B. Morris Allen
Published June 2013 by Metaphorosis Books
Book source: Received for free through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: Three stars
Metaphorosis is a collection of short, speculative fiction stories. The stories themselves are quite interesting, featuring, at times, a rather unusual cast of characters. Some stories are clever with deeper meanings woven behind them; others are more lighthearted and fun.
Unfortunately, I found the book could use a little more polish. The writing, on the whole, is rather good. But there are moments of awkward phrasing and passive sentence structure that weakened the narrative. It wasn’t so severe to completely negate my enjoyment of the book, but I do feel the book could have been better with a bit more editing. I’m tempted to forgive it all, though, for House of Hope. A great little story that made me glad to have found this collection.
All in all, a fairly enjoyable read. The book is rather short, so it’s not a big commitment taking it on. If you like short stories, especially those of an unusual nature, then Metaphorosis could be worth checking out, warts and all.
I love Halloween. It’s one of my favorite holidays, probably because it occurs during my favorite time of year. There’s just something about autumn—the fading light, the misty mornings, the smell of rain and earth and leaves that permeates the air. Halloween encapsulates all that, along with a good dose of ghosts and witches, magic and folklore. Every year I like to watch Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. It’s a little tradition of mine that helps me celebrate the autumnal season. This year, however, I was hoping on starting a new tradition.
This blog is young, and this upcoming Halloween is the first that this blog will see. I, being a fan of the holiday, wanted to do something to mark the occasion. So I thought of the obvious: I’ll write a short story. A spooky short story. (Well, spooky for me, anyway, which is really quite tame.) Then I thought how fun it would be if others shared their stories, too. So, I thought I’d turn it into a blog hop.
This is a rather experimental venture. As I mentioned earlier, this blog is young, and I’m not sure how much interest there will be. But I think it sounds like fun and just wanted to throw the idea out there. If successful, I’d like to make it a yearly tradition, like watching Sleepy Hollow. So, if you’re also a fan of Halloween and would like to celebrate the occasion with a bit of writing, read on.
The rules for this blog hop are pretty simple:
Feel free to write whatever you want. Short story, poem, haiku, whatever floats your boat. Heck, if you want to draw a picture, do that. Just post something that you feel encapsulates whatever Halloween means to you. If that’s a scary story, great! If it’s more about the ambiance of a campfire and falling leaves, awesome! Whatever Halloween means to you is what you should write about. There are no requirements to follow anyone’s blog or to post comments if you don’t want to (though it’s nice if you do). The idea behind this is to just have some fun, support one another, and hopefully make a few new friends along the way.
To grab a button, simply copy and paste the following code onto your blog:
<img src="https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Halloween-Button-e1377875380846.png" alt="Link to Sara C. Snider blog" width="175" height="219"></a>
Here’s what it will look like:
In part one of this post, I shared the black and white images of the cover art for my book, The Thirteenth Tower, drawn by the talented artist, Ferdinand Ladera. Now, in part two, it’s all about the colored versions. Most of the color studies are featured in this post, but not all. Some of the changes in a few of the images were so subtle that it seemed unnecessary including them.
Without further ado, here’s the first color study Ferdinand supplied:[tabs slidertype=”images” fx=”slide”] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/color-study1.jpg[/imagetab] [/tabs]
It was nice, but kind of glum and hazy, and there was no snow on the trees. I, being a busybody, had also noticed that in some of Ferdinand’s other work the sky often had different shades of color and I wondered if something similar would work here. So I asked him to toy with that along with the color of the ivy on the ground, just to see if something interesting could come of it. It backfired, and further solidified my suspicion that I really don’t know what the heck I’m talking about. I told him to ignore me and just keep on with the coloring like a sane person.
So the weird coloring was fixed, as was the ivy on the ground. Originally it had a dark shadow behind it that wasn’t really visible in the black and white version, but in the colored version it didn’t look quite right. So he removed the shadow and reworked the ivy a bit so it was more like tendrils twining along the ground. After that, it was just a matter of tweaking the background for less haziness and more clarity.[tabs slidertype=”images” fx=”slide”] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/color-study2.jpg[/imagetab] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/color-study3.jpg[/imagetab] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/color-study4.jpg[/imagetab] [/tabs]
At this point, we were getting close. I still wasn’t completely happy with the trees. I wanted a bit more clarity and have them a bit more vibrant in color. Taking the feedback, Ferdinand produced this image:[tabs slidertype=”images” fx=”slide”] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/final-image.jpg[/imagetab] [/tabs]
It was pretty much spot on. It looked great and, thinking it was what I wanted, we said that it would be the final image. So Ferdinand increased the resolution to our requested specs, added more detail, and sent the image to us for one final approval.
But I couldn’t give it. In the few days that passed between receiving the final image, I had this nagging feeling that the picture just wasn’t quite right. It was weird, because it was exactly what I asked for, yet I didn’t know if it was right, if it would make a good book cover.
So, Anders (my boyfriend and partner in
crime publishing) shrunk it down to paperback-sized proportions, printed it out and wrapped it around a book. We then propped it up on a shelf and stood back to look at it. I’ll admit, after doing that it did look better. And it was kind of cool seeing it in book-form. Exciting. But in doing so, I realized one thing I didn’t like about it: it was too… blue.
Now, it was only that blue because I asked Ferdinand for vibrant color, and he delivered. At this point, though, I honestly had no idea how to fix it. I mean, I didn’t really know what I wanted anymore, so I wasn’t sure how to proceed.
