It’s All About The Cover…And The Eye Candy On Display

Regardless of the publishing method I ultimately choose for Unlikely Venture, one thing is certain.  I need a cover.  But not just “a cover” – the right cover, the one that will stop potential readers and cause them to click into my virtual world so they can determine if my story is worth their time and money.

So many romance novels have covers graced with half-naked swarthy tanned males with pecs that seem to ripple as you stare at them.  Sometimes, they include the half-naked female counterpart as well, whose very perky boobs are usually popping out of her dress, ready to wave hello.  Just as an interesting aside, very rarely, if at all, do you see a heroine by herself on a romance cover…?

Every book and article I’ve read on the subject stresses the fact that the cover is equally as important as “the blurb,” especially if a potential reader is purchasing an e-book.  Of course, you can always sneak in some free sample content to gently nudge them toward a purchase.  But really, readers need to be sold on the eye candy.

I don’t want to go against the grain here, but I’ve always preferred a different type of cover, one full of innuendo.  I want to create the images of the characters as I read; I don’t want to be told what they look like.  I prefer the use of inanimate objects over flesh to convey the mystery of what lays within the pages of a romance novel.  I don’t need heaving breasts to tell me that there will be intimacy laced into the story.  It’s a romance novel so I expect it!

Things You Can’t Escape As A Romance Author

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There are two things that you can’t escape as a romance author.  

First, everyone who reads your book will automtically assume your hero is modeled after your spouse or significant other.  No matter what you say, they will be convinced otherwise.

Second, readers will infer that the bedroom scenes are based on your own personal escapades.  Just as an aside, there are no actual bedroom scenes in Unlikely Venture (wink, wink).

When I addressed these findings with my husband, his response was very matter-of-fact. “How could any of this possibly be bad for me?”

So I reminded him that he had yet to read the final version of the book and once he gets through it, he can give me his answer.  =)

Haha!!!  Just kidding!  I mean, it’s true he hasn’t read the latest, but he’s got absolutely nothing to worry about.  At all.

I Need A Hero! Wait…No I Don’t!

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I hate a weak heroine.  Really, the whole “damsel in distress” thing is so irritating.  I don’t have a lot of free time on my hands.  With three children, a full-time job and aspirations to become a bestselling author, my plate is pretty full.  If I’m going to give up a few hours of my action-packed existence to delve into a novel, I have some pretty strict requirements.

I don’t want weak, needy or overbearing characters.  My idea heroine is strong, snarky, self-confident, quick-witted and engaging.  If she’s bitchy, even better.  I need to be able to relate immediately or I’m out.  And once that happens, I’m not coming back for seconds.

I want a heroine who is independent, a woman who doesn’t need a hero.  She’s just fine on her own, but the hero would enhance her existence.  She needs to have a flaw (or several) but they can’t be clichéd.

And then comes the challenge of making her likeable.  She can be a complete witch with a venomous tongue but I still need to love her otherwise I’m not going to make it.  There should be no buildup to that love either.  I have to click with her immediately.  A heroine with depth and personality and realistic baggage can evoke feelings and establish an emotional connection with a reader.  That’s a goal we should shoot for as romance authors.

As for the hero…

I don’t want him to be over the top.  He needs to maintain some control of himself and be able to carry on an entertaining banter with the heroine.  I want him to be smart but driven by emotion to some degree.  That’s how I connect.  I need him to react, to show me that he’s invested.  There also has to be a chemistry between him and the heroine that sparks at their very first encounter and carries the reader to their happily ever after.

I don’t want perfection, perfection is BORING!!!!!   I need some semblance of reality to keep me hooked, otherwise it is just borderline ridiculous, e.g. my feelings about Christian Grey.

I came across a review on Amazon by for Fifty Shades of Grey that is the exact opposite of what I want in a hero.  For the record, I don’t know if I’m allowed to paste this into my post but I am crediting the person (meymoon).

 “The main male character is a billionaire (not a millionaire but a billionaire) who speaks fluent French, is basically a concert level pianist, is a fully trained pilot, is athletic, drop dead gorgeous, tall, built perfectly with an enormous penis, and the best lover on the planet. In addition, he’s not only self-made but is using his money to combat world hunger. Oh yeah, and all of this at the ripe old age of 26! And on top of that, he’s never working. Every second is spent having sex or texting and emailing the female character. His billions seem to have just come about by magic.”

LOL.

I don’t ever want a reviewer to have that assessment of one of my heroes.  That is the antithesis of what I want to create.  There’s got to be at least a little room for improvement.  =)

Getting To Know My Next Hero…It’s All About The Character Sketch

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Liam Hemsworth

When I decided to write Unlikely Venture, I just WROTE.  I made some notes here and there but for the most part, I found out what was going to happen as I typed.  I didn’t have the whole story mapped out, didn’t use an outline.  But that style kind of suits me.  I’m impulsive so I don’t like wasting time on the planning.  I like to jump in feet first, headed straight toward the action.

I’ve learned a lot over the past year, though.  And I’ve determined that maybe a bit of planning can go a long way.  So, while I am taking a very short hiatus from my last set of edits, I delved into book 2.  I’ve been making notes everywhere, including on my iPhone as I drive (not advisable).  Sometimes to avoid potential fender benders, I call myself and just talk through my notes so I have a voicemail as reference.  Maybe it’s time to download a voice recorder app.

Anyway, I’ve been working on character sketches for my new book.  I didn’t create these up front with book 1; it wasn’t until my editor requested them that I actually sat down to learn about my characters.  I love the robust backstories that resulted from that exercise and a lot of the detail made it into the story.  Anyway, I now recognize the importance of planning.  I could continue my helper skelter writing and eventually, I’d spin out a new tale. But it would lack depth and breadth because I wouldn’t be intimately familiar with my cast of characters.  And that’s a necessity!  You need to be connected to these people to craft a compelling story about them.

So I’ve been working on Chris, my next hero.  But before I can write about him, I need to picture him in my head.  So I’ve been Googling and finally landed on this image.  It’s exactly how I see Chris in my head.  And you know what?  The backstory is just pouring out of me now.  I just needed to make that physical association before I could really understand what he’s all about beneath the surface.

This pic of Liam totally hits the nail on the head.  He is Chris.  =)

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