Thursday, April 30, 2015

Anthology: Love Unexpected A Story Book Romance

I have really mixed feelings about this post, so I'm just going to eat a Lindt chocolate truffle and dive into it.

A long time a galaxy far far away, I was asked to be a part of an anthology. Woohoo! I was so excited and knew it was an amazing opportunity, so I jumped on board. To make things even more incredible, I was a total fan of the other two authors participating. Just thinking that my name was going to go next to theirs gave me chills. I had a story idea brewing in the back of my mind (He Loves Me Not) about a girl who fell in love with her boss because he kept giving her flowers. Only one problem--he already had a girlfriend. I wanted the story to be lighthearted, and I wanted to inject a lot of humor in it. It was challenging to fit it all into 8 short chapters, but I did it. I had a great time writing it, sent it off to the publisher, and everything was great in author land.

Fast forward to book release time. This was another woohoo moment. I loved the cover! I loved the stories! I loved seeing my name next to women I admired! Then the reviews started coming out. And...OUCH! I hadn't thought about this side of things--that I was place next to two AMAZING authors, and that my story might be the one to get the: "My least favorite of the three stories was...." kind of reviews. Three different stories, three different styles, and I guess it is what it is. I did get some good reviews too. "Next up was He Loves Me Not and I loved that one, too!" And some readers seemed to enjoy the humor saying that they laughed several times. But over all, mine seemed to fall short of the other two. I know I can't please ever reader, and I've had my fair share of negative reviews during my writing career (one person gave me a poor rating because she didn't like the paper the book was printed on). Those things I just let roll off. Go with the punches. And eat chocolate. This one was tough though. Maybe because it was a side by side comparison with authors I aspire to be like, and I realized that I'm not quite there yet. For whatever reason, it was a little painful. Which explains why it took me so long to even blog about this book being out.

Anyways, I live and learn, and I'm trying to improve. I am working on another book, and I think it's going to be AMAZING!!! But as for this book--go check it out! It 's a great book and totally worth reading. My story might not be your favorite of the three, but that's ok. And go ahead and post an honest review. Just keep in mind--you might be contributing to my chocolate addiction.

Love Unexpected-A Storybook Romance 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cover Reveal - Bonds of Loyalty by Jennifer K. Clark & Stephonie K. Williams

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Welcome to the Cover Reveal for:

Bonds of Loyalty
By Jennifer K. Clark, Stephonie K. Williams
YA/Adult Historical Romance
August 2014 by Covenant Communications, Inc.

"It shall be the son, the firstborn in the new monarchy, who shall quiet the fears and unite the nation again."

The infamous prophecy declaring that the firstborn would be a boy is the last thing Sarah wants to deal with. As if being newly engaged isn’t difficult enough, she’s still coming to terms with the fact that the first eighteen years of her life were a farce. The prophecy—the reason she had been secreted away from her family and her royal heritage to begin with—wasn’t supposed to disrupt her life any more than it previously had. But when unexpected events force her to leave her fiancĂ©, Prince Alexander, Sarah must return to her home country of Kyrnidan to face her destiny. 

Reunited with her royal family, Sarah is thrust into the political turmoil that surrounds her ancestral home. To make things worse, her arrival has upturned the long-held prophecy.

As the voices of dissension mount against her, Sarah turns to her bodyguard, Luther, for protection. But Luther’s protection comes with a price. Propelled into a plot that threatens her life and the welfare of the entire kingdom, Sarah must determine where her love and loyalty truly lie. Torn between two men, she will now have to face her fears and undertake a journey of self-discovery that will change the fate of a nation….

Mark of Royalty is the book previous to this. Although Bonds of Loyalty is the continuation of Sarah's story it is a stand alone book.

Mark of RoyaltyMark of Royalty
by Jennifer K. Clark, Stephonie K. Williams
YA/Adult Historical Romance
January 1st 2011 by Covenant Communications

At a time when royal infants are marked at birth, a royal advisor makes a terrible misstep — and an infant princess must be secreted away to save her life. Named Sarah by Miranda, the woman who agrees to raise the child as her own, the girl is unaware of her royal heritage — even though Miranda has done all she can to pair Sarah with the king's nephew, Lord Chad. But unexpected events prevent the expected betrothal.

