The Chicago Blackhawks are no strangers to off season personnel changes, and certainly, they are well versed at dealing with the struggles that come along with success in the cap era. In their minds, this is all part and parcel to winning championships.
However, even Stan Bowman can’t magically find an answer to the off season strife that was set in motion in Buffalo this summer, no matter what the outcome.
As it stands right now, Patrick Kane may or may not be available for the coming season. If he is available, perhaps his presence will prove to be more of a distraction than the Hawks can manage. If he isn’t, then the time is now for the young talent to step up and fill that void, and boy is there a lot of young talent waiting for their opportunity to do just that.
We have to be prepared for all possible outcomes, because one thing is for certain, this development isn’t going away quickly or quietly…but that’s not what we need to focus on. Simply put, there is nothing that can be done about that. At least not in terms of the team, or the fans.
What Bowman and his team have, is a slew of talented young forwards and a couple of up and coming defense men waiting in the wings to fill whatever holes are left by any veteran departures. And that is a lot more than a lot of teams have, even if Patrick Kane doesn’t play a single game. To be fair, Bowman’s job is not an easy one, and undoubtedly he will always have to make some very unpopular decisions in order to keep the team rolling, and maintain the fan support at the same time. A fact that was clearly illustrated this summer.
On June 30th, the Blackhawks suffered what could be arguably the most painful loss of any off season since 2010. Brandon Saad was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Wait a minute…What?!?!? You have to be kidding!!!! These are all thoughts that I, and many other Blackhawks faithful had in the minutes after the first rumors broke that Saader was on his way out. I was devastated like many of you, and I’d go so far as to say, genuinely pissed off. But then, I started to look at the pieces that came back in return. Particularly, Anisimov and Dano.
Artem Anisimov is a big, two way center with something to prove. Sure he’s had a few injuries, and perhaps he doesn’t command the same kind of attention that Toews does, but he is the kind of solid number two pivot Bowman has been chasing since he took over. An intelligent centerman, that has the vision and hockey sense to effectively move the puck in all three zones, and as a bonus he also happens to see the back of the net with some consistency. What’s better, is that he has the size to offset smaller line mates whether it’s Kane, Panarin or Teravainen.
Then, you have Marko Dano. A versatile forward that can play left, right or center. He is coming off a rookie season that was actually quite impressive, and not entirely unlike that of Saad in his rookie season. If you still can’t see past the loss of Saader, then consider this…Dano’s numbers were about dead even with Saad as a rookie, and he wasn’t playing with line mates like Kane, Sharp, Hossa and Toews. So, imagine what kind of impact they could have on his overall game going forward.
Dano may not have the explosive skating power that Saad has, but he is a very efficient skater and he will no doubt get more powerful as he goes along. In fact, if you have been following Dano this summer, you’ll know that he has been dilligently training with Marian Hossa, and following the regimen that has been successful for the Hawks season after season. A regimen that much of the league has been trying to emulate recently, for all of it’s success and the durability and stamina it has provided particularly for players like Keith and Hjalmarsson.
Watching Dano evolve should be fun for the players, the coaches and most of all the fans. There is a lot of upside with the addition of Marko Dano, and I think there is a good possibility we will see him on a line with his father’s former teammate, Marian Hossa. Something that will undoubtedly help his growth as a player, both on and off the ice.
In addition to those acquisitions, we also picked up Trevor Daley from Dallas in the trade that sent Sharpie and Johns to the Stars. I’m still on the fence about this trade, but Bowman has earned the benefit of the doubt, has he not?
While there are a lot of aspects of Daley’s game that I like, he’s going to have a lot to prove. We know he can score, but as a second pairing defenseman playing for the Hawks and Coach Q, he’s going to have to be a lot more accountable with the puck in his own end. If not, this trade is going to look a lot more lopsided when Q healthy scratches him for games on end.
However, I think Daley is up to the task and motivated to prove he can be the type of player that the Blackhawks need him to be. Regardless of Daley’s ability to mold himself into that type of player, to me Johns was still a huge loss. Sharpie hurts, but it wasn’t a surprising move, and most can see that it was necessary. The biggest thing here is that Daley will have to in some respects fill Oduya’s role, and those are some pretty big shoes to fill. Especially considering many people will be thinking, we could have kept Oduya to fill that role, but instead the two have essentially switched places and we don’t have Stephen Johns waiting in the wings anymore.
We’ve also added a pair of Russians (three in fact, with Anisimov). Artemi Panarin, who is a young phenom that has drawn a lot of comparison to Kane and Teravainen. If he’s half the player that he’s expected to be, he should be a lot of fun to watch. And, if Kane is unavailable, Panarin just might be able to fill some of that void. He is a small forward, but he has the same type of slippery skating skills, premonition like vision, and quick hands that both Kane and Teravainen bring to the table.
Considering those types of skills combined are hard to come by in this, or any league, it’s pretty crazy to have several players like that in one place. Unlike Kane, Teravainen and Panarin are still sharpening the tools they have in their arsenal, but you can expect the learning curve to be far less steep with the potential line mates they’ll have around them. Something that Kane did not have in such abundance at the same stage in his career.
