Sunday, May 29, 2011

EBook Cover Butt Art

We’ve noted before that going independent means that you get the opportunity to do everything required to produce, publish, and distribute your eBook. One of the funnest things we’ve done during this process was produce a book cover.

Book art is still an important marketing tool and every major eBook distribution channel requires a digital book cover to be uploaded with the manuscript. There are even independent eBook cover designers plying their wares on the Internet. We thought about paying a professional, but when we thought of a cover idea that would convey some of our story’s major themes, we decided to see if we could make our thoughts into reality.

The first thing we needed was a butt. Not just any butt, mind you, but a teenage girl butt. Obtaining a suitable gluteus fell to Lynn since Evans kept picturing girls screaming and being questioned by the police no matter how innocently he phrased the request. When Lynn not only easily obtained a willing teenage rear end but also a couple of student photographers to capture the image, it made Evans wonder what services are really offered at the PHS Student Services Office.

The next thing we needed was a gun. Lynn asked a few of her redneck friends but it turns out they didn’t have the kind of gun that would work in the picture. The next place to obtain a gun was the drama department, and sure enough, the teacher came through. When it was time to shoot the picture at lunch, however, Lynn had a heck of a time walking across a crowded campus, giving out hugs to students with a gun stuck in the waistband of her pants.

Next came choosing the right picture after the photo shoot was completed. Scrolling through shot after shot of a bikini clad rear end is surprisingly hypnotic. It made us wonder how people who do that kind of work every day manage to keep from going crazy. Then it was time for playing with the image using photo manipulation software and adding the title and byline. It was hard to figure out where all the words should go without ruining the picture’s composition. The “ah ha” moment came when Evans proposed cutting away a third of the original picture and Lynn suggested enlarging the remaining backside to use like a billboard for part of the title.

Producing our first eBook cover was a fun, strange, and rewarding experience. We hope you enjoy the results. Let us know your thoughts!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Unexpected Trials of Going Independent

We spent months working hard to produce a unique, well written, and entertaining story. Since then we’ve made an effort to produce a quality eBook. Too often independent writers stop after the first part. We can understand why. Your heart is in the story and you want to share it with the world. But as readers we are often saddened when the package the story is wrapped up in doesn’t do justice to the author’s creativity.  That’s why we took the time to get it to readers and are paying to have our first release professionally edited.  Sometimes, however, it seems like the book gods are stacked against the independent author.

We are just a few short weeks away from releasing our first eBook and now suddenly we feel compelled to make some extensive changes. Our eBook was titled Bobbie Pharaoh and the Mark of Kane. The play on words will be obvious by chapter two. Unfortunately, just this morning we discovered that our title could be confusing to the large number of loyal readers of Rick Riordan. He’s the talented author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. His latest work is based on siblings named Kane. This time he’s using Egyptian mythology and legend as the background for the supernatural, so of course there are pharaohs involved. There is even an important secondary character with the same name we chose for the person who discovered the cure to the disease that our protagonist has, a cure whose application has such unexpected and life changing side effects.

While both our works deal with young people and the super natural, the two works are not remotely similar. Mr. Riordan’s falls squarely within his sweet spot of mythology brought to life. Ours might best be described as Hogwarts meets Marvel Comics. Still, our protagonist’s name needs to change as does the spelling of the scientist who discovered a cancer’s cure that causes super powers in teenagers. So now the title of our eBook is Bobbie Titan and the Mark of Kain. In some ways this actually works better. Our scientist is of German heritage so spelling his last name the way they do in Germany isn’t so bad. And of course our friends at Poway High School will know where we came up with Bobbie’s last name.

We really hope there isn’t anything else like this that is going to bite us. We did searches this time on everything related and we don't think anyone will inadvertently confuse our work with someone else’s. We are proud of our unique twist on the super teenagers and paranormal boarding school genres. We really want the reading world to like us for ourselves.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saturday Breakfasts

It all started with Saturday breakfasts. We have always been busy people, but right from the beginning, Saturday mornings were reserved for catching up. During the broke college years, going out to breakfast was the one restaurant meal we could afford. So, over eggs and waffles we told each other the events in our lives and planned our next shared adventure.

Saturday breakfasts were an absolute with the kids. While we waited to be served, Evans would invariably look at each girl and say, “Tell me a story.”  The children would respond with an interesting anecdote from the previous week. They learned the art of good narrative and both grew into outstanding communicators in a wide variety of situations. Their friends didn’t always find the ritual as enjoyable. One of our favorite memories involves hearing the quiet best friend of Laura, our older daughter, tell a wonderful tale of a school mishap the pair had shared. Tricia sometimes struggled to put her very energetic and rich character-filled life into words during the weekend story ritual. She was all smiles after the praise for her marvelous rendition. When it was Laura’s turn to tell us a weekly tale, her brief response was “Tricia dibbed the only good story thing that happened this week.”

Saturday morning is now the time for our collaboration. These days it’s oatmeal instead of biscuits and gravy, but the mental exchange is the same. EBooks are born at the restaurant we’ve been going to for two decades, where we’re treated like family, and the employees still ask about the girls. This is the time when we rearrange plot and create new characters. This is where the world we invent comes alive and where people who have seen us grow gray still wonder what we are laughing about.

And, on this Hallmark holiday, we’d like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Creative Fundraising

We were excited when we finished the last edit of our first eBook and found a professional editor to polish it up. Then we sat down and made a list of what we needed to do to make Bobbie Pharaoh and the Mark of Kane available for our readers. When it tallied forty-one more things to accomplish, we decided to make this week’s post about the reason we are doing this in the first place in order to keep our spirits up.

As we’ve indicated previously, Lynn is devoted to Poway High School. She is particularly dedicated to the Student Services department she created. This office is dedicated to the mental and physical health of the young people who attend PHS. They provide mentoring, tutoring, tobacco cessation and drug prevention education, support groups, grief counseling, leadership training, and conflict mediations. Lynn provides doctor’s hours for a teacher’s wage (one time we calculated her hourly rate and it was depressing). Her pride and joy are the Peer Counselors she supervises. From all walks of life, Lynn’s eighty-eight student-angels offer guidance in a language young people understand and are trained to realize when the problems are just too great for the student to get through it without a caring adult. They are truly an amazing group of kids.

Like everything these days, Student Services is chronically short of funds. Inspired by a truly creative money raiser the year before, Night at the Opera, Lynn and Evans wanted to do something fun and challenging to help fill the Student Service’s coffers. Since they were already collaborating on writing novels, they decided to push their other efforts into the background and develop a young adult adventure that her kids could promote for the office where their hearts lie.
We finally have a story we’re proud of and now there are only forty-one more steps to complete before you can help us help the office that helps the kids.

While we have your attention, this year’s Night at the Opera is on Saturday, May 7th at 7:30 the Poway Performing Arts Center.  It is directed by Ruth Lopez-Yanez, a parent of two PCs and an opera teacher at Palomar and Grossmont Colleges.  Ruth has lined up two professional opera singers, two Palomar chorale groups, a brass band from UCLA, and the PHS principal, Scott Fisher (for comic relief).  We’d love it if you could come!  Tickets are $50 for gold donors (includes a reception with the artists), $20 for adults, or $10 for students.  If you can’t make it but would like to donate, we have a donor who will match your contribution! Contact Traci at for more information.