Sunday, 30 June 2013

Déjà Vu #2: Overused Cover Image of the Week

It happens. A great picture shows up on a stock images site and you JUMP on it. Unfortunately, so do several other people. Or more than several.

You might remember when I started tracking several images that seem to reoccur in Romance covers over and over (and OVER) again. I've managed to find this image used in covers sixteen times (and counting):

But that's not the END of the story, by any means. These covers all went live on Amazon Kindle WITHIN THE SAME WEEK:

Cover # 1:

Cover #2

Cover #3:

(#3 is by far my favourite - gorgeous job by Stephanie Nelson of Once Upon a Time Covers)

You can bet I'll be keeping an eye out for this image from now on - let's see how high the count gets!

Friday, 28 June 2013

It's...Fabio Friday! -={ 28th June 2013 }=-

Because...what else is better on a Friday than a dose of Fabio-esque man-wonder?

Nah. I couldn't think of anything either.

Is it just me, or is that striped purple throw-cushion getting a bit fresh with her thigh? 

*tassel tassel*

Monday, 24 June 2013

Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) - Mistakes of a Rookie Writer

Yes, so, I thought I'd get some objective feedback on the first portion of one of the first stories I wrote. Second draft. Much snappier than the first. Was certain it would get some sort of positive feedback. I mean, my writing isn't Man Booker Prize-worthy, but it's better than some books I've PAID for, right? Right?

No. Not so much.

So before I bury my poor wounded writer's head in the sand and follow that insane impulse to NEVER WRITE AGAIN EVER EVER AGAIN EVER...I thought it best that I just write down a couple of things I need to learn from the whole experience. Maybe they'll be useful to someone else, or at the very least it will help me remember (as if I could forget).


My first lesson was on the acronym 'TSTL'. New one for me, but a quick Google session told me that every time someone was calling my leading lady 'TSTL', it meant she was 'Too Stupid To Live'. As in, 'How on earth did she get from being born to being an adult without accidentally getting herself KILLED. Killed from sheer STUPID.' Other words used to back up the 'TSTL' label were such glowing descriptors as 'twit' and 'such a ditz'.

Now, I'm not about to go into detail about the actual piece (particularly as it's still partaking in a ceremonial burning on the back patio and LET'S JUST NOT GO THERE), but here are a few more things I'm taking away from the experience.


Your character is allowed to be human, make mistakes, and be flawed. But (apparently) you cannot show all their WORST traits in the first two pages without turning at least a few readers into haters. They want to get pulled into the life of someone they can either relate to or at the very least, vaguely respect. So if all I give them is a series of reasonably dumb mistakes and nothing much in the way of redeeming qualities, apparently ...that's a turn-off. Being dramatic is not enough. Being dramatic and DUMB is bad.

This might seem entirely logical and obvious when you read it. You're nodding to yourself now. You're thinking, "Nah, I'd never do that." But how easy is it to forget that we know our characters intimately - especially if we've written the entire book and know their whole story. How easy is it to forget that our character still has to make a first impression on a completely 'cold' audience who don't yet know about our character's winsome smile or quirky laugh or extended butterfly collection? First pages do sorta have to be all about that first introduction. A polite how-do-you-do, or at least NOT a display of all your beloved character's worst traits. Like I did.


I really thought I had this down. I'd read enough excruciating 'laundry-list' intros to books that I thought I knew what I was doing. I cut a lot out. I thought I'd been brutal. I wove subtle details in. I thought I'd been clever. But instead of the gripping wash of introduction to my heroine's dilemma that I'd intended, it mainly just came across as navel gazing. Too much thinking. Not enough doing. WAY too not-enough-doing. So, if you think you've been sparing? Cut more. Snip snip. You have a whole book to bore people with the details. Or at least...I do.


Ironically, but probably not very surprisingly, the one line that someone picked out as being reasonably on the way to showing a tiny glimmer of potential was one of my weird, out-of-rear-brain-nowhere things I just chucked in and shrugged about. Wasn't bad enough to cut, so I left it in. And THAT is what they liked.

