The Adventure Cover Part 1

Creating a Cover…Yikes!The Adventure Cover Part 1

It sounds so straightforward. Make a picture to put on the cover of a book.

Except you have to choose font, color, back cover text, image, size of image…oh wait, that image has to fit inside the ‘live’ areas of the book without getting cut off in printing.

A cover isn’t just the 5×8 image you see as a thumbnail on Amazon.

When designing a cover, you design the front, spine, and back covers as one image, taking into account the fold of the spine so that you don’t cross the fold when the book’s printed. (there is a give and take too to where that fold happens). You also have to keep in mind the fact that the book is cut around the edges at the printer.

Then you have to make sure the image quality is good as well. If it’s not, you end up with a blurry image on paper instead of the beautiful picture you designed on the computer.

But with all of this, the end product it amazingly satisfying.

Joseph Apolinar did a great job on The Adventure’s cover. It’s cleared the review process on CreateSpace and the proof copy is in the mail. I’ll let you know if it all turns out in print as beautiful as it looks on the screen.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like seeing all that hard work pay off. I’m beyond excited to see it.

Maybe because I’m arbitrary, maybe because it’s fun, maybe because it’s exciting, here’s a piece of the cover… More to follow in the next posts =)

Can you guess which Adventure story this is from?

Blessings,

Jennifer M Zeiger

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Artists, Amazing Artists

I’m a writer but expect me to draw a picture and you’ll get a stick figure.

Stories flow through my brain all the time, it’s a constant river of possibilities. I’m gifted this way.

But I am not gifted in drawing, in illustration, and the people who are gifted this way boggle my mind. They enrich the world in a way I cannot. Thank God for such people.

Adventure Stories are Illustrated

It never occurred to me not to illustrate The Adventure. In fact, this is the first time the possibility even crossed my mind. It’s a hideous thought. Strike it from the record.

Adventure stories are made for illustration!

So, part of figuring out publishing The Adventure has been finding someone to illustrate it. Umm. Again, I wasn’t sure who to reach out to. This was no small project with over 50 illustrations and a cover to produce.

In the end, I found two amazing artists to work with and the connections I have with them I would never have considered before this project.

The first artist, Joseph Apolinar, is a coworker of my husband’s.

He’s got a crazy busy schedule but, somehow, he managed to produce 2/3rds of the illustrations plus the cover. This is just as much of a learning process for him as it’s been for me but I love his work and it’s totally been worth it. I was looking for pencil sketch kind of artwork and I got exactly what I wanted with his work.

The cover will be revealed soon but here’s some of his work to whet your appetite.

Snow Storm Sketch from The Adventure Book

This is the Snowstorm from Moonrise Mountain for those of you familiar with the Adventure Story.

Figure Under Porch Sketch from The Adventure Book

This one is the porch that starts out The Tournament for those who have explored that Adventure story in the past.

The Second Artist, Justin Allen, is a childhood friend’s older brother.

(Talk about a distant connection!)

I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw Justin. But when I spoke about how much work I was asking of Joseph, my dad mentioned he still had contact with Justin Allen and he might be a good person to contact.

It was a shot in the dark that totally paid off. Justin’s got some experience in Illustration (I think) and was thrilled at the offer. There are three stories in The Adventure and Justin illustrated one of them, The Temple of Night and Wind. His work creates a beautiful contrast from Joseph’s, giving each story its own distinct feel. I couldn’t be happier with how his illustrations turned out.

Here’s a couple to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

Howling Maw Sketch from The Adventure Book

This one is the Howling Maw from The Temple of Night and Wind.

Prism Statue Sketch from The Adventure book

This is one of the many tunnels you might end up exploring.

Amazing artists!

Again, I love how these turned out and these, along with the 50 some other illustrations look even better in the book. I can’t wait for everyone to see!

Blessings,

Jennifer M Zeiger

Mental Shift

Mental Shift Blog Post

Writing’s a solitary activity. As Stephen King says, “Write with the door closed.”

That’s the initial process, at least. Close out the world and let the story reign. But then the book’s written and it either sits alone and unshared, or the writer must crack the door open.

With trembling fingers, she opens the door a bare inch and the feedback comes rolling in. Good, bad, ugly, tear worthy, but then, as before, the writer either sits on the feedback, letting it fester, or the writer continues forward, opening the door an inch wider.

On down the path the writer goes until she looks back and realizes, the door’s no longer on its hinges and the story can’t be shoved into the privacy of her room even if she wanted it to be.

This is the publishing process.

The scary, thrill filled process that takes a story from its initial secluded setting to something that can be enjoyed for years to come. Writing may be solitary, but publishing is not. And I’m coming to realize it shouldn’t be.

My stubborn side wants to resist, wants to insist that I, the writer, can do it all by my lonesome self. The world does not work that way, however. It’s an interconnected muddle of human activity that can be both intimidating and fulfilling.

As I’ve dug into the ins-and-outs of publishing so far, I’m coming to cherish the muddle. There are connections I didn’t even realize I had, connections that span more years than I care to calculate, that are now coming into play. People are insanely generous. They want to help, and my stubborn internal idiot needs to step aside, humble itself, and continue asking those people for their amazing talents.

In a nutshell, that’s how I’ve found my editor, both illustrators, the amazing woman who is working on my book trailer and so many other people.

Going from the solitary writer, drinking her coffee in her writing cave, to the socially connected Independant-publisher is a difficult shift, especially for a self proclaimed introvert. But as with all my dreams so far, I cannot achieve them on my own. And it’s wholly more satisfying to share the journey with others.

Share the journey, the adventure, no matter what your dreams are. What adventures have you experienced lately?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Join Me in the Adventure?

Join Me in the Adventure blog post

I’M BACK! Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to shout.

It’s crazy how fast time flies! Especially when you set yourself a goal that you really want to achieve.

To recap:

This year involves The Adventure to Achieve a Life-Long Dream. In other words, my goal is to publish a book. Thus, why I’ve not been posting. I’ve been figuring out why it TAKES SO LONG to produce a beautiful book. A traditionally published book can take 18 to 24 months to hit the shelves.

With self publishing, or Independant publishing, this can move a lot faster…but to do it well, you have to slow down to learn the ins and outs because there are a lot of details involved. (Once I learn all the shenanigans, things should run more smoothly). But to give you an idea of my process so far, I feel like a Jack Russell puppy chasing a group of squirrels.

Now…

It’s starting to come together to the point that I can see the finished product emerging from the flying fur. MY EXCITEMENT KNOWS NO BOUNDS! (Oops, sorry, there’s the shouting again.)

If you’d like to join me, I’d love to share this adventure with you. For progress details, check out The Adventure Page.

Otherwise, I’ll be posting stuff as I learn it in the coming days. Hope to see you around =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

(P.S. The book’s titled The Adventure.)

 

Chasing Dreams Amidst the Storms

 

img_0608I’ve determined my fear will not stop me from riding a motorcycle. This does not mean, however, that the road will not throw debris in my face.

Similarly, just because I’ve determined to push ahead with self publishing Moonrise Mountain, my first adventure story, does not mean there will not be hiccups in the process. Rib cracking, loud and painful hiccups.

This last month I worked on expanding Moonrise Mountain to fit in a book rather than a blog. I’ve formatted it and put in page directions (adventures have lots of those).

Then looking at it, I admitted professional editing would be a good idea. I want to produce as professional a product as possible. Now, please understand, I’m an English Major. There’s a bit of pride in the way for this. (That pesky pride, always getting beneath my feet!)

So I reached out to an editor, who I researched and thought would be a good fit, to see about the details to have Moonrise Mountain edited.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-6-56-22-pmLess than 12 hours later, I receive an email back. The basic gist…editor’s not interested, find someone else. Fligiwagit! (That’s as close as I get to cursing.) And, to be honest, he probably didn’t mean to be so abrupt.

