Cover Reveal (with a Little Help from My Friends)

 

I have a few books simmering on the burners. But my short story/flash collection is the one I’m closest to torturing the world with. And it needs a cover, as these things go.

Anyway, there are many choices and it’s overwhelming. I’ve narrowed it down. A lot.

I write kind of “dark” fiction but it’s not horror. It’s not thriller. It’s not really any genre. It’s just sort of…dark. Sad? No idea. But I don’t want to mislead readers with a cover that screams, “Horror!”

That was fun.

I want something that represents the darkness while also retaining some softness. If you’ve read my flash, you know what I mean. Without further ado…

Would you, could you, pretty please (with a cherry on top) take a look at these and vote for your favorite?

The font type, color, size, and placement can be changed. Any suggestions/ideas in the comments would be much appreciated. 

Thank you, gentle readers. I am so very grateful.

 

Brentyn_Cover1 poll

Cover 1

 

Brentyn_Cover2 poll

Cover 2

 

Brentyn_Cover3 poll

Cover 3

 

Brentyn_Cover4 poll

Cover 4

 

Brentyn_Cover5 poll

Cover 5

 

Cover 6

Cover 6

 

Cover 7

Cover 7

 

The lovely Rachael Ritchey, author of Chronicles of the Twelve Realms and founder of BlogBattle, designed these for me. I asked her for some advice after reading her post about cover design in her Indie Publishing series and, before I knew it, I had 500 designs in my inbox. I jest. There were only 400. She enjoys designing covers. And is really good at it. And is most generous with her time and talent. 

 

 

All images copyright Sarah Brentyn

Window Shopping for Book Covers

 

Silly Book Cover

 

I know I’m getting ahead of myself, putting the cart before the horse and all that, but I like browsing through pictures and playing around in Paint with images that could possibly be my book cover. And there are tons of sites with pre-made covers to set my imagination on fire.

If I have a working title, not just any old working title but one I might actually use, I’m much more likely to talk about my book, think about it, and, most importantly, work on it.

It’s also nice when someone asks me what I’m writing. I can say, “Cool Title” instead of prattling on about the characters, what I think the genre might be, where the story may or may not be heading because I’m really not exactly sure, explaining that I’m a pantser (and then explaining what a pantser is).

If I have a cover? I’m completely inspired.

I write more. Because, now, my book is like Pinocchio. Someday he’ll be a real boy, right? It’s the same thing. Someday it’ll be a real book.

Many will say this is ridiculous. You have to know what your story is about before you can find an image to reflect that. True. But if a visual encourages me to keep writing, it’s well worth the time spent.

And I might find one of the reasons I was sifting through photos was because I needed a break from my writing and now I’m back to it. With gusto.

Whether I wind up using the cover or not, I have one now. In this moment. I can see it in all its glory. The title, my name, an image that speaks to me (literally or figuratively—you make the call).

Window shopping a waste of time? Perhaps. But it’s a helluva lot of fun and fabulous motivation.

 

 

Do you design your book cover before you finish your book? (Before you’ve reached page 10?)

 

* Just so nobody asks, I’ve created a picture for this post (at the top) to answer the question of whether or not I will design my own cover. The answer, quite obviously, is “No”. A resounding NO. 

 

How Do You Like Them Apples?

 

 

Scrivener App

 

I was wavering, trying to decide which program to use for my writing.

So, naturally, I wrote about it, hoping readers would help. They did. That post generated quite a few comments. I learned a lot. I also made a decision to at least try Scrivener because I need the organization.

However.

My main problem with it was that you had to download it to your laptop and leave it there. That did not work for me.

Here are some of my replies from that post:

Can you use Scrivener on different devices or only one? iPad, iPhone…?

 Awesome! And, please let [Scrivener] come out with an app. Please! *fingers crossed*

No, no, no! Say it ain’t so. This is my main issue with Scrivener. I’m a total tech floozie, too. (Nice accidental alliteration there, if I do say so myself.) I use different devices and need a program that is available on all. I can’t imagine this isn’t an issue for many writers. Why on earth hasn’t Scrivener…created an app?

Exactly. I use two different laptops plus type a lot on my phone (I know, but it’s convenient if not a bit tricky). I’m going to do the trial but this was my main problem with it. *shouts* “Fix this, Scrivener techies!”

A lot of writers had the same issue. They used more than one device (because, really, who doesn’t?) and/or wrote when they had a second between errands, taking care of kids, work, commuting, sleeping, eating…

Hang on to your hats.

If you haven’t heard, I’m delighted freaking out that Scrivener now offers an Apple app for iPads, iPhones, and any other iThing you want to use it for.

They advertise that you can “Write Anywhere”.

Thank you, Scrivener, we already do.

But now lots of us writers will buy your program to “write anywhere” with. How do you like them Apples?

 

Those of you who use Scrivener, are you going to get the app? Those of you who didn’t (specifically because you used different devices) are you rethinking using Scrivener?

 

Process This

 

Sarah B Process This

 

I’ve been using Microsoft Word for…um…many years. I’m old. Moving on.

I hear from online writer friends, bloggers, and tweeps that Scrivener is the bee’s knees. Some say it’s easy, others that it has a steep learning curve. I don’t have time for that. But, if it really is all that and a bag of chips, I’ll find time to learn it. Because, as we all know, a stitch in time saves nine. (I have never understood this idiom. Surely there are better ways to say that if you do a little work now, it will save you doing more work later. See? That was easy.)

To add nuts to the cookie dough, I’ve just started using Pages. I know. But it was there and I was in need… I’m finally getting used to it and it has some pretty cool templates.

Pages is a shiny new toy, Word is a comfy, tattered old teddy bear, and Scrivener is a bike in the shop window.

I want all of the things!

You see my issue here.

I’m not likely to ever get rid of my ratty teddy bear. It’s comfortable. I know it well. But I do see the lure of a new toy, though that could be temporary. And the bike in the window that everyone is talking about? It’s a must-have yet I should probably learn to ride it (and that could take a long time).

Using three different programs seems excessive but do I whittle it down to just one?

I’m thinking each program could be useful for different types of writing—novels, short stories, flash, blog posts, notes…

If you have a spectacular idea and type it out on some note-taking app on your phone (yes, I have done this), are you able to extend it there or do you have to type it out somewhere else? I’ve always had to re-type it or email, cut, paste, repeat. I want to be able to extend writing where my notes are because, when inspiration strikes, you can be in bed at 2am and you have to write that scene.

I’m befuddled.

There are word processing programs, software designed specifically for writing, and apps for…just about everything.

I want to know (from you writers, not sites trying to sell me something) how easy or difficult these are to use. I want to know if you can transfer documents from one device to another and how many steps are involved in that process. I want to know if you can save these documents as other documents—Pages as Word, Word as Scrivener-ish-thing. What is a Scrivener document called? Anyway, I would love to know all of these things as well as any shortcuts you lovely writers have discovered.

 

What say you, gentle readers? What program/software/app do you use for writing? Do you use more than one?

 

* Edited to add: I’ve seen numerous mentions of Evernote in the past few weeks. Do you have this? Do you like it?

 

“But wait! There’s more!” I know there are dozens of apps out there and I’ve touched on only a few so please do let me know what you use and what works for you. I’ll send you cookies. (Chocolate chip, not electronic tracking data. Although… That would be a cool spy gadget.)

 

** Here’s something amusing for you. I wrote this post weeks ago in Pages and it took me forever to figure out how to get it to my laptop (in Word) and now, as I’m uploading it to WordPress, I’m having formatting issues. And I just love the irony of this. So much. Plus, the Hulk in me gets to SMASH something. Which is always fun.

 

I Need to Get the Hell out of My Own Way

 

I walked away from writing.

 

Get Out of My Own Way - sig

 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

But I ran back—characters shouting in my head and fingers itching for the keyboard.

I need to write.

Without it, I am incomplete. I am miserable.

So why am I not writing? To be fair, I’ve started flash fiction again. But I’ve stopped there.

I’m not taking a scene or idea and running with it. I’m not working on any of my novels. What’s going on?

Well, I’m busy. My health isn’t great. My to-do list is growing every day. I have deadlines, meetings, and appointments. Did I mention kids? Because. Kids. I have a lot going on in my life right now.

When it comes to writing, I always have an excuse ready. Except I call it a “reason” because I’m a word nerd and these small differences often wind up making a big difference.

Excuses are crap, my writer-self says.

Reasons are real, tangible things that get in my way, my writer-self says.

I hate to admit it but it’s true. Think about this. You MAKE excuses, you HAVE reasons. See? My writer-self is right. Also, she’s full of shit.

I need to get out of my own way.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.ThoughtBubble

 

Have you ever caused your writer’s block? Been your own problem? Are your “reasons” just excuses in disguise? 

 

Great Book for Writers…NaNo or Not

 

I’ve never written a book review on here before.

 

NaNoBook - sig

 

And I’m not going to.

I will say that this book is made of awesome.

I’m late to the party. I should have posted about No Plot? No Problem! in October before all you nutty NaNos took on the completely insane challenge of finishing a book in thirty days.

But I’m here now. Because I am having a problem. A writing problem. (I’ll post more about that later.)

