Fan Art Friday: Week 2

I’ve finally found a regular blog feature that I love doing. It’s FAN ART FRIDAY!

In fact, I was so excited about FAN ART FRIDAY that I completely forgot that my book release is today, too. Yep, today is Mage and Source‘s book day! So before I get into the fun of fan art, have a look at Mage and Source over at Amazon, and order your ebook or print version today!

Get Mage and Source here!

Thank you!

Also, all three earlier books are now only $.99!

Ok, now onto the main course, FAN ART covers for awesome indie books.

This week I have two polar opposites as my fan art exemplars, and it’s the fact that they’re entirely different from one another that brought me to present them together. One is a stark black-and-white graphic style, the other is sparkly, colorful, and cinemaplex-bright.

For your viewing pleasure, this week I have covers for Metropolitan Dreams, a New Weird novel by Mark A. King, and for Hex Breaker, a YA-fantasy by Taryn Noelle Kloeden.

How did I end up with two such opposite projects? Well, one of my goals in making my fan art is to represent the book as I see it–and as differently as I can from the real cover. Mark’s original cover by Tamara Rogers was a lush, cinematic extravaganza of color and delight. So I decided to make him a stark black-and-white cover image that still captured one of the elements I loved about his book: the play of dualities and polarities in his themes and images. Here’s what I came up with:

metdreams

Mark’s book is set in London, and so I made this silhouette image of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which has a cameo in the book, and then reflected it to suggest at those dualities that are so central in his story (light/dark, above/below, past/future). The central “railroad” that separates the text also has something to do with the story, but you’ll have to go read the book to find out what!

Up next, Taryn’s real Hex Breaker cover is a restrained, grown-up, greyscale illustration, so I decided to make her a bright, colorful, teenage-movie-poster-style cover mishmash similar to Tamara Shoemaker’s original  covers for her YA Fantasy series. I also wanted to experiment with text effects, namely beveling and embossing.

Here’s my Hex Breaker fan art:

HB1

I ended up only keeping a very light bevel on the text. Some of you with sharp eyes may see that I re-used the nebula image from some of last week’s fan art here, too.

So, two covers, two completely different directions. Which style do you like best? Graphic black-and-white or bold bright color?

 

 

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Maps

I drew a map of Galantia, the High City, to include in Mage and Source. I think it will go well with the two other maps, one of Lethemia and one of the East, drawn by my friend Jermey Jensen (see his maps below, labeled “Lethemia” and “The East”).

All the maps are hand-drawn.

I also drew a map of Solmari (last map), another fantasy world that I co-wrote with Tamara Shoemaker (that book is called The Eighth Octave). Tamara and I are currently tweet pitching The Eighth Octave in various forums over on Twitter.

galantiamap2 copy

LethemiaMap

THeEastSterling copy

solmari copy

Behind the Cover

I’ve never been one for following rote advice or rules. Like Laith, one of the narrators of Mage and Source, “Emily does what Emily wants,” and in the case of my Tales of Blood & Light covers, Emily wanted to make them herself, so she did, against the advice of just about everybody, everywhere.

That said, I’ve learned a lot by going the independent route (as usual), and I certainly beefed up my Photoshop skills, which were a bit rusty after a stint many years ago as a photo doctor in a psych lab in college. (Side note: back then I was editing images of Breyer horses and yearbook pictures for a study on prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces, in case you were curious.)

I always enjoy learning by doing, and working on my own covers has allowed me to do that.

While my favorite cover thus far is Sterling’s–all the pieces just fit together so well to get a striking image–there is a big “darling” in the Mage and Source cover that I wanted to share because I love it so much.

Here’s the Mage and Source cover:

ms

Take special note of the interesting background colors and textures, the iridescent greens, blues, and violets. Those colors came from an image of a very specific thing. Can you guess what?

In the series thus far, each cover’s dominant color has represented the aetherlight color of the narrator. In Mage and Source, I have two narrators, and thus I needed to represent two colors on the cover, neither completely overpowering the other.

I am a relentless hunter of interesting public domain images, and I finally found one that I thought would serve as a good background image for Laith and Elena’s colors. It was this one:

14917895643_1b73be9a4f_o

from the USGA Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab’s Flickr stream. Government science images make my nerdy heart happy.

This is an image of a bee’s wing. Specifically, it is the wing of a female Xylocopa carpenter bee from Thailand. It was so cool I had to use it on my cover!

The rest of the images were sourced from more mundane stock photograph sites. The bird of paradise flower image in the center represents a fictional night queen bloom.

