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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Cover Illustration Reveal for ‘Circa Sixty Years Dead’

Well, here it is! The completed book cover illustration for my short read horror story, “Circa Sixty Years Dead”.

A coloured-pencil illustration of a six-armed goddess statue.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

That brings my book that much closer to its release! This week I’ll be working on formatting it for Kindle. I’ll also be uploading the illustration to Amazon so I can put it together with the rest of the cover. So next week, I’ll have the full cover reveal for you: complete with illustration, title and author’s byline. That is, provided that I don’t need to make any changes. Any changes I need to make will be determined by you, readers! Therefore, let me know what you think of the illustration and whether or not it needs any improvement. After all, the books I write are for you to read, not for me. The end product is for the pleasure of your reading; I already read the story as I edit it.

I’ll check the comments box below throughout the week, and if there are any suggestions for the illustration then I’ll work on making changes to it. If that’s the case, you can expect the full cover reveal, complete with synopsis, the following week. If you missed last week’s post, take a look at it: I posted the official synopsis there with the incomplete book cover illustration that you can use to compare to the complete one above.

Everybody have a great week. I’ll be busy working on the above mentioned tasks.

Until next time . . .

Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Cover Art Progress and Synopsis for ‘Circa Sixty Years’

Well, I have some good news and bad news. I’ll get the bad news over with first. Because of some technical problems with the software that I used, I didn’t finish the book cover art for “Circa Sixty Years Dead”. I was really determined to complete it and so was up late into the night Saturday/early Sunday morning so I could have it here for you. By the time I saw that it wasn’t going to get done, it was already too late to post anything and so I apologise for the late posting. The good news is that the illustration is closer than ever to completion and I have the official synopsis for the book.

‘Circa Sixty Years Dead’ Cover Art Progress

So I could have the best book cover art for “Circa Sixty Years” I took advantage of an update for the Paint.Net software that I use. is a free software which is really useful for those basic needs of an illustration, mine being painting a solid black sky. I know, I had said that I was going to use black marker for the reveal, but I’ve put off the reveal too long. So I’m contradicting my philosophy of, what I believe is, true art. The sky turned out perfect but it caused too much of a highlight effect around the statue as you can see.

A six-armed goddess statue looming over a desert.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

I’m trying to find the tools in the software that will best get rid of that highlight so the statue doesn’t look like a cut-out or ghost. “Circa Sixty Years” is a horror short story and so involves the supernatural, but I don’t want a ghost effect on the statue which is a crucial icon in the story. I also have to trim off some of the jaggedness at the statue’s edges. Jagged outlines are a problem that comes to someone like myself who’s more used to using a pencil or paintbrush than a mouse for making a picture.

‘Circa Sixty Years Dead’ Synopsis

On Saturday, just before I left for the Time Travelers’ Bazaar, an annual steampunk event in Sacramento, it occurred to me that somebody was likely to ask what “Circa Sixty Years” is about. It would have been embarrassing to struggle for the words that describe it. So I jotted down a short synopsis in my journal while riding the bus. I attended an author’s panel at the Bazaar and, sure enough, BJ Sikes, who was one of the presenting authors, asked me.
Somebody at the panel said something like if you can’t describe your book’s theme within 17 syllables then you don’t know what your book is about. They were actually referring to another author who said this, if I remember correctly. I add to the advice: if you can’t explain the theme of your book in one average length sentence (about one to one-and-a-half lines, typed) then your book needs a lot of work, particularly in the areas of focus and plot. In other words, if you can’t summarise your book within one or, at the very most, two sentences then chances are the story is going in too many directions for the reader to follow.

I pretty much explained “Circa Sixty Years Dead” to everybody as this:

A young archaeologist’s obsession with an ancient goddess statue is destined to haunt him for the rest of his life.

And that’s all it should be--a very basic summary of the plot or theme. Anything more than that risks creating spoilers.

