Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Making of a Book Cover: The Girl with Two Hearts

I'm so excited that I decided to be a part of Swoon Reads and make a mock book cover for my most recent manuscript, The Girl with Two Hearts. Obviously the final published cover will probably not look anything like all my mock covers, but I wanted to share some of the ones I came up with before I decided on the final one.

I first started out with a Pinterest board of the feel for my book, which is a young adult contemporary romance about a girl with a heterotrophic heart transplant (an extra heart grafted to her weak one) who wants nothing more than to get a standing ovation before her two hearts give out. The story is set in Seattle, the main characters meet doing tai chi together, and the boy helps the girl conquer her fear of singing on stage to help her win a singing competition.


After I scoured the internet for images that had the feel I wanted, then I just started playing around. This was the first round of covers I came up with:


I had some friends and my writing group vote. Many liked #2 and #11. But then everyone else had a different one they liked. Since several liked the idea of the photo in #8, and I still wanted to give the photo a hint of Seattle and also that the story has romantic elements, I decided I wanted a couple on the front cover, even though I wanted to focus on the fact that all Grace wants is to sing. This made me come up with some other ideas and this was what I came up with next:


With this round of covers, I got the most votes on #5 and #17. I loved so many aspects of that one (Seattle, couple, I added the guitar). I personally liked #5, #16, and #12 the best. In the end, I decided that I needed to keep the couple, and the font was easier to read on #17, so it's the one I'm going with for now:


What do you think? Which cover was your favorite?

If you'd like to beta read the manuscript on Swoon Reads, you can read it here for a limited time. Be sure to make comments as you read (a comment box pops up at after chapter two and then again at the end). If you find any edits, please email them to me so I can fix them in my version (once the book is uploaded to the site, I can't make changes to the one on Swoon Reads). I'd love to hear what you think of the book!

XoXo,

Robin



Friday, June 28, 2019

DIY: Make Your Own Harry Potter Monster Book of Monsters Journal


Admit it. You’ve always wanted one. Ever since I read Harry Potter, I knew I needed a book that looked like it could devour me just like I eat up all the books around me. Not to mention the soft furry cover. Maybe I’ll just sleep with it. Now you can too!
Debra and her adorable daughter team up to make this awesome Harry Potter-inspired Monster Book of Monsters Journal. You could also cover a book too if you want to just use it as a decor item (or something to hug in bed . . .).
Here are the Supplies you will need to get started:
Faux Fur Fabric (You can buy it by the yard at the craft store)
a notebook (not spiral bound)
hot glue
2 flat marbles
felt in red and white
scissors
orange paper
a black marker
mod podge
Watch the video for instructions:

Also, Debra has put together this awesome post on her blog on making your own Book of Monsters Valentine too! Who else wants to be Debra’s best friend? *timidly raises hand*
Books=Love
XoXo,
Robin
About the Author: Robin M. King is the author of three young adult novels (Remembrandt Series), devourer of books, and lover of brownie batter.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Make Your Own Harry Potter Hogwarts House Flags

