Posted in Artists, author, Books, H. S. Contino, Reading, updates, Writing, Writing Advice

Feedback, please: Cover Options– Round 2

Good morning!

First, I’d like to thank everyone that responded to my blog post earlier this week (through any of my social media accounts) to provide feedback on the cover options for my new novel. I really appreciate all of you taking the time to look through the options and provide constructive feedback. Thank you!!

The following is the vote tally:

Option #1: 5

Option #2: 2

Option #3: 2

Option #4: 6

Option #5: 2

Option #6: 2

As you can see, #1 and #4 were the favorites. But, in both cases, I received suggestions for improving them. 

For example, one reader suggested trying different font colors for option #1. Originally, the title was yellow/gold. I sent her 3 more options: black, pale blue, and purple. We agreed that purple was the best choice. What do you think?

Option #1– Font Color Choices:

With Option #4, several people suggested that I recreate the image using the broken mirror. I created this cover last year– before I brave enough to sacrifice the mirror in the pursuit of art. (It’s such a pretty mirror that I hesitated to break it!). Oh– and before I could recreate the photograph, I had to reassemble the broken mirror. LOL

Since some time had passed, I wasn’t able to position the objects in the photo exactly the same as before but I tried. I used 2 slightly different photos.

Oh! I also decided to play with different fonts. At the moment, these two are my favorites.

Cover Option #4– With and Without Broken Mirror

What do you think?

And, me being me, I did some more playing around with both the cover options I shared earlier this week plus a few more. I also added “a novel by” to each of the cover options. So, in addition to #1 and #4 above, there are the following options:

Cover Option #2: I added “a novel by”

Cover Option #3: I adjusted the author name so it’s at the same angle as the book title and added “a novel by”

New Options:

Cover Option #7: Just playing with different photograph and background choices. This one also has a wider feathering effect on the edge.

Cover Option #8: For this one, I went with a simpler approach. There’s a plain white background and no feathering effect on the edge of the photograph.

And, last but not least–

Cover Option #9: This one uses the same photograph as #7, but a different filter. I also used different fonts and colors. The photograph is also smaller, so the emphasis is on the text.


So, what do you think?  I know it’s a lot of options… but, it’s good to have choices, right? 

Thanks again for all of your help. I really appreciate it. 

Now to get back to editing the manuscript that goes with these cover choices…

~ H. S. Contino

Posted in author, Books, H. S. Contino, Reading, updates, Writing, Writing Advice

Feedback, please– Cover Options

Good afternoon,

I apologize for not writing any new blog posts lately. I’ve been busy with projects– including editing my latest novel, “The Other Mae.” I’m making progress, and I plan to self-publish it later this year. But, I’m not feeling confident enough to set a release date yet.

I’m currently between drafts, so I thought I’d spend a few days working on the book cover design. I shared a few options last year, but I didn’t love any of them. So I’ve been playing with additional designs, fonts, font colors, and background images.

The following are my current favorites. What do you think? I’d love some feedback!

Option #1: I love the swirling font on this one, but I’m worried that it might be too hard to read. 

Cover Option #2: I played with placing the title text on top of the mirror in this one. I might adjust the font size and spacing some more. 

Cover Option #3: For this one, I played with placing the title of the book on top of the journal (which plays a role in the story). I also zoomed in on the background image, so you can’t see the other items as clearly. I was hoping that added some mystery. Each item is relevant to the story.

Cover Option #4: This one is from the batch of covers I made last year. I used a feathering effect on the photo edges to make it look a little bit like a watercolor. Overall, I think this cover looks elegant and fits well into the women’s literature genre. 

Cover Option #5: This one is similar to some of the other options. I used a feathering effect on the image, but this time I didn’t zoom in. Instead, I framed the text around the image. 

The last cover option (#6) is more experimental, and I’m not sure what I think of it. I was playing with the mirror and distorted images. What do you think?

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I really appreciate it!

~ H. S. Contino

Posted in Artists, author, Bookaholic, Books, Camp NaNoWriMo, H. S. Contino, NaNoWriMo, Reading, social networking, updates, Writing, Writing Advice

Book Title Announcement: “The Other Mae”

 Good afternoon!

Thank you all for your comments and feedback on my recent post, “A Rose by Any Other Name.” After giving it a lot of thought and considering dozens of options, I settled on a new name for my most recent novel: “The Other Mae.” (I’m still working on the cover art).

Possible Cover Art
Another Cover Option

I like this title for several reasons. The story is about a woman finding herself after a traumatic attack that leaves her with amnesia. The main character’s full name is Ellie-Mae, but she shortened it to Mae as an adult. I like how the new title plays on the word “me.” The novel chronicles Mae’s journey of self discovery as she slowly heals both physically and psychologically from the attack. It’s the story of Mae finding herself. 

* Spoiler Alert *

At one point in the story, Ellie-Mae comes across some of her old journals. As she reads them, she gains insight into her life before the attack; but, she often compares herself to the person she was before the attack– in other words, “The Other Mae.”

Phew! I really like the new title, and I’m so relieved to have finally solved this problem. I wrote the initial rough draft of the novel back in the fall of 2019. I gave it the working title “This Forgotten Life,” but I was never happy with it.

I’d also like to acknowledge my friend and fellow writer for her help. She uses the pen name “Tatiana Foxx,” and she writes erotic romance. Thank you, Tatiana, for helping me brainstorm title ideas and providing feedback. I really appreciate your help!

Feel free to check out Tatiana Foxx’s webpage and sign up for updates. She’s currently working on her first novel, “Not My Alpha.”

Tatiana Foxx Romance

Happy reading (and writing) everyone!

