Jennifer Geoghan

9 July 2017: Struggling between “Linguistical Correctness” and what’s right.

It’s funny how a small comment from a prospective editor set in motion such a large debate for me. When I received  a sample edit of a few pages of a manuscript of mine, there was a notation on my usage of the word “towards.”  Yes, it had never occurred to me to not put an “s” at the end.  Why?  Because I’ve always spoken it aloud ending with an s.

American accepted usage of the word “toward” is toward without an “s” on the end.  It seems “towards” with the “s” is the editorially correct British spelling of the word.

Here in lies my dilemma. I’m American and never in my life have I said the word “toward.” I’m “towards” all the way. I’ve surveyed many people over the last few weeks and most have said they use the offending “s” as well.  So …. what’s up with that?

This wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that my novels are all written in first person and are told by women who all grew up in the same small town I did in New York.  If I use the “s,” so should they.

Now that’s all well and good. I mean, I’m a rebel.  I could honestly care less what people think …. except I’m entering literary contests now and I feel using the offending (yet correct) “s” would be a mark against me.

What’s a girl to do?

I decided that in my novel series (The Falling Series) I’m leaving the “s” in and will be adding in a note that it’s a regional “s,” which I believe it is. It’s either regional to the town in NY where I grew up or regional to the town in Rhode Island where my mother grew up.  I inherited quite a few New England speech idioms from her. Since my protagonist in The Falling Series also has a mom from Rhode Island, the “s” stays.

However, going forward I’m caving in to linguistic peer pressure and dropping the “s.”  This bothers me no end, but if I want to win contests sacrifices have to be made.  You win some, you lose some …. battles that is, hopefully not contests!

I’ll end with asking to whom does one write a letter to get this “s” issued updated? Seems an out of date rule that needs a bit more flexibility with the current use  of American English.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  Click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

28 June 2017: Long Time – No See

Yep, It’s been a while since I last posted.  Sorry about that.  I’ve had a lot going on my life.  I had gastric bypass surgery on June 1st.  Before that it’s months of monitored diets, tests and poking and prodding like you’ve never experienced.  I’m almost four weeks post op now and doing …. OK.  They say it takes months to get back to 100%.  I believe them.

The annoying part is I have little to no energy to do anything.  I went back to work after a week and just the energy it takes to get up, get dressed and get to work means I have to take a five minute break once I get to my desk.

So…. that means I haven’t been doing much writing.  I had started my new novel before surgery but since my protagonist had gastric bypass as well, I wanted to wait until I was post op to write most of it.  Getting back on that horse has proven more challenging than I’d care to admit.

I did enter a literary contest yesterday with my unpublished cowboy romance novel. It’s the first book in the series.  The second being the one I’m currently not working on.  One of my goals for 2017 was to put myself out there and enter some contests.  I did enter this same book in the Florida Writers Assoc Royal Palm Literary awards for an unpublished novel.  Sadly it didn’t make the semi finals.  However, I also entered If Love is a Lie as a published novel as well as a short story I wrote.  I have yet to hear back about those entries so I’m hoping they’ll do better and at least make the finals.

I need to get my energy back soon as I purchased a ticket to go to RWA2017, the Romance Writers of America convention.  Lucky for me, it’s being held here in Orlando.  It wasn’t a cheap ticket.  $495! That’s ticket only, not hotel or travel. I’ll let you know if I think it was worth it. That’s coming up in about a month.

Anyway, that’s the state of this writer.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  Click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

15 Apr 2017: A Controversial Decision

There comes a time when you have to make the hard choices in life, and for me one of those choices was to scrap the titles and covers of my book series and start again.

  • Why would I do such a thing?

Because they were never living up to their potential. My other novel, If Love is a Lie, sold rings around the series and really they’re just no reason why when you take into account the stories. So, I now introduce you to the new and improved book series:

The Falling Series

  • Falling for Death (formerly know as: The Purity of Blood)
  • Falling for Stars (formerly know as: Purity Lost)
  • Falling for a Kiss (formerly know as: The Blood that Binds)
  • Falling Head over Heart (formerly know as: Purity’s Progeny)
  • Falling Ever After (formerly know as: Blood’s Solemn Vow)

The new titles convey that, yes, these are romance novels.  They downplay the vampire aspects of the novels, which in the end are not the most important parts of the books anyway.  The titles and covers are much more cohesive now as well.

Did I make a good decision?  Only time will tell ….

So what are your thoughts of rebranding a book series or any book for that matter?

