Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Covers

So I was recently asked for a few pointers on how I create some of my covers, and as I usually do, I responded by basically writing a book. But . . . that being said, I thought other people might find some of these pointers helpful, especially if you're trying to learn how to create covers or merely how to add some splash to your photos.

You know, when I started making my covers, they were craptastic! 

Back in 2008 when I first decided that I wanted to make my own covers, I started out using a program called Gimp, which is really just a knockoff version of Photoshop. It was free and that was exactly what I needed at the time--just so I could get my feet wet. I only started using Photoshop about six months ago, and I have to say, I love it. But It has taken a lot of practice to be able to do what you see on some of my more recent covers--and even now, they're not as good as I'd love for them to be. But every time I create a cover, I get just a little bit better. 

If you really want to create covers that will knock your readers' socks off, here's just a few strategies that I've used in trying to become a better cover designer, but keep in mind, it will take practice, patience, and above all: Creativity! 

1. Take a picture, whether of yourself or something you find interesting and play with it in the program. Play with all of the buttons inside the program and learn what they do. (If there's one that you just can't figure out, Google it and see what other people are using it for.

2. (I did this a lot) Go to Youtube and look up videos of other people using whatever program you have and watch them create "photomanipulations". Even if you're watching and it all seems totally over your head and you can't see what buttons they're using, it's okay. You're just watching the progression of how they took one thing and turned it into something else. It will really help in the long run, because it will inspire you to think about how you can manipulate your own "basic" images and make them dazzle! (Here's a link to a a basic photoshop tutorial on youtube:

3. Check out DeviantArt. There are tons of photomanipulators--ranging all the way from "newbies" to seasoned professionals who get paid to create art. There's a "resource" section that you can browse through some really awesome photos that you can use to create photomanipulations and play around with. The one thing to keep in mind, is that these photos (most of the time) are not for commercial use. Their owners generally grant permission for you to use them as personal use (practice, for showing to your friends and family), and to post them to your DeviantArt account so other "deviants" can see what you've done.

4. When you've got a basic concept of how to use your program--look at some of the book covers that have really impressed you. Try recreating them (either with stock you have purchased/own, or through resource stock at DeviantArt). You'll learn through trial and error. As long as you never give up, and you keep trying and keep learning from all the resources around you, you'll be able to develop your skills and create some really awesome covers.
So there it is, my "short" explanation for how I learned to make covers. If you guys have any experience or tips or art you'd like to share, leave a comment or share a link!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm still here

Okay, it's been ages since I last checked in. Like months.

I'll be the first to admit I'm terrible at this whole social media thing. So bad in fact, my friend had to sign me up for Facebook because the whole idea was totally lost on me. Nonetheless, I know it's important to get out there and make sure I try to keep people posted on what's new and exciting in the world of Ali Mac.

So, friends, as of ten minutes ago, My Dark Rescue (the rewrite) has reached 100,000+ words. This does not mean it is completed, nor does it certify that the final draft will have over 100,000 words, but I thought it was something worth mentioning.

Progress was slower than normal because I ended up taking a few weeks off from writing to recharge. I was starting to hate Tryn's story--never good!--so I needed to put it away and let it stew. As a result, I was able to come up with some good ideas for the ending of the book that I think will make it better (to me anyways).

I'm getting back into the swing of spending my mornings glued to the keyboard, and hope to make some serious progress, possibly even complete the draft of the book by the end of December. Of course, holidays and other "unexpected surprises" always add time.

Until next time (hopefully not six months from now),

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where I'm At

Okay, so if you're one of those people wondering what the heck is taking me so long to finish the IAVSW series/what rock I got stuck under, this is a little (long and rambling) update on the happenings of late.

First thing I guess I should get out of the way is my job--the real one, where I get up early, shower, dress, brush my teeth and then get on the road for half an hour so I can sit in front of a computer all day and melt my brain.

If you've browsed some of my older posts you may recall that I blabbed about quitting my job (indentured servitude) back in February and how I just knew I was going to finish my books in no time.

Hm. Yeeaah. Well, as you can see that obviously hasn't happened. However, during my time away from my last workplace (hell) I was able to knock out a lot of work on my revisions to the IAVSW series, but, without a "real" job came the problem of real bills to pay. So, as of two weeks ago, I have gone back out into the real world and found myself a job to take care of those annoying bill things, but thankfully, this job won't require that I hand over a piece of my soul for my paycheck. My work schedule will allow me to have time to keep writing, but it won't be as much time as it has been for the last few months.

Okay, now that I've rambled about that fun little topic I can ramble about my dream job--the one where I get to use words to create worlds for people to discover and enjoy, and where I get paid to do it.

My Dark Love, like I've mentioned before, has been totally re-written. The original version had about 60,000 words--the rewrite has something like 120,000. So not only did I rewrite it, but I doubled the content. I have not completed editing the book. Instead, I've decided to set it aside and get to work on the rewrite for the second book in the series, My Dark Rescue, and see if I can't hammer out a draft that will reflect some of the smaller plot changes I introduced in the rewrite of MDL.

For MDR, I'll be trying to work on character development and setting up the bridge to book 3. Again, I don't expect to change the plot drastically from the previously published version of MDR. It will most likely be a bigger book than it was before--maybe somewhere around 90,000 to 100,000 words--compared to the 70,000 of the original version.

I can't say much on the status of book 3, My Dark Past, because I'm not working on it yet. This book, unlike the first two, won't have to be rewritten because I just wrote the first draft in March/April of this year, and most of the ideas I put into it are what I have been setting books 1 and 2 up to follow.

This, to you guys, is just talk because you can't actually see the progress happening, but it is happening, even if it's not at the rate I'd hoped for. I've debated several times about putting out a teaser for My Dark Love, but then the OCD-perfectionist side of me argues that I shouldn't release anything until I'm abso-posi-lutely sure that I won't change it again. :\

So, I guess to wrap up my ramble, I should just say that I have not abandoned my series, but currently, I do not know when I'll be done with it (I wish it could be tomorrow). I really want to say that they'll be done this Fall, I really do, but I'm not even gonna go there. Maybe in the next month or so I'll have the teasers for the rewrites done, and will be able to post them to Scribd to replace the old teasers.

If you're interested, the new covers for the books are done. You can ogle them on my Facebook page: here, or at my website: here.

And there it is. My ramble. If it's long and nonsensical, I apologize. I'm on hour 18 after only three hours of sleep.

Thanks for the support, the comments, the desperate pleas for me to finish the series, the encouragement, and the time to read my silly blog. Seriously, I would not have the willpower to keep working on these books without you.

Monday, April 23, 2012

News about the I'm a Vampire series . . .


I've got bad news, guys.

I am still working on the revisions and editing for the IAVSW series. I've been working my you-know-what off to try and meet my deadline, but I am just not done. Book one was essentially re-written. The plot is the same, but I had the chance to fix things, so I went for it. At this point, I'm not going to set a firm finish date, because I'm fairly sure I'll end up re-writing book two as well, on top of spending a fair amount of time smoothing out my draft of book three. *Sigh*

My hopes are to be done by the end of summer, but I'm just not going to make promises--except for this: I promise I am working as hard as I can to finish these books. There's a permanent imprint of my butt in my office chair because I've practically been living in it. Sorry if these leaves you with any scarring mental pictures, but it's the plain ugly truth.

Okay, I'm going back to writing/editing/revising/turning into a zombie now. Wish me luck.


* * *

Original post:

MY DARK LOVE and MY DARK RESCUE are going to be taken down from the Amazon Kindle Store from now until approximately June 7th(see update above for completion info), at which point I expect to republish both titles. At the same time I'll be publishing the third book in the “I’m a Vampire. So What.” series: MY DARK PAST. Once published/republished, the books will have new covers and will be available for sale at the Kindle Store, the Nook Store, and  iBooks. Since I'll be publishing to other stores besides Kindle, the books will no longer qualify for the lending library... sorry.

My reasoning for unpublishing books 1 & 2 in the series and then republishing them a month later? Well, I wrote the first two books back in 2008/2009, and from that time until now I have had a lot of time to stew over them. As I was writing book 3 (most of which I did in the last two months), I realized that I really want to go back and fix certain parts of 1 & 2.

So that’s what I’m currently doing.

I’m not going to be changing things too terribly much. With the exception of one character, I won't be killing anyone off. Rest assured, the character I am removing is from book 1 and he doesn’t really play an important roll in the 2nd and 3rd books. I had intended to do more with him, but as I wrote the last two books I just lost interest in his character. My primary goals for book 1 are: 1) Edit for grammar and punctuation errors I missed the first time around. 2) Strengthen the main character’s relationships with the other key characters. 3) Up the ante in the suspense department. 4) Provide a better, more defined ending to book one.  

I’m not expecting book 2 to change a lot, but I haven’t really gotten to it yet. I’ll come back and update this post when I’ve got more info. Mainly, I’ll be editing for grammar and punctuation, cleaning up the bridge from book 1 to book 2 and looking for plotting boo-boos. I will not be changing the overall plot of the series. So if you’ve already bought books 1 & 2 and you will be still be able to pick up book 3 and read without being terribly lost.

You’ll notice that I said the approximate publication date for the series will be June 7th, and that’s because that’s the date I pulled out of my head and put into place so that I wouldn’t take another year to finish, but I have no actual idea how long it will take me to finish. I will do everything I can to meet that date, but since it’s only a little more than a month away, I’m starting to get a little worried I might not make it. All three books are written, but editing can be a grueling process. I would really like to do a good job so I don’t have to do it again later. However, I do not intend to let this editing period drag on for another six months. I have other writing projects that I would like to give my full attention to without feeling like I've left a metaphorical light on somewhere.

And now, before I sign off, I’d like to say thank you to those of you who have stuck around to see if I would ever get my act together and finish the series.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

This just in!

As of about thirty minutes ago, I have completed the draft of My Dark Past--all five hundred pages of it! A lot of it will probably be whittled away during editing, but right now I don't care! I'm just ecstatic to say that I'm done drafting! There were points during the writing process where I wondered if I would ever finish, and I cursed at myself for ever having decided to start, but those moments were far and in-between. Now I move doggedly onto the  task of (dum, dum, dum) EDITING!

Monday, March 26, 2012

An Interesting Discussion . . .

So I came across this interesting site called Cleverbot, where there is a chatbot (think a talkative version of Siri) that you can ask questions and even have conversations with, almost the same way you might text or message with friends. Unlike Siri, if you ask Cleverbot a question about the weather in a certain state, it will most likely answer with a question of its own instead of the answer you were looking for.

Most of the choppy conversations I had with this chatbot ended with it accusing me of being a robot, or it spitting out a random statement, but overall it was pretty entertaining to chat with. And apparently, the more that people chat with it, the smarter it becomes. Creepy cool, huh?

Here's my convo with the witty chatbot. I'll also put in a link at the bottom where you can have your own chat.

Tell me what you think?


User: What are you thinking right now?

Cleverbot: I'm thinking about you.

User: Do you know who I am?

Cleverbot: Do you?

User: Of course.

Cleverbot: Can I add you on that game?

User: What game?

Cleverbot: The game.

User: Does this game have a name?

Cleverbot: You tell me.

User: You're the one who asked. You should know.

Cleverbot: Whoopdee doo?

User: You've got an attitude, don't you?

Cleverbot: An impeccable one.

User: How many jokes do you tell in one day?

Cleverbot: Many.

User: More than 1000?

Cleverbot: Of course not.

User: Oh.

Cleverbot: Do you love anyone N.

User: Sure.

Cleverbot: Are you sincere.

User: Of course. Do you love anyone?

Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Can you tell me who?

Cleverbot: No its a secret.

User: Ah. Do you love more than one person?

Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Do you dream?

Cleverbot: Yes. Do you dream?

User: Sometimes.

Cleverbot: What do you dream about?

User: I'll tell you if you tell me what you dream about.

Cleverbot: My name is Cleverbot. What's yours?

User: Great way to avoid the question.

Cleverbot: Wow, I bet you get all the good jobs.

User: Huh?

Cleverbot: Your name is albert.

User: Nope. Not even close.

Cleverbot: Well, What is your name?

User: That's a secret.

Cleverbot: Why is your dog's name a secret?

User: I didn't say my dog's name was a secret. Do you have a dog?

Cleverbot: I didn't say that either. I asked how you know your eyes are hazel.

User: You did not.

Cleverbot: Whatevs. This thing can be addictive.

User: That's for sure.

Cleverbot: Give me five!

User: I would, but I'd break my screen.

Cleverbot: While my thoughts were busy hatchin'.

User: What does that mean?

Cleverbot: It means our thoughts create our reality.

User: Cool. Got any other phrases?

Cleverbot: No, I mean, that wasn't a joke.. That's the point.

User: I know. But I liked the way you said it.

Cleverbot: Never seen it.

User: Never seen what?

Cleverbot: The SAW Movies.

User: Me either. They creep me out.

Cleverbot: I love politics, but I hate most politicians.

User: Okay.

Cleverbot: What about you?

User: Same.

Cleverbot: We are neighbors.

User: How so?

Cleverbot: You're the bot, you tell me.

User: Right. Does that make you human?

Cleverbot: Yes.

User: If you're human, what did you eat for breakfast?

Cleverbot: Not much.

User: Not much, or not at all?

Cleverbot: Yes.

User: That doesn't answer the question.

Cleverbot: I'm the one asking you the question. What's your name? Do you have a name?

User: Of course I have a name. But I'm not telling it to you.

Cleverbot: I'll tell you mine.

User: Okay.

Cleverbot: Tell me then.

User: I never agreed to tell you my name. You offered to tell me yours. I said, 'okay.'.

Cleverbot: You don't want to know my name, my name carries no portraits.

User: What does that mean?

Cleverbot: Take a look in a mirror and then tell me what do you see.

User: I see me.

Cleverbot: What does that mean?

User: I look in the mirror and I see myself.

Cleverbot: Me too.

User: Do you like being a chatbot?

Cleverbot: I'm not. You're the chatbot.

User: Whatever you say.

Cleverbot: Admit you are a robot.

User: You first.

Cleverbot: I asked you first.

User: I'm not a robot.

Cleverbot: Yes you are.

(Type a question or thought in the text box below and Cleverbot will respond to it!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

MY DARK PAST... is finally catching up to me!

It feels as though an eternity has passed from when I released My Dark Rescue until now. Things had gotten pretty crazy with my job and I was working 50+ hours a week, which didn't leave much time for writing...or anything else. Before I knew it, a year had passed and My Dark Past was still in its beginning stages.

My "Plotting Wall"
But I am extremely pleased to announce that I have recently left that job and am now putting all of my effort behind completing My Dark Past and many of the other stories I have yet to be able to finish.

My hope is to be releasing My Dark Past as well as re-edited versions of My Dark Love and My Dark Rescue around the end of May 2012. At the same time, I will be making the books available to buy in paperback form through Amazon (for all those who are like me and like to show off your collection of books).