And now, after a few days, I can see that. But immediately after reading the email, I wanted to cry, and did. (The crying bit might have something to do with several rejections that came in the same week for Dryad. I’m keeping a folder on my computer. Once I have enough, I’m printing them out and burning them in a nice s’more making campfire. Anyone want to join me?)

Anyway, as the day went on, my ire rose and my stubborn streak kicked in.

Two steps forward, one step back. I’m still making progress.

On an up note, I may have found an illustrator for the story. And I’m super excited if it works out. I’ll share some of the awesomeness as soon as I can.

Until then, keep after those dreams because, despite the mud and bugs thrown in your face, it’s totally worth it.

Blessings,

Jennifer

The Falls

It’s adventure time! Read on and vote in the comments for however you’d like to proceed.  =)

The Falls

You’ve never been to the falls before but every part of it speaks of familiarity, like an old coat that rests, warm and comfortable, against your shoulders. At first you shrugged the feeling off as a temporary moment of deja vu but the farther you walk, the stronger the feeling gets.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

That aspen to the left of the trail up ahead, without walking around to see the far side, you know it’s blackened from a lightening strike. Or beyond that, to the right, the trail curves around a granite rock face. On the other side of it, you know the falls open up into a vast pool with small waterfalls splashing down from the rock above.

For years you’ve dreamed of the pool with its rainbow casting falls. You’ve called it your haven, the place your resting mind goes to escape the tedium of life as a printer’s apprentice. Dark ink stains cover your hands and blacken your nails from your hours of copying text, day in and day out.

But in your dreams you never have to hold a quill or clean up spilled ink. Instead you swim in the pool, feel the water wash away your weariness and lay in the sun, letting it warm your too white skin.

Never, though, has the pool been anything but a dream, a mental escape.

You finger the piece of paper in your hand. On it a scrawled message beckons you to report to Marius Lancaster to assist in the writing of his will.

Nothing about such a note is unusual. The directions to Mr. Lancaster’s, however, led you here. Well out of town and into the mountains. Since you’re from a small town, you assumed you knew everyone around but you’ve never heard of Mr. Lancaster. When you asked your Master about it, he shrugged, not knowing the name either, and told you to leave early to make it to Lancaster’s on time.

The note shakes in your fingers. Something about finding your dream world to be real settles unease in your stomach like a lump of lead.

You remind yourself this day is like any other, stuff the note back into your coat pocket, and proceed up the trail.

Around the granite rock face, the pool opens, sparkling with water rainbows cast by the late day sun. The sight creates a deep ache in your chest. It’s beautiful, pristine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe trail ends farther up, about fifty yards from where you stand, at a wrought iron fence. Inside it sits a dainty cottage decked in flower boxes. Everything from roses to tulips to daisies bloom in those boxes, giving a varied sweet scent on the breeze.

This is the first difference from your dream escape. There was never a cottage there.

At the gate, you pause half way through as you see an old man sitting just beyond. His shock of white hair could blend with snow.

His back rests against the cottage door and he’s staring at you. Probably has been since you rounded the granite face.

“In or out,” he says. “It’s dangerous to stand in between.”

“What?” you ask.

“In or out.” The statement’s soft but commanding.

You step through the gate and close it.

The man nods. “You’re late.”

You can’t disagree, so you just smile an apology.

“Have you seen this place before?” he asks.

You freeze in opening your satchel. Why would he ask such a question? When you look up at him, his eyes swirl with bluish color, unnatural but mesmerizing.

Do you say:

A. Yes?

Or

B.No?

The Falls Option A: Yes

His swirling blue eyes watch as you debate your answer. They see your surprise and indecision. He’d probably know if you lied. Those eyes crinkle slightly at the corners with perception and understanding.

“Yes,” you finally say, “but I’ve never been here physically.” You frown, realizing how odd that probably sounds.

The old man’s lips pull up into a careful smile as though he completely understands but enjoys watching you struggle with words.

