Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lessons in Cover Design by Cover Your Dreams Designs

Today, I get a lesson on making book covers! I can't wait. Here's Cover Your Dreams Designs with a ton of good advice.

One of the things that should set science fiction, fantasy and paranormal (SFFP) books apart is their cover. I often see SFFP covers that don't give any indication of the SFFP content inside. So how DOES a cover say SFFP?

First and foremost a cover should reflect, evoke or allude to the content inside, but that in itself is not enough. The cover also needs to include elements that reflect their particular genre. This is especially important for indie authors and/or new authors. Not everyone is Philip K Dick so not everyone can rely on such a minimalist cover to sell their book.

The above cover could be almost any genre, including a math textbook.

Here are some elements that help evoke genre.

Stars and space - mainly they work for science fiction/space travel but they can also work in some fantasy or paranormal novels

Mist  - a mainstay of urban paranormal, also might have a place in high fantasy or sci-fiction

Flares - can be used in any of these genres. They are particularly useful in highlighting the title treatment but can also take the place of fairies or other magical creatures.

Magical creatures - obviously only relevant if the BOOK has magical creatures!

Manipulated coloring - can work on any SFFP genre.

Leather!  - a mainstay of the Urban Fantasy or Urban Paranormal genre (see also above cover!)

Specialized weapons - relevant to all SFFP genres

For indie authors, the final consideration is whether a cover look can be replicated. Most of us rely on series and serials, companion books and free shorts or novella to help drive traffic to our new books. For his reason we need to make sure the cover design we choose will fit into a strong series concept. Several of these above are part of series. Here are a couple more:

All of the covers above were designed for indie clients and publishers by Cover Your Dreams Designs. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Alternatives to Earth Liza goes searching for options to Earth.

If Earth is dead set upon killing us, where can we go? Right off the bat, I'm thinking the space flower doesn't look welcoming, however, look at all those stars. Surely, one of them has to be friendly.

Let's first look local. There's Mars.

Only Mars is already populated with an ever growing population of robots. 

And there's also the little issue that it is a wee bit too close to the Sun.

So let's move on to Saturn.
Now it's got a bunch of moons, one of which is Titan. It's 40% bigger than our moon, and is the second largest of Saturn's moons.

It's fuzzy because it has way too much nitrogen.
If we go here, we'd have to bring a really good heater, a means of making oxygen, and get a real sturdy glass window so we can enjoy the oceans of methane. 

Otherwise, it's looks much like Earth, without people, plants, and other living things.

I have the covers for my books if we go to Titan.
But thus far,
my people struggle just to come up with ways for us to have any chance of living there.

To be honest, it would probably be easier to try and unthaw Earth after Global Warming tosses it into a deep freeze.

Now we do have the option of successfully creating a space ship that can operate out of normal space and thus avoid the Traffic Cop that insists we cannot drive faster than the speed of light. 

NASA scientist Sonny White now heads a project trying to wrap space time around a ship so that it can travel outside of the physics of space. Particles  have proven to be able to do this, so why not a really big particle, like a spaceship?

I've written about him several times:
Here's my first blog about Sonny White.
Since that article, he appears to have been promoted from his table experiment and now is trying to seriously wrap spacetime around a ship.

Thus, in my upcoming Sci Fi Series, he succeeds, allowing us to actually travel to all those cute planets that astronomers believe may be earthlike.

To get to any of them, we will need to travel faster than light. 
You'll note on the cover is a spaceship outside of normal space. While the ship is in non-space, the bright shimmering is caused by the natural friction the space warp being both in and outside of space simultaneously. 

This allows a ship to move from one empty space to another empty space instantaneously. Then they will enter space and fly less than the speed of light to the planet. This works rather like an instantaneous worm hole travel.   

