I’m happy to report I’ve finished another draft of The Worth of Words. I’d like to take a quick moment to thank my Alpha Readers: Ben Duke, Grace, and Eduardo. Your feedback was invaluable, and I’m so glad you all liked this version. Your input made it possible to take this story one step closer to being what it needs to be.
I’m awestruck with WoW. It’s a thrill to see where I was and where I am now, and stories like this help me feel like I’m on a level I hadn’t previously reached in my time being published. When I get the story out, I hope you all feel the same way I do about it.
I’ll send WoW off to Sara for a developmental edit. In the meantime, I have two new submissions forThe Power of Words anthology to edit and make a decision on. I also have another draft of a previously signed author’s contribution. That’s how I hope most of February goes. I’d like to get the Beta Draft of Repressed done by the end of March. If I maintain this pace, I should be working on Betrayed (Oneiros Book Two) in June. I’ll step away for the anthology, but there won’t be that much more once I select the last few authors and start layout and design. If you’re still interested in contributing, please feel free to send a submission. I won’t close submissions until I’m ready to go into layout and design.
I just wanted you all to have a quick glimpse regarding where I’m at in this passionate pursuit of mine. I hope to have one of my usual book reviews up next week, but the timing worked out to put this update on Wednesday.
Cull received 578 total votes.
Because February only has twenty-eight days, The four runners up get a second chance next month. They are:
Trial of Chains by Sohan Amad, Gravitas by Ben Mason, Symphony of Fates by JC Kang, and Burn the Ashes by Heather Shahan.
For Davis, he doesn’t have to stress over another “tryout” bracket. He’s in the main Book Cover of the Year Bracket. Let’s look at the summary for his book.
“A modern fantasy with a touch of noir, a dash of detective thriller, and a sprinkling of humor throughout. A really fun debut novel.”–Steve Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of MONSTER
Janzen Robinson is a man torn between two worlds. Five years removed from a life as an apprentice to a group of do-gooding heroes who championed the fight against supernatural evils, the once-promising student is now a package courier going through the daily grind, passing time at a hole-in-the-wall bar and living in a tiny, run-down apartment on the south side of Cleveland, Ohio.
Then fate (or a case of bad timing) brings him face to face with a door that’s got his old life written all over it. From the ancient recesses of unyielding darkness known as the Abyss, a creature has been summoned: a Stalker, a predator whose real name is forbidden to be spoken aloud. It’s a bastardization of the natural order, a formidable blend of dark magic and primal tenacity. Its single-minded mission? Ending the life of a fiery, emerging young witch.
Thrust into the role of protector, a role once reserved for those he’d lost years ago, the out-of-practice “Artificer” not only has to return to a life he’d left behind, but must relive that painful past while facing down the greatest threat to come to our world in a century. Janzen will have to journey through the magical underbelly of the city and not only stay one step ahead of an unstoppable monster hellbent on destruction but try and figure out why it’s been brought to our world in the first place. Past wounds are reopened as Janzen looks to old friends, a quiet stranger, and his own questionable wits to see them all to the other side of this nightmare that may cost him his life and, quite possibly, the world itself.
I’ve added Blunt Force Magic to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought December’s book.
Here’s Davis’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about him and his work.
I’ll try to find out who did that cover. I’m still behind my interviews, but I’m hopeful my vacation can give me a chance to get caught up.
The February Book Cover of the Month is all set, and that contest will launch March 1. Things are finally going to get back to normal after the end of the year.
I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebookpage, you can see what covers will make the bracket.
First off congratulations on your cover wining my blog’s 2017 BookCover of the Year! How does it feel knowing people thought your book cover was the best of all the year’s winning covers?
It’s an unbelievable compliment. I’m so flattered and honored. I want to thank everyone who voted for supporting and appreciating all of the various artists.
When did you get in to art?
It’s been a lifelong thing. Since age three, at least. My mom was incredibly encouraging, always ready with paper, pencils and crayons to draw with any time I ever got bored. It just became my default activity, then grew from there. My mom just kept encouraging me, then my friends and teachers as well, all the way up to college at the Art Institute of Boston.
How long have you been creating covers?
I took a few cover design classes in college, but my first professional cover was actually for my own novel, Carnival of Time, in 2011.
What got you started in creating covers?
Soon after publishing my own novel, my good friend Chris Philbrook started planning his zombie apocalypse series, Adrian’s Undead Diary, and he came to me for the cover and interior design. His story was wildly successful, and I gained attention from there.
Do you prefer one medium over another?
For book covers, I prefer a graphical design done with digital art like the Colony Lost cover, or the covers I’ve done for Chris’s Reemergence series. For character and creature illustrations, I prefer starting with pencil, then finishing the lines with ink and coloring with Copic pens. If you’re not familiar with Copics, they’re really fun. Like a watercolor brush in marker form. Very vivid and blendable.
Do you have someone who inspired your own work? If so, who? Why?
I’ve been inspired by so many different artists. I could probably list hundreds, but some of my favorites are Brian Froud, Tony DiTerlizzi, Terryl Whitlatch, Mike Mignola and Gabriel Rodriguez. I love artists who have an understanding of human and animal anatomy but also how to manipulate overall shape and form to evoke different impressions. Little distortions and exaggerations, as well as careful observation and subtle detail can all radically change the way a creature or character comes across.
