Monday, 27 February 2017

Author Branding: Developing a Logo for a Book Series…

As many of you know, I recently signed a contract with Mirror World Publishing to do another book series called Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. The first book in this teen psychic mystery series, Lost and Found, is slated for release July 17th, 2017, and I’m so excited! But…there was a lot of work and preparation ahead of me to get this new series off the ground, including wanting to create a new logo for branding purposes. Enter Mikey Brooks—illustrator extraordinaire!

I knew exactly (in my mind) what I wanted for a logo for this new series, so when I emailed Mikey, I told him to visualize those colorful signs you’d see driving northward for a visit to ‘cottage country’ while on vacation. I wanted a nostalgic, good old days, happy memories sort of feeling. Then, hanging underneath this welcoming sign, have a small sinister-type sign to give a foreboding, eerie presence. Cue the scary music…

So, here’s the first concept:

Not bad. My illustrator was on the right track. Next, I told Mikey to add bright, primary colors. Here’s the second concept:

I pursed my lips and shook my head. Not exactly what I was looking for. I wanted the sign to have a brown background, not gray, with a welcoming feel. I needed this logo to literally POP! Here’s the third concept:

Getting so close I could feel my feet wading in a cool, spring-fed lake, smell the fresh country air, and taste those gooey campfire marshmallows. Next, I wanted the hanging sign to have a burnt wood look to it, to give it more of an ominous tone. This is the fourth, and final concept:

I did the happy dance. Mikey knocked it out of the park. When creating a logo to pull a book series together and make it part of your author brand, you need to have a set idea in your mind—a premise of the series so you, as the author can make your audience (readers) feel how you want them to feel. In my case, Fairy Falls is an inviting small, nostalgic northern tourist town, but there’s something about this place that has an air of mystery, of something secretive and uncanny. A place, I hope, that will have readers wanting to visit again and again.

Have you ever designed or hired an illustrator to create a logo for your book series or author brand? If so, what was your experience? What do you think of my new logo? Would love to read your comments. Cheers and thank you for reading this post!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Book Tour and Guest Post: The Sun God's Heir, Return: Book One by Elliott Baker...

Welcome to the 1-Week Book Tour for The Sun God's Heir: Return, Book 1.

About The Sun God's Heir: Return, Book 1:

The Sun God’s Heir is a swashbuckling series, set at the end of the seventeenth century in France, Spain and northern Africa. Slavery is a common plague along the European coast and into this wild time, an ancient Egyptian general armed with dark arts has managed to return and re-embody, intent on recreating the reign of terror he began as Pharaoh. René Gilbert must remember his own former lifetime at the feet of Akhenaten to have a chance to defeat Horemheb. A secret sect has waited in Morocco for three thousand years for his arrival.


For three thousand years a hatred burns. In seventeenth century France two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue an incarnation begun long ago.

In ancient Egypt, there were two brothers, disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When the pharaoh died, the physician took the knowledge given and went to Greece to begin the mystery school. The general made a deal with the priests and became pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco. 

After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

Book Information:

Title: The Sun God's Heir: Return, Book 1

Author Name: Elliott Baker

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Release Date: January 2, 2017

Amazon Link:  

Visit the Blogs Participating in the Book Tour:

Bantha poo doo by Elliott Baker

Continuing with one of the themes in The Sun God’s Heir trilogy, power continues to fascinate me. So many questions. If we have so much of it, and we do if we measure it in total rather than by each, why aren’t we (again I’m exploring a gross generalization) happier.  In this global we, I include the fabulously wealthy among us as well as the power mongers and dictators. What is power? There are a couple of definitions, but I’ll use this one:

the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.

An easy answer would be survival. In the good old Cro-Magnon days, a single human even armed, was not very high up on the actuarial scale. Two or more was the imperative. I imagine the big question was “Do we fight or run,” with the Super Bowl ring going to the winning answer. With two people, you might have two answers. With three, depending on their ethnicity, who knows how many. I’m being very positive here. Remember as a believer in reincarnation, I’m pretty sure I’ve had the opportunity to make mistakes in many of the various tribes we’ve separated into. So here’s where consensus makes its first appearance. Did those early humans use logic. Probably not. Might definitely made right, but might still had to pound people into consensus and when might (power) was light on the intelligence side, and became Bantha poo doo, a new might became the consensus maker.

