How I Accidentally Became A Book Cover Designer by @AngelaStevens13

An accidental book cover designer? Why, yes. Some would say I have a track record of accidentally doing things. I accidentally became an author because I was confined to barracks during a huge house renovation. Then, I accidentally became a props and costume designer – amazing what you can do when you need 40 costumes for a school play. I am also an accidental cat lady, baker, and accidental installer of vinyl planking–but none of those earn me money. So, when I accidentally became a book cover designer, it was on-brand.

Actually, way back when I was heading off to college, I would have loved to go into this career, the trouble is, it hadn’t been invented yet–least not in the format in which I now do it. I also wasn’t very artistic, or creative, and book covers generally weren’t something I even noticed had been designed.

When I started writing, I had no idea about the author industry, nor the skills I’d needed to get my books on a shelf for people to read. If I had, I probably would have quit before I started. Bizarrely, my first hurdle was not writing the book, it was how to make a pretty cover. Even back then, when I was just writing for Wattpad, cover design was pretty essential.

Because I had no idea where to get one, I made one…in Power Point.

Oh No She Didn't

It was truly awful. Beyond awful. So awful, I cannot possibly show it to you. My second attempt was a billion times better, but just a stock image with a title thrown on top. In my head, I had good ideas, but sadly no skills to execute them. The cover for my Vargr Clan fantasy series had me stumped so I called in reinforcements. My daughter put it together (She’s the one with the Art degree). It turned out great, and realizing her mistake, she decided to teach me a few Photoshop skills to avoid having to make more covers for me.

Photoshop was a challenge. I took two steps forward, and five back. A graphic designer would have turned in their grave at my work arounds, but despite the crazy way I butchered the craft, the end results weren’t too horrendous.

The Accidental Book Cover Designer

As writing production stepped up, so did my need for covers. I trolled the markets, studying the trends in my genre to get ideas and accidentally, stumbled into one pretty important aspect cover designing; genres had expectations, color schemes, and typesetting conventions. Then, I became obsessed with fonts, and developed an unhealthily large collection of them. Apparently, that is a prerequisite, too.

Book Cover Designer

Somehow, my covers ended up pretty decent, and a couple of author friends who started out at the same time as me, asked if I could make them covers, too. We swapped skills, they beta read for me, or taught me how to set up a website–things like that, and in exchange I made them a cover.

Then one day, I accidentally became a cover designer when someone I didn’t know, asked how much I charged to make covers.

ME: What? People will pay me for this?

ME: “Huh, does $20 sound ok?”

What to Charge?

Of course, I had no idea what to charge, but I had fun doing the cover and they were very happy. After that, I had a brilliant idea. If I could sell a handful of covers a year, for say, $50 each, it would offset my editing costs!

So, I did. The accidental cover designer was born! And I finally learned how to price my covers properly.

After I discovered an awesome FB group where you could sell covers, I decided to get serious. I invest in some Photoshop courses. I was particularly jealous of designers in there who did amazing fantasy covers. They created magic, and worlds, and glorious painted hair. So, for the last year and a half, I’ve been doing a whole bunch of courses, and cried a whole bunch of frustrated tears.

I’m no longer an accidental cover designer. The business is now fully fledged. I even have a website! Last year, I made almost as much from designing than from selling my books–despite having the best book selling year I ever had!

Cover design may not have been what I went to school for, and it certainly wasn’t part of my teaching career. Maybe it was a midlife crisis, or latent superpower, but either way, I now call myself an author and cover designer.

Steam Punk

I made this piece of artwork this week. I even learned how to make a time-lapse of the layers just so I could show the process to you. This piece won’t become a cover, it is part of my personal art, focusing on building worlds from scratch.

 

You can find examples and premade cover designs by me at Catspyjamasdesign.com

You can check out my books at https://www.amazon.com/Angela-Stevens/e/B00KHTERZI

Hurray for May

Also, three things romance and cozy mystery have in common!

I love May…it’s spring, and sunny, and there are flowers everywhere and it’s Mother’s Day, and it’s my birthday, and this May is especially nice because I also got engaged <3

The cherry on top of it all is that Murder in a Scottish Garden will be available on May 25—right now, the first book, Murder in a Scottish Shire, is available for only 99 cents through the weekend. Yippee—just before the next book. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07W8X5K6V

You might wonder how a romance author segued into also writing cozy mysteries, but I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch. Stories are about characters that we care about, and if we do our job as an author right, then you, the reader, will care too 😊

Here are three things a romance and a cozy mystery have in common:

1. Compelling characters—in a cozy mystery, this is often an amateur sleuth. We see the world and then something happens that forces a change out of the ordinary. In romance, the heroine and hero are usually at a point of change so that they are ready to fall in love, where they weren’t ready before. In both genres, we need to be emotionally connected so that we care about them and want to read to the end.

2. An exciting plot to drive the story forward—exchange sex and romance for solving a murder. Both things are very exhilarating, lol. The adrenaline from a first kiss, or that special touch, becomes danger from outrunning the bad guy before getting killed.

3.  Most important: they both have a happy ever after. You must conclude the mystery or your readers won’t be satisfied. In a romance, our readers expect a happy for now ending. In both genres, the author must make sure to meet reader expectation. I feel like I could go on with this, but I’ll stop for now lol.

Tell me—do you read only one genre, or do you read everything? I love fiction of all kinds.

Be sure to enter our monthly contest below, and good luck! Don’t forget to grab a few of our boxed sets—they are a steal at less than a dollar for multiple stories to fill your kindle.

I am in Unforgettable Lovers, Unforgettable Promises if you’d like to check it out here:

Have a wonderful weekend!

Traci

Mother’s Day: A Short History by @Donna_Fasano

Mother’s Day is a celebration that commonly involves giving moms cards, flowers, and other gifts. But have you ever wondered how and when the holiday began? Well, here’s a short history. Mother's Day

Commemorating motherhood goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times when people gathered in festivals in honor of mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The first Christian celebrations to praise moms was called Mothering Sunday in the UK and other parts of Europe. Early Mothering Sundays had religious connotations. Held on the fourth Sunday of Lent, people would return to their “mother church”—the main church in their area—to celebrate a special service.

An Official Mother’s Day

Over time, Mothering Sunday became more secular and was established as a day when children would give small gifts of appreciation to their moms. Even this practice began to fade in Europe until the holiday caught fire in America in the early 1900s. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I have put my 2-book “duo” sweet romance boxed set on sale for just 99¢. You can save $6 off the regular price. Click the image of the book cover below to go to the Kindle Store.

No one on this earth is more resilient than a single mom. She has to be. Her children are vulnerable, and they’re depending on her to create a nurturing, loving environment. But single moms deserve caring and affection, too. Come along as fate forces… er, ah… helps Julia and Lainey find the men of their dreams. (Goodness knows, these single moms are both too busy to find love on their own!)

Falling For a Single Mom

A Romantic Cruise: The Greek Islands

Welcome aboard. Today we are sailing to Corfou, next we will stop in Santorini, and then continue to Rhodes, an island close to Turkey, before turning north to Mykonos and Delos. Have a drink at the bar, relax in a lounge chair, listen to the music, and enjoy our cruise to the Greek Islands.

Corfou: A relaxing island

Corfu is one of the most beautiful and romantic islands of the Ionian island group. From lush green hills to noble mansions and from idyllic Corfu beaches, to interesting museums, this island has everything it takes to please any type of traveler.

Strongly influenced by the Venetians, the French and the English, Corfu Town is a brilliant base for exploration. The top places to visit in Corfu are Achillion Palace, the former retreat of princess Sissi of Austria, Mon Repos palace, where Prince Phillip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was born.

Don’t forget to stop by a Fish Spa as I did. Hundreds of well trained small fish will nibble on your feet. At first it hurts, then it tickles, and then you really relax and enjoy the exceptional massage.

 

Santorini: Island of Love


Today Santorini is a rock shaped like a fishhook, a cone formed by a volcano that erupted before 1600 BC. The current name of the island comes from its patroness, Saint Irene of Thessalonika, who died in 304. The Venetians called her, Sant’Irini and the name stuck. Sant-irini became Santorini.
The highest point of the island is marked by the monastery of the Prophet Elijah. On the eastern shore of the island there are beaches of black sand from previous volcanic activity.
In addition to a temple dedicated to Apollo, there is a shrine cut out of rocks to honor the Egyptian gods Isis, Serapis and Anubis, a reminder of the Egyptian presence during the Ptolemaic period.
The present capital of Santorini is the town of Thera built on top of the cliff. Excavations began in 1967 and scientists wondered if Thera was not part of the lost continent of Atlantis described in Greek literature. Views from this picturesque town are especially beautiful.


You can reach the top of the island riding on a donkey, or by cables. We used the cable. Since I am terrified of height I held my husband’s hand and closed my eyes, then opened one eye when he insisted the view was terrific and I was missing half of my life by not looking.
Once up on the cliff top, I agreed it was worth the scare. Look at the gorgeous pictures and be the judge. Santorini is an ideal place for honeymooners. I used my time walking and admiring the view, and shopping for souvenirs.