You’ll have to read the book to see how the night queen bloom and the bee’s wings relate to the story!

You can pre-order Mage and Source here.

Add it on Goodreads here.

 

Goals : April : 2017

It’s time to review and post goals for another month. I was smart last month and kept my goals simple:

  1. FINISH  Mage & Source  revision. CHECK–I did this and sent to Tamara Shoemaker for line edits. That’s a relief.
  2. START musical magic co-write. CHECK–this is going very well. Tamara and I have nearly created a very rough draft for the entire book. We estimate 2-4 more chapters, plus an epilogue.
  3. READ through newly revised River Running and send to beta readers. CHECK–this one is off with a beta reader right now.

I’m going to keep it simple for April, too:

  1. LIGHT & SHADOW (ToB&L 5) revision and rewriting.
  2. FINISH draft of musical magic co-write.
  3. ODDS & ENDS (this includes working on some editing and formatting projects for others, mainly).

Deleted Scene : More Hinge Backstory

This little snippet was originally in The Gantean, a piece of information about the magic of the Gantean Hinge. Ultimately, I found a way to “show” rather than “tell” this information, but, like a lot of writing about magic systems, I had to write out the theory of it before I could even attempt to integrate it more naturally into the story.

Leila was the narrator telling this info, though it could have been the Cedna, too:

“Because of this Hinge, all other magic was possible, for in its opening, the Ancestors had made the Layers permeable, so that we could walk from one to the next. The Gantean People were the Guardians of this Hinge, and it was our sacred duty to protect it, to keep it hidden, safe, and open. Not just for ourselves, but for the whole world, for all the nations who used magic. The Hinge, high on the ice plateaus of Gante, was the source of all magic.

Every Gantean knew about the Hinge. Such knowledge made us Iksraqtaq. It was a secret funneled into us, never spoken, but lived and felt and inhaled from our very first breath. If we were a stern and somber people, it was because of this great responsibility we guarded. We kept the Hinge open by feeding it the dead, their flesh and spirit and blood, to appease its endless hunger.”

Deleted Scene: Laith describes a mage’s view of pregnancy

This little scene is mainly interesting for a mage’s perspective on the magical theory of pregnancy in the Lethemian world. It turns out that neither this particular pregnancy, nor the magical facts about it presented here, remain valid. It was a wrong turning in magical theory and in story that I eventually had to cut.

The mage Laith Amar is the narrator for this scene:

As I descended into aethertrance, I swept my magestone over my hand on Lujayn’s abdomen. And there it was: a pinprick of mauve light in the center of Lujayn’s vibrant crimson plexus. A female spark, no more than a few days old. I bent to look closer. Damnation. The little fleck of life was barely attached in the network of Lujayn’s aetherlight, hanging by a single thread. I’d never seen an embryo so close to being unmoored. I’d heard many theories about why some pregnancies worked better than others—the mage I’d trained with at the Conservatoire said the ones that were not securely woven into the mother were unwanted by her. I didn’t believe that—I’d seen enough of the unwanted fetuses of whores—they often asked me to remove them—to know that whether a child was wanted has little to do with whether it was fixed well in the Aethers.

My own theory was that it had to do with the characteristics of the aetherlight of the parents. Most Conservatoire-trained mages paid no attention to the subtleties of aetherlight colors, how they melded or did not. Most mages did not have clear enough aethersight to see such nuances. When I examined a pregnant woman, I could easily see that the color of the child’s aetherlight was connected those of the parents, to varying degrees. But sometimes the parental aetherlights did not want to blend, and when that happened, the resultant embryo looked like this little one inside Lujayn Arania.

Experience told me not to bother with a repair—the little speck would never hold. But since it was my own brother’s child, I had to try. I pulled threads from my own aetherlight to stitch the little mauve speck into the crimson network more securely. Flashing the requisite sigils, I did the best I could, but even so, I worried.

As I came up out of the trance, I met Lujayn’s wide eyes. “Did you see?” she asked. “Will I have a baby?” her voice still held that cool and rather insouciant tone.

“Yes,” I said. “I saw the light within you. I made a working to fix it better. But Lujayn—” she glowered at me as if she didn’t like my casual use of her first name—“you must be very careful. I have done what I could, but the aetherlight was very fragile. I’d recommend bedrest for the next sidereal, at least.”

“Bedrest!” she cried, clearly annoyed. “But Jaasir and I are headed to Lysandra in three days!”