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All the Emotions with Designing My First Book Cover

March 12, 2024 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

This month I have had the pleasure of experiencing all the emotions of designing my first book cover. We all know how important book covers are. Book covers sell your book. They communicate what’s inside. And there are numerous blog and social media posts just on covers. So EVERYONE looks at book covers, because they are very important. 

Blog Header with title All the Emotions with Designing My First book Cover by Denise M. Colby and photo of a book with a plain brown cover

Initial thoughts for book cover designs

I think many of us newbie authors visualize what we think we want for our covers at the beginning of chapter 1. So I knew going in that I had an opinion. And ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. So how do you put all those ideas together into something appealing. A design that sells your book?

I have a graphic design background. Sort of. Things have kindof evolved since I was in college over thirty years ago, and even though I work in the field of marketing, my years of experience is more on layout now then specific design elements. I’m also a visual person. So I like to see something to see how it would work. 

My publisher, Scrivenings Press, has a questionaire we fill out to add our ideas and thoughts behind the story for our book cover design. This is useful to communicate key messaging and visuals desired. I might’ve had a lot of ideas written down on my sheet. I certainly didn’t fill it out like a work project. Many emotions were tied into all my ideas. And it was hard for me to land on just one set.

Can anyone else out there relate?

Taking out the emotions when looking at book cover design

So I have to give a shoutout to my husband who asked me some very pointed questions like he would a marketing packaging project (he works in product marketing), since my book cover is my packaging. 

This discussion was not emotional based, but true design and product packaging based. He asked me what is the main element of the story that you want people to know? And then asked to look at some books and guessed what the stories were inside.

When I told him what elements were most important, he agreed that those were in my cover design.

Our Emotions Can Get In The Way of Our Decision-Making 

And this is when I realized I had a slew of emotions tied up into my cover design.

First, we spend years writing our first novel and agonize for weeks on the verbiage we use, editing continuously our words. My book cover was designed in less than a week. Something as important as a book cover shouldn’t be done overnight, right? But I have to remember my publisher makes mulitple covers a month and know what they are doing. They have standards and expertise. I need to trust that and get out of the way.

Second, we have so many ideas to convey the story on the front of our cover, but then realize that all those elements would make it way too busy and really don’t work the way we think it would’ve. Simpler really is better.

Third,  I’m terrified how my cover will be received. But I’m also terrified on how my entire book will be recieved. So my emotions may not be just about the cover.

A Moment to Grow 

Now that I’ve realized these new things (remember GROW is my word this year), I can learn from them. Processing emotions is an important step for me (and writing this blog post has helped me immensely).

I do not make decisions quickly. I kindof over think things a bit (Hello! Remember twelve years working on book 1). With a contract and deadlines (I love saying those words and wrote about that last month), everything is moving so fast and it’s all new territory. 

There’s bound to be fear, uncertainty, and second-guessing. I need to allow myself room to feel those, but also know that this is all normal and not get caught up in them too much.

Clearly, I will have a much better handle on the process and my emotions for the next round (right?)

Now to agonize on how to do the cover reveal!

Denise’s first book, When Plans Go Awry, will launch June 4, 2024. Watch her facebook page and instagram page for her cover reveal

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Writing Time Literally Going to the Dog

August 12, 2023 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as ,

We have a new puppy, so my free writing time is literally going to the dog right now.

So instead of writing some great blog post, I thought I’d share some cute pics of our puppy.

But first, being the historical writer that I am, I looked up the phrase, go to the dogs, just to make sure I had its meaning correct. And sure enough, the summary meaning is becoming ruined.

Although it was originally tied to bad food that wasn’t good for human consumption. For this post, I thought I would write a fun, cute article that basically says my writing time has been ruined. That I’m distracted by the dog. Hence, all my writing time is going to the dog.

Meet the new dog

So, without any further ado, let’s meet our new puppy, Ace.

Denise Colby new puppy named Ace which is where all her writing time is going

This is the first day we brought him home from a lab rescue group. About five months old, he’s super sweet and pretty easy going.

Writer Denise M. Colby with her new puppy Ace
Writer Denise M. Colby with the family’s new puppy

Of course the call came in the week of my son’s high school graduation, so things were pretty chaotic. But we had to go with the flow if we wanted to adopt him. My word this year is change, and although I knew there would be a lot of change this year, getting a puppy wasn’t on my radar! But he’s stolen our hearts and we love him.

