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Messages - scott.marmorstein

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Trends in epic fantasy?
« on: Today at 03:50:34 AM »
This thread is interesting. I'm also writing an epic fantasy book (first person perspective) and the MC is 300 human years old. Talk about quite the challenge. So I had to figure out a way for him to learn more about himself in the most clever way I could think of. I hope it works. But most importantly, his antagonist, and his goals, are all entwined. So far I'm loving it, but I would be biased on the matter.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Do you compare yourself to other authors?
« on: January 16, 2018, 09:40:38 AM »
No. I wouldn't want to offend them.

Writers' Cafe / Like Neo in my mind...
« on: January 12, 2018, 02:53:16 AM »
It's not about the money. That's what he tells himself. And how could it be? Nothing sold, well not nothing. Some things sold. Now and then. But by god, it wasn't about. the. money. It was about expression, about art, and about telling a good story. That. Story is what drove him. Art, and the ability to produce! Production of something from nothing! Taking words, making them work as best they could, and sending them out there in neat packages. That's what he wanted to do.

Time is like mister Smith from The Matrix. Time doubling, tripling, quadrupling, and making more and more copies of itself. Overwhelming Neo, overwhelming him. If he was lucky he could produce a book in a year and a half from start to finish. That was a mighty big if. Because life. Because, mostly, time. Time like a snickering devil in the corner watching you unsuspected, laughing at you from places you can't see, but can only just barely hear.

And yet...and yet to persist. He conquers the maddening voices of dissent from within, from around. Like Neo's fists and feet kicking and punching, he lays down words, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands. So many of them ineffectual--the deleted ones, whole swaths of effort ripped away from him even as he fights everything onto the page.

Exhaustion is his reward for all his efforts. Pride is his companion as he looks on at his mostly ineffectual work. He hobbles away from the fight knowing one day soon, maybe even today, he will return, rising like a phoenix of ambition, energy restored, battle fingers ready, mind poised, keyboard gleaming with deadly intent...

Writers' Cafe / Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« on: January 11, 2018, 08:36:06 AM »
One of my favorite quotes:

"Prose is architecture, not interior decoration."
Ernest Hemingway

Personally, I'm not a fan of pigeonholing myself as a writer. I get into a flow, and if the flow works and makes sense, feels vivid and evocative, I hang with it until my mind gets in the way and I mess it up.

I think there's a time and place for an economy of words. There's also a time and place to get a little 'flowery' if the context calls for it. Those are elements which need to be felt out as you go.

I guess the example I'd make is: your character(s) enter a setting that demands more prose in order to set the mood of the reader, to really show what's happening--you know, good old fashioned world building stuff.

If you've already set the scene, and you know your audience knows what you're talking about, you're probably going to get away with being more sparse and getting to dialogue. It seems to me like: dialogue x action = forward progress. The rest is stage dressing. And depending on what you're trying to convey, some seem more important at times than others.

But that's just my take.

I watched Twin Peaks Season 3 (no spoilers, don't worry) episode 8? It was so f-ing WEIRD! It was almost all entirely contextual. I kid you not, about forty minutes of the 55 minute show were just these bizarre scenes with NO characters, NO dialogue, NO plot evolution at all and it was annoyingly artsy. Thanks, David Lynch!  It very much reminded me of elements (perhaps it was even a nod) of 2001 A Space Oddesy...but you know, on steroids. It would not have made for a good short story/novella, this episode, because it would have demanded a lot of attention to detail and imagination from the reader. I feel like that would be a mistake in prose, but it can work for something televised like this. The scenes were dramatic and beautiful in their own right, but even with my extremely keen observations, I still have NO clue what it was about. I don't think anyone of us can afford that in modern writing (ebooks/print).

My two pennies to this conversation.






Writers' Cafe / Re: Have You Posted to Your Blog Recently?
« on: January 04, 2018, 06:07:41 AM »
Yeah, new flash fiction--aka free Classic Ghost Story here.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Formatting chapter heading illustrations
« on: January 03, 2018, 07:51:25 AM »
Hi all,

I have chapter header illustrations I'd like to use (different one for each chapter). I am aware of download sizes and fees. My series is an upper MG / early YA novel, and my 11-14 year old betas LOVE the drawings.

I was hoping to be able to format my ebooks similarly to Brandon Mull's Fablehaven chapter headers (take a look inside the book on Amazon to see what I mean: ) using Vellum, but the software greatly limits the size of the images. I've written support, but there does not appear to be any way for me to adjust the sizing. Here's how Vellum renders one illustration: All available white space is cropped, and it's still super tiny. 

