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Ava Cuvay: Plan the Work and Work the—Look! Shiny Object! (Contest & Excerpt)
Friday, April 7th, 2023

UPDATE: The winners are…Debra Guyette, Flchen, and Cindy!

I was a little stressed last week. And it was all my fault.

You see, I have a new dragon shifter book releasing on April 19th, which means I’m smack in the middle of the last-minute prepwork for it. Final edits, formatting, ARCs, and uploading the final-final-final version to the online retail sites, etc.

But as of the submission of this blog post, I don’t have a final-final-final version of my book. Because I made a rash (inspired?) decision that upended an important aspect of my current book, and all the books in this series: new covers.

I know it might seem weird to rebrand and recover a series before that series is finished. Or even before the second book is published. But the first book, What a Dragon Wants, was originally intended to be a one-off standalone novella. This story is rife with the concept of opposites interconnected to create a whole: a Viking man and a Chinese woman, a white dragon and a black dragon, storms and fire, yin and yang… So the cover was designed to help convey this.

However, right before I published What a Dragon Wants, I made the impulsive decision to turn it into the first book of a series. After all, the hero had three hawt dragon shifter older brothers who absolutely HAD to have their stories written, and who was I to deny them their happily-ever-afters? The Star of the North Dragon series was born as almost an afterthought.

Does that mean the cover concept for my first book works for an entire series? No, it doesn’t. Not without a lot of unnecessary struggle and mediocre results, no matter how talented my amazing cover artist is. So, when I reached out for the cover to What a Dragon Needs, I was made the impulsive suggestion we re-do it all. And I don’t regret it for a second, because my amazing cover artist can work magic.

I’d be lying if I said I gave her plenty of time. It’s my own fault this last week was so stressful. I wanted something to show for this blog. I wanted to send out ARCs with the actual cover and not a place-holder. I need to upload the final-final-final file. Letting brash, ooh-shiny-object author decisions divert me from my vaguely-outlined publishing plan does a number on the stress levels. Ultimately, my books (and readers) benefit from these decisions. My nails will grow back and the new gray hairs will blend with the established grays. But maybe, just maybe, I can learn from this and better plan my work and work my plan. Think further in advance what my book offerings will be. Better outline my—

Oh, what if I wrote mermaid series?!


For a chance at a Kindle version of my What a Dragon Needs dragon shifter book, tell me of a time when your plans got hijacked by another (better?) plan.

Or Pre-Order via your favorite online retailer:

What a Dragon Needs

Dragon Council Emissary Lucia Bengtsson visits Minnesota’s clan to discover how they thwarted a recent invasion by a long-prophesized World Destroyer. What she finds is a family that welcomes her with an unquestioning warmth she’s never experienced among her own clan members, who have always judged her by the diminutive size of her Light Dragon. Only the sexy yet antagonistic Ivar Drekison offers her support even as he keeps her at arm’s-length. Arms she desperately wants wrapped around her.

Third-born son of the Star of the North clan, Ivar Drekison’s attitude is as sharp and cold as his Metal Dragon’s claws. When gorgeous yet standoffish Lucia arrives to interrogate his family on their battle strategies, he senses an underhanded betrayal brewing. While everyone else adores Lucia and her gentle manners, Ivar clashes with her in an attempt to force the truth behind her visit. In doing so, he must also battle his own overwhelming attraction to her.

What a Dragon Needs Excerpt…

Ivar stood in one fluid motion and headed toward the sliding screen door, his face set in what must be his resting expression of bored disdain. He stepped close enough Lucia warmed from the heat radiating off his body. Or was that her own temperature rising?

“I’m just gonna squeeze right past ya there.” He murmured as his arm brushed against hers, even though there was plenty of room to pass.

If he’d cut her with a knife, she wouldn’t have been more surprised, and she barely halted the instinctive flinch at his voluntary contact. Unfortunately, she couldn’t stifle the soft gasp that passed her lips. She flicked a glanced at his face. Still bored disdain, but with a devious lift to one side of his mouth and a glint of humor in his eyes. Before she could discern his reaction or apologize for hers, he had stepped past.

“Ivar, grab Miss Bengtsson something to drink while you’re in there.” Arkyn called out as he helped Ulrik heap the grilled meats on serving plates.

Ivar’s snort of contempt rumbled in his throat. “I suppose next you’ll ask me to put her food in her mouth and chew it for her.”

Lucia whirled around as the others yelled a chorus of afront from his comment. She opened her mouth to say something that would put him in his place, to wipe that arrogant expression off his face. But what? If she were Lin, she would likely have an arsenal of biting retorts. But she wasn’t Lin. She was the emissary from the Dragon Council, and had to behave in a manner that would reflect well on all of them, her father included. A snappy comeback was out of the question, even if she had one.

