Tag Archives: young adult

Thoughts on Writing – Using Music for Plotting (The Wishing Blade series)

When writing and plotting stories, I like listening to music. (Not so much when editing… then I prefer to see how the story is speaking for itself). Listening to music helps me set the tone of the scene, and it provides inspiration while I’m plotting, whether I’m stuck in a scene, or just want something to help convey the tone. Another benefit I’ve found is that if I listen to music while plotting, then listen to the same song again later when writing, I can reintroduce that feeling, that mood I was in when I originally crafted the story. (For this, playlists are extremely helpful).

For example, I’ve used music constantly while writing and plotting The Wishing Blade series. There are certain songs I listen to when I want to be reminded of specific characters and their motives. For example, “The Other Side” by Blackmore’s Night is one I’ve recently found useful when I want to think of Shevanlagiy’s character arc (since there’s a particular character she’s trying to keep from dying again that drives her motives).

As for influences on the world of the story in general, “Shadows” by Gordon Lightfoot, and “Rainbow Connection” from the Muppet Movie (I must admit that I’m not a fan of the original recording; I heard a different version of it when I was taking singing lessons that I became a fan of), both influenced the world. “Shadows” inspired some of the longing of Daernan’s character in The Shadow War, who sees that the world is no longer what it appeared, and it influenced how he sees the war affecting Toranih. “Rainbow Connection” pushed me toward the original idea of the Wishing Blade and more importantly toward the idea of there being some unnatural call (in this case, Magic’s Lure) pulling characters in directions they hadn’t expected (though the call in the story is a bit more sinister than that of the song).

But not all of the songs that influence the story and character arcs are ones I listened to in the early stages of writing. Aside from “The Other Side,” which was a fairly recent discovery, I enjoy several versions of “Luna’s Future” that fans have covered from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic TV series. When I listen to the song, I enjoy picturing it as a dialogue between Madiya and Shevanlagiy (minus the names of the ponies involved, since neither characters would wish to be caught in a musical, or as their equine counterparts…). I also enjoy “Elf Glade” by Meg Davis, which I picture as a dialogue between young Lord Menchtoteale and Shevanlagiy… despite the fact that there are no elves in the story, and that I can’t go into too much detail about why I see this song with those characters without giving potential spoilers.

If you listen to music while plotting, consider the reasons for it. Does it inspire a certain mood for you? Help you picture scenarios between characters you hadn’t pictured before? If you’re stuck on a certain plot point, try putting together a list of songs that have influenced your story, or look for new ones in a similar vein to help inspire you. (Just don’t do like I do and discover that a couple hours have passed with nothing written, but with a host of new songs added to the playlist).

Another joy of plotting while listening to music is misinterpreting lyrics. The first time I heard “The Skye Boat Song,” I heard “Carry the lad that’s born to be king, over the sea to die” rather than “over the sea to Skye.” Though the plot arc that resulted hasn’t appeared in the current version of The Wishing Blade series, it led to a concept that played in the original draft, where a young boy who was stillborn was brought back to life by the high god so that he would later become king. There was no sea involved in the plot, but the character played a large role in the original story. (And who knows… he may later play a role in the world of Cirena, even if he doesn’t appear in The Wishing Blade series). Likewise, “Kingsword” by Heather Dale also makes me think of that particular story arc.

Have you found any songs to have given you story ideas because you didn’t quite hear what was being said? Or because there are variations on the song?

There were certainly other songs that influenced the world of The Wishing Blade and helped shape it into what it is today. Most of the stories I write have been influenced in one way or another by the songs I listen to (and the songs I listen to have been influenced by what I write).

If anyone’s interested, I’m considering looking at how music has influenced the other stories I’ve written and that I’m working on. But, for now, do you listen to music while you plot, and have you found any songs to be helpful in writing a particular story? 🙂

 

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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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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. 🙂

 

* * *

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).

*

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)

*

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

*

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

*

.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.

* * *

Interested in one of these services?

