✎ Give Your Book A Face

I hate to admit it but I really do judge a book by its cover. I’ll still read any book, but it’s always the good looking ones that catch my eye first. And quite often, I get jealous because I wish my books could have covers like these… so I get into a bit of fantasising. ‘Say I get published, I hope they find an awesome artist for the cover illustration… but man, that’s ages away! I wish I could have something right now!’

Then I thought: what’s stopping me?

I reckon a little premature fantasising can be healthy for you. It’s hard to keep motivated throughout a writing project, especially for something as big as a novel. We need all the motivation we can get! Sometimes having a cover for the books we’ve spent so much time and love on is all we need to see on a bad day. It doesn’t have to be the one or even a good one. It’s just something tangible, that’s all. Something you can print out and stick over your desk, waiting for you to put some pages in it. If you’re into self-publishing, you’re probably on the lookout for a cover anyway, so why not get started early? Plus, it can be fun!

So how do we go about putting a face to our beloved books?

Well, picking up a pencil (or tablet pen) could be a start! Especially if you’re an artist or have a vivid idea of what you want to see. The best part about designing the cover yourself is that you get to call all the shots. You don’t even need to be a particularly good artist to do this. It’s just a spot of fun that may or may not be seen by anyone other than yourself. Throw yourself into it! Get abstract and make a montage of magazine clippings; make a newspaper wrap-around; dig up your childhood drawings. Tap into that other spectrum of creativity.

If you’re not into DIY, maybe you can commission an artist you admire to design the cover for you, or draw an illustration you could then format into a cover. I for one am keen on commissioning an artist to draw some portraits of my characters for reference. I’m a regular browser on deviantART, a site where artists share their works. There are heaps of people doing commission work out there. It’s up to you to find an artist whose style you like, and whose price fits in your bracket – because trust me, the range is huge! Are you looking for landscape or portraits? Symbols? Realism or photography? How much are you willing to pay? How will you describe what you want? All the research will pay off when you have a shiny new cover on your wall!

Another option I recently discovered is purchasing pre-made book covers. This means that someone has made covers of their own choosing and are selling the design for a set price. Once you buy a cover, they will edit the title, author’s name and any additional text at your request. It takes only a few days (most of the time) and voila! Instant book cover! The downside is that you’re looking through covers that are already made rather than ones you tailored yourself. You might not find one that’s perfect for your book – I know I haven’t. I’d encourage you not to be disheartened though. Don’t settle for the cover that looks okay and goes pretty well with the story, but is just missing that tiny detail you can’t put your finger on. Wait for the artist to put more covers out, or pay a bit more for them to design one just for you if they offer that option. Browse around and find a couple of cover-makers you like. Pay more attention if you are looking for a cover you can put on your book and sell to the public; good artists will use paid-for stock images that are licensed for creative use. You don’t want to pay for a cover that infringes on copyright! Also, check if the cover is made for e-books or physical printing – different resolutions give different results. I personally love Go On Write by humblenations. I flick through it whenever I’m restless and dream about one day finding the one staring back at me.

I’m still on the hunt but you guys will be the first to know if I ever find that perfect book cover. I know it’s out there somewhere!

Do you already have a cover for your book? Or would you rather wait until publication to see what you get? What kind of ideas do you have for the ideal book cover?

Happy writing,
Christine

Epiphanies of Gratitude

Has anyone ever thought about the things they are good at and been truly glad for it? Like running fast or unfailingly burning toast; sketching comics or creating a world of words. I never really had a moment like that even after so many years of writing. In fact, it was only recently that I started to realise I wanted to be a writer; a dedicated writer, not the whimsical hobbyist I started off as. I can’t say that’s going spectacularly right now, but the new resolve sure makes me feel better!

I was listening to the radio the other day and a pop tune was playing. Now, I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the hot hits on the airwaves these days. Pretty much most music older than me would hold my ear better. So you might say that I might not have had this light bulb moment if ABBA had been playing instead. What I thought was: Gee, it takes a lot less effort to sing a popular song than to write a novel.

Then I scowled at myself because I hate catching myself being judgmental. My dad gave me a pretty funny look.

I righted the thought. All forms of art require effort and time, and deserve respect, whether it’s an abstract spatter of paint or the Mona Lisa. Sure, some products might take less time than others, and some may be more acknowledged than others, but if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s that the people who made them tried to put a little bit of themselves into the process. At least, that’s what I like to think.

Writing a song, practicing it and getting it recorded takes more time and money than radio-listeners appreciate. A single piece of paper with a simple landscape drawn in oil pastels might have taken half the time you expect, but twice the years of experience to get right. Then there’s the actors and actresses, magicians, comedians, etc. No one gets to snap their fingers and have results appear out of sheer friction.

