Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Beautiful People Link Up - White Bear's Characters Talk Parents

My guests for the interview are from my current WIP, White Bear, which is a (ready for it?) contemporary inspirational retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun West of the Moon. Willow Aure and Orson Kent are an unlikely pair when it comes to parents. This is bound to be interesting. :)
  1. Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
Willow’s relationship with her parents is good, but complicated. As the surprise fourth child born when the three elders were in their teens, Willow grew up in limbo between being the baby of the family and being treated like an only child. Willow’s mother died of cancer a handful of years before the beginning of White Bear and the memories of her passing still resonate deeply in Willow’s consciousness. Willow’s relationship with her aging father is much closer. When his world fell apart, she was the one to step in to pick up the pieces and try to put him back together again, at the cost of her own life being put on hold.

Orson’s relationship with his parents is complex and contentious. He never knew his mother. His father, a self-centered egotist, has withheld any information about her from him. Even in adulthood, Orson is constrained from finding out more about her because his father threatens to cut off Orson’s contact with his half-sister if Orson tries. No matter what Orson does, he cannot seem to please his father. The two of them have been at odds for as long as Orson remembers. Despite his best attempts at establishing peace, his father refuses to have anything to do with it. Most discussions end up in a yelling match and threats of one form or another.
  1. Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?
Willow’s biological family has been a part of her life since she was born.

Orson keenly feels the lack of a relationship with his mother. He yearns for some connection with the woman who bore him. It is one of his motivations for keeping up his side of the twisted arrangements with his father. He hopes to someday know the truth.
  1. How did their parents meet?
Willow’s met as young adults and dated and married in the usual way. She doesn’t know much more than that.

Orson’s parental story is a mystery.
  1. How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
Willow would be delighted to be compared to her parents since she loves them deeply and admires them.

Orson would be horrified to be compared to his father. He regularly goes out of his way to point out how they are different despite their obvious physical similarities.
  1. What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?
Willow’s parents were getting married and starting a family at about the age that Willow is in the story.

Orson’s father was womanizing, drinking, and well on his way to building a business empire at Orson’s age.
  1. Is there something they adamantly disagree on?
Willow has never understood her parent’s lack of concern over the over animosity shown her by her older sisters. She struggles to understand why they never intervened during the early years when her sisters would gang up on her and attack her with words.

Orson adamantly disagrees with his father on so many things that he struggles to find something they even sort of agree on. It makes for a hard relationship.
  1. What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
Willow was the surprise. Going back to babyhood while raising teens was a struggle for the couple, but they managed with love.

Orson was a thing, someone to be fed, groomed, disciplined, and educated with as little personal oversight as possible. Hard to not feel like one is an inconvenience when treated so.
  1. What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
Willow remembers her father comforting her after falling from her bike. He listened to her worries and concerns with patience and quiet advice.

Orson recalls confronting his father over the identity of his mother when he was ten. It is not a pleasant recollection.
  1. What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
Willow remembers being called a happy baby, content and eager to please. Her sisters complained that she cried too much and cost too much, but they aren’t reliable resources.

Orson doesn’t know what he was like because his nanny from that time period was fired.
  1. Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?
Willow’s parents had a penchant for strange names. They hoped it would be an indicator of her nature and her ability to weather life’s storms like her namesake.

Orson, which means bear, was chosen because it was a variation on his father’s name, Ursa. Also, both men resemble bears in size and appearance.

Sooo.... What do you think?
Want to know more?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Creating a Unique Cover Design

Welcome to Day 3 of Indie eCon 2017! There are a lot of other resources on a wide variety of topics on the blog of our awesome coordinator Kendra E. Ardnek. I also have another post over there today so don't forget to check it out too! :)

By Rachel Rossano

The first key to creating a unique cover design is to focus on your story. Know its genre, characters, themes, and feel. Your book will be different than anything anyone else has ever written because you wrote it. Figure out those differences and make sure they’re expressed in your cover.

The second step, although it might feel like a step backward from originality, is to spend time browsing covers of similar books in your genre. You need to get a feel for the general look readers are going to expect. Your readers should to know the genre of the book almost immediately when they first see your cover. Learning what will work and what won’t is a good starting point, but keep your mind open to the possibility that the design, like your story, might turn out slightly different than planned.

Next, you’ll need to look for a starting place. My first step as a designer, after getting to know my client and their book, is to go looking for an image as a starting place. Browse stock image sites. Whether it’s a character, a setting, a color scheme, or an atmosphere, you need to find a piece of visual inspiration to get you going and an anchor around which to build your cover.

Once you have your inspiration piece selected, it’s time to build the rest of the cover. Use elements that enhance and add to the visual storytelling, but don’t overdo it. Overly crowded covers can be eyesores and could give the wrong expectations of the book inside. Remember, this is going to be your readers’ first impression of your book. You want it to be professional and appealing.

After finding all of your elements, I suggest you assemble them in a rough layout so you can get a feel for how everything is going to work together.