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

17 Mar 2017: The Reading Challenge Continues …

So as I mentioned last month, I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books in 2017. How am I doing so far? Right now I’m reading book 17.  Yes, I’m a little behind, but I’m sure I’ll come across some good and short books soon to make up the short fall.  Here are the books I’ve read since I last posted and the full reviews of them.  I do reviews on twitter as I finish each book, so if you’d like to follow my progress, follow me on twitter at @JenniferGNovels

Book 7: MEG: Nightstalkers by Steve Alten

4 stars

I’ll start by saying MEG is short of megladon, as is megladon sharks, sort of dinosaur sharks. I thought I’d take a break from my romance extravaganza to try something a little different. Nightstalkers is I think the 6th book in the MEG series and is an adventure story about scary prehistoric marine life roaming our oceans. Not my normal fare but a good read none the less.  It being late in the series I did have a little catching up, but I give Mr. Alten high marks for making the 6th book in a series also a very good stand alone novel.  Having written a 5 book series myself, I know that’s a really hard feat to accomplish. That’s not to say there weren’t a few issues.  Holy Guacamole, Batman, there were a lot of characters in this book!  You need a program to keep track of them all, and that’s my suggestion.  I’ve read books that have had one or two sentence bios of the main characters at the beginning of a book. I’d have been super happy to have had one of those for this book, especially for some of the dead characters eaten in previous books.

Most novels I read don’t have illustrations.  This one did. It had maps, which were very helpful as the ships were sailing all over: from Alaska, to Australia, to Antarctica.  There were also a few illustrations of the creatures.  Yeah … I could have used a couple more of those.  There’s only so much you can describe of a fanciful sea creature before what I’m picturing in my head looks nothing like what the author intended. It ain’t just sharks, we’re talking prehistoric whales and alligators too.

I will admit, the story lost me a bit when time travel got involved.  Quite frankly that little side story flopped for me. All they say is that’s how the one guy knew what was going to happen, that he’d gone back in time a few months and was reliving them. The book never says how that happened and why it didn’t happen again so I’d have written it out of the novel if I were the author.  Thankfully, that bit only lasted a few pages, any more and I’d have stopped reading.

Book 8: Undisputed by A.S. Teague

5 stars

This is a great read.  I finished it in two days, not that it was all that long.  It was unpredictable, funny and boy, did I cry! Yes, it’s a tear jerker, but in a good way.  It paced well and had a fabulous ending.  Honestly, my only complaint was that the male protagonist dropped the F bomb a few too many times for my taste.  Yes, it was probably in keeping with his character, but still, it’s not in keeping with me as a reader.  I highly recommend this book.  So much so that I’ve already started book 2 in the series.

Book 9: Unraveled by A.S. Teague

4 stars

Yes, the sequel dropped by a star. The protagonists in this story were very good, but not as compelling as in the first book. Plus a few things sort of annoyed me with this book. Rebecca, the female lead in this book was a side character in book one.  It was said that the male protagonist in book one was a little scared of her because she beat him up as a child.  He still seemed intimidated by her which seemed odd to me since she mostly drank wine, shopped and did her nails in book one.  Low and behold… in book two we find out that she used to me a cage fighter along with the male lead in Book one!  Well, had I known that in book one, that would have made a lot more sense.  In this book, Rebecca has two friends that are party girls, always going to clubs.  It isn’t until the end of the book that you find out the friends used to be cage fighters as well.  I think these were my main complaints about these books, that vital bits of info were neglected and tossed in a little too late for my taste.

Book 10: Nice by Jen Sacks

4 stars

This is a very funny book in a satire sort of way. Basically it’s a love story between a professional killer and your joe average woman who ends up killing her dates when she doesn’t have the heart to tell them she’s just not that into them, thus hurting their feelings. The story itself is a five-star story that I highly recommend. There were a couple of issues that kept it from that five-star overall rating. First would be the use of words you have to look up in the dictionary, like vituperously, somnambulistic and ablutions. I’m all for writing stories that make the reader stretch their mind, but come on. Who did she think was going to read this book?

The other issue I had was one that made me rethink how I write my own books. This book has two narrators.  The name of the chapter is the name of the character who narrates it.  This is what I do in my novels as well.  Problem with this book is that the first chapter is titled “Grace” and no where in the chapter do you find out that the name of the narrator to associate the chapter title as the name of the person talking. I honestly paid no attention to the chapter title, I rarely do. So when chapter two was titled “Sam,” I was wondering why the narrator was suddenly doing strange things.  Chapter two switched back to “Grace,” but I hadn’t realized we’d ever switched away from her.  I didn’t figure all this out until chapter four switched back to “Sam.”

Book 11: Moment in Time by Lisa Mondello

3 stars

This was a really short read, but still a good story.  Had Miss Mondello added an epilogue, I probably would have given in 4 stars.  As it is, the story ends awkwardly, leaving me to wonder if they live happily ever after … or happy for now??? To me, romance is all about the ending.  I get that this was a shorter novella that she put out for free to attract readers, but she does herself a disservice with this ending.  I’ve read other books of hers that were better.

