Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stern's Wharf

The first chapter of Not Low Maintenance is set in Santa Barbara.  So I thought what says Santa Barbara?  And I didn't know.  The mission, to me.  Or the Courthouse.  But I found an old photo of Stern's Wharf before it all burned down I think something like that.

The Courthouse.  Geez.  Open to all every day of the week and it rivals the mission.  What a privilege to go inside.
Seriously.  I can't think of any government office I'd ever been in where I could say I was even happy to go there. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pencil, Not Pen

In all of the searching and googling and what all for Photoshop, I never saw anyone suggest you use the pencil tool to draw with not the pen tool.  The pen tool is like writing with a dodge 'em car.  It's all over the place.  The pencil draws, it doesn't scoot off to the starting point, and most importantly it doesn't turn a curved line into a straight one.

I'm trying to gather/create some interior illustrations for Not Low Maintenance.  I hope I will get it uploaded this weekend, that's my intention.

I was disappointed today to discover that you can't orient the Intuous Pen Tablet to the vertical.  It only works in the horizontal either right or left.  Why couldn't they get it mapped to vertical?

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Based on the huge amount of money ($500, no I'm not forgetting a 0) I just received from Avalon for a novel titled Love In The Air scheduled for publication next year, I just treated myself to a refurbished Nikon 55-200 vibration reduction lens.  The kit lens the camera came with is total crap.  It's always just a little out of focus.  I've been watching this one for about 2 years and it finally came down to a price I can't pass up--$146.  If it's also crap, I'll sell it.  I don't expect a lot from it, after all it's not a "good" lens which would cost oh I don't know, what the camera cost originally.  I should just send my old Nikon back for tweaking but who uses film anymore.  Yeah, I'm not going back.  Unfortunately the old lens doesn't fit on the Nikon D50.  I wonder if there's some kind of mount that would facilitate such a thing....

PIZZA PRINCESS that has languished since I published it in April, sold a copy yesterday.  I think it must be the cover changes, the title and the fact that nearly 100 people have looked at it on Scribd.

I have an idea for a cover for Sweet Cider.  First I should say for some strange reason, habit more than anything, I keep thinking I should at least show this book to an agent.  Now, given that only 1 agent who saw it thought it was interesting should tell me what a stupid, time-wasting idea this is.  What I may wind up doing is publishing it to kindle and then showing it to an agent.  I think the new title will be Bad Apple.  And there will be an apple on the cover.  In order to get the right image, I'll have to do it myself and obviously the kit lens stinks.  So I had to get off the fence about a new to me lens.

The last agent who saw it liked it but was put off by the fact that the sort of victim/villain is a gay guy.  This is so politically incorrect to put in a book.  Not all gay guys are pedophiles, right?  But some are.  It's politically incorrect to tell that story tho.  Better to have a white, straight, Christian male of indeterminate age, height and ancestry be the predator. 

Now I don't have the weight of dunce-ish politically correct traditional publishing machine writing my story for me.  As in the actual, true,  real life event, the victim is a gay man.  If I'm not going to tell the real story, the point of this exercise eludes me.

The art is by a marvelously talented and impossibly young (24!) Dutch woman, Maj-Britt Elferink.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pen Tablet

I ordered a pen tablet yesterday and it arrived today.  Yippee.  One more skill to acquire but it could help with the covers. 

I made a lot of Photoshop progress in the last few days--clipping masks, the turning photos into paintings thing and then the foggy window thing which may not have utility right now but it could in the future.  Do covers really make that big a difference?  I don't know.  Joe Konrath says yes. 

I heard that a company in India is going to release a reader costing under $50 by the end of the year.  That would substantially change the landscape.  It's probably something you can give a child and not care too much if they leave it on the schoolbus, no bells and whistles.  Disposable almost.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A New Day, A New Photoshop Skill

I took a photo of the Santa Barbara Mission from 1894 or something and  ran it through the High Pass filter, then the notebook filter, then the threshold adjustment, then I colored it in.  It really wasn't that hard, once I spent 6 hours looking for someone who could explain it.

It seems to me that even though graphics in ebooks are barely supported, it's time to learn how.  Joe Konrath was talking about this a couple months ago.  That a book will become more of a multimedia item.  You have all the power of a small computer in your reader, why not make use of it.  It's, after all,  not a book, which can't do anything at all except open and close.  You have to turn the pages.  In a reader you could have music and narration in addition to the reading.  You could have stuff I'm not likely to think of. 

