Author’s Advice (Part 1)

The best advice I can give to any new authors out there is probably going to surprise everyone:

Completely disregard what your potential audience may want.

Yup, you read that right. I’m giving you permission to be completely selfish with your writing, because it’s just that; YOUR WRITING! The characters you create are yours, the world you set them in are yours, you are God in that world and no one can tell you what to do with it… (Unless they bought the rights and are publishing it for you… then you may have to change a few things, but for the most part, it’s still yours.)

When you write, don’t write for what you think people would like or base what you do with a character on whether or not it’s PC or what is considered ‘right.’ There are no rights and wrongs in writing. You are free to do what you want. This advice came to me when I was watching some of the interviews and documentaries following Lord of the Rings. I don’t remember the man’s name, there was an interview with a man who worked with J.R.R. Tolkien on Lord of the Rings. He mentioned how Tolkien was often dismayed over not really being able to find any stories he liked reading. Finally he decided that if he wanted a good book out there to read, he’d have to write it himself.

I took that comment to heart when I set to write my very first full length novel. A lot of my short stories were well received, but too many of them fell flat. Upon looking back at them, I realized that I had spent too much time trying to anticipate what people would like. I was being a fool. So I turned around and started writing things that I like, things that I would want to see happen in a story and characters that I could attach myself to.

Before I knew it, I had my novel written. I gave it to my toughest critic (my wife) and she loved it. (My wife doesn’t sugar coat things, she tells you if she doesn’t like what you’ve done. I’ve had a few stories axed due to her review). Within a few months it was polished, I had a cover ready, and my work was being submitted… a few weeks later I scratched one of my life-long goals off of my list:

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My cover artists

They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover and that’s good advice… but a good cover helps whet interest and attract an audience. I’ve been fortunate to work with some truly incredible artists who have helped bring my work to life.

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Cover Art by Christina Pankievich
My cousin and a truly wonderful artist. She was nice enough to take care of the first cover for me and I am greatly appreciative.

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Cover art by Helder Olivier

Another great artist. When my cousin was unavailable to do the cover, I put a post out on my facebook page for a graphic designer and he immediately came up. He was a wonderful person to work with, his art is terrific and, as you can tell from this, he has quite the pension for jewelry design. I highly recommend checking out his page!
Helder‘s page

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Cover art by Brett Warniers.

Every artist that I have worked with over time has been an absolute joy. Last and by no means least is the insanely talented Brett. His cover art broke the simplicity mode that I had confined myself up until now, thinking that it was the only way to attract attention… I was wrong and he showed me that.
He came recommended by a close friend and after seeing his other work, I could not refuse his talents. His work really speaks for itself and he has accepted the monumental task of creating the cover for the biggest work I’ve ever put out: Divinity. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

Brett’s Page

Tina is unfortunately (or VERY fortunately depending on which side you are on) very busy with other projects and doesn’t have a page anymore. However Brett and Helder are accessible through their pages and their art work is well worth the money! You will not be disappointed.

Cover Inspiration

“Hi Jim,

I was just wondering, Divinity’s cover looks really cool! May I ask where you get the ideas for yours? Like what makes you choose one scene in your writings over another? I want to create an awesome cover for my story and was hoping that you could point me in the right direction.”
-Abby

Hi Abby,

I’m afraid that you caught me…

The truth of the matter is that I actually put very little thought into my covers. Put it this way, take a look at my first cover, Magnifica: The Last Enchanter. Then compare it to the next one and the one after that. See how things start to change and improve?
Now this isn’t a strike against my cover artist, so please don’t take it as such. When I first started out, I told my artists exactly what I wanted and how I wanted things. I left virtually no room for creativity on their part… that was a mistake. The artists I went with did exactly what I asked of them and did a very beautiful job, by the way, I’d rehire either of them in a heartbeat.
However, when we got to Magnifica: Gravestalker, a friend recommended an artist to me who had done many of his band’s posters.
When I approached him about doing the cover and told him what the book was about, he started coming up with ideas before I had a chance to lay down any real guidelines. I did get to tell him what I wanted, but in addition to that, he showed me a few other ideas he’d had on the side. Before I knew what was happening, my original idea was all but gone. I’m not complaining, mind you, he taught me a lesson that day.
From then on, whenever I hire an artist, be it for comic art, or the a fore mentioned cover artist I give them free reign. All my cover artist asks me to do is give him a few chapters with key plot points to work with. He does the rest.