I need to get this book rolling so, though I normally publish to my blog on Saturday or early Sunday morning (post-midnight), I may do a special post for the book cover illustration reveal or perhaps even full cover reveal between now and Saturday. The best way to keep updated is either by subscribing to the blog at the form below and to the right, follow me on Twitter at @starosep2 or Like my Facebook page. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or comments about what I’ve done with the book cover art so far, please let me know so I can see about making improvements. You can leave your comments in the box below.

Until next time . . .

Man steering a 19th Century-style time machine.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

How Your Readers Can Serve as Your Editors

H.P. Lovecraft profile cut out from a page of his work, Dagon.
Credit: Studio Hades/

I hope you had a chance to check out last week’s post that featured guest blogger L.G. Keltner. She gave a lot of really great details about her Self-Help 101 novella series, including details on the writing process. Speaking of which, I want to talk about a part of the writing process this evening, one that actually comes after the book releases—post-publication editing.

I was reading an article a while back from a Star Trek fan site. It talked about an editing error in the most recent Blu-ray edition of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut. Apparently, the error was in the opening scene of the film where the wrong graphic information on the bridge simulator’s screen was used. The mistake was discovered by hardcore Star Trek fans after the Blu-ray released. I’m not sure how big Hollywood production companies handle the ones who overlook these things but I can imagine they are much less forgiving than indie film makers and self-published authors.

Well, a self-published author is as forgiving as the author forgives him or herself. But the audience can still catch the error. Yet no author should beat him or herself up for it. We’re all human and so we all make mistakes. But when your audience brings up mistakes you’ve made in your book, you should thank them, apologise for overlooking it and say you’ll compensate them in any way you can. Ideally, you should re-revise your book and then re-launch it offering free copies to whoever bought the original version. Maybe that’s not feasible for all authors but every attempt should be made to compensate.

I’m not saying I’m going to lay back and publish my future work and let my readers contact me about mistakes I overlook in my book. I’ll definitely welcome the comments. What I’m saying is that authors, especially self-publishing ones who can’t afford editors, should work to their advantage their readers’ criticism. It’s an opportunity for the author to correct those errors and relaunch a better edition of the book. As I said, we all make mistakes. Besides, some of the most famous writers’ books have contained early edition mistakes, including H.P. Lovecraft’s.

In order for mistakes not to bite too hard after a book launch, probably the best thing to do, especially if you don’t have an editor, is to launch a beta version first. And so before releasing the official version of your book, you can release a version for an audience you select to provide you feedback. I plan to do that with my next short fiction collection. My upcoming single short story book, however, I plan to launch without a beta since one to three bucks wouldn’t be near a loss for many people as 13 bucks would. If you see major or noticeable mistakes in “Circa Sixty Years Dead” then let me know and I can see about doing a relaunch for it and giving you a free copy of the corrected version. But before I can do anything with “Circa Sixty Years” I need to finish the book cover illustration.

Book Cover Illustration Progress Report

Incomplete drawing of a six-armed goddess statue coming to life.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

I’ve darkened the landscape like I said I would a couple posts back and coloured in most of the face. Once I paint in the black sky with marker I’m going to go over all the coloured-penciled parts with a colourless pencil. A colourless pencil is not a regular black lead pencil like some people may think. It’s exactly what it’s termed: a pencil with no colour. It’s used to make the colours more solid. Open line strokes were a problem with my book cover illustration to Fool’s Illusion, a problem I’m trying to avoid here.

If everything goes according to plan, you’ll see a cover reveal next week. If that’s the case, the release of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” won’t be much further! So be here then for more updates. You can also stay up to date by visiting my Facebook author page or follow me at Twitter.

Until next time . . .

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Author Interview: L.G. Keltner

Last week I said I would take a break from talking about my next book. By now that book probably seems to be a bunch’a bull to you since I keep putting off the release date. But it is with great pleasure to have my guest blogger, L.G. Keltner, talk about her Self-Help 101 series of novellas of which two are already out.