So often I catch myself writing the way I think writing SHOULD BE. As in...not obeying the words on the tip of my brain's tongue (that sounded weird...but I'm going with it), but reformatting the whole thing until it sounds the way writing is 'supposed' to sound. And in the process, the pure voice of it gets muddied. Muffled. Stamped out. Out goes the visceral. Out goes the instinctual. If there's one thing I am really taking away from this is...give myself permission to BE MYSELF.

That might take a while. Work In Progress.



That's all.

Top background image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos (with a few little amendments by moi)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Kindle Romance Covers of the Week - 11th June 2013

NOT A REAL BOOK! Just having some fun :D
It's that time of the week again! I've tumbled through the torrents of torrid love story book covers on Amazon Kindle UK, and picked out my favourites...just for you. That's right. YOU, lovely reader.

(That didn't sound stalkerish at all, now did it?)

ANYWAY...if you're new to the Kindle Romance Covers of the Week, I scroll through the 1000+ book covers in the Amazon UK Romance section for the past 7 days. And I find the pretty. And I find the weird. And sometimes I find the downright inexplicable-what-were-you-thinking-are-you-MAD covers. But I like to keep things positive and generally point out more about what I like than what I don't.

That being said...I can still speak my mind...


Am I alone in this? Am I the only one that is getting just a teensy little bit tired of the grey-scale "Aren't I dark and mysterious and wearing silver-plated bespoke nipple-clamps under my clothes," covers? I picked out all of these covers from the line-up because of their exquisite composition and balance. They are lovely.Yet, I find myself going a little cold for this style. I want real, human warmth from my love story. Not (yet more) complicated power games and highly-choreographed acrobatics. How about some hot, damn-sexy down-home love? Am I crazy? That and I'm just bored. I LOVE COLOURS. Gimme COLOURS. Okay. I'm done now...


That's right folks, fear not. The quintessential Bodice Buster can live on in your Kindle. Granted, these days the busty ladies (breaking bodaciously from their brimming bodices) seem to have a little more of the upper hand, if the body-language is anything to go by. You go girls. Kilts up.


I find myself intrigued, yet a little frightened by these. 


These two are actually very pretty and I'd consider them not-far-off runner's up this week. But there does seem to be a lot of butterfly-theme going on lately, along with the desaturated colour style of the Instagram Generation (of which I've just proven I'm not a part. Oops.).


Title: Following Bliss
Author: Heather Strang
Publisher: Amazon/Self-published
Cover Artist: Jim Thomson
Genre: Paranormal Romance

What's to Love: Cute image, lovely open feel, and great scripty-font choice! Feet!

Title: Listening to Brahms
Author: Rosemary Allen
Publisher: Matador
Cover Artist: Unknown (let me know so I can credit!)
Genre: Historical Romance

NOTE: I know it looks like I'm breaking my own NO GREY-SCALE rule here (though technically this would be considered 'sepia'), but this cover is NOT of the same ilk as 50 Shades. Seriously folks. This is a forest. Not a red room of pain.

What's to Love: Atmosphere, buckets of atmosphere. Simple, yet intriguing.

Title: Diamonds in the Rough
Author: Portia Da Costa
Publisher: Mills & Boon Spice
Cover Artist: Unknown (let me know so I can credit!)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

What's to Love: Just such a pretty picture. Elegant, yet vulnerable. Not sure I'd like it as much WITHOUT the big red dot. The red dot sort of adds to it.

(trying not to sing tunes from Disney's Aladdin now. You know the ones I mean.)

Title: Can't Buy Me Love
Author: Summer Kinard
Publisher: Light Messages Publishing
Cover Artist: Unknown (please let me know so I can credit!)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

What's to Love: Clever combination of elements. Inviting, hints at a bigger story hiding behind the cover. That flaky paint is just right.

