Many Legged Horror

So I was in bed last night reading on my iPad, with the lights off, and Kevin was asleep next to me with Sergei the cat curled up in the crook of his arm, as is Sergei’s wont.

Something tickled my elbow. I assumed, because of my position, that it was Sergei’s tail, and ignored it.

It tickled me again. I absently brushed at Sergei to get his tail out of the way, and realized that Sergei was curled up in Full Meatloaf and his tail was nowhere near me.

My brain executed a remarkable series of calculations in a very short period of time, involving what it must be, to be so…large…and then that I should under no circumstances swat at it because that would cause it to bite, and then that leaping out of bed would result in the monster being somewhere in the bed with sleeping Kevin and Sergei and Sergei might try to attack it and get bitten.

I have been bitten by this sort of beast before. It is agonizing and it lasts for days, like a hot wire being dragged through your skin.

The centipede–for such it was–wandered off my arm and into the blankets.

“KEVIN!” I hissed. “KEVIN WAKE UP AND GRAB SERGEI!”
“Aunnggh?” he said from the depths of sleep.
“Kevin! Wake up, now!”
“What? What?”
“There’s a centipede in the bed! A big one! You have to roll out of bed and grab the cat!”

Only a few phrases will bring one from a dead sleep to instant consciousness, but there’s a centipede in the bed is among them.

Like a precision drill team, we rolled out of the bed. The centipede, a sizable Florida Blue in the two-inches-and-some-change range, flailed around the blankets in multi-legged wrath. (Centipedes don’t get frightened, they just get angry.)

Kevin dropped a rudely awakened Sergei onto the floor, grabbed for his glasses, and went into the bathroom while I kept watch on the centipede. He returned with toilet paper. It is nearly impossible to stop a centipede with toilet paper–it’s hard enough just to beat one to death with a shoe or a shampoo bottle–but you can at least grab it and keep it occupied for five seconds to get it to the toilet and send it to a watery grave.

And then it was somewhere in the septic tank, and we both slowly climbed back into bed. I considered shaving my head so that every touch of hair on my shoulder did not send me into shrieking horror. I considered shaving the cats. I considered burning the house and moving to a new house that had never had centipedes, or at least the bed, which was now a centipede bed and not a human bed.

And that is why I did not sleep well last night.

Son of Fake Book Cover!

Two versions of the Bryony cover today–I have heard and obeyed the lack of love for the slant! I have slanted much harder!

I am skeptical about the bee. The problem is that clockwork bees are inherently small and fiddly, and it just doesn’t read all that clearly. But I do think it needs something in that dead space. So some fiddling around with petal shapes over there. (I have tried putting words in. Words don’t seem happy there at all…)

Adding the black border makes it read a little bit more dark fantasy to me, weirdly enough. That may JUST be me, though. And I know, I know, borders are like licking your knife in public. SOMETIMES I LIKE THE TASTE, OKAY!?

(I, uh, have no immediate plans to replace all the existing covers, for the record. I won’t swear that I won’t at some point, but I’d need to put matching covers on all three and that’s so much work that I shudder to contemplate. Though I’m pretty pleased with the Greenteeth one.)

fakebryony2
fakebryony2.1

Y’all know–I hope!–that I value your input by now. (Lot of conversation on Livejournal on this one, if you’re hoping to join in!)

Bride of the Fake Book Cover

Livejournal was hopping with good advice, which led to this:

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and that led to this:

fakebryony1

 

For this next one, a reprise of Bryony, I wanted to use the same font, but a rather bolder graphic approach. I have no idea if it works at all visually, but I gotta confess, the thumbnail reads better than the actual cover. (Sure, that’s just what I need to do, redo all my back catalog covers. In, y’know, MY COPIOUS SPARE TIME.) Thoughts, as always, welcome. (I just don’t know about the author name there–it really gouges the line of the rose. Maybe I should yank out one of the stems on the right and put it in there in black instead…)

Fake Book Cover #2, Round #2

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Poking at the horror cover some more. Thank you all for the feedback (I think I gotta backburner the garden one for a bit–I’ve hit the point where I’ve stared at it for so long that it no longer has any visual meaning.)

