Yesterday, another excerpt went life on Karin Rita Gastreich’s blog. It was nice to meet yet another person with a surname originating in the German language. 😉
And I’d like to apologize. I had meant to post yesterday but completely forgot to schedule it. I couldn’t do it in real time either because I had the house full with birthday guests. We celebrated the 19th birthday of my eldest daughter and I didn’t have much time for online stuff. Thus, the post comes now, and it’ll highlight one of the most important people involved in this novel: the cover artist.
Corona Zschüsschen, Dutch illustrator and graphic designer
Corona comes from Enschede (if you like her art, she’s available for international freelance work and her prices are reasonable). I stumbled over some of her art when I was looking for things to pin to my Pinterest boards, and I immediately liked her drawing style. Since I was having major trouble getting a shutterstock picture to work that I had originally planned on using (but the resolution was crap, every detail looked pixelated), I contacted her. She was lovely to work with. So here she is in her own words.
Why did you become an artist? Was it a childhood dream? My first childhood dream was to start a cat-shelter. I even wrote a letter to my 20-year old self when I was 10, outlining my plans and ideas! While I really love cats (and I have 3), that never happened. I moved around a lot when I was young. Drawing was something I could do anywhere, anytime. I had always loved illustrating, but I never thought I could become an actual artist. Sometimes I still can’t believe I am. I have to remind myself. 🙂
What’s your greatest obstacle in creating?
It’s me. Illustrating can be very mood and inspiration depended. I think it must be the same when you’re a writer. Sometimes inspiration comes at the most impossible of times. Or I can make a lot of different versions of something knowing they simply won’t work. It can be very frustrating! But all the different versions are still part of the journey. As long as I like the destination, it’s all worth it!
What makes your art different?
I don’t know how different I am… though of course no artist is the same. I have found artists whose style looks similar to mine, or sometimes the subjects or thoughts behind an illustration can be the same. I’m not bothered by that. I tend to branch out to a lot of different styles, because I like to adjust my art to the subject. What works for one book cover may not work at all for another. I also like to know as much as possible before I start illustrating. For example, with designing characters, I want to not only know how they look, but also their motivation and background story.
What was the most exciting thing happening when you are creative?
You mean for me as an illustrator? It was about 4 weeks ago when I found out one of my illustrations is going to be used for for very VERY big ‘thing’. But I can’t say anything about it. I’m contractually obligated to be silent about it. I can’t even show the illustrations. I want to shout it from the roofs, hahaha! Also, every time I receive an e-mail from a potential client my hart rate spikes. I can’t sit still before I answer the mail.
What was the biggest challenge with my cover?
The best thing about working with a writer is that they often know exactly what they want, even if they don’t! So the challenge was to get the idea that was in your head onto the cover. Being able to read some chapters of the book really helped. You were very specific and I really like that. You knew what you wanted. I hope I have fulfilled your book cover wishes 🙂
Who is your favorite Indie artist?
I guess any artist that’s not affiliated with a publisher could be considered independent. But most are a combination of both. One of my favorite contemporary illustrators is Loish (Lois van Baarle). I’m so jealous of her skills. Her character designs are stunning and magical. Her illustrations are incredibly pretty. Another illustrator I really like is Yasmin (chubbytentacle.com), her style is so much fun. I can’t help but smile when I see her illustrations.
Who is your favorite traditional artist?
I really like John William Waterhouse. I can stare at those paintings for a long time. I also enjoy the work of Berthe Morisot, a female impressionist painter. I have a lot of respect for the female painters in history. Often their pursuit of art wasn’t taken very seriously. Though I can’t identify with the era they lived in. There have been people in my life who don’t see how being an illustrator can be a actual job.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I can only pick one? 🙂 I am quite happy with my life as it is now. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get here.
Yesterday, Mathew Reuther, a fantasy crime writer using considerable more gore than I do, posted an excerpt from my novel on his homepage. Also, one of the most successful Indie authors from Germany published my guest post on Mixing and Balancing Genres on his site (German only).
Today, German book-blogger Katja posted my guest post “Developing Swordplay” in German on her site (this has also been posted in English). She read the book and liked it a lot, so she’ll be writing a review in a few days.
Like with everything, a blog-tour has also times when things don’t go as planned. Thus, the post planned for yesterday on author Roy Huff’s homepage went missing and I don’t know why. As soon as it shows up, I’ll let you know.
People on my list already know this story (list members get early access to a lot of stuff and some exclusivity and special offers), but I want to share it with you too. Here is an introductory snippet for Moira (in German it’s been posted on Kathleens Bücherwelt in today’s tour stop). The English post for the day is about names in worldbuilding. Check it out here.
Moira wriggled on the chair in front of the principal’s office. Her hands felt strangely empty. Up to this point it had been very comforting to hold on to her application papers. What should she do with her hands now?
