Book Cover Designers

Here’s a short summary of some more book cover designer sites that I’ve found:

1. Another designer of book covers, not the best in my opinion but cheaper than many:

Bookwebs offer three levels of ebook cover design.

– Bronze £50
– Silver £70
– Gold from £200

They also offer custom websites but I don’t think it’s good value — ” Three page starter ‘ebook’ websites from 199 pounds”, with limited space for uploads of stories. Better to go Word Press where you can get a nice website template.

2. BookBaby.

They are basically an e-publisher but have cover design options too, with a nice portfolio!

Basic package at $149

Deluxe package $279

Muuuch nicer visuals!


3. BookTango

Another e-book publisher offering cover design, this for $159. Seem less focused on this than BookBaby but the samples covers shown are strong.


Closer to the Goalpost

Tonight, after a solid 2 hours tidying up the first half of my novel while waiting for my kid to get out of school (oh how my butt hurt from that bench!) I can safely say that I feel it’s getting there. The first half that is. The second, half, ho hum, has yet to spin to a tidy conclusion. And then there’s still Book 2 to deal with.

Still, I feel some hope: part 1 of Book 1 is already long enough to be called a decent-size novella at 40K words. I’m tempted to put it up and self publish as is just to get a response. However, I have a feeling it’ll lack oomph without the second half. (There’s a reason why they are part 1 and part 2 of the SAME book). Either way, the mere thought that I’ve got something nearly good enough to publish without dying of shame has raised my flagging spirits. Beta reader is coming this week, and said friend will be handed a printed copy of the first half to critique. After like 20 years of practising writing novels, classes, finally some progress!

Which means that now I have to put on my thinking cap and see if I can figure out how to self promote. I still haven’t given up on traditional publishing, and I think my book is good enough to be picked up but I’m curious to see if I can break in on self pub. Plus there’s the lure of insta-royalties if you make it. And if the book sinks like a stone, at least my reputation won’t be wrecked!


Review of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. I have enjoyed his works unevenly, loving some and merely admiring others. Therefore, when I saw this new book out, I couldn’t resist buying myself a (gasp!) print copy. And I lay there and read. Luxuriantly.

A couple hours later – it’s not a long read – I arose thoughtfully, with a feeling of less than complete emotional enjoyment that rather puzzled me given the obvious merit of the book and the many deep responses from other readers. It took me a while to puzzle out my feelings. What was it about this book (whom many seem to feel is “deeper” than his other books) that comparatively turned me off? (I rush to qualify this statement and say that my idea of a Gaiman turnoff is still the equivalent of mind boggling brilliance in other writers. His ability to conjure up the specter of other, vast worlds and massive backstory/worldbuilding with just a few words in the right context is completely brilliant.)

And after due thought, I think it is this: it is a quiet, poignant book that leaves the protagonist saved, but not uplifted. He remains muddled and alienated (my feeling) albeit alive. That, and the sense that he is still haunted/trapped by his childhood traumas is just too close to my worst nightmares. I remain deeply grateful today that I am in a place where I have some control over my surroundings and where I have been able to fashion emotional comfort for myself in the form of family and a livelihood that suits my relatively introverted temperament. In short, the narratives I like wind up with the narrator having a rosier outlook – not necessarily materially better off, but a good width away from depression, that territory I wish not to tread on.

PS. Fave Gaiman books? The Graveyard Boy; Coraline; Neverwhere; and a haunting and evocative short story written in an anthology the name of which I forgot, which revolved around Shadow, the protagonist of American Gods. Fangrrrl!

Feeling stuck

Feeling Stuck


Today, as I often do after a stint of intense productivity, I felt stuck. Unmotivated. I’ve been feeling that way for a few days after 2 weeks or so on fire. This is good, as it means I can actually concentrate on real life stuff like laundry, client work, etc. Morale-wise it’s kind of scary though — that tiny voice in the back of my head starts nagging, And you actually think you can finish a decent novel!? LO-SER.


