Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Beautiful Book Covers

"Don't judge a book by it's cover" 

We've all heard the saying. The one that tells us to read the summary or the first chapter before making judgement. Of course, most of us know the validity (or lack of) of this statement, why else would publishers, marketers and authors put so much time and effort into making stunning covers. 

There are several aspects that I find absolutely gorgeous when implemented correctly into a cover. 

1. Cool Fonts 

Anything but Times New Roman is usually beautiful. It's even better when the font of the title matches the story in the book. Fantasy corresponds to swirly, wavy letters while contemporary corresponds to straight, slim letters. 

Some examples include: 

2. Abstract drawings 

It's hard to describe this, but a really good example is of the Shatter Me Trilogy. Anything that doesn't make use of real objects/people but puts an interesting twist to them. 

I just love this entire eye scheme the trilogy has. Each cover has a different season within the theme, which is exemplified in the eyelashes. Generally I think eyes are just beautiful and the twist put on this in this cover is amazing. Props to the artist. 

While this cover showcases a person, it's more of a drawing and honestly it's just so incredible and beautiful. All of the covers are. 

3. A central focus 

There are several covers that have people and things all over the place (*cough* Blood of Olympus *cough*) and are too complicated and messy to be aesthetically pleasing. 

There's no one color scheme or one character, it's just everything...which is too much. 
There are just a few of the things I like in book covers. What makes a book aesthically pleasing to you? Let me know in the comments below! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Free For All Friday | Weird/Funny Situations I've Been In

Hello everyone and welcome to another (on time) post of Free For All Friday!

Today I want to talk about some weird and funny situations I've been lucky to witness.

1. Elevator Woman

Once my friend and I were standing in an elevator, waiting for the doors to close. As they begin closing, a fairly rotund women hurries into the elevator and before the doors can detect her presence, they close on her, before quickly reopening. As a middle-aged Southern woman, rather than cursing in pain, she let out an "Oh my! That's gonna bruise." while rubbing her sides. By this point I was faking some vigorous coughing to cover my laughter.

2. Sprite Torpedo

Speedbumps are a pain. Unless someone is acting like an unprecedented fountain. As we pull away from the parking lot, all of us anticipate the large speed bump. All except one, who, instead, takes a large swig of Sprite. Knowing this couldn't end well, I dive into the seat across from me just has the fountain of Sprite erupts from him, spraying everything within a three foot radius of him.

3. Dumb Students

Sometimes you have to talk to a professor. It's not a big deal, you go to their office, talk to them and leave. But of course things can't be that simple for me. My friend and I go to a professor's office, find that he's not there and wait somewhere down the hall. We situate ourselves in front of a door, the door that, we later find out, he uses to come in. He sees us, says hi and continues onwards to his office. Us, too confused to do anything, just say hi and get back to our work. A few minutes later he comes out and says that someone told him that two girls came looking for him and if we needed to talk to him. Mortified, I made up some excuse how we were just finishing our math homework and would come as soon as we finished the problem.

There are so many more, and I'll probably do a part 2 to this post, but these are just some funny stories I have, though they were much funnier when they happened. Do you guys have any funny stories? Share them in the comments below! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Favorite Genre

Welcome everyone to another Tuesday Talks. I know I haven't done one in forever, but I just kept forgetting and then it wasn't Tuesday anymore. This week's post is discussing our favorite genres.

I'm an all-around person. I don't stick to one genre, but enjoy a wide variety of genres. I'll read pretty much anything, but for the longest time (around when I read the Hunger Games) I had an obsession with dystopian books. It was a good time for that obsession too, since the majority of YA books being released were dystopian.

However lately, though dystopians are still fascinating, there has come a point where the storyline, characters, and settings begin to repeat. For example "The Testing" by Joelle Charbonneau has a very similar cover and concept to The Hunger Games. I think a point has been hit, where an original dystopian idea is no longer as easily feasible.

Lately I have been reading more fantasy, a genre that I used to dislike. It started with the Mortal Instruments, continued with the Throne of Glass series and the Lunar Chronicles. I frequently wouldn't read fantasy because it got way too complicated for me with the wizards and witches and dragons, one of the main reasons I was never a huge potterhead. However I started reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I found that I'm running into the same issue, which is why it's so difficult to get through this book.

What about you guys? What are your favorite genres? Let me know in the comments below! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cress | Marissa Meyer

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Where do I even start with this book? Hands down, the best book in the series (so far). I loved everything about this book except for a total of three things, which I will get into later. 

If you haven't gotten into this series yet, I highly recommend it. In comparison, the first two books aren't as good, but it's definitely worth it for Cress! 

I'm going to jump straight into my spoiler-filled discussion, but I will link my reviews to both Cinder and Scarlet if you want to check those out before this one. 