You also have Viktor Tikhonov. Another Russian who is looking for redemption in a league that has been home to him since he was a child. His hockey pedigree is astonishing to be certain, but what he brings to the table has little to do with his hockey heritage, and everything to do with his will. He is the type of player that can, and will park himself in the line of fire and make things happen on both ends of the ice. He won’t be a flashy scorer, but his number will be ingrained in the minds of goalies across the league, and the bodies he introduces to the boards.
He is by far the biggest guy we’ve had to plant in front of the net since Big Buff, and that’s a hole that we’ve been attempting to patch since his departure in 2010. Of course, Shaw has done his best to pester the goalies and in fact, his best was good enough to help win two more titles. However, even Shaw would likely welcome the assistance, and it’ll allow Shaw to open the ice up a bit and get his offense rolling a little more.
Tiknonov also brings something else to the table. It isn’t something the fans will see or notice, but to Panarin it will be invaluable. Tikhonov is fluent in both English and Russian. In fact, if you talk to Tikhonov, you’d be surprised to hear not even a trace of a Russian accent, unless he wants you to hear it. Having grown up in San Jose where his Dad was an assistant coach, then moving on to Kentucky and eventually Arizona, the language is second nature to him.
If you ask Tuevo Teravainen, he’d tell you how hard it was to adjust when he didn’t speak the same language as most of the team, or the media. He had Antti Raanta to help him, but Raanta was only a year or two removed from being in the same boat. There is little doubt that Tikhonov will be effective for the Blackhawks, even if his impact seems smaller on the ice, his ability to help Panarin adjust might just be the gamebreaker. It certainly won’t hurt that he’s played with the young forward in Russia, as well.
Finally, this year will mark a new era for the blue line. The youth movement is upon us, and we will see some new faces whether it’s Ville Pokka, Erik Gustafsson or Viktor Svedburg. In addition, we’ll be seeing a lot more of David Rundblad and Trevor Van Reimsdyk as their roles expand into the third pairing with the departures of Oduya and more than likely Rosival, too. Though, it is more than likely the two will be paired with veterans, rather than play together in order to reduce the pressure on the two young blue liners.
Even if the worst were to happen, and Kane is unavailable for some or all of the season(s) ahead, this team has never been more loaded with highly skilled forwards as they have the potential to be right now. There is no way the changes will come without some serious growing pains, but it’s way to early to be writing this team off as another cap casualty. For the veterans, they have a cup to defend. For the new guys, they all want a taste of the success this team has had, and for the young guns they want to prove that they’re ready to make an impact in this league.
It won’t be easy, but nothing worth chasing is ever easy.
In all of the adversity the off season has brought, the team has managed to retool, add some youth and fresh legs, and finally add the veteran depth up the middle that could help this team stay relevant for years to come, even if the unthinkable happens. Time will tell, but until then the new season is upon us, and the cup is still ours to defend.
I realize that I spend an awful lot of time talking about writing, publishing and various shades in between…so today, I thought I’d talk about something else that I love. Hockey…and sports in general! And share a little story about my life growing up in a sports crazed family!
So get ready for a healthy dose of MY take on the events of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, and how I came to be the sports crazed little sister so many years ago!
As many of you know, I grew up in Chicago and currently live in the Windy City, and if you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably also know that the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years a few weeks back.
Are you wondering how I became a sports fan? Well, you can all blame my family for that. For starters, I come from a long line of Die Hard Cub fans, and in general all Chicago sports teams (Sorry White Sox, but anyone who says you can root for two teams and still be a die hard fan is kidding themselves…that means you, too dad!)
Having grown up in a house full of hockey players and athletes in general, I quickly learned the best way to get a word in edgewise at the dinner table was to understand sports. In fact, there was a time in my life when I desperately wanted to play hockey with my brothers. Of course, my mom was wholeheartedly against her daughter playing hockey, because it was too dangerous.
I quickly came up with a solution that was deemed much safer, by whom I am still not certain.
Today, my brothers will tell you that I ended up in the one sport that might just have been on equal footing in terms of the injuries that are endured and “played through”. The reality is, that with four brothers and one sister, I managed to have more ER visits, concussions, broken bones, scrapes, stitches, orthopedic surgeries and bruises than all of them put together and multiplied times five.
To this day, mom still wishes that she’d let me play hockey!
However, now that I have gone completely off topic I will attempt to right the ship.
For anyone who is a fan of hockey, or even a “hockey” fan who simply carries on a little fling with Lord Stanley every year (how could you!), there is no question that the match up between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins was one for the ages.
I have to tell you, when the Bruins were matched up against the Penguins, the vast majority of the Hockey nation felt that the B’s would keep up but ultimately the Pens would advance to meet the winner of the Hawks/Kings series. Naturally, in my mind there was no question that the Hawks were going to advance, in spite of all the hype that Jonathan Quick had going into the series. The main concern was who would come out of the other series.