Determined to fulfill her devoted mother's wishes, Sarah reserves her heart for Chad despite her growing affections for another man. But as plots against the crown unfold, someone accidentally discovers Sarah's mark of royalty — setting the stage for discoveries that will shake the kingdom to its core.

You can find a music video for Mark of Royalty here and a book trailer here.

Jennifer K. Clark and Stephonie K. Williams are sisters by chance but became friends by choice when a year of rooming together at college taught them how to get along. Now “play”-at-home moms, separated and living in different parts of the country, they stay in touch and support each other in their individual projects.

Jennifer K. Clark lives in the small rural town of Wellington Utah, as much as her husband wishes it was Wellington New Zealand. After years of entertaining her three children with infamous made-up stories, she decided to put her imagination to good use and became an author. She likes to add a touch of romance to her novels along with a healthy dose of adventure. Fueled by Lindt Chocolate Truffles and Sour Patch Kids, she now spends a copious amount of time with the characters in her head. In her spare time she likes to create science experiments with the ingredients in her potions cupboard, debate which Doctor is her favorite (currently the 10th…or maybe the 11th), and—when she has time—watches the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice.

Stephonie K. Williams makes her home in a quaint farming town in eastern Iowa with her husband, three cats, and a budding ninja. Two of her favorite things in Iowa are the fireflies (aka lightning bugs) and cows, especially the calves. Despite having lived there for 15 years she still misses the majesty and tranquility of the mountains of Utah where she grew up. She has a vast collection of fortune cookie fortunes because she has yet to determine if it is unlucky to throw them away. She also loves to quill, the art of rolled paper, not to be confused with quilting.

Stephonie is passionate about education and enjoys visiting schools to teach classes on creative writing. She has written poetry, short stories, and dissertations, although Mark of Royalty was the first of her work that she was brave enough to submit for publication.


$25 Amazon Gift Card
Open internationally.
Ends July 16th.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing in Multiple Genres

Writing in multiple genres—To be or not to be, that is the question.

For me, I’m hoping the answer is: To be.

I hope it’s fitting that the title of this post contains a famous phrase penned by Shakespeare.  After all, he wrote in multiple genres, which is something I would like to do. As a relatively new writer, I admit I’m a little nervous about branching out especially when there is so much hype about author branding and establishing yourself with your readership. I know, I know—the “hype” is justified. When your readers pick up a book they want to know what to expect. I get it, and I’ve already been pressed into that mold. My first two books: Mark of Royalty and The Knight of Redmond, are both renaissance romances with strong moral undercurrents. I actually love that genre and will continue writing in it. In fact I have a book coming out later this year in that same genre, and another one playing around in my head—waiting its turn to be put on paper while I finish up my CONTEMPORARY novel, A Heart of Coal. Yep, I said it. I’m writing a contemporary romantic suspense.  This is where I go “Yikes” and question my sanity. 

To be honest—I’m a little timid stepping into new waters. At the same time, I think it’s a great time to do it. Isn’t this the golden age for authors? We have so many publishing options, marketing outlets, and tools available in which we can gain huge readerships in multiple genres. With today’s technology, readers are only a mouse click away in searching out the books they want to read in the genres they’re craving. There are plenty of customer reviews, endorsements, and even links to the author’s website so readers know what to expect when buying a book.    

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with Carla Kelly—which was awesome, by the way! She has over 30 novels tucked under her belt and has won at least a dozen awards for her writing. During our discussions about the writing world she kept advising me to “write my book”.  Not the book I think my publisher wants, or what I think other people want, but the book that is inside me—my book. For me that means I’ll be writing in different genres.  

So, yes, I have a contemporary novel I’m finishing up. I’ve also written a children’s science activity book and have other children’s books I’d like to write, along with keeping up my renaissance romances. But this one—the contemporary novel: A Heart of Coal—is a big step for me. I feel like It’s a jumping off point and I’m really praying my readers will be open to it. Here’s the blurb:  

Raised by an abusive father, 23 year old Haley Carter breaks into the forbidden man's world of coal mining as she tries to prove she can hold her own amongst men, but when someone tries to kill her—can fellow coal miner, Jake Hunt, help her uncover the truth and perhaps rekindle her faith in men?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tardis Journal

I've had several people ask me about my handmade books so I decided to show how I made a replica of River Song's Tardis Journal. Here's the one you see in the Doctor Who episodes:

 My daughter has a Tardis dress which she wore to Comic Con and also to Super Hero day at school, so we took on this project together so she could add this great accessory to her costume.

