The most beautiful book cover ever

IMG_1513I’ve seen a preliminary draft of the cover for His Forgotten Fiancée! I’m so excited. I can’t share it here, since it’s not the final version, but I’m still jumping up and down inside. It made the book seem so much more real.

They did a photoshoot with models. Real people, posing as characters from a story I made up. Bizarre.

And not just people. One of the secondary characters in the story (Elijah) is a kitten, so I’d asked if they could put him on the cover. For some reason, I had thought they’d just photoshop a cat onto the background, but no. IMG_1427The Harlequin team went and got a cat model for the photoshoot, bless them.
Even more impressive, the kitten on the cover looks exactly like the kitten I had originally based Elijah on. Black and white and adorable.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Vicki Essex wrote a blog post about her experience as a Harlequin cover model. They brought a horse into the studio for that photoshoot. Up an elevator.

I learned something else today. I’d listened to other authors gush about their beautiful covers, but I never understood why they were so proud. It’s analogous to bringing home a new baby. To someone else, a baby looks nice enough, but to its proud parents, it’s the most beautiful baby ever. I have no doubt that other people could find things that might need improvement. But I can’t see any.

I will share it later, when the finished version becomes available. For now you’ll just have to take my word for it. It’s the most beautiful cover ever. At least, it is to me. 🙂

Here’s an excellent post on what makes a good book cover, with some great examples.

Editing between the lines

Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre
The specter of a Line Edit looming over a defenseless author

At first glance, [Line Edits] can be daunting enough to scare the pink off a pig.
-Amy Woods

Line Edits can be
fun
a barrel of laughs
educational.

The process can damage your self esteem — if you let it. So I am not going to let it.

It is humbling to have an editor asks what a sentence meant. Especially when I re-read it and wonder too. I am sure that the sentence made perfect sense when I wrote it.

I feel like Robert Browning in The Barretts of Wimpole Street, in the scene where Elizabeth Barrett asked him what one of his poems meant.

ELIZABETH BARRETT: Well?

ROBERT BROWNING: Well, Miss Barrett, when that passage was written only God and Robert Browning understood it. Now, only God understands it.

For a Harlequin author, this is the last chance to make any changes to the story. The final opportunity to see any typos or major errors. Even though by this point the manuscript has had several eyes looking at it, I need to go through one last time. Deb Kastner recommends sending the doc to a Kindle, since it’s easier to spot errors when they’re in a different setting.

mugI always think I’ve caught all the typos before I send the story off. Always. And still the pesky things crop up when I’m not looking. In the normal course of things, I do not believe in gremlins. When it comes to typos or other errors in my cherished manuscript, however, they are clearly the only answer.

His Forgotten Fiancée: Kindle version available for pre-order

An update on the progress of my very first published novel: His Forgotten Fiancée is now available (for pre-order) in digital format. Grab your own copy while it’s hot. (And judging by the thermometer outside, it’s hot.)

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It’s funny — seeing this produces the same thrill I felt when the paperback version was posted. It’s like a whole new book being put on Amazon. This doesn’t get old!

 

It’s not my fault, but I still feel guilty

John Bauer 1915

So a couple hours after I posted about seeing my book up for pre-order on Amazon, Harlequin announced that it was closing the line. No more Love Inspired Historical.

I try to tell myself that those two events are not connected, but I still feel a bit guilty.

My subconscious: SEE? What did I tell you? It’s a hoax!

Me: No, not really. They still intend to publish my book in January. They’re going to stop publishing these books in June.

Ego: So, what you’re saying is… once my book is out, there’s no point in publishing more? They can’t top it?

Me: No. The line probably isn’t as successful as they’d hoped.

My subconscious: Which is All My Fault!

This doesn’t mean that I’ll stop writing. It does mean I’ll stop sending inspirational historical stories to Harlequin. I’m not sure what will happen to Geoff and Lia’s story, but I will find it a home somewhere. I usually vacillate between loving and hating a WIP. This is the first story I’ve written that I loved from start to finish. That either means I’m delusional or it’s actually a good story. (Well, those aren’t mutually exclusive. Could be it’s a good story and I’m delusional.)

I’m not about to say “The End” in regards to my writing. The story goes on.

The first time I saw my book on Amazon

It’s a surreal experience. A book that started with me scribbling down an idea on a yellow legal pad is listed on Amazon. This is just something I made up. But there it is.

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A strange feeling, but I rather like it.

Me: There. Now do you believe I’m a real author?

My Subconscious: Could be an elaborate hoax. You never know.

Great Opening Lines

Henrik Nordenberg Blick aus dem Entrée

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.” – Uprooted, Naomi Novik

“Sabrina had never picked a lock in her life, but it was done every day in books.” – Tryst, Elswyth Thane

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” – The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Random thoughts of a problem I’m trying to work out for myself: how to start the story. This isn’t something I worry about when I start writing. The idea is on fire and off I go. But when editing, I come back and look at what I wrote. That’s when I start to question everything.

I love the feeling I get when I open a book and read a great opening line. I want to find a secluded corner and settle in for a good read. The stories don’t always live up to their opening lines, but the promise is there. The promise of a wonderful adventure.

What makes an opening line work? I love the above samples because of their promise. They intrigued me into reading more, which is the basic goal of an opening line.

It’s so simple when someone else does it! It’s harder when I try to do it.

I like to start by grabbing the reader and that doesn’t work for everyone. Some people love a leisurely opening and feel disoriented when they get thrown in the deep end. Plus, there is the plain truth that no matter how shiny and promising the idea starts out in my mind, the actual words on the page are going to look flat in comparison.

The opening of His Forgotten Fiancée:

“Who am I?”

Liza Fitzpatrick dropped the cleaning rag onto the counter of the dry goods store and spun around. A man stood in the doorway, his rough, workingman clothes soaked to the skin. He stared at her as if she were the first woman he’d ever seen.

The opening of Geoff and Lia’s story, tentatively titled A Gentleman of Leisure:

Geoff heard the click of a gun from the bushes behind him, and then a woman’s voice, deadly calm: “Stand up — slowly, now — and keep your hands where I can see ‘em.”

I like to start out in the middle of the action, in medias res, but even so the reader needs some basic orientation. I remember one contest entry that I read. All I knew was that the heroine was near the seashore looking at a ship. I didn’t know if she were sitting or standing or floating sideways. I didn’t know if she were on a dock or standing on a beach or looking out of a window of a house on the shore. I was trying to picture the scene and I was missing fundamental elements, which threw me out of the story at the start.

I want to start with something happening, but while it is happening I have to slip in some crucial details. Just enough for the reader to feel grounded, not enough for them to feel swamped. Argh!

What’s your favorite opening line for a book? Why does it work for you? Do you get disoriented if an author starts out too abruptly?

It’s tricky, achieving that balance between hooking the reader’s attention and throwing too much at them all at once. It’s frustrating, trying to convey an idea from one mind to another through the medium of words on a page. It’s amazing, to look at a whole book and think, “I did that. I want to do it again.”