So, here's the thing! I've been neglecting my writing. I know, but it was all in a good cause. I needed to revamp my covers. The trouble is, I have a lot of covers to revamp. Anyway, I've done the Parish & Richards series for now - plus three future titles in the series.
The plan, of course, was to let someone else do my covers, but I couldn't let go. While I'm writing a novel, I like to design the cover as part of the creative process.
So I decided to get the bit between the teeth and just get on and do it. I have done a bit of writing, but there's been some neglect. Designing book covers is a lot more fun than using my brain.
I needed two things: 1) A decent font, which hopefully you'll think that I found; and 2) A ready supply of photographs, which I was pleasantly surprised to find on Morguefile. This site is wholeheartedly recommended, and has thousands of free photographs, which you are allowed to: "Copy, distribute, transmit and adapt without attribution (mostly, but check each photograph when you download just in case)." To the photographers I say: "Thank you very much indeed."
Finally, I know you're sitting there thinking: Wow! I wish he'd design my covers! Well listen, no reasonable request refused. This could be the germination of a new career. Who'd have thought - Hey, Toady!
Now, don't start looking for the next three books because I haven't written them yet. At the moment, I'm writing Silent in the Grave, which is due for release mid-March (if I can stop designing book covers). Also, I reserve the right to change a cover if I decide I can produce a better on!
So, here's the thing! Let's talk about 'Entry and Exit Strategies'. No, I'm not talking about inserting a team (led by Arnold Schwarzenegger) into a fire zone to fight nuclear-powered aliens, I want to waffle for a while about entry and exit strategies into and out of fictional scenes.
Your book has a beginning and an end - you get in, do the business, and get out - simples! In-between, you have any number of scenes (or Chapters for those who don't work in scenes). Well, there's been talk recently about first lines of novels. Here's the 100 Best First Lines of Novels. Now, I don't know about you, but some of those first lines do nothing for me. A first line is meant to make you want to carry on reading, not put the book in a dark corner and cover it over with wood for the fire. I know, sometimes I can be a phillystine! But, life's too short to read books that make your head hurt. Also, here's Stephen King talking about opening sentences
So, let me talk about scenes, because books are built on scenes. Usually, I write between 1 - 5 scenes per chapter of a crime novel. Sometimes, it's difficult starting a scene, but I think that the first line of a scene is just as important as the first line of a book. You're opening and closing doors as you move through the book from the beginning to the end. You lead the reader into the scene, make them part of what's happening, and get the hell out. Getting out and into the next scene is important as well - the transition!
They don't want to leave.
They want to tarry a while. 'Please don't make me leave.'
You pull them by the hand.
They grip the door frame with bleeding fingers.
'I won't go.'
'You have to, my child. It's time. We still have many scenes to go.'
'Will they be as good as this one?'
'They'll be as good.'
You've made a promise, and you have to keep that promise. It's not about word counts, or filling quotas. It's about a story within a story. I'm sure there are people out there who remember the ZX Spectrum or the Commodore 64. The first gaming computers that worked from cassette tapes or floppy discs - the good old days. I used to buy adventure games where you could go from room to room and level to level. Yes, I know, there are games like that - a million times better - for the PS4 etc., but these were new - some based on Dungeons and Dragons - where you had to solve clues, riddles, collect lives, fight monsters etc., until you found the treasure, saved the damsel in distress or the world. Each room was a self-contained environment where you had to work out how to get in and get out.
Scenes are much the same. The reader should step into a scene as if they're climbing into the hollowed-out canoe on the Wet 'N Wild ride. They want to be scared stupid, and when they reached the bottom they wonder how they got there and . . . 'Please, can we go again?'
The exit strategy is just as important. The scene has ended, but the story isn't finished yet. They want to turn the page, but it's two in the morning and they have work . . .
'I'll have a duvet day.'
'You had one of those yesterday.'
'I don't care. I have to read just one more page.'
So, here's the thing! I have a new book out! Yes, that's it on the left - or the right if you're reading this over your shoulder. Well, when I say new - I mean nearly new - does that count? When does "new" run out? When is it considered "old"? Is there a stipulated period of time? Are there statutes that . . . ? Old people don't half ramble on about nothing in particular!
So listen! Come closer! I'm thinking of revamping my covers. Is that exciting, or what? Now, I have over 30 books, so you can imagine I'm not going to commission people who charge £000,000's for one cover, so I've been thinking - and I don't know if this is a good idea or not, so I don't want anybody to get offended by my idea - that there might be art student(s) out there who would like their artwork all over the internet . . . terms to be agreed!
Now, it wouldn't be too shabby to say that the majority of my books are available in print and ebook format across the majority of online book retailers and usually become bestsellers on Amazon during the first month of publication, so we're not talking about a kid living in a cardboard box under the railway arches here!
Anyway, I usually do my own covers (don't say those horrible things under your breath), and here's one I made earlier:
Here's the plan: The above is an early prototype of a cover for my next book (Parish & Richards 12: 'Silent in the Grave', which is due out around mid-March 2014. Anybody who's interested registers said interest below and designs a cover - Closing date: 28 February i.e. the end of this month for the hard of hearing. You send me a copy of the image, I take a look, if I decide to use it we'll discuss terms and conditions. If I don't decide to use an image, I'll respond with thanks within a week (as long as there's not a million responses) in which case I'll just delete the images. And I promise not to use anybody's work without their permission. Have I forgotten anything?
If anybody wants to ask me a question here and there - feel free, but remember - I prefer writing to answering dumb questions. Not only that, I'd like people generally to know that I'm a nice guy - most of the time!
Also, I've put the first nine Parish & Richards books into three trilogies, which are obviously cheaper than buying them individually, changed the names (previously 'Congeries of the Dead', which seemed like a good idea at the time), and revamped the covers.
So, that's it. Hope to hear from you!
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.