Tuesday, August 14, 2012


It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. In essence, the same can be said of a writer. Without friends, families, co-workers, critique partners, editors, cover artists, formatters, etc. writers would be sunk (especially those of us who have just enough tech skills to be dangerous). Those folks are our support system. I thought it would be great to spotlight someone who was part of my support system when I made my debut as an indie author. Today, I'd like to shine that light on Deborah with Tugboat Design.

Welcome to my blog, Deborah!

Thank you for having me, Jan!

When I decided to enter the world of self-publishing with my book, Stay Close, Novac! I needed someone to format my book and design a cover. I also needed guidance on where to go/and how to upload to the various retail sites. I found all that I needed in Tugboat Design.

Deborah, can you tell us a little about your business?

Tugboat Design is geared toward providing high quality product at an affordable price for independent authors. We offer ready-made covers for $40 - $60. If you can't find what you're looking for there, we can design a personalized book cover for $125. We can turn any book cover into a paperback cover as well. We also format books on Amazon, Smashwords, B & N, and now, Createspace. Another service we offer is website design.

You have a gallery of ready-made covers. Do you also do specialized covers?

Yes. We can have ready-made covers because we get to download so many images a month from our subscription to thinkstockphotos.com. We generally don't download all of the allotted images per month, so instead of just letting them go to waste, we download images that we can make into ready-made covers. This way we can offer these covers at a reduced price. It's a win-win for everyone. If you can't find a ready-made cover that fits your book we are more than happy to design a personalized book cover. It's about even right now between people who have purchased ready-made covers vs. people who have had us design a specific cover for them. That knowledge makes me happy because I know that we can provide a high quality cover for people regardless of their budget.

What is your turn-around time for formatting and cover work?

For both formatting and designing a cover we generally say two weeks. It all depends on how long the book is, and how many revisions we have to do on the book cover. We have turned everything around in one week all the way up to three weeks.

You also do website design. Can you tell us a little about that?

Sure! We recently added website design to our list of services. We are not going for top of the line websites that have been hand coded (which would cost thousands of dollars), instead we are going for eye pleasing, easy to use, yet professional looking websites. We based everything off of weebly.com. We did that, because it's easy to use, it looks professional, and you can do a lot of things with it, even for a free site. It's great for authors who are looking for only a one page website up to authors who are looking for a ten page website. It's a wonderful tool, and with the right knowledge behind it, it can look highly professional.

As an added bonus, you do some excellent book promotion for authors who have used your services. You have a great presence on Twitter and I'm deeply grateful for your tweets about my book.

For authors who have used my service, on the "Links" page of my website I have everyone's book and links to purchase it on Amazon. I also try to tweet or retweet for everyone at least once a day to help get the word out. I like to help in any way that I can.

You've started a blog and have done some author interviews and articles. Can you direct us to your blog?

Of course. Our blog is at www.tugboatdesign.net/blog.html. I have written a few articles and I hope to have more author interviews on it in the coming months.

You have someone very close to you who is a published author. Would you like to say a few words about her?

Of course. Deanna Lynn Sletten is a very close friend and I have designed all of her book covers. We recently finished designing a cover for her book "Sara's Promise" which is due out in December 2012. She currently has two women's fiction books published: "Memories" and "Widow, Virgin, Whore". She also has a children's book "Outlaw Heroes".

Deborah, I appreciate you being on my blog today and I'd like to thank you for being part of a much-needed author support system.

You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

You can find Deborah and Tugboat Design at:

Website:  www.tugboatdesign.net

Twitter: @TugboatDesign

Email:  deborah@tugboatdesign.net

Monday, August 6, 2012

Art Imitates Life by Amber Lea Easton

Today I'd like to welcome romantic suspense author, Amber Lea Easton!

