Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Those Devilish Details

The phrase "the devil is in the details" is generally attributed to German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a man who understood the importance of fine-tuning the creative process. We writers recognize that details are essential to vivid writing, but they also bring life to our physical environments--our homes, gardens, and public spaces. 

OG and I have finally reached the "detail" point in our remodeling project. The bones of the house are complete: the structure, plumbing, heating, and electrical. The carpenters are finishing the exterior trim details that will turn the house from a big, flat-sided box into a charming cottage. Inside, tile has been laid in the bathrooms and laundry room and doors and trim are stacked in the living room and kitchen while the plasterers finish the walls. The project is barreling ahead at full speed toward the promised finish date of December 15th.

The first few months were easy. We watched and waited while footings were dug and walls went up. The roof color was the only choice we had to make for quite a while. That's all changed. Now it seems we have to make several choices a day, each of which will affect the others and our ultimate enjoyment of the finished product. Wall colors, counter tops, backsplash, and hardware must all coordinate in satisfying ways.

After so many months and so much money already spent, it's tempting to scrimp on the small things toward the end of a big project, but OG, in his wisdom, has  convinced me it's these details that will bring us small flashes of pleasure every day we live in the house. In that spirit, I've chosen these knobs for my kitchen and master bath cabinets. The beautifully detailed grapevines speak to the region and remind me of the vineyard across the valley that I see from my kitchen window.

For the guest bath and laundry room, I chose these rust-colored iron knobs. They're supposed to be some sort of flower petal, but they remind me of the artichokes growing in the fields of the Central Coast. 

Sometimes the volume of choices seems overwhelming, and I worry that I'll regret some decisions. But if I can keep my head and focus on the details, I hope the "whole" will take care of itself. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A New Cover Project - A Chance to Learn Something New

My latest personal project was to make Unwritten Rules available in paperback. To do that, I had to learn how to format the interior for CreateSpace. I also had to to design a cover with a front, back, and spine. CreateSpace has an easy-to-use template, but I needed to learn how to rotate and move text for the spine as well as create a back cover image that would allow adequate legibility for the book description. Online tutorials answered the text question, but the back cover design required some artistic experimentation. I settled on using a different section of the image I used for the front and reducing the opacity. However, that meant I also needed an opaque fill layer underneath the image to cover the markings on the template. The final result was exactly what I hoped for and I learned several new techniques, so I consider the project a resounding success!

Fresh off the success of my own print cover, I felt confident enough to undertake a print cover for another author. If you've been following this blog, you've seen the three ebook covers I designed for the Secrets of Ravenswood series of novellas by my friend Jannine Gallant, We'll Never Tell, She'll Never Rest, and He'll Never Know. Recently Jannine decided to offer the novellas in a single print book and needed a new cover. 

She was looking for something that captured the suspense feel of all three books and featured an image of three women, representing her heroines. We weren't able to find a good image with three women, but we did find this wonderful image with a single figure. My challenge was to turn one woman into three. What do you think?

For the back, she had the idea of using the same scene but with no figures, as if the women had vanished into the mist. I reduced the opacity and was able to erase the figure. The result is perfect for her book.

We were able to take one beautiful image and manipulate it to create the perfect front and back--a cost-effective solution for the author and a wonderful learning experience for me. I consider that a win/win all around!