#SaturdayScribblers 8 & Blogophilia 20.9
I’m doing a combo post this week because I have a lot of work to do to get ready for Book Born’s Birthday Bash.
Saturday Scribblers is the cool blog challenge run by Dean Kealy. Every week he gives participants a scribble to turn into something cool. Here’s this week’s
Blogophilia is the cool blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog post. This week’s prompts are:
I really enjoy both groups because they make you pull, out all the stops sometimes and showcase the best of you – or at least the best of your imagination.
Anyway, here’s my work in progress so you can see the scribble in it:
And here’s the final product:
Why is she in blue-green? I dunno. When I initially drew her I had planned to paint it black like Malificent, but then I went with ocean colors instead. I’m pretty happy with it and it took me just over an hour including having to stop to mess with the dog who has been going nuts because it’s been storming all morning.
I should credit the sparkle brushes, which come from Obsidian Dawn and are awesome, by the way. The background texture is mine and is actually some of that silky wallpaper scanned off. Snifty, huh?
And now I leave you all for bed. Have a sparkly kind of day!
P.S. to quote Ferris Bueller, “You’re still here? It’s over!” So go to bed. Or work. Or whatever.
Recovering the Classics: Jo’s Boys
Recovering the Classics is an awesome project that attempts to take classic novels and “re-cover” them to make them appealing – most ebook versions of the public domain books have generic, plain, or horribly ugly covers that turn people off, and the folks at RtC want to excite people about the books. The books are then made available to libraries and, if I am correct, to consumers as well. They also sell merchandise like t-shirts and other cool things with your choice of artwork. Though the artists release their images under CC license, they do receive royalties on the merchandise.
How cool is that?
Anyway, so I couldn’t stay away when I found out that Louisa May Alcott’s Jo’s Boys had no cover submissions. Zero. Nadda. I LOVED Alcott as a child and still have an extensive collection of her work (including the aforementioned Jo’s Boys), so here are the cover submissions I sent in:
As they are already submitted, it is a little late for feedback, but you can drop your opinions anyway. For those who have not read this, i admit the covers are a bit literal, but oh well. Not my usual style, which made them fun to do. I have no idea if they will accept them, or even like them, but we’ll see.
In the meantime, have a good one, and check out RtC!
Time in a Bottle
That’s the song I’m listening to now. It used to be my parents’ song (before they got divorced) so there is kind of an underlying melancholy to it for me, but it’s still a beautiful song. Don McLean’s entire American Pie album (with the exception of “Everybody Loves Me” and the one about mother nature having it out for him…I forget the name) is also brilliant. In case you can’t guess, I listened to it before Jim Croce.
I was going to write a long blog post, but I’ve lost the thread, and I think I’d rather take a shower and call it a night. So that this is not a complete waste, here’s the Don McLean album I mentioned on YouTube. (I did not upload it).
and here’s a few covers I’ve been working on:
Have a good one!
Last Minute Book Covers
Getting in some last minute work and thought I’d share some of the book covers I’ve been working on lately.
Wasn’t that exciting? The first one is for the Ink Slinger’s Anthology – I need to do an official cover reveal over on my author blog when I get back. I admit I didn’t really wait for it to be fully approved but I figure I’m buying the images and doing it all, so… Not that I think anyone would complain. The Ink Slingers are a nice bunch.
That’s tonight’s excitement. What a boring life I lead, LOL!
Have a good one!
I’ll be gone from Friday until Tuesday (or Wednesday). No, I’m not flying to exotic places, just heading down to southern Missouri for the Route 66 on the Air event and to spend a day hanging out with the sister-in-law (which will be fun). I doubt I’ll be blogging BUT at the same time I don;t want to guarantee I won’t, so…
I can guarantee I won’t be posting on the paper doll blog. I have two done ahead of time – three if you count the one I skipped ahead to (It’s number 73 but I haven’t got 72 colored yet) but it’s not enough to get me through. Oh well. No one will cry for the lapse.
I’ve been working on the cover for the anthology and I liked it earlier but now I don’t know. That happens a lot.
I need to start writing again. I’m a month behind on book 8. Blah blah.
Okay, I’m being boring, so instead of yapping on and on (and on and on like Seth Rollins) here’s a special preview of dress #73.
