On Twitter yesterday, NK Jemisin said:
My immediate reaction was, “OMG, yes!” This is what I’ve been wanting. Permission to stop struggling to accomplish things every day. Permission to let go and not worry and not feel sad and scared. Permission to just kill monsters. Or build farms or take care of gardens or whatever non-real simulation thing I want to do. Permission to wander around Pandaria, my favorite land in World of Warcraft, if that is what I want to do.
Writing has been impossible lately. My imagination is broken. I have no stories left. NaNoWriMo starts in two days and first I was planning to finish one of the multiple novels I have underway. But they’re all stuck for a reason: I don’t know what happens next in them. Then I thought I’d start something new and fresh — it’s always easier to begin something than it is to persist through a murky middle. But I don’t have any ideas. Nothing fun is happening in my daydreams.
Next I thought maybe I’d just write fanfiction of my own books — scenes and short stories with characters I already know, no worrying about plot, just character and dialogue and moments in time. I even for a brief moment had Maggie and Max in my head, with Maggie getting annoyed at Max in December 2019, when he provides her with blueprints of a diner renovation that would improve all the little annoyances in her kitchen. How can she shut down for the three months it would take to get that work done? she demands, but he grimaces and suggests she schedule it for the spring. Yay, an idea! But that’s all it was, an idea of that one moment and it didn’t lead me to anything else.
The usual writing advice is just to persist. Keep thinking about it, keep sitting down at the computer, keep opening up the file and staring at the blank page. But I fill my blank pages with endless ruminations about my failures as a parent, what it means to have been so wrong about a relationship. To believe it was one thing — love and affection and appreciation of one another, a firm belief in the other person’s value and worth as a human being, the very definition of family — only to discover that all that appreciation was a one-way street. That while I thought my son was fantastic and interesting, he thought I was condescending and annoying and not even worth reaching out to when the world was burning down. When I called him from the desert, sick and scared and crying, and he didn’t call me back… well.
Can I tell you how much these ruminations do NOT serve me? They don’t serve me. I’m trying very hard — very, very, very hard — to stay out of that black hole, which means that I delete those words and close that file and move on to other things.
I am tempted, of course, to do that very thing right now. (In fact, I did, for about an hour.) Writing words and sharing them, even in the form of a blog that only a few people read, means accepting that other people will judge those words and, of course, the person behind them. Are you going to think I’m a bad mother? Are you going to think I’m over-sensitive? Do I need to care? A helpful friend this summer told me I was co-dependent for hurting so much and I should get help. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to imagine how that felt. Fortunately for my state of mind, around the same time the Best Sister-in-Law Ever (married to the Best Brother Ever) sent me the Best Email Ever. So you, oh, reader, can feel free to judge me for my over-sensitivity and my wallowing; I can pretty much guarantee that your judgement won’t be as harsh as my own anyway.
What does all this have to do with cover design? Well, I was eager to accept the internet’s granted permission to play video games. I truly was! Yay, video games! I actually started downloading WoW again, so I could go take care of my farm in Pandaria. But back in August, shortly after I posted my Daughter of Flame cover, I decided that my graphic design education needed a focus. My daily drawings (never actually daily) were entertaining but it didn’t feel like they were getting me anywhere, and I don’t have nearly enough book projects to keep me learning design via my own stories. So I made up a project, or rather, a series of them. I found a random title generator on the internet, generated a bunch of titles, and started making covers to go with those titles.
This is that project to date:
And this bring us to today. Am I going to create a cover today? Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just going to play video games, the internet having given me permission to grieve for my son and my country and our world in whatever way gets me through the day.
But I am also going to pat myself on the back and acknowledge the shine I deserve for having created this portfolio of mostly lousy, sometimes great work in the past two months. I am halfway through my list of titles: I don’t want to stop now. Despite the temptation of video games and escapes from reality, I’m looking forward to what I’ll be able to do and how much I’ll know by the time I reach the end of my list. (Although I’m willing to bet the very last one will be either Gnome of Time, Nymphs And Foes, or the aforementioned Dogs and Goblins, none of which strike me as particularly good titles. I guess that’s the peril of a random title generator.)
