Tag Archives: distinguished press

Judge a book by it’s cover

Hi again all,

I’ve had a fair amount of experience with book covers. Two different companies and a bunch of artists/cover designers. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings and I don’t believe in spreading negativity, so for that reasons some names will be left out. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case I think the covers can speak for themselves.

NewfoundlandVampire-coverFRONT700.jpg Here’s the cover for the first book (published in 2012 by Penumbra Publishing). There are parts of it I’m happy with (the blood red sunset, the water, Cassandra and the obvious vampire traits.) I’m not much pleased with Joseph or what he’s wearing. Newfoundland is an island so the water is fine (and some important scenes do take place on a rocky beach). After hearing lots of comments on it (and people who said it was terrible) I came to see that it gives an impression. It often makes people think of a romance novel (and a cheesy one) and all the things that go along with it. While there is romance present in the story, I don’t like people to get the wrong idea and not take my work seriously. Let’s move on to the cover for book 2.

 

 

 

NewfoundlandVampire2-coverFRONT  This time I took a much different approach, I paid a guy to make a cover for me (and I don’t mind saying it cost almost $300). He did many versions of this (at least 30) until the cover had to be sent it or the publishing would have been delayed. This came out in September of 2013, also by Penumbra Publishing. I’ll just call the designer Alex, he was agreeable and made many changes as I asked him to and tried lots of different things. He thought I should pick out a scene from the book that was important and created a creepy atmosphere (I picked an abandoned amusement park in New Orleans). I found some real pictures of it from a website (there was no one I could ask permission from) and he incorporated them to my satisfaction. What didn’t occur to me at the time was that the title “Killer on the Road” has nothing do with the cover. I also never thought about how much is going on, looking back I can see it looks jumbled. I do like the eyes above and I thought Cassandra looked even better than book 1 (these are both real people after all). I thought he did her fangs and the blood well, I liked Joseph face hidden almost completely in shadow. I also thought the splashes of blood were cool. The moon above was a nice touch a subtle nod to time passing (as book 1 was a sunset). Still though I wanted something different, which brings us to an attempt I made getting a cover done for book 3.

 

NFLVthumbnail  Here’s the rough draft I got for what could have been the cover to book 3 (tentatively called) “The Gathering Dark.” This time I wanted to try hiring an artist to do something with no stock images and nothing computerized (aside from scanning and minor alterations of course). I’ve been told this looks terrible and while I think it needs work, it has potential. He incorporated what I wanted, each character ready to fight at an airport (St. John’s in particular) in the background, the moon large in the sky (and it would have been blood red), and different characters reflected in each sword. Casandra’s hair is different and their looks are meant to convey that events have taken a dark turn in the story. The artist was a nice guy but ultimately he just said he was too busy to go any further (he never asked for any money in advance.) At this point I decided to leave Penumbra Publishing so this brings us full circle for a look at the new cover for book 1.

NLVampireDPCoverRough Vanessa (Armada West) has been working diligently on a new cover for me now that I’m with Distinguished Press (and I love it here by the way, everyone is great!) What you see here is just a rough mock-up but I like the direction it’s going. Once again I wanted a red sunset and this time I choose a university building (it was a dorm in the book) as the backdrop (several important scenes happen on campus). Cassandra looks great (no vampire traits here) and Joseph is fine but I’m looking for a better model to choose from. This is a return to photo stock images but it’s not costing me $300 and Vanessa has been very accommodating. I’ll be sure to share a more finished version of the cover when it is ready. I still may one day pay an artist for something really different but not for the re-issue of book 1 or 2. Oh I should say book 1 will be out April24th and book 2 will be July 24th (of 2015) and of course from the fine folks at Distinguished Press.

 

 

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Here’s another version of the cover for book 1, this time I choose a different male model, I like him better as he looks more like me (and a regular guy). You’ll notice Cassandra also has fangs and some blood about her lips. It’s an ongoing process but I’m excited for the final version.

So what do you all think? They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover but I think most people do. You can’t help it, a cover is your best form of advertising for anyone browsing in a store or on a website (or app). Talk to you all next month!

 

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Book Review: The Gathering Storm, Book 12 of Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re making it through the doldrums of winter. Our winters (I live in eastern Canada on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean) drag on and on (I’ve seen it snow in June) but I’m doing fine. The snow is melting (at least for today) and my back is getting a welcome rest from shoveling. More importantly winter gives me some time to catch up on reading (I’ll admit a lot of comics but some novels too) and the “Wheel of Time” series is one I’ve been trying to finish for years. All the books are out and I’ve got just two more to go. Here’s my thoughts on “The Gathering Storm” and some of my feelings on the series as a whole.

p.s. be sure to check out the re-release of my first novel “The Newfoundland Vampire” by the great people at Distinguished Press. It will be out March 27th, mark your calenders!