Cover to Book 2 of the Self-Help 101 novella series.
Credit: L.G. Keltner

What inspired you to write the Self-Help 101 series?

I was inspired to write the first novella in the series, Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family courtesy of an odd combination of factors.   I’d been contemplating the nature of self-help books, and I listened to the Pinky and the Brain theme song.  I only intended to write one novella, but then my husband said the fateful words.  “You could make a series out of this.  Each book takes place on a different holiday.  Imagine doing the 4th of July.”  Within a minute, I knew I’d dedicated myself to this expanded project.

How many books are going to be in this series when it’s finished?

There’s going to be a total of five altogether.  Here’s a list of all of them.

Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family
Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury
Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People
Self-Help 101 or: How to Successfully Dodge Resolutions and Suggestions for Self-Improvement

I’m also going to release a compilation with all four novellas, and it will be called Self-Help 101 or: How to Make the Transition Into Adulthood With Minimal Stupidity.  In addition to the four novellas, this compilation will also include a bonus short story Self-Help 101 or: How to Make the Most of a Date With Your Socially Awkward Valentine.

How much of the series is written so far?

The first two novellas are out in the world, and I’m currently wrapping up the rough draft of the third.  I’ve also started the fourth one, but I don’t have much done yet.  Only a couple of pages, actually.  The rough draft of the bonus Valentine’s Day story is finished, though.  Which makes sense, right?  That bonus story isn’t due to come out for quite some time yet, but it’s written.

What is the most enjoyable part of working on this series?

Part of the fun of writing the Self-Help 101 series has been taking ordinary situations and highlighting the ridiculous.  Dani’s family has its problems, but in many ways they’re regular people.  Fortunately for writers, regular people are perfectly capable of doing bizarre, unexpected, and sometimes downright dangerous things.  People are capable of discarding rationality in ways that boggle the mind.  I wanted to showcase that in a fun way, and it’s been an enjoyable experience.

What is the most challenging part of writing this series?

The most challenging part is definitely the schedule I set up for myself.  I want the four novellas out by the end of 2016 and the compilation with the bonus story out before Valentine’s Day 2017.  That’s a tight schedule, especially since I have a family and daily obligations that demand a lot of my time.  Still, it’s good to know that I’m capable to setting difficult goals for myself and meeting them.

Title: Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury
Author: L.G. Keltner
Genre: YA/holiday/humor
Length: 25,000 words
Cover Art: L.G. Keltner and Jamon Walker
Release Date: June 28, 2016


Book 2 in the Self-Help 101 series

Dani Finklemeier has self-published her guide to taking over the world, but she still isn’t rich.  Now she’s eighteen, still babysitting for money, and looking forward to starting college in the fall.

Of course, she has to survive a 4th of July outing with her family first.  That’s a challenging prospect considering she has to be in close proximity with a group of cousins known as The Fallible Four.  As if that weren’t enough, she also has to deal with the fallout of her parents learning more about her relationship with her boyfriend Seth than she ever wanted them to know.

The good news is that, if she survives this holiday, she’ll have plenty of material for another self-help book.


L.G. Keltner, author of the Self-Help 101 novella series.
Credit: L.G. Keltner

L.G. Keltner spends most of her time trying to write while also cleaning up after her crazy but wonderful kids and hanging out with her husband.  Her favorite genre of all time is science fiction, and she’s been trying to write novels since the age of six.  Needless to say, those earliest attempts weren’t all that good. 

Her non-writing hobbies include astronomy and playing Trivial Pursuit.

You can typically find L.G. lurking around her blog, on Twitter, or on her Facebook page.

Purchase Links:



Add it on Goodreads.

Thanks, L.G., for being here with us today and discussing your awesome novella series!

Next week, we return to my single short story book, “Circa Sixty Years Dead”, the cover art for it and more!

Until then . . .

