Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cover Art Fun

I have two independent/freelance cover artists I use for my books. And thankfully they get me.

My previous publisher had me fill out a two-page form that they would pass on to their artists. It would give them the basic idea of what I'd like my cover to look like. The publisher would then act as the go-between, and we were only allowed to have a couple of changes made to the original mock-up. I've heard some authors don't even get a say in their covers, and it can be frustrating when your cover looks nothing like your characters, or doesn't represent your story in any way.

That's the beauty of being able to hire your own artist. You contact them for availability and pricing, and then work directly with them, some do charge a minimal add-on fee for excessive changes, some don't charge anything at all and aim to please no matter how many changes you request. Luckily, I never have to make that many changes. In fact, most of my covers I love from the start. I think it's due to the information I give them in the beginning.

I usually explain what my characters look like (hair, eye color, tattoos, build, height, or any other physical attributes I feel are important), and then I explain the "feel" of the story, or where the story takes place. I might also tell them of any important implements or items that are important to the story. Then I let their creative genius shine through.

When I get the first mock-up back I search online for the stock photo they use so I can see if it's an overused image, and I also like to see the transformation. That's the fun part for me! But I always have to sit back on pins and needles while waiting for the final product. Which sometimes can take a week or two depending on their schedules.

I've shared my most recent YA Paranormal covers made by Lourdes Blazek, and the original stock photos so you can see the transformation too. What do you think?


Monday, September 21, 2015

Roanoke Author Invasion


Mark My Words has partnered with the Roanoke Author Invasion to provide free consultations to authors regarding their branding and marketing efforts!

What is the Roanoke Author Invasion you ask?

Join 30 bestselling authors of contemporary and paranormal fiction and more at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia on April 11, 2015 from 12pm-4pm. Enjoy an afternoon of books, giveaways, and more as you get the latest releases from your favorite authors and discover new voices!

When: April 11, 2015 from 12pm-4pm

Where: Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia

Who: So far, the following ladies coming to RAI '16:

  • Adrianne James Inger Iversen
  • Karen Lynch
  • Casey L Bond
  • Heather Hildenbrand
  • Rysa Walker
  • Rebecca Rynecki
  • Casey D Peeler
  • Alyssa Rose Ivy
  • Bella Roccaforte
  • Bryna Butler
  • Maryann Jordan
  • Tiffany Foster
  • Erica A Stevens
  • Kelly Walker
  • Melissa Haag
  • Cambria Hebert
  • Tina Lykins
  • Jo Michaels
  • Tammy Compton Mckee
  • Laina Turner
  • Paulina Ulrich
  • Jamie Magee
  • Desni Mallow Dantone
  • JD Nelson
  • Jennifer Snyder
  • Kimberly Knight
  • Stacey Rourke
  • Laura Rosner Ward
  • Riley Edgewood
  • Ranae Rose
  • Christine Redding Manzari
  • Kaylee Song
  • H.d. Gordon
  • Elodie Nowodazkij
  • Jen McConnel
  • Kristin Clark
  • Julia Crane
  • Ashley Stoyanoff
  • Allyssa Painter
  • Misty Provencher
  • Becca Vincenza
  • Kristen Day
  • Nad├Ęge Richards
  • Micalea Smeltzer
  • Daniele Lanzarotta
  • Crystal Cattabriga
  • Devyn Dawson
  • Bethany Lopez
  • Quinn Loftis
  • Erica Monroe Cope
  • S.t. Bende
  • Catherine Stine
  • Jena Leigh
  • Cidney Rose Swanson
  • and Natalie Star! 

  • Hope to see you there!
    Roanoke Author Invasion

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring! Blog Hop

    Welcome & Happy Spring!

    I was inspired by the need for warmer weather to host the "Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring!" Blog Hop. The hop will start midnight EST on March 21st and end midnight EST on March 23rd. Hop around the blogs (listed below), and check out all the individual giveaways on each blog, as well as a Rafflecopter giveaway where you can enter for chances to win a $70 gift card to either Amazon or B&N (winners choice) the Rafflecoter runs until the end of the hop.

