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April 22, 2018 by in category Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , , ,

The painter stares at the canvas waiting for an image to appear. Patiently, he waits until a faint imprint of a landscape or a face emerges. He then grabs a brush and dabs it into the paint on his palette, making haste to reach the canvas with his brush to capture the image. The artist contrasts shade and light. He tightens or increases space. His brush moves rhythmically or scratches across the linen to make the colors and texture warm or cool. The work he renders leaves the viewer feeling airy or heavy.

That’s how I feel when I write. I stare at a blank page as though something secret lay hidden deep within the fibers and emptiness, that by patiently waiting will reveal itself to me. So I wait…until a word, a phrase, or a picture appears.

Could it be that the blank screen or journal page is a powerful mirror able to enlighten my own ideas and thoughWrite from the Heart | Veronica Jorge | A Slice of Orangets? Is it I who write on the paper; or does the paper draw out what is inside of me?

My words pour out and my hand races across the page. My mind tries to keep up with both for they seem to move of their own volition depicting moments dark and light. Paragraphs heavy laden with emotion yield and give way to joy and humor, while spacing slows or hurries the reader along.

Finished, I sit back exhausted and, ignoring my headache, I read what I wrote. Awestruck, I ask, “Where did this come from?”

My trembling fingers turn the leaf to uncover a new blank page and my sweaty palm smooths the journal sheet flat. Pen in hand, I sit ready to capture another treasure. My eyes dilate seeking and waiting for new wonders to behold.


See you next time on May 22nd.


Veronica Jorge

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Some summery covers to go with the weather

July 4, 2017 by in category Art, Cover, Design by H. O. Charles, Writing tagged as , ,

That most sumptuous of seasons is now in full swing (in the northern hemisphere, at least) – there is a big, yellow thing in the sky, Wimbledon is on, and it’s the fourth of July!

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No, really, I hope you all have a wonderful day of celebrations on your side of the pond. I shall raise a beer and a punnet of strawberries in each of your respective honours, even if I cannot guarantee queenie will.

On that summery note, I’ve picked out some summery-covered new releases. I cannot comment on the content, but what unites each of these is that they are recently published, that they have a very popular feel, and are therefore designed to be picked up by holiday-makers in their masses. Let’s go ahead and judge each of these books by their covers…

Holiday in the Hamptons by [Morgan, Sarah]


Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Summer cover checklist: palm trees, sunset, summer dress, sea view and even a lighthouse! A prerequisite of all summery covers is that they must include the colour blue, because blue skies make us happy and remind us of sunbathing, or something along those lines. Extra points go to this cover’s designer for obeying the rule of thirds.



Read, Write, Love at Seaside by Addison Cole

Aside from the colour blue, another thing you’ll find these covers have in common is the scripty style title writing. It’s a kind of code to the potential reader that says, “Hey, I’m popular, light-hearted fiction and JUST the sort of book you like to read on the beach!” What I like about this cover in particular is the way the artist has stuck to a limited palette – purple, blue and beige. It yields a much cleaner effect overall, and is visually quite satisfying. Points for including the cute dog in the beach bag, but I do hope the owner remembered to pack poo bags in there too.


I Wish You Happy: A Novel by [King, Kerry Anne]


I Wish You Happy by Kerry Anne King

Ah, some very seasonal dandelions! We’ve ventured away from the seaside, and are now running gaily through a summer field. Impressively, the character has managed to locate some fresh dandelions when all the others are expired, and hasn’t been savaged by patch of nettles and thistles, but hey, realism isn’t always quite as romantic as an artist would like. We’re back to the rule of thirds with this one, but I’m not sure I like the orange as part of the colour palette. Put it down to personal taste.


The Summer House: A gorgeous feel good romance that will have you hooked by [Hale, Jenny]


The Summer House by Jenny Hale

You know, there’s photoshopping and there’s photoshopping. Perhaps this one is supposed to look cartoony and superimposed – I’m not sure, but it does do well in communicating that it’s a light summer read for you to breeze through on your hols (and it’s currently #215 in the UK Kindle chart, so clearly that fake photoshopping is not harming its sales). We have plenty on our summer cover checklist here: blue skies, voile curtains, flowers, beach, yachts and even a phallic lighthouse. How it does go against the grain is with the lack of scripty writing in the title, and instead the artist has chosen lowercase serif in a light colour, which is a reliable standard in pop fiction. Oh yeah, and it has ‘Summer’ in the title! Dead giveaway, but helpful for Amazon search bait.


