I have been working very hard to complete two novels simultaneously in order to release them at different points in 2012. Sometimes I need a visual to inspire me to keep going, that my work will be worth it in the end. You see, I am one of those authors who, although sales are nice, doesn’t write for glory. I actually do write because I enjoy telling stories. John Lennon once described his writing process as thinking of things that relate in his mind and if other people relate to it, then that’s cool too. He didn’t write for other people. He wrote for himself. I’m the same way. I write stories that I would enjoy reading and if other people enjoy them too, then that’s an added bonus, and we can share in that experience of characters going on a journey.
There are drawbacks to being an independent author, though, such as not having the profits that can be re-invested in editors, cover designers, and big marketing machines. Independent authors perform the jobs of half a dozen people by themselves. In my case, I learn to manage my writing career through trial and error. Being forced to stand on your own two feet and depend on your own self-discipline to complete this process of publishing a book is such a growth experience for the soul. When you are in control of every detail associated with your public name, you tend to work a little harder and put a little extra something special in the finished product. Buying one of my books means you are buying a product that I oversaw from beginning to end. I design my own covers, I find fellow writers willing to trade editing services, etc. You don’t need a huge publishing house to become an author. All you need is talent for storytelling, ambition, discipline, and a willingness to accept that you are going to make mistakes sometimes. Each book should be seen as a growth experience over the last book. If you think you’ve reached your peak and learned everything there is to learn about publishing, starting your next book will deflate your ego down to a good size. There is nothing more humbling than learning new things and realizing you should always be on the road to growing and improving your craft.
So here I am on the road to publishing more books in 2012. I am not one of those authors who churns out another book each year. I tried to be that kind of author in the beginning and my work suffered. I invest every ounce of myself into my work, which means I go through a period of depression after I finish each book. Nobody prepared me for the post-book depression when I published From the Darkness Risen and it took me by surprise. It felt like giving away a child. I went through the same depression after I published Unveiled: Fanny Chamberlain Reincarnated and I expect to go through it in 2012 when Revolution’s Promise and >From the Darkness Risen Book II are released, and then in 2013 when She Loved the Assassin is released. I am hoping to release From the Darkness Risen Book II in April and Revolution’s Promise in time for Bastille Day (July).
Today I did a mock up of the cover design for Revolution’s Promise. Here it is below. The edges might look wonky and unfinished but that’s only because the printers cut off the edges, so I don’t necessarily need to waste time making them look finished.
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I had a hard time coming up with a design for this cover because the story is so complicated. I wasn’t sure how to convey it visually.
Revolution’s Promise is a story of the last decade of the French monarchy as told through the voice of Céline de la Barré. Her life is aristocratic, comfortable, and extremely sheltered, although she witnesses the secret intrigues of less than savory figures in her family. She is a painter under the tutelage of the Queen’s portraitist, Madame Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, and really has no direction in her life until she meets a master craftsman’s apprentice, Georges Alexandre. They fall in love despite their best efforts to avoid each other because she watches the pain her sister endures from being in love with a man their father refuses to accept and she doesn’t want to put herself through that suffering. As the revolution boils, Georges opens Céline’s eyes to the suffering of the common man, leaving her with the decision of allowing herself to face arrest and execution with her family, or attempt to escape France and begin a new life as a common woman.
In a nutshell, that’s the story. There are several subplots that I didn’t even mention in that little summary. You see how difficult it was to come up with an adequate cover design. I arrived at that mock up by looking at the work of Céline’s contemporaries in the French artistic world. The clash of the soft beauty and the bloody revolution was important for me to convey as well. I chose two paintings to blend together.
If you notice, the portrait of the lady playing the harp has a different hair color and eye color in the original version than what you see on my cover design. That painting is a self-portrait of Rose-Adélaïde Ducreux that she completed in 1790. My Céline is a redhead with blue eyes, so I tinted the hair color and eye color to match my character. It took forever to find a good candidate to be Céline and I swapped out about a dozen different portraits from several countries. From there, I cropped out the section of the French Revolution painting that I needed and added a transparency effect. I left my version of Céline in color because she is the focus of the novel, and the struggles of the common man were symbolically left in the background because that’s how it was in her life for the most part. I added the necessary text and there you have it! A book cover!
Between now and next year, the title may change. I’m very indecisive about book titles. From the Darkness Risen went through about eight titles in the six years that it took to complete it and the final title was actually chosen in the eleventh hour. Right now, I can’t think of anything better than Revolution’s Promise but as I go through the revolution with Céline, I may be guided to something that packs more of a punch.