books, things about research

How To Design a Front Cover For Your Book


Painful Embarrassment for the Author ahead.

I once had a marvelous idea. (I know – I was shocked too). I had an image of a book. What, thought I, could be better than using a picture of a book and using it as the front cover of my book? It could be genius. Right? Right?!!

In a more professional person’s hands, why yes – yes, it could.

In mine?


pictured: a bad idea. A really bad idea

1. Don’t have grand ideas. Grand ideas are often bad ideas. Stick to your skill set.

So I moved on. To below. Candle flame and [for the sake of designer mystic, I shall not reveal what the scales are. They are not dragon scales, let me tell you that. Or are they?].howtohuntMuch better? All it took was a little shifting about of two images, colouring, font etc. But it didn’t feel right. And, you know, that ‘a’ is kind of unsightly.

But then, I realised something – ‘How to Hunt a Dragon’ sounded a little too close to ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. Now, I have no great ambitions to plagiarism, so I decided to scrap that title. And add a little something extra.

2. Don’t choose a flawed title and decide to change it half-way through. If you dislike headaches and wish to avoid them, by all means, consider the repercussions of your title.

Ahem. The title changed.

huntingdragons… but, it didn’t look right. And besides, I really, really needed that background for another project – that of a trilogy which will be appearing soon. (And by ‘soon’ I mean ‘in a year or so’ – slow and steady wins the race and all that).

And so it was back to the drawing board. For the sake of my (already) bruised pride, I shall not show you the sketching in my notebook. I have great ambitions to be the next Da Vinci, but alas! reality does not support them.

What I can show you is sketch that I drew up on a tablet:

do you see the mane flying in the wind? Total talent right there.

New title, completely different design. A very ambitious design. Do you see that cliff in the background? Yes. Well, that isn’t there anymore. I refer to Lesson 1 – don’t go above your skill set (and cache of available material).

Another fact which you may not know: putting a horn on a horse is very difficult thing.

3. Don’t put horns on horses. It’s bad for your mental health.

Not pictured – the telephone poles so subtly edited out

So – you’ve finally finished. You’ve go that front cover ready and waiting to be released. People are going to be holding this miraculous thing in their hands …

Wait. You wanted to design a front cover for a print book?


4. An ebook cover and a print book cover are two different things. One is reasonably simple. The other is fiendish and should (preferably) be designed first.

Yes. You’re probably going to have to fiddle about for a bit. You know; readjust the size of your cover, make the cover flow into the back cover. Get the blurb on the back. Make sure that the blurb isn’t too big or too small. You know – the usual.

[Not Pictured: The Intense Frustration and Headaches this can cause]

pictured: attempt #487

But you know what? It’s worth it in the end. Unless, of course, you decide to dip into your bank account and hire a professional.

That could work too.

5. Go with the option you are most comfortable with.

7. Patience is a virtue. You’ll be feeling very virtuous by the end of it.

and finally:

8. Be willing to invest plenty of time into your project, and be ready to play about a lot.

ourintrepidheroineonbed ourintrepidheroineonwindowsill

Whichever way you chose, I wish you great success, few headaches and a wonderous final result. (But I really mean it about putting a unicorn’s horn on a horse).

books, ness talks books, things about research

A Recounting, a Cover Reveal and a Release Date

Rachel Heffington is back! But this time, there isn’t an American journalist in sight. I present to you, the front cover of Miss Heffington’s soon-to-be-released first foray into the murky world of … murder.

Anon Sir Anon EBOOK

Anon, Sir, Anon

Rachel Heffington

The 12:55 out of Darlington brought more than Orville Farnham’s niece; murder was passenger.

In coming to Whistlecreig, Genevieve Langley expected to find an ailing uncle in need of gentle care. In reality, her charge is a cantankerous Shakespearean actor with a penchant for fencing and an affinity for placing impossible bets.

When a body shows up in a field near Whistlecreig Manor and Vivi is the only one to recognize the victim, she is unceremoniously baptized into the art of crime-solving: a field in which first impressions are seldom lasting and personal interest knocks at the front door.

Set against the russet backdrop of a Northamptonshire fog, Anon, Sir, Anon cuts a cozy path to a chilling crime.

Release Date:

5th of November, when Guy Fawkes’ effigy burns, sparklers crackle and rockets scream into the night sky.


I think that if I had one word to describe Rachel Heffington’s upcoming novel, it would be cozy. It’s the sort of book – murder mystery notwithstanding – that is just right to read when curled up in bed, with a blanket and a cup of tea in hand whilst the windows hold autumn’s fresh chill at bay.

The writing style is unique as ever – no boring prose in here, sparkling and imaginative, Rachel has a delightful turn of phrase.

Just take a peek at this quote which tickled my funny bone:

“Doctor Breen knew the signs of contempt in his most familiar patient as well as he knew the signs of pregnancy in a woman and croup in an infant.”

