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Cover Design: New Dusk

SPOILERS for the book within this article!

Last time, I introduced how I came to the idea of simplistic, symbolic covers.

<img class="wp-image-170" src="https://i2.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0104.jpg?resize=600%2C450" alt="The basic concept" srcset="https://i2.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0104.jpg?w=2048 2048w, https://i2.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0104.jpg?resize=300%2C225 300w, https://i2.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0104.jpg?resize=768%2C576 768w, https://i2.wp great site.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0104.jpg?resize=1024%2C768 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 1170px) 100vw, 1170px” />

The basic concept

The idea for New Dusk was to have a splatter of blood behind the title. Each of the images on each of the covers are meant to symbolise a key element of the story. With the mystery in the first book centred around the Demon blood drug, blood was an obvious choice x8pnx0s. But blood can also represent death, so it wasn’t giving away too much to have the blood on the front cover of a mystery story.

But before blood splatters, I needed fonts for my title and the other text that would go on the cover.

Having looked at a lot of book covers, I saw that most only had two different fonts on, so after perusing FontSquirrel for a while, I chose Ostrich Sans and Cardo. I went for one Serif and one Sans Serif font (that’s one with the little embellishments at the ends of the letters, one without) to give some contrast between them, but otherwise kept the fonts pretty simple.

I originally planned to make the blood splatter myself using a fake blood recipe I found on Pinterest, but a quick search on Google showed me there were loads of photoshop brushes ready available.

I looked for brushes that were free for commercial use, and found this set on Deviant Art, which I really liked. By layering together a few of the different brushes, I was able to make what I hope is quite a dramatic splatter.

New Dusk Cover

I decided not to put the splatter behind the title in the end. One, because layering text over images can lead to difficulty reading the text. You can fix that with a few tricks, but it’s extra work, and besides that, the cover was looking like a lot of white space. White space can be good – it makes things easy to look at – but too much and the image wouldn’t have any impact.

With the layout of the cover, I wanted to draw the attention of the reader to the title. The angle of the blood splatter and the words alongside it are intended to draw the eye down to the title, which I hope gives the cover a sense of motion and energy. The words are a direct quote from on of the first few chapters of the book, and intended again to reveal something of the theme of the novel.

This one was pretty simple to put together. The majority of the time spent on it was on choosing fonts, playing around with colours, sizes and the general layout. But with all that stuff sorted, the next cover has half the ingredients ready to go. Keeping all the fonts and colours the same, as well as much of the layout gives the series a sense of cohesion – they’ll look like they’re all part of the same set, while not looking exactly the same.

Total Cost: £0 – all brushes and fonts downloaded for free under Creative Commons Free For Commercial Use Licence

Sneak Preview: New Dawn

So, as you have probably realised by now, New Dawn didn’t launch yesterday. I’ve been told my front cover prop will arrive on Monday, so if that’s the case, I should be able to get the cover put together and the book up on Amazon for Wednesday. I’ll keep you posted!

For now, here’s a sneak preview of the first chapter of New Dawn, in which Cadence faces her worst enemy… a social function.


As soon as I walk through the door, Inspector Manning plies me with a glass of champagne, orders me to drink it, then swiftly replaces my empty glass with a full one.

“Are you trying to get me drunk?” I ask as the fizz settles in my stomach.

“I’m working on the principle that if you drink enough, you’ll forget to not enjoy yourself,” he says, smile wan.

“It’s going to take more than two glasses of champagne for that.”

Manning looks me up and down then, addressing my fashion choices with a critical eye. He nods .

“At least you’ve worn a dress,” he says. “Just try to remember to smile for the photographs.”

The thought of photographs has me tugging on the hem of my dress, wishing I’d worn tights, or better, trousers. Manning tsks at me, and I stop, standing upright and trying to look pleased to be in the room.

“You know, I think I’ve spoken to the Superintendent once in my almost five years of working here,” I say.

“Do you think many people here have done much more than that?” Manning says.

