Tag Archives: cover

Vokhtah – cover reveal and an excerpt

First and foremost, the cover!

The blurb on the back cover hasn’t scaled properly, but that’s okay as the image used for the actual print cover will be the right size. The width of the spine will be adjusted as well, once I’ve got the trim size/page count finalised. Other than those small changes, the cover is done. 🙂

Oddly enough, the thing that gave me the most trouble with the cover was the red dwarf sun. Even as a binary, it will never look that big, but I had to take liberties with the size in order to make the image tell a graphical ‘story’. Getting the colour and ‘haze’ to look okay was hard too. Overall though, I am really, really pleased. I wanted something that looked more obviously sci-fi, and I think I got it. I also wanted the figure to be ‘brooding’ without giving too much away. The one thing I will say is that the figure is not wearing a cloak. 😀

And now for that excerpt. I rarely post excerpts because they rarely work well divorced from their context, but…well, I really like this scene. -shrug- To provide a little bit of context, the Yellow is the most powerful Healer in the Guild of Healers, and it’s also one of the bad guys. 🙂

The Yellow

“Forgiveness Honoured,” the young healer said as it skidded to a halt a respectful distance from the Yellow Councillor. “Traders confirming Messenger looking like Blue leaving with last caravan two circuits ago.”

The stocky, powerfully built iVokh standing over by the table continued studying the deep blue gem in its hand for a moment longer before turning to face the young healer.

“And Junior of Needlepoint?”

The question sounded casual, almost to the point of disinterest, however the young healer knew its master too well to ever mistake self-control for indifference.

“Junior being too… mmm…sick to leave with caravan,” it said carefully. “Triad estimating not being fit to travel for five, maybe six more circuits.”

* * *

The Yellow’s expression did not change, however there was a slight jerkiness to its movements as it dropped the gem, and its chain, into a pouch. It pulled the drawstring tight with a vicious snap of its wrists.

It had known the Master’s ridiculous story had to be true from the moment it had seen the Blue’s gem, lying abandoned on the table. But still, it had hoped. Now that hope was gone.

The Blue had made fools of them all by doing the unthinkable, and by now it had a two day head start. However it would soon discover that it was not the only one capable of doing the unexpected.

Turning towards the Master Timekeeper, who stood silently wringing its hands by the wall, the Yellow flicked its fingers in dismissal and waited in stony silence as the Master shuffled out backwards. The fool would have to be given a suitable reward for its incompetence, but for now it could wait; there were more pressing matters to deal with.

Throwing the pouch at the feet of the young healer, the Yellow said, “Taking that to Blue faction and then returning to Traders. Informing Quartermaster that Council needing special escort for Junior. Caravan must leaving at first-light on the morrow.”

“But Honoured—” the young healer began. Its cilia locked shut a moment after the words were out, but of course by then the damage was done.

“S’so?” the Yellow asked, its voice deceptively mild.

“N-nothing, Honoured…”

“Perhaps thinking needing authorisation, mmm?” the Yellow asked, knowing full well that was not what its assistant had been thinking at all.

The young healer blanched, making the finger-length scar beneath its left eye stand out even more. Nevertheless, its shoulders remained straight as it gave a silent nod.

The Yellow narrowed its eyes as it dropped a small yellow shard onto the sand at its feet. Authorisation. And a lesson in humility.

The young healer bent and slowly reached for the gem. The tips of its fingers were just curling around the shard when the Yellow’s foot descended on its hand.

“Being grateful for reminder,” the Yellow said in a genial tone as it ground the healer’s hand into the sand.

* * *

Crouched at the Yellow’s feet, the young healer knew better than to move, or make a sound, however it could not stop the sheen of sweat that suddenly broke out all over its body.

Only after the Yellow finally raised its foot and strode from the cavern, did the young healer release the keen of pain it had been holding back.

As it rose, cradling its bruised fingers against its chest, it spat on the ground where the Yellow’s feet had been. Then it fumbled the gem shard into the tiny bag it wore around its neck, gathered up the pouch and left at a quick trot.

On a different, but related note, you might be interested in this amazing article about Iron Age jewellery:

http://www.blog.poppyporter.co.uk/wordpress/2018/05/08/the-celtic-torc-how-iconic-iron-age-treasure-is-beginning-to-weave-its-magic-into-my-jewellery/

[My thanks to Dawn of Dawn Gill Designs for the link to that amazing article]

Even if you don’t have time to read the whole article, have a look at this:

Electrum torc with ornamented terminals. The torc is made from just over a kilogram of gold mixed with silver. It is made from sixty-four threads. Each thread is 1.9mm wide. Eight threads were twisted together at a time to make 8 separate ropes of metal. These were then twisted around each to make the final torc. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds. The hollow ends were then welded onto the ropes. The terminals are ornamented with embossed ridges, contrasting with areas filled by chased 'basket-work'.

