A New Cover for Livli’s Gift

I’ve been on a cover tear, so perhaps you can guess what’s coming next. 😀

Sarvet’s Wanderyar once featured a pen-and-ink illustration by Kay Nielsen, but now it possesses art by John William Waterhouse – an oil painting in vibrant color.

Winter Glory, the other novella in the Kaunis Clan Saga, was adorned by a pen-and-ink rendition of Kay Nielsen’s northern skier. Now that ebook also features art in color.

Clearly the Kaunis Clan novel, Livli’s Guft, would need a new cover as well.

My first sweep through the portfolio of John William Waterhouse did not turn up anything that grabbed at me. I considered his Annunciation (even did a mock-up with it), but had reservations about it.

I worked on other things, while I pondered. When those things were finished, I revisited the Waterhouse portfolio. This time I saw something: The Crystal Ball. I suspect the artist may have been thinking about wiccan paraphernalia when he painted it. But another angle altogether comes to view when the painting is considered in light of my protagonist.

She’s a healer. In her culture, she’s the equivalent of a doctor. Which means that of course she studies anatomy, and like many people in the medicine of the past, she scrutinizes the physical clues that people leave behind, such as the skeleton. That’s what that skull is doing on the table in the scene.

The weighty tome is a medical text. And the crystal ball is not actually a crystal ball, but the sphere of light that she sees in her mind’s eye when she exerts her healing powers.

So…I had found the right piece of art. I opened up Photoshop and went to work. Check out the results below!

Livli struggles with a secret she keeps from everyone, even her closest friends, and she must solve the problem at its heart before she’s discovered.

She’s certain the answer lies in a fragment of folklore and magic half-remembered from her childhood. Almost certain.

She wouldn’t need forgotten magic if only the men and women of her secluded mountain culture dwelt together. But the women—and Livli—inhabit their sister-lodge atop its lofty bluff, while the men live apart in their brother-lodge several valleys away.

Unless she can force a change, Livli stands to lose everything . . . including the most precious thing in her life: her son.

A story of secrets, shibboleths, and deep-forged strength told with insight and engaging intimacy.

* * *

The ebook edition of Livli’s Gift possesses the new cover.
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(The new trade paperback is coming soon.)

PRAISE FOR LIVLI’S GIFT

“I started reading and couldn’t put it down. I love the world and the characters she has created.” – Goodreads review

“I have never read a novel that made me feel so good. Mrs Ney-Grimm, you absolutely BLEW MY MIND! . . . It was so unique, so original . . . Usually I blast through the pages of a book that I love, but Livli’s Gift made me want to go as slow as possible, absorbing every moment of bliss.” – Goodreads review

EXCERPT FROM LIVLI’S GIFT

Livli rerolled the scroll carefully, returned it to its pigeonhole, and sighed. The whisper of her breath sounded loud in the quiet space, as had the crackle of the brittle parchment and the faint click of the closing cabinet door.

The tale of The Princess and the Griffon did not have the reference she was looking for. Neither had The Lindworm’s Eyrie nor Triton’s Egg.

“Why am I bothering,” she murmured. “It’s a wild gos chase.”

But she knew why she was bothering. She really, really wanted the information in whatever tale it was.

“I wish I could remember.”

But she couldn’t remember.

Of course, she could ask her birth-mother. Sarvet would undoubtedly reel off an entire list of the folktales she’d told her children at bedtime. But I don’t want her to know . . . what I’m thinking about right now.

Livli sighed again and shifted uncomfortably. Having to pee so often was for the birds. I just got back from the dump-buckets! I’m not traipsing through all three of those long corridors again. At least not right away.

Instead she straightened and moved over to the windows.

The view was incredible. Not so much for its scope – a vista across a snowy valley brushed by clumps of dark pines, bounded by granite cliffs, and presided over by tall mountain peaks was ordinary in Hammarleeding enclaves – but for its wavy presence through glass while Livli stood indoors within warmth. The scroll-lodge of Siajotti was richly supported by all the sister-lodges and brother-lodges, and a library needed good lighting. So Siajotti had glass in its windows rather than hide coverings. And the scroll repository itself had big windows.

