Photoshop Tutorials: The Lost Letter

Gallery

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As always, please be forgiving of the mistakes. I’m terrible at proofreading my own stuff. Today we’re going to go over the basic things you need to know to create a full book cover. This is a very long tutorial … Continue reading

Book Cover Design in Photoshop

So, my latest project was learning how to use Photoshop. It was wicked hard, but well worth the time spent. I can do some really cool stuff now, and I’ve only spent a few days learning some basic tricks. I’m thinking about creating a few how-to articles (strictly for beginners), because I know a lot of writers are moving towards self-publishing. Even if you’re not, knowing your way around Photoshop can be extremely helpful to you in other ways.

Below are some covers I’ve created, and some of the things I can teach you to do.

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Writers’ Toolbox: Formatting Your eBook (Part 2)

I apologize for my lack of posts lately. Things have gotten crazy around here, but I have a lot of new resources to share with authors when I do find the time. First on the list is part 2 of T.A. Grey’s eBook formatting guide.

Writers’ Toolbox: Formatting Your eBook (Part 1)

T.A. Grey has created an excellent post on how to customize the inside of your self-published ebook. She’d decided to break the instructions up into sections, Formatting your eBook (Part 1) is available now.

Saturday Six: Your Hero Should Never…

  1. Cheat on the heroine/hero(M/M) – You would think this was a given, but apparently it isn’t. While the acts of infidelity are usually small, in a romance novel they’re ALWAYS unforgivable. A hero never comes back from that. NOTHING can erase it. Prime example, Cabal from Bengal’s Heart (Breed Series).
     
    He spends years whoring around while he knows she’s suffering without him. YEARS. Cabal knows Cassie cannot bear anyone else’s touch. But he goes on with his life like she doesn’t exist. He even considers  getting serious with another girl. Even worse, he does it because he blames her for the actions of her dead husband. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d just abandoned her, but no, he leaves her in PAIN while he spends his days screwing every other woman he meets.
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  3. Leave the heroine for her own good – This one really irks me. To make matters worse, it’s usually accompanied by some big misunderstanding. But we’ve already discussed that pitfall.
     
    When the hero abandons the heroine because he wants to protect her or save her from himself, I tune out.  My first thought is, Oh no, another soap opera melodrama. I’ve seen this plot scheme a million times. I’m tired of it. It’s lost its appeal—not that it ever had much.
     
    While many authors have used this trite device, I’ll use one that everyone is familiar with, The Twilight Saga. While Edward’s I’m scared I’ll eat you angst was bearable in the first novel, it completely got out of hand in New Moon. Don’t these authors know that heroes who are assertive and go after what they want are so much more appealing?
     
    As much as I love Lora Leigh, she’s really bad about using this one.
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  5. Be a bad/virgin lover – While I’ll admit this one can have some exceptions, 98% of the time it should be a law of nature. These are a romancenovels people, and we like our heroes good in bed. If we wanted to be left unsatisfied or be forced to teach our lovers then we wouldn’t need romance novels, reality would do.
     
    Right now, the only author guilty of this that comes to mind is Sherrilyn Kenyon. Although, I really hate to use her because most of the time she fits into the other 2% that actually make it work.  Born of Night is one of her novels that she didn’t do as good of a job with making the inexperienced lover thing work out. While Born of Night is one of my all-time favorite novels, I just couldn’t get comfortable with Nik being such an inexperienced lover. And if I’m being honest, when I fantasize about him I always change that about him.  (As a side note, Born of Night is also guilty of #2)
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  7. Be ugly – Shallow, I know, but it’s a fact. He’s the HERO. This means better than the average man. This means that the heroine should find him attractive. I’m not saying he should supermodel hot, but he should be sexually appealing. Women have to want him.
     
    I’m Sorry Phantom of the Opera fans, but I just can’t jump on board with this. When I read books with these horribly disfigured heroes, I just pretend like they’re good looking.  I can’t picture them any other way, and I don’t even want to try. I know that’s awful, but it’s the truth.
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  9. Have a small penis – Thankfully, I’ve never seen an author do this, but I don’t want it to become a trend. Heroes should be, at the very least, a millimeter larger than the average man. ALWAYS! NO EXCEPTIONS! They shouldn’t all have monster cocks either, but I’ll take that over the a tinie wenie any day.
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  11. Be perfect – While your hero should be better than the average guy, he shouldn’t be good at everything. He can’t be independently wealthy, good looking, well endowed, extraordinarily fast/strong/intelligent, quick with words, moral, etc. He has to be flawed.
     
    I love paranormal romances. I love my alpha males. But let’s face it, the genre is bad about this. Some of my favorite heroes are guilty of this one—Barrons and Bones. While they may be a little too perfect, they too have their flaws. Bones—jealously. Barrons—lack of morality.

Freebie Friday #6

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The Wary Widow (The Wetherby Brides, Book 3) – Jerrica Knight-Catania

Ashley’s New Attitude – Samantha Whitney

Burning Hunger (Twilight’s Possession, Book One) – Tawny Taylor

Ties That Bind is Now Available

Everyone please slide on over to T.A. Grey’s blog and congratulate her on the release of her third Bellum Sister’s novel, Ties That Bind. It’s available now at Amazon, and other retailers I’m sure.

