Posts in Category: Books

Cover Art

Who knew the process of publishing a book was so involved?  When I started this dream, I thought, “Hmmm, I’ll just write and put it out there.” Wow, was that ever wrong! There’s writing, revising, editing, sending it to beta readers and an editor…and that’s just the book. Then there’s the website, social media, and book covers. Whew, it can be exhausting.

Now, there are several sites out there that offer pre-made book covers, and some of them are pretty good. But I happened to have a friend who is a really talented photographer and graphic artist. I can describe to him exactly what I have in mind and he makes it 100% better than I could have imagined. And then there are the times he just creates a masterpiece from his own thoughts.

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FtoK thumbnailFree to Kill in the Katie Freeman series was the first book I completed and published. It was also the first time I had to actually think of what to do for a cover. Michelle (my social media guru), Ryan and I sat down to begin brainstorming. I gave them a pretty in depth description of the book and what I had in mind. Ryan asked what the church I envisioned looked like, so I started searching online. I found a church in a small town in Kentucky that was PERFECT! But who had the time or money to go to Kentucky? So I started looking for similar architecture in Tennessee. I found the church on the cover of Free to Kill in downtown Nashville – and BONUS! it even had the red door!! The only problem was that it was on a weird street corner with traffic all around and electrical wires obscuring every view. But Ryan took his camera and somehow made the church look like it was in the rural setting from the story. It was the first time I realized what a master he was behind the lens.

From that time on, we have worked to build a theme between the books in a series. This was something I didn’t really think about in the beginning. Take a second to go look at the covers of your favorite book series. Do you see a similarity? That’s called Branding – and it’s vitally important. Who knew!?

With this information, Katie Freeman covers had a color scheme and a main attraction – that was always red. In Free to Kill, it was the door. In Free to Deceive, it was the fountain. In Free to Live, it was the front door of the house (Ryan actually had this cover designed before I published book 2, but it was so perfect for book 3, that we held off on using it). I can’t wait to see what it is in Free to Believe – book four (no release date yet, but shooting for June…).

The same theory applied to the Devil Mountain Shifters books that I released in October. They all had the same mountains in the background and the same physical look.

The Tip of the Spear series was a little trickier. I said from the beginning that I wanted the large spear on the cover with the main image in the center. Ryan still argues with me to change that, and one day I might let him win. But changing that now would mean redoing all the covers so that they are consistent. I think both he and I struggle more with the Tip covers than any other. He sends me beautiful first drafts that would be sufficient if I used them. But there’s just something that doesn’t hit right. He’s become a mind reader when I say “there’s just something not right about it.” One thing I’ve learned is to actually tell him when something doesn’t sit right. That’s a difficult thing to do for a person who hates to make waves. I’m one of those people who will never send food back in a restaurant, just because I don’t want to upset anyone. I’ve had to adjust that mentality for my books. After all, these are my babies. If I don’t speak up for them, who will?

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Goofing around during the photo shoot for the In The Wind cover.

Ryan Bukowski

Ryan Bukowski, my cover artist and photographer

 

Comments: the good, the bad, the ugly

review

Thanks Nancy!

One thing I continually hear from other beginner authors is the difficulty in getting reader reviews. There isn’t a good or proven strategy in getting readers to leave feedback – good, bad or ugly. I’m finding myself in the same boat. Comments do so much for an author. They get the word out on what readers really think of a story. They boost an author’s visibility. They allow an author access to certain publicity sites – like Bookbub. Without feedback from you, an author doesn’t stand a chance at getting his/her name out there. Ratings and comments from readers can make or break an author.

Personally, I read every comment made every one of my books. So far that hasn’t been many… I look forward to the day when there are too many to keep up with. With that being said, thank you to all of you who have left a comment or rating. Please spread the word and encourage others to do the same. If you have read one of my books and haven’t left feedback, please do so – even if you didn’t like it. I love hearing from you and would love to know what you think!

 

The men from Tip of the Spear are back!

Sneak peak of image for book cover! Photo by Ryan Bukowski

Sneak peak of image for book cover!
Photo by Ryan Bukowski

As promised, the men from Tip of the Spear are back! In the Dark is coming September 1, 2015. Just in time for Labor Day vacation!!

Avery Powell has a problem – well really, someone has a problem with her. After discovering dead flowers and a cryptic note on her front porch, she turns to the one person she knows will keep her safe – Jeremy McCall. She has been chasing after him for more than a decade. Despite his continual rejection, she knows that under all that armor beats a heart made for her.