Meanwhile, I’ve actually started another cover design project, which is maybe going to turn into something I share with other people some day? I got tired of re-inventing the wheel typographically. I like playing with fonts but I also wanted to create some cheat sheets for myself of fonts that look good together, specifically for book covers as opposed to web sites, and that are also genre-appropriate for given genres. The last two covers in my list are actually part of those genre tests. I’ve got multiple versions of Crown’s Power using all kinds of different fonts, most of which I rejected, while Chasing Destiny was my Roboto test. I used Roboto for the title (with some playing around with tracking and leading) and then tried out approximately nine or ten other fonts for the author name and tag line before settling on versions of Roboto.
My notes say:
Roboto – Available on Google fonts. Roboto was designed for Android and is sort of a mix of styles; a rounded san serif that feels straightforward and simple. Per Wikipedia, Google was aiming for “modern, yet approachable” and initial reviews were mixed. But it’s everywhere and has the kind of clean lines that could easily work on a science-fiction or modern tech cover. (It might also work on contemporary romance if it was a geeky romance.) Because it’s used on interfaces (Android, Switch), it feels familiar. I’d say it’s not a noticeable font, but possibly a good choice for a cover where you want the art to stand out more than the type treatment.
Pair with Lato, Josephin Sans, Rubik, or stick to a different weight of Roboto.
Note: this is NOT Roboto Slab, which is a serif font and which doesn’t work for me. It looks more typewriter than tech. One source suggested pairing Roboto and Roboto Slab, but while that might work for a web page, it doesn’t work at all for a book cover, IMO. The Slab would be better for blocks of text, rather than display.
See Chasing Destiny cover for Roboto example.
I’m going to try to do one font a day from a fairly lengthy list of fonts I generated by reading all the articles on “best fonts for book cover design” on the first couple pages of Google’s search results. I’m hoping to end up with five to seven sets per genre — enough that I have plenty of flexibility and choice but not so much that I feel consistently overwhelmed by the thousands of font combinations that are available. It doesn’t feel like information I should share on my blog — admit it, even if you’ve read this far, you skimmed that block of italicized text, didn’t you? — but maybe I’ll make a new blog for indie author cover design tips. Or maybe I’ll turn it into a tiny ebook or something. Or maybe I’ll just have it as a useful tool for my own future fun in cover design.
Meanwhile, if you need permission to make it through the next few weeks/months by playing video games all day, you hereby have my permission. And NK Jemisin’s permission and her therapist’s permission, too. Go forth and conquer Azeroth! Or Animal Crossing or wherever your gaming takes you. But please vote first. (Um, for Biden-Harris. If you’re planning on voting for this guy, you might be codependent and should consider seeking help.)
My heart weeps for you. You called R from the dessert, needy, and he chose not to call you back?
I know nothing, no back story, except that I am sure you are gutted.
I can’t say I know the backstory myself. But yeah, I had called him and texted him and written to him both before leaving FL and on my journey cross-country with no response, and one feverish night in Arizona, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe he hadn’t responded because he was seriously sick himself. Even dead. I called while crying and left a message and he… chose not to respond. But he’s not dead. I reached out to his girlfriend’s mother who confirmed his well-being for me.
And gutted — yeah, it’s a good word for it. When I found out that my ex was cheating on me, I was devastated, but within a couple days, I felt like, yeah, I should have known that. I was closing my eyes to something I didn’t want to see and once my eyes were opened, well, I saw it. This isn’t like that at all. I was totally blindsided to learn how he felt about me and our relationship. How he saw me, what he thought about me. And I know it says a lot more about him than it does about me, but even that just makes me incredibly sad. How did I raise a man who literally believes my intelligence is a negative? How did my sweet boy turn into an adult who literally lacks the compassion to reach out in the middle of a pandemic? I’m glad he’s not dead, grateful that he’s alive and that M’s mom was willing to let me know that, but I am bereaved at the death of a relationship that was my whole world for many years. It is not a thing that one gets over quickly.