The Gathering Storm: Book Twelve of the Wheel of Time

Robert Jordan , Brandon Sanderson

Initial Thoughts:

Ahh “Wheel of Time”, this is for a lot of geeks a fantasy classic, a truly epic tale that sadly outlived it’s own author (Robert Jordan) and was completed (with his widow’s guidance) by Brandon Sanderson. I’m not going to get into a long discussion about the series as a whole. I was late picking it up (book 7) and I’m such a slow reader that I’m still not finished despite the fact that the series has been over two years. Suffice it to say not matter how long it takes me I will finish reading the series and this book was one I completed a few weeks ago.

Main Points:

I just don’t have the patience I used to, as such I find a book of this length (over 1000 pages) very hard to get through. Don’t get me wrong this book has some amazing action scenes, some lovely quiet moments, good character development and advances the plot at a much better pace than some earlier ones (7-9 in particular) but still here it just gets bogged down in parts far too often for my liking. I love Rand and I enjoy Matt and Perrin (along with some other characters) but I think the authors do Matt and Perrin quite a disservice here.

I know that Perrin doesn’t like to kill but he KNOWS the last battle is coming and yet he is paralyzed and unable to act on almost anything in his life. He is a wolf brother (I think that’s the term) and his inability to embrace this (or speak truthfully to his wife) is incredibly frustrating and makes his parts rather dull. The same goes for Matt, all he seems to do anymore is complain about his wife to be, Tuon and women in general. He does have a good scene with town of people who go insane and can’t stay dead but overall I think both of the characters are wasted in this book.

The book does show a lot of different places in the world and is slowly drawing the main characters together. I also especially enjoyed how the Dark One has a much larger impact on the world at this point. Crops spoil, rooms shift, people die mysteriously, weird accidents, it all makes everyone aware that something bad is coming.

I also thought a lot of the time spent on Cadsuane Melaidhrin is wasted. She is rather dull and do very little until almost the end of book. The same goes for a lot of the happenings in the rebel camp and with early chapters with Egwene al’Vere in the tower, there’s just so much buildup that seems unneeded to me. The ending, however, is a little odd so I’ll say…

SPOILER ALERT!

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Okay so Rand thinks about killing a large portion of the Seanchan, doesn’t do it, then thinks about destroying the whole work and (of course) doesn’t do it. He does finally destroy the Choedan Kal and silence the voice (Lews Therin) in his head along with quelling his madness. All that’s fine and good but why does it work? Rand was driven mad (at least partially) by the tainted male half of the power. Even though he cleansed it my understanding was that it was too late for him. So his madness is cured because he can no longer channel unheard of amounts of the one power? I just don’t follow this reasoning. Sure it was a temptation and he was obsessed with the access key but I don’t think destroying it would suddenly make him all better.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book but the length and several frustrating passages (and a weird ending) takes away from my overall thoughts on it. Also I like to see characters go to a dark place, I liked emotionless/more crazy/decisive Rand, though I guess one of his companions would have tried to stop him eventually. I think Sanderson is a worthy successor to Jordan and I am looking forward to the two last books. A friend of mind pointed out to me that almost all of the male characters are dismissive towards women and immature. As I read the book closely I do admit this comes through in several places. This may be due to the fact that WOT is aimed at a younger audience (thought they aren’t YA) who are primarily men. Well this has gotten long. So I give this 7.5 out of 10. I do recommend it to anyone who has read the Wheel of Time (though not readers under 12), though obviously if you’re starting with this book you’ll be quite lost.  Wheel of Time is one of those series that will have moments and characters that stay with you and that ultimately makes the series a modern classic for me. Until next time, have a great week everyone!

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My writing journey so far

Happy New Year everyone! 🙂

I hope everyone had a great Xmas and holiday season. Mine was nice, quiet with a small family but that’s fine with me. Like most people I ate and drank too much and now cutting back but enough about such boring trivia. Today I thought I’d briefly get into my journey as a writer and how I got here.

I’ve always loved stories, when I was young that made me an avid reader of Archie comics, then all the superheros (and some anime) and then novels of primarily the sci-fi/horror/fantasy genres (and yes I still read comics today, just not as many monthly titles). When I was around 13 I started doing short-stories, I don’t have any of them now but I’m sure they were all terrible but none the less the seed was planted.

