The Curtains Part
The cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree is revealed!
All credit must go to our esteemed and talented illustrator and visual developer, Daniel Becerril Ureña. Daniel has travelled the world, enhancing his skills as an artist, bringing to the Amanda Cadabra series a blend of drama and cosiness that is a perfect fit. All of the books have had the full Ureña treatment except for Book 3. Hence, a new cover for Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan is a treat anticipated for this year.
How does a new cover come into being? you may ask. If you’d like to discover the process, I described it in exciting detail when the last sequel, Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr, was in the making: Cover Magic.
I would love to know your reactions to the look of the new book. Please let me know, in the comments, on Facebook or, my favourite, by email.
The Seven Veils
I like to think of the emergence of each new story as a dance. Not just any dance: the Dance of the Seven Veils during which they are dropped one by one. The first falls when the announcement comes that a new book is in the making. The second is cast off with the title reveal, which was two weeks ago. In the last Letter to Readers, veil number three was let fall with the partial cover reveal. Today, the fourth veil is relinquished as the cover is displayed for your enjoyment. Next week, the fifth veil is lifted for the trailer. After that, the penultimate covering is drawn off as the first chapter is laid out here. Finally, the last veil flutters to the ground: the launch.
The fifth veil. Heypressto, the publisher of the Amanda Cadabra series, under the aegis of Chartreuse, will be bringing you the trailer video for Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree.
PS If you want to start the series now:
Available on Amazon
and Large Print
The New Sequel?
I hear you ask. Quite rightly too.
Please excuse the brief hibernation. I hope you enjoyed Valentine’s Day, which I also like to call Friends’ Day. Meanwhile, my love for you, my readers, and Amanda Cadabra is undiminished. But actions speak louder than words, so what have I been doing about bringing you the new sequel?
Words and Art
At the end of last month, I finished the manuscript, and it went out to Kim, our esteemed editor. Next, the front and back matter was edited: the British-American English glossary was updated, and a new plan and a new map were created. This version of the manuscript was sent to the VIP Reader Group (beta readers). That same weekend, a summary of the story went to Daniel Becerril Ureña, our talented cover illustrator.
At this point, I always fondly imagine that I can put my feet up, draw breath, and relax. The train is in the shed. The coal needs to be delivered. The engine needs to checked and tested. In other words, it is at this very moment that I realise how much I need to do to prepare for the launch.
Pretty as Pictures
There is a series of Letters to Readers to come. And they all need spectacular images. So, I have been creating: the title reveal, the partial cover reveal, and the cover reveal. Next, the trailer video needs to be conjured.
All of these projects require many hours of research to find the perfect video clips and images. Images have to be edited into slides. Some of the clips have been shot by Chartreuse or me. They have to be carefully chosen. The video project has to be compiled, sequenced, timed, edited, and transitions and titles added. What remains to be done? The opening, closing, credits and music.
The All-important … Cover
The initial sketches arrived from Daniel: seven possible covers. I made a shortlist of three, and he did more work on them to help me decide. As soon as I saw that next wave, the choice of The One was clear. Since then, Daniel has created further layers, and with each of those, I am able to see what tweaks are needed. This morning I sent back what could be the last list. We are now close to the final version.
The cover illustration, once completed, can then be slotted into the video, and, naturally, the cover reveals.
Greasing the Wheels
Meanwhile, there are technical blips to be sorted out that require hours of consultation, but it’s a pleasure to work with dedicated, professional people. The website has to be bright and shiny for any who like to visit and browse the trailers, other videos, first chapters, maps, quizzes, glossaries, Wicc’Yeth dictionary, free prequel or past Letters to Readers.
It’s tremendously absorbing and creative fun. It does, however, take time and patience (especially technical malarkey!). Nevertheless, all of these projects are rewarding in various ways.
The manuscript came back from Kim the day before yesterday. I savour going through her notes. Most of the treasured VIP readers have sent back their notes for me. It is a great joy to touch base with all of you, by the way, and I will be creating a special thank you.
We are now around three weeks from launch, give or take a week or two at the most. I like to allow plenty of room for manoeuvre at this stage so that the process remains enjoyable for everyone involved.
The closer we get to pulling all of the threads together, the more specific I can be. And I like to add a little surprise, which I’m working on. However, the train is out of the shed and stands at the platform. The coal wagon is piled high. The engine is firing up.
In the Waiting Room
Here is something new to be going on with. The paperback for Book 2 now has its new cover, and here it is. You can only see this here unless you acquire the actual book. (Personally, I prefer actual tangible volumes that I can hold and mark and love and put on my shelf. I have some that I think of as my oldest friends.)
