indieBRAG Blog

First Impressions… By Helen Hollick

Covers. It never ceases to amaze me how bad some indie-published covers can be. As Managing Editor of the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews I see a lot of indie historical fiction – all UK published books initially come through my postbox (and some US ones as well) before being sent out to my UK review team. That first look at a book as it comes out of its packaging can have such an enormous influence on that vitally important first impression – and can even influence the difference between accepting a novel for review or rejecting it. A good cover – usually professionally designed and produced, can create immediate interest; “Oh, this looks good!”  Alternatively, some are ­– I hate to say this, because most authors put a lot of time, trouble and effort into self-publishing their books, but it has to be said – some covers are absolutely awful. Yes, your family member may be good at art, but this person is not a graphics designer. The result will look amateurish, and if the cover gives the impression of not being top-quality professional, then it will be assumed that the text inside is not up to par either.…

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My Classy Women by J.F. Ridgley

I never thought about my first published book like this, but in a way, it is my own vow of revenge… against all the rejections I got over the years. Yes. I can honestly tell you, these little letters/emails from editors and agents are like the water-drip torture. It tears at your soul. Now not all rejections were harsh or rude. Many were very pleasant as tofu is mild. But some were just plain impolite. They ask for a submission but explain that if you don’t hear from us, consider it rejected. You don’t know if they even got your query.  Now, I don’t know if editors or agents still do this still. But I feel this should be outlawed. So I came to a breaking point and considered quitting writing. Just give up this brain fart. Who was I to think I could write anyway? Weeding gardens is easier. Cleaning bathroom etc. Well I didn’t want to.   To thwart that, I attended an RWA conference with full intentions getting recharged, finding out what I was doing wrong, and figuring out now NOT TO QUIT. As RWA conferences are, they had lots for me. Lots, And other writers who…

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My Tale (Tail) of Two Desks by PJ LaRue

My desk at work and my desk at home are opposites. One might think the nature of my job is the cause, but it isn't. I am an organized thinker, numbers person and CPA under my real name by day and a writer under my pen name by night and on the weekends. Although artistic people are sometimes categorized as disorganized, the neatly organized desk is my writing desk, while my office at work is hidden beneath a mountain of paper. Occasionally, my propensity for neatness wins and my office takes on a semi-clean appearance with stacks of papers organized by tasks at hand. Other days, there is no hope, with papers strewn across the desk, credenza and meeting table, today's latest crisis on top of yesterday's unfinished assignment. Please join me in my tale (tail) of two desks to discover why my work space at home is always organized and often paper free. It all started a little over a year ago when we adopted our kittens Shelby and Riley at the local animal shelter. Shelby should have been named Shelby Don’t, because we exclaim that phrase throughout the day. Many people converse with their pets, and I am…

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indieBRAG Interview with Cathy Helms-Graphic Designer

indiebrag welcomes Cathy Helms! Cathy lives with her husband of twenty-three years in Troutman, North Carolina. She earned her degree in Advertising and Graphic Design in 2008 and founded Avalon Graphics in 2009. Years before she attended college and gained a formal education in the medium, Cathy taught herself how to create graphics for the web and print media using Adobe Photoshop. Her formal education in 2008 gave Cathy the technical skills required in order to apply her creative talent in book cover design, marketing materials, and book trailer production. Cathy is a member of the Historical Novel Society as she is an avid reader and fan of history. If money were no object, Cathy would travel the world. What is your Graphic Design Company called? Avalon Graphics LLC – which was inspired by my love for the Arthurian Legends as told in books, film and TV. I’ve always been fascinated by Arthur – who he might have really been historically (if he ever even existed), but I will always devour any books about Camelot and the fairytale legends. Great escapism! How did you get in Graphic Design? I have always been a creative thinker and visual person. I kept…

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LIVING IN SUMMER, WRITING ABOUT WINTER by Gill-Marie Stewart

