Cover Re-design (Kinda)

Wold of Oberhame seriesThe Wolf of Oberhame series has always been the hardest for me to design the “right” cover for.  I have struggled with it repeatedly, but thanks to the magic of Amazon, I actually get the chance to try again, and again, and even again if I still haven’t gotten it right.

And, let’s be honest, I’m not exactly some veteran author who has been there, done that, and knows exactly what will grab the reader.  I need to experiment a little.

On the flip side, I have the luxury of being able to make my own covers.  I studied design and advertising layout, so have some basic knowledge of how this is done.  Granted, it could all be outdated, and I’ve learned that scale is rather important, but I have that knowledge.

For those who know, this is also the one aspect that has slowed down a few of my releases.  Getting something that WORKED for the When We Were Dancing cover has been a bit painful.  Finally managed, and……..realized why I am not in love with the above covers.  The scale is all wrong.

What people care about isn’t the scene, it’s the character!

I should know this.  I mean, that’s what I write about.  Where they are, what they do, and how they do it are all symptoms of the person involved in the story.  Every book I write is a character driven novel.  Bringing these “people” to life is my goal… but I designed covers built around the scene?

*headdesk*

And so, I’ve rolled out new covers for these two books, and When We Were Crowned will have one that matches.  I have yet to see how this will affect sales, as they’ve only been live a few days.  It’s a learning process,and I’m trying to learn fast.

 

What an amazing release weekend!

Leyli Promo poses 1First, I have to tell everyone who read When We Were Kings and/or When We Were Dancing THANK YOU!  I mean it.  Thank you so much for taking a chance on an author you probably had never heard of before.  Thank you for buying the book, or borrowing.  Most of all, thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a review.

I know that this isn’t exactly a “hot” subject in fantasy right now.  Monarchies are over done.  Princesses saving the world?  Oh, that’s “old hat”.  So much about this series begs to be cliche – but it’s NOT.  Leyli refused to be just another princess turned warrior.  Tristan?  Yeah, he had a few of his own opinions.

And they aren’t done yet.  Granted, I’m a little burned out on gladiators right now (this always happens for a week or so after intensive editing of my books, then I’m addicted all over again).  And  it’s already starting.  So far, I’ve been locked out of WWWD for 10 days because of the publishing process.  In that time, little details about book 3 (When We Were Crowned) have become just a little more clear.  Never mind the addendum book that’s begging me to release it.

You see, it isn’t just Tristan and Leyli that are the heroes of this saga.  Haven’t any of you wondered about that birthmark on the Lyone family?  Now I wonder where something like that could have come from.  And while that’s the most obvious hint I’ve left hanging out there, it’s not the only one.  I’m waiting for someone to figure it out.  (Yes, that’s a dare).

But the release has gone so much better than I could have dreamed.  Being a pragmatist, I’m well aware that gladiators, princesses, and obscure indie authors aren’t exactly begging to become the next “megahit” of the year.  I was hoping for a solid release from my dedicated fans.  Instead….

I got so much more.  When We Were Kings hit #31 in free fantasy books, right alongside novels I’d bought myself.  When We Were Dancing reached 29k in the overall kindle store (which has like 4 million books in it)!  These numbers aren’t best seller status or anything, but it’s jaw dropping for me.

Keep in mind, I released my first book, One More Day, in September of 2015.  Less than a year later, I’m seeing sales to be proud of.  WWWK still has a perfect 5 star rating!  Reviews are ticking up, sales have been stable all weekend, and me?

I feel like an author.  Saturday evening, I had to sit down and just let it sink in.  My dream of writing a book had not only been achieved but I really, truly, honestly FEEL like an AUTHOR.  I write books that people actually read.  Not just crap to fill up the kindle listings, but books with good reviews, solid sales, and a fan base that is growing.  I have an audience to keep feeding my stories.  I have a reason to do this.  I have achieved a dream…

And I wish that I could tell each of you how much I appreciate it.  For you, my readers, it may have been a book you picked up on a whim.  For me, the author, this has been a dream come true.

And I’m not at all ready to stop.  I have two more series to release this year, and the Wolf of Oberhame…. yes, there’s still more of her story to tell.  It’s going to be a wild ride.

 

A little about Norihame

In When We Were Kings, the tiny country of Norihame is an anomaly.  For generations, their over zealous neighbors, the Rhians, have conquered lands to expand their empire, just like the Romans of eons past.

Norihame, however, was based upon a small, Romanian-like country who refused to give in.  Due to a few geographical defenses, a strong and willing military, but some genius in their ruling family, they maintain their autonomy.  Unfortunately, their proximity to the diverse culture of Rhia means some will bleed over.  This is how the gladiatorial games became the basis of their judicial system.

The Aravatti family are well respected and beloved rulers – for the most part.  Ever since Queen Leandra sat on the throne and beat back the Rhian Empire with not only military might but also economic brilliance, her descendants have been seen as Norihame’s saviors, and time after time, they’ve risen to the challenge.

For me, the world of Rhia and Norihame is built upon the question of “What if the Roman Empire had survived into the Dark Ages?”  This is why eager readers may notice some inconsistencies in style and time frame.  I tried to imagine a “modern” roman mentality, swayed by the culture of the world and the pressure of religion.

The governance of Norihame, and it’s monarchy, was based on ancient Romania and the chief-kings of the time.  Sadly, there was no exact word for the position they held.  Modern English translates it to “King” and so that is what I used.  It’s also a title that readers are comfortable with, even if the setting is not quite the standard medieval European one they expect.

And, as Leyli continues to stand defiant, those things she takes for granted will become more clear.  From the politics she was never allowed to be a part of to the tense relations between nobility and neighboring countries, Norihame is a very diverse place.  Secrets are tucked in every corner.  Some even in the gladiatorial arena.  Sometimes its the things right under our nose, the things we barely pay attention to, that can affect the entire outcome of this saga.

Introducing the Wolf of Oberhame

When We Were Kings is the story of two people the world thought were unimportant.  Leyli was born a princess in a male-dominated nation.  Her goal in life is to secure a good marriage for the country, preferably one that comes with a nice title and a good alliance.

Tristan grew up a farmer’s boy, until he tried his hand at being a blacksmith.  Being very bad at it, he quickly fell into debt.  In Norihame, that means being sold into the gladiatorial arena, a gift from the culture of the neighboring country.  If he can live through 250 games, he can get his life back.  If not, he’ll be dead.

Then Leyli’s cousin decides he deserves to be heir to the throne.  His first step is to kill her brother, putting him next in line.  His second is to get rid of her.  When she finds herself walking onto the sands to fight to the death, she doesn’t know why she’s still alive.  The sheltered princess can only assume killing a woman was too distasteful for her arrogant cousin.  Easier to let the gladiators do it.

No one expected that the girl in the delicate pink dress could last a single round, let alone four of them – except the man in the cell beside her.  Called the Lion of Lenlochlien, Tristan has almost earned his freedom – just fifty fights to go – when he sees the terrified girl with a spark in her eye.  Her fear is normal.  Everyone forced to fight to the death is afraid.  Her refusal to give up isn’t.

To his surprise, they end up chained together for the next fight.  The veteran gladiators picked their partner from the handful of novices who managed to stay alive.  They will be fighting tandem: one gets a sword, the other a shield.  When she heard that the best fighter picked last, Leyli made sure she’d be with the Lion.  It wasn’t hard.  She’s just a scared little girl in a world made of killers.

But side by side, Leyli and Tristan compliment each other.  His size, her speed.  His strength, her intelligence.  They’re a team to be terrified of, and his owner notices.  Bought to be the Lion’s pet, Leyli plans to learn everything from the man who has survived so long.  She didn’t expect him to teach her what it’s like to have a true friend.

But his last fight is one he simply cannot win.  No man can.  The only person who can save Tristan now is the little girl in the delicate pink dress.  The world wrote her off, but Leyli’s not going to just give up.  The odds are stacked against her, but who said the damsel in distress can’t fight back?

 

And the book is live!  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015QX2DZU

Leylani

A picture makes the best inspiration.  Coming soon: When We Were Kings.

Leylani Aravatti was raised to be a proper little princess: polite, quiet, and dreaming of a future as a nobleman’s wife.  Her cousin takes that out of her hands when he sells her into the gladiatorial games.  No one would have expected the dainty girl to live through her first fight – but she’s the daughter of a king, from a long line of warriors who fought against the massive Rhian Empire.  She isn’t going to just give up and die.

And fate gives her a helping hand.  In the cell beside her is the Lion of Lenlochlien.  With hundreds of wins, he’s got the knowledge and experience to keep her alive.  He’s ruthless, he’s terrifying, and he’s about to be her partner.  It’s an advantage, and she’ll take anything she can get, even if the man is known for killing those who slow him down.  These men think that being a woman made her weak and expendable, but she’s going to show them that she’s a bitch.  She’s also smarter than all of them.  She is the Wolf of Oberhame.

Cover Art

Just got the first peek at a potential cover for the first gladiator book.  I’m pretty impressed.  The artist and I debated the positioning of the fighters, to make sure that the main female character is not seen as some flimsy damsel in distress.  It’s a story with a strong brains/brawn trope, where the strong man is smart and the smart girl has her own strength (including physical), they just have to realize it.  Unfortunately, while the story is fair to the woman, finding cover art that is both true to the story, and doesn’t portray her as a sidekick character?  Ugh!  Not easy.

It’s amazing to me what goes into preparing a cover for an ebook.  This is the main marketing option of most authors: see the cover, decide if you want to look inside.  It has to raise questions, peak interest, and not insult, all while being clean, clear, and legible.  And then the font……..Don’t leave it lack luster, don’t over produce it, don’t get too intricate, make sure it’s large enough to be seen, etc, etc, etc.  In the last two days, I’ve learned more about book covers than any human should try to cram into their mind.

Yep, we’re on the final stretch.  =)