Thursday, February 16, 2017

Prepping for a Cover Design

by Elva Cobb Martin

As promised in my previous post today I want to share with you the information my publisher requested from me to help build the cover design for my debut novel being released in March, Summer of Deception. Here's the type of info you'll need to get ready for  YOUR novel cover! The below excerpt comes from a document my publisher sent to me. Their requests are in bold with my answers below. And this is not ALL the document by any means--just what relates to the front and back cover design.

COVER INFORMATION FOR AUTHOR                                                  PROMOTIONAL  SURVEY

* Do you prefer faces/people on your cover? Please specify.  

I prefer people and faces.

* Do you prefer a man or a woman on your cover?

Both, if possible, with a Southern mansion in the background and miniature dachshund and black Arabian stallion perhaps on the back spread. The hero could actually be shown astride the stallion on a beach on the back cover edge. The season is summer. See following sample pictures. (I didn’t get ALL of this but I was happy with the cover)

* If you would like people on your cover, please provide general physical descriptions including hair color, skin tone, and appropriate attire.

The Heroine is 22, a recent college grad in elementary education with long, thick dark curly hair, intelligent blue/green eyes and long dark lashes, fair complexion, height 5 ft., 8 inches, 125 pounds, tall, but small bones, willowy, but well-endowed, spunky, rides horseback, good cook, heart-shaped face with wide eyes, full lips, and well-defined but pretty nose. (a suggested photo sample follows in this doc.)  

Wears sun dresses, jeans, Bermuda shorts and pullovers, sandals, but also can dress up in lovely attire for evening out. Prefer the evening attire on cover, if possible.  (GOT THIS)

The Hero is 30, a wounded Marine Middle East war hero who wears eye patch, is physically very strong, dark tan, 6 ft., 4 inches tall, weight 210, all lean muscle, thick dark hair with a tendency to curl when wet, cut military short, has thin mustache, steel gray eyes but wears the patch over the left eye damaged in military, runs a modern southern plantation, rides black Arabian stallion and drives jeep over plantation, owns Mercedes and a Ferrari.
Large strong hands, square jaw, thin lips,
Every day wear: levis, black or khaki Marine t-shirts, army boots, cowboy hat
Dress up: black tie and tux, pullover knit shirts, khaki pants. If on front cover prefer him in dress up wear, if on back cover, in his rugged levis/Marine tee/cowboy hat as plantation hard worker.
(a suggested photo sample follows of the hero). For front cover, dress for hero and heroine should match as far as dress up or every day wear. (GOT DRESS UP)

Please provide a back cover blurb for your book. Please note: this is not a short synopsis or outline of your book. The purpose of this is to interest the readers, so it should be catchy and appealing. If you have never written a blurb before, I recommend starting by going online and reading several in your genre. Which make you want to read the book? Those are good examples.

Back Cover Copy: Is the owner of Barrett Hall a man of integrity or is he part of the secret drug smuggling society that caused her brother’s death?
Rachel York has no idea that love, danger and a shocking revelation await her in Charleston, South Carolina. What could be better than spending the summer taking care of a five-year-old girl on a southern tea plantation? Of vital importance, the Charleston location will allow Rachel to learn more about her brother’s reported death by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
She arrives and discovers a handsome new owner with whom to contend. The little girl’s widower father, Luke Barrett, is an unhappy, wounded, former Marine Corps Special Forces operative. He knows nothing about his deceased uncle’s job offer to Rachel and threatens to send her packing. Even with his eye patch, bitterness, and distrust, Luke begins to capture Rachel’s heart until the night she uncovers evidence he may be keeping his plantation solvent by allowing cocaine smuggling on his coastline.
Both Luke and Rachel conceal secrets. Peril and distrust, as well as love, test Rachel’s faith, and Luke’s struggle to find faith again. When all the deception rips asunder in a hurricane, will love survive?

Please provide two short, catchy phrases/selling points for your book.

These are often seen in advertisements and on the book cover. 5-10 words.

A wounded warrior . . . a woman searching for truth.

