Blaze Takes Over: 6 Pieces Of Advice For New Superheroes

Hey, peeps! Blaze here! So today is the last day to submit your creations for the IDIA Fan Creations Contest, so make sure and fill out the submission form before midnight tonight! We’ve received some awesome submissions, and I think C.B. is dreading picking a winner, with so many amazing creations to choose from.

So, in my last post, I talked about the life of a superhero, and in the comments, Sarah suggested that I give my advice for just-starting-out heroes. I thought that was an absolutely brilliant idea. So I present you with my amazing advice for new superheroes!

Blaze’s 6 Pieces of Advice For New Superheroes

  1. Listen to Data. (This is the one piece of advice Data approved of.) Always listen to what Data says. She’s been doing this all longer than you have, so she knows what she’s talking about. Plus, reading people leads to a pretty big knowledge base, which means she’s much smarter than you. If you disobey her, you’ll figure this tip out the hard way. (I’m looking at you, Jazz!)
  2. Explore your abilities. Not only is it fun to explore your powers, it can also come in handy when you’re on a mission. If you’ve tested your powers to see how far you can go, or different ways you can use your abilities, then you’ll be able to find more ways to use them on missions. That’s how I figured out that I could teleport, after all! That was a very weird day. Side note: Apologies to that Australian person I accidentally teleported behind. That was my bad. I had no clue what I was doing. Sorry. 
  3. Meet new people. People with powers come from all over the world, from very different backgrounds, and unique powers. Step out of your comfort zone and meet new people. I got to meet an elderly man from China who could speak with animals, and he introduced me to his pet panda. Plus, he taught me Chinese! It’s fun to meet new people and learn their histories. But also make sure not to be too invasive with your questioning. Everyone else wants to keep their secret identities under wraps, too.
  4. Bring food with you. I guess you should probably bring money too, in case of emergency, but food is more important, am I right? Seriously though, you don’t always know how long you’ll be at HQ or if you be able to go get food. I can teleport, but if you can’t, definitely bring food.
  5. Explore IDIA. It’s good to know the layout of HQ, so that you’re prepared for emergencies. Just be careful where you explore, because there are a few off-limits areas, and you could get in very big trouble. There are also a few really dangerous areas, too… so maybe you should explore with a lot of caution.
  6. Have fun. IDIA is a place where you can spend time with other superheroes, and you can be yourself and use your powers. Have some fun with that! Sneak up on other heroes, pull pranks, try to find Anvil’s secret stash of homemade candy… Have fun with your powers and your new superpowered friends! And if you actually try to find Anvil’s candy stash, watch out for booby traps and lots of pointy objects.

And those are my six tips for new superheroes! Did you guys like these? I’ve had fun taking over the blog, so maybe I can convince C.B. to let me present the winner of the IDIA Fan Creations Contest. Don’t forget that today is the last day to submit. Got any questions to ask me? Comment below!

Blaze out! 😎

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Writing About Writing: Cover Design – Part Two

Hi, everyone! This is my official post for the cover design for Paralyzed Dreams. If you missed my last post with cover design tips, go check it out! This post will give you a sort-of template for designing a cover, using the cover for Paralyzed Dreams as an example. I used Photoshop for my cover, so some parts may be different for you. Note: I am not an expert… and this might not work for every book. This is just a basic outline.

1: Find a picture. If you don’t know what picture you’re going to use, make a list of important items in your story. See Cover Design – Part One for more details on this. For Paralyzed Dreams, the main elements were volleyball, the wheelchair, and Pam. After a lot of searching, I decided on the wheelchair and found this picture:

wheelchair5

Look familiar? 😀

2: Next, find out what size your cover needs to be. Amazon KDP recommends that your cover be about 1000 pixels by 1600 pixels. If you’re going to put your cover on other sites, check to see what size they recommend. You may have to make several different covers, and you’ll have to make a separate cover for print books as well.

3: After you’ve figured out what size your cover needs to be, open a file in your cover-making program that is that size. This should be fairly self-explanatory.

4: Extra tip: Don’t mess with your background layer; leave it as is. This applies to all projects. Now that you’ve got your file, place the photo onto it. Move it around until you like how it looks. You can always move it some more later. (If you’re using more than one picture, this is where you would combine them. Maybe I’ll post on that sometime.) After this step, mine looked like this:

paralyzeddreamskindlestep4

5: Add effects so your cover doesn’t look just like a plain old picture. I added a black gradient to the top so my white text would stand out and some swirls just for a nice touch. 😉

Gradient

Gradient

Swirls

Swirls

6: Add your text. To make your cover look more professional, try using different fonts within the title if it’s two or more words. Also, change the size around. Always try to use at least two fonts. I used three: Print Clearly for “paralyzed”, Alex Brush for “Dreams”, and Portmanteau for my name. Try to use a font for your name that you can use on all of your books to create an author brand. That way, everyone can recognize your books and name.

The Final Product:

The Final Product!

I’ll probably do more posts on cover design at some point. There’s so much to cover! (Pun not originally intended…) What do you think of the cover? Like this post? Anything you want to know more about? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

Writing About Writing: Cover Design – Part One

Hi, everyone!

So after my big news post on Monday, I’ve had several people mention that they’d like to hear more about the self-publishing process. I’ve noticed that there’s a scarcity of blog posts out there about self-publishing… the details, at least. One of the things I’ve recently been looking for – and haven’t found – are posts on creating professional-looking covers. And since that’s my favorite part, that’s where I’ve decided to start. 😉 This first post will focus on general tips, and the next one will provide a sort of process to help you design a professional cover.

