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?

 

 

Seven Questions: Mark A. King

I am very happy to welcome Mark A. King to my blog for a round of seven questions, featuring his debut novel Metropolitan Dreams. Mark is one of the founders of FlashDogs, a global community of talented flash fiction writers. His flash fiction stories have been published in a number of anthologies and magazines. Mark was born and raised in London, works in Cambridge, and lives in Norfolk, England.

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1-Pitch your book in three sentences or less.

M.A.K.: In the aftermath of a violent crime we follow the connected stories of an injured nightclub bouncer, an ageing crime-lord, a conflicted police hacker, a traumatised Tube-driver and a vulnerable twelve-year-old girl as they fight for survival, purpose and redemption in the fractured city of London. Along the journey we discover lost rivers, abandoned underground stations, mysterious forces and angels (perhaps).

2-Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

M.A.K.: Indie published. Having monitored the progress (and success) of many FlashDogs on their various publishing adventures, it became clear to me that traditional publishing can be a long, hard and often frustrating experience. Self publishing offers choice, power, flexibility and responsiveness in terms of being able to get the book in front of readers. Some misguided voices that say self publishing has lesser quality, but a fair number of the finest books I have read over the last few years have come from indie authors and traditional publishing is no guarantee that you will like a book anyway, as everyone has their own reading preferences. Indeed, the indie path can often offer a wider variety of material to the reader. Neither is better, it’s just that indie suited me at this time.
The kind and talented host of this blog helped me almost every step of the way, from story transformation through to last minute logo creation. Should you be able to find someone as marvellous, I highly recommend you seek their magic as a priority early in the process.

3-What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?

M.A.K.: I enjoy speculative fiction, which covers genres as diverse as science fiction, horror, fantasy, magical realism and new weird. I find myself always looking firstly to ground my stories in the lives of my characters and the journey they on on, but I’m fascinated by the worlds that science, faith and spirituality hint at, which are just beyond our current understanding. So I always try to find an undercurrent of otherworldlyness in my stories (not a real word, but it probably should be).

4-What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

M.A.K.: I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something like ‘Write the way you want to write. Try not to be someone else as there is only one you.’
I’m starting to learn that it’s important to tell the stories I want to tell in the way that I want to tell them. It might sound obvious, but it’s not, well not for me anyway, I’m fairly conformist in my real life, my writing in many ways is an outlet for something more creative.
However, I realise that this approach is likely to mean that I have less success in terms of potential sales.
It would almost certainly be easier to create a firm genre fiction, following the paths of proven formulas, but that wouldn’t seem like success to me. I’ve waited all my life to write a novel. Success, I think, is creating something different and unique, being true to the stories in my imagination and in my heart, and all I can hope for is that readers will appreciate something slightly different and connect with it in some way.

5-How do you fit your writing into a busy life?

M.A.K.: It is incredibly hard. Like many writers, I have a full time job. I have a reasonable amount of responsibility in my job and when I come home there are numerous demands on my time and energy. I juggle a number of social media accounts (my personal one, my writer one/s and the FlashDogs one)–I wouldn’t make a good spy, as this is too many identities for me already. I tend to squeeze stolen minutes and hours between other tasks, or use my work breaks wisely. My favourite writing experience was when I had to drop my daughter at a horse riding experience which was in in a neighbouring county. Too far away to come back home, so I looked at the map and realised that Rendlesham Forest was nearby, so I took my laptop and wrote some of Metropolitan Dreams from the middle of the forest where UFO sightings have been reported (the UK’s very own Roswell incident, only with more witnesses and recorded evidence from military personnel).
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It was a magical place to write from, it wasn’t just the history, but being outside surrounded by the energy of the forest was inspiring in itself. So, while finding time is sometimes hard, it does also lead to wonderful opportunities.

6-How and when did you first know you were a writer?

M.A.K.: I find it odd to think of myself as a writer and I have a cheeky small-boy grin when someone suggests that I might be one. For most of us, writing is unlikely to pay the bills, so for me, it is only ever a secondary role to; being a father, husband, good employee/manager, community contributor etc.

7-What’s your secret superpower?

M.A.K.: What is it now? Or what would I like it to be? If now, then people say that I am generally very calm under pressure. But if I had to choose a real superpower, it would be teleportation. I’d click my fingers and return to the warm sands of Shark Bay on Heron Island which sits atop the Great Barrier Reef. I’d click my fingers again to visit family or friends I don’t see often enough. Click to visit the many friends I have not yet met in different parts of the world.

Many thanks to Mark for answering seven questions!

