I read Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird some twenty years ago, when I took to the writing life full time. The advantages of writing a shitty first draft recommended by Anne, lingered in my consciousness for years, yet I didn’t write one until I began my third novel last year.
I was in a writer’s critique group for most of these years, and out of respect for my fellow writers I felt compelled to turn in a decent piece of work. However, many a well-polished page never made it into the published book. Time wasted? No. Craft learned? Hopefully.
It took me five years to write my first book Dream Chaser: Awakening and another five to complete Written in Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence, the first of a trilogy. At that rate, it would take me fifteen years to complete the trilogy! Time to speed up. I turned to the shitty first draft, and I wrote one in six weeks for Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence.
I came to the page every day, terrified, forbidding myself to even glance upon what I wrote the day before. I shoved a sock in the mouth of that nasty little editor in my head, whispering, you’ll regret this. Like hell I will!
Then came the read back. OMG! I repent. What rubbish is this? When will I come to something I can use? My gut fell to the floor. I wallowed and wailed, but once I gained control of my emotions, I read the draft like a puzzle. I began to find bits of story gold here and there. I also spotted unnecessary storylines I might otherwise have chased down, writing them over and over, trying to fit them in.
I wrote three more drafts of Time Blade within ONE year, bringing the story to what I call ‘editor ready.’ I will publish Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence this fall, cutting my novel writing time from five years to one and a half.
Lessons With the Master: Luca, Spiritual Master for Earth, instructs his eight year old student about Time Blade.
“Can I kill someone with Time Blade?”
If a person poses a threat to the future of mankind, you may approach him and offer him an Honor Killing.
“What will I say?”
You will know when the time comes. Time Blade offers a quick, karma-free death and the intended recipient will understand the magnificence of that in his own terms. You, as guardian of the Blade, will have trained in the fighting arts and be capable of causing death with one thrust of the Blade.
“Will I cut his throat?”
No. You will learn a move known as the Glorious Thrust. The Thrust requires great skill. You must stab the Blade below the ribcage, push up through the diaphragm and the lungs and enter the heart, killing swiftly.
The student salivated, thinking about the Glorious Thrust. Violence was shunned in Ruberah. Fighting was an art. Young people trained and fought in competition. Most used light blades—swords powered by Rube. Taking someone’s life was forbidden, but killer instinct had a mind of its own. The student felt it bubbling in his gut as he prepared for a fight and he could smell it on his opponent. He trained rigorously and competed with light swords, fists, wrestling, and spirit fire, the art of using the opponent’s energy against him.
The possibility of a brand image for my books hadn’t occurred to me until I read *Six Steps of Self Publishing, an excellent blog by Libby Fischer Hellmann. Libby, a crime writer, uses red herrings in her imprint. Her emblem awakened the playful child in me. I immediately imagined fishing trawlers chugging into Mevagissey harbor, the Cornish village where I grew up, tossing a catch of herring onto the quay, which under my magic wand, would turn red and fly onto the spine of Libby’s books.
This response excited me. Would my own book imprint automatically trigger my child-like imagination? Names swarmed to mind, but I found they had all been taken. The key was to think of something very personal to me. What did I like to do most of all as a child? Answer: gaze into the sea and dream up stories.
Today we have a guest post from designer Scott Hale who has worked with Christina on multiple projects. In this post he will discuss his thought process and the steps he went through to create the art work for the cover of Christina’s new book, Time Blade.
When Christina asked me to write about the process I went through to create the cover art for her upcoming novel, Time Blade, I jumped at the opportunity. Christina and I have enjoyed a creative collaboration for several years and I strongly believe that this most recent project couldn’t have happened were it not for the many, many hours we have spent creating together.
The cover art began, as it always does for us, with a conversation. Christina is a very visual person and she described the concept of her new work using very descriptive language. Key phrases and words she used that sparked my visual imagination where “cycles of time, radiating blades, midnight blue and abstract.”
Because this book is part of a series, we knew from the beginning we wanted the cover to relate to the first book, Written in Ruberah. The cover art for that book set up a circular theme, which works well with the idea of cycles of time, so I knew this book would also use the idea of a central focal point that radiated outward.
