Looking for a Cover Designer

I had made a post previously about cover designers and I had listed some of my personal favorites, but there are more to that list. I’m not adding them in this post, but I was asked what do I look for when looking for a cover designer.

Now, when I think about my book covers, I immediately go to the three people that have been helping me with my covers since I started, but it’s more than that. Lately, I’ve been working on photoshop, learning how to make my own covers, but besides that – there are some traits that I look for when I think about cover designers.

Do they design in the genre my book is in: You don’t want someone who only does romance books to design something that is meant for a horror novel. I’m not saying that it would be bad, but they’re completely different genres and it would be hard to tell what you were getting yourself in to until it is too late.

Do they have samples: Samples are a good thing. It gives you the chance to see what they can do before you buy it. For example, I wouldn’t go on Fiverr and look for a cover designer there. When it comes to covers, it’s something that you want to be up close and personal with the designer, working together to create your image.

Price Range and Messages: You probably don’t want someone who takes about a month to get back to you, but on the other hand, you don’t want something overly expensive (but hey, if it’s something that you love, how can you put a price on that?). I know personally that I want something that is decently priced for the amount of work put into it.

Now there are many other things to consider and once I get more sleep, I am sure that I will write them down and put them into another blog post, but for now, consider the above. Consider whether they will work with you for you to both reach a common ground when it comes to your book cover!

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Write Often or Pace Yourself?

This is a question that is asked constantly by many people and  the answer lies within yourself, I believe. There are times that the characters speak to me and I cannot get them to shut up and when this happens, I tend to write often, but other than that, I pace myself. I make myself a daily goal, though lately I have been taking time away from that to deal with some issues in my life, but I feel like I will be getting back to that daily goal soon. My personal daily goal has been set at 1,000 words per day, but that’s something for me – a personal accomplishment for myself.

This is a question that I cannot answer for you. I do think that it’s a good idea to set a personal goal and try to reach that goal each day, but I know there are some people who cannot do that no matter how hard they try. As far as this question, only you will know the answer for yourself.

Software for Writing

One question that I also constantly get asked is what is the best software for writing. There are so many out there that the decision might be a difficult one, but have no fear. There are many alternatives that you can get to for writing.

One of the amazing programs I had run into has been something like Scrivner, if you can afford it. It’s something that has a $60 fee or something like that and you have to log into it and use it that way, but it has absolutely amazingly helpful devices. It has noteboards where you can plan characters and scenes – separately,  of course, and you can write one chapter at a time, keeping them separate until you compile everything you’ve written into one word document. This comes in handy and I’ve actually have met editors who prefer editing in a scrivner document over anything else (though to me, that’s more difficult).

So another clear option is Mircosoft Word, this being the one that I personally use. I use this one because of the clear format, the clear page breaks and the way you can do scene dividers. I also use Mircosoft Word for the formatting capabilities such as inserting pictures behind the words on the beginning of the chapters and such. It also automatically corrects common spelling errors, something that I am constantly thankful for, though I’m probably biased towards this one.

Another option so similar to Word is Open Office. Now to me, this is one of my least favorite options, but I believe it’s only because I haven’t had a lot of experience with it. This one is free and it’s close to Word. You can do nearly everything with it from what I’ve heard about it, but I have yet to figure out all the tools of the trade with this one.

One more option is using something like Google Drive and have the document private so no one but those you invite can see it. I always have an issue with this because if you’re anything like me, you use someone’s computer and then forget to log out and low and behold, you’ve left your Facebook up and they’re making a rather embarrassing post about it, but not only that, but you’ve left your book up to which point, they can edit it and save it to mess you up and there’s nothing that you can do about it.

The very last option that I can even hink about is using something like Notepad to write, though that is something that I don’t suggest at all. No publisher that I know deals with Notepad files and there is no way to set up indents, formatting structure, centering things and so much more. As an editor, I wouldn’t accept a Notepad document either only because it is so difficult to work with.

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Now, I’m sure that there are other options, but there will always be good ones and bad ones. This is just in order from what I would personally advise using versus ones that I wouldn’t advise using at all. Hopefully this list helps you with your decision of program use! Let me know in the comments which one you use and why!

Mind of Their Own

The one thing we all hate is when we’re writing and we think that we’re in control, but we’re not. The characters speak and they do their own thing – turning your story upside down and changing your plot.