In high school I wrote poetry from the school newspaper (again probably lousy stuff but it felt good to do it at the time). I also kept a journal for many years (that I wish I still had but sadly it’s lost to the ravages of time). I was not at happy teenager and my poems were pretty sad. I hope geeky kids have an easier time in school now as I know I sure didn’t.

Time moved on and I found myself writing music and movie reviews for the Memorial University student paper The Muse. I have always loved music (and movies) and the chance to get to see/hear them for free was fun (though most of my reviews never got published). I liked the fact how movie reviews for the paper meant I got to take someone with me to a movie (though the only time I took someone the movie was terrible. If you never saw “Vampire in Brooklyn” count yourself as lucky!).

I finished at Memorial and writing took a back seat, sort of. I always had the need to express myself in a creative manner. Fortunately for me I had Dungeons and Dragons. Role-playing is a wonderful way to exercise your imagination and for me being the Dungeon Master (basically you create a world and control how the story goes, to a point) was enough writing for a long time. My wife (who is not into D&D) said if you’re of the female persuasion (or just want a good laugh) you should watch this video.

Like lots of people who enjoy literature (I did a BA in English at Memorial) I tried to write several times. I attempted a Star Trek book, then a Star Wars, the a vampire one. All three (ok technically two) never amount to more than a few chapters. A book just seemed to big, too daunting.

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I started my vampire tale back in 2002 but it got put aside. Then some 8 years later I found myself at a very boring job, my mind wandered all the time and I began to think of that book I started. I had kept the file and going back to it I found that I still liked the idea of a vampire based on myself. It was a chance to explore fantasies I knew would never come true and it was a way to imagine how my life could have turned out differently if I had made other choices (and if vampires were real). After 4 months I had a rough draft and then began the process of submitting it. I learned some hard lessons (like the first 3-4 drafts are always terrible) but after about 9 months of editing and submitting my perseverance paid off, I had found a publisher (Penumbra Publishing).

Things went well there for a while. My first book did okay (was released in April 2012) and I soon completed book II “Killer on the Road” and it came on in September of 2013. About a year later is when things took a wrong turn. My sales were shabby and no matter what I did I couldn’t improve them (I spend a lot on promotion, getting a website, getting a cover done and other things) and my profit was very small. I eventually became dissatisfied with my Penumbra, I won’t get into all the details as I don’t like to say negative things about a person. My old editor was honest with me and had taught me a a lot about writing, editing and being an author but I knew by October of 2014 that it was time to move on. It was slightly ironic that the day I told Pat I was done with Penumbra my first short story “Robots” was published by them. I am proud of that story and I hope to see it re-released as part of a collection someday. I’ve written some other short stories the past few years and I’d love to have them published someday too.

So this bring me to my new home Distinguished Press. Through Twitter I got to know the friendly, helpful (and talented) Karyn Pearson. She mentioned my work to Jen Leigh and in early November of last year I signed a contract with DP (there is some truth in the saying it’s not what you know but who you know). I am thrilled to be with DP, everyone has been really friendly. There are lots of interaction with authors (it’s one big happy family!), lots of promotional activities we help each other out on and Catrina has lots of great ideas for the future.

I was happy to go back and look at the first book in “The Newfoundland Vampire“. Jen pointed out some things that I hadn’t considered and that will make it a better book (and I’m sure she has other notes for me as well). As writers can attest your characters become your friends and going back to visit them is always great, it’s like re-watching a movie you love or a TV show, just on a much more personal level. Book I will be re-issued on March 27th and book II “Killer on the Road” sometime later this year. That leaves book III (tentatively titled “The Gathering Dark) and hopefully book IV (need to started writing it!) for 2016.

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Well this turned into a lengthy post. I’ll leave you with a question, what has been your writing journey? Inquiring minds want to know! 😉

 

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Diaper Parties and books, what will they think of next?

Greetings and salutations all,

This is my first post at the IWAssociation and as a proud member of the Distinguished Press author family. They have been wonderful so far, very welcoming and fun to talk with. I’ve got a great new editor (and owner) and have already made some new friends. Enough about DP though onto my post.

About a month ago I went to a diaper party, what a diaper party some of you may be asking? (I know what it is because I’ve been to a bunch) Let’s see what the good old interwebs has to say:

“This is the male equivalent to a baby shower. When the mother of the child has a baby shower, the father of the child has a Diaper Party, at which his buddies (usually the significant others of the women attending the baby shower) bring cases of diapers and beer.