    Springtime for our family is a bit crazy, but welcomed. You see, we're a busy family we enjoy camping and hiking, but things get wild mostly due to our children's soccer schedules. 

    The fall/winter sports are over; volleyball, swimming, and indoor soccer. But our favorite has to be outdoor soccer, especially after being cooped up inside all winter. And the sunsets at the soccer field are gorgeous! 

    ***Enter to win a copy of my young adult paranormal romance, The Keeper (Second edition), by going down to the comments and telling me what you're looking forward to this spring. Winner chosen by random.org.

    The morning of her sixteenth birthday, Billie feels blessed despite the reoccurring nightmare that wakes her. Loving parents, a caring boyfriend, and great friends surround her until an heirloom necklace throws her into a world she never imagined.

    Read more about The Keeper on these sites:

    Thank you for visiting, enjoy the hop!  ~Natalie <3

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    Cover Reveal: The Snake Pit: Jr. High Can Be Torture, by Donna Dillon

    The Snake Pit: Jr High Can be Torture is an important piece of work because of its content and subject matter. It’s not an easy, fun read, but is a book that every student, teacher and child advocate should read. Donna is very passionate to do what she can to stop bullying in the school system and MKSP has joined her in her quest. 

    Donna Dillon published her first book in October 2010. When Master Koda Select Publishing approached her with a publishing contract, she took the opportunity in hopes to expand her reach and build her brand.

    Together, Donna and Master Koda Select Publishing will be re-releasing her first novel today with updated editing and a fresh new cover.

    The Snake Pit: Jr. High can be Torture Synopsis:

    Cinda doesn't look like other twelve-year-old girls. A facial defect, and the surgery to correct it has left her face scarred and disfigured. When she walks into Hargrove Junior High for the first time, Cinda knows the other kids won't see how smart she is, or what a good friend she could be. The other kids will see her as a monster, and her life will be torture.

    The school cafeteria, or The Snake Pit, as the kids call it, is the prime location for bullying. One pretty girl in particular takes an instant dislike to Cinda. Day after day she is pushed, tripped, and laughed at. Not all the other kids bully her, but only one tries to help.

    Charlene Carsten is Cinda's only friend. She tries to stop the bullying, but the other kids won't listen. She tries to tell the Principal, but he only sees what he wants to. She tries to tell the teachers, but they all say the same thing, “kids will be kids.”

    When Cinda falls victim to a vicious prank at a school dance, it sets off a series of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

    Donna, why did you write this book?

    Cinda, the character in my book, The Snake Pit, was born with a cleft palate, and so was I. The things that happen in the book are fiction, but how she felt was exactly how I felt growing up. Being bullied for something you can't possibly help, or change, is horrible. I chose to turn it into something positive, but many bullied children do not. I'm 47 y ears old now. I can still hear the bullies voice in my head. But, the thing I remember the most, the thing that bothers me the most: the silence from those who just stood by and let it happen, and did nothing to stop it. That is why I wrote this book.

    Five things people might not know about Donna
    1. I can ride a unicycle.
    2. I can write as fast backwards as I can forward.
    3. I once played Miss Mona is a stage production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
    4. I can't breathe through my nose and I have never had a sense of smell. I can taste, though, don't ask me why, it's a mystery.
    5. When I was 22 I was flown out to Hollywood and made a make-up commercial for Victoria Jackson cosmetics that you can still catch on TV late at night. I also met Johnny Depp and had my picture taken with Heavy D on that same trip.

    Author Bio:

    Hello everyone! I am Donna Dillon: Author, Illustrator, and M&M connoisseur. I am the author of 5 and 1/4 books thus far. I have been writing in the young adult genre with The Snake Pit and Return to the Snake Pit which both deal with bullying in the public schools, and the children's genre with Why Did It Have to Rain Today? and My Special Christmas Child. My new book is a leap into the thriller/suspense genre so I'm anxious to finish and see how that goes.