Spoiler-Filled Discussion

Where do I even begin. Immediately in the first chapter we're introduced to Cress, though I immediately liked her more than I liked Scarlet. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we saw a glimpse of Cress in Cinder, so we had some idea what connection she had to the entirety of the plot. 

We jumped immediately into the action when Sybil came to Cress's satellite and essentially ripped the gang apart. By kidnapping Scarlet and severely injuring Wolf, we knocked out my two least character, which I was surprisingly ok with. 

I loved that we switched mainly between Kai, Cinder and Cress's perspectives, because to me those were the most important ones and the most interesting ones. 

I thought it was an AMAZING coincidence that Thorne and Cress landed in Africa which just happened to be where Cinder landed to find Dr. Erland. (Do you note the sarcasm there?) While I'm glad the gang is back together, that was entirely way too convenient. 

Cinder particularly grows in this book. Previously oppressed by her stepmother and stepsister, she used to be so hesitant in taking up any roles of responsibility. But as this book progressed, she finally understands what she needs to do in order to prevent this war and steps up to take the responsibility. She even harnesses her power and completely crushes Sybil. She is, without a doubt, my favorite character in this book and I can't wait for her to dethrone Levana and take her rightful place as Princess Selene. 

Dr. Erland was also an interesting character during this book. I liked seeing him again, though his connection with Cress seemed way too rushed and just thrown in there. Unless that information plays a useful role later in the book, I don't think that was necessary. If anything I'd rather have seen a little more interaction between them. They talked all of two times in this book and one of those times he was acting as though he had bought her to conduct scientific experiments on her. 

The plan to stop the wedding was by far my favorite part. Iko was fantastic, infiltrating her way through the android catering staff. The entire plan worked perfectly until Sybil recognized Cress's amazing hacking skills and went after them, but even then she was beat so hard by Cinder and the gang. 

THEN we go to kidnap Kai. Cinder just shoots him and drags him with her to the Rampion, talk about commitment. God, I love her. 

We finally get to see some Kaider in this book! About time. But before I proceed to fangirl about the couples, mostly Kaider, let's just talk about how DUMB Kai is. Don't get me wrong, I love him to death, but he's so dumb. 

Kai: So, what do you guys plan to do, overthrow Levana....unless...you guys found Princess Selene?!

Cinder: *nods* Yeah we did. 

Kai: Ohmigod where is she? Is she the blonde chick? 

Cinder: No. 

Kai: How bout the red-head? 

Cinder: Nope. 

Kai: Um...where is she??? 

Cinder: I should tell you, there's something different about her. 

Kai: Um...ok. 

Cinder: She's missing a few limbs. Ya know how she was badly burned by the fire. She may or may not be cyborg. 

Kai: I- um ok. Can we meet her? 

Cinder: *sighs* It's me. I'm Princess Selene.

Kai: *stares in shock* You're kidding right. 


I can't tell if he was just in denial or honestly could not figure it out from all of the bits and pieces he's found. But I'm glad he's funny and hot because intelligence doesn't seem to be a strong point for him. 

Finally, it's time to get a good portion of fangirling in. I love love love Kaider, I love Cress and Throne (Crone?), and I hate Wolf and Scarlet. 

When Kaider kissed: 

When Crone kissed: 

Cress's slight obsession was a bit cringey, but once she began to suppress it a little, Crone got so much better. I love their cute awkward relationship. 

When Wolf moped over Scarlet: 

He's known Scarlet for like two weeks and is claiming they're in love and I'm honestly not buying it. They're relationship is way too cringe-worthy (and not in the good way). 

Concluding thoughts: I need Winter. 

I have by no means covered everything in this book, so let's start some discussions down below! 
What are some of your predictions? I think Kaider should make out a bit more, and then of course defeat Levana, get married and have a peaceful nation, happily ever after. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Scarlet | Marissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

I'm not going to lie, I was fairly disappointed with this book, to me it seemed like a filler book, simply bridging the gap between the first and third book. 

As this is the second book, I will be going into a spoiler-filled discussion, however if you haven't read this series and are a fan of fantasy/dystopian books, I highly recommend this book. If you want to know a bit more about the world, I'll link my spoiler-free review of Cinder as well

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Words with An Author | K.P. Gazelle

   Today's Words With an Author features K.P Gazelle, author of The Color of Happiness. Let's hear what she had to say! 

   1. Where did you come up with the ideas for your book? Who/ what is your inspiration?

     Different events and people inspired different parts of the book.  The element of grounded friendships was inspired from my personal life.  I have the BEST friends!

   2. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, if so which ones?

     The character of Tiffany – Faith’s best friend – is inspired from my best friends. 

