To the prospective new tenants

rubbish left after a music festival

We would like to profusely apologise for the state in which we left the property after our extended rental. We had all over-indulged and were not really behaving ourselves. Consequently we did, I suspect, damage several items of which we should have taken more care.

In the gardens we unthinkingly cut some down some of the larger plants in order to extend the lawns which, with hindsight, we should have left alone. Also we did allow some substances to fall into the the ponds. We now realise it was home to quite a variety of species that are going to be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.

We understand that the property was not designed for the seven billion people who eventually turned up to our party, but we found it difficult, if not impossible, to say no to new arrivals. On the positive side, we have made a number of ‘improvements’, and hope that you will find some use for them. We would advise you to avoid any that glow. As for the catering we have no excuses. We have to say it was most enjoyable feast, but we’re sorry about the mess that we didn’t have time to clear up.

We do hope you can return the establishment to it’s former glory, but we now find ourselves unable to offer any assistance in restoration as we have, regrettably, moved on.

Yours very sincerely, A Boomer

You and Me

paperback e book cover two children
original photos for this book cover

A leap in the dark
You don’t always know what will happen when you start melding images together. The silhouettes of two children playing was far too dark and contrasty to make an attractive book cover.

By combining it with an abstract painting (in a complex procedure I’m not going to try to explain) I ended up with this lighter, intriguing image. I imagined it might be a snapshot of two children who went in very different directions as they grew up – just my interpretation.

This is a royalty free image and the main typeface is Oz Handicraft. The original photos file came from pexels.com.

Book cover design costs vary depending on whether it’s an ebook or paperback but around £80 ($100) is a good guide.

If you need a cover for your new novel or if you’re short of an idea for a plot? Browse these imagined book covers and strap lines for ideas.

Don't blame the boomers alone

It’s worth considering a few facts about us before you ladle all the world’s problems onto one generation.

baby boomers generation

When we were children we wore mainly woollen and cotton clothes. The average hoody, jeans and trainers outfit now contains the equivalent of ten plastic bottles. Our clothes were kept and used until they wore out, not just until they had been worn out – once or twice.

We struggled to buy a house, we were limited to three times one salary for a mortgage and paid interest rates of up to 18% pa.

Free education up to the age of eighteen was provided then and now, but only 9% of us went on to university education. Now near 50% of young people go to university – mainly because universities are now businesses who need consumers.

We were low energy consumers. When we were at university the vast majority of us couldn’t afford to go to clubs, eat fast food or own a car. Electronics consisted of a calculator.

Holidays were taken once a year, usually without flying anywhere.

Home entertainment was a board game, not an energy consuming piece of electronics.

We worked all summer, at Christmas and in the Easter holidays to fund our education. Many of worked during the evenings too, in restaurants as waiting staff and in pubs. Low pay, no minimum wage and no contract.

Those phones that you might change every couple of years use huge amounts of energy to make and distribute, they also exploit third world and child labour. Most are never recycled. We didn’t have mobile phones, laptops or tablets. We wrote longhand on recyclable materials.

Emails, web browsing, tweeting and posing on social media are not carbon neutral methods of communication. Take emails for example

“When you are typing, your computer is using electricity. When you press ‘send’ it goes through the network, and it takes electricity to run the network. And it’s going to end up being stored on the cloud somewhere, and those data centres use a lot of electricity. We don’t think about it because we can’t see the smoke coming out of our computers, but the carbon footprint of IT is huge and growing.” Mike Berners-Lee (brother of the inventor of the internet)

Transport was by bicycle, bus, or walking. Most of us didn’t have parents who owned cars when we were young, there was no home taxi service. The same was was true for getting to and from school.

We protested about about nuclear weapons, racial segregation and superpowers waging war in third world countries. We didn’t vilify people on social media who we didn’t really understand.

This is not a whinge, we just don’t deserve all the blame. One thing we learned to do was listen and try to understand other people’s point of view – a skill that has now sadly been lost.

Yours very sincerely, A Boomer

Parracombe snow

farm in gentle hills snow at night

A chance photo from the main round near Parracombe, Devon. It was taken through a wound down car window, the setting sun had just picked out this farm on a winter’s evening. Serendipity, or fortuitous happenstance, took me past just at that time.

Are we going to get another dump of snow this year? it just keeps raining right now.

When the Bell Rings

paperback or e book cover design with snowy tree

Colour isn’t fixed
This was a mono photograph (black and white). Although it would have ‘worked’ like that, and been quite beautiful, it would have had a different impact. The original may have suited another title better. I created a duotone to add colour (a mixture of two colours). I could have used any combination of dark and light colours to produce different ‘moods’. In reality I would match the colour cast to the author’s brief.

This is a royalty free image and the main typeface is Eccentric Std. The original photo file came from unsplash.com.

Book cover design costs vary depending on whether it’s an ebook or paperback but around £80 ($100) is a good guide.

If you need a cover for your new novel or if you’re short of an idea for a plot? Browse these imagined book covers and strap lines for ideas.

How to act like a human

lots of blurred people

Everyone human being is made slightly different. Given that there are now over seven billion of us that’s pretty remarkable. It’s also not surprising that some of us malfunction in minor ways.

When I was a child
I thought everyone else had a sixth sense that I was lacking. As an adult, and after several different and sometimes interesting psychiatric diagnoses, I have come to realise that we’re all different in some way (not just me) and that applying labels doesn’t change anything.

As a child I didn’t understand how social interactions worked. I watched, trying to see how people communicated beyond the words they uttered. Small changes of expression, subtle body movements and hand gestures, variations in tone of voice and small pauses – they all augmented what they said or even replaced speech altogether. I didn’t have an innate ability to pick up on all of this so I studied cartoons, where an artist uses a set of facial rules for expression.

The people watching syndrome
This problem with ‘reading’ people also turned me into an extreme people watcher. By the time I was at university I was also supplementing my course work with reading about non verbal communication and body language. And I devoured several accessible books on psychology and psychiatry – plus attempting a few that were beyond my understanding.

So this is me
I am a hotchpotch, created by observing other people and trying to imitate their tics, blinks and sideways looks. I’m quite good at it now.

What I never realised was that all that observation would turn out to be useful when creating characters in stories. I had unknowingly been building a reference library in my head of characterisations.

What about wearing a label?
Maybe all writers should wear a warning sign, ‘Everything you say or do may be used in a novel’.

My particular label?
According to a recent diagnosis (about 5 years ago and very detailed over several meeting) I am ‘sub clinically autistic. Even my GP doesn’t quite know what that means so who cares.

Have you had a label attached to you that either makes you laugh or explains some of your quirky habits?

The Last Party

paperback book cover or e-book with two women

Anonymity of protagonists
Many writers intentionally give very little physical description of their main characters. I have often asked what ‘Sarah’ looks likes only to find the author doesn’t really know. So if you really want to feature two characters on the cover you’re better not to show their faces. So this image is useful in that respect – unless one of the characters happens to be blonde.

This is a royalty free image and the main typeface is Base 02. The original photo file came from unsplash.com.

Book cover design costs vary depending on whether it’s an ebook or paperback but around £80 ($100) is a good guide.

If you need a cover for your new novel or if you’re short of an idea for a plot? Browse these imagined book covers and strap lines for ideas.