Archive for the ‘books’ category

How I choose covers for short stories …

27 March, 2017

A few weeks ago I posted about how I choose covers for my novels. Today I want to talk about choosing covers for short stories.
Stories are different from Novels in their length, structure and aim. With a short story, you have to be in the storytelling world immediately. The action has to happen quickly and there needs to be a good resolution before the end of the tale. So far, I’ve published a single short story plus one short story collection.
I had very clear ideas on what I wanted for The Essence of Thyme. As the first in a series (originally published as a free read in my Newsletter) I wanted the covers of the following books to link back to this one.
I knew from the start that I wanted a vast green globe on the front to portray the green globe mentioned towards the end of the story. (It is key to the following two stories as well). JBH suggested the shadowed lattice work giving the cover a slightly darker, more haunted feel. This, I felt, went suitably with the silent castle and slightly puzzling enchantment of Lord Thyme’s son.
I knew I didn’t want a fairy tale picture because although this story is a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, it is most definitely NOT a sugar sweet, happy ending …

I came across the picture I used for The Rusalka Ritual & Other Stories when I was going through Kombmaker’s portfolio. As soon as I saw it, I recognised it as being the woodland that the companions travel through in The Rusalka Ritual.
When JBH came to manipulate the painting, I advised him on the part of it that had to appear on the front cover, namely the waterfall with the golden light above it. Surprisingly, JBH stretched the painting digitally, cutting off the trees to either side. But boy, did it work! I was so pleased with it. At JBH’s suggestion, we used that particular font with red ink, to make it look as though the words were written in blood …
This collection is a series of fairy tales, but there aren’t necessarily any fairy tale endings, which I why I think the cover works; it makes me think of Grimm’s fairy stories. My tales will make you laugh, but there’s always something slightly sinister about Dracomagan’s Otherworld.
As always, I’m trying to be different! Do you think I’ve succeeded? Which of these books would you buy?
© Freya Pickard 2017

How I choose covers for my Novels …

20 February, 2017

Have you ever wondered how indie and self-published authors go about choosing a cover design for their book?
Well, until I started publishing myself, I didn’t really give it much of a thought! I looked at the current designs in my genre – fantasy – and decided to do something different. The main reason was because I wanted to be known as a Speculative Fiction Author, rather than either a Fantasy or Science Fiction Writer. The term Speculative, encompasses both …
I think the most difficult cover to design was Dragonscale Leggings. The first version of the paperback had a pale blue background with a picture of an upside down potato peeler on it. It was VERY pertinent to the storyline but not very sellable. At the time (2008) I had no idea that you used pastels for romance novels. And Dragonscale Leggings is definitely NOT a romance!
So, coming up with a new, relevant idea was difficult. Whilst watching Glastonbury 2016 and seeing Muse perform, I was inspired by their brightly lit backgrounds making the band members into silhouettes. That’s what I want for my cover, I told Jonathon B. Hoyt. JBH, however, had some additional ideas, which I hadn’t thought of. I didn’t trust anyone else to get Dracomagan’s strong pose right, so JBH photographed me in various poses until we came up with the one that graces the existing front cover. JBH then worked his technological magic, incorporated his ideas, and wow! That looked different from anything else I’d seen!
I now feel that Dragonscale Leggings is more precisely placed in the YA / Fantasy market. What do you think? (And yes, a new paperback version is due for release sometime this year …)

Inspiration for Vintrig’s Kingdom came from Kombmaker’s portfolio. As soon as I saw the sketch, I thought of Vintrig’s Kingdom; the pale landscape, the high castle, the bleakness in the very air …
But, as I discovered, when I produced my impromptu Poster for the run up to the launch, the sketch was VERY light. I managed to “sharpen” it in Pixelmator, but, alas, have no idea how I did it, and have not been able to replicate it since!
JBH once more saved the day however. I was very clear on how I wanted the cover to look. It had to be pristine white to reflect both the eternal snow as well as Isu Magan’s virginity. The words were to be in jet black to reflect the monotone scene Isu saw every day. But I also wanted a thread of red entering the cover, to give a hint of the colour that Sama Conn brings to the Castle, as well as predicting the dire events of Book Two (yet to be published).
With all my covers, I like to produce something different. I don’t want them to look the same as all the other books, even within the genre. I remember as a teenager going for the books that looked different from the others; and that’s what I’ve been trying to achieve.
Do you think I’ve succeeded? Which of these books would you buy?
© Freya Pickard 2017

Day 1 Author Katie Wood talks about her book Girls For God

12 March, 2012

This week I would like to welcome Katie Wood, author of Girls for God. 