Which put me in mind of a really awesome blog entry title I read once, so awesome I had to Google and find it again:

The Neverending Hamster Wheel of Revising Doom

Ha! In a nutshell, how I (and probably long suffering husband) feel.

As it turns out, that was the title of an entry by Maggie Stievater, which you can find here: Much more imaginative a title than the title of this entry. With that down, I’m going to stop bashing myself for the night and see if I can do 15 minutes of writing…

After years of searching and trying to figure out what it is that gives that feeling of emotional depth and “umph” to a character, I finally found this post which nailed it for me:

Hero's Emotional Journey Allen Palmer Cracking Yarns

Copyright: Allen Palmer

Ironically it wasn’t a site on novel writing but a script writing site. It talks about the necessary “transformation” of character that we’ve come to expect in much of modern writing. Now, this stuff isn’t new to me but I always got confused in applying the catchphrases to my own work, especially dealing with YA stuff. But after reading this post and others on this site, and synthesizing the insights with other items I’ve studied/read, I think at the end of the day what they’re all trying to say is that, over the course of the story the protagonist(s) need to grow emotionally. That growth can be positive or negative, and it can happen gradually or in an instant (much more dramatic) as all the inciting incidents come to bear in a flash of growth-provoking pressure. Two instances – again, citing movies, and ironically movies that the Crawling Yarns guy didn’t even like that much but that I did – are Sideways and Up in the Air. Technically, nothing climactic happens here: at the end of Sideways the protagonist is still single, lost, divorced; at the end of Up in the Air, George Clooney’s one anchoring relationship has gone up in smoke. BUT. You get the sense at the end of Sideways that Miles is moving emotionally out of the morass of his divorce; his love interest actually calls him back and tells him his screenplay doesn’t suck, and he is now able to receive that news positively instead of wallowing in self doubt. He’s looking forward to the future at last. And as for Clooney, at the end of the movie he has realized the shallowness of his current life, suggesting that he can now do something to change it. Oh, and a last one, Little Miss Sunshine: having lost the beauty pageant and the grandpa (dead) to boot, what did they accomplish? The triumph of a dysfunctional family pulling through instead of concentrating on their own selfish crap. Now, the stories I’m personally writing are much more traditionally dramatic, with an Big Evil to fight against and Lesser Bad Things on the way. And my imagination furnishes no lack of those. But it’s always been that subtle sense of inner transformation that’s eluded me in these epic, sprawling stories (I can nail that transformation well in short stories). In addition, character growth in a YA story is often – beat me here and yes, it’s a generalization – less nuanced than in grown up stories; by which I mean, since it is by definition a time of growth and searching for identity, typical character growth revolves around these themes (in a gazillion different ways of course). Whereas, adults aren’t usually portrayed as consciously searching for identity. So, I hope that’s helpful… PS. updates on novel? Still stuck at Chapter 17 and now feeling like I need to rethink the whole dam ending. Only about 5 chapters but pivotal. Ugh!

Audio Books

One great way to reach more people is audio books. But how to make them? Not everyone is blessed with a good reading voice and the ability to dramatically inflect the events of your story – there is a reason why there are professional voice coaches. Bearing that in mind, here’s an informative post from Indie Recon outlining a quick and easy way manage the process including bringing in narrators:

Ditching the Day Job

I’m not one to advocate actually ditching your day job until you’re getting substantial cash from your writing / trust fund / significant other etc, but I can’t say I don’t fantasize about it. There are days when the desire to write overwhelms me and it’s all I can do to stay on the straight and narrow…on good days. On bad days, I just fall into temptation and write away whenever I can.

Anyhow, the balance of one’s day job and creative passion has always been a sore spot for me. WIth that in mind, as a former cubical slave, I found the following of particular interest: a man who ditched his respectable job (and ok, had a breakdown into the bargain) for his passion of classical music. And – better yet – he succeeded!

Bit of an oddball, but inspiring for all that. Plus, how can you not love the titles of this albums: “Bullets and Lullabies”, “Razor Blades, Little Pills and Big Pianos”. Carry on.