Learning a New Trick: Cover Creation

This old dog learned a new trick over the Thanksgiving holiday: how to create a book cover using Microsoft Word. Now, I will be the first to tell you design is NOT my forte, however, things all just came together and I spent a pleasurable two days tinkering with the design elements, watching Youtube videos, and cursing loudly as my learning curve escalated.

It really began because a friend of mine said she’d do the cover for my Christmas novella. She’s done the covers to my other two Christmas stories, so I thought it would be great. Then the image I got for the couple was difficult for her to drop the background from. My daughter volunteered (ok, I volunteered her) to do that pic, and then a pic of the mistletoe ball. She sent the couple to me to send to my friend, and I thought, “Hey, I think I could do this.” (That is exactly how I started to write romance in the first place. LOL) So I had the elements, I’d messed around a few weeks ago with creating a meme, so I knew a very tiny bit about what to do, and so I just started to put the elements together.

My first mistake was working in PowerPoint. It works fine for memes, but doesn’t have the correct size for covers. I grabbed a free trial for Photoshop, and promptly got bogged down because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. So I went to Youtube to find a video to teach me. That didn’t work either—still too complicated for my simple mind. And then I saw a video for making a book cover using Microsoft Word. I knew I could work in Word, since I’ve done nothing but that for years.

And voila! After two days of dogged stick-to-it-ness, I now have a cover that I think is not half bad. Have I learned how to design? No. I will never be a designer. But for an author with little money at the moment, I think it will work.

I did check out other Christmas romance titles and looked at things like placement and color and fonts. From the video, I learned about things like dropshadows, and text boxes, and how to remove background (such a neat trick!). And my wonderful author friends on my loops have given me invaluable advice for each iteration along the way.

AKBTM15So without further ado here is my brand new cover for A Kiss Beneath the Mistletoe, my soon to be released Regency Christmas romance. Next week I’ll have an excerpt for you—and maybe a buy link!

Happy Holidays!

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Holiday Shopping with Romance Authors Ryan Jo Summers and Susan Hanniford Crowley

Hi everyone!  In the United States we have just finished celebrating Thanksgiving. We have parades and feasts, watch football, plunge into discount shopping, and just enjoy our time together with family and friends.  One this Saturday after, I’ve invited Romance Author Ryan Jo Summers on Nights of Passion with me. Here are some books, you may want to check out.  I asked Ryan what she loves about writing.

What do I love about writing? It is both an escape and therapy. When I need to get away from the stresses and pressures WCG Large (1)of the day or life in general, I can escape into a make believe world. It might be the short story or a full novel. Whatever the length, the characters and situations allow me to visit their world. Taking pen to paper, for poems and to my happy places inside me allow therapy in its purest form. Being able to later share these stories with readers, and hearing their feedback, serves as a sense of validation. Sometimes it’s as simple and pure as pouring a heartache into paper, sharing it with others and healing through their comments. It validates both the experience and the writing. Further writing is a challenge to constantly improve skills, master struggles and grow in abilities.

Bio: Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina writer who pens romances twisted in genre. Starting with a basic boy and girl love story, she blends paranormal, inspirational, time travel, mystery and suspense in any combination. Animals are frequent visitors in her books and water is a common setting. Beyond that, anything goes. When not writing, Ryan likes to spend time with her friends or out enjoying the beautiful vistas nearby. She shares her home with a menagerie of assorted pets. Hobbies include reading, painting, working bent and wiggly word find puzzles and caring for dozens of houseplants or pottering around in her yard.


