Random Friday

And, as promised, Art Friday! Because I toyed with covers that I may never use, I thought I’d share some. I have also done Kingmakers, but since I have no idea of how long that story will be, I’ll keep it under wraps a little longer…

First here’s Cinder Boy, cut to add the water effect available at watereffect.net.

final_285822356The final cover is framed like the other Tales of the Northern Kingdoms and it will come out next month.

Then we have the painter, a composite of three drawings – my Amazons frame, a quick digital portrait of Da Muse and the painter herself…


I will probably give this short story away with the newsletter #3… or if I manage to set up the welcome email, it might be a gift for newsletter subscribers! πŸ˜‰ But it will need to go through the editor first… And then through some submissions to traditional markets since it’s a little more than 7000words – which means I’m not in a hurry to publish this one! πŸ™‚

Stay tuned and have a great weekend! πŸ™‚ See you in May! πŸ˜€


Random Friday

Change of theme to prepare for the snow falling on WordPress blogs from Dec.1st. This will give me slightly more than a month to prepare a new banner. I think it’s time I look like a professional author, instead of a creative barbwire! πŸ˜‰

Totally random Friday: I started using that list of blog interviews, and one is already out. Norm has been the perfect gentleman! Another blogger wasn’t so responsive… So many thanks, Norm, for having be on Book Pleasures!

I will try to space the others out in the coming weeks… splitting between Rajveer the Vampire and Beautiful! πŸ˜‰ Last weekend while Cristina gave the final touches to Kilig&Hakeem‘s cover, I started working on Samantha the Witch and the Desi Vampire – drawing chibis is thankfully easier than expected! πŸ˜€

About drawing and covers, Phoenixlu (who did the covers of Star Minds the Trilogy and Star Minds Snippets) has posted this beautiful painting on her page… and it makes me wonder if one day we’ll have e-book covers like this, with water, fire or wind effects! Wouldn’t that be cool? πŸ˜‰

And ending on movies: I saw Knock Knock. Now I want to see it again with a male friend, since I watched it with Cristina and we had more or less the same reactions. What can I say… Sadist Author does much much worse to her male characters, whether they deserve it or not! πŸ˜‰ But I guess for men it’s quite unsettling…

Have a great weekend!

Random Friday

I had time to read a couple of the non-fiction books from the two bundles I got probably last year (or one last year around NaNoWriMo and the other this year? Can’t remember).

30 days in the word mines by Chuck Wendig: if you’re just starting and need to set up a routine, this book isΒ  for you, whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or just want to see if you can actually write. It’s very slangy and funny, and full of F-bombs, so if that’s not your thing, skip this. It’s also short and sweet, so plenty of time to read some more when you’re done!

The pursuit of perfection and hot it harms writers by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: some of her blog posts put together in another short ebook with lots of info on the publishing world, creative writing courses and how it’s impossible to write the perfect book – special guest Workshop Bill (a.k.a. Shakespeare) in a sorta parody like Workshop Jane (Austen) had here.

This book on editing also sounds good, but I haven’t read it, so I trust David Farland’s comments. I might add it to my TBR pile one day…

I’ve also uploaded on DeviantART some discarded covers:

Firebird – a Silvery Earth novella that should come out this fall.

SMI – Galaxy Police (the final cover will be by Shafali Anand), that will come out at the end of the month.

And a detail of the sleeping beau of the story I’m still currently writing… that’s the first attempt, the final one will be much better! πŸ™‚

I might go back to pencil portraits this weekend… or keep experimenting with digital painting! πŸ˜‰ That’s just a… Sunday Surprise!

Have a great weekend! πŸ˜€

Random Friday

Still working on the publisher’s page. Still writing new shorts – and redrafting them because the betas are just so awesome that I can’t ignore their suggestions (mostly because they point out something that already looked so-so to me). Still coming up with new ideas and improvements to what is already written and… in spite of the mushy brain and the awful heat, I guess I shouldn’t complain.

