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Monday, 4 January 2016

VBT & #GIVEAWAY - Shadows of the Highridge by Jay Swanson

GENRE

Sci-Fi Fantasy

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BLURB:

Moving along the soil is the quickest way to die; for Tolly to survive she must learn to stay silent. Life on farms like hers was difficult enough in the face of plague and a decade of drought, but something worse has come to the foothills under the Highridge Mountains. Something that will destroy everything she loves.

Mere miles away, Vanig’s search for water to revive his farm is cut short when soldiers arrive bearing dark news of disaster striking farms throughout the region – and they suspect he is the root cause of it all. Those suspicions spike when a disheveled warrior appears hundreds of miles from home and takes Vanig hostage.

Death looms in the shadows of the Highridge.

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EXCERPT:

“Farmer.” Gaptooth grabbed Vanig by the shoulder and turned him. “We ain’t walkin’ no farther. You do your thinkin’ on the way back.”

“Do you think I came out here to ruminate?” Vanig was shocked at how the anger boiled over, but he followed it.

“To rumiwhat?”

“I need to make a survey of these draws.” Vanig shoved the soldier’s hand off his shoulder. It felt good. “Take measurements. Draw. No amount of thinking will move it without knowing just what I’m moving it through. You think because I live out here that I’m some stupid mystic. Sacrifice a goat and maybe this time the rain gods will bless me with abundance? Well they won’t. Gods and man have abandoned this place all the same. It’s a waste; and without someone like me to change that, that’s the way it will stay.”

Crooknose stepped forward to speak, but Vanig held up his hand.

“I need an hour. Give me that. Go drink your fill and sit down to rest. Gods know you both need it.”

Crooknose shoved his finger into Vanig’s chest. “Listen here you goat lovin’, dirt humpin’, ignorant piece of shit. We’re leavin’, and we’re leavin’ now.”

“We are not,” Vanig growled. “So get your finger off my chest.”

“Don’t move. Any of you.” All three of them jumped at the sound of the voice. A new voice, one they didn’t recognize. “I mean it! Don’t move. Take one more step and you’re all dead.”

People ask me about my cover art a lot, how I find the artists, what I give them, how much input I have, that sort of stuff. Here’s how I go about it, but more importantly what I think is the crucial component.
The first and (possibly) most obvious element to the equation is finishing the story. You don’t know what you’re trying to represent, to sell, until you have it in your hands. Often I have an idea of what I think will make a great cover long before I finish, but it’s rare to know what a book is really about until it’s finished so it’s always a good idea to wait until then to make your decision.
From there I try to hone in on the scene that I think packs the greatest emotional punch in one shot, gives away few spoilers, yet captures the essence of the book all at the same time. Whether I choose an actual scene (White Shores, Tomb of the Relequim, Steps of Krakador, Shadows of the Highridge) or an image that represents the spirit or tone of the book (Dark Horse, Into the Nanten) is really up to what I think is most powerful.
Once I’ve got an idea that gets me really excited, I go scouring the internet for reference materials, components of the image in my mind that I can use both to impart the essence to someone else, and better inspire my own ideas. I write out a description of the scene, the background, the emotion I want conveyed, and the actual layout of the cover. I talk about lighting, atmosphere, action, and what I want it to feel like.
Then I go hunting for an artist.
The key is to find an artist whose style lends itself to what you’re trying to do. Find someone who has work that is already most of the way there, who has displayed a clear capacity for what you want to produce, and then contact them.
I reach out, briefly explain my goals, and ask if they’re interested. If they are, we get into the nitty-gritty: deeper detail, negotiations on price, etc. Then, once we feel all is clear, I let them go.
I’ve found that in following this pattern I wind up not only with what I wanted, but something better. Finding an artist who can take your vision and make it their own is key; collaboration is the cornerstone of creative covers. Without a little trust and a willingness to risk, you court mediocrity and never marry excellence.
That’s not to say I don’t give feedback, that I can’t guide or direct, but I’ve also learned that I don’t always have the best image in mind. Sometimes my discomfort is founded in the realization that I was aiming too low.
If you’re going to commission excellent art, you need to commission excellent artists. Communicate clearly, honestly, and tactfully. Then let them make something amazing. Compelling covers don’t just fall from trees, they’re collaborative creations that result from clear vision and intent. They’re one of the most exciting parts of the entire process.

Jay Swanson will be awarding print copies of Into the Nanten to two randomly drawn winners (US shipping only -- an e-book of Shadows of the Highridge will be substituted to international winners) and a print of the original artwork created for his series Into the Nanten (US only shipping) to two other randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here



Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  B&N



Jay Swanson is the creator of Into the Nanten, the world’s first real-time fantasy blog. He is also author of a spin-off novel, Shadows of the Highridge, the standalone short novel Dark Horse, and the Vitalis Chronicles trilogy. Jay grew up in Washington State, and has lived all over the world since then. Jay served for three years with Mercy Ships, a medical charity that runs the world’s largest private hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. In each country they visit, Mercy Ships donates free surgeries to the world’s forgotten poor, alleviating the suffering that so often accompanies a lack of access to medical care. He started in IT, then worked as the editor for their international Creative Pool, and finished as the on board Media Liason.

Paris will always have a place in Jay’s heart; he lived in France for two years, but he’s currently working in the US as a consultant on electronic medical records. Basically, he lives on planes.

Jay has a background in design and video production which have been instrumental in his self-publishing endeavors. Jay was telling stories from an early age, and latched on to video as soon as he discovered he could borrow people’s cameras. The stories that would one day become the Vitalis Chronicles began to take form in Jay’s head as movie ideas while he was still in college, and he began writing them down when he realized that they might make good books as well as films (and that if he died in Africa, there would be nothing left to prove they ever existed). He started writing White Shores in May of 2010 and finished on Christmas day of that year in Applesbosch, South Africa.

LINKS:









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