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Pre Designed Custom(ish) Book Covers

June 1st, 2015 by

As some of you know, I’m taking a bit of time off for personal reasons and decided to not schedule any new covers for awhile. I have a very long lead time and I didn’t want people to wait for two, three months and then be told that I wouldn’t be able to do their cover, so it was best just to finish the current cover schedule and then have some downtime.

It’s not all going to be sloth and reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, though. :) I want to focus on doing as many predesigned cover designs as I can and work on building a more cohesive style. I mean, I enjoy doing covers in different styles for different genres, but I think it’s time to find out what I’m really good at doing, rather than being a somewhat competent jack-of-all-trades designer. It will probably focus on the genres that I enjoy reading, as they will be the ones that I understand the best: urban fantasy, dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and so on. I would like to go back to learning 3D graphics as well, but pain and worry have made it really difficult to concentrate on anything, so we will see.

I would like to ask: what do you look for in a predesigned cover? Have you purchased one, and why? How do you balance having something which is specific enough for your project with having the cost and time savings of a more instant design?

What I’m thinking about is doing proper cover art with all of the time and detail that it involves and offering it semi-customisable in that I can switch out colour on hair and clothing, change fonts and so on. This would be at half my normal rate for that level of artwork, but I would skip the stress of piecing together exact clothing, precise background detail, etc. This will also allow me to have more freedom with style and detail.

What are you looking for? General ideas? Wishlist (in a very general sense, of course)? What types of images have you just not been able to find on other predesigned sites? Let me know.

Thanks. <3

The wonderful Alex Gregg responded on Twitter with a very good suggestion: premade covers for series, carrying the same models and look/feel across multiple books. Awesome idea, and this was the type of feedback that I was hoping to get.

FFXIV: Ready for Heavensward

May 19th, 2015 by

Just a side note: I finally completed the storyline in FFXIV in preparation for Heavensward! Thank goodness for the nerfing of Steps of Faith, which was an incredibly stupid cockblock to place in a main storyline, preventing anyone who hasn’t completed it from playing the expansion content. I don’t believe in nerfing endgame content, but main storyline stuff really needs to be accessible for all players: casual players, non-raiders, crafters, people who just like to dink around doing quests and exploring rather than doing instances. So stupid.

But anyway, I finally did it. I also levelled Bard on my main character and yesterday hit 50, which is my fifth level 50 and my second Bard. Yep, did it on another character not realising what a huge PITA it was going to be to go through all of the instances and so on at the end, so I did it all over again on my WHM/Summoner/Scholar. /sigh

I’m totally addicted to the game at the moment, although I don’t get a chance to play as much as I would like. I don’t think I’ve been as addicted to an MMO since my Warcraft days. Really looking forward to Machinist. Or Astrologian. Probably not an Au Ra, as below – I like my sassy girl too much.




Schrodinger’s Delimma

May 19th, 2015 by

I’m still playing the waiting game as far as getting a second biopsy (this one under anesthesia) done and also the gallbladder surgery. On the bright side, I am losing weight due to needing to be on a fat-free diet and also the fact that I get sick if I eat anything other than fruit, yogurt or toast. I eat a lot of toast with jam. :) On the decidedly dark side I can’t have alcohol or caffeine, which is a bad thing. If you know me, and you can imagine me living without either food group, then you have a better imagination than I do. And yes, I said food group.

Given that the NHS will finally allow me to a) find out what is wrong, and b) actually resolve it, within the next five years or so, I’ve decided to live as though everything is okay rather than agonise over it. Alternatively I could live as though everything is not ok, which has a different beneficial effect in that I don’t want to waste time. I’m going to make the best of what I have and start striking a few things off my bucket list.

The bucket list is a smaller affaire than it used to be. I’ve kind of crossed out any trips around the world, ditto anything involving space flight. I probably won’t own a Friesian, neither will I finally grow the balls necessary to try three day eventing. I’m not going to run with the bulls.

I do want to see Ireland. I know that I’ve lived in the UK for over a decade, but it was important to me to go to Ireland the first time with my family (my sisters and my daughter). That’s not going to happen, so I am just going to go. I want to go to Morocco and stay for as long as I can, avoiding big hotels and so on. I want to see Egypt. Most of my bucket list involves travel, actually – if I ever won the lottery I wouldn’t buy a big house or expensive car, I would instead travel for the rest of my life. :)

Healthy or not. One year, five years, another fifty. Who knows? Anything is possible until you open the box.


(And yes, the umlaut in the title has been left off, as it caused errors. Too damned sick and tired to fix it, haha.)

The Not So Good, Very Bad Weekend

May 5th, 2015 by

I totally ruined Phil’s birthday this weekend. I didn’t mean to, of course – I may not be the best partner in the world, but I do try. We had steaks and sparkly wine and I had a pile of lovingly, though ineptly-wrapped, presents waiting.

And then, in the wee hours on Friday morning, I woke with terrible stomach pains. All that day they got worse and I was a bit frantic when Phil got home that night. After a metric buttload of ibuprophen it still hurt. On Saturday, the morning of his birthday, I was even more ill and so we went to the local minor injuries unit to see a doctor. From there we went to the surgical assessment unit at the big hospital in our area. And finally at 10:00 that night after a day with an infected gallbladder I finally got painkillers. Ten. Long. Hours.