I scan the crowd before us. The police force in the city is large, spread wide, but I recognise a few familiar faces from our station. Dower is standing by the buffet table, chatting to James Whiley, both looking dapper in suits. There are others, dotted throughout the room, that I recognise. Some from nearby stations, some from jobs, some from training. I search for the one other Deportations Officer within the city limits – Patrick O’Neill, born in England to Irish parents, but affecting their brogue and mannerisms to make himself stand out among his English peers. A chronic show off, who probably only took the job for the glory. I can’t see him. I wonder if he died and I missed the announcement.

My stomach tightens around the champagne warmth when I spot another familiar face. Bookish features, glasses, hair styled in an old-fashioned way, his jacket tweed, his shoes polished to mirror shine. Daniel Charlesworth, head of New Dawn. Not far from him, Mayor Curwood talks to the Superintendent, clapping him on the shoulder with easy familiarity. Behind them, a little way off to the left, another familiar and unwelcome face lurks – Colin Ludgrove, head of New Dawn’s demon worshiping counterpart, New Dusk doxycycline online. He’s fascinatingly ordinary, and I wonder if the young woman he’s talking to knows who the doddery grandfather figure she’s being thoroughly charmed by actually is.

“Charlesworth and Ludgrove?”

Manning’s grimace is enough to tell me what he thinks of it. “Unfortunately the presence of powerful men is enough to make other powerful men feel they have the right to invite themselves. The Superintendent is a man who knows the value of political allegiance and mutual back scratching.”

“Thank God he’s retiring then,” I say.

“I doubt his replacement will be any better.”

‘No desire to climb the ladder yourself?’

Manning snorts. “I wonder how far I would have to climb before you start doing as you’re told.”

As a Deportations Officer, I fall outside of the otherwise hierarchal police ranks, which gives me liberties that other officers don’t have. But then, I still push my luck more often than not.

As I finish my second champagne, a third appears in my hand and Manning dismisses me to go and ‘mingle.’ My least favourite thing in the world, placing in front of even Shades and Daniel Charlesworth.

I head for Dower, who I am most comfortable with among the living, human members of the station. It probably says something very bad that I would take an afternoon spent with my thirteen foot tall, bloodthirsty Demon, Alf, over a retirement party.

Cover Design: Behind The Hart and Soul Series Covers

I’m finally getting myself ahead enough of the publishing schedule to start thinking about things other than editing and proofreading, and I thought readers might enjoy a little insight into the cover design process.

I do the covers myself, which is pretty much flying in the face of all good publishing advice. And for a girl who just scraped a C in GCSE Art, it might sound like a really bad idea, but I do have some design accreditation (official and unofficial) to my name. Most importantly, I know my way round Photoshop from my FanFiction years when I used to make banners for the stories I was writing, changing celebrity hair and eye colour to better suit the characters (no, I’m not telling you where you can find any of that stuff).

Those of you who read the Author’s Note at the back of New Dusk (I won’t blame you if you didn’t!) will know that this series has been a long time in the making, and it’s been through a number of cover designs. My initial plan was to use my sister and her boyfriend as models for the characters (they were a little young, but looked about right) and take some photographs of them to make the covers. I’m not a photographer, so I asked a friend of my sister’s to take the pictures.

I loved doing this, but the problem was, the pictures weren’t really good enough. This was not the fault of Kirsty, who did a fantastic job taking the pictures. The problem was with the set up. It was a budget operation – a hand painted green screen, spot lights and, at one point, a fan.

Seriously, this is what poor Kirsty had to work with:

IMG_0557

Hot, bright spotlights, combined with the curtain-less window meant the lighting was too harsh and uneven

<img class="wp-image-164" src="https://i0.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0564.jpg?resize=500%2C373" alt="IMG_0564" srcset="https://i0.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0564.jpg?resize=300%2C224 300w, https://i0 try this out.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0564.jpg?resize=768%2C574 768w, https://i0.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0564.jpg?resize=1024%2C765 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0564.jpg?w=2340 2340w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />

Hand made wind-tunnel effects – that fan weighed a ton

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Highly professional models too…. XD

Despite the difficulties, Kirsty managed to take some pretty good pictures, and I had a good go at making some covers out of them. This was one of my original attempts:

volume-1-book-cover-2

It’s not terrible by any stretch, but you can see how the lighting is an issue. The contrast on ‘Cadence’ is way too pronounced (although I do like what I did there with the green reflecting on her shirt!) The light is also coming from three different places – one for each of the characters, and then the moon in the background.

The whole thing is too dark. The bad quality of the lighting in the characters meant they didn’t composite well with the background image. It had to be made so dark for it to work, that it saps any energy out of the cover and accentuates the issues with the contrast. I liked the concept of the two central characters against an urban landscape, but it wasn’t quite working.

I tried again with a more abstract background this time.

New Dusk lighter

This works in some ways. The lighting is better – less contrast. It’s brighter generally, and I liked the idea that it had a colour theme with all the blue, and the next book could have a different one. It was a way of making the series covers have a coherent feel.

But again, there are issues. The reason for the cheesy fog at the bottom was twofold. One, the image was busy, and that meant the typography didn’t show up very well. Two, the photos of Cadence and Matthew weren’t full profiles. They literally stop at the bottom there, their legs cut off. Because they weren’t taken standing next to each other, that mean I had scale issues, where one character was larger than the other, and when made the same size and the right heights, one’s legs ended much higher than the others. I had to disguise that.

The characters don’t sit in front of the backdrop very happily, either. They look like they’ve been superimposed. Which they have, but it’s not good design if it looks like that’s what’s been done.

And while we’re on typography, the letters at the bottom are far too close to the bottom, and the title at the top is too small, it gets lost.

It took me so long to make both of these, and the thought of doing it nine times was enough to put me off. I needed to rethink my entire approach. Which is when I decided to take it back a step, go a bit more simple, symbolic.

I’ll freely admit, I was much inspired by the trend that Twilight started, with a symbolic image on the cover that represents some element of the story. Say what you like about Twilight – those covers were amazing, and probably a huge part of what helped it to take off.

Powerful but simple symbolism

Powerful but simple symbolism

When I started thinking about the covers this way – taking one symbolic element of the story – the ideas came together very quickly. Using the Paper App for iPad, I mocked up some quick designs.

IMG_0104

Note: Not in any way sponsored by Paper. I just like it.

You can see how very simplistic those first sketches were – just an idea captured before I went to sleep and forgot all about it. But that was the genesis of the cover design. Next time, I’ll talk about how I brought those covers to life.

Soul Rights Sneak Preview

Book Two in the Hart and Soul series sees Matthew and Cadence trying to figure out their new partnership, whilst both are facing things from their past that they’d prefer the other not to know about. Here’s a sneak preview of chapter one.


The sun beats down on the streets, baking that hot tar smell out of them. Sweat beads along my hairline, pooling beneath my body armour. It’s one of those April days that got kicked out of August for showing all the rest of the summer up. A day that doesn’t agree with dark hair or uniform, of which I have both.

“I need to get out of the office, Manning. Running all these numbers is driving me mad, Manning. Give me a case, Manning. A job, Manning. Anything, Manning! Next time I start saying anything so chronically stupid, I’m expecting you to point it out,” I say.

“What are you talking about?” Matthew says. “It’s lovely out here.”

He’s wearing a jacket more suited to cold autumn days, and jeans, but today, here, he doesn’t look out of place. The crowd before us is littered with Souls, most of them forever adorned in seasonally inappropriate clothing. It makes no difference to them, being unable to feel anything, and it makes no difference to Matthew: Soul, specifically Sin, escaped from Hell. My partner for the foreseeable future.

Most people think I should have a problem with this arrangement.

Most people don’t realise I requested it.

I squint at the crowd. We’re just a presence really. Things have been peaceful – a few sign wavers, human and Soul alike, but the rally is so far less a march, more a giant picnic. The heat has turned everyone languid. Matthew and I amble along, just two of a number of gradually wilting police officers – there in case things turn sour.

The crowd loses what little momentum it has outside a government building. A podium has already been erected at the top of the stairs there, miked up so the speaker’s voice will reach the crowd. I turn and face the speaker, who’s walking through the camera flashes to the podium now.

Agatha Martin, leader of the Soul Rights movement, lobbying for change to the way Level One and Two Souls are recognised in the law, in civil rights. With the bill coming up for review in parliament soon, the campaigns for change are in full swing. A little off to the right I notice Samuel Waterfield, leader of the opposition. Agatha is fanning herself with her notes cards, her blouse patched with sweat. Waterfield looks so crisp and cool in a brown suit, I would have thought him a Soul had he been rooting for the other side.