Contact me at: bookcovers (at) sbibbphoto.com

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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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“Path to Old Talbot” by Jordan Elizabeth – Blog Tour

Today I’m participating in a blog tour for fellow author Jordan Elizabeth. She has a new book coming soon. 🙂

(Note: I did not design the cover. The cover artist is Rue Volley.)

~

PATH TO OLD TALBOT

A Young Adult Fantasy

Path to Old Tabot - Book Cover

Thirteen-year-old Charity can escape her unpleasant reality by stepping through the parlor closet of her mother’s new home, a mansion built in the 1800’s. 

In her hometown of Talbot, New York, in the year 1880, she doesn’t have to worry about her depressed father skipping his medications or her mother flirting with her coworker. Instead, she gets to know the hatter’s son, who shows her a lifestyle of manners and pride. Few have ever accepted Charity’s old-fashioned ways…until now. 

However, old Talbot can’t banish the present. Charity can stay in the mansion, with access to the hatter’s son in the past, and the prospect of a steady family unit with her mother and the new man in her mother’s life, or she can go back to her father, who has been given the option to straighten out his life and join them in their new home. Instead, his world unravels, and he spirals into violence and self-harm.

Torn between two worlds, Charity knows that if she doesn’t help him, she may lose him forever if he follows through on his threats of self-destruction. 

PATH TO OLD TALBOT is on Amazon from CHBB.

Check out early reviews on GoodReads!

~

Check out Chapter 1:

Sunlight reflects off the pavement and bakes my bare legs. Shadows play across Daddy while he cries on the stoop, slumped forward, his shoulders shaking. How many times will he play this game? If he got it together, Mom and I wouldn’t be packing the car to move to a different house.

I shade my eyes and look away from him. Think about the steps. Don’t think about him. It’s a lovely stoop, with only a few chips, and it has a wrought iron railing that curls at the end.

“Why does life keep throwing crap at me?” Daddy’s yell makes a crow fly from the old oak tree in our front yard.

Leaves rustle in its wake as the bird shoots over the house like a black ball, and it caws, a hoarse screech like Daddy’s voice when he’s upset.

Mom carries her last box of books from inside the garage and sets it in the trunk of her Subaru. The huge box catches on an edge and she grunts as she shoves it. Her biceps flex— surprising how strong she is, since she never works out. I swear Mom can lift anything. She wipes her palms on her shorts, smearing dust across the black denim.

“Why does this always happen?” Daddy slams his fist into the cement stoop.

I wince. I could cover my ears against the sound, but I’m not a little kid anymore; no more hiding for me.

His hand bleeds. It will add a new scar to the skinny white lines that crisscross his knuckles.

When I was younger, I pretended they were lines from elf hoes, and miniature vegetables would grow among the whorls of dark curls. Now, seeing the scars makes my stomach clench.

Mom won’t bandage him up. She stopped years ago. This time, I won’t either, even though my fingers itch to fetch the Band-Aids and Neosporin. I didn’t make Daddy punch anything. He needs to patch himself. It isn’t our fault he won’t take his medication.

I pick at my glittered purple polish, catching a hangnail. The red stain mixes with the polish as if I intended for a gruesome pattern.

Daddy staggers off the stoop and paces.

“I need a gun,” he rants. “I’m gonna put a bullet in my head.”

Mom clears her throat. “Come on, Charity. We’re leaving.” She presses her lips into a thin line and slams the trunk door, making her Impreza vibrate. She walks along the path of flat rocks, trampling some of the grass that has grown too tall, and pauses next to him.

Daddy grunts, dropping back down onto the stone, and he tips his head up, his fingers dragging across his cheeks. Blood trickles down the back of his hand into the sleeve of his button-up shirt. His blue eyes are wide and bloodshot, tear-filled. Sometimes when he cries, Mom kisses the tears away.

Even though I’m thirteen, I should be the one crying. Heck, I’m still a child. His therapist said so. Daddy should hold me and promise everything will be fine. He’ll take his meds and we’ll all be okay.

I’m too delusional for all that, but the thoughts slip in anyways.

