Upgrading my book cover

As I get closer to the end of my second novel, I am looking for ways to tie it to my first.

The characters are not the same, but both books place young adults in natural disaster situations, to see how they fare. Character development ensues.

I have some ideas about how I want the book covers to fit together, but right now I’m just toying with the creative process. (I don’t even have a release date yet for Book Dos [or, clearly, a title], so this idea is infantile.)

Below are several book covers I enjoy, and some that invoke the same feeling I’d like to inspire with my own.

Disclosure: Not all of these books are some I’d recommend. Some I haven’t even read. These are solely for visual pleasure.

Both of these are simplistic, yet convey powerful images:

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)

These are part of the same series, and I love how they tie into each other:

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Torment (Fallen, #2)

Here’s another example of two books in a series playing off each other. I love the black and white, and the striking use of color to contrast:

The Dark Divine (The Dark Divine, #1)The Lost Saint (The Dark Divine, #2)

I also enjoy the similarity of these:

So, I’m looking for simplicity and drama.  In a branding format.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

 

 

 

Camping in the wake of a Wildfire

The wildfires that raged across central Texas in 2011 were a core plot theme in my 2012 novel Wildfire.

Recently, we camped with friends in Bastrop State Park, where the lingering effects of the devastation are still hauntingly apparent, even three years later.

Fallen trees are scattered about the landscape, and the remaining survivors reach upward, their spindly, charred bodies a thin, bare skeleton of their former selves.

It was a sad and beautiful hike, as vegetation persists, pushing up around the remains of the fallen victims.

A sign at the front of the campground warned us to “Beware of Falling Trees.” And we did witness one falling, right across the riverbed from our campsite. It was a miserable cracking sound, followed by a crash to the water below.

I love the sky in this one (no filter, I’m not that fancy):

Nature is busy repairing itself here. And small slices have been taken from some of the trees, which I assume is the Forest Service’s method of determining which trees live on against the ruin and which are beyond salvation.

In the pic below, you can see a tree on the right, where foliage springs out at the very top, a desperate attempt to live on, despite the scorched trunk below.

My oldest son’s best buddy came with us, and he mused there must be an evil wizard who lives in this forest. And it does appear to be the kind of forest an evil wizard would choose to live in.

Just two dudes, talkin’ ’bout wizards:

At one point on the trail, it seemed as if someone had set up an obstacle course (runoff deterrent?) (evil wizard?):

Among the fun, s’mores and campfire stories, this trip was a reminder of the lasting effects of the wildfire. And a comforting assurance that nature does endure.

Free books – and a scavenger hunt!

wildfire-graphic-2We’re in day four of the Wildfire blog tour.

You can enter to win one of 4 free ebooks in a giveaway and scavenge for clues to win an additional ebook.
 
The first to email the clues to bitnbooktours@gmail.com wins!

Below is a list of blogs participating in the tour this week – be sure to check out the author interviews and excerpts from the book!

 

Day One (April 14th, 2014): Kick Off Post & Graphic

MoonBeams Over Atlanta

http://blog.eloreenmoon.com

Day Two (April 15th, 2014): Excerpt Part One

Tome Tender

http://tometender.blogspot.com/

Day Three (April 16th, 2014): Author Interview

 Ink Of My Heart

http://azgreen786.blogspot.co.uk/

Day Four (April 17th, 2014): Graphic

The Hellvis Compendium

http://thehellviscompendium.com/

Day Five (April 18th, 2014): Author Interview

Fire & Ice Book Reviews

 http://fireandicebookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

Day Six (April 19th, 2014): Excerpt Part Two

Steampunk Sparrow’s Book Blog

http://steampunksparrow.blogspot.co.uk/ 

Day Seven (April 20th, 2014): Author Interview & Graphic

Bit’N Book Promoters

 http://bitnbookpromoters.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Happy hunting everyone!

Time for another promo

Wildfire cover finalWildfire is going to be free again tomorrow on Amazon.com.

Hop on over and “buy” yourself an early Christmas present.

Or one for your mom, or sister.  Or aunt’s bus driver’s cousin’s friend.  Cause that person – whoever they are – needs love too.

The Sophomore Slump and NaNoWriMo

I’ve started the second book a few times now.

I’ve opened up the Word doc, read my previous entry, sighed in disappointment, and then closed it before I threw up in my mouth.  Several nights in a row.

The second book is hard, man.

It’s like starting a new relationship.  Every time New Guy fails to open a door for you or scoffs at something that is inherently you (“Yes, I know I’ve seen St. Elmo’s Fire twelve times, but I want to watch it again, k?”), you think back to the happiness you once enjoyed with Old Guy – even if it was fleeting.  Even if no one else understood.

*sigh*

I miss the old book – the good times we had – the laughs – the sweet sorrow.

I miss Savanna, and her innocent-but-secretly-stronger-than-she-knew ways.

I miss Blake, and his I-will-take-care-of-you-but-I’m-not-happy-about-it ‘tude.

And I miss Dev.  I miss everything about Dev.

But I don’t think a sequel is in order.  Their story has been told.  And I am trying to respectfully move on and tell someone else’s story.

But I’m failing.

Thus far, I hate every character, every motivation, every description.

The best character I’ve described holds a very minor presence.  She is the most memorable – and she won’t even show up again … or will she?  Hmmm … that’s an idea. Tuck that away for later. (You can learn something from writing a blog post after all…)

This is not me. She’s too serene. And tan.