Now, it’s time to play with fonts. Keep it unique, but readable. Legibility is key. Also, the title needs to take up about a third to a fifth of the cover image for it to be visible when the cover is on Amazon and other websites that shrink it down to a thumbnail size for their listings. Also, try to keep the number of fonts down to one or two. Too many will give the cover a sloppy or overdone look. Balance simplicity and detail. Typography is a challenge all its own.

Last of all, tweak the cover to the point of perfection. Clean up the edges and double check color, spelling, and other aspects. Sometimes the tiny nudge of an element can do wonders for the overall appearance.
Once you’re finished with your first draft, I recommend running your cover by a designer and a reader you trust to give you honest feedback. Don’t present it to a committee unless you’re clear on your vision and not easily swayed by highly personalized advice. Listen and evaluate the input before letting the cover sit for a day. Then, if you’re still in love with it, and confident that it will do your book justice, I think you have a winner that’s ready for use.

* The cover used in this article is not finished completely and for demonstration only. If you are interested in it or something similar, contact me.

About the Rachel Rossano
When Rachel Rossano isn't absorbed in writing and publishing books, she designs covers and other art for herself and other authors under the business name Rossano Designs. With over fifteen years of experience in the indie publishing business, she has seen and learned a lot. Always eager to help other authors, she loves talking shop, whether it is writing or design. 

Author Rachel Rossano
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Rossano Designs

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Meeting the Characters of Duty and Honor at Indie eCon

 Guess who I bumped into over at Indie e-Con? Here is how it happened...

I ran across the convention center's main lobby. I was late, a perpetual state I had been fighting to overcome all day. 

Dodging an overenthusiastic lad in a Robin Hood costume who appeared to be wrestling to get the upper hand over his bow and arrow, I just missed being hit by his elbow as he swung around. I scooted between to buxom ladies dressed like Princess Leia. Apparently they had misunderstood the Indie eCon theme. Star Wars definitely didn't qualify as indie. On the other hand, going against the norm was definitely a trait of a good indie author. I was debating whether to attempt the crowded stairs before me or the obstacle course between me and the elevators. Either way I needed to be on the second floor and pronto.

As I debated, a small disturbance behind me made me turn around.

"I told you it was her. Look she even has a name tag." A young woman about my age approached. Dressed as a medieval noblewoman in greens and golds that set off her wildly curling red hair to advantage, she approached me with a smile.

"I imagined her taller." The tall warrior with dark hair and piercing brown eyes behind her assessed me sternly. To be honest, he was only a bit over average, but for a short woman like myself, that was tall. 

“It is definitely her,” the lady declared as she leaned down to read my name tag.

“Who are you?” I asked. I had never been recognized at a convention before and definitely not by costumed guests.

“Hey Tomas!” The tall warrior bellowed and motioned for someone I couldn’t see to join us. An even taller man, also dark of hair approached with a petite brunette more my size on his arm.

“Elsa wanted to check out the book signing tables,” the newcomer explained to the glaring shorter man. “Something about a gift for Constance for watching the children.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” the red head replied.

“Who are you?” I demanded again. I was extremely late now, but I couldn’t help delaying more now. This group looked very familiar and I had a sneaking suspicion I knew them from somewhere.

“Don’t you recognize your own characters?”

The glaring man claimed the petite lady’s arm possessively. Only then did it click. They were Dentin and Elsa.

“About time it sunk in.” The redhead that had to be Brielle laughed.

Tomas stood silently next to her with his arms crossed as though all of this wasn’t his idea, but his almost black gaze followed her every move. It all made sense now.

“Where are Constance and Willard?” It wasn’t the best response, but it was all I had at the moment.

“Watching the children for us,” Elsa explained. “I know we are keeping you, but we just wanted to say hi before we headed back.”

“Can we grab lunch?” I had completely given up on catching my class by then.

“That is a wonderful idea,” Brielle said.

“Where is the best place to get meat pies around here?” Dentin asked.

Elsa poked him in the ribs. “They don’t do meat pies here. Only fruit.”

Dentin didn’t respond, except to wink at me before following the chattering women as they led the way toward the food. Tomas silently offered me his arm and we set off to enjoy the best lunch I ever had.

Who would you like to meet next?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Meeting the Characters of Rhynan Novel #3 - Mercy

Willard Naron and Constance Rendare are the hero and heroine of my current WIP, Mercy: Third Novel of Rhynan. The questions are from February 2017 questionnaire offered by Beautiful People

How and why did they meet?

Willard and Constance first met while traveling from Monmora to the capital city, Caraway. He helped her carry a heavy bin without asking if she wanted help.

What were their first impressions of each other?

Willard stole Constance’s shoe, so it wasn’t exactly love at first sight for her. However, he did give it back along with temporary replacements for her currently holey ones.

Willard, for his part, was struck first by her wildly curly blond hair, but he quickly learned to admired her tenacity.

How would they prove their love for each other?

Willard is plotting to take something of sentimental significance and make it into something beautiful and of long term usefulness.

