Summer reading!

I am deep in the writing of my WIP, but when I take a break, I love to read old spy thrillers, like Len Deighton and Nelson DeMille. I find in summer, I like faster reads to pass the time, and these fit the bill. If you have any suggestions for good thrillers to read, leave them in the comments for everyone to enjoy.

Until next time,


Guest post by Sarah Adams

Yes, a series is a commitment, and this is why we plan things.

This year at ConCarolinas I got to see the Con from a different angle – instead of being a panelist, I spent most of my con time behind the table in Author’s Alley. It was a fun experience, surprisingly restful, and eye opening too. One woman that stands out stopped by the booth four times over the course of the con. Each time she picked up a copy of my book, Changeling’s Fall, she seemed genuinely interested, but she didn’t buy. And every time she did this she asked the same question – are you really going to finish the series? She just didn’t want to invest in yet another series that was going to leave her hanging.

I promised her every time that yes, my co-author Emily Lavin Leverett and I would most certainly be finishing the series. But why should she take my word for it? If much more prominent authors than me have struggled to finish their series, how on earth could she trust a couple of newbies? For that matter, how do I know we really can finish this thing?

Planning. That’s how. Emily and I have gotten really good over the years at planning out the novels we write. We draw up outlines, we sketch character arcs on big pieces of paper, we put scene lists on the wall and check them for holes. We know where this is going. It’s the only way we’ve found to keep ourselves coordinated and on track.

Just as importantly, planning keeps the creative juices flowing. When I don’t particularly feel like writing I don’t have to stare at a blank page wondering what to do next. Instead I’ve got a whole set of writing prompts ready to go – just pick a scene off the list and write it. Works every time.

Book 2 was turned in to our editor a week after ConCarolinas wrapped up. The very next day, we started outlining Book 3. And that’s how I know this series is going to get finished.

Sarah Joy Adams, along with Emily Lavin Leverett, is the author of Changeling’s Fall – Book One of the Eisteddfod Chronicles which is available on Amazon in Kindle and hard copy formats. The audiobook version will be available soon. Sarah lives in southern California with her husband, her son, two cats, and a hyper-alert little dog. She advises you to revise your writing instead of renovating your house. It costs less and causes less stress.


I saw these ladies work, and it is impressive. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!
Until next time,


Guest Post by Pat Esden

Hi Lillian, thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today. Actually, today is super special for me because it’s release day for REACH FOR YOU, the final novel in my Dark Heart trilogy.

One detail that makes the Dark Heart trilogy different from many series is that there are quotes at the beginning of each chapter. These quotes aren’t from other authors. I created each one as a way to deepen the characters, the world of the series, and to provide clues to the various mysteries. All the details in the quotes come together at the climax of REACH FOR YOU. I’m dying to hear what people think when the curtain is pulled aside and everything is brought to light.

As an example, here is a quote from REACH FOR YOU:

 The influence these devious beings have had on human history is immeasurable.

They stood behind Solomon, whispering in his ear and granting gifts upon the Blacksmith.

 They secreted the Mamluk warrior into the bed of the Mongol princess . . .

By the time readers get to REACH FOR YOU, they know that one of the main antagonists in the story is Malphic a jinn warlord. But this quote hints to his true level of influence and power over the world of the series and beyond. Writing these quotes, making sure everything connected and not giving away too much was one of the most difficult aspects of this series. But it was also fun for me and allowed me to share more backstory and depth without overloading the reader.

As a side note, I’m celebrating something as well as the conclusion of this series. I have signed with Kensington Publishing for a new series. In September 2018, the first book in my Northern Circle Coven series will be coming out. It’s a bit different than the Dark Heart trilogy. These books will be standalone. They’re set in contemporary Vermont and center on a disreputable coven. Each book will have a different witch as the main character and focus on her finding love while struggling to restore the coven’s reputation.


Thank you, Pat! Read more below to get info on all of Pat’s works.

