Tag: Lex Valentine

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emaginings: Romance Fantasies

February 16, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,

When I joined OCC in 1988, I knew very little about writing romance. One of the first Special Events I attended was a day long workshop at the Fullerton Library taught by Ann Maxwell, aka Elizabeth Lowell. It was an amazing overview of writing romance fiction.
One of the things she said that stuck in my mind was how important it was to tap into the reader’s romantic fantasies. She went on to list some of the more popular fantasies, like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, the Guardian fantasy, and the captive story. That day I decided I wanted to write a captive story, and eventually decided to set it against the backdrop of the French & Indian War where frontier settlers were taken hostage by war parties led by French officers.
The captive story is an old one, with roots in the Greek myth of Persephone in the Underworld, and in reality. Among tribal societies, marriage by capture was not uncommon, a pre-scientific method of enlarging the gene pool. In our own time, the Stockholm Syndrome has been observed, in which hostages begin to identify with their captors. Though “marriage by capture” is no longer practiced, the story still resonates in the collective unconscious. 
That book became Rogue’s Hostage, which was a finalist in a number of contests including the Orange Rose and was eventually published by Amber Quill Press in 2003. In a few weeks it is getting a new incarnation as an indie book with a sensual new cover designed by OCC’s talented Lex Valentine.
This is the book of my heart and I’d never have finished and published it without the wonderful educational programs and the support of my friends at OCCRWA. 
What is your favorite romance fantasy?

Linda Mac

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Things That Make Me Go Mmmruh

February 13, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , , , , , ,
Cover Me
GVR Corcillo

When I decided to self-publish my ground-breaking chic lit masterpiece, She Likes It Rough, I contacted cover design goddess Lex Valentine of Winterheart Design. I commissioned my cover and explained through email, in excruciating detail, just what I wanted. A pretty do-able cover, I figured, made of inexpensive photographic images. In less than twenty-four hours, she emailed me back a cover that – horror of horrors! – was EXACTLY what I’d described. But it didn’t make my heart sing. It was the cover I’d asked for, but not the cover I’d dreamt of. I hadn’t requested the illustrated cover I’d been imagining for months because I figured that my vibrant, wild ideas would be impossible. And who was I, mere unpublished writer, to reach for such heights off mad fancy? So I asked for what I thought I could get, what I thought I deserved. And I got it. 

But some survival instinct in me bucked at my willingness to sell myself short without even trying. I deep down wanted an illustration that would convey the sexy and off-kilter humor of a story about urban scaredy-cat Lisa Flyte trying to find her backbone by teaming up with aloof adrenaline junkie Jack Hawkins. They go on white-knuckle adventures out in the wild in order to make her brave. But what happens in the wild doesn’t stay in the wild, at least not for Lisa, who starts to fall for Jack. Will what she learns on her escapades give her the courage to go after him? Come to think of it, would I have the guts to pursue what I most desperately wanted? I had to bite the bullet and go for my dream cover. I commissioned a new cover from Lex, and this time I told her my ideas. We both scoured available images for days, but we found nothing that would satisfy me. 

Then she told me about Annicka.

Lex’s daughter, digital artist Annicka Rietveld, code name Brosephiine, has a lot of her artwork posted on deviantart.com if I wanted to check it out and see whether I liked her style. If I did, she would put me in touch with Annicka and we would see what we could work out. I loved Annicka’s illustrations and her style. Her women were sexy, flirty, and kick-ass. 

Here is what we worked out:

The vivid illustration pulsated with sass and humor beyond my most daring imaginings. The details of the artwork blew me away. The lining of the shoe? Wonderful! I’d told Annicka that Lisa Flyte, the heroine of my story, has brown eyes with blue-green flecks. And sure enough, her eyes are brown with blue–green flecks! And the combo of the cover’s colors – sky blue contrasting with deep brown, accented with red and a little green – it just pops! Once the illustration was magnificently complete, I sent the artwork and all the cover info to Lex so she could design the cover. Here is what she sent back: 

You know, they say writing can be a very isolated profession. But putting this book together was anything but an act perpetrated in solitary confinement. I had the chance to work with two incredibly gifted and professional artists, who brought both my book, and me, to a higher level. I needed to not only believe that I was a writer, but I needed to be a writer. Putting this gorgeous cover on my book made me feel just and powerful, like Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) putting on the Iron Man suit. Suddenly, I was a professional writer. I could feel it. My professional connections with Annicka Rietveld and Lex Valentine have been integral building blocks as I construct my life as an author. And the beat goes on. I have commissioned Annicka to do some artwork for my website that I’m building and Lex to do advertising bling for me. Creating my first novel has galvanized me to plow into a career in independent publishing. And with the majestic She Likes It Rough as my flagship, full speed ahead!

GVR Corcillo

author of  She Likes It Rough
Just released in trade paperback!

“Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants”

Queen of the Universe coming this Fall

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Win Free Ebooks Today

December 8, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,
Today is the day that my book Little Miss Lovesick is featured on Lex’s 30 Days of Christmas. Yay! This is very exciting for me because I’ve never had a book featured on someone else’s site. 🙂
My OCC RWA friend Lex Valentine is hosting a whole month of giveaways for romance books of every kind. Today my other OCC RWA friends, Jacqueline Diamond and Linda Carroll-Bradd, join me at Lex’s site. One lucky commenter will win a book from all three of us!
Pop over to Lex’s 30 Days of Christmas today and leave a comment. You could be the winner of three ebooks! Lex will announce today’s winner at the top of tomorrow’s post.

Now that Little Miss Lovesick is finished, I’m working on the notes I just received this week from my editor for Unexpected Superhero. I started reading the notes on Tuesday – ouch. Then on Thursday I looked them over again – not as much of a sting. Today I woke up and thought, “Oh, I know what I want to do!” Now I can hardly wait to get started on the revision. Ahh, the life of a working writer. 🙂

I’m also getting kind of excited about marketing for the first time. It doesn’t seem so daunting to ask other blog owners if I can write a guest post for them. I’ve got some fun ideas, too. (Hint: one is about chocolate.) I’ll let you know when I start leaving my comfort zone and getting out there more.

Happy Reading, today!

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her first novel, Little Miss Lovesick, is now available in print and ebook format. Her next novels, Love at the Fluff and Fold and Unexpected Superhero, will be released in 2013.

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Cover Art Compromise

July 13, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

I’ve been having issues lately with some of the authors I’m doing covers for. The publisher’s new cover art form doesn’t really tell me what the characters look like. What the publisher is striving for is a new level of communication between the artist and the author. Thus far, I’m not sure if this way of doing things is working or not. I’m at the 50% mark. Half of the covers I’ve worked on have been simple because of this change in the process. The other half have been far more difficult.

Usually, for cover artists that actually do communicate with the author (remember that some houses do not allow this and some houses do not allow the author to have any input on the cover at all either) you can discover pretty quickly who is a diva with an entitled attitude and who isn’t. I’m not sure why, but I am still shocked when a brand new author exhibits this kind of attitude. I was pretty humble when I got my first contract. I was grateful for the things the publisher and cover artist could teach me about the process. I was grateful to have input at all.

When a brand new author comes at me with an aggressive attitude, requesting (okay demanding) to have her vision of the cover and to hell with what’s possible and what’s not possible…well, I tend not to give that person my best work because I’ve shifted into auto-pilot. I put together a cover that gives the author what they want without any creative input from me. The result can be a cover I wish I didn’t have my name on even if the author loves it. I know from experience though that trying to put my artistic stamp on a cover when an author isn’t willing to listen is a waste of time. I always want to tell them, “Look, there’s a reason you’re the author and I’m the artist. Believe me, your vision of this cover isn’t an attractive one!” Of course, I bite my tongue because that’s not professional. And, of course, like anyone who is frustrated I can have those moments where I think that maybe karma will win out and people won’t be attracted to the ugly cover the author likes so much, thereby losing them sales. Yes, I have my mean moments too. Born of frustration usually. Doesn’t mean I act on those moments and it doesn’t mean I continue to feel that way past the silent mental expression of it inside my own head. Luckily, this isn’t the norm.

This week I had a brand new author who had the best attitude ever. The cover I made was for her very first book. She had filled out one of the old cover art forms (not one of the new ones that make me have to grill the author about their characters before I can even start) and described a place in the book and the couple. She did a nice job with her descriptions and I came up with what I thought was a beautiful cover. She thought so too. She loved it. And many of you know how good it felt when the cover of your first book turned out to be gorgeous. It lifted you up, didn’t it? Made you feel even better about that first contract…

I ended up having a conversation with this author after everything was finalized. She thought looking for images must be hard work. I told her,it’s not looking for images that’s hard. It’s pleasing authors who have a vision in their head that they aren’t willing to bend on and who have no clue that what they are asking for is impossible. I told her, “And the things they think you should be able to do with a photograph in order to make it what they want…sheesh. Change the hair, change the eye color, put more clothes, less clothes, can he have his arm around her, make her expression not so soft, he needs to look at her more, needs thinner lips, more muscles, less hair, blah blah blah… Some stuff is possible, other things just are not and they don’t get it when you tell them that.”