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Lunatic Luau, and Rick DeJesus of Adelita's Way

    For my son's 14th birthday present in March, I got tickets for the whole family to go to the local Lunatic Luau in Virginia Beach. Which actually fell on my husbands birthday in May, a two-for-one deal, and that worked out just fine with me.

    What is the Luau all you ask? Well, I had no earthly idea. I was skeptical and not sure I'd enjoy myself, but I love my family and so off we went. There were twelve bands on two different stages playing one after another from 3pm-10pm. Here's the line-up from that day. I pictured a bunch of metal heads, strange people, drunkenness, and smoking. And that's exactly what was there, boy I had  field day people watching. I absolutely loved that no matter the person (older in khaki's and a polo shirt, or youth in leather) everyone was their own person comfortable being in a hodgepodge of a crowd, and comfortable in their own shoes. Just like any other concert I've been to, music brings people together. But there were no issues during the Luau, no fights, no ill mannered people around us. Drunk yes, but otherwise things were fine.

    Adelita's Way
    Before we arrived I had a mental list of what bands I didn't want to see, and so I set off to watch the others. Out of all of them, it surprised me that I liked what I heard, and really enjoyed myself that night. One of my favorites that I heard was Adelita's Way.

    I contacted the bands founder/vocalist/song writer, Rick DeJesus after the Luau, and asked him for the set list for that night, because I wanted to buy some of the songs. He's a super nice, down to earth kind of guy. So I asked him for a brief interview, and being the cool guy that he is, he said yes.

    Before we get to that though, I need to say I've known the Adelita's Way song, Alive for years, and just never knew it was them. But now I know...

    Interview with Rick DeJesus:

    Q. Is there a book that you’ve read that you can’t forget? Why?
    A. Game of Thrones it's pretty hard to forget because it's absolutely amazing.

    Q. I know a busy man like yourself doesn’t have a whole lot of time to read nowadays while on tour, but if you had time to read what kind of books would interest you?
    A.I think I'm gonna read Heaven next my wife is reading it now and I'm very interested in it.

    Q. You write songs, I write books. We write. I’ve read interviews where you say inspiration for the songs you write comes from everywhere. It’s the same for me writing books, but when I write I need complete silence, no distractions, I even dim the lights, and have a drink on hand with a snack nearby. Is there anything specific you need while writing a song/album?
    A. I just need to be able to focus, the original idea always comes at odd times, when I'm running, or cooking, I take that idea then I focus and help it become a reality.

    Q. When I write I see the scene, I see people, I see the setting…What is it that you see when writing? Do you actually see a scene playing out in your head?
    A. Of course, I see every person who feels the way I feel, it's almost like I'm connecting with them right there and they don't know it.

    Q. Do you think of the words first, and then the tune, a chord, or a riffOr the other way around; the sound first with the words to be filled in later?
    A. I start a lot of songs off with lyrics first and the song built around that.

    Q. Is every single song you’ve written based on or inspired by something that has happened to you or someone close to you? 
    A. Every song written is inspired by life, through my eyes, or I can feel the pain of others and tap into it.

    Q. What do you love most about your job? And with the good comes the bad, what do you like the least?
    A. I just love every aspect of music, it's good for the soul. The music business is the worst business I have ever seen, but the connection to music is so strong, that artists just deal with all of the downside.

    Choose only one from each with no explanation:
    Cats or Dogs- dogs
    Red or Black- black
    Hot or Cold- hot
    Coffee or Tea- tea 
    Vanilla or Chocolate- chocolate 
    Top or Bottom- top

    Share two things that the average person doesn’t know about you:
    1 I was a star baseball player. 
    2 I moved to Vegas when I was 19 years old, and had my own Las Vegas show.

    **I'd like to thank Rick for taking the time to answer some questions for my blog, and to remind him he still owes me a set list :) But that's okay because I have it all figured out now. 

    If you'd like to see if Adelita's Way is in your neighborhood, check out their events page, or "like" them on Facebook. If you do, say hello, and tell them Natalie sent you.

    Here's their latest video, if you enjoy the song stop by iTunes and buy it.