Friday, April 30, 2010

The Duke's Handmaid gets a New Cover!

I recently signed a contract with Splashdown Books to re-release my previously self-published novels in the Ascendancy Trilogy, The Duke's Handmaid and its sequel, Nor Iron Bars a Cage. The new cover for book one appears above.

The twin suns picture was part of the package I paid for when I self-published with Xulon Press, so you will see that on all the old covers. But we wanted something that made the new cover standout as different as well as a way to tie-in the first book with the second. (If you go to my website, you can see the older versions, which will probably continue to be available until the new ones come out.) So Grace framed the suns-set picture with a burlap background [which will also frame something in the sequel] and then we discussed adding an extra item of visual interest which would capture a plot element.

The plot of the first book includes a magical key (as well as a character named "Kee") so we settled on adding a key. But deciding we wanted a key and finding one that would look like it belonged in my fantasy world of Byntar was a much more daunting task than we had ever imagined. After both of us scoured the internet to no avail, Grace decided to appeal to the Lost Genre Guild for a lead on an artist to create something suitable. Kat Heckenbach stepped up to the plate and drew us the key of our dreams.

So the new cover features Kat's key and I couldn't be happier with it. Look for second edition (newly edited and revised!) of The Duke's Handmaid sometime this summer. Watch this blog for news on the exact release date.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Muse: Making Movies

Despite my limited technical skills and computer gear, I've always been fascinated with the idea of making movies. So I set out once again to make a movie for a book advertisement, using only a point-and-shoot camera (albeit a slightly better one bought for the occasion) and a five-year-old editing program with a tendency to crash.

As you know from yesterday's post, I already had the main actor, Andrew. He turned out to have out of this world skills in an area he'd previously done nothing in! Great for us :) So I just needed to find a couple more people. Another housemate, Steph, stood in for Jilly the vampire author, and I was able to recruit Phil on the Internet (don't worry, we go way back!) to be the sci-fi author. He recorded his own scenes to send me by email.

The perfect finishing touch was the fairy princess, also an inhabitant of the house where I lived last year, which also happened to be very handy to a beautiful big forest.

Here's the finished trailer, followed by the credits reel:

Check out these member blogs this week for more info.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Muse: Cover Design

I used to be a great artist. Not in the sense of being great, no way, but in the sense that I loved it and used to doodle all the time - in my schoolbooks, when I was supposed to be writing essays or doing sums or whatever, I peopled the margins of my pages with fanciful images and also spent a good deal of time putting paintbrush to paper. That has carried over to graphic design and photography, and hopefully my results will continue to improve.

Anyway. Once it was settled that I was going to publish Fred's book, we began to cast about for a suitable cover idea. I wanted something striking and unique, and for that purpose a black background is always pretty good.

I messed around until I had a suitably spooky glowy text and spirally thing which I somehow got out of one of the effects in my ten year old graphics program. Yep, 10 years old and counting, and it still does everything I want it to.

Next I really wanted a picture of Stan, the main character. But who could it be? The answer turned out to be quite close to home, as I ended up photographing none other than my own brother when he came to town for a visit. My housemate at that time happens to own a wonderful fantasy sword, and things just came together after that. Over there you see one pic of many taken during that photo shoot. I was up on the veranda with the camera, and Andrew was down on the driveway so I could get that oblique angle. The black sheet was an aid to later pasting "Stan" onto my mostly black background.

All this of course in consultation with Fred. It's his book and he ought to like the cover, right? :)

Here's the final result a little larger:

Check out these member blogs this week for more info.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Inside Publishing: The Soundtrack for The Muse

There's a wonderful story behind the soundtrack of this novel. I have always loved books with songs that belong to them, and it's an idea which has not been exploited to its fullest potential - I feel. Anyway, as soon as Fred was contracted to publish The Muse with Splashdown, I went on the hunt for a suitable musical accompaniment.

It didn't take much thinking to go straight to Shoutlife. I already knew Clank a.k.a. Brian from England, whose sounds I first heard on Frank Creed's book trailer - and later I commissioned a couple of tracks from him myself, but that's off topic :) So back I went to the instrumental category. Just a few clicks later I stumbled upon Eleon a.k.a. Mike from Texas and I knew we'd found our man. I proposed the idea to him and explained the purpose.

Mike was enthusiastic - always a good sign - and very promptly delivered exactly what we needed. The soundtrack for The Muse provided an inspirational backdrop for much of the work needing done on the book.

What's that you say? I can hardly hear you over the music! Oh! Of course you want to hear it! Here ya go:

You can also go to for more of Mike's great music. I admit, I've become quite the fan!

In time things came together to create the book trailer using this very piece of music, but there'll be more on that another day. Watch this space!

Check out these member blogs this week for more info.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Muse - Bloopers

I have a blog of a more personal nature today over at - come on over and see :) In the meantime, here's the single most successful video from the campaign for The Muse:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The CFRB tours The Muse by Fred Warren

I am the publisher of this book, and therefore in an interesting position as regards writing a review. I can't really, not in the usual sense of the word. I'm not unbiased. But I was once, way-back-when I first got to read it. It was supposedly just for a critique swap, and Fred had one of my novels in return.

But for some months already the idea had been simmering away to start a publishing company, and this was the story that forced the decision. Why? Because it would be nothing other than tragedy if this amazing book never saw publication due to the author being a first-timer on the novel scene. "First novels never get published," says common wisdom, "put it in a drawer and write a better one." Never mind all the difficulties of getting anywhere with the Christian Fantasy genre.

I don't think I even had a name for my gig when I first got hold of The Muse. Soon after, Splashdown Books was born and I began to crawl up the learning curve. The rest, as they say, is history.

Check out these member blogs this week for more info.

Monday, April 5, 2010

CFRB Blog Tour for The Muse

Hey Fred! They're touring your book! Yeah, I know you know :)

In any case, look for lots of review action at these sites this week. Let's make it even more fun - the best commenter from all the CFRB posts for The Muse will win a free copy, how's that?

I'll have more to say over at my personal blog, and do a roundup of all the reviews here at the end of the week.

Check out these member blogs this week for more info.

Sunday, April 4, 2010