Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How Do I Make Covers?

Do you ever wonder how book covers are made?
Actually, it's one of my favorite parts of writing and publishing a book. I don't know how the publishing houses order their covers, but here's how I do it:

Usually I get the idea of the cover while I'm still writing the book. Depending on what's going on in the story, I envision what I'd love to have on the cover. I won't be falsely modest here; I think that all my covers are beautiful. Maybe it's because all of them were made by the a professional designer.
But before the designer begins, I sketch the cover myself or fix something together in Adobe Photoshop.

This is what I had sketched for the last Witch Hollow book.

And this is how it came out in the end:

Me and my boyfriend (who's now also my cover-maker) ended up with exactly what I had envisioned. I wanted the town of Hollow to be placed inside a snow-ball, and here it is, Hollow in winter inside a snow ball.

Here's the process of making another one of my recent covers:

Again, from the very beginning I had been thinking about a torn Teddy bear on a windowsill. And for a very long time I was looking for an old teddy to snap its photo and place it on the cover. Some people promised me the bear, then disappeared. I searched until I realized that I could just buy the necessary image from istock websites. Yeah, I was a bit slow and it delayed the publishing of my first horror book for a few months, but in the end I got exactly what I wanted:


Things were a bit harder with Abracadabra. At first I thought I wanted to have a castle on the cover -- the Witchcraft Academy. But after a bit of research I found myriads of covers with castles and palaces and knew I needed something else. Something simple yet subtle. Something that would stand on its own among so many covers with teenage girls and boys and wizards in cloaks.
So I began making my own cover in Photoshop:

After I knew what I wanted, my boyfriend did the professional part. The cover was red in the beginning, because red is such a noticeable cover, but a few days before the release date, I changed the cover to green. Because the badges of the first-years at the Academy are green:


The cat, the broom, the cauldron -- Witchcraft Academy's coat of arms. 
I think it's beautiful and hope my readers agree.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Review From the Reader's Favorite

Yay! I've got a 5 STARS review from the Reader's Favorite. How great is that! And I submitted the review request without a payment. Submitting a review request without a payment gets you a lower chance to receive a review, but Abracadabra got a review nevertheless.
Please do not confuse the submission fee with a paid review. Reader's Favorite is a respected website and does not sell reviews. But they receive so many review requests that they have to ask for a submission fee to guarantee you a review. And that review can be anything, from 1 to 5 stars.


You can read the review here: Reader's Favorite. Liz Konkel, the reviewer, went into great details and said everything better than I could do.

There's also a GIVEAWAY on the Reader's Favorite. You can find the book by the author or the title and get it for free.

Another great news for me is that because Abracadabra has received a 5 star review, it will be emailed to 500.000 email subscribers free of charge. I have never been a part of such a massive subscription list, so I'll keep you updated on how everything went.

A Review from The Life of a Bastard

Such a pleasant surprise on my birthday! Damien from The Life of a Bastard blog has posted a very nice review on Amazon and Goodreads for Abracadabra: The Witchcraft Academy. You can see the review by clicking on the cover of "Abracadabra" below.

Damien has also started a giveaway for Abracadabra, so if you want to get the e-book for free, here's the LINK. No purchase is necessary to enter the giveaway and it ends on March 23th, so hurry up!

I was very lucky that Damien picked up my book. I think I'd contacted at least 60 reviewers and all of them were buried under huge piles of review requests. It's getting harder and harder to get reviews from the book bloggers: too many books, too little time. I think I need at least another 5 reviews to even think about a Bookbub promotion. They say Bookbub is the best, and the rest don't even come close, so let's wait and see if I'll ever get a Bookbub promo. It's hard, guys, really hard, but don't give up on your dreams. Nothing comes easily. We just need to keep trying and trying, over and over again.

Stay well,
Your loving witch!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Happy Birthday, Witch!