I shouldn’t have to avoid Daddy when he’s in a mood. I shouldn’t have to worry about my words making him emotional, or my attitude setting him off, or whether I’m going to find him dead when I come home.

Mom kneels to clasp his wrists. “I love you, Max. I will always love you.” Her voice squeaks, but her body remains steady. She doesn’t look away from his stare.

“You can’t go!” He yanks his arms free and stands on the stoop, but he teeters. His bare feet poke from the ragged hem of his jeans. The lack of shoes makes him look like a teenager. When has Daddy ever been an adult for me?

Has he ever been an adult for himself? According to my grandparents, his depression started in high school. Why hasn’t he learned how to cope yet?

“I’ll kill myself!”

I wince at the threat, but Mom rises, shaking her head. Why can’t he see how much we love him? Why aren’t we enough to stop his pain?

“You know where we are. When you’re ready, come find us.” She kisses his mouth, fast, as if afraid he’ll push her away. His blood smears her palm, but she doesn’t look down when she wipes it on her thigh. It leaves a crimson streak, as if she’s the one bleeding.

“Charity!” Daddy stumbles toward me. “You won’t leave me. Come back, honey. I need you.”

I quicken my pace to open the car door and slip into the passenger’s seat. My fingers shake as I fasten my seatbelt. He doesn’t need me. He needs to help himself. I play with my hemp bracelet to avoid looking at him. My stomach heaves as I fight back tears.

“Isadora,” he yells.

I glance back, a final glimpse in case he does kill himself.

It won’t be my fault, or Mom’s. We don’t make Daddy do things. Mom tells me that every day. It is never your fault. Sometimes it hurts to think that. If it was my fault, maybe I could fix it.

His brown hair is in that buzz cut Mom hates. He’s gotten blood on his cheek. If only he took care of the things about the house the way he cuts his hair, the place wouldn’t look so run down. After we leave, he’ll break things, but we took the things we cherished— everything except for Daddy, and seeing the tears in Mom’s eyes, I know we cherish him most of all.

That’s why we have to leave.

Mom sits beside me and slams her door. She slips the key into the ignition and turns it without taking her gaze from the road. I stare forward too, because it only hurts to think about the past. Tall grasses wave in the breeze next to the garage as if saying goodbye.

I’ll really miss this place.

“He needs to get help,” Mom whispers. “He can’t do that with us. We’re just his crutch now.”

A chipmunk darts across the driveway and from somewhere down the street, music plays through an open window. I almost forget how hot the day is until sweat gathers behind my knees.

We need to grow up, too, but I don’t talk in case Mom needs solitude. What will the neighbors think?

It’s about time Isadora and Charity left.

How dare they leave that poor man? Mrs. Ames next door has always seen him as someone to coddle, like an oversized infant. No doubt she’ll go with that train of thought.

Mom drives forward and heads down the road, past all the neighbors with their happy, safe families, as peaceful as the fluffy clouds dancing over the blue sky.

“Isadora! Charity!” Daddy’s wails fade and I bite my lower lip.

Mom told him to come home once he becomes well. Our new house. Her dream house.

Our home.

I want to squeeze Daddy’s hand, to feel secure, but my fingers close on false hope.

 

Jordan Elizabeth - Author Photo

Jordan Elizabeth is known for her odd sense of humor and her outrageous outfits.  Surrounded by bookshelves, she can often be found pounding away at her keyboard – she’s known for breaking keyboards, too.  Jordan’s young adult novels include ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, COGLING, TREASURE DARKLY, GOAT CHILDREN, and VICTORIAN.  PATH TO OLD TALBOT is her third novel with CHBB.  Check out her website for bonus scenes and contests.

Jordan Elizabeth - Author Logo

 

Books can be our window into the past when we don’t have a portal in our new house.  In honor of PATH TO OLD TALBOT, enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

All winners will be notified after verification of entry at the end of this promotion.  Prizes have been supplied by and the responsibility of delivery are solely that of the author and/or their representatives. Blogs are not liable for non-delivery on the part of the author. No purchase necessary.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

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The Shadow War – Launch Day!