My original tag evolved into this final front cover tag:


Cover/image examples. Please supply us with several examples of covers you like and feel carry the tone of what you would like to see on your cover. These need not be Prism covers--copy and paste them from anywhere. This greatly aids our artists in capturing the essence of the cover you are going for. (Here are a couple of cover ideas I submitted.)

Here is my final book cover!

How do you like this cover? Do you think the designer (Nicola Martinez, Pelican Book Group) did a good job using my information?  I gave her an A+.

In my next blog I will share some characterization pointers that helped me visualize and write about my main characters in Summer of Deception, an inspirational romantic suspense. And don't forget it will be released in March!

If you think this article would help other writers, please share it on social media by simply clicking on the buttons below.

Blessings and Onward!
Elva Cobb Martin


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New Cover, Tag, & Galley Proofs

by Elva Cobb Martin

Drum Roll! Here’s the new cover of my inspirational romantic suspense novel, Summer of Deception, being released by Pelican Book Group in March. 

Tag: A wounded warrior, a woman searching for answers. Can she  risk all to uncover the truth?

Nicola Martinez, Editor-in-Chief of Pelican, designed this cover, and I think she did an excellent job. In my next blog I'll describe the information requested from me to help her build this cover and what you can do to get ready for your cover!

Next to seeing the cover design, I really do love to see the galley proofs of the novel. The interior is designed like it will be in the final printed book and it finally looks like a book.

The important thing to remember is that the galley is the last chance to make any small changes, like catch a misspelled word. BIG editing changes would have already been made in other edit rounds. Also the galley comes to you in a pdf file. Any changes you need to make have to be listed on a separate sheet of paper and sent to your editor in a list like:
Page ____  Line _____Edit _______

I am so happy this publisher numbered the lines in the galley so I can easily list the line number if I find an error. Another editor asked me to count paragraphs with no line numbers! 

Here's a sample of the galley proof and first lines of Summer of Deception. Of course when you try to copy from a pdf, you do lose a lot of the format. But this gives you an idea.

Chapter One
6 Charleston, South Carolina
8 Rachel York gasped when the taxi headlights
9 pierced the stormy night and illuminated Barrett Hall
10 in all its southern grandeur. Her travel fatigue faded,
11 and she leaned forward, energized, as the cab
12 crunched its way up the tree-lined shell drive to the
13 entrance. At the gate, she exited the auto with her
14 umbrella extended, and the taxi driver placed her large
15 bag and tote at her side. Rachel thanked him, paid him,
16 and hurried up the front walk, pulling her valise
17 behind her. The vehicle disappeared down the drive,
18 and darkness closed in as she made her way up the
19 front steps.

20 On the wide porch, she propped her umbrella
21 beside her suitcase, took a deep breath, and tried to
22 ignore a shiver of disquiet that traveled up her spine.
23 She would discover the truth. This summer job in
24 Charleston was her first step.

I try to ask at least two dear writer friends to help proof the galley with me, mainly to catch misspelled words that can manage to creep in.

I also like to set aside blocks of time to proof the galley at a few sittings so I can keep a good grasp of the story and details.

How do you like the cover?  Have you gotten to the galley stage? Would love to hear your comments. And please do click on the social media buttons below and share this article if you liked it.

Elva Cobb Martin

Thursday, January 5, 2017

America's Prayer History - Part 2

by Elva Cobb Martin (Resource: The Incredible Power of Prayer by David Balsiger)

A Miraculous Wind

When the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria headed out on their historic journey west, Samuel Eliot Morison, a Columbus historian, wrote that the daily ship schedule included devotions at daybreak and at close of day for all the sailors. However after two months and more than 3,000 miles of sailing and still with nothing in sight, suspicion and fear began to affect the crews. Talk of mutiny began.

In grave concern, the captains of the other two ships rowed small boats to Columbus on the Santa Maria.  Columbus promised them, “Just give me three more days. If we haven’t sighted land by then, I’ll order the ships to turn around.” The men left and Columbus fell to his knees and cried out to God.
During the next 24 hours, a miracle occurred. A strong wind came and began pushing the three ships west at an alarming speed. The crew finally panicked, thinking they’d end up so far away from home they could never return. Columbus could barely control the frightened sailors, until one of the crew spied a reed and a piece of carved wood floating on the sea, then a small branch with roses on it.