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Cover Illustration Progress Report

Here’s how far I’ve gotten on the book cover illustration for “Circa Sixty Years Dead” since last week:

A colored-pencil drawing of a six-armed goddess statue.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

As you can see, I haven’t even gotten to the sky yet. But I finally darkened all of the ground. But not enough. I didn’t realise this until I coloured in the man at the bottom. Here’s a close-up of him:

Colored-pencil drawing of a young man dropping a camera in fright.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

I know, it’s blurry. But the man is very small in the picture to begin with. I just wanted you to see the contrast in shades. Also, he looks like Frankenstein’s monster, but he isn’t. I lightened the top of his hair to give the effect of reflected light, but it makes his head look flat so I’m going to change that.

I had made peach the base colour for his complexion. However, because the main scheme of the drawing is blue I needed to make his complexion as such because that’s what it would look like in a half-moon’s light which the light source in this picture is based. So, in order for him not to turn into the Invisible Man, I had to darken an area of ground around him. But I don’t want to give the realism away by leaving a surrounding blotch that says it’s there to show the guy in the picture. So I need to colour the rest of the ground that same tone. I’ll be doing that throughout the coming week.

But don’t expect a cover reveal next weekend because I won’t be doing the full post then. Next weekend I’ll be volunteering my time helping with a vintage video game event at a local library. Because of that, I’ve lined up a guest blogger: L.G. Keltner. L.G. will be talking about her book, Self-Help 101: Or How To Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury, so you don’t have to keep hearing about mine that I keep talking about but never launch. I did a cover reveal for L.G.’s book last month. If you missed it, then I urge you to go check it out.

Please feel free to leave any comments about the progress of “Circa Sixty Years”’s cover illustration or anything else. Comments about the illustration will help me know what improvements you think it can use. Which reminds me, the informal contest I talked about last time is still on since nobody’s contacted me or left any comments about where the mistake in my book cover illustration is. See last week’s blog for more details. I’ll give you another week to find the error or, if it proves too hard for too many people, to ask for hints.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Book Cover Art: Photo-Sharing Apps and Giveaway

I was at one of the thrift stores in my town looking for a tee because I don’t like today’s styles in clothes. Not that I have a problem with anyone else wearing knee-length kaki or silky shorts or big brand gym tees, but today’s style just isn’t my thing personally. I’m a vintage type and so I buy and wear ‘60s/’70s style; I’m a nerd for those eras. Anyway, I didn’t see anything there that I liked as far as clothes go. But the store was having a Four-book/$1 deal. So I went to the book section to look for vintage paperbacks, especially ones with good book cover art.

Book Cover Art From the Frazetta-Vallejo Era

I found something by the late sci fi/fantasy author John Morressy, who I’ve heard of several times but haven’t really read any of his work. The book was a high fantasy called Kingsbane, the third part of the Iron Angel series. I’m not a big reader of high fantasy, although I do read at least one title in the genre a year. But this first printing from 1982 bears a book cover illustration that makes you want to stare at it for hours. As you can see below, it shows a warrior battling a towering, cloaked spectre like the Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings. The style is much in the tradition of Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta, both of whose work dominated sci fi/fantasy paperback covers of that time (late ‘70s/early ‘80s). There’s an energy that runs through that style that today’s digital tools can’t capture. It’s the energy called human passion.

A paperback book cover depicting a warrior raising a knife at a cloaked figure.
Credit: PEI/Playboy Paperbacks

Book Cover Art on Photo Sharing Sites

While I was looking for other books to literally get my buck’s worth, someone called my name. I looked up to see an uncle of mine walking toward me. So we talked for a while and he was telling me about how he’s been using Instagram to display his art for a comic he and a friend are collaborating on. He said he’s been displaying illustrations in stages and therefore showing the process of the work. I told him that I should do that with my book cover illustration for “Circa Sixty Years Dead”. So I made a new account for myself planning to put several stages of “Circa”’s book cover art on it, including what I’ve done to date. The problem is that Instagram doesn’t want any nudity or even partial nudity and I didn’t see any filters that limit the age range for posts. The statue in my illustration is nude. So until and if I can find an age filter on the app, I’ll just have to show you the progress here:

Incomplete colored-pencil drawing of a giant six-armed goddess statue coming to life.
Credit: Steven Rose, Jr.