Title: Sins & Needles
Author: Karina Halle
Publisher: Eternal Romance
Cover Artist: Najla Qambar
Genre: Romance

What's to Love: Picked this without knowing it was by Najla (who designed my Pick of the Week a month ago!). Great, moody image, oodles of Girl-With-The-Dragon-Tattoo attitude. Suits the story blurb to a T.


And finally - the Pick of the Week!

Title: Eversea
Author: Natasha Boyd
Publisher: Amazon/Self-published
Cover Artist: Adrian Rapasch
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Thumbnail-ability: 4
Font & Text: 4
Genre-fit: 3.5
Overall Composition: 4
Overall Concept: 4


I practically grew up by the ocean, long ago, way 'down-under'. Sea glass was one of my favourite things to find, and when I'm wandering the English beaches, I still can't stop myself picking it up. So I'm with Natasha on the cove/beach theme of her novel here.

The colours are gorgeous, and for the SECOND time I'm just loving the pop of just-enough red. The turtle motif hasn't got any correlating plot-related clues in the blurb, but it has me curious..

Natasha and her designer, Adrian Rapasch, actually ran a cover-design-vote before settling on this one! Great way to publicise and see what people really like. Check out the other designs here.

I've been in two minds about this being my POTW ('Sins & Needles' is SUCH a close runner-up, with an awesome title and cover art), but my eye kept being drawn back to this one. It's just beautiful, deceptively simple, and wonderfully balanced in a 'trying not to try too hard' sort of way. That piece of red glass is the glowing heart amongst a sea of cold bluey-green. I love it.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! See you next time...

Top background image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos (with a few little amendments by moi)

Monday, 3 June 2013

Kindle Romance Covers of the Week - 3rd June 2013

What a great start to a new blog - I'm still amazed at the positive response to last week's post! It's all down to the fantastic job the authors and their publishers are doing of promoting their books, so well done. I'm just thrilled to be along for the ride and invited to the party. Reading up on each of the authors in their release week is incredibly exciting, and now I wouldn't miss it.

Thank you to everyone who retweeted and reblogged and made a fuss - it's a absolute pleasure to promote you all.


That's right, guess how many Kindle eBooks are published on Amazon UK in the 'Romance' category in just 30 days? I was stunned. 4,321?! Look!

Thankfully I only have to dig through the past week's worth (still, that's got to be over 1,000 covers to get through!), but that's a whole lotta love. Out of these I've selected my favourites, as well as my Pick of the Week. As I've mentioned before, I'm now rating my 'POTW' out of a possible score of 5 (check out the Review Criteria page to read more).

 But first...


I'm rather upset, actually, as this title has since been taken off of Amazon (by the author, I assume), and I couldn't get a nice big version of the cover (apologies for the pixelation), or link to it. You'll have to take my word for it, but the title is, 5 Toads & Along Came a Viking. I love it. I want to read it. Shadowstorm! Put it back up on Amazon!


There are no words. Are there?


Okay, here are some of my favourites from the past week of Romance covers...


I love a dark, moody romance, and these covers promise mystery and some rather dangerous (and erotic...oh my!) undercurrents...

Title: The Lady's Tutor
Author: Robin Schone
Publisher: Kensington Books
Cover Artist: Unknown
Genre: Historical Romance

What's to Love: Simple, but perfectly balanced composition. Dark, sharp detail against brighter softness.Great text placement.

I have to say I like this version of the cover rather significantly more than ANY of the historical versions of the same book! Talk about cover-art-evolution...

Title: The Pleasures of Summer
Author: Evie Hunter (pseudonym for joint-authors Eileen Gormley & Caroline McCall)
Publisher: Penguin
Cover Artist: Unknown
Genre: Erotic Romance

What's to Love: Keeping it simple leaves more room for intriguing 'log lines'. Screams 'dark' and 'erotic'.

Title: Soul Stripper
Author: Katana Collins
Publisher: Kensington Books
Cover Artist: Unknown (please let me know so I can credit!)
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance

What's to Love: Edgy font, atmospheric background, and a woman that OWNS that cover. Attitude +.


