Posts Tagged With: Cover Art

Zack Jackson & the Secret of Venus Cover Art

Once again, Joshua Pinkas has come through with some excellent, nay, AMAZING cover art for the next book in the Zack Jackson series.

We get a great view of Cytherea at the bottom right as well as an awesome… well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out what’s going on.

Zack Jackson & the Secret of Venus will be available on Kindle and in print early Spring 2018.

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Lament Cover art Revealed!

As Lament goes into the final round of proofreading, I now have the finished cover art!

Lily Yang once again lent her talents to my cover (you’ve seen her work before on Malediction), and did a fantastic job.

Lament cover final lowres

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Wings of Twilight – Redux!

OK, so the book itself isn’t changing. That would be silly. But, since it now has a sequel, I decided the covers should match in style so that it’s obvious by looking at them that Wings of Twilight and Iron Fist of the Oroqs are related. I commissioned all new art from Jason Rainville and have redesigned the cover from scratch. I invite you to comment upon it in the comments. I may tweak it a bit here and there yet. I expect it to go live this week. Those of you with Kindle versions will get the new cover automatically. Those of you with the Rowena Aitken cover in print, well, maybe I’ll because famous enough one day that they’ll have value as “First Editions”. Otherwise, it’s an interesting bit of history.

Now, for the record, I think Rowena did a great job on Wings of Twilight‘s original cover. But, this new cover make it much easier to tell that the two books are part of the same series. If I ever do an omnibus edition, I’ll put all the art in the book, though that might make the print edition prohibitively expensive unless I do a Kickstarter or something, but that’s years away.

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Cover Art Evolution – Zack Jackson, part 12

Since there were no characters depicted on the back cover, the artwork didn’t take nearly as much time as did the front cover. I like how the “trees” (I call them “gobelek trees” in the book) look so weird. It’s like some mad scientist crossbred mushrooms and trees, which is exactly what I was going for. The sky also suggests the scene on the cover takes place at sunset, and since sunsets are one of my favorite things of which to take photos, I’m all for that. Sadly, this is the best look most people will get of this picture since there’ll be a cover blurb, barcode, ISBN number and all that covering it. The e-book probably won’t have this included at all.

Kudos to Scott Christian Sava for all his hard work!

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Cover Art Evolution – Zack Jackson, part 11

With the front cover done, Scott Sava embarked upon the back cover. In one way, the back cover was easier: no characters. In another way, it was more difficult: he was more comfortable with figures than with landscapes.

The first idea continues the cliffs in the background and shows the crashed escape pod which deposited the children on Bestic. I liked the idea, and described to Scott the scene he would be depicting:

“The ship they crash in is their cabin from the larger ship. Each cabin is designed to act as a lifeboat/escape pod in the event of an emergency. I don’t think I described in detail what it looked like when it was detached from the ship, but by the time they exit, it’s resting up against one of the fungus tree things after tumbling down part of the mountain in an avalanche. The retrieval locator beacon on top of the pod is broken.”

We then felt that might be a little too much detail for the back cover. Designing artwork for the back cover is tricky because most of it will be covered up by the ISBN number, barcode, pricing information, cover blurb, etc. It’s artwork that will only fully be appreciated if you don’t see it in the context of the book for which it was created. That doesn’t mean you should just phone it in, but you have to be aware that most of it, to most of the world, is going to be obscured.

So, we went back to the original idea: the forest of vaguely mushroom-looking trees. It’s a little less complex than the first time we tinkered with this idea. The idea of a forest of giant mushrooms isn’t new, but I’ll be darned if a little poking around didn’t reveal that things like this actually exist on this very plant!

Dracaena cinnabari, the Socotra Dragon Tree, or Blood Dragon Tree grows on an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The real plant is not a fungus. Mine are. Sort of. Anyway, they’re visually similar, proving once again, there’s nothing new under the sun, even when it’s an alien sun.

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Cover Art Evolution – Zack Jackson, part 10

And the front cover is finished! The artist, Scott Christian Sava, added visible breath to Mungus and detailed the snow. I think it looks pretty fantastic. Not only will serve as an eye-catching cover (I hope), but it’ll look great on my wall since it’s a watercolor and I’ll get the original.

The next step is the back cover. We were originally going to do a wrap-around, but as I explained in a previous post, he was having trouble with the illustration and split it into two pieces. Wraparounds are always tricky when you don’t have a final page count anyway, as you don’t know how wide to make the area that will cover the book’s spine. Zack Jackson & The Cult of Athos is sitting on my desk awaiting revisions while I work on Iron Fist of the Oroqs, so that final page count is some months away.

