You Really Can Tell a Book by its Cover

book cover moressMy second book is coming out soon (squeal!) and I learned something about cover art this go around. When the publisher sent me the cover, I couldn’t get excited about it. It was a beautiful cover, so what was my problem? It finally hit me: it wasn’t funny. Imagine trying to sell someone a funny book when the cover isn’t funny. They’ll look at you like you’re crazy or a liar. “It’s not a cookbook, I swear! I mean, there are recipes in the back, but it’s not a cookbook, it’s a book book, a funny one, I promise…”

I asked the publisher if we could change the cover and explained my reasoning and he listened. And now I’m excited.

The cover tells the reader what to expect from your book. If you’re not sure what I mean, try this simple test. Go online and look at a list of “top sellers” or “recently published” or whatever. Try to guess, just by glancing at the cover, what kind of book it is. Is it serious or funny? Romance or adventure? Fiction or non-fiction? Adult or Middle Grade?

When choosing a cover for your book, try to look at your cover (or cover options) objectively. If you came across that book without knowing anything about it, what would you guess it’s about? What would you expect from that book when you read it? Make sure what your cover promises matches what your book delivers.


Publishing Victory: Racing Snails

Publishing is like racing snails.

An author writes as much as she can as fast as she can as best as she can. She works hard every day, striving to produce quality work in quantity, and she waits a loooooong time to see the results of her effort. It’s racing snails.

snail 1The slow pace of publishing can be discouraging. Writing takes time and writing well takes even more time. When you’ve been patient with yourself and your process and  finally have a snail ready for the racetrack, you release him, you cheer, and then you wait. You wait to get a response after a submission, you wait for accepted work to appear in print or online, and then you wait to see the response of the readers.  It’s racing snails.

It’s hard to wait, but when you see your snail cross the finish line, all the effort and slime trails are worth it.

Here’s a recent example. Two years ago I submitted an article to a magazine. My snail was on the track. For a year and a half I heard nothing. Not a peep, not even a rejection letter. I thought my snail had left the track. But after one and a half years, I received an email from the editor. She had stumbled upon my submission as she cleaned out her inbox and she wanted to publish the article, can I please send photos.  My snail was not dead after all! He had quietly sprinted across the finish line while I looked the other way.

snail 2Racing snails is not for the feint hearted; it’s a long term game. But victory is extra sweet when you’ve waited for it. Don’t give up. While you wait for one snail to finish his race, train another snail and place it on the track. Keep racing, keep writing, keep trying, and when your snail wins, savor your victory. Slimy victory is still sweet.


Images courtesy of: (snail cartoon), halina_photo (racing snails)


Author Struggles


I’ve always struggled with what my author blog should look like or, rather, read like. I read other author’s blogs and I have an idea of what it could be like, but it’s hard to narrow down a blog theme when I’m still figuring out who I am as an author. I’m all over the place: I write non-fiction and fiction, science fiction and romance, books for adults and middle grade and children. I think I’m multifaceted as a writer because I’m a motley mixer upper as a reader as well.

asimovTake my favorite authors, for example: Isaac Asimov, Jane Austen, and Agatha Christie. What do all three have in common? Humor and genius. (I’m more drawn to Asimov’s goofier stuff: Lucky Starr and Azazel, not Foundation.) Give me a great story and throw in a couple of laughs, and I’m yours.

I’ve swung back and forth like a pendulum on who I want to be as an author and I almost burned myself out trying to write what I “should” instead of what I love, so I’m going to stop trying to figure it all out TODAY and I’m going to flow with inspiration as it strikes and work diligently on whatever direction I’m pointed. I will aim for humor and genius and if I can hit one of those, I’ll be more than satisfied.

austinHave you struggled to find your identity or “brand” as an author? Ever been pulled in opposite directions at once? Did you ever figure it out? If so, how did it become clear to you?



In 2018 I’m going to try something new for this blog: organization. Each quarter I will post about a struggle, a victory, something I’ve learned, and an interview with an author. When I figure out exactly what kind of author I am, I’ll let you know. Until then, let’s keep writing!

