Friday, 6 November 2009

Heart of Flame cover art competition

Sharpen your pencils and boot up Photoshop - my Arabian Nights romantic adventure novel Heart of Flame is approaching publication as an e-book and I need YOU to create me a cover.

Yes, CatScratch Press have launched a competition to find cover art for my book - and I get to choose the winner! And if that's you, then you'll be paid $175 for use of your work. Honestly, I'm more excited than a whole carload of Labrador Retrievers on their way to the beach.

The competition rules (format, legal etc) are over at the CatScratch blog, but I'm taking the opportunity here to give you some ideas for inspiration. A cover is a vital part of a book - fairly or unfairly, sales are made on the strength of it, so it needs to be intriguing and attractive and to reflect the contents. Whether abstract or iconic or a detailed painting, this cover must say Arabian Nights to the reader.

Here's the plot summary:

Taqla, a young sorceress disguised as a man, has been hired to assist handsome Rafiq on a dangerous quest.  Ahleme, known as "the most beautiful woman in the world", has been kidnapped by Yazid, a rebellious djinn, who plans to coerce her into becoming the mother of his child.  Taqla and Rafiq must find Ahleme before this child - this abomination -  can be conceived.

As the unlikely pair race across the desert,  a dangerous encounter with ghouls strips Taqla's magical disguise away, leaving both her face and her emotions bare to Rafiq's scrutiny. Burdened by this unwelcome revelation, the two struggle to continue their quest, though their relationship grows more strained with each passing hour.  It is only when Taqla is nearly killed that Rafiq begins to view her as something more than just a means to an end.  Yet Taqla's past experiences and fear of being diminished by marriage cause her to remain aloof. 

Will Taqla's fierce independence soften enough for her to see Rafiq through eyes less jaded?  Or will their approaching battle with the djinn kill them both, rendering the argument moot?

The cover doesn't have to be complicated, just effective. This sort of thing works really well for a certain author.

Feeling ambitious and want to have a go at depicting the characters? Here are some of the pictures I used as inspiration when writing (although of course you may not manipulate these photos directly as they belong to other people), which may help you too. Click to enlarge.

Rafiq, my hero, is a merchant-traveller in the style of Sinbad. In fact, think Sinbad and you can't go wrong. He probably looks a bit rougher than this by a few chapters in! He wants to rescue and marry Ahleme and thus become heir to the Amir of Damascus. He's certainly not expecting to fall in love with a sorceress on the way...

Taqla, my heroine, is a sorceress. She has spent her whole life hiding this fact from the outside world, and when she ventures out from the safety of her home she shape-changes into male disguise. She agrees to help Rafiq in his quest much against her better judgment, but is terrified of letting him past her emotional defences.  She has striking green eyes and wears many different rings, one on each finger.

Yazid the djinni is the antagonist of the story. He abducts Ahleme and wants to father a magical child on her; he has a fierce temper and an awful lot to learn about human women.  His skin varies from white to blue depending on mood, and sometimes an ancient script can be seen tattooed on his skin. I had this TV genie in mind when I wrote him, only better-looking and with no beard.

Ahleme, the victim whose abduction kicks off all the action, is feted as the most beautiful woman in the known world. She's young and frightened and forced into a situation beyond her control. Will she be able to fend off Yazid's advances for long enough for her to get rescued? I haven't got a particular face in mind for Ahleme, but this one is in the right ballpark - she's half-Somali, half Arabic.

More ideas needed? The two main protagonists visit medieval Baghdad, the ghoul-haunted ruins of Ctesiphon, Bukhara, a huge swamp, several deserts (one of which is pale green) and the snow-covered mountains of Kashmir, and they ride a metallic silver horse across the surface of the sea. There's no magic carpet though!

I am happy to answer any questions here in the comments section about the novel's contents and details. But to enter you need to go to the catScratch blog where you will find formatting details and the address to send your art - don't send it direct to me.

So go on - Please! - Make me a cover! And if graphic art is not your thing, please pass the news on to friends who might be interested.

Closing Date is 2nd December, Midnight CST



Justine Elyot said...

How VERY cool! Sadly I have nary an artistic bone in my body, but I know several people who are talented in that direction - I'll email them!

Justine Elyot said...

Oh, I could Tweet it if you like? Would that be OK?

Nikki Magennis said...

Ooh fun! I'll have a go. And how cool you'll get to choose your own cover, Janine!

Nikki Magennis said...

Well, I'd like to report I just singed my fringe. I think I needs a model. Could you change your heroine to a cat, maybe, Janine?

Jo said...

Hee, Nikki.

I wish I was up to this task.I'm seeing one of those Terry Pratchett covers right now, after that description :)

Most of all though, I really want to read it!

Jeremy Edwards said...

What a cool, cool thing! Have fun a-choosing*!

*Sounds like a sneeze, eh?

Charlotte Stein aka The Mighty Viper said...

I'll email my artist friend and let her know! I *could* attempt one myself, but it would probably end up looking like a kid's drawing of a fire engine.

Janine Ashbless said...

Tweet away, Justine, do. Thank you!

Janine Ashbless said...

What were you doing artistically that led to the singing of your fringe, Nikki? You weren't trying to actually set a heart on fire, were you?

Janine Ashbless said...

I hope you do get to read it, Jo, and enjoy it!

Janine Atischoo

Jeremy Edwards said...

[Hands her a tishoo.]

Danielle said...

oh how cool is that??? not only that there is a competition for your cover but also that its you who will choose the cover for your own work..i m sure there are PLENTY writers who would love to choose their covers but arent alowed by their publishers..lucky you...cant wait to see the winner..:-)

Nikki Magennis said...

Well for one thing, the only diaphanous, floaty black satiny fabric I could find was a pair of knickers. So I also had them on my head and it was quite a lucky escape just my fringe got burned because I'm sure they're quite flammable pants.

I really wish I was joking.

Um. Is it an actual painting/drawing you're looking for, Janine?

Jeremy Edwards said...

Well for one thing, the only diaphanous, floaty black satiny fabric I could find was a pair of knickers. So I also had them on my head

You know, now that you mention it, I think some of those Dutch masters resorted to the same workaround. ; )

Janine Ashbless said...

Yes, I know I'm lucky, Danielle. It's a real honour.

Nikki, I don't know what to say! If you get rushed to the maternity ward with burning knickers on your head, it Wasn't My Fault, right?

Um ...

.jpg to start with, please, but it can be of a picture or a montage or a manipulated photo. (If you win, Sonya will be wanting a .tiff - Not that I have any clue what a tiff is.) All details on the CatScratch blog post.

Madeline Moore said...

Wonderful, Janine.

Emerald said...

Cool, Janine! How fun to get to see different visions for your cover, and also to get to choose the cover your book has!

What interesting information about the book, too. (I remember that photo you used in reference of Taqla — I seem to recall it was on the cover of National Geographic and won an award.) It sounds quite intriguing!

I don't know that I could have a clue where to start designing such a thing, but I have at least one person in mind to pass it on to.

(Also, LOL @ Jeremy — "tishoo" — HAHAHAHA!!)

Janine Ashbless said...

Thanks folks. Please do pass on the news to anyone who might be interested!