Book Cover Making, Check

Beautiful young woman in wintertime outdoor


Frustration breeds resourcefulness.

I saw it with my 6-year-old child who was desperate to watch a cartoon one morning after I’d had too much wine and too little sleep (a one-off, of course 😉 ). I told him that if he wanted to watch TV, he had to figure out how to do it on his own…and miraculously, he did! Ever since then, he operates our Apple TV better than I do—which might not have been the greatest idea I’ve had, but which had seemed great at 6 o’clock in the morning.


What does this have to with book cover? Everything! Yesterday, I decided to resuscitate the novels I’ve filed away inside my computer, and offer them for free on Wattpad. Considering I didn’t want it to cost me too much money (book cover designers are expensive and so are all those shows on the Apple TV), I attempted to make one all by myself.


First, I downloaded a picture from Dollar Photo Club (you pay 1$ for he rights to use a picture). See original picture above.

Second, I downloaded 2 free fonts, 1 for my name + tagline and 1 for the book title. This took a few hours, not because I’m particularly slow, but because there are just tons and tons of amazing fonts.

Third, in Adobe Photoshop, I layered the writing over the picture, and then I cropped the picture in a neat rectangle. And then I sat back and looked at it and thought, “Eh…now what?”

Beautiful young woman in wintertime outdoor


And that’s when I discovered something magical…Actions! While browsing the Internet to understand how to create filters in Photoshop, I unearthed the existence of ready-made, downloadable filters. I found free ones that replicate what you can do on Instagram, and I found bundles you can purchase for 5$. It was a revolutionary moment in my life, and in the life of my book cover image.


Beautiful young woman in wintertime outdoor


Oh, and having some gifted writer friends like Erin Hayes definitely helps. See below her take on my cover. Darker.


Beautiful young woman in wintertime outdoor


You should see her latest book cover, Death Is But a Dream…It’s gorgeous. And she did it herself! I’m going to try my hardest to get her to reveal her tricks.


And then I had to make it look like a paperback book of course. Thanks to Boxshot, in a few clicks, it turned into this:


I’m sure someone else can make it better than I can—I’m very far from knowing my way around Photoshop—but I thought the result was neat enough to display as the digital cover of my paranormal romance, which you can find for FREE here.



Genre Hopping

Catching fairies


I’ve been MIA for a while now, but I have the best excuse. A sweet little baby girl born mid-November joined the family. She’s lovely and captivating, so much so that I’ve been slacking at keeping you updated on my writing life. So here’s some news: I spent all month of December going through my novel, THE MASTERPIECERS, a third time, changing two major plot elements, which basically meant I had to rewrite a large chunk of the story.


Ah, rewrites! In a recent interview I caught on Literary Rambles (if you don’t know that website, it’s really great), an author mentioned it took her sixty-something rewrites to get her book in publishable shape. 60! I don’t think I’d have her patience.


Anyway, now the manuscript is off with the copyeditor for (fingers crossed) the final round of edits. Since I absolutely despise inaction, I’ve started on a new story. A story about fairies tentatively called THE ROSE PETAL GRAVES. Yes…fairies…you heard me right. And the reason I’m writing about these enchanted creatures is because I’ve signed up to be a part of a paranormal anthology that will be out in April and that features a whole bunch of uber-talented authors such as Katie Hayoz and Melanie Karsak.


At first, I nearly backed out of the anthology. After all, I don’t write fantasy; I write YA fiction. Shouldn’t I be trying to build up my author brand instead of building it out? But in the end, whether building it up or out, I’m still building something. Just like J.K Rowling, just on a teeny-weeny scale. The queen of middle grade fantasy now writes adult mysteries. Granted, she uses the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, but everyone knows it’s her. And although her stories aren’t intended for the same audience, they contain many of the same elements.


“Most of the Harry Potter stories are whodunits at heart.”

– J.K. Rowling aka Robert Galbraith



If you’ve been following my blog since its inception back in August 2014, you must know that the first novels I penned—and never published—were all paranormal. I love paranormal, so writing THE ROSE PETAL GRAVES, in some way, feels like returning to my roots. Perhaps it will be a parenthesis in my writing career, or perhaps it will be the start of an enduring series. Only time will tell. But what I can assure you, is that what moved you in GHOSTBOY, what will move you in THE MASTERPIECERS, will be present in THE ROSE PETAL GRAVES, but just in a magical way.

Cover Revamp

GCDG - F.jpg


As I finish editing The Masterpiecers (which is taking me forever, what with the arrival of my third child, the cutest little girl), I gave Ghostboy a facelift. The original cover was pretty, but it didn’t tell enough of the story. This one does. It was created by the talented team at Paperwhite Studio.


book awards.jpg


I also wanted to share the review I received for Ghostboy from one of the judges of the Writer’s Digest self-published novel competition.