“Come,” he pushes off the ground to stand up, “let me show you something.”briefcase-1236650

You let the flap on you satchel fall closed without retrieving your paper and ink and follow him into the small cottage. Immediately within the door, the air touches your skin, thick and heavy with humidity. It’s a wall of moisture that turns movement into a conscious action because it slides the air across your skin like a caress.

On a shelf to your right, a cat watches you with bright green eyes. You make a face at it and the feline yawns in a toothy show.

“Dreams,” the old man says over his shoulder, pulling you from your fascination with the cat, “mean something.”

He picks up a clear marble from a table full of marbles. They vary from pea sized to grapefruit sized but all of them are perfectly clear like raindrops. The table’s edge curves upward, containing the marbles neatly within its frame. It’s not the only such table, you see, as you move deeper into the cottage to find dozens of them.

As soon as he touches the one marble, a grape sized sphere, it swirls to life with brilliant blues and purples.

The old man weaves his way amidst the tables to the middle of the cottage.

“Come,” he beckons you with his free hand. “You must see to understand.”

fountain-drops-1184536You move to join him by a flat, circular table. From its center flows a fountain of water that rushes evenly outward and cascades off the edge to land on the floor. There it steams on the dry wood and evaporates. Thus the humidity, you realize.

The old man places the grape sized marble into the very center of the table. It suspends there and the water rushing off the edge fills with wavering images.

Miss. Vera, the town’s only teacher, smiles down at a group of young children. One of them raises a hand and she calls on him before the image falls over the edge to disappear in a hiss against the floor.

“She dreams,” the old man says. “Mostly of her teaching. Those dreams come and go easily. She’s comfortable with her job. But,” he holds up a hand and walks to the far edge of the table. Instead of completing his thought, he points at an image there.

You rush around, thinking the image will disappear off the edge before you can see it, but you needn’t have worried. The image flows like a play, never finishing, never disappearing.

Miss Vsera returns home but hesitates on the porch of her small, faded-blue house. The color of the home darkens like night has fallen but you can see the sun still shining on the porch steps behind her. She sighs and her shoulders slump before she places her hand on the doorknob and enters her home.

The image doesn’t show what’s inside. It darkens briefly and then repeats.

“What happens inside?” you ask.

“Her mind doesn’t go there. Can’t or won’t?” he shrugs. “But we can send her a little encouragement if you like.”

“Yes,” you say instantly, “please.” The repeated image holds your attention, almost bringing tears to your eyes.

“Here’s the tricky part.” the old man draws your attention by sweeping his hand between you and the image. “Do we give her warmth or words?”

Aa. Warmth?

Or

Ab. Words?

The Falls Option Ab: Words

fountain-drops-1184536Miss Vera’s slumped form pulls your heartstrings. She’s always been such a sweet person every time you’ve interacted with her.

“Words,” you tell Mr. Lancaster. “She needs something direct.”

Mr. Lancaster nods once and reaches into his pocket. He pulls out another marble but it stays perfectly clear in his grasp.

“Your time in her dream will be brief,” he says, “so consider carefully what you’d like to say before going in.”

He stands there with the marble, giving you a moment to consider but watching you with his strange, swirling eyes. You wonder if his eyes reflect the marbles because he’s spent too many years gazing into them.

What do you say?

Maybe something about her quiet strength. How she deals so aptly with a classroom of children every day.

Or maybe something about how her presence always lightens your day.

Without knowing what awaits Miss Vera inside the house, you realize anything you say really is a shot in the dark.

But you’ve got to try. You nod to Mr. Lancaster that you’re ready.

He holds the clear marble up. “This will be rather jarring,” he cautions, “brace yourself.”

You get the feeling he’s not talking about holding onto the tables, so you simply nod again and watch him add the marble to the fountain, directly beside Miss Vera’s in the flow of the water that displays the repeat dream.

Your world shifts. Blues and purples rush past your sight like you’re stuck on a branch in a river and are watching the multicolored water ripple past your immersed head.

