Whispers Under the Baobab

One of my favourite writers, Darlene Jones (yes, she’s the one on the camel) has just completed another book, “Whispers Under the Baobab.” It is a stand-alone sequel to her previous publication, “When the Sun was Mine.”  In this sequel,  the setting goes back and forth in time.  We are taken from the U.S. to Africa and back, to events that happened earlier in the life of award-winning journalist, Flo McAllister. When she died, Flo left a mystery behind. The story evolves as we try to decode her secret notes.

I’d like to share the author’s thoughts with you here. Welcome Darlene. What can you tell us about your new book, “Whispers Under the Baobab”?

Darlene Jones

It’s always exciting when “the book” is finally edited, formatted, and published. Holding the print copy in your hands never fails to make your heart beat a little faster. You’ve done it.

Whispers Under the Baobab, my seventh book, is as gratifying as my first. Perhaps even more so for not only have I honed the craft of writing in the process, but I’ve set much of this one in West Africa including Mali, a country that has been dear to my heart ever since I lived there many years ago.

Even more gratifying are the comments from my Nigerian friend, who graciously agreed to be a beta reader.

As an African currently living in Nigeria, my country, I could relate especially with the African setting. Aside from developing the plot, Jones doesn’t fail to present the reader with tidbits about the life and culture of Sidu’s people.

Some sequels tend to lose steam along the way, but not this one. This second installment is a book you can relax with, and finish in a day. If you are looking for a novel where good triumphs over evil, where love is mutual and undying, where new friendships are forged from the unlikeliest of situations, and above all, where the plot is driven by suspense and some bit of code-cracking, then Whispers Under the Baobab is the book for you.

Darlene Jones demonstrates exceptional talent as a wordsmith, and for plotting an intriguing story whose premise invites readers be to resolute in their quest for what is true and right.

See both books here: http://ow.ly/aKXh30bMH88

 

Ever Been at your Wit’s End?

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Lori Virelli says she’s just an ordinary woman, but don’t you believe it. In her writing she makes everyday life extraordinary, filled with dramas of people’s lives in fiction and nonfiction. You will relate to her characters and find inspiration in the outcomes of the stories.

Lori has been blogging for five years and we have “followed” each other for four and a half of those five years. Bloggers come and go, dropping in and out, but Lori and I continue to be buddies.

I’m honoured to host Lori Virelli here today. I’m grateful that fate brought us to each other’s blogs.

Now that she has published her first novel, I feel that I have something to crow about: Lori’s novel Whit’s End.

Lori says she has enjoyed my blog posts and my novels, but today I hope you will click on her amazon links and enjoy her novels. I did that some time ago and have not regretted it. When you read Whit’s End, you’ll find yourself thinking, “Oh, that character sounds just like ‘so-and-so,’” someone you may know in your own life.

Lori finds human behavior fascinating. She says:

“Two people can react differently to the same experience. Two people who grow up in the same household may come away with quite different perceptions of what they have experienced. Perhaps our genes are programmed to respond in our own unique ways, and that’s part of what makes us individuals. This is why I like writing from two perspectives, to show how each person responds to, and handles similar situations in different ways.”

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In Whit’s End, Meg and Ava Whitaker are married to the dysfunctional Whitaker brothers and each handles their marital problems in a different way. Their efforts to cope in their marriages only seem to make matters worse, until, just when the women are at their “Whit’s End,” other men come into the picture. How will each of the women react to the temptation of another man? Where will their actions lead them? Will they “jump ship”? Will that solve their problems? Read Whit’s End to find out.

Lori is the author of short stories published in the magazine Angels on Earth – Dogs and the Women Who Love Them, and in her anthology, Home Avenue, about growing up in 70s in the suburbs of Chicago.

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And psst! If you want a treat, click the link to her book, Whit’s End.

For a peek into Lori’s view of life in Chicago in the 70s, click on her link to Home Avenue.

Home Avenue – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LPJ9YDI

Whit’s End – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N77QY32

Lori’s Lane – http://loreezlane.wordpress.com

Lori is currently working on her second novel. Please leave a comment and say hi.

