Judge Me By My Cover – Day 1

And so it begins. I am beyond excited to reveal the cover to my upcoming novel, The Riddle Box…but I have been over-quiet on the blog of late – so I’m going to need to ramp up to it. Just clog up your feeds with me for a few days, that’s basically what I want. I thought it might be fun to show a little bit of the process by releasing the sketches that lead up to the final design, before revealing the final cover on Saturday.

First the OG cover design, made by yours truly. YES, bask in its awfulness.

Or maybe it was a reanimated Jackson Pollack.
Or maybe it was a reanimated Jackson Pollack.

I think it’s safe to say that this cover is amazing. Sadly it requires a refined artistic sense to truly appreciate, so it’s probably for the best that I went for something a little more mass market.

All of the art you will see henceforth in this series will be from my illustrator, Mike Groves.spell_sword_cover_final [poopbird.com]. You should immediately click over there and take a gander at his work – it is delightful and amazing. The sketches I’m sharing here are rough and you should do  yourself a favor and look at more of his finished stuff. He is the perfect person to draw zombies or robots for you. Fans of the first book will immediately recognize his style from the cover of Spell/Sword – I was really fortunate that he had time in his hectic schedule to work on the cover for The Riddle Box.

And now – the first sketch.

 

Design Sketch - Mike Groves @poopbird
Design Sketch – Mike Groves @poopbird

I can tell you, my heart skipped a beat when I saw this thumbnail. The book’s lived in my head for so long, to see even this sketch of my heroes got me ludicrously pumped. The final design came a long way from this starting point – here would be a good point to thank Mike for his patience with my endless vague emails and texts during the design process.

Stay tuned throughout the week for more sketches and then…DUN DUN DUNNNN…the Final Cover Reveal.

Final Cover Reveal : 7/12

The Riddle Box — Follow the link to add the new book to your Goodreads!

 

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When I’m Not Writing

Hey! Here’s that thing I’ve been working on that isn’t Riddle Box. My local and beloved community theater is putting on a production of Hamlet — a freaking rarity in those sort of circles. Here’s the super snazzy trailer video, if you’re in Georgia and want to come and watch . I’m playing Claudius and the Ghost, and I appear briefly in the trailer wearing a crown and an ill-fitting jerkin.

Abracadabra

Art is a magic spell.

With each line, each lyric, each spatter of paint, each glob of clay we cast it. Careful and mad we summon the spirits once again, the true power of our race, that we may act as conduit to the Unknown. Even the dullest brute among us calls out to the demi-god of the television remote, the demon of the freeway, the howling eidolon that lurks in stones and stars and the thousand turns of dumb luck.

But artists are the true shamans.

We need it to mean, we need it to matter. With matter we shape the energy latent, the paths untaken. Some see God in the scratch of the violin, some seek God in the twist of wire and glass. Others just want to show the pain, the rain, the song of the train. All energy, all magic, passing through our hands in an instant then gone.

But if we cast proper, cast careful, cast well…the spell can linger. The shape and form of enchantment can suck in air, and its hands close as if by reflex and it shambles forward into the world to wait for a new victim, a new audience. What we make with true hearts can ward and weave the world, sing it quiet into a better form, shine as a light in the dark, cage the dark beast for a time, hum and giggle like a wine-drunk fairy.

So take it serious, take it real, pound your bones to meal. Stomp and stammer and crash and clamor.

Sing a song, write a tale, draw a thing. Dance or build or break or live.

Make it. Make the thing. Cast your spell and keep your eyes clear. Open the gate in the back of your spine and let the magic work.

Puppet Times!

I had the great honor this past weekend of seeing my words on stage — in the form of an avant garde puppet show.

It was wonderful and strange…and more than a little surreal. To not only see your words being interpreted by a performer and director, but having them come out of a puppet’s grill.

I played it cool, though — cool as a cucumber. OKAY, I’m lying.  I immediately ran up after the show and demanded pictures of the puppets and performers that performed my pieces.

Methusio! – Puppet Monologue #1

Methusio and Cocktail Glass
Methusio and Cocktail Glass

Oh man, every time Methusio would take a sip from the glass, it would start giggling.  It was hysterical.

Methusio's Performer: Geneviève Esquivié
Methusio’s Performer: Geneviève Esquivié

Genevieve is a native French speaker, which made the monologue just that much more awesome.

The Devil – Puppet Monologue #2

Lucifer - The Morningstar [in puppet form]
Lucifer – The Morningstar
[in puppet form]
Look at the green eyes! Few things have made me as happy as seeing those eyes.
Look at the green eyes! Few things have made me as happy as seeing those eyes.

 

The Devil's Performer: Nathan Altman
The Devil’s Performer: Nathan Altman

I wish I had taken a sneaky picture during the show, they had 15 sock puppets all performing Puppet Monologue #3. It was this surreal chant/rap. I loved it tremendously.

The Reason I Wrote The Book

I think it’s this artwork right here.

AC
Artist – Andrew – ~shu-no-kurohi.

 

I dropped a few copies of the book off at the high school I used to work at, with strict instructions that they be dispersed only to the truly devout nerds in attendance.

Today I got an email from one of my teacher friends, and my very first piece of true Spell/Sword fanart.  Also a sweet review:

Actually, I just finished the book right after I sent you the fanart. Overall, it was great. Maybe could’ve used a few runs of spell-check, but great overall. I’m a bit confused, though- you never really explained what Jonas did to earn the title of murderer. Is it going to be explained in the next book?
Also, your original cover is great. Really solid, yet open for ideas.
Dang, Andrew.  Why you gotta be like that about the Spell Checkery? That’s to be expected with Artisinal Fantasy. [COPYRIGHTED.]
My heart is glowing  in an embarrassing fashion. I’m so excited to put this on my internet refridgerator, and on my literal refrigerator after I print it out.
Thank you so much for the drawing and for reading the book, Andrew! I wrote the book for weird kids like you…and me.