Blog Hop Tour

I was recently invited to participate in a blog hop, and though I usually tend to write about book cover related topics, I thought it’d be fun to join in and talk a bit about the writing side of things. I was invited to participate in the blog hop by R.T. Driver on Absolute Write, an author who has recently published a young adult, science fiction novel: Isaac Comett: My Life as a Shard Knight.  You can find his blog here: http://rtdriver90.tumblr.com/ and his book here: Amazon

As part of the blog-hop, each person is asked a series of questions. These are the questions, and these are my answers. :-)

Q: What am I working on?

A: I’m currently working on the Distant Horizon series and The Messenger of Gaia. Distant Horizon is in the process of being beta read before I start querying agents again, while I’m just now starting the first edit of Messenger. Distant Horizon (which includes several stories, some just plotted, some written and in need of editing) is set in a world where super heroes have been wiped out and super villains rule half the world. The main character, Jenna, learns that she has super powers and sets out to put an end to a government conspiracy that turns those with powers into sub-human monsters for a secret army.

Messenger of Gaia is about a space colonist who wakes up on the wrong moon and finds she’s being worshiped as a goddess. She convinces them she’s not the goddess, and ends up playing the part of their messenger. The story follows her charade while she searches for what happened to the colony ship she was on.

 

Q: How does my work differ from others in its genre?

A: There’s a lot of genre-bending going on. Distant Horizon takes place in the future, but it’s in a world where super heroes used to exist, super villains fly around on airships (which are decorated to look Victorian/steampunk, though more advanced), people with powers are turned into sub-human monsters, and powers range from your typical telepathy/telekinesis, to ones like fourthwalling (later in the series) and the ability to manipulate plant growth.

As for Messenger, the twist revolves around her trying to charade as someone more powerful than she thinks she is.

 

Q:Why do I write what I do?

A: Because I enjoy it. :-) Really, I enjoy exploring the worlds and all the nooks and crannies, and seeing how everything ties together. I write what I want to read, and I hope that someday, other readers can join in on the fun and enjoy those worlds the way I do.

 

Q:How does my writing process work?

A: Lately, my stories have been collaborations with my husband, Isaac. We create the story with table-top role-play games. He creates the world and a majority of the characters, as well as the basic plot. I then create my character, and we see what happens. Once the campaign is over, I write what happened– or a variation of it.

It started with Distant Horizon, which, about half-way through the campaign, I decided to write down so I wouldn’t forget the main character’s feelings. It evolved into a series of novels; the first one is in the process of being beta-read. The second one has been through a few rounds of edits, and the third one is a rough draft. I try to write all the books (or have a good chunk written/outlined) before publishing, that way I can iron out any plot holes and add stronger foreshadowing.

The DH series has evolved quite a bit since the original campaign– and spans outwards into what I hope to be a series of short stories/novellas.

For Messenger, we also did a role-play to get the basic story down. Once we had the plot, I started writing the story. (And taking notes, since it may be a while before I write part two). Afterwards I’ll edit and revise as needed, and then it’ll go to beta readers. And then it’ll go back to edits. Right now it’s a bit of a long, winding process.

***

Next week there are two more blogs up for questioning, and I look forward to reading what they have to say. :-)

Carissa Taylor –  who writes YA science fiction [ http://carissa-taylor.blogspot.com/ ]

 Jordan Elizabeth Mierek – who writes YA/MG fantasy [ http://kissedbyliterature.blogspot.com/ ]

 

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Behind the Scenes – Seven Days to Goodbye

A cover for Barking Rain Press.

For this one, the main character is training an Australian Shepherd, and since the main stock image we wanted to use had a different breed of dog, I ended up swapping out dogs. We tried a couple different versions, but this is the one we finally settled on. We also changed the girl’s hairstyle. In order to get everything to look natural, I used Photoshop CS6’s overlay blend mode in layers and used the black and white paint brushes to change the lighting of her hair so that it would match the lay of the hoodie underneath. I also applied lighting techniques to the dog, and covered part of the dog’s paws to look more natural.

This is the result:

SBibb - Seven Days to Goodbye - Book Cover

Stock images from Shutterstock:

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=91979300

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=3724855

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=86808145

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Ice Bucket Challenge

All right, so a close friend challenged me and my husband to the #icebucketchallenge . Granted, I tend to be skeptical of these things, so I decided to do a bit of research.

This is what I found.

Information about ALS: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis/detail_ALS.htm

Interesting fact: Lou Gehrig was a baseball player whose career (and life) was cut short by ALS

http://www.mlive.com/opinion/bay-city/index.ssf/2014/08/think_the_als_ice_bucket_chall.html

ALS Organization: http://www.alsa.org/

Information about where the donation money went last year: http://www.alsa.org/about-us/financial-information.html

Concern with challenge: Ice Bucket Challenge is a fad, which means that it will go out as quickly as it came… and with it, research dollars that they need on a steady basis: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/ice-bucket-challenge-cash-raised-cant-fill-hole-als-research-n186356

Decent post about why the Ice Bucket Challenge isn’t a bad thing: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-hicks/how-is-the-als-ice-bucket_b_5697924.html

Related post from the wife of a man with ALS: http://www.bostern.com/blog/2014/08/15/what-an-als-family-really-thinks-about-the-ice-bucket-challenge/

In the long run, we decided to make a donation. Not much, but hopefully it’ll help fund their research. And regardless if that research is able to help ALS treatment, research can sometimes find cures and treatments for other diseases, if indirectly.

If you haven’t had a chance to look at what ALS is, I encourage you to do so. Even if you can’t donate, and even if you plan to avoid cold buckets of ice water, a little knowledge can go a long way in helping solve all kinds of problems.

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Behind the Scenes – SirenSong

Another cover for Melange Books.

For this one, I wanted to convey the idea that the man is the siren, and so I used the fish scale texture and a sort of rippling texture (a slightly Gaussian blurred image of quartz) to hint at the idea of the ocean. The author requested the gold and red tones, and mentioned that the siren works at a theatre, so I played with those colors and the background to give the cover a richer, classy feel. While I usually peruse Dreamstime for stock images, for this one, I looked through the images that Melange Books had purchased earlier during their stock subscription to see if anything matched.

This is the end result:

SBibb - SirenSong - Book Cover

Stock images from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-young-guy-long-hair-naked-image23337038

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-gothic-castle-interior-image9182498

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-rose-quartz-vertical-image858416

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-skin-blue-siamese-fighting-fish-image7645918

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Behind the Scenes – Fallenwood

Another cover for Melange Books.

This is actually for the book prior to Forgetting Fallenwood, but the book is being re-released by Melange Books, and so it’s getting a new cover. For this one, I tried capturing the feel of the other covers I’ve done for this series, including text placement, colors, blur effects, and the fonts I used. I quite enjoyed playing with the concept of the unicorn, as well. The author had mentioned on the art form that it might be neat to have the unicorn somewhere on the cover. I took the idea and ran. :-)

This is the end result:

SBibb - Fallenwood - Book Cover

Stock images from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-black-horse-runs-image14200120

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-woodland-glade-image22617867

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-wild-eland-image5106959

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Behind the Scenes – Moth and Rust

Another cover for Melange Books.

Oiy, this one was a doozy. I finally got a chance to play with anthropomorphic characters again, and these aren’t your usual species… here we have a spiny anteater and an armadillo. Let’s just say I got to really play with character creation and setting creation. This one took a bunch of stock photos to complete, and this is an example of where it’s helpful to have a stock subscription to be able to pick up everything at a lower cost. Melange Books had the stock subscription, so that helped. I put together the mock first, and then did the final tweaks once we had the basics. Some stuff went together really easily with the use of auto-align layers, while other pieces had to be separately liquefied or smudged or drawn in. Meanwhile, I tried using fonts and word placement as close to the previous books in this series as possible (we were trying to give the series a more ‘adult’ feel to it by changing styles), while keeping the consistency.

Overall, I’m really pleased with the final result.

SBibb - Moth and Rust - Book Cover

I also put the back cover together for this cover, though the image on the back is not mine. It was provided by the author.

SBibb - MaRwraparound

 

Stock Photos from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-cave-hall-image14618508

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-strong-athletic-man-black-background-image30214805

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-australian-echidna-image6339046

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-metal-texture-image17228342

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-brunette-image17777569

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-armadillo-walking-wild-beach-patagonia-argentina-image32754688

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-echidna-image20668355

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-dancing-floor-ballerina-her-hand-up-isolated-grey-concept-elegant-art-sportive-hobby-image34059181

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-brunette-image17777658

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-isolated-crystal-ball-quartz-pewter-image33701686

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-hand-grenade-image4470988

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-crystal-ball-yellow-image13590487

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-colorful-smoke-clouds-close-up-image37751135

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-rainbow-abstract-fractal-image13255096

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-abandoned-room-rubble-floor-image26141509

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-male-fist-holding-wooden-gavel-image12796869

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-medieval-dagger-image21957385

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-color-sound-waves-image25814440

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-oscilloscope-image-image34795210

Helpful Tutorial: http://www.thepsd.net/2013/11/glowing-lines-photoshop-effect-photoshop-cc.html

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Formatting Print Books – and Behind the Scenes – The Tune of Murder

SBibb - The Tune of Murder - Wrap-around Cover

This is a cover I did for a local author. Initially, she was looking for formatting of the print edition (since she had the kindle version ready), and since I’ve had some experience with formatting books for my own purposes, I agreed to the job. I had a lot of fun examining other books in the genre to try to emulate the style of formatting as best I could, and it’s something I recommend doing if you plan to format your own book. Pay attention to how chapter headings start (like those first lines… is the first letter of the first sentence a drop cap? Is the whole sentence capitalized? Italicized?), and how the chapters are numbered or headed. Look out for orphaned words and sentences at the end of the chapter that land on an otherwise blank page. See if chapters always start on an odd page, if they continue immediately after the previous chapter left off, or on the next page. Check that your numbers and headings are centered (especially where the ruler wants to indent everything). Make sure your table of contents, if you have one, matches up to the correct pages. If you’re using Microsoft Word, learn how to use styles. (This saves quite a bit of time in the long run. I recommend reading Smashwords’ formatting guide to pick up on the basics of simple ebook formatting, which can save time in print formatting, as well). Check for “rivers” of blank space running across the page. Decide (by printing out test sheets), the size of the font and how much space you want between the lines. It’s not necessarily best to go with single or double-space, and you can individually set paragraphs in Word. In some cases, I shortened a cluster of paragraphs on a single page in order to keep a section break from looking unwieldy on the second or third line of a page.

Side note: Having Adobe Acrobat Pro (I have version 9) is seriously helpful when converting a word document to a PDF that Createspace will recognize. I found this link to be fairly helpful in regards to PDF conversion: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1331

As for the cover, the author wanted something that resembled the cover for her ebook edition, but since that same cover wasn’t available for print, we opted to try something slightly different. This is what we came up with:

SBibb - The Tune of Murder - Cover

Stock photo from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-candle-illuminates-music-paper-image22544191

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