As you can see, I’m getting very close to finishing it. So I’m aiming to have the cover reveal by next week.

Giveaway: Guess the Boo-boo

The only problem is that I’m going to have to use marker for the black sky, because it will be too tedious to use a coloured-pencil and will take up too much lead for all that space. So I will have to go extra slow when coloring around the edges of the statue because correcting a mistake made by marker is a hell of a lot harder than correcting one made by pencil. I’ve already had to fix a coloured-pencil mistake.

The first person to correctly guess where the mistake was gets a free copy of The Fool’s Illusion. I’d say they get a free copy of “Circa Sixty Years” when it comes out, but I’ll already be making that available for free for a limited time. But if the winner can’t get “Circa” during that time, then he or she can let me know and I’ll arrange to give them a free copy in lieu of The Fool’s Illusion if they’d like. To guess where the mistake is, leave your answer in the comments box. Hint: It’s not in the sex organs, if that's where any of  you were thinking of looking. That being said, it is somewhere along the edge of the statue.

I’ll let you know next week if I have stages of the book cover illustration on Instagram, depending on the filters available. If not Instagram then maybe Flickr who I also have an account with, but I have to see what their content policy on nudity is. Another place you can see updates about work is at my new Facebook author page. Be sure to like it and feel free to post any comments you may have.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Book According to Science Fiction

A robed alien.

I’ve been lately amazed at what science fiction can do for real life. Of course, it inspires innovations in science and technology, but there’s something else that it inspires: religion.

Maybe it shouldn’t be that surprising. Both science fiction and fantasy are made of the mythic element, which that element comes from speculation. Almost all religious texts such as the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita are, at least in part, fiction. Many of the stories from these texts came from oral origins where they were told by word-of-mouth through generations and memorized. As nobody’s memory is perfect, these stories were changed and reinterpreted through centuries. Not too mention, they were told according to the knowledge of the times which, compared to the knowledge we have today from modern science and technology, that knowledge was limited. So people in ancient times believed that people ten times larger than the average person existed and that spirits had sex with living humans, both of these examples being from Genesis of the Bible.

So like these stories were speculations, science fiction and fantasy are speculations that convey universal truths through their themes such as the consequences of mad science (Frankenstein) or questions about where a person’s soul (or conscience) goes after they die. Let alone, sci fi attempts to anticipate the future like religious prophecy does. Because of these functions, religions can be made from science fiction and fantasy easily. That’s why you have such religions as the Church of Scientology (which was started by the pulp sci fi writer, Ron L. Hubbard) and even a church based on the Force philosophy in Star Wars, the Church of the Jedi. Now how legit these religions are may be a different story.

So, all summer I’ve been researching such religions. This includes the book I’m reading, Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman who is a really good journalist who does an objective study of the religion. I also watched a real freak-out (the way I like them) of a movie Friday night, a mockumentary called Arise. It was produced by an organization that calls itself the Church of the Subgenious. The organization is based on ideas from popular science fiction movies and it basically shows that speculative pop culture does what religion does: give people a sense of belonging and understanding of themselves if not of God, who in this organization’s case is Bob (Bob Dobbs to be exact).

I want to discuss religions such as these and their sci fi/fantasy roots in more detail but don’t have time to do it now. But with the sci fi revolution going so strong today, I want to leave you with a link to an article from The Guardian that tries to answer the question, is science fiction the new religion? Take a look at it and then leave your own answers to the question in the box below.

“Circa Sixty Years” Cover Illustration Update

I’m still working on the illustration for “Circa Sixty Years Dead”. I found out I had to put a second layer of coloring on the landscape since it’s the second darkest part of the picture. I’m not as much an illustrator as I am a writer, even though I have a background in art. So it takes me longer to produce a painting than it does a story, considering. Each of the two is a full-time job for me.

Until next time . . .