What makes you choose to work with an author or not?
Stylistic fit is an important issue. As in: does my style fit what this author is looking for? I feel the need to be respectful of an author’s vision, and be realistic about what my strengths and weaknesses are as an artist. If an author is willing to spend money on quality art, but needs a look or style that isn’t my strength, then I have to be honest with them, rather than wasting their time or money. Nobody wants to turn down good work, but you can’t build a reputation on disappointment. Sometimes you just have to say “Hey, this really isn’t my thing. I think you may need to look for someone with a different skill set.”
What do you look for in a great client?
The other part of the equation is that the respect has to be mutual. I always strive to respect a book’s author as the first and last authority on the way their creation is represented. But I also expect a certain amount of respect for artists as professionals as well. For example, if an author comes to me (or any other artist) looking to get a professional grade cover but then offers to pay with “exposure,” they’re not really respecting that art is real work worth paying for. The best clients are those who know what they want, or are at least able to recognize what does and doesn’t work for them, and who also respect their artists as fellow professionals.
What are some of your pet peeves about clients?
It’s important to remember that not every artist is capable of creating the kind of image you might have in mind. Artistic styles and techniques vary tremendously, so take a look at the artist’s other work. If their other covers are similar in style to what you need, then they’re probably a great fit for you. If all they do is colorful, slightly abstract paintings but what you need is a gritty black and white photo, you should probably look elsewhere. This is definitely something you want to be clear about early on–long before any money changes hands.
What would an author need to do to work with you? Do you have a link to your standard rates, or do you negotiate fees by author?
I’m always more than happy to talk to people about cover work, whether it’s to set up a new client relationship or just to help them figure out what they need to be looking for.
I do negotiate fees by author. That intimidates some people who were hoping to just see a quick price list, because not everyone knows what to expect. What it really means though, is that there are a whole lot of different approaches to designing a cover, and I want to help match up your needs to something you can afford. Authors come to me with a wide variety of budgets, and once I get a general range of what they’d be able to spend, I can suggest different approaches and find out if any of those fit their needs.
How did you come to be chosen to create the cover of Colony Lost?
As I mentioned earlier, Chris Philbrook is a great friend of mine. We’ve known each other since high school, and he kind of jump-started my cover design career by recruiting me to work on his first books. I’ve done almost all of his illustration and design work since.
Artistically, what were your goals for the cover?
I wanted to capture the spirit of the book. There’s a darkness, but also a sense of hopefulness in the middle of that. The black background and menacing mouth/guns/creature imagery are counterbalanced by the bright color scheme, which also reflects the colors of the strange auroras that shine over the planet where the action takes place.
How was Chris to work with?
Chris is always fantastic to work with. He’s very specific about what he wants and needs, but also very willing to flex and try out suggestions that I might have. He’s also very clear when something isn’t working for him, so I never have to waste any time pursuing an idea that isn’t going to work.
What inspired the idea for this cover?
I’d been talking to Chris about doing another graphical cover (flat shapes & colors, rather than photorealistic images). He actually suggested the idea of creating a scared/menacing mouth using silhouettes of story elements, and I love the idea.
Can you walk me through the whole process of that cover? From commissioning to final product? How did you feel about tit once it was finished?
We started just throwing ideas around, with me doodling on a piece of scrap paper. I was talking about silhouettes of guns and creature parts, and he had the great mouth idea. I went home later and started making various silhouette shapes to move around, and tried arranging them in a number of different ways. Colored background with blackened mouth. Black background with color inside the mouth shape. Different proportions and sizes. We kept going back and forth, with him letting me know what was working and what wasn’t, and me fiddling with whatever wasn’t quite right until we had something we were both excited about. That’s the best possible outcome–when the author and artist are both really jazzed up about the final product.
Is it your favorite cover? If so, why?
I have to admit that while I feel really good about the Colony Lost cover, it’s not my favorite. That might go to another of Chris’s books–Tesser: A Dragon Among Us. That was one of my first seriously graphical covers, and I’m still crazy about how it worked out. Plus I just love dragons. I will confess to having a tremendous dragon bias.
What do you think it was about your cover that fans liked so much?
It’s bold, it’s got stark contrast and bright color, and the image is (hopefully) arresting and elicits curiosity. Is the mouth screaming in fear or attack? What kind of strange guns are those? What sort of monsters are all of those limbs connected to? Those are just my own impressions, but whatever the case, something clearly worked and I’m very grateful for that.
What can we expect to see from you next?
It’s safe to say that I’ll be bringing you more Chris Philbrook covers soon. The guy’s crazy prolific. I’m legitimately jealous of that. He’s got more Reemergence novels coming, more Adrian’s Undead Diary stuff. There might be more Colony Lost on the way, and he’s always cooking up new stuff, too. The guy’s head is packed full of nightmares. But they’re fun nightmares.
Is there anything you’d like to say to readers?
Keep reading. Keep supporting the authors and artists that you love, whether it’s with purchases, votes, or reviews (authors LOVE reviews). Most of all, I want to say thank you. Your appreciation matters, tremendously.
