#WipItUp on Reality TV

dream girl ad with locks

Greetings! I’m Alexis Alvarez, and welcome to Wip It Up Wednesday, a blog hop where authors link their blogs together and all share excerpts from a work in progress or a new release.  Today I’m sharing a snippet from my recent release Dream Girl, which is free on Kindle Unlimited as well as being sexy, smart and funny.

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Excerpt from Dream Girl

The hours fled, but Chloe was fast, too. In the course of the day she’d been to the Colosseum, the Parthenon, and the Roman Forum. She stopped to take pictures of the fountains in the Piazza Navona, gorgeous stone figures dripping with water and pigeons, and the overflowing red flower boxes on the quaint homes along the plaza. Finally it was time for her last sight of the day, the Ponte Milvio.

Because it was a distance, she took a taxi, awkwardly waving her hands and repeating herself when she couldn’t understand the driver, but repeating “Ponte Milvio, per favore,” until he shrugged and nodded.

To her great disappointment, the bridge had no locks. Pictures she’d seen online and in travel books showed great clusters of golden and silver locks, decorated with names and hearts and scribbles.

She had expected locks clustering together and growing upward like moss, locks upon locks, thick layers of locks on posts, golden ivy clinging with the force of a hundred rainforest vines, an advancing army of locks conquering, inch by inch, the drab stone, and faced with the naked architecture and the disinterested trickle of pedestrians and the thick unaware ooze of traffic in the distance, she wondered for a half-second if she’d said it wrong, been taken to the wrong place, gone to an utterly ordinary bridge by the accident of her own ignorance.

She stood in such hesitation that a couple approached.

Ti sei perso?” asked the woman, her long legs perfect and elegant in heels, even over the cobbled stones. Her boyfriend was holding her hand in an easy grip, his smile so mischievous and heart-melting that Chloe got an immediate crush.

“I don’t—is this really the Ponte Milvio? Um,” she fumbled in her brain for scraps from college, “E davvero—questo—the Ponte Milvio? Do you speak English?”

Si, si, we speak English,” the brown-haired young man spoke with enthusiasm and a thick, happy accent. “This is the Ponte Milvio. You are American?”

“I am. It’s beautiful here! I’m just curious. Where are all the locks?” She gestured around her. There were many people walking over the pedestrian bridge, clusters of young men and women laughing and flirting, some couples gazing over the side, but no locks.

The woman made a cutting gesture with her hands. “Too many, too much weight. They worry that the bridge, yes? May be danno?”

“Damage,” appended her boyfriend, nodding. “This bridge is so much history, so important to Italy. The locks are disrespectful to Roman history. So all locks, they remove them last year. There is a website now for fun, to do locks with your love.”

“Oh.” Chloe let out a sigh. “Thank you. I didn’t realize. I thought I could get pictures…” She touched her camera.

The man smiled at his woman and kissed her neck, his lips lingering for an extra second. “Real love, you don’t need the lock,” he proclaimed, and put his arm around her. She laughed, a pretty sparkle, and smiled. “Si.”

They wandered off together, their arms twined, and Chloe looked after them until they disappeared from her view behind part of the stone archway.

Looking for steamier, sexier excerpts? No problem. I’ve got you covered! Please visit Rochelle’s Reviews to get the whole set of excerpts.  Also, and I don’t want to be too pushy here, but you could then swing by Amazon and, you know, get your very own copy.

Dream Girl Cover Alvarez for Amazon Upload WEB2

If you want to find Dream Girl, it’s available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Rochelle’s Reviews has exclusive access to ALL of the Dream Girl Excerpts.

Dream Girl at Rochelle’s Reviews

 

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Thanks for joining me today. Please check the links below to find all the other authors participating in this blog hop. They also have some exciting, sexy and provocative snippets to share, so stop by and take a peek.

Happy Reading!

 

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My Sexy Saturday with Dream Girl

mysexySatGreetings! I’m Alexis Alvarez and I’d like to welcome you back to another Sexy Saturday, although of course all the other days of the week are sexy too. I mean, let’s not pick favorites, right? Today I’d like to share a piece of Dream Girl with you. Because I’m nice, I’m giving you the biggest piece with lots of frosting and the strawberry on it, the piece that all the kids secretly want, just as the “kinds” of age secretly want a Useful reference and hot mature content @ m-porn xxx.

Enjoy!

Excerpt From Dream Girl

“So if I told you,” began Dominic, his eyes glittering in the yellow light from the fountain, which bounced, soft and warm, off the water and the statues and the marble, and lit up his face, “that the power of options lies in their versatility,” and he pulled her body to him so her hips pushed into his groin, and ran his hands up her sides.

“Mmm,” murmured Chloe, pushing back into him with her whole body. “Versatility. A good thing.”

Dominic licked at her lobe and nipped at her neck, then continued, “And options provide a world of opportunity for the sophisticated investor. Would you want to learn more?”

Chloe sucked in a breath of air, as Dominic kissed down her neck and bit gently at her clavicle. “Teach me,” she murmured. “Economics is so strangely intriguing, all of a sudden.”

“Well,” said Dominic, letting one hand stray over her body, rubbing through her jeans, then holding her waist. “A call gives the holder the right to buy an asset at a certain price within a specific period of time.” He moved both hands to the seat of her jeans and rubbed, squeezed, until Chloe moaned and thrust her hips at him.

“Should I go on?” he asked, his hands warm through the fabric.

“I’m fascinated. So is my asset.” Chloe’s voice was slow and smooth as honey.

Who knew economics could be so interesting, right? There’s more flirting in the book, and I hope I’m not ruining anything here, but there is also some pretty steamy sex with just a bit of kink. There’s also a garden gnome (not involved in said kink), a fishing boat adventure, the Colosseum, cantaloupe, and some crazy Chinese fortunes. Oh, and you’ll learn how to say, “What to see my Trajan Column?” in Italian, which — as you must admit — is really a “must know” phrase for any traveler.

You should also know that one of my five-star reviews on Amazon said about this book, and I quote: “I kept waiting for it to get bad, and it never did.” Best. Review. Ever. I think I laughed so hard that I spit La Croix all over my keyboard (Note to new readers: I’m pretty much addicted to La Croix) and then I immediately posted it to Facebook. Because awesome.

Here’s my book cover with the very sexy Darren Birks on the cover. Notice that tattoo with the swirly letters? It says “veni, vidi, vici” (Latin for I came, I saw, I conquered.) My characters have a pretty steamy sex scene in the book and the tattoo is discussed, along with alternate possibilities that it should maybe say, based on the hero’s sexual prowess. And that rose in his hand? Why, that’s for YOU, dear reader. (Seriously! It is!)

Dream Girl Cover Alvarez for Amazon Upload WEB2

You can find the book on Amazon and it’s free on Kindle Unlimited, so if you have KU, I highly encourage you to return some of the old books that are taking up space, and refill that space with Dream Girl. You won’t be sorry. DG is super awesome and she’ll keep you way occupied.

If you want to find Dream Girl, it’s available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

If you want to read longer and even sexier excerpts, Rochelle’s Reviews has exclusive access to ALL of the Dream Girl Excerpts.

Dream Girl at Rochelle’s Reviews

Thanks, happy reading, and please visit these other blogs for more amazing excerpts! Some of my favorite authors are on here. Have a great Saturday.

Goodbye!

Oh, wait. Just in case you’re interested, my new carbonation machine also had some pretty cool things to say about Dream Girl. Don’t get me wrong — nobody can beat “I kept waiting…”, but still, I was impressed.

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Dream Girl Cover Alvarez for Amazon Upload WEB2

Under the (Romance Book) Covers – Part 1

hi! It’s Alexis Alvarez here, and we’re going to get under the covers…the romance book covers, that is!  “A picture is worth a thousands words” never meant more, especially when you have about three seconds to capture a reader’s attention on Amazon.

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I’ve surveyed multiple authors and designers, and here are three key rules for book covers:

  1. Know Your Audience
  2. Sell the Genre
  3. Grab Attention / Awesome Image

At the same time, you should also obey these guidelines:

  1. Catchy Title
  2. Set The Mood With Effective Colors
  3. Use Easy-To-Read But Sophisticated Fonts
  4. Show Quality With a Cohesive Design
  5. Less is More – Remember You’re a Thumbnail

If you can manage all of that (!), you will have a well-designed power cover which can enhance your sales.

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Know your Audience & Sell the Genre

The most important piece of advice is to target your audience. You need the reader to know — in those critical three seconds — that your book is what they like. And you have to make them want to read the blurb.  Saavy authors know this, and they keep it in mind when they design covers or hire artists to do it for them.

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Author Cara Bristol explains, “A reader sees your book cover and decides from that cover whether to read the blurb. From the blurb (and maybe reviews), she’ll decide to whether to buy your book. If a cover doesn’t grab her attention or if something on the cover turns her off, she won’t read your book no matter how wonderful it is.”

Author Megan Michaels says, “As a reader, and definitely as a writer, I will routinely go to book review/book promo sites on Facebook and I will scroll with my finger as fast as I can. Whatever cover makes me stop and scroll back, I save it to my phone. You’d be amazed at what grabs your attention. After a few hours of that, I have a dozen or so book covers and I look at the similarities and differences, determining what made me stop.”

Author Natasha Knight puts it this way:  “When I first see a cover, it’s usually a thumbnail so I can’t see a lot of it. It absolutely has to have an image I want to click on. Something super sexy and not like every other cover – but also not completely out there for the genre I’m searching.”

covers by melody

Indie cover designer Melody Simmons at Ebook Indie book Covers says, “The genre dictates the cover to a large extent.  I cannot emphasise enough that especially new authors should browse the bestselling books and new releases and typical book covers in their particular genre.” And Melody shares this caution with new indie authors:  “I have heard from authors who tried to be different and “stand out from the crowd” that this approach did not work, and once they changed to a more genre-appropriate cover, their book actually started selling.”

Many designers agree with my experts: You want to be unique and  grab attention, but you need to do it within the general boundaries of your genre, so you don’t lose readers who expect to see something more genre-typical. Why is this?  Chalk it up to  human nature, perhaps.  If a reader is going fishing for romance books, they are going to click on books that say “romance” to them, especially ones that look similar to books they’ve enjoyed in the past.  They will appreciate a new and creative twist, especially if it’s artistic or beautiful, but if the cover is too exotic or appears too far removed from their target genre, they may not even bother to click on it.

Extremely artsy covers that don’t hint at the book inside can sell well for famous authors, because their name is their calling card, and people are going to buy their book regardless of the cover. On the other end of the spectrum, most indie authors need to let their cover explain the work. Since their name is still an unknown, and their fan base is not yet large, they — more than anyone — need a really catchy, punchy cover to entice brand new readers to give them a try. The more popular an author, the more leeway they may have to break all the rules.  Of course, there are always breakout authors that rise from obscurity to best-seller-dom on the first book, regardless of the cover.  For the vast majority of authors, though, a combination of creativity + “tried and true” seems to be the best bet.

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What else does a cover need? In addition to clearly stating the genre and catching the reader’s eye with a fantastic image, the cover also needs to look professional, have easy to read but sophisticated type, and have a cohesive feel. There are design rules that can be used at a designer’s discretion to make the image pop or draw the viewer’s eye to the cover (Rule of Thirds, Visual Triangle, Corresponding Colors, Contrast, Focal Point, Focus on Faces,etc.)  In addition, many cover experts say that including some small-point font on your cover is a good idea, even if nobody can read it (not for the title or author’s name, but for something like a little blurb or tagline); it makes the cover look more professional. It hints at something important that can only be seen if the book is clicked.

I decided to deconstruct a romance cover to show you what my very first impressions were when I looked at it.  Try it yourself, with books from other authors and your own books. What can you learn from the cover? Does it say what it’s supposed to say?

julian and lia deconstruction

If doing all the design work  sounds daunting to you as a DIY author, you’re in luck, because there are many talented cover artists you can hire. They know all the design rules, are familiar with what sells well, and they usually have paid for stock photo and font rights, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing them or running afoul of copyright laws.  They will even match the font to your photo.

Graphic artist and cover designer Jason Maxham, like many other experts, chooses font style and size carefully to match the tone and genre, in addition to carefully selecting and editing the images and colors. He takes the time to makes sure that the cover is clean, cohesive and has good visual flow. He comments that when you’re designing a cover, you find yourself judging every aspect of how it will be received.

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 Megan Michaels  believes that you need to find a cover artist who will really listen to you, understand what you want, and make it come alive with skill and art. She works with cover designer Rachel A. Olson of No Sweat Graphics. See that first cover for Finding Submission?  Megan says the cover really helped her turn that one into a top seller:  “I’ve had people tell me they bought it on the cover alone. They didn’t even read the blurb. And then Mastering Inga kept with the color scheme and elegance of Finding submission.”

megan michaels booksdeviant

Author Natasha Knight also prefers to work with a professional, artist Clarise at CT Cover Creations, instead of designing her own cover from scratch. She comments, “For Deviant, it was easy. I saw the pic of this guy and he WAS Julien. I thought I might want sunglasses and knew ‘the look’ I was going for and his grin had it.

