Archive for the ‘reading’ Tag

Writing Enhancements   5 comments

I think hobbies might be a bit out of vogue these days. When I was a kid, everybody had something they did to relax in the evening … besides drinking, which was and remains high on the list of Alaska hobbies. Men did wood working or auto repair. Women sewed or knitted. It wasn’t uncommon to hear that your friend’s dad played the violin for the local chamber orchestra or their mom was THE singer for the light opera theater. Some of this hobbying was a direct outgrowth of long dark winters and two television stations, but people who moved here also had hobbies, so I think it was just more common then. But judging from the exhibits (or lack thereof) in the crafts section of the Tanana Valley Fair, people don’t have hobbies like they used to.

We tend to substitute time on social media and watching television for hobbies. And, frankly, my writing was a hobby for many years that became a second career when I decided to publish a book.

So, I could say that the hobby of writing has enhanced my writing … but that would be a cop out.

My day jobs have often found a way to get me to write for free — as part of my job. Sometimes those jobs have bled over into my writing. The character of Carl in Transformation Project is a blending of several mentally ill clients I knew over the years. I’m playing with a reporter in that series who will be introduced in Objects in View; he’ll be based on some folks I’ve worked with at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. To the extend that hiking can be called a hobby, a oft hiked trail worked its way into Mirklin Wood.

I grew up in a cooking household – my dad was a professional chef and my mother was a diner waitress. I enjoy researching food, which of course is important when writing a fantasy set in a culture that is not ours.

My husband and I play video games. When I was stuck regarding where to go next in Mirklin Wood, I got unstuck by playing an Elder Scrolls game. When you read the book, there’s an entire scene where the setting is ripped off from the game.

Pay attention for mentions of quilts in Transformation Project (Life as We Knew It is Book 1), because that is the hobby I enjoy the most besides writing, so it appears from time to time.

Truthfully, anything in a writer’s life can work its way into her writing – people, places, things, activities, history, science, conversations in the grocery story. It’s all fodder for our imaginary worlds. Meaning …

You might not want to cut me off on the highway because you could find yourself dead in my next novel. On the other hand, if you give me excellent service in a store, you might be on display as an exemplar sometime in the future.

Just remember, everything in life is fair game for a writer looking for material.

Now go check out what my fellow authors are saying about this subject.

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Cover Design   5 comments

So I’m working on the cover for Objects in View, the second book in Transformation Project. Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to afford a cover designer, but for now, I can’t and I am not without skills in this department, so why not use them?

I am not without bravery when I create my covers. I could go with a generic faded background where you can’t tell what the book might be about, but I don’t. I’ve always liked books that gave me a hint of what is inside the cover. Books don’t just speak with words. The way they are designed communicates so much.

I honestly think a lot of authors and publishers miss the point that the cover is a teaser. You want folks to see the cover and say “Hey, I want to read this book.”

The trend in book covers these days is to stick a face somewhere against an out-of-focus background with a nice bold title. There’s a similarity to many that doesn’t tell me much. I like a book cover that presents a puzzle, that makes the reader think.


You clearly don’t want to overdo this and confuse the reader, but you want the cover to create questions that the reader would now like to have answered. At the least, there should be something from the book on the cover. Hence why I added the cover images of other authors to this blog post.

You can buy cover images from websites and I’m not denigrating these. They’ve opened up a world of decent covers for indie authors who are not artists or who don’t know any artists or who can’t afford more expensive cover art. Just be aware that generic covers may lack what you want most from a cover, the “free” marketing potential of a cover that says “Hey, there’s something good beneath this cover. Come check it out.”

So, let me critique the covers I’m featuring here. Katharine Kerr’s Deverry Cycle had smack-awesome covers after the first two books were published. The scene from the cover actually occurs in the book, by the way. That’s Rhodry and Yren sheltering in a broken dun. More, though, if you had never read one of Kerr’s books, you might be curious about the clothes these men are wearing and what those strange ruins are behind them. They’re in intense conversation about something. What? And why the heck do the horses still carry their burdens when the men are resting by a campfire?

fantasy_coverThe Way of Kings has less detail, but it makes it really clear that there will be epic battles in this book and probably involve very challenging landscape — which the book has. And the use of color definitely catches your eye even in a thumbnail. Brandson Sanderson’s name dominates the cover, and would eclipse the title if the title weren’t in red. That’s fine … for Brandon Sanderson who is just coming off finishing the Wheel of Time series. He’s an A-list fantasy writer. As an indie author, my name has no marketing value. The title is far more important and it should take center stage.

