Five Bean Moussaka

postcard recipe for five bean moussaka

I spent fifteen years drawing cartoon postcards every December (it was always a quiet month for design work). This is one of a whole series of postcards on one of my favourite hobbies – cooking.

I don’t profess to be a great cook, but I love food and cooking it is a natural progression for me. I was always daunted at first that the wonderful photos in cook books were almost impossible to match at home, so I thought illustrations might be less daunting. Also I wanted to section the recipes into a series of stages as I was always re-reading recipes from the start whenever I cooked something new.

This is a vegetarian moussaka, very tasty. I can’t remember where I first found this recipe or if I adapted it from a variety of sources

If anyone recognises it please let me know.

The Moon and Me

cartoon cat on book cover

Watch out for designers’ literals
We have our faults and one of them is grammar. I am a fully paid up member of the ‘Save the Apostrophe’ club, but not immune to errors (can you spot it, I left it there as an example of sneaky mistakes).

In defence of the designer, we are focussed on visual communication when designing a book cover, how the public will interpret it, will the author accept our idea, the last thing we’re are doing is reading the damned words. I know, we should be, but the world isn’t perfect

The illustration file is by me and the colours can be changed to suit whatever cat you might have in mind. The main typeface is Mad’s Scrawl.

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.

Do you write within a genre?

writer thinking about plot and genre

I didn’t set out to write in a particular genre. In fact I’m not sure where the plot for my first novel came from, but I am fascinated by the way most of us make decisions in our teens that inform and influence the rest of our life.

I have heard, on more than one occasion, that the protagonist in a first novel can strongly resemble the authors imaginary life.

Not wanting to risk writing a veiled autobiography, for my first novel I chose a female protagonist. Then she needed to have one of those life defining problems, so she became pregnant – without being sure who the father was. Looking back I now realise that I didn’t entirely escape the ‘borrowing from real life’ syndrome, but at least it wasn’t my life, just someone close to me.

In fact my daughter pointed out that I’d also used someone I know as a template for the villain of the drama (fortunately nobody else has noticed, especially the person in question).

I didn’t think about a categorising my work until after I’d finished that novel and someone asked me which genre I wrote within. It took a few years, and a lot more writing, for me to feel comfortable with the phrase ‘commercial women’s fiction’ – and I’m still not sure that’s accurate. I write about relationships between people – that’s what interests me more than crime, science fiction, history, mystery, murder or fantasy.

Having said that, the novel I’m currently working on is set 100 years in the future and may stray into YA fiction. But it’s still basically about relationships – about trust, betrayal, love and greed.

Did you set out to specifically write within one genre?

Five Days

paperback or e-book cover with mysterious girl's face

Image manipulation
I have done quite a lot of work on this image, as you can see, to produce a dark, but haunting, cover design. The photograph was layered and various filters applied. Even the title interacts with the image, which you can do with shorter titles and simple images.

I might even write a novel myself based on this cover – I like it that much.

This is a royalty free image and the main typeface is Helvetica Extra Bold. The original photo file came from pxhere.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.

Lessons in Survival

ebook or paperback book cover with illustration of woman's face
original image file for lessons in survival

Using illustrations
If you commission an illustration expect a much larger fee (I would typically charge £250 for a commission, other designer/illustrators would obviously vary.

But there are many royalty free illustrations too. With this one I strengthened and tweaked the colours, and cropped it considerably. There is a lot that can be done with illustrations that you can’t do with a photograph.

This is a royalty free image and the main typeface is ITC Anna. The original image file came from pixabay.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.

Choosing character’s names

choosing character's names in a novel

My character’s names often change as a novel develops. Sometimes the original name just doesn’t seem to suit the way the character or their backstory develops.

There’s a theory called nominative determinism which speculates that your given name might define what you do in life. I don’t subscribe to that theory, but names do need to fit the characters.

I used the name Marcus in a novel recently, but you have to resolve the possessive suffix, either Marcus’ or Marcus’s. I would instinctively go for the former, but apparently this is a contentious point. I resolved it by changing his name to Martin.

Has anyone else experienced this problem?

For my current novel in progress all the characters have been given names from the Old Testament – no idea why, but it appears to be working and it feels ‘right’ for the story – for me at least.

They are Ethan, Abby (Abigail), Hannah, Isaac, Martha, Beth (Bethany), Daniel, Simon, Peter and Mary.

In my head there’s a connection between my novel, set 100 years in the future, and names from over 2000 years ago.

Does anyone have a better way of choosing character names?