As secretary of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, not only did I help plan, set up and tear down this event, but also attended as an author. It was an early start at 7 am to ensure the volunteers and all the display items were organized and in place prior to the opening at 9 am. As they say many hands make light work and the set up and tear down were completed in record time. The event celebrated it’s 15th year, which is a great milestone and this was the first in-person for 2 years.
It felt good to get my author table set up once again, and have the interaction with readers, and local authors too.
Another part of the day was author readings, and all the local authors delighted us with chapters of their chosen book to read. I read part of The Rython Kingdom – it felt good to reading out loud again after so long.
Of course, as a reader, I couldn’t resist buying a few books! So my TBR is now quite an impressive height! It will be difficult to pick which novel to read, after I finished Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Maybe I can write the titles on slips of paper and pick one out of a hat?
We all know the saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ – however, it is the cover that initially attracts a reader to pick up our book. Choosing the ‘correct’ colour for your book cover can be difficult, as it will subconsciously give an impression of the genre/topic/trope of your story. We might look into the typical colours used for a genre, or go with our gut feeling and pick a colour we feel is ‘right’ for our narrative. No matter which avenue you choose all covers are an extension of us and our stories.
I am currently debating, which colour to use for an upcoming novella, which will be a prequel to a two-part series. The existing books have similar designs, but different colours to signify the different characters. As this third character is evil, having a black cover, or elements, will translate to the story of evil, and unhappiness.
Here is a list of colours and their significance with each genre.
Black evokes a serious theme and signifies mystery, death, evil, a sense of authority, power, control, and suspense, but also can feel sophisticated, modern, authoritative, and formal. It is most commonly used in horror, thriller, and mystery genres.
Gray is a neutral color associated with wisdom, sophistication, knowledge, and prestige, but also depression. It elicits an emotional spectrum ranging from remote, distant, cool, and bored to serious, focused, and intelligent.
Green is associated with nature, vitality, environment, health, evoking a soothing, refreshing, and tranquil state of mind, and is therefore a good fit for high fantasy novels or environmental nonfiction. Although it is one of the least-seen colors for book covers, it is often equated with a fresh beginning, excitement, vitality, wealth, and even jealousy.
I chose green not only for my medieval fantasy, but also my children’s picture and chapter books.
Blue has many associations including thoughtfulness, trust, calmness, serenity, inquisitiveness, dependability, mental engagement, sadness, stability and trustworthiness, safety and elicits feelings of calm and serenity as well as nature. Blue is commonly used for covers of political memoirs and nonfiction as well as more thought-provoking fiction. The choice of blue hue changes its meaning as a dark blue or indigo means intuition, truth, sincerity, and trust.
Purple/Violet signifies spirituality, prosperity, transcendence, harmony, while dark purple is related to royalty, depth, wealth, and fantasy. For my YA fantasy novella, Clickety-Click as you can see, I chose a deep purple not only for the background, but for the creature!
Yellow is a striking colour, evoking feelings of motivation, warmth, ambition, fun, cheerfulness, happiness, creativity, and energy, and in all has an attention-grabbing effect. However, it can also be grating and annoying, or even aggressive, while pale yellow is warm, friendly, approachable, and inviting. The choice of hue for yellow is paramount to balance the effect you are looking to convey.
Brown might seem an odd choice and dull, but it evokes feelings of nature, comfort, gives an ‘of-the-Earth’ vibe. Ecological genres may utilize a brown hue for a cover. I, however, utilized rich golden brown backgrounds for three books – a steampunk, a speculative fiction and a reincarnation romance. I find them atmospheric.
White is associated with purity, cleanliness, safety, simplicity, self-sufficiency, freshness and peacefulness. Although, white can come across as stark, bland, or cold, it is well-known as a symbol of purity suggesting a straight-forward, simple book.
Orange is a color associated with playfulness, energy, creativity, dynamic, positive, optimistic, hopeful, confidence and attention-grabbing with feelings of warmth and happiness, but can also be found to be overwhelming and cartoonish. Interestingly, I chose a blue background with orange lettering for my upcoming crime trilogy.
Red conveys energy, enthusiasm, emotion, power, dominance and aggression responses as well as angst for horror and thrillers, but with the choice of a softer tone also gives a feeling of passion, excitement, hunger (desire), love, and warmth.
Pink depending on the shade of pink, this hue can evoke feelings of passion, romance, innocence or childishness, femininity, playfulness, love, tenderness, youthfulness, emotion, and innocence.
With a combination of a deep rose and mahogany hues my YA alien adventure reflects the four young friends and the invading creature.
This past weekend, I enjoyed a special four day weekend away in Pincher Creek and visited for the first time, Waterton. Although, the devastating fire of two years ago has left the forest slopes covered in blacken and bone white perished trees, there is an abundance of lush green undergrowth springing up everywhere. Nature restores herself and brings about beauty only she can achieve. Experiencing such magnificence does inspire not only my soul, but a deeper need to be in nature. Growing up, my parents encouraged us to explore, learn about and cherish the natural world. I grew up with Sir David Attenborough’s dulcet tones enthusing over a multitude of wildlife. My children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue is my small homage to the natural world – with a magical twist, of course, you know me! – Of magical sprites caring for the animals within. Maybe, deep down, I hope for magical beings to save the world’s wildlife, although in reality there are many individuals and organizations that try.
We were so lucky to encounter two brown bears and two black bears on this trip!
My creativity is born of a multitude of inspirations, some from the familiar, but others from unexpected sources. One draft manuscript, lying in wait, has the seasons as the ‘four’ chapters of a relationship. Another is the result of several news reports, culminating in a story, where I meshed them together. Unrelated or applicable, each inspiration source has the ability to evolve into a story. Some remain as short stories, poems, or even a paragraph or two, but all have enabled me to create. I have kept all these inklings in an electronic folder for many years and from time to time click on one or two. Sometimes, I remember the initial idea source, but many are a mystery now. I read them as if they are written by someone else, enjoying their ‘newness’. A couple have become ‘inserts’ in a subsequent manuscript, in one way or another – a character description, a scene or something a character experiences.
This short story written a long time prior to The Twesome Loop might have been a precursor to it! Perceptions of future or past events.
The Coin by Mandy Eve-Barnett
Sunday is my favorite day of the week. After working hard all week and completing chores and shopping on Saturday this is my time to relax. With the sunshine warming through the patio door, I curl up on my oversized armchair with a glass of wine within easy reach. Now I can start my new novel without interruption, pure bliss.
My absorption in the make believe world is rudely interrupted when a drop of water splashes onto the page. Where could that have come from? I look up to see a glassy sheen on the ceiling and another drop hits my cheek. Oh no, it must be a leaking pipe or something overflowing. I fetch a bowl from the kitchen and place it beneath the circular patch. Another drip makes a pinging sound as it hits the glass. What shall I do first, phone the landlord or go upstairs and check with my neighbor? The latter wins the day and I climb the stairs to apartment eight. With a couple of gentle knocks I stand back and wait for an answer. I hear shuffling sounds and then an elderly voice asks.
“Hello, my name is Annie and I live downstairs. There is water coming through my ceiling.”
“Water in the ceiling? Oh my, that may be my fault.”
The owner of the voice opens her door and I am faced with an old lady wrapped in several jumpers.
“Do come in. I think I may have caused the leak. Come and see, maybe you can switch it off. My hands are so frail I can’t seem to fix the damn thing.”
I follow her and realize her apartment is a mirror image of mine. She stands to one side as I walk into the bathroom to find an overflowing toilet cistern.
“Let’s see what’s happening. The ball cock has stuck, it’s an easy fix.”
With a few twists and by levering the float’s rod up and down I free up the mechanism.
“That should do the trick for now but you should call the landlord and ask him to replace it.”
“I don’t think he will do that, he’s not very capable with this sort of thing. I can call a plumber.”
“Plumber’s are very expensive and really it is a simple fix. I could do it for you if you like?”
“That’s very kind, Annie, I’d pay for the parts of course. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Thank you that would be nice. Sorry I didn’t catch your name.”
“How rude of me. My name is Annie just like yours.”
“What a coincidence.”
We walk back to the kitchen and I realize how cold her apartment is, I have goose bumps. I rub my arms and wish I’d brought a jumper it had been lovely and warm in my armchair. As Annie organizes pretty little china cups, sugar bowl and milk jug on a tray I notice she has the same cookie jar as me.
“Another coincidence, Annie, I have a cookie jar just like that one.”
“Do you, dear? Would you like a cookie with your tea?”
“No thank you but I have to say you need to put your heating up a bit, it’s cold in here. You will catch your death.”
“I’m used to it I just put on another jumper. You can borrow one if you would like.”
I begin to decline her offer but it is so cold I acquiesce. She turns and hands me a jumper that had been hanging on the chair. It is wonderfully soft and warm.
“Could you carry the tray into the living room for me?”
“Of course I can, Annie. “
It seems strange using my name for another person. I follow her into the main room and stop short when I see my cozy armchair – well an older version of it anyway. There are several objects on the coffee table that are similar and I place the tray down with shaking hands.
“Sorry Annie, I think I’m having a déjà vu moment. You have so many things just like mine.”
“They are yours, Annie, you are at a crossroads and you have to choose the right path. I chose the wrong one so came back to warn you.”
“I’m sorry? What are you talking about?”
“Take this coin and you will see.”
Annie hands me a brass coloured coin tied with a red velvet ribbon and the apartment spins. When it stops I am watching myself weeping and calling out to someone called Carl.