I even had time for a pencil portrait or two, while I brainstormed with myself what was next. Will send off a story tomorrow, and then work on two more. When I’m happy with those other two, I’ll go back to Rajveer for another pass and adjustments. Things I need to add in after I took out other stuff.

I’ll be re-uploading a former-pen-name title with the new cover this weekend. Stay tuned. This gal has a very personal style and she’s doing wonders. Pity her comic is still only in Italian (and probably French). See if you can tell her covers from mine on the Italian titles! πŸ˜‰

Have a great weekend!

Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest – because that’s what friends are for! A very special thanks for filling in for me – my eye is almost healed (although I’ll have it checked on Tuesday, just in case) – and a very warm welcome to Shafali! (p.s. if there are typos, forgive both of us… and click on the images to see them bigger, thank you!)

Creating Cover Art for B. G. Hope’s Body-switch Novellas:

Creating cover-art for novels is something that I hadn’t considered doing, until Barb wrote in to ask if I’d be willing to work on the covers for her body-switch novellas. I do cover-art and inner illustrations for business and political magazines, and if I remember right, it was this cover for The American Spectator magazine that made her consider the possibility. I am glad that she decided to hire me for doing her covers. I got the opportunity read her magical stories for free, painted three colorful covers, and then received the artist’s copy of the collection of her novellas. What’s more is that I also got a bonus for completing the assignments in time. (Thank you πŸ™‚

bghope-bodyswitch-artist-deskI love to create cover-art because unlike a simpler assignment of a portrait or a caricature, it requires a lot of thinking. Cover-art requires the artist to weave at least three different expectations/constraints into one image.

  1. The author’s expectation: The author may be looking for an abstract idea; or a fairly concrete representation of the characters/places in the story; or nothing specific at all.
  2. The audience’s expectation: This is something that an artist gleans from the story. When I create artwork for the magazines, I generally have a good idea of the audience it caters to. In the case of novels and books, it’s something that I sense from the story.
  3. The technical constraints: Unlike other kinds of illustrations, which allow the artist some freedom of aspect ratio, actual dimensions and layout, cover-art begins with constraints.

The first cover that I did for the Body-Switch series was Ciaran & Harith, which was almost immediately followed by Johnny & Marion. The newest has been for Pat & Babs!

I follow a simple two-stage approval process for my illustration work. First I send in the sketch for approval and then I start painting. The creation of the sketch is the culmination of a process that begins with imagining the scene and then moves into the realm of design where I begin calibrating it against the three parameters cited above. Here’s how I went about creating these covers for Ms. Hope’s books.

Ciaran & Harith:

ciaran-harith-body-switch-bg-hopeThe author had mentioned that she wanted the two protagonists in her novel to appear on the cover, and she had given me some real-life references of people she wanted them to look like. Barb had spoken about this being a three novella series, so I wanted a common thread running through all the three covers. I also wanted to add a touch of magic, because the meddling witch’s magic is one of the things that sets these stories apart. The city-skyline just occurred because the impression that the story left on my mind was that Samantha the Witch was at her magical best in the nights and the story unfolded in a city.

Harith, an Indian, had to have the Indian Bollywood star look, and Samantha was a young, fun-loving, gypsy-ish witch (so the flower, and that impish grin.)

Johnny & Marion:

johnny-marion-body-switch-bg-hopeThis was the second cover I did for the body-switch series. Samantha the Witch had grown older in this story. I brought the focus onto her eyes so that she’s seen casting the spell directly with her eyes. The theme continued through the two characters, the spell, and witch. That was enough for continuity – I now needed something to bring in a variation…so I thought of changing the color. Ciaran & Harith had blues, indigos, and aquamarines. I went for greens and olives this painting.