The door opened and the secretary looked out, the gray bob over her haggard features blending in with the mint colored walls.
“You may come in now.”
Moira’s heart began to beat faster, and the palms of her hands grew wet. What if her application was declined? This was the only chance she was going to get, and it was a miracle already that the Academy had invited her for an interview. She forced her trembling legs to get up and follow the secretary along a narrow corridor with many doors. Not one of them was labeled, but she assumed they led to the teachers’ conference rooms. At the end of the corridor, the secretary showed her through a big oaken door into a gigantic room. It was so different from what Moira had expected, she stopped and stared at the expanse. Big windows on the far side allowed the sun to light up the room, blurring it into a bright nothingness. White walls emphasized the feeling of being out of this world. On the left side of the door stood two comfortable looking chairs and a low table with two cups, a coffee pot, and a plate with cookies. It was the only furniture in the room.
Moira’s gaze searched for the Academy’s principal but aside from her, there was no one in sight. Even the secretary had left. Feeling small and insignificant, she walked to the seating arrangement but didn’t dare to sit down. Patiently, she waited.
“Please, make yourself comfortable.” The principal’s voice she knew from a previous parlebol call filled the room before a dark shadow appeared beside her and condensed into a portly man with a big, curled mustache.
With his wide, black robe and the beak-like nose, the principal reminded Moira of a rather plump raven. She curtsied and stammered a greeting before her legs gave and she settled into the nearest chair. Did he always appear like this? Would she ever get a chance to get used to this?
He sat too and filled both cups with coffee, leaving it to her to add sugar or milk.
“You seem rather young to be sitting here.” Stirring his own cup, he leaned back and studied her. “I understand that you skipped two classes, and I must say, I was impressed by your grades. They’re the one reason why I decided to take a look at you. You’d be a great addition to the Gendarmerie Générale. So, why do you insist on joining the Gendarmerie Magique?”
“I’ve been working very hard to be considered.” Moira hated to feel so defensive. She knew she was lacking in magical skills. “My parents have both been very successful officers, and it’s been my dream for as long as I can remember.”
“Not all dreams come true.” The principal drained the cup and set it down. He got up and stepped into the middle of the bright room. “Convince me you’re good enough for the basics. With a deficiency like yours, you’d be a liability for your colleagues.”
Moira swallowed. Did he mean she was supposed to do magic? Here? She followed him, marveling at the fact that her legs were still supporting her. The closer she got, the more the principal blurred. When she reached the middle of the room, only his face was still sharply defined, the rest merged with the whiteness.
“If you find my bureau, I will sign your acceptance paper,” he said and vanished completely.
Dumbstruck, Moira stared at the place where he had just been. Surely it wasn’t so very difficult to find his office? She turned toward the door, but it had vanished together with the principal and the furniture. Everything around her was white and blurred into a mist in the distance. She picked a random direction and walked but nothing changed. Drat. How was she supposed to find anything if she was stuck in the middle of a bright, white mist?
This clearly was a test, and the only qualification that needed testing was her magical ability. Since the principal had said he was only looking for the bare minimum of skills, it couldn’t be too difficult. She probably only needed to use a simple Guide-Moi spell. The problem was that she couldn’t even do first grade stuff. She’d tried often enough to know it wouldn’t work. So, she had to find a way that would lead her to the principal’s office and make him believe she used magic. Fine. The GM-spell was simple and straightforward. People using it looked like sleepwalkers. Moira closed her eyes and let her arms dangle as if using the spell. She turned a full circle, hoping for something, anything that might indicate the direction the principal had left. When nothing presented itself, she opened her eyes again but didn’t move her arms. Surely she would be watched closely.
Surprised, she discovered that the windows were still there. A fine web of golden strands ran over their frames. She had seen this kind of webbing before. It indicated active spells. Well, it was nice to know that the whiteness around her was some sort of spell but it didn’t really help, or did it? She walked toward the windows, the only point of orientation she had in the fog. Against her expectations, she was able to get closer. Soon, she stood in front of a windowpane twice the height of her bedroom at home. Outside, she could see the Academy’s running arena. Several students were training. For a split second, her longing to be one of them became so strong she thought her heart would burst. Biting her lip, she turned away from the window. A thin, blue line led from the window into the mist and vanished in the distance. This hadn’t been there before.
Moira hesitated, but only for a second. It was the only hint she could see, and whether it would lead her to the principal or take her out of the Academy and shatter her dream of joining the Gendarmerie Magique was irrelevant at this point. She couldn’t stay here, so she had to follow the blue line. A fifty-fifty chance was always better than no chance at all. With a sigh, she set out, still letting her arms hang limply at her side as if she were using a GM spell.
The floating blue ribbon led her ten steps away from the window, and then angled sharply to the right. Another seven steps took her to a door. Gently, she touched the surface. Yes, it was a real door, solid oak, like the others she had seen in the Academy. She knocked, and it swung open silently, revealing an office stuffed with books and dark oak furniture. The eyes of several teachers and the principal turned to her. Warmth spread through Moira’s belly. All was well.
P.S.: Please excuse any misspellings and grammar errors. If you want more of these, join my list.
You can find the schedule here and the giveaway here. I linked the posts that are already available so readers who join us at a later point will still be able to find them.
Today, Roger Eschbacher (yup, German name but not German born Indie author) allowed me to tell you how I came up with the story and why it simply wouldn’t stop growing. So what – stories do sometimes grow. And if they do, there’s no stopping them. Enjoy!
Today, the first volume of my first ever Fantasy series went life, and I feel like bubbling over with joy. I don’t know why but it took me nearly a month to get everything in place. Formatting seemed to take forever. I wish I could afford to get someone else to do it for me. Sigh…
That said, I simply love the way the book turned out, and I’m really looking forward to sending out a couple of print copies (although shipping will take a while since the books will be delivered to me here in Germany first and then get sent out again).
So without further ado, here’s “Swordplay”, the first volume in the “Gendarmerie Magique” series.
Swordplay – A Gendarmerie Magique Novel
About the Book
CSI with magic but without the gore
Despite her obvious lack of magical talent, nineteen year old Moira Bellamie apprentices with the Gendarmerie Magique, the magic police. She puts all her effort into solving a burglary at the National Museum where antique weapons have been stolen, to keep the hard won job. Falling for her partner Druidus wasn’t part of the plan. When more and more people are murdered with one of the stolen weapons, Moira must tame uncontrollable magic, or the people she cares for will die, her partner first and foremost.
For lovers of Fantasy and Mystery from 14 years up
I’m happy to be able to host a writer that I have known and admired for quite a while already: Chrystal Collier. With the release of her new novel Moonless, she is touring the world (virtually of course, who could afford anythign else) and popped in here for a short interview.
Why did you choose a socially challenged heroine?
MOONLESS is written for young adults. As a teenager, I remember that being one of my greatest struggles—figuring out my place in the world and feeling like I just didn’t fit in. Who doesn’t feel that at some point?
What makes the world of your novel different from ours?
Call this an alternate history if you will, but what if there was another race of people hidden just below the surface of society? Now let’s say these people are gifted and unique, but nature is all about balance, so they have an antithesis or predator. Keep in mind they don’t propagate as easily as humanity which makes them a minority, and their discovery in the past has led to wars, racial cleansing, etc. Because of that, they’re very interested in remaining unknown, even while their battle for survival rages in the shadows.
What was the most exciting thing happening when you wrote your novel?
Some people write dozens of novels before they get published. I rewrite the same book again and again and again until I get it right—or at least, that’s how it worked with Moonless. During rewrites we’ve lived in 3 different states, had two kids, worked on and off with producers for a Broadway aimed musical, and I’ve been a composer/writer for an audio/video production company. Do we need to add any more excitement?
Tell us about your writing day schedule.
My days starts with study, then I’m getting kids fed, dressed and into a home school day. After a couple lessons (and while the littles are occupied with assignments), I check in with email, the blogosphere, maybe even some critiquing. Finally, mid to late afternoon my littles get free time and I dive into writing, with regular interruptions, praying for a solid two hours.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I believe we are infinitely powerful beings. We can accomplish anything through hard work and perseverance. My only complaint is the need for a time-stopper. (Which the scientists locked in my Floridian basement are desperately working to complete.)
Thank you for answering our question, Chrystal. We wish you a lot of success for your books.
Sign up for a countdown for Christmas. The first Advent-eMail-parcel will be delivered on the first of December for all who sign up in time (the others get their parcels later). In total, you will get 25 eMails with stories, Character studies, recipes and original music from six talented authors. And the best is, it’s absolutely free.
Finally! I finished my first ever audiobook. Of course, I didn’t read it all by myself. I haven’t got the time or the equipment for that, but it turned out quite nicely (in my opinion).
I already uploaded it to the retailer who will distribute it to the most important audiobooksellers (amazon, audible und iTunes). It wasn’t easy. My Internet connection is so slow, it wouldn’t upload the audio files (around 50MB each). I had to visit my parents (150km either way) to sucessfully upload the files. Their connection is faster (not thrillingly so, but faster then mine). I think it’s sad that the German Telekom puts so little effort into connection the more remote areas properly.
Well, I’ll let you know when the audiobook is available. The retailer needs 2-3 weeks for approval to make sure that the quality is appropriate for audiobooks.
Until then, I wish you all the best,
P.S.: While you’re here, tell me, which one of my novels would you like to see as an audiobook? I’m thinking about doing more audiobooks in the future, depending on whether you’re interested or not.