“Please stay, Carl, I’m so sorry. I was scared and acted on impulse.”
I swing around as a male voice speaks and I’m confronted with Carl from my office.
“Annie, I trusted you. How could you betray me?”
My mind is whirling, what did I do? When did I start going out with Carl? When did this happen? My other self replies,
“It was going too fast for me, I wasn’t sure about us. It’s only been five months.”
“You could have told me to cool it off a bit, Annie, I would have understood.”
I feel a tug on my hand and the illusion disappears. I’m back in old Annie’s apartment. My knees give way so I sit with a thump on the armchair.
“Don’t be afraid to let go of your emotions, Annie, trust them. He won’t come back and you’ll be alone like me- forever regretting that one night stand.”
“How did you do that? How are you here with me? I feel sick.”
“Take a few deep breaths you will be alright. I came from another reality to warn you. Keep this talisman as a reminder.”
A thud wakes me my book has fallen from my lap. I look up to see a perfect ceiling, no dripping water, no glass bowl catching the drips. What a dream it was so vivid. As I sit up I smooth the cashmere jumper and grasp something in the pocket. A coin wrapped in red velvet ribbon.
I was honoured to be part of Indie Bookstore Day at my local bookstore, The Sherwood Park Bookworm on Saturday. With so many books to choose from and three local authors and a couple of artisan’s attending as well, it was a great day.
I was sequestered on one of the lavish armchairs to display my novels and chat to visitors. It is always a pleasure to talk about my stories and the backstory of their creation. I am always open to reader questions and welcome a comment or email at any time.
The Smart One by Jennifer Close A glimpse into a family’s thoughts, their interactions and events that cause friction, reassessment and belonging. Well crafted characters that you will become involved with, finding some similarities within your own family dynamics, others far from your experience
With a multiple of genres in my repertoire, I have utilized several book cover illustrators to achieve the best cover for each book. All of them have a unique style and process for creating the images. As an author the book cover is a vital tool to attract our readers. It needs to reflect in a quick and simple way the genre of the story and entice our readers to take a look.
Which cover(s) do you like?
Rumble’s First Scare
This cute little monster was the result of a mental image of mine. I asked Matthew McClatchie to bring him to life. This was achieved with my writing down a description of Rumble, as best I could and of the images for each page within the picture book. It took multiple emails back and forth until Rumble emerged. This is the excitement of working with a great illustrator, a mind meld as it were.
Ockleberries to the Rescue
I commissioned J.E. McKnight, a fellow author and artist to help me with this project as I required ‘real’ sketches of animals and Joe’s pencil and ink drawings were perfect for the chapter headers. We used nature photography for the majority of the images, as a basis for the images and a couple were a collaboration of my poor attempts at sketches and Joe’s interpretation of the subject.
Again, most of the images were in my mind’s eye but the protagonist was a ‘real’ girl, so I asked Linda J. Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography to help with the chapter header images. I described what each scene should incorporate and then Linda drew them in pencil and ink. Again, it is the worth of a great illustrator to draw what an author’s mind envisions.
Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria
I had such fun with this project as it was open to my imagination to create an alien world and who better to use than Matthew McClatchie’s unique technique? From my previous experience with Matty, I knew he would interpret my ‘mental images’ and badly constructed collages to make them come to life.
The Rython Kingdom
I found the illustrator for this novella via a Facebook friend. At the time, Winter Bayne utilized an online program for images and models. While working together we created the book cover from several different images I felt were important to the cover. Alas Winter no longer offers her services, so I am glad I got to work with her.
Unable to use Winter Bayne on this sequel, I was at a loss as who to turn to in order to achieve a similar cover. Luckily, through a Facebook contact I was able to connect with Wren Taylor Cover Design, who knew Winter. She utilizes the same sort of program and we collaborated well on the image to tie it to the first book with an orb shape.
The Twesome Loop
This image was again a collaboration with Winter Bayne, where I wanted several images merged. An olive tree, an old stone well and the lovers. She was able to find models dressed in period costume for the original couple in this reincarnation based romance.
Life in Slake Patch
I was vacationing in England when the original book cover was finalized for this novel, so emails were numerous. Linda J Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography managed to create a scene using multiple images I sent. Subsequently the cover was changed to the current one by Wren Taylor Cover Design to align with my other adult novel covers.
The Commodore’s Gift
Knowing the process and our mutual understanding I once again used Wren Taylor Cover Design to create the cover. It is the culmination of numerous images merged into my vision. There are many items within the cover that required closer inspection. Can you find them? A clockwork bird, a clock, a propulsion device, deep sea divers helmet/octopus, and a heart.
My current detective series has covers already designed by Wren Taylor Cover Design, but they will only be revealed once the trilogy is finalized and published. Yes, I know I’m teasing.