 *     *     *


Judge’s commentary:

“I loved this novel!  “Ghostboy, Chameleon & The Duke of Graffiti” is a compelling and emotional story.  Duke is almost seventeen and seems to have everything he wants, even though he has just been caught painting graffiti on the principal’s car.  But when he meets fellow student Cora and her eight-year-old brother, Jamie, everything turns upside down for him.  They should not have anything in common; Duke is popular and part of the “in” crowd; Cora is goth and Jamie is dying from cancer.  But they become intertwined and part of each other’s lives. 

Olivia Wildenstein has written one of the best books I have ever read.  I kept thinking about John Green and Rainbow Rowell as I read this fascinating and powerful story of a very unlikely friendship and learning how to love.  I did not know until reading her author’s notes at the end of the book that she was greatly influenced by these two writers. 

This novel is a wonderful read and young adult readers will love it.  I cannot wait to recommend this book to my readers.  I have already gotten my seventeen-year-old stepdaughter to read it.”


*     *     *



So proud…

Author Spotlight

Writing may seem like a very solitary job, and in a way, it is. However, through local writing groups and through social media, you can build a wonderful network of authors.

Here in Geneva, I have met several talented writers, one of whom I am interviewing today to celebrate the release of her newest YA steampunk fiction, Submerged. It is the second book in her mermaid series, The Clockwork Siren.



What is Steampunk?

The best definition of steampunk I’ve heard was given to me by our author-of-the-day, Katie Hayoz—historical science fiction.




Hi, Katie, if you were to summarize your book in three lines, what would they be?


Monster hunter Melusine Dore’s deepest fear becomes reality when she is called to slay a beast in the one place she swore she’d never return to: home. There, she must face the evil of her family’s past—and the possibility that she is more monster than maiden.


Melusine sounds like a very interesting character. Can you share one random fact about the book?


This adventure takes off where the first one ended—in a steampunk version of Chicago in the 1850s. Fact: Chicago was built on marshland and was a cesspool of disease and muck. In the 1850s the city officials took on the enormous feat of actually raising the streets by several feet to install proper drainage pipes.


Well, I just got smarter. So what inspired this book?

Immersed, the first adventure in the series was very, very loosely based around the medieval myth of Melusine. Submerged digs further into Melusine’s past, her relationship with her mother, and her own beliefs about herself. I wanted to explore further just how fully our visions of ourselves affect who we are.


Now tell me, who is your favorite character of all times?

I have to admit, I don’t have a favorite character. My preferences evolve as I do and “favorites” don’t stick with me. I can, however, tell you what character still haunts me even years later: Alice, from The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing. She was so disturbing on so many levels, I felt I needed a good scrubbing down after reading the book. Lessing is such a master.


For the writers following this blog, this question will be of extra interest to you: what was your road to publication like?

Muddy. I have an agent who believes in my work, but so far, hasn’t been able to sell my manuscripts to a publisher. So I decided to go ahead and publish my books myself. I am lucky to be in a group of indie authors called the Blazing Indie Collective. We support and encourage each other. Immersed actually came out of a BIC group project called The Falling in Deep Collection in which fourteen of us wrote novellas with mermaids in them! You can get the whole collection here.


Last but not least, what are you currently working on?


Surfaced, the third adventure in the Clockwork Siren Series. This time, Melusine and Levi just may have to deal with a traveling freak show…



For those of you who are as intrigued as I am about Melusine, the book came out today on Amazon and is available for 99 cents, so get it while you can.


99 Designs & 1 Happy Customer

99designs, where have you been all my life?

Wary to use it at first, my husband and sister-in-law convinced me that it was the best option for me as I had no clue as to what I wanted gracing the cover of my New Adult mystery, The Masterpiecers.

Why was I wary? For three reasons:

  • I was afraid the quality of the designers would be iffy.
  • I was alarmed that the access I would have to the designers would be poor (i.e. the level of interaction).
  • I was anxious not to get enough designs to choose from (as I went with their least expensive plan, although I did add 1 of the options).

Well, I was proven wrong…

  • The quality of designs submitted far exceeded my expectations. Some were downright so beautiful that I wanted to have them framed.
  • The interface 99designs has created is smartly designed and therefore easy to use. Communication with the designers is quick. Plus, you can literally pinpoint the details you want altered.
  • I had nearly too many designs to choose from. This might not seem dire to you, but it was heartbreaking for me as I wish everyone could be a winner.

I’ll give you a quick play-by-play of how it all worked. After you prepare a detailed book brief (try to make it as thorough as possible, not only about the story but also about your expectations and the format you’ll need it in) and after pay your refundable contest fee, they launch a 4-day competition during which any designer can submit their work.

At this point, you provide feedback for all the submissions, whether they rock your world or not. By the end of day 2, most designers interested in your contest will have submitted their designs (I had about 20 designers pitching me). If you’re still unhappy with what you’ve gotten, this is a good moment to browse designers and invite them to compete.

At the end of the 4-day period, if you haven’t found your dream work, you can ask for a refund. However, if you go ahead and pick a/several finalists, you guarantee payment and forfeit your refund.

I was never so glad to forfeit a refund. And here’s why:

cover envelup

design by Envelup Design


cover by KVKi

design by KVKi


cover by Creativesoul31

design by Creativesoul31


Umm…can you say talent?

Back to the process, after the designers accept to move on to the final round, you have 3 more days to work with them on their covers. You can even create a poll* at this point to ask your friends and community for their thoughts on the designs.

* My one comment to 99designs is that they should create polls with pictures instead of just providing a link to a webpage. It would make it more attractive and simpler to gather votes.

And then, came the hardest part: awarding the prize. I loved all 3 of my book covers.

And the winner is…drumroll…

PS: In just 7 days, you have a finished, gorgeous book cover.

PPS: I was not paid by 99designs to write this blog post. 😉

Public Reading

“A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”

— Sir Winston Churchill

Yesterday, I attended a class on public speaking given by Jennifer Bew Orr (from our one and only Geneva Writers Group) and by John Zimmer whose website, Manner of Speaking, is chockfull of useful information and fun videos.

The reason I attended this seminar was to prepare for readings to come. Writing and reading are two very different tasks and yet part of the same job: being an author. You need to know how to deliver those gorgeous words you’ve penned, how to pick the passages most appropriate for your audience, how to adapt your tone to match your story’s rhythm, and how to articulate.


John and Jenny couldn’t stress enough that you must think of your audience first.

  • If they’re tired, keep it brief and choose a light passage. If they’re full of energy, select a vibrant passage, but still keep it brief.
  • Never exceed 5 MINUTES! That is (in most cases) your audience’s attention span.
  • Make sure that you don’t sound monotonous (i.e. vary the tonality of your voice).
  • Make notes on the passage you’re reading: jotting down breaks in places where you need to take a deeper breath, and underlining words that require a strong delivery.
  • If there are words that your audience might not know in your passage, try to mention them in your intro so that they don’t stump your audience. And then make sure to deliver them clearly.
  • Write your passage out like a poem, not as a continuum. It will help you pause at the end of each sentence.
  • If you elicit laughter, give your audience time to enjoy the moment by pausing. Pick up the reading when the glee begins dying out.


Now the other thing they both stressed was the importance of warming up your vocal cords with exercises (do this in private just before you speak). Here are some they suggested:

  • Place a pencil between your lips and read a few lines.
  • Pronounce “zzzzzz” / “pppp” / “dddd” etc… “can’t you, won’t you, don’t you” / “did you, would you, could you”
  • Trill your tongue.
  • Before everyone arrives—if you have access to the space—have a friend stand at the very back of the room and then deliver your passage. That will help you adjust your voice’s volume.
  • Do not drink anything hot, cold, or containing dairy before speaking.

Our questions to them.

We asked: About the importance of eye contact:

  • if it doesn’t make you lose your place in the story, then go ahead. If not, it won’t break your reading.

About what the audience will remember:

  • how you made them feel (but probably not much else of what you said).

About what to do if you stumble:

  • either make light of it, or pause a second, then press play (most probably, no one will notice).

About what to do if the room is big but you don’t have a microphone:

  • lower your octave, it will raise your voice’s volume.

Apparently the above book, Confessions a Public Speaker, by Scott Berkun is a little jewel on public speaking.

Book Deals

As an avid reader, I am always looking out for websites with great book deals and am always signing up to them. Although there are a lot of terrible books out there, sometimes you discover real gems.

If you haven’t heard of these sites, visit them. They’re great and FREE. What’s not to like, right?

And speaking of deals, until tomorrow night, the kindle version of GHOSTBOY, CHAMELEON & THE DUKE OF GRAFFITI is 50% off on Amazon!

Ghostboy-FRONT cover

A Cover Contest

Three days ago, I finished writing The Masterpiecers, a Young Adult / New Adult contemporary fiction. It’s much darker than Ghostboy, and so very twisted, think Girl, Interrupted meets The Voice. Strange mix, don’t you think? The idea came to me one day while I was on the phone with my older sister. She mentioned an art competition that a museum organizes each year during which contestants must find a certain painting. I took her idea to the next level and created THE art competition: a week-long televised games during which contestants aren’t allowed any contact with the outside world. The victor’s prize is entry into the most prestigious art school in the Unites States.

Here is the blurb:

Nineteen-year-old identical twins, Aster and Ivy, find themselves locked up: one in an Indianapolis prison for a crime she claims was self-defense, and the other in the Metropolitan Museum to compete in a televised art competition. With no way of communicating, they begin to learn secrets about one another through the media frenzy surrounding them, secrets that threaten to shatter their unbreakable bond.

As I start on the editing (check out my editing recipe for lots of tips), I am launching a cover design contest with a 200$ reward for the person who can come up with the final design.

However, I do believe everyone should be a winner, so for every designer contributing to my cover contest, you will receive an advanced, autographed copy of my book and an extra little gift!

To inspire you, here are a few covers that I love:

Best book covers_edited-1

I would also suggest browsing my Pinterest page, Covered, dedicated to (you guessed it!) my favorite book covers.

If you’re interested and skilled, please contact me directly, either in the comments section of this post or in a private email and I will tell you more about the story and what I have in mind. You may use images (with their licenses) or create something from scratch.

Good luck to all!