Of course some people, like me, would find that pretty distracting if I was trying to read and the thing was jumping and dancing and telling me about stuff related to something in the book but not really in the book.  But the truth is, I'm not sure these things are for me.  I don't want one.

In the old days, kids would be sent up to their room for some "quiet time".  They'd read.  Now the quiet time will be like a vaudeville troop in their hands.  There will be no getting away from the world, it'll follow you everywhere, crowding your mind so you can't have a blasted thought of your own.  It's pretty much like that now.  Culture is like one long MTV music vid turned up to 11.

That's called progress by some.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Paige, Turning

The bathroom was ripped apart and the fridge died so it was very busy here for a few days.  I was completely distracted but things have somewhat settled down.

I decided a couple things at the same time.  I renamed Disconnected.  I like it, I liked the knotty pine type cover but I guess if I write what I want maybe I should be more willing to concede on the covers.  I went looking for something spicier and found it but haven't heard back on permission to use it yet.  As a back up I went looking for something similar (but won't be nearly as great) in stock photos.

I may wind up sticking with this image for the  book because I sent it to the editor at Avalon and she thought it was lovely.  It just didn't seem to have anything to do with being disconnected.  That'll teach me.  It's a great title but it requires you read the book to understand it.  It seems that you should understand movies before you see them, and get books before reading.  I don't know how this trend applies to music--luckily I'm not a musician.

Maybe all romance books will just have a generic photo of a sexy guy or sexy couple and that'll tell everyone what's inside.  If they want to go to all the trouble to read it after that billboarding.

So this leaves me with Not Low Maintenance.  No one's going to get that nullification symbol.  A nude couple would probably serve me better.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yet Another New Cover for Disconnected

I liked the Catskill flavor to the old one but apparently I'm in the minority.  So instead of doing things I really needed to do today, I quick did a new cover.  Everyone says to keep testing until you strike on the right combination of title, cover and description.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Joe Konrath

It's a rare individual who can impact others the way he has.  Whatever he does causes the rest of us to ponder how we can do something similar.  Joe's really big on having the right cover and the right title.  I keep thinking about the glowing text style for his TRAPPED.  It's so eye catching.

I think from the earliest days of humans on earth anything that was colorful or shiny was worthy of attention.  I don't know how else you explain Christmas lights and fireworks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Disconnected Cover

I think the problem is Disconnected is such a long word.  I don't think this technique lends itself visually as well to the diagonal as the horizontal and I got the lines too narrow.

I followed the tut and he really did everything the harder way.  If I, who knows so little, can figure out better ways to achieve the same ends, something is really wrong!  You need to break the design into components. You create the lines elsewhere, turn them into a png file then place them on the background either vertical, horizontal or diagonal, you create those blobs of color as brushes then you can use them anywhere at anytime..  You don't start at 0 every time.

But he used a really cool font that costs $40.  This is close but the other one is extreme.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nothing Is Done

I worked with Photoshop most of the day. I was trying to achieve a Polaroid effect to a photo.  I did it with 2 different tuts and felt unsatisfied with both for different reasons.  You don't know when such a technique might be exactly what you can use.  It can give you ideas for new directions to go in.

It may seem far from writing but it's about ebooks.  If you don't have money to hire someone to do it for you, you have to do it yourself and it darn well better be good/professional level.  There's little worse than seeing a badly created cover.  It suggests the book is as badly conceived.

Here's some advice.  If you have a limited budget and can either hire a designer for the cover or hire an editor to help you with the manuscript--go with a good editor.  That's why you need to do the cover well yourself, that's why I've been talking about it for months--it's important.

So then I did this and now I'll go do Kate or Viva.  Or Bel.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I Mostly Did Today

Now I'm going to put everything away and see if I can finish NLM.  There are a couple sections that rankle a bit, having shifted my perspective over the time since I started this book.  The changes would serve everyone better.

Or perhaps not.  So I should just say they serve me better and audience I'm trying to reach.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Treat

Today I learned that Michal Towber used the cover I made for her book and it's up on Amazon, so everyone should head over there and have a look.  It's a wonderful book, the music she wrote to go with it is terrific and I think it would make a lovely movie.   Michal Towber's WITCH

I've been having some excellent emails with BV Larson (his website is linked to your right, again I recommend you go there) and decided based on what he was saying that I should scrap the cover and title for That's Amore/Come Back To Me/Whatever and try something else.  The new one (as new as it's going to get) is only on Smashwords for the moment.  It took about 5 hours to do the cover but both Michal and BV thought it came out well so I'm happy.  If you can manage it, the less it takes to make you happy, the happier you'll be.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Just When You Think You're Done

Then you have to format the thing.