Once more Alan, I just want to thank you for spending time to do this interview. Your cover was great. I look forward to seeing more from you.
Thanks so much. This is a terrific honor.
It was such great fun running this competition. I’m overjoyed at the response it received in its first year, and I hope that continues to grow. Artists almost never get credit for the work they do, and I want to build something that truly recognizes them and the covers they create.
Please continue to support this award by voting, liking, and sharing it with your friends. If you’re convinced to vote because you had one friend or author you liked in one month, keep voting in other months. Try to remember that every one of these authors and artists put in a ton of effort.
I’m honored to have Mr. MacRaffen as the first recipient of the award, and I look forward to making a few more.
I just wanted to share this very kind four-star review for An Unusual Occupation. I’m so happy I made each part available. It’s allowed people a chance to try Bob’s story, and so far, they’re enjoying it! This review was kind and constructive, and I’m so grateful. I hope the reviewer tries out the rest of Bob’s story, and maybe Caught. Regardless, I’m honored she tried my work at all, and thrilled she liked it. You can read the review here.
With just seven days left in this month’s bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing.
As I type this, we have 4,735 votes so far. That’s almost 2,000 votes more than we had at this point last month.
Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis is on a mission! He’s been working Facebook like a crazy person, and his followers and supporters are passing it on. If anyone is going to challenge him, they’ll need to really call on their fans to get in the hunt.
Most Voted on so far: BlunnBlunt Force Magic is running away with it at the moment. He has 473 votes so far. I haven’t checked yet, but I THINK that’s a record already.
Least Voted for: Echoes of Esharam by Robert Davies. This cover has 38 votes. It’s a well designed cover I think deserves a bit more support.
Lawrence Davis has a commanding lead in every round. The only cover even remotely threatening is The Promised One by Morgan G. Farris, which would need 45 voters to push it all the way through the finals to help it win. Frankly, Davis is high-stepping to victory. But that’s in the Sweet Sixteen. The runner up for the month is currently The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson. That means Johnson gets the second shot if he can’t make up the 60-voter lead Davis has.
A quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final. As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.
This will be the only update for this type of bracket. It’s been an amazing tournament to watch thus far, and I hope readers continue to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible. You can vote at this address!
As I type this, I officially have 504 followers! I’m simply thrilled each day someone decides to click on my website and decide to keep up to date on my posts! As is common whenever I hit a milestone, I’d like to take a bit of time to give back to those who followed me by spreading word about their blog, so I’d like to talk about my five most recent followers.
MovieBabble: I’ve only just discovered this blog since it started following me. Looking at the main page, I’m just startled at how much content they pack into this page. It’s essentially a film review site. I’m honestly excited to check out some of the reviews. I’m always interested in what people think about what’s out there.
Ris Reads: Marisa is a young woman who provides reviews. Anyone who talks about books is super in my opinion. She’s new to the review world, but she has good taste in books judging by her last few reviews.
Luna Lestrange Reads: I spend about 10 minutes a day looking for book reviewers. Luna prefers Young Adult (I have a book I’d like you to beta read if that’s your genre, Luna) stories. Her last few reviews highlight her interest in that area. She’s my newest follower, and I’ve only seen on of her reviews, but she’s brief and conversational, which I appreciate in a reviewer.
Stories to live by: Courtney is another reviewer. What drew me to her was her openness about content. In her latest review, the book she read made light of religion, she said. She wasn’t positive or negative about it, just informative. That way readers who might not appreciate it, don’t buy the book, and those who like that sort of thing know it’s their kind of story. I appreciate that sort of information.
Nifflerreads: This is a reviewer who read 36 books in January alone. That’s about one more book than I read last year. So anyone that prolific get’s my attention. It means viewers can count on more consistent reviews.
I’m happy to announce that after only one day of availability, An Unusual Occupation already has a five-star review! You can check out that verified-purchase review here. I’m so flattered by this review. I love Bob as a character, so any time a reader connects with him, I’m so pleased. I want to thank the reviewer for not just buying my book, but liking it and telling people about it!
I can’t stress this enough! This is not a sequel! I’ve had some people tell me Bob is a bit intimidating to read. The entire story (all three parts) is 133,000 words. Since the story was already in three neat segments, I thought releasing this story by each individual part gave readers a chance to try the story without the commitment of a larger book.
This part is special to me. The first part is basically the original short story I wrote almost twelve years ago. It inspired a fancy idea, which then inspired the complete story.
Occupation is currently 99 cents. It’ll remain that price for two weeks, when it will go up to it’s normal $2.99. My plan is to release part two in May and part three in August. I have some more exciting news for later on in that year, but I’m still working out some logistics.
I had to get this released now because I’m just about to start the Alpha Draft of Worth of Words. Things seem to be getting more and more busy in a good way, and I’ll keep you up to date. If you haven’t tried out Bob’s story, I hope you’ll give this segment, 47,000 words, a try. If you’ve read Bob, and you enjoyed it, please consider gifting or recommending this to readers you know. (Also, it’s always a great help when you post a review on Amazon or Goodreads.)