So influencing the behavior of others is a survival trait. A survival trait that evolves based on success. Somebody thought of that one. What’s his name, oh yes, Darwin. So does the accrual of power as a positive evolutionary trait continue forever, or does it reach a place where something different than the ability to influence others passes it in evolutionary power. Is there a location on the power graph where more power becomes less useful toward specific outcomes? In this case happiness. By the way, happiness is totally in the eye of the beholder. Depending on the mental, emotional, and psychopathic setup of the individual, I’m certain that happiness is widely different. Since I’m exploring power, I’ll leave the definitions of why employ it once physical survival is assured, for later.
Power is the application of energy. The accumulation of energy is required. I will define energy as anything that causes movement. I may dabble in layman’s quantum explanations and ask forgiveness up front. Just consider this an exercise in science fiction. Here’s my premise:

Power as a means to effect an end grows inversely proportional at a certain point on the continuum when every other downstream vibration of its use is not or cannot be taken into consideration. In English; unless you know where every vibration of the rock you throw into the pond is going, you can’t know if throwing that rock will help you or hinder you.

The protagonist and antagonist in The Sun God’s Heir: Return were brothers and disciples of an enlightened pharaoh. The power that each can potentially wield is orders of magnitude above that of their fellow men. True power begins to seek the consensus of the universe before throwing the stone into the pond. It is the path of connecting with that consensus that really jump starts evolution.

In The Sun God’s Heir: Return, one character forces his way back into embodiment while the other has incarnated naturally. One remembers the power gained in an earlier incarnation, the other must remember in order to have a chance at defending himself and those he loves. Fortunately, this journey takes place in the latter part of the 17th century, a time of pirates, of exploration, and great change. If you were good with a rapier, not a bad time to be alive. If you could wield the powers of earth, water, air, and fire, and if you were the only one, well, the possibilities for acquiring power, the ability to direct or influence others, was unlimited. Unless it wasn’t.

Praise for The Sun God's Heir: Return:

A great read! From the first sword fight I could not put it down. Adventure, romance, action with just the right amount of his history and mysticism. The main character Rene displays all the qualities a true hero should; loyal, smart, humble, and a ferocious warrior all opponents will fear before their end. I could not help but feel fully immersed in the story. One of the best reads I can remember, I am eagerly anticipating the next book in the series!! ~ Jason Battistelli

The Sun God’s Heir is a page turner. The development of the characters made you really care what happens next to each person, good or evil. The descriptions of the ships, homes and countryside transported me into the era and made me feel like I was one of the onlookers or a part of the story itself. The moment I finished I had to have the second book to see what happens next. Fabulous!” ~ Karyn Krause Cumberland, Esquire

The Sun God’s Heir is a fascinating combination of historical period fiction, sci-fi, and political intrigue. Elliott Baker weaves a tale that one would have to be catatonic not to enjoy. The character development ranks among the best I’ve read; truly, by halfway through the book I found myself thinking like Rene (the main character) in my own daily life. This is the sign of mastery of character depth which is so often lacking in contemporary fiction. And the pacing! Rarely does a book seem to move at the speed of a movie without feeling haphazard. I applaud Elliott for pulling that off, as only an experienced screenwriter or playwright could. If you like a quality story that bridges traditional genre boundaries, then the Sun God’s Heir is for you! ~ Joshua Bartlett

Meet the Author:

Award winning novelist and international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida but has spent the last thirty-five years or so living in sunny New Hampshire. With four musicals and one play published and produced throughout the United States, in New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy. Among his many work experiences, Elliott was a practicing hypnotherapist for seven years. A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sally Ann. 

You can find Elliott at the following places:

Monday, 13 February 2017

Book Review: Being Krystyna by Carol Browne…

When Carol Browne volunteered to write the life story of local woman, Krystyna Porsz, she was a very reluctant biographer. Ms. Browne did it because no-one else could be found to do it, so she thought, “If I don’t do it, no-one will.” And I for one, am glad she did manage to put pen to paper and write Krystyna’s story!

There are many books out there that share the horrific tales of Holocaust survivors and the aftermath of what these courageous human beings had to go through during World War Two. Being Krystyna is one of those books. Carol Browne only met Krystyna once but made a point of shaking her hand before she left. Carol states openly, “I needed to physically touch someone who had survived the Holocaust, who had lived a history I had only read about or seen on black and white newsreels.”

