Friday, October 17, 2014

Scary October: The Queen Mary

In celebration of my favorite month, October, I'm featuring a different scary place every Friday. This week it's a ship that I had the privilege of visiting in 2011: The Queen Mary.

The retired ocean liner rests in Long Beach, California, where it is open for tours every day. The luxury liner had 49 total deaths during its time of service, leading the ship to be labeled "haunted" in recent years. Guests have reported hearing children playing in the nursery and feeling strange things in a cabin where someone was murdered.

The spookiest place on the ship is the pool area.

They told us the changing rooms were a vortex of negative energy. I thought that sounded a little absurd, especially without explanation, so I decided to go back there. It was dark and spooky, but I think that part of it was due to the power of suggestion.

Haunted or not, the ship is well worth a visit. Take a rest on the deck while you're there.

Oh--and I'm hosting a giveaway. Click below to enter to win an Advanced Reader Copy of 25 Roses.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

25 Roses by Stephanie Faris

25 Roses

by Stephanie Faris

Giveaway ends October 31, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Guest Blog: Quanie Miller, The New Mrs. Collins

It's an exciting week for Quanie Miller. She's celebrating the release of her first paranormal novel and this a-ma-zing cover is perfect for October!

Today, Quanie is writing about a topic every published author can't get enough of: promotion. We can all learn from her experiences in hiring out her cover design.

A Book Cover Horror Story: Why You Should Google before You Hire

by Quanie Miller

I have a confession to make: last year I made a horrible decision. Yes, me. Quanie. Quan Dizzle. The girl from one of America's prettiest towns. The girl who slipped off the bus steps in high school and got laughed at by all of her peers. Yes: the girl who lost the spelling bee in fifth grade because she misspelled complacent made the cardinal sin of indie publishing: I hired someone without researching them. 

Picture it: July, 2013. There I was, minding my own business (like I'm prone to do) and surfing the internets for a book cover designer for my first novel, It Ain't Easy Being Jazzy, when I found him: The Book Cover Artist Who Shall Remain Nameless. And 'till this day, I ask myself: out of all the book cover designer websites in the world, why'd I have to walk into his? 

I liked his work, and even though he had no chick lit covers in his portfolio, I contacted him anyway. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Quanie, you big dope! That was your warning sign right there!" But hear me out: I conveyed this concern to him and this is what he told me: he doesn't have any chick lit covers in his portfolio because he never gets asked to do them. "But," he said, "I am fully confident that I can create a stellar book cover for your debut." 

"How can we proceed?" 

"Send me the money via PayPal, naive little writer, and while you're add it, also send me your pride and your ego." 

"Okay. Wait--what's that noise?" 

"It's the sound of my evil laugh, echoing against the walls." 

"Oh. Okay." I sent the money. He gave me a timeline for the cover, and once that time frame passed, I didn't hear from him. I waited. And waited. And made origami. And a cake. But still: no word from the not so gentle man. Finally, I emailed him, asking about the status. No response. I started to get the feeling that he'd run for the hills with my hard-earned coins when something truly bizarre happened: I had a dream about a redheaded woman with glasses, waving goodbye to me from her front porch. 

Not thinking anything about the dream, the next day I did something that I should have done from the start: Googled his name. I don't mean to get too woo-woo here, but one of the first negative reviews that popped up was on the blog of this lady with red hair and glasses who looked eerily similar to the lady from my dream. The title of her blog post? "Why you Should Never Hire What's His Face." 

I gulped. And then gulped again. I felt the words "You Big Dope" emerge on my forehead. I contacted What's His Face and still got no response. A couple of weeks later he contacted me: 

Dear Quanie, sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner but I have been spending most of my time trying to perfect my evil laugh. Here is your book cover, attached. 

Honey, let me tell you: I opened that attachment and laughed so hard I cried. I don't like disparaging anybody's work, but let's just say that if I had used that as my book cover, I would have provided the literary world with what might have been the laugh heard 'round the world. The lady on the front was knocked-kneed and pigeon-toed, had no facial features, was bent over and balancing some odd circle like thing on her back that she looked like she was just about to throw before someone took her picture, and to make matters worse, the back drop was gold and looked like that old rug in my grandmother's living room that she couldn't give away if she stapled twenty dollars to the front of it. 

Did I mention it was a hot mess? The only "positive" thing was that the lady on the cover was voluptuous. But what's a voluptuous woman without any facial features??? I'll tell you who: Mrs. Potato Head. 