Writers’ Toolbox: 10 Checkpoints for Your Scene

Every scene in your book should count, whether its purpose is to further the plot or build empathy for your characters. This is why I liked the article 10 Checkpoints for Your Scene. It’s a neat little checklist that will help you determine if your scenes have all the necessary elements to be, not only important to the story, but complete as well.

Writers’ Toolbox: Links of the Week #20

Writers’ Toolbox: Links of the Week #20

S.J. Maylee

Happy Saturday! What? It’s Memorial weekend? OMG, what am I doing inside. I have weeding to do, plants to put in the garden, roses to train, books to read, a MS to edit…and more blogs to read 🙂 I have a pretty collection for you today and don’t forget to listen to Jeff’s music selection today. You won’t regret this listen, it’s powerful.

Writer Business

Suzanne Rock at Romance on a Budget shares a tip Do you have Business Cards?

Plots

Darcy Pattison at Fiction Notes had some great reminders 5 Plot Fixes for Peace Makers

Alan Chin posted this week Writing Tip #36 Story Starter Questions. Very interesting collection of 12-questions. A quick test to see if your plot is missing something.

Janice Hardy at The Other Side of the Story had a brilliant line at the beginning of her post on plots this week: “The house is story. Decorating is plot.”…

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Writers’ Toolbox: Stephie Smith’s Contest Chart for Writers

Stephie Smith has composed a wonderful chart for those of you looking to enter a writing contest. Her list of contests is current and full of all the important information.

If you are looking for a way to get noticed, or add some credits to add to your query letter, winning a writing contest is a great way to do it. Agents and publishers like to know that your manuscript has already received recognition. Not to mention, it shows that you probably have been networking and that will help them sell you and your book to prospective publishers because you’ve already made a name for yourself.

Saturday Six: Six Reasons I Give Up On a Book

1. MIA Hero – this is the number one reason I will put down a book! When I pick up a romance, I’m expecting to see two characters for a majority of the time. If the hero is missing for a legitimate reason, then the other character must at least think about the hero enough to satisfy me.

2. TSTL (Too Stupid to Live) heroine – I cannot stand these characters. These brass pantied women jump into the action without rhyme or reason.  I’m not talking about a woman who gets backed into a corner and has no choice. I’m talking about the woman who chases the hero/firefighter back into the fire, for no reason other than she thinks he’s being chauvinistic. Is this really necessary? She couldn’t just discuss this with him later, over dinner? NO! She has to follow him into a burning building, to prove she’s as tough as he is.

3. All-powerful heroine – almost as bad as the TSTL heroine, is the impossible to kill heroine. I absolutely hate when authors create these larger than life characters (this usually happens in urban fantasy) and then they put them in life or death situations.

Here is how the scenario usually plays out. The heroine has survived everything from fire to dismemberment. She is super strong, super fast, and usually a capital B. Then suddenly an unlucky chance encounter brings her face to face with the one and only being in the world that can kill her.

Which leads me to….

4. Coincidence – While small coincidences are okay (I need a bar of soap and my neighbor accidentally bought an extra), those big coincidences that bring the villain to a small town in Wyoming, where he finds the heroine, who just happened to meet the hero who can help her defeat the villain. 98% percent of the time, coincidence in writing is a bad thing.

5. Cliche  physical descriptions – I know that not everyone is as picky as I am when it comes to physical descriptions, but this is truly a pet peeve of mine. If I read anything in the blurb about red hair, green eyes, or scarred heroes, I give the book a pass. I know that this has no real bearing on the quality of writing, but my instinctive thought is “if this author can’t even bother to try and come up with unique physical descriptions, will they really bother making their plot original?”

6. The BIG misunderstanding – Most of my favorite authors use this, and the only reason I forgive them because everything else they do is so great. I understand that there are certain times when misunderstandings are plausible, but 70% of the time they just aren’t believable. I will give examples of both….

Acceptable: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost ends on a BIG misunderstanding. While I still think that Cat underestimated Bones, I understood her reasoning behind making the decision she did. She really did have something to loose, which made her dumb move more believable.

Unacceptable: New Moon by Stephanie Meyer. I don’t hate the Twilight Saga like many people do. I believe that it is a very good series for the genre and age group for which it was written. However, Meyer should have worked a lot harder to make the lapse in Alice’s visions more believable.

Writers’ Toolbox: Show Me the Money!

We need to thank Brenda Hiatt for this fabulous resource! Show Me the Money! is survey Hiatt manages to keep readers informed of the average payout with certain romance and young adult publishers. The list includes most of the prominent publishers out there. It’s a good resource for authors looking around for place to submit their manuscripts.

Also, for those of you who are published and don’t mind confidentially sharing your figures, please contact Haitt so that she can keep her survey updated and as close to accurate as possible.

Writers’ Toolbox: How to Stay Motivated With Your Writing

It’s hard to find time to do the things you need to get done, let alone the things you can put off until tomorrow. However, most people can usually make time for the things they want to do, like writing. But when writing starts to feel like a job, it usually gets put on your to-do list–somewhere at the bottom. We just lose our motivation, which is where the article, How to Stay Motivated With Your Writing, comes in handy.