But damn, writing a novel can take a very long time!

And then I realised: I’m actually glad that it does. For the first time in my life, I realised that I was grateful to be a writer rather than another type of creative artist. I knew I was in the right place.

Again, I admit the pop song pumping beats about partying all night and one night stands probably glorified my epiphany. It’s obvious work had to go in to produce such a song and it’s popular for that reason. What I was glad to realise was that to write something, anything, I had to dig so much deeper into myself than I would writing a pop song. The moment I decided to write a novel (more like a series but let’s use euphemisms at this stage), I committed myself to a schedule of headaches and heartaches and feeling like an unproductive slop of radioactive goo. Even if the words I write are utter garbage, I’m still writing them one by one, so slowly. It’s something I’ll be doing for a while, something that doesn’t really have a shortcut. I’m not a fast writer so this pet project could very well take me a decade. And I may not even truly accomplish it.

But I’m still grateful to be a writer, grateful to have something I love and can actually do. Because every spark of creativity is a climb and the longer it takes, the more you see yourself reflected in the final product.

Call me crazy but I write to see myself on the page. I want to see the world through the eyes of a character I brought to life on a plain white page, and breathe in words I wrote one by one. I reckon it’ll be worth it. Just maybe.

Rain, rain, go away~

I wanted to thank my fourth year mentor for her guidance throughout my first clinical placement, so I crocheted her a teru teru bozu! Japanese children make these with tissue paper and hang them up to pray for good weather. Since my fourth year is clumsy like me, I hope that this little guy can save her from slipping on wet surfaces ;) Isn’t he cute?! I kind of want to keep him, haha. I hope she likes him!

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“I will protect my master using my sheer cuteness. HYAAA!”

I was running out of yarn as I made him and had to alter the design to be smaller. I finished with literally 5cm left. Phew! Even more stressful than my exam tomorrow-

…..

omg I have to study.

teru teru bozu pattern by happy-scrappie

Lights On! Vivid Sydney 2013

Every year, Sydney harbour lights up with, well, lights! Displays are projected onto buildings, animations play to music and the streets swell. This year’s Vivid was pretty good. I’ve only been to one other Vivid, two years ago, and it was a rainy day. I heard lots of praise for this year’s display – my mum’s coworker went and saw it three times. It didn’t come across as wow-factored to me but it was still quite spectacular, and I had a great night! Here are some photos for you guys; credits to my boyfriend’s S3 and his trigger happiness, haha.

Click for larger views and the occasional caption :)

Writer =/= Artist

I really enjoy talking about my writing with one of my uni friends. She’s not quite a writer but she’s got the mind of one, and we have lots of “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel!” moments. It’s cool beans. She told me a story she’d made up when she was little today. It’s my turn tomorrow.

“Let’s go to uni early and chat,” she texted. “Because your story sounds long.”

“Hah,” I replied. “You have no idea.”

Some context: let’s just say that right now, ‘complicated’ is an incredibly optimistic term to use when describing my nonexistent novel.

For convenience and also because I was feeling childish, I drew up a quick reference chart for some of the main characters to help her visualise.

As in…

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…… Yeah. I don’t know what compelled me to do such a thing.

………

Okay fine, so I’m actually quite proud of a few. I’m particularly fond of the two on the top left, and the old dude in the second row. He’s awesome. And the sun! Metaphorical representation of supernatural beings because I got lazy. I reckon she turned out adorable.

Let’s pretend the rest mutilated themselves while I was typing up this post.

..

Does anyone else like visuals for their creative projects? Share your approaches! Don’t worry, me and my body-less characters will cushion any embarrassing art projects.

✎ 15+ Wallpapers for Writers

Many authors and writing guides say this: make writing a part of your life. Make it routine, make it a job, make it count. Sound advice. But sometimes you need a shortcut to help you take the first step…

Like seeing it every time you turn on your writing space, the mother of all procrastination: the computer.

Months ago, I made this simple wallpaper for myself:

I am a writer

You’re welcome to use this if you want, though I can’t see why you would after seeing the amazing ones below!

I wouldn’t say it helped me achieve zen and spit out chapter after chapter. In fact, it didn’t make much impact on my lack of writing routine. But there was something about seeing this reminder when I turned on my laptop, whether it was to do schoolwork or go on youtube. It made me want to write something, or at the least spend some time with my characters and find out the latest gossip in their lives – lives that were waiting to be written.

So with that in mind, here are some wallpapers to get you started!

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THE MOTIVATING KIND:

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THE TOUGH LOVE KIND:

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THE BE-INSPIRED-BY-BEAUTIFUL-THINGS KIND:

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THE REMEMBER-TO-HAVE-A-LIFE KIND


THE FRUSTRATING KIND