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text 2018-07-18 11:00
Facts About Me: Always Learning

As an author, you have to be prepared to learn every single day of your career. Nothing ever stays the same and nor should it. It's a world of revolving rules, etiquette and creativity.

I'm not someone who writes to the latest crazy genre, but I do like to keep my writing as varied and as up to date as I can make it. That's why I brand myself a 'romantic at heart', because I will always write romance novels, but sometimes those romance novels will be in the guise of a contemporary or historical setting, or a science fiction alternative world, or be full of supernatural/paranormal creatures. Either way, romance will always be at the heart of my stories and that's why I can write such a variety of sub-genres, because they all fit into what I discovered as my niche: romance. I've tried and failed to write other genres without a romantic setting and I learned why it failed and how I could fix those stories to be used at a later date. It all revolved around learning who I was as an author.

But, just because I write a particular genre doesn't mean that I can't learn or adapt to write a new one. I used to only write paranormal/supernatural stories. Then I drifted into Contemporary and, because of my passion for reading them, attempted my first ever fantasy novel. It didn't work, but I kept the story and waited, then I eventually figured out why. In the time I'd been away from that story - nearly two years - my writing had evolved, my storytelling ability had evolved and I had learned how to better focus my words on what was important. I had learned enough to give it a second shot and it turned out brilliantly, if I do say so myself. I did the same with science fiction, eventually finding that I had a real freedom of creativity within those worlds.

With my writing ability, my creativity grew. Not just for the writing itself, but also in how I wanted to market and brand and portray those stories. I found a 'voice' I never knew I had for visually effective marketing and branding. But even that is constantly evolving. Over time, I realised that a look I loved a year or two ago is no longer who I am as an 'artist' (though I would never deign to use that label on myself, it's the only appropriate word for this explanation.)

I learned so much about effective branding and marketing from my publishing house, CHBB Publishing, and the wonderful people there. They have a handful of experts who can look at my posters and help me hone in on what I'm trying to say or show an dhow I can go about doing it. This post, really, is to celebrate that evolution, where they helped me grow from naive little me into someone confident enough to rebrand every book I've ever written, just because I know myself and the books better now. In a few years, when I've grown even more, I may look back on this new progression and think 'oh how naive I was, even then', but that's the whole fun of being an author. Everything is in constant flux.

In the end, these posters I'm going to share with you are a representation of me and my work, as well as the book's themes/brand. I want to portray them the best I can, to show what the books are about, what they mean and what the 'tone' might be. It took me a long time to find my "brand" for each series/solo novel, but I'm happy with what I have now. I've chosen something that, for each theme/brand, has a lot of scope but is instantly recognisable at a glance. So people see chess or invitational elegance and they think The Royal Series. If they see colourful, bright and playful, they think The Trade. Broody and dark with a specific model is The One That Got Away; art deco is The Cellist; and Forged in Fire is all about personal, intimate portraits of life. You can see all of that here. And, in reality, that is what their brands have always been; I've just found a better way of showing them off to their full potential.

In reality, I have scrapped over 100 posters for multiple books in the last two years, as I swapped from my old iffy branding to what I have now. I don't regret it for a second, because it works. But it took trial and error, seeing what my readers thought of the posters and how they reacted, e.g. comments and sales. I had to learn that if sales weren't happening or if I felt I needed to change my brand, I shouldn't be afraid to do it. As long as I'm not changing it every other week, but sticking to something that will last for years, then I'm still growing, still changing and adapting to my 'author' life. Look at JK Rowling, George R.R. Martin etc; they changed the branding and book covers of their books until they found the ones that fit. And, even after that, they still know that offering their readers alternatives and variety is key to good branding.

So, here's a look at my evolution. From the first poster ever made for a book to the eventual 2017 edition:

(Top Row: R-L: New, Old

Bottom Rows: R-L Top: Old, Bottom: New)

(Left: Old. Right: New)

~

And it's not just posters. I've reinvented the way I make mock-covers, too. I use these for myself or Wattpad only, not for the final product, so it allows me to re-make them as often as I want, to really play around with effects and looks until I find whatever works best. For me, I use the covers to inspire me to write the story and keep writing until it's done. I even attach it to the finished story, convert it into a mobi file using Calibre and put it onto my Kindle to read, as a reader, so that I can edit it. It's also a great way for me to 'test' a potential image for publication. If I hate it after only seeing it a few times, it's not going to be the published book cover, so I know to look for something else and test that until I find one I'm happy with.

       

.

     

(From Top to Bottom: New to Old)

~

And just for kicks, here are a few mock-covers (the first) of novels that were later published. Obviously, there is NO comparison. :P

~

Not only are the new versions more visually appealing, but the text, font use and image choice is clearer, to the point and epitomises the story so much better. And I'm sure that, after seeing the mess of my old work, you can see the benefit of my growth, right? Without it, I'd still be just slapping stuff together and hoping that it worked, instead of properly checking, rechecking, considering image, colour, composition and so much more.

I've learned a lot since I was first thrust into this author world and I hope I never stop learning.

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text 2018-07-18 09:42
Cover Reveal - Love
 
 
Title: Love
Series: SEAL'ed #2
Author: Andi Jaxon and AJ Alexander
Genre: Contemporary/Military Romance
Release Date: August 8, 2018 Cover Design: Pop Kitty Designs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the midst of trying to help his best friend get his girl, Charlie was hit by cupid's arrow, twice. He finds himself the perfect girl to bring home and a spare he wasn’t expecting.
 
Avery has never wanted the American Dream. She knows who and what she wants, and right now, it’s freedom and Amber. That is until these two tornadoes get a call from their best friend that turns both their lives upside down.
 
A wild ride of sex, love, and tequila teaches them that there is more to love than boy meets girl. Sometimes you have to get a little creative to find your happily ever after.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Raised all over the country, I'm a interesting mix of East Coast meets West Coast with a little bit of Southern thrown in, just for good measure. I married a sexy man in uniform who let me spawn and am now raising a mutinous army of hell raisers that I created myself, all while he defends our country. I drink too much coffee until it's late enough to drink too much wine and am sexually frustrated for your freedom. If you see me online, I'm probably sitting in a closet, hiding from my kids. 

Want to know more about Andi Jaxon? Follow her on social media or subscribe to her mailing list to receive the latest information on new releases, sales, and more!
 
 
 
Fluent in sarcasm, Supernatural, and song lyrics, I like talking to people and finding what makes them tick, though that probably has to do with the Psychology degree. I’m up before the sun because my kids don’t sleep, chugging tea and coffee to keep my eyes open and my brain semi functional. Being married to a man in uniform means I’ve lived a lot of places, survived seeing my husband for half the amount of time I’ve been married, and spent a lot of time raising my kids alone.  I love to write messed up psychos with lots of angst, happily ever afters that have to be worked for. Women with sass and backbone, men with a twisted hero complex and the need to control are my favorite to read as well as write. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HOSTED BY:
 
 
 
 
 
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photo 2018-07-17 10:34
Victor's Cafe Menu Ccovers

Impact Menus manufacture clever, sophisticated, and durable Victor's #Cafe_menu_covers. This menu cover not only looks great but has a custom decoration with a new-age linen. These also have corner pockets for binding. Contact us for more information. Our contact number is (855) 855-3907

Source: impactmenus.com
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review 2018-07-16 02:19
Book 2 in the Re-Read
Fever Season - Barbara Hambly

I am re-reading this series this summer.  Fever Season is the second volume of the January Mysteries.    In New Orleans, many people have fled the city because of the epidemic.  January hasn’t, though he might wish he had. 

 

                Hambly’s series succeeds because she mixes history in with a smidge of gothic and compelling characters that confronted racial issues, not only in adjusting to how the Americans have changed New Orleans, but also with an institution that denies Ben his ability to practice medicine and forces him to earn money with his skills as musicians.

 

                In this book as well, we are introduced to Rose, a mixed-race woman, who struggles to be a science teacher to those mixed-race girls who are destined to be concubines to the rich white men who control New Orleans society, much the same way Ben’s youngest sister is, as was his mother.

 

                Livia, Ben’s mother, is perhaps one of the greatest things about this series.  She was a field hand until she, and her two children, were sold and her new master freed her.  She became his concubine, and this former master paid for Ben’s education and is the father of Dominque.  Livia’s determination to ensure her family’s survival has alienated her eldest daughter, who has established herself in the free black community as a voodoo priestess.  But Livia is a fascinating character because she knows and works the structure that is forced on her.  She is far more aware of what is at stake than Ben is in many cases, and she appears unfeeling, uncaring, and driven only by money.  But one wonders.

 

                To review the plot of the novel would be to offer a major spoiler, but the plot does involve Ben trying to discover what has happened to a missing young escaped slave as well as who is trying to destroy his reputation.   The fictional plot is interwoven with real history and New Orleans lore in a realistic and compelling way.

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review 2018-07-15 11:00
Darkling (Port Lewis Witches #1) by Brooklyn Ray

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.

Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.

Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.

Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

 

~

 

REVIEW

 

Book – Darkling
Series – Port Lewis Witches, 1
Author – Brooklyn Ray
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 101
Cover – Stunning!
POV – 3rd person, one character
Would I read it again – Yes!
Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Witches, Trans (FTM)
Content Warning – blood-letting, death, necromancy, minor drug-use


** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **



I loved this! It fitted perfectly into my demon-kick reading mode of the last month and, after reading the blurb, I just knew I was going to love it. And I did.

The story is set up with a witch circle which means that the series could contain stories about all or just some of the characters: Ryder (the POV MC), Liam, Christy, Tyler, and Donovan. There are also the side characters of Ryder's family: his sister Jordan, who is a hoot, as well as his dad Gerard, and his mother Ellen. Then there are the two matriarchs of the opposing Wolfe (dark magic) and Lewellyn (white magic) clans, Thalia and Margo. Each character has a role to play, their own detailed background that isn't over done or abandoned into nothingness, and a place within the plot. There was a great mix of straight and gay relationships, as well as gender identities: trans and non-binary.

I loved Ryder. As an MC to take over the POV of an entire book, that was really important and a huge boost. He's a trans-MC, FTM, and 21, who has had top surgery but not bottom. He's got all these secrets that he keeps bottled up – his half-blood genes, his FTM transition, and his feelings for his best friend, Liam. All while trying to control magic that is unpredictable and deadly. I loved that we were made part of his internal struggles, that we knew the secrets as and when it was important to the plot, but we could still feel the shock and surprise of everyone else in his circle when they found out. Yet we still got to feel the anticipation and apprehension running through Ryder as he tried to keep his secrets.

Liam was just amazing! I loved his strong, steady support. He's the polar opposite of Ryder, a Water witch while Ryder is fire, but he never let that come between them. His firm friendship and growing acceptance of all that Ryder revealed himself to be was beautiful to watch. He didn't know any of Ryder's secrets, but he worked them out on his own, often by accident and before Ryder had prepared for it, but he never judged. He showed justifiable anger that his best friend had kept such huge secrets to himself and never felt comfortable sharing them, but he didn't criticize or judge Ryder for those secrets or what they could mean.

I really enjoyed the occult elements of the book. They were somewhat familiar, but also originally tweaked in a way that made it something I could follow without feeling too out of my depth. And there was still enough originality to keep me eager to learn more. Just as I've had a tarot reading, it doesn't mean I understand how to read a deck, so having it explained in a way that was both natural and familiar to the characters while being a subtle dummies-guide for me, was awesome.

There was some amazing world building done here, in such a natural, subtle way that I really applaud the author for it. Sometimes there's that awful choice between info dumps or holding onto information until it's relevant, but the author had this take place in the contemporary real world, that is already what we live in, so offering familiarity – again – along with the sort of hidden aspect of witches. Concepts that we're familiar with from novels and movies, but done in a new way.

Just as the characterisation and world building were expertly done, so was the chemistry between Liam and Ryder. I loved every minute of their relationship. From Liam discovering and teasing away Ryder's secrets, to watching Ryder navigate this half world he lived in while trying not to hurt Liam in the process of exploring his birth-given gifts.

Overall, I loved it. It made me smile and cry and feel happy all at once. It reminded me of The Secret Circle books, in a good way, and is going to make a great addition to my favourites shelf.

Can I get Donovan's book next, please? Pretty please?

~

And can I just say a huge THANK YOU to the author? I can't say how many times I've picked up a book to read or review and not been aware that it was a series until I already had it in my hands. The wait and expense of buying the previous books before I could delve in was torture, but I didn't have to do that here. The book is, both on the cover, on Netgalley and GR, explicitly labelled as a series book. THANK YOU. There's nothing I hate more than having a book I can't wait to read in my hands and being forced to wait until I've caught up with the series so far.

~

Favourite Quote

““I could hurt you,” Ryder said.
“I'd let you.””

““If you don't...” Liam choked on the rest of what he wanted to say and skipped it. “You better haunt me, assh-le. You understand that, Ry? You come back and you haunt me.”

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/36572967-darkling
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