DIY Harry Potter House Flags
If you didn’t know, I have an obsession with all things magical. In fact, LitJoy has a crate that they release twice a year that is based on that obsession. Their Magical Edition crates have been one of my favorite things to receive (sign-up for news on Year 6). But let’s say you *might* be even a little more obsessed. Like, let’s say your book club did a whole retreat based on the Harry Potter series and they pulled a near all-nighter discussing all the books. Everyone dressed like a different character from the Harry Potter series. All the food was Harry Potter inspired. The whole space was decorated in Harry Potter decor and the weekend ended in a search for Horcruxes as part of an extravagant scavenger hunt. That would never happen, right!?!
Well, it did. All of my nerdy Harry Potter fanatics participated in this event (see costume ideas and more here). As part of it, I had the opportunity to make some Hogwarts house flags for the event. Griffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw had to be represented. But I couldn’t find large flags that were of the quality I wanted. So I made them. Now you can too!
Here’s what you need:
  • 1 yard of each house color fabric – red, blue, yellow, and green (I used fabric from the quilting section of Jo-Ann Fabric. It is cheap without being too thin).
  • Thread to match your flags
  • Fabric Iron-on Kit with at least 4 transfers (I bought this one)
  • Ink Jet printer with color ink
  • 4 Wooden dowels (I got 1/2″ diameter ones that were about 36″ long at my local walmart)
  • Black craft paint
  • Rope or string to tie on the dowel 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Paint the wooden dowels black and set aside to dry.
  2. Fold your fabric in half (it usually comes this way) and iron it flat so that is is about 24″ wide and 36″ long.
  3. Cut into the pendant shape (see picture). I used a ruler to measure halfway across the shorter length and then about 12″ up from the bottom and put a dot there. Then I used a ruler and a pencil (you could use a fabric marker) and drew from each bottom corner to the center.
  4. Turn with right sides together. Sew around the edges with a 1/4″ seam, leaving about a 6″ opening. Snip the tips of the pendant (see this tutorial on making corners). Turn right side out. You might need to use a pointed object (I use closed scissors) to push out the tips. Iron around the edges and the opening so that it matches the seam.  Sew it shut right on the edge of the opening. 
  5. Fold the top edge over about 2″ (see photo above). Sew it down to make a pocket to slide the dowel through.
  6. Print off your Hogwarts House images. I scoured the internet and I found these made by (I can’t find the artist’s name, but if you know who it is, PLEASE let me know to give them credit). Follow the instructions on the iron-on package.
  7. Slide in the black painted dowel, tie your rope/twine/ribbon and hang! 

DIY Harry Potter House Flag
Hogwarts House Flag – Gryffindor 8.5x11
DIY Harry Potter House Flag
Hogwarts House Flag – Hufflepuff 8.5x11
DIY Harry Potter House Flag
Hogwarts House Flag – Ravenclaw 8.5x11
DIY Harry Potter House Flag
Hogwarts House Flag – Sytherin 8.5x11
DIY Harry Potter House Flag
I’d love to see your finished projects! If you like Harry Potter-inspired food, check out this yummy butterbeer cupcakes tutorial by our very own Debra. And don’t forget to get on our Harry Potter VIP list for info about our Magical Edition Year 6 crates!
Books=Love
XoXo,
Robin
About the Author: Robin M. King is the author of three young adult novels (Remembrandt Series), devourer of books, and lover of brownie batter and cheesy superhero shows.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Author Stalker: Erin Summerill

I love chatting with my authors. And by my, I mean the authors that I meet that sign my books. But let’s just keep calling them MY authors because after I work with them once, I kind of stalk them. Just a little bit. I love it when authors are willing to do silly things, like take over an Instagram account for the day or do a live interview. Surprisingly, they sometimes jump at the chance! Erin Summerill was one of those authors. Erin’s book, Once a King, was also included in LitJoy Crate's December 2018 box (which was to-die-for). We read her first books, Ever the Hunted and Ever the Brave so it was a no-brainer to read this one too.
Here’s a little summary of Once a KingFor twenty years, Channelers—women with a magical ability—have been persecuted in Malam by those without magic. Now King Aodren wants to end the bloody divide and unite his kingdom. But decades of hatred can’t be overcome by issuing decrees, and rumors of a deadly Channeler-made substance are only fueling people’s fears. Lirra has every reason to distrust Aodren. Yet when he asks for help to discover the truth behind the rumors, she can’t say no. With Lirra by his side, Aodren sees a way forward for his people. But can he rewrite the mistakes of the past before his enemies destroy the world he’s working so hard to rebuild? Erin Summerill returns with a high-stakes fantasy full of romance, magic, and revenge!
Erin was such a sport to do an instagram takeover for @litjoycrate! She showed us her office, some favorite books, showed us where she sometimes writes or works, introduced us to Tricia Levenseller, author of Daughter of a Pirate King and Warrior of the Wild, and more! We love her so much!
A little more about Erin: When she’s not writing, Erin is devouring a book, photographing one, or talking to teens about her latest favorite read. She is proud to be an Air Force brat. She was born in England. Shortly after, her family’s Hawaiian heritage drew them back to the islands. Now, she lives in Utah with her husband and four children. Erin holds a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University and is currently working on an MFA in Writing Fiction For Children at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Photo Credit: @xenatine
We hope you’ll check out Erin Summerill’s books (sadly, LitJoy sold out of her book and crate, but you can get the book still here). Let us know what you think!
Books=Love
XoXo,
Robin
About the Author: Robin M. King is the author of three young adult novels (Remembrandt Series), devourer of books, and lover of brownie batter and cheesy superhero shows.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Book Boyfriends: Favorite Literary Romances


I love a good romance. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a book that is just a romance, but I love it when there is a romantic storyline in my books. It's time to talk in depth about some recent men in fiction that we love.
Some of my favorite book boyfriends are:
  • Laslo and Sarai (from Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor) – if you love them too, LitJoy has a notebook that is to-die-for and some amazing trading cards featuring this lovely couple.
  • Kai and Cinder (from Cinder in the Lunar Chronicles series)
  • Rowen and Calaena/Aelin (from Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas) – For fans, check out these fae warrior leggings!
  • Rose and Dimitri (from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead)
  • Jamie and Claire (from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon)
So sit back and swoon with me as Alix and Ali give us all the goods on our literary lovers in this LitJoy Live:
If you love boys in fiction, particularly Mr. Darcy, Rysand (from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas), Edward (from the Twilight series by Stefanie Meyer), and Jace (from the Shadow Hunter series by Cassandra Clare) then you will love taking a bath with them. Now you can get dirty while getting clean with our Litjoy Exclusive Book Boyfriend Bath Bombs!
You might also be interested in our Magical Men Tote (hello Rysand and the Darkling!).

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Catwoman Cosplay

“Cat-woman was a good way to describe her. The ears on the dark helmet, the oversized lenses, the claws that she’d just retracted after that spectacular jump… Even her steps toward him oozed feline grace.”  ― Sarah J. Maas, Catwoman: Soul Stealer ― 
I loved this new young adult novel! Sarah J. Maas has to be one of my favorite authors. Her series, Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses are some of my favorite books. So it made sense that Litjoy Crate pounced on her newest book in the DC Icons books: Catwoman: Soul Stealer for their August Crate.
Since Halloween is coming up and we all love a good costume idea, we thought we would ask our beautiful friend Jen (@classycozmetics) to help us out. Guys, she really did amazing on this one! LitJoy did an Instagram Live with Jen and she chatted with us while she transformed into the famous antihero. Jen’s personality is way too cute to actually be the rebellious Catwoman, but her cosplay and makeup is spot on!
You can also check out this quick video with more info on her transformation. Make sure to watch to the very end where she shows off some of her other amazing cosplay, including Jack Sparrow and Lucille Ball!
If you love Catwoman as much as I do, LitJoy's Catwoman Crate was amazing. Even though it is now sold you, you can still get a copy of Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas at your favorite retailer.
Maaorrao! Sorry, that was my attempt at a cat noise . . .
Books=Love

XoXo,
About the Author: Robin M. King is the author of three young adult novels (Remembrandt Series), devourer of books, and lover of brownie batter.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Author Stalker: Django Wexler


This week, I lucked out and got to be a part of LitJoy Crate's interview Django Wexler, author of Ship of Smoke and Steel (which they included in their January 2019 crate). 
Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in creative writing and computer science, worked in artificial intelligence research and as a programmer/writer for Microsoft, and is now a full-time fantasy writer. Django is the author of The Shadow Campaigns, a flintlock fantasy series for adults, and The Forbidden Library, a classic fantasy series for middle-grade readers.
I LOVED Django’s new YA book! Ship of Smoke and Steel is about a young protagonist who is forced into the adventure of a lifetime aboard a ship so magical and mysterious, it may lead to her ending! But to protect her family and conquer her foes, she will risk everything! We fell in love with the incredible world-building, appreciated the LGBTQIA and diversity represented, and couldn’t put this book down!
Now to the geniuses behind LitJoy Crate, Kelly and Alix (Django joins us at 11 minutes):
If you missed it, Django Wexler was named after Django Reinhardt, the Jazz guitarist and composer. I think that is so cool! If you want to read the book, and don’t have it yet, you can still get a LitJoy exclusive copy of the book with a custom dust jacket with art by Diana Dworak and signed by the Django! It also comes with two LitJoy trading cards. 
Get a copy here of Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler with this beautiful interior dust jacket.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Why Sarah J. Maas Makes the Perfect Catwoman