Book 12: Billionaire Unknown by J.S. Scott

3 stars

I’ll start by saying I’m a big fan of this series, but the first 6 or 7 books in the series were definitely the best. Once they started branching out to the family in Colorado, I think the series started to lose me.  I was really confused when I started reading this book.  I thought I’d read it before.  So much so that I was just about to put it down when I realized that the author had put out a Christmas short story that was the beginning of this book.  Once I figured that out, the story was good.  Nothing special. Maybe I’m being a bit unfair seeing as the first books in the series were all 5 star wonders.

Books 13-14-15: The Maybe Series

Maybe Yes / Maybe Never / Maybe Always

3 stars

Since I bought this as a boxed set, I’ll review it as one book, not the three books it touts itself to be. If I was to review them individually, they’d all get 2 stars each. To be honest, book 1 was pretty good, but left you with a cliffhanger. Book 2 was a complete departure from the love story of book 1.  I’m not even sure if I’d classify Books 2 or 3 as romance.  They’re more action, suspense that romance. Personally I’m always disappointed when a writer has to bring in a Mexican Drug Cartel to spice things up.  To write that Kinsley could join a drug and smuggling cartel with any believability strains any sense of realism. I know most romance novels are escapist literature, but please … I think the author wrote herself into a corner in this story.  I get the distinct feeling that she was writing without an outline and once she’d gotten Kinsley involved with the cartel, had no idea how to resolve the story.  Most of Book 2 and 3 was her incessant interior monologue wondering if they believed her or not. For some reason she seemed to think the FBI had jurisdiction in Cancun Mexico and Paris France, because the author had them storming the Cartels facilities in both places. Not terribly realistic.

Book 16: The Education of Sebastian by Jane Harvey Berrick

4 stars

This one gets 4 stars by the skin of its teeth. Honestly, if I wasn’t on a three star streak, it would probably get 3. What’s holding it back? WORDS!  This book has wonderful characters and a good story line, but it is plagued with way too much extra prose. I found myself skipping pages upon pages of just too much detail and unnecessary information. It really is a shame as an edited version of this book would rate a good five stars. Basically the gist of this story is that Caroline, a 30-year-old military wife in a bad marriage, falls for Sebastian, the 17-year-old son of another military family. Yep, they’re breaking the law. The whole book builds up to the last couple of pages when the author answers the question, will they get caught or not. I thought the last pages were a bit of a let down as it just leads you into book 2, that is if you want to find out that happens to them. Yep, sucker that I am, I’m reading the sequel right now (but only because it was free with kindle unlimited!) From the way book two is shaping up, I’d say if both books were combined and edited, they’d make a great single novel. Still, if you don’t mind skipping pages, The Education of Sebastian is a really good read.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

4 Mar 2017: Never Underestimate Likability

Here’s the second installment of my series on How to Write a Good Romance (or any story really) based on what not to do:

#2: Never Underestimate Likability.

Not all characters have to be likable. Not everyone in this world is likable. Although the protagonists in a love story should have flaws, like all humans do, they should also have more redeemable qualities than flaws.

caution-tape

I recently read a book where I kept thinking, why is she interested in him? He’s a total jerk and an unrepentant man-whore to boot! She can do so much better than him! When the finally got together at the end of the book, I really could have cared less. Did I read any more of the books in that series? No, they all sounded pretty much the same, with “heroes” that were not good people at all, certainly not anyone I’d ever want to fantasize about.

cartoon-evil

The real problem was, he was just as much of a jerk on the last page of the book as he was on the first. There was no progression of character, no redemption, no understanding of why he was the way he was. Remember that your readers have to find something likable in your protagonists in order for them in invest themselves in them.

  • What keeps someone turning the pages of book is caring.
  • They care if the protagonist finds love or doesn’t.
  • They care what trap or mystery they may be walking into.

If you want to have a character that’s a jerk when the couple first meets, that’s fine, but give them a journey that reveals why they are the way they are, and continue that evolution of character until the final pages of the book. Every event that happens to us in our lives changes the person we were when we woke up that morning. How does this fact of life change who you characters are when you finally type “The End?”

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

8 April 2016: To Kindle Unlimited … or not to Kindle Unlimited …

In case you’re not aware of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, for $9.99 a month, you can have unlimited access to read as many books as you like so long as these books participle in the program. It’s sort of like a library card.  You can take out “on loan” up to ten books at a time. You can keep any book for as long as you like, but if you should decide to drop the program, any books you have on your Kindle that you acquired through KU will be yanked off your Kindle.

kindle-unlimitedIf you’re like me and you read constantly, this $9.99 is a huge savings. I’m simply limited to book that are in the program, but so many are that it’s never been an issue.  I still buy books that I can’t resist, but all things considered, I save a ton with KU.