“Good afternoon, everyone,” Agatha begins. There’s something grandmotherly about her – from her floral blouse to the chirpy way she speaks and smiles. I don’t doubt for a second that she has that sharp tone of voice grandparents sometimes use up her sleeve. “My, it’s very warm out here today. Thank you for persevering with the weather, and for making it here.

“It’s an important message that marches with us. Our action is letting the Government know that we are not about to be forgotten. That our voices aren’t going to stop trying to be heard. We believe in change, and that change should be now – not in some distant future, put off by men without the strength and conviction to make the choices that need to be made.”

My attention is wandering already. I don’t buy Agatha as leader of a movement – there’s a flustered edge to her words, as if she’s found herself in charge of something that started as pub banter and got out of hand. The crowd doesn’t seem rapt, either, most eating ice creams, pressing cold bottled water to their foreheads, or fanning themselves with pamphlets and protest signs. The Souls amongst them stand mostly still. I spot a woman wearing heavy petticoats beneath her skirts to make them balloon outwards, as was the fashion once upon a time. She has a hand fan that she snaps open with a flick of her wrist. She can’t feel the heat. The motion must be habit.

“We aren’t asking for something groundbreaking. We aren’t asking for something that’s never been done before,” Agatha continues, punctuating her words with sharp jabs of her hand clomid tablets. Her fingers are arthritic. I wonder who she lost, who came back to her. “We’re talking about basic civil rights. A prisoner in one of our jails is entitled to a roof over his head, meals, basic amenities. When they are released from jail, they are entitled to jobs, the vote and every other civil right that we all expect in a free country. If we afford these rights to offenders, then why not to Souls?”

Sneak Preview: New Dusk

Tomorrow is publication day, so today we have a sneak preview of New Dusk. Hope you enjoy!


Six months, I think as my head slams into the concrete ground. Just six months more of this.

Stars burst across my vision, blinding me for a few long seconds. Fortunately, the Shade attacking me doesn’t rush forwards to finish me off, distracted by my Demon partner, Alf, who has taken a lumbering step towards it. The Shade is a large specimen - elongated arms, clawed hands, shoulders so broad its head disappears somewhere between them - but it’s still dwarfed by Alf. It doesn’t stop it launching at him, those orang-utan arms lashing out. Shades are like rabid attack dogs. They don’t think.

Get up.

Alf parries blows from the Shade, the callused skin of his hands turning its sharp claws. There isn’t a lot of space in this little back alley. We lured the Shade here so it would be away from other people, but the setting has its downsides. Alf is restricted by the buildings that flank us, his movements slower, more clumsy because of it. The smaller, faster Shade has the advantage.

Alf rears to his full height, then slams a fist downwards. The pavement cracks and buckles under the force of the blow, vibrations thrumming in the ground all the way back to me. The Shade falls to the floor, but doesn’t stay down for long. It rises, flickering between solidity and its ghost-like state, unable to keep purchase on either.

It felt pretty solid when its oversized fist slammed into me, throwing me some ten feet backwards down the alleyway.

Get. Up.

At least the distance, and the Shade’s current preoccupation, are buying me time to get myself composed. And to recall where I dropped my sword.

I’m right handed. I’d been thrown straight backwards. Logic and physics suggest the sword will be to my right.

I see the Shade picking something up in the corner of my eye. It throws it at Alf who, with a casual swing of his enormous arm, sends it flying through the air. Away from him. Towards me. With a lurch, I throw myself forwards to the right, rolling to my feet. My throat feels tight, shock and adrenaline combining. I’m not sure if I want to be sick or cry but, knowing that neither is a good defence against a Shade, I bite my tongue and try to focus.

A little ahead of me, Alf is roaring. It’s an unpleasant, guttural sound that makes the hairs on your neck stand up, an uncomfortable shiver run down your spine and your heart lodge itself somewhere in your throat - all at the same time. Most people would mistake this for anger, but they don’t spend as much time around Demons as I do. Alf hasn’t boiled over into angry yet. He’s just frustrated. He can only detain the Shade; keep it busy, not Deport it. Not when the weapon that will do it would burn his hand off if he tried to wield it. Deportation is my job, but stuck with my weak little human body as I am, my head needs to stop spinning first.

