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Creation of a Cover

I love mucking around in Photoshop. It’s so relaxing and fun, not like that troublesome ol’ writing lark.

Troublesome Writing Lark

why did I make this

Sometimes this mucking around leads to a cover, sometimes for a book I haven’t even written yet. I often find it to be a good sort of semi-distraction, something to focus on while my subconscious figures out little things and tries to find the shape of the story. Recently I’ve even been sketching out rough ideas before doing any actual fiddling. With the most recent story to occupy my head space, Blood Sisters, I had this grand idea for a dramatically epic cover featuring the protagonist standing over her wounded sister, facing down dozens of murderous bandits in a night forest lit by torches. I even sketched out a rough outline before remembering that I can’t draw. I’ll save you from having to see the offending sketch; instead here’s a portrait of James Townsend (Esquire), Lord Mayor of Olde London Towne:

James Townsend, Mayor of London and Gentlemanly Poisoner

“Hello.”

So then, given that my grand, overly-ambitious ideas for a cover were nothing more than idle dreams, I went the other way; simplicity! Striking central image! Colours! Bright colours! Red is a bright colour! Aren’t there some red flowers? I could make it a BLOOD flower!

Blood Sisters Cover 1

Unt I did

Pretty decent first draft cover for a thriller, I feel. Except this book’s a fantasy story. Ho-hum. Still, I really liked the central image and the basic thing of the thing, so once more I fiddled and I faddled and I mucked and I … micked, eventually deciding that a more comic booky style might be more ‘fantasy’.

Blood Sisters Cover 2

Or should I say, Doctor VON Scott?

Here I felt that I was on the right track, but that font … that FONT. (Trajan, incidentally, a good go-to font for mucking around with.) I decided that the best way to say ‘fantasy’ was to make a fantasy-ish logo-title-thing. Looking a bit like a comic book would not, I felt, be a bad thing. And so:

Blood Sisters Preview 3

Just what exactly are you implying?

Now it was starting to feel more like a book I wanted to write. Still, it needed something else, it needed something more, it needed … fiddly bits.

BS Cover 4

So fiddly

At this point I started playing around with different ‘moods’ for the cover:

BS Cover 5

Literally hours of fun

Then I got distracted making a ‘series logo’, as this book would (eventually) (possibly) (hopefully) (if all goes as planned) be part of a larger collection of vaguely related but ultimately stand-alone stories united under the title of “The Song That Ends The World”. So, I made this:

Song That Ends

Bang, zoom! Straight … to the moon

Which, to be perfectly honest, still needs a lot of fiddling to get right and I might change the font and blah blah blibbity blah-blah-blah. It’d do as a placeholder for now in any case, and so:

BS 7

Phew

Still a lot of mucking around to do and who knows, I might abandon the whole concept or even go with a completely different title, but that’s the story of this first draft of the cover for Blood Sisters, possibly the first book in the Song That Ends The World series. (Potentially.)

In other writing-related news, since I’m here, Charlotte Powers 4: Rising Power is nearing first draft completion. Miya Black V is also in a state of near-readiness; just a couple of proofs before it’s ready for release. I’d say Rising Power is on track for a late-August release, while Miya Black V could be out before the end of this month, depending on how things go.

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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Of Writing

 

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Reflections On The Release Of Hidden Power

Well, I admit that I pushed myself a little bit harder than I probably should have, but I’ve managed to get Charlotte Powers 3: Hidden Power released before flitting away to Japan (and with, oh, at least two days to spare). I did consider skipping a proof in order to release it even earlier, but decided against it—I only picked up one actual error on that last round but it was a doozy (‘baseball leg’ instead of ‘baseball bat’, I would have been horribly embarrassed to let that one through), so I’m glad I gritted my teeth and just did it. Cover graphic and link? Yes, I think so:

After actually publishing something I usually feel a combination of satisfaction and emptiness, and this time is no exception. I really do put everything I have into my books, no corners cut however tempting it might be to do so—that final proof is a good example, how much did it improve the book, really? By one percent? Less? It’s the law of diminishing returns, the first edit might give a twenty percent improvement to the book, the next ten percent, then five, then three, then two, then one, but even that one percent improvement, catching another error, tightening up those final few sentences that are just a little loose, killing that ‘she said’ which isn’t really necessary, adding that single line of description that really sets the tone of a scene, all of these things really are just so important to me. Little details. Little details are important. After the last proof I did on the book my feeling was that doing another could possibly catch another error or two, would maybe turn up a few sentences that could be better, but in terms of story and polish, I was (and am) happy. I think part of being not just a writer but an author—and in a certain sense a publisher—is learning when to say ‘this is as good as I can reasonably expect to make it; it’s time to cut the cord’. That’s probably the single most important skill I’ve developed through this whole indie author adventure; learning to finish things, really finish them, not just outlining and writing a first draft that I come back to every so often mostly because I want to read that scene I’m particularly fond of, but focused crafting of not just a story but a book.

Anyway, I hope people like this one. The ending is even more difficult than Power Play’s (which was pretty bad, in that sense), but it’s all going somewhere. I’m not just throwing these things together, I have a definite end in mind and know just what has to happen to reach that end. So after Hidden Power there are going to be two more books, Rising Power and then Power Overwhelming, and that’ll be the end of Charlotte’s story. For better or worse. After that, I don’t know. I have other projects and other series but I don’t want to let go of Charlotte’s world just yet; there are stories still to tell.

Anyway, for now I’m happy with where I am. I was especially happy at the response to my pre-release announcements—that there was any response at all was amazing. It wasn’t so long ago that I was just writing entirely for myself, making these little stories for no grander reason than my own amusement, and now here I am, slowly but surely getting my books into the hands of people who actually want to read them—who look forward to the next in the series enough to say ‘yay!’ or ‘hurry up!’ when I announce it’s coming. These sorts of things might seem minor but they really do mean a lot to me, and I’m grateful to all my readers. The simple truth is that this wouldn’t be nearly as fun without you.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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