I always said that I would never complain about the NHS because, well, as creaky and inefficient as it is, it’s there. It’s free. It’s medical care that I would have been unable to afford in the States. But lord, the bureaucracy, wait and sheer waste involved! The nurses and techs were great, very warm and efficient with all of the blood tests, scans and so on. It was the wait for a doctor that took so long. They knew I had gallstones and an inflamed gallbladder, but a doctor needed to sign off on it before I could be given anything. At shift change that night a new doctor came on and went like a whirlwind through all of the surgery assessment patients and authorised a veritable armload of various painkillers, anti-spasm medication and antibiotics. I wanted to burst into tears when it was finally all done. Ten hours with that kind of pain isn’t something that you would wish on your worst enemy.

Ok, that’s a lie…I can think of a couple of people who I would wish that on, but no one else.

Day two was spent waiting for the results of another blood test, as they were concerned about a systemic infection. An ultrasound and the bloods were done in the morning and then I waited. And waited. I finally left (after threatening to discharge myself) at about six pm that night. They couldn’t find a doctor to look at the results. Seriously?

As some of you know there are other health issues that I’m undergoing various scans and tests for, which is taking ages. And you know what? If it turns out to be worst-case-scenario results, I don’t think I have any chance whatsoever in resolving it with this type of system. The UK has the worst cancer survival rates in all of Europe, mainly due to very little preventative care and the difficulty in actually getting the screens and care in the early stages.

On my last scan the tech said “Well, I can’t actually see the ovaries on the scan due to the tumours in the uterus, but if you have a problem there it starts to displace bowel and I’m not seeing any of that,” like that statement was supposed to make me feel better. I was all “Well, if we wait until it can be seen from the FREAKING SPACE STATION, I guess I can diagnose myself!” (I admit that I am not a nice or a polite person when in pain or scared.)

I love the NHS. It’s worth the tax that we all pay, as no human being should ever have to go without proper medical care (as happens in the States). It’s a wonderful institution, but it just needs to be better. Less middle management, less bureaucracy, more doctors, better care. No one should be forced to drink water from a flower vase because they cannot get a glass of water from a nurse. Brits are a nation of pet lovers, and they wouldn’t leave an animal in pain all day as I was. Humans shouldn’t be treated any worse.

FFXIV: Noob Moments

April 20th, 2015 by



Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been struggling with health issues and also a metric ass-ton of work. So, yeah…poor neglected blog!

I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy when I can find the time, and I must say that for a game which was virtually unplayable when first launched, it is now a really stupendously great game. Maybe a “forever” MMO, as Warcraft has been for me.

I have, however, made some really stupid mistakes.

I know that Squenix really wants you to do all jobs on one character. Although they allow you to create alts, with all of the cross-class skills it’s kind of obvious that they want you to level all the jobs on one character. However, that means grinding fates and so on, so I thought “Hey, it would make ever so much sense to do all of the Disciple of Magic classes on one character, and the War classes on a second one, so I can do quests on both.” Amiright? Not so much, as it seems: I had a level 50 White Mage, 50 Scholar and Summoner and 40 Black Mage on one character. The alt had a level 50 Bard, 40 Paladin, etc. And then (as I started through the post-50 quests on the first character) I realised that I’d hit a Giant Wall O’Suck. I was never, ever going to want to do that grind on my Bard as well.

Now, I quite like playing Bard and was considering making that my main class. But levelling it up by grinding fates on my main character? It makes me lose the will to live.

Which brings me to something that I wanted to say about FFXIV: I understand about wanting players to play through the entire storyline before allowing them access to anything in the Heavensward expansion in June – fair enough. But why make it so damned hard? I would hazard a guess that casual players make up the bulk of the customer base for any MMO. They may not be a progression raider or an elite min-maxer; instead, they’re exploring and doing quests and crafting and just enjoying the ride. They really care about the story, where your elite types probably don’t bother much with story or lore. (I’m saying that based on the fact that I’ve had to skip every damned cutscene since I hit the post-50 content to avoid being kicked from groups. You speed-running bastards.) Why force those players to have to make it through hard modes and things like Steps of Faith? Why not make the storyline involve less hardcore instances? I’ll do them, of course…but I’m fully expecting it to be painful. It just seems like a very odd design choice.

Oh, I almost forgot: my other noob moment? Dyeing my chocobo. I spent about a bazillion gil on the food to get soot black last night and fed them all to my bird per the advice on the color calculator. This morning? I have a parrot-green bird. Fracking hell. Now I have no idea how to actually get to black from there, and I’ve spent over 100k to do it. :(

And yet…I love this game so damned much.


Farewell to WoD (For Now)

January 28th, 2015 by

I just decided to cancel my Warcraft subscription again. I fully admit that I am one of “those” players, the ones who come back for every expansion, play to level cap, and then eventually quit. I no longer raid, and there just isn’t enough to hold my interest without raiding.

There are garrisons, to be sure, and they were a lot of fun in the beginning on the first character. Third alt in? Not so much fun, as it turns out, as well as being a massive timesink. Of course you don’t have to do anything with your garrison…but after you have them it seems a bit silly to not gather those resources.

I miss professions. On my leatherworker I hate the daily wait to have someone else create mats for me. I like levelling professions, and in the past have spent hours happily grinding for leather and so on. This isn’t as much fun.

It always makes me a bit sad to cancel as Warcraft has been a part of my life (on and off) for ten years. Who would have imagined spending so much time in a game? I’ve had marriages that have lasted less time than that. :D

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