Archive for February, 2019



      As many of you know I’ve been working on “The Door” for the last four years. And looking back on that sentence I’m wishing I’d phrased it differently, because it makes me sound like someone who is the lamest handyman in creation. Hmm… there might be another blog post in that. I can see it now “Choosing Your Words Carefully”…

      Anyway, getting back to today’s topic, yes I’ve been working on that novel all this time and it still isn’t finished. In fact the closest I’ve gotten is halfway. Why? See below…

     But seriously, I was trying to put too much material and characters into the story. I had forgotten one of the cardinal rules I try to write by, which is “Keep It Simple Stupid”. When you have a story that already has a number of twists and turns built into it, DON’T MAKE IT MORE COMPLICATED! Secondly, if you are building a series you don’t have to introduce every bloody person who’s going to appear in it all at once! In fact, when you’re working on the first draft get the main story down on paper first. Then go back, read it, re-read it and then start a second draft. But above all get that 1st draft finished! All the extra layers and details you want to put to make things more real can come later.

     In my case, I was cluttering the story with scenes I thought were cool and would make people laugh or gasp. Plus I was bringing back secondary characters from the first two books, adding new ones I’d been dying to introduce, plot twists, you name it I was throwing it in. And time after time, the story kept getting too heavy and complicated for even me to follow.

     So finally, instead of simply going back and trying to simply remove scenes or fix things little by little (like I’d done a dozen times already) I found myself simply starting over and practically rewriting the book from the beginning. And guess what? It’s working.

 I’ve dropped God knows how many scenes I thought the story couldn’t live without, only to realize I was the only one who thought like that. I had to remind myself that as the storyteller I already  knew exactly where things were going, but what about the readers?

   I was forgetting just how important it is to stop and take a look at what you’ve done and try to see it through the eyes of a reader. Every story is a new journey to them. Oh you might be giving the readers familiar characters to follow on this new adventure, but it’s still your job is to keep this journey interesting. Do not overwhelm them with so much new stuff that they feel overwhelmed, especially when you have an ongoing series where there’s still so many stories that lie ahead. You have plenty of time to use a great many of those ideas bouncing around inside your head.

    So as I said earlier, I wound up removing a bunch of scenes from the plan and saved them on one of my many memory sticks. And I know I’m about to repeat myself, but we all need a reminder some days “Whatever you don’t use in your current story may be just perfect for another book down the road.”

     Now, getting back to the rewrite, the story has been trimmed down yet is still going to be exciting. Plus I’m making sure events in the previous books are still being felt, like having some of the cast who faced the nightmarish creature from “The Bridge” having troubles with PTSD. There really is so much already in store for the readers with this book that scaling things down has allowed me to really get the book back on track. Plus I’m finding it that much easier to write. I’m already over 50 pages into the story and on a roll.

     So if you’re finding yourself getting stuck time and again while working on just one story, taking a few steps back may be what you need to do to move forward. It’s not an easy thing to do, trust me on this. But it can sometimes make all the difference in the world to what you bring to your readers.

     Until next time, take care and keep writing!


     As usual I started experimenting with a basic quick sketch of what I had in mind. I knew right from the start that I wanted to incorporate the title into the image for this one, especially since it was our more traditional two word titles. Naturally I aimed for an actual door, knowing it would be fairly easy to incorporate the word “door” into the wood grain.

       From there I started testing out different color schemes for the wood grain itself. But then I started asking myself, how would a door that had been exposed to the elements for almost two centuries look? So I did some Googling, to find images to get a better idea of what such a door might look like. Here’s a few of the examples I found:

       So now I had a basis to build upon. Yet I also felt that whatever I created should have good strong colors that still gave that weathered yet somewhat foreboding feel. So I pulled out my soft pastels and started laying down some colors in order to start forming the palette I would use in the actual piece.  Of course I also incorporated lettering into the grain of the wood in order to help me build towards the full effect I was aiming for.

      Dark, sinister, ancient-looking yet eye-catching. Satisfied that this was what I want to aim for in the final rendition, I set about putting down the first layers for the actual cover.

       As things have progressed I added some stonework as well as ivy/vegetation to help add contrast as well as frame our sinister portal.  I also experimented with some photo-shopped lettering to get an idea of what the final product might look like on the actual book.

       And since the actual door was intended to open into a family crypt built into a hillside, I decided to get clever and incorporate the letters T. H. E. along with a date to represent the first of the Elliott family who passed through the door (still alive at the time) but never came out. In fact, his body was never found by those who came to investigate… mwahahahah.

       Um… sorry about that. I’m supposed to be talking about book covers not promoting the story.

       Anyway, using the initials this way I managed to get the words “The Door” clearly incorporated into the artwork, with room for our names. Though I may have to extend the bottom a bit more to keep within the restrictions about lettering getting too close to the edges.

       Clearly the above image is not nearly finished. The door itself still needs to be more weathered, and the vegetation needs to be made to look more sinister and eerie. Plus the door itself could use a hand and a lock, don’t you think? But you get the general idea from this and where it’s headed.

        So to clarify, if you set out to try and design your own book cover be prepared.  You’ll need to know the image requirements of whatever self-publishing company you’re using. Test the image out on prospective readers, get feedback. You may also need to do some or as much research as you did for your manuscript for accurate details to incorporate into the cover. And of course, make it eye-catching, intriguing, and alluring. Remember your cover is part of that first introduction to the reader. give them something that makes them want to pick up your book and start leafing through it. Because you may have one of the best stories in town, but if the package doesn’t promise what your story can deliver, it won’t even get a second glance.

       Until next time, take care and keep writing.

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