I write in Scrivener3, and you can add chapter headings in the software, but I don't think I can use a different image for each chapter. If I can, enlighten me. Will a chapter header image added in Scrivener import into Vellum at desired size?

I do love the ease and beauty of Vellum, the preloaded styles, the drop caps, the easy TOC, etc. Is there anything similar (I'm on a mac) that will allow me to utilize my chapter header illustrations in a better way? I don't want to learn Indesign if I can avoid it.  ;D

I am nearly 100% sure that Scriv 3 will not get your custom headers ported over to Vellum. I use both.

For Vellum you'll probably have to make each chapter into 'uncategorized' and then add your header. You'll have to 'hide' the chapter heading, and then label it so it's grayed out, this way it appears in the TOC correctly. Give that a shot and see what happens.

EDIT: I'm out and about so I can't verify that for you at this time. But if I recall correctly, the above is how it's done.

The Book Corner / Re: What's the One Genre You Won't Read?
« on: December 27, 2017, 09:38:33 PM »
I can't get into romance novels or steampunk. Sorry, impossible to choose just one.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 27, 2017, 02:08:16 PM »
I love this font, too, Scott. But the cloaked figure is too flat. It isn't blended enough into the picture. You're going to drive yourself crazy changing it over & over, lol. But you're almost there. You should do a poll when you get 3-4 that you think nailed it. That way you can make a final decision based on our feedback..

Thanks. :) I'm mostly just playing around--wasn't difficult to swap out the cloaked figures. The new font is growing on me a little...

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 27, 2017, 12:14:12 PM »
Ok. For those that didn't like the 'fancy' Morwen Font. And for those who had some concerns about the cloaked figure. And for those who just want a little deviation, a little rebellion, a little something different...

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 27, 2017, 12:12:52 PM »
These are still issues to me, as well.

@Scott: An easy fix may be darkening the back of the cloak (except its edges). As it is right now, there's a light source we can't see -- one that isn't affecting the rest of the environment -- lighting up the back of the figure.

By removing that, the lighting emphasis should shift to the portals (giving us something to focus on), and the figure should now match the lighting of the room / background as a secondary detail.

Here's an example of what I mean. It's slightly more side-lit but gets the idea across: darker + less detail on the unlit side, strong highlights around lit edges (where light is shining through or around).

In the case of your cover, there could be some extra light around the (our) left side since we can see more portals over there.

If the character is more important than the environment, you can instead add a shadow in front of the figure and some soft lighting (check the original highlights on their cloak for an idea of what colors to use) in the environment around it. This will integrate the light on their back and shift the focus away from the environment, but it's a bit more complex of an edit than the alternative.

The lighting issues aren't a deal breaker or anything, but I suspect fixing them will help the cover to look much more professional.

Thanks, Holland. I'm just about to reveal a definite change from what I've had up before. See next post.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 27, 2017, 08:29:17 AM »
It's really coming along nicely! So exciting! :D Just don't forget to compare it against the top 10-100 Fantasy book covers. Make sure yours fits in, yet stands out.

Thanks for all your encouragement. I may indeed change the Morwen font, though I feel loathe to for some reason. It's compelling and not a font I've seen in the top 100 books. But that can be a good thing. I sometimes play it too safe and kick myself later when someone a little more daring-do than I make a success of it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 27, 2017, 06:37:27 AM »
WOW! I love how the mirror overlaps the spine to the back! Clever!

It's one large image (got it from I changed the original image so that each mirror/portal has that red glow about them, which I like better than the original.  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 27, 2017, 04:12:00 AM »
The cover looks great, but I think the simplified font would make it look better.  :)

Except for 'Morwen' I did use simpler font (Palatino and Times New Roman) if you look again.  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 27, 2017, 02:55:20 AM »
That's a really nice image.

I like it a lot too.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 27, 2017, 02:54:06 AM »
The biggest problem to me is that the figure in the cloak is too obviously not part of the same image as the background, because of lighting I think. It looks photoshopped, not like it goes together.

I also find that, since it's the back of a person with very little detail, and the background is kinda vague and indistinct as well, my eyes just kind of slide around the image and don't have anywhere to land. There's nothing to draw my attention. Have you tried a cloaked figure who's facing the front so we can see their face? My eyes need something more specific to connect with.

