Guest Post: Why Covers are so Important + Giveaway

Hello guys. Please welcome A.L. Jackson on the blog today, author of Pulled! I just reviewed Pulled and I loved it. Don’t want to gush or rant here since A.L. deserves all the spotlight! 🙂 Without further ado –

Hey All! I’m A. L. Jackson, author of Pulled and Take This Regret. I just wanted to thank Insomnia of Books for allowing me to share with all of you today, and on such a cool topic, Why Book Covers are so Important.

So let’s be honest…how many of you have purchased a book based on the cover alone? I have! Most of us are very visual creatures, our attention caught by the beautiful, the unique, and at times, the incredibly strange. We’re drawn to color and style, sharp lines, and bold words.

But what does that mean for covers? They say you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention on the internet, and when 80% of books today are sold on Amazon and with the massive number of titles that are listed there, it’s now more important than ever for covers to catch a potential reader’s eye.

There are a few key elements every book cover should have. The first and foremost is it should be pleasing to the eye—something that makes someone browsing titles stop and think, Wow, that’s an amazing cover. This is the point where your cover has done its job in making someone take a closer look at the book itself. The cover should also tell the potential reader something about the story inside, the design consistent with the genre of the book, although it should be unique enough that it stands out from the crowd. It should also give the reader a hint at the amazing story they will find inside.

Covers are so important because it’s the first thing someone sees—the main thing that will tell a potential reader to move or to take a closer look.

So what is it about a cover that draws your attention?


It’s that time again you guys. Same as before, all you have to do is fill out the form in TSBs Facebook Page and that’s it! Good luck to everyone who enters and who ever wins, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Toodles!

Guest Post: What’s On Your Writing Playlist

Spotify is my best friend when it comes to finding music to write by. This wonderful service lets me find music I like and points me toward music I might like. It lets me create playlists and find playlists from others. Why is all this important? Because I need music to help me block out the real world so I can tell my tales.

I have three playlists on Spotify right now that I use for writing. The first is the oldest and likely one of the strangest playlists I’ve ever created. The playlist is called (with tongue firmly in cheek) “Twilight’s Redemption.” The music comes from, or is inspired by the Twilight films. It begins with “The Lion Fell In Love With the Lamb” and meanders through the instrumentals from the films and instrumental versions of the soundtrack songs. This soundtrack works especially well for the Highland Home books and romances as it is light and romantic.

The second is the soundtrack from “Practical Magic.” I love the songs on this soundtrack as they are both angsty and romantic, themes I often use in my writing. Also, I adore Stevie Nicks and the instrumental backgrounds of the songs.

The third playlist is the newest and is definitely for the darker writing I have been working on lately. This playlist is the score from The Dark Knight Rises. Hans Zimmer is an amazing composer and the music from this epic film is deep and resonates with the darkness I think every writer has buried within him or herself.

If you find music to be in integral part of your writing process, as I do, you might want to check out Spotify. Maybe if enough writers get together on the service, we can start a “writing playlist” group!

Read by review of Nine Lives

EXCERPT of NINE LIVES (Highland Home #5 series)

“Oh my God,” Mairin exclaimed. “I look like a frosted cupcake.”

I poked my head around the doorway of my sister’s bedroom and burst out laughing. My normally tom-boyish sister looked like someone had airbrushed a Vogue model over her. I could still see Mairin under the makeup, hair and the far too flouncy sparkling white gown, but I had to squint.

“Don’t laugh at me, brat,” she said. “How did you let me let Mom talk me into this?”

I held up my hands. “Hey, don’t blame me for this one, sis. This is all you. You let Mom go to the bridal shop with you and Mathias’ credit card. You knew she was going to pick something like this.”

Truthfully, the gown was gorgeous. It had an empire waist and a very short train, but it also had so much lace and so many sparkles, I was surprised my sister wasn’t currently shredding the gown in an effort to get it off.