Pat & Babs:

babs-and-patbody-switch-bg-hopeThe character, the spell, and the witch’s eyes – they formed the thread that formed the thematic connection. When I read the book, I felt that this story happened more indoors than its predecessors. Barb also wanted the Moka-maker in the Babs’ hands (Babs’ btw is modeled on the author herself.) So the variation came in with the indoors theme, but to form a out-of-the-world connection with Samantha, I framed them in a sort of window, and added an abstract silhouette of a man in the background.


Shafali’s Art Gallery: http://shafali.wordpress.com/gallery

About Shafali: http://shafali.wordpress.com/about

Writer Wednesday

New covers galore! The Chronicles of the Varian Empire now have brand new covers – at least on the e-books! I shall be working on POD versions next weekend, although probably they won’t be out until next month… anyway, here’s Silvano Beltramo‘s efforts:

newCVEblogFBAnd to celebrate the new cover of The Death of Queen Amazonia, I put it on NoiseTrade along with another title, Uncommon Amazons. On NoiseTrade tip is welcome, but not mandatory. Feel free to get your copy of either title now! And if you’d like to check a few cover attempts, here’s the reworking of The Death of Queen Amazonia’s cover! A special thanks for whoever gave advice on the first version that I posted on my private FB page – you know who you are, and I hope I managed to capture your suggestions in the final version! πŸ™‚

Writing news: Assassins’ Guild wrapped and sent out to betas. Finishing the translation of Male Lovers – namely, working on Allan de Sayek – so I can publish it and move on to Star Minds Next Generation! πŸ™‚ And since in October I’ll be traveling and not writing much, I don’t know what’s next. Probably a couple more Amazons stories… and then it will be already 2015! 😦 Time flies, doesn’t it?

Writerly links! Advice for whoever is starting from zero by David Gaughran, or Joe Konrath (I subscribe to most of the advice he gives to his younger self), or even Dean Welsey Smith – what changed and what didn’t in the past three years in this new world of publishing.

When Giving Away Free Books Is the Smartest Thing a Writer Can Do by Scott William Carter – so if you have a series with more than one book, you might want to try it. Silvery Earth is not a series per se, but maybe one day I’ll try it with Star Minds...

One last thing – a last minute announcement I got from an author:

So I’m offering my book Cinderella’s Escape as a free download on amazon from 5th to 7th Sept. 2014.

I have created some pins for promoting the book.

There you have it, from the author herself… go check it and have a great week!


Random Friday

And it’s Art Friday, since Cristina spent three days with me, inspiring me! First have a look at her WiP of Amazon Summer cover… looking forward to the final digital painting! πŸ™‚ I must say she’s done amazing progress in digital painting since those covers for the BoI (BTW, here’s the “flat” version of the box set – she kindly helped to “clean” the women to make the new cover that I pasted together with the elements symbols done my myself))…

BoI box setI mentioned drawing before starting to write, so here goes the Assassins Guild: Saif, Karuna/Kilig and Mirabella (Hakeem’s mother).

Karuna compositeYou can see the final drawings here: Karuna and Saif&Mirabella. I also did some dragon studies (yes, there’s a dragon in one of the stories – actually, a half-Fajrulo for those familiar with Silvery Earth), finally using the book I bought myself in London last November.

FajruloColored_resizeAnd then I did a new cover for Jessamine – while I tried something for my experiment, but I’m not very happy with the results yet. I mean I still have a lot of work to do. But I like the new cover, so I might finish the project this summer.

Jessamine WiP_resizeAnd here’s the final version… Oh, and yesterday I did my very first animated GIF! Like I said on DeviantART, since I have a very old Photoshop, I had to look for instructions for doing it with Photoshop Elements…

Barb.animatedShould I change my Avatar everywhere?! πŸ˜€ Why did I do this? Because of this DeviantART contest which also included a tutorial (for Photoshop CS5 or CS6)… No, I’m not submitting it, but I’ve always wondered how to do animated GIFs… and now I know! πŸ˜‰

Ending on a silly note – while browsing Pinterest (no, I haven’t opened an account there), I found this… and now I want one (scroll down to the last image), LOL! If it’s Barbie-sized, it’s perfect, since my Barbie is the model’s age! πŸ˜€ Yep, showing my age again… πŸ˜‰

Have a great weekend!