At dawn on the third day, a voice rang from the crow’s nest, “Tierra! Tierra!” Land! Land!

Of course, the land discovered was in the Caribbean. The first thing Columbus and his men did was kneel on the pristine sand and thank God. Then they erected a cross and christened the island as San Salvador—Holy Savior.

Does this true story inspire you? If so, please leave a comment and share this on your social media by clicking on the icons below.

Elva Cobb Martin
PS For some crazy reason I can't insert photos and my keys are sticking while doing this blog. Can anyone help? ( :

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A New Blog Series: America's Prayer History - Part 1

by Elva Cobb Martin 

America’s Prayer History - Our  Most Precious National Treasure
As we head into the inauguration of a new U.S. President in January, I am going to share some amazing answered prayers that are part of our spiritual national treasure. 

These prayers were by American leaders and by prayer warriors just like you and me, and they impacted our nation’s destiny. Unfortunately, we don’t find these in most of our school textbooks, so we must share them with our children and grandchildren. 

At the end of this series, I hope you’ll decide to join the long line of praying Christians before us, take up the torch, and continue the prayer march down the halls of America’s history. YOUR prayers can impact our nation in the coming years and birth the next Great Awakening.

In this series I hope to share sample stories of how simple but fervent prayer led to the discovery of the Americas, helped the colonies become established and preserved and strengthened our ragtag Continental army to break the back of the formidable British war machine, inspired the documents that have guided our country through two centuries, inspired four Great Awakenings, and forged a broken nation back together after the Civil War. 

Truly, through all our national conflicts, from the Revolutionary War to the current Middle East Wars, America has been preserved through the incredible power of praying Americans.

For this series I give upfront thanks to researchers David Balsiger, Joette Whims, and Melody Hunskor and their work, The Incredible Power of Prayer, published by Tyndale House in 1998. The Incredible Power of Prayer traces the power of prayer in our nation's history through nearly 100 miraculous instances where prayer changed the course of our destiny. 

Here's a bit about Christopher Columbus:

Columbus Sailed to the Americas in 1492, praying the earth was round, not flat!
 Educators teach that Christopher Columbus’s main purpose for sailing west to the Americas was secular. But his personal diary reflects a different  motivation: “It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) that it would be possible to sail from here (Europe) to the Indies...The fact that the gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time, this is what convinces me.”

A priest friend shared a verse of scripture with Columbus  that convinced him the earth must be round. “To whom then will you liken God...It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth...” (Isaiah 41:18,22).

Hope you are having a blessed Christmas Season!

Elva Cobb Martin, President ACFW-SC Chapter

Friday, December 2, 2016

Guest Post: Successful Editing Summed Up in a Single Principle

Posted: 01 Dec 2016 07:00 AM PST

by Edie Melson

Writers tend to fall into two distinct groups, those who prefer to write and those who prefer to rewrite—also known as editing. I fall into the latter group. I can’t help it. I just love the process of editing.
It doesn’t really matter if I’m editing someone else, or my own manuscript.
To me, it’s a fulfilling task of taking something good and making it into something great. But the path of getting from good to great can be a difficult one, unless you follow this single principle. I stumbled upon it early in my writing journey and it’s served me well, no matter what type of editing situation I’m in. So what is it that makes for successful editing?

 Err on the side of outrageous
I can see the puzzled looks from here. But bear with me as I explain.
Saying things the way they’ve always been said is, at best, boring and at worst, a cliché. So when you’re going back over what’s been written, look for something new…something different…something OUTRAGEOUS!
Places to Plug-in the Outrageous
Verbs—first, get rid of the passive verbs that dot the landscape of a first draft. Search for was and were, and be and been. Now go for action. And don’t just stick with boring action, search for something that zings the senses of your readers. For instance, instead of this sentence:
He moved across the busy street to reach his beloved’s side.
Try something like this:
He darted across the street, zigging and zagging toward the one who held his reason for living.
Comparisons—we do want our comparisons to make sense to our readers, but within those parameters, be brave and dare to walk on the path of outrageous. For instance, instead of this sentence:
Her heart pounded like a bass drum as she watched for her love dart through the traffic of the busy street.
Try something like this:

