Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Is ignorance bliss or merely deadly? - The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller (Peter Stoller) by M. Pepper Langlinais

"Looking for complex characters, unexpected plot twists, and tautly sustained suspense? [...]The author skillfully tightens the web of intrigue until you can't turn the pages fast enough!" - Goodreads, Jerie

Published: January 15th, 2016

In 1960s London, British Intelligence agent Peter Stoller is next in line to run the Agency. But when he falls in love with cab driver Charles, his life goes off the road. Charles is accused of being an enemy spy, and Peter is guilty by association. 

Though they manage to escape, the seeds of doubt have been planted, leaving Peter to wonder how much he can truly trust his lover. Is ignorance bliss or merely deadly?

"I found it difficult to put my ereader down as each chapter beckoned me on to the next. There is a little quirkiness to the style which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it fits a man like Peter. I highly recommend The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller to everyone, not just the suspense and spy thriller fans." - Goodreads, Christine

Judging by the Cover 

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” we’re told, and we often nod and agree that it’s unfair to do so. We don’t always mean an actual book, either; often this adage is used when talking about people, and it means we shouldn’t judge them on looks alone, that we should get to know them personally before deciding whether we like them or not.

That said, in the real world we do judge by appearance. How a person—or a book—looks will often inform our decision as to whether to get close enough to know them in the first place. Fair or not, it’s a fact of life.

For writers, this means our books’ covers will help a reader determine whether to pick up our book (or, if online, click on it) or not. Is the cover intriguing enough to draw in potential readers?

First thing, know your genre. Look at the covers of books similar to yours. See what the bestselling books in your genre look like. Don’t steal their designs. BUT. Do think about why those covers draw people in, and attempt to use some of the same elements or ideas.

You’ll often find there are tropes common to certain genres. The woman with her head partially cut off is common in historical fiction, for example. Shirtless men often appear on bodice-ripping historical romances. A book about vampires will probably have a dark and shadowy cover. There are any number of trends, so peruse a bookstore, physical or online, and see if there’s any that speak to you. See if the trend(s) you like can be applied in some way to your book.

Another thing: A book cover should be a true representation of what is in your book. By which I mean, don’t put a man ripping a woman’s clothes off on the cover if it doesn’t happen in the book. Don’t put a dragon on the cover if there isn’t a dragon in the story. You’re only setting yourself up for bad reviews from unhappy readers who expected something they didn’t get.

RULE: A book cover should not make a promise the book doesn’t keep.

Once you have an idea of what you want for your cover, it’s time to find a designer. Unless, of course, you have the skills yourself, you’re going to need some help to make a professional cover. There are numerous sites that offer covers for self-publishing authors, so Google them and see if you can find a site or specific designer whose style suits your mental picture of your cover. (If you have a publisher, they will have either designers on staff or freelance designers they regularly use, and all of this is possibly moot depending on how much say they give writers in the cover design process.) Personally, I’ve used 99 Designs for my last couple book covers, but there are scads of others.

How much will it cost you? It varies from site to site and designer to designer, but you should budget anywhere from $300 to $600 for a good cover design. Remember that designers often use stock images, too, which can add to the price.

There is a lower cost option. Pre-made covers often go for less than $100, and many sites and designers promise not to sell the same cover twice, meaning your pre-made cover will be unique (although you may also discover many very similar covers). Google “pre-made book covers” for listings. The trick here is finding a cover that fits your manuscript. I’ve tried it once or twice, but there was always some little thing that didn’t quite work, which is why I went with custom covers.

While you may groan at the expense involved, you cannot go cheap on your book cover. Keep in mind that it’s the cover, not your wonderful prose, that people will see first. Your book’s cover is the makeup, the snazzy clothes that cause people to look twice and eventually get to know your book—by buying it and reading it.

December 196x
“Get him out or take him out.” Peter’s heart was in his knees, but he made sure it didn’t sound in his voice.
Noise on the line as Jules Maier shifted. Peter pictured him tucked up in a dark, cramped flat with too-low ceilings and flimsy furniture. It would be perpetually damp there. Musty. And yet Jules would still somehow manage to look perfectly put together. Jules rolled out of bed perfectly put together. It was sinful.
“After all that work to get him in?” Jules asked.
Perfectly put together but, Peter was reminded, also a tad whiney. Gordon had once told Peter he couldn’t think of the men out in the field as real people, not if he wanted to be able to do the job well. “Don’t think of them as men you’ve met, had lunch with, drinks with,” Gordon said. “Think of them as characters in a book or players in a game.” Peter had wondered at the time whether Gordon thought of him that way, but he’d been too afraid of the answer to ask.
And now, with the file open in front of him and the face of Alexander Sepiol staring back from his desk, it was difficult advice to take. Peter closed the folder. “You know how this goes, Jules.”
A heavy sigh. “I’ll try to get him out, of course.”
“Don’t waste any time,” Peter instructed. “And, Jules?”
Peter imagined the arched eyebrow, the tiny smile. He was probably wearing one of those goddamned turtlenecks. “Get yourself out as soon as you can. I don’t want to have to send anyone in after you.”
* * *
He hoped the drive down to Oxshott would clear his head, but his mind continued to jump from Jules to Alexander and back again. Why wouldn’t Alexander leave Germany? How could they coerce him? Had Alexander already given them away? If so, to whom? Was Jules really doing everything he could?
Probably not. Jules was lazy. But if Alexander had leaked, Jules was also in trouble. Along with a half dozen more people in Brandenburg’s Frankfurt.
Peter was surprised to find he’d arrived, his musings having stolen the time. The grass in front of the Lessenbys’ was dead with winter and flat with cars. Peter added his TR3 to the fleet.
He didn’t bother to knock; he never did at the Lessenbys’, and with the party, no one would have heard it anyway. Gordon and Elinor held it every year at the holidays, this odd assemblage of people whose jobs were to be quiet and unseen, Gordon a gaunt anti-Fezziwig.
Peter spotted him standing near the fireplace, Trevor Tillholm planted squarely in front of him, and he started in that direction, but Elinor Lessenby caught sight of Peter and moved in, arresting his progress. Her oversized hat forced him to rock back a bit on his heels; he then took a full step backward as her oversized body followed the brim.
“Peter!” she shrilled as she held out a hand. “How did you sneak in without any of us noticing? Oh!” she laughed, not waiting for him to answer, “no, I know, it’s what you do!”

About the author:
M Pepper Langlinais is best known for her Sherlock Holmes stories. She is also a produced playwright and screenwriter. She lives in Livermore, California.

1 comment:

M said...

Thank you for hosting me!