Behind the Scenes – Sojourn: Enclave

A cover for Melange Books. For this cover, we wanted to match the style of the previous books, The Wildlands, The Deadlands, and The Beastlands. We considered adding the other companions from this book onto the cover, but the cover looked crowded and lost the consistency of the previous covers, so we chose to stick with the two primary characters. This one used several stock images in order to achieve the effect of the dilapidated, overgrown city. Masking was super-useful for this one, as I removed parts of the skyscrapers to make them look broken, and then cloned in bits of the sky on a separate layer to make it look more natural.

SBibb - Book Cover - Sojourn: Enclave

Back Cover:

SBibb - Back of Book Cover - Sojourn: Enclave
Stock images from Dreamstime:

https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-long-span-concrete-beam-image11695956 – concrete wall
https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-asleep-image21589475 – vine overgrowth
https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-atlanta-downtown-skyline-scenes-january-cloudy-day-image66709798 – cityscape
https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-beautiful-inspirational-sun-beams-over-ocean-image30676892 – sky

Deposit Photo Stock
http://depositphotos.com/106813230/stock-photo-cheering-successful-woman.html – cliff/grass
http://depositphotos.com/116621478/stock-photo-tourists-walking-in-the-mountains.html – male hiker
http://depositphotos.com/75580811/stock-photo-friends-group-playing-guitar-in.html – male head
http://depositphotos.com/27318771/stock-photo-little-child-carrying-a-suitcase.html – girl hat
http://depositphotos.com/106813710/stock-photo-woman-over-mountain-view.html – girl head
http://depositphotos.com/116999012/stock-photo-young-woman-backpacker-hiking.html – girl body

Destruction in Background:
https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-old-building-image18217109
https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-old-building-image18216992
https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-demolished-building-grungy-detail-partly-image49371768

Weapons:
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-quiver-made-leather-isolated-white-image34543777
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-archery-equipment-bow-quiver-arrows-target-image29842224
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-hunting-rifle-image12746386

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Thoughts on Writing – A Use for Prologues

Writers often hear that they shouldn’t include a prologue in their novel. That, if necessary at all, the prologue should become the first chapter.

I’ll admit, though I’ve often attempted to write a prologue into my stories, I’ve usually turned back around and taken them out later at the suggestion of beta readers. Prologues are often a breeding ground for unnecessary info dumps that really would be better interwoven into the actual story. (Or in my case, prologues were excuses to bring in confusing characters that weren’t ready to be revealed until a bit more foreshadowing has been dropped into the story).

However, there are exceptions to every rule, and most writing rules are really more like guidelines that, if you know their purpose, can be broken.

For example, I’ve become a fan of the writing podcast, Writing Excuses, which is an excellent resource for writers who want to hone their craft. The podcasters of Writing Excuses cover many different topics, and one topic they covered was the effectiveness (and lack of effectiveness) of prologues. An example they gave of a useful prologue was the intro for A Song of Ice and Fire, in which the readers see an example of the monsters in the introduction long before monsters are shown again in the main story. (Note: I haven’t read A Song of Ice and Fire, so I may be misinterpreting their explanation.) The point of this prologue was to set up reader expectations and promises, to say that even though you aren’t going to see these monsters again for a while, they do exist in this world and the reader will see it again.

This is exactly what we see happen in Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie. The introduction begins with a dark ritual and an exciting, mind-bending fight between the antagonist and the Ancient One, and shows that there is a whole magical side to this universe that the viewer should expect to see later. The movie then launches into the beginning of the story for Doctor Strange, which has absolutely no magic, focuses heavily on a medical-science focus, and shows a rather self-absorbed protagonist. If the movie had not started with the prologue to show the magic that would come in later on, the viewer who simply started with Doctor Strange’s part of the story would be in for a bit of a surprise once the mystical stuff shows up (landing quite a punch for both the main character and the viewer). In the meantime, those viewers who wanted exciting action and magical sequences might have gotten bored and decided to skip out on the rest of the movie. Because of the promises made at the beginning of the movie, the viewer knows that if they wait around long enough, their patience will be rewarded.

A different use of prologues is to help set up foreshadowing that readers won’t see otherwise, at least, not until far too late into the story. (The trick here, it seems, is to make sure it is interesting and still drives the plot, despite a difference in time or perspective). One of my favorite prologues is from Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, which is a fast-paced sequence that introduces the concept of “epics” (those who use superpowers tend to go evil in that universe) and sets up the weakness of the antagonist, though it doesn’t explain what the antagonist’s particular weakness is until much later. It does a good job of setting up that this is going to be a novel where the main character is set on vengeance, and setting up promises and expectations for the reader. Another thing I enjoyed about the prologue in Steelheart is that the whole sequence is explained later by starting with the character’s explanation of the events, but cutting before everything is explained and going to the next chapter, allowing the reader assume that the story the protagonist tells is the same one from the prologue. Arguably, this scene could have been shown at that point in the story. But then it would have slowed down the main plot and the reader would have lost knowledge about the driving force behind the main character’s actions, something that helps the reader sympathize with the protagonist (whose original goal is more or less to uncover the weaknesses of various epics so he can assassinate them).

