Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Interview with Designer @LoriLasswell

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Lori Lasswell, the talented book cover designer for Dream Hunter, my debut novella. Thank you, Lori, for the amazing cover and the opportunity to interview you on my blog.


  1. Tell us a little about yourself. What are your hobbies?
I’m a Seattle girl by way of Tulsa. I’ve lived here for a little over five years, with my fantastic husband and a demonic cat. My primary hobbies are music, writing, and art. I work on my novels and play open mic nights around Seattle. I’ll be heading back to school in the fall, which I’m pretty excited about. It only took me 15 years, but I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. (Mostly grown up, at least.)
  1. How did you get into cover design?

Half happy accident, half nepotism. My cousin Jinxie (NL Gervasio) started her own publishing company. I offered to help out with the graphic design to help lighten her workload. Many moons ago, I went to art school. The book covers I’ve done are pretty much the only time I’ve been paid for what my degree is in.

  1. What is your creative process for designing covers?
Jinxie and I put together a sheet for the authors to fill out with their likes and dislikes, as well as a synopsis and the book’s specs. More often than not, where I would take the cover is not necessarily what the author would like to see. I also like to take a look at what is out on the market within the same genre. I want to do something within the normal expectations, since books are definitely judged by their cover, while at the same time creating something that will stand out. More than anything, I want to create something that captures little elements of the story that reward the reader after they’ve finished the book. Though I’m not crazy about her art style, I love how intricate Mary GrandPr√©’s Harry Potter illustrations are. Once I’ve got a rough idea of what I’m looking for, I look through stock photos (I’ve only had the chance to do an original illustration for one cover so far.) Sometimes the ideas evolve after the images have been found. Once I start working, the covers just take on a life of their own and take shape.
  1. How do you find inspiration, in general, and for Dream Hunter’s cover, in particular?

I’m not sure if I have a method that I follow for each cover. With some stories the ideas happen immediately, and some go through a few different versions. The synopsis the authors provide can be handy, but not necessarily for their content. The way authors talk about their stories, and particularly the main characters, tells me more than the cover sheet will. Dream Hunter was actually a little bit different, as I was given a pre-edit version of the manuscript before doing the cover. In your cover sheet, you talked a lot about Cynthia, but when I read the book, I really felt like it was Gabe’s story. For the cover, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to incorporate the Chicago skyline. The descriptions of the city were so rich that it almost felt like the city was a character as well.

  1. If you believed in this sort of thing and could channel an artist from the beyond, who would it be and why?
Hmmm… I don’t know if I could pick a fine artist that I’d want to chat with… but if a writer is considered an artist (I think so), I would want a sit down with Jane Austen. She wrote with a vivacity that’s proved to be timeless, and her personal life is such a mystery that I’d love to know how it shaped her work.
  1. What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’m at that magical turning point, where the next five years could be drastically different… or could be exactly the same. I’d like a tiny human or two between now and then, and I’d love to stop my neurotic editing and rewriting cycle and finally submit something to a publisher. In the grand scheme of things, I hope to someday be the crazy old lady that neighborhood kids assume is a witch. Life will be grand.


Lori Lasswell grew up in a Norman Rockwellian childhood, raised on the doctrine of a timeless parental love story. Because of her idyllic upbringing, she found muses in the romantic, the creepy, and the romantically creepy. (Creepily romantic?) After resigning herself to a lifetime of too many cats and too much coffee, she accidentally fell face first into her own whimsical love story. Lori and her long haired, pretty-boy musician husband are living out their pants optional happily ever after in the rainy Pacific Northwest, where they create and laugh to their hearts’ content.

You can follow Lori on twitter at @LoriLasswell 

Check out some of Lori’s cover art for Just Ink Press at www.JustInkPress.com

If you are interested in having cover art done for your own self-published works, email Lori at lori.lasswell@gmail.com to discuss the project.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A #SexySnippet from Dream Hunter (June 28, 2015)

#SexySnippets are seven sentences, taken from a work in progress, or published book, brought to you every Sunday.


This is a #SexySnippet from Dream Huntermy latest paranormal romance to celebrate its 6 month book birthday on June 30. This scene is a snippet from one of Cynthia's dreams. Wouldn't you love a dream like this one?

Here are the seven sentences... Enjoy! :)


As she breathed deeply, she sensed the familiar restlessness settle in. From across the room, she spied the dark stranger. His hot, perusing gaze warmed her skin like a soft caress. She moaned, her lips subtly puckered, begging to be kissed. Walking toward him, drawn to his irresistible nature, her heart pumped erratically. Her whole body pulsed, the beat within her chanting its desire. Suddenly, she found herself wrapped in his powerful arms, tilting her face up to his. 