A coal fell in the tile stove that stood in the corner between the windows. The building creaked. The day was abnormally still, with no wind to mask the smaller sounds.

Livli paced from one end of the windowed wall to the other and back, her footfalls soft against age-darkened pine boards.

That lost scroll wasn’t her only problem. What am I going to do about Thoivra?

She traced one of the circular muntins holding the small glass panes – it was cool to her touch – and bit her lip. Focus, she reminded herself. One thing at a time. Scroll first.

I need to look somewhere else, but where?

None of the parchments on prayer, ritual, superstition, or even birth described the rite she sought. If it even existed.

* * *

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Bookkeeping Prompts Another Cover Revision

Ashkenazi Sefer TorahI’ve been catching up on my bookkeeping. This is appropriate, because my current work-in-progress, Tally the Betrayals, is about a bookkeeper.

(He inks his tallies on scrolls. Thus the photo above.)

Now he’s not your ordinary bookkeeper.

He works in the “dark tower” of Silmaren in the Bronze Age of my North-lands, keeping track of the tin and copper flowing into the smithies where the weapons of the troll-lord’s armies are forged! And one of his tin ingots has gone missing.

But I digress. (And, yes, that was a tease.) 😀

Back to the bookkeeping at Casa Ney-Grimm.

I was updating my year-on-year spreadsheet, where I see how many copies of each book title sold each year, from 2011 through the present. It helps me assess the big picture.

web imageSeveral things became clear after I tallied the numbers for 2015. My short stories sell sporadically and by the handful. This is normal. Short stories just are not as popular with readers as longer works.

Except my Crossing the Naiad, which sells steadily. Still by the handful, but every month readers are choosing Naiad, which intrigues me. It’s a great story, yes. But so is Resonant Bronze a great story. What is it about Naiad that has extra appeal?

More experienced writers than I tell me that this is always the unanswered question, so, moving on…

Next conclusion: novellas sell better than short stories, still by the handful, but steadily. (Sort of like Naiad, in fact. Except that Naiad is not a novella.)

And novels sell best of all.

None of the above is really surprising. But the thing that caught my attention was that Livli’s Gift – a novel – is alone amongst my novels in selling merely like a novella. What’s up with that?

I think I know the answer. It was the cover. The old cover just wasn’t right.

Now I revised the cover a few weeks back and blogged about it. But seeing the cold, hard numbers made me revisit the issue. Sure, I’d revised the cover, and I liked the new version a lot. But had I revised it enough? If the old cover had been hurting its popularity that much, had I truly fixed the problem?

No, I didn’t think I had.

So I’ve been tinkering with it some more. I’m not quite done tinkering. I have a few more details I want to change. But I thought I’d show you what I have thus far.

Livli's Gift, night sky cover, 350 px

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What do you think?
😀

To see the original cover of Livli’s Gift, created step by step:
Creating Livli’s Cover

To see the cover revision of Livli’s Gift:
Why Revise a Book’s Cover

To see the inspiration for my novel Tally the Betrayals:
Tally the Betrayals

 

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Livli’s Gift in Paperback!

After printing umpteen million proof copies – okay, I’m exaggerating! it just seemed like that many – CreateSpace has finally disgorged an edition that looks the way I want it to! Livli’s Gift is now available in paperback. I’m thrilled!

Livli paperback photo 3853

Livli heals challenging injuries among the pilgrims to Kaunis-spa. Its magical hot spring gives her an edge, but Livli achieves spectacular cures mainly because she refuses to fail.

A pioneer, she hopes to match her new ways for banishing hurt with new ways of living.

But the sisters of Kaunis-lodge fear rapid change. What precious things might they lose while tossing old inconveniences?

Livli pushes forward the new, and one influential foe pushes back. Kaunis-home will keep its revered traditions, even if Livli loses almost everything.

