Fun Friday: 5 Behind-the-Scenes Steps to a Great Book Cover

CoverModel CollageWith more and more authors turning to Indie publishing, there’s so many things an author has to do herself. Cover designing is one of them. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make a great book cover, and how indie author Lora Young tackled the process for her debut novel, Malicious Mischief.

  1. Book a great cover model, or just ask a friend to help out. When author Lora Young asked her friend Kinsey Parker to model for her cover, I bet she never dreamed the pictures would turn out this great.
  2. Rent or borrow some historical costumes. Yes, finally a reason to dress up! Since it’s so hard to find great historical photos, sometimes you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and DIY.
  3. Book a great photographer. Luckily for Lora, her daughter Rebekah Young is a fabulous photographer. I think the railroad track pic is my fav!
  4. Find the perfect location. Need railroad tracks? Go find some. Want a historical building as the backdrop? Find one in your area. Some people are stingy about permission, so always ask if it’s private property. But if it’s a public place and you’re taking the pic, it’s usually fair game.
  5. Hire a fabulous cover designer. Lora found another indie author who is also a great cover designer, Lynette Bonner. Find the right graphic designer for your book genre, or you can try to DIY this, too. Lynnette has a great video tutorial on YouTube you could check out, Indie Cover Design with Photoshop CS6

Those are just a few tips from a (maybe) future book cover designer. You can always use stock photos for book covers, but you lose some originality. That’s why I love Lora’s idea of organizing her own photo shoot with family and friends. Now she’s got original cover models to add flair to the stock photos Lynnette used in her background. Totally brilliant!

Bonus Feature – The Crash at Crush

Here’s a clip about a publicity stunt that went horribly wrong on the MKT Railway, the setting for Lora Young’s Malicious Mischief. Not the best way to dispose of old trains. Though Mr. Crush was the first to try it, unfortunately he wasn’t the last.

Want to Read More about the MKT Railway?

Check out Lora Young’s debut historical romantic suspense/mystery for a story that’s just as dramatic, but not quite so tragic as the Crash at Crush.

MaliciousMischiefFrontFinal6x9Malicious Mischief
Lora Young

Her most annoying trait is the one she needs the most.

Delia Eastman returns home from teachers’ college with two goals: find a teaching position and sidestep her mother’s insistence on finding her a husband. But employers don’t care for women who are smarter than they. Neither do suitors. As she struggles to find her place, she discovers her sleepy riverboat town has turned into a powder-keg of rivalry between the steamships and the railroads.

Increasingly violent vandalism on the railroad brings her face-to-face with Endy Webster, a handsome trainmaster whose investigation into the crimes leads him to the door of a prominent steamship owner—Delia’s father.

As Delia tries to clear her father’s name, she keeps tangling with Endy. He’s intelligent. He’s charming. And he’s guarding secrets. Thinking he might know more than he’s telling, Delia reluctantly agrees to collaborate with him to solve the crimes. With the vandalism becoming deadly, they’ll need every scrap of intelligence and logic to stay alive. Working together may not be their first choice, but it might be their last.

What I’m Reading: Malicious Mischief

MaliciousMischiefFrontFinal6x9Who knew that back in the day “Malicious Mischief” was a serious charge you could be arrested for? Lora Young knew, and she wrote her railway romantic suspense/mystery around this very concept. So here’s my take on Malicious Mischief by Lora Young.

Malicious Mischief is an interesting mix of suspense and mystery, with a bud of romance that grows organically throughout the story. (Don’t be too disappointed like I was at the beginning. Just wait for it, the romantic suspense comes later.)

Delia is not like most heroines, she’s awkward with men and doesn’t wait for them to come to her rescue. She’s perfectly happy to rescue herself, which you’ve got to love about her.

I confess it now—I LOVED the railroad setting. Trains have always fascinated me.

This is story about two worlds colliding, Delia’s dad owns steamer ships and Endy runs the local railroad depot. You also get a feel for the steamer ships that the railway eventually phased out. But the collision of these two worlds is messy, leading from pranks to full on mystery, unfolding with greater and greater suspense.

Somehow the author captures the intrigue of a railroad mystery, couching it in the confines of the everyday lifestyle of the time period. I found the book fascinating, unexpected, and chock-full of twists and realistic characters.