Can you see what Daniel has so cleverly created? The scene on the front shows a devastated old pub. The back cover rewinds time to when it was pristine. I was charmed when I saw this for the first time.
The next Letter to you, hopefully, next weekend, will be announcing the title of the new sequel. The whistle is about to blow.
PS If you want to start the series now:
Available on Amazon
and Large Print
4 Free Book Days
Starting this very day, until Wednesday, 15th December, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth is free to download from Amazon. Even as we speak, an email is going out from Bookbub to 2,800,000 cozy mystery subscribers and, of course, to our own subscribers to broadcast these glad tidings. Here is a little 30-second video for your entertainment with (a shortened version of) some brand new winter-themed music from the overwhelmingly talented, videographer’s angel, Australian composer Aaron Kenny:
Where’s the Smoke?
Yes, I did say I’d report from the thick of the historical battlefield, and I shall, next week, but I just have so much to tell you that it needs to keep for another seven days. You see, in preparation for today’s huge event, for which I have been hoping and planning for three years, I have prepared some new goodies. In case you aren’t yet in the know, what is this Bookbub of which I speak?
The Big Deal
In their own words, ‘BookBub is a free service that helps you discover books you’ll love through unbeatable deals, handpicked recommendations, and updates from your favorite authors.’ They have a subscription list of millions. It can take, yes, years for your book to be accepted to be included in one email on one day. They take only 10-15% of submissions (which come from both independent authors and traditional publishers), and the standards, to put it mildly, are high. And, as I say, after three years of attempts, one midnight, I saw the acceptance email and was stunned with joy.
I would like to pay tribute, at this point, to all of the readers who posted a review of Amanda Cadabra and the Hidey-Hole Truth, helping it to achieve the milestone of 100 Amazon reviews. I have no doubt that this was a significant factor that prompted Bookbub’s decision to accept it for a highly-prized Bookbub Featured Deal.
Thanks to Daniel Becerril Ureña for his professional and creative cover, to Kim, our editor, Daria Lacy for her flawless formatting and to Laurence o’Bryan and Tanja Slijepčević of Books Go Social whose advice, experience and services have helped guide my marketing journey . I would also like to express sincere appreciation again to Kim, to best-selling author and friend Tim Brown, to Paula, Katherine, David, Katherine (yes, I’m lucky enough to know two fine ladies by that name) and all of the dear friends and readers who have always expressed such encouraging and heart-warming faith in me, the books and the prospect of increasing success.
So, the good news arrived. But that was only last month. Not much time to prepare. However ….
In honour of this auspicious occasion, our skilled, deft and inspired illustrator Daniel, whom I cannot thank sufficiently, has pulled out all the stops, crammed this extra project into his already busy schedule and, for Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, produced this thrilling cover. Feedback so far has been: ‘I love it!’ ‘Makes you want to read the story’, and ‘fab’. I hope that you like it too.
To provide more fun for you and the new visitors arriving from today, I have added a new feature to the website. So far, each quiz is just ten multiple-choice questions-long. They have been tested by David, a friend and particularly kind beta reader whose fascinating correspondence never fails to give me a lift. Here are the first three, in case you’d like to have a play now. If you want to re-do any of the quizzes, just refresh your page, and you’ll get back to the start. Any feedback would be greatly welcomed: ‘too easy,’ ‘too hard’, or ‘Goldilocks level’.
And There’s More …
Yes, if you check the Inspiration section, you’ll find more photographs garnered from my field trips in search of the cozy village. Additional ones are coming soon. And finally, at the time of writing this to you, I have taken advantage of a new feature on Amazon that allows me to tell you more about the series. It’s called A+ Content, and mine now includes a pretty chart about the main characters with customised avatars for each one by graphic artist Soodabeh Damavandi, plus a seasonal and historical background to each of the books. Do have a look, and again, it would be wonderful to hear what you think about it.
It has been a pleasure to share my good news with you. If you would like to be a part of the celebration, please consider sharing the video above or this letter to readers with even just one friend. Thank you.
Absolutely. Battle, smoke, books past and future. The works. Also, a report on the next four days. Until then,
Wishing you a happy winter week,
PS If you want to start the series now:
Available on Amazon
and Large Print
Today sees the unveiling of the new cover, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, first in the (to date) 6-book British humorous cozy paranormal mystery series. The question is,
Why the change?
The series is about to enter a new era. But more that later. As the first book is most likely the first in the series that new readers will see, it needed something special. Rather than re-moulding the scene on the previous cover, I told the story of the book to our illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña, and left it up to him to let his imagination form his own creative ideas.
Out of 6 sketches that Daniel supplied, this was the scene that we both thought was the strongest.