My best advice when this happens is to let them – Listen to your characters and don’t fight them. Them changing your story might be for the better and when you’re not fighting with your characters, the words flow better. Changing your story to what your characters want could very well be just what your story needs. Remember, you created these characters – they’re your babies and like any baby, they do grow up and they decide that they want to make decisions for themselves.

BUT if you don’t want to listen to them,  not all hope is lost. You can still keep to your original plan and to do so, I would take a step back from your story for a day or two and start planning chapter by chapter for your book. Plan everything, the conversations, details, scenes, all to make sure that things stay the way you want. This is something that I don’t advise as your characters will push back (trust me, it’s happened to me) and it will make writing 10 times harder than it already is.

Using Emotions in Writing

So, the past week, there was something that happened that made things a little hard on not only me, but others around me. My step-mother’s father passed away and he was like a grandfather to me. It was hard seeing her, her children, and everyone else that knew him upset over it and trying hard to stay strong. At the funeral, there were many tears for a much loved man.

I will admit that since the funeral, I have been having a LOT of bad days, getting cross with people, having little patience, and even making so many mistakes at work. On top of all of that, I haven’t written nearly as much as I would have liked to. I felt like I was blocked and the words just weren’t flowing as easily as they had been before.

But it’s been more than that and I know what I need to do to move past this mental block that I have put on myself and that’s use my emotions and pour them into my writing – no matter what. I need to get the reader to feel what I am feeling and if I can do that, I consider it the only job that I have as a writer for what are we if not artists that use words? And how can we call ourselves writers if we cannot accomplish the one job that we set out to do.

We need to set out and put our emotions in our writing. If we feel like crying, make the piece sorrowful and give the reader something to cry about! Make them swell up with tears and sniffle. Make them want to burst into laughter until their sides hurt or make them hate another character more than anything else for their actions! SHOW EVERYTHING and using this method will make you a better author in the end. Details are everything to a reader, especially when it means that they feel it too.

I know that I have been bad at posting on this blog lately and I am sorry for that. I could make promises on how I will be better, but lately, I don’t know how it will turn out. I know that I will be posting some book reviews soon and go from there. I’m hoping that I can get some requests in for advice to post on here, but I haven’t as of yet. I will ask around and get a new list of fresh topics to write about and hopefully get back to posting a few posts a week for you guys!

I can only thank you all for being so patient with me!

Being Weird

Well, o get asked constantly how I come up with my ideas and I get stumped on this question constantly. I don’t know what to say to get them satisfied other than they just come to me. Some might be dreams and whatnot, but others just randomly pop into my head.

Now the other thing is that I believe being weird helps! Yeah, we’re all weird in our own way, but I put myself with people that make me laugh and get my creativity flowing – people who challenge my thoughts, ideas, and things I believe in – especially my boyfriend. 

When you’re writing, you need to think of everything. If you’re creating a world, don’t forget to mention some of their beliefs and laws and don’t be afraid to make it different than what you personally believe in. There aware no rules to writing, but challenge yourself. It might be hard, but it’s well worth it. 

Don’t be afraid to dance when people are watching. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and write what you don’t know. Above all – don’t be scared to be weird!

FREE FOR ALL!

Here I’m giving YOU the chance to promote yourselves! Comment below with your book links, author pages, and anything else you want promoted and have at it! All comments (unless inappropriate) will be approved and posted!

Faced with Disaster

Okay, so the title is a little misleading as it’s not technically a disaster, but it is for a writer, I guess. Here, I’m faced with a problem.

I love to write and I want to write – ALL THE FREAKING TIME – as I have so many things listede in my “to be written” pile and so not enough time to write them all, but I hate the weather.

Winter weather makes me so sleepy and I hate ice, snow, cold weather, and anything else that has to do with winter. I hate it. It makes me lose my concentration and makes me not want to write or it makes me too tired to write.

Because of this, some of my books are coming along slowly until warmer weather when I can work harder on them, but no worries :3 I will push these books out for you guys so you can read them! Never give up on your writing and stay tuned for more updates!

Getting Back to Writing

So, there have been quite a few things that have pulled me away from writing and blogging more often, but I’m here to tell you that I’m going to try my best to get back to making on blog post a day AND writing a little a day (or at least editing). It’s good for me to get back into that daily routine and it’s good for you guys to read my blog posts and get advice on things.

