When you don’t want lemonade.

So today I got a second rejection on my romantic fantasy novel, Out of Time. It’s the first book in a planned trilogy. I had hoped to return to the world of traditional publishing for these books, but I’m starting to think it might not happen.

No, that’s not bitterness.

It’s resignation.

So when I’d written my polite note of thanks to the sweet editor who took the time to write my rejection (complete with a compliment on my writing and style), I started thinking about what to do with the lemons I’d been handed.

And I’ve never been much for making lemonade.

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When life hands you a slightly spotty lemon, create a still life on your bookshelf with it.

Labyrinth II continues…

Sarah woke in the darkness and her very first thought was for Davey. She sat up, an afghan sliding from her shoulders as she did so. Voices in the hall warned her and she lay back quickly. A moment later, the door opened and someone looked in.

“She’s still out.”

“You think she’s okay, though?”

Her husband and her father. She felt guilty about deceiving them, but she couldn’t really help it. She had to get to the Labyrinth. She had to find Toby and force him to return her son. That wouldn’t happen if she couldn’t get out of the house, though.

“She’s fine, son. You were right to call me.” The tone of worry in her father’s voice almost made Sarah flinch, but then the door shut and their voices grew fainter.

She sat up again, looking for her backpack. There it was, on the chair. She slipped out of the bed, found her boots and a light jacket, and tucked everything under her arm, ready to leave.

“You think all the preparations in your world can prepare you for another stint in mine, Sarah?” His voice slid from the mirror in a silvery shard.

She turned slowly, knowing she’d meet those mismatched eyes in the mirror, the ones that saw into her very soul, the only ones that could still see the frightened but determined fourteen-year-old girl she’d once been. The one who’d lost Toby in the first place because she’d been too self-involved and thoughtless to believe her own actions had consequences.

By that token, Davey’s disappearance could be traced directly back to her.

“Jareth.” She took a deep breath. “Tell Toby I’m coming for him. He can’t take my son and get away with it.”

“You once said that about a stuffed bear, if I remember correctly.” He tented his fingers below his chin in the reflection, grinning a lopsided grin at her. “You had second thoughts about that, I think.”

“Well, it won’t happen now.” She turned to the bedroom door.

“You won’t get there that way, Sarah.” He laughed. “But I can help you.”

“Why would you help me?” She gave the mirror a scornful look over her shoulder.

He shrugged. “Maybe because I enjoy the game as much as you.” His grin faded. “Or maybe because your brother has pissed me off and it’s time to teach him a lesson.”

Sarah did a double-take, hearing the sincere irritation in his voice. She turned all the way around and gave him her full attention. “I’m listening.”

What’s in a Cover, or How Writers Judge Books by Them

We writers are very silly people. We show pictures of our covers the way proud parents show pictures of their babies. In most cases, we’re no more responsible for the way the cover looks than the funny expression captured by a snapshot of a baby. But that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect our pride in the first concrete proof that our work has paid off.

Congratulations. It’s a book. Island Magic eBookAnd yet. When an author looks at a book cover–whether they designed it themselves or had someone like the fabulous Farah Evers do it for them or got it straight from the Art Department of Harper Collins Publishing–however that cover came into being, when an author looks at it for the first time, it’s going to be one of two things: a huge disappointment or the culmination of every dream the author ever had for her book.

As an independent author (I like “independent” much better than “self-published”), I have a bit more control over things, so I don’t often get one of those huge disappointment things anymore. In fact, as you can see above, my most recent cover falls very definitively into the latter category.

I’ve been working on this story for a while. Ever since Escape Magic, as a matter of fact. Island Magic was a tough story to write. It deals with some more difficult themes than either of the first two books in the series. However, I didn’t want it to lose the magical feel of the first two books, and I wanted my cover to reflect that. With the help of Ms. Evers, the cover did indeed come to life with all the magic and beauty of the first two. And a little indefinable something more, too. This cover is perfect for this book.

So forgive me if I start featuring the cover prominently on my blog so early. The book won’t be published until October 31 (Harry Houdini’s birthday!), but you can pre-order it now for your Kindle.