Thursday, April 29, 2010


Okay, it's just more about designing spaces and learning Photoshop.  Good news after about 12 hours, I managed to figure out how to change the colors.  Adobe felt that everyone already knows that, so didn't bother leaving any instructions.

So what is this?  It's about 9 layers of images.

In the real world --see that image of the zeppelin?--we'd call that a stamp.  In the weird world of Adobe, they call that a brush.  There are just some things you have to accept.

Geeks world-wide spend their time making these "brushes" for other people--me--to use.  There might be 50,000 of them on the internet.  Sometimes you get them in sets of hundreds.  They divide and multiply like paramecium.

I'm going to make my own set.  Garden Ornaments.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Did you think I was going to get off the topic?  You don't know me very well!

You can't read a book by the cover but much of the time books are bought because of their cover.  If a reader has an enormous choice, a good cover will catch their eye and they'll investigate.  Perhaps the book won't interest them even if the cover art does.  But maybe it will lead to a sale.

So now we have a situation where instead of a smallish cover in a bookstore, we have a thumbnail.  How is one to convey something crucial about the book when the image is barely large enough to be seen?

One needs to have a simple, uncluttered design with easily to understand images and easy to read type.   That probably is in the realm of personal opinion to a great extent but most of us understand what that means.

Here's an image I worked on this morning.  I am looking for a replacement for That's Amore.  Actually I would like to retitle it while I'm at it but I don't know how that impacts the situation at Smashwords.  While the Brooklyn Bridge has a lot of details, it seems to just read big city bridge to me.  Of course, the drawback, as opposed to drawbridge, of this image is that it's oriented horizontally instead of vertically.  If it's made smaller to fit into 990 pixels wide, then there will be a substantial area below it that needs something else.  Or something above it.

It could be treated as a postcard on a page/background.  It requires time to shuffle the elements of a cover on a page and see what happens.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don't Ask, Just Assume part 2

As it turns out Corel Photo Paint has a really great tool called the cutaway lab.  After about 1/2 hour, here's the hat.  (No background.  Totally transparent.  That was the point!)

It's true I wasn't as neat as I would have been if I thought there was any chance it would work.   Jon says I should write a book on it.  I would be happy if I could just write my own books and have these programs support my efforts.

But it's also true that I was able to make brushes today with Photoshop.  Let me just say to Adobe--the program should be as easy as this.  All the time. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Don't Ask, Just Assume

Yes, covers again.

I spent hours with a hat.  Did you know Photoshop has this great tool called Magic Wand?  It will seek out the edge to an object if it's really obvious.  So the hat was on a black background and since I spent about 6 hrs yesterday trying to figure out (unsuccessfully) how to make a background transparent, I knew I had to either cut away the black or repaint it.  The automatic switch colors refused to work in any of the 3 programs, so finally there was a Magic Wand.  "Arresto Momentum!"  Yeah, the Magic Wand was full of tree lice and didn't work.  Back to Corel Draw and do everything by hand, predictably, in a way that doesn't guarantee admittance to the local psych ward.

I spent hours trying to import Photoshop brushes into Corel.  Only to find ink splats hidden in the list.

Quite a few years ago when Multimate became defunct, I got a new computer and Word was installed.  For 6 months I struggled with it until I finally expressed my distress to my pal, Dona Meilach, a computer maven.  She said Corel's Word Perfect was very elegant and well thought out.  I used WP happily until circumstances forced me to switch to Open Office two years ago.  Word Perfect still has an elegance Word can't conceive of and is beyond OO's ken.  I will say the same for Corel's Draw Suite.  It's well thought out, very user friendly to the point where if it detects you're struggling too long a hints box will pop up to help.  And costs a third of Photoshop.

Here's the cover.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Still working on covers

This is a book that was once called Nicki & Wynne.
It's not cover shape so I'm not sure what to leave out.  Maybe move the
cowgirl over and let the title be on that?  That could work.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Erotica (very safe for work)

I heard the news today, oh boy.

The guys at the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) were looking at porn.  One guy spent 8 hours a day looking at internet porn.

Some people defend pornography and say it does no harm.  There must be some kind of addictive quality to it if these guys were spending all day going from one site to another.  The harm?  It harmed us.  They were supposed to be working and they were goofing off in the middle of the biggest financial crisis this country has seen in about 60 years.  I have no idea what such a level of porn intake does to someone's real life relationships.  I can't imagine it helps but some people would disagree.  It's not for me.

I was doing research some years ago and looked at a century of erotica and porn, some of it appealing, some of it revolting.  Here's an erotic image from the past.  More my speed. 


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vintage Images

Maybe one reason why I wrote the Ice Cream Parlor is that I just adore vintage images.  I especially like old advertising so I'll be sharing some of those I've found with you.

Circuses must have been amazing to audiences 100 or more years ago.  There wasn't much entertainment, there was no radio, no television.  In larger towns and cities, there would have been theater where people could enjoy a play or a concert but in the hinterland people had to be self-reliant.

Now the entire world has become a virtual circus and most of us performers.  We've been to Vegas.  We've seen it all.  Try to see the world through fresh eyes for a day.  It'll be a revelation.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Covers Again

I spent most of the day working on cover art and went from

To this

The first one appeals to me because the book is a history of the ice cream parlor (with lots of historically accurate recipes)  and the heyday was approximately at the turn of the 19th century which was when the photo was taken.

But I'm not sure how well anyone can see it as a thumbnail.

The second one is bright and colorful and can be easily read in a small size, but it's a modern photo so I wonder if that misrepresents the book at all. The image is of a banana split and that is a recipe in the book so I'm fine with that part.

The great benefit to ebooks is you can change the cover endlessly and all it involves is an upload--that's something you could never afford to do with a hardcover or paperback.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Break From Covers

I've been working on one program or another for the past two weeks and getting no writing done.
I had to make a list of all the projects I need to complete and let me tell you it's horrifying to contemplate.
Today I was stuck going from Corel Draw to Photo Paint, trying to get the color of one image perfect until I shouted at myself "It'll be too small for anyone to see!"

Bold and Bright.  Images for ebooks need to be simple and easily read.   It wouldn't kill Amazon to make them just a little bit bigger, would it?

Covers are fun and searching for just the right image is like a treasure hunt.  Here's one that should go on my list.  BEACH IS FOR BULLDOGS--Could be a bestseller.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Most Wonderful Time in Publishing History

Welcome whoever you are.

The age of the digital book is upon us.  We don't quite know what it means and how it will shake out.  Certainly the dead tree publishers are scrambling like mad while writers are rejoicing--as they quickly reformat their manuscripts and upload them to Kindle.

I'm nearly giddy!  I had a moment about a week ago when I felt completely free.  Free from ever having to search for an agent again.  Free from the 23 year old editors who work for Bertlesmann for peanuts and live in a studio apartment because they can't afford anything else.  Free from the expectations and requirements.  Free from coastal mores.

It's a lovely time to be a writer.

Let's celebrate the vast possibilities open to us with Jack Bruce.