Let Me Explain …

As I began to create The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters, I realized I wasn’t writing a series in the classical sense. In fact, my novels occur simultaneously, almost, as they present a time of great turmoil through the eyes of seven different participants.

Because these seven are sisters, though, they obviously make plenty of appearances in each others book. But, how one sees  their own actions is quite different from how they perceive what their sister does, right? Along with much else, I was excited to explore this point of view difference.

I’ve been looking for a succinct way to tell potential readers what in they are in for before they begin reading. Like most authors, I’d rather attract readers who like what I’m doing.

Today I came up with this add-on blurb and from now on I intend to add it to every book description. I think it helps. What do you think?

The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters consists of seven short companion novels. Each tells the personal story and perspective of one of seven radically different sisters in the 1200s as they prepare for an invasion of their realm. While these historical fantasy/alternate history books can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, together they tell the full story of how Ilari survived.

Which sister do you think saved the realm? That will depend on whose story you read.

Isn’t she beautiful?

I understand cover reveals can be a big deal, but it’s just not my style. I’m happy to get an attractive cover I like and one that represents my books well. When I do, well, I want to share it. Like right away.

So …. here is the gorgeous cover for book 5 in the Seven Troublesome Sister Series.

It really is beautiful, isn’t it?

What is she holding? It’s called a psaltery, and it’s a stringed instrument that was quite popular in the 1200’s.  This 5th sister is a musician. (It’s one of the reasons she can’t keep quiet.)

Like it’s predecessor (cover 4) this was done by the fine folks at Deranged Doctor Design and arrived almost perfect. The way it showed up is on the left. I had a few minor concerns. A psaltery is too heavy to be held the way she holds it. The lighting effects made her hair look like she was going gray. She seemed rather too tall and thin to be a real woman and her arms, in particular, looked off.

Most if not all of these, of course, were artifacts of the sort of photo manipulation DDD does to make their stunning but still affordable covers.

Back came this version, which corrected most of my concerns, except for the oddly long and skinny arms. We had one more round to improve the arms, and then I decided I wanted the castle on her other side. I was all excited about how our brains are accustomed to going from left to right and felt that the castle on the left would better convey that she was leaving to go somewhere else. (See my post Better Covers: Does Your Brain Prefer Left to Right?) Flipping the castle didn’t make as much difference as I’d hoped, but I liked it okay and was happy to call it good with only these three minor revisions.

I’d love to know if other authors are more, or less, picky than I am about their covers. If any of you reading this self-publish, please speak up and let me know!

Better Covers: Does Your Brain Prefer Left to Right?

I love book covers! After ten years in the self-publishing industry, I realize I spend a lot of time thinking about my covers, analyzing them, and just plain staring at them.

I designed my own first one (and had so much fun doing it), but since then I have relied on professionals who can produce a better product. I was lucky to find Deranged Doctor Design a few years ago and they’re now working on their eleventh cover for me!

But it was cover number ten (shown here) that brought out something I was unaware of.  The final product, or at least what I thought was the final product, shows Olivine, a shy, artistic woman who takes up archery because of her unusually gifted eyesight.

I loved the olive color, and the sense of capturing her in motion, so I happily gave DDD the okay to call this one done with only a minor revision to her hair. (Don’t think that has ever happened before. I always see something I want to change.)

I second-guessed my decision, however, when I studied this cover next to the first three books in this series. The other women all look so strong, so sure of themselves, while my fourth sister — she hesitates. To me, she’s looking back over her shoulder like she’s not entirely sure if she should go on.

Well, she is shy, I thought. Maybe this captures that part of her and I should be glad. But honestly, I wasn’t. I know Olivine is strong inside, like her other sisters, and I wanted my readers (and my potential readers) to know that too.

Then a weird thing happened. I was trying to crop the cover image in PowerPoint to just get her face, to put it into a promotional idea I had. You know how if you grab the side of a small image in PowerPoint to move it, sometimes instead you end up pulling one edge all the way over the other and reversing the image? It’s annoying. Well, I did that, and the reversed image surprised me. Here was Olivine, reversed and looking more sure of herself!

Yet, it was the same picture. How could that be?

I puzzled over this for a while before it occurred to me that I’ve spent a lot of my life reading (and writing) and my words always go left to right. In our alphabet, left is backward. Right is forward. So looking left is looking over my shoulder, gazing at the past. Looking right is boldly looking ahead.

Flip the image of a woman looking to her left and suddenly she appears more ready to face the future. It’s amazing.

Yes, the nice folks at DDD were happy to flip the cover image for me, and today I got a draft of the result.

Look at her. Now she’s perfect.

And, I’ve learned something that should help me evaluate cover designs going forward.  For just as our bodies respond differently to chemical compounds that are mirror images of each other, I believe our brains respond differently to mirror images as well.

This means I can ascribe attributes to a character on a cover by paying attention to which way her gaze is directed.

Cool, huh?

FREE: She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much

To celebrate and promote the release of the second novel in this series, I am offering the first novel, She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much, FREE today (February 18) through Monday (February 22) on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BY4RLX1. 

Those of you familiar with the ins and outs of self-publishing will know that I had to pull this book out of wide distribution for 90 days, removing it from Barnes & Nobel, Kobo, Apple and others in order to sign up for Amazon’s KDP program and offer this free promotion.

Those of you familiar with me will know how much it pisses me off to do this. Amazon already controls a vast amount of the eBook market, and has little reason if any for this petty requirement. None-the-less, it exists.

Because I really want people to give my new series a try, I’ve negotiated with my conscience and decided to put each of these seven novels into KDP one time only, around the time when the following book in the series is released. Then, I’ll offer one and only one such free promotion for each book. It seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

My point is, this is Thinks Too Much‘s onetime giveaway. Please give it a try. It’s free, and I think and hope you’ll like it. Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BY4RLX1.

She’ll be here in two weeks

She’s the One Who Cares Too Much

Book 2, my story of the soft-spoken and caring sister who discovers her own fierce power, will be available for purchase Friday Feb 12 and can be pre-ordered now.

I’ll be honest. I struggled with Coral’s story at first. Her personality was too mild for my taste (I like wilder women) and her dreams were so traditional. But over the months we spent together, she won me over as we discovered her power and strength together.

Every woman has a right to pursue her own happiness, and while Coral may want the simple things in life, she’s hardly a simple lady. Furthermore, in the end she may really be the one sister who saves Ilari. I think there is a good chance it’s true, but I’ll have to keep writing to find out.

Coral is Close

I’ve had such fun creating my magical seven sisters for my current series! One of my chief frustrations is that only one of them, Ryalgar, has seen the light of day. But that’s about to change ….

Over the next couple of weeks I will be putting the finishing touches on Coral’s story, checking it once, twice and thrice to make every little detail perfect.

If you don’t self-publish books yourself, believe me — the release of the new book is an exciting time. It’s also hard work, as an author needs to spend time on the promotional work that will get her story in as front of as many readers as possible.

I always like to try new approaches, and this time around I’ll be doing my first release day book blast with a new company (new for me that is). I’m quite happy with others I’ve used, and I’ll be using them too, but the more eyes I can get on this book, the better. So I’ve added Hot Tree Promotions to my arsenal.

They use something new to me — a promotional teaser — and I needed three of them. They gave me the option of designing my own or paying to have them made. I thought, I like messing around with graphics, so why not give it a try?

Above is my first attempt, and I’m rather pleased with it. Wish me luck — I hope it sells a lot of books for me.

Want to learn more about Coral and her story? Check out her pre-order page.