Monthly Archives: June 2017

Sometimes… You just have to do it your way.

I think there’s a saying in the bible I need to use.

“I shall repent myself.”

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post all about staying focused as an author. I went on and on about how the difference between being a writer and an author was about caring enough about getting stuff finished that you actually worked on something until… it was finished. And just one something.

I was guilty of the opposite a lot before that blog post. In fact, as a kid I used to open five or six documents and work on multiple stories at one time.

The post I wrote was timely for me, and an important step in my progress as a writer. The truth is, I really hadn’t been focusing. I had wanted for a long time to be able to get something published, but I’d work on something for a while, get bored, then go do something else and never come back to the first thing.

Lately I’ve been letting myself feel guilty. As most of you know, I was part of this “It Gets Darker As You Go” anthology. So I focused on writing and editing the short story for that. And then thanks to that I remembered what fun it is to write short stories, so I crafted one titled “The Life of Miranda Chance” and edited one called “An Acceptable Future,” both of which will be coming out shortly. Then I started thinking about “Slavery’s Circle,” the first novel in my next trilogy that I’ll be releasing when I’m done with the Afterdeath series.

But with all of this focus going in all these different directions, I wasn’t working on Turning Point, which is book two in my Afterdeath series. There was kind of a dual reason why my attention wasn’t on the novel. The first was because I just don’t really know where to take it. I’ve written the entire novel already, and the revisions are going hard and slow. The second was because it was just fun to slip back into my old routine of multiple projects at once.

It was last night that I had a moment of genius, and I realized that even though picking one work and focusing on it is a good tactic, and it was certainly a great thing for me to do when I wrote Love is Death, that it’s not necessarily “required” of being an author.

Last night I opened up two documents. I opened Turning Point, and I opened Slavery’s Circle. I got one chapter revised on the Turning Point, and three chapters done on Slavery’s Circle. Now I realize, there’s a greater focus on the book that I’m not planning to put out right away, but it was time well spent, because otherwise I would have been surfing the internet or wasting my time creating a cover for some book I probably won’t publish for a few more months. Last night, though, when my mind hit its usual brick wall on Turning Point, I simply turned to my other novel. My productivity skyrocketed. Even if not all my time was spent on the one I’m supposed to “focus” on, I spent all my time writing, and the other book I was focusing on was one that will need to be finished eventually.

It’s great to pick one thing and focus, and there is definitely a time when that’s appropriate. In my opinion, NaNoWriMo is great for doing this. But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with doing it your own way, doing what you’re most comfortable with. Even if that means writing two books at one time. With Camp NaNoWriMo coming up in July, I actually plan to work on both novels. I’ll be setting word count goals that I want to achieve for both Turning Point and Slavery’s Circle. I’ll be focusing. I’ll just be focusing on two things at once. Which, honestly, is something I do really well.

Have fun. And enjoy the writing.

The Story of A Cover

I’ve mentioned a few times my involvement in the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group anthology, “It Gets Darker As You Go,” but most of my mentions have been about my story, and my excitement for our upcoming readings and signings in Spokane.

What I haven’t really mentioned is how I was involved in the cover creation.

This anthology has been a great collaboration between the authors involved. Everyone simply offered to throw in their help with whatever they were good at. When we started talking about covers, the leader of our group, Charles R. Oliver, said that anyone who wanted to try their hand at creating a cover could pick a photo from one of two stock photo sites he had an account at, and he would purchase the photos.

I love creating covers. My first couple of covers I hired someone to do for me, and after that I realized that I wasn’t bad at it myself, so since then I’ve been doing them on my own. At this chance to work on the anthology’s cover, I was pretty excited.

We didn’t have a title, didn’t really even have a theme other than we knew we wanted all the stories to have some kind of paranormal element to them, and we wanted them set in the Northwest. With that, and the few snippets I’d heard of the other people’s stories to that point, I thought, “Well, what about a nice woodsy-feeling cover with just a little bit of creep?” So here was my first submission:

Woods

I combined two images–the cabin in the woods, and the lady in the red jacket–and came up with the title, picking up the red from her jacket and the brown from the trees to create my font colors. I showed it to the group and a lot of them really liked it. Erik Schubach also created a nice looking cover idea for the story as well. To be honest, I liked his cover better than this original cover I submitted. We weren’t ready to decide on covers yet, so we kept working on the stories, swapping with each other and giving feedback.

As I started reading more and more of the stories, I realized that the couple I’d been exposed to early on were some of the lighter stories in the anthology. A few of them had a bit darker feel to them, and some were downright scary. (For me. I’m a chicken.)

I started reconsidering my design. This anthology didn’t feel like a bright woodsy with red-jacket cover type thing. I came up with the idea (and hence title) of making the stories go from lighthearted to darker, and I started looking for images that would match that up. I was so lucky to find the beautiful image I did on one of the stock websites that Charles had an account with. I wanted a great font to go with the image and theme of the story, so I went to this incredible page that shows all sorts of fonts, how they look, what genres they go well with, and so on. Funny enough, the font I chose was called DarkII. A perfect dark font for a dark cover.

From all of that came my cover design for It Gets Darker as You Go.

A woman walks in the forest at night with a lantern.

I loved the composition of the original artwork, the great lights and shadows, the kind of creepy, but kind of hopeful feel it gave. The feeling of being watched, and also being the watcher. Everything about it was spectacular, and the group apparently thought so as well. They picked it out right away, then asked me to organize the stories according to their level of “darkness.” So hopefully I did a good job, that way if you’re like me and they get “too scary” you know where to stop. (although truth be told, even though I knew I should stop, I ended up reading all of them because they were engaging and exciting. I just dealt with the nightmares later… You think I’m kidding?)

This wasn’t my first time creating a cover for a story, but it was my first time where other people had to decide between a few covers, some of my own creation, some from other people. It was exciting and gratifying to see how well-received the cover was, and how the people in the group really loved it. It’s certainly a fun thing for me to do and, I must admit, a good excuse to get distracted from the writing I really should be doing.

Speaking of which, I need to go back to pounding out my revisions on my next novel. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll let you all… Have fun, and enjoy the writing.