That, my friends, is the Snettisham Great Torc, and it was made about 2000 years ago! Just goes to show what so-called primitive people can achieve. It also confirms that it would be possible for the iVokh, despite their low level of technology, to craft the kind of jewellery I’ve written into the story.

That may sound like nit-picking, but I believe that authenticity in the little things makes the big things easier to believe. And let’s face, I’m asking people to believe in flying, psychopathic aliens that happen to be hermaphrodites! lol I need all the help I can get. 😀

cheers

Meeks


They. Have. Arrived….

Not ten minutes ago, the doorbell rang, the animals scarpered, and I took possession of a small cardboard box with my name on it. I knew what it must be, but…it was almost a week early!

And there they were, the print proofs of the Innerscape books. Real at last:

Sorry for the poor quality of the pics. I took them with my mobile phone so you can’t see the rich deep colour or the way the light reflects off the gloss covers. What you can see, however, is that the Godsend cover didn’t work. This is a close-up:

The bit inside the red rectangle is the background image that’s meant to represent the Innerscape containment units. Instead of being a subtle hint, the image is as good as invisible. 😦

I know I’m not a professional cover designer, so I have to learn from my mistakes, but I feel as if I should have expected this one. You see in the print preview of the Godsend cover, the image did appear much darker than the image I was working on. But…I assumed it was just something to do with the print preview function. Wrong.

The Godsend cover won’t be hard to fix, but I’ll have to ‘guess’ at the finished product because I won’t be able to request a second proof [not because CreateSpace won’t allow it, but because the postage is so ridiculously expensive].

Another thing I’m going to have to guess at is the width of the Miira spine. For some reason, the actual spine is wider that the dimension I was working with in Corel. But this is both an annoying thing and a very, very good thing because I was worried ‘Miira’ would end up being ridiculously ‘thin’. Instead, it looks and feels like a normal, albeit ‘slim’ book so I’m thrilled by that. I’m also thrilled by the back covers. They look great, they’re very readable and they are beautifully consistent throughout the three books. I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that. 🙂

The Offspring and I are going to celebrate tonight with a tender Rack of Lamb, roast potatoes and a salad of homegrown lettuce, followed by a movie. I hope your weekend starts as well as mine. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Miira cover – in 3D

Just finished the Miira cover, version nth [honestly? I’ve lost track], so I thought I’d celebrate by playing around with a 3D version. I think it turned out okay. 🙂

The new blurb for the back is:

In 2101, the average person can expect to reach one hundred and ten. Miira Tahn, last Lady of Dhurai, is dying at just fifty-two. Faced with a slow, agonizing death, her only hope is a virtual paradise called Innerscape. There, the Residents inhabit beautiful, digital bodies indistinguishable from the real thing.

Or so the brochures say. But even Eden had a snake, and once inducted, the Residents of Innerscape can never return to the real world. If anything goes wrong, they will be lost in the dark forever.

Yet for Miira Tahn, even a tenuous hope is better than the fate that awaits her.

‘…sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump…’

And finally, underneath the blurb will be this:

‘Miira’ is the first book of the Innerscape cyle and corresponds to Episode 1 of the original series.

After way too much angst, I finally decided to bite the bullet and redo the ebooks as well. Once I’m finished, both print and digital versions will comprise just three books:

  • Miira, book 1 = Episode 1 of Innerscape
  • The Godsend, book 2 = Episodes 2 and 3 of Innerscape, and
  • Nabatea, book 3 = Episodes 4 and 5 of Innerscape.

It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s the only one I can think of that will translate a five-part serial into three, organic story arcs. And as an added bonus, the new splits will allow me to make book 1 permafree…once I persuade Amazon that it’s necessary.

But those are long range plans. For now I’d just like to thank everyone who commented on version 1 of the covers. You’ll never know how valuable your feedback was. Massive hugs all round! Now I’m off to make a pretty toy out of books 2 and 3. 😀

love

Meeks

 


The Godsend – Innerscape, book 2 cover

Just a quick update to show you what I’ve been obsessing about while I should have been writing blog posts. 🙂

This is just a mockup as the ‘spine’ will be wider in the final – I haven’t worked out the total pages in book 2 yet but it will be a lot wider than the one for book 1.

Okay, that’s it. No comments on this one.

cheers

Meeks


Using the Createspace cover template with Corel X8

This post is a bit premature as I haven’t yet shown you how to find the exact number of pages of your manuscript, but…I’ll do it now while it’s fresh in my mind. So, here goes. To create the cover, you will need:

  • the trim size of your finished book – i.e. the finished size you want the book to be. Mine is 5.5 x 8.5. You’ll find info. on trim sizes here.
  • the number of pages you end up with when you pour your manuscript into the appropriate trim size template – i.e. with the margins, etc., preset by the template.
  • and some kind of graphics package. The one I use is Corel Draw X8.

Finally, you will need the Createspace cover template for the trim size of your choice:

You can find the ‘Build Template’ here:

https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do;jsessionid=5C5EE350ED4B426685472D15E9996AB3.2129a643a7ae5ba6aeba4b626969fb21

To use the Build Template, simply select the trim size of your book from the drop down list like so:

Then type the total number of pages into the box for ‘Number of Pages’ and click the ‘Build Template’ button. The little app. does its thing, and in a moment you should be looking at something like this:

Click the ‘Click here to begin Download’ button and save the file to your computer. As the file is a compressed zip file, you will need a program to unzip it. Most people use Winzip. I prefer a non-Microsoft product called PowerArchiver. Whichever product you use, the file will be unzipped to look like this:

5.5×8.5_BW_230 is the name of the unzipped cover template and it comes in two versions – pdf or png. As I don’t have an app that works with pdf files, I imported the png version of the file into Corel X8.

This is what it looks like:

 

The instructions for using the template start with ‘Create a new layer in your image editing software. This layer will serve as the design layer.’ In other words, keep the cover guide separate from the graphic you build on top of it.

This is good advice as you don’t want to accidently meld the guide and your cover, with potentially drastic results. Nevertheless, I didn’t use the layers in that way. After tracing the dimensions of the cover template, I superimposed the tracing over my background image and worked with the tracing on the same layer as everything else. That’s what the faint white line is on the cover:

 

I could have used the guidelines in X8, but at one point I had so many of them all over the place, it would have been impossible to see what I was doing. Now I just have to remember to delete the guidelines before I send the image off to Createspace. [And boy do I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself!]

I hope you’ve all had a pleasant weekend,

cheers

Meeks


Corel Draw X8 – Miira cover final

I thought that X8 would be X6 with a slightly different interface, but it does actually have some nice features that I wasn’t expecting – like links to some very sophisticated fountain fills and a much improved transparency feature. Those features may have influenced the rather radical changes I’ve made to the cover of the first book:

Unfortunately, the image doesn’t quite show the depth of colour in the cover as the CMYK black has come through as a rather washed out charcoal in RGB [for web display]. Once the cover is printed it will be much sharper and the silvers will ‘pop’ more…I hope. Anyway, I’ll probably fiddle with the balance a bit longer, especially if you guys point out things I’m too blind to see, but this is basically the front and back cover spread that will go to Createspace for the print version.

One of the hardest things to figure out was what to put on the spine. Once I’d worked out the total number of pages for Miira, including copyright, Afterword, etc., I plugged the number into Createspace’s calculator, and it spat out the exact size the spine must be. Unfortunately, as the first book is quite ‘slim’ there’s not that much real-estate to work with.

I experimented with a number of fonts, but none gave me the crisp look I was after. And then, as I looked at the circuit board, I suddenly realised that I had all the components from which to make my own ‘font’, one that would mimic the wiring of the circuit board. Thank goodness, the end result didn’t turn out to be too kitsch. The new look circuit board also gave me the pattern for the back cover blurb. Making the text fit, however, was another exercise in patience.

And finally, a word about the new background photo. I was all set to use the bush sunset photo I’ve shown you before when I found a pic I’d taken ages ago of my own backyard:

 

I was trying to capture the amazing play of light through the trees and fluked it. The shot is nowhere near perfect, and I haven’t touched it up in any way – I don’t know how – but I instantly knew it would give me the feel I’d been searching for. Pretty happy with the result but annoyed at myself for wasting time and money on the bush sunset pic. Ah well…

I promise to do a how-to post about the Createspace calculator as soon as my eyes uncross. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


DIY silver foil photos [update]

My scrunched aluminium photos didn’t work terrible well, but Dawn sent me some pics of real silver:

Going to have a play with them tomorrow. Fingers crossed. 🙂

* * *

I was searching online for photos of silver foil to use as a texture in the Innerscape cover when I had a light bulb moment – why pay for someone else’s graphic when I have metres of aluminium foil in the draw?

This is a screenshot of the five photos I took in the kitchen:

I lightly crushed the foil before positioning it in various places to achieve different light effects and angles. I’m still a lousy photographer, but I hope these pics allow me to create a true metallic effect for the ‘wires’ on the circuit board. And the best part is, if it turns out to be an absymal failure, it won’t have cost me anything but time. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


My first purchases from iStock :)

I can’t tell you what I’ve been working on just yet, but I will show you some photos I just bought from iStock:

I was looking for a visual image of Nabatea when I found this first one on iStock. It’s a lovely image and only cost $36 AUD, but then I also found this one:

This is a painting of an oasis and nowhere near as beautiful as the previous, photographic image, but it does have a ‘waterhole’…and it’s no more real than Miira’s Nabatea.

As most of you have already guessed, I’m struggling with a cover for Innerscape. Here are two more images that I’m pondering, both created by The Offspring :

and…

I’m still a very long way from being happy with any of my preliminary concepts so I’ve turned comments off for this post. Tomorrow I hope to begin a new technical series on how to prepare a manuscript for Createspace. It’ll be full of the things I learned while making every mistake under the sun, so stay tuned. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


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