Here we start by sorting the paper into stacks of 7. These will be the signatures in the book.
We used regular 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper.

I wanted the book to look old and antiquated--including each page. I usually coffee stain my papers to give them an antique appearance; however, that process would take an too long so we tried another method--heat. We took each page and slid the edges across the top of a hot burner on my glass-top stove. It discolors the pages nicely; although, too much can make it brittle.

Once the pages were discolored, we took each signature (7 sheets) and folded them in half.

Then we stacked all the signatures together. We are putting 9 signatures in this book.

Next we used a template (green card stock with  pre-measured holes) and punched all of the holes into each signature. Then they're ready  for sewing.

This is all of our signatures with the holes in them.

Next we sewed all the signatures together. I'm not going to get into detail on how I did this, but for anyone interested, here's a link to a tutorial:
The small strip of cloth is there as a reinforcement. It will be glued down later.

Once the signatures are sewn together tightly then we put glue along the back 
and put it under a weight to let it dry for the night.

Next we prepared the leather. I used a tan book leather and spray-painted it blue.

Now we put together the covers. River Song's journal has raised panels on it that look like the Tardis, so we found a diagram of it and used it as a template. We traced and cut the panel pieces out from mat board.

 We glued the pieces onto the cover boards. 
Our cover boards are recycled covers from discarded library books.

Next we glued the leather onto our cover boards, pressing it down into the grooves as we go.

Here's what the cover looks like after the leather has been glued to it.

We turned the raw edges of the leather over, gluing them to the inside of the cover.
Then we glued the block of signatures into the cover using hing flaps. 

Now for the finishing touches. We glued end pages in.

To give the book an old, antique look, we dry-brushed black into the crevices.

Then we dry-brushed a light blue on the edges and anywhere we wanted it to look particularly worn.

Here's the completed journal.

We did add in some drawings on some of the pages. I'm only showing one page here.
Don't want to show too much--spoilers, you know. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Halloween Book Tutorial

Most people know that I have a fascination with Halloween. It's my favorite holiday and I go all out with decorating my house. That said, I have to admit that I don't really get into the blood and gore side of things, but my taste runs more along the lines of old dilapidated books, apothecary decorations, bones and graveyards. You know the kind of stuff--think Diagon alley, or the Defense Against the Dark Arts class room in Harry Potter. Yep--that kind of stuff.

This year I made some Halloween books to add to my collection (see tutorial below). These books were inspired by the blog: Seeing Things That Aren't Really There. You can also find great tutorials there. I used the downloads provided on that site to make both my spider and bat books. Then I ventured off with my own imagination and made the skeleton book. 

My Spider Book

Bat Book

The Art of Death Skeleton Book
 The books aren't really hard to make. Here's how to make your own:

1) Get an old, hard bound book. I picked mine up from a library's discontinued book sale. Content doesn't matter, just make sure it's the right size for what you want.

2) Select something to put on the cover. It can be as simple as a printed picture (like the one used on the Bat book) or it can be a low relief object (like the spider which was a 3-D window sticker). If you choose a printed picture, follow the link to this tutorial here.

For 3-D objects: I selected a small skeleton I found a local dollar store. I had to cut off the back of the skull and the back of the ribs to make it lay flat enough to use. You really want something 3-D, not 4-D. Once your item is ready, glue it to the cover using a hot glue gun.

3) Use the gluegun and put ridges of glue along the spine in several places. This will simulate the cording on the spine of an old bound book.

4) Now tear black tissue paper into small pieces and use Modge Podge to glue the pieces onto the cover. Squish them around--the more wrinkles the better. It will look like an old leather binding. I had to use a toothpick to press my pieces into the small crevices between the bones. Cover the entire book, wrapping the pieces of paper around the inside edges of the cover.

5) Now give it a more antique look by dry brushing some black paint over it. This covers up any glue marks and gives it a little depth. Next, using a light gray color, dry brush across the 3/D object. Next use the light grey and dry brush along the ridges of the spine, the edges of the cover, and anywhere else you want the book to look worn.