Darby Adams has a happy life operating a Bed & Breakfast Inn at quiet Driftwood Shores, raising her son and caring for a menagerie of stray pets. Until she finds a dead guest in one of her rooms–murdered. Suddenly her home and business is turned into a crime scene and she is the number one suspect. Caught in a whirlwind, she needs a strong friend.
The surviving family wants to make sure Darby fully pays for her crime, so they hire new-in-town Private Investigator Sam Golden, to find the facts and have Darby put away for good. Sam begins his case in a dual role, acting as a friend for Darby. Between dodging disasters and riding out calamities, Darby begins to see a future with Sam and herself. As strange, scary, things happen around the B & B. Sam has to rethink his original opinions on Darby’s guilt or innocence.
Then the fateful day comes Sam has to confess his dual role to Darby, pulling them apart, tearing out her heart and destroying any chance for their developing romance. But when a larger, more serious danger threatens them all, Darby knows she has to trust Sam’s instincts once more. However, she isn’t so sure she can trust him with her heart.

Title: When Clouds Gather
Category: Romance suspense

“I am so sorry about all this fuss,” Tilly Mae apologized for the twentieth time. “If I had known you were planning to leave, I would not have come. I feel just terrible.”

Darby painted on another smile before turning around, hoping the thin thread on her composure held. By the time Tilly Mae had risen from her nap, Darby’s tears were all dried. She had hoped to hide her situation from her guest but it hadn’t taken the girl long to figure it all out. At first Darby had been amazed at her intuitiveness. Now she just wanted to get away. Nerves stretched taunt, she felt torn between her duties as an innkeeper and her feelings as a woman betrayed.

“Tilly Mae, please don’t be sorry,” she repeated for the twentieth time, her smile starting to hurt her face. “You are my guest here and that’s all there is to it. Don’t worry yourself over other things.”

Darby eyed Tilly Mae, just knowing she had to be trying to read her mind, wondering at her sincerity. There could be no other thought behind her strained expression. There was no doubt her expression mirrored Tilly Mae’s. Silently, they both acknowledged knew only Sam responsible for their current situations.

Finally, mustering a real smile, Darby patted the girl’s arm. “Honey, you just worry about yourself and the little one. I’ll take care of everything else.”

“What about Sam?”

Starting to walk away, Darby stopped short, her heart involuntarily twisting at the mention of his name. “What about
him?” she asked softly, beyond the pressure constricting her.

Tilly Mae’s silence finally coaxed Darby to turn back around. The look on the girl’s face made her almost cry again. Disappointment . . . uncertainty . . . fear. It was like holding a mirror to her own face. Then, she saw something else very clearly. She would have to stay and watch out for Tilly Mae, at least until Sam finished whatever it was he planned on doing to make her life safe.

Bitterness rose within her like a smoking flame. The girl, this child, trusted Sam with all the honesty and innocence of her heart. She may feel bad about being dumped here, but she still felt it was acceptable because Sam had said so.

But he wasn’t worthy of such devotion and trust. He didn’t care about trust. He worked it to his advantage with no thought to the hearts he was going to shatter. He was a liar and worse.

Heart wringing out like an old washrag, she pushed the angry thoughts aside, wishing the pain would go with it. “I don’t know,” she finally admitted, answering the girl’s question. “He’ll be back for you when the time is right. Only he can know when that will be.”
Tilly shook her head. “No, I mean, what about you and him?”

Damn! Hot tears stung her eyes once more. Quickly, she wiped them away. She wasn’t going to cry over him anymore! Chin quivering, she searched for an answer. The truth hit her hard across the heart, slapping sharply.

“Our time will never be right.” Spinning around, she fled the room.

Other available titles:
*Whispers in her Heart
*Shimmers of Stardust
*Sizzle in the Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection (anthology)
*Chasing the Painted Skies
*Glimpse Eternity (coming early 2016)
*Upon the Tide (Coming mid-late 2016)

Now it’s my turn. What do I love about writing? Everything. I love the dreams that blossom on the paper. I love the research to expand on the details. I love meeting people that tell me interesting things or correct my French. I love the excitement of a book appearing like magic on Kindle, and the smell of new print books in the box.  Here for your pleasure is a peek at A Vampire for Christmas, Book 3 in the Vampires in New York Series.

Bio: Susan Hanniford Crowley is a Connecticut Yankee who lost her heart in San Francisco, Ireland, and Scotland. I’ve been married for 35 years and have two grown daughters, and two adorable granddaughters. I’m a webmaster for a college by day and an author by night and weekend. I love books and collect dragons and sea shells. I love Muay Thai Kickboxing. I’m also an associate editor for the prestigious Space and Time Magazine (not a romance venue), and I love going to conventions and meeting readers and discussing the various kinds of paranoramal romance.

Title: A Vampire for Christmas
Category: Vampire romance (with a few laughs)

Georgia doesn’t know she’s a Harmony. Jobless and about to be homeless, her heart sinks when a hand snatches the coat of her dreams from the storefront window. Then she sees him staring at her reflection . . . the stalker.Trevor Stenwood, a vampire and Arnhem Knight, is handsome, sophisticated, and tongue-tied every time he sees her. Sworn to protect the supernaturals of the city, he’s fallen for a woman marked for death by demons. How can he save her when she’s afraid of him?   At Christmas time in New York City, will love bloom in the snow?

When the waiter arrived with menus, Georgia was dizzy with expectation. She looked at her menu. There were no prices and it was hard to choose from so many delicious sounding meals.

“What are you having?” She leaned toward Trevor.

“I was going to start with the lobster bisque and move on to the shrimp scampi.”

“That sounds good. I’ll have the same.”

When the waiter returned, Trevor gave him the orders. He waited until the man was out of hearing range.

“Georgia, you know you could have ordered anything.”

“I know.” She gazed out the window. Snow danced over the waves. Then snowflake and wave would touch as in a kiss and the snow would be gone forever, absorbed into the water.

“May I move my seat so I can sit next to you?”

She thought about saying no, but the truth was she was ready for him to be closer. “Okay.”

He moved the chair so he was exactly next to her and they could see the same thing out the window. “It’s sad, isn’t it?”


“The snowflake is so exquisite, but its life is so short. The ocean is eternal. It loves the snowflake and when they meet. . .”

“The snowflake dies.” Georgia sighed.

“No, not at all. The snowflake changes into water and becomes immortal.”

Georgia turned to face him. They were so very close, his mouth above her lips, his eyes gazing deeply into hers. She could feel him searching for some answer. Then his lips possessed her mouth so gently, sweetly, as if to caress. Georgia felt herself melting like the snowflake touching the ocean wave. She kissed him back. Every kiss led to another. She felt his arm steady her. Her eyes were closed, as his finger brushed her cheek.

Other available titles:

When Love Survives, Book 1 of the Vampires in New York series

The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, Book 2 of the Vampires in New York series
Vampire King of New York, Book 1 of the Arnhem Knights of New York series
Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room (steampunk romance)
Poseidon’s Catch (mythology romance) – Coming soon!

Vampire in the Basement, Book 4 in the Vampires in New York Series – Coming soon!

Thank you, Ryan, and everyone for visiting us.  Happy Shopping!

Posted in A Vampire for Christmas, Max Vander Meer, Norse, paranormal, paranormal romance, Promotion, romance, romance novels, Romance suspense, Ryan Jo Summers, steampunk romance, Susan Hanniford Crowley, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, vampire books, Vampire David Hilliard, Vampire in the Basement, Vampire King of New York, Vampire King of New York In Print, Vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, vampires, Viking, What inspires you?, When Clouds Gather, Yule | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Black Friday By Stacy Hoff


If you’re spending time reading this blog post, you must not be shopping all the Black friday sales. Well neither am I, so good for us!

I am forcing myself to take today off from not only shopping, but cooking, cleaning, working my day job (lawyer), working my night job (romance writer), so I can just relax with my family.

I admit it, though—it is a little tempting to drive to the mall and dive right into all those crazy low prices. To show up at an electronics retailer and hope I’m one of the lucky few to score a 55″ TV for just $99. (And not get run over by other customers in the process.)

Perhaps it’s a good thing I have terrible luck. If I left my house, that TV would not only be scooped up by someone else, it’d be by the person right in front of me on line. I’d have better odds with Powerball (not that I win that, either). Knowing this, I can stay snuggled up with my kids, husband, and favorite (worn-out) robe without wondering what “might have been” at the mall.

Happy Black Friday, everyone! I hope your Thanksgiving was fantastic!



Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorStacyHoff

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/authorStacyHoff

Web: http://www.stacyhoff.com







AMAZON LINK FOR HOT SEDUCTION (box set contributors: Jamie K. Schmidt, Stacy Hoff, Holly Roberts, Theresa Hissong, Susan Griscom & Leia Shaw):

Hot Seduction cover


AMAZON LINK FOR SEASON OF LOVE (Box set with Stacy Hoff):

Sol cover new



Posted in A writer's life, Holiday, Holiday Posts, holiday traditions, Life, romance, Stacy Hoff | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Can-Shaped Cranberry Sauce by Heather Novak

Happy Thanksgiving, Nights of Passion readers! 

Ignore the fact that Christopher Columbus pretty much “discovered” America because he got lost and didn’t ask for directions…


As Thanksgiving is also my birthday week (woohoo! Happy birthday to me!), I’m reminded over and over again to be thankful for what I have. So, to celebrate another glorious year of eating incredibly unhealthy cake, I’ve made my top 10 list of things I’m grateful for this year, outside of my family and friends. I’m always thankful for them!

10. Soft pillow cases. No one wants a pillow case that also exfoliates, am I right?

9. Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chicks series. I have never laughed so hard through an entire book series in my life! I seriously had to put the books down because I was laughing so hard. #TeamHank

8. My writer/reader friends! I have so many amazing friends who write and read all genres. They are supportive, have exceptionally dirty senses of humor, and stop me from doing stupid things in my book…like forgetting when one of my characters is a twin…

7. Netflix. Oh Netflix, I could write an entire love letter just to you. You bring me streaming John Mulaney, Ace of Cakes, Good Eats, and period dramas whenever I want them. Heather and Netflix sitting in a tree, s-t-r-e-a-m-ing! 

6. Slippers. Oh goodness, slippers. Every year, my friend gives me slippers for my birthday. They are truly the best present ever because it’s cold as H-E-Double-hockey-sticks in Detroit! I clomp around the house feeling victorious over the cold floors.

5. Little brothers you can convince to do free labor for you when your book cover model and photographer get stranded with you in a freak snow storm…
Yeah…there’ll be a whole post on that coming soon…

4. My Prince Charming. He doesn’t bat an eye when he comes home to find me staring at hundreds of pictures of shirtless guys for promo photos. Totally marrying him, and not just because I’m obsessed with Cinderella…

3. Cake. I LOVE CAKE! ALL CAKE! GIVE ME THE CAKE! Despite the fact I have an annoying number of food allergies, I can still get a giant birthday cake. Best part? No one wants to eat it so it’s ALL MINE. MUHAHAHA.

2. Author Penny Reid and her Sharks of Awesome Fanclub. It’s like one giant book club filled with my best penpals in the entire world and run by my mentor. I mean, I would be lost without them. And Penny Reid’s books keep me warm during the cold, winter days ;)

1. Can-shaped cranberry sauce. No Thanksgiving meal is complete without cranberry sauce in the shape of a can. It’s completely disgusting and full of sugar and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I hope you all have a happy, wonderful Thanksgiving where your turkey is juicy but your family’s gossip is not. And happy birthday to my editor and friend Erika! 

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? 


Wishing You Laughter & Good Books,
Heather Novak
Bold. Bewitching. Breathtaking. 

Find me at:
Twitter: authorheathern
Facebook: authorheathernovak
Website: Heathernovak.net

Author of The Lynch Brothers Series
Be careful what you wish for…

Hunting Witch Hazel: February 2016
Threat of Raine: March 2016
Rosemary for Remembrance: April 2016











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Worth Its Weight in Gold?

As we’ve entered this holiday season, I can’t help but admire the anticipation this season creates in myself and those around me. I’m not talking about the fight in shopping malls but more of the good stuff. You know, the thoughts and acts of giving, the anticipation of Christmas eve when good Ol Saint Nick makes his way into children’s hearts. I admit it! I even love all the holiday movies flooding our channels! What I don’t love are the anticipation fails, those waits that are most definitely not worth their weight in gold.

This past weekend, my family and I went to Ice, a sculpture show at National Harbor in Washington DC. We are on vacation and thought this would be a blast. Well, it was certainly a blast of cold air but that’s about it. The sculptures were awesome, don’t get me wrong, but the lines to get in were disorganized and completely ridiculous. I truly thought fist fights would break out!

So so of course this got me thinking about writing and how even as a reader I would look forward to or anticipate books from my favorite authors. Most often than not, they wouldn’t let me down, but occasionally you would read that one book that would wreck it all. It just gave me some pause to think about how we as writers can get it right. How do we work to make sure our stories are seriously pushing that microtension or how can we really hook our readers into buying that next book? It truly is an art we are all working to perfect.

Happy writing this week!

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Making Time & Rewarding Readers by Mandy Rosko

So, with Romancing the Capital on its way, in May 2016, the time is coming for me to get my swag ready. That is, of course, if I don’t want to be stuck buying everything in one lump sum and making my bank account scream for mercy.

The edits for As Cold As Ice are due back very soon, then they’re off to the formatter. I’ve got plans to send The Arrangement off to the editor after that, and then, with Black Friday almost here (:D ) I can get my hands on the scanner and printer I want to really get things moving.

This means there will be a good number of new books at the signing for me to give away, and with the button make I splurged on last month, I’m also going to get some extra goodies in on the fun :D

Here’s a quick video of the button maker, though the quality is garbage because I filmed this on my iPad. Hopefully the camera lens I want is going to be one of the things that go on sale for Black Friday. You can see that’s the RTC logo, and my logo on some of those buttons. Making up some designs of my own for them later :D

I’ve got a couple of other things in the works, still the early stages, but I’m getting stupidly excited, and still nervous since I’m cutting it so close with those edits :S

Anyway, cheers! Lots of stuff to do tomorrow :)

~Mandy Rosko

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A Thanksgiving Paranormal-Scope

Many cultures around the world have harvest festivals. In the United

While I am not qualified in any way to read neither stars nor planets, I am intimately linked to the paranormal in the world in many ways. So are you.

The paranormal-scope is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to guide your life by.

The week for:

Have the strength not to fall in with the crowd and their insecurities and grumblings. Feast on the good things coming your way and remember to be thankful.

Your creativity will soar. Practice gratitude for this deeper understanding of yourself.

Turkeys can only fly a short distance. Before making any business decisions, make sure the company involved can go the distance.

Opportunities are bountiful. Remember to be yourself, modest and thankful.

An exciting person is about to come into your life. Are you will to take a risk? Don’t gobble around and lose your chance.

Are you too picky in choosing friends and forming relationships? No one is perfect not even a turkey.

Don’t jump to conclusions. Wait until you have all the facts. Overreacting is a turkey move. Don’t do it.

Seek privacy and guard your secrets from turkeys that gossip.

You can’t change two turkeys running in opposite directions. It’s time to choose your direction in life and make a commitment.

Someone from your past will make your grateful for your blessings.

Turkeys are running down the street. To be successful in catching your prize you will have to work smarter. Review your methods.

Good news comes your way. Ignore that fact the messenger is a turkey.

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
Vampire King of New York available at Amazon Kindle and print, Barnes and Noble Nook and print and in Kobo
A Vampire for Christmas in Kindle

Posted in A Vampire for Christmas, Max Vander Meer, Norse, paranormal, paranormal romance, romance, romance novels, Susan Hanniford Crowley, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, vampire books, Vampire David Hilliard, Vampire King of New York, Vampire King of New York In Print, Vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, vampires, Viking, Weekly Paranormal-Scope, Yule | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment