For the last 2 weeks I sat glued to the TV watching happening going on and a country on the other side of the world from me wondering what I can do.
My heart is breaking, and I find myself constantly close to tears, mostly because I feel useless.
But the writing community has stepped up to the plate once again!
Different charities are receiving donations from writers and writing groups who put their heads together to come up with inventive ways to help the people of Ukraine.
I am involved in two projects and I’m sure I will join more as time goes on, because I don’t think this is going to be a short-term problem.
The first of the things that I’m involved in is Writers for Ukraine; the one-million-word challenge. Each writer makes a donation which will go to the people of Ukraine via a charity to provide food blankets and hygiene products that are so desperately needed. Once you’ve signed up on the go fund me page, the goal is for the writers to collectively write 1 million words within a week to show our solidarity. I’ve already written three thousand words and we’re on the second day in. There are over two hundred and fifty writers participating in this one donation.
The next donation that I’m working on is Authors for Ukraine Charity Auction. This is an auction of books by over 150 writers who are donating their books to be auctioned off. The auction takes place 8am March 29 and runs until 11pm April 12 and gives readers a chance to bid on signed works by their favorite authors. All proceeds benefit CARE’s Ukraine Crisis Fund.
They seem like such simple little things that won’t amount to much, but every little bit added together creates a larger donation and more people that can be helped.
But even more importantly than donations are our prayers. Even if the war ends tomorrow, it will take years for this country and these people to heal. So, I asked you to help where you can how you can and with love and prayers for all those affected.
Karen and I started working together on my very first book, 9 years ago, and it has been a joy to work with her from day one. I found Karen on Fiverr.com under the name of fuzzym and fell in love with her colorful, eye catching covers. It didn’t take long for the two of us to get a feeling of how we work and we soon had the first cover ready for the Citrus Beach Series. Karen listened to what I wanted to accomplish, gently steered me in the right direction when I was total wrong and before long we had more covers ready to show off my mysteries. Now, when I need a new cover, I simple give her a few guides and let her work her magic. And every time, I never have a moment of hesitation or worry if the cover is going to work.
Let’s find out a bit more about Karen and her work process...
What 3 questions do you ask a writer before you start their cover?
It’s different for each author because some come to me with a complete idea of what they want, and others come with a blank slate. I generally ask about the size first because that informs the shape of the images I am creating. I would also ask if they had a style they love. It’s smart to come to me with a few covers that caught your eye. That helps me get an idea of your aesthetic. The third thing I ask about is the genre. Mystery has a different look from Kidlit or ChickLit. I will match that style, so audiences recognize the genre from the cover.
I see you also write children’s books. How did you get started?
I like the whimsy of books for children. The themes are wholesome and fun. They lend themselves to more fantastical settings and the characters can be animals which I love. I write a little bit of everything, but children’s books are where you get to have fun.
What is your favorite genre to create covers for?
Cozy Mystery. The covers always tell a story. I like to add a zillion little details to the covers and they are a creative collaboration with the author. The colors tend to be brighter than a mystery novel and the art is slightly more sophisticated than the kidlit covers. They have a nice balance to them.
What trends do you see with covers, especially in the Cozy Mystery Genre?
There are a few trends. The covers either have a domestic scene like a bakery or a boutique with a clue to the murder on the cover, or an elegant landscape or your main character off to one side with a scene from the book playing out behind them. I’m not going to bore you with talk about fonts, but they tend to have the author’s name centered on the bottom. The Titles vary but as a rule tend to use a brush stroke style with a sans serif underneath it. White is popular for titles and a heavy drop shadow doesn’t hurt. Cats or pets on the cover almost as if the pet were the protagonist is hot right now.
What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of a good cover?
Clean, legible fonts are the backbone of any cover. The cover picture elements should overlap to create depth. If everything has a space around it, the image appears flat. Composition for me normally follows the idea of the golden triangle. That’s a fancy way of saying I move things around until it feels right. It should also follow the rules of the genre it is in. Mystery novels do not look like romance covers for a reason and that reason is marketing.
Describe your working space
I live in a one-bedroom, so my living room is my office. I have two workspaces. There’s an HP-all-in-one on a corner desk when I am feeling professional but for the most part I sit on my sofa, put my laptop on a pillow with a picture of a cheetah on it and work while I listen to podcasts. Sitting crisscross applesauce is the key to good art.
On a typical day, how much time do you spend working on a cover?
When I begin work on a cover, it goes in stages. So, the first day it maybe an hour or two for some concept sketches. I will draw out three to four thumbnails for new clients. Once the client had a layout they like, I can spend 3-6 hours on a cover backdrop. I will check in periodically with the client to make sure we are on the same page. Each project is its own beast but covers can take anywhere from 3 hours to 18 hours depending on construction, complexity of the image, and changes. I would say on average about 6 hours.
I hope this gave you some insight about cover designs. I can’t wait to see what Karen (fuzzym) comes up next for me!
Over the last few months, you have met some wonderful authors. It was interesting to learn about them and their writing process.
As authors, we have many tools at our disposal, it’s not just a pen and paper process for most of us any more. There are many digital programs that can help us plot, research, organize, edit, format and write the story. The words can be arranged and rearranged with just the move of a mouse, creating our stories, letting each writer tell our tale the way we want. The tools help you read the final story, with out you every thinking about how they became a book.
But it’s more than words that tell our story. And that’s where my next few interviews come from.
You are going to meet three talented woman who create the pictures behind my words; my illustrators! Each has a story to share, and I’m thrilled to bring them to you. From the characters to the settings, the color pallet to the letter fonts; these elements create the covers of my book to help you, the reader, have a glimpse of what mystery, adventure, romance and furry fun you are in for.
A book without a great cover is just pages pressed together. The covers are the icing on the cake, and my cover creators are like a master chief. I hope you will enjoy these interviews as they come to you.