Friday, June 15, 2012

Thanks Michelle for the gorgeous new covers for my Kelly McWinter PI series.  Looking at Jimmy on these covers definitely helps keep me inspired to get Deadly Consequences, book three, coming in August/September finished. 

Writing a series can be inspiring and fun, but there are some pitfalls.  It's so easy to fall into forget that your reader doesn't necessarily know all about that fantastic new nightclub you described so vividly in book one. Oh yes, and the reader doesn't know that your heroine absolutely cannot stand pink, or that your hero is allergic to shellfish.  Oh yes, lots and lots of easy little traps to fall into. 

Of course, as with all writing, there is always the temptation to go do something else -- like me -- over here visiting on the Blog instead of writing.  Sigh!  Nice to chat with all of you, but if we're ever going to see Book 3, I guess I'd better put my nose back to the grindstone.  Enjoy Kelly McWinter - a/k/a Jimmy Thomas. 

Behind the Cover: Images selection

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

I’ve been called a Cover Goddess a couple of times, and as typical of me, I shrugged it off.  But now, I have decided, that if others are going to award me Goddess-ness, then I am going to start using it. So in true Goddess fashion, I have a few proclamations!

  1. No professor shall require a term paper to be written for any class that I am attending during my graduate coursework.  All term papers are to be voluntarily done for extra credit.
  1. No final shall be comprehensive.  In fact, finals shall be abolished!
  1. This crap with “self-teaching” is not going to happen anymore.  I am paying you, as my professor, to instruct.  Don’t tell me my learning is going to be self-guided.  If I wanted that, I would just buy the textbook and read it.
Wait … what?  You just want to hear the ones in regards to cover art.  You sure?  Cause I have a few more.  Well, okay …

Cover Art Proclamation 1:

No character, from this day forward, shall have hair.  None.  No wavy golden locks, no straight raven tresses.  Nadda, nothing.  Zero, zilch hair.

Number 2 …

What?  I can’t proclaim that characters can’t have hair anymore?  Why not?

Artistic freedom!  The heck you say!  But I am a Goddess … but, but …

*Insert several minutes of whining and whimpering*

Well fine then!

I guess I will return to the original topic I meant to address this blog post – image selection and how they relate to covers and artists.

The images that are picked for a cover are crucial.  CRUCIAL I say.  For, after all, they are the core of the cover.  And the cover is what a reader sees first.  Before the blurb, before the excerpt, generally they see the cover.

So you want a nice one.

You also want a sane cover artist.  S.A.N.E.  Got that?  Which means when you are selecting images to suggest, think about what you are asking for.

What I mean by that is, if the image has a woman with fly-away hair (you know what I am talking about, where it looks like a fan was turned on during the photo-shoot) and you don’t like the background, find a new image.  Isolating hair in images is tricky, so it is better if it lies fairly flat in the image.

Also, don’t pick a real dark image of a person, where they fade into a black background, and expect it to work with a sunny day beach scene behind him/her. 

It’s hard, as an author, to pick images.  I know – I am also an author.  So I know that there is a certain way a character is supposed to look, and often times, stock art is just too limited in options.  But doing photo-shoots for each and every e-book an author does is not cost-effective or practical.

So authors have to, in some ways, settle for what is available.  Which can be hard.

But if you take the time to make sure and pick images you are happy with, and that are easy to work with, you and your cover artist will both wind up happy with the finished product.

To that end, I am offering just a few suggestions, off the top of my head:

  • Don’t pick images with fly-away hair (see above) unless you LIKE the background
  • Don’t pick dark images, with dark background, and expect a bright background to be put in replacing it.  (Also see above)
  • Think about how many images you are suggesting.  Often, most covers have 1-3 images.  Any more than that gets costly.
  • Think about the perspectives of the images.  If you are looking flat on at a couple, and upward at the background you want behind them, it isn’t going to work together.
  • Make sure you know if the image is a photograph or computer generated.  Some times, a computer generated background can work in a cover – other times, it just doesn’t. 

For example, here’s one where it does work:

  • If you KNOW you are doing a series, and using the same characters, make sure there are other images of the SAME model that you like for future covers, and that there are enough for however many books you are planning.
  • If you know you are doing a series, think about the style of image, and make sure you can find other images in the same style to match your future characters.
  • Consider your images carefully – have you seen it/them on a ton of other covers?  If so, you should probably find something else unless you are just absolutely, completely in love with that image and it just fits perfectly and you have to have it or the world will just end in misery.
  • Be open to changes … I can’t stress this one enough.  Just because you suggest an image does not mean that it will be used.  Often times there is a very good reason why the cover artist will not use it (such as the sizes not being right, it is more long than tall – such as a woman laying down, it doesn’t match with the other images you selected, it can’t be isolated to fit with the other images, or there are terms that don’t allow for the image to be used on commercial items)
  • Speaking of isolating images, when you pick an image of a person, you want at least one side of their body to fully be in the image, not both sides running off of the image.  That allows for the person to be isolated from the background and merged with other images.  (Unless, that is, you just want that ONE image on your cover).
For example:

The image for CODENAME: ROMEO is one that I would not be able to move to the side.  Whereas the woman in WILDING NIGHTS I could move around the cover as needed.