What would be an ideal date?

Just catching a moment to discuss the future beyond their current situation would be pleasant.

Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

Not yet, but the book isn’t over yet.

List 5 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)

She loves bread, but rarely gets to enjoy freshly baked loaves or rolls. He has a weakness for stew, but otherwise is pretty much amenable to anything.

What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?

Willard knows about the horrors of Constance’s past marriage. Constance completely understands his difficulties with his parents, especially his father.

What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?

Great affection has grown between them, but neither of them have spoken of it yet.

Anything else you would like to know about Willard and Constance?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Savior, Like a Shepherd by Faith Blum

Have you ever wondered what it was like for orphans born in the Wild West? Faith Blum has a new book that explores the life of three orphans born during that time. She’s with us today to tell us a little about her book. Make sure you read to the end to see the super fun giveaway she has going on, too!

About the Book

The ground shook and a rumble sounded through the air as the train squealed to a stop. Maybe, just maybe, I could carry someone’s bags without the porter taking notice. And then there was the even bigger maybe: Maybe I could get enough money to at least buy a crust of bread for Trevor and Tabitha to share.
I hid behind the boxes in the freight yard and kept one eye on the porter, and the other on the second class passenger car. The porter had his attention on the first class car, so I slipped into the gathering crowd.

Titus Hine has always taken care of others. First in protecting his brother and sister from the men his mother entertained. Even more so after her death, when the townspeople refused to help the orphans of a town prostitute. He’s been protector and provider, despite the hardships. He’s learned that no one will help, no one cares and if he wants to survive he’ll have to rely on his own strength not just for himself but his family as well.

Then a stranger shows him the kindness and help no one else seems willing to. Between her kindness and the lecture she gives the Christian Leaders, Titus’s life takes an unexpected turn for the better. With help and provision from the local believers things should be easier, his burdens are lifted. So why does it feel like life is spinning out of control?

Can Titus learn that while man may fail him there is One who will never fail? Can he learn to allow God to be the Shepherd of his life and lead him? Or will life continue to push him every which way?

Note: 50% of my income from this series will go to the World Orphans organization.

Buy now on your favorite eBook platform:

Inspiration and the Hymn Connection

This book was inspired by one short scene in Blessed Assurance when Miss Adelaide Brown meets a boy named Titus Hine and is moved to help him in the short time she will be in town. As I edited the novella, I came up with an idea. I had orphans in quite a few of my stories and more in an unpublished epilogue. Titus’ was the first I had a plot for and also the first in chronological order.

Going into the plotting, I knew a few things about Titus. 1. He was an orphan. 2. He had a brother and sister. 3. He was illegitimate. I plotted a few things out for the story, but most of it came as I went. I'm not really sure where some of the ideas came from, but others I know came from God.

As for the connection to the hymn, I wanted all of my books in this series to have the theme of God leading. Thanks to His leading as I wrote, the hymn, Savior, Like a Shepherd. For Titus’ story perfectly. Titus is truly led by the Shepherd in this book.

About the Author

Faith Blum is a 20-something author of multiple books in various genres. She loves to write, read, play piano, knit, crochet, sew, watch movies, and play games with her family.  She lives in Wisconsin with her family on a small family farm where they raise goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and have 2 dogs and a varying number of cats.

Faith’s goal in her writing is to encourage Christians in their walk with Christ. If you want to know when her latest book comes out, go to her website to sign up for her New Releases Newsletter so you can get an email when her next book in the series comes out. You will also find links to her other Social Media sites on her website. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her.


Faith is generously giving away EIGHT prizes! She has two paperbacks and two eBooks of Savior, Like a Shepherd up for grabs as well as one paperback and three eBooks of her Hymns of the West Novellas: Volume Two. The novella collection contains the novella that inspired her latest series as well as her new novel. Fill out the rafflecopter for the chance to win one of the prizes:

Tour Schedule

Bonus Post from February 10
Petticoats and Pistols – The History of Paint (Note: the giveaway on that post is closed)

February 16
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction
Peggy's Hope 4U- Character Spotlight of Titus

February 17
Leah's Bookshelf- Book Spotlight
Rebekah Lyn Books- Character Spotlight of Tabitha

February 18
Zerina Blossom's Books- Guest Post – About the Town

February 20
Sarah Allerding- Author Interview

February 21
Tara Ellis Author- Book Spotlight
Melanie D. Snitker, Author – Character Spotlight of Trevor

February 22

February 23
Reveries Reviews- Character Spotlight of Titus Hine
Kelsey's Notebook- Guest Post – My Kind of Romance

February 24
With a Joyful Noise- Book Review

February 25
Writing Dreams- Guest Post – Why Orphans?
Zerina Blossom's Books – Book Review

February 27
God's Peculiar Treasure Rae- Character Spotlight of Trevor Hine

February 28
Homeschooled Authors- Author Interview

Rachel Rossano's Words- Guest Post – What’s the Inspiration and song connection?