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Making Cover Magic

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Book covers are not something I used to spend a lot of time thinking about. I generally buy by author and blurb, so before I started self-publishing, it was well outside my wheelhouse. I’m very fortunate that I have a husband who is a graphic designer by trade and is able to do the magic to make my cover ideas happen. I also adore Taria Reed at The Reed Files for finally giving us the type of beautiful diverse images we need.

This is the most recent cover my husband magicked for me. This the image he started with.

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My character wears her hair in braids. So he had to add them.

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She also has a darker complexion, so that had to be changed also.

My male lead actually has chestnut hair.

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This book takes place in Laritrea, which a fictionalized version of the North African country, Libya. So I wanted a background of some Roman ruins.

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Then he did the comic book style that really fits this story to a tee. I’d say, altogether he put in several hours on this cover. And if I told you what his typical going rate is, you’d faint. I’m just very lucky I get free labor from him!

The process is just so very awesome. And he’ll sit there and patiently tweak it until he gives me exactly what I want. Just awesome. Most of the time, the ideas are all mine, but sometimes, he’ll surprise me, like he did for Buttercream.

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Everything about that cover was his idea. I remember getting so annoyed because I had to find photos of the inside of a bakery. What difference does it make? I whined. And, of course, it makes all the difference in the world.

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My only real contribution to this cover was the font for the title. Y’all don’t want to know how long it took me to find that freaking font. I absolutely adore fonts, and will pay a ridiculous amount of money for them. I had to have that B, nothing else would do.

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This cover took him two whole weeks, mainly because he simply wasn’t feeling it, and actually created another cover that he didn’t want to use. It’s hard sometimes because I’m impatient, but he is an artist and if the groove isn’t there it simply not there. It’s not like on his job where he has to produce whether he’s feeling it or not, and I have to remind myself of that all the time.

My guy is amazing and wonderful in so many ways, but I adore him so much for the way he supports and fulfills my dreams, even when I’m being an absolute nag about it.

Empire

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B3A1CWMCMAAZJ-0.jpg-largeNow this is the kind of treatment Taraji P. Henson deserves. (Okay, I wish her costar was pretty much anyone else, but what the hell, I’ll take it.) Saw the billboard for her new show at 285 northbound right before the Lavista exit. Wanted to get a picture, but I was driving. I’m planning to get Whit to take me back down there so I can shoot it properly.

I’m really looking forward to this show, and I know it’s a hit. Yeah, her costar is a jerk, and I loathe hiphop, but at least he’s a talented jerk. And, of course, Taraji is unbelievably awesome. People are still talking about her last role a year after she left!!! And she had no screen time on that show that shall remain nameless. There seems to be lots of opportunities for high-drama and carpet chewing scenes. If they play it right this could be a lot of fun.

And as long as the executive producer doesn’t overindulge in his unfortunate proclivity for torturing black women that should be all good. Hey, show runner, word to the wise, she’s already been to prison, that’s enough pathology porn. Now I want to see a black woman getting her own back. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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As always, it’s up at Smashwords and ARe first. Will probably be up at Amazon and B&N tomorrow, but you can get your formats at either SW or ARe, if you’d rather not wait. Another fabulous photo by the awesome Taria Reed, and a knock your socks off cover design, by my better half. Y’all better have some.

This is my favorite Christmas song. Longfellow wrote this poem in despair over his son going off to fight in the Civil War. Pessimist that I am I sometimes fear that we are on the brink of another Civil War. I pray that Longfellow is right, “God is not dead, nor does He sleep.” But given that “Hate is strong, it mocks this song,” I’m not sure.

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Mala pretty much summed up everything I have to say about the fuckery that is Sleepy Hollow these days. They’re so impressed with their “surprise” fall finale. Gee, they killed the black guy. A trope so common it’s now fodder for every third rate hack out there. And I will never watch another show with a redheaded woman in it. What.the.Fuck is with these writers and the gingers!?! They fucked up Grimm the same way. Hell, they’ve got Katrina in a goddamned corset. Call me crazy, but I would imagine any woman brought two hundred years into the future would drop the corset ASAP. These helpless damsels in distress give me a jock itch. Seriously.

Originally posted on bad necklace: not quite pearls of wisdom:

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“Are we allowed to be here? Should we leave?”

As FOX’s sophomore supernatural hit Sleepy Hollow breaks for midseason, it seems to have taken the “hollow” part of its moniker to heart. The show that surprised and charmed millions of viewers in the fall of 2013 with its combination of solid character work, whimsy and genuinely creepy lore — cinched by the chemistry of leads Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison — has lost its soul in its second year, becoming a rote, tiresome exploration of Crane family pathos.

Looking at an interview with TVLine, it appears that executive producer Mark Goffman may have no idea why that’s a problem. “One of the things I think we’ve looked at over the course of the season is what a really difficult position Katrina’s been in,” he says, going on to talk about how “this season is really about family, redemption and…

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So, I was wasting time over at Tumblr as I’m wont to do, and came across a post about female sexuality. The OP decried the fact that we’ve got tons of colloquial expressions for male arousal, but few if any for the same in females. Indeed, there’s not a word even for the fluid that accumulates in the vagina during female arousal. I was like, oh that can’t be true. I’ve been writing romances for twelve years and reading them for nearly forty. Surely I’ve come across a word for this, and I literally could think of none. Someone mentioned “morning dew” which is similar to the male phrase “morning wood,” but that was about it.

It goes without saying that this is driving me crazy. We can’t own our own sexuality if we don’t even have words for it!