Naming the Dog

Now, it took us about a week to name him. This is mostly our son’s dog, so he had some cool names he was coming up with. A huge 80’s music fan, Huey was at the top of the list, as well as Elo, and a few others. But what tipped the scales was when my other son threw out the name Ace. As in Batman’s dog Ace (from the Justice League cartoons). Being a batman fan, that one became the winner and thus our dog is named Ace.

photo of Ace the Bat-hound from the DC universe website justice league to illustrate why we chose the name Ace for our dog
This is Ace, the Bat-Hound from Justice League. Photo taken from the DC website

So of course, we had to have a photo shoot with my son wearing his Batman costume so we could introduce Ace to everyone on social media. We even found a dog toy with the logo on it. Such cute photos.

Why My Writing Time is Going to the Dog

We have had middle of the night wake-ups, and other puppy antics too. Like chewing. We can’t really leave him alone too much right now. Which makes it difficult to dive into my manuscript.

We are now in puppy training class, which also teaches us humans on how to behave with the dog. As you can see, we have our hands full. It won’t last forever, but this is what we’ve been doing this summer. I hope to show him periodically in my Author social media. So follow along on my instagram at denisem.colby I’ll leave you with this last pic so you can say awww.

Ace, Denise M. Colby's new dog, loves playing with balls. Denise M. Colby loves throwing the balls for him which takes away from her writing time
Ace loves playing with balls. And I love throwing balls for him, which takes away from writing, but gets me outside.

Denise Colby loves to write about her word of the year. Each word builds a new layer in her writing journey (and her life). In 2022, her word was Work. This year, her word is change.

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What Are Your Top 2 Questions by Kitty Bucholtz

November 9, 2022 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , , ,

I’m so excited! After 2 1/2 years of working on it, I’m almost ready to launch my new Finish Your Book program — yay!! You may know that I’m a big believer in the idea that we can write books that change the world, whether it’s making a reader’s day better or changing how people think. So I want to help all the writers I can to write and finish more books. AND to do so with more peace and joy.

Before I launch Finish Your Book on December 1, I want to make sure that I’m not missing anything important. Can you do me a favor and answer a 2-question survey? I’d really appreciate it! And you’d be helping other writers, too!

Here’s the link to the Google Form.

Look for me on Facebook Live and YouTube Live over the next three weeks where I’ll be talking about my WHOLE PATH System to writing, finishing, and getting your books out into the world. I’ll also be teaching a free Master Class at the end of November explaining the WHOLE PATH System. It’s going to be a great new year for all of us! Here’s to writing and publishing more books!

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Choosing Words For Your Manuscript is Similar to Eating A Healthy Diet

November 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as ,

I recently came up with the analogy that choosing the right words for your manuscript is similar to choosing to eat a healthy diet. As I’ve run into a plethora of health issues where I have needed to again cut out foods that might be giving me issues, the correlation with editing my manuscript to take out issues popped into my head.

I’ve actually found flushing out these examples has helped me see both my food diet and my manuscript in a different light. So I thought I would share.

Blog Header Titled Choosing Words for Your Manuscript is Similar to Eating a healthy diet by Denise M. Colby with a plate of a salad in upper right corner

Choosing The Right Foods and Words

We trim out foods that give us issues; We trim off words that give us issues

Choosing the right foods takes practice, and sometimes we tend to slip a favorite in; choosing the right words take practice, but sometimes favorite words slip in.

Even though a particular food is a favorite, eating it doesn’t always have a good after effect; even though we like a particular word, it may not be the best word for the story.

Cheating on our Diet and with Our Writing

When we feel better, we want to cheat and eat a food that can cause issues; After spending time a ton of time flushing out our opening, our middle doesn’t get as much attention.

Sometimes having just one taste because it sounded like a great idea, really isn’t a great idea; the ideas for our MS sometimes don’t work on paper as well as in our heads.

We may take supplements or medicine to offset the affect of foods, but we have to put in the effort to eat the right foods to truly make change. We take classes and workshops or ask for feedback from others, but we have to apply what we learn to our writing to truly make change.

Be consistent, meal after meal, it gets easier to eat healthy; continuously work on our MS, day after day, it gets easier to choose the right words

Say no when we reach for foods that can hurt us; we have to say no to those distractions that can take us away from our writing


We have to track our progress to hold us accountable with what we eat and identify when something affects us; we have to track our progress to hold us accountable in our writing, and keep track of the words that give us issues.

By tracking foods that affect us, we learn what to avoid; by tracking the unnecessary words we constantly use, we learn how to spot them better, and choose more wisely.

Pay attention when a food causes inflammation and later, decide against eating it; Track word count in our manuscript and choose the least amount of words to express what we want to say without it being too wordy.