Jeremy is a founding partner in the investigative firm Tip of the Spear and best friends with Avery’s brother. He has silently been in love with Avery for eleven years – since the first time he laid eyes on her. The last thing he’ll allow is for any harm to come to her, even if he can’t claim her as his own. But can he keep his emotions out of the picture long enough to keep her safe? Or will he give in to those forbidden desires and make them both happy?

Taking this case will light a match, but will the inferno ignite the sparks, or will it consume them?

Keep checking back for sneak peeks in the coming weeks.

 

Meet Adala Reger

Four score and seven years ago…okay, not that long, but sometimes it sure feels that way.

Let’s try again.

Once upon a time…well, this isn’t a fairytale…unless you like people who turn into monsters…so maybe it is a fairytale.

Several years back I had four very good friends decide to have opinion on what I should read. Jenny pestered me to read this book she was finishing simply because I said, “I don’t like books with vampires and werewolves.” Boy was I wrong…

Over the last several years, I occasionally picked up other books involving vampires and werewolves, not together, of course. I have discovered that I still don’t like vampires…werewolves, on the other hand – definitely my thing.

full-moon-460314_1280I have discovered a love for shapeshifter romances. Who knew?! Bear shifters are my favorite and I now have several authors from whom I anxiously await new releases.

On a separate note, that I will connect back to this if you have patience through my rambling, I love anything related to WWII. Now, I was never a history buff. In fact, I hated anything to do with history, especially memorizing dates – ironic when you consider that my pay-the-bills profession is numbers related. But as I have grown older, I have discovered a sincere interest in the things that have happened in this world before me – just don’t ask me the dates they happened!

This past year marked the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust and I was addicted toany and all coverage that I could find. Such a travesty from those years. The waste of human life. The poisoning of generations. The effects of what happened there have trickled down.

That all got me thinking: we have several documentaries that have tracked what happened to the Jews who survived, but what about the Germans? Sure, those that were arrested and tried for crimes have been documented, but there were several others who played a part in the atrocities that were never convicted of wrong doing. But their evil remained.

So, just as a creative project, I decided to look at what happened to some of these people after the war and how it has impacted today’s generation. The result was a novella about shapeshifters. I let a friend read the story and she loved it. I have to say I had so much fun writing it that I decided to release it.

But then a second character stood up and howled (yes, he is a wolf) that he deserved attention too. So, now I am writing a second part of what I think (characters permitting) will be a trilogy of shapeshifter romance novellas.
The first book, tentatively titled Only Wolf will be arriving in September.

Adala Reger is searching for answers. Her parents were killed in an automobile accident that should have claimed her too. But somehow she survived. Now she is left on her own wondering how and why she turns into a wolf. To make matters worse, she is getting weaker. No longer able to work, and with the insurance money from her parents running out, she heads to Alaska – toward the only clue in her parents left her as to her real identity and destiny.

Dirk has taken over as the leader of the pack of shifters on the Seward peninsula in Northwest Alaska. Struggling to keep his clan safe is his number one priority, especially with the neighboring pack constantly threatening their borders. When Adala arrives, the last thing he expects is to find his mate.

Can they survive the invasions? Does Adala’s past hold answers to why the neighboring pack is attacking?

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. But never fear, Katie and Michael will be returning in December with the answers you have been waiting for concerning Katie’s past. And the crew from Tip of the Spear will be returning in September with Jeremy and Avery’s story. Look for inside peeks and previews in the weeks to come!

Julie

My first book!

I’m pleased to share with you the first book in my Katie Freeman series, Free to Kill.

Description:
FBI Agent Katie Freeman’s life has been upended. After being reassigned from Louisiana to middle Tennessee, her new bosses suspect that her reassignment is due to an indiscretion with her previous partner. Now, she and her new partner, Michael Powell, are asked to assist on the bewildering case of a woman who was kidnapped, tortured and left for dead on her own front porch. Before they can make any headway, a second woman disappears. As the number of missing women rises, Katie and Michael must work to figure out how the women are being abducted and where they are being held. Will they be too late to save the latest woman?

Complicating matters even further is a cold case left behind by Michael’s former partner. Who murdered Henry Stephens twenty-six years ago? What happened to Henry’s wife? And why does one of the suspects act like he knows Katie?

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If you’ve read Free to Kill, please consider leaving a review.

Thanks for being a part of my journey.
Julie

In the Shadows – Tip of the Spear Book One

Check out the first book in my Tip of the Spear Series.

Jessica Ross is on the verge of achieving her dreams until one poor decision threatens to derail everything she has wTOS---3dorked so hard for. Now on the run from her ex-boyfriend, will she have to give up everything in order to survive?

