Indie Authors: Jacks of Several Trades

My cover artist and dear friend Alessandro Fiorini has started a new exciting career, and I know it is going to be hard to replace him. Therefore, in case I won’t find his replacement soon enough, in the last two months, I have tried to learn how to use Expression Design 4 and Gimp to create book covers. Not an easy task, but I have been busy working on it every day. As I wrote in a different post, I wasn’t happy with Elios’s cover. I didn’t like the model’s face and the overall palette. I worked on the cover Alessandro had created for me, using Painter to tinker with the image, but the result wasn’t of my satisfaction. At that point, I was ready to publish the book, but Alessandro was in the middle of his transition to the new job, so I couldn’t ask him to remake the cover and I uploaded the image anyway. Meanwhile, I started a new cover from scratch, using Gimp, Expression design 4, Paint.NET, and Painter. Yesterday, helped by my patient husband, I finally reached a level I could be happy with. And if only Amazon would upload the new covers, I would be happier still.

Elios cover_960x1280

Gaia cover_960x1280

Those below are the old covers—which, much to my chagrin, at the moment are still displayed on the Amazon page. Among other changes, I had to decide on a different typeface because Trajan Pro, the one Alessandro originally used on Photoshop, didn’t look the same on Expression Design 4. Also, I worked with a different Etruscan alphabet for Gaia’s cover because I couldn’t find the one Alessandro used.

Elios Amazon 3 ritoccata

Gaia Kindle Finale

Indie Authors: Jacks of Several Trades

The Making of Elios’s Cover

Or the ceaseless quest for that perfect image.

Elios Amazon 3 ritoccata

As it had already happened a few months ago when I published Prince at War, I hit the button to release Elios into the Amazon wild with a temporary cover. The image I wanted had the wrong measures and wouldn’t fit the required parameters.

The preliminary stock images I bought for the cover:

Portrait Of Young Man Sunset in alien planet

Temporary Cover:


Image I wanted in the first place:


Alessandro Fiorini, my cover artist and miracle worker sent me a mix of the two:

Elios Amazon 3_bak

I decided I had bothered Alessandro enough already, opened Corel Painter and added the lapis lazuli accent to Elios’s eyes, plus a little bit of turquoise here and there on the sky.

Elios Amazon 3 ritoccata

The end…?

The Making of Elios’s Cover

The Cougar and the Cub

In the process of posting my Friday Snippet, I got sidetracked. Not that it takes me  great effort achieving distraction… it isn’t a coincidence my furry baby is a beagle. Anyway, looking for a pic to accompany my latest excerpt, I remembered just recently I asked my dear hubbie to shoot some pics of me and Nero. Applied some Paint.NET to the original and then I thought about an apt title. I think I nailed it.

Monica and Nero 2013

*Behind me, there’s part of Roberto’s and mine comic collection. Some of the magazines are still wrapped in their original bags. We collected double issues of the X-Men until we we got married, then we decided our relationship was serious enough to switch to one subscription. That’s love and commitment for you.

The Cougar and the Cub

Linda of the Night, genesis of a cover for a short story

Copertina Finale AmazonBlessed be Skype and the abundance of technology that makes possible for people living thousands of miles apart to work on a project as if they were in the same room. Three days ago, I didn’t have a finished cover for Linda of the Night, my short that went live only a few hours ago. Linda was a long time in the making project, but only recently I decided to send it to Amy Eye, my editor, to have it polished for publishing. Last Friday, I contacted my cover artist, Alessandro Fiorini. I had already sent him some material to work on, but working by email can be frustrating. Especially when the person you are corresponding with is nine hours ahead of you. Three days ago, we connected through Skype and Alessandro shared his desktop with me so I could watch as he worked on the final version of the cover. I was able to give immediate input and cut considerably the waste of time between steps. In less than one hour, we finished the cover.

From picture to final product:

Everything started as my weekly exercise in practicing patience:  aka working with Painter. I received the software as a gift for Christmas and I still struggle with it.  Monday, I decided to play with one of my daughter’s pictures.


First, I gave the picture a dreamier look with Paint.Net by altering the balance of the luminosity. I probably tinkered with it some more, but I can’t remember all the steps I took.

Gaia Polinesiana

Then, I used the altered image as a canvas and painted on it with Painter. I used a mix of oil colors and airbrushes.

Gaia Bionda Capelli Mossi

I went back to Paint.Net, applied the ink sketch filter, and then tinted the whole background in a flesh tone I picked from the image.

Gaia Bionda Capelli Mossi Paint.Net

Having a sudden inspiration, I cropped the eyes to make them stand out.

Gaia Occhi Blue

Knowing that Alessandro is quite busy, instead of sending him several emails explaining what I had in mind for the cover, I worked on my idea with Paint.Net and sent him examples instead.

Linda of the Night 3Linda of the Night 2Idea Preliminare per Linda of the Night


Finally, on Tuesday, early afternoon in Redmond and late at night in Marsciano, Alessandro and I started working on the final stages of the cover. The following images were all created by Alessandro in one fruitful Skype session. The whole process lasted the whole of one hour. Not bad, ah?

First try

Linda of the Night Cover 3

Second try

Linda of the Night Cover 2

Third try

Linda of the NIght Cover 1

You already know my final pick

Copertina Finale Cartacea

Copertina Finale Amazon

Linda of the Night, genesis of a cover for a short story

Make Your Own Fairytale #9

The oil version of yesterday’s drawing is prettier than the original, but it was more difficult to find the right words for it. I wrote several texts for this image, but all of them were too serious for a fairytale script. I finally settled for this one. See you in a month or so (Nanowrimo starts in two days.)

Flowers for the Market Blank Correct Text

Make Your Own Fairytale #9

Make Your Own Fairytale #7

I had a busy morning which transitioned into a busy afternoon without stopping for lunch. Thankfully, I have friends with renewed cooking skills. None of what I just mentioned has anything to do with the image I’m going to post below. I just like writing. That’s all.

Orange Precipitations

Make Your Own Fairytale #7

From Concept to Cover: The Journey of A Ripple in Time

At the beginning of the summer, I had the great pleasure to meet a fellow author on the twitverse, Julia Hughes. Julia was running a promotion for her novel A Ripple in Time and I was immediately intrigued by its blurb: “After one hundred years, the Titanic has a new love story.” Julia and I started tweeting, also thanks to a common friend, Randall Peterson who was promoting her book and mine. A friendship was born out of 140 characters at a time. Later, Julia saw my drawings and asked me if I wanted to work on the new cover for A Ripple in Time, which meanwhile had had more than twenty thousand downloads in mere five days. I was flattered that my naïf art had caught Julia’s attention. Her proposal arrived at an odd moment for me, I was leaving to go back to Italy for a long stay due to family reasons. My mind was stretched in several directions at once, but Julia assured me she was in no hurry. Nevertheless, I don’t like to have people waiting on me when I accept to work on a project, and so once Julia told me what she wanted on the cover, I started playing with my tablet. One of her requirements was that the cover must have dandelion flowers and seeds. I had never drawn a dandelion flower before and I scouted the web for good images I could use as reference. It turns out, I love drawing dandelions and dandelions seeds. Below are my first and second mock covers and the banner.

A Ripple in Time Dandelion_thumb

A ripple in Time cover 2_thumb

A Ripple in Time Banner_thumb

Once the backdrop was done, I asked my cover artist and dear friend, Alessandro Fiorini to come onboard. I gave him the specifics of what Julia wanted on the cover: a sundial, a winged figure, and of course the Titanic.

Alessandro told me he was going to give it a try and contacted me a few hours later with this:


I thought it was a solid work and sent the image to Julia. Once we received the okay from her, Alessandro and I started working on the details. Despite a particularly hot Italian summer, internet failures, and life in general, a few weeks later we were able to send Julia the final cover. Below is one of the final tries and the banner.



Working with Alessandro is always a treat and Julia is one fabulous patron of the arts and it was an absolute pleasure to create a cover for her imaginative novel.

From Concept to Cover: The Journey of A Ripple in Time