Photoshop Ate My SOUL!

Obsessive-compulsive.

I recognize this.

Addicted.

I recognize this, too.

Still, I haven’t managed to step away from Photoshop.

If I was getting ready to go to college right now, I think I would either double-major in Graphic Arts and History, or major in Graphic Arts and minor in history. I wish I had known a decade ago that I love to design things on a computer.

As I have said before: college is wasted on the young. I don’t think anyone should step foot into a college before the age of 25. You have to work for a living for at least a few years to truly appreciate college and to know what you really want to do with your life.

Anyways, time to subject you to more book covers. (Only two this time.)

Decisions-Cover-alternate-1Most of my readers preferred the road-with-lights cover. I’m still kind of “meh” about it, mostly because I liked it better without the red tint. While I was thinking I might do a different tint for each book–just to sort of tie them together stylistically–it’s not a requirement. Besides, the road picture is dark all on its own.

Here it is in its original color:

Decisions-Cover-alternate-1

Ignore the shadow on the title; it drifted when I scaled the picture down for the web. It won’t look funky in the full-size version.

If you’ve been keeping up with the saga, I decided a few months ago to break my second book into two books. This created a larger-than-usual edit of the first draft because I needed to add several more chapters to make it longer.

Last night, I finished what I think is the best work I’ve done so far for this series–and, oddly enough, it’s about Micah. (He really develops into a serious character in the second book.)

Today, I finished–more or less–my heavy revision work, and I’m now reading through the book from the beginning and smoothing out my transitions between chapters and adding anything that I’ve left out, cutting duplicate information, etc. If you want to think in terms of road construction, I’ve finished laying the gravel for the roadbed, and now I’m laying my first coat of asphalt.

To make a long story short, while I was doing my read-through this evening, I was struck by a description of Anselm:

“One thing you need to know is Anselm will not be rushed when it comes to making decisions he feels are important. He has to consider a problem from every possible angle—play the entire chess match in his head—before he will make his first move. But once he commits, he will stand by his decision and will see it through to the end.”

I read that and thought, “What about a chess board for a front cover?”

So here’s yet another cover option:

Decisions-Cover-alternate-v

I’m thinking this might be my favorite so far. (Yes, note the qualifier.)

Romance Covers

While I was working on the cover to my next book, The Flames of Prague, I looked at covers of other romance novels for design inspiration.

I have three things to tell you:


1. No one ever looks like this during foreplay, and especially not during sex. Sex-face looks more like this:

2. There were no rippling abs before Charles Atlas’s exercise regimen in the early 20th century. No 19th century, cattle-herding Scotsman ever looked like this. (He was too busy subsistence farming to spend an hour every day doing sit-ups.)

To the right, however, we see a real Scottish man. Doctor Gordon Smith performed amputations on an ironing board in a notorious Japanese POW camp in Burma, all while suffering from malaria, a gunshot wound in his arm, and starvation rations. After the War, he spent time in Germany dismantling bombs.

Leather shirts–not period.

3. Too many cover artists (and probably some writers) don’t know what medieval clothing looks like.

I think you can buy this costume on Amazon for $20.

This dress fits better, but doesn’t even come close to resembling a medieval dress. And medieval women didn’t wear makeup like that.

 

This woman gets around. Only now she has a badly-Photoshopped necklace and a badly-Photoshopped background–on top of the bad dress.

 

 

…Might This Be the Blurb I’m Looking For?

I… am feeling a bit odd at the moment. I think… I think I might actually have my blurb.

  1. It doesn’t give away any of the major plot points.
  2. It’s the length I was looking for.
  3. It implies some romance, without making it sound like a romance.
  4. It doesn’t sound like a teen’s book.
  5. It sounds like it has some good action in it.

If ya’ll hate it, I think I will cry and publish my book without anything written on the back cover at all. (Honestly, though, point out problems.)

The Yaechahre are a group of humans who give their blood and their obedience to vampires in exchange for safety and security. And for more than two thousand years, it’s been a peaceful occupation.

When Kalyn Reid comes of age and joins the ranks of the Yaechahre, she has no reason to think things will be any different for her. She is paired with Anselm for her Acceptance, and she couldn’t ask for a kinder, more patient mentor. She also couldn’t ask for anyone better-looking.

But before she has a chance to adjust to her new responsibilities—or get a date—her idyllic life goes up in flames in front of her eyes. Without warning, the humans and vampires in her group are murdered by a strange new type of vampire, and the few survivors are forced to scatter.

Anselm and his brother, Micah, vow to hunt down the murderer, and they take Kalyn with them, thinking they have the weapons and skills to keep her safe. But when the killer finds them first, it’s they who must rely on her if any of them are to survive.

Blurb Agony

Have I complained lately about the difficulty of writing a blurb? (Blurb = the tantalizing summary listed on the back of a book.) A blurb and a query letter are practically the same thing (because what works for one usually works for the other one; either way, you’re selling your book to someone), and I’ve done 4 query letters over the past 2 years–plus the current blurb.

Just when I think I’ve grasped it, I look at it and realize that I don’t have it after all. It’s like trying to find the end of a rainbow. Or, like Bigfoot, it is no more than a fleeting glimpse of a large object seen from the corner of the eye.

Here is my blurb as it stands now. As discussed previously, I’m comfortable with it being four paragraphs, because I have a lot of real estate to cover on the back of my book. (Although, don’t worry: I will have a snippet from the book on the back too.)

The Yaechahre are a group of humans who give their blood and their obedience to vampires in exchange for safety and security. And for more than two thousand years, it’s been a peaceful occupation.

When Kalyn Reid comes of age and joins the ranks of the Yaechahre, she has no reason to think that things will be any different for her. In fact, her small group in rural Tennessee is unusually close—much more like an extended family than servants and masters.

But there are rumors of a strange new type of vampire: vampires who can’t tolerate the sunlight; vampires who are killing humans—and each other. When one of them defects to Kalyn’s group, he brings news that the Others are preparing for something… but he doesn’t know what.

Their plan is executed without warning, as people in Kalyn’s group are suddenly kidnapped and murdered. When Kalyn ends up orphaned, she turns to her vampire family to protect her from the Others hunting them down. But in the end, it is they who must rely on her if any of them are to survive.

I’m relatively happy with the first paragraph. The second sentence in the second paragraph is eh, okay. I’m pretty okay with the third paragraph. But I hate everything in the fourth paragraph but the last line.

I kind of look at it this way: general premise of the book, introduction of main character and establishment of calm, peaceful existence, followed by a build up of tension, and concluded with drama and suspense of an unbelievable nature. It’s the last bit I’m not feeling. I just don’t think that last paragraph conveys enough shock, horror, and fear.

I mean, Kalyn’s parents and the leader of her group (who is like a second father to her) all die within one week, and Ciaran, the defector from the Others, is kidnapped. Kalyn, Anselm, and Micah have to go on the run, lest they become the next victims. And just when they think they’ve turned the tide, and they’ve laid an ambush for the murderer, he instead ambushes them. Kidnapped and tortured, Kalyn has to offer herself up as a sacrifice to keep von Gault busy until Anselm and Micah can arrive and rescue them.

I just have to condense that into two or three sentences and use few, if any, names other than Kalyn’s (too many names in a small space confuses people–although Anselm and Micah are secondary only to Kalyn in terms of importance).

All suggestions for revisions considered.