So last night I finished reading a book that I got for free on my Kindle.  It wasn’t through KU, just listed at a price of $0.00.  It was an okay book.  The story was decent, but I could take it or leave it. As I suspected, when I checked to see what else this author had to offer, the book I’d just read was indeed the first in a series. The second book was $2.99.  For $2.99, I took a pass.  However … had this book been on the KU program, I’d have read it.

kindleunlimited

There are many authors that poo poo the KU program because they feel the royalties just aren’t there for them.  To those authors I feel the need to remind you that the members of KU are hard-core readers, but we’re also extremely budget conscious. I might WANT to read your book, but I’m just not willing to pay more than $2.99 for an ebook of an author I’ve never read before, or was slightly ambivalent about their first book.  This was the case with the book I read this week.  The author missed out on me reading the second book in their series because I’d have had to have paid for it.  My suggestion would be to take the first book and put it in the KU program instead of making it $0.00 on amazon.  If they had, they’d have gotten royalties on the first book instead of nothing which is what they got from me.  I’d price book one at $0.99 for non KU and have it enrolled in the KU program.  I’ll be honest, if a book looks interesting enough, even with my KU, I’m willing to pay $0.99 for it.

royaltiesAs an author, I can tell you that I’m currently generating just as much royalties through the KU program as I am with straight sales. So what have your experiences with KU been like?  Let’s here from some other authors or KU members!!

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

4 April 2016: Maybe we should just hold hands instead of kiss …

What is Romance?

Exactly how much “romance” does a novel have to contain for it be considered a romance novel?

I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. Is it as simple that at the end of the book the male or female protagonist ends up with the person they’ve been flirting with? Is it the amount of sex in the book, and by sex I mean sex other than casual sex? Is it as simple as love, two characters that weren’t in love when the book began but are when it ends?

couple_kiss3[1]

Oops! Sorry, I can’t kiss you there. If I did, that would be a romance and I don’t do romance.

Let’s take my latest book, If Love is a Lie, for an example. I list it as a romance, but there’s a whole lot more to it than your standard formulaic romance. The first third of the book is Emily’s relationship with her internet dating scam artist. Hardly a worthy romance! The next phase of the book is her working with the FBI to bring her scammer and his gang to justice. There’s a growing attraction between her and the FBI agent assigned to the case, but really this section of the story is more crime/action/adventure. The last section of the book is where she’s forced to make a choice about the direction of her life. She’s caught in a love triangle between her scammer and the FBI agent. In the end she makes her choice and they ride off into the sunset together to start a new life. The last section is very dramatic but I suppose it would fall into a romance category. I’ll admit I like love triangles. There’s always a happy ending in my books but I like to keep the suspense of who she’ll be happy with until the very end.

So is If Love is a Lie a romance novel?

Sometimes I think romance is like vampires. My book series (The Purity of Blood novels) has vampires in it. Is the fact that they are vampires central to the story? No, but because there are vampires in it, it’s automatically “Paranormal Romance.” Personally, I don’t feel that classification is warranted, but a vampire is a vampire and if even one creeps into a novel, it’s automatically a paranormal book. This makes me wish there really was a vampire in the world, just one, a friendly one preferably, but just that one would make the paranormal … normal. Thus my “paranormal romance” could be classified as just romance.

I was gonna suck your blood, but I'll just kiss you instead!

I was gonna suck your blood, but I’ll just kiss you instead!

As with vampires, I think any book with kissing involved gets unfairly classified as a romance novel. Is If Love is a Lie a romance? Yes … and no. I think folks who like and those who dislike romance novels would both enjoy it.

Does underwater kissing count?

Does underwater kissing count?

Yesterday I wen to lunch with a friend and asked him this same question, how much romance is enough to push a book into that category. His reply was if the central theme of the book was romance, than it’s a romance. A logical and well thought out answer. With that in mind, I’d say my series (The Purity of Blood) is not a romance series at all. The central theme is the development of Sara from the innocent girl she is at the beginning of the series to the strong woman she is at the end. Are her romantic relationships part of that development? Yes, but even stronger in it is her relationship with Randall, her grandfather. But seeing as Randall is a vampire … I’m still stuck with the paranormal label. Oh, well. C’est la vie as the French say.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

14 Feb 2016: So you want to write a novel … now what?

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve had many people tell me that they have a great idea for a novel.  Some say they’ll get around to it one day, some ask if I want to write it with them, some admit it will probably never get written. I’m often asked for advice on how to go about getting started.  Getting started is always the hardest part, even for me, an author who’s written seven novels.

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  • So how do you start?

First you need to start gathering your thoughts on paper.  Get a notebook and write headers on the top of several pages.  Headers Like “Plot,” “My Main Character,” “Subplot,” “Other Characters.” Really it’s the process of organizing all those thoughts that have been rambling around inside your head.  You think it will be easy to just sit down and write your book out without this step, but you’d be wrong.

  • Why on paper and not on a computer or other device?

Don’t discount the effect of paper and pen.  There’s something cathartic about writing with a pen or pencil that you’ll soon discover for yourself.  I suggest a portable notebook.  I use smaller ones that fit in my purse.  Believe me, you’ll want to have it with you at all times and inspiration tends to strike in the most unlikely of places.  I especially recommend you keep a pad and pen on your nightstand. How many times have I woken up in the middle of the night with a great idea and been too lazy to get up and write it down? … way too many times.  And then I wake up in the morning thinking … didn’t I have an idea last night? But I can’t remember exactly what it was.  Don’t be like me because it totally sucks.

Okay, let’s say you’ve started the above.

  • So when do I get to start writing my novel?

After you have a decent idea of your plot and a detailed description of your main characters, their physical descriptions, likes, dislikes, past history, the flesh on their bones, it’s time to start your outline. For me, my outlines are bullet point outlines, plot points I need to hit in a specific order so that I tell the story properly. This outline will evolve a lot from the moment I start writing till I finally type “the end.” It’s not chiseled in stone, it will evolve as your story evolves, but it helps you keep your eye on the prize.  It will be your guiding north star.

When you’re writing a novel, you need to feel as if you’re making headway, and being able to tick off another bullet point on your outline makes you feel as if you’re making progress and that in and of itself is encouragement to continue on. It is your light at the end of the writing tunnel.whats your story

  • So now I’m writing … now what?

My suggestion to not lose your momentum going and keep from getting bogged down to the point you give yourself writer’s block is to XXX it. Huh? you’re asking out loud as you scratch your head.  Yes, you read me right. When I’m writing out a scene and I come up to something that I’m not sure of, I xxx it, and go back to it later.  I’ll give you an example. In my current project, I had a sentence that went something like this:

“Doc Gibbs came by this afternoon and said he’s worried about the new calf, thinks he may have come down with XXX and he wants to come back tomorrow and give him a TREATMENT.”

My novel takes place on a ranch in Texas.  I’m from New York and live in Orlando. What do I know about Longhorn cattle? Nothing.  If I stopped to do the research on what could be wrong with a calf and what they’d have to do to treat it, I’d never get a book written.  I finished the first draft this week and spent a couple of days fixing the XXX’s and other issues like this.  These are things that aren’t really important to the story so I don’t even bother to stop to dwell on them while I’m writing.  I’ll have things like this: “After I order LUNCH ORDER, I handed her the menu back.” Don’t lose yourself in minutia.  I have news for you … your first draft will suck.  Get over it and know that you can always fix it in the editing.

Don’t expect perfection.  If you do, you’re doomed before you start.  Perfection is crafted from your first draft.  Your first draft will have lots of issues that need fixing.  I can’t stress enough that you need to leave expectations of “The Great American Novel” at the doorstep. All you can hope is that your first draft shows potential.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attack your first draft with gusto, it only means that if you agonize over every sentence, you’ll never get to THE END.  You’ll get so discouraged by chapter two that you’ll never bother to finish.

first-draft

  • So I finally finished my first draft.  No what?

Congratulations! The first thing I do is try to catch the easy things before I really dig deep.  In my word document, I use the “Find” feature and look for things I know I commonly type wrong.  Having just typed your novel, I’m sure you probably know what your typing foibles are. Mine are that for some reason, I tend to type an extra ‘ after the “t” in a contracted word.  – didn’t’ –  Don’t ask why, I have no idea why I do it.  I also type “because” as “becuase”, transposing the a and u.  I type “the” as “teh” a lot.  Not to mention that I also have issues with tenses.  I write in first person narrative and find that I can stray from writing in a past tense to a present tense.  Example: “I take the book he hands me and smile.” When I really should have typed “I took the book he handed me and smiled.” Again, I have no idea why this happens.  This is also when you go back and fix your XXX’s and Capped letter issues.

When you feel as if you have a good grasp on these kinds of issues, for me, this is when I print the first twenty or so pages and start to read.  Reading on paper and not off a screen is very helpful to me.  Maybe it won’t be for you, but I recommend you try.  It’s another perspective, one that your reader will have, so it’s worth taking a step back to look through their eyes. I like to make hand written notes on paper then enter them on the word doc. In this first 20 pages you’ll start to see other issues you missed.  After that just keep editing.