I began researching moments of powerful change and quickly came upon a supernova. “A supernova is a stellar explosion that briefly outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span, before fading from view over several weeks or months.”
Visually, a supernova is stunning, creating a full spectrum of colors which often appear circular as the energy radiates outward from the center. Upon sharing the idea of using a supernova as a visual reference I was stunned to learn that Christina’s novel actually began with the death of Miron, a planet wiped out by a supernova. Perfect!
However, one of my design considerations was to keep the cover imagery abstract so the viewer could interpret it a variety of ways. Simply putting a supernova on the cover would be far too literal. So I continued researching. I think the actual phrase I Googled was “energy that radiates in a circle” which quickly led me to visual references of the Tesla coil.
“A Tesla coil is an electrical resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891. Tesla used these coils to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting, phosphorescence, X-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, electrotherapy, and the transmission of electrical energy without wires.”
I started layering images of Tesla coils electrical energy over supernova explosions and the results were visually interesting, with variations in color and texture, while still being predominately midnight blue, another of my design objectives. Now the viewer would see an abstract representation of a powerful change occurring, such as time being sliced or cut.
The design for the radiating blades came from a discussion with Christina about avoiding the genre of knights in armor wielding swords. Christina was clear that the cutting of time was not a singular event and should not be represented as such. This caused me to design a very simple blade which when overlapped and radiated outward from a central point became a rather beautiful abstract shape itself. The blades were layered over the supernova and Tesla coil electricity and I knew I had something interesting.
This lead me to one of the most important choices for any book cover—choosing the font for the title. Having worked with Christina many times before I knew her personal esthetic towards clean lines and minimalism. I also was aware of how easy it would be to choose a font that would be genre specific (ie. Game of Thrones, Lord of The Rings, or any novel featuring vampires) and lead the viewer down the wrong path.
I needed a font that was crisp and clean, sharp and modern without being trendy. I tried several different fonts and even alternate titles suggested by Christina. One font I found early on, called Cirrus, had several characteristics I was looking for. It was clean and modern and had sharp edges, but at the same time it lacked the visual weight I needed. Finally I came across Broadband, a font I had used multiple times before but had never considered for this project because when in lower case it was totally wrong. However, when used in all uppercase it had everything I was looking for minus two small enhancements; I added points to the crossbars of the “E” in the word time and the “B” in blade.
Because of the nature of publishing it is entirely possible changes will be made to the cover before it goes to press, but as of right now, this is the finished cover for Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence.
Reviewer Bani Sodermark has posted her review of Written in Ruberah on BookPleasures.com.
Bani has a Ph.D in mathematical physics and has been a teacher of physics and mathematics at the university level in both India and Sweden. For the last decade, her interests have been spirituality, healthy living and self-development. She has written a number of reviews on Amazon.com. Bani is a mother to two children.
A Love Story on Different Planes
This is not your usual love story where the main actors are paramount and conceive their life stories with decisions taken by themselves in the present, and many or most of the facts relevant to the story pertain to the existing lifetime. In this book, the protagonists live out decisions taken by them in another time and space. And we get to see a fine and entirely plausible interplay of the main characters with the river spirit of Cornwall, viz., Tamara, who not only provides a timeless link between the past and present, but also plays a major role from behind the scenes in influencing the lives and decisions of the protagonists as well…
…The text is fast and free flowing, a joy to read. It affirms the fact, more than many other books that I know of, that all we are, is flowing energy, that anything could happen at a moment’s notice, that all we think, say or do has consequences. The descriptions of the outer physical scenery as a reflection of the inner, is unusually detailed and evocative, almost like a fast, chemical reaction, once the right ingredients are administered.
This is a book that has been written on several planes. The main characters have their own agendas on the physical, which they put aside, willingly or unknowingly, after intervention by either by Tamara or Gwenellen. The author, Christina Greenaway has been very insightful and consistent about the principles that govern Life in this book, affirming that the reason we are here is to strengthen our spiritual muscles. This book is a strong and beautifully written testimony to the above…
…This is the first in a series of books called “The Age of Jewelled Intelligence”. Going by the popularity of the Harry Potter series, one can presume that the public response to this genre can only increase with time as more people explore their feminine side. Personally I enjoyed the book very much. Warmly recommended.