There aren't many cloaked figures at all that aren't super cheesy. I picked the best of what I saw available. I'll keep looking in case something else fits. The robe needs to be blue though. I gave it red-relief (it's really hard to tell here, unfortunately, because you aren't looking at the 300DPI image the way I am) but, different screens will show different color gamuts and distort the image in many cases. In print it will look good (more realistic). Still, I hold in regard the opinions of people who deal in words and images (writers) for a living, and see if there's anything anywhere I can use without it costing me a fortune (that I don't have, hence my own efforts here.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 26, 2017, 05:28:36 PM »
Ok, here are the most recent changes. Not too subtle. I'm showing you guys the full cover and the front cover. Please ignore entirely the 'blurb' on the back cover portion--it's filler text and a rough conveyance of the story. Without further delay:

Front Cover

Full Cover

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 26, 2017, 07:04:25 AM »
Oh Scott! This is so much better! Just a couple things IMO. Move the title & series name closer to the top. Do something with that robed figure. Make it blend in better or make it look less realistic. I find realistic images to be too flat for book covers and scream amateurish. (Which this is not by far, just needs tweaking.) Lastly... It needs an eye-catching ah-ha! Something that really stands out, making the cover even more beautiful.

All and all, this is a far cry from the previous cover! Excellent job researching and working up the cover!

Thanks, Dean! I'm working on it. Improvements to come maybe tomorrow or the next day. (I'll even show the full 5x8 cover for fuller effect.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 26, 2017, 07:03:12 AM »

It's absolutely no worries at all! Just wanted to show how you can add a little depth to the image with only minor changes. You are on the right path to a polished product, but not quite there yet. Personally, I would caution against fonts that are overly "fantasy" if you aren't experienced with typography. Most of the best sellers in the epic fantasy category stick to simple serif fonts (I've put a few examples below, pulled from the top 20 sellers on Amazon).

But keep at it! I've seen your original workings and you've made huge strides since then. Little tweaks go a long way. :D

I so appreciate this--and you! Thanks!  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 26, 2017, 02:33:11 AM »
Hey Scott, I hope you don't mind that I fiddled with your cover a little. What you have right now looks like a bit like a rough draft. But you're off to a great start! At the moment, your image is visually flat. Try adding some shading to your model. You're right, the model's shadow will fall behind him. But the glow from the background should still reflect somehow on this cloak. I also added an arch since it's a pretty common element in fantasy and gives the image some depth. And simplified the font.

You are totally welcome to this design if you like, but if not, no sweat! Keep at it, you're making strides compared to your more recent covers! Merry Christmas!

Hi Amber,

That's really sweet (and Merry Christmas to you too!)

The only issue for me with this kind gesture is that I have the whole rest of the picture (which I can't show now since I'm off to work) is the book cover. The archway would be totally out of place for the rest of it--it's not just going to be an ebook, but a full cover. I researched fantasy fonts on covers and these don't match what's out there. I personally like the ones I chose a lot. After a while art gets very subjective I guess. When I have time I'll put up the full cover design (when I'm home and have access to all that.) EDIT: also I have been tweaking the shadows issue, and you're right. I added some lighting to give the robe more depth. I'll submit changes later.

Thanks again for your sweet gesture!  ;D

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 25, 2017, 06:51:06 AM »
Aww too bad, I was liking Mr. Sinister! Aside from his extra wire frame!

I know. He appealed to me briefly, but then I realized the protagonist of the book is on the cover, and well...the protag is...ya know...good.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 25, 2017, 06:50:01 AM »

Sorry, was finishing the last bit of my latest novel and had to be quick before ..

Either version would work, they are both eye catchers but you know the story best so go with what you like most... for me, they both pop and scream epic fantasy/magic and several hours of a damned good read.. definitely something I would click on and hope like hell the blurb matched the cover!! (No pressure or anything!  ;)  LOL)

Thanks, when the time comes I'll post the blurb here for recriminations helpful critiques.. lol

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 25, 2017, 04:31:31 AM »
I like the more upright postured guy but why does his back look a wire frame sticking out the back of his robe? I think this robe blends better than the brighter blue. Probably tone down the bright light on his back since it's coming from the front of him? That might dim the weird look of his robe.

Thanks. After consideration, I think I'm going to stick with the original robed figure, and change the lighting around. Option B just looks too dark (sinister) which is not the intent. The book should convey a sense of light over dark. I appreciate the feedback in any case!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fresh take on book cover
« on: December 25, 2017, 04:01:16 AM »
Thanks, Pandorra!  ;D

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