City of Nethra

Official Site of Melanie Atkinson Books

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And the winner is. . .

After counting up the votes that came through email and the votes on the blogger poll, image #7 is the definite winner - however, I did make some changes.
I really liked the original photo but I felt the sky would look better and more tropical if it was clear. Also, I wanted the moon to look brighter and a touch bigger and I wanted to add stars. When I picture this particular scene in the book, I imagine a fairly clear night with a brilliant starry sky.
As I was altering the sky, I decided I still needed to add a bit more of a tropical feel to the rest of the image. Within a few minutes, I had lugged my camera outside and began shooting random leaves from all angles in my front yard. Back at my computer, I turned those into foliage for the bottom of the image. Finally, I plugged the altered photo into Corel Painter 12 and oil painted it using an assortment of brushes. One of my favorites is the flat smeary brush which I used on my lovely model's hair and dress. The purpose for this was because I wanted to create a softer, flowing, more fantasy like feel and the original image was a bit too sharp for what I had pictured.
Anyway, so those are the reasons for the alterations. After all is said and done, here is the final cover for my novel "Sea Dweller".

Thank you again for all the feedback and votes! Honestly, it got the ideas flowing and it helped me decide exactly what I wanted to do once I knew which cover was the winner. To be honest, I'm thrilled with it. I think it fits the feel of the story and illustrates a very significant moment in the book.
I also wanted to thank my model, Sydney, for being so fun to work with and for being so patient with me as I asked her to climb up rocks, stand in very cold water, cross a creek (I biffed it three times trying to make it across myself), and swing a sword around (okay - I think she may have thought that part was kind of fun). She was even patient with all the surfers who kept messing up her poses and my shot.  Sydney was perfect for the job and I can't thank her enough.
Also, my sister Erin worked as an amazing spotter during this shoot, not only watching for things I missed but helping me come up with ideas and poses. She's an awesome photographer and it was so great to have another artistic eye working with me. I owe her more than I can ever repay.
And finally, my very awesome parents came with me and even drove us all out to the location (I left my van with my husband who definitely needed it while caring for all four of our kids alone all day). With their help, I was able to focus entirely on the photo shoot instead of worrying about trying to figure out how to get to where I wanted to go. I was so grateful to have them there just as support system.
Thus far, this has been such a fun experience and I believe it's bound to get even more interesting as the book is released and my characters' story is shared. I hope you'll stick around.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A bit of an update. . .

As the book cover contest has been progressing, I've been working with my wonderful editor to finish the final edits on the first book in this series before releasing it. You'd think after so many years of rewrites it would be nearly done - and for the most part, it is. I'm ready to throw it out there and start work again on the second book in the series.
However, throughout this week my editor and I have been feeling that with just a little bit more time and work, we can polish the book up just a bit more. My original goal has been to release it in the final days of June, but ultimately the most important goal is to put the very best book out there possible.
I've seen some amazing self published books available for purchase, but sadly, I've also seen some that are not as edited as they should be. From the very beginning, I've been determined to make sure the book I release is polished, as professional as possible, and complete. If this takes an extra week into July, I believe it will be worth it.
In the meantime, I'll be taking the top two covers and altering them just a bit in preparation for the release date. I'll also be posting a bit about the story line and a back-of-the-book blurb. I can't thank everyone enough for the votes, the comments, and the participation. Please spread the word! I'm so excited to share this story. This has been a true labor of love.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Cover Contest!

Listed below are the book covers to choose from. Please pick your favorite and vote for it and then tell your friends to vote for their favorite as well. I would love it if everyone would spread the word and link back to this page. As much input as possible is so helpful!
 Look at each cover and imagine what it would look like on a book store shelf (or online as an ebook). Which one would make you pick up the book and read the back cover? Which one would interest you the most? Which one looks like a fitting young adult fantasy cover?
Also, if you have a favorite but think there is something that could improve it, mention it in the comments section.. Keep in mind, I won't be able to take everyone's advice, but your thoughts are welcome.

ETA: If there is more than one vote in your family, send me a message through Facebook or leave a message in the comments mentioning which ones the additional votes go to and who voted for them. I'll make a note of them.








And there you have it. Seven possible book covers. Happy voting!
And thank you for participating!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Getting Started

When you spend five years outlining and writing a novel, you wind up feeling pretty attached to your characters and the world you've been building. Heck, you even start to empathize with and hurt for them as they go through their struggles. But truth be told, I don't think it really takes five years to get the that point. Anybody that has taken the time to write a story knows this.
Like any writer, because I felt so strongly for my characters and my book, I wanted the best for them. I believed in their adventures, relationships, and the incredible tale unfolding in their lives. Oftentimes I would think to myself, "They're real. Somewhere, they're real. I just know it." (Crazy, but true.) And so, for me, I believed that what was best for them would be to do everything in my power to publish traditionally.
This involves finding an agent to actually look at my work and then, miraculously take me on as a client. Then comes finding a publisher. Once that's accomplished, it can be up to two years before the book actually  comes out in print.
But then!
 It hits the shelves of bookstores everywhere in the nation. It reaches homes and captures the imaginations of people everywhere. You hope. If you're lucky.
 Every dreamy, little writer heart wants this for their characters. They firmly believe their story DESERVES it.
And many times, that's true.
I still believe my story deserves it. (I may be biased though. That's an easy thing to be as a writer.)
However, traditionally publishing my book was not the path for me.
Self publishing was not a decision I took lightly. Originally, I wasn't interested in the idea and in May of this year, I was ready to begin querying with the hopes of finding an agent.
But sometimes, unforeseen things happen that force you down a different path. Some of you know the circumstances involving my decision to self-publish. Some do not. I will simply say I went from preparing my first query letters to agents to scrambling to figure out how to self publish in a matter of a few short days.
I cried over that decision. I wept over those bookstore shelves where I wouldn't see my work (at least not THIS one). I moaned over not receiving that one amazing call from an agent saying, "Hey, you're awesome. I want your book." And I mourned with my characters when I felt I couldn't give them more than what I had to offer.
At the time, it all seemed so right to feel that way. I felt totally justified.
As days passed, however, my feelings swiftly changed.
It's a very wonderful and strange feeling to have so much control over every aspect of your work in the final stages before it's released to the public. I have nothing to compare it to, of course, but as I set up a photo shoot for the cover with my adorable model, made the costume, designed the covers, found a wonderful editor, and received incredible support and help from so many amazing people, this path began to feel so right. It wouldn't feel this way without those friends and family.
I have enjoyed every moment of this journey and I can't wait to see where it takes me. It may not go very far at all, but I still believe in my book. I believe in my characters. I truly believe this was the path I was meant to follow. And most importantly, I genuinely love and believe in the goodness of the many people who have helped me along the way. I could not have come this far without their unfailing support and faith in this project.

This first book is dedicated to them.