This is perhaps the best advice I can give you; hire an artist, tell him what your book is about, let him read segments of it to get an idea for himself, but other than that LET THE MAN OR WOMAN DO HIS WORK! That’s what they’re being paid for. Creativity is a big part of being an artist and the more creative freedom you give them, the better the results. Divinity is a perfect example of this. I let Brett do whatever he wanted. We’d worked together, I knew and trusted him, and frankly, I was thrilled with the results.

I hope this helps.
Readers, do you have other experiences with artists that you would like to share to help Abby? (Good or bad) or any hurdles you’ve had to overcome? Please leave a comment below.

Abby- If you’re looking for a good artist, any of the ones who did my covers are awesome and any would probably love to take on your project. You can find more info about them here.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Minimalist vs. Ornate? #Writing #Author #Advice

“Hi Jim,

My book is done. I’m super excited about getting it published. My question to you is about the cover. What do you think I should go with, a simple cover with maybe a single item as the focal point or a big cover depicting a scene and characters? My artist is really pushing the idea that less is more in the cover.

Thanks,
Reese.”

Hi Reese,

I’m afraid you’ve got me there. I’ve honestly done both and seen success with both. Both covers can attract attention, but they’ll do it in different ways.

The best piece of advice I can give is to go with what feels right, but more importantly, let your artist’s imagination fly. That being said, if you’ve got an artist wanting to go minimalist, take a look at their other work and see how they’ve made either style work. If you like how they’ve done it with work in the past and you’re okay with a minimalist cover, then by all means go with it.

If you want a detailed cover with more intricacy, tell the artist that and have them create something great. In the end, it’s really up to you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When you hire an artist, YOU are the boss. You tell them what you want.

Now I’ve seen a lot of covers done both ways and all I can tell you is that you’ll want an attractive cover. You want something that will catch people’s eyes and while a minimalist cover can do that, it’s harder to do in many ways.

The other thing you want to look out for, in this case with an ornate cover is too much detail. If there’s too much going on, your going to make potential readers eyes hurt and they will pass over your book.

I wish I could help you more, but really this is a matter of taste and opinion and I’ve heard arguments on both sides. So whatever you choose, make sure it’s done well.

Readers, what do you think? Which way do you think she should go?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Today I have a special feature here for your enjoyment. This has been a long journey that took inside a year to accomplish. I have this showcased over on my design blog along with this one. The purpose of this spotlight isn’t to ramble on forever like I do occasionally. My friend Alfredo Pachicano and […]

via #Christian #Fantasy Author Spotlight: #Cover #Reveal — K.M. Jenkins

#Christian #Fantasy Author Spotlight: #Cover #Reveal — K.M. Jenkins

Damnation Cover… who’s responsible.

So I’ve already gotten a lot of positive feedback on the cover… A LOT OF POSITIVE FEEDBACK! I hope the interior lives up to it!

I usually wait a week or so before I do a cover credit piece, but I can’t resist, especially since so many people were instrumental in making this a reality.

So let’s start off with why we went with such a drastically different design from the past. Well to begin, I’ve been looking around at many different covers to get a feel of what sells recently. So I got into a book known as the Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. Which is a great book that all of my readers should definitely look into. (After Damnation of course 😉 )
s-typeopts13

So I went to the creative genius who worked on my previous covers and asked him about things like the above image. It was at this point he informed me about photo realism and that it would most likely be out of scope for him. However he informed me that if I had a photo, he could incorporate that into the cover.

Well… that blew that idea out of the water completely. Admittedly, I didn’t know anyone who looked like the character. I had drawn concept images of what she should look like and no one I knew came close… or so I thought. Recently, an old hometown friend of mine, Rick Chandler, had been doing a lot of  really awesome photography. One set of images he’d done looked really awesome. I told him on his page that I thought they were absolutely incredible. The model, Nicole Hailer, sent me a friend request as a result. At that point my Facebook news-feed was filled with other photo-shoots that she’d done and I have to admit, I became a fan of her work.

Back to the present day. I had all but abandoned the idea when I saw one of Nicole’s photos on my news feed:
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At that moment I brought up the concept images that I had done for comparison:
Zaph (3)Xaph1

Any closer and one might think that I had based the character on her. The likeliness was uncanny. Excited, I immediately asked her if she was interested in doing the cover. She quite enthusiastically said yes. At that point, I recruited Rick to do the shoot and within a few weeks, I had my image:
DSC06376

A lot of people worked very hard on making the image of General Xaphan come to life, and I will be thanking each of them below…

It seemed as though luck was not finished with me… not by a long shot. My cover artist, Brett Warniers had finished up his other projects and was available to do the piece. The first order of business was adding wings to the piece which required a lot of work and detail to pull off. Each feather had to be individually done.

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With a little modification to the necklace to make it more story-appropriate, a little fading of the skin, and shadowing around the wings, we were ready to move on to the background.

The story takes place in 16th Century Europe around the time of the Italian Wars. One pivotal point was at the battle of Gavinana. So it was decided that we would use that area as the background.

galluzzo

Brett worked hard on the animation and even went so far as to create the individual soldiers and hand draw the historically correct uniforms for the time period… The rest speaks for itself.

A lot of hard work by some very talented artists went into this. I myself spent years working on the story, but the cover will be the first item that catches everyone’s’ eyes and I would be extremely remiss if I did not acknowledge those people. I’m also including their contact information. Should any of my readers like what they’ve seen and wish to employ them or purchase their works, I would encourage you to reach out. They are all very friendly and very approachable.

Brett Warniers, you all already know. He’s the creative genius behind the covers for Gravestalker, Divinity, and Damnation. He works really well with 3-D Animation and has a real knack for Gothic architecture. Depending on his workload, he does take on freelance assignments. Please feel free to visit his site and view his work:
http://www.brettwarniers.com/

Nicole Hailer, whom I now refer to as ‘general’ is the model who posed for the cover and is a dead ringer for the character herself. She is very beautiful and talented and, based not only on this cover, but also from her other work that I’ve seen, an incredible model:
https://www.facebook.com/nicole.fountain.376?fref=ts

Rick Chandler I’ve known for many years. We grew up in the same town and I can honestly say that people of his talents are rare to find. In addition to his unique photography work, he’s a movie maker, and a fellow writer. He has yet to create his own page, though I sincerely hope he does in the near future, but this is his Facebook page where he conducts most of his photography business:
https://www.facebook.com/SpecterGeneral?fref=ts

Sam Woods of Samantha Woods Hair and Makeup Artistry did an incredible job giving General Xaphan (Nicole) a battle-worn look. I could not believe how well it came out. You could actually believe, based on the face alone that the character in this image had seen her fair share of battles. Her incredible work added a level of realism to the character that I hadn’t thought possible. Unfortunately, neither her artistry nor her project line, Horrorwood SFX have their own site, but I’ve included her Facebook page below:
https://www.facebook.com/samanthawoodz

Jenny French is the designer who created the sleek and functional, but still sexy outfit that allowed Xaphan to maneuver so well. I’ve checked out the Jenny French Collection’s Facebook page (listed below) and I have to say that I’m impressed. There is a wide range of designs here that is usually unseen. Everything from the sleek and elegant to the dark and Gothic. I highly recommend checking her out:
https://www.facebook.com/jennyfrenchcollection?pnref=about.overview

Nathan Prescott I admit I have not worked with directly, but he is the hair stylist behind Xaphan’s look.The hair complimented the war-torn look on her face extremely well. He is a freelance hair stylist and I highly recommend looking him up. His Facebook page is included below:
https://www.facebook.com/nathanthomasprescott?fref=ts

Jacqueline Ortega of Ortega Jewelry Designs provided the Jewelry that served as Xaphan’s shoulder and wrist armor. The designs are beautiful, elegant, while at the same time, tough and solid. When I first saw these, I was very impressed and thought they worked very well in an image of a warrior. The necklace had to be modified to fit the story more appropriately, but even that in its original form was incredible. Their Facebook page is included below. I strongly urge everyone to check them out:
https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=176690852387935&tsid=0.27962121018208563&source=typeahead&__mref=message_bubble

As I said before, there is a lot of talent here and my personal thanks go out to each of them for all their hard work on making this project a reality!

Readers, I hope you enjoy this literary work as much as we did creating it! Thanks Friends!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Minimalist vs. Ornate?