Daniel has conjured a combination of modern era, magical whimsy and the golden age of the cozy mystery: the 1930s. Research time runs into many hours, following my nose down narrow alleys to obscure websites and broad streets of mainstream sources like Wikipedia. To supply Daniel with reference images, I scoured pages of 1930s covers. The colour palette of the cover echoes that period, even Amanda’s dress neckline is out of a vintage illustration on an authentic dress patterns packet.
The setting is a room in a Tudor house, Sunken Madley Manor. The wardrobe door and the door are from period furniture, and the edge of the tapestry on the right of the cover is drawn from an example using Tudor pictorial and decorative traditions. The Holland cover (sheet for protecting furniture) over the wardrobe adds a ghostly feel.
The light coming between the partly open curtains, suggests we are peeking through them, getting a look at a secret scene, as privileged viewers.
The Emerging Final Version
As Daniel adds each new layer, new aspects and details become apparent that could benefit from tweaking. Daniel patiently applies these and sends back iteration after iteration until it is perfect. Finally, it goes to Tim, my mentor who acts as design consultant and to Kim, our editor.
Then, it’s ready for the partial reveal. Next, it is loaded on Amazon, ready to pass their quality control and be published. At the same time, the full cover reveal is announced here and on Facebook. Usually Twitter and Instagram get a look-in too.
This is a process that can take from weeks to months. From seed to seedling, to sapling to mature tree. It’s organic and well as procedural and takes an artist with an intuitive understanding of the spirit of the series as well as technical expertise. It also takes a good personality fit. Working with Daniel is immensely enjoyable. There’s a high of excitement every time he sends a first sketch or a new iteration. I love seeing his ingenuity in creating scenes and details I would never have imagined. Being able to work so closely with ‘a creative’ is one of the great unexpected perks of being an independent author.
What Else is New?
The map of Book 1, Sunken Madley in Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth has been updated with the smartened up versions of some of the most important buildings and locations in the village.
Tomorrow Book 1, in its smart new outfit, is being entered for an award. Later this week, I look forward to typing up more midnight notes (still coming) for the new sequel.
Back soon with more news.
Wishing you a happy conclusion to spring,
Hot off the virtual press in its final incarnation comes the full cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, fourth in the British cosy paranormal mystery series.
It’s all thanks to our new illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña who has been labouring tirelessly to get it to you today. Feedback so far has been 100 per cent positive. The cover is as the book will appear on Amazon shortly.
So what’s next? Tomorrow sees the release of the trailer! Where can you see it? Here, on YouTube (on my new channel), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, if all goes according to plan. Please let me know what you think of it so that I can build them better and better for your future viewing pleasure.
Meanwhile, the manuscript for Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley is now complete, bright and shiny, thanks to the endeavours of my superb editor, Flora Gatehouse, and the valuable contributions and suggestions offered by the VIP advance readers. There are still spaces remaining in this limited numbers group if you’d like to join for Book 5. Alternatively, you can simply keep up to date by adding yourself on the keep-in-touch page.
At the end of the week, there will be the release of the audio-video of Chapter 1 of the new book. The text will be on here so you can read, or read along, but the feedback on the visuals that go with the reading has been enthusiastic so far!
Until tomorrow …
Oll an gwella, (Cornish for ‘all the best’. Yes, still learning, by candlelight late at night.)
Only hours ago, I received, to share with you, the partial cover of Amanda Cadabra and the Rise of Sunken Madley, Book 4 in the British cosy paranormal mystery series. The full image is being perfected, as I write, by our new illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña. It may appear here within the next day or so.
Meanwhile, here is the launch date:
Less than a week to go! As soon as it becomes available for pre-order, I’ll let you know. At that weekend, Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth will be free on Amazon Kindle for 2 days. Do if you have any fellow cosy fans you think may enjoy a visit to Sunken Madley and Cornwall? Please do let them know that they can join the series with the mere click of a button on Saturday and Sunday. 28th and 29th of September.
Meanwhile, in breaks between polishing the manuscript for you, and preparing for the Big Event, I have been learning Cornish. After all, Amanda, Granny, Grandpa, Detective Inspector Trelawney, and former Chief Inspector Michael Hogarth all hail from there in one way or another. Parts of each story are set in that land. Wicc’yeth, the magical spell language is a mixture of Old English and Cornish. It seemed only right, not to mention fascinating, to delve into the genuine article.
I have a wonderful tutor from Kesva.org who is helping me begin Grade 1, plus I’m playing on Memrise, the language learning site. Anyone care to join the journey? I have already encountered many kind people along the way, more than happy to encourage newbies like me … and, if you choose, you too!
For now then, redyoryon ger (dear readers), it’s time to get back to shining up the book and spreading the news. Back soon …