Summer at Buttercup Beach: A gorgeously uplifting and heartwarming romance by [Martin, Holly]


Summer at Buttercup Beach by Holly Martin

I challenge you to come up with a more summery title than this one! The colour palette has been limited to entirely summery colours, there’s beach, there’s sky, ferns and a deck chair. There’s nothing challenging in the image, which indicates there’s probably nothing challenging inside, either. It just screams to be added to your holiday reading collection with a happy, brainless grin upon its papery face.

So there’s my very brief summary of summery popular covers. If you want to tell your readers that popular, sunny fiction is the content of your novel, then these are the exactly the sorts of designs you should look at emulating. Now, I’m off to sit outside in the garden. Where was that beer…?

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Cover review: Half ‘n’ Half Covers

May 8, 2017 by in category Art, Cover, Design by H. O. Charles tagged as , , , ,

My eye was caught this month by these rather attractive, bipartite covers in the Thriller section:

He Said/She Said: the Sunday Times bestseller by [Kelly, Erin]My Husband the Stranger: An emotional page-turner with a shocking twist you'll never see coming by [Done, Rebecca]Two Sisters: A gripping psychological thriller with a shocking twist by [Wilkinson, Kerry]

What I really like about these three covers is the way they separate their titles into two halves using both contrasting colours and placement inside the background imagery.

Not only does this make a striking image, it also communicates the essence of the titles before the reader so much as thinks about the meaning of the words within them.

They tell you that there are two stories to be told, two points of view – a this and a that. Of course, the real world is not always so simple, and the stories within may not be either, but our human brain likes things to be reduced to simple statements, which is exactly what these covers are.

The great thing about this type of cover design is that it can be applied to so many novels, especially in something like the crime/thriller genre, where there is a question of innocence/guilt, or was it him/her? etc.

But the title has to work with the design. “He Said/She Said” is easy to balance and mirror, as is “My Husband the Stranger”. With “Two Sisters”, however, the designer has to forget the idea of perfect symmetry, and tie the words instead to background images that balance them out. Even though the words are different sizes, you are still left with the impression that they represent two individuals, who are likely quite contrasting in character, standing in that landscape.

So there you go – another design route to consider for your next novel!

I thought I’d also include a couple of “cover picks of the month” this time round, because they were so pretty (and tie in with what I was nattering on about last month re: minimalist titles and their covers)


Kin: Helga Finnsdottir Book I by [Kristjansson, Snorri] Once Cold (A Riley Paige Mystery-Book 8) by [Pierce, Blake]


Aren’t they pretty? And also slightly spooky?!

H. O. CharlesH.O .Charles, a cover designer and author, was born in Northern England, but now resides in a beige house in Suffolk.

Charles has spent many years at various academic institutions, and really ought to get on with writing a PhD, but frequently becomes distracted by writing fantasy fiction instead.

Hobbies include being in the sea, being by the sea and eating things that come out of the sea.

Cover designs: www.hadleighdesign.blogspot.com

Author:  www.hocharles.com

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Why Cover Designers Want Your Title to Be as Short as Possible (unlike this one)

April 8, 2017 by in category Art, Cover, Design by H. O. Charles tagged as , ,

I’ll let you into a little secret: wordy titles (and also looong author names, if I’m honest) are HARD WORK for a cover designer. Really, we should be charging extra for them. Perhaps £10 extra per letter for any word more than one syllable long would be sufficient. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time would have netted me £380 before I’d even started doing any art…

* laughs dreamily *

I joke, of course, but if you are into art and design, and you recognise that a reader will judge a cover before they judge a title, then you might start to see how less is more…

Here’s a worked example (very hastily put together, I should add), but hopefully it will show you how a short title (and even author name) can help you achieve that impactful, minimalist look.

The first cover is simple, no-fuss and easy to read. The text doesn’t have to be huge, and I can keep everything neatly squared.