 6) Now to decorate the book with any other amenities you want. Cut any shape you might want to add to the book out of thin cardboard (cereal boxes work well) and paint them accordingly. I wanted corner guards, a book clasp (so the book can't be opened), and...some other decoration thingy--I don't know what it is, but it looks cool. Paint your pieces however you want them. I painted my pieces silver and antiqued them by dry brushing black along the edges. When they are dry, glue them on using a hot glue gun.

Here's my cardboard pieces ready to glue on.
 Here's the book after the pieces were glued.

 7) Make a title for your book along with a label for the spine. I did mine on the computer using a spooky-looking font and boarder. I printed a smaller, simpler version to use for the spine label. I also antiqued mine by dipping the paper in coffee and letting it dry. When it's ready glue it on with Modge Podge or white glue.

Here I'm antiquing the paper in coffee.

I glued the title paper on and added a black cord around the edge to give it a little more decoration. You can also make a title plate out of cardboard and paint it like the one on the spider book.

A creepy Halloween book deserves a ghoulish place to display it. Set it on a pile of old books or next to a skull and surround it by potion bottles and voila--everybody that walks in will be drawn to your spooky display.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What is that on my book cover?

I've been really blessed to have great covers for both of my books: Mark of Royalty and The Knight of Redmond. I've had a lot of people ask about them, and compliment me on them. I wish I could take credit for the great artwork, but I really don't have much of a say when it comes to cover design. My publisher takes care of that and they have some great designers.

I was really pleased when I saw the cover for The Knight of Redmond. As a matter of fact, I was surprised that it matched the characters so well--right down to Lily wearing her green cloak. I've also had a lot of people compliment on Wren, the knight on the cover. He is an intriguing character and the cover matches him perfectly. That said, I did receive one question about the cover art depicting Wren which I had to do a little research on before I could answer it. The question was: "What is the metal ring below Wren's face?"

My first thought was that it was a ring attached to Wren's breastplate armor. That idea seemed to be the general opinion of others as well. But we were wrong. The audio version of The Knight of Redmond actually has a broader view where we can get a better look at what that metal thing is.

I know the colors are not the best because this is just a snapshot of my audiobook cover. If you look carefully you'll see that the metal ring is not a part of Wren's armor, but is the pommel of a sword which he is holding. It blends in nicely with the armor behind it, so it's kind of hard to distinguish, but nonetheless--that's what it is.

Another mystery solved.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Signing Under the Horse Head

Yes, I'm actually having a book signing under the horse head.
Sounds funny, right? I'm sure someone is picturing me sitting next to my horse and signing books.
Now, I love horses, but.....

 unfortunately, I'm not going to be doing any book signings with any equine friends.

However I am having a book signing in my home town of Monticello, Utah--a small picturesque town that sits on the foothills of the Blue Mountain.

And thus...I will be having a book signing under the horse head. Do you see it? There is a horse head on the mountain side.  It's shaped out of trees and depicts the head, neck, two ears, and the blaze down the horse's face which is marked with snow. Yes the trees do grow naturally in that shape and it's always been there. Here's a better look.

It might take a little imagination for some people, but it's always been easy for me to see it, but then I grew up looking at it every day.

The book signing is set up on the 26th of July which is the weekend of Monticello's Pioneer Day celebration so I get to enjoy the whole small-town celebration, and you can't get any better than a small town celebration which comes complete with a parade on main street and booths in the park.

And it is a SMALL town. Population 1,981. Nope that wasn't a typo.
This is main street during rush hour.

Has anyone driven through Monticello lately? It's a gorgeous little mountain retreat. First settled by the pioneers in the late 1800's, the name: Monticello, is in honor of Thomas Jefferson's estate which can be found on the back of most nickles. The town still has several old buildings like the Court House pictured below.

And the old LDS church.

And some old houses. This particular house, built around 1916, is on the street where I grew up. We used to play kick-the-can and hide-n-seek there all the time. It had the best hiding spots in the whole neighborhood, not to mention the best ghost stories.

Lots of old things can be seen around--and yes this tractor actually runs.

And there are some new things. Like The Hideout, an 18 hole golf course, which  has been ranked the No. 2 Golf Course in Utah. And Monticello is also home to the first mini-Temple ever built.

So if you haven't been to Monticello, you should go visit. And if you're there for the Pioneer Day Celebration this month then stop by and see me. I'll be at the San Juan Record (49 South Main) on Friday, July26th from 2:00pm till 4:00pm signing books.