Monday, August 27, 2012

Guest Blogger~KATIE CARROLL: The Cover Art Process for Elixir Bound (or Why I Love My Cover So Much!)

Please welcome Katie Carroll to the blog as her exciting new YA novel Elixir Bound hits the shelves.  Today, Katie shares her cover journey with us. 

Thanks, Mary Ann, for having me today.  I like to call this post the Cover Art Process for Elixir Bound (or Why I Love My Cover So Much!).

I was lucky enough as a MuseItUp author to have a little input (mostly in the form of an author questionnaire) when it came to the cover of Elixir Bound. That’s not to say that I can take any credit for how gorgeous it is. All that credit goes to my cover artist C.K. Volnek.

The beauty of what she did was to take some of my thoughts on what types of covers I like (I happened to cite the American cover for Melina Marchetta’s Froi of the Exiles as one that caught my eye of late) and a few key elements of the story and integrate them into an engrossing and detailed cover that in no way looks crowded or busy. If I knew how she was specifically able to do this, I would probably quit writing and become a cover artist myself (not really, I would never quit writing).
What I can tell you are some of the details I gave her and how they showed up in the cover. (I’ll be honest, this post is really just an excuse to let me point out all the cool things on the cover!) Elixir Bound is essentially about Katora’s quest to retrieve the main ingredient to her family’s secret healing Elixir so she can take over as guardian.

Let’s start with character. Katora is definitely the central element on the cover. I expected to be asked about how she looks, but what I didn’t expect was to be asked about her personality. The three words I chose to describe her: stubborn, confident, independent. I think the model depicting Katora was a great fit. Her expression and body language were just right. So character: check!

Let’s move onto plot. The subject of the quest is the Elixir, which is prominently represented in the left-hand corner near the title. The objective of the quest is to find the Elixir’s main ingredient, which just happens to come from the tiny white flowers vining their way along the edges. So plot: check!

Next let’s discuss setting. Most of the journey takes places in a forest. The background gives you a sense of the rustic setting with the tree to the right and the mysterious doorway-type thing behind Katora (is it a cave, the entrance to a tomb?). I like how it sets a mood, but doesn’t get too specific because when I read, I like to let my own imagination fill in those details. Have you noticed the mountain range at the bottom of the cover? Did you notice its shape? The mountain range is aptly called The Sleeping Giant and I was so thrilled to see it included on the cover. So setting: double check! 

And finally, my favorite aspect of the cover…my name, of course! It’s been my dream for so many years to see my name on the cover of a book and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

A little more about Elixir Bound:
Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone.
For it is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings who will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.

Elixir Bound is available for pre-order for your Kindle, Nook, PC, or other device from the MuseItUp Publishing website. Look for it after August 31, 2012 on Amazon, the Barnes and Noble e-book store, and other online e-book retailers.
A little about the author:

Katie L. Carroll began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way for Katie to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. It also made her realize that she wanted to pursue writing as a career. In addition to penning novels for teens and kids, she edits puzzle magazines, plays soccer, and collects signed copies of books. Katie lives in Connecticut with her husband and son.
To learn more about Katie, to read her blog, or to contact her, visit her website at

Thanks for sharing your journey with us Katie. We look forward to devouring Elixir Bound!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wild Life Lessons

It happened again! Another month disappeared and my poor little blog has sat here neglected and lonely. At least I have some good reasons. We took our very first family vacation, for one. Then a trip to North Carolina for Ghost Girl and Ghost Son. And a few other obstacles that I'll not mention here. Suffice it to say, the Ghost Clan has had a busy summer.

By the end of July, our little turf war had ended in a draw with a bushel of twigs and pine straw strewn about the porch and no nest upon the gable. Poor little finches. At least they have a feeder full of seed to share. Of course the hummingbirds are relieved to have the peace and quiet now. I have spent the last several weeks photographing (or trying to) those speedy little birds, a feat which has echoed my writing process in a couple of key ways.

Wildlife photography lets my brain go a little sideways so that I can think about my writing when I'm not really thinking about my writing. Does that make sense? I've sat out in the 102ยบ heat or on the porch or ankle deep in pine needles and sand for hours at a time, hoping for that magical shot of some natural beauty. Laser-focused on that shot, hungry for something stunning, and miserable at the same time. It's a lot like writing. (Yes, I hope you laughed at that). So the first writing lesson I've learned from photography is you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.  I've been on the verge of heat stroke, my feet throbbing and my mouth dry, but I would not give up until I captured something, even a tiny, imperfect scrap of something to work with.

Add a new camera, and I have a lot more to learn about settings and light and distance. I'm still a green horn and new equipment is just another hill to conquer (and celebrate). So the second thing I have learned about writing through my foray into photography is that you have to be willing to fail...over and over again. You have to be able to stare at the failure and find something valid in it. Experiment, let the moment take you, but always be willing to accept failure when it presents itself and learn from it. Figure out what didn't work and why and explore new options. I got a good dose of that with my latest WIP...just ask my agent!

The bottom line is, if something moves you, if you really want it badly enough, it will always draw you back. You never know what you are willing to slog through or cope with until you give in to that creative pull.  So let yourself get lost in it. Embrace the pain, physical and mental, and give those natural wonders a chance to show you what you can do. You just might surprise yourself.