This book is not your typical romantic suspense/mystery. It’s a beautiful hybrid, growing in depth, complexity, and sprinkled with a bit of grit when necessary.

Lora Young

What started out as a secret pastime morphed into a desire to see her creations published. So she studied the writing craft, joined American Chrisitan Fiction Writers (ACFW), went to conferences, entered contests, and sent proposals. And got rejections.The reasons for those rejections were encouraging though. Every one of them said the editor liked the story and liked her writing, but the book market was tight and the publishing house was re-structuring or cutting their fiction line entirely.

So Lora decided to publish independently. Scared but determined, she produced her first indie pubbed book—a devotional entitled. Abiding: 30 Steps Closer. When she’s not writing, Lora enjoys reading, hiking, and ballroom dancing. Most of all she delights in drinking chai tea lattes, and spending time with friends and family.

For more on Lora Young and her books, you can visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Or check out her blog, LoraYoung.com.

Exploring Missouri’s Katy Trail with Author Lora Young

This week I’m honored to host indie author Lora Young as she shares the inspiration behind her debut historical novel, Malicious Mischief.  Her love for Missouri’s Katy Trail led Lora to write a suspensful mystery with a dash of romance centered around the old MKT railway. Lora and her husband Bill love to ride their bikes and have traversed every part of the Katy Trail. Here’s your chance to explore with them.

“Look, another turtle.” Bill slowed his recumbent and moved the turtle off the trail. Sunlight filtered through the canopy as the sound of bicycle tires on chat thrummed in their ears.

“It must be The Day of the Turtle.” Lora laughed at their recurring joke. Every time they rode the Katy Trail in central Missouri, a different species of wildlife came out to welcome them.

“Ready for a break?”

“Sounds good to me. Let’s ride to the next bench.”

They stopped by the bench, Lora reading the marker about the Native American petroglyphs on the bluff behind her. Part of her brain absorbed the information, while another part listened to the “heebie-jeebie” of the tufted titmouse in the tree above, the hum of insect noise, and the rustle of a rabbit as it scurried into the bushes.

Bill seemed fascinated by the fast-moving Missouri River as it rushed past the trail near Rocheport. Two people in a canoe waved as they floated downstream. Wildflowers bloomed purple and yellow between the former rail bed and the river. They reveled in the sights and sounds of summer in Missouri.

The Katy Trail State Park made the list of Best of Rural Missouri’s category for best trail in four out of five regions of rural Missouri. Named after the M-K-T Railway, the Katy Trail is one of 51 state parks in Missouri.

Part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy project, it once bore the weight of many of tons of steel as the trains flew past the bluffs and fields. After the last train finished its run on the Katy in 1986 the work began to join this rail bed to the growing number that were being transformed into hiking and biking trails.

Officially dedicated in 1996, the Katy has seen thousands of visitors of all ages and from all over the country and the world. The flat, wide surface makes it easy for young and old alike to negotiate the trail with few problems.

Like any state park, there are plenty of areas for picnicking, getting some exercise and just enjoying nature. The eastern half of the trail follows state highway 94, making the trailheads especially convenient. Most have running water, places to purchase food and drink and rest areas. All the trailheads have historic information as well as pictures of flora and fauna to watch for along the way.

One of the most common ways to travel the Katy Trail is by bicycle. A few avid cyclists make the 237.6 mile journey, from Clinton to St. Charles, in a single day. Most do not. Others take 6-8 days to ride end-to-end at a more leisurely pace. They either camp along the way or stay in the many wonderful and hospitable bed and breakfasts.

A popular way to accomplish the end-to-end run is to take day-trip-sized bites out of the trail. With the Katy’s flat trail it isn’t difficult to chew through 10-30 miles a day. Several stops on the Not-To-Be-Missed list include:

  • Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast in Rocheport – a schoolhouse turned B&B that retains its charm and grade-school décor. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, the garden area relaxing, and the breakfast is amazing.
  • Iron Horse Hotel and Restaurant in Blackwater – This hotel is not on the Katy Trail, but close enough and fun enough to warrant a place on the list. This is a hotel turned doctor’s office turned hotel. It has a number of comfortable rooms named after rail lines of the past. The restaurant on the lower level of the hotel serves, among other delightful items, the most incredible sweet potato chips.
  • Trailside Café and Bike Shop in Rocheport –Located at the trailhead, they serve burgers and fries as well as other items including an extensive breakfast menu. Right next door bicycles of all kinds are available for rent, from recumbents to tandems.
  • Katfish Katy’s in Huntsdale – Katfish Katy’s is a campground with a camp store that is right on the trail. Be sure to stop here for a cold soda or ice cream.
  • Central Dairy in Jefferson City – Ice cream is always a favorite on a hot summer day, especially after a long ride on the Katy Trail. The prices at the Central Dairy shop can’t be beat; neither can the smooth, rich coolness of their delicious ice cream.
  • Katy Bike Rental in Defiance – Bike repair and accessories as well as rentals are available here. They also have a selection of ice cream and other treats.

The Katy Trail offers a destination that encompasses everything a good vacation needs: outdoor activities, shopping, good food, and relaxation. As an added bonus, it displays Missouri in all her glory.

Read more about the historical MKT Railway in Lora Young’s novel, Malicious Mischief.

Only $3.99 on Amazon

MaliciousMischiefFrontFinal6x9Her most annoying trait is the one she needs the most.

Delia Eastman returns home from teachers’ college with two goals: find a teaching position and sidestep her mother’s insistence on finding her a husband. But employers don’t care for women who are smarter than they. Neither do suitors. As she struggles to find her place, she discovers her sleepy riverboat town has turned into a powder-keg of rivalry between the steamships and the railroads.

Increasingly violent vandalism on the railroad brings her face-to-face with Endy Webster, a handsome trainmaster whose investigation into the crimes leads him to the door of a prominent steamship owner—Delia’s father.

As Delia tries to clear her father’s name, she keeps tangling with Endy. He’s intelligent. He’s charming. And he’s guarding secrets. Thinking he might know more than he’s telling, Delia reluctantly agrees to collaborate with him to solve the crimes. With the vandalism becoming deadly, they’ll need every scrap of intelligence and logic to stay alive. Working together may not be their first choice, but it might be their last.

Lora Young

What started out as a secret pastime morphed into a desire to see her creations published. So she studied the writing craft, joined American Chrisitan Fiction Writers (ACFW), went to conferences, entered contests, and sent proposals. And got rejections.The reasons for those rejections were encouraging though. Every one of them said the editor liked the story and liked her writing, but the book market was tight and the publishing house was re-structuring or cutting their fiction line entirely.

So Lora decided to publish independently. Scared but determined, she produced her first indie pubbed book—a devotional entitled. Abiding: 30 Steps Closer. When she’s not writing, Lora enjoys reading, hiking, and ballroom dancing. Most of all she delights in drinking chai tea lattes, and spending time with friends and family.

For more on Lora Young, her books, and her blog visit LoraYoung.com.

 

 

A New All-Time Fav: Ellie Sweet #2

Ellie Sweet #2

Do you have those books that you just love and know you’ll read again, forever? Well I do, and Stephanie Morrill’s Ellie Sweet sequel is going on my Read Again shelf with all the other awesome books that spoke to me on a spiritual level. The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet is right up there with Madeleine L’Engle, Kristin Billerbeck, Robin Jones Gunn, and Tracey Bateman.

Just because success has come to Ellie Sweet, doesn’t mean her life is any easier. She’s still flawed and relatable, and the haters are piling up against her in both her school and writing life. This time she’s learning to be humble enough to admit her mistakes, even overcome them. It just makes her feel that much more genuine, like she’d be one of my friends.

This book is so real in its coming-of-age glory that it’s hard not to picture yourself as Ellie Sweet on some level. Even in her writing success there are pitfalls, some people love her book and some people can’t handle that she’s getting published as a teenager. Life gets even more complicated when her relationships turn rocky. This is where the author really shines.

Boys and friends are still tricky subjects for Ellie, but not everything is wrapped up in a nice little bow. The messy parts of teenage life are left messy, giving a whole new meaning to our own personal struggles. Life is hard–but it still moves forward and there’s still joy in it.