__________________________________________________
Cynthia’s dreams are so real, they are actually coming true – complete with the prerequisite dream guy. But things are not as they seem.
Who said dreams are sweet?
Chicago businesswoman Cynthia Courtland is completely focused on her career when a sensual, reoccurring dream disrupts her orderly life. Then a threat against her workplace forces her to take time off. She is lost with nowhere to go--only her empty apartment.
Work is Gabe’s life too; he takes it very seriously and will do whatever it takes to succeed. He's been watching over Cynthia for a long time and he has her best interests at heart, but can he protect her from the danger she is blind to? When Cynthia insists on investigating the threat so she can get back to work, it makes Gabe's job all the more difficult.
When things settle, will there be more for them than a life filled with work? Will she give her dreams a chance to come true?


__________________________________________________


If you liked this sexy snippet, please check out the other awesome authors participating in #SexySnippets this week as well as the other writing samples on my blog. Dream Hunter now available Smarturl.it/dhu

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Riding Rebel SALE Blitz @kirutaye


Riding Rebel is on a 99 cents/pence/euros SALE for a limited time.

֍֍֍Riding Rebel SALE Blitz֍֍֍

Title: Riding Rebel
Author: Kiru Taye
Series: The Essien Trilogy #3
Genre: Erotic, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: January 26, 2015


#99cents #bookblitz #erotic #romance #AfricanAmerican #1click

Friday, June 26, 2015

After Five on Facebook

Traffic is higher at certain times on Social Media. If you're like me and you check your email, Facebook, Twitter, and website / blog stats about every five minutes...




Then you've probably noticed there is a surge in activity during non-business hours, especially on Facebook. Of course, time zone plays a role as well. I live in the Eastern Standard Time (EST) zone, but I have a lot of interaction with folks in other time zones. That's the great thing about the Internet in general and Social Media in particular. We live in a truly global world. You can communicate with people from all over and they can respond at their leisure. There are as many people who read my blog in the UK as the US, and I live in Canada.

A smart phone has made Social Media so much more accessible for me. I don't have a data plan, but wifi is everywhere. I can check my email and Social Media sites with my phone and schedule my posts with Hootsuite. Talk about convenience.

Consistent with the rest of my writing journey, I've researched Social Media as thoroughly as possible in order to optimize its potential. (Note to self: add experienced researcher to resume.) I want to sell my book, but beyond that I want to establish myself as a brand. I can use Social Media to accomplish this.

There are countless articles on the subject of Social Media optimization. Some suggest when to post on certain sites. Some suggest the best hashtags to use on Twitter or the best groups to join in Facebook. I've experimented with most of these suggestions, but the proof is in the pudding. What works for me may not work for all.

The takeaway from my research and experimentation: I get more retweets, likes, shares, and hits when...

1. I have new content.
2. I engage followers, friends, and basically the general public.

I mainly use Twitter and Facebook. There are so many great sites out there and I know I underutilize Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads to name a few...

I think of Twitter as a fast flowing river, with a constant stream of new tweets. I try to post a variation of the same promotional tweet at different times during the day in order to maximize exposure. Hootsuite makes this very easy. In between my scheduled tweets, I re-tweet tweets I find interesting or informative, promotional tweets from the companies who promote my book, and tweets from those who retweet my tweets. Thanking those who retweet or mention you is good Twitter etiquette. Re-tweeting their tweets is probably more appreciated. Using popular or trending hashtags and images/video is a great way to make your tweets stand out.

In comparison, Facebook seems more like a wave pool. The water constantly swirls around you, but your reach is constrained. New posts seem to come in waves, concentrated around mealtime and evening. The trick is to join appropriate groups; manage your own author/book pages; and post interesting links (other than exclusively posting your book link). Facebook gives you opportunity for engagement as well. You can comment on/share posts and 'like' pages.

What are your thoughts on Social Media? Even if you are a business, it has to be more than just selling your product. I wanted to join in and participate so I asked myself two questions. Are you ready for a conversation? Or is constantly screaming "Buy my book!" working? In order to optimize Social Media, I realized I would have to increase my engagement. That means active and consistent, two-way communication. Every day.




How do you use Social Media?

Thanks for reading! Have a great day and see you after five on Facebook!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Author Interview with @_SallyannP

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Sallyann Phillips, the imaginative author of the Angel's Blood series. Thanks for joining me today, Sallyann.


Q: Tell us something about yourself and how you got into writing?
A: I’m married, and have two grown up children. They all got together a little over 2 years ago and bought me my first lap top, with instructions to write the book I’d been talking about. I think I may have driven them crazy with my ideas.

Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Just over 2 years

Q: What inspired you to write the Angels Blood book series?
A: I love the werewolf/vampire genre, but wanted to read something with a strong female lead, and I’ve had a recurring dream about a wolf from childhood. Angel’s Blood is a mix of the two.