About the Author:

Pat Esden would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts. An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle, and George Sciter’s Cat Tales Anthology. The first two novels in her Dark Heart series, A HOLD ON ME and BEYOND YOUR TOUCH are available from Kensington Books. REACH FOR YOU (book #3 Dark Heart series) will be released June 27th. Her short story, Black as a Dark Moon, Scarlet as Sumac, will come out this September in the Fragments of Darkness anthology. Website: Author Facebook: Blog: Instagram: Pinterest Goodreads Newsletter:


Writing Groups

After ConCarolinas, I attended the 4th annual Roaring Writers writing retreat. We rent a house, hire an “author guest of honor,” and spend the week in Clarion-style critiques and writing. I am so blessed to be part of this group- I always return home exhausted but energized to keep pushing forward with my work.

Every writer is different, but if you find yourself in a difficult spot with your writing, then consider cultivating relationships to start your own writing group.

Some things to consider-

Not everyone has to write the same genre, but everyone needs to understand genre conventions. Also, if memoir is boring to you, then don’t join a group dedicated to memoir. You need to enjoy the voice of the other writers, even if you don’t always read that type of book.

Try to find several positive things about the piece to balance out the negative. Everyone has fragile egos when it comes to creative output, and a sensitive approach helps everyone in attendance.

Not everyone needs to be at the same place in their career, but it helps.

Everyone needs to work equally hard. If you do not read the contributions from your fellow writers, then don’t expect them to read yours.

Hope this helps-

Until next time,



Today I work on social media

I attended ConCarolinas over the June 2 weekend. One of the things I like to do after a convention is update all my social media accounts with the new people I meet. If you want to be included in that list, simply PM me on Facebook or Twitter. After that, I am off to the writing cave.

Untll next time!


Working with a Cover artist

Gentle reader, today I want to talk about the cover of a book. If you look closely, the cover of a book has several features- title, author, a picture indicating genre or themes of the book, sometimes a blurb, and sometimes additional information such as “part of a series.”

As a self-published author, I have the opportunity to make all the decisions regarding each of these pieces of the cover. Ideally, you want the whole picture- genre, main character, title and author- conveyed in a glance as the consumer scrolls through a webpage, bookstore, or e-reader.

How to find a good cover artist? It is work, gentle reader, it is work. I found mine by emailing authors whose covers I admired and hoped that a few would share their artist information with me. I quickly narrowed the field after talking with my “finalists” about my book- the ones who wanted it to look like a romance cover I passed on immediately. The ones who wanted to make it look like a horror show, again pass. I finally decided to hire Adrijus Guscia of Rocking Book Covers to create my custom cover art.

AG is not a newbie to this game, and he has a specific process. I filled out a questionnaire for him that delineated what I wanted, the genre and feel for my book, title, and other considerations. He directed me to areas where I could purchase stock photos without copyright concerns as a starting point for my cover. I poured over possible pics on  websites where you can legally use photos for your work.

Once we had 6 pics that I thought might work, I sent them to AG, told him what I wanted, and waited. About a week later, he sent me three different versions for a cover, and we tweaked from there. I thought I may want my first novel to be part of a series, so I considered this when making my final decision to leave flexibility for future branding. My cover artist was amazing in helping me pick fonts that blended and communicated the book as well, and then sent me the files for me to submit with my novel to the formatters. AG is professional, on time, and the quoted price covered all expenses. It was a joy to work with him on this aspect of my book.

Here are a few things to ask when hiring a cover artist-

  1. Is there a flat fee that covers the project, or is the pricing structure ala carte? Some artists will rework the covers several times before the cost increases, others, you only get 1-2 revisions. Find out beforehand so there are no unintended costs to blow yoru budget.
  2. What formats will they provide for you? Do you need a banner for a Facebook page, or a thumbnail to use for a twitter handle? These additional items may cost a bit more.
  3. What other works have they done in your genre? Can they provide references?
  4. What is their turnaround time? How many covers do they do a week? Any assistants that may take over part of the project?
  5. Do you need original art? If so, how to pay the artist or copyright if the artist wants to retain rights.
  6. Are there pre-made covers that match your vision for your book? Several cover artists routinely release pre-made covers for a flat fee that is less expensive than a custom cover.
  7. How to credit your cover artist? Some want a line in the front of your book, some just want you to acknowledge them if anyone asks. Find out what your artist wants ahead of time.

Cover art is just as important as the writing and editing and layout to the success of a novel, and getting this part correct is crucial to the success of your book. Don’t skimp or take shortcuts in this part of the publication process!

Until next time-