Nightfall Art: Armida and Prince Vladimir

If you are anything like me, then you:

  1. A) Dream to see your book characters illustrated,

and

  1. B) Cannot draw a believable humanoid if your life depended on it.

Luckily, this is where my personal superhero, TheSwanMaindeN, comes in.

When you get an artist to illustrate your characters, you can take different routes. You could describe in detail what exactly you want to see, you could give them complete freedom, or you could go anywhere in between.

When I asked TheSwanMaideN to illustrate my book cover, I gave her a detailed description of what exactly needed to be there. However, when it came to Armida’s portrait, I decided to try something different and to give her only a vague idea about the character. “You are great at drawing hair,” I said, “and even better at drawing dresses. Go for it.”

This was one of my better decisions because – surprise, surprise! – it turns out her imagination is way better than mine. What I got was this:

Armida - PNG

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Seeking Inspiration: The Victoria and Albert Museum

What inspires you?

This is perhaps one of the more frequent questions writers get. What gives you an idea for a new character, new scene, new book? Inspiration is a tricky thing and can come from the most unexpected sources – reading a news article, watching a beetle crawl, hearing a stranger say a random word. When you go seeking inspiration, it is hard to say where you’ll find what you are looking for, but there are two main sources that are a great starting point – Art and Real Life.

Art could be anything – a book, a painting, a movie, a sculpture, a song. Real Life could be simple everyday conversations with the people in our life. Perhaps someone you know has an intriguing personality and you want to base a character on them? Or perhaps their past experience gives you a story idea? You can also get ideas from observing nature and from traveling and interacting with various people and cultures.

Museums are one place where art and real life meet. Here you can travel to distant lands just by taking a few steps. Besides inspiration they are also great for research – if your story is set in the past or in a place you have never been to, there is only so much you can learn from books. A trip to the museum can be a step into a different world and can give you a better glimpse into your character’s life and surroundings.

neptune

Since I’ll be living in London for a few more weeks before leaving the UK, I decided to make the best of what’s left of my stay and revisit some places that inspired me. The Victoria and Albert museum holds a few objects that influenced my writing. This post is about how you can use a trip to the museum to help you shape your story.

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Self-Publish Like a Pro: How to get a quality book cover on a budget PART 3

So far I have covered the simpler, faster, and cheaper ways to get a beautiful ebook cover – a DIY or a premade cover. Unfortunately, for many authors these option’s don’t work. You may have something specific in mind for your cover, and no single stock image or a premade template captures it. In that case, you’ll need to work with a designer or an illustrator.

Designers

Designers work like this:

– You share your vision of what you’d like to see on the cover, including key elements and general mood

– The designer picks one or more stock photos, manipulates them to create the desired image, and adds a genre-appropriate font. Usually designers are subscribed to a stock image supplier and can download an unlimited number of photos at no additional cost for them

– There are several rounds of revisions, where you can give back your cover and request changes Continue reading

Self-Publish Like a Pro: How to get a quality book cover on a budget PART 1

I finished my book’s initial draft over a year ago, and since then, I’ve been preparing to self-publish. I’ve been commissioning editors and artists and reading a lot on ebook and paperback formatting. This is the first post in my Self-Publish Like a Pro series, in which I’m planning to share what I have learned along the way and hopefully help other indie authors.

Normally the publisher will take care of editors, formatting and book covers, and will cover all the expenses. Indie authors need to act as mini publishing houses. They need to assemble the best team of professionals, who would together deliver the highest-quality final product, all the while working on a (usually) very tight budget. Continue reading

Nightfall Art: Tristan

I’m happy to present this beautiful character portrait by the talented Nadica Boshkovska (aka TheSwanMaideN on DeviantArt):

Nightfall Kingdom of Ashes Tristan character portrait

If you’ve read the free sample, you have already met Tristan. He is the vampire who first finds Myra in the dungeons and accidentally saves her from interrogation and torture. Arrogant and vain, he is viciously disliked by mostly everyone at court. At a first glance, his loyalty to the Prince is his only redeeming quality, but Myra discovers further bits and pieces of his past, secrets and motivations as the story goes along.

I think the portrait does a great job capturing his personality, or at least the face he shows to most of the world. Once again, I’m very grateful to be working with this skilled artist.