The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for the “About the Fantasy Worlds of Lita Burke” blog.
The year 2013 draws to a close, and tonight it will be party time for Lita and many others. Let us first indulge in some sober reflection (apologies for the wicked pun) before we open the champagne.
How well did this marvelous airship of a blog transport Gentle Reader there and back again to Lita Burke’s elsewhere worlds? Which post was the most popular destination in 2013? It talked about how fiction writers go invisible in the real world. Who were the top four lovely people that referred others to the blog? The news thrilled Lita to find two new blog friends on this list of referrers. Here is an excerpt from the Lita Burke Blog Annual Report:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.
Thank you for visiting in 2013, Gentle Reader. More journeys to Lita Burke’s fantasy worlds await you in 2014.
We shall have so much fun this coming year, hobnobbing with our fellow wizards and sneaking luscious cinnamon-chocolate-peppery spiced magical kisses from the Enchanters.
Be sure to get your seat on the airship for the next Clockpunk Wizard story Glitter Ponies early in 2014. A little later in the year, we will return to the Enchanters of Sye world with Ghost Orchid.
Let’s talk today about how us introverted fiction writers vex our outgoing opposites. At best, extroverts wonder why we’re so silent. At worst, we fade away.
Lita recently read an article describing the differences between introverts and extroverts. The blog suggested fiction writers are introverts. Of course, we are. Let us explore this fantasy world.
Introverts have rich “inner lives,” prefer quiet environments, enjoy conversations about deep topics, and relish time alone to recharge. Do not confuse introverts with shy people; if properly motivated, introverts are outgoing and charming at a party. But after an hour, the effort exhausts the introverts and we are the first people to flee the gale, I mean gala, and seek a quiet place to regain our wits.
Extroverts thrive in interactions with others. They are party hounds, love small talk, and flock to high-energy people-oriented activities. Extroverts tolerate only small doses of “alone time” before they pick up the phone and seek the company of others. They talk about their families, their hobbies, and most anything that pops in to their head without stopping for breath. How they do go on. They produce a deluge of words, and seek affirmation in the dazzling verbal environment of person-to-person interactions. Fiction writer Lita endured a lifetime of extroverts trying to fix her calm and introspective ways. I wasn’t okay, to their point of view. Nonsense.
Reason #1: Invisibility is Real
Talking heads dominate television. Sporting events have non-stop commentators. Radio DJs chatter. Internet videos analyze everything from the latest celebrity drivel to pointless arguments on how orangutan look (or don’t look) like people.
But there are non-talking persons out there–the introverts. It’s like we have no mouthes. But we can talk plenty. More on this in a few minutes.
Talk, talk, and talk. Because introverts are not talking, we can fade from an extrovert’s notice. I’ve had extroverts continue their talking over the top of my sentences as if I wasn’t speaking. I continued to utter words, and they could not hear me. When I stopped giving non-verbal clues to encourage their outpour, they continued. I’ve even walked away in their mid-sentence (yes, even my patience has limits), and they talked to empty air. Who said invisibility isn’t real?
Reason #2: Inner Worlds are Talking Plenty
Introverts may have rich inner lives, but introverted writers carry entire worlds inside our heads. These inner worlds whisper, show us images, and endlessly present our story characters’ feelings, thoughts, and actions. We write down the images, sensations, and yes, the words.
This process sounds creepy only if you’re an extrovert. Writers are nodding by now because this is where the ideas for our stories come from. Here is the origin of “creativity.”
Of the fellow fiction writers I’ve talked with, each describes a different creative process. Some say they meditate, exercise, or get close to nature to release their inner stories. Some call it a muse who shats on their heads, while others shrug and say they have no idea how the stories come to them. But the stories appear spontaneously, much the same way the brain runs the heart and lungs with no tending by our conscious minds.
I have good news for the introverts. Fiction writing is the only acceptable occupation where it is okay to listen to the voices inside your head, write down their words, and not have the extroverts worry about your sanity.
Reason #3: Welcome to the Other Worlds
People love fiction, fantasy, and make-believe. As children, our play was making up stories and acting them out with toys and playmates. As adults, we struggle with the responsibilities of caring for family, tending careers, and generally seeing to accumulated responsibilities. But many of us love watching a good movie, or yes, reading a good book.
Where exactly are fictional places like Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and Narnia, on a map? For that matter, where does a Klingon, glitter-faced vampire, and Tinkerbell come from? Can you describe The Force? The Matrix? What Frankenstein’s monster looks like?
All of these pretend people, places, and things, first came from worlds inside of writers’ heads. To the extroverts reading this, please do not worry. Those worlds are a delight to explore. Come, take the introverted writer’s hand, and joins us. We will have such fun, then the writer will see you safely home.
Here is the just-finished cover for Forever Boy. I wanted to talk about some of the thoughts that went into its design.
I considered, then discarded, several elements. Vitruvian Man? Didn’t work. Hot air balloon? Nope. Curlicue text frames? Looked like a restaurant’s menu cover. So I settled on these design elements:
Create a series theme
Must have a boy & dog
Imply time or clocks
Other must-haves applied. The title must be legible when reduced to thumbnail size. Since Forever Boy is an Ebook, the cover must look good on a computer screen and various eReader devices.
Create a series theme
Forever Boy is the first tale in the Clockpunk Wizard series of novellas. The stories will stand alone, so Gentle Reader can peruse the stories out-of-order, if desired. The series covers need a common theme. What about a volume number? I came close to using one, but cut it at the very end. I decided on “A Clockpunk Wizard Story” somewhere near the title. All covers in the series will display this phrase.
Must have a boy & dog
In an earlier post, I talked about the central character’s cyanthrope nature. His discovery of this magical duality, and taking action about it, is the theme of Forever Boy. For weeks I taxed my GIMP knowledge to create a sophisticated morph of a boy and dog face. Not pretty. The two different pics with moody lighting is much better than any of my amateurish photo morphs. No need to thank me for this decision. Believe me, this result is much better.
Imply time or clocks
Clockwork mechanisms are central to how magic works in the Clockpunk Wizard world. I had to put a clock or time element on the cover. There are many lovely stock photos of old watches, clock faces, and ticktock mechanisms. I picked a full-page parchment picture with the clock faces already sprinkled in the lower left corner. I applied a filter to darken the background to take the emphasis off of the clock faces and instead focus on the boy and dog.
The clockpunk genre sets its stories in the latter 15th and early 16th centuries, in the time of the Renaissance and the devices of Leonardo Di Vinci. Actual book covers from this time have ornate, repeating design patterns and simple book titles. Lovely, but not eye-catching according to modern tastes. There are two Renaissance elements in the Forever Boy cover:
The ornate mirror frame is a nod to my discarded curlicues. The frame is a hint of vintage embellishment, not a glut of it. It is a more balanced design, too. Using Garamond font was a sneaky Renaissance ploy. This beautiful classic font is still used in many print books. It is easy to read. And it is correct to the time period of the magic world in Forever Boy.
What goes in the script? What’s a budget-friendly source for high-quality photos? How do movie and book trailers differ?
Nic of Bookmark Reviews recently interviewed me, Lita Burke, and I told him the low-down on how I created a high-quality book trailer for under $100 for Tredan’s Bane. I told all about how to create a script, where to get compelling photos and music, and even how to assemble the trailer.
Nic is a reviewer at a fresh, new blog featuring honest critiques of indie books in a variety of genres. The blog also highlights candid writer interviews. Nic’s well-designed site makes it easy to scan titles and jump into a book’s nitty-gritty review. So, what is the difference between movie and book trailers? Read Nic’s interview to find out.
I want to talk about a book that showed me a strong woman in a fascinating-anything-possible world: Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars by Ellen MacGregor.
About the Story
Miss Pickerell is a spinster on her way home from the fair where she was exhibiting a rock collection. In her very old car, she gives Mr. Haggerty a ride. He is the navigator on a spaceship bound for Mars. The unflappable Miss Pickerell disbelieves this until she finds the spaceship parked in her pasture just as bold as you please. Her curiosity gets the best of her. Snooping gets Miss Pickerell on the flight to Mars in place of Mr. Haggerty.
How We Met
I met Miss Pickerell by happenstance when I was six years old, via my older brother’s bookshelf. Miss P convinced me of two things: confidence in myself, and science was nothing to fear. Her cool head and no-nonsense way of talking with the men made this painfully shy young woman find the confidence to blossom into a life-long technology geek and a ravenous reader. She’s one of a few story characters responsible for my venture into writing fantasy.
How She Whispers in My Novels
Miss P’s way still gives me a smile. I’ve crossed paths with many curmudgeonly people since her. This daunting woman who loved her cow and collected rocks showed me that not all grouches are bad. Some of her derring-do finds its way into my female characters, although I tone down the grumpiness.
What about the science in Miss P’s world–it seems almost silly now, but what did it mean to an introverted little girl with a big imagination? It convinced me that anything was possible. Magic and wonderful creatures in fantasy worlds are only a computer keyboard away. And even feisty spinsters can fly to Mars.
I’m pleased to present the final cover for Tredan’s Bane. This is by far the most detailed composition I’ve done to date for an Ebook cover. I had the following high-level goals when I started the design:
1. Use high-contrast text
2. Merge at least two photos
3. Must contain a magic book
4. Show a scene from the story
Setting the Scene
My first task was to set the mood and pick a candidate scene from the story. The first scene was a workbench, where a magician would create magical charms. Second was a cobblestone street with an intricate fountain. The third scene was the interior of a ghost amulet.
I searched through online photo sites, found, then discarded, pics of workbenches and rustic city streets. Three “grunge” interiors caught my eye–perfect for the inside of a poorly made ghost amulet.
Book and Frame
After discovering many lovely images of magic books (most have smoke, glitter, or light rays), I selected a vector art magic book with blue streamers and twinkling white sparkles rising from its open pages. I explain why the journal has blue magic in the story (I know, I’m being a tease!).
The gold-gilt frame was an easy discovery from the many online samples. This selected picture frame was what I had pictured in my mind’s eye when I wrote the corresponding scene in Tredan’s Bane.
Composing the Interior
I used the photo editing software GIMP to create Tredan’s Bane cover.
My overall strategy for the interior scene was to start with the smallest elements, and worked my way outward. I first joined the sparkling magic book and its surrounding picture frame. I made it a transparent layer, then reduced its size to scale it on the rest of the interior scene.
I then selected a grunge background with a red leather chair, and cropped the picture to balance the floor, chair, and space for the framed picture. I positioned the book on the wall, with an eye toward balancing the space between the chair and picture.
The first try had the picture on the left, and the chair on the right. This wouldn’t work for what I had planned for the book title. I flipped the picture to put the chair and framed book in their current locations.
To get the picture’s fade into a black background, I feathered the outer edges of the completed interior to black.
Assemble the Layout
It was time to assemble the cover’s components. I created a new 500 by 700 pixel blank background, and filled it with black. Added the completed interior as a layer, and adjusted its positioning within the background. My goal was to leave the top third of the background for the book title text, and have the bottom quarter for the author’s name.
Time to add the words. I used GIMP’s text tool for the top title, and experimented with the font and text color until it looked balanced, had high contrast, and filled the top third of the background. I did the same for the author’s name in the bottom fourth of the background.
Final Magical Touch
Tredan’s magical journal is his bane. To emphasize this, but still be subtle, I added a blur to the interior scene, except for the magic book inside of the picture frame. Tredan’s journal is vivid, and it sparkles with Enchanter’s magical essence.
Check out the new appearance, organization, and artwork for LitaBurke.com. The facelift features a cleaner look with easy links of the left side of the page. The blog posts now show tags and other info on a crisp white background to make them easier on the eyes.
The banner artwork has also changed to capture the spirit of Lita’s fantasy worlds. All you’ll need to travel to Sye is one of Lita’s books and the willingness to go on an adventure. You can find Lita most days at the Isor Enchanter School. If she’s not there, GrandMaster Sahn can cast a spell to find Lita if she’s out on an errand at the fish market with one of the School’s dragonettes, or searching for talkative ghosts in Isor’s Old Church Catacombs.