It's my 100th birthday today, and I couldn't be happier. 🎈🎁🎂 I am working on the 2nd book of "Abracadabra" series, as well as a young-adult sci-fi about humans and androids living together (or rather, trying to). I'm not very active on social media recently, as I'm working on 2 books at the same time, and also doing a lot of reading of the ARCs that I receive from Netgalley. But I love posting on my blog, so won't be away for too long.
While I'm gone enjoy one of my favorite songs by Faun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trads vs Indies

So, recently I began accepting books from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. If you don't know what Netgalley is, it's a virtual space, where the publishers offer advance review copies (ARC) to reviewers, to garner reviews for their upcoming books. I thought if I'm so poor and cannot afford to buy books from the trads, then I'll get their books free of charge and will improve my writing by reading wonderful books by the amazing trads.

And you know what? Traditionally published authors do not write better than the indies. Nope, they don't. I've read books by indie authors that have been amazing, and I'm now reading books by traditionally published authors that are dull, uninteresting and badly written. 
Know what that means? We're better than we thought! Aright, maybe you already knew about it, but I used to think that all the trads were these brilliant authors with brilliant writing skills and vocabulary. I was so wrong. But then, if they're not better, why are they traditionally published?
I guess there's such thing as luck. Connections. Let me think a bit more... I guess that's all. You need to be lucky. But if you're not, still it's not a reason to be sad. It's not all about luck. Finish your book and publish it independently. And if you're lucky, your book will get noticed... oh, wait...

 Damn it!!


Monday, March 12, 2018

Read and Gone by Allison Brook

Read and Gone (The Haunted Library Mysteries, #2)Read and Gone by Allison Brook
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions are my own.

3 stars out of 5.
When I read the blurb of the book, I thought it was going to be an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. Since I’m a huge Dame Christie fan, I couldn’t pass this one. I’ll be honest here: I’m a bit disappointed. While I can’t say that I hated the book, I enjoyed it less than I’d been expecting.

This is apparently a second book in a series, but you don’t have to read the first one, as it stands on its own in terms of the story and characters.
The story. While not bad per se, it was a bit dull for my taste. The murderer’s identity wasn’t a big surprise and didn’t make me go “WOW!”. From the very beginning it was obvious to me that Carrie had made a wrong assumption regarding a certain character and a certain conversation. That was probably the weakest part of the mystery.

The pace was slow and there were too many characters and mundane situations. This was no Christie, but more a Janet Evanovich type of book, with lots of secondary characters, a lot of dialogs and descriptions of things like eating, cleaning the table, watching the TV...
Another thing that bugged me was the ghost. But it was solely my fault. When I read the blurb I wasn’t attentive enough and didn’t take the “ghost” part seriously. Turned out there really was a ghost, and it took me out of the story a bit. I hadn’t been requesting a paranormal story, but again, solely my fault.

But there were also things that I liked.
The setting: I like mysteries and murders in small towns where everyone knows each other and anyone can be a suspect, and “Read and Gone” was exactly that kind of mystery.
The writing was good, too: smooth and easy to follow. It was a surprise for me to spot grammatical mistakes in a traditionally published book, but I hope they’ll be fixed before the book goes live.

Do I recommend “Read and Gone”? Yes. If you want a 3-hour entertainment with a mug of hot cocoa on a rainy day, then this book is for you. Enjoyable characters, a murder mystery and some snarky dialogues. If this sounds like your type of book, then by all means give it a try. If you’re looking for a fast paced detective story that will leave you breathless, then look somewhere else.

P.S. Big thanks to the publisher for the advance review copy.

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Friday, March 2, 2018

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Doctor Sleep will put you to sleep. Literally.
One of the least scary and most boring horror books in my life. Sometimes I just don't get King. These are his books, so he's the one to decide what to do with them, but doesn't he think that one of the most chilling horror novels called "The Shining" deserves a better sequel?
If he's got beta-readers, then they're failing him badly.

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The Mage and the Magpie by Austin J. Bailey

The Mage and the Magpie (Magemother, #1)The Mage and the Magpie by Austin J. Bailey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sadly, did not finish. Stopped at 40%.
But this is by no means a bad book. It was a nice YA fantasy and I’m sure a lot of interesting things were going to happen. It was just not for me. There’s magic, mages, a kingdom in another world, but it seemed to me that story is more for 9-12-year-olds, and even though there are books written for even a younger audience that I enjoy, this one was just not for me.
The e-book is free, so if you love the genre then by all means give it a try.

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