 

Our next stop was in RHODES: a strong island


According to Homer, the first colonists were Greek. They founded the city of Rhodes at the northern tip of the island and built a powerful citadel to protect it.
In its day of greatest power, Rhodes became famous for its impressive sculptures, like the huge bronze Colossus which stood at the entrance of the harbor. Created to honor, the sun god Helios, it was at least 110 feet high and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, the Colossus only stood for 56 years before an earthquake toppled it in 224B.C. but the enormous fragments remained half-submerged for another nine centuries. A scrap dealer carried the pieces away on 900 camels.

The most glorious episode in Rhodes history began in 1309 when the Knights of St. John took control after being expelled from the Holy Land following the Crusades. They built St. John’s Chapel and St. Mary’s Church.

You can see here a picture of one of the tunnels that allowed the Knights to secretly escape. They settled in Rhodes and increased the fortifications. The ramparts are impressive, several feet high. A moat circled and protected the city when the drawbridge was raised. After Constantinople was captured by the Turks, repeated sieges of Rhodes by the Turks weakened the city. At the end only 180 Knights remained to defend Rhodes. They were expelled to Malta and Rhodes became Turkish property. The Italian navy seized Rhodes in 1912 and it was turned over to Greece in 1948.

The famous movie of Guns of Navarone was filmed in Rhodes.


Mykonos: a cosmopolitan island

Our next stop was in Mykonos, probably the most cosmopolitan of the Aegean Islands. I visited four times in the last twenty years, the first time when my children were teenagers.

We fell in love with the picturesque island and returned the year after. The streets are a maze of narrow, winding alleyways – many only two or four feet wide, overhung with dazzling pink and purple blossoms.

All the houses, shops, churches, restaurants and windmills are immaculately whitewashed, with door frames and window shutters highlighted with splashes of sky blue and jade green.

On every second doorstep sits a cat, gazing down serenely at passers-by.

From HER GREEK TYCOON, here is a description of Mykonos as the heroine Ashley sees it from Stefano’s yacht: “See, we are passing Chora, the capital of Mykonos.”

Mountainous landscape and long sandy beaches faded away. Square whitewashed houses with flat roofs, flowered balconies, blue doors and window shutters lined the cluttered narrow paved streets of the picturesque villages. Beautiful churches, chapels and windmills lent a magical atmosphere to the quaint town.  

“Now, keep your hands on the helm and steer to the left.”

The Athena glided through the water and gained speed. Stefano opened the side windshield and let the breeze invade the pilot station. “What’s your pleasure?”
With a toss of her head, Ashley flung her hair back and took a deep breath. “Can we stay close enough to the shore to discover the beaches?”

“Absolutely. This little cruise is all yours.”

Exhilaration filled her heart. She steered a superb ship and the captain was determined to please her. “Thank you, Stefano. I really appreciate you taking the time to show me your beautiful island.”

“We’re passing Korfos. Keep straight. The main island is looping into a cape. Now you can see Agios Ioannis—St. Jeanne Beach there. It’s small but picturesque.” He handed her a pair of binoculars and she scanned the beach.

Blood rushed to her cheeks at the sight of the topless bathers lying on towels or relaxing on lounge chairs. A couple hours ago, she’d been soaking up the sun on a similar chair—in a similar pose. 

Lowering the binoculars, she glanced at him. His face expressionless, he stared at the horizon and hadn’t noticed her embarrassment. “We are crossing a strait between Mykonos and the ancient island of Delos. I’ll handle the helm while you enjoy the view. The rocky islet offers an impressive exhibit of columns, temple remains, and statues of lions.” Ashley shifted to the other side of the pilot station and adjusted the binoculars to her eyes while Stefano took back the control of his boat.

“Delos is the birthplace of Apollo. His mother, the nymph Leto, was seduced by the god of gods, Zeus,” Stefano explained while Ashley admired the sculptural ruins of sanctuaries. “When his wife, the goddess Hera, learned of his treachery she banished the pregnant young nymph from earth.”

“What happened to Leto?” she asked, genuinely interested in the sad love story. Had all the Greek maids been destined to suffer because of love? She had Greek blood in her veins and wanted to hear of a happy ending.

“Poseidon, Zeus’s brother, rescued the nymph and had her deliver her baby on the island of Delos which wasn’t considered as part of the earth.” Stefano told her more about the history of Delos, a necropolis with too many burials for her taste.

HER GREEK TYCOON:
A sexy and humorous Romeo and Juliette Greek style, set in Mykonos Island.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat. Meet the spirited heroines and the alpha heroes who share irresistible chemistry.