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.

February Update – Nuzzling The Grindstone


It’s been quiet around here lately what with me busy pressing my nose against the grindstone of my latest manuscript. I finished off the third draft a few days ago, and it’s a relief to put the most difficult draft behind me and give my face a brief rest. There’s nothing like seeing actual measurable progress on such a massive project.

I feel a little bad about neglecting my blog in the meantime, but I set myself the lofty goal of releasing four books this year, and I’m already a little behind schedule. I don’t want to post crap here just for the sake of it (he writes unironically in a post with zero substance), and I’m sure whoever reads my blog can survive with a little less of my rambling in their life. At least for a while anyway.

My plan now is to step away from my manuscript for a couple of weeks (I had hoped for longer, but deadlines) and work on something else for a while, then I’ll come back with a bit more perspective and finish the final draft. Which means hopefully by the end of March, I’ll have Solace Within, the shiny sequel to my first novel, sitting up there on Amazon’s kindle store for everyone far and wide to admire, or more accurately, quickly forget as it slides into the abyss to be buried under the never-ending cascade of paranormal romance. Still, getting a body of finished work out there is my sole focus this year. I can worry about sales later.

So that’s a quick update on my progress. Hopefully I’ll find time to post something interesting around here soon, but for the meantime, it’s back to nuzzling the grindstone.

Photo by Dave Ruark licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

National Novel Writing Month 2016


We all have incredible stories knocking around our heads. They often bounce around up there for years, slowly fermenting into world-shattering epics, terror-inducing horror shows, and enduring tales of human connection. For most people, that’s where they stay, never leaving the shadowy recesses of their minds. But wouldn’t it be great if you turned that fantastic idea in to a tangible creation you could actually hold in your hands?

Well, you know the old proverb,

‘The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.’

Next month is fast approaching, and with it, National Novel Writing Month. It’s a simple enough idea: write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. That’s a lot of words you’re probably saying, and you’re not wrong. But it is achievable if you just keep writing one simple word after another. I took part last year, and while I found the forums to be less than helpful, I did get access to all sorts of fancy stat tracking, gamified achievements, as well as pep talks from published authors.

If inspiration from your favourite authors sounds like your cup of tea, you can check out the archive of pep talks. Here’s a sample of one of my favourites from Neil Gaiman.

neil_gaiman_2013_800x1065‘You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

‘A dry-stone wall is a lovely thing when you see it bordering a field in the middle of nowhere but becomes more impressive when you realise that it was built without mortar, that the builder needed to choose each interlocking stone and fit it in. Writing is like building a wall. It’s a continual search for the word that will fit in the text, in your mind, on the page. Plot and character and metaphor and style, all these become secondary to the words. The wall-builder erects her wall one rock at a time until she reaches the far end of the field. If she doesn’t build it it won’t be there. So she looks down at her pile of rocks, picks the one that looks like it will best suit her purpose, and puts it in.’

If you have any writing aspirations then you owe it to yourself to give it the old college try at least once. And if you do decide to take the dive? Good luck, it’s worth it.

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Neil Gaiman photo by Kyle Cassidy licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.