Random Friday

Okay, I’ve been tinkering with book bundles covers… so what do you think looks better? A new cover that comprises all the covers (left) or a box set (a photo of the POD version – right), considering that this bundle will only be sold as e-book?

box setI have found an article on how to do book bundles – and their covers, but I’m still much experimenting. Since it’s a single author bundle, I’m probably going to put the books in chronological order (at least for Silvery Earth – B.G. Hope can be in any order I want her to)… Lots of work to do still. And yes, this is probably a writing post more than a random rant, but well… that’s what’s been bothering me this week! πŸ˜‰

I’m also working on that experiment with Jessamine, so I unpublished the graphic novel version from Smashwords. Even if it had 1106 downloads, I don’t think it boosted my sales of the other titles, so I feel free to unpublish it and use it for my experiment with the prose version. Both were free titles (and in fact I had to take the graphic novel out of B&N since the similar title meant they showed only one, so those reviews you see on B&N mostly refer to the graphic novel. Eventually I’ll unpublish even the prose version for a complete revision – it was my first published title, after all!).

Busier than when I’m working, I didn’t have time to do another pencil portrait or two of Da Muses… and didn’t watch any new movies either, since I “wasted” time with re-watchs. And I didn’t read anything new, because I was busy checking my own manuscripts. And I’m supposed to be on vacation, LOL! Anyhow, next week back to routine… maybe… DayJob is rickety lately, makes me wish they make me redundant! Oh, well… “Never give up, never surrender!” (maybe this weekend I’ll watch Galaxy Quest again, to have a good laugh before going back to dreaded DayJob!) πŸ˜‰

Writer Wednesday

Another POD post! πŸ˜‰ I finally got all my POD books, so here goes the third instalment of Lulu vs. CreateSpace – sort of. Like I said last week, I won’t do a new CS version for the old titles, but I’ll be using CS for the new ones. First – old ones! Here you have the version I did last year vs the revised version of this year (new interior formatting as well). Which covers look better?

Lulu2012_2013You can find them all on Lulu (including the BoI that still have the old covers). Links are available also on the Smashwords pages of the single ebooks. By the way, I have adjusted CVE 2 & 3 so now they look like this (should have left more margin around the frames first thing, but well… I was doing too many at the same time, and those were the last two!):

newCVEAnd then here you have the CS books – Star Minds and sneak peek of Star Minds Snippets! πŸ˜€ CS2013Again, only Star Minds is available at this time (hey, the paperback is even on B&N! ;)), the Snippets will come out in a couple of weeks. When I come back from London, I’ll put out Half-blood and two weeks later the whole anthology.

Now, to writerly links: David Farland on turning inspiration into habit. Like I’ve said before, I never did NaNoWriMo since I’ve been in the habit of writing all year long well before the internet days. But if you’re starting now and are not in the habit yet, follow the master’s advice! πŸ˜‰

For indie authors out there – 8 cover design secrets and 11 things if you want to run a successful business. Unfortunately doesn’t apply much in this backward country with its own laws and rules. But the cover design one applies to me as well! πŸ˜‰ And I agree with David Gaughran that publishing is easy! πŸ˜‰

That’s all for this week – still off DayJob, but still traveling… normal blogging resumes next week (although you probably can’t tell the difference since I schedule all posts in advance, LOL)! Have a wonderful week! πŸ™‚

Writer Wednesday

I’ve been thinking, since I’m rambling so much about my writing this summer, that one of the questions I still get a lot from both writers and non-writers is “Where do you get your ideas from?”. Since I write mostly fantasy, it’s obvious I can’t really write what I know, and besides, I love making up stuff – always did.