He darted across the street, and the staccato beat of her heart beat punctuated each of steps that brought him closer to her embrace.
Senses—in fiction, as well as creative nonfiction, all scenes should include the five senses. Look for ways to include the senses that also capture the setting or the character’s emotions. Do you want to give us the essence of a hot summer’s evening in the south? Instead of the cool breeze that kisses cheeks and ruffles hair, what if it carried the smoky taste of the grill from the house next door. Perhaps it clogs your throat with the chemical taste of a mosquito truck that just finished its rounds. Perhaps the delicate lace under a brides fingers promised an enclosing mesh of steel, instead of the soft promise of two lives knitted together? These are the things to look for as you take a manuscript from good to great.
Clichés—this is a way of saying something that has become so common place it’s almost invisible. The first few drafts of any manuscript often contain clichés because they’re a good way for the writer to capture the essence of what she wants to convey. Again, good, not great. But the editing phase is the time to tweak those ho-hum sayings and make them great. Sometimes it’s nothing more than turning them on their head. Your reader thinks you’re headed in one direction and at the last moment you dodge and it’s something original. For example, instead of this cliché:
She was decked out head to toe.
Try something like this:

She was decked out toes to nose.
The opportunities for outrageous are plentiful at this stage in the writing process. It’s the act of looking for opportunities to surprise and delight your readers that makes them appear.
What about you? Have you been surprised by an author’s choice of phrase or word? Have you found a new way to say something common-place? Now isn’t the time to be shy. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And don’t forget to join the conversation!

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Lessons Learned at a Book Signing

by Elva Cobb Martin

Recently we were invited to participate in a book signing at our local YMCA. My first two romance novels won't be released until March and May of 2017. However, I did have a non-fiction mini-book I indie published on Amazon, Power Over Satan, a primer on our authority in Christ. So-o-o I was happy to accept this invitation for my first real book signing. Here's the link to the book:

A dear friend, Edie Melson, also accepted the invitation, and I was blessed to share a table with her.  She arrived before I did and set up our table close to the refreshment table the YMCA provided for the event. I told her that had to be a smart idea. 
( :

I learned several neat things from Edie who has done multiple book signings. She came with a big chart of her book cover of While My Child is Away, which is a wonderful book of prayers and devotions for parents. She also had a neat freebie, her own designed book mark on a chain with a bird charm on one end and a tag on the other that included the title of her book on one side and her social media info on the other side. She brought book holder/picture frames to stand her books up and she loaned some to me.

I ordered a 11x17 chart of my front and back cover from I folded this just like it was a book cover and wrote $5.00 in the corner so everyone could easily see my price. I stood this up on a book frame.

To advertise my coming novels, my prep included making an 8-1/2 x 11 advertising sheet on card stock of my two novels coming out, Summer of Deception (March, 2017, Prism Book Group) and In a Pirate's Debt (May, 2017 Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas)I included titles, release date, and a photo from my file on each book. This also went on a book frame.

 I brought a small basket lined with colorful gemstones (collected with my gemstone-happy grandson) to stash my business cards in. My books were being sold for $5 so I also brought some change in a bank bag. (At the time I had a Square on order to take credit cards, but it had not arrived.)

So there Edie and I were, all ready to sell our books. We took some pictures, we smiled, we chatted with passersby and we waited. Two hours. 

Lots of folks walked right by our table on their way to the refreshment table. A very few stopped, glanced at our books and most said something like:

"Oh, these are nice but, sorry, I didn't bring my pocketbook into the gym."  (HOW could we forget that most people don't??)

One dear lady told me, "I really need your book. I'm going to the car and get my $5.00."

God bless that dear one! I finally did sell three books.

What I Learned from My Book Signing Experience:

  •  Gyms are NOT a good place to sell books.                      
  • Books priced over $10 will most likely not sell well these days. One author had a book for sale at $29. 