I also haven’t decided yet if I’ll include an educational component with Zack Jackson, namely a glossary of some of the more advanced scientific terms and concepts I talk about in the book. I bend the laws of physics in a couple of places, so it might be neat to include simplified explanations of how we believe the universe really works. Then again, I wouldn’t want to destroy someone’s believe in our ability to travel to other worlds. That would be sad.

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Cover Art Evolution – Zack Jackson, part 9

The front cover is almost finished! You can see here the background is colored in. In my initial vision, the mountains were more classical, snow-capped, jagged peaks. In the painting, they’ve taken on a more mesa-like appearance. I asked the artist, Scott Christian Sava, about this. He said that he thought the colors worked better this way, and I have to agree. It lends a warmth to the snowy landscape that makes the scene appear less bleak, in my opinion. Furthermore, it got me thinking about the way I describe the planet’s environs and I have decided to update the descriptions to match this painting more closely. I think it lends a more alien air to Bestic; makes it more otherworldly to have terrain that isn’t quite like it would be on Earth.

So, in this case, seeing the artwork gave me ideas of ways I could improve the manuscript.

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Cover Art Evolution – Zack Jackson, Part 8

I got to see Mungus colored and Ix colored on the same day, so I won’t split that into two different posts. It’s pretty amazing to see my character come to life like this. At this point, I’m pretty much just sending feedback that says “Wow, this looks great. Good work!” In my opinion, once the colors are down on canvas, I’d have to be real jerk to make anything more complicated than minor tweaks.

Good communication with the artist is key to making sure you don’t have to be a jerk. I always make sure I give them as much information up front as I can and when I see the initial sketches bring up anything I forgot. By the time the artist gets around to coloring the art and finalizing the illustration, there’s not much for me to say except marvel at their work.

Which is as it should be.

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Cover Art Evolution – Zack Jackson, part 7

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or whatever end-of-year religious/secular holiday you celebrate. My Christmas was great. So here we are, 2012. The manuscript for Zack Jackson & the Cult of Athos has had its first read through, and I’m ready to start revisions prior to finding an editor.

In the meantime, I’ve had another look at the cover. You can see here a detail of one of the non-human characters in the book, Mungus. Mungus is an Ersidian, a species of ursines who live in the mountains of their world. Ersidians share their planet with the Uurts, who are nomadic plains-dwellers. Uurts are like the Ersidian version of a centaur, if centaurs were bears. They mostly get along now, and you’ll see members of both species working together. Mungus sees himself as dominant over everyone else he’s around, at least until they prove themselves to him. Ersidians have a strong tradition of honorable combat; a warrior culture, though that is less relevant in a society that enjoys interstellar travel. They still cling to some of the old traditions, though it’s mostly lip-service.

He seems fierce and prideful, but Mungus is still young; he’s equivalent to about 14 in Earth years. He’s a little older than Zack, but still quite immature, i.e. his bark is worse than his bite.

It’s really exciting watching this cover come together. Not only is it going to look great on everyone’s book shelves, but it’ll look great hanging on my wall.

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Cover Art Evolution – Zack Jackson, part 6

After painting Zack, Scott Christian Sava painted Jenny. Despite being from a monstly-French habitat, I decided depict the character with darker skin and almond-shaped eyes because I figure two thousand years from now, we’ll probably have a little more homogeneity among humans, especially among those who have move out of their insular communities on Earth and live amongst the stars.

Jenny’s uniform is pink because at this point, she doesn’t really take the Junior Ranger thing seriously. It’s one of those things her parents are making her to do “build character” and to give her some life experience outside of the Messier Habitat. Someone like that wouldn’t make the concession of wearing such a drab and utilitarian uniform, so she insisted her parents have her made one in the style of some of the more popular fashions. After all, why should she look as dull and boring as the rest of the Junior Rangers? Especially since they have to let various cultures express themselves.

She gets better.

It’s pretty hard writing for a twelve-year-old boy. But at least I have some experience at that. I’ve never been a fourteen-year-old girl, though, so I found it challenging to write for Jenny without falling into a trap of clichĂ© and stereotypes. I tried to portray her as someone from a nationalistic, insular community growing up in a privileged family. Frankly, she would have some pretty unreasonable expectations about the way things work, and the events in the story end up being a rude awakening for Jenny.

Zack ends up being the kind of kid who is too inexperienced to realize what he thinks is “cool”, “awesome”, and “fun” is actually really dangerous and sometimes stupid. Jenny ends up being the more realistic of the two humans because she has grown up living in a space habitat and knows that people can die in horrible ways in the void between the stars.

This series will have a short hiatus for the holidays. My artist has some prior commitments he needs to take care; once those are done, he’ll be able to paint some more of this cover.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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