Q: Who is your favorite character (from your books) and why?
A: It has to be Tavi, my main character. She may not have the social graces, or understand the Pack mentality, but the girl sure can fight. She doesn’t need a man to do her fighting for her, she needs one to stop her disposing of everyone she deems guilty.

Q: Are future books planned in the series?
A: There are. The second is already published, Hybrid Justice, and the third has already been started.

Q: Any advice for those aspiring novelists out there?
A: Never give up, and don’t write to get rich. Write because it makes you happy, even if you never put it out there for the world to see. I know there have been instances where someone has been picked up and been the next best seller, but for every one of those, there are a million others that don’t, though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying.

My website is – www.angelsblood.co.uk



Or you can find me on twitter here - @_SallyannP 


Thanks, Sallyann, for visiting Maya's Musings! Good luck with your Angel's Blood books and your future projects!

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Inspiration Behind Dream Hunter

Nearly six months ago, my lifelong dream of publishing a book came true. A lot goes on behind the scenes of writing a book. Before you even begin to write, you need an idea. But how do you come up with the idea? What is the inspiration behind the story? I’ve spent much time pondering this very subject. I originally posted this blog on The Nuthouse Scribblers on February 16, 2015, but I decided to re-issue to include a book description.
Have you read Dream Hunter? It’s a paranormal romance set in Chicago. The main characters are Cynthia and Gabe. Cynthia’s focus is on her career until mysterious dreams disrupt her life. Then an unknown threat against her work arises. As the office manager, the threat has also placed her in danger. Gabe, the mystery man from her dreams, is the guardian angel tasked with her protection. Discontent to wait for the threat to pass, Cynthia embarks on an investigation of her own. It’s up to Gabe to keep her safe, no matter what.
Now that you know what I wrote, let’s talk about why I wrote it… It all started with a dream, but my characters and plot evolved while I was awake.
Cynthia
'Cynthia' was me three years ago. At that time I had returned to work after four years home caring for my kids and husband. My husband had been diagnosed with MS a few weeks after the birth of our first son. His health had seemed stable in the Fall of 2011 (he had just undergone a procedure to treat his MS and was showing signs of improvement) so I started applying for jobs. After a prolonged, albeit explained, absence from the workforce I applied to pretty much anything that seemed business-related.
I started working as an Administrative Assistant. I had no idea what I had signed up for. I thought I would be working with spreadsheets, running meetings, and organizing files. Not getting groceries and doing dishes. I never realized what Admins did behind the scenes. I have great admiration for their work - especially in doing the thankless tasks. Some of the women I worked with even brought work laundry home to wash. I was determined to make an upward advancement at work. This was not a job I could continue in for the long term.
And there lies the inspiration for Cynthia's preoccupation with her promotion.
Gabe
Cynthia's guardian angel, her knight in shining armour. Little girls these days are told a different fairy tale than the Disney "someday your prince will come" version I grew up with. But I dreamed of a prince charming and, yes, I was fortunate enough to find him. Or, rather, we found each other back in the Spring of 1996. Regular high school sweethearts. All it took was just one look. We've been together ever since.
Call me sentimental, corny or whatever, but all my heroes are loosely based on my husband. He's my best friend, soul mate, everything to me. I could ramble on with every cliché known to people-kind and I swear every single one would apply. He's been looking out for me for the last eighteen years... And I look out for him too, especially since he got sick.
But, if that isn't evidence enough, when my publisher sent me my book cover, my husband took one look at it and said, "That looks like me." The artist had never seen a picture of my husband and I write under a pen name with a completely separate personal online presence. And, yes, the model on my cover bears a striking resemblance to my husband.
The Plot
I've always been fascinated by dreams. I've had my fair share of the bizarre and strange. When I was younger I used to write them down in a notebook. Lately, I've resumed this practice and it's providing me with plenty of fodder.
A dream one night inspired the first sequence of my story. But my lifelong curiosity about dreams spurred the story on.
There are so many theories on dreams. Do they actually help prepare you for life experiences you later encounter? If so, my night-time skills as a sniper will come in handy when I'm solicited to become an assassin. And when the bad guys come to get me, I'll be ready. Karate? No problem. RPG? Bring it on! I told you I have crazy dreams!
Maybe I watched too much TV when I was in my formative years. Although I don't think so. We didn't even have cable until I was a pre-teen. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination.
Writing is therapy for me. It's a way for me to sort and process. Even my husband thinks I'm a basket case. Good thing he loves me unconditionally. I'm no stranger to seeking professional therapy. I think everyone at some point in their life should sit/lie down in front of a perfect (qualified) stranger and talk about themselves for an hour.
I'm a typical Type A. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. Less than perfection is not good enough. Which proves problematic more times than not. I am by no means perfect. I just confessed to seeking therapy to countless strangers, after all. But I refuse to accept less than my best.