“Hi Jim,

My book is done. I’m super excited about getting it published. My question to you is about the cover. What do you think I should go with, a simple cover with maybe a single item as the focal point or a big cover depicting a scene and characters? My artist is really pushing the idea that less is more in the cover.

Thanks,
Reese.”

Hi Reese,

I’m afraid you’ve got me there. I’ve honestly done both and seen success with both. Both covers can attract attention, but they’ll do it in different ways.

The best piece of advice I can give is to go with what feels right, but more importantly, let your artist’s imagination fly. That being said, if you’ve got an artist wanting to go minimalist, take a look at their other work and see how they’ve made either style work. If you like how they’ve done it with work in the past and you’re okay with a minimalist cover, then by all means go with it.

If you want a detailed cover with more intricacy, tell the artist that and have them create something great. In the end, it’s really up to you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When you hire an artist, YOU are the boss. You tell them what you want.

Now I’ve seen a lot of covers done both ways and all I can tell you is that you’ll want an attractive cover. You want something that will catch people’s eyes and while a minimalist cover can do that, it’s harder to do in many ways.

The other thing you want to look out for, in this case with an ornate cover is too much detail. If there’s too much going on, your going to make potential readers eyes hurt and they will pass over your book.

I wish I could help you more, but really this is a matter of taste and opinion and I’ve heard arguments on both sides. So whatever you choose, make sure it’s done well.

Readers, what do you think? Which way do you think she should go?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Cover Inspiration

“Hi Jim,

I was just wondering, Divinity’s cover looks really cool! May I ask where you get the ideas for yours? Like what makes you choose one scene in your writings over another? I want to create an awesome cover for my story and was hoping that you could point me in the right direction.”
-Abby

Hi Abby,

I’m afraid that you caught me…

The truth of the matter is that I actually put very little thought into my covers. Put it this way, take a look at my first cover, Magnifica: The Last Enchanter. Then compare it to the next one and the one after that. See how things start to change and improve?
Now this isn’t a strike against my cover artist, so please don’t take it as such. When I first started out, I told my artists exactly what I wanted and how I wanted things. I left virtually no room for creativity on their part… that was a mistake. The artists I went with did exactly what I asked of them and did a very beautiful job, by the way, I’d rehire either of them in a heartbeat.
However, when we got to Magnifica: Gravestalker, a friend recommended an artist to me who had done many of his band’s posters.
When I approached him about doing the cover and told him what the book was about, he started coming up with ideas before I had a chance to lay down any real guidelines. I did get to tell him what I wanted, but in addition to that, he showed me a few other ideas he’d had on the side. Before I knew what was happening, my original idea was all but gone. I’m not complaining, mind you, he taught me a lesson that day.
From then on, whenever I hire an artist, be it for comic art, or the a fore mentioned cover artist I give them free reign. All my cover artist asks me to do is give him a few chapters with key plot points to work with. He does the rest.

This is perhaps the best advice I can give you; hire an artist, tell him what your book is about, let him read segments of it to get an idea for himself, but other than that LET THE MAN OR WOMAN DO HIS WORK! That’s what they’re being paid for. Creativity is a big part of being an artist and the more creative freedom you give them, the better the results. Divinity is a perfect example of this. I let Brett do whatever he wanted. We’d worked together, I knew and trusted him, and frankly, I was thrilled with the results.

I hope this helps.
Readers, do you have other experiences with artists that you would like to share to help Abby? (Good or bad) or any hurdles you’ve had to overcome? Please leave a comment below.

Abby- If you’re looking for a good artist, any of the ones who did my covers are awesome and any would probably love to take on your project. You can find more info about them here.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Traitorous Main Character

So you’ve written your story. Your characters are beloved, not only to you, but also your reading audience. Well now you’re writing the next part in your series and are ready to do the unthinkable…

You’re going to have one of the characters turn on the others. One of your main good guys is now to become a villain and not just a villain, but one who was the cause of much of the turmoil that the other characters have gone through.

So how do you do it? Up until now, this character has been close to all of the others. They have become well-liked, and your audience has grown attached to that character. How do you suddenly make them the object of scorn?
Well it may not be as difficult as you think and it may not even be necessary. Let me explain…

If you’re going to paint the person as a straight villain, the shock and surprise alone should be enough to turn your readers against the character. If you’ve written it right, your readers should feel just as betrayed as the characters that they are reading about. Having the ability to make your readers relate, and even feel the same emotions that the characters are is a staple of a truly gifted story teller. Just make sure that you provide an alternate view of the events from the past stories so that everything fits into place. This is absolutely essential if the villain role is going to stick.