  •  It's good to have a freebie to give away. is a good place to buy trinkets that might go along with your book. Edie got her bird charms there. I can't wait to look for small ships or pirate stuff for In a Pirate's Debt. I will have tea bag freebies for Summer of Deception which is set on a Charleston Tea Plantation. And I will have an antique tea pot or cup on the table!          
  •  Even with low sales, I felt I made some good contacts.                                                                            
  • I enjoyed fellowship with other authors.

Thanks  for stopping by. Have you suggestions or insights for a book signing?  I  have another coming up in December. . .

Elva Martin

Sunday, October 30, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 9 Preparing for Editors and Agents

by Elva Cobb Martin  @ElvaCobbMartin

You can master all kinds of writing craft but if you don't learn how to submit to editors and agents, you might never get that dreamed of open door to a book contract and great adventure.

Recently I learned about some excellent editing programs that can help you polish a manuscript before submitting to an editor or agent. Google these editing program names: Autocrit, Hemingway, Grammarly to see what might work for you.

Once you have your ms in what you think is your best form, you should read publishers or agents submission guidelines carefully and do exactly what they say to submit. It's amazing how many don't think they need to follow submission guidelines. You can google any publisher, editor or agent's name and go to the link for Submission Guidelines. All this study is vital before submitting.

Attend writers' conferences! At writers' conferences, the editors and agents will write in their class sections in the syllabus what type manuscripts they are currently interested in. See where yours would fit and make an appointment with that editor or agent, and sit at their table. In this picture I am at a dinner seating with MacGregor Literary Agent Erin Buterbaugh at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest, NC.

For editors and agents you need to learn what One Sheets are, query letters, book proposals, pitches/loglines, tags. You can google these terms and find a lot of information. Appointments at conferences are only 15 minutes so you have to have your pitch ready to go and hopefully, a One Sheet. Don't know what a One Sheet is or like to see a sample? Leave a comment and ask for a sample to be sent to your email address as an attachment. Don't forget your email address! An appointment with a Prism Book Group editor at the 2015 conference I attended at Blue Ridge, and my carefully crafted pitch and One Sheet, led to my first book contract --for Summer of Deception  released in March 2017.

Pitch or Logline
This a one or two sentence nutshell that explains what your story is about and HOOKS the reader or editor.

Sample 1: Jacob Marshall must avenge his father's honor by implicating Serena Jones' Father only to realize revenge often hurts the innocent.

Here's a simple work template to write your pitch:

(Your protagonist) ______________MUST________________ (critical plot goal BY_______________ (action or conflict with the Antagonist) ONLY TO REALIZE ________________ (what the character learns about life that helps him change his goal during the journey of book or come to a satisfactory ending.)

Here's my pitch I wrote for Summer of Deception using this template, and I pitched this book to Prism Book Group:

Rachel York tries to unearth the truth about her brother's reported death by taking a position at a Carolina tea plantation, only to realize the truth may destroy her new found love and could even cost her life.

A tag is a much briefer hook, like back cover copy's first line or two in large print, or movie bylines.

To boldly go where no man has gone. (Star Wars)
Don't go in the water. (Jaws)
Seth Kincaid remembers almost everything . . . except getting married. (novel tag)
Power comes with a price (The List by Robert Whitlow)

My tag for Summer of Deception:
A wounded warrior . . . a woman searching for truth.

Rejections happen to all! Never forget this. Summer of Deception was rejected 26 times over several years, but I kept honing my craft, rewriting and submitting. Here are some comments I received with rejections:

Too much telling. (White Rose Publishing)
Too wordy - too much description (Agent sue Seymour)
Too long for publisher's guidelines (Editor Yvonne Lehman)
Not a fit for us. (Harlequin Love Inspired)

Make up your mind. YOU will not give up! Track your submissions by date, person submitted to and their response. Keep a Writing Log Notebook as you progress with your writing daily or weekly.

So glad you stopped by today! Did any of this help you? Do leave a comment and share on your social media if helpful.

Here's my scripture prayer for you and all Christian writers:
Make our words "like a gushing stream, (sparkling, fresh, pure and life-giving.)" Prov. 18:4b Amplified Bible

This is the last part of this series on my "Journey to a Book Contract." Now, as Randy Ingermanson would say: "Go write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius."

Onward in His Steps,
Elva Cobb Martin