I usually read through, editing as I go, at least three times through the whole book.  At this point, I email the doc to my Kindle and let the text to speech feature on my Kindle read my book to me.  Believe me, you will find even more typos and issues.  Hearing it out loud is going to blow your mind.

After I listen to it two or three times, I think my books are ready for someone else’s eyes.  WARNING: Be careful who you give it to. I’ve had issues where you give it to them and a month later they haven’t even started it yet.  Find someone who has the time to sit down read it now.  Gently give them a deadline in which you’d like it back.  I’d also provide them with a sheet containing a guideline of what you’re looking for.  They are most likely not a professional editor and need your guidance here. Tell them you’re looking for typos, grammatical errors, inconsistencies in the plot, anything that confuses them or doesn’t make sense.  Some people are naturally good editors, many are not.  Your close family man not be your best choices.  Don’t give it to someone who is just going to hand it back and say “That was lovely, dear.”

Once you get it back, incorporate what notations you received and thought made sense to change.

first-draft1

  • Set goals for yourself.

It would have taken me a decade to write my first novel if I hadn’t of set daily quotas on myself.  10 pages a day to start with.  As the story gets written, it gets easier to write.  By the end, my quota was 25-30 pages a day. If I didn’t meet my quota one day, the missing pages got added to the next days quota.  For example, I write 8 pages today means I have to write 12 tomorrow.  It was a mental way for me to stay on track.  I increased the quota when I found it was too easy to meet and I was exceeding it.

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  • Don’t get married to anything in your novel!

I gave a short story I wrote to a friend to read/edit last week.  She gave me back some good notes.  One being that she thought the ending was too quick and she gave me a suggestion on away to prolong the plot twist. I thought about it, and she was right. I made a few modifications and it really flows much better now. If I’d been stubborn and thought the baby that was my story was perfect just the way any mother would think her child was, I’d have been holding it back from being all that it could be.

  • What about all these fancy writing computer programs?

Don’t get sucked into the mentality that a computer program will help you write a book. People were doing it with feather quills and writing masterpieces of the English language long before the advent of the computer age.  I use MS Word and do just fine.  If you’re trying to write your first book, believe me, that is hard enough without tossing learning a new computer program into the mix.  Concentrate on writing, not fiddling with the newest software. I promise you, the software isn’t going to write your book for you while you slumber at night.

Well, that’s my advice on how to get started. I could go on and on and on about the subject, and I’m sure I will in future posts.

Happy writing!

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

7 Feb 2016: More Book Covers I Like

It’s time for another installation of “Book Covers I Like.” As I’ve said before, it’s just WAYYY too easy to find book covers that I don’t think come quite up to scratch.  So instead I offer up a collection of book covers that I think hit the mark.

And so we begin….

#1: Starflight by Melissa Landers: What’s not to like? The image is strong, the typography seems spot on. The motion of the image carries you up to the title and is interesting enough that I really want to know what that ship is. and who’s on it.

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight by Melissa Landers

#2: Naming the bits Between by Jessica M. Collette: I really love the treatment of the title here, very creative. It’s a very simplistic image, but it’s the intriguing way they incorporate the title that is the eye-catching feature here.  This is a great example of how a title can be the cover.  Don’t feel as if you have to have this super strong image for your cover or else you’re doomed.  This image is very relaxed, but fits perfectly.

Naming the Bits Between by Jessica M. Collette

Naming the Bits Between by Jessica M. Collette

#3: He will be my ruin by K.A. Tucker: I’ll admit it, this cover reminds me of the movie Titanic, that whole rolling around with Jack in the car down in the cargo hold scene.  But still, he will be her ruin …. the question is how? The cover is actually kind of subtle, leaving a lot to the imagination and with a title like that, I think it just helps add to the mystery.

He will be my Ruin by K.A. Tucker

He will be my Ruin by K.A. Tucker

#4: if i knew by JS Cooper:  I love this cover because it shows that someone was thinking outside the box.  If I saw this book on a bookstore shelf, I might pick it up for no other reason than to straighten it up.  You really have to have the right photo image to do this treatment.  If her arm wasn’t angled up like that, I don’t think this would have worked.  I’ll admit it … I want to know what she should have known!

If I Knew by JS Cooper

If I Knew by JS Cooper

#5: A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Lauri Boris: Based on the title or cover alone, I have no idea what this book is about, and yet I’m curious. Is it about a juggler? Has she travelled to space and left the surly bonds of Earth’s gravity behind? Could be, but I doubt it. I love how the image pulls your eye in all directions, roaming over every inch of the cover.  This is hard to accomplish and give the cover designer props for pulling it off and not having it distract from the overall goal of a book cover

A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Lauri Boris

A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Lauri Boris

#6: Doll Parts by Azzurra Nox: It took a second or two to realize she was staring at me … which kinda creeped me out … and now she’s like the Mona Lisa, staring at me no matter where I stand.  I’m glad they used a very simple font for the title.  Anything more would have been too much.  The image of the “doll” carries so much weight that anything more in the title would have been competing and in the ends detracting from the cover as a whole.