After an extra month of waiting, The Shadow War is finally here! It’s the second book of The Wishing Blade series, so if you’ve been wondering what happens next, that wait is over!

*Squee!*

I’m both excited and nervous with this one. For this one, we get to see Daernan’s point of view for a large part of the story (60%, to be exact), and we get one short scene from Siklana at the end. But don’t worry, Toranih and Shevanlagiy also get their fair share of scenes, too. Not only that, but we get glimpses of both Maijevan and Cantingen cultures, and the bit of rivalry that might be brewing between the various countries and cities. 😉

So, without further ado…

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

The Shadow War

Upper MG / Lower YA

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

The Shadow War - Book Cover

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Though a shadow is as good as a ghost, with no free will to speak of, they may still be saved…

The kingdom of Cirena is under attack from an army of shadows—beings who can only be hurt by magic or fire. Magic has been stolen, and as the shadows spread, infecting all they touch, the last two ribbon mages race to the nearest port city to warn them of the impending invasion. One of those mages, Toranih, is among the few who can see the Trickster-cursed army, and she’s determined to get magic back—no matter how much she distrusts it. When she is captured by shadows and a dark secret is revealed about her future, her best friend, Daernan, is left to defend the city. But his only methods of stopping the shadows are by fire and the devastating magic of the shodo’charl.

With the knowledge that the shadows are innocent townsfolk forced to do a warlord’s bidding, Daernan must choose between saving the shadows or saving those who have not yet turned.

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Now Available!

Amazon US ~ Amazon UKBN.com ~ iTunes ~ KoboSmashwords

Paperback Edition

Add to Goodreads

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

A sneak peek…

The roof afforded a smoky view of the burning courthouse and the surrounding mayhem, and here Daernan understood the madness of the shadows. As their victims faded, turning into shadowy wisps, they, too, turned on the crowd. The more the shadows converted, the faster the crowd disappeared.

No wonder they used the explosions. People in the affected areas fled from their homes and the markets, trying to evacuate because the smoke in the distance meant the whole southern side of the city might be burning. But the ghostly shadows waited for them with impromptu weapons, and the refugees fled right into their hands.

“It’s so easy for them,” Daernan whispered. “Lord Menchtoteale found a simple way to conscript his army.”

Siklana frowned as she dug the shodo’charl free from the bag and passed him the stone. “What are they doing?”

“Using the explosions to force people from their homes.” Daernan reached to take the bundle, then stopped. Siklana’s brown eyes were wide with worry, her lips forming an unhappy frown. He quickly turned away and clasped the oilskin tight in his fingers. There were so many shadows. If he released the stone now, he might be killing countless innocent people. But if he didn’t release the stone’s magic, more would be trapped.

“Should we do this?” he asked softly.

Siklana peered over the ledge. “You’re asking me?”

He whispered a soft prayer to Madiya—primarily because she was responsible for taking the dead through her realm—but he fervently hoped he was wrong. Hoped that somehow, some way, the shodo’charl did not kill them.

He hooked his fingers under the oilskin, trembling, already feeling the cold sweat forming on his neck and soaking his back. To do this . . . if he killed them . . . he wasn’t sure how he was going to sleep. How he was going to account for their deaths? But the longer he waited, the more who would die when he finally released the oilskin.

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Enjoy! Feel free to tell your friends, or anyone you think might enjoy the book. 😀

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Book Signing – February 25th

A quick update…

Isaac and I will be participating in a book signing at the new Reader’s World in Warrensburg, MO, on Saturday, February 25th from 1 – 3 pm. (See their Facebook page here). There will be several local authors also signing their books, so there’s a bit of something for everyone. Isaac and I will have Magic’s Stealing and Distant Horizon available. Feel free to stop by! 🙂

Click on the covers to find out more about the books:

Distant Horizon - Book CoverSBibb - Magic's Stealing Cover

 

In other news, we’re just about done getting new cards ready for Battle Decks, as well as preparing a new game to demo at Stealth Con. And I’m in the process of proofreading The Shadow War before formatting it (updated release day is March 16th). 🙂

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