If you know that you’re not going to be able to write for a while, please at least think about what you want to write about the next time you’re on a computer. It will help you gather your thoughts before you sit down and may even help your fords flow better! I know that it helps me to think about it first. Because of this, I have been able to put 1,000 words onto my work in progress and it’s only 10:15 AM.

I love writing and I love blogging. I love giving new and old authors alike advice on things that they request and I’m thankful for them all. I’m thankful for each and every like they give me and I’m thankful that I can help anyone. That’s my only goal here – to help and inspire – and as long as I do that, I feel like my mission is accomplished. I will be more than happy to get back to it!

Please expect more posts on authors, books, and messages from some of my favorite authors and people who support me. All over promotions can be requested in the Promotion Request tab at the top menu!

Thank you!

Will I Ever Be Ready

In one of my groups, someone asked me a simple question that had me thinking back to when I published my first book. Samantha asked me,

Did you ever have a hard time feeling like your book was ready to publish? I’ve revised SOOOO many times. I don’t dare send it to the editor yet. I’m waiting on a couple of beta readers.

~ Samantha, Writing Rocks (Facebook Group)

Well, I gave her a reply that was true to myself and something that I feel the need to share with more people as I believe this question is asked a lot.

Yes. I always had a hard time hitting that publish button, putting my new book out there for the option of millions of people able to buy it and read it and judge and criticize not only the book, but me too. It’s a tough thing to do because that book is like a baby to you (yes, I felt that way too and I feel that way about all of my books). You poured your heart and soul into the book and there will be people who tear it apart.

My advice is to remember that you can’t please everyone. There will be people who absolutely hate your book and then there will be people who are jealous of your success and try to bring you down. With everything, remember that you’re not writing for them. You’re not editing for them. You’re not publishing for them. You’re doing everything for YOU!

You’re the reason things have gotten this far and I’m sure we all have people to thank for words of encouragement when we feel like we’re not doing things right, but that’s all a part of the process. I did go through this moment of doubt before I put my books up, thinking that they weren’t ready, but don’t let that hold you back! As an author who has been published for three years, I still feel like some of my books aren’t ready, but there are people who love them and think that they’re amazing.

The thing is, as authors, we learn as we go. We grow with each letter that we type, each idea that pops into our head and we have to write them down or the characters scream at us, building the story up in our minds until our fingers eventually glide over the keyboard as we tell their story (and if you think we have any control over our characters, think again)! As time passes and your book is out there, you can always go back and add to it and make it something that grows with you. Make it so that people see your progress.

Just remember that writing and publishing a book is all about YOU – not anyone else.

Formatting (Ebook Only)

Since I use the blog here more as an advice column for writers, I opened post subjects up and one that was strongly requested was how to format for ebook. To me, it’s one of the easiest things to do, but I guess as I’ve formatted all eight of my books for paperback and ebook, I’ve come to learn how to do it in my sleep.

First, I know you would love to keep all your fancy fonts and maybe you have the chapter headings and title and everything in some font that is cursive and pretty or something amazing that you think defines your book, but when it’s converted to an ebook, none of those fonts hold. They’re all in the plainest fonts you can think of.

– Times New Roman

When I’m formatting an ebook, the first thing I do is CTRL+A and put the entire book in Times New Roman and 12 pt font. This is only because everywhere will convert it anyway and it just makes it easier to read and to distinguish.

– Page Breaks

After the fonts are all the same, I go through and put page breaks at the section dividers. The title and author name should be on it’s on page (page break), the copyright page (page break), dedications (page break), table of contents (page break), and then your chapters start. EACH CHAPTER SHOULD START ON A NEW PAGE! Put a page break at the end of them! This is to guarantee that on the ereader, each chapter starts on a new page.

– Font Sizes

After the above is done, I go through and work on font sizes. I increase and maybe bold the title and author name. I put the copyright page at either 10 pt or 11 pt. I put the “Table of Contents” header at a bold and bigger font (size is ultimately a personal choice, but remember the number)! I then go through and put the chapter headings in the same size and possibly bold and that takes care of your font sizes.

– Spacing

Spacing is next and this is mainly something I do so it looks neat and polished. I put a little bit of space (empty lines) between the chapter headings and the first paragraph of that chapter. Again, this is just something that is a personal choice, especially if you’re OCD like me.

– Indents

I went through this, assuming that you already had indents. If you don’t, it’s the perfect time to insert them. Go back up to chapter one and start at the very first paragraph. Click and hold your left mouse button and highlight just the paragraph. of the first chapter, setting their indents at either 0.25 or 0.5 (again, persnal preference). And do this for each chapter.


 

At the end, you can add a list of your other books, an author photo, bio, an excerpt of another book (put that in the same format as above though), and anything else that you want. Because Amazon changes the page size to fit ereaders, your page size doesn’t matter.

Everything above for formatting is ONLY for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Draft2Digital, and places like that. IT IS NOT FOR SMASHWORDS! That formatting is more complicated. I know how to format for Smashwords, but I don’t use that site personally.

For Paperback formatting, I would recommend Hearts on Fire Editing.

 

 

Authors Against Bullying

I know, I know! I’ve been so bad as I’ve been gone again – FOUR DAYS! But I caught something that made me sick and dizzy and eww!

Well, today, besides sleeping and noming on chicken stew, I pulled together with Kate Marie Robbins and Zara Elise Thelms and pulled together the next TWO Authors Against Bullying anthologies! One will be on bullying, but we are also expanding and partnering with another author to bring awareness to another cause – Human Trafficking.

Attached, I have both promo banners for the anthologies and I am proud of all we have achieved with AAB. Our first volume  went as far as #13 in its category! I’m so thankful for all the hard work and dedication people have put into the anthology and while Volume Two is now with our publisher, I hope to see more people participating and sharing the cause!

AAB

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Fun Horror Excerpt – Title Needed

So, I did a quick write of about 1,000 words and I’m still not sure where this is going, but there were some people who said that they wanted me to write a little horror included and I hope this either satisfies them for now or leaves them begging for more! I definitely liked stepping out of my comfort zone with even this little bit 🙂


 

Prologue

The rain fell in sheets, the sound of it hitting the pavement and the few ice droplets that were present bounced off. The wind whipped the woman’s hair in every direction, her long, black locks making it nearly impossible to see as thunder sounded and lightening lit up the area. She was waiting for someone that was already late.

Glancing at her watch, she sighed. There was nothing that she could really do to get him here faster, except for the one thing she didn’t want to do. Reaching up, she tied her hair up and waiting as the rain soaked through her tight black jeans, loose black shirt and zipped black jacket. The cloak that was billowing around her was just for appearances as she needed to show who she represented, not that the dark gray seal was visible in the light that was present.

Glancing around, she took in the bridge that she was standing nearby. Wanting to be seen and to have her visitor realize she was alone, she resisted stepping under its safety from the storm. There was a small stream that was running below the bridge that she was standing on the edge of the water. Looking up the small hill towards the edges of the road to her left, she could barely see the outline of her black Bentley sitting next to the guard rail.

With everything that was going on, she knew that the deal needed to be made and it needed to be made quickly. That was why they had sent her. That is why she was now standing in the rain, waiting on him to arrive. Time ticked by slowly as the wind picked up even more, the trees in the distance shifting their weight as they were moved. Once she heard the footsteps behind her, she sighed.

“You’re late,” she spoke quietly, knowing that he would hear her anyway, having exceptional hearing. “You were supposed to be here an hour ago. For the one calling all the shots, you’re not doing a great job.”

She turned around and only saw his shadow, but she knew that would be all that she saw. It had happened before the last time he had threatened all the peace between all the races and all the people, and everyone had bought it. Everyone had essentially, everyone had bowed down and given him what he wanted in return. Now he was back and the woman was stubborn – part of the reason her people had sent her. She wouldn’t bow down for anything.

“Doesn’t matter, does it?” His voice was soft and velvety, something that she could easily see herself begging to hear more of if it was a different situation. She cocked her head and narrowed her eyes, trying to catch a glimpse at his face, but it was useless. The dark hid him well, even if she had extraordinary sight. “Did you bring the stuff?”

She waited before replying because a part of her was scared. She was young and had her entire life ahead of her, but it could all disappear if she told him no. She didn’t have the drug.