Doll Parts by Nox

Doll Parts by Azzurra Nox

#7: The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman: WOW! What a striking cover.  It’s sort of distracting in its own way, but that distraction seems oh so appropriate when you read the title.  This louvered concept is genius to me.

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

#8: Pax by Sara Pennypacker: This cover seems alive, as if it’s an animation still and someone is about to hit play and it will suddenly come to life before my eyes.  I give Jon Klassen credit for this since he’s the illustrator. It’s a subdued image, somber in its coloring, but it’s the peacefulness of it that draws me in. It’s almost as if something is about to happen, a peaceful tension I guess you could call it.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

#9: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine: Yes, I know … the TV show Once Upon a Time has overkilled the apple image for a queen, but I still like this creative use of it. It’s a twist I enjoy for a few reasons.  One is subtly.  How do you say snow white without saying snow white? Have a snowy white background. There’s a boldness to this image that I enjoy.  Had they had just the apple alone and the title elsewhere, this would not have worked half as well.

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

#10: Dead in Deep Water by Dave Sivers: We’ve seen docks before.  This is not a new image for a book cover, but it’s the way the designer uses the typography in conjunction with the image that is what I like.  It’s not subtle, but still it’s simple.  However, I do not think the cover would have been as effective if the man was centered in the image.

Dead in Deep Water by David Sivers

Dead in Deep Water by Dave Sivers

#11: Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey: Romance novel covers are a bitch to create and not have a shirtless man on the front.  You want romance that pulls the reader’s eye away from the 1000 other romance novels they’re perusing and we all know sex sells, or in this case, sexy men.  I love the color manipulation of this image, the antiquated look of the modern couple.  It’s very in keeping with the “Time Capsule” part of the title. I especially love the font they used for “Paris,” very Parisian.

Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey

Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey

One think I noticed while typing up this blog entry was how many of the authors chose to put “A Novel” after the title of their novels. I find this a little puzzling. Did they think I’d have a hard time figuring that out? The only reason I can think to do so was if there was another book up for sale on Amazon called “The Teleportation Accident” which was actually a non-fiction book retelling the account of an actual teleportation accident.  Naturally, if you want to name your novel the same title of a book that is already up for sale (which I would not recommend to begin with) you’d put “A Novel” after your’s so no one confused the books.  But even if I did that, I’d leave the “a Novel” off the book cover.  Just saying ….

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Do you have any book covers that you think are head and shoulders above the maddening crowd of only so-so ones?  If so, I’d love to hear about them!  Click on “Leave A Comment” and share!

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

1 Jan 2016: How to create a book cover for CreateSpace

YEAH! I finally got my book cover accepted by CreateSpace.  It only took FIVE attempts! So with this in mind, I thought I’d supplement CreateSpace’s rather sketchy instructions with my own journey.

So to start, you go on CreateSpace and download the template which will be the exact size for your book size, the number of pages in your book and book type.  In my case this was 5.5 by 8.5, 454 pages and black and white interior on white pages. The finished product you upload onto CreateSpace has to be a PDF but you can download the template as a PDF and I think a TIFF. This was mine:

BookCover5_5x8_5_BW_460

Before you start, you’ll need to have a barcode that’s hooked up to your book’s ISBN number.  If you just take the FREE ISBN number that CreateSpace offers, I’m not sure how that works.  Since I’m a writer who wants to keep control of my book, I chose to buy my own ISBN from Bowker and purchased my barcode from them as well.  On Bowker’s website, you tie the barcode to the ISBN for you book.  You’ll need the barcode you then download off their site to insert onto the back cover. Why did I buy one instead of take the free one? Becuase if Amazon isn’t the big deal anymore and I want to move my book to the new and better online book retailer, you can’t take that free ISBN with you.  GOTCHA! Yep, that’s how they hook you and keep you on their site.

If you’re already designed the cover for the Ebook as I had, you’ll then need to start by creating the back cover and a spine.  To do the back cover, I took the book blurb I had on Amazon for the ebook and jazzed it up a bit to be appealing to someone picking up the paperback.  I also designed it to match well with the cover art. As with my covers, I used a combination of programs to create my back cover and spine.  I used my Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and the online program of http://www.picmonkey.com. As instructed on the template, I placed my barcode in the area indicated.