Jason Powell has everything he ever wanted. After years in the military, he lives life on his own terms. Now a partner in a private investigation firm, his job allows him to travel to exotic places and he has his pick of women – what more could he ask for? Then he meets Jessica and his world is turned upside down.

Can Jason protect Jessica from her ex-boyfriend while also accepting his feelings for her? Can Jessica trust her growing feelings for Jason, or is she convinced that they exist because he is her savior? Will these two live to see a happily ever after, or will the danger hiding in the shadows take everything away?

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Thanks so much for reading! If you read In the Shadows, I’d love it if you would leave a review on the platform where you purchased my book.

Best,
Julie

 

Free to Deceive is now available

Free to Deceive 3D cover2I’m pleased to announce my second novel in the Katie Freeman series is now available! I’ve included the description of the book as well as links to purchase your copy!

Special Agent Katie Freeman and her partner, Michael Powell, step in to assist the local authorities after the discovery of thirteen bodies buried in a small park. The chilling pose of each body and the gruesome manner in which they died indicate a particularly sadistic killer. As Katie and Michael begin investigating the case, they encounter more questions than answers – are these hate crimes or crimes of passion? How did so many men go missing without someone noticing? How are all these victims connected? With more bodies than they can handle and time running out, can they catch the killer before another victim disappears, or will they lose one of their own in the process?

While Katie navigates this case, guilt over the secrets she is hiding from her partner threaten to overwhelm her focus. Can their partnership – and her career – survive if the truth comes out? 

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If you read it and love it, please consider leaving a review!
Julie

My Top 15 books/series of 2014

WJR 12.29Like many of you, I follow several author Facebook pages. One of my all time favorite things is when someone asks what other books readers recommend. I read so much that it is always nice to have an idea of where to go next. Sometimes, this isnt such a good thing, not that the recommendations are bad, but that they are for a new series. I am famous for “trying” a new author only to get sucked in and find a week has passed, I haven’t written more than 2,000 words, but I have read all fifteen of the books in so-and-so’s series. That happened to me a lot this year! I sat down and tried to make a list of just the top ten books I had read this year and couldn’t do it. So, here is a list of the top ten (ok fifteen!) books/series I have read –mystery, romance and romantic suspense – in no particular order. There is no way to pick one over the others. I tried to restrict them to only those that had a release in 2014. There were several others I wanted to put on the list, but I just ran out of room!

Marie Force – Green Mountain
If you love large families and small towns, this is a series for you. Be prepared, the second book ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ had me in tears one second and laughing out loud the next. I think I cried more while reading this book than any other I have ever read.

Lilliana Hart – JJ Graves Mysteries
Mysteries have been a part of my life since I was nine and began reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. As I grew up, I learned to like a little romance with my mystery. Lilliana Hart does a fantastic job of combining the two. JJ is a quirky character that you can’t help but find interesting. And Jack Lawson – holy smokes! – talk about the whole package rolled into one person. The fourth book –Down and Dirty – was released December 2 and was well worth the wait.

Kathleen Brooks – Women of Power
I have been a fan of Kathleen Brooks since she released the Bluegrass Brothers series. She continues to live up expectations with the release of the first two books in her new series Women of Power. The series follows the Simpson sisters as they embark on their careers – and dominate in their fields – all while finding true love. This series is a refreshing break from the ‘secretary-falls-for-sexy-boss’ theme that tends to run through romance novels. The women are truly strong characters and hold their own – without needing to be rescued. Well, okay, so Bree needed to be rescued…but not like you think! Try it, you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and be prepared to laugh! Kathleen Brooks had a wicked sense of humor and it comes through in her characters! I was reading the second book while on the treadmill and had to stop so I could laugh hysterically over some of the internal character dialogue.

Jayne Ann Krentz – River Road
Wow! This is a stand-alone book that I found on a free list. It sat in my library for about two months before I finally had time to read it. What was I thinking, waiting so long? This was a great read. The pace kept you hooked. And the body in the….oh, wait, I don’t want to ruin it. Read it – you’ll love it. I have her on my list to purchase more of her books…when I have more time to read.

Julieanne Reeves – Razing Kayne
I learned of this book from another author. It was written by a woman who passed away leaving behind a family with small children. The book is her debut novel, and after reading it there is no doubt she had such a promising future ahead of her. There is mention of a second book, which sounds fantastic, though no release date is set for it, and I don’t know that there ever will be. The story was passionate, heartbreaking, and redeeming. It stayed with me for days after I finished.

