I was recently interviewed at NFReads.com. You can read it here!
I was recently interviewed at NFReads.com. You can read it here!
In an earlier post I wrote about how I designed my own book covers for my previous books using my own photographs. In this post I focus on the book cover for Bitter Ends my forthcoming collection of short stories.
Part of the thrill for me in creating a book cover is digging into my files and discovering that one photograph that expresses what’s in the pages in between and expressing it in a way folks who see the cover will be interested enough to take a peek inside and maybe even buy the book.
Like my previous book of short stories, Devious Tales, Bitter Ends is a collection of tales filled with murder, revenge, greed, and other mayhem along with a couple of slightly less deadly yarns. That said, the cover needed an ominous look informing the potential reader what they are getting.
In digging through my files I first focused on a few images taken in New Mexico back in 2013. One in particular was of a deserted highway with its colorful mountains in the background. I felt it reflected a feeling of vast emptiness and a bit of dread. I saw bodies potentially buried everywhere.
Below is the original image followed by a series early versions of the book cover.
We were on our way to visit Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch located in Abiquiú, New Mexico,when I pulled over and took the above shot that was my first choice for the cover. Cropping it was the first step followed by the lettering. I tried various fonts and colors before settling on the image on the right.
I spent some time reviewing the image, asking myself was this what I wanted. Did it visually express the stories and entice potential readers. The more I looked at it, the more I wasn’t satisfied that it did. I went back to digging into my photographic archive.
I next found a photograph taken just two months earlier in Yellowstone National Park. We were on a photo tour and came across this area in the park that had burnt. We stopped and took a series of photos, one of which is the first photo below. Looking at it, I thought it projected a dark, eerily, end of life feeling.
Some cropping followed and then some software experimenting resulting in the two early versions below.
I still wasn’t completely satisfied and kept working at it. Finally, I came up with what I envisioned visually expressed what I wrote. Below is the final cover.
Bitter Ends will be available in January from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a paperback and ebook.
Andre is back once again at my laptop pounding on the keys. I can only hope he is not writing his memoirs. If he is, I am in deep trouble!
While you are waiting for Andre’s tell all book to be published , you can check out Devious Tales available now at Amazon.
Hancock, Vermont is a small town with a population of 323 people, as of the 2010 census. A couple of years ago we did a road tour of Vermont starting in Burlington and traveling in a circular route to various spots where we planned to stop and photograph. Hancock was not on the list; it was a town that happened to be on the route we were taking. Sometimes the unexpected happens and it works out.
Hancock was named after John Hancock, the prominent patriot and statesman who also served as President of the Second Continental Congress. Among other functions, Hancock twice served of Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. John Hancock was arguably the most prominent signer of the Declaration of Independence, so much so, that the phrase “put your John Hancock on that paper” became a common alternative for signature.
While on our road trip, we stopped for a few minutes and took a some photos of Hancock’s “downtown” area. The above photograph of Hubbard’s Country Store, located on Route 125, was closed. I later found out it went out of business a few years ago. The original owners, Earl and Mamie Hubbard, sold the business to Bill and Irma Perry who ran the store until it closed. In 2013, the store was auctioned off. The winning bid was made by Jonathan and Sara Deering.
Inside, the place was a mess with the floor buckling and parts of the ceiling coming down. In early 2014, friends and neighbors began to help Jonathan and Sara renovate the local landmark. I took the above photograph in late September 2015. From the outside, it still did not look like any improvements were made. The new owners and their friends though were hard at work inside. The revitalized store finally opened in 2016.
Maybe, we’ll get back there some day and see the revitalized store.
I find inspiration can from anywhere and at any time. Many times it happens when you least expect it. For Life Lesson, one of twelve short stories in my new e-book, Devious Tales, it came from the above photograph I took back in 2015 in Vermont. My wife and I did a photographic road trip that began in Burlington. From there we made our way to Woodstock, St. Johnsbury and eventually back to Burlington; making multiple stops to photograph what caught our eye along the way. One day during this road trip we found ourselves on a dirt road. Instead of turning around, we decided to see where it would lead. There was actually little to see or photograph except for this old boarded house. I took a few photos from different angles and we went on our way.
The house intrigued me. I wondered who built it way back in 1924? Why in the middle of nowhere? Who and how many people have lived here since? What happened to them? It all stayed buried in my head. As the idea for Life Lesson began to take root, this house was the image that suddenly appeared in my head, and where most of the action in the story takes place.
Like any creative individual does, no matter what form your art takes, you observe, you listen and you store away information into a mental or physical file for possible future use. That’s where it remains, waiting for that spark of creative juice to bring to life something new.
You can read Life Lesson and other short stories in Devious Tales. Currently, available as an e-book on Amazon. Click here.
It will soon be available as a paperback. More on that later.
Kurt Vonnegut – Photo by Jill Krementz
Edgar Allan Poe
Okay, I admit I am bias about New England. It’s my favorite part of the country. There’s a quaint historical feel to almost everywhere you go. It’s in the architecture, the landscape, the air and the people. Adding to my bias is the fact my wife was born and raised in Marlboro, MA. Over the years, we have travelled to every state that makes up the geographical area known as New England. Some states like Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine are particular favorites, but I have found something fascinating and stimulating in all of them. So when I came across Jacqueline T. Lynch’s collection of essays on what it means to be a New Englander I knew I had to read it. Lynch writes in her introduction, “This is not about New England the place as it is about New England the idea…” She focuses on ideas that came out of the nineteen century and moved us into the twentieth century.
We meet many well-known figures like Annie Sullivan, Louisa May Alcott, Lizzie Bordon and other historical figures. There are also articles about lessor known individuals particularly women who became an important part of the workforce during the Industrial Revolution. We also learn about historical landmarks such as Norman’s Woe, a small uninhabited island just off shore from Gloucester, MA. The island and its waters are noted for a series of shipwrecks over the years. Maine poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, immortalized it in his poem, The Wreck of the Hesperus.
Lynch writes passionately about her subjects and New England in general. Her love for New England shines through on every page. Anyone interested in the history of New England and its influence will find these essays an absorbing read.
I am happy to announce I am one of eleven contributors to CMBA’s new e-book, Words, Words, Words: Essays on Writers and Writing in Classic Film. The book is only .99 cents with all proceeds going to the National Film Preservation Fund. The book has been published in conjunction with the CMBA’s Words, Words, Words! Blogathon which is currently running through April 15th. You can purchase the book at the link below.