Monthly Archives: May 2015

Interview With Anne Elisabeth Stengl: Cover Designer for A Wish Made of Glass

Many of you are familiar already with Anne Elisabeth Stengl. She is the talented and lovely authoress behind the award-winning series, Tales of Goldstone Wood. As I have gotten to know her over the past couple of years I’ve been continually impressed with her talent, sweetness, boundless energy, and grace as both an artist and an individual. God has most certainly blessed her with multiple gifts!

When I decided to begin approaching designers about the cover for A Wish Made of Glass, I had a few artists in mindAWishMadeofGlassFinal – none of which was Anne Elisabeth, since I really had no idea she designed covers at all. But one day I stumbled upon a blog post with a brand new book cover which had been designed by…you guessed it…Anne Elisabeth.

Hmm, I thought. Now there’s a thought. After all, Anne Elisabeth had already read my novella. She knew the mood, she knew the characters and setting. And what’s more, I trusted her taste completely.

As fate would have it, she had a very small window of time which was open in her busy schedule (just the window of time that I happened to need!) to do a cover for me. Within mere hours of having contacted her, she had some mockups for me to look over. After a few back-and-forth email discussions, she had the finished cover ready for me within a handful of days.

Super impressed? Yeah, I was too. I’m fully aware how blessed I am to have had her design my cover! It’s truly gorgeous.

I thought it would be fun (not to mention insightful!) to ask her a few questions about the designing side of the book world. FYI: All the book cover images I’ve got below are Anne Elisabeth’s designs as well…as if you needed another reason to admire her 🙂

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Tell me how you got into cover design? Is it something you do on the side, or do you have “official” training in art?

Cover design is a relatively new pursuit of mine. I studied illustration for several years in college with the idea in mind that I would someday illustrate picture books. Although that particular form of art is different from cover design, many of the elements carry over. When I began creating book covers, I had all sorts of great training in color, composition, lighting, etc. to draw from.

I design only a precious few covers every year, starting two years ago now when I took my first commission. While I would love to get into more regular design work, carving out the time for it is a struggle these days. I find designing a new cover to be a fun break from regular work, however, challenging a whole different side of my brain. So someday I might accept more regular clients!

How different is it to design a cover for a book you’ve read versus one you haven’t read?BoardwalkCover

Designing a cover for a book I have not read is a different sort of challenge from designing for a book I have read. But as long as the author I’m working with makes clear what he/she hopes to see in the final image, I can usually make do without much difficulty. The first cover commission I took was for a book I had not read (still haven’t!), which was an interesting process. The client had a very specific vision in mind for the cover of Boardwalk. Once he had described his vision, however, I had a different idea which I thought might better illustrate the mood he wanted. I submitted my idea, and he loved it, so we went that direction instead.

All covers are unique. But if there’s any one thing/concept/quality that every book cover should have, what, in your opinion, should it be?

Oh, that’s an easy one: clear, readable text. Which is actually much harder to achieve than you might think! It’s too easy for a designer to get so caught up in the image—the characters, the backgrounds, and so forth—that she foCorrodedThornsFinalrgets the text until late in development. It’s much smarter to develop the text at the same rate as everything else in the design so that it fits seamlessly into the whole.

Whether an image is static or dramatic, dull colors or vibrant, active or passive, whether it features landscapes or models or simply an interesting texture . . . the text HAS to stand out.

What are your thoughts on the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”?

I think it’s a lovely theory but very hard to put into practice. Particularly these days with the Indie market booming, a great cover can set an author apart as someone who is serious about her business as opposed to someone who is just tossing work out there. Unless you’re an already-established, very popular name in the market, a dynamic cover is often the one thing that will make a reader take a moment to glance over your book, read the description, and BattleofCastleNebulaCover1consider making a purchase. If a cover doesn’t have that “Wow!” factor, the author is losing sales.

Of course, a fantastic book may be housed in a lousy cover. No one is denying that. All stories should be judged on the merit of their writing. However, they won’t be judged at all if readers don’t bother to pick them up.

Being a capable artist yourself, what are the benefits of hiring another designer to work on the covers for the books you’ve written?

For me personally I feel much too close to my own stories to dare design covers for them. I would struggle to get out of my own head and think in terms of dynamic imagery rather than specific scenes or character looks, etc. These days, I am often very much involved with the talented artists who create my cover images . . . but ultimately I try to let the creative invention and imagination be theirs. I’m usually much happier with the covers I end up with as a result.

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Professional Photo - Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Visit Anne Elisabeth here:

Tales of Goldstone Wood (blog)

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COVER REVEAL: A Wish Made of Glass

I am absolutely delighted to present the gorgeous cover for my fairy tale novella which will be releasing this summer. I’m not even going to waste any time introducing it….I’ll let its beauty speak for itself 🙂

Ready?

