Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Stories That Book Cover Art Can Tell

Book cover depicting a space soldier firing a ray gun at a tentacled monster.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When you think about it, the art to a book’s cover is the story in visual form. It either symbolically or literally shows the story that waits in between the covers (or, in the case of e-books, beyond the cover page). The book cover art that does this symbolically does so more efficiently and easily. That’s because a lot more about the story can be said that way than when only depicting a single scene like a lot of pulp fiction books did in the early half of the previous century (as much as I love the art work of those covers).

With my own book cover art, I try to balance out symbolism with literal depiction, especially today when many books’ digital photographically realistic cover illustrations seem to sell more. However, I want my covers to both preview and tell the books’ stories without giving away any spoilers. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with the cover illustration for “Circa Sixty Years Dead” which, speaking of realism, I am presently colouring in (with pencil, not digital “paint”) the details of the goddess statue.

In one sense or another, almost all art tells a story or at least contributes to doing so. George Lucas has been trying to show this with his Museum of Narrative Art that he’s been struggling to establish for the past couple years. It was only Friday when he announced reconsidering the location for his museum for the second time. My current article at talks about this and what the museum will feature which will be everything from sci fi/fantasy movie concept art to fine art. But one of the things I like best that Lucas’s museum is trying to do is removing the dividing line between fine and popular art. Something that publishers have been doing lately with literary and genre fiction. 

You’ll see “Circa Sixty Years Dead” in its illustrated form hopefully by mid-July. No, I’m not talking about a graphic novel version, although I would like to see it in that format myself someday. Better yet, being a big comic book fan, I’d like to be the one putting it in that medium of storytelling. If I do the cover reveal by next month then expect to see the book release as early as the first week of August. More on this next time.

Until then . . .

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Guest Author Cover Reveal: ‘Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury’

Of course, this is not my own book cover reveal for “Circa Sixty Years” that I’ve been promising you! Did you expect me to be that prompt with it after having put it off for the last two months? But it is coming along, so you don’t have to worry about that. I’m not as much an illustrator as I am a writer, so that part of my book takes a little longer than I often anticipate. I’d say I’m about half way there. Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part, maybe not. But until my book cover art is ready to go, here’s a fellow author’s cover reveal for her upcoming novel (which will probably be out before my little short story single). It’s a very funny story that takes place around Independence Day and is planned for release just in time for the 4th of July holiday. So you can celebrate your freedom to read with this one. The details are below.

The Details

Book cover with crayon-style lake and firework illustration
Credit: L.G. Keltner and Jamon Walker

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


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 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.

To Come . . .

I have family in town for the Father’s Day weekend, and so we have gatherings both Saturday and Sunday. Because of that, I have to slow down on both my writing and book cover illustration but I’ll have more information about the two next time.

Until then . . .

What do you do with your dad on Father's Day?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gawker: To Report News or to Entertain With It?

When I found out about Gawker Media filing for bankruptcy, I was scared that that would be the end of which Gawker owns. But that won’t necessarily be the case. That is if whoever buys Gawker Media, which so far is Ziff Davis, mother company of PC Mag and other tech websites, decides to keep io9. I’d like to believe io9’s sister company’s, Gizmodo’s, declaration that io9 and itself aren’t going anywhere. But that could be wishful thinking on their part. Hopefully it’s self-determined faith or confidence instead. Much of what I’ve read at io9 is reliable journalism. However, while Gawker Media claims to produce authentic journalism, one of its other outlets,, specialises in gossip news. So it shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously. Specialising in gossip cannot only endanger celebrities’ reputations but also the jobs of the media company’s employees. admits that it specializes in gossip media. Gossip is pretty much what got not only it but all of Gawker Media into trouble. Besides exposing celebrities’ private lives, media gossip often turns into rumours which eventually turn into lies. Yes, the people have a right to know but only that which effects society. Hulk Hogan’s affair with his friend’s wife had nothing to do with the rest of society; it had to do with him and those two friends. So was asking for trouble when one of its reporters exposed the tapes of the affair without Hogan’s permission.