Above, I said that it may not be necessary to make the traitor the object of scorn. Indeed it isn’t. If you refer back to my Character Complexes thread, you can read up on how to create a villain that may not necessary be evil. Maybe this traitor has family that they are looking for, maybe they’re turning on their friends for what they perceive to be the greater good, or maybe there is a payoff at the end that is enough for the traitor to sacrifice their friends.
The point is, just because the character is no longer a good guy, or on the same side as the main characters, doesn’t mean that they’re bad. Quite the opposite, it just means that their circumstances have changed. That character can still be relateable and even likable.

Now, does that mean that this character won’t come back to the morally ‘right’ in the story? No, there is no rule in place that a character can’t switch sides.

So just remember when writing a traitor, it may be better and even easier at some points to not paint them as a straight villain.

Thanks and catch you all on the flip-side,

Jim

Free Exchange of Ideas…

Can I just ask… what the heck happened?

When I first published my work, I got a lot of comments from readers, both positive and negative. Divinity in particular got positive and negative comments from die-hard Christians and atheists, and I don’t understand the negativity.

I certainly can’t speak for the rest of the world, so if it’s different outside of the U.S. PLEASE let me know.

I don’t mind disagreeing with my views, in fact, I welcome it! I love it when someone posts a comment on Facebook, here, or on my other pages and tells me that they disagree with my message or my assessment of a certain situation or event. I always enjoy hearing about it from the other person’s perspective and then engaging their talking points. That’s fine…

What’s not fine is when people start calling you names or accuse you of racial bigotry. I don’t get that. Nowhere have I ever used racial slurs in anything I’ve written (unless you count sharpy, which many of my characters call elves), nor have I ever said anything about a specific ethnicity or religion that would portray everyone in any of those groups in a negative light.

I’ll provide a perfect example. The other day I was on a newspaper’s website and one person mentioned on the message board that he supported voter ID laws. The next comment accused him of being racist. How is requiring all citizens to prove their citizens racist? Another comment said that it makes it more difficult for poor people to vote. That is a credible argument, but racist? Is the person making that comment inferring that all poor people are minorities, or that the majority of certain minorities are poor? Isn’t the assumption of racism, actually racism itself?

Anyway, I don’t want to delve into a conversation of semantics, so let me get back on point. Why just sit there, yell and scream, and accuse the person of being racist? Why get mad at that person’s viewpoint? What good does that do? Why not instead of resorting to anger, threats, or childish name-calling, you address that person’s talking points. Tell that person why you think they’re wrong and then hear their arguments. You might learn something and they might actually gain some knowledge in the process too. Why is that not a better solution?

By resorting to childish name-calling, you make yourself look less intelligent.

By resorting to misogyny, you make yourself out to look hateful.

By resorting to inserting race or ethnicity into an argument, you make yourself out to be hateful, you water-down justified accusations of racism, and you spit on everyone who actually suffered from racism and fought for equal rights.

All of this takes a negative toll on society. It get’s to the point where Freedom of Expression and Speech take a back seat to people’s’ sensitivity. The problem is that people don’t see the damage being done by this. Someone showing a different perspective on things, as long as it’s factual and historically accurate, should not be met with scorn. Their talking points should be addressed.

Seriously, why get mad? Why break off contact or remove someone from your contact list? Why resort to stupidity? If someone’s opinion truly upsets you, ignore it. Unless they’re specifically saying it to insult you or a group you’re apart of, why get mad? Why not respond and tell them why you think they’re wrong?

All you’re doing is making it more difficult for someone to express their opinions or their views. By accusing someone who expresses a viewpoint of racial, religious, or ethnic bigotry where none was intended or implied, or calling them names, all you’re doing is making another person fear how they’re going to be portrayed by others, including their employers and family, and thus are making it harder for them to put their views to paper, and that’s a terrible, awful thing to do, when the Free Exchange of Ideas is one of the most important freedoms anyone has.

I really don’t want to spend too much time on this, so I’m going to close with a quote from a TV show I loved as a child:

With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably… The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged. 

P.S. Don’t be afraid to post if you think I missed something or disagree, as I said above, I welcome other viewpoints and would love to address them.