Wednesday, February 1, 2023

IWSG February 2023: Books Covers


 As the first Wednesday of the month, today is The Insecure Writer's Support Group Day blog hop, a monthly blog hop over a decade old started by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, Sci-fi Author and Great Encourager.

Each month, several volunteers step forward to help manage the hop, and this month, these intrepid writers and professional authors are: Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse Van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!


Today's Optional Industry Question is: If you are an indie author, do you design your own book covers or have them professionally designed? If you are traditionally published, how much say do you have in your book cover design?

My answer straddles all the writing I've done.

COVER IMAGES FOR SHORT WORKS

As a traditionally published short story, poem, and article writer, I do not often have much, if any, choice in how my work is presented with images or cover designs.

Online publications attach specific images with short works to makes these works pop off the page and be more enticing to readers. However, I often have people assume these are my photos, and they usually are not. For example, I had a poem published at The Drabble called "Quest (ioning) Cat" and a photo of a tortoiseshell cat was attached to it. Readers assumed this was my cat, when actually my cat was a black and white American mix. However, I loved the image they chose, even if it wasn't "my" cat because honestly, once you send your work into the world, the reader's imagination or the editor's imagination fills in the blanks.

This is also true for larger anthologies, like The IWSG 2017 publication of their 2016 Anthology Contest Award Winners, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life, in which my short story "Of Words and Swords" was originally published professionally. I love the cover of the book and I think it suits the stories within it, even if I didn't design it. I think it's interesting and sometimes fun to see what other people's imaginations come up with for groups of stories.

The Champion Trilogy, Variations on a Theme

The following images show the way my first book covers changed over three different iterations. The first covers were created by my niece, a designer who has decided to work on designs for logos and events, instead of book covers. The two of us didn't really know how to work on book covers together, but her hand drawn images (not shown here) wowed me, and we attempted to figure out book cover design together. The very first cover she created was the one with the girl reaching for the sword, which I loved, but for some reason, we didn't know how to make the colors work with the uploads for Amazon and we kept getting different color variations from the same image, so we moved away from that to simpler color schemes for the trilogy.

After a while, I decided to try to recreate the covers on my own, using a combination of images purchased from Shutterstock and a Pro Canva account, which gives me a license to use certain images for professional designs I create on the account. The last three book covers (the current ones) are those.











Short Story E-book Covers

I created all of my short story Ebook book covers, because I meant from the start of creating them to use them as a "free" or inexpensive way to gather readers' interest for my work. In retrospect, I could have been a bit wiser about this process, but I like many of my covers, both old and new. This is just a sampling of short book variations. I have taken many off the market for now, although I am tempted to put them back up. Keeping them "permafree" on Amazon took too much fiddling with them on a regular basis and most of them need to have their back matter refinished, something I've fallen behind on. Seedling is still my most downloaded short title.

To create these, I used Microsoft Publisher and images I purchased or found free in free domain sites, although that made me nervous even when I cited them properly, so I have gone more and more to using images via Shutterstock or Canva Pro, which I have a license to use and have paid some $ for. In some instances, I have used my own photography, but that is rare. What is more common is for me to find an image, purchase the copyright, and manipulate it until it fits what I hope the cover is conveying.


 




Professionally Designed Covers

Working with a professional designer for cover design and interior design does take a great deal of the work load off of me in the creation of an Ebook or Paperback, and I've discovered in the process that I'm not always a good communicator of what I hope to do, which makes it really hard on the designer to work. If you are an Indie author, I suggest taking some serious time to study the current trends in book covers, then take the main elements of your book, think about how they would fit in the current trends, and then discuss this with your book designer.

I loved working with Carrie Butler, but I ignored some of her suggestions, and I think, well, I think these are lovely, but now, after much more study of cover designs, I think I could have gone a slightly different direction. I love the color scheme, and I love the lettering. I love so much about these covers. However, I missed the trend of putting people on the cover, something Carrie Butler suggested that I ignored. Considering these are YA novellas with a hint of romance in them, having at least one or two characters on each cover might have been wise. And yet, I still love them, which means I need to work on my own way of looking at my books in the future.


More Canva Designed Covers

Due to the fact that I haven't made a great deal of $ from my writing, I have to take cost into consideration for every cover and every aspect of each book. I know covers sell, but I also know how much I have to budget for each book, and I need to create covers which are both cost-effective and eye-catching. I have discovered that I enjoy creating covers, while, as I mentioned above, it's taken me a long while to discover what works, and what doesn't. Certain colors convey specific moods, tones, and storylines, as well as the age of readership. 

These are my own latest designs, using purchased images, and the Canva Pro design tools:

 










Do they all work? Well, there are some I'm thinking of changing at some point in the future, but my understanding of cover design has slowly grown over the years, and I think I'm getting better at it. The amount of time and effort I put into each depends on the purpose of the design and how often/much use I plan to get out of it, whether it's for a series of posts, a short Ebook freebie or inexpensive "interest" title, or a lengthier book I hope to sell again and again. 

You may notice a few Kindle Vella covers in this grouping, and there's a reason for that I will go into next Wednesday.


Do you create your own covers?




Monday, January 16, 2023

2nd Place! And other news!

 



I entered and won second place in the Lakewold Poetry in the Gardens Contest! I had hopes, but not that high, so I was pleasantly surprised and amazed to gain a second-place win. Celebrations will occur officially February 3rd-5th at the Lakewold Lit Fest Poetry in the Gardens Event in Lakewood, Washington.

The event includes live readings, workshops, and open mic readings will go through the whole weekend. Writers, readers, poets, and poetry lovers are all welcome!

To find out more or get tickets to the event, go to the Poetry in the Gardens Lit Fest Page.

