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What’s in a book cover???

TEC Sticker

As I patiently wait for my own book cover, I’ve been looking at different artists and thinking about what I like to see. Jeroen Ten Berge designed a cover for me once upon a time, before I landed my agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group, and I loved his work. Now I am lucky enough to have a publisher and a cover being designed for me.

So, what makes a good cover? Here are some I like:

 

Fire_cover

 

Lost City of Z

For as many good covers that exist, there are a ton of bad ones. Buzzfeed recently published an article about hilariously bad covers. It will definitely bring a smile to your face. There is also a website dedicated to lousy book covers and it’s fun to look at. There are definitely some covers that make you wonder ‘why in the world would anyone choose that’? But, taste is subjective and maybe it was exactly what the author loved. I hope so anyway.

The cover for The Energy Crusades is going to be awesome and I can’t wait for you all to see it. Coming soon…

 

Book Review: Marie Antoinette, The Journey by Antonia Fraser

thejourneyI recently finished this biography of the ill-fated Queen of France, famous for words she never uttered. Sent from her home in Austria at the age of 14 to be wed to the future King Louis XVI, her tumultuous life at Versailles is vivid in Antonia Fraser’s book.

What I liked about the book:

Everything. A well written, detailed account of the Queen of France, you can’t help but feel enmeshed in the daily life of Versailles during her reign. From the descriptions of the clothes to the intimate letters she wrote and the abuses hurled at her, Marie Antoinette’s life feels timely and timeless in Antonia Fraser’s pages. A young ‘celebrity’ who for awhile gets caught up in the spoils of her fame, the Queen seemed doomed from the start. Accused of being not too bright, a lesbian, an adulterer, and burdened with the nickname ‘Madame Deficit’ for her lavish spending, Marie Antoinette weathered her bad press in style. She also showed tremendous courage and unwavering dedication to her husband, refusing ever to leave his side as revolution broiled around them. During her trial, her composure under intense questioning and horrible accusations remained steadfast. Certainly, I will never forget her journey and the sad ending to her too short life.

What I disliked:

For me, there was nothing to not like in this brilliantly crafted book. I loved Antonia Fraser’s style, which felt both intimate and removed at the same time. Ms. Fraser’s well researched biography might have read as ‘just the facts, ma’am’, but instead felt current and as if I was seeing history before my eyes.

Final Thoughts:

I rate this book a 5 out 5 stars and give it my enthusiastic recommendation. Marie Antoinette and her entourage spring to life on the pages of the book and are not easily forgotten.

Writers on Wednesday: Valerie Noble

noblevalerie:

An interview I did with the author Jen McConnel.

Originally posted on Jen McConnel:

Today, Valerie Noble dropped by to talk about her writing process and her upcoming debut, THE ENERGY CRUSADES. Enjoy!

1. When did you start writing?

While we were growing up together, one of my best friends used to always say “Valerie, you live in a dream world”.  She was right. I constantly make up stories in my head, but when actually putting pen to paper, it’s far more difficult to write a beginning, middle, and end. I have several notebooks full of unfinished stories, and it wasn’t until the idea for The Energy Crusades blossomed in my mind that I was able to complete my first novel.
profile pic2. Are you a pantser or a planner?

Overall, I am a panster. I carry the whole story in my head but it doesn’t always go exactly the way I thought it would. The Energy Crusades ended completely differently than how I…

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Turn the page

I rang in the New Year last night with the help of some family and friends, determined to stay up until midnight in order to greet the New Year and say goodbye to 2013, one of the hardest of my life.

As my guests sat around the table enjoying food and drink, I handed each of them a stack of cards to fill out. At first, they laughed and joked about having to do homework for me, but it wasn’t long before everyone came up with some insightful answers.

Here is the first card: (cards downloaded from here)

photo 2Some of my favorite answers:

  • quit smoking (do it!!)
  • quit complaining
  • stop saying the “f” word so much
  • stop being lazy/ making excuses
  • stop judging others
  • quit procrastinating

Second card:

photo 3Answers:

  • learn to play the guitar
  • learn to play the piano
  • learn to sew
  • patience
  • learn to play tennis (of course I loved this answer!!)
  • get better at drawing/ art

Third card:

photo 4Answers:

  • give more to the less fortunate
  • forgive (my favorite answer)
  • volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
  • practice kindness

And the last card:

photo 1Answers:

  • my mom
  • The Pope- seems like a grand answer but the person meant they wanted to give more, be selfless, practice forgiveness
  • Mother Theresa- practice kindness and compassion
  • Zooey Deschanel- for real one of the teenagers said this but her answer as to why was cool- she felt Ms. Deschanel was always positive and she wanted to emulate that (and her style) and stop complaining.

