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fractal gold flower black and glowing blue background

Fractals

Here is a really useful element for creating images: fractals.

What are fractals? Well, here’s what Wikipedia says (among other things): “…fractal is a term used to describe geometric shapes containing detailed structure at arbitrarily small scales.”

From that comes fractal art, which “…is a form of algorithmic art created by calculating fractal objects and representing the calculation results as still digital images, animations, and media.” There’s lots more in the Wikipedia article.

If you go to Pixabay and key in “fractal,” you will be rewarded with a wealth of shapes and patterns. Some are beautiful, like the featured image. Some are weird. Many can be combined with other design elements to produce something unique, or at least make an ordinary image interesting.

fractal purple circles and swirls black background
I’ve used this fractal in a few of my creations…
Image #2 for Welcome to the Witch House story
…such as this image for one of the stories in Tales From the Annexe.
fractal gold circles and swirls
This conglomeration of gold circles and swirls was useful to suggest the supernatural in a couple of recent images.
Herbert West Series A plus image
SHE books info
Image for The Night Journey of F.D. story
This fractal, resembling an eye, was perfect for another of the Tales From the Annexe stories. All I had to do was add the title.

Here are a couple of fractals I haven’t incorporated into anything as yet, but I couldn’t resist downloading them from Pixabay.

fractal black background white circles
This would be perfect for a dark story.
fractal blue and green and yellow shapes suggesting tentacles
And this gorgeous one suggests a tentacle-bearing undersea entity.

I upload the fractal images to Canva and use it to assemble and adjust. (Canva also includes fractals in its photo library.) I do some cropping to size and fiddle with the degree of transparency. That’s one of the nice things about Canva–you can easily layer images and change transparency to make abstract shapes like these fractals into backgrounds or nearly transparent foregrounds.

A word of warning, though: messing around with images can eat up a lot of time.

Sunset seen from Pettinger Point, Nov. 27, 2019.

The Tree and the Stone, the Land and the Sky

Tree

Where is she?
Who stood beneath my greening boughs
With bluebells at her feet
Where has she gone?

Stone

Where is she?
Who embraced me
And sought within
For my stories and my songs
Where has she gone?

Land

Fear not, I hold her safe
Her substance cradled on my breast.
The hills are clothed in purple heather,
Bright streams bejewel them.
She is home.

Sky

Fear not,
Her spirit has returned to Light.
Star Bright, she shines
Forever in the hearts of those who knew her.

In memory of
Sue Vincent
1958-2021

Drift log on rocks and windblown trees Cox Bay

To the West Again

In mid-October we spent nearly a week near Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This visit was originally scheduled for March, but we postponed it when everything shut down.

Small Amanita muscaria mushrooms near the pond with Hosta leaves in background
I said goodbye to the garden and these cute mushrooms and headed west!

The autumn weather was a delightful mix of mist, fog, a bit of drizzle, a little rain, and a couple of glorious sunny days. Perfect for walking on sandy beaches, exploring sea-worn rocks, and immersive forest bathing.

Nelly en route to Tofino, Oct. 2020
Nelly the Newfoundland en route; I couldn’t resist getting a photo with this sign, since people often say she looks like a bear.

I’ve realized that trying to take pictures during a walk often spoils the walk. I’m too taken up finding good picture opportunities to appreciate the overall scene. So I took almost no photos until the last full day of our stay, when I raced around some photogenic rock formations near where we were staying. The combination of mussel- and barnacle-encrusted bedrock, rounded boulders, smooth sand, eroding mussel shells, and plants making their living on the edge was irresistible.

Tide pool Cox Bay mussels and barnacles October 2020
Stone, sand, mussels, and barnacles
Tide pool sea anemones, mussels, and barnacles Cox Bay October 2020
A gang of sea anemones
Black basalt boulder Cox Bay October 2020
A big basalt boulder looking like a Work of Art
Surge channel Cox Bay
A narrow surge channel going up into the trees
Mussel shells Cox Bay
Mussel shells. There are small beaches of “sand” made of pulverized shells, which are also used as path surfacing in places.
Mussel shells and beach grass Cox Bay
Shells and beach grass
Maianthemum dilatatum and withered grass Cox Bay
Beach grass, false lily of the valley (Maianthemum dilatatum), and (maybe) some sort of sedge
View between rock masses Cox Bay
An intriguing gap at low tide
Wave-worn rock and finely ground shells Cox Bay
Bedrock worn smooth, pulverized shells, and the water that did the job
Wild strawberry plants growing on rocks Cox Bay
Wild strawberry plants rooted in cracks in the rock
Water-worn boulders and bedrock Cox Bay
Bedrock, boulders, and sand

And here are three phone photos from a coastal rainforest boardwalk loop trail in Pacific Rim National Park. It’s one of my favourites (although Nelly the Newfoundland wasn’t too keen on all the stairs!)

Coastal rainforest with woodpecker tree
Towering cedars and firs, with a dead trunk thoroughly bored by woodpeckers.
Big Boletus mushroom and Deer Fern (Struthiopteris spicant)
A great big Boletus mushroom among Deer Ferns (Struthiopteris spicant). (Apologies for the fuzziness of the photo.)
Yellow heart-shaped leaf of Maianthemum dilatatum and cedar trunk
Yellow leaf of false lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum dilatatum)

I love Tofino!

Images for Tales from the Annexe

Pictures for Several Thousand Words, Part 1

Somewhere in the process of becoming an indie author, I discovered I enjoy messing around with images. I’m not talking about the photos of my garden I post on the blog. I hardly ever do any post-processing on those.

But ever since I found out about Canva, an easy-to-use graphic design tool, I’ve been creating images to represent my writings. Often, I complete one or more long before I finish writing the novel or story to which they belong. The image-designing process must use different parts of the brain than whatever it is that transforms ideas into words.

When I published four of the stories in Tales from the Annexe as separate ebooks in 2016, I made cover images for them, and I designed the cover image for the collection years before I needed it. More recently, while writing the the new stories that completed the set, I created an image for each of them as well. I didn’t need cover images for these stories, but I did need regular breaks from writing them.

My first idea was to include all these images in the book, but I didn’t want to swell the ebook’s file size to the point it incurred a hefty delivery fee. Moreover, not all e-readers display images in colour. I decided to feature them here on my blog instead.

Below are the images for the first seven stories, which are by-products, off-cuts, spinoffs, or supplements (I haven’t found a congenial word for this concept) to the four novels of my Herbert West Series.

They appear in “chronological” order, i.e., the first three happen during the time period covered by the first novel. The fourth, fifth, and sixth happen between Books 3 and 4 of the series. The last story of this group takes place decades later, following She Who Comes Forth, the novel that’s a kind of sequel to the series.

ebook cover image for The Nexus
A 101-year-old professor reminisces about his most memorable–and dangerous–student.
Image for Fox and Glove story
To win a bet with his friend Alma, librarian Charles Milburn seeks the help of a dead man.
As if a relationship with a part-time necromancer isn’t complicated enough, what if it were more than friendship?
A climb up a hill near Luxor, Egypt leads to an encounter with bandits and supernatural entities.
One of the Fourteen ebook cover image
A chance meeting in a pub brings reformed necromancer Francis Dexter to a perilous realm between life and death.
Image for The Night Journey of F.D. story
Determined to confess one of his worst crimes, Dr. Francis Dexter is subjected to a terrible revenge.
Image for The Final Deadline of A.G. Halsey story
A dying newspaperwoman struggles to figure out what happened to her granddaughter in Luxor, Egypt, and to warn her of threats to her heart and soul.

Cover image for Tales from the Annexe

Available at a special pre-order price of $0.99 USD (or equivalent) from these Amazon outlets
US UK CA AU DE

Original photo for 2010 FofM cover image and 2020 fun version plus 2014 final

Cover Image Whimsy

Not long ago, I wrote a post about whether or not to write a new and different version of my first novel, The Friendship of Mortals. I decided not to do that, but while writing the book’s tenth anniversary post, I had a look at the original cover image I created when I published the book in 2010.

The original ebook cover image, 2010

That image was replaced with a professionally designed one in 2014, but I thought I would see what I could do with the original using Canva, which I discovered a few years ago. The free version offers way more capabilities than MS Paint, which is what I used for the 2010 cover image.

I started with a modified version of the original photograph. My idea (back in 2010) was to make it look like an old, damaged photo. With MS Paint, I gave it a sepia shade and added a rusty paperclip mark, a creased corner and a few suspicious stains. I also executed a handwritten annotation — not easy to do using a touchpad mouse!

In the end, I didn’t use the modified photo for the first cover image, but I thought it might be a starting point for a new one. With Canva, I added a texture background and the text for title, author and series, aiming for a style similar to what the professional designer achieved with superior tools and skills.

Alternate cover image for The Friendship of Mortals, created on a whim
Whimsical revision, 2020

One thing I like about this image is that it includes the four colours of alchemy — black, white, yellow, and red. The story includes references to alchemy, where it also serves as a symbol.

I have no intention to replace the current glowing purple cover image for The Friendship of Mortals, but I am rather pleased with my revision of the original. And creating it was fun, which would not be the case with a rewrite of the novel itself.

Still the official image

The original photo and all three cover images are shown in the post header. If you have any thoughts about them, or cover image design in general, please add a comment!

Happy Holidays!

Wishing all Pressers of the Word a splendid holiday, however celebrated!

Followed by an inspired 2020!


And another reason to celebrate…

The Smashwords End of Year Sale

December 25th 2019 through January 1st 2020

All my books are on sale, along with hundreds of others. At the Smashwords ebook store only.

collage of Herbert West Series cover images
SWCF 2019 revision reduced