ChatgPT and the romance book covers

Over the Christmas period, I spent some time playing with ChatGPT, just like everyone else did. I wanted to challenge myself to make some book covers, but I needed inspiration. On a whim, I asked ChatGPT to give me some chicklit/ romcom titles. It came up with a huge list.

Eventually, out of 200 titles, I picked 25 which sounded like they could be on real books and made book covers for them all.

One of the reasons for setting myself this silly challenge was so that I could practise my Canva skills. If I’m going to do YouTube videos showing authors how to use Canva for their marketing, I should know what I’m talking about. I taught myself how to use Canva (and the basics of graphic design) by watching YouTube videos and just messing about with it for years.

Here are 24 of the covers in all their glory (25 looks messy). So … do you want to buy one? I’m selling them as premade ebook covers on my Etsy site. Each cover will be sold only once. If you buy one you get a jpeg of the book cover (with the title and author name changed to your title and name). You also get a link to the editable Canva template – so that if you want to tweak something, you can do.

Use them for an existing book that you’re self publishing. Or as inspiration for one you haven’t even started yet.

For those who are curious about animated book covers (where the cover is animated to start with and you use a static version as your ebook cover) the Love and The Internet cover has animated hearts. (If you buy this one, you’ll get a static jpeg image to use as your cover and a link to the Canva file so that you can use the MP4 video.

If you want me to make you a bespoke book cover, just email me.

Book Review: Vera Wong’s unsolicited advice for murderers by Jesse Sutanto

I loved this book. Vera is such a great character – elderly, lonely, fearsome, interfering – an all round force of nature.
Mostly though, she’s lonely. Life is dull and colourless. No one comes to her tea house and nothing much happens. Until she comes downstairs and finds a dead man in her shop.
Vera decides that the man has been murdered (even though the police don’t think so) and decides to solve the mystery herself. We then get to see a group of very different individuals, all of whom could have killed the victim.
I loved how we got to know the gang and how they became a sort of family to Vera. It was really sad to think that they were potential murderers.
A brilliantly evocative and funny book. I recommend it wholeheartedly if you’re after a comic murder mystery.
I received a review copy from Netgalley. This is my honest review.

Buy link*

*Affiliate link. I get a few pence if you buy using this link. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Canva for Authors – How to Make a cover reveal teaser image

Cover reveals are tremendous fun – you get to tease people about them for days before the actual cover reveal. You could post for five days on the run up to the event saying things like ”only four more days to go’ … or you could show people elements of your cover in isolation to build up some excitement. Here’s how you make an image that shows only part of your book cover at any one time.

Want to know more? Head over to my YouTube page and find out how to make these images in Canva. If you find it useful, please subscribe to my channel for more videos like this.

Canva for Authors: how to make a trope graphic for your novel

Trope lists are hot right now, thanks to Tiktok. You might have seen graphics outlining tropes all over social media. You can use these to tell readers what’s in your book in bullet point form. You can use them for both fiction and non fiction. Ideally, you’ll be using this type of image alongside other sorts of images (like images with review quotes) so that you have some variety in your marketing.

Brotherless Night by V. V. Ganeshananthan

This book was quite intense reading. Shashi has four brothers, we meet them as a family when they all have dreams – of going to University in Jaffna or in Colombo, of becoming doctors, engineers etc. But then the civil war starts and slowly their ordered life disintegrates. Sashi loses most of her brothers, one way or another, and loses the boy she fell in love with as well.
This story is fictional, but the big events in the background (and some fictionalised events in the foreground) are true. I remember hearing about them on the news. (I grew up in Colombo in the 80s)
This is an important book, too. It’s told from the perspective of a character who was an ordinary person living in Jaffna, even though she eventually became affiliated with the Tigers it was because of her commitment to healing people, rather than any political ideology. Life is complicated, so are people’s motivations. Stories are often the best ways to show this sort of nuance.
The story is gripping. I highly recommend reading it if you want to understand the horror of living in the middle of a long running war.

I received a free ARC from Netgalley. This is my honest review.

Buy link*

*Affiliate link. I get a few pence if you buy using this link. It won’t cost you anything extra.


My book, Playing For Love, written as my alter ego Jeevani Charika has been shortlisted for the RNA’s Jane Wenham-Jones romantic comedy award! This is the third time I’ve made it onto an RNA shortlist. Fingers crossed for third time being lucky.

Sam and Luke work in the same office, but unbeknownst to each other, they both secretly play online games at night. Sam has had a cyber-crush on a famous YouTuber called Blaze for years, and when she wins the chance to play alongside him in an online tournament, her crush only intensifies. Except, he only has eyes for other girl he knows in real life. Sam is so smitten that she ignores this nice guy called Luke at work, who keeps buying her coffee and helping her out. What she doesn’t know is that Luke is Blaze.
Luke has a crush on Sam. Sam has a crush on Blaze. How will this game of love play out?

