Where Did Eight Months Go?

I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that we’re almost at the end of the first week of September. Eight months have gone by, and we’ll soon be heading into the holiday season.

Halloween Is Almost Here…

The Alaska State Fair ended on Labor Day (Monday), and it seems like Halloween is just around the corner.

This is the time of year I always get excited because Halloween marks the anniversary of my first appearance in print. It also means that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is about to start, and I always get a new energy for writing from taking part.

What That Means For My Writing Projects…

This year I’m hoping to finish “Of Wolves and Men”, the first full-length novel in the “Shadows Over Seattle” series. I’m about to embark on a full read-through and assessment of what I have already written¬†so I can get my mind back on this particular project.

I’m also hoping to have completed the full re-edit of “Evaline Transcendent” in time to post the updates around Halloween, or shortly before.

So, Why Is This Halloween So Special?

Well, I’ve decided to run a huge promotion this year. “Under A Hunter’s Moon” will be three years old, and I want to do something special.

I don’t want to say too much about my plans at this point, except to say… Stay Tuned!

 

Do you have any special plans for Halloween? If so, drop a note in the comments below…

 

The Writer’s Channel Hop, Vol 2 – Hosted By Shane Wilson

Tune in for the online author event of September! Join the regular cast of writers from Joe’s Bar and the Brain to Books Cyber Convention as they discuss everything writing and everything not writing. Hosted by Shane Wilson.

Find out a little about what makes us tick, why pizza is so important to the writing process, how gnomes go from lawn ornaments to mobile art, and which of us are/aren’t wearing pants… Some or all of those might be relevant…

Mark your calendar: Saturday, September 9 at 7 PM10 PM EDT

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“Evaline Transcendent” Is Coming July 26th!

Hey folks… I have my first sci-fi book release coming up on July 26th, and would love to get some support for the HeadTalker and Thunderclap campaigns…

Here’s what it’s all about:

“Evaline Transcendent” is a massively updated version of the story that appeared in “Across the Karman Line” a couple of years ago. Not only have I gone back through to make sure the editing is top notch, but I’ve reinstated parts of the story that I had to cut because of the word count limits I originally had.

I’ve added almost another 5,000 words to the original length of the story, and I think it’s a much stronger story as a result, because it really brings Evaline’s mission into perspective.

How HeadTalker & Thunderclap Work

  • People create advertising campaigns for their books/services/projects/fundraisers
  • They then set a minimum number of backers for the campaign, and a deadline
  • They then try to rally support for the campaign by asking people to back it
  • By supporting the campaign, each backer pledges to allow a message to be placed in their social media feeds advertising the book/service/project/fundraiser
  • No money changes hands

Here’s Where I Ask For Your Help

I have two campaigns setup, that I’m asking for support on. Here’s some reasons you consider for backing the project:

  • You really love a good sci-fi story
  • You know some friends who’ve thought of colonizing other worlds
  • You’ve read the original story and want to see what’s new
  • You want to see humanity out among the stars

And here’s the links (feel free to share them with others)

Headtalker: https://headtalker.com/campaigns/evaline-transcendent-release/
Thunderclap: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/59308-evaline-trascendent-prerelease

Pre-Order “Evaline Transcendent” for $0.99 (*) on Amazon until July 25th ($1.99 from July 26th)

 

* The release date is July 26th 2017, and all pre-orders will be delivered on that date.

 

Anatomy Of A Book Cover “Evaline Transcendent

This is not going to be my usual Midweek Mumbles ramblings. Instead I’m going to do something a little different, and give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the steps involved in creating my first book cover design.

How I Made My Last Cover

When I published “Under A Hunter’s Moon”, I had a lot of help with the cover design. Ariel Marie was kind enough to Photoshop the components for me, and all I did was do the type-setting for the text.

What Makes This Time Different?

The cover for “Evaline Transcendent” is a much more interesting journey, because it’s a science fiction story, and there are very few stock photos that could be tweaked to work for what I had in mind.

I wanted to invoke the sci-fi genre right from the start, so setting the cover in one of the ship’s corridor was always part of my plan. The representation of the main character, Evaline, was a more difficult decision for a number of reasons:

  • This is re-release of a story that was originally published in an anthology.
  • Since that release, I’ve been interested in updating it with ideas that didn’t make the original draft.
  • I also wanted to represent Evaline in some way, but in the original story she was only a disembodied voice.
  • To give her more presence that meant either putting an image on a computer screen, or creating a holographic presence, which was not originally in the story.

Was There A Way To Do What I Wanted?

After looking at some ideas for cover designs, I decided to go with a sci-fi corridor with a holographic figure to represent Evaline herself.

Having previously used 3D software, specifically Daz3D,I was already familiar with what was possible with the right tools at my disposal. I did a search through the database of 3D models available, and found a sci-fi corridor that looked matched my list of requirements. Then I took the base female figure and a basic pose and put her into the scene.

After some tweaking, I clothed her in a skin-tight outfit, which had sections I could hide, and then bought a shader that allowed me to turn the textures into holograms.

Once the image was rendered, I transferred it into Canva and overlaid it on a background color, before adding the title and author text.

And here was the first attempt, but there were several issues…

  • The text fonts didn’t match up very well
  • The pose was a little problematic, and too ‘sexy’ for my tastes
  • The presence of the background frame didn’t mesh well the current trends in sci-fi cover designs
  • I wasn’t keen on the colors or the outfit
  • Because of the 3d models, outfits, and tricks I’d used to build this particular hologram I didn’t have a lot of control over how it rendered
  • I also didn’t have any way to adjust the placement of the figure within the final image

So I Sought Help From Fellow Authors..

I approached some authors I’ve worked with in the past, so I could get some ideas of ways we could try and fix the issues. And once I got some feedback, I dove deeper into to capabilities of the 3D software, and online forums, in the hopes of figuring out the solutions. And here’s the result…

I think you’ll agree this is a much better cover. It was created in several steps…

  1. Setup the scene, with the figure in place, posed, and clothed in single color clothing.
  2. Light the entire scene.
  3. Render the corridor background, with the lighting effects already in place.
  4. Hide the figure and clothing.
  5. Render the corridor background.
  6. Remove the corridor and place the figure against a black background.
  7. Set all the clothing colors to solid black, and render the visible flesh areas and hair
  8. Set the figure and hair to black
  9. Add a digital opacity layer to clothing and set the colors
  10. Render just the clothing
  11. Import the individual layers into GIMP2 for editing.

How The Layers Stacked Up…

  • Layer 1 – Background (Mode=Normal, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 2 – Flesh #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 3 – Flesh #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 4 – Flesh #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 5 – Flesh #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 6 – Leggings #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 7 – Leggings #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 8 – Leggings #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 9 – Leggings #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 10 – Top & Shoes #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 11 – Top & Shoes #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 12 – Top & Shoes #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 13 – Top & Shoes #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)

As you can see, that’s a lot of layers… And that was all before I pulled the image into Canva and added the text layers.

So here’s a look at the images that went to the cover…

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And that folks, is how I wasted three weeks of writing and editing time…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the covers, or even my methods of creating them. Post in the comments below, or email me at timothy.bateson.author@gmail.com

Oh, and just between us… “Evaline Transcendent” will soon be available in the Kindle store… Once I’ve gone through some final edits, and finalized my revisions to the original story. There are aspects of the original story I wasn’t happy with, and plot points I wanted to update.