Then the colors solidify and you’re on the street just down the block from Miss Vera’s small house.

The sun shines brightly on your shoulder. You blink several times to clear your sight and Miss Vera’s slender frame appears down the street as she turns the corner on her way home from work.

gate-1505576A smile touches her lips until she reaches the gate to the faded blue house but the expression fades when she moves to open the metal latch. Just like when you watched her dream from above the fountain, all the color seems to fade from around her.

You rush forward with your desire to put the color back into her world.

She glances up at the sound of your steps, a friendly, polite smile returning to her lips, but the despair in her eyes does not recede. It adds lines to the corners of her eyes and darkens the beautiful chocolate around her irises.

You stop before her but the words you so carefully planned die in your throat. They’re inadequate beside the deep emotion you not only see, but feel, rolling through her. Perhaps that’s part of the dream, but you experience Miss Vera’s internal struggle like it was your own.

She watches you, saying nothing while you stand there with your mouth open.

You snap your lips closed. Your mind races, knowing your time is short to make a difference.

What you were going to say isn’t adequate, you know it with a deep certainty. But you need to say something.

Do you:

Ab1: Make Something Up Fast?

Or

Ab2: Give her a hug?

Ab2: Give her a hug

You smile an apology for just staring.

No clear, perfect words come to you and you doubt if you open your mouth anything helpful will come out. Instead, you say nothing and step forward to hug Miss Vera.

She gives a small sound of surprise but then hugs you back, tightly.

“No!” The voice of objection is Mr. Lancaster’s but when you glance around, you don’t see him and apparently Miss Vera didn’t hear him.

There’s a brief moment of perfect understanding between you and the teacher, a moment of comfort, but then your world shifts buzz-3-1188245like you’ve been thrown into a storm. Miss Vera disappears. The blues and purples return in a chaotic swirl and you’re spun around and around. Your stomach heaves and only a force of will keeps it from vacating through your throat. Everything goes dark.

You wake a while later and sputter at the water Mr. Lancaster was splashing on your face.

Wiping a hand across your eyes, you find the old man watching. His face is drawn, not angry but frustrated perhaps.

“You cannot,” he says emphatically, “touch a person in their dreams.”

“Why?” you ask, remembering the moment of comfort for Miss Vera.

“It messes with their reality,” he stands while shaking his head. “It’s like breaking the fourth wall in a play. Their brain knows the interaction isn’t something it came up with and that messes with them.”

He wanders away and returns with a mug of tea. Handing the steaming mug to you, he leans against one of the marble tables and crosses his arms.

The tea gives a strong hint of mint and something else. You take a sip and the liquid steadies you. You didn’t even realize how wobbly you felt, perhaps because you haven’t tried to stand, but the mint and whatever else clears away the haziness from your head.

“I’ve looked in on Miss Vera’s dreams while you were sleeping,” he continues after you take another sip of tea. “Her recurring dream is gone.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” you ask.

“Perhaps,” he admits, “but the faded colors from the one dream have now overtaken all of them. The color’s gone out of her world.”

“Oh,” you sip again. “Maybe if I go see her, actually hug her, it’ll help.”

But Mr. Lancaster shakes his head. “If you leave the falls, you will never return. I’ll explain tomorrow.” He takes your now empty mug and points to a door behind you. “There’s a bed in there.” Then he leaves you.

You peek outside and see he’s right, it’s well into the night. You make your way to the room and the bed but when you lay down, your mind just won’t leave what happened in Miss Vera’s dream alone.

You can’t just sleep on it.

The cottage remains still as you get up and pass the fountain and all the marbles. Leaving the falls behind feels odd but nothing stops you from hiking back to town.

blue-house-1190202The next day you wait out front of Miss Vera’s house like you did in the dream. Maybe she’ll write it off as some type of deja-vu.

There’s shock on her face when she sees you but she smiles politely and actually lets you into the house with her.

Below the coat rack just inside the door, you see two pairs of slippers. Both are blue and well used but they’re different sizes.