But gossip news groups are like that. They are more about getting the audience’s attention to make money, make fun of others or both than they are about reporting necessary news. They sell to the uninformed of society by basically making people’s personal lives, especially celebrities’, into the entertainment that readers seek in the work of media artists--such as actors, directors, and authors--and athletes. Journalism is supposed to report on what impacts society rather than entertain. A celebrity retiring from their work will effect society as far as audience and fan-following go; what that celebrity is doing in the privacy of their own home with family or friends won’t impact society.

If Gawker Media survives the lawsuits that have been threating it, let’s hope the company will be a little wiser from now on. Hopefully it has learned that gossip can go too far when it gets into the private lives of celebrities. Perhaps it already has. According to the editors, in response to Peter Thiel’s threat of suit, “Gawker Media has not put a lot of effort, over the years, into being likable. We have earned a long list of enemies.” I can’t say whether or not Thiel is justified in his action against Gawker Media, but I can say that perhaps the company will from now on limit its outlets’ reporting to what impacts society. And leave the entertainment to the celebrities being covered.

Next time . . . 

I'll have updates on my projects, including my cover illustration for "Circa Sixty Years Dead" which I'm still working on.

Until then . . .

A wide-opened mouth.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Book Cover Art Status and Preserving the Print Experience

Monster wearing a metallic mask

I continued working on my book cover illustration for “Circa Sixty Years Dead” all last week. I’ve been colouring it with coloured pencil and so was about to fill in the background sky. Then it occurred to me that I would probably have to replace that part with digital paint when it’s time to upload it to Amazon. I want the sky to have the realistic effect of a smooth, blue-black colour. Not only would that take too long to colour in with pencil but it would also require too much lead; I’m drawing this on 18-inch-by-24-inch paper. So, that will be the only digitally produced part of the illustration when the book is published. I try to stick to the original artistic experience as much as possible when publishing my art and books. In this case, that experience comes from paper, ink and coloured pencil. As hand-produced art stays closer to the artist’s creational act than does digitally produced art, print copies of books stay closer to the original copy than do e-copies.

I’m going to sound like I’m contradicting myself here because, while I’ve always been a believer in hand-produced art like I have in the importance of printed books, I admit that digital is needed in today’s marketing world. I’m first and foremost an artist and that includes writing. But I use marketing as a tool to sell my work and, like any tool, it’s used to get the job done easier—in this case, the job of selling books. As an indie/self-publishing author, I don’t have time to pencil a perfectly solid coloured sky and I’m not in the financial position to hire an artist. I thank God that I have a background in art!

I hate to say it, but this isn’t my only contradiction to art philosophy. I’ve said in past posts that I’m biased for print media. And so this very ebook project that I’m working on is a contradiction to my belief in the physical book being part of the art of storytelling. That’s why I had published The Fool's Illusion in both print and digital formats. I believe in preserving the printed word and so the physical aspect of storytelling and reading. But I also understand that there are people out there who either can’t always afford the print version or don’t want to carry extra bulk in their suit case, backpack or purse when on the go. I was able to provide both versions for Fool’s Illusion because it is a fool collect- ahem--excuse me--a full collection of short stories. I don’t think there would be many people out there willing to purchase a $5 book consisting of only an 8,630-word story.

So this release of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” will be limited to ebook form. However, if you are a print media nerd like me who believes in the sensual experience of reading, then please let me know that you would be willing to pay the larger price for a print edition of the story and I’ll see  about publishing it in that form as an option. But whatever happens, I will make sure “Circa” eventually reaches physical format: it will go into my next short story collection, The Hidden, which will be offered in print as well as ebook.

Speaking about print media, I came across a really neat New York Times article while surfing the ‘net the other day. It talks about advanced print technology preserving the printed word and image. Not only that, but it shows how the technology enhances the printed image with tactile effects, and so how it brings out the experience of the very world being portrayed. In this time when virtual reality is becoming the next big thing in computer technology and entertainment, print technology is helping to save the sensual aspect of literary and artistic culture. In a sense, it’s saving reality from the total dominance of virtual reality.

I’ll have more next week about the illustration and “Circa Sixty Years Dead”.

Until then . . .