A mere nine months later, traveling far beyond the speed of light, we arrive at a planet that appears to be beautiful and earth-like.
My colonists are the first humans on the planet. Some geek and his powerful telescope decided it was earthlike so they sent a colony here. And in some ways it is like Earth. Thus, the colonists named it Terranue. There are edible fish in the river, but see that blue bull on the cover? That's Blue, and he is the king of this planet. Somehow he had gotten stuck on Earth until recently, but he's home now and graciously will allow the humans to join his people. 

There are a few men among the colonist that think bulls should be eaten rather than be colonists. What I learned from this book is that there is no reason to expect life to be the same, even if the planets are similar. In fact, On Terranue, the animals the colonists brought with them are getting smarter everyday. Sadly, the same cannot be said for many of the colonists.

In Sojourn, things get stranger and I focus on how different entities can live on the same land, yet be oblivious of each other because they operate in different dimensions.  It's rather like the way the light spectrum can transmit a multitude of data, with no channel interfering with the the other.

Then I explain the underlying  multiverses that operate in a similar matter, and how one young water boy discovers how to alter the future. Also, you get to actually met the Gods in Drogan.

So stay tune, and sometime this year I'll publish the lot of them.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ella Clouse & Stealing the Wolf Prince

Today, I have Elle Clouse and Stealing the Wolf Prince.

First off, let me say, what a beautiful cover.
Let's check out the book.

What harm could come from impersonating royalty? 

After years on the road conning wealthy nobles out of their gold, Kiera is ready to give up her life of crime and return to her childhood home of Cearbhall. She’s got one last job in mind, one that will see her set for life. What harm could come from impersonating a country princess to marry a prince and live wealthily ever after? Except her childhood home is nothing like she remembered. The king has gone senile, his younger sons rule with terror, and the crown prince is missing. The prince she’s to wed is only interested in siring an heir, and her future brother-in-law wants to get into her skirts. Deciding the grifter’s life wasn’t so bad after all, Kiera plots her escape. Before she can steal away, she’s discovered and thrown into the dungeon with a crazed wolfborn to die. 

Lachlan never thought that he'd see his childhood sweetheart once his wolfborn affliction set in. Nor did he expect to ever see daylight. Imprisoned in the dungeon since adolescence, his brothers have usurped the throne and trail evil in their wake. When Kiera lands in the dungeon with him, he recovers his will to put things right. Kiera may not remember him, but he remembers her, and Lachlan vows to save her from his brothers and their schemes. 

Except: Kiera wields a power unlike any other, and she doesn’t need saving. But the people of Cearbhall do. As Kiera and Lachlan fight the evil princes, they uncover a greater magic in the world around them, and a powerful magic between them that can’t be denied...

Kiera turned the ivory crank on the side of the massive oak bookshelf. The mechanism within propelled the shelf along a track in the floor, opening an aisle between the bookcases for her. 

She pulled her notes out of her apron pocket, verified that she had accessed the correct aisle of the law section, and edged sideways down the temporary corridor. Her lantern only illuminated a few feet before all was lost to shadow. The old tomes were dust-covered and occasionally misfiled, but she found what she was looking for without having to traverse the entire aisle.

She had selected a book of local history she hoped would shed light on the archaic laws that still prohibited the study of magic by the masses. Hopefully, it might hold the key to instigating some changes in current restrictions on magic practice. Kiera focused on the printed letters on the book cover as she emerged from the aisle.

When she looked up to see a man standing in front of her, she nearly dropped the book. “Good gods!” she cried. One hand went to her heart as if it might jump out of her chest. “You shouldn’t sneak up on me like that, Brogan. You know I hate it.”
Brogan’s smirk was that of a man who had accomplished something phenomenal. “It’s hard to resist when you make it so easy to do so, dear cousin.”

Kiera took a deep breath to calm herself and resisted the urge to hit him. “Have a nice trip back?”

He waved her polite conversation away and motioned to a small troupe of people standing at the massive library’s rear entrance. “It’s time to celebrate, Kiera. I’m back with money in my pocket.”

