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Covers and Pages and Excerpts, Oh My!

Covers and Pages and Excerpts, Oh My!

I would like to direct your attention to a new sub-category under “writing” in the tab above: Books & Works.

I’ve been envying some other writers’ blogs because they had shiny pages about their stories, so I decided to make myself a new page. This included making new cover art (weee!) and writing summaries (gaaah!).

And because I so enjoyed dipping into design again, I decided to post small excerpts from each of the novels!

alistryn cover for blog3

I wanted this design to have a rather Venetian feel to it (the water texture in the background is colored that particular shade of jade green), but also carry elements of an illuminated manuscript. I’m rather pleased with the result!

Before the start of the book, this is Perl’s first time leaving the boarding school on her own (around age 13):

The door creaked open and Perl leaned out, flexing her toes in her boots over the threshold. She felt the sun should have broken through the clouds, or people should stop and stare, or something strange and wonderful should herald her first step.

But rain misted down unabated and what passersby there were hurried on without a glance down the alley.

Perl sucked a breath and did not step but flew. The slick stone rushed beneath her feet, a river under her wings, gleaming grey and purple and blue and white. She stretched her arms, brushed her fingers against the walls of buildings. She closed her eyes, imagined she was an albatross—soaring, soaring away—

She collided into someone as hard as a cliff. Stumbling back, she saw a man in front of her—hair speckled gray and lines turning his leathery face into a map. A whisper of wind crawled over her cheeks, and she raised her hands. Only skin. Barely keeping in a mortified whimper, she searched the ground for her mask.

“Here ’tis, little miss,” said the man, gruffly.

He scooped up her white mask and held it as if it were a wounded dove. Perl reached out cautiously. She saw his hands had left the white cloth blotched with smears of filth, and her throat closed. She’d so carefully picked this particular mask for her big day! But his hands, now empty, curled into uneasy fists, outstretched and palm-up. Quickly, she pulled the mask on and tugged it into place.

“Thank you, sir,” she whispered.

“No sirs for me, little miss. Just Jim.” He backed away from her, staring like she was a long-lost princess returned as a phantom. “Oh, little miss,” he groaned, “be careful. The birds fall and fall in white tumbling snow, avalanches of them, fall from the sky to die.”

With that, he turned and ran, his eyes wide open.
blessings coversml

I’ve always thought of magic as being a bright blue color, which worked in perfect contrast with my initial idea of using a tree in the background. This design is very clean and straightforward, which I think befits the protagonists’ personalities.

Just into the second arc of the story, Velimir and Melle have entered the Fair Realm and find it a rather peaceful and beautiful place… at first:

“The sun hasn’t moved all day,” she said absently. Blinking, she pushed herself up. “Velimir, the sun hasn’t moved. It’s still morning.”

He rubbed his eyes. “Time doesn’t pass right here. Not like at home.”

“Check your pocket watch.” Melle began repacking the remains of her meal. “I want to know what time it is.”

Sighing, Velimir took it from his pocket. “Two in the afternoon,” he said, his eyebrows rising. “I didn’t expect it to be that late.”

“Let’s go,” Melle said, getting to her feet. The sun had always been a guide for her in the forest. Even through the branches, she could generally tell the time of day. She felt unsettled without a sun that worked properly, as if one of her senses had been taken. “We have more ground to cover today before sunset—if the sun actually sets here.”

“We can rest a few more minutes,” Velimir said, putting his watch away. He folded his arms over his chest and rubbed the mark on his left hand absently.

Melle shouldered her pack. “I don’t like this,” she said. He ignored her, closing his eyes. Grumbling in frustration, Melle looked around the clearing. It occurred to her that some of the lumps of moss were too large to be covering roots.

Frowning, Melle moved toward one of the mounds. A shallow pile of leaves—still green and fresh—covered it. Melle nudged the bulge with her boot. It was soft beneath the moss. She knelt and started clearing away the leaves.

She touched something limp and fleshy.

Gulping down a scream, Melle closed her eyes. She waited for her heart to stop rushing, took a deep breath, and brushed off the remainder of the leaves.

A white hand lay limp on the moss, the arm disappearing into the ground.

Melle swallowed once, twice, so hard her throat hurt. The hand was large, thick fingered—a man. A strange brace covered it, delicate as a woman’s jewelry, with swirls covering the back of his hand and looped rings dropping down his fingers, attached to caps over his fingertips. The material looked like twined twigs, but the pattern was too regular—like the embellishment of a silversmith—to be natural wood.