~ H. S. Contino

Posted in Artists, author, Bookaholic, Books, Camp NaNoWriMo, H. S. Contino, motivation, NaNoWriMo, Reading, Writing, Writing Advice

“A Rose by Any Other Name…”

 Good morning,

As Shakespeare famously said “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” For today’s post, I would like to get our little community involved in my current writing project. In particular, I could use some help coming up with a better title for the novel.

The working title for this project is “This Forgotten Life.” I wrote the initial draft immediately after I completed the rough draft of what eventually became “Alternatives.” but the novels are very different. There are a few common themes including families and overcoming past hurts, but the novels are very different. “Alternatives” is a soft science-fiction story with a strong romantic story line.”This Forgotten Life” is a little harder to classify. It’s more mainstream fiction with a strong dramatic flare. It could also be described as “Women’s Lit” since a big part of the story is about the main character trying to find herself after a traumatic event.

“This Forgotten Life” is an accurate title for the novel, and I have been experimenting with some cover options using this title. The following are a few of my favorites so far:

The current title could work for the book, but… it’s kind-of a boring name. I’d like something with more oomph! For example, I’d love to work the word “shattered” into the title. The word accurately describes what happens to main the character in the 1st scene in the book. A single event destroys everything, and she’s left to pick up the pieces. And the image of a broken mirror or shattered glass on the cover would be powerful and carries a lot of emotional weight.

 I also love the concept of Kintsugi, which, according to Wikipedia, “is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum…” It also involves accepting (and embracing) imperfections.

Kintsugi provides the perfect metaphor for what the main character experiences throughout the course of the book. In the beginning, she’s shattered and broken, but with work she slowly puts the pieces back together again. She becomes a better person through her journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately, there is no English translation/equivalent. And I’m worried that if i tried to use the Japanese term then I’ll be constantly having to explain it to people. It’s a great concept, but as the title of a novel it may be too abstract.

The problem is that every time I come up with a more exciting title, I discover that it’s already in use by another author (through a title search on Amazon or GoodReads). While technically, I could still use those titles, I would prefer to come up with something unique.

That’s where all of you come in. Suggestions, please! Feel free to leave a comment on this blog post or send me an email.

I’m still working on the back cover text for the book, the following should give you a general idea about what the book is about:

In an instant, her life changed forever…

Thirty-seven year old, Ellie-Mae Rossi was happily married with three children and another on the way when, in an instant, her life was changed forever. Waking up in the hospital, the doctors realize that she’s lost twenty years of memories.

Reverting to her 17-year-old self, Ellie-Mae is forced to confront the hopes for her future that never realized and past betrayals that had long been forgotten.

With her sense of self shattered, Ellie Mae struggles to put the pieces of her life back together.

Possible titles:

This Forgotten Life (working title)

Finding Ellie-Mae

Finding Kintsugi (to abstract?)

Shattered Sense of Self (too much alliteration??)

Your suggestion here!

Themes: journey of self discovery, picking up the pieces, overcoming challenging, betrayal, broken dreams, disillusionment, past hurts, overcoming amnesia/memory loss, rebuilding relationships, forgiveness

So, what do you think? All feedback welcome!

Okay, I better get back to work. I’m currently working on the 3rd draft of the novel. It’s been slow going, but I’m slowly making progress. More updates soon!

Happy reading (and writing) everyone!

~ H. S. Contino 📚

Posted in Artists, author, Bookaholic, Books, Camp NaNoWriMo, community activities, H. S. Contino, Inspirational, motivation, NaNoWriMo, Reading, social networking, updates, Writing, Writing Advice

It’s Camp NaNoWriMo!

Good morning!

As my regular followers know, I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I’ve written about it in the past. For those that are unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo is basically a huge online writing community. They’re run by a non-profit organization and their basic mission is to encourage people to write.

November is the official National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Every year, tons of people from around the world sign up to participate. The goal is to write a full length novel with a minimum of 50,000 words within the month of November.

“30 days and 30 nights of literary abandon!”

The best part is the online community. There are forums, pep talks (often from well known and successful authors), and other online resources. You can also join writing groups and add writing buddies. All of the above comes together to create a supportive community for writers— where we all do our part to help and encourage each other.

Like I said earlier, I love NaNoWriMo!

The November big event was so popular that they eventually created Camp NaNoWriMo which is held in April and July.

The great part about the Camp NaNoWriMo events is that they’re much more laid back and the writing goals are flexible. You can also choose to work on any writing project and choose your word goal. I usually use the camps to work on editing existing rough drafts. Having the NaNoWriMo community support is incredibly motivating!

This month, I’ll (once again) be working on editing the rough draft of “This Forgotten Life.” You may recall that I worked on the same project during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo too. In fact, I’ve been working on the manuscript— off and on— for the past six months. I’ve been making progress— at a snail’s pace. 🐌 I’m hoping that Camp NaNoWriMo will help motivate me to get more work done.

For my fellow writers (and those that dream of becoming a writer), feel free to look me up on the Camp NaNoWriMo webpage and add me as a writing buddy. My nickname is “Reprieve26” (the combination of my favorite word and number). (

Have a great weekend!

H. S. Contino 🤓

Posted in author, Book Reviews, Bookaholic, Books, community activities, markets, NaNoWriMo, promotion, Reading, sale, social networking, updates, Writing, Writing Advice

Quick Update– e-book Live!

 Hey everyone! 

It’s me again. I just wanted to let you know that the e-book version of “Alternatives” is live! $4.99 for the Kindle version, but it looks like Amazon will let you can read it for free if you have a “Kindle Unlimited” account.  

Feel free to check it out! As I said in my earlier post, this is the Beta Reader edition, so I will be making additional changes after I’ve received some reader feedback.

Have a great day!

~ H. S. Contino