If I want to go for a really modern approach, I can blur out the background entirely, which gives the title text much more weight, and gives me the freedom move the author name about. I can even play with light. Of course, this would work better with a more recognisable image than a Chinese archway, but you get the general idea…


Then we have a longer author name. The colours I can use for it are now more limited if I want it to remain legible, and it needs balancing out with some text at the bottom. Still, it looks fine because the most important piece of text (the title in this case – Andy Pantaloons is not that famous) is short.


Things are getting tricky with this longer title! At this point, I would usually change the font and tweak the letter spacings to see if it would look better, but for the purposes of explaining the impact of title length, I’ve left it the same. It’s still just about okay, but if the author wants more images, the chances are they will fight for attention with the text.


Time to pack my bag and go home! What a mess! There is just too much image for a title that size, and so I would either consider getting rid of the arch altogether, or throwing my laptop against the wall.


Of course, it is down to the designer to take whatever title you throw at them and make it look good, and we have a tonne of tricks for doing that, but if you like the minimalist look, and you want your cover to appear modern, AND there is an idea you want to convey in pictures, then consider a short title paired with a single, powerful image. This is one of my favourite examples from another designer (Eric White):

All of that said, here’s how a long title can look good. This cover is by Ervin Serrano, who did a brilliant job with the “The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime” but you can see how he had to sacrifice images (almost) altogether in order to make the overall design work and remain clear.


And of course, certain genres *demand* busy artwork, so I’ll neatly lever my most recent fantasy cover design in here, and thank you for reading!


H. O. CharlesH.O .Charles, a cover designer and author, was born in Northern England, but now resides in a beige house in Suffolk.

Charles has spent many years at various academic institutions, and really ought to get on with writing a PhD, but frequently becomes distracted by writing fantasy fiction instead.

Hobbies include being in the sea, being by the sea and eating things that come out of the sea.

Cover designs: www.hadleighdesign.blogspot.com

Author:  www.hocharles.com

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January 15, 2014 by in category Archives tagged as , , ,
 I want to be upfront: I borrowed that headline. I saw it in the Los Angeles Times this morning and it started me thinking about how we, as writers, view ourselves. Actually, that’s not quite correct. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I joined a discussion on LinkedIn. It went something like this.
Author #1:How do you title your novel?
Author #2: I like to use lots of words.
Author #3: I like titles that keep people guessing.
Author #4: I hate publishers. They always change my titles.
Author #5: Publishers have no soul. They aren’t creative.
Me: I disagree. Publishers are creative in a different way, a business way. We should appreciate that and learn from it.
While we write, immersing ourselves in our fictional character’s lives and worlds, we are being artistic and creative. When we come up for air, we need to be something else. We need to be publishers: clear-eyed, objective, and strategic.
If it weren’t for traditional publishers taking a chance on me, investing in my art, offering me a platform for the work of my soul, I wouldn’t have grown as a writer. I still have every rejection and acceptance letter I ever received because reading them reminds me of why I failed as much as why I succeeded. I can visualize every editorial letter that came in the mail (pages long and single spaced) which outlined where I could do better: style, grammar, character development, transitional efforts, titles, plot and story. I still remember meetings with sales reps, buyers, distributors and realizing that at every level there was effort and money being spent on my behalf in ways that were corporately creative. I also know that there were administrators doing research I could never tap into regarding an ever-changing marketplace.  Sure there were inequities.  Sure there were things I didn’t agree with. But my interaction with the publishers, more than any writing lesson, taught me the true art of bringing my work to an audience. 
Now that I’m indie, I wear a publisher’s hat. I can hire a freelance editor, a cover designer, and a formatter. I can even hire marketing experts to handle the last, critical part of the publishing puzzle. But if I do not understand and appreciate the creativity of the input these people provide me –  a title that will cut through the ever-growing clutter, a cover image that is arresting even though it appears as a thumbnail, interesting ways to communicate with the marketplace –  then my money is wasted. I will never be able to truly control my own brand. 

So, when your book is finished and it’s time to publish, take off the rose colored glasses of an author and get out your publisher’s magnifying glass to assess the marketability of your work. Ask yourself “what would a publisher do?”. I promise, if you answer that question honestly you will find avenues for success you never dreamed. In my book, that last step qualifies as creativity. That is the Art & Soul of  the business of publishing.
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