Roman Romance: an Interview with author Anne Garboczi Evans

woman in traditional roman clothing posing in templeWhat could be better than a tough Roman soldier newly married to a stubborn Celtic woman? Having a front row seat to watch those sparks fly! Anne Garboczi Evans has recently released the first two volumes of her four book inspirational romance series set in the days of the Roman Empire. I asked Anne to share with us a bit of what makes her tick as an author.
1. What made you choose Roman history?
I fell in love with Ancient Rome as a child reading books by Rosemary Sutcliff. The Ides of April by Mary Ray was also one of my childhood favorites as well as The Forgotten Daughter by Caroline Dale Snedeker. In college, I took two years of Latin as well as studying the classics, which was very helpful in recreating the culture of Ancient Rome in my Love & Warfare Series.
2. Did you research history and then write or write and research simultaneously?
I spent my childhood living and breathing books about Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, and Celtic Britain. Looking back, I probably was somewhat of an odd child. 🙂 I learned Latin and a lot about the Classical World in college, but it wasn’t until after college that I started inter-library-loaning every book I could get my hands on about Ancient Roman culture. Writing an entire series was helpful in that regard, since when I learned new things about Ancient Rome while researching book 3 or 4, I could go back and apply those things to earlier books. I can’t promise that there are zero historical errors in any of the books, but I have tried my very hardest to make sure that every historical detail, no matter how insignificant, is correct.
3. For Life or Until is the first book in a four part series and you’ve been working on the series for about a decade. Were you ever tempted to give up? What made you keep going over the years?
At a writers’ conference once, I heard an author say, “If you can give up writing, give up now! It’s a thankless, poverty-inducing, hair-ripping out endeavor that will drive you mad.” I whole-heartedly concur with his opinion. In the past fifteen years, I’ve tried to give up writing time and time again. Just in the last twelve months, I’ve attempted to give up writing on at least three different occasions. Two weeks, maximum four, of stories bouncing about in my head without the release of letting them flow through my fingers, past the keyboard, onto the computer screen, and I break down and give up on giving up on writing. Then I’m back at my latest novel, pounding away on my keyboard even more furiously than before. Incidentally, I tend to kill laptops swiftly from too much dragging them to random waiting rooms, lobbies, and Thanksgiving dinners to sneak in “just one more paragraph.”
Anne GE 2 1000x15004. What do you like least about writing?
Actually putting words on the page is hard work. I usually get most frustrated in the middle stage after the fun creative part of coming up with a plot line, and before the rewarding part of reading through a semi-polished draft. That middle stage is when I, as most authors, despair that my writing will ever be good enough. There’s always a point in each story that I’ve written where I begin to have serious doubts that I can make it all come together and pull off a readable novel. I’ve completed seven edited manuscripts thus far, (ignoring the ones at the beginning that were so poorly written that I’m trying to forget I ever put ink cartridge to paper on those ones), and I still feel the pressure of “can I actually turn this plot line into a novel” each time.
5. What do you like most about writing?
I love the cathartic release of putting one’s thoughts on the page and creating a plot line that no one else has ever thought of before. So much in life is out of our control, but as an author you can make your characters’ story turn out however you desire. Maybe I’m a closet control freak. 🙂 I also love the excuse to daydream that novel writing gives. I enjoy how writing novels gives me the opportunity to research new cultures, times, and people. I’m currently working on a series set in the Middle East and I’ve discovered a host of exciting new fiction and non-fiction while researching for my novels. Most of all, I love how writing (and reading) takes me to a different world where for a few hours one escapes all the hustle and bustle of life to immerse oneself fully inside a character’s head and see life through their eyes.
Check out Book 1 For Life or Until at any of these fine retailers:
For Life or Until

Barnes & Noble:

Check out Book 2 When Gambling at those same fine retailers: (how convenient!)

Barnes & Noble:


updated profile pic 2Bio: Anne Garboczi Evans is a mental health counselor and mama to an opinionated little boy named “Joe-Joe” and very dramatic baby named “Chip.” When not writing, you can find her exploring the outdoor wonders of Colorado with her family.

