Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cover Talk pt. II

So, I've finally finished the fourth draft of Fracture the Spider's Web (AH, I can finally use the whole title now instead of the ambiguous "book two"), and now Victoria's in the process of copy edits, which means we're on schedule for the super exciting September 1st release date.

Since I talked about the cover of Dance in Shadow and Whisper, I thought it'd be fun to go into the process of this cover. The process was actually a bit different from how I though together the first cover, because now I had to think about how to carry the same theme of the first to the second.

An important part of covers for series is that they have to look cohesive. There's got to be some visually unifying devices that clearly identifies this cover as definitely part of the series.

I mean, that's totally daunting. Let me tell you.

When Victoria and I took our trip to Pittsburgh, I photographed everything. I got every angle of different buildings and cityscapes so that I had a wide range of pictures to choose from. Here's what the original base image of the cover looks like:

On its own, it's painfully ordinary, right? But, by the end, I had transformed the base image to look like this:

Up close, the building basically looks like a vector, but for Pittsburghians, the PPG building is easily recognizable. The building is such an awesome design, so how could I resist using it for this particular cover?

What I ended up doing was making a "sketch" of the second and third covers to make sure I could manage some key similar characteristics (yes, that means I've thrown the first draft of the third cover together already too!), so here's what the sketch looks like:

Welllll, I got the basic idea down, and that was the point. One of the first noticeable differences, of course, is that "web" was originally sketched out. I ended up scrapping that halfway through drawing out the letters because "web" was just hogging way too much of the composition. The letters were very heavy, stealing so much of the spotlight that the other letters seemed almost out of place.

So I decided to use regular Georgia for "web", and in the end it worked out well because I was able to place the series name much better-like.

This time around, I also decided to use an image for the back cover, since Fracture the Spider's Web has two sides. Here's the image I took out in the middle of Nowheresville:

I took a bunch of pictures of these trees, but the clouds were moving so fast that each snap is different from the next. I loved this one in particular (the first one I took, actually) because the cloud shapes mimic the shape of the trees, forming a lovely composition on its own. Here's how I transformed it:

It's TOTALLY distorted  by this point -- and also flipped. I did this so that the colors matched the front cover as closely as possible, and I flipped the whole image in its final form to get the right kind of symmetry.

Like this, the picture doesn't look very cool. At all. Looks like novice Photoshop farting around. BUT, with all the other layers on top of it, here's what the final product looks like without text:

Textures really make a difference! And the sunburst? Well, you'll have to read and find out!

(And, for the record, I loved being out in the middle of Nowheresville. It's so different from the smoggy California I'm used to!)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book 2: Fracture the Spider's Web - COVER REVEAL

So, as we mentioned, today's the big day for the cover reveal of BOOK TWO. I've been SO EXCITED to show this to you all since I finished it last month, I only hope it meets the expectations that the first book set!

And since you probably skipped right over this, here, just take it already:

Fracture the Spider's Web is the sequel to Dance in Shadow and Whisper and will be out in Kindle and Nook formats September 1st (barring no setbacks from a higher power, since we definitely can't plan ahead for that).

And, if you haven't yet gotten your copy of Dance in Shadow and Whisper yet, we'll be discounting the digital versions to 99 cents. We set the price to change, but it can take up to 24 hrs for it to set in, so make sure you check first!

Like, holy cow, 99 cents, that's pretty sweet. BUT, we'll only have the discount until 11:59 p.m. on the 30th of August, a day before the release of the second book. So, if you've been waffling on getting your copy, now's a darn good time to do it.

Here's what the paperback will look like:

Eeeee I can't wait to put this up on the sidebar! We'll have the official release date of the paperback later. Updates to come!

Also, if you've read the first book, you can find the summary of the second book in the "read more". If you HAVEN'T read the first book, ohmygosh, don't read the summary. It'll be spoiler CITY!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New Tumblog!

So, now that I've finished the third draft of book 2, I decided to finally put together a Tumblog for the series! I made a fancy header for it and everything. Go check out how beautiful it is.

Geez, am I going to make a twitter or a facebook page for it? Maybe. We'll see. So much to keep up with!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Importance of Gender in the Marionettes Saga

My friend and I were once walking down the Great Hill of Despair (AKA, our high school was built into the hills, and her mother parked down at the bottom because traffic was always atrocious -- which often meant a long walk in unbearable chaparral heat). She had been reading the first iteration of the Marionettes Saga, and she asked me in her signature forthcoming way, "Is Yuuhi gay?"

I was all a-stutter then, because he wasn't gay. He had tendencies that weren't the norm for traditional masculinity, but I didn't know how to argue this when I was only seventeen and Tumblr didn't exist yet. How could I defend something I didn't yet understand?

The second iteration provided a more profound Yuuhi, and I say "profound" because he was twice as much himself, freer about his interests and what he liked. He still wasn't gay. I still couldn't explain it.

Even as I was writing the current iteration of the first book, I still didn't quite understand it, and I had pretty much given up trying. But after Tumblr happened in my life, I finally understood. A friend of ours, and now one of our critique partners, read the near-final draft of Dance in Shadow and Whisper, and she was also just as frank when she asked, "Is Yuuhi gay?"