When my eyes find purchase on something, without rolling past or fading in and out of focus, it is the hilt of my sword, less than a metre from me. It looks innocuous, as swords go, lying on the floor like that. No markings line its long, curved blade, no talismans are tied about the hilt. Nothing at all suggesting it is more than a museum exhibit - a legacy from the days before battles were fought with guns.

Alf is grappling with the Shade, every muscle and sinew in his huge arms snapping and bulging. The Shade is smaller than Alf by at least half, but the centuries of exposure to whatever torments exist in Hell have twisted it, wound it up tight, until its animalistic rage and fury are enough to balance a Demon’s superior size. The Shade lets out a shriek. Worse than a Demon’s call, it’s a sound that makes you want to curl up and die. A mouth twists out of the shadows of its face.

People think Shades don’t have faces, but I’ve been up close and personal with enough to know that somewhere, lurking in the darkness of their bodies, is a face that’s startlingly human; eyes full of all the pain they’ve experienced on their journey from human Soul to Shade. Fortunately, if you’re close enough to see a Shade’s eyes, you’re likely to be dead in the next few seconds. There are images you don’t want to spend the rest of your nights dreaming about.

Trust me.


New Dusk © Liberty Gilmore, 2016

Front Cover and Release Date

A bit of news: New Dusk has now gone up on Goodreads, so if you’re a member, you can go and add it to your shelves. And with a page on Goodreads comes a predicted publication date.

So, hell and high water aside, New Dusk will be publishing on 6th May 2016. That’s a week from now. Look out for some promos on the <a href="http://www.facebook buy clomid tablets.com/prospectandraven”>Facebook Page and if you want a reminder on the day, you can sign up for our Mailing List.

And because some people may not have seen it yet, here is the cover for New Dusk:

New Dusk Cover

What’s In A Name?

a rose by any other name

It seems appropriate to reference the great Bard when this venture into writing and creativity is launching in the week of the 400th anniversary of his death.

What’s in a name? Juliet asks, in what is arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet. Juliet has recently fallen for Romeo, but discovered he is a Montague and therefore her enemy. That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, she says, arguing that a name is not part of the essential character of something. A name means nothing.

Of course, Juliet was madly in love – she would have said anything if it meant she could be with Romeo.

It took me a long time to come up with the name for this ‘publishing company’ – the brand under which I could launch my book series. Unlike Juliet, the right name seemed very important to me. I wanted it to hit the right notes, give the right impression, whilst being personal to me.

In the end, I named it after two places where I’d done a lot of writing – places where the germs of ideas that would later become the series I plan to publish were born. A house on Prospect Road and a flat in Raven Court.

Raven

The flat in Raven Court was occupied by a friend of mine. She doesn’t actually live there any more, but we spent a fair few afternoons round her kitchen table with a bottle of wine, or cider, hashing out plots and characters, solving plot holes and revelling in the joy of writing and creating.

It was the same with Prospect Road – a different kitchen table, the same joy. These two places, and the ‘unofficial writer’s group’ meetings we held in them, were integral to my writing a few years ago.

And the words are great too. Part of Shakespeare’s genius was that he could use a single word to convey so much meaning. It is the East and Juliet is the sun. So many connotations, so many interpretations, just from that word ‘sun.’

ProspectTo me, Prospect sounds like a strong word. A person with prospects is someone with somewhere to go. A prospector was someone who took risks for opportunities during the California gold rush.

And Raven gives a hint of the genres covered – horror, fantasy. Not so much the science fiction, but those three come as a trio so often, it follows almost naturally.

Prospect and Raven has been many years in the making – growing from an inkling of an idea to the website I’m launching today. It’s been a hell of an adventure already, and I hope you will join me for the rest of the ride.

<img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-132" src="https://i0 you could look here.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Signature.jpg?resize=300%2C78″ alt=”Signature” srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Signature.jpg?resize=300%2C78 300w, https://i0.wp.com/prospectandraven.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Signature.jpg?w=351 351w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />

P.S. The first book will be releasing soon. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter and Facebook. If you want to be kept up to date on upcoming releases, join the mailing list.