“Damnit!” he cursed as he turned ad started walking away from her. When he turned back, it was clear that he was furious. Rushing up to her, he grabbed her shoulders quickly, pushing her against one of the pillars that held up the bridge. As he did so, his own cloak fell, exposing his decomposing face, the flesh slowly peeling off of it, bone and blood present and oozing from different wounds. “I don’t think you understand the severity of it. I need the drug. I need it to survive and if I don’t have it…”

He paused, leaving the woman anticipating the next part of the sentence. It was a good thing that she wasn’t squeamish as she would have shied away, but she didn’t. In fact, she couldn’t tear her eyes away from it. There was a piece right above his eye that was hanging down, brown and clotting blood where it use to be. A part of her wanted to reach up and tear the rest of it off for him, but she doubted that he would appreciate that very much.

“What will happen?” she questioned as she tried to push him back. It was useless though as he pulled her away and then slammed her back against the stone again. She winced as the pain shot up her back, but she tried not to show it on her face.

“What will happen is that this… this disease will be spread and that’s not what you want, is it? Think about it. All the races will be faced with this disease, this affliction and you would have an outbreak on your hands. Is that really what the Elders want?”

He took a step back from her and paced, but she was frightened, keeping against the stone, just in case he decided to attack. She was sure he didn’t know, but she had a dagger strapped beneath her cloak, one with an intricate design on it. It was made especially for her as the hilt was made of gold and the blade was made of the purest sapphire, formed into an unbreakable blade that made the smoothest of cuts.

“You don’t understand what you’re doing, keeping the drug locked up the way that you do…”

“It’s not my call,” she started to reply, but again, he spun around and slithered up to her quickly. She could feel his rancid breath against her cheek and the ooze of the blood as his cheek touched hers as he whispered in her ear.

“That’s where you’re wrong, dear.” Okay, maybe she was starting to feel a little nauseated from everything, holding back the vile that was rising in her throat. “The people control the Elders, just remember that.”

Stepping back, he raised his hands as his eyes bore into hers. “I will give you one week and not a second longer to get me what I need or else. My dearest Ophelia Moriarty.”

Her eyes grew wide as her name slithered off of his tongue. For a moment, there was something in the air, something that wanted her to retreat and find the Elders, telling them everything that had transpired, but the other part left her intrigued as to how he had known it was her.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t figure it out, Princess?” Princess was all but spat out as he rolled his eyes, stepping towards her again. “Turn their heads,” he whispered before he walked past her and back under the bridge.

“And if I can’t convince them?” she called out, thinking that he was already gone. His reply came, quietly and barely audible, but still it was there.

“Then the countless deaths from the affliction will be your problem, not mine.”

(C) Bree Vanderland 2015

Working, Working, Working…

So, I would say that unless you’re a big time author who has been on the bestsellers list multiple times, you probably have a day job and when you get home, writing or editing, or formatting is the LAST thing that is on your mind. If you’re anything like me, sleep is the first thing you want to do – either that or eat.

Well, I can say that I’ve been there, I am right now, and it does suck. It gets in the way of everything – seriously, it’s like a cat, especially mine, who always like to sleep on my laptop whenever I want to write or something like that. But I can’t because there’s so much that I need to do for other things, other than writing.

So, my opinion is to keep your head up. If writing is what you want to do, then wait it out. When you right, well, before you write – gather your thoughts so you can crank out as many words as you can!

Setting a To-Do List

So, sometimes it seems that things are awry and you just don’t know where to begin. For example, today, I had a lot to do and it was all over the place. I needed to call work, call Verizon, format Dance with Darkness, get that book cover finished and so much more. What really helped me today was setting a To Do list. It helped me stay organized. I had a main list and then a more detailed list. Well, here’s how my day went –

First, I needed to call Verizon about something personal to do with our bill (not that you care much about all that) and then I needed to call work to confirm the next day I work and everything like that. After that was taken care of, I began working on my book things!

Well, for me it was pretty simple today, it was just tedious work like formatting a paperback book – making sure the images were perfect that I inserted (see the image below) and then getting an e-book formatted for it and uploading it onto many different sites. I did make a list, only so I wouldn’t lose my head, even though a list for this wasn’t really needed.

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Now, while I didn’t necessarily need a list, I still made one, only to keep everything organized. I would highly recommend keeping this in practice for the future for anyone and everyone who has a list of things they need to do for their books! It’s definitely by far the best solution I have tried.