Mostly I use “What if” on anything I hear/see/read. In fact soon I’ll publish a short story prompted by Stephen King’s “What if” (it’s in his On Writing book – more on this when the time comes). It will be a B.G.Hope short story, since it’s supposedly set in the real world, with some horror undertone (or it wouldn’t be a Stephen King prompt, right?). Then there’s the occasional light bulb, that either sparks a new story or adds something to a pre-existent tale.

Example: I was discussing the next commission with great Chinese artist Phoenixlu, and her suggestion sparkled my imagination. My first reaction was “no, no, this won’t work, since it happens later,” but then… “What if… it’s foreshadowing of what will happen?” – and off I went to add a scene in the related Snippet. Which also added to “The Rogue Years” which is supposed to happen during Technological Angel and it will lead to the same ending, but through other characters’ points of view.

Now, for the writing updates! I’m almost done with the Snippets. Took me longer than expected, but I decided to add a couple of things and then I had to change the other snippets accordingly. And the story of Mya’s years in the Galaxy Police keeps getting longer – I like team stories and it’s showing her progress through the Galaxy Police, from assault team member to team leader and eventually the commander who will meet our heroes. The snippets all together are going to be an episodic novel, companion to the series! πŸ™‚ Next week I’m sending off a couple to Mighty Editor Katy for an August publication, and the rest is for October. Just stay tuned! πŸ™‚

Next I will go through Choices and edit it, so it will be ready for Mighty Editor Tricia and an upcoming publication, hopefully in a couple of weeks. I’ve also worked on a couple of older B.G. Hope’s titles, hiring an artist to redo a couple of covers. Please admire Awesome Shafali‘s work on my characters – hopefully the new covers will boost the sales! πŸ™‚

covers4blogIt took me some time to update all the sites, and again I had the DRM problem on Kobo. I want all my books to be DRM-free, but on KWL if you upload a new doc or a new cover, it loses the metadata somehow and puts back on the DRM – that’s why I’ve been wary of updating files on Kobo. It didn’t do it on Ciaran&Harith, but it did on Johnny&Marian – which already had the problem. Last November they told me it was a bug they’d fix, but they obviously didn’t, so I had to contact KWL support again. I mean, on newer titles there’s no bug and they update, but the old ones that were stuck with DRM are still stuck. Still haven’t heard from them about the issue yet.

As for Kindle, at first it republished it with the old cover. Since I’d forgotten to update the interior with “cover art by…”, I resubmitted to KDP with new cover new interior. Then, since the old one kept popping up, I went to the KDP Community and found an answer to my question before I hit the KDP Help button:

If you go to ‘look inside’ as soon as you get the Amazon email about successful publishing, you will see that your new cover is there already.
It’s the thumbnail image that doesn’t update immediately, mine took about 3 days to replace the old one with the new one.

Aah. If only I had known sooner. Anyway, now all the new covers should be on. The only ones that went smoothly (except for me forgetting to update the actual ebook) were Smashwords and D2D (Apple and B&N). Nobody said being indy is easy, right?

Speaking of covers, a couple of links – Cliched Book Covers and Horrible Book Covers. Take your pick, LOL! If you have time to waste, you can check this readers survey – although it seems readers are only Kindle users from this. They’re not – and in fact a lot of people boycot Amazons, so… take with a grain of salt! πŸ™‚

David Farland’s Light up the night and Kris Rusch’s Dreams and Bestsellers. Never wanted to be on any bestseller list, but I can understand how dreams are crushed by this brand new world of publishing. I sure hope all my writer friends wake up soon to the new reality and start producing and publishing their own works! πŸ™‚

With all this writing and editing and whatnot, I didn’t have time to check more blogs or other links – only those I either saw on Facebook or on mailing lists or newsletters, so for more… next week. This should be an non-standard week of posting, so… just wait and see! πŸ™‚ Have a great week!

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