Hey man, is your Diaper Party the same day as the baby shower?”

women-history-month-sports-no-interest   The above is from urbandictionary.com and it sums it up. It’s the male version of  baby shower, here’s the problem I’ve had, all my friends are geeks. As such I’ve  never had a very good time at any of them. Yes I know what you’re thinking, maybe that’s more my fault than theirs but let me give you an example of how they can get weird from a brief recount of the one I went to last month. So a friend of my brother’s (and I guess a casual friend of mine) who we’ll call Bill invited me to his party. I brought diapers but no beer (I had been at a party the night before and was more than a little hungover) and it wasn’t a BBQ. You know how you have friends that you only see once, twice or maybe three times a year? Bill is that kind of friend for me. So I went and as expected the hockey game was on (Bill’s a geek but a lot of people he invited aren’t). I have zero interest in sports, at least watching, I’ve haven’t followed a team since high school and couldn’t care less about the Olympics or any playoff/championship game. There was food but of course I’m a vegetarian (no one else there was) so about 90% was not what I would eat. To make this party even more strange is the fact that his parents are there (he doesn’t live at home but this is where the party was held) and they invited all these people in their 50-60s who are all bikers. I knew maybe 6 people there out of 30. All this adds up to a rather boring time for me, at least for the first few hours.

(I couldn’t find a picture of a guy who didn’t like sports but it’s okay, I’m a lot cuter than her 😉 So as I’ve noticed during parties after a while when the early birds leave (or in this case they really out of place biker people trying to social with people 30 years younger than them) break into smaller groups where people chat more. This one guy came in the room and started talking about TV shows (in particular Game of Thrones, which is amazing by the way!) books and movies. Naturally my geek antenna went up and once I had my chance I worked my way into the conversation. We had a nice chat about geeky stuff (there’s a ton of comic books movies these days and lots of good TV). Bill felt his social duties to mix with the rest of party ended and he came in too (I quite like Bill if you’re wondering, I’m just not a family man and I find you naturally spend time with childless couples rather than those with them). Eventually we started talk about books and in particular horror ones (which I am something of an expert on).

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We both agreed that “The Dark Tower” (by Steve King of course, if you didn’t know that you may be on the wrong website!) starts off wonderful but eventually turns to almost unreadable garbage (King basically admits that he pumped out the last two books because he thought he was going to die after a bad accident). And no I haven’t read the latest one (which actually takes place earlier in the series) and yes the comics are generally top notch so I don’t condemn everything with “Dark Tower” on it. I finally found a chance to start talking about my books (“The Newfoundland Vampire” books 1 and 2) and I handed out a bookmark (now double sided!). I don’t know if he’ll buy a copy (I don’t remember his name, I’m terrible with them) but I think I made a good impression. (You know I was going to work a plug in here somewhere!) I always like to hear people’s perspective on vampire books/movies/TV shows in particular as I’m in the editing process for the re-issue of book 1 at my new publishing home Distinguished Press and this should hopefully be available right sometime in July of 2015.

So if you’re at a crappy party by advice would be drink more (if you’re of age and get a ride home of course) or just stick it out and wait for the people you want to chat with. As for diaper parties…they’re not going away here in Newfoundland and at least I can buy the biodegradable ones, plus I find there’s always a few geeks everywhere I go.

Have you been to a diaper party? What did you think of it? Until next time everyone!

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Why I became an author

There are a lot of different reasons I hear from people when they answer why they became a writer. Money often comes up. Occasionally someone says fame. Or they would say it’s in their blood.

I don’t know about any of that.

When I started writing, it wasn’t for fame or money. I had a story in my head which I had to get out. When my story was finished, I knew I wasn’t done. There was so much more to the story than just one book. I had a series on my hands. One I couldn’t wait to share with the world.

My little sci-fi romance story recently ranked as high as #23 on Amazon in its genre. I never would’ve guessed Mirror Image would get the response it has. I’ve started to plan the party for the second in the series, Mirror Shattered, to launch on August 15th. And yesterday I found something which really blew my mind. CNN featured an article on me and my sweet book. Check it out here http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1156026

I never thought I would garner attention like this. And the entire experience has been surreal to say the least. I never wrote for fame or money. Always said if anything were to happen, that would be icing on the cake. All of that is still true. I’m just happy people are reading Mirror Image and will hopefully follow along with Mack, Maddie, and the others as the adventures continue.

I’ve heard someone say if you wake up in the morning and you want to write, then you’re a writer. In my case, that’s true. My heart lies upon the pages. Regardless how you chose to read, I’m really glad you did. 🙂 If you haven’t yet, Barnes and Noble has the paperback on sale! eBook is also in the link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mirror-image-kg-stutts/1119689102?ean=9781633100022

My advice for any aspiring author: write every day. If this is something you are truly passionate about, find the time. Write because this is something you love. Everything else will follow.

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