Bottom line: The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet is just that, an unlikely portrait of coming-of-age teenage life, mixed with genuine perspectives on building a dream career, dealing with family, and fixing rough relationships. A great, fun read that makes you think. I seriously can’t wait to see what Stephanie writes next! 🙂

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. She is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, http://www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out http://www.StephanieMorrill.com

What I’m Reading: Ellie Sweet #1

Ellie Sweet #1

It’s Ellie Sweet week here on my blog. My friend and fabulous author Stephanie Morrill released her latest book The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet about a novel writing teen who uses her friends as characters in her book. Makes you wonder if all writers do that, huh? Today, congratulations are in order because I just learned that this book received the coveted Grace Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

Ellie Sweet is a girl after my own heart–sweet and flawed, but lovable. From the beginning of the book Ellie is crushing hard on the new kid, while outgrowing her friends at the same time. Instead of dealing with her problems or getting even, like when her friends diss her, or her bestie starts dating her crush, she writes it all in her historical novel. Not your typical teenage response and I love it!

Maybe it’s because Ellie is a writer chick, but I can totally relate to her as she struggles with being an outsider. Sometimes that’s by choice, because she doesn’t drink or party much, but sometimes that’s just her nature as a budding writer. It’s the typical pose of the writer, observe and report and Ellie is no exception.

Out of nowhere her real life livens up as her crush wants to date her in secret, leading the the school bad boy to admit he’s crushing on her. The way Ellie deals with both guys, by bumbling through with all the grace and awkwardness you expect from a teenager, is refreshingly honest. Because let’s face it, teenage girls and teenage boys come from two different planets. In fact, it reminds me very much of my own high school debacles.

Suddenly the details of what Ellie wrote in her book get out, and her friends turn on her. Somehow she picks up the pieces and moves forward in a way that anyone who’s ever been bullied can relate to. We’re coming to the point where I don’t want to give too much away. Fortunately for you, Stephanie Morrill includes a link to the first chapter of The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet on her Ellie Sweet Page.

Bottom line: my favorite parts of this book are the character, her voice, and the honest, awkward, and refreshing ways that the author deals with teen problems. If you like Sarah Dessen books and are looking for a clean, but realistic teen book, then The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet is for you.

Happy reading, and stay tuned for my review of the Ellie Sweet #2, coming Thursday as Ellie Sweet week continues.

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. She is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrill.com

Free Book Giveaway and Review: My Stubborn Heart

I’ll be giving away a copy to one lucky commenter. Just leave an appropriate comment on the blog by 11:59 pm on October 20, 2012 and you’ll be entered to win. This giveaway is only open to residents of U.S. & Canada.

What a good debut book by author Becky Wade. I really enjoyed this story. I read it in one day–9 hours straight! 🙂 Becky has created some very real characters that everyone can relate to and even feel for. They are by far the best parts of the book for me. I couldn’t wait to see what happened to them.

The author portrayed a great dichotomy between the characters, Kate and Matt. Kate was wonderful to read, and someone you wanted to root for. Becky really nailed the male character’s voice in Matt and made him sound like a real guy. I loved the dual perspectives in this story.

The settings in the novel were also very well-written. It felt like a vacation as Kate restored an old house in a quaint town on leave from her job. I wish I could’ve been there with her, taking a break from everyday life. In a way, I was.

There were some parts of the romance that the author skipped over. You know the ones, those movie montage scenes where the couple is actually getting to know it each other and falling in love.  The author only did this a few times, but the romantic in me wanted all the cute details. However, she made up for it with lots of other great in-depth scenes.

Overall, this was a fun, romantic, get-away-from-it-all kind of book that you could read again and again. I enjoyed the very real characters, young and old, and the fabulous settings. I think you will, too.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. Saturday, October 20, 2012. I will randomly choose a winner and announce it like we’re sharing a birthday on Monday, October 22, 2012.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

A Wrinkle In Time Becomes a Graphic Novel

 

Can you believe it? One of my all time favorite young adult books A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle has been made into a graphic novel. Finally, a graphic novel I might actually read! According to Publishers Weekly, the author/illustrators Hope Larson and Margaret Ferguson had a hard time cutting scenes.  That means the story is pretty much as complete as possible. Great news for die hard L’Engle fans like me. Check out the graphic novel review and an interview with the author/illustrators:

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel Book Review

How A Wrinkle in Time Was Made Into a Graphic Novel