“Dammit, dammit, dammit. I cannot do this,” she said. “Nope. I won’t. I should have insisted on the stupid town hall and the stupid civil union, but no, I let Mom and Mathias bully me into this.” She waved at herself.

“Mairin,” my mother said, slipping past me into my sister’s room. “You look so beautiful. I knew that dress would be gorgeous on you once the alterations were finished.”

I smiled at my sister over our mother’s shoulder and bolted for my room. The glare which followed my retreat nearly burned. Mairin would complain, but I knew she’d never have taken anything away from our mother. Especially not something as important as a big wedding with all the trimmings.

Of course, her willingness to be on display for the town in a gown that was anything but her own choice was really my sister in a nutshell. No matter what it did to her, if it meant one of us was happier, Mairin would do it. Take my bridesmaid dress. The wedding planner Mathias hired to help Mairin keep her sanity had freaked out when Mairin showed her the dress, but my sister had insisted that the pale colors the wedding planner wanted would look awful on me. So instead of joining the frosted cupcake brigade, I was wearing the deep, forest green, knee-length dress my sister had chosen for me. She could have picked some hideous, flowing monstrosity so I wouldn’t overshadow her, but had instead picked the dress she knew I’d like.

I was pulling the dress over my head when the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” Tawnya called from downstairs. I knew she’d been ready for us to leave for the wedding for at least half an hour, but after the tenuous truce she and Mairin had finally formed after their estrangement last winter, Tawnya was keeping her opinions to herself. I, on the other hand, wasn’t. If they weren’t ready by the time I got my shoes on, I’d shove Mairin down the stairs.

“Hey Tawnya. The other camp is getting anxious and sent me to see what was keeping the bride.” Xavier’s voice drifted up the stairs to me and I smiled. In spite of some pretty big disagreements they’d had in the past, Mathias had asked Xavier to be his best man. Xavier, always looking for ways to improve the political climate of the supernatural community, and because both Mairin and I had begged him, had accepted. It hadn’t been until the tuxedo fitting that he’d truly begun to regret saying yes. The complaints over the fittings had been epic and amusing as hell.

I slipped on my sandals and ran back to Mairin’s room. “The natives are getting restless. We have to go.”

“I heard him,” Mairin said. “Mom, go get in the car with Tawnya. Kerry can help me down the stairs in this monstrosity…um, dress.”

Mom kissed us both before heading down to meet up with Tawnya. I could see her eyes were already beginning to shine with tears and knew that before the end of the ceremony, our mother would be a blubbering mess.

“She’s going to cry all day, isn’t she?” Mairin said.

“Probably. You’re her baby and you’re getting married.”

“Yeah, wait until it’s your turn, brat.” Mairin clasped a thin gold chain around her neck and sighed. “That’s it. No more delays.”

“Don’t you want to marry Mathias?” I asked.

“Sure I do,” she said. “But for all intents and purposes, I’m nineteen. Girls don’t get married this young unless they have to. You know most of the town is going to be watching me to see if I’m pregnant.”

“That’s why you and Mathias are going on a long honeymoon. So you don’t have to worry about being watched.” I held Mairin’s arm as we carefully navigated the stairs. “Besides, admit it. You’re dying to see all the snooty jerks jockeying for position to catch your bouquet.”

Mairin laughed. “I’ll aim for you, if you want me to.”

Xavier looked up at me from the foot of the stairs. I knew he’d heard Mairin and my heart thundered in my chest. He’d already asked me to marry him more than once and I’d told him no. Not no forever, but no for right then. Looking at him in his tuxedo, the tiny, shy smile I loved best lifting just the corners of him mouth, I realized while I still might not want to get married tomorrow, I was ready to say yes to him.

“I’ll take my chances,” I said. “But I’ll make sure I’m right up front.”

Guest Post: What’s the hardest thing about character development?


Today, The Solitary Bookworm presents J.K Hogan author of Fire in The Island. Please give her a warm welcome! 🙂

What’s the hardest thing about character development?

Character development is a slippery slope, and I think every author approaches it differently. Probably the hardest part for me is making sure I do my characters justice for the reader. Creating them is easy, I’ve been doing that since I was a child. They just pop into my head and live out their lives— sometimes they talk to me, sometimes I to them. I think writing is the only profession in which that last statement doesn’t make me schizophrenic. But it’s true! With my characters, I know every nuance of their personality before I ever strike a key.

Therein lies the hard part—striking the keys and making sure the reader is going to see what I see when they read about my characters. I’ve got to get Jeremiah to come across as a goofy yet sexy, somewhat nerdy hero—an adventurer with a hidden need for love and family. I need to show the reader that Isla is fiercely independent and afraid to trust anyone, yet deep down she’s so lonely.

Marduk, while a secondary character, was a particularly hard nut to crack. His personality is often a contradiction of itself—as he goes from ancient magical being to just a kid who likes movies, and back again. It’s hard to create that kind of duality and have it read as intentional.

All of the tiny nuances that give a character his essence can be difficult to communicate, especially trying to do so without your own thoughts and feelings coming through. I feel that if I can get all of my characters’ traits across in a way that makes the reader identify with and root for them, then I’ve done my job as a writer. They’re like family to me and I want my readers to love them as much as I do. You can read more about Jeremiah, Isla, Marduk, and all of their friends in Fire on the Island.

Guest Post: On Ideas in the Aether by Charlotte Henley Babbs

Today on The Solitary Bookworm we have Charlotte Henley Babbs. Charlotte Henley Babbs is the author of Maven Fairy Godmother: Through The Veil and Maven’s Fractured Fairy Tales. Just finished reading and reviewing Maven Fairy Godmother: Through The Veil which you can read by clicking the link. 🙂 Without further delay,
On Ideas in the Aether

When a writer gets an idea, it’s best to just hammer it out and get it written. If an idea is left floating around in the aether, it will be found by someone else and put into solid form, which can be copyrighted. If your story is close to something already published, it may be that you didn’t write it down soon enough.

Many beginning writers fear that someone will steal their ideas. Ideas can’t be stolen. They are a dime a dozen. If you don’t think so, look at the movies available on Neflix—every one was someone’s idea first, and there are enough variations on any theme you can think of to make a sub-genre. There are no new ideas, only new expressions and twists.

The only thing that can be stolen is the solid form—the writing, the recording, the drawing, the video. Sometimes Nobel Prizes are awarded to two independent researchers who come up with the same answers. If it isn’t in solid form, it’s fair game. Although it isn’t in solid form, if you are thinking about it, it’s in the aether.

The Collective Unconscious exists, which explains how we got two different Snow White movies released within a month of each other. That idea was floating around, just ripening up, and two different directors grabbed it and ran with it. Each one had a different take, and each movie has a different slant on this old story.

If you give the same writing prompt to ten people, even in a beginning writing class, you wil get ten different stories.

One reason it’s so important for a writer to read voraciously in and out of the chosen genre is to know what has already been done. There are only about four ways a time-travel story can work, for example. Now what you do with those tropes can be creative and original, or it’s a rehash–think Star Trek (TOS) plots from season three.

One website that can be helpful is, which lists in incredible detail all sorts of themes, characters, and situations with examples from movies, books, games, and even real life. It’s a deep rabbit hole, but if you want to know what’s been done, they know, and it’s fun to read. Set a timer and tie a hank of yarn to your monitor, just in case.

It is disconcerting, however, to meet a character someone else’s web comic with the same name as one I started writing some 15 years ago. His character and mine are similar, although the stories are not, and the name came from the same general idea. But I let that character float around in my head—and by definition, in the Collective Unconscious—for too many years, long enough that someone else to think of it too.

There are enough differences in the story and details that I’m not in danger of copyright violation, but I will have to be careful how I write from now on, because I know the other character exists. I really wish I’d written more and gotten published sooner.

Today’s lesson, kiddos, is if you have an idea, write it down today. Work it up, before it latches on to someone else’s muse.

How Long Did it Take You to Write That Book? by Cynthia Ellingsen

We have a guest today at The Solitary Bookworm, let’s all welcome author Cynthia Ellingsen. Cynthia Ellingsen is the author of The Whole Package and currently on tour with CBLS Promotions. Watch out tomorrow for another guest post over at A Chick Who Reads. So without further ado, let’s welcome Cynthia! 🙂

How Long Did it Take You to Write That Book?

Hi, The Solitary Bookworm! Thanks so much for letting me chat with your readers about my debut novel, “The Whole Package”, published by Penguin-Berkley.

Since the book has come out, I’ve noticed that a lot of readers have one big, burning question: How long did it take you to write your book?

When people first started asking me this question, I would rattle off, “Oh, about six months or so,” and think that I’d actually answered the question. But I forgot to mention that it then took about a year to edit, then some time to find an agent and then a publisher…

As time went on and I started talking to more and more readers, I realized that this question was coming up again and again. My answer became more thorough each time but in the back of my head, I was wondering why the question was just as popular as, “Where do you get your ideas?”

So, I started to think about why people might be interested in the length of time it took to write a book. I thought about it and thought about it but couldn’t come up with a good answer. Finally, I just decided to ask the next person that asked me.

It happened to be a blond woman at a women’s luncheon, decked out in bright pink lipstick and perfectly coiffed, Southern hair. When she asked, “Dear, how long did it take you to write your book?” I said, “Oh, about six months then a year or so for edits… but I’m so curious, why do you ask?”

Well, this sweet lady blushed the color of her lipstick! After shifting in her seat and fiddling with the white leather strap of her purse, she finally mumbled, “I was thinking about writing something.”

A ha! I was so happy to finally understand. Maybe this question was so popular because many readers are potential writers. How long does writing a book take? One year? Five? Thirty? What was the real time investment?

I told the lady in the audience to stop blushing and start writing. To sit down with a pen and paper instead of a timer and to get that story on the page, instead of worrying about how long it would take or whether it would be perfect. And I second that motion for any fledging writers out there eager to get started.

If you are wondering, “How long did it take you to write a book?” because you want to write, here’s my advice: Go for it! Sitting down with a pen and paper (or your computer and a cup of coffee) is the first step. Whether it turns into a career or a hobby, writing comes with many rewards.

So, here’s my question: If you secretly want to write, what are you waiting for?

Thank you Cynthia! And now, here’s the details of Cynthia’s The Whole Package –

“The friendship between the women is realistic, the characters funny, and the premise well-executed. Readers will
giggle and grin from start to finish, and will surely be eager for Ellingsen’s next novel.”–

“The Whole Package is a delightfully frivolous romp. An excellent beach read, this light but enjoyable fare will
have you chuckling (and likely blushing!) throughout…”–RT Reviews

Title: The Whole Package
Author: Cynthia Ellingsen
Publisher: Penguin/Berkley
Length: 409 pages
Genres: Contemporary Women’s Fiction (Comedy)
Buy Links:
Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | B&N (Nook) | B&N (Paperback) | Penguin (eBook) | Penguin (Paperback)

Life has thrown childhood friends Jackie, Cheryl, and Doris a few curveballs. Widowed and broke, Jackie returns home after an extravagant life in Paris, Doris is reliant on anti-depressants, and Cheryl’s plans for a corporate take-over are replaced with walking papers. But after a drunken night sampling the delights at strip club for women, the ladies stumble upon a genius idea and decide to open up The Whole Package—the world’s first restaurant staffed exclusively by very attractive men. Armed with Jackie’s connections, Doris’ ambition, and Cheryl’s business sense the ladies set out to make their mark in the world.


French is a sexy language. Except, of course, if you are standing in line at a French café and the French you hear is a nasal, drawn out, “Fat American.“ Unnecessary, especially if you are simply trying to buy a chocolate croissant to dip into the first cappuccino of the day.

Jackie – and yes, it was Jackie and not Jacqueline even though she was closing in on forty instead of the throat of the snickering girl behind her – whirled around.

“Did you just call me fat?”

A French girl stared back at her. The girl had the audacity to cock her head. A yes.

Jackie was stunned. Okay, fine – and a little hurt. Such a judgment was the last thing she expected in this cheerful neighborhood cafe with its brightly painted walls, kitschy produce art and erratically placed wildflowers. Even the French sayings on the wall, written in such careful, scrolling script were meant to inspire good cheer, not snappy little insults.

“Well, I am not fat!” Jackie said. And this was not in French, because after two years in the country she spoke French perfectly and proving it was no longer important. “I am sexy.”

A mustached host had been writing out specials on a blackboard with squeaking chalk. At this, he paused and took a look. Jackie ran her palms over her curvy hips and considered giving a slight shimmy. The man gave a nod in agreement and went back to the specials.

The French girl sniffed. She was dressed all in black, a total cliché. She was holding a sniveling, trendy dog. Its shaky face was framed by a bejeweled collar and its droopy eyes stared, along with everyone else in the cinnamon scented café.

“Perhaps you should order something to eat,” Jackie said, pointedly eyeing the girl’s bony frame . “You’re probably just suffering from low blood sugar.”

Jackie’s jaw dropped. Drawing herself up to her full height of 5’3” (5’6” with her three inch pumps), Jackie said, “If you want to live off of cigarettes and red wine and ignore the delicacies your country has to offer, you go right ahead. But I would rather get chased out of Le Bon Marche by a firing squad than strut around in a body that looks like it was stolen from an eight-year-old boy.”

The French girl gasped.

“I am going to embrace my sensuality,” Jackie said. “I am going to improve upon it. And,” she stood a bit taller, “it is gonna happen with a chocolate croissant.”


Official Website | Twitter | Facebook

Cynthia Ellingsen is a fiction writer and screenwriter. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband.

TOP 5 Literary Fiction Books I Would Read by Hillary E. Peak

The Solitary Bookworm is proud to have Hillary E. Peak today for a guest post. Hillary E. Peak is the author behind Wings of Hope (which I totally loved and reviewed). If you haven’t read the book yet read the blurb included in my review, who knows maybe you’ll love it as much as I do! 🙂

TOP 5 Literary Fiction Books I Would Read

1. Bel Canto: This story has stayed with me for years. The characters were so well drawn, I’ve never truly been rid of them. The pain ripped me apart when I read this novel. If you haven’t read it–it is a must for anyone who wants that feeling of being desperate to get home to get back to your book.

2. Water for Elephants: I loved this novel because I found it so interesting. It is written from a male perspective, which I was intrigued with. The story is told by the same character at different points in his life. Also, I love animals, which made this story bittersweet for me.

3. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society: This tale is told through letters, which is extremely hard to do and make it interesting. But the authors here not only tell a spectacular story, I learned all about a new place–Guernsey, as well as historical facts about the island being occupied by the Germans during WWII. This book made me long to go for a visit.

4. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: Even now, thinking about this book, makes my stomach a little sick. The descriptions of foot binding are so power, the pain is acute and the stress very real. I knew nothing about this practice, how or why it was done. Additionally, I learned all sorts of things about Chinese culture and the power of friendship.

5. The Thirteenth Tale: Although this is a slightly different genre, it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The reveal is the most shocking I’ve ever read. I loved the way this book spun multiple stories, making you uncertain of what was real and what was fake. It was complex, fascinating and highly enjoyable.

** This post is in part of my blog stop for Wings of Hope by Enchanted Book Promotions