Kiera recognized all of Brogan’s companions. Friends, he called them. Wastrels, she privately thought. She fixed him with a hard glare.
He tried to distract her with a dashing smile, which might have worked if she wasn’t his cousin and didn’t know all his tricks. “You don’t have to be holed up here all night every night, you know. Phelan likes your company a lot…”

“I happen to like the library,” Kiera said, knowing where the conversation was headed. “And this is the only time I can get in here without constantly getting interrupted or harassed. Besides, we have creditors to pay. You shouldn’t be wasting any money at the bar or gambling with your friends. Where will they be when you’re penniless again?”

Brogan grimaced, but Kiera knew she was right. His friends disappeared as soon as the coin ran out, but old habits died hard. He had been raised by a man who had squandered everything as soon as he had earned it and had passed his vices on to Brogan. She glanced back at the tall, gangly Phelan, who was watching both of them—especially Kiera—with great interest. She didn’t care that her wild, red locks were tied under a bandana and her smock was covered in dust. This was her domain, and she wasn’t going to feel self-conscious about her state of dress just because of him.

The two women beside Phelan didn’t seem impressed with the library at all and resembled deer ready to bolt at the slightest sound. Erann was looking at her surroundings with disgust, and the ever-bubbly Brigid somehow managed to bounce even though she was standing still.

Brogan waved a hand to encompass the shelves and their stacks of books. “What about all this? There’s no benefit in staying up until the wee hours of the morning in this dusty old library.”

“I’m on a mission. All people should have the right to study magic, not just the select nobility.” Kiera waved a finger at him.

“Yes, yes, yes.” Brogan rolled his eyes. “I know; we’ve been over this. If you get caught, you’ll get thrown in jail faster than we would from any of our cons.”

She scowled. “But you said we wouldn’t have to do this for very long, and here it is years later. I’m
still stuck in a dark library while you're out spending what earnings we make before we can save any of it! Before the rent is paid!”

Brogan cringed. “Now, there's no need for that…”

“Yes, there is.” She lowered her voice so the others couldn’t hear her. “You’ve made promises, both to me and to the creditors. Neither of us have seen a cent. All I can do is berate you, but I’m sure the debt collectors can extract more than just a bruised ego.”

Brogan flinched at that last reminder.

“When is the last con, Brogan? Or am I going to have to start looking up distant relatives to take me in?”

Brogan frowned. “I don’t know,” he mumbled so quietly Kiera almost didn’t hear. “If we find the right mark…”

Now it was Kiera’s turn to roll her eyes. That was a phrase she’d heard before.

“We should go for someone higher up than these merchants.” His eyes lit up. “Someone like royalty.”

“What? Going after royalty is too dangerous. You can fool a crooked merchant out of some money, sure, but if you get the wrong family against you, it’s all over.”

“But why not hit one of the outlying kingdoms? On the borderlands or the outskirts?” Brogan started to pace, smoothing a hand over his chin stubble. “One that doesn’t have ties to the inner royal families in the empire. One that has a lot of wealth but is still small.”

Kiera forced herself to remain perfectly still. There was only one such kingdom, and she hoped he wouldn't remember its name.

“Cearbhall?” Brogan smiled. “That’s what it was called, that little place where you grew up. Cearbhall would be perfect for an endeavor like that.” Brogan's gaze grew unfocused as he stared past her into the darkness of the library. He seemed to have forgotten that Kiera was in the room.

She gave a loud ahem to get his attention again.

“Right, Cearbhall.” He clapped his hands together. “You know what to do.”

Kiera folded her arms across her chest. “I don’t want you to go there and swindle those people out of anything. They are good people, and they don’t deserve a visit from you.”

A crooked smile tilted his lips. “Well, seeing as I’m the only one able to support this little twisted family we have here, I don’t see that you have much of a choice. I want a plan by tomorrow night. Have fun.”

“Are you scheming again?” Erann shouted from the door. She stood with her hands on her hips,
glaring in their direction, tapping her foot impatiently against the floor. “We haven’t even spent the profit from Lord Blackling’s folly, and you're already planning another job?”

“Come on, Mr. Fletcher, let’s go celebrate.” Brigid waved Kiera and Brogan both toward the exit.

“Kiera?” Brogan held out a hand.

Kiera shook her head. “You go ahead. I have some more work to do here.”

“Suit yourself.” He spun on his feet and sauntered back toward his friends. “I’m feeling lucky. Anyone up for a game of Twenty-one at Hit the Deck?” He draped an arm over Brigid and Erann’s shoulders and steered them out of the library. 
Phelan lingered only a moment, then left as well.

Reluctantly, Kiera headed down the aisle to put back the book she had just retrieved. Her private research would have to be put on hold for now in favor of finding information about the royal family of Cearbhall. She was pretty sure she remembered some of the histories, but she would need help to fill in the blanks. It was going to be another long night of research, notes, and black tea.

Liza: Wow! This sounds really good!

Elle has been writing fantasy and science fiction romance for years and an avid participant in the NaNoWriMo. 
Elle is happily married to a martial arts instructor, a mother of two small boys, and constantly talking her husband out of adopting a new pet.  She knits and stamps in her spare time as well as feeds a latte addiction.                   

Author Website:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Liza interview A'yen from The King's Mistress by Rachel Leigh Smith

Today, we have the character A'Yen from The King's Mistress for an interrogation...I mean interview.

A’yen: Wait. Where am I? Rachel, did you send me back to Liza the nut?

Rachel: I did. But it’s okay! Promise.

A’yen: I’m not sure I believe you… You always tell me it’s going to work out okay then put me through the ringer and leave me half-dead. This time you let me get shot! And you made Fae mad at me.

Rachel: If things get out of hand, tell Ro to melt her brain.

Liza: What? Hold on!

A’yen: I guess that’ll do. All right, Liza. I’ll play along. But my bodyguard is watching you! And his morals are questionable on a good day.

Liza: Great! Let's start out with something non-lethal to me. Do you like it you job?

A’yen: I’m a holographic cartographer. Computers are great, but they can only do so much. I love it. I also found out I’m destined to be king. Not so keen on that one, but I don’t have much choice.

To quote my dad about it, being a slave isn’t my identity. It’s my status. I don’t let people push me around and I’m not afraid to make waves. Though in this book, The King’s Mistress, I have to re-learn the lesson about the importance of being myself at all times.

Liza: Do you have someone you like?

A’yen: Yeah. I like her so much I married her. Love her, in fact. I’d give my life for her.

Liza: Tell me more about her...for example, her name.

A’yen: She’s an archaeologist. She grew up hearing the stories of my people and believed with all her heart they were real. So she decided to prove it. She found our homeworld, and now we’re fighting to get it back. To find out how she found it you’ll have to read our first book, My Name Is A’yen.

She’s my other half and perfect match. Her name, Farran, means adventurous, and it’s exactly who and what she is. I wouldn’t change anything about her.

Liza: If you could change the universe what would you alter?

A’yen: I’d go back and stop the Marcasians from enslaving us. No one should have the power to enslave a whole species, let alone be allowed to get away with it. It’d also make my life a hell of a lot easier and mean I’d have had a whole family growing up.

A family is what I’ve always wanted, and I’ll do anything to keep them safe.

Liza: What is your purpose or goal in life?

A’yen: Before The King’s Mistress it was to keep my owner safe. Now my purpose is to lead my people into freedom and do the hard work of making sure we don’t lose it again.

My personal goal is to have as many kids as possible and make sure they never have to wonder who their dad is and if he loves them.

Liza: What is the stupidest thing your author has made you do?

A’yen: I could almost write a book about that. But the one that stands out the most is when I broke just about every slave law in existence in the Marcasian Empire. I made eye contact with the emperor, which was forbidden.

I also once told a territorial governor’s wife to get her hands out of my pants and off my ass or I was going to break her fingers. In my defense, I didn’t know she was the governor’s wife. But it wouldn’t have changed my reaction. Nobody touches me without my permission.

My best friend still laughs at me about it. Not with me. At me. What else are best friends for?

Liza: What's the best thing your author made you do?

A’yen: Trust Fae. She’s the other half of my soul. She helped me heal from the worst year of my life and made me believe I could love again.

My author also gave me Ro. Being around him makes me feel like a shining example of a whole person. I do better when I have someone to protect and care about. He may be my bodyguard, but he also needs me as a person. He’s had a lot happen to him, and none of it’s good.

Liza: What’s the worst thing your author made you do?

A’yen: Did she tell you to ask this? I bet she did. On that basis I refuse to answer. Read the books.

Rachel: Play nice, A’yen, or I’ll write you into REAL trouble.

A’yen: I’m a king. You can’t tell me what to do.

Rachel: **sigh** If only the statement wasn’t so true…

Liza: Let's try this...What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to your author?

A’yen: Ha! Now I can get you back, Rachel. I had to argue with her to convince her she was spelling my name wrong. We went round and round for an hour about it. I won.

Liza: I don't envy you, Rachel. This character is a handful.  

A'yen, can you tell us about the new book in your series, The King’s Mistress.

Freedom has a cost. Can A’yen pay it without losing his soul? 

(A’yen: Talking about myself in third person is weird, just so you know. One could question your sanity for making me do it.)

Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king. A’yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But he's not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. And his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A'yen fears for the young man's sanity.

Upon returning to Titan, A'yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he'll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he'll live long enough to do it.

With A'yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.

Separated by light years, A'yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.

A'yen: Here’s an excerpt, with a glimpse at one of the new characters.

A’yen motioned toward the kitchen. “Thirsty?”

Ro nodded again. Followed him through the hall. A’yen made another mug of tea and started more coffee for Fae. Ro looked around the kitchen and moved to stand with his back to the wall. The way he walked, the way he hugged himself, the way he didn’t take his jacket off, all screamed his fear. Fear A’yen didn’t understand. “What do you want to drink?” He paused at the cabinet holding all the glasses and mugs and removed a tall glass. “Name it and Fae probably has it stashed somewhere.”

Just water.”

A’yen quirked an eyebrow. “Do you want anything in it?”

Ro bit his lip. Released his death grip on himself. “Strawberries?”

Crushed, sliced, or whole?” A’yen moved to the cooling unit and pulled open the drawer Fae kept filled with berries of all kinds, one of her favorite snacks.


Sure.” He grabbed a handful of berries, closed the door, dropped the berries in the glass, and crushed them with a spoon. Filled it with cool water and gave it to Ro. He took it without touching A’yen’s fingers and took a long sip from it.

The corners of Ro’s mouth twitched. “Thanks.” He left the wall for the puddle of sunshine by the table, set his glass down, and removed his jacket. Long sleeves hid his markings, until he rolled them up to his elbows. Dark blue braided lines with points resembling thorns. Fitting, since they caused so much pain.

The coffee finished. A’yen pulled the carafe out to pour a cup for Fae. He’d never developed a taste for it, but the scent was nice. He twisted the lid off. A second later Ro’s glass shattered on the floor. Ro backed into the nearest corner, eyes wide and chest heaving, hands in fists and trembling from head to toe.

A’yen abandoned the carafe and went to Ro. Something about the look in his eyes said he wasn’t seeing Fae’s kitchen. He brushed his hand down Ro’s arm. Ro tensed. “Don’t touch me.” He shoved past A’yen and ran. A second later feet pounded up the stairs.

Where to buy The King’s Mistress:

About Rachel:

Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn't often, she's hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging...

She's a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. She blogs sporadically at, hangs out on Facebook at, and can sometimes be found on You can sign up for her newsletter here.