Everyone had great reasons behind their answers and in general we all felt a little low in regards to 2013. Our activity definitely helped lift our spirits and we vowed to encourage each other and hold ourselves to our goals. Happy New Year and thank you all for spending some time reading my blog and giving me a bit of your time. I am very grateful. Bring it on 2014! I’m ready to turn the page.

A Few of My Favorite Things: Holiday Edition

christmas 2013

 

I went on a little trip after Thanksgiving and came home to find my husband had decorated the house. It was a lovely surprise, but also a wake up call. Hey! Christmas is right around the corner. Better get a move on.

I never have a lot of money to spend at Christmas and it’s always my goal not to incur any debt at the holidays. If I have to buy a present on my credit card, then I can’t afford that present. I don’t want anyone going into debt to buy me a gift, and I believe the feeling would be mutual. I give what I can and I love giving with an open heart and untroubled mind.

Every year I keep a list of my favorite things to give away as gifts. Here are some of them:

purityThis is the best face wash I’ve ever used and it lasts forever. My face is clean, clean, clean, no need for toner.

LA SonL.A. Son, by Roy Choi which combines his story and some of his recipes. He is a true inspiration and a crusader for providing food for those in need: “U always got a meal if u c me” is one of his quotes from Twitter and I think that sums up what a fantastic human being he is. You might have heard of the Kogi Food Truck , Roy is one of its founders and, in my opinion, the one who started the food truck revolution. Buy his book! He has quite a story to share.

Book Shelf artI love these letters made out of books! I want them, and I want to give them as gifts. Inexpensive and clever, I found them at Nordstrom.

Those are some of my favorites from the year, how about all of you? What am I missing out on?

Happy Holidays and thank you for reading.

 

Counting My Blessings

October was a difficult month in my household and overall, 2013 has been a bummer of a year. Many of my friends have experienced a multitude of hardships this year and I’m hoping  the new year will bring better fortune to us all. When I found myself worrying over my own personal problems, I often repeated ‘we are healthy’ which is truly what matters. We are healthy, we have a roof over our heads, we have food. Therefore, we have everything we need.

November is a month of giving thanks. I sent my first query out for The Energy Crusades in January of 2012. I signed with an agent in December of that same year. My book went out on submission in January of 2013 and sold THIS MONTH! That’s right, MY BOOK SOLD!!

VN PM listing

I am thrilled and extremely grateful for all the hard work of my agent Stacey Donaghy. She’s a dynamo and I love her. I will never forget her calling me for the first time and her many praises for The Energy Crusades. It’s a treat to see my book sale announcement on the Donaghy Literary Group site.

The other night, I celebrated my book deal with friends and family. It was my intention to take lots of pictures and post some of them here. Signing a book deal was something that took years and I have a team of people around me who propelled me throughout the process. I’ve mentioned them many times and I know in my heart I wouldn’t be here without them. What happened? I forgot to take pictures! And I created a power point presentation detailing my journey and how The Energy Crusades was born, which my guests graciously sat through even though the football game was on (Denver won!). I faced quite a bit of rejection during the whole process and I let my friends and family have a look at the spreadsheet I created to keep track of my queries, rejections, requests, etc. Yellow highlights designated rejections and guess what? Yellow was the dominant color in the document. So if you’re querying, or biting your nails while being out on submission, remember, it only takes one yes. Don’t give up!

What happens now? Oh my goodness I am embroiled in doing edits for my publisher. I now have an actual deadline. While slogging through my manuscript (I still love reading it!) I came across an article that compared word usage between Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), Stephenie Meyer (The Twilight Series), and J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series). I’ve read all three of these series and it was fun seeing their words compared side by side.

Thank you to all who have wished me well, stopped by my blog to say hello, and sent positive energy my way. I feel it, and I am grateful. And now I must head back to work: TEC cover page

 

A Haunting October

It’s Halloween, and generally one of my favorite times of the year. I love Fall and all the bright colors it brings, the crispness in the air and the fun of dressing up for Halloween.

However, October has been a tumultuous month this year. There have been some ups: an anniversary, birthdays to celebrate, and some good news in terms of my writing career. There have been some very low lows: tragedy, endings, loss. Such is the cycle of life and you have to learn to take the good with the bad, even when the bad seems to outweigh all that is good.

One of my favorite things about October is seeing all of the decorations and inventive costumes. I’ve had fantastic times dressing up for Halloween parties and trick-or-treating with the kids. Here is a flashback, and I believe this was our first Halloween together:

barbieWe got better at our costumes later:

slash and axelThat is my real hair! I can’t believe how long it was and I remember the day I cut it all off. Good times indeed!

Happy Halloween everybody! Whatever is going on in your life, I hope it only gets better.

If you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear about some of your favorite costumes.

 

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