Your book cover is extremely important. People will often decide to pick up a book depending on whether the front cover catches their attention. I admit that I have done this on a few occasions. There are just so many books out there! So, of course you would narrow down your potential reads by choosing the 'cool' looking covers.
A book cover requires a certain 'wow' factor, especially in the Fantasy genre I believe. It needs to jump off the self of a book store, or off of a page on the internet, and scream, "READ ME!". Fantasy novels often need to show the reader straight away that they are, indeed, a fantasy novel, and this requires some artistic flair.
Looking at other fantasy book covers, I have found that those that stand out are those that are the most artistic in appearance. My favourite book covers come from Cassandra Clare's series 'The Mortal Instruments'. I adore the magical effects that are used on these covers; the smoky streams and light rays. I also love how at the bottom of the covers lie a city and above is the image of a person sounded by light. This strikes me as some kind of imagery where these people stand over the city, protecting it perhaps, without the citizens knowing.
I am currently designing my cover for Sky Stone. I am attempting to keep with the theme of fire and magic. I will find my images from a royalty free image website where I can purchase images for a reasonable price. I have found that most covers I like also include an image of a person and so I hope to find a photograph of a girl that represents my antagonist. In order to create something vaguely as impressive as the covers for 'The Mortal Instruments' I need to improve my graphics design skills but I look forward to this challenge!
Scarlett Van DIjk
Write about what you know – that’s a popular statement in the ‘list’; if you want to be a successful author. I suppose it’s a fair assertion because stories need to feel authentic and believable, so that the reader will easily relate and also invest in it and its characters.
However, when dealing with fantasy, it’s my opinion that anything goes and, really, what does anybody ‘know’ of worlds other than our own or characters with special powers or the magic pen that animates its narrative or yet the stepping into another dimension; whether it be full of dinosaurs or flying towards that second star to the right? All these things (to mention a few) are purely from the imagination.
Maybe fantasy has its own rules and yet, to date, I have not found any because if I come across a logistical problem or wonder ‘now is that believable enough?’ my imagination cunningly comes up with a plan, a route that allows the story to flow and bring a smile – and so far, I think it’s worked.
It’s important not to let others decide what you want to write. If you fancy writing romance or murder mysteries or psychological thrillers etc. then go for it – though I would say that there are certain rules to these genres, and yet, if I decide on any other type apart from fantasy, I tend not to stick to a formula but rather see where the story takes me. Characters too can lead me – I would say never underestimate their power. It may surprise you where you end up. Again, fantasy allows me complete freedom and I love the unpredictable journey and delight in the mystery.
To date I’ve written fantasy, horror, psychological thriller, murder mystery, humour, mystery adventure, contemporary short stories and non-fiction. I also write for children and adults, some dark, some light but always with meaning and I love to experiment – fantasy having no limits. I also write for me foremost since I must believe in my stories. Although I’m not sure if that’s right or wrong but I cannot work by any formula or keep in mind what is in fashion.
I write in a variety of genres due to the fact that I like to challenge my writing and so not to be bored, but fantasy will always be my favourite.
Is it, I wonder, because I don’t like rules?
I think that writing will always be the last frontier, so try delving into a fantasy world of your own making – you’ll never want to come back.
About Julie Elizabeth Powell
Hello everyone. If you haven't guessed by now I have a passion for words and have twelve books published...all thanks to Lulu and Kindle, much hard work and sleepless nights.
My eldest daughter has flown the nest and is married to a man who doesn't mind his mother-in-law though my son is still fluffing his feathers.
My middle child is off on a mysterious adventure, the like of which I can only guess...and tried to do so in my first book, Gone.
I love to read and am looking for ways to double time so to indulge in the mysterious and wonderful and delicious and strange...my favourite kind of story.
Writing is my passion, though I enjoy creating handcrafted cards, jewellery making, scrapbooking and dabbling in encaustic art whenever I can.
Oh yes, I used to teach or mark exam papers but now concentrate on writing and enjoying my new life, which materialised, as if by a miracle. Though still dislike all those necessary domestic chores that would, for me, be included in the Rings of Hell!
That's it. Thank you to anyone who reads my books...enjoy the flight!
Print books are available: www.lulu.com/julizpow
This week my father suffered a heart attack. I was terrified. My dad is a fit man, always outside being active, and yet such a thing still happened to him. He is home now and well with a new collection of pills to be taken each day. However, I'm suddenly very aware of him in my life.