I know, you’re not here to look at paper dolls, but I am hella proud of that one.
And now I bid you all good night and say, “Have a good one!”
I call it that, though unless you *know* that the following are images of vampires you might not know it. For those who are out of the loop, these are the main characters in my newest vampire novel Heart of the Raven. This blog isn’t about advertising that, so if you want more info check out my author blog.
All in all I was pretty happy with the way the new ones came out. There are a couple I might redraw next time – Verchiel, for instance – but then again maybe not. We’ll see what’s going on at the time.
song playing at the moment – 3AM – Poets of the Fall
These are mainly photos that were “Photo of the Day” on facebook. I used to post them here too, then got out of the habit, but some are cool enough to share. All with the cell.
It’s sort of amusing. I spent all that $$ on the Nikon, lenses and what not and yet am using my cellphone, LOL! Actually there are some cool cemetery pics if I ever find them that I took with the Nikon.
song playing at the moment – Meadowlarks – Fleet Foxes
The Woes of the Cliche
This should probably go in my author blog but the people who primarily read my author blog are… wait for it… wait or it… authors! And authors, god love them, will generally regurgitate all of the marketing guru advice they’ve been busy absorbing (and often paying for) along their quest to make oodles of money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad thing, if it’s your goal, but, it’s not the perspective I am looking for just now.
Off and on over the years I’ve gotten flak for my book covers (see above). They don’t look like 90% of the vampire book covers because they aren’t actually written for 90% of the vampire readers. My strongest reviews usually come from people who say “I don’t normally like modern vampire books, but…” On the other hand, there is a percentage of PNR fans that do like them, and it’s a market I haven’t really tapped into. It’s also a market that may not like the books, but I digress.
With that in mind, I decided to experiment and made more “traditional” – ie cliché – covers for my Special Edition versions of the books – this is a combo of two books in one, along with special content, at a savings.
Despite the new covers, the two book combo, and the extra content, together, in their first three months, they sold only 40 copies. Meanwhile, the first two books with “bad covers” (Shades of Gray and Legacy of Ghosts) sold 153. Why? Perhaps the cliché covers are blending in. Or is it a lack of reviews on the Special Edition pages? It could be advertising – they were featured on different sites – or maybe it’s a lack of deeply entrenched back links. In other words, there are a lot of variables to consider.
With that in mind I decided to remove a few of those by temporarily creating new covers for the books on Amazon only. If my Amazon sales leap upwards at a higher rate than B&N etc. then that *should* tell me that, yes, the covers are an issue. But, what should I do for those new covers?
A tour around Amazon using search words like “vampire” or “vampire romance” reveals that there are only six kinds of book covers for paranormal books – but which one should I use?
1. Hunky man/Sexy scene. This cover demonstrates that the focus of the story is on the hunky male and/or the sex between him and his counterpart. If I buy this book I expect lots of sex. I expect the hero to be called “beautiful” and “sensual” at least ten times. There might be some violence. If the hero is alone on the cover, I expect violent scenes to end with the female trembling from fear or shock and being rescued by the hunky hero so that they can go have sex and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has at least one monologue where he feels regret and angst and tells himself that he should “stay away” from her . If the couple are pictured together she may be tougher than the solo counterpart, but they will still leave the battle and have hot, steamy sex.
2. Kick ass/sexy/sad woman. This kind of cover says that the woman is the main component in the story. If it has a “kick ass” woman I expect her be super tough and not need a man, while also outwitting those whose paths she crosses. I also expect violence since she is probably some kind of hunter. If it is a sexy woman then I still expect her to “need no man” but she will be having hot, tumultuous sex with at least one, and possibly two or more. I expect very light violence, with the main focus being on her sensuality or her burgeoning relationship. If she’s in modern clothes I expect it to be clicky and feminist ala Sex in the City, but if she has more historical attire then the hero will “tame” her. If the woman looks sad or lost then I expect the book to focus on her emotional journey as she overcomes some terrible tragedy. There may or may not be sex in this story. Violence will be light.