It’s not always easy to be a cover artist, that’s for sure! And my author side had to remember this when filling out my own cover art form for Loose Id this week. I took my time with the form because this book is special to me and I wanted the artist to have a sense of that. It would kill me to have a cover that didn’t show the reader just how special Scrambling is. So I filled out my form very carefully in the hope that the art director and artist can see what this cover needs to be and what will make me happy as a new author with this house.

So just remember in the future with whatever publisher or artist you have to work with, be specific in the sense that you need them to know what your character looks like not just physically but emotionally. Be willing to bend on some of those specifics that you know are so unique to your character that a stock image probably won’t have it. And be willing to give the artist in words on your art form enough information to give the reader a sense of your book and your main characters. You want the cover to entice a reader to buy it so keep that in the back of your head when you fill out an art form. As long as you’re not a diva, you’ll be just fine and artists will be happy to work with you and will strive to give you their best work.

Lex Valentine
Winterheart Design
2011 EPIC Ariana Award Winning Cover Artist

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Cover Art Corner

April 14, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as ,

Today, I’m starting a quarterly series on cover art. I’ll be asking for people to send me questions which I will answer in future posts. To start out, I’ll give you all some information on who I am and who I do covers for.

For those of you who don’t know me, I write under the pen name Lex Valentine, but before there was a Lex there was a Winter. Winter’s been around on the internet since the early 90’s. That’s when a friend got her the domain name winterheart.com. (Yes, I really have had the domain for more than 15 years!) Winter has also been messing around with websites and photo manipulation for about that long although not in any real serious way.

So, now we’ve established that I go by both Lex and Winter and that I’ve had winterheart.com a long time, I want to roll the calendar forward to 2006 or so. I started writing in a serial story online and we gathered photos of celebs to depict our characters. I ended up making banners and avatars for the characters and learned to swap heads on photos. (Guess whose head was swapped on that image of “Al & Lex”, two characters from the serial story?) This is really where I started learning Photoshop. I took a couple of classes that the company I worked for paid for, but really, what I learned was all trial, lots of error, and some video tutorial watching on YouTube.

When I was first published, my publisher at Pink Petal Books was ecstatic to learn I knew Photoshop and I started doing covers for her, including all my own covers. Over the years since then I’ve started doing covers for MLR Press and it’s imprints Passion in Print and Featherweight Press. I’ve also recently begun doing covers for MuseItUp too.

Last year one of my covers for Pink Petal Books won an EPIC ARIANA Award for best erotic contemporary cover. Competition is fierce in the ARIANAs and I was honored to win one. I’ve had numerous covers final but there is nothing like winning!

Currently, I do a lot of work for authors who are self-publishing the books they get their rights back to. A couple of weekends back, I did a total of 13 covers! Well, it did include two series with similar covers but it was still a lot of work.

At any rate, what I do involves a lot of communication with the author. I use the information I get about the book to come up with a cover that is visually appealing while still conveying something of the story inside. This isn’t always easy to do. Some authors have a very clear vision in their head of what their cover should look like, regardless of whether they have an artistic eye or not. They want what they want. I try to give authors what they want whether I think it’s appealing or not because the most gorgeous cover that I think will sell lots of books may not be at all what the author wants for his/her book. And if the author isn’t happy with it, no matter how beautiful it is, they will treat it like it’s ugly and unhappy authors don’t say complimentary things about cover artists.

I really like it when the author gives me a sense of the book without telling me what to put on the cover. I like a little freedom to create something I think will appeal to those who look at it. It’s a tough line to walk though and authors can be all over the charts in terms of how easy or difficult they are to work with.

In the end, what I really want is for the cover to sell books. I want the author and publisher to be so happy with sales that they are happy to work with me again.

I’m going to close today with a slideshow of covers I’ve made. I want you all to look at them and think about them and what makes them appealing or not appealing to you. And then I want you to comment on this post or email me with questions or comments about the covers and what you liked or didn’t like and why. I’m going to take all those comments and use them to tailor my next post about cover art.

Until next time,

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