 

On this one, I discovered that it got a little less saturated in my posting of it, so here is another version–bumped up the saturation on the colors, lowered the brightness on the title, made the blurb bolder, and bumped up the kerning between the letters by about ten points (not sure if anyone can tell…)

This feels almost too easy–dark woods, slap title on, call it a day. I suspect I may have gotten lucky that I have a very creepy driveway and a lot of photoshop actions at my disposal, but still, shouldn’t there be some way that I can do ten times as much work and make it ten percent better? (Pardon, my Catholic is showing…)

And then I start thinking that maybe there’s a certain sort of cover where any photo you take of anything is creepy if you flatten it out and make it dark enough and then put a particular sort of font on it and what if I could make a supernatural horror cover out of anything, I could wander around taking photos of pigeons and my long-stuffering barista and the recycling bins behind the coffee shop–“RECYCLING: TERROR COMES BACK OVER AND OVER AGAIN!”–and go MAD WITH POWER and then I need to go lie down for a minute with a damp cloth over my eyes.

Fake Book Covers, Round Two!

After all the great input (and I appreciate it!) on Livejournal, here’s round two of the first fake cover!

fakebook1.1

I lightened the background and ran a light green gradient over it to make it contrast more starkly with the dark swatch, ran the author name to the edges to match the title, and increased the size of “THAT.” Ditched the words at the top, and made the little memoir bit not-a-script so it doesn’t contrast so starkly. Feedback welcome!

And now, for another small design amusement, here’s my attempt at a horror cover:

fakebook2

There is actually a chance I will someday publish a horror novel called “The Twisted Ones” since I have it about 30K written, but it’s a ways off. (Actually, I should probably put a THIRD pen name on these suckers so that people don’t trip over the images a few years hence and think I’ve written books I haven’t written…unngh. Too many of me! Still, maybe I’ll finally get a chance to be Ingrid Quaile…)

Fake Book Cover

fakebook1

This book does not really exist, and is unlikely to do so, so let’s get that out of the way.

Having realized that I will probably be randomly self-publishing things for many years to come, I finally decided that I need to address one of the glaring holes in my artistic skillset–graphic design.

I’m not great at it. But I’m gonna be doing my own book covers as T. Kingfisher for quite awhile. So I spent awhile on Pinterest pinning covers I like or found interesting or eye-catching, and then it occurred to me that there is pretty much no artistic skill you learn simply by looking at examples of it, so I started fooling with fake book mock-ups. My buddy Daniel Solis, whenever anybody drops a particular complex or weird line into the conversation, will simply say “…a memoir,” and so that turned into fake memoir covers and so forth.

I dunno, it sort of works large but the contrast between the green and the brown isn’t strong enough at the small size, so if it was kindle-thumbnail-size, it’d just look too dark.

If anyone has any suggestions for really good entry-level design books, I’d love to hear ’em.

Naturalist Mystery

palmettoswamp

A mystery for all my naturalist buddies out there…

I spent the weekend in the swamps of Lousiana, specifically a mixed cypress & palmetto bayou. (Early May, in case this post sticks around for awhile.) We were birding in the middle of the day, and at one point, we stopped because some Gray Gnatcatchers were bopping around in a tree with what may have been a Nashville Warbler.

All of a sudden, a sound started up off to one side. It was not a bird call that anyone recognized (and I was with two people who bird very well by ear.) It was not a gator grunt, nor a green frog banjo-twang, nor any of the tree frogs that I know, nor the buzz of a cicada. It sounded like someone driving with a squeaky fan belt.

“Fan belt bird,” said one of my birding companions.

And then the noise came very much closer and all of a sudden there were several of them calling, all around us, from high off the ground. The noise of multiple…whatevers…calling in this rising-and-falling sound had an incredibly loud, incredibly eerie effect. “It’s aliens,” I said. “Soon the probes will come.”

I have no idea what it actually was. My only guess is some kind of insect, but it could be some kind of frog. Does anybody have any thoughts?

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