Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mobile Data

 A couple months back, I finally gave in to AT&T's begging, and let them install fiber. (The monthly fee is lower, they gave me a gift card, and it's faster — I assume they're trying to get rid of the copper lines.)

So that was all good. I don't really need the higher speeds, but the new line doesn't run under the house, so it's less likely to be eaten by squirrels/rats, which is a thing I've had problems with in the past.

Two weeks later, the city was tearing up part of the street and directing all the traffic next to the sidewalk. Important things to note:

1. The street is higher in the middle than it is on the edges, so the vehicles tilted slightly toward the sidewalk as they drove by, and

2. There's a telephone pole in front of my house seated right on the edge of the sidewalk. It is attached to a heavy cable running to the building across the street, and over the years, the pole has gradually bent toward the street. I once knocked off my side mirror when pulling into a spot in front of my house.

So a recycling truck drove down the edge of the street, snagged the pole, and scooped it up onto the truck before it could stop.

A large green recycling truck with a telephone pole resting on top.

A broken telephone pole dangling in place, with a shard sticking up from the sidewalk, and another six-foot section lying on the ground.

The good news is that nobody was hurt and that particular pole doesn't carry electricity. The bad news is it yoinked the fiber right out of my house.

They freed the recycling truck in about an hour, and replaced the pole that night. (Yes, jackhammering at midnight is great!) Two days later, AT&T came back to reconnect my fiber.

And yes, they put the pole in the exact same spot so it can happen again.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Cover Art (Day 28)

 So I ended up yesterday with a cover that was... okay, but kind of boring. Plus, I wasn't sure it really conveyed the story is a fantasy.

What I wanted was magic. Do I know how to make something magical? Absolutely not. But I figured swirls and sparkles might work. So I added some lines, pinch & swirl, and then a little Gaussian blur to make it all blend in. Then I went back and added some white points. (I'd planned to have those sparkle, but I couldn't get the sparkle effect to work the way I wanted it to.)

Anyhow, I ended up with this:

It adds a little energy, but it does look a little hokey. Still... I think it might be worth making another pass at it to see if I can make it work.

Anyhow, I went ahead and used it for the cover background, which gives this:

I don't know... It doesn't look quite as hokey, though maybe I should have the swirls stand out more. I don't know. My art sense is pretty severely impaired, so doing my own art is probably a mistake from the start.

Then I added embossing, because that's my new favorite thing.

I mean... I've seen worse covers. And it definitely brings in the magic aspect. Maybe my standards are low, but I'd consider using this. (Uh... that means I probably will use this.) This cover is growing on me.

Anyhow, that's the end of Thingadailies! We will now return to our irregularly scheduled random content.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Cover Art (Day 27)

 By trial and error, I've made the wiped out the bottom black part and added some smoke/fog. (I thought the smoke/fog would help make it more like the other cover. Do I know what I'm doing? Absolutely not!)

This is where it's at

I may want make the edges darker, but I think this will be a start. (It's easy to swap out the image in InDesign, so I can always make changes later.)

The next hurdle was the text. Not where to place it, but what to put there — I haven't named this story yet. I also haven't written the story yet. So... I came up with a title (Persuasion Magic) that could very well change later. I think that can be said for every single part of this cover. Total commitment, that's me!

It does look more like a cover with the writing on it. I'm not convinced it says "fantasy", though. If I new how to add magical swirls, that might help.

Googling "magical swirls" ought to be a lot of fun...

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Cover Art (Day 26)

As a reminder, I'm currently noodling around with the cover for a reader magnet that goes along with this book:

Yesterday I found a picture of a calico cat and messed around with it a bit to get it to look more like an illustration than a photo.

Then I worked on adding some height to the photo, since I'm going to need something to put the text on.

Clearly I just copied some sections and stacked them. Part of that will be blocked out to make the text stand out, so I'm not too worried about it.

The color palette is all wrong, so I made some changes...

So... it's getting closer to what I want. Yes, I still need to deal with the big black space at the bottom, and maybe try to get the layers to blend a little better. (Ha! I have no idea how to start with that...)

Anyhow, I'm having fun, and I think this is going in a direction I want, so I'll keep messing with it tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Cover Art (Day 25)

Four days left of Thingadailies (though I seem to be the only participant still standing, and I think I gave up on the rules a while back...).

I made a list of five possible newsletter magnets that I could write to bring people into various other books. One of those is to go along with Dragon Freehold (available now!). The story I'm going to write takes place before the events of the book, when the main character meets his cat.

I went on over to DepositPhotos to look for an image. You may be surprised to know that "man calico mystery" and various similar search terms don't return anything helpful. (And honestly, that's a travesty — everyone knows hot guys are even hotter when they have a cat. There are whole calendars based around this.)

So my choice is to either go with a cat or go with a guy. I'm starting with a cat. I may change my mind.

Here's my starting point:

Pros: She's a calico, and she's adorable.

Cons: This is clearly a photo (which is not what people use on fantasy books), and instead of being vertically oriented, it's horizontal.

The vertical/horizontal problem I can get around by adding some space at the top and bottom and fading out — I'd need some space there anyhow for the title and author name. So we'll just assume that's solvable.

Dealing with the photo... I'm positive this would be a matter of minutes for someone who knew what they were doing, but I don't think I can even pretend anymore. I started with the "cartoon" filter in GIMP and couldn't really tell the difference. So I went to the "waterpixels" and got this.

Then I tried the cartoon again, and ended up with this

I don't know if this is going in a useful direction, but I think I'll start with this and see if I can extend the image to more of a book form tomorrow...

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Cover Art (Day 24)

Okay, so I did most of the changes I talked about yesterday. At this point, 

This is what the covers look like together:

The typography is definitely not right, but it's close. Well... close-ish. I think it looks like it belongs in the same series, even if it clearly wasn't designed by the same team.

I could probably mess around with it forever, but I think I've hit the point of diminishing returns, so I'm going to say "tada!" and call it done.

Again, this is a million times better than the cover I've currently got on the story.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Cover Art (Day 23)

More work on the reader magnet cover, which should fit in with these covers.

Yesterday, I got to this point.

Today I wanted to start on the typography. First stop: figure out what font to use. There's a website ( where you can upload an image and it will give you a list of fonts that are close. I did that, and it did indeed give me a list of fonts, but none of them were part of the Adobe suite. I could have purchased a new font, but I was pretty sure Adobe already had one licensed that I could use. It took me some time, but I eventually found "Industry".

So I plugged that into my standard template, messed around with embossing, and got this:

First, this is easily 100% better than the cover I have been using for my reader magnet up to now. Having said that, I need to change some obvious things.

  • The title needs to take up more space.
  • The series name needs to be bigger (to match how it is on The Chaos Connection).
  • I need to make the author name smaller to match. (In my usual template, the author name is at the top of the book and the title at the bottom. Since I'm not following my usual branding with this anyhow, I might as well make it look as close to the series as possible.)
The series covers have a brushed metal look to the lettering — I currently have mine as just silver, with a satin effect to make them not quite so flat. I think I'll try using the letter outlines and having a brushed metal image peek through, just to see if I can do it, but that's a plan for another day.

This cover could also use some big shiny thing in the middle. It's a little boring. My attempt to draw a triangle was a complete flop. though, so I may need to see what's out there..