Everything . . . and the one thing she absolutely cannot lose.

Livli seeks an answer in the oldest lore of her people, something so ancient, it′s new. But mere resolve against failure meets an immovable counter force this time. Victory requires more.

Must surrender spell defeat? Or could letting go harness real power?

Livli’s Gift as a trade paperback:
6″x 9″ trim size • 212 pages
ISBN-10: 0615743080
ISBN-13: 978-0615743080
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Livli’s Gift continues to be available as an ebook:
Amazon.com I Amazon UK I Amazon DE I Amazon ES
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Update: A lovely review appeared on Goodreads over the weekend, so lovely that I can’t resist sharing it!

“I have never read a novel that made me feel so good. Mrs Ney-Grimm, you absolutely BLEW MY MIND! . . . It was so unique, so original . . . Usually I blast through the pages of a book that I love, but Livli’s Gift made me want to go as slow as possible, absorbing every moment of bliss.” – Goodreads review

 

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Livli’s Gift is Here!

art by Kay Nielsen depicting a queen in her gardenSome of you have watched a Twitter stream of plot teasers while I wrote Livli’s Gift. Some of you have followed my progress notes on Facebook. And some of you have simply waited patiently. But wait and watch no more. Livli’s Gift is finished and ready to be enjoyed!

Livli heals challenging injuries among the pilgrims to Kaunis-spa. Its magical hot spring gives her an edge, but Livli achieves spectacular cures mainly because she refuses to fail.

A pioneer, she hopes to match her new ways for banishing hurt with new ways of living.

But the sisters of Kaunis-lodge fear rapid change. What precious things might they lose while tossing old inconveniences?

Livli pushes forward the new, and one influential foe pushes back. Kaunis-home will keep its revered traditions, even if Livli loses almost everything.

Everything . . . and the one thing she absolutely cannot lose.

Livli seeks an answer in the oldest lore of her people, something so ancient, it′s new. But mere resolve against failure meets an immovable counter force this time. Victory requires more.

Must surrender spell defeat? Or could letting go harness real power?

Livli’s Gift is available as an ebook in electronic bookstores.
Amazon I B&N I Diesel I Kobo I Smashwords

For lovers of print, the trade paperback edition is coming this summer!

 

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Creating Livli’s Cover

I want to take you with me as I build a book cover. It’ll be fun and interesting, so let’s go! My second novel, Livli’s Gift, will be released soon; watch as I put together its cover.

from art to complete coverThe first step is selecting art. I could commission an artist to create something new. But my North-lands were inspired by the folk tales in the collection East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and I adore the work of Kay Nielsen (who illustrated the stories). So I choose one of his pieces. It was published in 1914 and is in the public domain. It depicts a queen tending two magical plants under cloches in her garden and fits well with the events in Livli’s Gift, as you’ll see when you read it.

I’m not expert at working the scanner, so the color balance of the scanned art is wrong. Luckily I know my way around Photoshop well enough to fix the problem. I bring the art back to black and white, then drop the image into my cover file.

 

 

 

 

I leave room under the art for my name and an author tagline, but the area needs to be something other than a rectangle of paleness. This piece of art calls for a dark foundation, so I fill it with black. I also remove the black frame line at the top of the art, creating a smooth expanse for the title.

 

 

 

 

I know I want the color of the title to match the color of the author name: a bright blue. I’ll need a dark ground for the title to show well, so I create a translucent shadow at the top of the cover.

 

 

 

 

 

I type in the the title and the author. The J.M. Ney-Grimm looks great (grin!), but the title is not “popping” enough.

 

 

 

 

 

I add a drop shadow behind the letters of the title. That’s better! All that remains to be done is type in the title tagline and the author tagline.

 

:: Typing, typing, typing ::

 

And there we have it: Livli’s Gift.

 

More posts about book covers:
Eyes Glaze Over? Never!
Building Star-drake’s Cover
Choosing a Tagline Font

 

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