I believed that the Pens would at the very least show up for any one of the scheduled 7 games against the Bruins (which they didn’t), but I had a thought that the Bruins physical game could ultimately wear down the smaller finesse style team the Pens rolled out all season and throughout the playoffs up to that point. Part of me wanted the Pens, because it would bring on a match up of finesse and speed across the board, but another part was really pulling for the bigger match up with the Bruins and the dominant force that is Tuukka Rask, arguably one of the best netminders in the league today. An original six match up, no less.
And boy was it ever a fun match up! Neither side disappointed. From the outset, you had hard hits, fast skates, loose jaws and two games for the price of one as the teams were deadlocked for three extra periods…even better, it ended on a deflection, a shin pad and an f-bomb. Andrew Shaw’s shin pad had the assist of the game and the kid known for riling up opponents instead lit YouTube on fire with a nationally televised F-Bomb and the immortal phrase, “I Love Shin Pads!” He has been a fan favorite since his arrival, and this series would win over anyone who had yet to see this kids charm, especially come game 6.
Game 2, apart from a flash of brilliance for Patrick Sharp was all Boston as they forced the Hawks into their Deck and Dive style of hockey, the gritty and gruesome game play that got them all the way into the Stanley Cup finals. They wore the heart of their great city on their jerseys the whole way, and valiantly carried the pride and bravery of the Boston Strong masses along for the ride. So, we left Chicago with the series tied…what started as a best of seven was now a best of five and Boston had deftly stolen the Home Ice advantage!
Game 3…slow ice, sluggish feet and still trying to beat the B’s at their game. A game that the Blackhawks rarely play.
The Hawks are know for speed, passing and a top line that boasts some of the flashiest highlight reel players in the game at the moment. However, on this night in Boston, and in the series thus far, our opening line was divided amongst the top two.
The logic, understood. Make them play either Kane or Toews by forcing them to play one line or the other with their top line of Krecji, Lucic and Horton. The problem is Kane and Toews are like Peanut Butter and Jelly…they just were not meant to be served separately. So now, the Hawks find themselves down 2 games to 1 in a seven game series and having to steal game 4 in Boston, which outside of Chicago is one of the “unfriendliest” arenas to play in for a visitor.
Game over, right? That’s what the Globe declared, and Boston fans…heck even those fans who romance Lord Stanley for two weeks out of the year had all but written the Hawks off. The Bruins had already beaten Toronto in the opening round after being down several goals in game 7, and their team had been largely untouched from their previous cup winner a few years prior, oh and did I mention how dominant Tuukka Rask had been all year?
What everyone neglected to mention was that the Blackhawks had come back from a 3 games to 1 deficit against the Red Wings. They had beaten last years cup winner and their impenetrable netminder, Jonathan Quick (even forcing them to resort to their backup goalie after scoring on Quick in rapid succession), and our own goalie Corey Crawford was quietly sitting on the best season of his career. And then came game 4.
Two Goalies who had the leagues best goals against averages had been solid through 3 games. Rask had allowed 5 goals total in 3 games, and Crow had allowed 7. Given that one of those games was triple OT and another was a single OT, I’d say Rask had a very slight edge, however he did allow 4 goals in game one.
Game 4 was when the whole series got turned upside down as Rask allowed 6 goals in the third OT game, where Crow allowed 5. However, at the end of the day both Chicago and Boston media were getting ready to hang Crawford out to dry for all of the glove side liability that he showed. No one was talking about the fact that the Great Wall of Rask had allowed 6 goals! More than he had allowed in the entire Pens series and one more than he’d allowed in the previous 3 games combined. Yet, no one seemed the least bit concerned about that stat, or the fact that a number of Boston’s dominant players had been virtually silent the entire series.
Known agitator Brad Marchand had only managed to scrum to the ice with Andrew Shaw once, Chara had been on the ice for an alarming percentage of the goals against and Lucic, Krecji and Horton had been a shadow of what Boston had seen from them throughout the season and deep into the playoffs. And yet, all anyone could seem to care about was a couple of glove side misses.
Yet, I am pretty sure the entire hockey population could be heard whining about glove side saves. Admittedly, it was a bit disconcerting for a moment, but then the true Chicago fans take a collective breath and wait for Crow to do what he has done so well after letting a puck float past him on the high glove side, or a greasy goal that barely snuck through the crease…Crow flicked the ice off his pads, splashed some water on his face, got a tap from Captain Serious and stepped onto the ice for game five in Chicago as if this were a brand new best of 3 series, and he commemorated it with (GASP) a brand new glove and blocker. Unheard of. Ridiculous. Game over….
Had he lost his mind, or was this just a stroke of brilliance? It wouldn’t take long to figure out that game 4 was buried in the vault, not to be dwelled on by anyone donning a red jersey on this day. Game 5 was a new day, and Crawford’s glove side was rarely even tested as the B’s spent more time chasing the newly reunited line of Kane, Bickell and Toews. Kane slipped two greasy goals past Rask, one on a blast from Oduya near the blue line…and a second on a slick pass that touched the sticks of Toews and Bickell before Kane knifed back around to Bickell’s deflected shot slipping it over the shoulder of Rask’s glove side. And they capped it off as Bolland threw an empty netter in the closing seconds winning 3-1. Of course, this win was costly for Toews who spent a good portion of the first two periods wearing Zdeno Chara before getting put down by Jonny Boychuk and sitting the remainder of the game.
And this was where you are reminded of the one constant in Hockey…These guys are TOUGH!
Patrice Beregeron, Boston’s top center was playing with a broken EVERYTHING and went to a local hospital before the night was out, Horton had a broken shoulder, and Marchand had a broken ego as he had been largely ineffective the entire series, Chara had maybe some broken ribs and I’m certain there was an assortment of unappealing ailments that could be assigned to every player in black and gold.
The Hawks were no different, Toews had his bell rung early, often though still
managed to sign his name to the stats sheet for an assist and a goal, Bickell had a torn MCL from the previous series, Handzus a broken wrist, Hossa had numbness in his leg from a back injury and the hits would keep on coming as both teams hobbled their way back into Beantown.
Keep in mind come the Stanley Cup Finals, injuries are par for the course. Everyone has a lower body injury, upper body injury or undisclosed injury which roughly translates into anything from a concussion to appendages that are practically frankenstein’ed on, but really if you could lace up your skates and lift your arms high enough to pull on a jersey…you’re game ready in the finals. Nothing or no one would keep their skates off the ice. That’s just hockey. And that’s why it is such a fun sport to watch whether you know your stuff or not.
When Game 6 rolled around. Both Centers were questionable at best. Of course, no one even knew what the injuries were as coaches, players and staff are well versed at skirting the issues regarding player health.
The game plan was simple. The Hawks wanted to party in the Garden like it was 2010, and the B’s mission was to send them home without the hardware and force a game 7 so THEY could party in the UC.
As you know, only one team would walk away with their desired outcome…and you better believe both teams were going to come out with all the artillery to make sure they came out on top.
Period one was all Boston. They made the stats sheet first, and all we had to show for it in the first was Andrew Shaw’s bloody face from a shot that coasted briskly up his stick and landed somewhere between the eye and the cheek leaving him with 20+ stitches and undoubtedly a headache…yet he was on the ice shortly afterwards war wounds and all.
In the second period…Captain Serious decided to make good on his statements (again) as he popped a loose puck past Chara, who looked a lot like Wile E. Coyote as he tried, and failed to catch that pesky road runner…Toews. Captain Serious as he is known, was all business as he let the air out of the building when he slotted the back of the net with Chara in his wake.
The celebration was short lived though, as Lucic opted to loft the puck into the net instead of shattering his stick as he had done in the previous loss, giving Boston the lead back. A lead they held onto going into the final two minutes, as their team plane was fueling up for a game 7.
Crawford charged for the bench and suddenly an extra attacker moved into position. A shot was fired, and it looked like the puck was about to turn back on Chicago’s empty cage…Too bad Kaner didn’t get the memo as he charged into the corner tapping the puck down and poking it loose before landing it on Toews’ stick.
The Captains’ split second decision sent the puck zipping between the legs of a Bruin and onto the stick of Bryan Bickell who deftly flipped the puck up and in tying the game and likely sending it to overtime with just over a minute in regulation.
The collective thought being, we’ve already played 3 overtime games in this series…so we’ll gear up and play one more. Fitting, really. Of course, the Hawks plan was to end the series in OT, while the B’s planned to extend the series.
And then, the play that will have hockey fans across the world talking for generations happened.
Jonny Oduya was camped out at the blue line, a spot he’d lingered at many times throughout the year and the series, when the puck landed on his stick. A quick release sent it speeding towards Rask before it flipped and dipped over the blade of Frolik’s stick and landing unceremoniously in front of Rask and two of his teammates.
Dave Bolland turned towards the puck and quietly slipped between the defender tipping the puck over Rask’s pad, that had already hit the ice in anticipation of the shot that started the play. As he watched the puck roll over the tape, Bolland pulled back to free his stick from beneath a defenders, but it just wouldn’t give. So, he did the only thing he could…let the gloves and stick drop to the ice as he skated to the corner to celebrate the second (and eventual game winning) goal in 17 seconds.
Moments later, Bolland’s line returned to the ice with Toews in his place because he simply couldn’t stop his hands from shaking. The puck made a trip up and down the ice and ended with an exclamation point as Toews fittingly capped it off diving to the ice and sending the puck safely down past the Bruins bench from the neutral zone as the time wound down, leaving the Bruins with no chance to earn the tie and send the series to a game 7 in Chicago.
The Bruins were forced to watch as white jerseys poured over the boards and mobbed an elated Crawford, who instantly sent his much maligned glove and blocker to the ice the second the puck left Toews’ stick. The Stanley Cup was headed back to Chicago, and the Hawks had topped off the storybook season the only way that seemed fitting. With a Stanley cup to add to their Presidents cup (Division title), Selke Trophy (Toews) and Conn Smythe (Kane).
At the end of the day, whether you were a Hawks fan, a Bruins fan, a Hockey fan or simply got suckered into watching the finals…it was impossible not to recognize the outstanding level of play from both teams. It will likely be a long time before a series such as this plays out again, and even longer before any team manages to score two goals closer together, or any later in a Stanley Cup clenching game.
