Cover Art, Pantaloons, and Shenanigans

I'll kick things off with a new pair of rough-draft cover images for the new Mug and Meralda book.

First up we have a cover using the Oranienbaum font:


If you're wondering where Mer's glasses are, well, so was I. I took them off to adjust the reflectivity of the glass, and just as I do with my own glasses, I forgot to put them back on. 

Moving on, here is the same cover with the text rendered in Optimus Princeps:


Any preference between the two? I'm leaning toward the second cover, myself. Also, the size of the text. Too big? I can reduce it, but the small-text covers look -- well, weak and indecisive.

I also changed Mer's clothes from the brown outfit of previous images to this more colorful one. It's a good thing I'm married and was able to seek advice concerning color schemes, or poor Mer might have wound up wearing this:


Well, *I* thought it was festive. Too, the book might involve a circus, but maybe the cover is better off leaving that small Easter egg alone.

The ball of magic she is holding took hours to perfect. The version above looked fine, until I started lighting the scene. It was then I realized all the magic bubbles cast shadows on her face, giving Meralda a bad case of arcane chicken pox. 

I have yet to try a full-scale rendering of the final step, which will turn the digital image into an oil painting. I may save that for the actual cover and the book's publishing.

Which should be in a week or so. I've been editing, but that's nearly done.

Free Stuff

I've got a couple of short titles up for free today. One is a short story that appeared in Weird Tales (issue 319). The other is a guide to writing, based on the material I used when I taught a fiction writing class at the local library. 

Click here for Passing the Narrows


Editing Tips

Science Fiction author Isaac Asimov, who wrote more books than there are stars in the observable universe, seldom edited his first drafts. Somehow, he got things right, most of the time, the first time around.

I'm not Isaac Asimov. I wish I were, because even though I'd be dead now I'd never have to edit anything again. 

My advice for struggling through the edits on a longish book is this -- drink a lot while the writer you kidnapped does the work. Your disheveled appearance and sunken, hollow eyes will make everyone think you've been working. Throw a rug over the trap door to your editing cell, and you'll get through all this just fine. Play loud death metal music to mask the screams of anguish from below.

Editing reveals just how incompetent you truly are. Your editor knows the extent of your clumsiness. You know it. The trick is to stamp out all the missteps so no one else catches on.

None of my Markhat books required such a deep dive into their structure or contents. Which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that my fictional character Markhat is a better writer than I am. 

Here are a few things this episode has taught me:

1) When writing third person, I use too many dialog tags. From now on, I'll be conscious of that.

2) Overuse of the words 'this' and 'that.' Most of the time they need to be deleted or replaced with something more specific.

3) This is a lot of work for a projected 0.0002 cents per word. Sorry. Writing is a lot of work for a projected 0.0002 cents per word. See how specificity improved that sentence?

4) Never let the dog write pivotal scenes, no matter how many classic works of literature the pup has ingested. The entirety of Chapter 4 consisted of pleas for walkies and a long rant about the vet's office. 

5) Set aside plenty of time for edits. I'm 55, which means I have enough years left to edit maybe one more Mug and Meralda book after this one. Expected release date: Sometime in 2048. 

Let me know what you think of the covers in the comments or via email (franktuttle at I'd better get back to work. Have a good week!