My distaste for my sophomore effort doesn’t matter anyway.  Not as of Nov 1st.  I’m tucking away Book Dos in favor of Book Dos-point-half (working title), as I’ll be joining a fellow writer friend for NaNoWriMo.  We will each be writing an entire novel in one month.  Sound crazy?  It is.  And it’s right smack in the middle of the holiday season – whose idea was that anyway?  Why not February or something more manageable?

Anywho.  Maggie and I will be tackling this crazy thing that is NaNoWriMo – and I will be doing it for the first time.  And we all know how good I am with first times.

So wish me luck.

And maybe once I get Book Dos-point-half out of the way, I can come back to Book Dos with fresh eyes and an open mind – and perhaps better character descriptions.

One can hope.

FREE Books! And Chocolate!

Okay, maybe there’s no free chocolate.

But my book, WildfireImage, is going to be free ALL DAY tomorrow, FRIDAY the 19TH on Amazon.com.

Go check it out.  Why?  Cause it’s free.

And I need the exposure.

And if you are so inclined, please write a review.

Cause I need that too.

So I can buy chocolate.

Thanks!

My first book is available on Amazon – finally.

Please enjoy the following excerpt from Wildfire, released yesterday on Amazon.com.

I didn’t recognize my father at first; he was covered in soot and grime and dripping with sweat.

“Is that you?” he said.  At the sound of his voice, my body instantly filled with warmth and a sweet rush of air.  I ran to him and he wrapped me into a tight hug that made tears sting at the back of my eyes.

“What are you doing here?” he said.  The relief in his voice changed suddenly into something darker.  I couldn’t respond.  I was afraid deep sobs would burst out if I opened my mouth.  I tried to hold him tighter, tried to squeeze out all the stress I’d felt since the moment he’d left.  The tension between me and Blake, the fight between Jenny and her father, everything that had happened flowed out of me in a rush of tears.

“Hey,” he said, his voice softer now, his arms tightening around me.

Don’t let go, my body screamed.  He seemed to sense that need and held onto me until the tightness in my chest released and the flow of tears waned.

“You know,” he said after I was breathing normally again, “I’m filthy.”

I chuckled and loosened my grip on him.

“Yeah you are,” I said, wiping the tears from my face.

He pulled away, helping to wipe at the wetness on my cheeks.

“And now you are too,” he said.

I looked down at my t-shirt and jeans, which were now covered in damp, dark soot.  We laughed together and the throbbing in my chest slowed to a more even beat.

Suddenly, we heard shouting in the distance.  My father stiffened, turned to look in the direction of the sound and then turned back to me.

“What are you doing here?” the dark tone had returned to his voice.

“We brought you food and water,” I said, gesturing toward Blake’s truck.  My father looked behind me and nodded his head.  I turned to see Blake standing between us and the truck, situating his baseball cap and nodding to my father.

For the second time today, I wondered how long Blake had been standing there watching.

“It’s not safe here,” my father said when I turned back to him.  “You should go home.”

There’s that word again.  Home is not the farmhouse.  But I knew what he meant – home wasn’t here either.  And if it wasn’t safe for me, then he shouldn’t be here either.

“And I don’t want you going back to Waller High School today,” he said.

I frowned and started to protest when he shoved his arm in the air, pointing at the black fog billowing in the horizon behind him.

“This fire is not relenting,” he said.  “It’s spreading faster than anyone imagined.”

“Then we should help them evacuate,” I said.

“No,” my father said, gripping my arms tightly and staring hard into my eyes.  “They have plenty of help, Savanna.  You go home.  Do you hear me?”

I had never seen my father so agitated.  My breath quickened.  I thought about Turner and his large bright eyes. And his mother, lying on her folded cot in the gym, exhausted with worry and grief.  I couldn’t just abandon them.

“Blake, right?”  my father said, looking behind me.

“Yes, sir,” Blake said, stepping closer to us.

“I want Savanna to go home,” my father said with a steady, hard gaze over my head.  “I don’t want her at Waller High School.  Can you promise me you’ll get her home?”

“Yes, sir,” Blake said again, nodding his head and then glancing at me.

What was I, a dog?  Take her home and don’t let her out of the house.  And make sure she doesn’t pee on the carpet.

Annoyance brewed in my chest, but then disappeared when a loud crash sounded across the horizon.  The shouting in the distance started again.  The curling cloud of smoke covered the sky almost completely now and was rolling slowly toward us.

Then suddenly, I saw the fire.

It reached impossibly high in the air, towering over us, its red and orange flames licking upward at the clouds of smoke above.

Firefighters jumped from their cots and started running.  Even Buckley James was running, his round belly bouncing as he held onto his hat with one small hand.

“Savanna,” my father said, cradling my face with his hands.  “You have to go, kid.”

No.

My heart pounded and I gripped my father’s arms a little tighter than before.

Come home with me.

Tears welled in my eyes.  I held tighter to his shirt.

He kissed me on the forehead and then pulled away.

I grabbed at him but missed.  I stumbled forward, reaching for him, but suddenly I was being held back.  Blake had locked onto my shoulders from behind.  He was saying something softly in my ear but I couldn’t hear him.  All I could hear was the blood rushing in my veins and the screaming in my head.

Come back!  Please come back!

But he didn’t.

He didn’t even turn around as Blake pulled me toward the truck.

Somehow, Blake managed to open the passenger door and stuff me in the truck, all without my help.  All I could do was watch my father’s back.

I didn’t look away until he disappeared into the depths of grey, churning smoke.

Thanks to all of you, who have listened to me go on about this book for a while now.

I’m finally going to have that celebratory glass of bubbly I’ve been talking about.

Finally.