  • If you are want the person moved into another background, be careful that you don’t pick an image with something from the foreground blending into the image.  For example, grass or wheat stalks, snow or rain, etc.  Both of these images work because they fit the changed background.  Had the author wanted either of these women at the beach, it wouldn’t have worked.

Well that’s all that I can think of right off.  Hope it makes selecting images just a little bit easier!

As for how I work them together, well, it’s not really something I can put to words.  I have to look at the angles/perspective of images, the colors and brightness/contrast to them, and just play around some times to get the right fit.

I do keep in mind previous covers I have done for the author, and also the genre. The hardest covers for me are mysteries and dark themes, since I like doing light covers.  I like happy couples – and especially SEXY couples.  Which can cause some problems, since I like sexy images, and some romances are sweet.  (So half-naked people just don’t work).

When I select images, I also keep my own “do/don’t” list in mind.  I also look at colors, and sharpness/starkness of images.  It a couple has almost a harsh lighting on them, then I won’t put them on a real soft focus background.  

Also, while brown/red hair can be switched fairly decently to the other, turning an image of a blond into a  raven haired person, vice versa, etc isn't that easy.  So I try my best to find images that fit the hair color as well as I can.

Eye color on the other hand is something that I can modify - so I never worry about it when I pick an image, because I know that I can modify it as needed (provided I know what color to change it to - so be sure to provide that info in your CAF).

Other than that, a lot of image selection for me is just flipping through images on stock sites and seeing if anything jumps out at me.  From there, I work all other elements around the image I selected.

If period clothing is required, then I will focus on the person, and worry about making the background fit.

If a setting is pivotal, and the couple’s attire isn’t that big of a deal, then I find a background that will work and then find a couple to fit.

And so on …


The reviews keep pouring for PRINCESS of BRETAGNE. This one is a 4-ribbon from Romance Junkies. it says:

“Her attention to the harsh conditions of this violent time period is spot on, and starting with a brutal Viking raid caught my attention immediately. She brings the world of Pressine to life with vivid details of daily life, clothing, customs, manners, Celtic history and the conflict between the early Christian church and the old pagan beliefs of the goddess.

This story is filled with action and danger and there are many interesting secondary characters that help drive the plot forward. I particularly like Gwenvael, Pressine’s brother, who has extensive scenes in his own viewpoint scattered throughout. Look for the just released, PAGAN QUEEN, to continue the saga of these two lovers.”

You can read the entire review at:

This review certainly made my day.

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, Blasters, Romance with a Kick
Vijaya on Amazon:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Imagine being forced to give up custody of your child.

 That’s exactly what happened to Vanessa Gleason. A fairy tale marriage turned into a nightmare, Now, alone in the world, Vanessa vows to fight her wealthy ex husband for custody of her daughter. Was it fate that brought her to the little church on Christmas Eve?

Vanessa locked herself in a hotel room for two weeks after her husband threw her out. Cried out, devastated and lonelier than she'd ever been in her life, she knew it was time to move on. Time to make a plan. 
First thing she did was get a newspaper and circle promising jobs in the classifieds. After a few phone calls, it didn't take her long to realize Christmas Eve wasn't the time to look for a job. Scared, bored, and half out of her mind with grief, she decided  to leave the small room and take a drive. Anything to avoid thinking.
She ended up in the heart of town among last minute shoppers and Carolers. Hurrying past them, she found herself in front of a small church. Something drew her inside. Inside and up to the Nativity Scene.    There she discovered an infant in a car seat. Before she had a chance to decide what to do, the back door slammed and someone walked down the aisle toward her. Could he help her win her child back? 
What happened next changed Vanessa's life forever. 
Elusive Mission is available from Amazon.


Vanessa’s stomach tensed. She had to get out of here. Needed some air, needed to escape. She got in her car and started driving, to where was anyone’s guess.
The quaintness of Strongsville, Ohio, especially the town square with the gazebo with all the Christmas decorations, brought fresh tears to her eyes. Vanessa wiped them away and parked the car. Shoppers and carolers filled the sidewalks. Ignoring them, Vanessa hurried past decorated shops until she came to a small church. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, the sign out front said. Two huge wreaths hung on the heavy oak doors. The small white building beckoned to her.
Vanessa opened the door, walked up the steps and stood at the entrance. The quiet of the empty church filled her soul. It had been too long since she had attended services. Charles wasn’t particularly religious, but he had allowed her to have Alyssa baptized. She should have gone to church more often by herself, but after spending Saturday evening at the club, it was all too easy to sleep in on Sunday morning, and eventually it became a habit.
 Light showed through the stained glass windows, illuminating the red carpet-covered aisle way. A nativity scene at the front captured her attention and drew her forward. Memories from her childhood flashed through her mind.
Her father always helped set up the nativity at church when she was a little girl, and they let her put Baby Jesus in the crèche. A noise came from the side aisle, interrupting her thoughts. Vanessa stopped, saw a flash of red, and the side door slammed. Funny, she hadn’t noticed anyone else when she came in.
Oh, well, Vanessa shrugged and continued to the front and knelt down. What in the world? Next to the nativity scene sat a car seat. An infant, three, maybe four months old with blonde curly hair, opened almond-shaped, dark eyes and reached its chubby arms out to her.
 “What have we here?” Vanessa unbuckled the seat belt. “Hello, precious.” She picked up the baby, and a note fell on the diaper bag next to the car seat. Vanessa picked up the paper and read the scribbled words.
Please take care of my baby. Her name is Grace. Mary.
“Who could leave someone as precious as you?” Vanessa looked around. No one lurked in the shadows. Who left the baby? How long had she been here? God, what should she do? The baby cuddled against her, and Vanessa inhaled the sweet smell of baby lotion. Tears filled her eyes. For a minute, she was tempted to take the baby and leave, but she couldn’t do it.
Startled, when the door at the back of the church slammed, Vanessa turned toward the sound. A shadow loomed at the entrance, moving toward her. A tall figure walked down the aisle, checking the pews along the way. Vanessa hugged the baby against her, held her breath, and let it out when she saw who it was.
“Father, I’m glad you’re here. I came in here and found this baby. I was just about to call the police.”
“I’m a minister, not a priest. Pastor Dan Jacobson, Pastor Dan will do,” he said. “You found a baby?” A glint of gold glistened in his copper brown eyes below raised eyebrows. “Who do you suppose it belongs to?”
“Yes, I ... uh.” She could easily have pretended Grace was hers. He wouldn’t have known. “When I came in someone ran out through that side door. I came up here to see the nativity scene and….” Vanessa walked away and sat in a pew, cradling the baby against her chest. What was the use, he didn’t believe her. She didn’t need this. Not now. She had enough problems of her own.
“I see, pretty little thing, boy or girl?”
Vanessa stood and took a step closer to him. “Girl.” She stopped next to him. “You aren’t suggesting this child is mine, are you?” Vanessa looked him straight in the eyes. How dare he? Minister or not, what gave him the right? “Look, I came in here and found the baby. I told you someone ran out that door.” Vanessa took a deep breath, let out an angry sigh. “Here.” She pushed the note toward him. “This was lying on the diaper bag. I didn’t touch anything else.”
Pastor Dan stared at her, studying her. Vanessa stared back. Disbelief showed in his face. Like she’d try to pull off such a stunt? Imagine her abandoning a baby like this. The memory of Alyssa, clinging to her when Charles tore her away, flashed in her mind. Even now, Alyssa’s cries, when Charles slammed the door, ripped her apart.
Pastor Dan’s voice brought her back to awareness. “I see. Well, I guess we’ll have to call Social Services.” He read the note, then picked up the diaper bag and looked through it.
Grace squirmed in Vanessa’s arms and began to cry.
“Probably hungry.” Vanessa rocked the baby.
Pastor Dan pulled a bottle of formula from the diaper bag.
The warmth of the baby against her chest opened a hole in Vanessa’s heart, making her miss Alyssa even more. Her insides trembled, tears burned her eyes, threatened to fall.
“You have children?” Pastor Dan’s tone softened.
A tear escaped, fell on her cheek. She nodded, a lump caught in her throat.
“How many?”
“One.” Vanessa choked out the word.
How old?”
“Two.” The tears burst forth as if a damn had been unleashed. “I’m....” Vanessa couldn’t speak. She turned away, held back the tears, and paced across the front to the nativity scene, leaving him standing there.

Sizzling Summer Spectacular

Stock your shelves with spectacular summer reading.  Win one of five $20.00 Amazon gift certificates.  Gift certificates will be drawn monthly.  Two on July 5, Two on August 5, and One on September 5.

* * * 


Pamper yourself with a sensational summer spa basket.  Drawing on August 15.

Treat yourself to a chocolate indulgence day.  Drawing on September 15.