Cynthia Johnson said:
Your book covers are amazing… and more so, your courage~ I have the same son and my heart breaks daily. He is in Minnesota and we are in Colorado as of 3 years ago however this is a nearly 20 year void, some on, some off times… No matter that I for years and years I have sent loving texts, notes, voice messages, remembered his birthday, Christmas, and asked.. he has no interest in me or his dad, sister, child.. We have all lost an unbelievable human being. And still we hope. Bless you every single minute of every single day for putting one foot in front of the other..as this kind of loss “guts” us…. Continue to hope~ and have faith~ maybe my son isn’t part of this world anymore.. I don’t know.
I’m sorry to hear about your son, but thank you for sharing! I think one of the hardest things about this is the incredible feeling of aloneness. There are no support groups (well, that I know of) for parents whose children have rejected them. It’s a bereavement and a grief, but not one that people talk about. And it comes with such a heavy weight of guilt and shame and self-doubt and self-blame. But I will hope for you that your son wakes up someday and reaches out!
Cynthia Johnson said:
It’s very hard..isn’t it. I sometimes feel guilty for feeling happy. I don’t know the why’s even though I have a some thoughts. My son’s name is Ryan and my fear is that family and friends will forget him. A friend who’s son took his life 3 years ago said to me, “I think your loss is harder than ours because ours in final… ” My heart bled for her. And she went on to explain that for her and her husband it was final. She works with a medium and has had many positive teachings. For you and I it’s the physical and physiological loss while our sons still live. Never in my years parenting this child, through it all did I imagine he would choose to leave me or his dad..not for a moment. I often think I Kabrill Gibran and “Our children are not our children, they are our sons and daughters of life longing for itself…. ” It helps me to let go~ I loved him well and I continue to love him more than ever. Bless you sweet woman~ I am here anytime. You are so right in that others cannot understand unless they have lived this. It has “gutted” us and yet we live. <3
I shared that video on my FB page! EXCELLENT! Best description I’ve seen yet. And, I’ve found a way to accept how some people are still supportive of Trump, despite all of his negative traits and ill-doings. I’ve read that people who support him identify with his personality, his speech and his actions. They feel kinship to him. Sad, but I can accept this. I just hope some of them come to their senses and keep him from doing another 4 years on us.
Fingers crossed and prayers said! I can’t understand at all how anyone can look at what has happened to our country in the past four years and hope for more of the same or think that voting for more of the same will bring anything good. But history shows up that dark times end eventually, so I’m going to hope for the best.
Ditto… we must persevere–for all we’re worth!
I like the cover work. Having played with some design apps and software I can definitely see the work you’ve put into them.
I’m also sorry about your son. I have had a close relative do a similar flip on our relatonship. We were very close until a few years ago when she stopped answering my calls and refused to be at any event I was attending, telling her children she wanted nothing to do with me. As much as that hurt and I grieved over that loss it can’t compare to it being your child who did that. You certainly need to give yourself grace and room to mourn.
I always look forward to your writing but creativity is sometimes fickle and I’m sure the grieving process is not conducive. Self care and whatever it takes to deal with all the craziness the world is dishing out this year is the best we can all do.
We went to vote early but the lines were blocks long. Hoping the polls are less crowded. I hope too that the long lines mean that my fellow democrats are taking this election seriously and making the choice for sanity in the White House.
I hope the same! I wish I thought we were going to know the answer tomorrow night because the tension is exhausting. But the Supreme Court did something reasonable today so my fingers are crossed!
Sending warm thoughts your way. I love seeing all the book covers! Playing around with design software is fun and I always enjoy learning new skills.
I don’t think caring about your son is any sort of negative reflection on you. It’s surely a normal reaction to worry about your relationship with your child.
Take extra good care of yourself this week… whatever that looks like for you!
Thank you! Yeah, I’ve really enjoyed learning how to use this software and also the bigger picture art things that I’ve learned along the way (about light and atmospheric perspective and tones, etc.)