Crooks and Straights is published!

At long last, after months of writing, rewriting, editing, illustrating, proofreading and formatting, the book exists and is for sale.  At the moment, as an e-book on Amazon, but soon there’ll be a print version as well.

Crooks_straights_e_cover-thumb

Book Description:

Gia’s brother Nico is different from other boys. And being different can be dangerous in Gia’s world. Cape Town is no longer the haven for magical refugees that it once was. The Purists want to get rid of all magic and the newspapers are full of dreadful stories about the Belle Gente, the magical terrorists.

None of this concerns Gia, until the Special Branch— police who investigate the illegal use of magic—come knocking at her door, looking for Nico.  When Gia turns to her parents for help, she finds only more secrets. Then she realises that she was the one who put her brother in danger.

Available from:

Online sample:

You can read the first chapter here: Crooks and Straights sample page

Cover Reveal for Crooks and Straights!

 The book is finished.  All I have to do is format it and insert the illustrations.  And then…publish!  (If you want to be notified when this book is launched, please join my new release mailing list.  The ebook will be released first, and the print version some time later.)

Here is the cover – which took me simply ages to get right.

Crooks_and_straights_cover

 

Just to give an idea, here is just a small sample of the contortions I went through to arrive at this design :)  First, a very “Deon Meyer” looking cover with a image of the neighbourhood that the book is set in.

coverprogress1

 

Then a starry one that looks far too much like a children’s story. Or maybe not.  What on earth does this look like?

coverprogress3

 

Then, a much more dreamy one featuring the full moon, which is an important symbol in this story. Also – I found the right typeface.

coverprogress5

 

…but the moon is not as important as other things!  Must have a  captured swan, and drops of blood!  Things start falling apart a bit here:

coverprogress4

 

Nope, that didn’t work, although I like the blue, red and white.  Maybe a combination of the swan, and Deon Meyer?

coverprogress2

 

People said they could not figure out that it IS a swan.  Maybe if I zoom in on the thing, it will be better?

coverprogress6

 

No.  Not working.  Need a completely different direction.

coverprogress7

 

And after much fiddling, and combining with this image below, I arrived at the final cover, which is the one you see right at the top of this post :) .

rockdoll
And that’s that!  Such a relief to have it all done.

 

Pretty Covers

I just got these proof copies of my “Sisters” series –  the new matte covers look really good.  I liked the glossy covers too, but I think these are better.  The illustrations inside came out nicely too.

You can get these from Amazon,  but if you buy them from The Book Depository then you get free international shipping.

matte

Digital Strange

I do my illustrations on Photoshop – often in many layers.  This can create some strange effects.  Here I switched on all the layers of multiple illustration projects in one Photoshop file, so that multiple drawings are superimposed over one another.  Quite evocative :)

layers

Two more creatures from Crooks and Straights

Two more creature-portraits from Crooks and Straights.

This is a haarskeerder – a kind of fae.  They are winged, and live in communal nests very similar to the way wasps do.  They line their homes with anything soft – including human hair (hence their name) and they like collecting small glittering objects.  They can be dangerous, as they have the ability to hypnotise any human that threatens their nest.

haarskeerder_progress

This is Paddavis, a household spirit similar to a brownie or a niss.  He is originally from Ireland, but has lived in South Africa for many years now.  He still gets sunburnt though!  Not the most reliable creature, he likes stealing food out of cupboards and leaving mouse droppings behind to cast the blame of his thefts elsewhere.

 

paddavis_process2

Rock Doll

A drawing that emerged as a result of my testing some Photoshop techniques.

rockdoll

Character drawings: Nico and Brakman

More illustrations in progress for “Crooks and Straights”
This is Nico, my main character’s younger brother.  The book is pretty much about her attempts to protect him from danger.

nico_progress

 

This is Brakman, a poor old man who used to be a werewolf.  Now he makes his living as a IT guy and does a bit of hacking on the side, if anyone is willing to pay him.brakman_progress

Tea-cup Genie

More work in progress – illustrations for my book Crooks and Straights.

This is of a teacup genie.  It’s not finished yet, but nearly there.  At first I got the face all wrong.  Far too serene for this character.

geni

Second attempt is better, but now he looks a bit too wise:

geni-face

The teacup was fun to do:

geni-progress

geni-progress2

Not finished yet – but it’s looking a lot better now.  Struggling a bit with all the pale shades of grey.  I think his face needs a bit more work…

geni-progress4

 

 

Slow, slow progress of an illustration

This drawing gave me trouble.  I finally figured out that the composition wasn’t working and after I cropped it, things became better.

doll

I wanted to use shades of grey this time round, rather than just black and white as in my previous book illustrations. First try didn’t go that well:

doll_progress2

I went back to the text and found that there’s supposed to be a newspaper on the table under her, so that helped with the background.

doll_progress3

It’s not finished yet, but mostly there.  Time to move onto a new drawing.

doll_progress4

 

Geni gets a new face

More new drawings for “Crooks and Straights”.  This is of a geni  -  but I got his face wrong the first time round.  Below is the second attempt.  He’s supposed to be plump and quite friendly.
geni

geni-face

 

Gia’s Doll

Started another drawing for “Crooks and Straights”  - this one is of the doll my main character, Gia, makes.

doll

 

A close-up of her face:

 

doll_detail2

The beginning of a new drawing

The first rough drawing for my book “Crooks and Straights”

This is a door knocker that hangs on my main character’s door.  It’s based on a hamsa hand,  a two-thumbed hand with an eye on its palm, which is a very common good luck sign in many parts of our world.

In my story this door knocker acts as a ward against magic.  I think it’s going to get very much simplified :)

door-ward

It’s Alive! Crooks and Straights exists at last

This is why I’ve not been putting up any new blog posts for so long:

crook_print

My new book Crooks and Straights!  Ready for the proof-reader.

This is a whole new story, not a sequel to my earlier books.
It’s set in an alternate version of South Africa, where magical creatures live among the rest of us, but are second-class citizens. The growing Purist movement threatens to take over the government, and plan to eradicate all magicals they cannot use for their own purposes.  My heroine, Gia,  has a younger brother Nico, who is not quite normal.  Things go off the rails when Gia accidentally alerts Special Branch (the police force that deal with magical creatures) to the fact that there is something special about Nico…

I’m starting with the illustrations today.

Watch this space!

 

Caught my Catfish!

I have a new obsession — I’ve upgraded to a larger aquarium.  Today was the day I had to move my three cory catfish from the quarantine tank to the larger tank, to join the two corys I’ve already got in there.  Apparently corys like being in a group, and the two I had were not too happy all by themselves.

Corys are difficult to net without hurting their spiny little fins so I made a fish-trap.  A water-bottle cut in half with one side jammed in wrong way round, and a pellet of food for bait:

catfishtrap

For a while it looked as though I was going to get lucky and trap a snail…

snail

I thought it would take time, and was preparing myself to be patient but once I buried the open side a bit in the gravel, it was a matter of seconds before – one! Two! Three! In they went.

in_the_trap

Couldn’t really get a good picture because these little things wriggle and swim around so fast!

caught

Once they were in the big tank, the two resident corys who are usually so shy I might not see them for days, came out immediately to inspect the newcomers.  At the moment, all of them are rooting around the bottom of the tank in a happy little group.  So far, so good!

Next time, I’ll use a bottle that’s not pinched in the middle (less chance of escape once they are in) and use less bait, too.  A whole pellet was far too much.

Nico emerges

Another character sketch.   This is Nico, younger brother of my main character.

Nico

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