So, we went to a fantasy and sci-fi bookstore to do a bit of recon on other book covers. Now, I always knew my cover would be a bit… abnormal. Most covers have people, but I specifically didn’t want a person on mine. Going to the bookstore just reinforced what I already knew: most book covers have people. It was encouraging, though, because some of the book covers were… well… let’s just say that even with an electric-blue sky, I still think my cover looked better than some of them.
Anyway, I wandered among the shelves for quite some time. I paid particularly close attention to the few covers that had landscapes, trying to see similarities and how they could be applied to my cover. One thing that stood out was that there was usually a fair amount of open space/sky. There was also a prominent feature somewhere, like a castle or animal. Looking at my cover I realized that the trees were too high, and the falcon too small.
We were then faced with a conundrum. Do we try to fix the picture as is, or scrap it completely and start over? Wandering through the bookstore gave me an idea for a cover that was completely different than what I had. Should I pursue that instead? It was a hard decision, as I think both types of cover could work.
Not wanting to completely abandon the original idea, Anders and I sat down and manipulated the picture in Photoshop to reflect the needed changes as best we could. We added text for the title and my name and everything, trying to get it looking like a book cover. We wanted to see if there was still potential for a cover that we both liked. I’m happy to say, there was.
So we mailed Ferdinand and explained the changes we wanted, and sent him a copy of our manipulations to illustrate what we meant. I was really worried that Ferdinand would be upset, that he wouldn’t want anything more to do with us. But he was super nice and said he’d be happy to do it.
Taking our latest changes into account, the picture then evolved into this:[tabs slidertype=”images”] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/final-image-v2.jpg[/imagetab] [/tabs]
A definite improvement. The sky was still a little too dark, and the falcon a little too small. I wanted some cloud textures and we played around a bit with the color of the falcon.[tabs slidertype=”images” fx=”slide”] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/final-image-v3.jpg[/imagetab] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/final-image-v4a.jpg[/imagetab] [/tabs]
Almost there. Some adjustments to the sky ultimately led us to the final image. Again. (For reals, this time.)
And there it is, the artwork that will serve as the cover for my book. Part of me is still unsure if will be a good book cover. I don’t know if it has that “oooh” factor that will draw people’s attention. But I love it, so that will be enough for me.
In an ongoing effort to help promote authors, I’ve decided to try out doing author interviews. My very first guest is a writer of horror short fiction–the delightful and intriguing Angeline Trevena. Welcome, Angeline!
Tell us a little about yourself. Any interesting talents, hobbies, or wonderful quirks that are uniquely you?
I am probably the least likely horror writer you’ll ever meet. I’m terrified of the dark. If I ever need to get up in the night, I do so with my heart racing. I avoid looking at the dark mirror, avoid peering into the darkest corners of the room, jump into bed in case there’s something hiding underneath it. One evening, while writing a short story, there was a thunderstorm, and I managed to seriously creep myself out!
Designing the cover art for my book was a fun, and educational, experience. It was something of a luxury, having a vision of what I wanted yet letting someone else do all the hard work to bring it into being. In this case, that someone was the talented artist Ferdinand Ladera. I must say, it was a pleasure working with Ferdinand. I was a rather picky client, and he obliged my finickiness with good humor.
However, during the process one thing became stunningly apparent: I don’t know the first thing about designing book covers. If there is one lesson that I took away from this experience, it’s that a pretty picture does not necessarily result in a good cover. But, as the chatty “they” are so fond of saying, “a picture is worth more than a thousand words.” So I thought I’d share the process with you, from the early sketches down to the final result.
To keep this post from getting too unwieldy, I’ve decided to split it into two parts. In part one I’ll share the black and white sketches. Part two will feature the color studies and the final image. The second part will be somewhat longer, as there are more colored images than black and white ones. There were also some setbacks on the path of finalizing the image, but I’ll talk about that later. For now, let’s look at the sketches.
It started with me giving a description of what I had in mind. I wanted a snowy forest, with a falcon somewhere in the image, and ivy growing upon one of the trees and twining across the ground. I found some pictures of forests with angles similar to what I was thinking. With the given information, Ferdinand supplied the following two sketches:
[tabs slidertype=”images” fx=”slide”] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/sketch1.jpg[/imagetab] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/sketch2.jpg[/imagetab] [/tabs]
My first thought was, “wow.” Had I been forced to settle for one of the pictures as-was, I would have been pretty happy, even with it in black and white. But this was just a first draft.
So I considered what I liked and didn’t like about both pictures. That was really hard. Both pictures were good, each having its own strengths and weaknesses. The result was that I liked the trees in one picture, but liked the falcon in the other. I didn’t like all the birds in the sky, as it made me feel like there must have been a dead animal somewhere (which is probable, given it’s a forest, but not relevant for the purposes of the cover). I also didn’t like all the bracken on the ground, as I felt it made the forest look much harsher than I imagined and also might be too cluttered for the purposes of a book cover. There was also the ivy missing that I wanted on one of the trees. Ferdinand took the feedback and provided the third sketch.
[tabs slidertype=”images” fx=”slide”] [imagetab width=”464″ height=”290″]https://saracsnider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/sketch3.jpg[/imagetab] [/tabs]
And there it was. The picture I had in my mind (or near enough, anyway), now sketched in black and white. I loved it. It had that calm, quiet feeling that I was looking for. I’m honestly still kind of amazed that Ferdinand was able to capture what I wanted so quickly. I approved the sketch and we moved on to the color study.
Please stay tuned for part two where I’ll share the colored versions of the sketches, and the bump in the road when I realized that a book cover needed to be more than just a pretty picture. Not to mention, of course, the final image that will be the cover of my book, The Thirteenth Tower.
You can find part two of this post here.