   3. Who is your favorite character from any book and why?

      I tend to like strong female protagonists.  So if a book has one, she’ll probably become one of my favorites.

   4. How long did the writing process take for your book?

       Hmm . . . I’m not exactly sure.  I worked on the book very intermittently. 

   5. Who are some of your favorite authors?

      So many!  In terms of young adult authors, I really enjoy Sarah Dessen, John Green, Elizabeth Scott, Rainbow Rowell, etc.

   6.  How did you come up with the title and cover of your book? Did they morph as you wrote the book, or were they constant?

     A decision about the title was made after the book was completed.  It’s inspired by Faith’s love for fashion.  The cover was taken care of by the designer.  

   7. What would your advice be to someone who's aspiring to be a writer?

     To keep reading and to keep writing. 

   8. Finally, just to wrap things up, what's your favorite color and why?

My favorite colors seem to change LOL.  Some of my favorites include: black, white, red, green, and turquoise.  Because they’re all so pretty!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Free For All Friday | Senioritis

Welcome to another weekly Friday post, I know I forgot to post last week, but the reason is exactly what we'll be talking about today:  the dreaded senioritis.

For those of you that don't know, the official definition of Senioritis from the urban dictionary is:

A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletics shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude.

Though that you know, I'm saddened to share you with that I have been diagnosed with it a couple weeks ago. I got through most of second semester, but once all decisions were released, it was all downhill from there.

It's gotten to the point where even updating my blog feels like work. In all honestly I've been bingewatching Parks and Rec for the last couple weeks...thankfully I haven't really had homework or tests to worry about. But once finals come around it'll take some real effort to push through.

What about you guys? Do you have any senioritis-induced stories? Share them below! 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Cinder | Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Yet another highly hyped book I was hesitant to read. Though after finding a wonderfully priced hardcover copy on BookOutlet, I caved and bought it. It wasn't until months later I actually picked it up and began reading it. My reasoning was to wait until Winter came out so I could binge the entire series together. Nonetheless I read it and really enjoyed it. It's somewhat of a fusion between the typically dystopian setting and the fantastical fairy tale world. 

The characters were honestly amazing. I loved Cinder, I loved Kai, I loved Peony, I loved Iko. All of them had such distinct personalities and I loved their interactions with other characters. 

In an effort to keep this review fairly spoiler free, I'm not going to talk about the plot all that much, but I will say that I am incredibly excited to continue the series! 

If you've read Cinder, let me know in the comments below what your favorite part was! 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guest Post | Kelly St. Clare From Manuscript to Published

From Manuscript to Published 

By: Kelly St. Clare (Author of: The Tainted Accords) 

Let me start by saying congratulations. If you hold a manuscript in your hands then you are closer to publishing your book than most people will ever get. It takes good work ethic and courage, so take a moment to pat yourself on the back and say I. Am. Awesome.

In one of my other Dear Aspiring Author guest blogs titled, ‘On writing your Debut Book’, I took you through the bare bones needed to get your manuscript ready. Now, I’m looking forward to showing you end of the process in finer detail.

I published my debut book, Fantasy of Frost, in January 2015, so this advice comes from someone who has just been through what you are going through right now and I really hope it helps you to achieve publication!

Your manuscript has gone through a content editor and/or beta readers and you have done as much as you can to improve it. But what now?

- Decide on Type of Publication
- Decide on an Ebook or Paperback.
- Ensure your writing is quality
- Ensure your product looks good

There are two ways to publish a book. The tried and true way of sending your manuscript to a traditional publisher or the new and still developing way of independently publishing.

Sending your manuscript to a publisher, online or otherwise, has its pros and cons. On one hand, you won’t have to front any of the cost, your book will be marketed for you and you can be assured the publishers have a wide network of resources to help you sell your book. This avenue also means you could be waiting up to two years to publish if you are contracted and you will have no say on the cover or anything other part of the book, apart from the actual writing. Quality writing is nearly always assured, and writers receive a small royalty (average 6%) of all copies sold, with a bulk payment in advance.

I am self-published, which I chose to do because of higher royalties, control over every facet of the publishing process, and a faster turnover. Amazon will pay you a 70% royalty for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. You make all the marketing decisions regarding covers, marketing and timing, though this does have a potential disadvantage of taking up valuable writing time. Unfortunately, the main draw back here is the poor quality self-published Ebooks which are flooding the market. But! You can set yourself apart, I promise.

Here’s how I did it.

My debut book, Fantasy of Frost, currently has a 4.8 star rating, with more than 60 reviews across Amazon and a shelf life of just six weeks. I controlled every part of the process.