Just over one minute to tie the game and 17 seconds later to win!
Sports fan or not, it would have been nearly impossible to tear your eyes from the screen in those final minutes.
So, while I may not have been allowed to play hockey, I have to thank my parents and my brothers for always talking sports at the dinner table and forcing me to recognize an icing call or be relegated to talk about shopping or worse, silence at the dinner table.
Today, I could comfortably (and quite happily, I might add) sit down and discuss sports with even the most die hard of fans and I have to tell you, it’s not always a bad thing to be one of few woman in the room who can do such a thing.
Next week is the start of my Book Blog Tour. It was arranged by the fabulous Enchanted Book Promotions and will go for a month! Here are the tour dates and info. Feel free to stop over and join us to learn more about me, read some reviews and excerpts, guest posts and giveaways!
April 15th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading
April 17th: Book Excerpt and Giveaway @ Regina May Ross’ Blog
April 20th: Book Excerpt @ The Book Daily
April 22nd: Author Interview @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog
April 24th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading
April 26th: Book Excerpt @ 365 Days of Reading
April 28th: Book Review @ The Single Librarian
April 29th: Book Review and Excerpt @ Books, Books and More Books
April 30th: Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog
May 1st: Cover Reveal and Book Excerpt for Blue Line Bone Collector @ Hollow Readers
May 2nd : Book Review @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog
May 3rd: Review and Guest Post @ Mama Knows Books
May 5th: Book Excerpt @ I’m an Eclectic Reader
May 6th: Book Review @ Bookaholic Ramblings
May 7th: Book Excerpt and Giveaway @ Loup d’Argent
May 8th: Book Review @ Forever Book Lover
May 10th: Author Interview @ Deal Sharing Aunt
May 11th: Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway @ The Broke Book Bank
May 12th: Book Review @ I’m an Eclectic Reader
May 13th: Review, Interview and Giveaway @ The Wormhole
May 14th: Book Review @ The Book Daily
May 15th: Guest Post @ Bianca2B
When my parents told me never to judge a book by its cover, Amazon.com didn’t exist and neither did the internet for that matter. Now everything is judged by minute snippets of information and thumbnail pictures. So, in this day and age a book can and will be judged by its cover. With that in mind, you’d be foolish not to make sure your book is dressed as sharply on the outside, as it is carefully crafted and edited on the inside.
With the outrageous number of books and ebooks being published everyday on Amazon, and every other major online retailer it is becoming exceedingly difficult to separate ourselves from all of the competition.
Even if you have Shakespeare’s gift with words, or J.K. Rowling’s artistry that allowed her to cast a spell with the turn of a page, Stephenie Meyer’s ability to take someone fiction has traditionally cast as a villian and breathe humanity into him or Suzanne Collins’ take on how one ordinary girl can take on the injustices of the world, it is still beyond difficult to find an audience among the millions of offerings. Chances are if you can’t engage a reader with your cover, it will never matter how well you craft a story.
You’ve spent weeks, months, or perhaps even years carefully creating characters and spinning a compelling story that brings them to life and now you are left wondering how you can make your work stand out.
As I’ve said before, there are a number of things that you have to do in order to even have a remote chance at selling beyond your inner circle of supportive friends, family and co-workers. Editing is a really big step, as is formatting, but what is often overlooked is the cover itself.
It is your opportunity to not only introduce yourself and your work to a reader, but also to give your readers a sneak peek into what they might find between the pages. So now, you are faced with the various ways to grab their attention…perhaps with something that might tug at the heart strings, or a more subtle approach that carries a vague reference, or perhaps an ominous prophecy of what’s to come. (In order to avoid copyright issues, I’ve used samples of my own covers. If you have a cover of your own that you think might offer a unique portrait of your story, feel free to submit it via email.)
More often than not, your cover design will be more important than any little blurb or summary you provide as it is often the first thing people will see. If it doesn’t catch the readers eye, they may never even get to your summary or the dozens or more reviews that your readers have so kindly offered.
The cover is almost as important as the story, the editing and the formatting in the respect that IT IS the hand shake and introduction at the party…and you definitely don’t want your guests to walk away and forget your name before that party even starts!
So what do you do?
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to a great cover design, but there are a number of great cover designers with enough experience to steer you in the right direction. And the clearer your vision for the story is, the easier it will be to translate that into your cover design. Does your book have some kind of specific imagery, or is there a picture that you envision for a scene in your book? These are some good places to start.
Some of the key things you want to make sure to address is a font that will stand out in smaller images and that your name or pen name is prominent on the cover as well. You’ll also want to consider your background color in relation to any images you choose and if it’s a series whether you will be able to have some continuity from one book to the next. And you’ll also want to consider the formats, is it only an ebook, or will it be offered in print as well? A good cover designer will help you decide what suits your particular book as well.
People ask all the time, can’t I just take a stock image and use that with my title and my name? Well, no one is going to stop you, but it also won’t stop anyone else from using that same image for their book.
Armed with this information, I thought I would share my cover designer’s website and a few twitter handles that might help you along the way. The right people are out there to help you create a unique and engaging cover, you just have to seek them out!