As badly as I wanted to go around bad-mouthing the cover artist, the truth was that I did it to myself by not researching him and ignoring the fact that he didn’t have any chick lit covers in his portfolio. Quite frankly? I was so excited about publishing my first book and being able to show off my book cover that I lost all the good sense God gave me and made a terrible decision that cost me my hard-earned coins. I learned from this experience and when it came time to publish my paranormal novel, I knew exactly what to look for. I hired Ravven to do the cover for The New Mrs. Collins, and if I do say so myself, she did a pretty splendid job! 

Moral here? Don't be like me. Learn how to spell complacent and for the love of God, do your research before you hire somebody! 

What about others? Any book cover designer horror stories? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About Quanie Miller

Quanie Miller grew up in New Iberia, Louisiana. She fell in love with reading at an early age and spent most of her time at the Iberia Parish Library discovering authors like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike (she was often found walking back home from the library with a stack of books that went up to her chin). She holds degrees from Louisiana State University and San Jose State University. She has been the recipient of the James Phelan Literary Award, the Louis King Thore Scholarship, the BEA Student Scriptwriting Award, and the Vicki Hudson Emerging Writing Prize. She is the author of The New Mrs. Collins, a southern paranormal novel, and It Ain't Easy Being Jazzy, a romantic comedy. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and is currently, as always, working on another novel. To find out more about Quanie and her works in progress visit

If you're ready to buy The New Mrs. Collins or add it to your Goodreads list, check out the links below. You can also learn a little more about Quanie by visiting her website or following her on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Q&A with Crystal Collier, Soulless Author

If you've spent any time in the blogosphere, you've likely met today's talented author and blogger. Crystal Collier not only writes awesome books with eye-catching covers, she's a relentless cheerleader for other authors, constantly supporting their new releases.

For that reason, it's even more exciting that we get to support Crystal in her new release. I showed you the breathtaking cover of Soulless a couple of months ago:

She recently set some time aside to answer a few questions for my blog. Not only did she tell us about her writing process, but she also shared the multiple concepts that led to the above cover. Read on for that surprise!

Q: Like me, you spent a while trying to get published before you landed that first deal. How does it feel to finally have your words in the hands of readers?

A: Surreal. Every time someone says they’ve read my work, I do this little happy dance. (With cheese.)

Q: I’m in love with your covers! How involved were you in the cover design process?

A: Super. The cover for Moonless ended up being nothing like what I was thinking, but my super genius graphic artist got it exactly right. After a couple false starts with Soulless, I sent him (very rough) mock-up ideas, and he ran with one of them. Talk about flattery! Here are the mock-up ideas:

Q: Tell us a little about Soulless.

A: The official summary: Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is disrupted by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she’s forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

Soulless is the dark heart of the Maiden of Time trilogy. This was a hard book to write because I didn’t want to see my beloved characters suffer. (My editor made me.) The decisions Alexia faces will determine her character—whether she’ll lose herself to the darkness of her shifting world, or rise above it.

Q: You describe Moonless as Jane Eyre meets Supernatural. What inspired you to write a series with that combination?

A: It just happened. I had a dream of this teenage girl facing a prejudiced society with impossible decisions to make, all while being haunted by an irresistible man with blue eyes. By the second draft I realized Moonless belonged to a larger story world, one that had been tumbling around my head since I was 13 (with things that go bump in the night). 

Q: How long did it take you to write Soulless? Was it easier or harder than writing the first book in the series?

A: Soulless was written in about a year (including revisions). However, it had been tickling around my brain since 2007. Compare that to Moonless, first draft completed in 2003, entirely rewritten at least 10 times and finally published in 2013. Yeah, I’d say the process was wee bit easier.

Q: Will readers be able to read more of Alexia’s story or is this the final book in the series?

A: The final book in the trilogy, Timeless, is in the works. There will be a spin-off serial series (release date TBD 2015) titled Bellezza, and the Maiden of Time trilogy is a partner series. Alexia’s story may come to a close with Timeless, but she and her friends will be making appearances in future works.

About Crystal Collier

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids with a thriller pace. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

If you're ready to buy Soulless or add it to your Goodreads list, check out the links below. You can also learn a little more about Crystal by visiting her website or following her on social media. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win one of six Halloween-themed/time travel-themed reads.

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