Bob and the Pop-Up Book of Destiny Now Available

Kill the fattened calf! Sound the horns of celebration! Run into the streets, put on your finest top hat, coat your naked body in dijon mustard, and sing hallelujah!

Bob and the Pop-Up Book of Destiny is finally available on Amazon Createspace, Kindle, and Lulu!

In this, their second adventure, Bob Halibut and his cybernetic llama butler, Jeeves, travel to Mexico, where they use Hamadi’s map to explore an ancient Aztec ruin. Deep in the dark, stanky temple, they discover the Pop-Up Book of Destiny, an artifact of unimaginable power.

And after they encounter a vengeful conquistador, Bob and Jeeves battle long-dead forces to save Mexico City from destruction and despotic rule.

But the story is only part of the fun this time: each chapter now includes a picture of one of the characters or scenarios described in the book.

I’ve also added illustrations to the original Bob and the Cyber-Llama. You’ll have fortnights of fun gazing in awe at my glorious artistry, your personal hygiene slowly deteriorating as you fail to tear yourself away from its breathtaking beauty.

Like Bob and the Cyber-Llama, Bob and the Pop-Up Book of Destiny is a great read for kids, adults, and fifth-dimensional koalas alike. Buy it now or regret it for the rest of your days.

Cover Design: Part 2

In a post about two weeks ago, I described the complex, spiritual, mind-blowing, existential process of designing the cover for Bob and the Pop-Up Book of Destiny. I explained how I first take about an hour out of my busy schedule of writing “Andy Griffith Show” fanfiction to draw the initial cover in pencil:

After this, I scan the picture into the computer and trace the pencil lines like so:

Then comes the color. Over the past year or so, I’ve developed a pretty efficient process for coloring pictures. I use the magic wand on the black outline layer to select enclosed areas. I then use the modify tool to expand the selected area and fill it with color using the fill tool. I do have to zoom in and do a little additional coloring, as the magic wand tool isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot more efficient than using the brush to color an entire area.

At this point, I don’t need to use the original image anymore; the whole thing is a recreation of the original pencil drawing.

After this, I do the shading. Shading is like the crunchy exterior of a Klondike bar. It doesn’t seem flashy at first, but makes the whole experience much, much more enjoyable. Shading mimics the light source hitting the characters, which makes the image much more realistic (as realistic as a cartoon llama can be, anyway.)

I take a darker version of an object’s color and use it to color the side of the object opposite the light source. For this cover, the characters are in a dark temple with light streaming from the pop-up book. I think the shading turned out pretty well:

The final step is to form a text box with the book’s title and add a mask to the layer containing the color and shading of Jeeves’ body in order to make him look furry. To do this, I link the color layers of Jeeves’ body and add a new one containing a giant patch of fur.

Then, I turn down the opacity of the fur layer to make it see-through. The final result looks something like this:

And voila! A cover that would make Michelangelo pee his pants with envy! Now that the front cover is done, I just need to work on the rear cover and the spine (which take much less time) and upload the book to Amazon. And then I just wait for my Pulitzer.

Adverbs: Falsest of Friends

Joining a writing or editing group can be an incredible experience. If you surround yourself with the right group of people, you gain invaluable feedback and improve your pieces of writing in a way you just can’t accomplish your own. It’s a productive, fulfilling experience.

If you surround yourself with the right group of people.

Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a writing group full of people terrified of offering the slightest criticism who assume that if they suggest even minor edits to your writing, you’ll start bawling like the precious, little lilac you are and spend the rest of your life locked in your basement wearing a stained wife-beater, shoving pistachio ice cream in your cakehole, and watching Smurfs reruns while blubbering “Why, oh why, did she not approve of the way I use semicolons?!”

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received from a writing group is this: adverbs are not your friends.

For those who don’t remember third grade English (or School House Rock), adverbs are words that can be used to describe other parts of speech. They’re not like adjectives, which can only be used to describe nouns (words like large, stinky, boisterous, and sticky.) Adverbs can be used to describe adjectives and verbs as well (words like slowly, very, deftly, or suddenly are adverbs.)

If you write adventure fiction, you’ll find yourself describing a lot of vibrant combat scenes and daring escapes. While writing such a scene, the temptation to use adverbs eats away at your undercarriage like a starving, hyperactive poodle.

I find myself using phrases like “he ducked under the table quickly” or “deftly, he drew his pistol.” The problem is that all those adverbs make the scene move pretty slowly. Which is not what you want in an action scene.

The adverbs also keep me from using more creative language. Instead of “he ducked under the table quickly,” I can say “he darted under the table.” Instead of “deftly, he drew his pistol,” I can say “he whipped out his pistol.”

Adverbs are the disgusting, garbage-scented cretins of the grammar world.  They should be shunned, shot, dragged through the streets, and hung up in town square as an example to other figures of speech.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and cry into a pillow. Agnes from my new writing group suggested I stop using serial commas.