3. The totally cliché vampire element. Dark castles. Bats. A man/woman with fangs. A goblet of blood. This cover shows that the main element of the story IS the vampires – everything else comes second. I would expect something heavy, historical and traditional ala Dracula. Someone will use old fashioned/obsolete words. There is a good chance of violence and it will probably be bloody, though the descriptions may or may not be gruesome. There will probably not be explicit sex (if the fanged woman is pictured alone, see #2. If she is posed with a man in a sensual scene, see #1).
4. Cutesy art work. This cover says “Chic-lit” and makes me think of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and stuff like that. Cute, modern, edgy and feminine. I expect the vampires to be worried about fitting into their skinny jeans, or cleverly outwitting their boyfriends. They will drink margaritas and have girls night.
5. Totally random object/scene. Think Twilight, or Fifty Shades. Though the artists will cite symbolic bull, this cover tells you nothing. But, the font choices and colors on these covers will tell you whether it is a “masculine” or “feminine” book. If it has a funky font I expect a YA novel with light violence and some romance, probably a girl who is discovering her “abilities”. A serif font leads me to expect a more serious story, possibly with a male protagonist who has deep regret over something. Sex and violence are both possibilities. A sans serif font will tell me that the protagonist (be they male or female) is tough, there is plenty of violence, and it’s probably going to be fast paced, but also likely to be contemporary. A script/cursive style font says it is a romance and more than likely the protagonist is a female. There is probably sex involved, violence is doubtful. If it’s super curly or cutesy then see #6.
6. Completely out there. This cover says “I may have vampires, but I’m different”, which makes me expect different. In fact I will expect it to lean heavily towards another genre, depending on the style, such as fantasy, sci-fi etc. That there would be lots of violence would not surprise me at all. The same with sex. There may even be deeper themes involved.
So what do I do? My series doesn’t fit into the first category (though book one might me able to), so hunky heroes and steamy sex scenes are out. I might have a female protagonist, but she’s not kick ass, she’s not sultry and she isn’t lost and weeping, so category two is out. The books are a quick, light read, with no heavy history, so category three is out. Katelina might drink margaritas, but the series is the anti-thesis of chic lit (or at least I hope it is) so category four is out. This leaves me with “completely out there” – which I’m already doing – or “totally random object/scene”, which is what I have decided to go for.
Remember how I said that artists of these abstract covers will give you a lot of symbolic bull? Well I’m no different.
Since the first book does have a heavier romance element it got a hunky hero silhouette. I could give you a lot of crap about the symbolism of the tree, but really I just like trees.
For book two I swapped out the heavy pink/red color of the original cover for a simple blue because, though there is some heavy romance moments, the main challenge in the story is the characters’ regret and how to deal with that. This also contributes to the choice of the graveyard motif, which not only conveys the regret and lost moments, but also gives it a gothy, vampire-ish tone. Plus it looks cool.
Book three is faster paced with less emphasis on the hunky hero and more on a new character, who wants desperately to involve himself in a triangle just because I told him not to. The highway and the red color scheme reflect the fast pace, as well as the conflict. Not to mention red happens to be the new character’s main color.
The fourth book has even less emphasis on the romance, and more on the culmination of the story arch with Oren and Malick. A lot of things are wrapped up. I went for purpley-blue to give it the edge of feminine. The bulk of the heavy action takes place underground, which doesn’t lend itself to a silhouette, but there are some defining scenes at a country house, so I went for that. I could also claim that the lonely scene emphasizes that, as a human among vampires, Katelina is alone among the monsters.
In book five the romance is still taking a backseat, but there’s a bit of a triangle that refuses to go away, so it got a feminizing purple color. The vampires leave the US and do some globe hopping as they search for an ancient relic. Not only do they visit Japan, but the Japanese images evoke tradition, agelessness and a bit of mysticism, which fit the theme of the book perfectly.
And if you’re still reading this mindeless pap, there’s blood splattered on them to symbolize violence and vampirism and all that.
The question is: Will the cliché covers make more people buy? If so will it lead to people who feel they were promised something the series doesn’t deliver? Or, like the special edition covers, will it make no impact at all? Place your bets now!
P.S. All the images are still my own. I’m not really interested in the various limits stock photos place on usage.
PPS – I’ll do an official announcement on my author blog in a couple of days maybe.
