Saturday, September 21, 2013

No . . . that' not MY leg!!

I'm getting tons of positive feedback on the cover design for my book! It seems we nailed our goal of designing an intriguing cover that gives a potential reader the "feel" for what the story is about.

One of the main questions I'm getting however is . . . "is that YOUR leg?"

The answer is "no, that's not my leg."

For the benefit of other self-published authors out there wondering how to create a professional-looking cover without the benefit of being a graphic designer themselves, here's the process I went through.

I've mentioned in earlier posts about how excited I am to be meeting other interesting, helpful authors on this new journey of mine, and that's exactly how I came to design the cover of my book.

I would like to personally thank Ann Narcisian Videan,, for telling me about MicroBurst,, an on-line company offering logo, graphic and web design services. MicroBurst offers a unique way to work with their designers - through design contests. You offer to award a specific amount, input the parameters of what you're looking for, and then designers submit their designs for your review and approval. You can then chose your own winner and work with that specific designer to fine tune the design.

For instance, I input that I wanted a book cover design showing an apparently naked professional woman standing in front of a large home and behind a FOR SALE sign. I wanted the word HOUSE on the FOR SALE sign to be crossed out and the word SEX written above it. That's all I put. I left the rest up to the imagination of the designer.

Over a week's time, I received nearly 40 designs. Of the 40, I was interested in 8-10. Some of the designers totally missed the mark and others nailed it. It was fun to log in every day to see if any new designs had been uploaded and then to check out each one. Believe me, I saw some really interesting designs.

The design I chose is now the cover of my book (without the text, that was done by someone else). That particular designer paid attention to what I asked for but put his/her own spin on it by having the naked woman peek out from the side of the page instead of standing behind the sign. I hadn't considered that possibility BUT LOVED IT! I'm pretty creative, but I'm not a professional graphic artist. I relied on the talents of those who are and together, I think we came up with a killer design!!

I paid less than $300 for the design and had it done within one week. MicroBurst was excellent to work with and walked me through the entire process. I intend to use their services for the cover design of all my future books.

I have since learned there are other online graphic design services so I encourage you to check them all out and chose the one that would work best for your time, budget and comfort level.

Bringing a book to market yourself is NOT as difficult as you might imagine and if you ask, you will undoubtedly find another, more experienced self-published author to help you or guide you.

If you think I can help you in any way, just ask :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's sunny . . . with a chance of murder!!

I'm working away on book #2 and feeling much more confident about what I'm doing this time. As a result, I'm having even more fun!

As I sit at my dining room table (I've migrated from my isolated home office, to taking over the family dinner table as my current writing nook--it's not like we ever used the table for eating anyway) looking out the bayed oversized windows into another gorgeous Arizona sunny day, my mind is whirling with murder ideas. But sunshine and murder just don't seem to go together. They're more like oil and water than peanut butter and jelly. Nonetheless, it seems to be working for me.

I'm also busy keeping up with the visitors to my com author chat (thank you all!) where I'm getting great feedback about what readers like and sometimes, what they don't like (I asked). As I'm working on this new story, I'm keeping their comments in mind to help me insure delivery of another fun-to-read Niki Brooks mystery!!

This time, Niki and Rico will begin to learn the ins and outs of searching for a missing person, their first lesson in private investigating. Along their journey they'll encounter new friends . . . and new foes . . . and will hopefully master how to handle a weapon (namely, a gun).

Will they find Lorna before Russell is successful in making her disappear forever? Will they find Russell before someone else makes him disappear forever? He is their only lead to Lorna, so if they lose him, they lose Lorna.

Both Russell's and Lorna's parents believe (or want to believe) she left with Russell on her own so they're no help and because they've convinced the authorities that a (clearly forged) letter from Lorna says the same, they are no help either. Niki and Rico are on their own.

In the first book, Niki knew nothing about running a call girl business, but she figured it out and survived the experience. In this next book, Niki is once again learning a new skill, but will she be successful this time?


That's the fun or writing! Even though I have the general storyline, I still have no idea where this new journey will take me - or Niki. I will continue to look to the bright Arizona sunshine as I plan my murders and mystery.

Stay tuned for another weather report soon.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happiness is a choice

I was recently interviewed by writer/blogger, Karen Randau,, about my choice to self-publish my first Niki Brooks Mystery novel, "Cat House, Adventures of a Real Estate Madam." One of the best questions Karen asked me, however, was not about me or my book but "how do you find joy in daily life?"

I didn't even have to think about that one, because I believe happiness is a choice.  Happiness is a conscious thought that starts in the brain and affects everything we say or do, and how we react to the messiness that is life.  Have you ever seen someone walking around (probably in Walmart) wearing a t-shirt that says "I like my bad attitude"? I have, and I hate that t-shirt. I know they are probably wearing it in the spirit of fun but we are what we think (not just what we eat).
A pity party is the only party that I ever want to leave early so I wear a blue plastic bracelet every day - I never take it off - that reminds me to move on if I find I'm wallowing too much or for too long. I simply snap my bracelet and say "that's enough!" I give myself a little time to grieve - 5 minutes, 10 minutes, maybe even an hour some days - but then I find something else to do that gets my mind off whatever my negative situation may be. I go to a happy place. For me, that's spending time with either my family or real friends, or playing with my imaginary friends from my Niki Brooks series!  Every day I get to write is a joy!

Another thing that helps me find  joy is by spreading joy to others. The Dalai Lama says, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If YOU want to be happy, practice compassion," meaning we need to spread our happiness to others. Maybe that's offering a simple smile to the man you pass in the frozen food isle who looks lost in the grocery store, or saying a cheery "hello" to the lady behind you in line at the post office who keeps bumping you, or maybe you could let someone who looks like they're in more of a hurry than you are cut in front of you in line at the DMV.
Everything we need to be joyful is within us. We just have to pay attention and make the choice.