Why did you go for Pink as the cover of Girls for God?    
I didn’t actually design the cover—somebody at the publishers (BRF) did. (This refers to the first edition). I really like it, though, and pink is my favourite colour! I even dyed my hair pink for a while.    

Why did you write Girls for God?    
I wrote Girls for God when I was seventeen. I hadn’t been a Christian for very long and I really wanted a book that would give me advice on all kinds of situations and show me where to turn to in the Bible for help, to see what God says on a particular issue. However, I couldn’t find such a book, so I decided to write it myself!  

How long did it take you to write it?     
I wrote it over one summer holidays; so about six weeks I guess, while I was in sixth form. I started off with a little notebook, with a page for each topic, i.e. ‘sad’ ‘angry’ etc. and as I was reading through my Bible I jotted down passages that were helpful. Then I started to compile the chapters based on what I’d found. Initially the book was mostly Bible references, but my editor persuaded me to put more of myself into it, I suppose, and it evolved into the kind of ‘advice’ format.     

What kind of people have you aimed your book at and why?
I just wrote it for myself. So, people like me, I guess. Originally I wrote it for both male and female readers, but it was always meant for teenagers. I wanted it to be a place to turn to for those who trust in Jesus and for those who have no faith or have questions about all of the big things in life. I hope that it is accessible for everyone.  My mum says that she finds the book very helpful, and she’s (slightly!) older than a teenager!  

Do you plan to write another book soon?     
I’m always writing something or other. I have a couple of half-finished novels that I work on every now and then; I’m quite excited about some of my writing projects, but I find I have so little time now that I’ve graduated from uni and have an actual job! I write book reviews regularly though, to keep my skills sharp (hopefully!) and to make sure the world doesn’t forget about me as a writer!    

Tell me about your road to publication  
When I first wrote this book, I had a boyfriend called Matt, and he really encouraged me with it. One day he went to the Christian bookshop in our town and gave me a list of publishers who publish this sort of thing. I looked into them, and sent an email to BRF, and it just sort of went from there. I hadn’t really intended to get it published, I suppose, but having a book of mine published has always been my dream. I never thought I would achieve it at the age of eighteen though!

You can find out more about Katie’s novel Girls for God at the end of the week. If you’re interested in finding out more about Katie please come back here tomorrow. In the meantime, if you need to read more of Katie’s work, please visit her blogsite at Lose Yourself Book Reviews


I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

10 December, 2011

How I managed to go all these years without reading this book, I really don’t know. 

Much as I loved reading Bridget Jones’ Diary, (it made me laugh so much!), I Capture The Castle wins hands down for diaries penned by women. It is funny and tragic by turns, clean and yet full of sensuality and suggestion.

Set in the 1930s this is the story of a 17 year old living with her eccentric family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. It tells of her hopes and fears, her dreams, her loves and how she discovers who she is over the course of a year. 

What drew me to the novel was the opening sentence. “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” I read to the end of the first paragraph and had to buy the book. This doesn’t happen very often with me but I’m glad I did buy the book. It is one I will re-read many times.

Ideas for Christmas…

16 November, 2011
If you’re a bit stuck on what to buy your friends and family for Christmas, or even stuck for ideas for yourself, here are my recommendations: –
A Year of Questions by Fiona Robyn 
It really does help you slow down and fall in love with life again. I really don’t rate self-help books because they never help me. This one did. Even if you’re not a writer, buy it! It really makes you think and find space once again.  
A Year Of Questions
Pay Attention: A River of Stones
Back in January a whole group of us across the world joined together at A River Of Stones website to write a “small stone” every day. This anthology is a selection of the stones written during that month. (Mine is at the top of page 42!) A refreshing, relaxing and thought-provoking collection of bite sized poems and observations. Ideal for busy people or for those who can’t concentrate for long. 
Pay Attention 
Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles by Elizabeth Leaper and Jack Williamson
My friend Libby has had an anthology of poetry published! This volume contains both her own and her late uncle’s poetry. An absolute must for poetry lovers. 
Collecting Cobwebs 

Better Off Dead by Matt Rowe
Only recently released, this is a book that will get the teenagers in your life reading again. Actually, it’ll get everyone in your life reading again so long as they’ve got a sense of humour! 
Better Off Dead
Dragonscale Leggings by Freya Pickard
Yes, I’m recommending my own work! If you need to escape from the dire deeds of politicians and faceless corporations, this is the perfect portal for you. If you’re seriously depressed or even just feeling a bit down, then laughter is what you need – you’ll find it in my tale of a strong heroine who (just about) overcomes against all odds. 
Dragonscale Leggings 

An amazing website for those finishing touches for all your gifts throughout the year. I think they only sell in the UK though. Everything is handcrafted in the UK – order your boxes soon!


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