These random ramblings and author musings are designed to entertain, though they might drag you kicking and screaming through my daft indie publishing journey. If you are somehow inadvertently informed, or if you have discovered something useful within, well then . . . count that as a jolly coincidence. Thanks for reading! (header background - Sky_18 Free Texture #133 by Brenda Starr)

20130630


Word of the week: discern \di-ˈsərn, -ˈzərn\ (hear it!) - verb – 1a : to detect with the eyes; b : to detect with senses other than vision; 2 : to recognize or identify as separate and distinct : discriminate; 3 : to come to know or recognize mentally - (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Cover Creation: Stretching My Artistic Abilities

No one has ever asked me: “So, Kimberly—otherwise known as Devon Winterson, author of the dark fantasy novel, The Perfect Player, slated for release in early November of this year—tell me: What is your favorite aspect of all this indie publishing stuff?”

Well, maybe no one's thought to ask, or perhaps no one really even cares. Shameless, blatant forthcoming novel plug aside, I'm going to tell you anyway.

Covers.

Oh, how I loved, loved, loved creating my own covers! I'd always had somewhat of an artistic eye, having taken dozens of art classes in my youth and using any medium I could get my hands on to create something new and interesting, so designing my own novel covers seemed such a natural course of action. Like eating. Or sleeping. Or tripping over one's own feet. It sounded like a hell of a lot of fun. And it was . . .

. . . after I'd gotten the hang of GIMP, that is.

You see, GIMP was once a monstrous program to me. Something my husband used on occasion, and highly recommended. But it was so foreign, so icky and weird, with too many strange functions that refused to do my bidding no matter how many times I snarled, “Stop having a will of your own, dammit!”

Sheesh, I tell you . . . inserting random transparent layers, then stacking them for its own vile amusement to watch me fume in frustration because I couldn't quite separate them without losing something in the whole process (including my mind). You know, kind of like peeling apart stacks of wet tissue paper (in my mind). And I still don't understand that whole “Alpha Channel” bit. Probably never will.

But, really! What kind of name is “GIMP” anyway? It's like GUI (“gooey”) or BIOS (“by-os”) or MySQL (“my . . . squirrel”?). Pfft. GNU Manipulation Program, my foot. Fine. Keep your stupid layers, then, and your snooty “I'm not going to let you create anything” attitude. Hmph!

So, for a long while, I had abandoned the program. Ignored it. Left it to stew in the juices of my computer until . . . *sigh* I needed to create my own covers. [Insert random dramatic music here.] Only then did I reluctantly crawl back to that smugly smirking (oh, I swear it was!) program, bent on harnessing its power.

And harness it, I did.

Whee! After selecting a picture from Flickr (yes, having contacted the owner, who had slated his beautiful photo under the attribution-only section of the Creative Commons License, I'd obtained gracious permission to use it) I went to work: Copy/paste, copy/paste, layer, layer, smudge! Filter, filter, fill, filter, border, sharpen, fudge! Crop, balance, lighten, lighten, flippy-flippy, scale; bring-it-forward, push-it-backward, add the text and—

Shoot. I hated the text—too rigid, and not enough font variety. Hmm . . . what to do . . . what to do. . . .

*ding*

A very helpful member of Writer's Beat suggested I browse Cool Text, the Free Graphics Generator site.

Ah, perfect. Back to creating! Onward, forward!

Typey-typey, drop that shadow, pick that color now; resize, rework, shift those graphics, highlight, take a bow.

Yes . . . I stepped back to take a look . . . and promptly tripped over the dog. *&^%$#!

Darn it all, my hip hurt. But there it was: My first ever short-story collection cover, all ready for scrutiny. *revels in warm and fuzzy feelings for a warm and fuzzy cover*

And scrutinized it was, by some knowledgeable people who gave excellent suggestions that I was not only able to implement into that particular cover, but also into subsequent covers for the remaining short-story collections, and for my full-length novel.

Perfect they are not, and neither are they professionally done—they won't be; I'm not a professional cover designer. But I had so much fun, and I learned a lot from a designing point of view whilst I developed and honed my graphics program user skills.

Would I do it all again? Yes, I would, especially since GIMP and I have come to a much better understanding as of late (and well, I kind of have to, really, with five other novels waiting in the wings).

But honestly, having fun and garnering new skills in the process of creation is what I found most rewarding. No doubt readers can and will discern a creator's own enjoyment of, pride in, and excitement for his (or her) finished project, and may be absorbed (secretly—shh!) by this covert passion. 

So while cover creation may be my favorite aspect of this whole process, connecting directly with readers—all filters removed!—I suspect will be the most fulfilling. And yes, I truly look forward to sharing my imagination and my dark fantasy world on November 11th with a forthcoming potential readership.

20130619

Word of the week: trenchant /ˈtrenCHənt/ - (hear it!) - adjective - 1: keen, sharp; 2: vigorously effective and articulate; 3 a : sharply perceptive : penetrating; b : clear-cut, distinct 

Author’s Note: Even though my scheduled indie author of the month was unable to provide an interview for this week’s post, I’m still going to feature him because his projects deserve as much attention as any other good indie author’s.

So, with that said . . .

Indie Author of the Month: Please Come Meet . . . Linton Robinson

For many years, Mr. Linton Robinson has been a wealth of writing and publishing experience and knowledge, all of which have been sorely missed by the online writing community I help admin. Not only does he support authors who strike out on their own in indie publishing, but he also often successfully and quite trenchantly refutes those restrictive and sometimes downright stupid “rules” that can stifle a decent writer’s creativity and capabilities.

In other words, Mr. Robinson has duly “smacked” some of us out of our little gilded cages and taught us how to fly free (writing- and publishing-wise, that is), and for this, we say: “Thank you!”

Back in the autumn of 2012, I’d had the pleasure of reading one of Mr. Linton’s many novels: Boneyard 11. . . . And I loved it. Well written, with an engaging plot line that moved at a moderately quick pace and an ending that left me completely reader-satisfied. But even more so, it was the characters who held me fast to the digital page, displaying various facets one wouldn’t normally attribute to the types of people they represented. And this, of course, made them “come alive” on the page. Cliché characters are flat, and usually boring to read. The characters of Boneyard 11 were anything but.

My favorite? Nan. Bold and beautiful, cunning and intelligent; a woman with a strong moral core. In my opinion, she totally “made” the tale, and since Boneyard 11 is listed as the first in Mr. Linton’s Borderline Series, I’m truly curious to see who else surfaces (or re-surfaces) in this particular story world!

In the meantime, there are other Robinson books available to read: Sweet Spot, Bailin', Afro-Cuban Boogie-Woogie, The Way of the Weekend Warrior . . . plus those he’s co-authored: Imaginary Lines, Sky Seeds, Mexican Slang 101, Mayan Calendar Girls . . . all of which are available at Amazon, Amazon uk, or from Adoro Books. Very much worth a browse-through. Plus, you can get to know him a little through his bio page or read more about his available books found at his website: linrobinson.com

Another great indie author who deserves our recognition. Please, do consider supporting his projects. You’ll be glad you did!

20130608


Word of the week: audacity /ôˈdasitē/ (hear it!) - noun - a : intrepid boldness; b : bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Time, Effort, and Dedication

What makes someone a “real” writer?

So often I've heard this question around the forum I help admin. Used to be a “real” writer was someone whose work was picked up and published by someone else, and sure, that somewhat holds true today for some people. All right, a lot of people. Still. But come on, really, does that mean those who write full stories, however long, and never get picked up by a publisher aren't writers?

I would certainly hope not.

By definition, a writer is: “One who writes, especially as an occupation.” All right, so by definition, money is apparently attached, as the definition of “occupation” is: “an activity pursued as a livelihood” and a livelihood generally requires funds to support. But if a writer never receives any money for his work, what then? Does that mean he's not a writer?

I would certainly hope not.

The amount of currency and the ability to live upon the turnout of one's work shouldn't be the only measure of success for a writer, not with so many different measures of success out there. Yes, it's certainly possible that what one person deems successful, another might deem a failure. Does that mean one writer's success, however small, however non-money related, however quiet and unknown, makes him a failure?

I would certainly hope not.

What I believe makes a writer a “real” writer is his (or her!) strict dedication to the craft. The willingness and determination to learn it well—and by this I mean all of the ins and outs, and yes, even how and when to bend those supposed “rules” everyone's forever yammering on about—plus the time and effort to create a well-written, well-developed story with engaging scenes and circumstances involving a host of well-rounded, well-fleshed out characters, all coupled with the drive and ability to captivate a readership.

*whew!*

So to hell with “Oh, I must be traditionally published to be a 'real' writer” crap. No. That's a bogus measure of success, and in my humble opinion (as tiny as it is in this hugely enormous world of writing), it's a lame excuse not to move forward on one's own, especially with such easy access to a possible readership.

Unfortunately, however, all-too-many would-be authors have the audacity to believe “easy access, easy work,” which is absolutely not the case. A serious writer—a “real” writer, if you will—totally dedicates himself (or herself!) to the craft and treats his writing like an occupation, money received or not. And he doesn't settle for anything less than the finest turnout of his best work . . . erm, to the finest and best of his (or her!) ability, that is.

My measure of success? I'd love to have an underground readership. Nothing fancy. Just a smallish group of followers. No fame, no fortune, no high recognition. Just readers. They are my ultimate bottom line.

But you know, I gotta tell you a secret . . .

Some years back, I'd submitted a story to an online magazine, whose short story fiction editor recognized my name from the work I'd done in Writer's Beat Quarterly, online magazine for The Writer's Beat writing community. What a small, startling, and gratifying mood-booster that was! A small online press, sure—hell, seriously, what big-name company would ever know a small-time writer's name?—all the same, it was a mini-thrill. To know my name was “out there,” somewhat, already? Yeah. . . .

Well, now for my pen name: Devon Winterson. And that shouldn't be too hard . . . right?