Thus far I have not yet used prologues in any of my published works, but that may change in the future if the right story comes along. What are your thoughts on prologues? Have you used prologues in your fiction? Do you have any favorite prologues?

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Book Signing Today (Saturday) at Sedalia Reader’s World!

Isaac and I will be at the Reader’s World in Sedalia, MO, signing books from 2 – 4 pm. Stop by and say hi! 🙂

 

40654-distant-horizon SBibb - Magic's Stealing Cover The Shadow War - Book Cover

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Book Formatting Services Now Available!

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to start offering formatting services soon. I now have that information gathered in one place… my Interior Book Design page! I’ve also updated the prices on my Book Cover Design page.

So, if you’re interested in having your book formatted for Smashwords, Kindle, and/or Createspace, here’s a list of the services I provide. 🙂

 

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Ebook (Basic Formatting)

What I do: I clean the file of stray formatting and make the file compliant for both Kindle and Smashwords. Allows for one-to-five images, as provided by the author. I can insert a basic copyright page if needed. I also insert a table of contents and hyperlinks, where appropriate.

Cost:

$50.00 for up to 50,000 words

$75.00 for up to 100,000 words

What you get: .doc file for Smashwords and a ZIP file for Kindle (or .doc, if there are no images inside the file).

I allow for 1 round of cost-free corrections to be made after the file has been approved (this is to allow for proofing), as long as the corrections are requested within two months of the original approval of the project.  Note, for 50,000 word projects, I cap the amount of time put into corrections at 1.5 hours. For 100,000 words projects, the cap is 3 hours. After that, additional corrections during the first round will be $10.00 an hour. After the first round, corrections will be made at a rate of $15.00 an hour. For this reason, please provide the file that is closest to what your final product will be.

(Corrections made that are due to my errors will be made free of charge, so long as the corrections are requested within two months of the project’s approval date).

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EBook (Decorative Formatting)

What I do: Same as Basic Formatting, but stylized chapter headings are available and I can insert glyphs for section breaks. Exact details will depend on the book and its genre.

This includes the creation of 1 glyph (a stock image may need to be purchased, or I may design the glyph myself. You’ll have a chance to approve the design). Alternatively, you may provide the glyph. It also includes chapter headings and title text that have been stylized in a font appropriate for your book. (Again, you’ll have a chance to approve the design). Please note that I do not embed the font–I use images to ensure that the headings will be visible on multiple e-readers.

This option also allows for the insertion of 1 – 10 images, as provided by the author.

Cost:

$125.00 for up to 50,000 words

$175.00 for up to 100,000 words

What you get: .doc file for Smashwords and ZIP file for Kindle.

Examples:

Distant Horizon, Magic’s Stealing, The Poe Codec, M.O.B. (Mean Old Bastard)

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Print and EBook Formatting

What I do: Same as Decorative Ebook formatting, except that I also prepare a print edition for Createspace or Ingram Spark.  Because the process I use to format the file for a print book starts with the ebook file, the ebook files come with the print formatting.

Note: If I have created the cover of the book (separate cost–email me for information), I may be able to design a specialty chapter background page and/or title page based specifically on the cover.

Cost:

$250.00 for up to 50,000 words

$300.00 for up to 100,000 words

What you get: .doc file for Smashwords, ZIP file for Kindle, and PDF file for Createspace or Ingram Spark (Please specify which–additional costs apply when formatting a manuscript for both printers).

Examples:

Magic’s StealingDistant Horizon, The Poe Codec

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Cleaned-Up Maps

If you have a sketch of a map that you would like included in your book, but need the file cleaned up, I can provide a cleaner version.

Cost: starts at $25.00 and goes up based on complexity. Contact me for a quote on your anticipated project.

What you get: JPG file suitable for ebook and print editions. You don’t have to use my other services to have this done.

Examples: 

(Click the “Look Inside” option, then go back a couple pages to see the maps.)

Show Me the Sinister Snowman – This is an example of maps where I took the basic sketch and made a completely digital version.

Magic’s Stealing – This is an example of a map that I took the pencil version and retouched in Photoshop, then added in the lettering

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.Doc to PDF Conversion

What I do: I take the file you send me (Note: You assume responsibility for having the rights to file to make this conversion) and I convert it into a PDF file. This is helpful if you want to do print edition formatting yourself, but don’t have the program necessary to make the PDF conversion.

Cost:

$25.00 per file

(Note: If you have multiple files that need converting, email me to get a quote for a lower price per file).

What you get: A PDF file in the specifications you provide.

If there are errors uploading, and the fault is mine, I will reconvert the file at no additional cost to you. Otherwise, I allow for three conversions of the same file within a two month period (to allow for proofing, etc) before the same cost applies.

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Interested in one of these services?

Contact me at: bookcovers (at) sbibbphoto.com

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Infinitas Publishing Status Report

Time for another status report! 😀

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Stealth Con: Isaac and I had our books and games at this year’s Stealth Con, a two day event at UCM. We had a vendor’s booth upstairs in the vending room, and we had our games available to play downstairs. This is the first time we had Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel available to sell, as well as its expansion. Though we didn’t sell much of our inventory (3 Magic’s Stealing, 2 Shadow War, 1 “Stone and String,” 1 Distant Horizon, 1 Cloth Phalanx Board, and 2 specialty dice), having the vendor booth did allow us to point interested visitors toward the gaming area. Plus, we got a chance to meet other authors who were at the convention, and visit with the people who had come to look around.

Infinitas Publishing - Stealth Con 2017

Vendor Room Setup for Infinitas Publishing – Stealth Con 2017

We switched up the organization of the table on the second day, to allow different products to shine (put Battle Decks and Phalanx on the ends of the table, and the books in the center).

We also debuted our upcoming game, The Legends of Cirena. For those of you who tried out our games in the gaming area, thank you!

DSCF7325

End of the Day in the Gaming area on Saturday – Stealth Con 2017

The Shadow War: The Shadow War is now available! It’s the second book in the series, available in both ebook and print. It took a month longer than I planned before release, but I’m much happier with the outcome. Soon I’ll be working on the third book of The Wishing Blade series, and I’ve already got quite a bit outlined,.Parts of Toranih’s POV have also been written.

The Legends of Cirena: This game is still in beta, but Isaac has been hard at work developing what will be game-changing expansions and making sure everything in the game works well together. It’s a role-play/adventure board game where you create the map from a deck of cards you draw as you explore… encountering adventures and collecting treasures! It’s also loosely based on the world of The Wishing Blade series.

The Multiverse Chronicles: Still on the back burner, but not forgotten.

Glitch: This is a spin-off of Distant Horizon, and it’s my current writing project. I’m about halfway through the initial reading to see what needs revision, and I have another round of edits I make before I hand this over to Isaac. After that, I expect that there will be substantial revisions, because that’s how this process usually works. But I’m looking forward to getting this one out there, because it delves more into the Camaraderie’s side of things. 😉

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration: Life as usual, except that I’m going to be making my formatting services available soon.

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Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, sign up for our Infinitas Publishing Newsletter!

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I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂

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Behind the Scenes – Entrance to Dark Harbor

A cover for Melange Books. For this cover, we wanted to keep the same style as the first book, Dusk Runner. I used the same two textures to create the background (though I made sure to do the retouching on the basic layers this time, so that next time will require less retouch work). The author already had an image in mind for the main picture. While it wasn’t from one of our usual stock providers, I used the provided image and their description of the ship to find a similar picture at Dreamstime. I kept the text placement and style the same (though some adjustments had to be made, since the title was longer). We also tried two different font colors, a pale, near-white blue, and then a light blue. We ultimately chose the light blue since the color was still visible and provided the closest match to the previous title.

This is the result:

Behind the Scenes - Entrance to Dark Harbor Book Cover

Behind the Scenes - Entrance to Dark Harbor - Back of Book Cover

Stock images from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-brown-leather-texture-image21958744 – leather texture

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-old-yellow-brown-vintage-parchment-paper-texture-image24082203 – paper texture

https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-sailing-ship-image12784651 – ship silhouette

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Behind the Scenes – Sojourn: The Beastlands

A cover for Melange Books. For this cover, we wanted to match the style of the previous books, The Wildlands and The Deadlands. I kept the general placement of the titles and author name the same (though we did experiment with different placements), plus we kept with the general theme of the two characters walking on a path to a different destination. In this case, we used the same model imagery from the second cover, but I did a few adjustments to their images to make them seem a bit different (pushed them closer, adjusted the girl’s hair a bit, and flipped their images). We added a couple pieces of deserted imagery to add to the abandoned feel, and I used a lot of Photoshop masking in layers to get the various jungle layers to mesh properly and look natural.

This is the result:

Behind the Scenes - Sojourn: The Beastlands Book Cover

Behind the Scenes - Sojourn: The Beastlands Back of Book Cover
Stock images from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-jungle-green-thickets-mountains-malaysia-image56303604 – jungle
https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-abandoned-road-image16324304 – road
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-tropical-rainforest-khao-yai-national-park-thailand-world-h-image68662437 – jungle overlook
https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-abandoned-diner-photo-taken-off-interstate-i-usa-image56088809 – abandoned diner
https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-abandoned-car-image23149927 -abandoned car
People – From the Dollar Photo Club

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