No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThank goodness it is Monday!  It is time for another batch of Writer’s Links from No Wasted Ink.  This week in addition to the regular writing tips, there are a few that focus on science fiction writing and book marketing.  Enjoy!


Permission to Begin. Courage to Continue. Forgiveness to Try Again.

How to Write a Science Fiction Novel Series: 6 Tips

Creating Characters That Resonate

The #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory

Activate Your Writing with Powerful Verbs

Create Believable Characters: Assembly Required

How to Get Your Writing Done Every Day: The Three-Bucket System

6 Ways to Vet Freelance Editors

Why Your Book Isn’t Selling

What’s A Book Without A Cover by D.H. Aire



I was a closet sci-fi and fantasy writer for over twenty years. I stopped submitting stories in my twenties. The rejections were just too painful. But as the years went by, I couldn’t stop writing and I felt I was too old to care about rejections.

So my success in getting my first novel published caught me by surprise. It’s nice to have a publisher, who hires a cover artist and, if you’re lucky, seeks your approval of the cover. What do you do if you decide to self-publish and your book needs a cover?

My learning experience went something like this: my first book’s publisher asked me for a few sample cover ideas and sample back cover text. The cover that was created was lovely. The next book I published in the series was with a different small press, who asked me if there was a cover artist I’d like to work with.

At that point, I had been going to sci-fi conventions regularly. That helped me network, and a friend graciously sent out an email to three cover artists they knew, one of whom was available. The process at that point was similar. I provided several cover ideas, back cover text, and my book ended up with what I considered to be an excellent cover. The problem was, the looks were dissimilar. In other words, I didn’t feel they “branded” well. I next self-published the next two books in the same series, using the same artist and now had three novels with covers of a similar style. At that point, the sales of the series shot up and it happened to be when my contract was coming up for renewal with my first publisher.

As part of the renewal agreement, I negotiated for my cover artist to re-envision my first cover for the second printing. The publisher and I have been very pleased with the result, which effectively brands the entire series.

Now, I’ve launched a new series, which I was looking to have a signature look. So, I was interested in finding another artist. I tried the networking approach, but the search was not bearing fruit. That’s when I did an online search and checked out 99Designs (an online cover art service). They offer a contest approach. I thought that’s what I was going to do until I spoke with someone who had done a contest for a logo through 99Designs. That contest took up a week of my friend’s life. So, I checked out, which is now

I was very specific about my project’s requirements, including my vision for the cover, who my intended market was, text for my cover, back cover text, etc. I posted my cover art project and let people bid. I could check out their portfolios or websites for examples of their work. I had four or five artists who looked like they might be a match.

I selected a European artist, whose price was in keeping with what I have been paying for my covers and her website portfolio was, well, spectacular. Her portfolio offered solid fantasy elements, which was important for my urban fantasy cover. I also was looking for someone who had a good command of English, since I wanted to prevent any misunderstandings about my project. Payment through the site is generally done through an escrow approach. The site takes a cut as the broker (Elance took 9%, Upwork offered to maintain that deal for those who transferred as part of the Elance takeover). Those seeking to freelance often also offer hourly rates for work, too. The site’s service offerings are broad, ranging beyond graphic arts and website design to bookkeeping and other freelance services.

I recently completed the process and I have received just the cover I was hoping for.

The process took a lot of give and take. I also showed the cover to members of my author group on Facebook to get their input and advice. I sought advice from colleagues at work, who told me what they liked and didn’t like, too, which the artist was more than happy to correct. Additionally, when I was trying to figure if the book would look better with the title at the bottom rather than the top, I went to Amazon and checked out other books in the genre to she which look I liked best.

The paperback cover took over a week to get “just right.” But my cover artist showed she’s a professional. I gave her latitude to show me options of what she thought could make the cover better. The point is to get readers to gravitate to my book. I hope they will… and I know that covers and books also change over time, so if it doesn’t “work,” one day I can change it for another edition.

I have spoken with authors over the last few years who have spent more than what I typically spend for cover art. Then again, I know authors who spend far less, cropping photos to create a great and inexpensive cover. Just know, if and when you need a cover artist, there are truly talented people all over the world who will love working with you to bring your book through their art to life.

Seeing my characters there on the cover, that glimpse into my story on an entirely different level is difficult for me to describe. The book, which I will all too soon hold in my hands, featuring those characters who are like family, will hopefully, just hopefully, invite readers who will soon become their friends, too.



D. H. Aire has walked the ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem and through an escape tunnel of a Crusader fortress that Richard the Lionheart once called home. He’s toured archeological sites that were hundreds, if not thousands of years old… experiences that have found expression in his epic fantasy series with a science fiction twist, Highmage’s Plight and new Hands of the Highmage Series. The seventh and concluding book of his Highmage’s Plight Series, Paradox Lost is being released in 2017.

An Author of eleven fantasy and science fiction novels, including those in the urban fantasy Dare 2 Believe Series and the space opera Terran Catalyst Series, Aire’s short stories appear in a number of anthologies, including in Street Magick: Tales of Urban Fantasy. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Aire resides in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

This article originally appeared at dare2believe.


Author Interview: Rob Howell


As a child, Rob Howell’s parents discovered books were the only way to keep him quiet. Without books, either he or his parents would not have survived. Possibly both. Naturally, he became an author.  Please welcome fantasy author Rob Howell to No Wasted Ink.

author-rob-howellMy resume is cluttered with odd things that aren’t necessarily tied together, but which have all fed into my writing style. I’ve been a medieval academic, an IT guy, a paperboy, a soda jerk, a cook, and along the way dabbled in carpentry, acting, poetry, and a number of other things. I haven’t always been great at any of them, but I’ve learned a ton muddling through.

When and why did you begin writing?

Do you mean the first time? Then the answer is a school assignment. D&D modules and campaigns? Then the answer is junior high through college and to this day. Random scribbles and short stories? I’ve written here and there over the decades. Poetry in a variety of medieval styles? About 15 years ago.

If you are focusing on *completing* novels, though, then the answer is about 3 years ago when my various experiences made me unhireable for most jobs but with a nice set of experiences and skills to bring to writing. I started A Lake Most Deep, which like many things I do is a mélange of influences, which is why my first reviewer called it a “Raymond Chandler novel in a Tolkien world.”

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I had a physical copy of A Lake Most Deep in my hand. Until that point, even though I had completed a 100k-word novel, it still seemed a little ethereal. Now, with three books completed, a fourth on the way, and a process to complete two books a year, I feel like I’m a journeyman level writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

It is the third of my Edward novels and will be called Where Now the Rider. Forensic magic has discovered that a series of stranglings over at least four years was done by the same person. Can Edward see anything that Kapric, the man who is charged by the emperor to find that person, has not?

What inspired you to write this book?

I try to put out an Edward book each year. I guess my inspiration is the work ethic of people like Robert B. Parker and Dick Francis. In terms of the idea of this book, I would credit Randall Garrett and Parker.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes, but I think every writer has their own style. I don’t really know how to describe my own, other than to reiterate it’s a mélange of the many influences I’ve had.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It’s from the Anglo-Saxon poem the Wanderer. It refers to the loss of place in society to the poem’s narrator. Edward, the main character of these novels, is based in part that narrator.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I’m not big on messages, really. I try to create compelling characters and then write what they tell me they’re doing. I suppose if there’s any message in the Edward novels it’s to keep your word, but that’s only because of the kind of character Edward is. If you’re looking for a message in the Kreisens trilogy, the characters haven’t told me yet what’s going to happen so I don’t really know.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Occasionally, yes. My rule is that if my friends want to be in my books, I’ll tuckerize them but they will always die in a way I think they’ll like. Do I sometimes have snippets of experiences or shadows of people I know influence my writing? Of course. I don’t think any writer is limited to merely his or her experiences because our entire job is to imagine people, places, and events, but I also don’t think a writer can help using those experiences as either positive or negative influences on their writing.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Oh, this is going to take a while.

JRR Tolkien is first, both as a medieval scholar and fantasy author. I love his blending of real world history and mythology to create a depth of world that remains unmatched in my mind. All fantasy authors, including and especially me, are but pale imitators of him.

Garrett for the Lord Darcy novels, which was the first mix of magic and mystery I’d seen.

Isaac Asimov has, oddly enough, influenced my magic system greatly. The R. Daneel Olivaw mysteries are also a wonderful blending of genre and mystery.

Robert B. Parker for his sharp style of writing, especially dialogue. Also, I love his characters.

Elizabeth Moon added a grittier, more solid element to fantasy. The Deed of Paksenarrion is strong work. She is one of the few authors to really touch on the logistical underpinnings of life in a fantasy world.

Robert Heinlein created some fantastic characters, and I love his use of language.

Dick Francis has an amazing way of getting people to keep turning pages. It is especially impressive because he rarely has recurring main characters, but rather instead starts fresh most of the time.

David Drake has taught me how to twist historical events into a great kernel of a story. His RCN novels, especially, are fantastic because he’s pulling Greek and Roman events into a far future space opera.

David and Leigh Eddings gave me a great appreciation of how characters interact.

You gave me a word limit, so I’ll stop here. Like I said, though, my writing is a mélange and I’ve been reading for a long time.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Patrick McEvoy, I had seen his work in some gaming books. He has a liquid, flowing style I enjoy and he has given me three beautiful covers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

You can’t write a 100k-word novel in a day. Not even John Ringo can and he’s legendary for his productivity. You just have to keep plugging away. A bit here, a bit there. If you do that, sooner or later, this settles into more and more efficient processes. Nothing happens without the flailing away inefficiently part, though, and nothing happens without consistent writing. Bad writing is still writing, and what is bad in one place in a novel may be just right somewhere else, or at least close enough to use. Just keep writing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Four things:
1. Thank you
2. I hope you enjoyed them
3. Please send me feedback so I can get better
4. Thank you again

iaawt-electronic-cover-smallRob Howell
Olathe, KS


A Lake Most Deep

Cover Artist: Patrick McEvoy
Publisher: Aesc & Thorn Publishing


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksPour yourself a cup of coffee and tea and settle back for another list of writer’s links.  This week I have more general writing tips, but also general advice about being an introvert, writing contests and a nice article about writing battle scenes that I found particularly useful.

How to Find the Right Critique Partner: The 6-Step Checklist

Author Career Planning

Indie Choices: Writing in Multiple Genres or Specializing


7 Tips about the Basic Needs and Stressors of Introverts

Adapt to Change and Become More Productive

3D Organogenesis in Science Fiction

Novel Writing Advice: How to Write Battle Scenes

Writing Tips: Carry a Notebook?

The Problem with Pen Names

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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