If you are a young adult reader or love DC Comics, chances are you’ve probably heard about the DC Icons young adults books that have been sweeping across the world like a speeding bullet. I got to work with the amazing Marie Lu and her book, Batman: Nightwalker, which was included in the LitJoy January 2018 crate (which is sold out, but you can still get the book here). This is one of those books that you will be willing to hang upside down for. Cough, cough. **crickets**

Anyway, all Batman humor aside, another book in the DC Icons series is Catwoman! Who better to write such a book, than our very own author-extraordinaire . . .

SARAH J. MAAS!

Yes, I claim her. Ok, not really, but I’ve read all her books and can’t think of anyone better to represent sexy Catwoman. Sarah could probably be Catwoman herself! Did you know she wrote the first drafts of the Throne of Glass series when she was sixteen?!? It was a New York Times Bestseller and has now sold in thirty-five languages. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies. Sarah is a New York native, which I think is another reason she will show Gotham well, though she currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. But no cat. We’ll forgive her for that. Also, if you didn’t know it yet, her Throne of Glass series is being made into a TV show by Hulu (check out details here). The film rights for her A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) have been optioned by Tempo Productions (see the announcement here).  I’ve scoured the internet for more details, but all I could find was that both are still being developed and no one has been chosen as the main stars yet. 
But back to what you’re really here for: CATWOMAN!!
Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas
So what has the illustrious Sarah J. Maas written for us? Here’s the book summary:
When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has.
Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Gotham City looks ripe for the taking.
Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. He targets a new thief on the prowl who has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Together, they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman is clever–she may be Batwing’s undoing.
In this third DC Icons book–following Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker–Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that’s closest to her heart?
Wow! Doesn’t that sound amazing. I couldn’t wait to get my paws on it. And you now you can too here!
Hold onto your tails . . . this book is going to be EPIC.
XoXo,
Robin

P.S. Since I posted this, the last book in the DC Icons series came out - Superman: Dawnbreaker by Matt de la Pena! I got my signed exclusive copy here in this LitJoy Crate and I LOVE IT SO MUCH:
LitJoy Crate

LitJoy Crate

If you get your Superman: Dawnbreaker book from LitJoy, it includes this poster!

LitJoy Crate


Friday, May 10, 2019

Author Stalker: Heidi Heilig {Author of for a Muse of Fire}

Have you read For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig yet? This first book in a new trilogy from the acclaimed Heidi Heilig blends traditional storytelling with ephemera for a lush, page-turning tale of escape and rebellion. For a Muse of Fire will captivate fans of Sabaa Tahir, Leigh Bardugo, and RenĂ©e Ahdieh.

LitJoy Exclusive Edition of For A Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig (Sold out, but you can still get the regular version here)
We loved the book so much, we knew we had to talk with the author. Kelly and Alix got to interview her! Check it out:

Summary of For a Muse of Fire:  
Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood.
But ever since the colonizing army conquered their country, the old ways are forbidden, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad Emperor has a spring that cures his ills—and could cure Jetta’s, too. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues her.
But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.
Heidi Heilig creates a vivid, rich world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism. Her characters are equally complex and nuanced, including the bipolar heroine. Told from Jetta’s first-person point-of-view, as well as with chapters written as play scripts and ephemera such as telegrams and letters, For a Muse of Fire is an engrossing journey that weaves magic, simmering romance, and the deep bonds of family with the high stakes of epic adventure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Heidi Heilig is the author of The Girl from Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time. She grew up in Hawaii, where she rode horses and raised peacocks. She holds an MFA from New York University in musical theatre writing, and she’s written book and lyrics for several shows. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, her son, and their pet snake.
AUTHOR WEBSITE: You can find her online at www.heidiheilig.com