forged in the dawn

Signs of Life: New Book Covers

While my blog has been quiet of late, progress on my novel is still whizzing along like a stolen bumper car being chased by angry, mustachioed carnival folk. I’m nearing the end of the final draft of Solace Within now, and after a proofread it’ll be ready to release. It was an infinitely quicker turnaround than my first novel, which dragged on for the better part of a year, but I’m already enthusiastic about starting the next project and seeing which areas I can improve on.

With my new book coming out soon, I figured it was a good time to revisit the covers. So I took a ‘break’ last weekend (hah) and had a stab at creating something a bit more professional. I checked out the bestsellers in my genre, found some decent imagery, and set to work in GIMP (free Photoshop). Here’s what I came up with, you can click them for larger versions if you’re so inclined.

Here are the old versions for comparison (I never finished the graphics for Zenith Rising).


So clearly a massive improvement over my first attempt. They actually look like book covers now, which is somewhat helpful. Think they’re decent? or are they all garbage that deserve to be set on fire and tossed into a larger fire? Let me know in the comments.

When I wasn’t busy of late editing or banging my head against GIMP, I dedicated some time to research some marketing and self-publishing concepts. It’s incredible how much you think you know until you tumble down a rabbit hole, emerging with more in common with Jon Snow than you possibly imagined. If you’re interested in the topic yourself, check out Chris Fox’s youtube channel. He’s produced multiple series of binge-worthy videos, from writing a novel in 21 days (highly recommended) to marketing concepts and book launches.

I also finally invested in Scrivener and took some time to learn the program. It’s a bit… Apple-y, which is at odds with my Windows nature, but the structuring it allows inside a project certainly beats having multiple word documents floating around, guiltily shuffling around in some pretend semblance of order. Anyway, Scrivener is powerful software and I can already see the potential in making my life easier. Not sure why I didn’t do try it sooner really.

Hopefully my next post will be celebrating the release of my new book. So until then, thanks for reading.

Book Covers designed by Gavin Zanker using licensed iStock imagery.

Forged In The Dawn, Free This Weekend

Looking for a free book to try? My novel Forged in the Dawn is currently free this weekend on Amazon Kindle. You can pick up your free copy here, for free.

forged_in_the_dawn_cover_1562_2500Here’s what some people have been saying on the Amazon reviews:

“This is a different kind of post-apocalyptic story; character driven, well-paced and with a style of writing reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I can thoroughly recommend.”

“The author’s strong narrative prose paints a vivid image of the post-apocalyptic world he has created, and brings his characters to life in a way that pulls you into their trials and triumphs, and makes you feel their emotions keenly.”

“The book is fast paced, and the story is gripping – meaning it’s often a hard book to put down! A fantastic read, and highly recommended.”

I hope you enjoy the free book, and if you give it a read then please feel free to leave an honest review on Amazon to let me know what you thought. If you would like to know a bit more about my writing, you can check out the ten things I learned writing a novel, discover the inspirations behind the book, or read about my decision to self-publish. You can also follow my progress writing the sequel on my current projects page.

(Side note: Isn’t it weird when you repeat a word too many times and it starts to look made-up? Freeeeeeeeee).

Forged in the Dawn Copyright © 2016 Gavin Zanker

Free Book Weekend, Writing Excuses, And A Conversation With Neil Gaiman

Free Book Weekend

forged_in_the_dawn_cover_1562_2500If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I recently released my first book Forged in the Dawn. At this point you’ll also probably be tired of hearing me banging on about it all the time – I know I am. So we can all be glad to hear that I’m past the marketing phase now, and don’t plan to continue shamelessly plugging it everywhere.

Over the weekend, I set the price to free on the Kindle store in the hopes of encouraging a few more people to give it a read. The response smashed my expectations – I never dared to hope my work would reach the hands of so many people. Every time I opened the Kindle report to see the download graph ticking up, it put a big grin on my face. So a big thanks to everyone who took the time to grab themselves a copy. You made my weekend.

Writing Excuses

I recently discovered Writing Excuses, a weekly podcast with Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, and Dan Wells. Mary Robinette Kowal is also listed as a host but since I’m starting from episode one, she hasn’t made an appearance yet. It’s described as ‘a fast-paced, educational podcast for writers, by writers.’ Honestly, I’m kind of annoyed at myself for not having discovered it earlier (the first episode started way back in 2008). It’s funny, informative, and covers just about every subject you can think of related to the craft of writing in just fifteen minutes per episode. Give it a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s a direct link to the .mp3 of episode one for those with impossibly tired fingers.


(Incidentally, I thanked Brandon on twitter a few days ago for his free writing lectures, and he actually replied. Probably nothing new to the social media generation, but I was impressed he took the time to reply directly, and have since developed even more respect for the guy.)

A Conversation with Neil Gaiman

I came across this video on YouTube last week and watched the entire thing from start to finish. Hilarious and heartfelt, it’s well worth watching for the fantastic storytelling from Neil Gaiman, as well as him reading from Good Omens which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. It does get a little heavy at one point as they discuss Terry Pratchett’s death, so if his writing meant anything to you then be prepared for some feels.

(As a side note, I found it refreshing to hear people discuss trigger warnings and safe spaces in a calm and logical manner, unlike Uni campuses where it’s all shouting, deliberate provocation, and protesters sounding bullhorns in the background to shut down speakers.)

So that was my week. Now I’m finished with Forged in the Dawn, I’m free to focus all my energy on writing the next book, on which I already made a decent, if somewhat slow start, having written 10k words on the first draft. I expect the speed to pick up now though, and plan to finish before the end of the year.

Have a peaceful week, and enjoy the running and jumping if that’s your thing.

Forged in the Dawn Copyright © 2016 Gavin Zanker