So she dipped her head in a show of honor and forced her voice not to tremble. “That would be unnecessary, as I do not have a hot box.

His smile turned fiendish, like a dragon with a wounded prey. Why the—Helvete! She’d mixed up her English words and said the wrong one. So much for reflecting well on the Council. She grappled with how to correct her verbal blunder and repair any damage, but Ivar’s gaze heated like a furnace and raked her form again, searing the words in her throat.

“Well, Miss Dragon Council Emissary. If you ever do find yourself with a hot box, we can revisit who will put what in whose mouth.” He took a long swig of his beer as if parched. The heat in his eyes cooled as his normal demeanor returned. “In the meantime, we’ve welcomed you into our home. Make yourself comfortable.”

He flicked the empty bottle in a nearby trash can as he crossed the threshold into the house, tossing over his shoulder as he disappeared from view. “That’s English for get your own beer.”

12 comments to “Ava Cuvay: Plan the Work and Work the—Look! Shiny Object! (Contest & Excerpt)”

  1. Cindy
    · April 7th, 2023 at 9:01 am · Link

    When I graduated from high school, I started working with no intentions of going to college. We moved into this house 2 years after I graduated from high school. This is important because my sister, 7 years younger, went to HS with a girl, Paula, who lived nearby. Though she was my sister’s age, this girl and I had much more in common.
    One of the jobs I held (my favorite) was as a meter maid/secretary to the chief/turnkey/dispatcher. I developed an interest in the law. So, 9 years out of HS, I started taking Paralegal classes.
    A year prior, Paula moved across the state to go to college–out on her own for the first time. As an only child, she relished the freedom–so much so that school work suffered. Her dad got sick, forcing her to move back home. She planned to apply to a local college, but her grades were so bad, she had to spend a semester at a local community college to pull up her grades enough to get into the local college. She suggested I apply. I did and was accepted–sneaking in as a transfer student with credits for my paralegal classes completed to date.
    Today, I am a certified paralegal who has worked with multiple lawfirms, including working on a 6-week discovery case out of state and a college graduate with a 3.7 QPA all the while working 2 jobs at the same time and finishing my Paralegal classes with another university.
    All this because on a whim of a suggestion, I applied to college 10 years out of HS instead of working as I planned.

  2. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · April 7th, 2023 at 9:05 am · Link

    LOL. I have two. In the first in a character changed the outcome I had for her which made the story stronger. In the second involves a cover. I had my designer make several for my Haunted Harlem series for which I had the titles but not the stories. I picked one, wrote the story but by the time I was 3/4 finished, the cover and story didn’t really match. I kept trying to make it work but it was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. BTW, I love both your covers but the two dragons chasing one another on your first cover is inspiring. Good luck with the series.

  3. Ava Cuvay
    · April 7th, 2023 at 11:47 am · Link

    Cindy – What a fun story (and a circuitous career path!)

  4. Ava Cuvay
    · April 7th, 2023 at 11:52 am · Link

    Anna — Those darn characters… they just do whatever they want without regard for our plans! My characters usually want to hop in the sack earlier than I intend, although in What a Dragon Needs, it was the other way around! I loved the first cover as well… but it’s changing, now that I need a series of covers 🙂

  5. Colleen C.
    · April 7th, 2023 at 12:10 pm · Link

    Better? I can not think of anything at the moment…

  6. BN
    · April 7th, 2023 at 4:52 pm · Link

    can’t think of anything

  7. flchen
    · April 7th, 2023 at 11:42 pm · Link

    I have an engineering degree but haven’t actually ever worked as an engineer. I’m now a freelance editor, and have been working as an editor for more than twenty years… LOL!

  8. flchen
    · April 7th, 2023 at 11:43 pm · Link

    Oh, and I quite enjoyed What a Dragon Wants, Ava–looking forward to What a Dragon Needs! Great cover!

  9. Debra Guyette
    · April 8th, 2023 at 6:24 am · Link

    I can remember planning to go to a park and along the way we found one more interesting.

  10. Ava Cuvay
    · April 8th, 2023 at 8:03 pm · Link

    Flchen — I got a journalism degree… knowing full well I didn’t want to be a journalist! So glad you’ve found a career in being an editor! 🙂

  11. Ava Cuvay
    · April 8th, 2023 at 8:06 pm · Link

    Debra – Was that one of those “the journey is as much fun as the destination” situations? May hubby is a big fan of taking the scenic route to a destination.

  12. Delilah
    · April 16th, 2023 at 7:50 am · Link

    Congrats go out to: Debra Guyette, Flchen, and Cindy! You’re the winners!

Comments are closed.