Dream Hunter is my first published novella. Thanks for taking a walk behind the scenes with me to uncover the inspiration behind the story. Come visit me anytime.



Cynthia’s dreams are so real, they are actually coming true – complete with the prerequisite dream guy. But things are not as they seem.

Who said dreams are sweet?

Chicago businesswoman Cynthia Courtland is completely focused on her career when a sensual, reoccurring dream disrupts her orderly life. Then a threat against her workplace forces her to take time off. She is lost with nowhere to go--only her empty apartment.

Work is Gabe’s life too; he takes it very seriously and will do whatever it takes to succeed. He's been watching over Cynthia for a long time and he has her best interests at heart, but can he protect her from the danger she is blind to? When Cynthia insists on investigating the threat so she can get back to work, it makes Gabe's job all the more difficult.

When things settle, will there be more for them than a life filled with work? Will she give her dreams a chance to come true?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

For Sexy Snippets - June 7, 2015

#SexySnippets are seven sentences, taken from a work in progress, or published book, brought to you every Sunday.


This is a #SexySnippet from Fly Boy, a contemporary romance I wrote before I realized my passion lay in paranormal.

Jaded and overworked Will Harris seems an unlikely match for the naive and independent Kristen Stephens.  Will is looking for a distraction to take his mind off a failed relationship.  Kristen has a firm focus on her career and surreptitiously avoids relationships of any kind.  Meeting on a plane allows a certain amount of anonymity and, seeing Kristen as the perfect distraction, Will intentionally conceals his identity from her.  Add in meddlesome parents, pregnancy allegations from former lovers and Kristen’s lack of sophistication to the list of obstacles that stand in their way. But Will is nothing if not persistent and soon he takes her on a passionate journey, changing their lives and entwining their destinies.

This scene is between my heroine Kristen, a down-to-earth landscaper, and cavalier businessman Will. They were enjoying the New York City skyline from the comfort of Will's yacht when storm clouds suddenly blew in and they are caught unexpectedly in a storm.

Here are the seven sentences... Enjoy! :)


“We might be stuck here for a while.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her suggestively.
Kristen looked at him nervously.  “Do you have any playing cards?”
Will gave her a voracious look.  “I can think of more exciting ways to pass the time.”
Kristen gulped.  


If you liked this sexy snippet, please check out the other awesome authors participating in #SexySnippets this week as well as the other writing samples on my blog and check out my latest release Dream Hunter now available Smarturl.it/dhu

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Left-brained Pantster

The title should probably read ‘Confessions of a Reformed Pantster’ instead. You’ll see why…
My entire life has been a series of structured events. Mainly events beyond my control. The first 26 years of my life,  I went to school and moved a lot (first due to my dad’s job and then due to university life).  I basically did what I was supposed to do and these events defined the person I became. I was two things. I was my parents’ daughter and I was a good student.
I’ve always been a logical person. I think and analyze (sometimes with a spreadsheet) before I make decisions. Even as a kid, I had clearly laid out goals and plans for the future. I wanted to get married, have kids and become a writer.
Amidst all the careful structure in my life… School, university, work, marriage, kids… I thought writing would be the best way to express myself creatively. I took numerous English and Language classes so I thought I knew how to write. I thought I could imagine my story in my mind and it would magically appear as I intended on paper. I was a pantster.
If you are unfamiliar with this term, a pantster is an author who writes by the seat of their pants without the use of an outline.
If everything in my life was planned and structured, then writing creatively would be the anti of it all. I had so many ideas for stories. What I envisioned was raw, completely fresh and different from the other books out there.
Well… It didn't exactly work out as planned. I had difficulty finishing my stories. I would flip back and forth between projects, leaving incomplete work that I would never be able to finish. I now believe in the value of an outline. An outline keeps you on track and helps your story make chronological sense. It doesn’t necessarily need to be detailed, but you should have a fair sense of where you’re going and how your story will end.
I believe most hard lessons must be learned on your own. Being told a truth is simply not enough sometimes. You need to experience it for yourself. Through trial and error, I am still looking for the right amount of outlining. Too little and I drift into “pantster territory”, but too much can stall the story if I can’t force the dots to connect. I’ve gone from one extreme to another. When I wrote stories as a kid, I would compile highly detailed outlines and never finish the story. I literally became bogged down with the details. As an adult, I rebelled against the outline and became a pantster, ironically achieving the same result of unfinished work. Without a guide, I slipped off track and didn’t know how to end my story. Now, I’m looking for a happy medium so I can finally finish what I’ve started.

If you are a pantster, I hope you are able to learn from my mistakes and heed this advice on writing outlines. Unless it works for you… in which case keep on writing… What works for one writer doesn’t necessarily work for all.