I had the idea years ago, while watching a superhero cartoon with my then pre-schooler. During lockdown, we all started spending more of our lives online, and the idea of falling in love with someone online seemed far more plausible. I wrote the book in 2021, while we were still in lockdown.

Buy Playing For Love in ebook, paperback or audio.

Canva for Authors: why bother?

When my first book came out, I expected the publisher to do the marketing. (Ah, baby author me was so naive!). Turned out that was wrong. Where were my lovely marketing graphics that I could share on social media? How come other people got photos of their book covers on bus stops and on billboards? What was going on?

Eventually, I figured out that those cool images of your book on a billboard were mock ups and I found out how to make them. You used to have to either use Photoshop or fiddle around using different sites that dropped your cover image into different backgrounds. The websites were great, but the range was limited, so you saw a lot of authors using the same backgrounds.

The other thing about that first book was that the cover was … interesting. It wasn’t in keeping with the romcom market and it looked like someone had made it in Word. (They honestly hadn’t – the main image was hand drawn, but it still looked … not great). I showed it to a graphic designer friend who was so offended by it that he offered to do the cover for my next book for free (which he did, and it was beautiful). I learned at that point that sometimes the professionals might not actually be great at everything. Somewhere along the line, I decided I was going to teach myself graphic design.

I started off using PicMonkey (which is brilliant but pricey), but they started charging for their free tier, so I moved over to this shiny new platform called Canva. I’ve been using Canva for 7 years now and it’s become better and better. I had so much fun playing with it, that I even signed up for a Canva Pro subscription (even though I didn’t really need to), because I got so much value from them that I wanted to support them.

I started this with the question ‘why bother’? The answer is ‘because you have to’. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get some fun promotional graphics sent to you from your publisher around when the book first comes out. After that, their focus moves on to the next book and the next book after that, so if you need anything more – like different ads, or some printed merch (like bookmarks) you need to do it yourself.

I use Canva for book covers (I love doing those), Twitter graphics, Facebook images, little video ads, book trailers, cover reveal images, TikToks … all sorts. Eventually, I decided I’d record myself making things and put those on YouTube, so that you can make these things too.

If you want to know more, check out my channel. Here’s a video on how to use Canva to make a book cover reveal image:

A ghost In Shining Armour by Therese Beharrie

This was a fun book. Gemma can see ghosts. She has to help them finish their unfinished business so that they can pass on to wherever it is they go after that. If she acknowledges them openly, then other people can see and hear them (they appear to be normal people, apart from they know that they’re dead).
When she accidentally kisses the ghost Levi, she’s surprised to find that he’s been sent to help her, rather than needing her help himself.
Levi wants to get back to his old life, so that he can save his sister from feeling guilty about his death. If he succeeds in his task of helping Gemma reconcile with her long lost sister, then he will cease to exist in Gemma’s timeline but go back to his sister. If he fails, he will never see his sister again.
I wasn’t very well when I read this, and struggled to get into it at first – but that’s on me, not the book. I didn’t see how on earth they were going to get through to a happy ending, which was a really nice thing. It’s not often you have a conflict that genuinely feels insurmountable. Levi is such a kind (if grumpy) hero and Gemma is definitely the sunshiney one.
I like this new(ish) genre of cosy paranormal romance with less fangs and claws. It leads to some interesting and thought provoking dilemmas. I hope there’s more.
I received a review copy from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest review.

Buy link*

*Affiliate link. I get a few pence if you buy using this link. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Canva for authors – graphics for the bewildered

I started a YouTube channel! No, really. At the moment, it focuses mainly on Canva tutorials for writers – these are step by step walk throughs. There are also several quickfire reviews of the creative writing teaching books that I own. I have a whole shelf full of them, so I figured I may as well tell you which ones are useful for what.

The first tutorial is a very basic introduction to Canva for beginners. What is Canva good for? Well, it’s a graphic design package that’s designed specifically to be easy for beginners to use. It’s much more intuitive than things like Photoshop. Some people would argue that Canva is not graphic design (and they’re right). It doesn’t do everything Photoshop or Abode Illustrator does, but it’s close enough for non-graphic designers. I use it to make book covers, social media graphics for my books and all sorts of other useful things.

You know those funky images that people share of their books on interesting backgrounds? Or the book cover next to a lovely quote that a reviewer gave? That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about.

So, here’s episode 1 of my Canva Tutorials for Beginners – A very basic introduction to Canva. If you find it useful, please subscribe to my channel (I’m trying to get to 1000 subscribers so that I can do more fun things).