Read labels to find the hidden ingredients that are a part of our list of no-no’s; Pay attention to the weasel words that sneak in to our manuscript and work on removing them overall.

Simplify our menu’s to keep from adding in foods that can cause issues; Cut back the plot points that take us on a side journey and don’t keep the story on track.

Choosing the right words make a great story

We eliminate foods from our diet because it will help us have better overall health; We eliminate words from our MS so that it can be a better story.

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. This year her word is Wisdom. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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Four Steps To Face Your Fears

October 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

I wanted to write something encouraging this month and decided to repost one of my earliest posts from this blog titled Face Your Fear, which I wrote in 2017. I have found throughout my writing journey, I’ve had some type of fear hold me back, which manifests itself in taking a hit on my productivity and confidence in my writing. So I thought I would repost and share the four steps to help face your fears.

Four Steps to Face your Fear includes going from emotional to analytical response

Because I truly believe taking time to understand your fears each time they rear their ugly heads, can help you overcome them.

And I need the reminder myself these days.

So without further ado, here is the post.

What’s your biggest fear as a writer?  For some of you, it might be putting the ideas swirling in your mind into actual words on the paper.  For others, it might be pitching your manuscript or creating social media posts.  Whatever it is, we all have them.  And all that fear causes anxiety, worry, tension, panic, despair…you get the idea (we all write characters who struggle with these, right?). If you’re anything like me, my fears prevent me from accomplishing or completing some of my writing goals.

Four Steps To Help Face Our Fears

First, you must identify it.  Write it down.  What’s your biggest fear? Stare it straight in the face.  It’s not so scary once you look at it written out.

Second, define it a bit more.  Add another layer of thought to it.  What specifically about it makes you have fear.  Is it the entire thing or just a part or two.  And then ask yourself, why is it scary for you?

Third, debunk it.  Discover counter arguments to your fear.  Find out from other authors if they have experienced the same fear.  Soon you might realize this is a normal reaction to the process and you might even learn ideas to overcome your fear.

Fourth, push through it. Do one task which causes fear. Ask yourself —what’s the worst that can happen?  Find a writing partner who can encourage you and help challenge you to follow through. Note: You may have to do this part more than once.

My own experiment with facing my writing fears

Step #1

I decided to take a 4 x 6 index card and ask myself what my greatest fear was.  What I wrote surprised me.  In my mind, I had a general overall fear, but when I wrote it down I saw something more specific.

I don’t always sit my butt in the chair and on the surface I tell myself it’s because I don’t have time, but deep down I’m seeing now it might be because I’m afraid.  What if I sit down for an hour session and it isn’t any better than when I started?  What if I only edit through a 600 word block in that time?  I will never finish. And so on and so on….

So, for me, my fear is getting it wrong.  I want to hit the mark and soar with my writing.  I’ve entered a lot of contests and shown my work, and although I get encouraging feedback, I’m still missing the mark.  And I’m afraid it will always be that way.

Step #2

I had to ask myself what specifically about getting it wrong meant. Was it failure? Afraid of what people think?

I don’t think I’m afraid of what people think so much (although I want people to like my work), as I am wondering if what I write will ever be ready to publish. I have lots of ideas, but when I write them down, they don’t sound as great as I thought they were. And I’m afraid no matter how much time I put in, I may never achieve my goal of getting published.

All this fear and doubt affects what I do day to day. How I spend my time. My mental state when I’m writing. And I don’t want it to.

Step #3

Fight back. Who decides if it’s wrong anyway? And how do they decide? Look at how many published authors sent in their manuscript numerous times before it was accepted. It’s just part of the process.

See, by writing it down, I can find counter arguments to what my fear is telling me. And it helps calm down the panic that wants to creep in. It keeps me from letting my fear stop me completely.

Step #4

Step four says to do something to face your fear, so I need to take risks and not be so afraid of doing so. Write a blog post even if it’s not perfect and post it. Write a new scene and show someone. Get feedback and keep trying. If I don’t do any of these things, I let the fear win. There is always going to be more I can add, more to improve, so why am I waiting to hit send? Waiting doesn’t do anything but feed my fear.

Fear keeps us from our goals. Something none of us wants.

For fun, I came up with this acronym. As we know, fear is an emotional response. We need to stop reacting to our fear and work on ways to work through it. So, FACE your FEAR. Fix And Change Every Fear from Emotional to an Analytical Response.

All so we can meet our goals. We all have goals we want to achieve, right?

So take some time and write down what your fear is and then face it. You just might work through that writer’s block you’ve been struggling with.

Hugs & Blessings,


Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. This year her word is Wisdom. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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