“Velimir.” The name came out hushed and terse. She felt watched. Trees seemed to lean in. Velimir grunted, still relaxed against the tree. Melle fumbled in her horror and frustration. “Velimir, the forest is—the moss—there is a person under the moss!”

Cracking an eye open, he glanced at her. “If you think trying to scare me will—” Mutely Melle pointed at the hand. Velimir blinked, then scrambled to his feet. He grabbed his pack and came to her.

“I’ll try to dig him out,” Melle reached for the moss, but the trees around them moaned, a low woody sound like Griffin’s growl. She froze, her hands still poised midair.

Velimir took the person’s hand. Some of the color went out of his face, and he shifted his jaw.

“It’s too late,” he said finally. “He is already part of the forest. And, ah, doesn’t want to be disturbed.”

Melle bit her lip and moved back. Velimir released the hand, but then his eyes caught on the odd brace. He slowly held out his own hand, palm down, beside it.

Both Melle and Velimir stared.

The intricate pattern exactly matched the tattooed back of Velimir’s hand.
Popinjay coversml

I designed this a while ago (thus the “Ruth C. Thornton” penname), but it’s still possibly my favorite design I’ve ever made. Wanted to go for an adventuring, swashbuckler, medieval-y feel, so I based the actual title on some intense study of the LOTR logo and then added embellishments. Chose to keep the color-scheme pretty basic so that it would feel more like a journal or a classic.

After stealing from himself, Talvas acts like a hero and has his men deliver the spoils (written over a year ago, so a very rough-draft-y):

“Go ahead,” he said to the men, taking his bow from his shoulder. “I’ll keep watch.”

The men went down into the village, while Talvas stationed himself behind a tree on a little rise near the road.

A small crowd had gathered around the men as they passed out their supplies. There were only five families in the village, and Ryn was handling them all, making sure they got the right amount. A little girl, dressed in rags but grinning, took one of the dried applies from Ryn. Rubbing his hand over his bow, Talvas turned back towards the road. He found he didn’t mind staying in the shadows. From this distance, he liked their smiles—but any closer and he was not sure he could have stood their admiration.

Horse’s hoofs, approaching at a trot. Talvas drew back against the tree, taking an arrow and stringing it. He could see someone riding around the bend. Turning towards his men, Talvas shot the warning arrow into a fence post near them. His men, finished passing out the food, hurried for the woods. Talvas looked back down the road, carefully stringing another arrow. He watched from his concealed perch as the rider approached.

Her deep green cloak was familiar—and then she glanced up at the trees, as if she felt herself being watched, and Talvas saw the rider was Lady May. What is she doing here? he wondered as she rode past.

The commoners waved and called greetings, and one man took her horse’s reins as she dismounted. Talvas edged closer, so that he could listen. One of the men was talking to her excitedly, motioning to the food.

“… Popinjay’s men!” he was saying. “They just came, as if they knew that the soldiers had stolen our stores. We should last a good two weeks on this.”

Lady May glanced at the food—which, though generous, would not feed so many people over a week unless strictly controlled. “Good,” she said. Talvas could not see her face, but he heard a sigh of relief in her voice. She turned to an older man and took a purse from under her cloak. “The amount I promised—in coppers, to attract less attention.”

“We cannot accept this, milady,” the man said, holding up his hands.

“Nonsense,” Lady May answered, but her voice was gentle, as if she were speaking to her grandfather. “The soldiers stole from your families. You will not be able to survive the winter without more food. We agreed that I would forward you a loan, and your families can pay it back when it comes in your means. It’s a better offer than Lord Talvas will give you. Please take it, Tom,” she said, interrupting him before he could continue to protest. “For your daughters and wives. I cannot sleep when I think of your hunger here.”

Sighing, the man accepted the gift. “We’ll pay it back next year.”

Lady May covered his hands, smiling faintly at him. “Pay it when you can. I’m not leaving this district any time soon.”

The old man broke into a smile. “Bless you, milady.”

Shaking her head, Lady May turned to speak with some of the wives. Talvas backed away from the scene, staying close to the trees. He looked over his shoulder once, and saw that Lady May had stopped beside the arrow he’d shot into the fence post. She ran her fingers over the feathers, glancing into the forest. Talvas took a step back, and her eyes focused on him.

For a moment, neither moved.

Talvas turned, and hurried into the shadow of the woods.

 

 

The end! Let me know what you think of the covers and the excerpts, if you’d like. 

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