Tag Archives: Ceri Clark

Great Cover Ups

Old Restored booksBook covers. Remember when they were tooled, engraved leather, hand-made by monks? Yeah, me neither, but I do love good, well designed book covers.

We indies stress over them, and I suppose the Big 5 publishers do too, to a certain extent. But what, besides money and great designers who will make them for us, are elements that make a great book cover?

First up, in my opinion, a catchy cover has mystique. It expresses the central theme of the book, but it’s like a blurb–it can only capture one moment in time, so you have to choose what you will go for: mood, mystery, or great art.

Occam’s Razor (also known as Ockham’s Razor) comes into play here. According to iUniverse’s article on Cover Design Essentials, “…the essential theory is that unnecessary elements will decrease the overall efficiency and aesthetic appeal of a design. It can be a good indicator of why one design may succeed and another one will not. A good writer will spend hour after hour editing and re-editing their book, cutting words, paragraphs and so forth until it is “clean.” The cover designer’s method is not much different, other than it is a visual process rather than a written one.” 

In my own limited experience this is so true.  

Caged_bird2Book covers have really evolved since my childhood. They used to be quite simple, with the art kept to a minimum. In the 1950’s and 60’s, book covers were stark, modern–and in my opinion, boring, such as Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

My great problem is, I have always known what catches my eye, but not how to achieve it. So what are the simple, affordable elements of a good, catchy cover?

Again, iUniverse says (and I quote) good covers:

  1. Fall within the norms for your genre but visually stand out among other books.
  2. Appeal to readers and convince them to take a closer look at your book with a strong visual presence.
  3. Reflect the content of your book and expose readers to your writing style.
  4. Convince a potential reader to invest in a literary journey with your story.

Well, that is a hell of a lot to pack into a cover. And it’s hard to do! I am struggling with this aspect of being an indie. I am an artist, but until 2010 my work has been mostly in pastels and pencil. But I love Photoshop, and have been spending a lot of time designing covers and and learning how to make the graphics and the title a part of the art that captures the eye, but does not detract from the cover art.

I have been examining a lot of wonderful book covers, trying to define what it was about them that I liked so that my next book cover will be more true to what I want it to be. Being an old dog learning a new trick, I must learn from the masters.

So, here are only a few of my all-time favorite book covers, in no particular order:

Simple and to the point: The Martian, by Andy Weir tells us everything we need to know–this is going to be a hell of an adventure.

The MArtian Andy Weir

♦♦♦♦

Grail Quest, by J.R. Rain, cover artist not credited–intriguing, and made me want to look inside.

Grail, JR Rain 2

♦♦♦♦

To Green Angel Tower, Tad Williams, as painted by the brilliant Michael Whelan–representing the mood, characters, and setting of the book, and visually stunning. I can’t replicate this sort of beauty, but I can admire it, nonetheless.

Green_Angel_Tower_P1

♦♦♦♦

Heart Search book three: Betrayed, Carlie M.A. Cullen, cover by Nicole Antonia Carro. Completely speaks to what is inside the book–dark, mysterious, and a bit vampiric.

Betrayal front cover

♦♦♦♦

Roadmarks, Roger Zelazny, cover by the late Darrell K. Sweet. Simple, well-placed elements, promising a real roller-coaster ride inside.

Roadmarks_first

♦♦♦♦

The Girl With All the Gifts, M.R. Carey–almost retro 1970s, yet intriguing. 

The_Girl_with_All_the_Gifts m.r. carey

♦♦♦♦

Children of the Elementi, Ceri Clark–this cover is a real winner, as much for the graphics as for the stunning yet simple art.

children of the  elementi

♦♦♦♦

Antithesis, Kacey Vanderkarr — cover art by Najla Qamber.

Antithesis by Kacey Vanderkar

♦♦♦♦

For me, books that portray the features of the characters on the cover are a bit dicey. They never look the way I, as the reader, think they should. So, usually I find myself gravitating to the symbolic aspects of the cover and ignoring the artist’s conception of the characters. I want mystique, intrigue…the hint of danger and adventure. A book cover must flip the switch on my curiosity, make me wonder what is inside…and that particular trigger is subjective.

Each reader is lured by something different, which is what makes this aspect of indie publishing so difficult. However, I am beginning to understand what it is that I am looking for when I am drawn to a cover, so…I’ve been busy learning graphic design. I will be doing a cover reveal for my forthcoming book, Mountains of the Moon, a book based in the World of Neveyah, the same world as the as Tower of Bones series, and which is set to be released July 15, 2015.

My son, Dan, who is a graphic designer has really given me some pointers on this particular cover. I have been to “YouTube University,” and learned how to make vectors for this cover (I made two!) and I have learned several other unique little tricks of Photoshop. I have the layout finalized, and the graphics, and will be revealing it at the end of June.

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Cover Reveal: The South Sea Bubble, by Alison Deluca

Alison DeLuca TNWE myrddinAs I have mentioned before, I am in love with fabulous art, and I totally adore beautiful book covers.  I have been working on covers for my own books,and was thrilled to find some of the best art in the world in the public domain, free and with a creative commons license allowing it to be remixed and used in anyway.  While my books have always had great graphics, thanks to the awesome Ceri Clark, prior to Tales from the Dreamtime, the art I have found for her to work with  wasn’t what I really wanted, and I wasn’t sure how to achieve what I wanted to see on my book covers. Beginning this year ALL my books will have much more appropriate art, eye-candy (in my opinion.)

Selecting art to cover your book is apparently a common problem, as I have seen some fairly awful book covers sold under the auspices of major publishing houses, so I don’t feel too badly in regard to my own sad efforts.

Alison DeLuca HeadshotToday my dear friend and fellow co-founder of Myrddin Publishing Group, Alison Deluca is revealing the cover to her new book, The South Sea Bubble, the 4th and final installment in her wonderful steampunk series, The Crown Phoenix Series. The book is due to be released on November 5th, 2013.

Alison’s bio doesn’t do her any justice:

“Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.”

This woman is so much more than those few words tell! She is a rock to those of us who rely on her wisdom and sharp humor to get us through the twists and turns of the publishing world.  Today, she has agreed to let me give you all a sneak peak at The South Sea Bubble and the beautifully conceived and put together cover cover!

But first–the Blurb:

An Edwardian hospital hides many secrets:

A mysterious patient lurks in the cellar…

A secret passage leads to danger…

Coded messages reveal new riddles..

Visions of danger haunt the people of Grimstead Manor…

Lizzie and Miriam find horror, adventure, and romance surrounding the strange vessel known as The South Sea Bubble.

“Compulsive reading!”

“Addictive steampunk.”

BUT  wait…. I’ve read the first three books in the series and I’m DYING to read this book.  Let’s have just a teensy look inside:

Oh, stop the dramatics,” Simon groaned. “What on earth are you talking about? Of course I’m not leaving until we sort all of this out and you tell me what – is – going – on!” His voice rose in volume on each successive word.

Miriam looked at him. Her eyes were dark and very direct. “No, Simon.” Her lower lip trembled, but she took a deep breath and seemed to recover. “I will not.”

“Oh, is that so?” His voice dripped with sarcasm. “And I suppose you think I’m just going to waltz off and forget all about you, Lampala, and last summer.” He raised one finger and stabbed the air in her direction. “I’m not going to, my girl, and don’t you forget it. I will not give up on you, although apparently you have given up on me.”

Okay. They’re grownups now…. having a bit of a tiff…. This book intrigues me already. I’m all about it!

I pressed Alison to talk to me about how she and her cover designer worked together to come up with the cover.

My cover artist throughout the Crown Phoenix series is Lisa Daly, my best friend from high school. We continued the theme of showcasing main characters on the front, although this one shows Simon, the first male cover.

Lisa and I chose the model because not only does he embody Simon’s physical characteristics (good looks, blond hair) but also his strong-willed, hot-tempered personality. No wonder Miriam found herself dreaming about him at night.

We got permission from Joachim Muller, a German photographer, to use his image of the lovely octopus in the lower left corner. Also, the bathysphere, which is the South Sea Bubble, frames Simon – a theme within the story.

Thank you so much for allowing me to showcase this on your blog, Connie!

***
And here, my friends, is the gorgeous cover, revealed at last:
The south sea bubble Alison Deluca
Due to be released November 5, 2013

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Filed under Battles, Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Steampunk, writer, writing

Art for the great cover-up

Medieval_forest wikimedia commons PD 100 yrsI love great fantasy art.  Fantasy art has been around for thousands of years, and examples of it can be found all over the globe. Some of the finest examples of fantasy art are in the heroic paintings from medieval times that were meant to describe the daily  lives of people. Like good fantasy, they were based in reality, but with a bit of a fairy-tale quality added, to lend a bit of interest to what they considered ordinary pursuits.