It also helped that he was super hot and just an eye-catching guy. I mean, if you saw him walking down the street, you’d totally look. I would.

The cover artist for this was amazing. This is probably the most important part about the cover – Clarise asked a lot of questions and heard what I wanted, got a feel for what I was going for then sent me the draft. She only had to do one draft.”

jordan st john

Jordan St. John, who also writes under the name Rollin Hand, changes his cover strategy based on his genre.  When  writing as Rollin Hand, he told me that cover design  “is pretty simple. When writing as an indie I’m in the highly focused niche of spanking erotica. My objective is to make sure the consumer perusing titles understands this core fact. I don’t have to wow readers with a nifty, artsy cover.”  However, when he publishes his romances with Stormy Night Publications, his covers are done professionally to appeal to a more diverse audience.

 

Author Morganna Williams, who publishes with Stormy Night Publications, is also happy with the covers provided by SNP, and adds that although she always has input into pictures, titles and details, she relies on the graphic artist to make it all come together.  As a reader browsing covers to choose, she says:  “I love when they resemble the characters at least a little…its kind of weird but when I read a story and the pic on the front is the wrong hair color — it really bothers me.”

Morganna’s concerns are important to many readers, and a good cover designer knows it.  Melody  Simmons takes everything into account when creating a new cover, including hair color, background, dress color, and even the face, and won’t stop until it’s perfect.  She told me: “Designing a romance cover usually starts with an image search for suitable models.  Thereafter I have to carefully extract the models from the background and add them into a new composition.  Sometimes changes to the models are required.  For historical romance covers often the dress colour needs to be changed.  Hair colour could be changed and at times I even replace a whole face with another one.  After that I work on different possible backgrounds and effects.  If no further alterations are required from the author a cover can be completed in three days.”

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Even for an expert, it can take a long time to design an excellent cover.  Melody Simmons points out that many authors are talented in graphic design, but don’t have time to focus on cover creation.  She says, “Some authors release one every month or every three months, some who write longer works release twice a year. Some who write shorter books release every two weeks. This helps them maintain their sales ranking position on Amazon. With such a hectic writing schedule it is essential to outsource cover work and editing, saving every precious moment to write more.  Many authors also say you will only really start making a profit once you release your fifth or sixth book.  Readers are reluctant to buy from authors who have only one or two books published. Getting a cover designer to help you will save you money in the long run as you will get to write more and also have better covers.”

like marketing or somethingGraphic designer Jason Maxham sums it up: “You can totally judge a book by the cover. Browse through Amazon books and you will see a crazy variety of covers. Most were designed to attract a certain reader. If it didn’t appeal to you, you are not the intended audience. That’s like, marketing, or something.”  (Right?) 

Jason’s being funny, but it’s true — the cover is really the best chance you have to grab a potential buyer’s attention. The good news is that you can always create — or commission — a new cover, if you’re not satisfied with your current one.

Please stay tuned for my next blog post, “Under the Covers – Part 2,” where I’ll interview Stormy Night Publications expert cover designer Korey Mae Johnson! She’ll let us take a peek under the engine to see how she designs her covers, and will give some tips to aspiring authors on what to look for in a good cover. And of course I’ll round up some more volunteers to let me showcase some of their beautiful books!


Book Cover Artists (Click on the graphic to visit their site)

 

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no sweat graphics

Here are some of the books shown in this article. Click to find them on Amazon. Thanks! 

 

Did a cover catch your eye? Follow your gut and learn more about the author. Click to visit each author’s Amazon page!

Adrienne Perry

Alexis Alvarez

Ashe Barker

Aubrey Cara

Breanna Hayse

Cara Bristol

Casey McKay

Jaye Peaches

Jordan St. John

Kacey Shea

Katherine Deane

Kathryn R. Blake

Maddie Taylor

Maria Monroe

Megan Michaels

Morganna Williams

Natasha Knight

Rollin Hand

Stevie MacFarlane

Stormy Night Publications

Thanks so much for reading! Cheers!

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