Celebrating, 11 March, 2016

11 March, 2016 Celebrate The Small Things

Welcome to this lovely blog hop, started by VikLit, bless her!
Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits are presiding.

Check them out and be prepared to smile!

What am I celebrating?  Well, changes, comings and goings. I spoke of Jesse James (my darling old dog) earlier.  He’s left quite a hole in my household, but lots of smiles, as well.  And it appears that we may be having a new little presence in a couple months in the form of a puppy.  Jesse’s wisdom and humor linger.  We learned a lot from him, and the puppy will benefit from the years we had him.  Meanwhile, we’re remembering and smiling.

On another front, I am finishing two stories, a full-length novel set in Paris and a fable that I’ve mentioned before…  Or, I will be once I start up again in April.  I’ve been beta-reading (VERY enjoyable!) doing this and that.

And fiddling with things.

Large male saltwater crocodile, Australia

Which brings me to my celebration.  I have a cover nearly finished for the fable.  I’ve posted a version of it before.  It prominently features a magnificent crocodile that is a major force in the story.  The photo I found was perfect…  It had been printed in a newspaper.  If you are using photographs or other images, you must, if you are honest, verify that they are in the public domain and, if not, secure a license to use them.  As an amateur photographer, I understand what goes into taking what your eye sees and turning it into a work of art.

So, the crocodile.  I searched for the photographer…and I finally found him.  Or, rather, his name.  I looked him up by name and located his website.  At his website, I swallowed hard and took a deep breath.

The man was a superb photographer.  He did work for the National Geographic Society.  He was as good as Galen Rowell (if you know photography, you will know the name).  I couldn’t possibly afford him.

But one must ask.  I wrote to him, told him what I wanted the image for, explained how I had tracked him down, and inquired whether I might purchase a license to use the photograph.  Knowing his quality and my budget, I also started looking at stock images…

And I received this response:

Hi Diana
Thanks for your enquiry. I can confirm that the image of the crocodile is one I took in 2005. The Courier Mail published it without my permission (which is far from unheard of). I have full copyright over the image however I preference how I license images depending on the status/capacity of the use, and the user etc.

I would like to provide you use of this image as a courtesy, since I appreciate the demands on writers in bringing their work to completion. I also appreciate the obvious effort you have gone to contact me.

I have attached a higher res version of the image to assist you.

If you are able to publish your work it would be great to receive a copy.
Good luck.

Kind Regards

I looked at the image he had attached and reread the note.  The book will be published and he will receive a copy as well as credit for the image.

…and I am celebrating the nearly finalized cover that I can use now that I have cleared permissions:

(Stars are very important in the story)

What are you celebrating?

Crocodile Rockin’ – Two book covers

I have said before that I sometimes do graphic work, usually for myself.  I find it enjoyable, and it allows me to pretend that I am an artist like the rest of my family.  If you check my books, you will see my work, since I design my book covers, myself.  …Although the Crocodile story needs a cover that I can’t design.  I think.  I’ll try it shortly… or maybe I’ll listen to my family: 

The Sea Witch by Frank Frazetta

Keep working on that and you’ll mess it up and you’ll never be be able to fix it!

Ordinarily I’d snort derisively, but Frank Frazetta tells a story about ‘losing’ the mean expression on the face of the central figure in his painting ‘Sea Witch’:

Of course, I could say that since my idea of a good time is not to stand in a gale with my clothes being pulled to pieces by the wind, with a giant iguana sneaking up behind me and a Kraken staring me in the eye between foaming waves, it isn’t a big deal for me.Picture

At any rate, I’ve been working on covers, most recently for a friend whose book, A Kiss For Moet, magical realism and beautifully written, needed a cover  overhaul. 

She approached me, asked in the most flattering way, and of course I agreed.  It was a nice challenge, and I was pleased with the result.

She provided the images, specifically the island in the center.  She had picked the font for the story, and it was all right.    But then, out of the blue, she contacted me. with an offer: a beta-read of anything if I’d fiddle with her cover.

I have a terrible shyness when it comes to beta-reads.  I have a fear that someone will read something of mine and give the beta-reader’s equivalent of ‘PEE-You!’ 

So I took a look at her cover, concluded that it didn’t need much work, and went to town.  It had a semi-magical alligator in it (it’s a nifty story) and I thought he needed a place on the cover.  She had a photograph of the island that is featured in it, and it’s a very pretty shot.  The rest involved adjusting things, tightening the composition, deepening colors, arranging texts, and I was finally finished:

She was flatteringly complimentary, reiterated her offer of a beta-read, and went off to post the cover.

She does write well, and works with Magical Realism, among other genres.  I’d recommend reading it.  The cover isn’t up yet (I just sent it to her this evening), but the book is very good.  You can get a copy on any Amazon store through this link.  She’s also available through various stores including Barnes & Noble, and anywhere else that Smashwords services.

    I keep a record of my projects, and I uploaded the cover to my website, on the same page as another story (mine) involving a large crocodilian and what happens when he comes to the earth and seeks to return to the sky (if you read it, it’ll make sense).  This one (the crocodilian, I mean) is more gentlemanly than her ‘gator (but that will make sense if you read the story).  Still, there are similarities.

Maybe I’ll send her the Crocodile for a beta-read?

…or maybe not.

It isn’t finished yet, in any event.

*Sigh.  And I must start uploading my other books, all six of them, to the various other bookselling sites.

It should be a busy end of summer…

                                                                   ‘Night, all!

Celebrating a Revelation…

Friday is celebration day thanks to VikLit’s delicious blog.  Every Friday we sit back and notice something that has happened that is worth celebrating.  A nice cup of tea?  A vacation?  an accomplishment at home or work?  Anything that makes you smile and count your blessings.

Today I am celebrating the fruits of yesterday’s revelation.  I had been feeling under a great deal of pressure for a number of reasons – my father’s impending funeral in December, a book I’m finishing up, another book I’m getting closer to finishing, the fact that I really need to organize my house…

It all came to a head (almost literally) yesterday when I stood, left my desk at work, strode out the door and took a twenty-minute walk through the parking lot.  People walk there a lot.  It is beautiful, as I had noticed driving in there, but I had never done it.  However, I needed to blow off some steam, it was ten minutes to eleven in the morning, and I needed to get out.

Crisp breezes were rattling the dry leaves on the trees.  The sun was sparkling – it was splendid and beautiful, and I will jot the description in one or another of my notebooks.  I was, however, striding along, gritting my teeth and thinking aloud.

…and it struck me, suddenly, that while there was a lot of stress at that moment, much of it was my own doing.

Dad’s funeral would go off in December at Arlington Cemetery with the caisson and the flag and the band and the buglers, and I would actually enjoy it, as would Dad.

And the books I was working on were publicly scheduled to be produced in 2014.

There was no reason for me to be spinning around like my cat chasing her tail.  I didn’t have to finish them tomorrow.  In fact, I didn’t have to burn myself out at all.

…The wind caught a gulley full of dry, red leaves and whirled them toward me with the sound of a stampeding herd.  I watched, transfixed.  It was splendid.

So…my being stressed out was my own silly doing.  I could set the projects down and work on my NaNoWriMo project, which promised to be fun  And I could spend twenty minutes a day decluttering.  (And maybe I should start with my mind?)

Twenty minutes later I was back at my desk, sipping a cup of hot coffee and smiling.  I put away my two WIP manuscripts.  I’ll fiddle with them in December.

And last night I designed the (projected) cover for my NaNo effort (It’s a fantasy/fable)  It needs work, such as making it apparent that we are looking at a crocodile and not a rock, but this is OK for now: