Behind the Scenes – Requiem In Red

A cover for Barking Rain Press.  This is the sequel to Eine Kleine Murder by Kaye George. (Note that the publisher’s version of the cover is slightly different, and I modeled the sequel cover’s border around the main image after their version). For this cover, the publisher wanted to convey the dark mood of the book, along with a hint at the musical themes involved. They provided a couple possible background images and ideas, which I then put together in a rough comp. I also found the music sheets (part of one larger image of multiple music sheets, which I cut-and-pasted, and then used Photoshop CS6’s warp tool in order to place them in varying positions). I also added the conductor’s baton in the hand of the statue, made it look like the baton was the same material as the statue, and added the directional shadow. The goal was to have everything fit together smoothly.

Afterwards, the publisher asked about adding a church in the background, behind the woman’s statue. So I placed the church (careful to get the size and placement in the image right so that it looked like it was in the background), blurred the background around the statue a bit for a focal effect, added more now to the steeple, and also played with the darker sky from the church image.

This is the result:

SBibb - Requiem In Red - Book Cover

SBibb - Requiem In Red - Wrap-Around Book Cover
Stock images from Shutterstock: – musical background – graveyard – baton – music sheets – church

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Thoughts on Publishing – A Video Blog Post – Reading Chapter Three of Magic’s Stealing

Today I’ve got another video blog post for you. I’m trying to move the video blogs to Mondays or Wednesdays to give me more time to prepare. In this one I’m reading chapter three of Magic’s Stealing. :-)

Here’s the Youtube link in case you can’t see it.

You can hear the first chapter here.

Or chapter two here.

I’ve begun noticing a few tricks that are helpful when doing online readings.

The main one?

Slow down and enunciate.

This helps to prevent blurred phrases that don’t make sense once recorded, and lends to a natural pause between sentences. Having those pauses while reading allows for easier cutting in the editing phase, especially if you leave a longer pause where you know you’re going to cut something.

Then, once you take the recording into an editor like Premiere Pro, you can easily identify spots where you read a sentence twice and chop it without having to play that same sentence over and over (and over again) just to get a decent cut.

Also, once you get familiar with the program, you can figure out how to save the files correctly the first (or second time), rather than having the program complain that it can’t export properly with every format you try. In my case, I use the Microsoft Avi format (at least for now) to get the audio recording, and I have to remember to name the file I want to save before encoding it. Otherwise, it gives me an error.

The whole reading phase (including practice reads) and editing phase still takes me an hour or two. But it’s fun, and I enjoy getting to read the stories aloud. I blame being a Speech and Debate student in high school for four years for that one. Or maybe I was in Speech and Debate for four years because I enjoyed the readings…

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. :-)


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Behind the Scenes – A Day Without a Night – Book Cover

This is a cover for Melange Books. We wanted to match this with the cover for the first book in the series (Note: I did not make the cover for the first book), so we kept the black background and the same styles and general placement of the text. The author had a few ideas for symbols that they wanted to use, so they found the corresponding stock images. After tinkering a bit with placement, this is the final result:

SBibb - A Day Without A Night - Book Cover
Stock images from 123RF and Dollar Photo Club. – sword – background – moon and sun emblem – book


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Thoughts on Publishing – A Video Blog Post – Reading Chapter Two of Magic’s Stealing

Haha! I am finally uploading the chapter two reading of Magic’s Stealing! I’m much more satisfied with this version, so I’m glad I didn’t rush this, even if it is two blog days later than I intended. I hope you enjoy it, too. :-)

Here’s the Youtube link in case you can’t see it.

You can hear the first chapter here. :-)

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Thoughts on Blogging – Video Blogs

For the past month, I’ve been experimenting with doing a weekly video blog post. The goal was to see if doing a video blog would allow me to spend more time writing fiction and working on Isaac’s and my tabletop games, rather than writing blog posts.

While doing video blogs is certainly fun (I enjoy reading the stories aloud), it doesn’t necessarily speed up the blogging process. Since I’ve just started learning how everything works (the Youtube editor, Premiere Pro…), it actually takes longer. Combine this with the tendency for the computer to take a while to upload the videos, and for Youtube to process the edited video once I’ve finished making edits, this takes time.

For example, I actually did create a video for last Friday. By the time I got it loaded, however, it was already early Saturday. And once I started to edit it on the Youtube editor, I realized that the blog portion was very rambly– the result of trying to rush. So, rather than uploading a rushed video while I was half-asleep, I decided to write this post today, and I plan to upload the video blog on Monday (I’ll be reading chapter two of Magic’s Stealing).

Based on my results thus far, I’m considering trying to do the video blogs earlier in the week. That way I could set up the video during the weekend, then schedule it to release on whichever day works best.