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at art, with the intention of buying. I have the notion to redo all my book covers this next year, if I can get the hang of Photoshop.  I love good book covers and am always buying books based on them.  The graphics on my books are always done by the amazing Ceri Clark, but in my Tower of Bones series I’ve given her less than optimal art to work with. She has worked a miracle with what she has been given. Now I’ve amassed a really large database of affordable art, much of which will speak well to my books.

Tiepolo,_Giambattista_-_Die_Unbefleckte_Empfängnis_-_1767_-_1768_-_Drachen Giovanni Battista Tiepolo [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThis has all come about because I have completely rewritten my first published novel and am now designing the new cover for it, based on its new title. This cover is critical, because there are two books currently based in that world, and a third is partially written. The covers for all three must relate to each other.

I think I was successful in getting the right art for Tales from the Dreamtime. Ceri’s graphics are perfect and make it intriguing.

This quest for great cover art is what I must do for my Tower of Bones series too.  There are two books currently published in that series, and one more in the editing pipeline at Eagle Eye Editors. (Actually, they currently have three books of mine in their pipeline, and Tower of Bones is one of them.)

Quaglio_Kipfenberg

The best art for a book tells some of the story but also make the eye go “Oh yeah, baby!”  For me, that means it is colorful and mysterious, something that makes me think about the image.  I have comps of all the art I’ve ever wanted and now I must go through each image and decide which  image will be purchased. It is difficult to find great art for reasonable prices, but not impossible.

Many of my friends go to DeviantArt.com, and many others go to iStock and Dreamstime.  I have gone to all of these places, and I’ve found many pieces that will combine well to build my covers. It will not be free, but it will be fun!

All I have to do, is learn how to use Photoshop.  I am now an old dog, learning a new trick!

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Flung Poo, or the Tao of Fantasy

fire MH900370240What the heck is it with this particular thread in my personal time stream?

Last week my stove went mad and tried to burn down my house. The self-cleaning function went berserk and my husband had to shut it off at the breaker as it wouldn’t shut off on its own. That was the last straw for that particular appliance. We decided to bite the bullet and raid the savings to purchase a fancy new one, with a convection oven and everything.

This week my son had another tonic-clonic seizure and ended up in the hospital, but he’s home and doing well again. This time he was taking his meds faithfully, but they need adjusting, so we are working with that. In the meantime I am staying at his house north of Seattle off and on until he’s back to feeling like being on his own again. So no driving for Dan, which is a bit difficult, but not impossible.

The republicans in the United States Congress went off their meds and made decisions that put my husband partially out of work. Heck, no worries, we still had a couple bucks in our savings after the stove, so it’s all good. (Bastards.)

He doesn’t work for them, but his job is federally funded, so there you go.  Well of course CONGRESS will still be paid, so no worries, struggling homeowner! This agony must be happening for some good reason…after all, reasonable people would never…oh, right. Never mind.

Between  the conservative  crack-pots in the US Congress and the twists and turns of fickle fate, I need an escape! Boy, am I grateful to have so many affordable and great indie books  to read and a great tale of my own to write!

children of the elementi ceri clarkOne of my all-time favorites was re-released this week: Children of the Elementi by UK author Ceri Clark.

The Blurb:

From the ashes of an ancient empire, five must save the future. 

Jake: Last in line to the Elementi High King throne, sent through time and space to be brought up in an alien world, he has no knowledge of his past. 

Mirim: As the caretaker of the mysterious Citadel which hosts the dying crystal mind of the Matrix, her air power is the only link to the old world. 

Kiera: A Romani foundling with growing powers over nature, she is searching for a better life away from her criminal past. 

They must find the other two heirs and reunite all their elemental powers over earth, air, fire, and water together with the Matrix to defeat the Empire that conquered their parents. 

With a fire demon on his trail, can Jake bring together the last of the Elementi in time?

meteorite_bombardment via www dot indiana dot eduOh yeah!  Grandma’s all about the magic! I loved it the first time I read it, and I’m reading it again!

There is nothing like the zen of a good book in my kindle, and a cozy corner of the sofa to curl up and escape the chunks of falling sky.

I’ve been around this world for a long while. I know everything will right itself and we’ll all be back on track: the oven, my son, and the US government. Life is amazing and when it’s all good, its awesome, so I’ll just sit here with my glass half full, reading a good book and ignoring the things that are transient in the overall scheme of things.

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Filed under Books, Epilepsy, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Uncategorized, Vegan, writer, writing