So what’s my take on this true story of a strong woman whose voice needed to be heard despite being seriously hampered by dementia? This is what I posted on Amazon and Goodreads…

A 4 Star Tribute to a True Survivor…

Bravo to Carol Browne for writing a poignant, well-told story of a survivor of the Holocaust during World War Two. Browne captures the voice and tone of the aging Krystyna, and brings her story to life. A well-done tribute to a woman who went through hell to ensure her survival and live a long, productive life.

Being Krystyna would do well on the laptops of today’s students to allow them a peek into Krystyna’s world, and what it was like to walk in her shoes. This biography is a true triumph of the human spirit, and I was humbled to read Krystyna’s courageous story.

About the Book:

In 2012 when young Polish immigrant Agnieszka visits fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home for the first time, she thinks it a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.

Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and a death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka be able to keep her promise to tell the story, and, in this harrowing memoir of survival, what is the message for us today?

Purchase Links:

Carol Browne regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honors degree in English Language and Literature. Carol writes speculative fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also a ghost blog writer, proofreader, copy editor, and copywriter. 

Along with a passion for gardening, Carol is an avid animal lover. Carol lives in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

Connect with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Planning your Story…

Here’s the deal. As a writer, I used to struggle with the question of whether I’m a plotter or a pantser (write by the seat of my pants) when it comes to writing a novel. Truth be told, I’m a little of both, but after much contemplation, I find I veer toward being a plotter. Wait…correction, after writing six complete novels, I’ve evolved and discovered the outlining process that works best for me—a STORYBOARD.

Yup. Those large, cork bulletin boards Disney used to use when creating an animated feature movie. I’m a visual person, so I like to look at the board filled with a printed plan, mark it up with highlight pens, and chart my way through my novel. I’m also not shy on using plenty of Post-it® notes when an idea or concept pops into my mind that will make a scene or chapter better and stronger.

I find using a storyboard to plan a novel is less stressful, and I get a cleaner first draft at the end. Since I’m writing two book series (The Last Timekeepers and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls), it helps to get all my ducks in a row by knowing where all my characters are heading, and who is the point-of-view character in each book. I do this by using CHARACTER TRACKING SHEETS which logs everything about a character like the color of his or her hair and eyes to what clothes they’re wearing to their talents, wants, and signatures. I place these sheets in a series binder for safe keeping and a quick reference. Like I said, I love visuals! Now before I get right into plotting out my novel chapter by chapter, there’s a little thing called RESEARCH that I must do to give my story a sense of integrity and value. That’s when all those ‘what ifs’ start to bubble in my imagination, and solidify the story.

Once most of the research is done, I begin by creating an outline document with the NAME of the NOVEL, then state the WORKING PITCH (that’s the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what’s at stake’), PREMISE, and SETTING in that order. Next, I write out my MAIN CHARACTERS (beginning with who’s telling the story), the age of each character in the book (they get older as the series unfolds), and maybe an update about them. Then, I write out a list of the GUEST CHARACTERS and include their roles in the story. I follow this information with a bullet list of PROBLEMS, COMPLICATIONS, OBSTACLES, and CHALLENGES the point-of-view character must face that will bring his or her out of their comfort zone, make them suffer, learn a valuable lesson in the process, and grow from the experience.

And then comes the PLOT, broken down into CHAPTERS, with a blurb on what occurs in each chapter. It’s like a road map for me, following the twists and turns, peaks and valleys, that takes my point-of-view character on a scary-wonderful ride through words. I number and name each chapter which helps me keep on track of the story structure and build scenes. Of course nothing is written in stone, that’s why I use those Post-it® notes, and scribble down the sides of my outline if the MUSE inside directs me toward a better direction and destination.

Ready and raring to go!
This way of planning a novel is a fairly new process for me, but I’ve found that it keeps me organized and disciplined as a writer. Many authors I know use other methods to outline their novels, so I urge you to experiment with different ways of plotting to help you build a better book. If you think you’re more of a pantser than a plotter, check out this post HERE and see if it resonates with you. If you’re an author, what ways do you plan your story? Would love to read your comments. Cheers and thank you for reading this post! Happy novel planning!