Now I know I’ve got the best readers in the world following my blog, not to mention I’m friends with the most amazing word masters in the English language. So here’s the deal; if you’ve come across good female arousal terms, NOT disgusting ones, like “panty snot” (don’t EVEN ask) post them here.

International Readers

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I’ve been kicking around the idea of having some of my books translated for some time now. Given that it can cost upwards of $5k I doubt it’ll happen, but it’s fun to think about. So, to get an idea of what language I would choose I started looking at the countries of origin for my blog clicks. To my surprise the fourth country after the US, UK and Canada was Bosnia-Herzegovina! What? Then I realized I’ve been talking a lot about trans stuff of late, and that’s probably skewed my results. (Are there a lot of trans folk in Bosnia-Herzegovina? I have no idea.) Anyway, to control for that effect I looked back two years to see my most popular countries. I expected Brazil to rank higher, as Portuguese was one of the top languages I was considering, but Brazil only ranked #10, well after Switzerland and even Korea. I’m assuming that Korea ranks high because of US Service members, but I could be wrong. I’ve been wondering about my appeal to the Swiss for quite some time now. I wish someone from Switzerland would post about the subject. I get a surprising number of hits there. I have to assume they have a high rate of African immigrants, but I don’t know for sure.

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The most interesting factor to me is the fact that I get hits from nearly every country on the globe. Besides Bosnia-Herzegovina, I’m stunned to get so many hits from Saudi Arabia. Of course, I talk about a wide range of subjects here and there’s no way to control for what they clicked on once they came here, but it’s still fascinating to see. I’ll probably still go for Portuguese should I hit the Lotto or something. It has such a large population of black/blackish people, and so many West African countries speak it as well.

What do you think? Should I go for Portuguese, or is there another language you think would be more popular?


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The ancestors walked for nearly two years in Montgomery. We can go four days without spending money. Thanks to the fabulous Monica Mingo for the banner. It’s optimized for Facebook, but I had no trouble using it on Tumblr.

Also, the Ferguson Public Library has PayPal and a button. They’re staying open to support the children in the community that don’t have school. I’m donating this month’s royalty check. Please do what you can. I’ve said this before, libraries literally saved my life and I’ll always stand for them. For my author friends, I don’t see any evidence that they have an ebook collection, but I’m looking into whether they accept book donations. I’ll keep you posted.

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I’ve had a lot of inquiries about the original Pussycat Death Squad book. (And I really appreciate it, because these books really are my heart.) It came down in late summer because I got the rights back from the publisher. You might have noticed, I got the rights back to six books in the past few months and I’ve been working my poor husband like crazy to get new covers done. He works full-time and this is his busy time at work. And, much as he would deny it, the man is an artist. And yeah, (whispering) he has an artistic temperament and since he’s working for free…yeah, I have to take my covers when he gets around to them. He’s working on the new cover and he should have it finished by the end of the week and it’s a beauty! I know I say that every time, but the man just amazes me.

The next Pussycat book is Pussycat in Peril. It’s the third book in the series and is about Astaria, who, if you will recall was the second in command to Lelia in Pussycat Death Squad. Astaria has found herself trapped back in her home country in the middle of an internecine war and must be rescued by her husband. (Her husband? Where the hell did she get one of those? And more importantly, why?) It’s a marriage of convenience story, and those have always been one of my fave romance tropes. It was also strongly influenced by Roberta Gellis’s The Kent Heiress. To the point of, dare I say it? Being FAN FICTION!!! Quelle horreur! Gellis’s story takes place during the French Revolution and I always wanted to do a contemporary story of that nature, but couldn’t really come up with a suitable setting. Then the Arab Spring happened, and voila my imagination was off to the races. (No, I  don’t know why I’m speaking French this morning, but the setting of this story was a former French colony.) I’m loving the heck out of this story, especially since the Arab revolution and the aftermath is still very much in the news.

Astaria, the heroine is of East African lineage, and like all the Pussycats is as lethal as she is gorgeous. As a sniper in the counter-revolutionary forces she has no trouble living up to the “Hot Shot” title Kaeden has given her.  Kaeden Nassir, the hero is just awesome. An Egyptian American Marine from Tennessee he is everything a hero should be; madly in love with the heroine, and prepared to die to protect her. Suffice it to say, it would behoove you to be careful any time he has his precious “Arkansas Toothpick” in his hand. As for the photos at the top of the page, Astaria’s father was an archaeologist excavating Roman ruins in their home country. The pictures are of Roman ruins in Libya and, as I’ve mentioned before, Laritrea is loosely based on that country and activities occurring there. I’m hoping to have it ready in time for a Christmas release.

As always, thank y’all so much for your support. I love writing these stories and it’s still amazing to me that y’all enjoy them as much as I do .

Living Room

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I’ve re-arranged my living room, and now need a new coffee table. I don’t have a sofa in there. I have two recliners facing a chair and a half. We don’t use the living room as a living room. We rather optimistically refer to it as “the library.” (I always say that with a Martha Stewart plummy accent.)  I have my desk in there and it’s where I work. Luke does his homework and we play board games or just sit and talk or read in there too. So which coffee table do you think? The first one is a MCM reproduction and the second is a MCM original. I’m inclined more toward the second because it’s teak and really nice. I think it’s bigger too. The price for either is about the same about $200. Sorry for the crappy picture, but the coffee table would go more or less where the ottoman is now. I’m moving the ottoman to the den. It’s just too heavy when I’ve already got two recliners and a chair and a half.

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