You can also follow him on twitter @muggai
Or you can tweet to @SelfPubBKCovers and they will send you a list of their favorite cover designers.
And of course there are sites like Elance.com where you can post your jobs and find someone that fits your project and budget.
I hope that this will help anyone looking to jump into the world of self publishing or indie publishing. And it may also help anyone seeking alternatives to the often expensive added services of many publishing houses.
As writers, we are both at an advantage for the number of options available to us, and at a disadvantage for the number of books that are now being published on a daily basis. So, take every opportunity you have to grab a potential readers attention and most of all enjoy the ride!
Have more questions??? Well feel free to post a comment, or find me on twitter @LoucksKE
THE ROSE RED REAPER
Lt. Commander Mason Cole never intended to follow his brother into law enforcement, but the murder of a loved one gave him the motivation needed to take a position as the head of Chicago’s Serial Crimes Unit. Along with his brother, Detective Devon Cole, former FBI Profiler and Technical Analyst Melinda Kade and Detective Piper Torello, Mason is tasked with finding some of the cities most prolific serial killers.
As a former Navy SEAL, Mason has seen some of the worst the world has to offer, but nothing could have prepared him for his initiation into the world of a serial killer.
Their first case came with a gruesome introduction from a man who has given himself his own press ready moniker. Known for his macabre signature and the white rose he leaves at the scene with a calling card signed in blood,
THE ROSE RED REAPER
Mason and his team will pursue the killer through the vast streets of Chicago, across the affluent suburbs of the North Shore following cryptic clues left at each crime scene and pointing them to a web of violence dating back to The Reaper’s own childhood.
Complications begin to arise when The Reaper makes a connection to the woman that Mason loves. Dakota Rose Shelton. The stunning, raven-haired beauty that has carefully salvaged Mason’s broken heart may also be the key to ending The Reaper’s bloody reign. Left blind by a childhood illness, she must help them to assemble the pieces of the Reaper’s past with no visual memories to aid her.
Can Dakota help the team put the pieces together before The Reaper targets one of there own? And will she be able to fight off a killer that she cannot see?
Available in paperback and for your kindle NOW!
Be sure and catch the sneak peek of The Blue Line Bone Collector (Book two in the Chicago Serial Crimes Series) at the end of The Rose Red Reaper!
COMING SUMMER 2013!
I have been meaning to post an update for a few weeks, however I’ve been in a constant state of chaos for one reason or another. So, I thought I’d take a minute to share my chaos.
I just recently started a book blog tour with VBT Cafe. You can go to www.vbtcafe.com to check out other tours as well! Here are the stops on my tour.
October 22 – Introduction at VBT Cafe’ Blog
October 24 – Author Interviewed at Dream Big…Read Often
October 26 – Book Feature & Excerpt at Oh Chrys!
October 30 – Interviewed at Reviews and Interviews
November 1 – Interviewed at Angels & Warriors Radio
November 5 – Book Feature & Excerpt at Bookalicious Traveladdict
November 7 – Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
November 10 – Guest Blogging at huithiang!
November 12 – Guest Blogging at Wise Words
November 15 – Interviewed at MK McClintock’s Blog
November 16 – Review & Guest Blogging at A Book Lover’s Library
I believe there may be one additional stop, which I will post when I know for sure. If nothing else I’ll post a link on twitter. If you aren’t following me there, you can find me @LoucksKE
The blog tour has been a ton of fun. I’ve really enjoyed meeting lots of new people and of course finding new blogs to follow!
Aside from that, I am currently trying to wrap up my next novel, The Rose Red Reaper. It is definitely going to fall into more of a thriller category, but there is still a romance in the midst of all the madness. It is the first novel that will be set in my hometown of Chicago, which I am really excited about! I do tend to choose locations that I am familiar with either from visiting or places that I’ve lived, but Chicago has always been home no matter where in the world I’ve been at any given time in my life. And of course, Chicago is where most of my family is as well. It’s been a lot of fun to wreck havoc in places that I know so well, too.
The Rose Red Reaper is the first in a series. I am undecided as to how many books the series will have, but I am planning on at least two, possibly three. I’ll have a better idea when I wrap the first one and get it off to the editors.
The last bit of chaos in my life is the bakery. If you aren’t familiar with my story, I am a pastry chef and cake designer and I run a bakery in a north shore suburb of Chicago. We recently moved to a new location and have been in the midst of construction, which has been taking an exceedingly long time! I can’t say this is abnormal for food service as there is a lot that goes into a commercial kitchen, but I was hoping to open before Thanksgiving. Currently, it looks like we will be finalizing everything come December which should be around the same time the new book launches!
Seems that I have a lot on my plate at the moment, but I love it. I really want to get into some more regular posts, so if you have any questions or suggestions on things you’d like to see feel free to comment here, email me at email@example.com or tweet to me @LoucksKE (I don’t do Direct Messages on twitter as it gets spammed like crazy).
Thanks for checking in!
If you’ve published anything in the last few years, you probably have lots of people asking you how to “get published”. If not, it probably seems as simple as trying to paint the Mona Lisa with both hands tied behind your back if you don’t have a place to start.
