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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Trying to Get Ahead of the Goal: Imprint Logo

Last time I said I would try to have the designs of the imprint logo and name for my business card here. Although I completed my minimum goal for the week, I was hoping to have the whole card done by today. I guess I'm just trying to get ahead of myself so as not to get behind. But if we as self-publishing artists and writers can make it to our minimum goal within a self-determined time frame then that's what really matters. However, I'm trying to complete the card and so put the contact information on it by next week. I may be attending a convention that weekend and I want to have copies available for distribution. But here is what I've completed so far. (I apologise for the card image blending in with the blog's background due to matching colours, but I didn't have time to seek out a way of creating a lighter background for the display. I'll try to have that the next time when I have the full card done. . .  If I have it done.)


A business card logo consisting of a skull image.
Credit: Steven Rose, Jr.


So, as you can see, I haven't gotten ahead with the card but I got a head on the card. The head being the image of the skull, of course, which I showed separately last post.

Until next post . . .

Saturday, September 16, 2017

What a Brand Icon Should Do for an Imprint

It’s been a long but far out fantastic day today. I attended two sci fi-related events: a Doctor Who celebration at the Sacramento Central Library and then, after that, a steampunk tiki party at The Jungle Bird in midtown. I’m much more atom punk than I am steampunk but both are retro punk and tikis became a very heavy pop cultural icon during the atomic era (mostly the early half of the 1960s). And I just dig tikis! I got a collection of them—figurines, cups, etc.—in my house. So, as I said, it was a long day and so I really didn’t get much of a chance to work on my writing with the exception of this blog post and some marketing of my books, The Fool’s Illusion (which turns 4 years old this month!) and “Circa Sixty Years Dead”

Part of marketing one’s work involves branding that work. I’m not a business man and so, frankly, I hate the word “branding” which is a big buzz term in today’s age of the startup and freelance revolutions. However, branding is probably more important now than ever. A self-published author’s brand should be about as identifying to the author as his/her writing style. It should identify that author as well as the author’s work. Doing this can go a long way in communicating to the world the existence of that work. So, as I’ve mentioned in several posts during the summer, I’ve been putting together a logo for my imprint. Although I’m still working on the lettering for the imprint name, which is “Far Out Phantastic Press”—a slight variation of this blog’s name, as you can see—I’ve completed the icon:


A skull with an eye-ball staring out of the left socket.
Credit: Steven Rose, Jr.



It will also serve as the “O” in the word “Out” of the imprint name. But the skull, in the way I’ve drawn and painted it here, along with the imprint name will identify my work not just for the dark fiction it tends to be but also for the many elements of ‘60s and ‘70s pop culture that tend to make up my writing even though not all my stories necessarily take place in those time periods. The style of this skull icon depicts those eras with its simplicity, its pale green colour and the eye-ball staring out from the one socket. The manner this skull is depicted in not only identifies my love for ‘60s and ‘70s pop culture but also for skulls in general. I love skulls and skeletons like I do tikis, only a tiki icon wouldn’t depict my horror fiction as efficiently as a skull would. I don’t write Hawaiian horror enough to use a tiki as my imprint icon. However, that’s not to say that I never will write that kind of horror.

Next time, I’ll try to have the full logo, both image and imprint name, completed and posted here.


Until then . . . !

Monday, September 11, 2017

Wandering Through the Dark Carnival Sci fi/Fantasy Bookstore

Front entryway of a bookstore with a dragon figure on top of the business sign.
Photo Credit: The Blogger



I’m sorry I missed posting Labor Day weekend and for running late with this past weekend’s post. Saturday I was out in town for most of the day and last weekend I was in Berkeley visiting a friend who I hadn’t seen in over five years. I had been planning a San Francisco day trip all summer but it didn’t quite work out so I had to settle for Berkeley which is a bit closer to Sacramento. One reason I had originally wanted to go to San Francisco was to check out a science fiction/fantasy bookstore there called Borderlands. I’ve bought books from them in the past but only at conventions. I heard they carry all the sci fi and fantasy books you can ever find there. However, Berkeley has an alternative to that book store: Dark Carnival.

Dark Carnival is a used-book store that specialises in science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery. It fronts Claremont Avenue accompanied by a cat-size, brown dragon figure laying on top of the wood-looking business sign that hangs over the entryway. As I was walking up to the store, the owner was outside inflating his two approximately, 30-foot “Cheshire” grinning black cats for the store’s Halloween promotion.


Entryway to a bookstore with an inflatable black cat standing in front.
One of the two inflatable "Cheshire" black cats in front of the Dark Carnival bookstore.
Photo Credit: The Blogger

Inside, Halloween supplies, such as styrofoam mini pumpkins with ghoulish faces and witch figures, were on display seemingly at random points of the store rather than in a designated seasonal section. Although Dark Carnival’s main inventory, books, is well organised much of it is piled onto the floor due to lack of shelf space but this aspect of “messiness” is often a good one for any book lover. An overload of books tells any avid reader that the store will likely have what he/she is looking for. That’s not to say that Dark Carnival is a magical book shop that will have any specific title or edition of book you want regardless of the two floors the store consists of. Regardless of the fact that the amount of merchandise can overwhelm a customer’s search. But the shelves are labeled with letter tags signifying the initial letter of authors’ last names which help a lot.

I was looking for vintage paperbacks, ideally John Campbell’s work which seems to be very hard to find even in new editions. When I wasn’t finding anything by him I asked the owner if Campbell’s stuff would be anywhere else in the store other than under the C’s in the main shelves and he said it wasn’t likely. So I thanked him and walked over to the Stephen King section hoping to find an original paperback edition of Carry (one of his horror novels I haven’t read yet) but as large as the collection of King was I didn’t see any there. Interestingly though, I saw a literary critical anthology of his work. Like this book, non-fiction material related to the genres can be found throughout the store, many of which are shelved in the sections of their respective fiction authors. For example, if they pertain to a particular author such as King or Lovecraft, they will be shelved along with the author’s fiction. This makes sense, since most people who are going to care about literary criticism of an author are going to love that author’s works.

While I was looking through the King section, the owner came up to me with an anthology of sci fi authors which one of the stories was Campbell’s “Who Goes There?”, the novella that The Thing movies were based on. That is a story I’ve been intending to read as soon as I could get my hands on a Campbell book of short fiction. So I took the anthology to hold onto in case I decided to buy it, but it had many other authors’ stories who I wasn’t as familiar with and the book was quite high in price (I don’t remember how much, but it was pretty close to 20 bucks) so I was probably going to turn it down. Then he came back to me a little later and put two other books containing Campbell’s stories into my hand. One of these two was a hardback complete works collection of Campbell’s stories. It was called A New Dawn: The Complete Don A. Stuart Stories. Don A. Stuart was the pen name Campbell used while he was writing science fiction and before he went on to edit Astounding Science Fiction magazine. And being a complete works collection, it included “Who Goes There?”. So it shows you how dedicated the staff at this store is to finding the books you’re looking for. I’m sure the owner found these three books in places I would never have thought to look. So I bought the copy of New Dawn.

I went on to look through the Lovecraft section. Not finding anything I was that interested in at the time, as far as his fiction goes, I did find a few works by the author Simon about the Necronomiconthe legendary book of the dead referred to many times in Lovecraft’s fiction and that formed the basis for his Cthullu mythos. I was hoping to find a copy of the Necronomicon itself, but didn’t see it there so bought Simon’s Dead Names: A Dark History of the Necronomicon instead.

Besides books, Dark Carnival also carries vintage magazines related to the speculative genres both pro and amatuer. You can also find novelties such as alien dashboard wobblers. And if this place isn’t enough for the sci fi/fantasy nerd, only two stores down is the Escapist comic book store also owned by Dark Carnival’s owner. Unfortunately, I only had time to look briefly through it and so didn’t purchase anything there. Maybe the next time.

Next post I’ll have more about my imprint logo thats icon I am just finishing up on. I may even have a photo of it by then.

Do you know of any other good bookstores that specialize in science fiction and fantasy, used or new? Feel free to list your responses in the box below.


Until next time . . .  

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Celebrating the Summer of the Loving Dead

Abstract skulls, flowers and candy.
Credit: Pixabay.com




This summer has been a 50th anniversary for the Summer of Love but it’s also been a summer of the loving dead. The latter began with my work on the “Circa Sixty Years Dead” paperback edition and it has continued with this weekend’s Zombie Walk here in Sacramento.


Sacramento Zombie Walk and Carnival of the Dead


Today was the 17th annual Zombie Walk for Sacramento. But I only attended the pre-Zombie Walk Carnival of the Dead, yet hardly even that. There were a lot of neat games and booths there, not to mention costumes of the living dead. However, it was so damn hot on this 104-degree fahrenheit Saturday afternoon/early evening that I didn’t stay for much more than an hour. I’m surprised the heat didn’t do a further job on the zombies’ already rotted skin and flesh! But the event was a knock-out and, though I wasn’t there for it, the actual walk really turned out to be a knock-out! The undead really gave it to the alt-right and they didn’t even have to be in San Francisco to do it. Check out the video coverage on it at Sacramento Zombie Walk’sFacebook page. It's the post that reads "Oh no protesters at the Zombie Walk!"


Summer of ‘Circa Sixty Years Dead’


All summer I’ve been working on the paperback edition of my short horror story, “Circa Sixty Years Dead” and finally, just last week, I got the final version of it out. As I said last time, I improved the book cover but now I’ve seen the proof of that improvement with my “proof” copy that came in the mail earlier this week. So, it’s now confirmed that the excessive pixelation of the title’s lettering and of the goddess statue are gone, and that nasty line that ran along the left edge is also out.

Like I said, for much of the summer I’ve been working on the paperback edition and it’s seemed to be a process of trial and error but one that has paid off. The process included writing the back cover summary, trying different file formats for the manuscript, releasing the book only to find out the cover was greatly flawed, and re-releasing it with the corrected cover. It’s been a long, trying process but also a worthwhile learning experience. That’s what self-publishing is all about, trying different things to see what works and what doesn’t. Kind of like writing itself, isn’t it?

Well, because I had goofed on the book cover the first time and only found out this past week with hardcopy proof that the second shot at it worked, I am still offering the paperback version for the low price of $3.89. In this way I will celebrate both the paperback release of “Circa” and this Summer of the Loving Dead all the way through the end of the month. So if you haven’t bought your copy yet then do it now because the end is almost here!


Next week: more about my imprint logo and maybe more writing tips and a mini book review.

Until next time . . .





Sunday, August 20, 2017

‘Circa’ Now With an Improved Book Cover; Imprint Logo; Joe Hill

While we still have some daylight this weekend before the solar eclipse, let me show you my past week in writing, viewing and even drawing. These include advice from son of Stephen King, author Joe Hill and the improved book cover for the paperback version of “Circa Sixty Years Dead”.


Joe Hill Interview on You Tube


This afternoon, after watching my Saturday morning (vintage) cartoons on YouTube (actually one was a live-action kids sci fi series from the seventies, Space Academy ), I watched an interview with NOS4A2 author Joe Hill. He had a lot of interesting things to say about his writing and useful techniques he uses for it. One of those techniques I’d like to try with my own stories, which helps both story and character development. That technique, he says, is taking a character from a larger work in progress and writing a separate, shorter story around it just for the sake of developing the character. That’s a technique that I can definitely use since I often struggle trying to write the first draft of a story due to not knowing my characters well enough yet. For these and many other great topics Joe discusses, check out the interview below.



Sketching An Imprint Logo


Whether a self-published author realises it or not, he or she is a publishing business. But to make this more official and known to others, that author needs publicised business promotional materials such as a business card. A self-publisher may be a small business but a business nevertheless. There is a term for small publishing companies and that is “imprint”. “Imprint” actually refers to the subsidiary of a large publishing house, but it has been used interchangeably for self-published authors. Lately, I’ve been drawing concept sketches for the logo for my imprint, which I’m strongly planning on calling “Far Out Phantastic Press”. That is, if I can fit all that on the business card.

One of the implications of graphic design is having to consider the space of the surface or medium you want to put the content on and whether it will fit without sacrificing important details. For example, originally I wanted to angle the lettering of the imprint name in order to give the effect that it was stretching back into space so it would reflect the literal meaning of “Far Out” (See first concept sketch below). However, I discovered it would not be practical in a small amount of space such as on a business card since the first two words of the imprint name would be too hard to read. So I decided to run the logo across the surface in a frontal position. Now I need to see if that can be done without having to make the lettering too tiny and therefore illegible. Here are a couple of concept sketches.

A concept sketch of part of an imprint logo with a skull for the brand icon at an angled position.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

A concept sketch of an imprint logo with a skull as the brand image (frontal position).
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.




Revised Book Cover for ‘Circa Sixty Years’ Paperback


“CircaSixty Years Dead” paperback edition is now available with its improved cover. However, I only ordered my “proof” copy of it a couple days ago so I cannot say how improved the graphics are. But because I used the tools suggested by Kindle Direct Publishing to make the recommendedchanges, I’m expecting some significant improvement. You can purchase a copy now, [link] still only $3.89, or you can wait until yours truly makes the full test of the product and therefore receives his copy to tell you how it really turned out. That is, if Monday’s solar eclipse doesn’t turn out to be a bad omen causing the postal carriers to lose course in the dark. Because the poor cover of the first release of the paperback was at least partly my fault, I will leave the price at $3.89 through next weekend, maybe even through that following Monday. By then the solar eclipse will have been long done and so I should have received the print copy in the mail to tell you how it turned out.



I’ll have more about “Circa Sixty Years Dead” paperback edition and the name and image in my imprint logo next post.


Until then . . .  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tools Not to Miss if You Self-Publish a Paperback

If you happen to not have purchased the paperback copy of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” then no worries. You may be better off waiting a few days and I’ll leave it at its initial low price of $3.89 a little longer. The reason I’m saying this is because, as I promised you last post, I purchased a copy myself as kind of a proof (or author’s) copy. It turned out to be a proof alright. A proof that it didn’t come out the way I intended it to. I confess much of this was due to myself missing overlooking certain tools on Kindle Direct Publishing’s cover creator program.