Art Imitates Life

By Amber Lea Easton

     "Novelist at work -- bystanders may be written into a story." I have that sign on my desk. It makes me laugh, but it's also the truth.
     Life inspires me. As I go through my day-to-day existence with its challenges, pain, joy, love, aggravation or triumphs, story ideas snap like live wires flashing with electricity in my mind. Sometimes it's a stranger who triggers my imagination into saying, "wow, he'd make a twisted character." Occasionally, someone I've encountered inspires an idea for a villain. Other times, while I'm immersed in some personal catastrophe, I'll hear myself say, "this will make a good story one day." Unlike some people, as a writer, I actually mean that when I say it.
     In Riptide, my lastest romantic suspense novel, the story line was triggered by a real life situation I experienced with a stalker when I was in my late twenties. Although the details are not the same, I mined the emotions I felt at the time -- including the difficulty in starting life over after such an incident -- to create the characters and fully flesh them out.
     As a writer, I often utilize this tactic to bring reality into a fictional world. Perhaps it's a form of therapy -- working out an issue via writing, tossing my characters into the fray and seeing how they get out of it. I think the majority of artists reach into their hearts when they create. The creative act itself is a pouring out of the soul onto the paper or canvas or block of clay.
     Write what you know...that's what people say. I used to scoff at that. I mean, how do science fiction writers create worlds in a galaxy far far away if they stick to that philosophy? But then as I thought about it, I realized that even that genre has core human elements that are examined in the story line. (I'm a fan of science fiction, by the way. I'm a fan of a wide variety of genres.)
     When we as creators bring our hearts to the keyboard, we're better able to create characters with heart, characters that readers cheer for and would love to know in real life. To do that, we as creators need to strip away the inhibitions that keep us guarded day to day, transform our inspiration into a story much bigger than life and allow our characters to get down and dirty with it as they see fit.
     True life is the spark that ignites my imagination. There are elements of me in each of my stories and my characters. Just a tiny bit...an autobiography would be boring, I need to spice up the fictional world!
     Bono (yes, I'm quoting U2 now) once said that "every artist is a cannibal". That's a gruesome image...but I can't deny its truth.

Excerpt of Riptide:

     Snacks and soda topped her list of necessities for a day of exploring. The quiet rumble in her stomach reminded her that she hadn't eaten anything but cantaloupe for the past twenty-four hours.
     She stopped at the first market she saw, grateful for the few cars in the parking lot because she looked like a woman who simply didn't give a damn about her appearance.
     "Austin have you on a breakfast run?" Noah stepped into the aisle in front of her, a full shopping basket in his hands. Stubble shadowed his face. Dark denim encased his legs, sandals with frayed seams adorned tanned feet and a loose-fitting black shirt revealed a deep V of flesh. The shirt was barely buttoned, something she noticed within seconds.
     Attraction sizzled in the soda aisle.
     He tipped her shopping basket toward him and shook his head at the bag of pretzels, Oreos, and sunflower seeds.
     "I hope that's not your breakfast," he said. "I'm sure you can do better than cookies and seeds."
     She shrugged, unable to stop staring and apparently incapable of speech.
     "Thank you, by the way," he said.
     "For what?" She liked that she could look up at him. The tall woman's curse, she'd often said, was being with a man with whom she couldn't wear a good pair of high heels.
     "Inspiring me to write all night. Rare these days." He caught the corner of his lower lip between his teeth, gaze zeroed in on the material stretching across her breasts. "Follow me home, and I'll make you a real breakfast."
     "Why would you do that?" She stepped away from him, needing space.
     "To thank you for spurring my imagination." His voice lowered to a level bordering on husky.
     She liked it. A lot. Bolts of lightning snapped through her nervous system. "I don't think you need to thank me for anything. We only talked for a few minutes, hardly enough time for me to inspire you. I need to go. Thanks anyway."
     "Why not?" His gaze skimmed over her like a caress.
     "I'm on my way to see the blowholes," she said.
     "The blowholes?" He blinked before bursting out in laughter. "Are you kidding?"
     "Something wrong with the blowholes?" I sound like an idiot.
     "Nope, just not the answer I expected." His gaze slipped over her again. "C'mon, Lauren. Have breakfast with me."
     "Another time maybe." She couldn't tear her eyes from the two buttons holding his shirt together. She wanted to bite them off and kiss his chest. She retreated a step.
     My therapist was right. I need to be medicated. Heavily.
     "I'll take you to the blowholes later." He focused on her mouth. "Promise."
     "I can tell by the way you say blowholes that you have no intention of taking me or anyone else there." A smile twitched at the corners of her lips.
     "Maybe I'll make an exception. C'mon, do you have a better offer?" His grin reminded her again of a land-locked pirate. He didn't look away from her eyes. "Come home with me, Lauren. Let me make you breakfast. What's more innocent than breakfast?"
     "I don't think that would be a good idea." Mouth like a desert, she took yet another step backward.
     "I'm harmless." His shrug pulled the shirt tight across his shoulders, tugging at the buttons. He grabbed the six-pack of Diet Coke from her grasp. "I make the best omelet on the island. Say yes."
     "I really shouldn't." Despite the trepidation, she knew how easy it would be to follow him to his place, to Austin's, to hell and back with no regret.
     I have no pride, no dignity, and no sense.
     "I know you want to go...but you're busy thinking of all the reasons it's not a good idea, right? You're telling yourself that you shouldn't go off alone with some random guy you met yesterday, even though I'm Austin's friend. You're over thinking this, sexy lady. An omelet is simply an omelet. I'm starving. Say you'll join me."
     "I haven't met many men who cook," she said, softening to the idea and thankful he hadn't guessed the real reason for her hesitation -- lust.
     "What kind of men have you met?"
     "The wrong kind."
     "Ah, so you're a skeptic?" he asked with a knowing look in his dark eyes.
     "Skeptic about what? Your cooking or the type of man you are?"
     "Both. Don't worry about it. I'm as harmless as a puppy."
     "The last puppy I had destroyed everything in sight." She sobered at the  memory of her dog Pete. She stopped abruptly at the images flashing like a slide show in her brain...dead cocker spaniel, red lights reflecting on a hardwood floor. Her balance faltered. She grabbed a shelf for balance.
     "Are you okay?" His hand on her arm brought her back to the present.
     "She flinched from his touch, willing the banter to return. "Imagining you as a puppy, that's all."
     "Does that mean I've convinced you?" Curiosity shadowed his eyes, transforming the whiskey color to dark brown.
     "Thanks anyway, but I don't think it would be a good idea." Mistrust warred with her need for normalcy.
     "Think of breakfast at my place as...an adventure." He stepped up to the cashier. "Trust me. Breakfast at my place beats sunflower seeds and cookies."
     Her traitorous stomach growled at the mention of an omelet. Saliva flooded her mouth at the thought of being alone with him. The beating of her heart drowned out all rational thought.
     She cleared her throat. "Fine. I guess I can go."
     Without looking at her, he said to the cashier. "I knew she'd say yes."
     They remained silent while they walked through the parking lot. The sun had risen higher in the sky, and the day hinted at its warmth. She pulled at the ratty waistband of the shorts that moved lower on her hips during the quick walk to the Jeep.
     He held the driver's door open for her and let his gaze slide down her body. They stood together, separated by mere inches.
     She liked the way his black hair skimmed his neck and curled across his forehead as if he hadn't brushed it in hours. The morning stubble shadowing his face made her fingers ache to touch him.
     "I'm starving," she whispered.
     "So am I. I feel like I haven't eaten in years." His gaze snapped to hers.
     "Me, too. Like I've been fasting or something." She licked her lips.
     Silence stretched between them. Each stared at the other.
     Legs wobbly, she lifted herself into the Jeep. "I hope this omelet lives up to the hype."
     "You won't be disappointed." He rocked back on his heels and grinned like an incorrigible child. He motioned toward a classic black Mercedes sitting alone a few spaces away. "I'm parked over there. Follow me."
     She clenched the steering wheel with both hands. "Go slow so I don't lose you."
     "I'll go slow." With a smile and a wink, he strolled to his car.
     She enjoyed watching him walk, like a man whose only agenda was to enjoy the day and his place in it. She envied his confidence.

Book Blurb:

One violent night shatters Lauren Biltmore's life. As an anchorwoman, she's accustomed to reporting the news rather than being the lead story. She escapes the spotlight by fleeing to her brother's home in the Cayman Islands. Haunted by nightmares, all she wants is a distraction from reality.

Distraction arrives via sexy screenwriter, Noah Reynolds. His take-me-to-bed looks mask a past ripe with scandal. He knows he should stay away from Lauren, especially when the worst night of her life unlocks his writer's block and while he's dealing with a stalker of his own, but ethics are his weakness.

Attraction sizzles beneath Caribbean sunshine. As their relationship grows, Noah's stalker intensifies her torment. Lauren wonders if her paranoia is justified or a carryover from her past. What's real? What's imagined?

Tentative trust is tested as their love is swept up against a riptide of deceit, murder, and revenge.

Riptide is now available as a new release in ALL ebook formats directly from the publisher, Siren-Bookstrand, at:   http://www.bookstrand.com/riptide

Follow Amber Lea Easton on Twitter as @MtnMoxieGirl or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston To see Amber's other novels, please visit her website at http://www.amberleaeaston.com