Desert Camping, Hot Love

While camping in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, I noticed a woman sitting alone in a van parked near the beach. I never saw her get out of her vehicle. She sat in the driver’s seat most of the time, listening to audio tapes and chain smoking cigarettes.

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The beach was beautiful, the sun shone every day, the water was clear and inviting, the place was a paradise. Why would she not get out and inhale that fresh air, go for a walk or a swim, or enjoy this little bit of heaven? I certainly did.

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It puzzled me and I wondered what her story was. Her plates said San Diego. I mulled over many scenarios. Why was she alone? Why did she never get out of her van? Was she trying to kill herself with the first and secondhand smoke in the enclosed vehicle?

The seeds  of a novel were germinating in my head. A California girl comes to Baja alone. But why? I would make her health-minded, young, and beautiful. Yes, the character was taking shape in my head.

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She would need to find a love interest, but who would be down here on his own and why? Men come to Baja alone, looking for … something ….

Each of the characters had good reasons for being on the run, but would that interfere with them starting a new relationship? What if the attraction was so strong, they couldn’t resist?

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But what if their past troubles are coming after them? Will the new lovers stick together? Will they panic, split, and run to escape their pursuers? And what about that drug runner who is out for revenge for a slight on the road?

sunset at La Perla

Life could be so perfect, if only those nasty people from their past weren’t coming after them.

For a gripping story of love and suspense wrapped up in a Baja adventure, why not spend a big $2.99 and download Orion’s Gift from amazon.com or smashwords.com today?

Cover design for Orion’s Gift is by Anita B. Carroll. Thank you, Anita for a great cover image. You can contact Anita at anita@race-point.com

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Think You’re Done? What about the Extras?

I’ve seen very little written about the “front matter” of a book. It’s not enough to slave for months (sometimes years) to write a book. Just when you think you’re in the clear, the book has been copy-edited and is clean, clean clean (if not, contact Anneli Purchase), and will be published soon, you realize you have to face all the writing for the front matter of the book – the part before the story begins.

You need to have a title picked out. That in itself can be a nightmare. You may think you’ve got the perfect title thought out and then you type it into the search space on amazon only to find there are already 18 other books listed by the same title. Back to the drawing board.

Then there is the matter of copyright. That is the least difficult. Once you tell the world that the following is your work and yours alone, your work is considered your own. In Canada you send  the information about your book (title, number of pages, subject area, date of publication, etc.) to Library and Archives Canada, and you will receive the exact information that is to appear on the copyright page, including an ISBN.

Next, the dedication of your book. Who would be flattered to have your work dedicated to them? Who is deserving of the honour of being named  in the front matter of your magnum opus? 

Then come the acknowledgements. Very important! Don’t forget to thank those lovely people who were your main support throughout the struggle of writing this wonderful book, those “without whom this book would never have been written.” But maybe you can think of some more original way to say it.

Unless you have a prologue, the front matter is basically done, but there is one more headache waiting for you. Two actually. You need to come up with a cover description – a paragraph telling the reader what your book is about. The trick will be to make them want to take the book home and read it. You will also need to make a shortened version of this enticing description for advertising purposes, in some cases for a flap jacket, or maybe next to the book cover image on the amazon page where your book is for sale.

And of course this all assumes that you have a cover image for your book already prepared. (If not, call Anita B. Carroll.)

When all is done, you can relax at last. Ha, ha. Just kidding! That is when the work begins. This is the part most authors would love to do without – the marketing. But whole books have been written on that subject alone and I won’t try to tackle it in this post.

Do you judge a book by its cover? Part Two

My guest today is Anita B. Carroll, the wonderful lady who designed the new cover for my novel, The Wind Weeps. Anita will explain what is involved in designing book covers and if you are in the market for a book cover, you can’t go wrong by checking out her qualifications, her portfolio, and her very reasonable prices.

Here’ s Anita:

How important do you think your cover design is? Is it worth it to spend the money on a professional designer? That’s a good question and you would expect me, a designer, to push for hiring a pro.

