Thursday, March 28, 2024

Three Missions

The official release of Evelyn’s Granddaughter is set for April 11!  I’d be more excited if I wasn’t trying to slip in a very minor change before the buzzer.

There was already one last-minute change.  It had to do with those problematic names again.  Someone from the first Love in Andauk series has a baby in this new book.  I couldn’t decide what to name him.  He got at least three different names in early drafts of the book.  Somehow, he still had two of those names in a copy several of my proofreaders read.  I was disappointed when I discovered the mistake, mostly because it makes me worry there are others.  I’d really like to release a book with no mistakes.

I was paying particularly close attention to the names when I reread the book for what I thought was the last time.  I have a basic outline for the rest of the series.  I’ve written some of the first draft of book 2.  I used a guy from book 3 in one scene and realized that he might be the only one missing from book 1.  There are (or will be) four books that need eight main characters.  Seven of those got at least a very brief mention in the first book.  It bugs me that I left someone out.  I need to find a way to add that name, and I only have a few days for this mission.

And here’s a mission for readers, if anyone would like to accept it.  Try to guess which of the minor characters will be promoted to main characters in the future books.  Maybe even how they will be paired.  I’ll give you some hints.  Remember how I struggle to name characters.  Remember that sometimes I deliberately avoid naming characters who don’t need names.  If you come to a place where you think, why did the author take the trouble to give a name to this random guy about whom we know nothing else?  That might be a sign he’s going to show up again later.

What’s the third mission?  I need to write a blog post before March is over.  That’s going to be a hard one.  I hope I can manage it.

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Velvet Starfish

Once upon a time, there was a velvet starfish. This is a true story. How can it be a true story about something that doesn’t exist? Don’t worry, it’s not the main character.

A writer was trying to design a cover for one of her books. She gathered some items relevant to the story… a paper house, a pair of shiny black turtles, a strip of lace and some flowers. She arranged those things in a myriad of ways on several different backgrounds, taking pictures of everything. Then she took those pictures to her computer to see what she could learn.

She learned that it takes some people more than forty years to consistently take pictures that are not blurry. She learned that the lace was too narrow to frame the title of the book. She learned that the turtles no longer looked like turtles when flattened to two dimensions. They looked like black blobs. She also learned that the burgundy velvet made the nicest background, great color and texture.

The writer took many more pictures – with her new knowledge and without the turtles – on the best background. She tried to create a cover from one of those pictures. One attempt was unbalanced. She saved that and started over. One attempt was washed out. She saved that and started over. One attempt appeared to have a house floating on top of a flower and was just super weird. She saved that and started over.

Whenever it became clear that a cover was going bad, she saved it before she started over because this wasn’t her first cover. She had learned through years of experience that some good might be mixed in with the bad. She might eventually look back at previous attempts and realize that the effect on cover11 worked better with the higher contrast image on cover23.

Enlarging the lace had solved one problem. But the writer had been so focused on getting the title right that she hadn’t paid enough attention to the picture. Once her attention shifted, she noticed that there were some odd wrinkles in the velvet. The wrinkles met in the middle to form a shape that bore an uncanny resemblance to a velvet starfish. The writer did not want to explain to anyone why there was a velvet starfish on her cover. She saved that one and started over.

The writer gathered her supplies again. She paused to knock her head against the wall a few times, then snapped another big batch of pictures. She tested the new pictures behind the prepared title layer. None of the new pictures came close to working. Somehow, the flowers were sideways in several, carpet was sticking out in a few, at least one was blurry, and the writer could only conclude that she hadn’t actually been <i>trying</i> to take good pictures. Rather than another round of photography, she started sifting through the images from the beginning.

Those black blobs that were supposed to be turtles were still black blobs. A few images might work if they could be magically zoomed out. The house floating on a flower was so weird it could almost pass for intentionally unconventional. Except almost. Finally, she did find one image with decent composition. Composition was even a good, arty word. The writer believed she was onto something. She pasted on the title layer, added a cool effect. Yes. It was beginning to look like a real cover possibility. And then she saw it. The velvet starfish was back. In her desperation, the writer had let that annoying velvet starfish creep back onto the cover. Argh. She saved that and started over.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Here we go again.

I finished typing up the rough draft for my next book. While I’m working on the editing, I’ll need to imagine and then execute a nice cover for it. I’ve already begun brainstorming. Since this series will be sort of a sequel series to Love in Anduak, I think I should pull some element from those covers. They each have an oval around the title with a background image. I’m thinking I should do something like that only not like that for the next series. Maybe change the shape of that title card.

I have a book that needs a cover and so far my idea is… wait for it… rectangle.

This is not going to be hard. All I need to do is turn “rectangle” into a beautiful cover.

I have had a few thoughts on that. Notice that the oval on the previous covers has a rough border. I was going for fancy, a fancy border. I don’t remember how I got the rough border I ended up with so I probably couldn’t redo it anyway. But I’d like to try a border on the rectangle that’s also like that but not exactly like that, one that’s actually fancy.

Now my idea for the new cover is… rectangle with a border I’ve proven I don’t know how to make.

I am definitely on the right track. I’m imagining something that looks like lace around the edge. I have some lace. If I can figure out how to take a picture that doesn’t look like a picture (it should look like something drawn) and doesn’t have anything weird showing through it (because lace has holes), I’ll have a nice place to put the title of the book. Then I’ll only need an image for the background.

I’m thinking the background should be colorful but somehow blurred so the title is the focus. The background should be a recognizable picture but only when someone is trying to look at it. It should naturally fade into the background because it’s a background. I only need to think of something I want in the picture. And there we have it. The cover will be a bright but muted picture of something undetermined with a title printed on a fancy but impossible rectangle. It’s practically done already.