Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Cover Story

I’m writing about dirt today.  This is going to be awesome.  The new Wisherton book doesn’t have a release date yet, but I’m guessing May or June.  That’s close enough that the book needs a cover.  Oh, joy of joys.

Please don’t mistake all this sarcasm for negativity.  Making a book cover is fun, and that’s not sarcasm.  I get to take a break from writing to stretch a different creative muscle.  My visual design muscle is a weakling though.  It lifts in ounces not pounds, and it gets strained easily.

On the way to creating each new cover, I typically ruin several with an ugly font or a weird effect or an accidental deletion or by merging layers I meant to blend.  I think every time I make a new cover, I also come up with a new way to ruin one.  That’s another way to say I come up with a new way to laugh at myself, and that’s why it’s fun.

Let’s talk about my new cover.  It’s still a work in progress.  Because this is a series, I need to keep it consistent with the previous books.  What is the theme of the Wisherton covers so far?  I gave you a hint in the first sentence.  The theme is dirt.  Look at the first four books on your bookshelf.  (Or you can peek at the bottom of the page.)  The theme is clearly dirt.  I’m laughing at myself already.

Now I feel compelled to explain how I arrived at this brilliant theme.  I don’t use stock photos because I want my covers to be original.  I don’t use original drawings because I can’t draw.  Seriously, even my stick figures are sad.  The Wisherton books are set in a fantasy world so I wanted to avoid a picture of anything that looked too much like the ordinary, everyday, non-fantasy world. Most of the events happen outdoors, which is where I went in search of a cover photo.

I went to my backyard and started with a maple tree.  Don’t ask me to be more specific than maple, my nature skills are as bad as my drawing skills.  But I knew it was a maple and that anyone else would recognize that much.  There were a few other nature things I considered.  They all seemed equally non-fantasy-ish.  Then it occurred to me that no matter what plants grew in this strange world, they’d probably still need dirt.  In trying to avoid anything overly ordinary, I ended up with a picture of the most ordinary thing of all.  And now you know what to think of my logic skills.

To be fair, dirt is only the background of each cover.  There is something more interesting in each one.  For this new cover, I thought I could use pretty flowers, modified in some way to appear more foreign.  Before I could do the hard part of changing the flowers, I needed to do the “easy” part of figuring out where in the picture they looked nicest.  But they didn’t look nice anywhere.  I didn’t like them draped down one side.  I didn’t like them on the other side.  I didn’t like them across the top.  I sort of liked them at a diagonal, except that my foot ruined the picture.  I’ve never accidentally gotten my own foot in a cover photo before so I guess that was the new way to ruin it.

And all that was before one of my early readers said the brief mention of flowers in the story isn’t enough to make it an appropriate cover image anyway.  The alternative suggestion is to show a paw of the imaginary baby animal from the story.  I don’t know if I need to change my flower idea.  I also don’t know if getting a picture of an animal that doesn’t exist would be any more difficult than getting those flowers to do something interesting.  I only know this work is going to be in progress for some time.  But I’m still laughing.

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Q. Why are you writing about A Tale of Two Cities?
A. I’m not.

Q. Hmm.  What’s with the title reference?

A. It struck me as an apt description for the current state of both my projects.


Q. That brings up several questions, but first, why is this in interview form?

A. I started to write a post the “normal” way and found myself beginning a sentence with “If someone asked me…” Then of course someone had to ask me the question.


Q. That makes total sense.  How do your projects relate to the best and worst times?

A. It’s the best of times because with these two books, I’m at my first and second favorite steps in the writing process.


Q. Wait.  What is your favorite step in writing a book?

A. It’s writing the last sentence of the first draft.  There’s an amazing sense of accomplishment when those words hit the paper.  It’s the good kind of pride, the feeling that I just did something hard.  I committed to months of work and got it done.


Q. Are you talking about the Wisherton book you mentioned last month?

A. Yes.  I’m typing up the rough draft right now.  Well, not right this minute because I’m working on this interview.  But essentially right now.


Q. You have another project at your second favorite step?

A. Yes.


Q. And that is?

A. The step or the project?


Q. Both.

A. I think I’ve landed on an idea for my next romance book.  The very beginning is a fun step in the process.  I’m spending time in fantasy land and letting myself get excited about new stories and new characters, just in case it might be a series.


Q. That all sounds fun.  Why is it also the worst of times?

A. I admit that’s a melodramatic take.  I know from experience that my two favorite parts are also some of the shortest parts.  I only get to enjoy that finished draft for as many days as it takes me to type it.  Then I have to start looking for ways to improve it, sometimes even admitting that part of my hard work isn’t very good.  There will be changes and additions or deletions.  Basically, my sense of accomplishment is bashed around by reminders that I’ve only actually completed one step.


Q. I guess you don’t get to stay in fantasy land either?

A. I can only scribble thoughts and highlights for so long before I have to commit to the difficult task of writing it all into a coherent story.  That puts a damper on some of the fun.  And before I can even do that, I have to name everyone.


Q. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.  By the way, what was the question someone needed to ask?

A. Don’t worry.  We covered it.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Back to Wisherton

Isn’t Back to Wisherton the title of a book I wrote a few years ago? Yes. Wasn’t it also the title of a previous blog post? No. Isn’t the whole Wisherton series a bit, I don’t know, off-brand for me? Yes and no.

Now let me elaborate on these questions. Back to Wisherton is in fact the second book in what is currently a four-book series. I named a post Back to Names around the time it released because I was excited to share that new book. I named this post because I’m excited to announce that I am going back to the Wisherton series to add a 5th book.

The title of book 5 will be Birthdays and Wisherton. Is anyone surprised by the format, a word that starts with B followed by Wisherton? I mean, anyone other than me. I never intended for that to be a thing. The first two books are set a little earlier than the rest. They go together to launch the series, and it seemed appropriate to give them similar titles. I had something completely different in mind for the 3rd book. And then I got yelled at.

Some people around me, including my children… okay, mostly my children, were outraged that I planned to deviate from the pattern I had established with the first two books. Nobody cared that I wasn’t trying to establish a pattern. I didn’t know I was locking myself into every book I write about these characters forever and ever having to start with the letter B. Fortunately, I warmed up to the idea of a starting point for my titles, though I would have put up a bigger fight if I had to work with Q.

As to the last question of whether I’ve wandered off track with this series, I think I can say no, not totally off track. Most of my books are romantic comedies and this is children’s fantasy. It is a different genre. But I’m still writing all the essentials. Wisherton is a fantasy world where Christianity does not exist. They do believe in a creator and that the sometimes supernatural gifts they’re given are for helping each other. There is still faith.

Love doesn’t always mean romantic love. I enjoy illustrating the strong bonds of family and friendship. Of course the people we most love are also the ones most capable of annoying us. That is an awesome source of humor for an author. I am inspired daily. Not that I’m suggesting anything in my books is directly from my own life. Any similarities are purely coincidental. Probably.