Artwork – Drink from Me
(originally from Nov 2008)
her head isn’t quite right but I like this anyway.
fav song of the moment – Please Don’t Let it Go – HIM
On Hell Boy 2, Burning at the Stake, & Other Things
The other day, we watched an interesting show on medieval torture. Incidentally, if you are ever burned at the stake make them stack the wood all the way around you, clear up by your head. You die of inhaling flame that way and actually drown before you really burn too much – the wood piled at your feet takes five minutes to die and you actually burn. The ring of wood takes fifteen minutes and you die from radiated heat. Interesting, huh?
Actually, the show would have been more interesting had they not kept pointing out the psychological portion of it. How horrified the victim must have felt, how terrible it must have been, how terrifying… blech. I don’t find that aspect all that interesting, which is why I don’t like a lot of modern horror movies. I don’t want to look into someone’s eyes and see their terror and listen to their shrieks while we, the audience, sit and slowly wait for them to die. Why would I want to be in the head of the victim? In what way is the victim fascinating? What is fascinating is the mind of the killers – the ones who torture. Whose names do we remember, Vlad the Imapler, or the names of the people he killed?
It’s like that scene from Bullet Proof Monk. The main chicky-poo is in a humanitarian museum, looking a photo exhibit of of atrocities being committed and she asks the woman in charge why they don’t present the more uplifting things. The woman then points to a picture of a man holding a gun to another’s head and asks something to the effect of, “And which one do you want to be? In the depth of your soul do you want to be the one about to die, or the one about to pull the trigger?” Of course, I have an answer to that – “I want to be the one holding the camera and thinking, ‘Wtf?! They said we were going to the zoo to take pictures of the monkeys!'” LOL!!
Seriously though, there is truth to that statement. Who consciously wants to be the victim? Who wants to be the abused? If one has to choose, isn’t it better to be the one who comes out on top? I could take this dialog exchange and really run with it, turn it into something much less literal and apply it to about anything in life. Those are the kind of movie lines I like. The kind of lines that transcend the scene and the characters and even the situation and can be applied to a broader view. Ride with the Devil has a part like that. Toby McGuire’s character declines to kill Pitt at the end of the film. The ex slave (Daniel I think his name is) says “All right then,” and McGuire says, “It ain’t right and it ain’t wrong, it just is.” Now THAT is a mind blowingly philosophical statement on so many levels if you think about it. That pretty much sums up all of life. It just IS.
Another really mind blowing movie I’ve seen recently is Hell Boy 2 – though it’s all the subtle things that make it so. There are a lot of great parallels going on in it. The fays are dying out, “fading” as the princess says, and as their race is disappearing Liz is pregnant with twins – which should be a whole new thing because they will be half human and half demon. So, as one race dwindles a new one is beginning, isn’t it? But, both of the great lines out of it belong to the prince. When he tells Red, “If you’re unable to lead then you must follow orders.” I liked that whole scene, actually, because it’s so poignantly sad. He doesn’t want to kill the elemental – the last of its kind – but he knows he can’t let it live. It was just beautifully done, with all the undercurrents of conflict and such – and then that was a fantastic line, of course, because again it’s true. You have to decide for yourself or else follow orders.
The other really good line is when the prince is dying and he says how he will die “but the world will be poorer for it”. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I am such a fantasy geek and always have been, so of course that entire theme of the fading away of something magical resonates well with me because that tends to be the underlying theme of most fantasy doesn’t it? The beauty and magic fading away and leaving humans in charge as they slowly destroy everything around them…
You know, this also tends to be a theme popular in Jap stuff, too. Probably why the original anime fans were also the fantasy/sci-fi geeks I suppose, huh? Though I find anime funny anymore. I talk to people and they talk about “old” anime and it’s like ’98, ’99. HA! OLD anime is 70-something! Gatchaman and Voltus V, that’s OLD anime! ’99 is fairly recent IMHO. I suppose it’s because ’98 was really the beginning of the Jap revolution in the US; aka when mainstream started to notice it. Meanwhile, us poor little geeks who liked it all along are now just considered as being on the bandwagon… it’s kind of annoying, really.
I guess I have rambled with no point for long enough so I will end this now :p
Song Playing at the Moment – “Samurai” – Tackey and Tsubasa