Find the entry form here and make sure you are a subscriber to our newsletter- only subscribers can win. The newsletter comes out once a month, no spam, just new releases and contest news. Find the form on the same page as the contest entry.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spectacular Summer Novel Sale at Books We Love

Only $2.99 each

A Double Opposition by Janet Lane Walters
ASIN: B0057AFA26

Alien Lockdown by Vijaya Schartz
ASIN: B00495XUT0

Ancient Enemy Book One –
 by Vijaya Schartz

Ancient Enemy Book Two –
by Vijaya Schartz

Ancient Enemy Book Three –
Kicking Bots
by Vijaya Schartz

Archangel Book One –
by Vijaya Schartz

Archangel Book Two –
by Vijaya Schartz

Blood Games by Lee Killough

Blood Hunt by Lee Killough

Cabin Fever by Sheila Claydon

by Barbara Baldwin

Cachet by Shannah Biondine
ASIN: B00452V8OQ

Daring Masquerade by Margaret Tanner

Dark Spirit by Rita Karnopp

Deadly Betrayal by Jude Pittman

Deadly Secrets by Jude Pittman

Destined to Love by Shirley Martin

Dream Weaver by Shirley Martin

Echoes by Erin Quinn

Ellie's Legacy by Ginger Simpson
ASIN: B007U61O1Q

Embezzled Love by Ginger Simpson

Eye of the Storm by Renee Simons
ASIN: B00772ZAT0

Family Secrets by Jamie Hill
ASIN: B004478IN6

Family Ties by Jamie Hill

Finding Freedom
by Betty Jo Schuler

First Degree Innocence by Ginger Simpson

Forbidden Love by Shirley Martin

Gemstones by Janet Lane Walters

Genesee by Juliet Waldron

Hide and Seek by Jamie Hill
ASIN: B004HW6G46

Into a Dangerous Mind by Tina Gerow
ASIN: B006MN847A

Killer Karma by Lee Killough

Kidnapped by Rita Karnopp

Love in a Small Town by Betty Jo Schuler

Male Wanted by Betty Jo Schuler

Magnetism by Shannah Biondine

Mozart's Wife  by Juliet Waldron

Night Secrets by Shirley Martin

Night Shadows  by Shirley Martin

No Ordinary Killer by Rita Karnopp

O'Malley's Cottage by Ronald Ady Crouch

One More Tomorrow by Shirley Martin

Pagan Queen by Vijaya Schartz

Princess of Bretagne by Vijaya Schartz

Ransom Love by Rita Karnopp

Red Magic by Juliette Waldron

Revenge  by Rita Karnopp

Run to Me by Jamie Hill
ASIN: B004M8S95Y

Sacred Ground  by Rita Karnopp

Safe Haven by Renee Simons

Sarah's Heart by Ginger Simpson

Sex, Love and Murder by Sandy Semerad
ASIN: B007Z3TY34

Snatched by Vijaya Schartz
ASIN: B004QZ9V78

Spithandle Lane by Ronald Ady Crouch

Stone Maiden by Tina Gerow

The Last Cowboy In Texas by Pat Dale

The Sacrifice by Shirley Martin

The Taste of Magic by Gina Rosavin

The WisdomKeeper Collection
by John Wisdomkeeper

Time Tantrums
by Ginger Simpson

Trusting Evil by Mary Leo

Truths of the Heart  by G.L. Rockey

Web of Smoke by Erin Quinn

Whispering Sun by Rita Karnopp

Whispers by Erin Quinn
ASIN: B006G75O6G

Whistler's Murder by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

White Berry on the Red Willow
by Rita Karnopp
ASIN: B007U121ZE

Wilding Nights by Lee Killough

Winter Fire by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Wishful Thinking by Shannah Biondine
ASIN: B00774H8LQ

Witchcraft and Anchovies
by Jamieson Wolf

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spring Fling Event Winners

* Winners! *

Teresa Balderas
wins a Kindle Fire in the Spring Fling Event!


Teresa says, "I can't believe I won the Kindle Fire.  I hoped that I would win it but, never dreamed that I would. Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! Thank you all so much!!! I can't wait until it arrives to start using it.  Have a beautiful've sure made mine much brighter."

Val Pearson will receive an autographed print copy of Mary Leo's latest thriller, Trusting Evil!
Val, please send your snail mail address to so Mary can mail you the book.

Debra Guyette will receive the ebook series Love, Lore and a Wee Bit of Larceny. Debra, please email us at to receive your prizes!


Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone who entered. Check out our Sizzling Summer Spectacular Contest, going on now


Exclusive Story-Star Interview with Kendra Spark of Unorthodox

Hello everyone and welcome to Books We Love Blog: ) I’m S. Peters-Davis, author of Unorthodox , a paranormal suspense-thriller. Pleas...