“Someone else lives here?” you ask.

Miss Vera’s face looks stricken but then she hugs her arms around her middle and answers, “Someone else lived here. My sister passed away last night.”

Everything clicks together in your mind. “How long was she sick?” you ask.

“Ten years,” she explains how her sister didn’t want anyone to know, instead letting the town think she left for parts unknown. Tears steam down her face. There’s grief there but also a sense of relief. Ten years of taking care of a dying sister would do that.

You hug her, let her cry, and there’s that perfect understanding again.

You return to spend time with her every day and hope you’ve added color back to her world. But you’ve no real way of knowing if you are succeeding.

You attempt once to return to the falls and the cottage, but it they’re gone. Just gone. You never see the place again, in your dreams or in reality.

But you do make a lifelong friend in Miss Vera. A part of you wonders how much more you could have done if you stayed with Mr. Lancaster but you’re content with the choice you made to leave.

The  End

Dreams are crazy things! But you gained a lifelong friend =)

Thanks for participating in the adventure. The adventure will be back on the 26th.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

Taking the Next Step

Some of you have already read this because I wrote it as a guest post for Andrew Hines. However, after having published Midnight Abyss and looking in hindsight, I wouldn’t change anything about the post and I’d like to encourage you all to reach for your dreams by taking them a step at a time.

Taking the Next Step

There’s that look. The one when you say you’re a writer and whoever you’re talking to doesn’t respond except to look at you like you’re nuts.

I’m intimately familiar with that look. Ever since the seventh grade, I’ve wanted to be a writer and while growing up, I’d say so. I always got the, ‘okay, and what else do you want to do?’

So I dabbled in writing for years but never branched out to do anything with it, afraid that, by sharing my writing, I’d only confirm I wasn’t capable of making it my career. I graduated high school, went to college, got married. You know, followed the respectable ‘life plan.’

I like to think my creator hit me upside the head with a two-by-four. He created me with this passion to write. And he used my husband to get me back on track.

About a year ago we moved and my husband suggested I focus on my writing instead of searching for a full time job.

God, did that thought scare me. But it also thrilled the daylights out of me. Tentatively, I started a blog with the idea that I’d use it to ‘thicken’ my skin to the experience of others reading my stories. I’d heard this was the thing to do to build an ‘author platform,’ whatever that meant.

Well, you have to tell people you have a blog. You have to interact. Great-leaping frogs! You mean I have to use Twitter? Well, yes, that’s what needed to happen. So, after working up my nerve, I started posting on Facebook and Twitter. Small beans, baby steps. Whatever you’d like to call it.

Ultimately this lead me to joining a writing site that started talking with me on Twitter. A site called Writer’s Carnival.

That was back in March, I think. Anyway, one thing led to another, in a series of steps I’m not even sure I could outline now, until I was invited to join eight others from the site in publishing a short story anthology.

I personally never would have thought of attempting to self publish. I never thought I had it in me, but now we’re published as of the end of October. It’s my first publication ever.

And none of this would have happened if I hadn’t started the blog. I’ve never even met the other authors of this anthology beyond the internet, yet the interaction with them is what made publication possible for me.

When I started, I couldn’t see past the next post. For the most part, I still can’t. I know many writers who don’t feel like they’re getting anywhere or who think starting a ‘platform’ is a waste of time.

I might have agreed with you a year ago, maybe even a few months ago. I’m not one of those who built a following in a couple months and even now, I don’t have a large following. Many times it simply feels like you’re trudging on. Throwing something into the void with little response.

It’s not true though. The smallest step, posting on Twitter, talking to a complete stranger, whatever the step may be, can lead you to achieving your dream. Whether that dream’s writing like me or singing like Andrew or something else, you probably won’t see the outcome from the next step, but take the step anyway. You never know where it’ll lead.

So I’ll leave you with this one challenge. Think about what you want, what dream really makes your heart beat in excitement, and take one step toward achieving it, even if that step’s only saying hello to someone.

Blessings,

Jennifer