At this point I don't think I'll bother with Smashwords.  Here's the driving reason--you set the price and the book makes its way to various outlets and then they can undercut you.  Which I suppose is acceptable except that if you price the book at $2.99 at amazon, you get a 70% royalty.  Anything less than that price and you get 35%.  They match the lowest price for your book on the net, so if Barnes & Noble charges $1.99, then amazon lowers the price and you lose the good royalty scale.

I haven't made my mind up about this yet.  Is the iPad so great and wonderful that I should let them price my book for me?  I certainly can't put the book there on my own because you can only do it with a Mac and I use a PC.  So again, writers find themselves caught in the middle between the clash of the titans.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Not Low Maintenance

I am on the fence about the cover.  On one hand, I like it and it makes sense to me.  On the other, I'm not sure it works as a selling tool on Amazon.  Of course it can always be redone so it probably will be.

Now back to proofreading the manuscript.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Just Kate etc.

The end is near.  The end of part 1, of course.  I'm finding myself oddly reluctant to finish it.  I imagine I did not have that issue the first time around but honestly I don't even remember writing the book.  I suspect it is common to have very complicated emotions regarding any work and this is a particularly milestoneish book.

Also very close to completion is Not Low Maintenance.  The main character has been named many things but none was perfect until I came upon Aviva.

It's nice to have the covers done for both and waiting for me.  I've been working on PS tutorials.  Yesterday and today it was about gradients again.  I still get lost in what of many things to click.  It seems that the gradients only engage if it's done through layer style.  That would be very unlike Photoshop which seems to have a reputation for being able to do anything several different ways.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Independence Day

I worked, of course.  I'm combing thru Not Low Maintenance and trying to get the cover right.  While I was writing this book a couple years ago, I knew then what the cover design should be.  I keep rethinking little aspects that no one will notice, especially given the size of these things at amazon, but still I want it to be right for me.

I know quite a lot about the Kate sequel and now not only am I on Fitch's side but everyone is.  Too bad for her.

I also worked on Photoshop tutorials which is a good way to learn how the program works and how to find hidden aspects.  Everything is hidden because none of it is in the program.  I guess we're switching to cloud computing.  Which is of course dependent on having internet access.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mothers and Idiots

As a companion piece to yesterday's post, let us address the article written by Kathryn Blundell, the editor of the UK's Mother And Baby Magazine where last month she stated

"I formula fed. So what?  I wanted my body back. (And some wine)… I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach.  They're part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags. And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy."

This bitch is way creepy.

I don't know where to start with it so I won't.  I wish she was an aberration but I fear not.

Let me take this opportunity to point out that while this insane person is the editor of a magazine in a land far, far away, she or some idiot just like her, could be the editor at a big NYC tradpub who is trying to make decisions about what the rest of us want to read based on her intensely skewed psychology.

 There are enough common people
for every wise man--Russian saying.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Men & Fathers

My whole life is Kate. All I'm thinking about is the sequel in which girl and boy transform into husband and wife and then father and mother.

Holiday weekend that it is, there is nothing but junk on television. Runaway Bride is on now. I particularly hate this movie, as I do so many, because the man has all the relationship wisdom and the woman is the numbskull. How like life. Not. That's actually not what this post is about.The bartender is the actor used in all the Richard Gere-Julia Roberts movies, or maybe Garry Marshall movies. I saw he was playing the father in a Disney series.  He's gay.

What more perfect typecasting for the emasculated befuddled American father portrayed in entertainment for the last 20 years than a fey gay guy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Gargoyles They Sparkle In Marble At Midnight

The background I had.  The gargoyles came from a French book 1905, turned them into a brush.  The sparkles I had.  Ditto moon and clouds.  The orb had to be created.  I found a PS tutorial.  Fine.  It didn't work.  A day later and many attempts, I switched to Corel Draw since it already has a gradient fill in gold.  Fine.  Had a flat gold orb.  Back to PS to basically start all the manipulations over again but with the right orb.  Tinker around with that.  Wake up this morning.  Tinker some more.  Finally understand what I'm trying to do and do it.

I wish my pal, Allen, had lived to see such things.  Without his vivid imagination, I can't begin to suppose what worlds he would have created.