If you happened to have bought a copy of the paperback version of “Circa” you probably noticed a long, ugly, gray line running along the left edge of the front cover. Not only that, but the lettering of the title and the image under it were pixelated. “Circa” is not a cyberpunk story, so the pixelated edges won’t work for customers. I apologise if you bought it like that.


A pixelated, retro video game-style monster.
Credit: Pixabay.com



The problem is that the previewer in the book cover creator is not a precise image of what the product will look like in actuality and therefore in print. But as I said last post, we would take the risk together and I definitely took that risk. So we both wasted $3.89. But it’s not a total waste. We paid to see how well the book would turn out, and if you read it I sure hope the story at least turned out way the hell better than the cover did and that you got some of your money’s worth. So what you can do is, if you haven’t done so yet, leave a review on “Circa”’s Amazon page  and I’m perfectly fine with you saying the book cover sucks if you really think it does, because it does.

In the meantime, ever since I received my “proof” a couple days ago in the mail, I have been doing all I can to improve the cover. I confess there were some tools on the cover creator that I had somehow missed and using them could have prevented this screw up. If you happen to be planning to self-publish a paperback, espcially through Kindle Direct, take this as a warning not to miss any of these tools. One of these was a “3-D” view mode which allows you to manipulate the position of the image of the book so you can see front, back and spine.

Another tool was one that scales the image on the book cover. Kindle Direct strongly recommends all images are a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch). Using this tool, if you scale the image to a low enough or high enough percentage it will likely get rid of the pixelation and any blurriness the image may show when it comes out in print. In my case I had to scale the cover’s image down to about 23.-something (I can’t remember the exact percentage) in order to get it to the 300 minimum dpi. Once I did that, I relaunched the book and so hopefully it will be available in its improved form for purchase in the next day or two. And, because Kindle Direct doesn’t offer free or even discounted proofs, I will purchase another copy for myself once the improved form is available.

I’ll let you know more what happens with the relaunch of “Circa”’s paperback edition next time. Also next time, I’ll have news on the logo I’ve been working on for my self-publishing imprint. In the mean time, for you fellow self-publishing writers out there, have you tried KindleDirect Publishing’s paperback publishing tool yet? If so, what have your experiences been with it?

Until next time . . .


Saturday, August 5, 2017

‘Circa Sixty Years Dead’ Now In Paperback!

Well, finally it’s here! “Circa Sixty Years Dead” is now in paperback format. If you’re like me, and prefer to read books in their physical forms instead of on a screen where you can’t even feel the pages that you are reading or where you can’t even put it on your (physical, not virtual) bookshelf to show your guests that you’ve read it, then now you can have the full literary experience of “Circa”. 

To celebrate its print release, I’m offering the paperback edition of my short fiction story at a low price. After all the challenges and frustrations of navigating through self-publishing technology, it feels great to see that your book is available for purchase, let alone that it has been published—self-published at that. So I’m selling the print edition for the low price of $3.89! But this bargain won’t last long, so if you are interested in purchasing a copy or, better yet, several copies then head on over to Amazon now. In fact, as part of this celebration, I’m going to get a little narcissistic and take advantage of my own offer. Yes, I am going to purchase a copy myself!

Okay, part of the reason for doing that is that the Kindle Direct Publishing service does not offer author’s copies at a discount, unlike Create Space (which Amazon also owns) who I had self-published The Fool’sIllusion through a few years ago. If they did, then I’d probably only have to pay the same price as I would the e-book version which is 99 cents. So, we can take advantage of this offer together then!

If you do purchase and read “Circa”, please leave a review saying what you liked or didn’t like about it. Those reviews help us authors learn what we can do better in our next work to please you the readers and make our stories worth your time and money. If you are just tuning in for the first time here at the Fantastic Site, then take a look at the synopsis below to find out what “Circa Sixty Years Dead” is all about!


A book cover depicting a six-armed goddess statue with a decayed face.
Now Available in Print at Amazon!



Dr. John Jacobs is a young, eccentric archaeologist on an expedition in the Chinese-Indian border region. But then he sees a centuries-old statue of a goddess uncovered by a neighboring expedition. All he wants is to take a picture of it to forever capture its beauty. He could easily do it if it weren’t for those rigid, international regulations—regulations he is willing to go against. But Jacobs will soon find out that his own lust for the colossal artifact will result in a consequence more terrifying than any earthly penalty.

If you like Saturday matinee archaeological adventure or late night horror movies about cursed tombs and the undead, then you will like this tale by Steven Arellano Rose.

(From the back cover of “Circa Sixty Years Dead”, paperback edition)


Until next time . . .