So I was searching my bookshelves for some inspiration when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a marvelous book sat unread for two years! And in November, to boot. Before I write another word, let me say I have never participated in NaNoWriMo. And. Yet.

This is a stupendously marvelous writing book. Yup. It’s all that and a bag of chips.

Oh, no! Not (another) book about writing.

Well, technically, it is. Sort of. But not really. In other words, it’s not a “this is how you are supposed to write” book. It’s a cheerleader (with more clothes). A guide. A tiny, written friend with advice and support. Also, just enough writing tips and anecdotes for me to call it a writing book but not enough to drive you crazy or contradict all the other books you’ve read about how to write. It even offers to take your “Inner Editor” so you can write a shitty first draft that would “absolutely horrify it”.

The entire first part of the book contains tidbits of remarkable wisdom like “don’t write within view of a bed”, sections like “Eating Your Way to 50,000 Words” & “The Happy Side Effects of Limited Planning” (which appeals to me very much), along with tips like how to host a writing day:

Ask all attendees to turn off the ringers on their cell phones, and set a timer so everyone knows exactly when each session ends and the glorious break time begins. Should anyone continue to type after the alarm marking the end of the session sounds, chop off their fingers. Don’t be afraid to be a tyrant. (53)

And the excellent “law of exuberant imperfection”:

The first law of exuberant imperfection is essentially this: The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy. 

the older we get, the more scared we are to try new things. . . . what do we do when we have free time? The tried-and-true activities we’ve already perfected. Like talking on the phone. Or walking up and down stairs. Or getting drunk. . . . Exuberant imperfection allows you to circumvent those limiting feelings entirely. (32-33)

And this charming truth:

The universe loves novelists. During the novel-prep and book-writing period, you’ll watch, delighted, as the cosmos parts to reveal a rich vein of pilferable, copyright-free material explicitly for your noveling use. A couple will sit down next to you on the bus and proceed to have an argument. . . (72)

Right? Oh, man, I love when that happens. *sigh*

The second part is dedicated specifically to NaNo participants—broken down by weeks. Very helpful if you’re into that sort of thing. And more power to you. (Really. Love and respect to my fellow writers during this hectic Novembery time.)

Reading through this again made me realize two things. Three, actually. 1. Chris is funny. He is. 2. I’m not trying to crank out 50,000 words in a month and this book is still wonderful. 3. My husband has always supported my writing.

 

NaNo Book - sig

How cool is this?

 

You can get a copy here, if you so desire. But it’s different from mine because I have an old copy, as you can see from the inscription here, and Chris has made all sorts of shiny, new words for you.

First Lines: Epilogue

 

While cracking the covers of well-loved, read-only-once, and couldn’t-stand-this books for my First Lines series, I wondered…

How does this work? First lines, I mean. First paragraphs, sentences, pages. What are authors thinking?

I’ve got to kill it with this opening or else…

Or is it a little less sinister? Like, I want to hook the reader but, really, I’ve got a whole novel to show off my mad skills—the first page doesn’t have to be memorable, only the story does.

Or maybe simply: I suppose the beginning should be good but, eh, I like ‘She ate a piece of bread.’ and I’m keeping it.

The words that introduce you to a new character or bring you into a new world…how important are they?

Some books are so well-known that it doesn’t matter as much because, when you pick up Lord of the Rings, you know it’s going to be a fantasy. When you grab Hunger Games, you know it’s Dystopian. But authors generally don’t know their book will be famous when they write it. Well, excluding Stephen King.

Who? Exactly.

So, back to non-rock-star-authors. What are they feeling as they sit down to type that very first line? As a YA author, for instance, do they feel the need to bring readers into their world right away? Let them know the story won’t be taking place at South Mundane High School on Main Street?

Maybe it’s not the age group as much as the genre: dystopian, science fiction, fantasy… Or perhaps it’s not the age group or genre but the person writing the book. Rules, tips, and advice aside, writing is an individual sport.

Whatever the process, however the pages come about, I’m glad they do. Because I love reading them. How would I cope in a world without books? I don’t even want to think about it. It’s creepy. And wrong. Like a world without cheese.

So, while I’m obsessed with passionate about first lines, and while I collect them and read them over and over and write them down (or highlight them in e-books), I’ve read stunning first lines and hated the book. Also, I continue reading even if the first lines don’t knock it out of the park. After all, one of my favorite books of all time begins, “Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.”

 

First Lines CoN Epilogue

 

First Lines: Children’s Books

First Lines: Middle Grade

First Lines: Young Adult

First Lines: SABGUS (Socially Acceptable Books for Grown-Ups)

First Lines: Picture Books