Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Tribe of Ishmael Teaser Trailer

Hi Everyone,

Happy Thanksgiving to all US readers! Here's a book trailer for my upcoming fantasy epic, Afterlife Chronicles I: THE TRIBE OF ISHMAEL, to celebrate:

Super specific about the release day, right? All I know for sure is it will be late December. Keep checking back, I'll post it here first :) Now, let the overindulgent feasting commence! Hope you can all be with your loved ones this year!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ebook Cover Design: Create Layers in Powerpoint

Tips for Indie Authors on creating your own book cover!

Create Layers

 Under "Self-Publishing on Kindle," I recommend fellow author William King's method for creating an ebook cover in Powerpoint. Now here's some tips for creating layers in Powerpoint, if you have two or more images you'd like to combine.

1. Assemble the Pieces

Let's create a basic romance cover as an example. Here is a screenshot of my cover components laid out in Powerpoint. I have the title, genre, and author name laid out on the left. I have my background image of a romantic beach laid out in the middle. I have my overlaying image of a lovey-dovey couple on the right. 

The Page Width and the images should be set to 6x8 width by height. Click on the "Design" tab on the top and then click on "Page Setup" on the ribbon to set the dimensions for Page Width. Right click on the picture and click "Size and Position" to set dimensions for images.

2. Set the Top Layer as Translucent

 Now here's the fun part, where you can play around with your top image and how it looks. First, move the top image (lovey-dovey couple) over the background image (beach). Next, select the top image. Right-click on the top image. Scroll down the pop-up menu and select "Format Picture." In the Format Picture menu, select "3-D Format" from the column bar options.  That will bring you to the screen shot shown below.

Here you notice the section called "Surface" under 3-D Format. Click on the "Material" drop-down arrow. You can now change the material to be "Translucent" so the the background beach image shows up underneath. Try it out! I selected the middle "Translucent" option under "Material." It's the middle of the three Translucent options. After the image turns translucent, notice that you can play around with the color/other image effects on the 3-D Format menu. For example, I clicked on "Lighting" and then selected the middle coloring option under "Warm." This makes the cover colors seem warmer and cozy. Play around with the different options under "Lighting."  Notice how many different ways you can alter the image under "Angle," "Contour," and "Bevel," under the 3-D Format menu, in addition to all the other ways you can change image brightness/coloring/contrast/artistic effects on the regular Format ribbon!

3. Add Text

Now that your top image is translucent, add the text to the cover. Make sure you've right-clicked on each text box and chosen "Bring to Front." That way the text will be the top layer and won't get hidden behind the images. Drag all of your text boxes over and position them--and presto, you have a basically layered cover that screams, "I'm a romance!"

Photo Credit:
Lovely Couple © Fredgoldstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Text Font Websites:  

Obviously the color choice for the title may not be the best choice--yellow doesn't stand out well--but to amp up your creative font style to match the genre of your book, check out some of these websites for exciting font downloads (majority should be free):




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 2013 Book Review: Shadow and Bone


By Leigh Bardugo

~Book Review~


Warning! Minor Spoilers!

I AM A SUCKER for a good villain.

Shadow and Bone is a fantasy YA novel, but the ambiguous character of the Darkling, the powerful leader of the sorcerous Grisha, manages to be complex on so many levels that I just wanted to shake him and yell: “Tell me your secrets!”

He is probably the chief reason you should read this book. Although I really loved the introduction to main characters Alina and her handsome friend Mal, orphans who live a tough life growing up along the monstrous Fold, the book lost its momentum when Alina was sent to the Ravka palace. Some time is spent developing her “Sun Summoner” powers, an ability to call light that could end the nightmarish Fold cutting Ravka off from the rest of the world, but more is spent judging her fellow females and lamenting her plainness. Insecurity is a hard line for authors to walk when it consumes their main character—it’s tough to make it relatable rather than descend into a pity fest—and I feel like it fell into the latter category for most of the book.  

Much of the mythology and world-building was inspired by Russian folklore, and there were a lot of places it worked well, like with the symbolism of the stag. Other parts, like the Russian-inspired language, didn’t seem to transfer over as well—as others have pointed out, Alina’s family name is “Starkov” rather than the feminine form, “Starkova.” Starkova sounds prettier, too, *sigh*.

I did like Alina’s relationship with Mal and feel that the regiment-minded Mal has a lot of potential—I hope he doesn’t become just a love interest, but has an agenda of his own. I also enjoyed how the Darkling made Alina wrestle with her choices of right or wrong, and the final unraveling of their relationship left me breathless with excitement for what is to come.

Alina did develop more of a backbone by the end of the book, and just the thought of the elemental-wielding Grisha in action makes me happy, so I am eager to get my hands on Book II: Seige and Storm.

Recommended for fans of: Sophie Jordan, Rae Carson
December Book Review: Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams