Proud To Share The Book Cover – At The Walls Of Galbrieth

We are a few weeks from the book launch, but I am proud to share the book cover for At The Walls Of Galbrieth. The cover artist is Mr. William Kenney – and I am truly in awe of his talent and imagination. How an artist can take the garbled ideas from a man who can’t draw stick figures without giving them unintentional but severe spinal deformities and produce something like this amazes me.

Thank you, William. 

 

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written three epic fantasy novels and the first, which reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, is due out in January 2013 by Tourmaline Books. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

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Judging A Book By Its Cover

The last few weeks have been spent communicating with a very talented book cover designer, William J. Kenney, who has designed the book cover for At The Walls Of Galbrieth. I am quite amazed how someone who has never met me or understands how my brain works (disclaimer: not that knowing me will guarantee that either), can interpret my jumbled explanations into a cover, far better than anything I could imagine.

I might be bias here, but I think epic fantasy book covers (and also sci-fi) must answer to higher standards. My social justice-themed novel, The Accidental Activist, is based on a photograph that I took in San Francisco’s financial district. The cover artist did an amazing job, but it is still based upon something real.

Claudia McKinney, the artist who designed Amanda Hockings’ book covers, designed the cover to A Gardener’s Tale. The different concept from the first edition is amazing and, I believe, a big help in raising my sales levels. My publisher told her that he wanted to stress the strong Pagan theme and earth spirituality running through, she came up with a number of excellent options.

Designing book covers for a series is an additional challenge and, given that there are three, maybe four books in the Wycaan Master series, I now feel I have clear picture of how I imagine William will develop each cover. What I find interesting is that it doesn’t always have to be intricate. Christopher Paolini’s covers are not detailed, but still instantly recognizable. As each new cover was announced, my sons and I shared a collective gasp of anticipation.

 The question I want to pose here is what constitutes a good epic fantasy cover? There are some covers that I just sit and gaze in wonder, often several times when I pick up the book to commence reading. So, please also share your favorite fantasy book covers. Let’s make a Top Ten: over to you… 

Next week – the official unveiling of the book cover: At The Walls of Galbrieth – Wycaan Master Book 1.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written three epic fantasy novels and the first, which reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, is due out in January 2013 by Tourmaline Press. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

Size – Does It Matter?

So shoot me for false advertising, but I have a dilemma. I shared with you last week in A Tribute to Editors that I have received my manuscript to At The Walls Of Galbrieth back from my editor with lots of cuts and corrections. As I worked my way through, accepting 90% of the changes suggested, I realized that my word count was dropping drastically.

I am about 80% through the novel, which began at 96,000 words and is now down to about 85,000.

Epic fantasy novels are thick tombs, offering the promise to get lost in a mythical world for a month or so. It is not a novel that you can finish in a weekend (unless your weekend is very empty and you are a fast reader).

Even Young Adult books make good doorstops. The Christopher Paolinis’ of this world have proved that teenagers will stick with a long story if it is compelling enough.

So my first question is: Is there a minimum length? When I was shopping the Wycaan Master series, there were publishers who stipulated a word range, often 100,00+. It might be that they expected their editors to attack it with a scalpel, much as my editor did.

My second question regards world building, something we have touched on before at elfwriter. A lot of the scenery description has been edited out. The editor, like many in the writing world, believes that you shouldn’t reveal everything: about a person, room, scenery etc., but allow the reader to create their own image.

Certainly, anyone who has read a book after watching the movie  (or the other way around) can appreciate this.

Tolkien, the master, spent pages describing the forests and the trees. Many of us loved this while others skipped these long descriptions. I wonder whether a young, undiscovered Tolkien would (and please pardon the expression) suffer the long red, sharpie lines through these sections of his work (or the Track Changes equivalent – but that’s not how I think of the old professor).

There is a middle ground. My editor has challenged me to integrate the descriptions within an action scene or as a pivot for a character’s self-reflection. This is a great point and I plan to experiment with this in the future. Do you know of any writers who do a good job of integrating description into the flow of the plot or character development, without it feeling like a ‘description-dump’?

So two questions here: Does size matter? How much description is allowed?

As always, I appreciate your feedback and guidance.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written three epic fantasy novels and the first, which reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, is due out in January 2013 by Tourmaline Press. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

A Tribute To Editors

No blog post this weekend. 

Yesterday, I received the manuscript to At The Walls of Galbrieth back from my editor. Like many authors, I thought I had sent her a pretty clean story. I had gone over it several times myself, had it scrutinized by the venerable Berkeley Writers Group, and put it through the laundry with softener (I think you get my point).

At first, I was a bit dismayed to see all those little boxes in ‘Track Changes’ fighting each other for space along the right-hand side of my page. But after following and accepting her changes for the first three chapters, I am in awe of what an impact the eye of an independent professional can have, how much s/he can discern, how a few changes can add such clarity.

My last novel, The Accidental Activist, is a social justice-themed novel that fictionalized the McDonalds libel trial in England in the 1990’s. To show how thwarted and depressed my protagonist felt, I had used an English soccer game of my favorite team, Arsenal, as an analogy. My editor had written to me and, while expressing that she did not follow soccer, had researched a bit and thought that I could use an actual game from 2004. She had been right. The game was perfect.

With Tourmaline Press working hard with a gifted cover artist in St. Louis, an ISBN number (or three) assigned to the book, everything is taking shape.

On Friday, I wrote the dedication at the front of the book with tears in my eyes. But that is a story for another time.

This update is just to let you know why there is no blog post this weekend. Here let me click the button…. Okay – posted!

Happy Columbus / Indigenous Peoples Day,

Elfwriter

p.s. – didn’t think pictures of editors would be too exciting – and this is a genre with such great images. So here are some of my favorites.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written three epic fantasy novels and the first, which reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, is due out in January 2013 by Tourmaline Press. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).