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AWishMadeofGlassFinal

Deep in a forest glade, the fey folk dance with Isidore, a young human child. Their kinship is the very fabric of her childhood. When her mother dies and her world darkens with sorrow, Isidore finds her belief in the fey folk wavering.

The love of her new step-sister, Blessing, proves an unexpected gift in her time of need. Yet even as their friendship blooms, Isidore begins to see that Blessing is everything she herself has always wanted to be, but is not. Jealousy grips Isidore as she watches this beautiful new sister steal away all she holds dear.

Driven to desperation, Isidore turns to the fey folk once more. She has only one wish to claim from them, one chance to make things right. But she must tread carefully. For wishes, like hearts, are easily broken. And obtaining the one thing she desires could mean destroying the one thing she truly needs.

RELEASING SUMMER 2015

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The mysteriously snowy forest…the cape billowing in the wind…Isidore’s brooding expression…the beautiful color scheme. Ok, I love it all, can you tell? It’s just so perfectly what I saw in my imagination as I wrote this story!!

A Wish Made of Glass has had a strange journey from beginning to end. I first wrote it almost two years ago as simply an entertaining fairy tale retelling of Cinderella. But when I decided a few months ago to Indie publish it, and began revisions on it, it began to take a different form, with a much deeper meaning than I had ever planned. The revision process became more of a complete re-write. I can only think God had different plans for this story than I originally did, and I was more than happy to follow His will 🙂

The cover design creation itself was a whirlwind of brainstorming and inspiration between myself and the lovely designer herself (A.E. Stengl). I’ll be interviewing her here on my blog on Friday, so be sure to stop by and listen as she shares some insight into her creative process!

As of now there is no official release date for A Wish Made of Glass, but if all goes as planned it will be available sometime this summer. That’s sooo close!! I’m pretty thrilled.

So what do you think? Do you love my new cover as much as I do?! Do you plan to read it when it releases this summer?

COVER REVEAL: Where Shadows Lie by Tialla Rising

Check out the book cover and trailer reveal for Tialla Rising’s upcoming release, Where Shadows Lie, and continue below to enter the giveaway! 
 
Release date: June 2015Synopsis via Goodreads:

His dark past haunts him. His new life taunts him.
 
After twenty years in the gangs and a hefty prison sentence, an early release gives Shawn the opportunity to turn his life around.
 
But that isn’t so easy when gangs are involved.
 
Only a year into his fresh start, the gang catches on and makes Shawn’s life miserable. After all, once a gang member, always a gang member. His very blood belongs to them.
 
Threats become promises. Whispers become actions. Words become bullets. He must fight – not only for his life, but to save his honor, prove his integrity, and protect the woman he loves.
 
An ember of hope glows in the darkness, strengthening his resolve. Will her support and his determination be enough to dispel the shadows of his past?
 
A story of discovery and faith, love and perseverance.

BOOK TRAILER
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tialla Rising is a Christian young woman living with her family in the mountains of Arizona. She loves to write and will passionately spend hours long into the night developing her stories. Like most writers, Tialla fills her spare time with reading from her favorite fantasy and mystery genres. A good book, a stormy day, and an iced coffee comprise her favorite moments.


www.therubyvial.com 

facebook.com/authortiallarising

Falcon Heart: A Medieval Fantasy

Old grunge paper.A strange dagger…

Adventure beyond fear…

Slavers seize Kyrin Cieri from the coast of medieval Britain and sail for Araby. With a dagger from her murdered mother’s hand, an exiled warrior from the East, and a peasant girl, Kyrin finds mystery, martial skill, and friendship closer than blood.

The falcon dagger pursues her through tiger-haunted dreams, love, and war in the Araby sands. Kyrin is caught by the caliph’s court intrigue and faces the blade that took her mother. One thing can give her the will to overcome, justice against hate, dagger against sword.

Murder, sacrifice, vengeance…compassion and the art of war.

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“Every once in a while you come across an author with a voice so distinctive, you could recognize it anywhere. Azalea Dabill has her own unique, lyrical style that draws you into the story and lets you experience it through all the senses.” -K. McKee (taken from Amazon)

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Author - AzaleaAzalea Dabill grew up in the California hills, building forts in the oaks. She remembers the fuzzy-sweet smell of acorns and moss, fields of lupines and poppies, the clear song of crickets. Home-schooled, she read fantasy and adventure to her siblings. Now she enjoys growing things, old bookstores, and hiking the wild.

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Cinderella, Edits and Assassins

So what do Cinderella, edits and assassins have in common? It’s not a riddle, I promise 🙂 They’re all the things that have been driving me bonkers lately, that’s what! (Don’t worry – the assassin isn’t after me…)

CINDERELLA

I have been working on several things. First and foremost has been the Cinderella retelling I’ve been chattering on about glass-slipperfor the past several weeks. Yes, I realize I promised a cover reveal quite soon for this story (the cover is finished and absolutely beautiful!!) – and I’m still planning on that. I’ll be putting out a request for anyone wanting to be involved with the reveal through my newsletter, probably within the next week or so. So be on the lookout!

EDITS

At the behest of my agent, I officially hired a professional editor who will be giving my story the finishing polish it needs. This was a first for me, and rather exciting. Can’t wait (i.e. panicked/scared) to see what she’s got to say. I am confident she’ll help me make this story the best it can be.

After the edit is finished, I estimate that it will be approximately 6-8 weeks until I release the novella. That will put the release date somewhere in July. We’ll see. Again, as a first-timer I’m very unsure of an exact date at this point, so I’m making no promises! I’ll keep updating you with my progress, of course 🙂

ASSASSINS

When I get moments between preparing for publication of my Cinderella story, I’ve been working on my novel (the one with daggerdragons and assassins and mysterious identities, among other things). After hearing from my beta readers, I’ve decided this story needs a couple of scene rewrites. A simple thing – that is, if these scenes were simple scenes…which they’re decidedly not. Try climax scene and ending scene. Yikes. Daunting. Lots of prayer will be happening, let’s put it that way.

SUMMERTIME

My son will be out of school in 6 days. Mini-vacations and friend play-dates and lots of tree-climbing and swimming are planned for this summer, too. We’ve already caught a dozen toads and two turtles – talk about starting the summer right! Having my Bug’s sweet little face to look at every day and spending time playing with him will help make the writing and editing less intense and stressful – at least, that’s my hope! Either way, I’m looking forward to summertime.

What does your summer look like?

Book Blurb Blues

I’ve been in the process of writing and polishing the back cover description for my upcoming novella. And I’ll tell you the truth – it’s not fun at all. I keep wanting to shout, “But I’m a book writer, not a blurb writer! I’m good at unraveling my story over the long haul, not condensing all of it into a tight little space!”

I think it comes down to a few specific things that should be included. Here’s my very amateur go at it. Ready?

Setting: Things need to be mentioned in the blurb that give the reader an idea of where this story takes place and what open bookthey are walking into. Whatever these end up being – certain qualities/people/creatures/props – they should be given a nod in order to create a sense of setting. Many of these depend on the genre. Fantasy more so than most, I think.

Characters: Ok, no-brainer. The main character has to be introduced, along with any other character who is important to the plot as a whole. Maybe even the antagonist. After all, books are about people first and foremost, right?

Goals: More than just mentioning the main character, we have to know what she desires. What is the crux of her journey, whether it’s a physical, spiritual or emotional one? I want to know up front that this girl has something driving her forward. Otherwise I’ll suspect that I’m in for a yawn-worthy read.

Complication: Is there a person or circumstance that is thwarting her from her goal? Well, we need to know about that too. A little bit. Don’t give too much away, though. The reader will want to hear about it, certainly; otherwise, why open the book at all? But I personally have difficulty with this one. How much to tell without giving too much away and ruining important surprises, but making it enough that it creates curiosity in the reader? It’s a very fine line, my friend.

Stakes: What is at risk if the main character doesn’t (or perhaps does!) obtain what she wants? Will she lose her life? Her family? Her self-respect? Her cat? All of the above? Whatever the stakes are, a blurb-reader wants to know them up front. Or at least I always do. It puts that extra fire in me that says, “I just have to know what happens!!”

Hope: So the poor main character has been given an ultimatum, a timeframe to achieve something, a roadblock that is seemingly impassable. What now? Well again, a simple blurb can’t give too much away. But we at least need to see that glimmer – that small flash of hope that tells us things might be … could be … all right.

Brevity: Ah, brevity, my bane. It’s like trying to fit my post-baby self into the size 4 jeans I wore a few short years ago. Not likely. I need a serious word diet to get the 25,000 words of my novella into a 200-word blurb. It’s painful, I’m not gonna lie. It takes lots of trimmings and re-writes. Lots.

So …. aaallll these things need to fit into a blurb? Yep. Ok, well, most of them. Some of them can be accomplished with a few very choice words. Some of them, such as setting, can be almost implied between the lines without ever mentioning directly at all.

Yep, I’ve got my work cut out for me.

So what are the things that draw you in when you read a book blurb? What is most likely to get you to pick up a book and say, “I have to take this home and read it right now!”