Just Ella Cover Updated

All right, my friends. Here it is. My brand spanking new cover for Just Ella!

I feel like there should be a heavenly chorus singing sweet strains of music.

I do love it so.

So, SO pretty! Thank you so much to my model, Sabrina, to my sister and amazing photography, Jen (fausetphotography.com), and to my husband, Cameron, for putting it together. I’m absolutely thrilled with how it turned out!

The paperback cover isn’t quite ready yet, but I’ll let you know when it is!

 

Just Ella Cover Photoshoot

The decision to create a new cover for Just Ella was not one that I made lightly. The original cover design was entirely my brain child. I scoured images, pulled together the background, the dress and the hair and then sent the cobbled together image to my sister, Cherise, so that she could paint it. The resulting painting was gorgeous, fabulous, exactly what I wanted. It was the perfect representation of my book, a cherished piece of art.

It did not, however, make a good book cover on its own.

I had forgotten about where I would put the title. I hadn’t considered what it would look like in a smaller size. I didn’t know how to make a good book coverbecause I’d never done it before (learning curve of a self published author). I hadn’t thought through what it would look like in postage stamp size. And THAT is a very important consideration when your main format will be ebooks. My covers are my one big advertisement. They have to be able to catch a reader’s attention so that they will click on it to read more. If I can’t catch their attention with that tiny cover when they’re scrolling through the kindle bookstore, I get nowhere.

So when my husband and I were trying to take this painting and turn it into a cover, we had to manipulate the colors and change the image so that it read well as an advertisement. I hated that I had to change it. It felt wrong to adjust the colors that my sister has so painstakingly mixed and applied. I didn’t want to change my pretty painting. But it was what it was. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy with the end result. I like my original cover, but it’s always bothered me that it wasn’t true to the painting that my sister had worked so diligently to bring my vision to life.

Over the past couple of years, she’s mentioned to me a time or two that if I want to redo the cover, I should. At first I dismissed the idea. That cover came from my brain and from her artistic hands, and I didn’t want to change it. However, as I pondered on the idea over time, I realized that if I ever got the opportunity, I should probably take it. All of my other covers are photos, and it would look better for continuity sake if Just Ella was a photo cover as well.

There was a catch though. If I was going to shoot anywhere, it had to be in the original location that inspired the cover in the first place. Wadley farms is down in Provo, six hours from where I live. So when I ended up planning a trip to a writing conference in Provo (in May, when the plants and greenery would be gorgeous), I knew I had to give it a try. My oldest sister, Jen (Fauset photography) lives in Heber. So I arranged to go down a day early so that we could get together and shoot.

The date was set. The plan was in motion.

Then I had to figure out the dress. I was determined to find a ready made costume so that I wouldn’t have to spend extra money on buying fabric and extra time trying to make a formal dress utilizing my limited sewing skills.

The best laid plans…

I went to a costume place, found something that I thought would work, brought it home, looked at it further…it wasn’t going to work. *banging my head against a wall* So I pulled out every formal dress that I had on hand, trying to see if maybe—just maybe—I could utilize something I had on hand. Make it over, make it gorgeous.

I pulled out a bridesmaid dress that I had worn when I was 15 and started tweaking.

This is what the dress looked like originally:

Yup. That’s me. In all my 15-year-old glory.

I went to goodwill and bought a cream prom dress that I could use for a contrasting fabric color and I started cutting. And stitching. And adjusting. And so much hand sewing.

Laying it out, trying to figure out how it’s going to look.

I sew in the same way that I write books. I make it up as I go and cross my fingers that it works out. Then I re-do it when it doesn’t.

Good glory, but I am proud of this dress.

I was working on little last minute tiny details up until the morning that I left to drive down. I became a little obsessive about it. But it was very satisfying to see the final result when the model put it on.

Speaking of the model. Sabrina was amazing! Her hair was perfection and she was so fun to work with. She was happy to do whatever we asked (including climbing a tree) and we had a great time walking around the amazing grounds, going inside the castle (because they have a castle) and contorting ourselves to get the right poses and lighting. (I really wish I had a picture of me propping open the giant castle doors. Two hands on one door, bent over, stretching to keep the other door open with my foot at the same time.)

In the end, it was so much fun, and so worth it. I’ve almost finalized the new cover and will get it up as soon as possible. I’ve been using the other pictures on Instagram, pairing them with quotes from the book, and sighing over their perfectness as I do.

Happy Pre-order Launch Day!

It’s official! Keeping Kinley is up for pre-order on Kindle, with an official publication date of May 30th. Right now you can pre-order for $3.99. However, that might change. I have absolutely NO CONTROL over the price. Since it’s published by Kindle Press, the price is set by them.

 So what does this mean for all you beautiful people who nominated it on Kindle Scout?

It means that there should be an email sitting in your inbox letting you know how to get your free copy. If it’s not there yet, it will be soon. Some have already received theirs, so I know it’s happening!

I hope those of you who receive copies find joy in reading it. And I hope that you will let me know what you thought when you are finished. As always, I’m anxious to know if you will enjoy it as much as you have enjoyed my other books.

When you’re finished, it would mean the world to me if you would go onto Amazon and/or Goodreads and review it. Or tweet about it, or tell a friend. Any help you can give me in spreading the word makes a HUGE difference.

If you see any typos (OH NO!), please let me know! Contact me through my website, or through FB, or tweet at me if you’d like. Hopefully everything is all clean and tidy, but even with all my rounds of edits, sometimes I miss things.

I’m excited to hear early feedback, and I can’t wait for this month to be over so that my little book can go forth into the world. Huzzah!

It’s a YES!

Keeping Kinley has been selected for publication by Kindle Press!

See? It’s right there at the top of the KindleScout site. Doesn’t it look great there?

I’ve already updated my files, so now I’m waiting on the Kindle Press team to review it and offer any suggestions. If I’m lucky, the process will go quickly, but I really don’t know how long it will take, so please bear with me. As soon as I know anything about pre-order or publication dates, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops.

The Prologue that Wasn’t

The KindleScout campaign for Keeping Kinley has officially ended. Thank you so, so much to everyone who nominated it! Whether it’s chosen or not, it’s been a great experience. I hope you all enjoyed reading the first couple of chapters and I’m excited to get the rest of the story into your hands.

As I was going through my manuscript (yet again) and looking over different files, I found a prologue that I toyed with using. In the end I decided it was unnecessary (as most prologues are) and it went into my ‘deleted’ folder. However, I thought it would be fun to share it with y’all, because I do like how it turned out.

The Prologue that Wasn’t:

I told myself I wouldn’t look, but some self destructive tendency drove me to part the curtains. He was returning from a carriage ride. With her. She was dressed in her finery, the picture of innocence and ladylike decorum. He smiled at her.

I loved that smile.

It shouldn’t have hurt. The crushing disappointment shouldn’t have had the power to knock the wind out of me. But he had made me believe in him, in us.

Even so, I was practical enough that I should have expected this outcome. The world was always going to come between us. The truth of who he was, and who I was. The truth that had forced me to walk away from him—again. Yet this was so much worse than when I had left him the first time, when we were children, and the only thing we had to lose was friendship.

Fun, huh?

I also wanted to share my print cover. As always, the handsome man that I call my own helped me with it. Or…I helped him with it. We collaborated, there you go. I especially love the apple watermark that he made for me.

 

I ordered the paperback proof several days ago, and I’m so excited for it to arrive. That’s still my favorite part of this whole process—getting to hold the physical book in my hands for the first time. There’s nothing quite like testing the weight and flipping the pages, knowing that I wrote all that.

So now I’ll sit back and wait to hear from the KindleScout people, and in the meantime I’ll proof my paperback so that it will be ready to go as soon as either KindleScout or I publish the ebook.

ONWARD!

 

Keeping Kinley is Coming!

This one feels like it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time for Keeping Kinley to become a reality.

I’ve got a beautiful cover!

I’ve got a book trailer!

I’ve got a way for you to earn a FREE COPY!

First: The Cover

I think this might be my favorite of all my covers. *sigh of contentment*

Keeping Kinley Cover

Rylan made me feel like things were possible. Like I was possible, and he was possible, and we could be possible together.

Kinley is content tending her apple orchard, until a chance meeting with a childhood friend changes her priorities. Spending time with nobility is not socially acceptable, but Rylan rejects the norm. He pushes his romantic interest with a charming carelessness, hoping it turns into something more—something she hadn’t realized she wanted.

When Kinley’s livelihood is threatened, any thoughts of a relationship are set aside as she’s thrust into Rylan’s world, where commoners and nobility don’t mix. The Rylan she encounters there is not the quirky and carefree friend she thought she knew. Can she trust what her heart has told her and believe in him, or will she be forced to accept that her dreams are only that—dreams?

Second: The Book Trailer

 

 

Third: You can earn a FREE COPY.

Yes, you read that right. You can earn an EARLY, free copy of Keeping Kinley by clicking here and nominating Keeping Kinley for publication through the Kindle Scout program.

“But, Annette, I’ve never tried to use Kindle Scout. I don’t have an account. Do I need to sign up?”

Nope! That’s the beauty of it. As long as you have an Amazon account, you’re good to go. You just use your usual Amazon sign-in for the Kindle Scout page. This link takes you directly to my campaign, where you can read the first two chapters of Keeping Kinley (well, ALMOST the first two chapters), and push the nominate button. If enough people nominate it, then Kindle Scout will publish it. And if they choose to publish it, then you get a free copy! so long as my book is on your nomination list when the campaign ends.

At the end of the nomination period (30 days), if it is not picked up and published by Kindle Scout, I will publish it as usual just as soon as they tell me “no.” Either way, Keeping Kinley should be published mid-late March.

So, what I need you to do right now:

1: Head on over to Kindle Scout and give it a nomination.

2: Go over to Goodreads and add it to your bookshelf.

3: Hit up Facebook and Twitter and share the Kindle Scout Link with all your friends. Remember, EVERYONE who nominates it will get a free copy IF it’s selected for publication by the Kindle Scout team.

I’m so excited that this project is moving forward! Happy Reading, everyone!

Loving Your Characters

When I start reading a book, there are many factors that might prevent me from being able to immerse myself in the story. One of the biggest is unlikable characters. I imagine that’s the case with many readers, especially if you enjoy character driven books. We don’t want to cheer for a character that we just don’t like. Sometimes I don’t like characters because they’re boring, other times it’s because I don’t respect them. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that writing likable characters is essential for an author’s success.

What’s the first step to writing likable characters? You have to actually like them yourself. If you don’t love the characters you create, then how can you expect readers to love them? Continue reading

That Time People Thought I was Crazy

I was headed home from college in Virginia, on a flight out of Roanoke. Roanoke is not large. The airport has all of five gates. I once checked in only 45 minutes before my flight and the lady said she wasn’t sure I’d be able to board on time. I couldn’t help the look I gave her. Did she really think that walking up the escalator and down two gates would take more than five minutes?

Small airport means small planes. The one I was on this time had maybe thirteen rows, consisting of three seats each, two on one side, one on the other. I was on the side with one seat. That’s what I preferred, since it was both a window and an aisle seat. I like being able to look out the window, but I also like being on the aisle due to having a bit of claustrophobia.

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It was spring or summer (not sure which), warm enough to be muggy. I happily pointed the air vent on me as I buckled in and pulled out a book. I was reading and ignoring the people around me when a snowflake fell on my book. Continue reading

Empathy, Validation, and Vocabulary

I was contacted last week by a good friend of mine from High School. Abi does short interviews with all kinds of people on all kinds of topics using SpareMin. This week she wanted to interview different people about the value of literature and she asked if I’d have a couple minutes to talk with her. Of course, I said, “Yes!”

As I thought about the topic, there was no lack of ideas that came to mind, but the three that made their way to the top of my list were these:

  1. Books teach empathy.
  2. Books can validate our own experience.
  3. Books give us an emotional vocabulary.

In the interview with Abi, we only spoke about the first, so I wanted to expound here.

Let me explain.

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Books Teach Empathy

When we read books, we usually get inside the head of one or more characters. We get a detailed view of their situation and their reaction to it. Good books will make us sympathize with the character. Great books will make us empathize with them. A well-written book will immerse us so fully in the character’s plight, that we can’t help but feel what they feel. And because the situation and emotional responses that can be contained and explained in books are unlimited in their diversity, it gives readers a chance to experience, in some small way, the life struggles of a vast number of people.

Books Can Validate Our Own Experience

When we find a character that we can relate to, someone who has experienced what we’ve experienced, or felt what we’ve felt, it can make us feel less alone. I’m thinking especially of middle school and high school aged kids and young adults. Kids who are experiencing huge emotions for the first time and who might feel like they are completely alone in what they’re feeling can find validation and camaraderie with fictional characters. It can give them a chance to realize, “Hey, this character feels the same way I do; maybe I’m not crazy. Maybe I’m not wrong to feel this way. Maybe other people feel this way too.”

Books Give Us Emotional Vocabulary

Yes, they teach us just plain old vocabulary as well. However, I think the more important aspect is being able to learn how to speak coherently about our own emotions. If a reader can identify with and relate to a certain character, there is a good chance that the way that character discovers, identifies, and labels their emotions with in turn teach the reader how to identify and label their emotions. Books give words to feelings. Words that people, especially kids, will be able to use when communicating their feelings to others. Has that ever happened to you? You’re reading a book and the character suddenly drops this perfectly worded truth bomb that describes what you’ve been feeling, but haven’t been able to identify for who knows how long? That’s a powerful thing. It’s a gift.

Books are a powerful tool. They can teach us a lot about ourselves. And they’re cheaper than therapy. 🙂