However, when you look at the facts, the question really is, can you afford not to hire a designer?  I welcome you to read an article I wrote for KOBO Writing Life, where I show the effect the cover designs have on the book sales, in numbers:  http://kobowritinglife.com/2013/11/22/weve-got-you-covered-friday-lets-talk-numbers/

Selling a book is an art form in itself, and there are some important areas to factor in to not only help reach your target readers, but most importantly to increase your book sales.  Selling your book will probably be the biggest challenge you are going to face, and what it really boils down to is the packaging, delivery, and the value — which I talk about in more detail in this blog post:

http://race-point.com/2015/03/03/authorbranding/

Some samples of my work:

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From behind the scenes of a cover designer

I thought it might be interesting to talk about how the cover design process works and what to look for in a cover designer.

The cover design process is probably a lot more in-depth than you might think. Just like writing a manuscript for your story, designing a high quality cover that is a true representation of your story, takes time, research, and patience.

Every cover designer’s process, is different.  I come from a background with website User Interface Design and Development with focus on product development, which is also known as brand identity. So in my world, to design for a product, you have to fully understand it and for me the best way to do just that is to read your story.

After reading it, I will have a set of questions for you which will help ensure we are both on the same page and your vision and expectations are met.

Once we finalize the concept, I begin searching for stock imagery or do a custom photo shoot, which I present to you for  final approval. Once we settle on imagery I begin designing and do send off a cover sample to you for your review to give you a chance to give me any edits/tweaks. Once the revision is complete, so is the cover design.

The whole process can take anything from 24 hours to 2 months. It varies from one cover project to another.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for finding that right cover designer:

  1. View their online portfolio. Make sure the designer’s design style fits your vision. Understanding the difference between an illustrator and a digital manipulation designer is helpful.
  2. Provide your designer with ample time. The more time you give the designer to work on your cover, the better it will be. This gives us time to really think the design through and create a much more involved design.
  3. If you have something specific in mind provide samples. Pictures are always better than descriptions, especially when it comes to colors.
  4. Know that you don’t have to know what you want. We are trained and will help you brainstorm great ideas. The more specific you are, the more restricted we feel and you could stand to lose out on a great concept, since we always will work our hardest giving you what you want. Always.
  5. And lastly, keep in mind the cover design does not have to be literal, but focus more on the emotion the imagery represents.

Best of luck!

About the cover designer:

Anita B. Carroll, at Race-Point.com is a Visual Design provider with over 18 years of creative professional experience, and produces high-end quality cover creations for both print and online mediums including custom photography.

Anita works primarily with self-published authors in addition to freelance for publishing companies.

Learn more about Anita (http://race-point.com/about-2/ )and view her cover works. http://race-point.com/portfolio/

Get a quote:  http://race-point.com/quote/

Do you judge a book by its cover?

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I used to believe and follow that advice. I’ve read some excellent books that came “in a plain brown wrapper.”

Years ago, when most hardcover books came in  plain cloth or hard paper covers, not illlustrated, a discerning reader had to look for a synopsis on the inside of the flap jacket  to decide whether the book might be more interesting than its cover.

When paperbacks came out, covers of the classics and non-fiction books were still plain. Then a new kind of paperback with illustrated covers hit the market. Yes, there were a few good books among these, but many covers were associated with a lesser quality of writing or cheesier topics. Often a cheap photo or drawing attempted to lure a reader into buying.

Times have changed. Now that everyone is a writer, the market is more competitive and since most authors want to realize some sales now rather than 100 years after their death, they resort to a flashy advertising campaign. And it works!

Put a boring plain cover next to a flashy modern one, and it’s no contest. The eye, and hand, are almost always drawn to the flashier cover. Of course, in the end, the real test still lies in the text between the front and back covers of the book.

Anita B. Carroll has helped bring me into the modern age of competitive book covers. With her amazing imagination she has created a new cover for my novel, The Wind Weeps.