Include Your Passion in Your Writing

Today I pulled out a picture book I created for health class back in middle school. I laughed out loud when I saw it because 25 years later, I am once again drawing body cells with cartoon eyes.

disease book 1I’m working on a series of blog posts for Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating wherein I interview various organs whose body has recently been diagnosed with type two diabetes. Everyone’s blaming the disease on Pancreas, of course, but she claims it’s the fault of Muscle or the Kidney Twins.  In the illustrations, the organs sit in armchairs to chat with the hostess and I’m having fun adding silly mustaches to glucose and endoplasmic reticulum hair to exhausted cells.

disease book 2The blast from the past book got me thinking about where our interests and passions begin: some come naturally and some come from the influence of others. For example, my mother is a high school biology teacher who tries to make biology memorable for her students. To this day, my siblings and I can name the phases of cell reproduction because Mom invented a tale of lovers torn apart that made the phases fun. Just last month I spotted two giant stuffed sock ribosomes in the guest bedroom, ready for class. Mom is fascinated with biology, which led to my own fascination with how the body works. Mix in the conviction (and living proof) that learning can be fun, and voila! You get nerdy kidneys arguing about mustached glucose on a healthy living blog.

disease book 3What are some of your passions? Do you include them in your writing?

For a good time and a better understanding of type two diabetes, check out The Diabetes Debate: Whose Fault is it?

Author Doubts

jungleBefore I got published, I was convinced not only that the grass is greener on the other side, but that published writers are having an eternal backyard barbecue on that green grass. I’ve made it over the fence to the other side (Huzzah!) and have discovered that the fence does not protect a lush manicured lawn; it encloses a lush, exciting, productive, yet potentially perilous jungle. It is green, yes, but when you enter in, you discover how clueless you really are about publishing, marketing, machete wielding, and career growth.

2016 PERU 018My first book has been out for nine months and has not hit the best seller lists, so what is the logical course of action? Obviously it’s to start doubting myself as an author. (Logic is not part of jungle life.) Can I make a career of this? Am I fit enough to survive in the jungle?

At church last week we studied the Israelites in the wilderness. For those of you not familiar with their history, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and begged God to set them free. God used ten spectacular plagues to do so, culminating in the destruction of Egypt’s army so no one would follow the ex-slaves. They were free, just like they’d always wanted.

2016 PERU 013However — begin self righteous eye roll — instead of being grateful, they grumbled, they doubted, they bemoaned their very freedom. I realized that here I am — quickly end self righteous eye roll — finally over the fence and in the published author jungle, and I am grumbling and doubting. When I look back, I see God lining up life and times like dominoes ready to fall and create a picture:

The night I cracked myself up in the car coming up with the title Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating. So I was encouraged to lose weight.

The writers conference where EVERY workshop I entered said I must blog, blog, BLOG to succeed as an author. So I started to blog.

2016 PERU 068The writers conference where no editors were looking for romance novels (and pigs flew) so I showed them my blog instead. So I was encouraged to turn the blog into a book.

The publisher my agent found (and can’t remember how) who publishes humorous healthy living books. And so I climbed over the fence to the greener side.

2016 PERU 031Publishing is a jungle: there is much to learn and work to do in order to survive and thrive. But I’m finished with grumbling and doubting. I don’t know if I’ll end up living in this jungle in a palace or in a hut, but I’m grateful to be here and I know God is with me. What better adventure could a new author ask for?



Images courtesy of: Crafthubs (green jungle), and my trip to Costa Rica


Romancing Great Falls

Great Falls National Park in Virginia has beauty, history, and enough boulders to please a mountain goat. It’s also one of the settings in my second contemporary romance novel and I’ve had a lot of fun incorporating the Falls into the story.

great-falls-nationalLet’s start with the great falls themselves. There are two major lookouts to view the natural wonder and the view is impressive. Nothing says romance like a waterfall.


IMG_4231Great Falls National Park is a bit like an outdoor United Nations. People of every nationality gather to hike, climb, picnic, and explore. My hero, Javier, is the descendant of Guatemalan refugees.

IMG_4232One of the coolest things about the park is that you can climb up, down, and around the huge boulders that flank the Potomac River. My heroine, Hillary, likes to explore off the main trails.


IMG_4238There’s so much history at the falls: floods, drownings, a booming canal town, and even an amusement park. The writer part of me goes crazy with the possible plot lines that history presents.


I usually visit the park with my four children, so romance is not my focus, but it’s been a lot of fun revisiting the park as I write and seeing it through the eyes of a young couple figuring out who and what in life will be their priority.