Now, let’s use an example here. I have published two epic fantasies. Would this generic cover be appropriate for either one of them?  I would argue “no”. The cover says to me that there will be a weak female with a fencing sword being victimized in this novel and maybe it’s going to rain and … is that a campfire near her butt? None of that occurs in The Willow Branch or Mirklin Wood. So why would I elect to put this cover from The Book Cover Designer website on my book?

Willow Branch Blue White Recreation CoverI wouldn’t. This is not a complaint against The Book Cover Designer website. They have some cool covers advertised and a few I actually would buy if I needed a cover and couldn’t create one of my own. I can go out and buy my own images and put them together in a collage that will hint at what is inside the book. So why wouldn’t I do that since I actually have those skills?

My point in this article is not to discourage indie authors from using cover designers, but to point out that we don’t need to be constrained by rules when we are indies. The “authors should never design their own covers” rule should be grouped with the “self-publishing is only for bad books” thought. The point of self-publishing is to put out a quality product. If you can’t do that with the skills you have, hire the skills you need. If you can … that leaves you with more money to spend on some other facet of book publishing where you need help.

Don’t be discouraged by rules that other people put on you. It’s okay to get advice, but ultimately, remember that its your name that ends up on the front of the book.

Stay Tuned for the Blog Hop   Leave a comment

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I won’t be participating this week because the topic is “Describe a time when you almost gave up writing for good” and I’ve never gone through such a dark night of the writer’s soul. The voices of my imagination want their stories written down, so not writing is probably not a sane option for me. For me, writing is akin to drinking water. I could go a day or two without doing it, but eventually, I’d have to draw deep from the well to replenish myself.

So I’m taking a break and will be back next week.

But my fellow authors deserve some attention.

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A Taste of “Mirklin Wood” #8   1 comment

I’ve enjoyed providing tidbits of “Mirklin Wood” for your enjoyment.


Front Cover RedThrough the brush, she could see the wagon on the road – two men struggled with a woman each as an infant wailed at the rough handling by a third man. A fourth stood upon the wagon, tossing its contents.

Ryanna sent to Sabre – ~Get the one on the wagon — as she rushed the one who had the baby. She sheathed her long knife, then used the pommel of her sword to batter him into unconsciousness, while catching hold of the child with her free hand. She set the little fellow down as gently as the circumstances allowed while scoring a touch on the leg of the brigand who held the baby’s mother. He howled and let the woman go to protect himself from Ryanna. The mother rushed for her baby while the brigand made the fatal mistake of taking a swipe at Ryanna with his dagger.

Should have gone for his sword, she thought as she ran him through.

The third man tossed the younger woman aside and drew his sword. Taller than Ryanna by half a head and outweighing her by several stone, he also wore a much-patched mail siarc while she wore only a leather jerkin. As she blocked his first cut on her blade, she knew she was in a fight for her life.

Against his weight and strength, she had speed and a long knife. They circled, feeling out each other’s weaknesses. He feinted. She brushed it aside. He cut. She sidestepped.

Heavier tires quicker. Keep him dancing.

She parried another cut, feeling his power through her arm up to her shoulder. In a mob, she’d never have selected such an opponent, but here she was … alone and responsible for these women.

His breath came harder, but she felt his blows more heavily. She feinted with the sword. He parried and she cut up into his left side with the long knife. Blood blossomed under the mail. His eyes widened as he saw his death in her face. She drove her sword into his gut up to the hilt and lowered him to the ground upon the blade, killing him with the withdrawal.

Behind her, she heard the sound of steel leaving leather and knew she’d made a fatal mistake.  She’d spent herself too early. She turned as she heard the footsteps advancing, raised her long knife to block the sword, saw the shield coming round …


Mirklin Wood is on pre-order. The first book in the series The Willow Branch is available on Amazon and other fine book retailers.

It’s Countdown Week   6 comments

Front Cover RedMirklin Wood is on pre-order and launches March 15. In the meantime, The Willow Branch is still available, now on Smashwords and other quality retailers.

Can You Relate?   5 comments

Posted October 11, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Writing

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Thanks for Reading   1 comment

My interviews of authors drive traffic. I could bore you with numbers, but I hate math, so I will simplify it. My Writing Wednesdays have spiked stats. Enough said regarding math.

This week, I interviewed Nicholas Kotar, author of Raven Son, and that interview has received more than 100 views. Wow!

Of course I didn’t do that. I just wrote the interview. YOU the readers did that!

Hope you buy some books. It’s a great story, worth the read!

Why Do You Read Fantasy?   2 comments

Ultimately, this question is not for writers, but for readers. I want to reach readers because I want you to read my books.

So why do you read fantasy? Tell me!

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