After reading the book, she said it had the same suspense as the movie Sleeping With the Enemy starring Julia Roberts. I was so pleased that she found it to be a page turner.

For the novel, The Wind Weeps, I had thought of book cover images with a stormy ocean,  a desperate young woman, perhaps a boat … but none of these images conveyed the terror that is also a part of this love story. Andrea’s husband brings her orchids. Perhaps orchids could feature in the cover? But the cover image can’t be too rosy (sorry for the pun). It is also a dark story – the kind of darkness that makes you want to turn the page, looking for the light.

In the end, I told Anita, “Just forget my ideas and see what you come up with.”

She really came through for me. I was shocked at first because it was so different from what I expected, but she has captured all the elements of the story. The delicate orchid, the tears dripping from it into a desolate ocean; love gone wrong. The red sky symbolizing (for me) pain and fear, and the dark, rough ocean symbolizing Andrea’s remote isolation and desperation.

Here is Anita B. Carroll’s amazing creation for The Wind Weeps. This novel is available at all amazon outlets, and at smashwords.com

WEB_WRAP_2If you are looking for someone to design and create your next book cover, why not give Anita B. Carroll a try?

Anita’s  contact information:

www.race-point.com

Passion Patrol Series – Shannon’s Law

Thank you so much for letting me showcase my forthcoming steamy action-romance novel SHANNON’S LAW. It’s  the second in my PASSION PATROL series – stories where sassy female cops lock up the criminals and always get their man.

Photo A Shannon's Law Tour - print and digital

February marks the start of my “Pinterest Reveal Virtual Book Tour” in the run-up to the launch on the 28th February 2014.

Every day there are feature posts on topics relating to SHANNON’S LAW on blogs all around the world.  They’re all linked together on one big Pinterest Board. Each post replaces a ‘mystery’ silhouette that was posted in January. I saved all  my notes and photos as I was writing, on a private Pinterest Board and now I can share them with you.

Today’s subject is:  The Food of Love – Cop’s Kitchen – a companion recipe book to Shannon’s Law – Devils on Horseback

All-action all-loving cops need fuel. In the course of Shannon’s Law she and others chomp their way through a fair bit of food.  As I was writing it occurred to me that readers might like to experience some of the dishes for themselves. So it was that Cop’s Kitchen came into being. Where a dish is mentioned I have created a recipe.  All the food has been tried out  at home. Now you can too. The color photos are all my own work as well.  As a special treat during the run-up to launch of Shannon’s Law –  every reader who enters the Rafflecopter Draw below gets a FREE digital  copy of Cop’s Kitchen!

Photo C Shannon's Law Cop's Kitchen art

Shannon is a working girl. Between love and crime action she often has little time to consider her diet let alone slave at the stove or go shopping for herbs and spices.  As a true English girl she is well acquainted with take-out fish and chips. She has a favorite curry house to beat anything she could make. Although she buys some dishes ready made, I have recreated the real thing in my own way, using traditional methods. Very often it is the police canteen that keeps her fueled up for drama and passion. My ex-cop partner appears to have spent a lot of his career sustained by a famous police dish – Sausage Toad with chips. In the book, Shannon has an important meeting with her boss over such a feast.

Excerpt:

“Now, that’s what I call true Force feeding!” he said.

Shannon laughed and treated the delicacy with brown HP sauce. She missed stuff like this in her new life. Her hips were cheering. They sat down by the window looking out onto the urban swirl of cars and Croydon concrete.

 

A recipe from Cop’s Kitchen to whet your appetite: Devils on Horseback 

These little dainties are served as one of a selection of canapé appetizers at a reception at Bloxington Manor after a cricket match.  They are the most unlikely combination but are utterly delicious blend of salt and sweet.  Traditionalists say to use prunes but I prefer unctuous dates – you could try either.  They are quite rich so if served with other appetizers you may only need 3-4 per person.

Shannon's Law Post 10 Photo devils on horseback

Ingredients to make 24:

8 rashers of bacon (streaky is best but back bacon will do.)

24 dates – pitted.

fresh sage leaves or dried if unavailable.

Olive oil.

wooden cocktail sticks.

 

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400 degF, 200degC.
  2. Using the blunt edge of a knife, carefully stretch each bacon slice to 1.5 times its length.
  3. Cut each rasher into 3.
  4. Take a date (or prune) and roll one slice of bacon around it.  Pin in place with a cocktail stick through the whole thing.
  5. Put some olive oil on a saucer and dip a sage leaf into the oil. (skip if using dried basil)
  6. Stick the sage leaf onto the ‘devil’.
  7. Place on a baking tray.
  8. If using dried sage, when all the devils are finished, sprinkle with olive oil and dried sage.
  9. Place in oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  10. Release with a metal slice and serve whilst warm.

 

Book Blurb

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Wild child inner-city cop Shannon Aguerri walks a dangerous line between her methods and justice. When the bosses lose their nerve, after yet another maverick mission, she is transferred to green pastures to play out the role of a routine village cop. When she encounters signs of slave and drug trafficking she homes in on serious millionaire criminals.

As a loner she has attracted men but nothing has stuck. When she meets Spencer, the hunky and widowed Earl of Bloxington, there is an immediate rapport between them. Their social differences mean nothing to their passion and need.

Already in the mix is an upper class female rival – who has long plotted her way into the Earl’s bed. The jealousy is an evil shade of green and the anger is a violent scarlet.

Often inhibited by a sense of duty and honour, Spencer is slow to reveal his feelings. When Shannon confronts him with the need to choose between her word and that of her rival, he does not immediately support her.

All issues are set aside, when they are forced together to carry out a desperate rescue mission. Their love is stronger than everything ranged against them.

SHANNON’S LAW comes out on February 28th 2014 in print and digital formats for all e-readers. 

Amazon is offering some great discounts for pre-orders of the paperback version

(29% off in USA,     12% off in the UK).

You can pre-order the digital version at a pre-launch special price from Nook, Kobo, and iTunes. It will also be available in all digital formats on Smashwords

See this post and others from my tour as they go live on Pinterest

Follow Shannon’s Law on Facebook

Visit the Shannon’s Law Website for book details and pre-order information.

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RAFFLECOPTER DRAW

Win Amazon vouchers, copies of the book PLUS a free gift for every entrant (see prizes below).

ENTER DRAW HERE : http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Mjg1OTEwYzI5YjYwMjA3ZWY2Y2EzZDEzODljNmNjOjE5/

 

The draw will be made at random, by Rafflecopter on the 7th March 2013. 

 

Companion Cookbook

In addition to SHANNON’S LAW, I’m launching a companion digital cookbook with illustrated recipes for all the meals from the novel.

 It’s called  COP’S KITCHEN – Read the love story and taste the romance!

To celebrate the launch of SHANNON’S LAW, there is a special FREE gift for you in my RAFFLECOPTER draw. As well as great, unique prizes to win, EVERY ENTRANT will get their own digital copy of – COP’S KITCHEN. There are many ways to get bonus chances – by commenting on this post, liking Facebook Pages etc.

ENTER DRAW HERE: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Mjg1OTEwYzI5YjYwMjA3ZWY2Y2EzZDEzODljNmNjOjE5/

Photo C Shannon's Law Cop's Kitchen art

Main Prizes in the Draw:

$30/£20/€25 Amazon Gift Voucher, 2 paperback copies of Shannon’s Law, 3 digital copies of Shannon’s Law.

Shannon’s Law comes out in paperback and digital formats for all e-readers

on February 28th 2014.

Photo D - Shannon's Law all Emma Calin's books

Emma Calin’s Website

Emma Calin’s Twitter

Emma Calin’s Facebook

About.me page: http://about.me/emmacalin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4915751.Emma_Calin

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This post is part of the

“SHANNON’S LAW PRE-LAUNCH PINTEREST REVEAL

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR”

Follow the other posts in February to see the background to the story unfold.

 via the PINTEREST BOARD for Shannon’s Law

or via the individual blogs around the world here