Sunday, August 28, 2016

TINKERING WITH THE COVERS

I've been tinkering with covers again.
This time, it is Charlotte's Wish, which has had several incarnations. The new one is keeping in line with the second book in the series, Finding Farrell and is going back to having a couple on the front.
Charlotte's Wish
I really liked the previous one but it featured a girl on the cover because Charlotte is the daughter of the hero, and while I loved it, and others loved it, and I was pretty pleased with it, (especially because I'm not terribly artistic), the fact is, it wasn't a great cover for marketing a romance.

I was listening to some podcasts on covers and was quite surprised at the number of amazingly successful top indie authors who make their own covers, but I see the appeal. For a start, you can tinker any time you like. It's very satisfying although incredibly frustrating when it just doesn't seem to work, or I keep having to watch the Youtube tutorial because I've forgotten what to do. Cripes. Write it down, Jo, write the details down!

I had a few covers done professionally and while these guys can do really neat stuff (stuff I haven't got a hope of ever mastering), all the going back-and-forth with the designer on some of them did my head in. However, I got totally lucky, I reckon, with the Daisy cover, right off the bat, and which is my absolute fav.
Unfortunately, when I went back to get a cover designed for a different book, I just didn't like any of the images the designer supplied or the covers at all. Nothing wrong with any of them, they just weren't right for me.


The All About Sage cover was designed by the guy who did Daisy, and I liked it heaps, although I had him make the dress a bit longer as Sage is a bit of a hippy and wouldn't wear a super short skirt. The only problem with a lot of the cover models is they look about twelve twenty and Sage is mid 30s but you know, I also realised that you don't actually stare at the covers that much anyway, as  a reader. Well, I sure don't. You get an overall impression of a cover more than anything. If the heroine in the book is blonde and the cover model is a brunette, I doubt I'd even notice.

There have been times I've found the perfect image pretty much straight away and its crack open the champagne  Lindauer-on-special-at-the-supermarket time. Other times, man, other times, you can just go through pages and pages and pages and pages and pages and even more pages, dozens and dozens of pages, to find an image, and still not find the right one, and you just want to die. However, the joy of it is you do have control, you can get what you like in the end, and if you don't like it after a while (or no-one else likes it) you can just start all over again with a new one.
Jo

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A CAKE STORY

Or as this should be subtitled: My most recent culinary disaster.
Today I post about cake.
had to make a cake for a thing, and being as occasionally cakes I have baked have turned out okay - I've been making a mess in kitchens for a while now - I planned on making this one the night before. 
I  had been thinking for days about what to make, had consulted books and much on-line surfing, and had decreed it would be none of the usual ones like boring banana, carrot, or chocolate cakes. Nothing wrong with those at all, except banana which is rather meh, but it was time to do something different.
I decided to go with a vanilla themed wonder. 
So there I am the night before, making this thing, creaming the butter and the castor sugar (note, no substituting basic margarine or normal sugar for this wonder) and it creamed up all nice and fluffy as per the instructions. 
Then I added in the eggs and all of a sudden, it started to go a bit weird. As in, the previously creamed fluffy, soft, buttery-sugary goodness went a bit hard in bits. The butter appeared to solidify randomly. This was quite mysterious, and clearly wrong, but I'd already half made the thing. It was too late to back out.
So I soldiered on and finished, and stuck the cake in the oven. 
I checked on it, as one does, and noticed it did not appear to be rising all that much but appearances can be deceiving and let's face it - there wasn't a lot I could do now. 
Then, when I started to smell burning, I whipped the thing out.
Well.
It was one of those moments when you just look at it a while, perplexed, and think... what the...?
What is this thing?
It had barely risen.
There were clearly burnt bits somewhere.
But not only this, there was butter, as in liquid butter, bubbling around the edges.
And even worse, it would not come out of the tin and when I finally did get it out of the tin, I had to use sharp utensils to remove it.
And even more worse, it had little holes in it.
And when I tasted it - well, honestly? I did not know what I was tasting. I really don't.
So by now, its well after nine o'clock and I had promised I would deliver a cake the following morning.
People.
It is moments like these you do what you should have done in the first place, and there is always the one cake, the one cake that truly never fails and so I did that one.
I made a second cake, a version of the Destitute Gourmet's really easy chocolate cake, late at night, again with the butter and the eggs (thank you chickens, you lovely, pecking, ungrateful feathered wonders) and this cake rose amazingly, it looked stunning, it came out of the tin, and there were no burnt bits.
The only dilemma was that I didn't really know what it was going to be like.  I couldn't really try it and take a test piece out. For home use, this would not be a problem. There is nothing that copious quantities of icing can't disguise (except the previous disaster which was beyond repair) and icing is really good at disguising the discreet cut where the test piece is taken from. But I could not do it in this case.
I had to wait until it was sampled.
The next morning, when the time duly came, I do confess that as I saw the first piece being taken, I had to momentarily ignore the person talking to me so I could watch this other person, to see if there were any notable reactions to eating the cake, either way.
Oh, the relief, the joy.
They liked my cake! They really liked my cake.
Later, I partook.
People.
It was not half bad.
In fact, it was pretty good. As we like to say around here, it would have kept me in the competition.
Maybe, if I could be so bold, it could have even won it.
Thus all was saved - well rather, I was saved - and the OBVIOUS conclusion to draw from all this late night drama (which wasn't too bad with the first cake, because the rugby was on the radio) is - make what you know. Don't be a dick and try anything new at the last minute.
Notes on the cake recipe: It called for skim milk and I don't know what difference skim milk would have made as I did it with non-skim, and it was just fine. In fact, it was better than fine. I am not exaggerating to say it was amazing, and big, and worthy of any event. Here's the link again to the version of the Destitute Gourmet, Sophie Gray's, chocolate cake. The only thing I would add is it says 4-6 servings and my mind is boggling at that, surely a misprint, and it says U.S. measurements but I just used NZ.