New year, new goals: here’s what I have planned:
A lot of people listen to music while they work, and I am one of them. I’ve seen all kinds of theories about what kind of music is good for what tasks, but all I know is what works for me. For mindless data entry, I prefer stirring, exciting music that grabs my attention and takes me away to another place, like Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack to The Wind and The Lion, or James Horner’s soundtrack to Krull. If it’s the soundtrack to a movie I know really well, like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, or the Indiana Jones movies, it doesn’t seem to work as well.
But there are tasks that I find stressful or intellectually challenging, that involve math or problem-solving. And then, there’s outlining my novels, which is a little bit of all four. (Less math than some things, but it does come up.) For outlining novels, and for those other tasks, I have a secret weapon: Baroque Favorites by the Jacques Loussier Trio.
Jacques Loussier is a French-born jazz pianist who performs classical music, from the Baroque era to Debussy, in a “cool jazz” style. He’s the leader of the trio that bears his name; the exact lineup has varied over the years but always includes a percussionist and some kind of bass player. A lot of people swear by his take on Bach, which honestly doesn’t do that much for me. Other people like his Debussy; personally I feel that Debussy is already so abstract that “jazzing him up” doesn’t yield interesting results.
I think the reason his interpretation of Baroque music works so well for me is the nature of the source material and the way it interacts with the improvisational qualities of jazz. In the Baroque era, there was an emphasis on making music both emotionally pleasing and intellectually stimulating. Music was intended to command the listener’s attention, in a way that busy working people often do not have time for.
Loussier’s approach makes Baroque music simpler and more approachable in some ways than it was originally intended to be. He arguably makes it calmer as well: the style of jazz he aspires to is all about conservation of emotional energy, because getting excited about things is profoundly “uncool.” The result seems to be music that stimulates the mind without demanding its full attention, and also calms and focuses the mind at the same time. (That being said, do not listen to Loussier when you are tired. You will not get the full effect!)
So, that’s the kind of music I outline novels to. I also find it helpful when I’ve written myself into a corner and am trying to write myself out again. It’s not passionate enough to help me stay in the “zone” when I’m writing the fun parts, but that usually requires a different kind of music all together…and that is a post for another time.
MV Covers* is run by an artist who is stepping back from the world of premade book covers (where the author picks out a pre-created design, explains what text needs to go on it, and pays for the result) to focus on logo work. Due to this, she is listing all her remaining premades at $15 a piece (which is EXTREMELY inexpensive for the quality of work she does) and is willing to make fairly major changes for a fee. I found a cover that I liked (for Loving A Deathseer, Book 3 in the Jaiya Series), but the woman was showing a bit more cleavage than I felt comfortable with, and I wanted her eyes to be more visible. The final pricetag for having that done and the fonts changed to more or less match what you see on the ebook cover to Marrying A Monster, was $30.
*Note: like many book cover sites, may be NSFW depending on your office’s guidelines.
Let me introduce you to Rina, the heroine of Marrying A Monster. She has one of those super-efficient metabolisms we all envy, and the kind of long, wavy hair I personally envy, even though I know how much work that can be. Her first weapon of choice is her pepper spray, though she doesn’t like to use it in places where it would hit innocent bystanders.
At the beginning of the story, Rina’s clothing shop is losing money, and her chief financial backers (her parents) can’t help her out unless she does them a favor…which will involve her traveling back to their hometown of Thundermouth, near the top of Mount Snarl in the Blue Smoke Mountains.
Along the way, she visits such prime vacation spots as Goatsfart and Stayout, meets a hunky but secretive folklore expert by the name of Vipin, and bickers with her archnemesis and least favorite customer, Amita. But there is a monster stalking her up the mountain, and it will take more than snark and pepper spray to take it down….
One of my hobbies while I was working on Marrying A Monster was trying to make my own cover art. This produced a bunch of dubious results and two or three that were decent but not appropriate to my genre.
Then I went looking through premades. There are a lot of very talented designers who make premades available at reasonable prices, but a couple of things made my search more difficult.
One, my books are not steamy. The thing to remember about the “bare torso” style of cover art is that the author (and/or publisher) is usually being very honest in advertising the contents of the book. It attracts people who like that kind of content, and tells people who don’t like it to keep on moving. If I gave Marrying A Monster that kind of cover, it would be false advertising, which is a good way to annoy your potential buyers.
Two, the setting is a fictional country called Jaiya, “in a world not quite like ours.” Jaiya has elements of several cultures, including a religion very loosely inspired by Christianity, but the climate, ethnic groups, and parts of the country’s history are inspired by India, Pakistan, and the other countries in that area.
There are several places where I describe people as having gold or bronze or tea-colored skin…which meant that any piece of cover art with blonde or red-haired, fair-skinned people was automatically a no-go. I also describe the characters as mostly wearing modern clothes and talking on cell phones, so the handful of “Exotic India” covers I ran across didn’t seem to fit either.
I eventually decided that since people in that part of the real world come in a huge variety of ethnicities, it was okay to look at artwork where the characters could maybe pass for Mediterranean or Middle Eastern, or where the stock photos involved had been manipulated so thoroughly that trying to judge the character’s ethnicity seemed pointless.
Then I fell in love with a particular premade at Rocking Book Covers and contacted Adrijus, the designer who runs the site. He was happy to make the font changes I asked for, and just submitted the final version to me today.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very pleased to present to you, the cover art for Marrying A Monster!
*puts on Tia Baden hat*
My short story collection “The Pomegranate Lover and Other Stories” is almost ready to go live. I’ve ordered a proof copy of the paperback version from Createspace, and if I can live with what I did to the cover on that version, I will approve the print version and upload the mobi version to Amazon. In the meantime, here is the cover art for the ebook.