My current YA novel, No More Lies, was inspired by a trip to the Cairngorm National Park in the Scottish Highlands in winter 2015. I began writing it in winter 2016, when we had actually moved to this area. Perfect, I thought, I have my setting at my fingertips. And then we happened to see a house we fell in love with, miles away on the west coast. So instead of being able to concentrate on the writing I had to think about moving (second time in 12 months!) and suddenly it was spring and I still hadn’t finished No More Lies. And now it’s nearly summer, and I’m loving the sunshine and the heat (yes even here in Scotland – first barbecue last week) but am still putting the final touches to that novel set in the depths of a very snowy winter. So - how do I do it? How do I take myself out of the lush green of the present and back into the stark black and white of my story? Obviously as writers we are constantly creating a world which is not the one we are currently living in, but I do feel that with…

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Childhood Memories and Rainy Days

By J F Ridgley-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree  Funny how certain days linger in your memory forever.  Stephanie suggested a topic for the indiebrag blog…“Try to recreate a day of reading from your childhood or teen years and write about it,” she asked. And a cherished memory sprang to life the instant I read her prompt. Freeimages.com Niles N Kristensen It began on a cloudy, rainy days, all gray, drippy, and cold. My family and I lived on a busy, city street where, on this day, cars, trucks and buses hurried by, spraying large puddles of water onto the sidewalks.  Our house was a simple one, barely more than a two bedroom ranch with a front porch, which is where this memory  began. On that porch swing. As a young girl no more than ten, I loved that swing on any day. It swung my dolls to sleep, thrilled me and my friends when we banged it against the house as we laughed together on a hot summer day. But this was spring and raining, not storming. Just a steady downpour flowed from the thick gray clouds, watering  spring flowers, turning winter yards to a lush green, and kept everyone inside. Everyone except…

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Cover Crush: Dog Water Free by Michael Jay

As a mom of 4 boys I am always drawn to images that remind me of them, of times when they were little and how they loved spending time in the great outdoors.  This cover grabbed me and made me feel the bond between a boy and his special friend, a friend that is loyal, one that can sense your moods and knows when it's just time to sit quietly and be still.  With the gorgeous view of the mountains it gives the feel of endless possibilities and somehow your problems just don't seem that overwhelming. Coming of age book are always a favorite of mine, and to be honest I have never seen one revolving around a male character and this excites me. Based on a true story, with lots of headlines involved here it has the makings of an interesting story. Definitely on my reading list and one I hope to share with the male population in my family. By Margaret Cook Just One More Chapter Synopsis Meet Joe Black visits The Wonder Years in the true story of DOG WATER FREE. It chronicles a journey by a boy named Mikee, whose coming-of-age search for emotional truth lands…

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Covers in Color by Holly Bush

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree! When I began self-publishing my historical romances back in 2011, I did not have a clear vision of the sales ocean I was dipping my toe in, and even with some significant marketing background, I did not have the experience or understand the particulars about product placement in the book biz. I scanned the Amazon and Barnes & Noble book site pages for hours and hours, recording and cataloging what covers drew my eye. I had virtually no budget, as I’d not sold any books at that point, for models or photos or the software to design a cover and in 2011 there were few, if any, sources for pre-made book covers. Romancing Olive’s original black and white cover was put together by my daughter using borrowed software and a $10 photo. The second black and white cover for Train Station Bride and the third, Reconstructing Jackson, were also done in much the same way. At the time I was not convinced I could compete with the gorgeous color covers coming out of New York, so I decided to go the opposite direction and be the black, tan, and gray, amongst the violet, chartreuse, rose, and periwinkle.…

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Cover Crush: A Kiss from France by Susan Hughes

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree When I first saw this book on indieBRAG’s homepage, it caught my eye immediately! I’d like to first mention the title. Love it! Catchy and intriguing. The cover itself is true to the period in which the story takes place. I love the tone and design. I have been really intrigued with the period lately and I love ready about stories of women who lived during this time and seeing war told through their eyes. Great cover, title and premise! Bumping this book up on my reading list! Be sure to read the book blurb below! Stephanie M. Hopkins Indiebrag Team Member Synopsis As men toiled on the front line, back home munitionettes made the armaments and fought battles all their own. London 1917. Lizzie Fenwick is young, ambitious and in love. At least, she thinks she’s in love with the soldier who answered the note she concealed in a box of ammunition shells. She spends her days filling shells with TNT, and her nights dreaming of the mysterious Harry Slater. Eunice Wilson knows the exact moment her marriage to Jack began to fracture. He refused to enlist, and their patriotic neighbors never let her live it…

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