Tag Archives: Grace Notes

The secret interview

This blog will be an imaginary conversation with the main character in my Sanctuary series. It is a way for me to learn about these characters and hopefully for you too.

LUnabel for pub

I’m here with Lunabel O’Hara, who has agreed to give us a short interview. Lunabel, you are a girl with a secret and a mission. Can be say your mission is secret too, Lunabel?

“What makes you think that? What you see is what you get. I’m an open book.”

I happen to know that you excel in keeping one secret. Tell us what event first took you in that direction. What made you decide to go undercover. (She is looking at me, deciding whether to respond or not).

“Your not real, right? So anything I tell you will be just between us? Am I crazy talking to a figment of my imagination?”

Well, I can’t promise that. But I can guarantee that your secret is safe with me and if someone reveals it in your world it won’t be me.

“I’m going to trust you, I have to trust someone. And since you don’t really exist I can talk to you. The first time I decided it wasn’t safe to be myself was at a very early age. I was three, as a matter of fact. I was in the living room of my parents house with my older sister Myra.”

Myra, your mother’s ‘little me’? She grins and a wicked twinkle in her eye changes her whole demeanor. She chuckles. It is a tripping sound like  a fox hopping  over snow, or petals falling in the breeze of autumn.

“Yeah, Myra used to be a pain. Well what happened is … I was humming and the floor started buzzing. My grandma’s brass plates started to rattle a bit. Myra freaked. She yelled for Mom. Mom ran into the room. I was transfixed by the motes in the air and how I could make them dance when I sang. So I hummed, laughed and hummed some more. Then I must have been particularly impressed by a shaft of light and all the motes to make merry with because I shrieked and blew out every window in the living room.

Long story short, Mom called me freak, Dad rescued me again and I learned that if I were going to make more love me, or at least be in the same room with me I better practice sound on my own time.

I have echoic hearing, which means I remember everything I hear forever and my voice has a range that goes higher and lower than the record holder in the Guinness book of records.

So, yeah, I have a secret. Secret is the only way I can get by and I don’t intend to give it up unless I have no choice. Mom is happier not knowing that I never outgrew my little peculiarity, and I’m in no hurry to relay the information to her.

Things would have gone along as usual if it hadn’t been for the storm and the disappearance of the faery . . .

Well we’ve run out of time, Lunabel thank you for stopping by. I promise I won’t share a word with your mother or anyone in your hometown. Thornhill is almost impossible to find and I know that makes the other secrets your keeping even more secure.

I don’t know what you’re talking about. Even the people in my head won’t leave me alone . . .



Branding Sanctuary, how to find your favorite series

What is branding, you ask. . .

Branding requires that your potential readers will be able to identify the genre of the series and will look for the other books in the series. In essence the series has developed a brand.

Writing a series is a whole level of magnitude beyond writing a book.  Not only do you have a story to tell, with characters that change during the story, you hope, but you also have to grow a series arc that must change over the course of several books. One book allows growth for characters within a snapshot of time. A series gives you the potential to create a comprehensive world where the characters and their context should also grow, over an era of time. Hopefully the end result is a unique place where the reader can escape.

One of the most important part in creating the mood for a series is the Cover. I design my own covers. I’m happy that I can and probably spend way too much time and energy on it. I think about it, I agonize over how to depict the characters, the stylistic approach I would take, whether to use specific images or abstract suggestions of the story. It takes me forever.

Then I worry about whether my ‘target market’, those readers who want to read high fantasy with young protagonists, will relate to the image.

Just as the first book in the Sanctuary series has taken  forever to complete, the cover has also gone through a long history of gestation. But a funny thing happened. As the story matured, the cover changed and when I got both of them to the place that felt right the next three books in the series have rushed to get out. I’m grabbing asphalt trying to keep up. And falling short.

The world I’m trying to create is taking over and I better hold on tight or get left behind. But it takes time.

Early cover of Grace Notes
First cover for Grace Notes

The cover, above, was developed from a 3D model. I thought I wanted to do this because I hoped, still do, to create an interactive version of the story, with animations. Something that is doable if you are working with wire frames and animation. This cover was created by putting a “skin” over a wire frame base. The advantage to this is that the frame remains essentially the same even when you turn it , displace parts of it, your final result is recognizable as the same character. This is a realistic looking character but I finally I discarded the cover because I wanted something more “real”. I wanted a heroine that felt vulnerable, fey, wary and tough, like the character and I don’t have the skill to show that with CG. Finally, I didn’t think my reader would relate as strongly to a CG model as they would to a photo-model.

slipper cover
Interim cover

This cover was created to refer to an element in the book rather than a character. This cover appeals to me but it doesn’t suggest the genre/target I’m trying to reach as well as the close up of the main character. A cover image influences how the reader sees the character sometimes that isn’t a good thing. In this version I’d inserted images that suggested setting.

represents the setting of the series
third version of cover

“Grace Notes” is the story of a girl with a secret. She has immense power but she is afraid to let anyone know. She is also hiding from the judgment of people who are uncomfortable with her strength.

In order to realize her potential the heroine will have to face her worst fear and question her most comfortable assumptions. The fact that these themes are revealed through a love story between characters of wildly different cultures that have been in historic opposition, existing amid prejudice and misunderstanding adds nice layers of richness, I think. And of course the motivation, besides heroine’s need for authenticity, peace of mind, and joy, is the driving force of first love.

Examples of my branded series:

Covers in progress for the next three titles in the Sanctuary series:

Book one in Sanctuary series
Current cover for Grace Notes


Book two, release Sept 15, 2015 


Book three, Javelin, release date November 2015.


Book four, Cohort, release date December 2015.

Another factor of branding a series is by title, That’s why the final covers carry the title: The Fae Wars-Grace Notes, The Fae Wars- Cantata and so forth. The original titles, Grace Notes and Cantata meant nothing to the average reader, though hopefully the meaning became clear in the reading of the books.

Covers that are strongly branded for fantasy series:

the representational simplicity of the


Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers


The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher