Wednesday, December 27, 2017

About Book Covers

What should a book cover look like? Should it tell something about the story? Should it have people on it? Should it evoke an emotion?

The answers are “yes” and “not necessarily.”

One publisher friend says a title should contain no more than three words. The subtitle may contain more. A one-word title is ideal. Why? Because it stands out on the cover. Too many words have to be in a smaller font to fit.

I chose the title Ghost Writer for my fantasy/mystery/romance novel because it is a hint at the story. (The ghost was a writer.) Yes, I knew other books existed with the same—or similar—title, but book titles can’t be copyrighted, and this one was perfect. Larry mocked up an idea, and my cover artist, Karen Phillips, perfectly captured it.

This cover hints at the story itself: the girl running on the beach with the dog and the ghost looking out the window. This was Larry’s concept, and I have always loved it. In a group of other covers, this one is especially eye-catching.

However, one of my publishers didn’t want a cover to give away much of the story. She preferred “generic” images. In my opinion, a cover should intrigue a potential reader regardless of the image chosen. It should also avoid cliché images. (Eyes staring out from the cover have become far too common, in my opinion.)

For our historical novel, The Memory Keeper, Larry’s best friend and wonderful artist, Robert Schwenck ( allowed us to use his painting of the ruins of the Great Stone Church at Mission San Juan Capistrano for the cover. Our designer, Melissa Summers, created a beautiful cover from the painting.

As a reader, I don’t like to see people on covers. I’d prefer to picture them myself from the descriptions in the book. (One of my friend’s books has a person on the cover. Throughout the book, she is described with black hair. The cover image has blonde hair. One reviewer pointed this out and gave it a low rating.) For The Memory Keeper, the image is timeless and perfect.

Series covers should have related images. For Larry’s The McGregor Chronicles sci-fi series, the background for each book is a different NASA star field image. (Fortunately, these are in the public domain.) He creates the spaceships and other space gear shown. The specific items are unique to each book.

Book covers need to be memorable and eye-catching, especially on an online retailer’s site, where they are seen in thumbnail size.

Cover preferences are personal. Sometimes the author has a great deal of input into the image. Sometimes the publisher makes the decision without involvement of the author. We have been fortunate to have had a say on the covers for all our books.

What do you like to see in a book cover? What captures your imagination? What do you not like to see?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Quick Reads

Almost time to celebrate! If you are ready for a quick read, then Larry and I each have one for you.

For many years, Larry and his friend walked around a lake at a neighborhood park every day at lunch. They saw many of the same people in their laps around the lake. As many of us do, Larry made up stories about who they were and what their lives were like. Unlike most of us, however, he wrote these stories down. The result is his book Lakeview Park: A Short Story Collection.

The book contains thirteen short stories, each with an illustration.
Many people enjoy Lakeview Park, and each one has a unique story. Between the pages, you’ll meet:
·     Clarence, who thinks he might have found a winning lottery ticket
·     Kuniko, a grandmother and widow who discovers that friendship can bloom anywhere
·     Wayne, a former guitarist who rediscovers the joy of music
·     Jenny, a mother whose husband is serving in Afghanistan
·     Carol, whose journalistic assignment teaches her more than she expects
·     Shirley, who discovers that some dreams are worth keeping
·     Alex, for whom friendship bridges age differences and soothes a broken heart
·     Gloria, who discovers her blessings and makes peace with her past
·     Alice, who loves to tell jokes, even though her memory is fading
·     Carl, who discovers that reality may hold more promise than long-held fantasy
·     Carolina, a ghost searching for her lost child
·     Tiffany, a teenager with hopes and dreams
·     George, whose life is ebbing, but not his love
·     Sheila, a young woman estranged from her family
·     Carlos, the groundskeeper who has devoted his career to the park
Lakeview Park is a collection of O. Henry-like slice-of-life stories about the people who frequent a fictitious park. These tales reveal folks of all ages, from a small child to the elderly.

Watch the video trailer for Lakeview Park here.

Lorna’s own solo work is a “beach read,” a fast-paced mystery/romance/ghost story, set in Laguna Beach California, called Ghost Writer.

This book contains my favorite character, the ghost, Max. The story is somewhat reminiscent of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, but without the paranormal romance. It features two stubborn and opinionated characters, who clash but eventually learn from each other.
When unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-grandaunt, she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results.

Watch the video trailer for Ghost Writer here.

So if you want to unwind from all the craziness of the holidays, here are a couple of suggestions. Escape in a book!

Remember, all of our books are available in Kindle and NOOK formats. No worries about delivery before the twenty-fifth.

Wishing one and all a terrific holiday season and a blessed New Year!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Escape to Space

Do you sometimes just just want to escape? Larry has always wanted to do so. As a kid, he wanted to be a spaceman. (They weren’t called astronauts at the time.) His favorite reading was science fiction, but for years he never wrote it.

However, in 2014, one of the members of our writing group began to write a sci-fi book. Larry’s interest in the genre was re-energized.

In February of 2015, he published The McGregor Chronicles:  Book 1 – Saving Mike.
This is a family story about two brothers, Matt and Mike. When Mike is kidnapped, Matt sets out to rescue him.

Once he finished the first book, he couldn’t stop. In May of 2015, he published The McGregor Chronicles Book 2 – Escape From Eden. In Book 1, Mike meets Tracy Warren. She learns her mother is being held on a private planed called Eden, so in Book 2, she and Matt, along with his other brother, Marc, sister, Maddie, and Federation Detective Jake Stevens go to Eden to free Tracy’s mother.
Of course, this book didn’t end the series. So in March of 2016, he published The McGregor Chronicles: Book 3 – Alien Invasion.
Their parents have not returned from a distant planet, so the McGregor children set out to find them. When they arrive, they encounter a real crisis, and they have to figure out how to respond. At the end of this book, of course, Larry had even more storylines to resolve. In February 2017, he published the next book in the series, The McGregor Chronicles: Book 4 - Kaùsan’s War.

He is nearly finished with the next in the series: The McGregor Chronicles: Book 5 – Nina’s Revenge. He has also begun on Book 6.

Do you enjoy reading science fiction? Do you like family stories? If so, you will enjoy Larry’s sci-fi series. And if you prefer to listen to books, the first two in the series are also available as audiobooks.

Do you have any sci-fi fans on your gift list? These would make great gifts.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Another Book Suggestion

Here’s another suggestion for Christmas gift books. Do you live in cold country? Want to take a virtual trip to Hawaii? Do you (or your friends) like mysteries? Do we have a great gift suggestion for you.

Our mysteries are set in Hawaii!

We wrote the first one after attending the old Maui Writers’ Conference in 2005 after the publication of our first book. 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park. We met a fellow who was working security for the conference. We only talked with him for about ten minutes, but when we walked away, I said to Larry, “We have to write that guy.”

The result was out first mystery, Murder…They Wrote, set at a writers’ conference in Hawaii. Whiskey Creek Press (now Start Publishing) published the book in 2010. (Our ebooks are now distributed through Simon & Schuster.)

“What if a retired NYPD officer is asked to investigate a mysterious death at the National Authors Conference where various attendees offer their theories and suspicions? Murder…They Wrote answers this question as Agapé Jones, retired NYPD detective, tries to determine the truth surrounding the death of Robert Dyer, noted poet and critic. Confusing and confounding him are Robert’s award-winning romance novelist ex-girlfriend, current young girlfriend, ex-wife, recently discovered illegitimate daughter, agent, an action/adventure author, famous psychic, long-time friend, and the mysterious countess. While Agapé enjoys getting a chance to exercise his old skills, his wife, Geraldine, isn’t pleased, even though she talked him into volunteering as head of security for the conference. Peopled by a cast of quirky and deliciously amusing characters, Murder…They Wrote will quickly engage the reader. It is filled with accusations, theories, twists, turns and surprises. The authors each have unique personalities and bring them to the creation of the fictional authors.

Two years later, we published the second in the series, Murder in Paradise. This time, the action takes place both on Maui and on Oahu as Agapé becomes a special investigator.

“On an early morning paddle, Agapé Jones' outrigger team finds a body in the water off Maui, thrusting him into unexpected danger. Agapé Jones, retired NYPD detective, is asked to act as special investigator in the murder of famous surfer Philip Fowler, the son of Hawaii State Senator Thomas Fowler. The assignment takes Agapé to the North Shore of Oahu where he discovers that he’s investigating more than just a murder. The young man had no enemies, and Agapé is frustrated by little evidence and few possible suspects. Agapé enjoys exercising his old skills, but he misses his wife, Gerry. He encounters several people who become more than acquaintances, and in the end, discovers the truth. Murder in Paradise allows readers to discover the answers along with the detective while experiencing a virtual trip to the real Paradise that is Hawaii.

This book was a 2012 EPIC eBook Award Finalist.

If you are stuck in the cold and want to escape to Paradise, try reading one of our mysteries. Or give them as gifts to friends who are tired of the cold weather.