The biggest challenge of scheduling blog posts is discipline. If I plan for a Monday update, I’ve got to remember to make the video early in the weekend, that way I have time to upload it. For each blog–at least ones  where I do a reading–I need to practice the reading, do the reading, edit the reading, and then piece together the reading and the “blog” portion of the video.

So that’s the quick update for today. :-)


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Behind the Scenes – Dark Spirits – Book Cover Remake

This is a cover for Rebekkah Ford. For this cover, we were revamping an older series of covers I did for her a few years ago. The goal was to more clearly give the books the paranormal romance aspect (rather than horror), and possibly center the books toward an older audience. (You can see the new cover for Beyond the Eyes here, and you can check out Rebekkah Ford’s website here).


 SBibb - Dark Spirits

SBibb - Dark Spirits


SBiibb - Dark Spirits - Book Cover Remake

SBiibb - Dark Spirits - Wrap-Around Book Cover Remake

For the new covers, we chose models with visible faces, and we’ve been placing them in approximately the same position for each cover. We’ve also changed the text to be more straight-forward. The back covers are easier to read and now include an author bio and photograph. I also made the testimonials easier to spot. Overall, this should have a more professional look. (Not that the originals were bad, but my skills have improved, and book cover trends have changed).

Stock images from Shutterstock: – man – spooky entrance

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Thoughts on Writing – Swearing in Audio Formats

In my last post, I read from Magic’s Stealing. It was the first time I edited one of my Youtube blog videos using Premiere Pro, and I used it to remove some of the more obvious stumbles where I tripped over my words. However, I ran into a bit of a conundrum that I hadn’t considered before. For public readings, should I bleep out swear words, or should I leave the text as-is?

If you recall, I wrote a post a while back on To Swear or Not To Swear, in which I debated whether or not to include actual swear words in the dialogue of the book. Ultimately, I decided to keep that particular instance, because it fit the character’s intentions and offered readers a bit of insight into the characters.

Keeping the swear as-is continued to bug me, though, largely because I wondered whether or not a middle grade audience (not just young adults) might be inclined to enjoy the book–but might have a less-inclined parent if those parents read the first chapter.

And that in itself is a whole new debate. Is it a good idea to tailor a story to a specific audience, with certain marketing expectations in mind? Middle grade novels are typically expected to be free of swearing. YA ranges the gamut, and adult depends on the genre.

The conundrum I’ve run into is that I intended Magic’s Stealing to be YA. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if a middle grade audience enjoyed it. As such, it’s led me to a new thought… if I ever do a public reading, should I censor the word? Then again, if I didn’t keep the swear, the passage wouldn’t have quite the same meaning. It’s unfortunate from a marketing standpoint that the only real-word swear is in the first few pages. Should I simply find a different chapter to read, perhaps in the middle of the action?

I suspect this will depend on the venue in question. Some venues, especially ones that are geared towards being family friendly, may ask to not have the swear read. Others may not care at all. It’s probably up to the type of fiction you write as to whether or not you choose to use venues that have specific preferences.

But what about audiobooks?

My first thought was, why change what we wrote? We choose our words for a reason.

On the other hand, people reading a book can very easily skim over words they don’t like. It’s not so easy when those words are being spoken aloud.

(I’ll admit that I don’t tend to listen to audiobooks, so I’m not sure what the general protocol is here.)

Granted, censoring spoken swears will depend on the audience. Obviously, censoring an erotic novel would be ridiculous. The target audience has expectations as to the contents of the novel.

But what about a YA novel with the occasional swear? Should this be censored in audio format? My first thought was “no.” That’s not how the author wrote it. But when read aloud, does that change the impact of those words?

Does reading the book aloud change the impact of the intent, and thus, change what should be read? Does reading aloud change how the text is perceived?

Or does trying to censor a word–whether by dropping the volume or inserting a bleep– actually draw more attention to it?

What about switching the word? The meaning changes, but what if, by switching words during a spoken performance, you actually get the intended reaction?

Is there a difference between the impact of something spoken, versus something silently read?

That, to me, is the real question.

If what we write on the page takes a different meaning when said aloud, then perhaps we should consider that impact, and decide what to change from there.

After all, screenwriting is different from novel writing. Adaptations are made because a book is a different format than what you might see in a live or recorded performance, and has different advantages and limitations.

But if the spoken word has the same impact as the written, then perhaps no changes should be made.

Honestly, I’m probably over-thinking this. For the previous reading, I left the swear in. I figured that pretty much anything I did would draw more attention to it (other than writing a whole blog post pondering the question), while letting it flow in context should keep the story running smoothly.

And in general, I’m thinking I’ll read the text as-is. If the one swear is likely to pose a problem, I could always chose a later segment to read.

But now I’m curious as to what you think. How would you handle a reading that has the occasional swear, whether an audiobook or in public?


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