First, decide whether you should design your cover yourself or hire a professional cover designer. There are actually some fairly inexpensive cover designers out there, and there are also places where you can buy a pre-made book cover. If you don’t have a lot of time and patience, this might be a better idea. Also, if you don’t have access to a photo manipulation program (Photoshop is what I use), getting a cover designer might be the better choice. (I believe there are also online programs you can use, but I can’t be sure). There are tutorials out there for creating covers in Word, but all the ones I’ve tried… *cough* I’m sticking with Photoshop. Just keep in mind that there are alternatives to making your own cover.

Your cover is the first thing readers will see, whether it’s in print format or ebook. Your cover needs to pique readers’ interest, while still being important to your story. If you’re writing a historical romance, your cover shouldn’t look like it’s for a zombie book or a murder mystery. That’s why the pictures you choose are so important, along with the fonts.

Before I go any further, I need to point out some things about copyrights. *sigh* If you use pictures from Google images, then there’s a high chance that you’ll be infringing on someone’s copyright. You have to make sure that you have the rights to both images and fonts. You have several choices. You can either buy your own images (and fonts) from websites that sell royalty free images (like iStock and Shutterstock). Make sure that you’re buying a commercial license for the picture, not just a non-commercial license. You can also use the stock fonts on your computer and pictures you take yourself. The fonts that come on your computer are usually unprofessional and easily recognizable… don’t use Papyrus, please. Honestly, the most over used font. 😀 If you’re a good photographer, or if you know a good photographer, doing your own photo shoot is the best idea. Finally, there’s a huge selection of free for commercial use fonts and images. You may not be able to find exactly what you’re looking for, but there are plenty of options. Always, always, always check the license on fonts and images before using them. If the creator/photographer does not specifically say that you can use it for commercial use, ask them. It’s always best to be safe. And let people know when you use their fonts/images. If they’re offering them for free, the least you can do is let them see what you’re using their creations for. Best advice? Unless stated otherwise, always assume that content is copyrighted.

If you made it through that paragraph, you deserve a reward. 😉 So here are some of the sites I use for photo and font finding. Pixabay is great. When you click on an image, the profile tells you whether it can be used for commercial use and if you need to give credit to the photographer. There’s also Unsplash. If you subscribe, they’ll send you ten pictures every ten days that are free for commercial use. They also have a new search feature, too.

For fonts, I use dafont.com and Font Squirrel. Both sites have fonts that are for non-commercial use only and commercial-use. Font Squirrel has a page for each font where you can see the license. On dafont.com, things are a little less clear cut. Just make sure to check with the creator, and read all read-me documents included with the font.

Now that we’ve got all of that stuff out of the way, here’s the best way to figure out what picture to put on your cover. First, make a list of all items and people that are important in your story… as in “cover worthy” important. Don’t choose something or someone that is important for a plot twist. You want your reader to be drawn in by the cover, but you really don’t want to give too much away. That’s why the cover is one of the most important aspects of self-publishing. Of any book, for that matter.

One last bit of advice before I end this post. Study other covers in your genre. You want yours to stand out, but you don’t want it to be too drastically different. Ashlee Willis has an awesome cover for her book The Word Changers.

And those are my tips for helping you design your covers. Hope you don’t mind how long this post was! 😀 Got a cover you’ve made that you would like opinions on? Post the link in the comments below! I can guarantee that at least one person will check it out. *cough*me*cough* I’d love to see them!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and that it’ll help you with designing your cover. Questions? Comments? Anything you want to see in future posts about self-publishing? Comment below!

Thanks to all of you, Paralyzed Dreams has gotten up to #37 in its category! Read it? I’d love to hear what you think! Haven’t? Go ahead! 😀 Stay tuned for updates on the upcoming Paralyzed Dreams virtual book tour!

The Scribbler Award

Thanks so much to erinkenobi2893 for nominating me for the Scribbler Award! The rules are as follows…

  1. Link to your favorite writing blog, share your favorite writing tip, or do both.
  2. Pass the award along to up to five more people.

I follow so many amazing writers, that it’s hard to pick one as my favorite, but I guess I must. Or I can just share my favorite writing tip(s). Of course there is “write what you love” and “write what you know best” and “write something that you yourself would love to read”. And “use your story to change your readers”. Which I just made up. I’ll work on making that more eloquent. But I think as an absolute favorite writing tip, I’ll use this edited quote from Dori:

“Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing…”

It’s okay, you can laugh. It’s also okay not to laugh. I know, I’m cheesy. And come to think of it, I just gave

And now for my five nominees…

Irisbloom5 – Her stories are awesome. And I can’t help it; here’s one of my favorites: Never Alone

Aul – He has a great perspective, and his character descriptions are really nice to read.

Icedmocha34 – She’s awesome, people. Just plain awesome. Check out her other blog, too: Quotes From The Coffee Shop.

The Ink Stain – This site has some great stories on it. Just be careful. Three chapters of one story are posted, and it leaves you hungry for more. 😉

Red Lettering – These posts are written pretty much for writers, by a writer. And they’re great. With everything from character/plot details to writing prompts to advice on writing itself, this is a great blog for writers. Check it out!

So here’s to all of my fellow writers. May your scribblings be exciting for both you and your readers.