The first thing that ran through my head as my mother pulled me out of clinical placement early, was not that something might have happened to somebody close to me, but that perhaps I had done something wrong. Let's say I would have preferred the guilt or humiliation of that than the fear I felt at hearing the news that my father was in hospital.
This event made me think about how close I could have been to losing him and also that I have been taking his presence for granted. There are many people in my life that I care about but have never considered the possibility of never seeing one of them again. So, I ask you now, to think about the people close to you. Have you been taking them for granted too?
Another thing this event has reminded me of is to not waste your life trying to impress people who are set on not caring for you in return. Life is limited so it's best to surround yourself with those you love and who love you back. Life's too short to feel miserable when there is so much to enjoy out there. If those people don't have time for me, then I don't have time for them either.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My journey into writing has led me on a remarkable adventure. Unlike others who come from a strong writing background; mine waited to unfold. Life often tells it own tale; a marriage, children and of course the joys and sorrows that sculpt our own unique personalities. Twenty years ago I couldn’t imagine writing a book, never mind three. Although I was always inspired by the arts, I never had the foresight to see what was locked away inside my own mind. A fairytale of sorts was waiting to be told; all I needed was the time and presence of mind to do so. No longer is writing a fantasy it has now become my life. My name is Michele Kunz; I am a mother, a wife and an author. There are three books in the Guardian of the Stone collection and I have spent the last few years bringing my characters to life. Guardian of the Stone is the story of human frailty and the will to survive; it is the epic tale of good verses evil, with surprising twists and a staggering ending. It exemplifies art-imitating life in its purest form, and the people in my life are often reflected in my writing.
After completing three books I decided it was time to publish them, and have spent the last year learning all I can about the publishing industry. There are so many reasons to walk away and never realize my dreams, but then why would I have been given this remarkable gift. Authors are no longer measured by their body of work, you must be prepared to promote yourself and make yourself known long before your books are even published. The writer is required to build a fan base by reaching out through social media and generating numbers. These days I spend more time trying to promote my books then I do actually writing. Unfortunately today there is little chance of a new artist being picked up by a major publishing house. The publishing industry has seen so many changes, with more and more authors turning to self-publishing. I however still hold onto the hope of being picked up by a traditional publishing house, but have promised myself not to get discouraged by the process. I believe that my books were written for a reason. They appeal to young adults who are looking for a new adventure in reading; one that focuses upon the adventure and the characters, and is not overshadowed by sex. They were written with great authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in mind. I wrote my books with moral concepts that take place in a fictional world, a place where the reader can escape even if for a little while, a place where it is okay to dream. I am inspired by life and write because it is what I love to do. All writers believe in fairytales and use their own unique vision to create what others can only imagine. I write because I was meant to do so and today I believe that I am an author…
About Michele Kunz
Michele Kunz is an author, blogger, and artist. She is a fiction writer whose stories appeal to young adults as well as anyone looking for a new adventure in reading. Her books include Guardian of the Stone, The Deliverer and On the Breath of Dawn. She was credited in 2002 for a donated work, Who I Am. If you would like to get in touch with Michele, you can do so through LinkedIn, Twitter @elfite and on her blog site http://guardianofthestone.com/ You can also follow her on Writer’s Shack at http://www.rileybanks.net/everything-reviews-and-interviews.html Michele lives with her husband and children in New York.
Guardian of the Stone is a comprehensive manuscript. There are two stories that conclude the saga; with three books that complete the collection. The second book, The Deliverer is the sequel. Each story takes the reader on a mystical journey, captivating their imagination. This is the story of human frailty and the will to survive; it is the epic tale of good verses evil, with surprising twists and a staggering ending. Guardian of the Stone is a story of endurance and hope and leaves the reader wanting more; The Deliverer completes the narrative and gives the reader closure. The third book; On the Breath of Dawn, tells the story from the beginning... Guardian of the Stone, is on file with the U.S. Copyright Office at The Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
Creatures are an aspect of fantasy writing that many people have different opinions on. You either love them or hate them. But writers, as I have said in a previous post, write what you want to write. If you want to include a blood hungry centaur or a loving land octopus in to your story then do so, but perhaps consider all the different aspects of your creature. Whether your creature is a creature of fables and myths or whether they are an original creation, try to think of them as if they were another character.
Appearance is a fairly obvious consideration but it is an aspect of creature creation none-the-less. I like to think of the appearances of real animals and combine them. How many legs do they have? Are they an insect/reptile/mammal/bird/fish? Are they furry/scaly/prickly? What colour are they? How big?
As an example I'll list the appearance for the keer from my novel, Sky Stone.
It helps to be able to design and draw the creature to formalise the image within your mind. If you don't like drawing then find images on the internet of any animals you are using to build your creature. It may also help to dot point the appearance in a similar way to how I did just above.
All animals have typical personality traits. Cats, for instance, are seen as being pompous and elegant. Think about how your creature will respond to different aspects of life. How do they react to threats? Do they run or fight? How do they react to strangers? Are they aggressive or placid? Are they easily frightened? Are they playful or lazy? Are they shy or self-assured? Of course, individuals may have their own layer of personality but you don't need to worry about that unless you have a creature as a recurring character.
Keer are very shy animals but become extremely aggressive if cornered. In this case, their appearance changes. They grow in size, their horns and fangs lengthen and their markings turn red. One keer, my character Ilyarahh, has an earring that allows her to control this transformation.
Habitat and Lifestyle
Where does your creature live? Appearance may give us some insight here (or vice versa). A creature with thick fur may live in cold areas while a fish, well, obviously lives in water. Do they live in snow/water/forest/mountains? Landscapes can affect what types of physical traits they will require in order to live.
What does your creature eat? Are they carnivores, vegetarian or omnivore? This may also affect what physical traits they require. Carnivores require sharp canines and claws while vegetarians don’t. Does your creature even eat? For instance, keer live by absorbing magic and hence live in areas of high magical concentration.
Other lifestyle aspects you may need to consider are:
How are they seen by humans?
How does your typical human react to these creatures? Perhaps they are fearful, curious, or friendly. Do they try to kill, capture or tame them? is the human able to use the creatures somehow? Are the creatures fearsome enough that humans must run from them? Can they cohabitate and work together?
In the case of my keer, most humans fear them due to their transformations. However, they are also curious.
What else? The above points are what I believe are the most important in defining your character but you can always add more dimensions. For instance, does the creature have special abilities? My keer are able to sprout wings and fly.
As always, writing is about enjoying your imagination. Revel in it and create something extraordinary!
If you have created a creature let me know about it in the comments section. See you next week.
Scarlett Van Dijk
I published my first book in 2012 and next month my second book will be released by Penguin Australia’s Destiny Romance imprint. So I am in the position to know some of what works if you want to be published in fiction. These are the six most important things you have to do to be successful in writing.
1. Determination and Persistence.
I can’t stress enough how important this is. You have to want to succeed. You have to strive to improve each day, month, year and manuscript. Have a picture in your mind and a certainty in your heart of what it will look like and feel like to be published, to have readers who love your words.
I can link much of my success to my connection with a wonderful mentor, Louise Cusack. You need to find someone who clicks with you, who is experienced in writing and publishing your genre and who can teach you the important stuff. You might even have to pay your mentor and believe me, it’s money well spent.
You can’t edit your words until they’re written. Getting into consistent habits of daily writing no matter how may words you get down, will see you succeed in finishing your first manuscript. After all, that’s the most common reason that people fail at anything- inability to finish the job, or even start.
4. Make writing a priority.
Take your writing seriously and others, including your family, will take it seriously too. Think of it as a job, decide on an amount of time you will devote to it on a daily or weekly basis, and do it. Do not let your writing get pushed aside by the demands of your family. The only way you will be able to avoid this is by scheduling regular and non-negotiable writing time. No excuses!
5. Take opportunities.
Put yourself out there, take a risk, dare to fail. You learn a lot each time you fail. My writing journey has taken fifteen years and step by step I built the momentum that led to seeing my work published. Take a course, actually, take many courses- each one will teach you something; enter competitions; submit your manuscript once it is properly edited; revise your manuscript when unsuccessful and submit to someone else; talk to authors; attend conferences and join writing organisations.
6. Create an on-line presence.
Participate in social media and create a web site or blog. You can’t have a viable writing career these days without having a presence on-line. It takes a while to understand how the various forms of social media work so it’s good to be tech savvy before you’re published. Once you succeed in getting that contract you will then be ready to market yourself and your work. Plus digital media is a wonderful way to connect with other writers and learn about writing.
I could go on listing ways to succeed but these are the absolutely critical steps in success as a writer. But don’t just read this and say ‘one day’. Do it now!
About Bernadette Rowley
Bernadette Rowley is a writer and veterinarian who was born on the Sunshine Coast and now lives in Townsville, Australia. She has been immersed in the world of speculative fiction since her early teens and remembers being spellbound by Tolkien and Brooks and their epic quests. It is not surprising that her stories contain more than a little magic. Bernadette’s debut novel Princess Avenger was released by Penguin Group Australia in 2012 and her second book, The Lady’s Choice, will be released in October 2013.
Bernadette's blog: http://bernadetterowley.com/
Today I will share with you a field that I only recently discovered to be not only personally interesting, but quite influential on my writing and reading. This was a field of study that, for most of my life, I found boring and difficult to grasp. I know now that I only feel as though my mind and horizons have expanded considerably since reading and learning about economics.
What place has something as seemingly cold and pragmatic has economics in fantasy writing? Quite prevalent, in fact, and according to Jim Worstall, who wrote an article at Forbes called, Science Fiction and Fantasy to Learn Economics From, he quoted someone for saying that:
...most science fiction is about economics. What makes most future visions interesting is not just the technical particulars of the cool new Stuff, but the social ramifications.
A great example of this in sci-fi would be Frank Herbert's Dune, a book I confess I cite often. In the story, we have a fictional substance called melange, or "the spice," which is the single most valuable commodity in the known universe (and the Duniverse is quite expansive).
The story of Dune centers around various galactic factions struggling to maintain control over the one source of Melange, the planet Arakkis (nicknamed 'Dune'), and if you think about it, most wars throughout history have been fought to decide control over resources. Economic reasons are arguably easier to digest than idealistic.
Control of Dune means more than untold wealth. Control of Dune means control of the spice, which Means control of the destiny of the human race. There are betrayals, deep political intrigue, and let's not forget outright violent conflict, all as a direct result from the plots and schemes of powerful folks as they struggle to hold Arakkis.
In fantasy, a great story can also have economics central to the plot. Those familiar with Baldur's Gate (recently remastered and released) know what I am talking about. It's a realm where much of Dungeons & Dragons took place, and the story itself is loaded with fantastical elements and all manner of side stories. The central plot arc, however, is quite simple, and in it's simplicity lays its brilliance: an iron shortage.
Consider this seriously for a moment. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear medieval? Or fantasy? Chances are you think about swords, or armor, or the lack of clean running water. But anyone who knows anything about medieval cultures knows that the blacksmith was a hugely important individual. All manner of things were made of metal, as you know, such as spoons, hooks, door hinges, horseshoes - basically everything that holds a society physically together.
Now take away the iron. Better yet, introduce a fantasy element that "poisons" the iron mine, tainting the ore and causing a sort of blight to occur so that iron and steel everywhere starts to deteriorate. The society, too, begins to deteriorate, which is exactly the goal of the villain. Long story short, the kingdom will go to war with itself - over iron.
Economics is a study of statistics, yes, but also psychology. These are not useless things with which one might familiarize one's self when writing a compelling story or fleshing out a world. Imagine how exotic a world would be if they had no salt. Something we take for granted and pretty much have in abundance. How would a society be structured around the acquisition, refining and protection of salt?
Ask the vikings.
Here's the takeaway: I used to think economics was boring and dry. Are there any topics you consider unnecessary when it comes to writing? You might be surprised. Or, were there any subjects that, like me, you discovered to be fascinating and relevant?
About Jesse Rebock
I’m an aspiring Fantasy author, occasional gamer, and appreciator of all things imaginative. Except for MoMA and jellyfish.
I was born in Connecticut, was raised in the Catskills of New York, and matured in New Jersey. I’ve traveled a little and hope to travel much more in the future; life is an experience and I’m hoping to experience quite a lot. Along the way I work as a freelance editor
Favorite and Most Influential Books: Shogun (James Clavell), Ravnica: City of Guilds Trilogy (Cory J. Herndon), Dune (Frank Herbert), Foundations (Isaac Asimov) and Robert E. Howard's Conan adventures.
Fantasy and Writing Blog: http://redamnesia.wordpress.com
Freelance Editing: rebockediting.blopspot.com
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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