Melanie Shawn – Crossroads series
Again, this is one I started because of a free first book. Her name came up several times in recommendations from other readers, so I downloaded the first book…and let it sit in my library for over a month…. When I finally did read it, I enjoyed it – so much so that I downloaded all the rest in the series. I have to say that reading them back-to-back was probably not the best way to do it. I noticed several repetitive characteristics between the characters that became distracting and sometimes made me forget which hero/heroine I was reading about. But, if you have several other books you are reading and want to pepper these among them, I highly recommend them.

Marie Force – Fatal Series
I tried to pick only one of Marie Force’s series to put on the list, but there is just no way to do that. If there is one author I read that I enjoy every single thing she writes, it’s Marie Force. Book seven of this series –Fatal Jeopardy – was released this year, with book eight coming in January 2015. The characters are unforgettable and you can’t help but cheer, cry, laugh, and scream with and for them. As the cases get more dangerous, the romance gets steamier. I look forward to loft time ever time a new book is released!

Cherise Sinclair – Shadowlands and Dark Haven
Disclaimer: these two series are classified as erotica. If you can’t handle seriously hot sex – of a BDSM nature – move on. The first book came to me as a ‘daily deal’ through Amazon and I was hooked. It was the first BDSM book I read, and I only read it to see it from an author’s perspective – then I got hooked. I lumped these two series together because I read them back-to-back and it wasn’t until I had read them a second – and in the Shadowlands case, a third –time that I began to separate them in my mind. I definitely prefer the Shadowlands series over Dark Haven – well…since my latest reread, I can’t really say that anymore… The Shadowlands series really took off for me with the fourth book. It brought in an element of suspense that carried through the next four stories. Regardless, these books have great storylines that go beyond the sex and really engage the reader.

Mariah Stewart – The Chesapeake Diaries
I have been a fan of Mariah Stewart since long before the takeoff of the ebook. My paperback library has every one of her traditionally published books, and I have read them all numerous times. As a reader, she was the first author that I found who did a fantastic job of weaving characters from one book to the other, while still establishing new characters and storylines. When I picked up the first Chesapeake Diaries book, I was expecting a suspense plotline, as usual. It didn’t disappoint, but it also established a quaint little town and allowed the series to morph into more of a romance series. I have patiently waited for each new book and have never been disappointed.

Suzie O’Connell – Northstar Angels
I’m not sure how I ran across this series, but I am so glad I did. This is another case of a small town with memorable characters. I loved that the series jumped forward to cover the story of one of the children introduced in the first book. There is now a spin-off series called The Hammond Brothers, which has the first two books released – they are just as good. And it was so nice to revisit Northstar and the characters I fell in love with.

Lynn Raye Harris – Hostile Operations Team (H.O.T) Series
Well, like the name implies, these are H.O.T.! The series follows a group of special operations soldiers as they complete missions and rescue people, all the while finding love. All are short reads, but well worth it – great for a quiet afternoon.

Melody Anne – Billionaire Bachelors
I’m not usually a fan of the “billionaire finds love with poor woman who needs rescuing” scenarios. But this series has a twist – namely Joseph Anderson – the meddling father of said billionaires who is determined to find his sons true love. His shennigans keep you laughing and rooting for him succeed. And it is quite amusing to see his successful sons fall prey to his scheming.

Marie Force – Gansett Island series
I know, I know, you’re thinking Marie Force…again? But I told you, there is nothing this woman writest that is bad…. This series has grown to twelve books and is still going strong. I can reread these books back to back to back and then start all over again and never get tired of them. Her facebook page is overrun with thousands of others saying the same thing. There are some books I like more than others in the series, but you really can’t pass up the ones you like less because so much happens to the secondary characters that you don’t want to miss a moment of their lives. I was fortunate enough to go to the Reader Weekend that Marie Force hosted in the spring and got to see the real life Gansett Island. I didn’t even need a tour guide – her depictions of the buildings and surroundings were so spot on that I could identify which building on the island inspired the setting in the book. Warning: you will laugh, cry, cringe, and fall in love with this series – you have been warned!

Anne Marie Novark – Diamondback Ranch Series
If you love cowboy romance, this is the series for you. It has everything from land feuds, to forbidden love, to long lost love, to happily-ever-after. Need I say more

J.S. Scott – The Billionaire’s Obsession
The second and third book of this series are probably my favorite – again because I am not really a ‘damsel in distress’ fan. Also, because I like a little suspense in my reading, so the third book really hit the mark. I have kept with the series because the characters are well developed and it is so great to see how their lives shape up throughout the books.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my favorites from the year and I wish I could have made a Top 100 – there were easily enough books to fill it! What were your favorites from this year?