It's that dreaming-of-the-beach time of year, where summer feels just around the corner. Perfect time to have those juicy-candy-bright colours splashed all over the front of what you're reading...

Title: One Pink Line
Author: Dina Silver
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Cover Artist: Unknown (please let me know so I can credit!)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

What's to Love: It's. Just. So. Pink. Strong, feminine and memorable. Reviews always mention THE COVER.

Title: A Hundred Summers
Author: Beatriz Williams
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
Cover Artist: Unknown
Genre: Historical Romance

What's to Love: Gorgeous Art-Deco font, lovely little corner details, and an image that says SUMMER.


These covers prove that you don't necessarily need to make big, bold statements to catch a reader's eye. You can capture a moment, an emotion, vulnerability. It's all good.

Title: Blood's Gem
Author: Gloria Conway
Publisher: Gloria Conway
Cover Artist: Consuelo Parra
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

What's to Love: A little window into a different world. A single, poised, intimate moment. 

Title: The Edge of Darkness
Author: Melissa Andrea
Publisher: India Girl Ink
Cover Artist: Sarah Hansen - Okay Creations
Genre: Contemporary Romance

What's to Love: (How is it that I always pick a cover and THEN find out it's a Sarah Hansen special? Yes, I am now officially becoming creepy and stalkerish.) That hair. That text. Simplicity in colour palette, great texture and contrast. Balanced, and all ties together.

Title: The Language of Spells
Author: Sarah Painter
Publisher: Carina UK
Cover Artist: Unknown (let me know so I can credit!)
Genre: Paranormal Romance

What's to Love: Pretty and dream-like. Colours that remind you of lying too long in the sun and the world turning that funny shade of faded bluey-green.


Title: Rose
Author: Kirsten Osbourne
Publisher: Unlimited Dreams Publishing
Cover Artist: Phatpuppy Art
Genre: Historical Romance

Thumbnail-ability: 4
Font & Text: 3.5
Genre-fit: 4
Overall Composition: 4.5
Overall Concept: 4


This is one of those covers where the longer you look, the more you see. You wonder at first why your eye is drawn back to it again and again. I mean, it's just a posh chick in dress...isn't it?

For me, this cover is a masterclass in the subtleties you can achieve with digital art. I love the mixture of elements - the photographic quality of the model contrasted with the mythical symbolic style of the rose she's holding. She's surrounded by trees, but there, just on the right, we get a glimmer of a stately house and a curving drive. The hazy effect focuses us in on her face and her expression and at the same time, has us feeling the muggy heat of a summer's day. We have depth. We have atmosphere.

The font choices are simple, yet effective. I had difficulty deciding how to rate the text - there isn't very much of it, which can make it less of a challenge to format. But on the other hand, something done well can just make it LOOK easy. It took some wracking of my brain, but between the image and the flowing centred title text, I finally realised what was tugging at my subconscious. The concentration and style of text is very like that of books that were well-loved on my bookshelf growing up: Anne of Green Gables. GENIUS.

I could go on for a whole lot longer, but let's just say this: I love the graduation of colour and contrast from bottom to top. I love the subtle light haze behind the title. I also believe this cover is an open door a reader can walk through, right into the first page of the story.

Okay - I'm done now! What do you think?

Oh - before I go. My DEEP apologies for neglecting the INCREDIBLY important...


Usually I add this as a bit of a laugh. I'm not really one to be attracted to wall-to-wall photoshopped washboard abs on a book cover (not sure why that is - I should probably get myself checked out). But this cover...? Phwah. Is it hot in here, or is it just me? *fans self*

Title: Falling for a Bentley
Author: Adriana Law
Publisher: Amazon/Self-Published
Cover Artist: Unknown (Wish I knew...then maybe we could find out who the model is... @_@ )
Genre: Contemporary Romance

What's to Love: You'd have to be blind to not know. Do I have to spell it out for you?

Thanks for joining me for this week's romance cover romp - hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! See you next time...

Top background image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos (with a few little amendments by moi)