This Wednesday, January 18th, I'll be teaching my first class in a seven-class series called Writing Stories Weekly at Tacoma Community College. Find out more at their Continuing Education Page.

Before that, I'll be at the Creative Colloquy Open Mic night tonight at Anthem Coffee-Stadium District tonight at 7p.m. Show up, listen, and take the mic with your own writing!

Do you have any news to share? Have you been to any writing events lately? Ever won a prize in a poetry contest? Please share in the comments.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

IWSG January 2023: Word(s) of the Year and Book Celebrations!


 

IWSG: Words of the Year

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the co-hosts this month: Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin!

January 4 question - Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year?

So, if you've been here before, you know I have a hard time picking just one when it comes to favorite books, favorite anything, and a single word for the year, so I usually pick a phrase, or a combination of words.

In 2019, my phrase was: Small Steps.

In 2020, it was: Creative Confidence and 6 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

In 2021, my phrase was: I have an invitation and a choice to experience healing and to help others heal.

2022 was: Wellness, Creativity, and Courage - not necessarily in that order.

For 2023, my phrase is: Courageous quests, healing, compassion, and creative entrepreneurship.

You might notice some repeat themes there. :)

In fact, it is in many ways, a culmination of all the other years rolled into one phrase. 

It's taken me a while, but I think I'm beginning to notice which themes are important to me in my life and in my life's work. 

However, themes that aren't mentioned here are: hope, justice, and just mercy. These also show up in my work. Hope for a righting of brokenness, which is a different type of healing for the world, and which I believe also takes courage, compassion, and creative thinking. 

If you like these themes, consider checking out some of my work.


Book Celebration

I have a tough time remembering to celebrate the finish of my books. I'm not talking about Book Blasts and Book Blog Tours. Those are celebratory, yes, but they are also hard marketing work.

I mean, a true celebration of work being finished including friends, family, feasting, and fun. 

While I know short story collections often don't do well in the world of analytics, I am thankful for the stories in my new collection and proud of putting it together. So, I am celebrating this week with a dinner, a gathering, and some fun. 

If you would like to help me promote my book, that would be an awesome bonus, but I'm not sending out all the book blog promo materials. 
Instead, if you would like to help, please consider the following tweet and image, choose what you would like from there, and tag me in anything you send out into the world. 

Tweet:
Escape to strange landscapes and new worlds!
25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains: A Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy by @tyreanmartinson will take you to 25 new places!
#scifi #fantasy #shortstories https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BGT65CMF 




Escape to 25 New Worlds!

In 25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains, you can escape to 25 different landscapes in fantasy and science fiction! Find out more HERE.




For the next book I publish, I'll do the big ask for promo help, but for now, I'm happy to simply celebrate. BTW, the next book will be coming out this year... but not yet. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

New Book Release: 25 Impossible Tales!

25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection

 This is a fun book of stories I collected over almost ten years, with unique worlds, interesting characters, and tough dilemmas.

Some of these stories are new to 2022, written during a Clarion West Flash Fiction Workshop in the summer.

Some of these stories were previously published by professional and literary publications like Creative Colloquy, Aurora Wolf, the Insecure Writers' Support Group Fantasy Contest Anthology from the 2016 contest, Book Dreams 1, and more. It was fun to work with these stories again in this collection.

This collection, unlike previous collections, is focused all on speculative fiction genres, from science fiction, paranormal, fantasy, and science fantasy.

The stories are a mixture of Noble Bright and Dark, with some sweet stories that could fit in the YA genre, but also with some heavier stories which mention abuse and trafficking. I tried my best to keep the graphic nature of those themes off the page, but I did give a content warning for tough subject matter.

If you are interested, you can find it in these places:


Amazon

Smashwords



 "Unique world-building and fascinating characters with strong voices."

No matter how hard circumstances are, there is hope for survival, even if it means making one simple choice in the right direction or standing up in the face of impossible odds.

But the question remains: What is the right direction and which way is up?

In these 25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains, we meet over 25 characters faced with impossible odds and difficult choices. Each story offers a unique perspective on what it means to be human, to survive, to live with hard choices, to have purpose, to love, to succeed, and to have hope.

These stories are set in near-future, alternative world, and far future science fiction and fantasy worlds. Some characters fly spaceships, and some wield swords. Some characters are everyday people, and some are extremely strange.

The story lengths range from 300-word micro-fiction stories to full, short stories. Some end with a horizon open, and some with the horizon closed.

CONTENT WARNING: Some of the stories in this book include graphic sword-fighting and fist-fighting. Some contain references to abuse and human trafficking, but I did strive not to include any of those in graphic detail. Due to the nature of this content, you may need to read the stories carefully.

Most of these stories end on hopeful notes, but a few of them end with either a sense of "justice" or reckoning.


Amazon

Smashwords

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Invitation!

 Invitations can be wonderful, well-timed, expected, or unexpected. There are so many ways to feel when receiving an invitation.

I was invited to take part in the Indie Author New Year's Live Kickoff Blitz for 2023 by Katherine D. Graham. My first reaction: surprise. My second reaction: gladness.

Invitations create a bubbly fizz of surprise, happiness, and anticipation when they are unexpected yet fitting for who we are and what we love, and the timing works well for us.


I hope this invitation today brings you the sweet, bubbly fizz of surprise, happiness, and anticipation for the event!

You are invited to come to any and all of the events happening for the Blitz! The Youtube channel is Here.

You are especially invited to attend the Science Fantasy Panel happening on January 1 at 11 am Pacific, 1 pm Central Time. I'm excited to take part in this panel with fellow authors Danielle Novotny, Jim Wilbourne, and S.G. Blaise.

What invitations do you love the most?