By this point, I could finally explain him. FINALLY. Not once had I ever tried to change him (he certainly wouldn't let me), but now I was in the right place to say, "No. He's gender fluid."

In traditional YA, especially of the urban fantasy and paranormal romance kind, the love interest(s) tend to hit the usual tropes when it comes to masculinity and sexuality. Yuuhi doesn't. He dresses nicely and could predict for you what will be "in style" for the upcoming season, and he knows how to balance a silhouette in his fashion doodles. He enjoys shopping and he could put on a mean dress and rock some mascara.

But that doesn't make him gay.

(Yes, he's bisexual -- he knows what he likes and he's 100% open about it, but it's safer to say that he likes everything.)

It took me a long time to understand that gender identification does not equal sexual orientation. Once I finally got to this point, I could confidently explain why he is the way he is. He knew it all along, which was why he never let me change him -- he just had to wait for me to catch up.

Most of the characters in both the Marionettes and Monsters series don't have rigid sexual orientation, that part was easy to figure out. The harder part was finding out how they saw themselves when it came to the signs on public bathrooms that marked the women's and the men's.

Kali was my guide in the first book in helping me understand how she identified her gender. Her sister acts as her sole feminine role model throughout her life, and while Kali emulates her, she's also self-conscious about how she doesn't look quite like her sister, and she gets it into her head that dresses don't look the way dresses should on her body.

Kali does a lot of physical training and toning, and it shows on her body. Her sister, however, is slender and more like what Kali thinks is supposed to be feminine. So, when she dons a dress, she feels like she's playing dress-up. That doesn't mean she doesn't like to wear dresses, but it does mean that she isn't confident in the way she looks in dresses.

I love this part of Kali, and it gets tackled throughout the later books. She has to find out that there is more than one kind of beautiful. It's definitely a message that I needed to hear in high school. I wished I'd had.

I'm stoked that the inclusiveness of gay characters is starting to gain traction, what with gay characters getting less side treatment and also dying less, but the theme of gender is often largely ignored in mainstream YA fiction. I can't tell you how many times I picked up an UF/PR book hoping to find a gay main character, but I can tell you I haven't yet picked up an UF/PR book thinking I might find a gender fluid main character.

At least I get to write about them.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Preparing for Shipping & Book 2 Stuff!

We've got a PILE of things to ship out after the giveaways. Unfortunately, two of our winners did not reply within 48 hours, so I had to draw two new names. Hopefully I'll hear back so we can finally announce the official winners on Rafflecopter and then take our load of envelopes and drop some serious cash getting these into the mailosphere.

At least then we're done on spending money for marketing this book (especially since we don't have much!), but then we're going to repeat the process all over again when book two comes out. Sigh!

Speaking of which, some updates.

Revision Two of Book 2

I'm already a third of the way through the second revision and working out all the issues Victoria and I pulled out of the initial draft. I've also been adding new scenes while cutting down on fat -- and the new scenes add that little extra dimension to this book that I've always thought was missing. I'm soooo glad for that. It's a big boost to the story.

It'll probably take me another week or so before I finish the second draft, and then it's off to beta readers, which is also, indeed, very exciting. Then, depending on the feedback we get, I may have to do another revision and an edit or just a half revision along with the edit.

Which brings me to my next point!

Book Two Cover Reveal and Release Date

THIS is going to be soon. Very soon. The cover is completely finished, and I'm thinking of setting the release date at a more comfortable time so we're not racing and struggling to get everything finished. I want us to be able to take our time -- and also to get the paperback out at the same time as the digital versions.

Hopefully I'll also be able to contact more book review bloggers in that time, too! And also be able to send digital ARCs to the lovely bloggers who've already read and reviewed and loved the first book.

Then, it's onward to book 3! Holy cow *sweats*.

Sales of DiSaW

We've been very lucky so far to have sales at all, and even a few superfans. It's been such an honor and we get so awkward but happy but also awkward. But, like we've said before, we also know this is going to be a marathon, and it's going to take time to build up some momentum!

So here's approximately how it's all been going down:

Nook: 5
Kindle: 13
Total -  18

Nook: 4
Kindle: 9
Paperback: 5
Total - 18

Grand Total: 36

Seriously, we're super privileged to have had this many sales in our first two months. When I did my indie pub research, I found a large majority of authors who only sold in the single digits, pretty much just to friends and family. We'll see how August goes! STAYING OPTIMISTIC!


Oh, I also forgot to mention that I added an adoptables page! That way you can add your favorite characters to your blog or what have you. I mean, how cute are they??

How could you not want to have these guys on your page? There's other icons as well, so go check out the page!


Thanks x's 9000 to Kristen for the awesome shout-out on her blog! She's a long-time friend of ours and we've been a follower of her blog since it was a little baby thing. She also gave us a sweet review on goodreads!

That's been what's up recently. We'll have a cover reveal and release date SOON! (Really, I'm just excited to have the little cover icon on my sidebar. Eheheheh.) Until then, stay awesome.