“Turning a manuscript into a book is easy; getting the manuscript ready to become a book is hard.”
A.P. Fuchs

Firstly, get a copy editor. You might have already had your work content edited to help with the flow and story arc, but the copy editor is the person who goes through and gets rid of the typos (hopefully) and fixes punctuation. I located mine on Fiverr and sent her a piece of writing which she returned with a sample copy edit. I would recommend doing this, especially if you are paying them for a full length novel. You don’t want a shoddy job!

Even with a copy editor you will continue to find the occasional typo. I sure did! In my next novel, Fantasy of Flight, which comes out in June, I am planning to release ARCs (Advanced reader copies) to selected readers to help eliminate the typos before the release date. I’ll let you know how it goes!

While the book is with the copy editor, you can source a book cover. I read several marketing books before releasing Fantasy of Frost and every, single one of them emphasized the need for a good cover. This is where I learnt that you need to spend money or the cover will look baaaad. I spend ten dollars on the first cover. Sometimes I look at it for a laugh. Just trust me and spend a little more on yours. Try about fifteen to eighteen times this and you will have yourself a great cover. Here is mine below.

Now a good cover can win you promotions (as mine did). But most importantly, it’s what people click on. Think about it. When do you ever click on the title of a book? Probably, never. I located a cover designer on Fiverr. There are tonnes of them, each with their best covers on display. You send through a description of what you’re wanting and if you have some pictures you can send them, too. Just watch the copyright on photos you don’t own. One of the big benefits of the more expensive covers are that they source their own photos.

“You can't judge a book by its cover but you can sure sell a bunch of books if you have a good one.”
Jayce O'Neal

Next. Are you going to publish a paperback or an Ebook?

I honestly don’t know why, in this day and age, you would start by independently publishing a paperback. You’ll probably just end up with a garage full of books. Start with an Ebook. You don’t lose any money (apart from funds used to ensure quality) and it saves trees. Yay for unintentionally saving the environment! Later on you can create a print copy on createspace and link it to your amazon ebook.

There are even more choices if you decide to go the Ebook route. To Amazon it? Or to Smashwords it? To Lulu it? Or to Barnes and Noble it? These are all publishing platforms.

Head spinning? Mine was too.

I chose Amazon because of their KDP (Kindle direct publishing) offers. You can get up to 70% royalties through this scheme. The catch? You must not publish anywhere else for 90 days. Not so bad, I thought. And, your book can be offered on Kindle Unlimited for free. My goal with my debut book was to get my work in front of as many readers as possible, to ‘get my name out there’, which is why I didn’t mind this. I figured, the larger my audience, the more people who would return to buy my next book, creating a long-term income. And then after your 90 days you can publish on other platforms. Win-win?

Now for the final touches
- Prepare front matter (Title page, acknowledgements, dedication and a copy right message.)
- Prepare back matter (Info for next release, sample chapter, author biography, review request, adverts for other authors and a thank you to the readers)
- Prepare your blurb for the publishing platform description.

For all of the above, I went through a few of my favorite books and decided what setup I liked the best.

Lastly, you need to have your book formatted. This is different for each platform you submit your book to. You can get file converters online, but judging from other books I’ve read, this produces formatting of low quality. Spend 20 dollars and you will get a professionally formatted book with a clickable table of contents, pictures, links and a good layout, all as you want it.

All that’s left after checking off the above is to upload your file and click ‘publish’. Such a great feeling. Who needs the Olympics when you can just write a book?

This blog is simply about what choices you need to make to get your book from A to B. Whether it is successful or not depends on the quality of your story and your ability to market your book and get reviews!

“Content is King. Promotion is Queen”
Bob Mayer

I’m learning more about writing, publishing and marketing every day and you can join me on this journey (and learn some tips and tricks in the process) by following my Dear Aspiring Author guest blog series on my website www.kellystclare.com.

In the meantime, here are some other useful resources I have come across:
Should I self-publish or traditionally publish? A questionnaire
Find a content and copy editor, formatter and cover designer here
An in depth blog on the various self-publishing platforms by David Carnoy

You might also be interested in another of my blogs titled ‘On Writing Your Debut Book’.
I wish you all the best with your writing endeavours!

A massive thanks to Saloni at My Fantabulous Bookshelf for having me,

Kelly St Clare

Author Biography

When Kelly St Clare is not reading or writing, she is dreaming up a story in her head; the cause of many headaches for her friends and family, who have struggled to encourage her participation in normal activities - such as everyday life.

Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unravelling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: To write stories she would want to read. 

A New Zealander in origin, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband.

Follow her via Newsletter at www.kellystclare.com, and find her on Facebook or Goodreads.

If you would like to read her coming-of-age epic fantasy novel, Fantasy of Frost, then you can view it here.