Back cover for blog

Back Cover of my book

Book Spine Image

Book Spine Image

For the front cover, the image was pretty close to the dimensions the template indicated so I just stretched it out to fill the required area.  Thankfully, it didn’t mess with the image itself in an undesirable way. Here’s what I then saved as a PDF and uploaded to CreateSpace along with my book interior:

Attempt #1

Attempt #1

I was then notified that though my book interior had been accepted (YAHOO!!!) by book cover had been rejected.  Not understanding the goblygook techno speak of the email, I had CreateSpace call me from the help page.  The gal who I talked to said the back and spine were fine, but the cover image needed to extend into the pink area so they’d have some trim to play with. I specifically asked about the pink trim area.  Were you supposed to see it in the image I uploaded?  In reply, she SPECIFCALLY said YES. (This is important later on) This sounded odd to me, but seemed an easy fix.  I then redid the cover to allow for some area on the top, bottom and right side for them to trim off if need be without ruining the artistic integrity of the cover image. Here’s what I then uploaded to replace Attempt #1:

Attempt #2

Attempt #2

A day later I got the email saying that this image had been accepted.  I then ordered a hard copy proof which arrived a few days later in the mail.

P1050452

Spine ImageI thought the cover looked fine, but the title on the spine seemed a little high when it got trimmed.  Wasn’t sure why it was trimmed when the cover wasn’t?!?!?! But whatever.  I tweaked the spine and uploaded the new and improved cover to CreateSpace.

Attempt #3

Attempt #3

There was no reason this one should be rejected, right?  WRONG! Even though I really hadn’t changed anything, it was indeed rejected.  Come on, REALLY! So again I spoke to CreateSpace. This time they told me that all the edges had to be even, that the front over was bigger than the spine and back.  I politely told the lady that the other gal I’d spoken to told me to do it this way and that it had been approved and printed before like this.  After a brief hold she told me that it had mistakenly been approved before, that it should have been rejected. WTF! So doing as she said, I trimmed the cover image and uploaded Attempt #4:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00048]

Attempt #4

And the next morning I got the email saying it was rejected.  At this point I was pretty pissed to say the least.  So again I had CreateSpace call me, and believe it or not, I got the same lady I’d spoken to the day before! She then proceeded to tell me it was rejected because you’re not supposed to have any of the pink trim area showing!  Yeah, refer to my first conversation with them above where they specifically said I was supposed to leave the pink in.  Honestly, I’d have had this done with attempt #2 if the CreateSpace help folks knew anything.  I hate to say they don’t have a clue … but …

Anyway, she said I needed to cover all the pink trim area with the image and that they’d “possibly” trim that off in the printing process.  So again, I went back to the drawing board.  The spine was fine, but I wasn’t sure the back could take the trim without it looking odd.  So I expanded the black on the sides so the text wasn’t so close to possible trim areas.  The front had to be redone as well.  I was afraid the work PURITY was too close to the edge and a trim on the side would put it right on the edge.  I also lowered my name at the top and raised up Vol I from the bottom.  Basically I learned that you have to add areas around the edges that can be cut from the image and you won’t cry about. Yes, this sucks, but it seems to be the way it is.

My other problem at this point was that the way I was saving it as a PDF wasn’t going to work anymore.  Per a friend’s suggestion, I’d downloaded a program called CutePDF that allowed me to hit print on an image and it would save it as a PDF for me.  This was fine, except that the PDF needed to be formatted to a page size as if it were really being printed. For example, see the white bars at the top and bottom? With them added, the doc is standard Letter Size for printing. Can’t have those bars this time.

Margins Example

So I broke down and bought a subscription to Adobe Acrobat so I could create a PDF without those white bars. And so I uploaded attempt #5:

Attempt #5

Attempt #5

Attempt #5 was accepted!! But with all this going on I thought it prudent to order another proof.  So this came in the mail. The left cover is the new one.  You can see where I moved the text for my name down and Purity to the left . It looks fine.  The one thing I wasn’t expecting was for the hair to look so different since I hadn’t changed that at all.  When it was printed the second time, it’s redder and little fuzzy.  It’s not horrible, but I much prefer the first printing.  The spine looked much better on the second proof.

Second Book

2nd Proof on Left — 1st Proof on Right. It’s hard to tell but the coloring is different. Left one is redder than Right.

 

Second Book Spine

First Proof on Top — Second Proof on Bottom with adjusted text.

And so I approved the proof yesterday and according to CreateSpace it should be up for sale on Amazon in 3-5 days. YEAH.

In conclusion, I hope this helps someone who is looking to do a print version of their book with CreateSpace.  I certainly had to learn the hard way and hope that my experiences will help someone else’s experience go better than mine did.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.