You can learn more about Mark and his writing at his blog: https://makingfiction.com/
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Making_Fiction
Get Metropolitan Dreams: https://goo.gl/EsXA3I

December Goals

Though my goal list appeared short for November, it was actually a really tough and time-consuming list, since I meant to write an entire book (with Tamara Shoemaker) in one month, not to mention continue writing a different book on my own. I stayed very busy. I’m planning to take on a lot for December, too.

In November my goals were:

  1. Continue ToB&L Book 5 revision. CHECK I didn’t get quite as far as I’d hoped, but I did make some good progress.
  2. NANOWRIMO CHECK Tamara and I completed our novel, River Running, in plenty of time. It’s around 90,000 words, and right now we are reading it for the first time, making small revisions as we go.
  3. OtherCHECK My main “other” this month was doing a final line and copy edit on Mark A. King‘s Metropolitan Dreams. I finished the edit yesterday, and this book is really turning into a polished gem! Keep your eyes peeled for it when it participates in the Kindle Scout Program…soon.

 

My December Goals are:

  1. FINISH ToB&L Book 5 revision.
  2. LIGHT Mage & Source revision. Last month I had a first reader take a look at Mage and Source. Now I’ll apply her feedback and revise, with the hope of sending it to editors Beth and Tamara in Jan 2017.
  3. BRAINSTORMING: Tamara and I have another co-write idea that we need to brainstorm. I’m really excited about this one. It involves music and magic and an 18th Century setting of court intrigues.
  4. Other. This seems like a good goal category to keep. I’m sure I’ll have more other to report at the end of the month.

Upcoming Flash Fiction Contest at LCP

Alert to all FlashDogs, FlashMonkeys, FlashDragons, and other flashy types!

In honor of the release of our latest books, Tamara Shoemaker and I are co-hosting a ONE-TIME FLASH FICTION contest on the Luminous Creatures Press Blog.

The contest submission dates will run from June 28-June 30, 2016, so mark your calendars! The prompts will be posted on June 28th, and then you’ll have two full days to create a story of 100 words or fewer to enter. The theme will be fantasy, since the new release books we are celebrating are both fantasy stories. More information and a photo prompt will be posted on June 28th.

To see our rules, please visit the Luminous Creatures Blog here.

Please note: you do not have to be a writer to enter this contest; Tamara and I are hoping for entries from anyone who is interested in winning a free copy of our new releases, whether you’ve written anthologies, novels, flash fiction, or only your name. Come one, come all! It’ll be fun!

Preeminent Flashdog Mark A. King has agreed to serve as our judge. The winner will receive paperback or ebook editions of our two new books: Embrace the Fire, by Tamara Shoemaker, a YA novel set in a classic fantasy world with dragons, elves, and other creatures, and Sterling, by Emily June Street, a fantasy romance with an intricate magic system.

 

There Is So Much Going On

There is always so much going on in my life but this weekend is particularly exciting. First off, on Sunday, 6/21, the two-book companion set of FLASHDOGS : SOLSTICE is coming out.

Flash Dogs Solstice front

FLASHDOGS is an amazing thing. We are a group of writers from all over the world who regularly share our super short stories via Internet flash fiction contests. The SOLSTICE books represent our second anthology, and I can truthfully say these are even better than the first one. I read and formatted them both. I worked furiously with Mark A. King, David Shakes, and Tamara Rogers to get these done and looking beautiful. I am especially pleased by a last minute story in the DARK volume called “West and East” that I co-wrote with Mark A. King. What a pleasure it was to write with him, even while we were under a fair amount of pressure. Thanks, Mark! I’d do it again any time!

Second, my latest book, The Gantean, is available for pre-order on Amazon and steadily working its way up the charts. Every pre-order pushes it up another notch, so…you know how to make me happy. Here’s that beautiful map of Lethemia by Jeremy Jensen, in case you need to get more excited:

LethemiaMap

 

And last, but not least, Beth and I are planning Luminous Creatures Press’s next flash fiction contest. It begins on July 2nd and will feature gorgeous and evocative pictures with one line prompts taken from The Gantean. You can see the contest rules here. Winners will receive copies of The Gantean. Do come out and play with us in July!

 

Flashdogs 2015 Solstice Anthology

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The second Flashdogs anthology is in the works. This one’s theme is Solstice, and it will contain the work of more than 30 writers of flash fiction from around the world, including me and my LCP partner Beth Deitchman.

Spearheaded by two lovely gentlemen from Great Britain, Mark A. King and David Shakes, Flashdogs is a collective of stellar writers who write super short stories. The word limit for this anthology is 1000 words or less. All proceeds go to charity.

Tam Rogers produces the gorgeous artwork for the Flashdogs’ covers and promotion.

I’m working furiously on my three solstice stories in the tiny snippets of time I have before work on Saturdays and Mondays.