The descriptions and atmosphere are well done and one can almost walk the very halls of Whistlecreig along with Genevieve. The characters … ah, Shakespeare quoting Farnham is a lovely, crabby character who one warms up to as the tale goes along. He (and his ulcers) are so very human and quite endearing. I think that he is, perhaps, my favourite character of this book.

I look forward to future instalments of this series.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

ness writes about writing, things about research

Great, Great Grandfather’s Bones!

I am always thoroughly delighted to find new pieces of ‘writing’ music. The first, Eliza’s Aria from the Wild Swans ballet, I knew previously from a Lloyds Bank ad on T.V. But oh, it does make my fingers skip across the keyboard.

It is possible to grow tired of this piece … but only if you have played it as many times as myself (I won’t tell you just how many times that is).

Have you ever found a track which fits a character just so? I heard this one and thought … why, this is Kyssa!*

This one … ah, yes. Cheerful and upbeat. This one is from a Jackie Chan film – Chinese Zodiac. And don’t for a moment form a bias as to what the movie is about because it isn’t quite like anything that the title suggests. There are randonmly appearing pirates with Afros, frightened French men in fluorescent flowered shirts and a woman beating up her attacker with her ‘gweat, gweat gwanfather’s’ bones and that is only one part of the movie.

Have a great weekend!

*character has yet to be fully introduced on this blog.
ness talks about life, things about research

The Traveller Returns!

I had to give up several items of clothing, a pair of shoes and an hairbrush, but I did it; with only a handbag and a carry on case I brought nineteen books home with me.

They* say that travelling broadens the mind and enriches the pen. They could be correct.

As I looked out of the airplane window on the way home, I thought that maybe this whole experience was a gift from God, all nicely wrapped up with a big red bow. I’ve been blessed. Very blessed.

A little like this.

I had only ten days’ notice. Ten days and then I was off for a month and a half in the U.S.A. Yes, you are right in thinking that it was all very sudden. And no, no one had died. The real explanation is quite a lengthy one, but needless to say, everything dropped into place just like a really good game of Tetris.

out of a plane window
Have I mentioned how much I love clouds? No? Well, I do.

Having never been on a big ol’plane before, traveling on one was certainly an experience. So was being patted down for a random search. And having my bag searched (these things seem to happen to me. Only my hairbrush handle would resemble the neck of a bottle of liquid and thus have my poor pink carry on case pulled over).

Thankfully, all the airport staff were very pleasant.

I’ve acquired so much material for future blog posts on this adventure (adventure sounds so much better than ‘trip’, doesn’t it?). There were the clouds that resembled ice caps, that time I fainted from embarrassment, that really, really loud canon and the books.

Ah yes, the books. I read a fair few and wandered halls that were covered in books, buildings that were dedicated to books and little nooks and crannies that also had … you guessed it … tons of books (or as the Americans seemed to say ‘a bunch of books’. No. There wasn’t a bunch. There was a ton. A hundred tons. So many tons that I wondered how many butchered trees I was standing in the presence of).

And no, I do not speak of a library (though I did visit one of those quite a few times). I speak of … of … well, a post should be popping up in the near future dedicated to The Place of Which I Speak.

I arrived home (Oh England! You are a green and pleasant land even from the air. Especially from the air) and went to bed that night more tired than I have ever been in my life.

But I’m home and this blog has now been awakened from its hibernation.

Hiya folks!

Ness Kingsley has returned.

 *I have no idea who ‘they’ are. Perhaps ‘they’ are half a genuine ‘they’ and half my own invention.

ness writes about writing, things about research

Really Quite Useful Things

reallyquiteusefulthingsEver so often, I find some Really Quite Useful Things.

Here are three:

The Mythic Scribes Newsletter has never bombarded me with emails, but when their articles do pop up in my inbox, it is always an interesting read (have a peek at Racial Diversity in Speculative Fiction, for example).

I’ve been subscribed to Helping Writers Become Authors for a while now, and K.M. Weiland is currently in the middle of a series of ‘Creating Stunning Character Arcs’. It’s well worth checking it out.

And last, but in no way the least, comes Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast. He is a born storyteller and listening to him is fascinating. No dry and crusty ol’fount of knowledge there – he speaks with thoughtfulness and passion on a subject which he clearly loves.

I’ve finished his Wrath of the Khans series and am nearly at the end of Death Throes of the Republic. I would really recommend them, however, I will warn you that parts of the Wrath of the Khans series can get quite gruesome. Because the Mongols were not a … delicate people with squeamish stomachs when it came to vengeance and crushing their opponents. To put it lightly.

(Do you know how many people they killed? The terrible price their foes paid? How the Mongols could have conquered all of Europe and later, Egypt but each time they were stopped by nothing less than Providence. But what that Providence was I’m not telling you. Don’t you dare Google it – go listen, be swept away to another time and a very dangerous place).