January 27, 2017
Ah! The four year odyssey that is the House of Bloodstein books is nearing an end. The second Bloodstein book, LOE Book 11: The House of Bloodstein: Mentralysis is in post production.
Cover Lettering: Not Started
Interior Artwork: Collecting
The cover for Book 11 is a Technicolor dream. I had wanted tons of vibrant color, and Carol Phillips delivered. It super trippy and suitably weird, which I was hoping for. Unlike the previous covers which contain greater or lesser amounts of Nixies (Elements in the portraiture that are either exaggerated or not “as presented” in the text) this cover, except for one small detail, is pretty much how the scene is presented in the book.
Blurbing is my bane, I hate it. Taking a 138 thousand word book and pot-boiling it down to a few-hundred descriptive words is a chore. I recall blurbing Book 1, with its sort of back-and-forth character interaction was almost impossible to properly accomplish.
This book wasn’t too terribly bad:
The House of Bloodstein: MENTRALYSIS
They thought the episode with their cousins to the east, the Bloodsteins, was over, something to laugh about at the grand table in fond nostalgia, but they were wrong. They were so wrong.
And Castle Blanchefort has fallen!
Lord Kabyl has lost everything: his wife, his kin, his family fortune… And his home, once a safe haven, is overrun with enemies seeking his blood.
In what follows, he must join forces with ancient enemies and with people who do not exist. He must treat with sinister, possibly untrustworthy gods and barter away his soul for urgently needed arcane help, or face certain death at the hands of forgotten tyrants and their terrifying machinations from a bygone age.
And, how can a strange science known as Mentralysis, practiced in secret in the hidden places of the League, hold the key to ultimate victory?
What should have been obvious to Lord Kabyl from the start has at last become crystal clear: Foolish is he who dares possess the Ultimate Object, for misery shall be his only reward.
League of Elder Book 11: the House of Bloodstein: Mentralysis will be available Summer 2017 from Loconeal Publishing
copyright 2017, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips
November 4, 2015
One of my personal favorite portions of the book creation process is the formulation and execution of the cover. It’s a lot of fun putting my head together with talented artists, like Carol Phillips, and seeing what shakes loose.
For my next book, the unbridled House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, the planning process followed the usual pattern.
SO MANY SCENES
First, we hash out what scene we want to layout for the cover. I usually pick seven to ten scenes from the book that I think are interesting, pertinent to the general tone and feel of the book, and that will be strong enough to catch the eye of a passing shopper.
I type up a quick synopsis and send them off to Carol. Now here’s the weird part–even though this is my book with my characters and scenes, Carol has a great deal of say-so in what shows up on the cover. Using her polished artist’s eye, she selects what scenes to expand upon, often asking to read those select parts of the book, and scribbles up a few quick sketches for reference. Then, between the two of us, we agree upon the final subject matter for the cover. As for the rejected cover ideas, those almost always end up in the interior of the book–Carol’s work is just too good to throw away.
WHAT’S A “NIXIE”?
Most of the covers we do have at least one Nixie lurking around in them somewhere. A Nixie is an element on the cover artwork that either A)-has been greatly modified or exaggerated from the text, or B)-wasn’t in the book at all. We do this to give the cover composition a little more life and eye-candy where needed. Usually the Nixie isn’t too egregious and we never promise something on the cover that is not delivered upon in the book–we just change things around a little bit sometimes. For the House of Bloodstein, there is one minor Nixie in the artwork, but nobody other than Carol or me knows what it is–and I’m not telling.
Depending on her workload, it takes Carol about three or four months to finish the cover–all of it painted digitally one little element at a time. Since Book 2 (The Hazards of the Old Ones) we’ve opted for a wrap-style cover, meaning the artwork goes all the way around to the back cover, including the spine. Having a larger canvas to paint on allows Carol more freedom create a knock-out piece of work, though she has to be careful to place the key bits of artwork on the front part of the painting (the right side) and a bit less on the left side (the back) allowing for the rear-cover text. You can tell on the finished work above the left side of the composition has a lot more free space than the right. Carol also likes to put a little surprise on the spine. Can you see what the surprise is??
GOING LOOPY FOR LETTERING
Having the finished piece of artwork is just the first part, now we’ve got to letter it, and that’s a great deal tougher than you might first think. It takes talent to thoughtfully, and tastefully, letter the cover. You want the lettering to pop out, to be easily readable from a distance, or, more importantly, from a tiny thumbnail on a website. As The House of Bloodstein is a somewhat gothic tale, I wanted something in that tone, and I imagined the lettering in a twisting block layout. After some mixing and matching, we decided on the above, it’s got the gothic theme I was looking for, I like how the letters fit together and the purple matches the artwork well.
Now, comes the painful part–how to add the lettering without covering too much of the artwork. That is always a struggle–what to sacrifice without losing the spirit of the composition. In this case, we couldn’t find a good spot to put the lettering, either going high or low, it ruined the artwork. We decided on the old trick of dimensioning down the general size of the artwork, creating a significant void space where the lettering can freely go. We’ve done that before, way back on the revised cover to Book 2, we scrunched the entire piece onto the front creating a void space on the top and the bottom. Here Carol uses a gothic pattern stained a handsome shade of red and black to fill in the void.
The back cover is full-sized and covered with around 250 words of back-cover text strategically placed around the characters.
The over-all effect is great. You get the impact of the large-sized lettering without having to cover up too much of the artwork–we still get to witness Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort locked in a mortal struggle with a horrific giant-sized space guy in the cool green passes of the Telmus Grove. Cool stuff.
MATCHING TONE WITH CONTENT:
One final word of note. Unless you’re aiming for some sort of sick satire, you want the tone of your cover to match the tone of your story. If you’ve written a twisted tale of the macabre, you really don’t want a lot of sunshine and lollipops on the cover, otherwise you’ll confuse your readers. The House of Bloodstein is an imaginative action thriller, so we opted for an action scene. Had the book been more focused on romance, we would have selected the cover mock-up on the left, which gives the impression of loads of romance, conflict and general male/female drama to come.
The House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, will be released in late 2015 from Loconeal Publishng
copyright 2015, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips