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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cover Design Class, October 2015

Last month I had the opportunity to teach a class about creating eye-catching book covers for the Northwest Writers Retreat (ANWA,
It was a great experience for me to share some tips that I have learned and to help authors who are self publishing to create book covers that will bring readers in!!
I would like to share a few points from my class so that anyone can learn what works (and what doesn't) for their own book covers.

Tip One: EVERYONE judges a book by it's cover. It just happens. Some covers will catch your eye and draw you in, others you will simply look over because it didn't appeal to your taste. Make sure that you always set a MOOD for you cover. The cover needs to reflect the mood of your book. If it's a romance, choose colors associates with romance- deep, lush colors such as purple, red, even deep greens or blues can work. If you write paranormal then keep the colors dark with stark breaks between colors.
Here is an example of "mood" from an anthology by Xchyler Publishing (
When you look at this cover, you get a good feel by the mood it sets. There are dark colors, with shocking red as contrast. Fonts and images are what make the rest of the mood work. So choose fonts and images that match the color mood you're creating. The distressed title font and the creepy eye in the center gives an overall "feel" for what type of book this is, right?

Tip Two: Give a glimpse into the the story (without giving everything else away). Follow the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW formula. Here is a good example of this:

As you look at this cover, what do you know? Who? A girl, probably a teenager (YA). What? The trees are on fire, so fire in definitely involved! When? It's dark outside, so possibly night time. Where? Looks like it takes place in the forest. Why and How? That's why you read the book! By giving some indication about the story, a reader can determine if it's the type of book for them.

Tip Three: Lets go over titles and images. There are rules to follow to ensure your book cover is successful. First, know your genre. If you write romances, use fonts that are soft and handwritten. If you write non-fiction, use clear, bold fonts and if you write thriller/paranormal, use distressing fonts. Make sure to look at other covers in the same genre. See what tops sellers covers look like. BUT remember, the title of the book should be the largest font. The author name should never over power the title. I know it's AMAZING to see your name up there, but make sure (until you're famous) to keep the author name simple and smaller than the title. Second, images are important. Having a focal point is vital to a good book cover. Most romance novels use couples or a woman on the cover- and will let you know if it's a period piece of not by the way they are dressed. Non-fiction keeps the imagery simple, not to overpower the title, and fantasy books are fun when showing images of another world. Again, check out what other authors are doing. Never copy! But use them as ideas for your own cover, so you know it'll fit in the correct genre. As a side note- be aware of copyright laws. Never used an unauthorized image for your cover. There are many good websites out there that you can pay for the right image.

 Tip Four: Feedback. Yes, it is important to get feedback. But be careful that you aren't just asking close friends and family. They will try to be kind and tell you anything looks great. You need neutral eyes that will be kind but honest. But also remember that if you post it on social media, asking for an opinion, you will get a lot of feedback that can be overwhelming and discouraging. Be selective about who you share the cover with and when you have finished it, post it with pride! Best not to post the final version and then ask "what do you think?" because people will take that opportunity.
Here's a summary of what we've learned today: Mood matters, give a glimpse of your story, titles and fonts make all the difference, and get feedback but not too much! Here is an example how the mood can make all the difference:

Both use the same title but you can see that the colors, fonts, and images make them totally different.

Now that I've briefly gone over the basics, remember that whether you design it yourself or use a professional, this is your book cover. Make sure to have a clear vision of what you want and go for it!

If you are interested in learning more about cover designs, comment below or email me at I am a graphic design coordinator for Xchyler Publishing ( and a freelance graphic designer.

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 is Making Me OLD!!

As I think about this year, 2015 marks many changes in my life. I feel a theme coming on: "2015, the year I officially become OLD."
One of the biggest changes happened for me already. My oldest child, Kaydin, turned eighteen! I keep thinking back and wondering how eighteen years went by so quickly? It seems like yesterday that he was learning how to walk.
Kaydin has always been a happy, bubbly kid; surrounded by friends. He has beautiful auburn hair that match his deep auburn eyes. From the time he was a toddler, women have been asking me if we dyed his hair.
My little Red Head
His father and I separated before he was born, so I was a single mom for the first four years of his life. Kaydin and I were a team; buddies that did everything together. He is the one that kept me going when I wanted to give up. He saved me on so many levels! To this day we still cuddle and watch movies together. He doesn't seem embarrassed to be seen with me in public, so that's a huge plus!
But now he is an "Adult" by law and I feel like he doesn't need me anymore. I think that's what I struggle with the most. I used to have to write his notes to excuse him from school or take him to appointments. He relied on me to get him through life. It's a strange feeling to be suddenly unneeded. I know, I know, he still needs me. I'll always be his mother, but it won't ever be the same.
The other part of it that I struggle with is Kaydin's father. He passed away when Kaydin was nine. It was a sudden loss, which affected us both. For nine years I've had to make decisions for Kaydin, hoping they were right. Don't get me wrong, my husband is a wonderful support to Kaydin and loves him every bit as much as our other kids; so we parent Kaydin together. But as far as Kaydin's biological parents, I've had to go solo. Would Aladin (yes, that is his real name) be proud of the way I raised Kaydin? I think Kaydin is an amazing young man and I hope his father (watching from afar) believes so too. 
Kaydin and his Dad
This year marks my 20th High School Reunion!! How strange to think I've been out of school for 20 years! It is also the year my son graduates from High School! Wow, the OLD-ness just keeps adding up! 
I plan to attend my reunion in Utah and see old friends and catch up with those I've lost contact with. Because of social media, I've been able to stay in touch with quite a few Miners from the class of 1995, but it will be a bit surreal to see everyone face to face. I know I've changed a lot over the last twenty! Lets just say that High School was an awkward time of life for me!! 
 When I think about the changes happening this year, I also need show a bit of gratitude that I can celebrate these changes. Kaydin is a healthy young man with a bright future ahead of him. He has plans and ideas and I know that he can do whatever he wants if he puts his mind to it.
Turning (cough, cough) 38 isn't the worst thing in the world. I can enjoy a couple more years in my thirties before I officially become old (aka Over the Hill). And I will party like it's 1995 this summer with my fellow classmates and talk about the good times and laugh hard at how we've all changed or stayed the same.
I can't stop time. I can't keep my kids from growing and learning and I can't hold on to them forever either. That's God's plan. Each of us have to learn and grow and make our own choices. I hope that Kaydin will always know that I have his back and and will love him forever.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I was asked to write a guest post for Quantum Fairy Tales. I'm so excited to share my post and hope you will enjoy reading about my NaNoWriMo experience! I would like to thank Emma Nelson for asking me to write the article and thank Quantum Fairy Tales for their awesomeness!! 

It's time to say Goodbye!

I have been thinking a lot about the year 2014 over the last few days. I'm frankly surprised at how quickly the year flew by – which is a blessing in itself! 
Truthfully, I’m not sorry to see this year end. There have been some event this year that I’m happy to put to rest and forget. It can get easy to focus on the negative things that have happened. To become a victim to your own circumstances, but I’m going to do my best to get back up, brush off the dirt, and move forward! (That was my cheesy motivational cheer!)
I do want to focus on some of the most wonderful highlights of the year! After all, if you can’t find anything to celebrate, you’re truly in a bad state of affairs.
In the spring I was able to go with my Author friend, Jennifer Shaw Wolf and go on a book tour to St. Anthony, Idaho. We had a fabulous time and met some great students. But the best part for me was being able to find my ancestors at a nearby cemetery. My great-grandmother, Fanny Francis Fawson Hunter has become one of my greatest examples. The more I learn about her, the more I love her! I was able to find her! I found her grave site and was able to pay my respects. It was such a neat experience.
  This summer was crazy busy! Crazy with all the events happening right around the same time! Summer camps, Family reunions, and ending with a trip to see more family. Whew! The time went quickly but the memories that were made are priceless! I have always felt that time with family is never a waste. I love being around my nieces and nephews and find joy in watching my children play with cousins. That’s what it’s all about for me – building relationships to last forever!

Although we ended the year on a sour note with Wade’s career, I do have to express my gratitude for the job he had throughout the year. He worked with some amazing people – people who fought for him, even when corporate had “cut backs” and Wade was on the chopping block. This group of people immediately went to work sending job notices and well wishes and have been wonderful through this process. And we are going to be okay. There’s no point in freaking out or being angry. My emotional tantrum wouldn't have changed the outcome of corporate decision. We just started over.
It’s hard to believe that I have a senior in the house! I am not old enough to have an adult child! How did this happen? As I have watched Kaydin grow and mature, it has been an honor to be his mother. He still has to finish out the school year but then he is on to bigger things! This year has been constant reminders from him, saying things like “This is the last time I’ll…” Christmas was especially hard. I kept thinking that this time next year, he won’t be here to share in the joy of the season. He will be off serving a mission for our church.
As far as my career goals, I've had some fun advancements happen! My second short story, Faelad, was published in another Xchyler Publishing anthology. It was a lot of fun to write this story! It is based in Ireland and I got to tell tales of places that I've actually been to. It was a great experience!

I also joined the staff at Xchyler Publishing and came on as a Graphic Design Coordinator. I get to create cool ads and other media for the company and I have learned so much and enjoy it thoroughly!  I get to work with some fun people and we have a great time!
After reading this it looks like the year was anything but successful – and you’re right! It was a great big, fun-filled, exciting year. The negative things going on are minute compared to the wonderful blessings of family and friends! So even though I was ready to kiss this year goodbye, I will consider it a good one.
I hope you too can reflect on the many positive things that have happened in your life and will take note of the things that bring you joy!

Happy New Year! 2014 is “Done an Dusted!”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's a Tough Year, Already!

Well, even though 2014 has just begun, I have to say that so far, I am not a fan! I ended the year on rather a high-note. In November I was able to attend the Northwest Writer's Retreat hosted by ANWA. I have been there two other times and love it each time. It's a chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones. There is always a key note speaker and this year it was Angela Morrison, author of "Taken By Storm," and "Sing Me To Sleep." She was wonderful and taught me some wonderful ideas and gave me the lift I needed to get going with my writing again. The other highlight was being able to teach a break out session class. I taught about writing short stories and the class was well attended. it was fun to share about the things I learned while getting my own short story published.
Angela Morrison
In December I was able to attend my friend, and fellow author, Michelle Wilson's book signing for "Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat." This event was also a boost as she challenged me to sign up for an upcoming conference and to include a pitch session. Whew! I was on cloud nine and ready to conquer the world.
So then 2014 comes along. I was sure this was going to be my year. But instead it seemed like I was being stopped at every angle. i learned that my publishing company was hosting another anthology contest. This one was a mystery, themed "Liar, Liar." I instantly had a story and began feverishly writing to get it done and submitted in time. I wanted to have another story published as I also worked on my manuscript. This would keep the "juices flowing," as they say.
Half way through my writing I learned that the contest had been cancelled as they were focusing on other projects for the year. I was actually sad about it. I thought this story would be perfect and loved the way it was unfolding. I guess I could try to stretch it out and make it into a full manuscript but that is what I'm working on with "Abandoned Grace." (see previous post for more details)
The conference I was planning to sign up for (LDStorymakers) had Orson Scott Card as the key note speaker. How exciting to hear that he was going to be speaking! Well, I waited too long and learned that a special session had been sold out- DOH! Most of the pitch sessions had also been sold out so now I had to make a mad dash to register, only to find out that I couldn't get a membership discount UNTIL my membership actually went through! Aaahh! I feel like I'm in limbo and it's only January 15th.
NW Writer's Retreat in Anacortes, WA
I guess I can learn some valuable lessons through all of this. One, I need to be more punctual when it comes to signing up for conferences I want to attend and two, I need to roll with the punches. If a short story contest gets cut, don't take it as a sign that you are a terrible writer and have no talent. Look at it as another challenge and push to work on the story that I'm most passionate about (Abandoned Grace).
I'm going to try to reboot my brain, put my trust in my talents and abilities, and focus on what makes me the happiest!
I recently attended an meeting for SCBWI and it was mentioned that when you are writing, to just write straight through, no editing, and then set it aside for a few weeks. I think that is a great idea! It will be hard for me, constantly editing as I write, but it might be just what I need to get it done.
Even though 2014 hasn't started out on the firmest ground, I'm determined to make it the best writing year yet!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Say It With Me: NAN-O-WRI-MO!!

For the last two years I have attempted the NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month, contest. Let me explain what that means, exactly. You create your account/login and input the information about your story. You can choose "Writing Buddies" to share the journey with too. (Usually you pick people you know) Then the madness begins November 1st. For the whole month of November, you do nothing but write. You don't edit, you don't re-read- you WRITE! The goal is to complete an entire novel, start to finish, in one month!

I must admit, when I first signed up (two years ago) to participate, I thought, "This will be so easy!" Boy was I wrong! The first NANO, kicked my rear! I found that even when you have good intentions to write, life keeps you busy! I felt that events around me all conspired to keep from the computer! With a husband, children, school & church responsibilities, I couldn't find the time! Needless to say, I failed, miserably!
So when the second year rolled around I again sounded my battle cry, "I will complete the NANOWRIMO!" And, although I came closer, I failed again. The reason for this failure was two-fold. I, once again, found it hard to find time to write, AND I didn't have my story solidified. I was flying by the seat of my pants (which, for me, is not my favorite thing). I started drifting off in a direction I didn't like and ultimately abandoned ship!
So what will keep me from a third doomed attempt, you may wonder? In truth, I don't know. But I will say that this time I'm even more prepared. I have a solid story line, outlined and all. The characters are alive in my head- conversations and scenes always taking place. I have a better schedule to keep me on track and I have announced to everyone (my Facebook family and friends) that I am doing it! This all gives me the adequate push to keep going!
Another positive: I will be attending a Writer's Retreat November 7-9th ( I will be a class presenter as well. Starting the month off engulfed in writing will help me get focused and hopefully stay that way throughout the month.
I think it is wonderful that there are organization, programs, and contests out there like NANOWRIMO, that keep writers going! The field is saturated with Authors of all sorts and it can be intimidating to jump into the fray. However, when we are given the talent to write, we should share that gift with others!
My new story, Abandoned Grace, has been a wonderful experience putting together. It started out as another, completely different (genre and all) story line. But when I began to learn the history of a small town, north of where I live, it fascinated me! Technically, it would be considered Historical Fiction, but it is also a scary thriller about a sociopath! So I am currently going to deem it a Thriller.

I will post throughout the month about my journey- as well as posts on Facebook. I truly hope I can finish this time and feel the joy of completing such a large feat!
I also plan to submit my story to Xchyler Publishing when I am finished. They are currently accepting open submissions through the end of the year! How exciting to be able to submit to the publishing company who already published my work! I hope to end the year on a high note- already completing my goal for 2013 (to get published). I look forward to the chaotic, taxing, wonderful, month of November!

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Bookmarks Have Arrived!!

I came home to a wonderful surprise today. A box was waiting on my chair in the office when I got home from camping for the week. I quickly tore into the box to find my bookmarks! I cheered, laughed, and cried.
As I get another step closer to my release party (August 3rd) and book launch party (Sept. 17th), the reality of my dream coming true becomes more real. I am a published author! Almost as soon as I say the words, I quickly diminish the accomplishment by saying to myself, "It's only a short story" (which my husband hates that I do). Yes, it's only a short story; grouped together in a book of other short stories but it's still a big deal! My writing was liked well enough to be published, I won't diminish that!
Next weekend is my Facebook book launch. It's exciting to share my book with everyone. I look forward to being part of all the fun games and activities and giving out my own prizes. I found nail polish called Silver STUNNER- perfect for my story. I found a manicure set and small backpack to put it all together in. I'm excited to give that prize away. I also have bookmarks, posters, and a really cool ring to give away too. Let the games begin!
Join me on Facebook from 11 am to 2 pm PST. Follow my adventures on Twitter: @SHHyatt and "Like" my Author page on Facebook: Author Sarah Hunter Hyatt.
The support I have received from family, friends, and complete strangers has been amazing! So thankful for amazing people in my life!