Well, the best way to get your work out there is typically indie or self publishing as most traditional publishers are not always interested in unproven authors, and if they are you’re manuscript is likely to be buried in the slush pile for an indeterminate amount of time. Unfortuantely, that is just the way it seems to go unless you are part of the lucky few that end up in the right hands early on AND you show some amazing promise. I know, we all think there is something unique and promising about that manuscript we’ve been lugging around for the last month, year, decade….but the truth is, many a great manuscript get lost in the slush pile, too.
So, you might be thinking, “So, it’s a lost cause?”
Of course it’s not! If you have a little knowledge, a lot of determination and imagination as well as the time getting a book published is really not a difficult task. So here are some tips that should help you get started. (In no particular order)
- Know what you’re goals are – Do you want a book to share with family and friends or are you looking to put your book in the hands of the masses?
- Be careful where you try to save pennies – a plain cover and poor editing may or may not be okay to pass off to your family and friends, but it is most definitely a huge mistake if you plan to share your book with the masses as they will likely hurt your sales in the long run. If it looks like you didn’t spend a lot of time on the cover, the genreal assumption will be that you didn’t spend enough time on the book itself.
- Do your research – free publishing may sound great, but keep in mind if it’s free, you will most likely be taking on the editing, formatting and cover design duties yourself. No matter what you do, those elements take time and are rarely a part of any low budget option, and be sure to shop around for those services no matter what choice you make for publishing. Often times, publisher’s charge top dollar because it’s convenient to get everything under one roof so to speak, but it doesn’t mean it is better than @proofreaderMG or @Muggai for example(a proofreader/editor and a cover designer on twitter, FYI). In fact, I’d be willing to bet both of them would be considerably more affordable and just as good or better than what is available through the publisher. Some publishers will give you the names of freelance editors and designers, etc. if you ask, too. They know the services can be found elsewhere at a lower rate and it is in their best interest for you to have the best quality book you can make, too.
- Contact literary agents if you like – But, you don’t have to have one for most indie publishers to take you seriously and self publishing is typically not something that would require representation. Most, but not all traditional publishers require a literary agent submit the work and will not take unsolicted manuscripts though.
- Check out other authors in your given genre – This can help you see what sells, how they create their ‘sales pitch’ summary, what the best price point is and more. Be warned though, if you are a first time horror or thriller author, for example and you price your book to match Stephen King, you will probably have a tough time selling at the same price. You can always change the prices later, but once you turn a customer off for something like that you may never get a second chance at the first impression (This goes along with point 2, also. Customers tend to remember the book with non-existent editing and they tend to forget the author with the photoshop image or plain background with block letters on the cover.)
- Be sure that your ebook is formatted properly – Page breaks in the wrong places can be distracting and make an otherwise good quality read look poorly thought out. You can find people to format your book all over the web (elance, twitter, etc.). Often times publishers and editors will help with that, too. And even Fiverr has gotten in on that action (though I will caution, you may get what you pay for…I have not personally tried fiverr for this type of work.)
- Don’t be tempted to edit your own book – It is simply not possible to objectively pick apart your own hard work, and honestly after you read through it once you tend to blind yourself to any flaws, and for the sake of your personal relationships, do try not to put this task onto family or friends. While they may be willing to do it, not everyone is capable of being honest enough to be effective when they care about you or are concerned about how long this grammatical error will land them on the couch.
- Read, Read, Read – I am convinced that the best writers are also avid readers. How else will you understand what your readers are buying and how you stack up against the authors at the top of the heap in your genre?
- Socialize – One really great way to find out what’s working and not working both for your own marketing and that of your peers is to seek them out and have a chat. Twitter and Facebook are great places to do this. You can try Goodreads and Shelfari, too. And it’s also a great way to meet and find new authors that you might enjoy reading, as well as connect with your readers!
- Remember that people’s views are subjective – Know that at some point you are going to get some negative comments or remarks. Just try to take them with a grain of salt. No one is immune and sometimes, the words can hit hard. But, never fire back at a nasty comment or review. You can’t control the thoughts and opinions of others, but you don’t want to fuel the fire as it very rarely benefits the author. Instead, try to take the comments into perspective and see if you can’t possibly address the concerns (perhaps they found editing errors, or something simple), and if that isn’t the case then move on knowing you did the best work you could and not everyone will understand or appreciate that work. My dad always says, “Don’t dwell on the things you can’t control or change, just focus on the path in front of you.” He’s a very wise man, my dad. And he’s always been there to give me that reminder whenever I forget, which I do. Often
I hope that this helps you on the road to becoming a published author and that you enjoy the adventure as much as I have. Feel free to stop over here or check in with me on twitter if you want to share your thoughts or have questions. My Twitter handle is @LoucksKE
Happy writing and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
Ashleigh Bennett had decided to leave the past behind once and for all when she took a job working with Trevor O’Donnell and his task force in South Florida.
Unfortunately, the past has a way of following you no matter how far you go to escape it.
For Ashleigh, her past was littered with losses. First, the loss of her parents, and then her sister, Ellen.
Ellen’s was the most painful however, as the circumstances surrounding her death left her with many unanswered questions. Could she have relapsed into the world of drugs and put her unborn child in harms way like the police had assumed and did she have a reason to kill her husband?
Ashleigh was certain that she didn’t. But, after several years of her own investigations, she had made no progress in clearing her sister and she knew the only thing left to do was start over. Somewhere that people didn’t look at her like the poor little orphan or the sister of a murderous addict.
Though the investigations didn’t bear any results for Ashleigh, they did create doubts in others who had been close to the case. Doubts that led her past right back to her doorstep and put Ashleigh in the path of one man bent on keeping the secrets of his past buried for good.
Can Ashleigh, Trev and the rest of the team unravel the web of lies that followed her? Or will Ashleigh be buried with the secrets that had destroyed her family?
Some secrets are better left buried…
As an author, you might think that all I do is think up new ideas and write. And that wouldn’t be a wrong assumption, ideas are never far off and sometimes I find myself writing on auto-pilot. But, my love of writing was actually born out of my love for reading.
I’ll read just about anything, or at least I’ll try to. That leads me to one really important lesson I’ve learned along the way. No matter how well you know the rules of grammar and spelling, it is inevitable that you WILL make mistakes when you write 300-400 pages.
My pride says that I stick to the confines of what is grammatically correct, and that spelling is never an issue…but the truth is even though I meant to say “their” it can somehow still end up as “there” or “they’re” after days of staring at the white light that is my computer screen for hours on end. On top of that, I am convinced that my spelling and grammar check on my computer is out to sabotage me as it often perplexes me with the strange substitutions it suggests.
At the end of the day, what I know to be true is simple. EVERYONE needs to edit. And realistically that involves a set of eyes that are not those of the author or their significant other. Even better, perhaps someone who gets paid to edit because even though the red line of death was something we dreaded in school, it is vital to making a book readable and retaining the readers from one book to the next. And in all honesty, for those of us that have gone the indie/self publishing route this oversight is the reason Indie/Self Pubs have earned a bad rap.
Over the last month, I have read a number of indie or self published titles. And what I found was varied. There were a couple that were fantastic, there were a few that had clearly been edited by a keen eye though perhaps not my cup of tea content wise, there were several that were perhaps a bit too edited in that they had clearly overused the thesaurus feature to select “big” words that had me laughing at the idea of someone actually thinking or worse speaking with SAT words on a regular basis, and then there were several that I could barely finish because of the obvious lack of editing.
Here’s the thing, the books that had a complete lack of editing have the potential to be good and sometimes even great books in their respective genre, but the errors eventually became more of a distraction. In some respects, it makes me want to talk to the author and offer to proof the work, not because I am better at it, but simply because I have no connection to it. Editing for my own work is painful, at times cutting content that I spent months crafting seems about as appealing as cutting off my own fingers, but if an editor can’t get through the content how should I expect a reader who spent their hard earned money to overlook my grammar crimes and spelling mishaps?
I spend a good deal of money each month purchasing books for my own entertainment. But, like any reader there are certain things that will make me think twice about spending my money on the same author more than once.
Let’s face it, indie authors and self published authors have earned that bad rap because of the lack of editing and it doesn’t help that the pond we are wading in is now larger than ever before and nearly everyone on the beach is looking to dive in and capitalize on their own story. It is on all of us as indie or self published authors to erase the perception that indie/self pub authors are not as good as traditionally published authors and we can’t really do that without some form of editing.
As a reader, you might think an author went the cheap route and had a friend or husband proof their work, or that they edited themselves and you’d be right the majority of the time. But, as an author I know that there are a bunch of alternatives to having a loved one do the work and they’ll have no problem making you feel like you are back in tenth grade with your merciless English teacher who red lined the 40 page research paper you stayed up all night to complete after procrastinating for two months. While it stinks to have someone quickly cut apart something you worked on for weeks, months or years now, the effort can be the difference between a long term following of loyal readers and a slew of readers who will bypass every novel you publish in the years to come for another author without so much as a thought. Family, significant others and/or any other poor souls we’ve subjected to our crimes against grammar and spelling will thank us for not forcing them to tell us that we can’t spell or whatever else they might find.
So, you might be thinking “I don’t have thousands of dollars for an editor! They charge by the page or the word!!” Yes, they do. And it IS expensive, but I’d rather sell my book than write it and have it passed over for something with a lesser plot because the author made sure it was properly edited.
With that, I’ll leave you with a few alternatives to your loved ones servitude…
1. Elance – a contracting site where you can find people skilled in (proof reading, story development, website and blog design, cover designers, etc.)
2. Fiverr (and other gig type sites) – a community that allows you to bid on various services for $5 (some ridiculous and useless, but there are editors, ghostwriters and more that frequent the site however you do get what you pay for, so bear that in mind).
3. Most indie publishing companies will offer editorial services, and they should also be able to give you the names of reputable free-lance editors.
4. Ask another author if they might consider reading your book if you could return the favor. (Obviously, you would need to be acquainted with another author to take advantage of this). Of course, a self pub or indie author is a lot more likely to consider such an offer.
Thanks for checking in!!