as I like you!

T: What’s that Jaim-O?

Oh, nothing! Nothing at all *coughs* Can you give us a sneak peek into what it’s like to be a debut novelist? Any insights about self-publishing?

T: I am very, very new at authorship. My debut novel, Core, was just released on June 1st. So far, my favorite part is being able to hold it in my hands. That tied with my very first sale. I did my crazyhappy dance for about ten minutes, which is pretty impressive at 7 months pregnant.

Self-publishing –or indie publishing, which is what I call it because it makes feel all cool –is a lot of fun and a lot of work. The fun part is designing everything, choosing exactly what I want to say, setting my own royalty prices, and involving a team of people I love to help me. The hard work part is the marketing, the ordering of three proof copies because you can’t figure out how to set the margins just right, the hiccups that you have to figure out to fix everything all on your own.

I was afraid I wouldn’t feel like a “real” author if I indie published, but honestly, I was wrong. I feel accomplished, like I worked hard for what I have.

You should! The world of publishing is constantly changing, and wise is the author who changes with it!  Tell us about what you write.

T: I write contemporary YA fantasy and sci-fi. Core falls into the fantasy genre. The story is about an emotionally calloused boxer, Ava, who is catapulted into the world of dragons, sirens (nightfolk and werefolk), and danger. She’s chosen to be the rider of an honest, caring red dragon, and life-wrecking mayhem ensues.

Besides boxing, there are a slew of combat scenes, utilizing dragon abilities and swordplay, which makes for action-packed reading. (I like to run these scenes by my brother, who’s great at all things action).

I love bad guys, so I have quite a few villains in my novel, and–rather disturbingly–they are some of my favorite characters. The more twisted, the better.

What else? I also like to travel to places (even if it’s through research and imagination), so my characters start out in Miami, and get to visit Peru and Ireland in this story.

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Oh, I’ve been to Ireland! One of my top 5 moments on my life list! *Shameless plug: If you like life lists, you should check out my debut novel too, 18 Things* Speaking of books, what’s your favorite craft book? Favorite fiction book?

T: My favorite craft book is probably Research in Writing. I love to include interesting facts in my work and before I wrote Core, I probably typed up about 30 pages of research on dragons, Chimbote, Peru, Ireland, sirens, and some other secret little tidbits.

My favorite fiction book? If we’re going fancy-pancy literary, it’d be Beloved by Toni Morrison. But if I’m thinking all-time favorite, changed-my-literary-life, pee-my-pants-it’s-so-good? THE HUNGER GAMES. I love kick-butt female protagonists, I love dystopias, and I love the dryness of it all, the reality woven through the make believe.

I also have a problem peeing my pants while reading books. Started 13 years ago . . . well, you’ll see after you give childbirth! Oh, I see you’re doing the potty dance yourself, so I’ll just ask one closing questions. Tell us anything FUN about yourself, related or unrelated to writing.

T: I have these special powers: my toes can swell to remarkable sizes in just a few minutes. I can smell anything unpleasant, even if it’s miles away. I can go to the bathroom 15 times a day. I can use my belly as a portable reading desk. I’ve evolved past the need to remember anything, even details that would be significant to other people, like what the current month or where we parked the car.

Jealous yet? Well go incubate your own baby! This one’s mine!

Hahaha! You’re a hoot, T! I love you . . . in a completely sisterly way, I promise! *watches T bolt from the room and shrugs*

Well now that it’s just the eight of us (last week proved I have at least 7 fans!), I want to thank you all for your encouraging comments after sharing my pity party publicly. If you missed the blog, you can find it here. My family cheered me up by taking me to Disney. We hit Hollywood Studios the first half of the day for Star Wars weekend, then moved on to Magic Kingdom!

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Also, thanks for giving me some easy questions! Cheryl wanted to know what kind of coffee she should drink. I’m still scratching my head at the fact she’s never drank a cup! If you invest in a Keurig machine,

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which you should because it’ll allow to try hundreds of flavors any time of the day whenever you want within seconds with just the press of a button . . . even though it may cause you to be all hyper and write really long-winded sentences, you could also drink tea and hot chocolate if you end up not liking coffee, but I think you will love it. I have a sweet tooth, so I love the Cape Escapes, especially the caramel. So sweet you don’t even need cream and sugar! When I’m not using the Keurig, I’m slightly less squirrely and like Barnie’s Santa’s White Christmas with some Baileys coffee creamer. But I’m a coffee snob and Barnie’s can be damn hard to find, so Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla will also do the trick. I do love Starbucks, but their coffee is rather bold, so you may need to ease yourself into it.

Now for Marisa’s question . . . what movie should she rent? This is sooo easy since Oz the Great and Powerful just released today on DVD! Saw this one in the theatre and it quickly became a family favorite 🙂

What about you guys? Any good picks for coffee virgins? Any other movies we should rent from that big red box? Interested in reading Core? Hope you’ll all join me next Wednesday for the tale of one amazing squirrel–it’s gonna be nuts!!!