The Cover Unveil: At Faith’s End!

Well I’ve teased it out over the course of a couple weeks now–I think it’s time to shift this process into the next gear and see if we can’t drive it home (Car reference? I know, oh god, what did they do to the author? Don’t worry, I’m mostly intact.) After a long, muggy weekend, it’s my pleasure to kick off the week with the final cover for the upcoming At Faith’s End, in all it’s glory. For those that have been following the process all along, you’ll notice a few changes in the transition from inception to adulthood, but hopefully we can all agree it has turned out positively lovely.

"At Faith's End," © Chris Galford ; artwork © Matthew Watts 2013.

“At Faith’s End,” © Chris Galford ; artwork © Matthew Watts 2013.

Now including a horse, among other pretty things. Matt really went above and beyond with this piece, and I dare say I may like this one even better than what we ended up with for The Hollow March – and believe you me, that’s saying something.

Additionally, for those of you pondering, the summary as you may or may not be able to squint it out at these particular dimensions is in fact the actual summary as it will appear on the book and its publication pages. Because I am a friend to eyeballs everywhere, I shall re-post it here:

“Conflicting dedications to duty and revenge have gutted the Idasian Empire, leaving its royal family in tatters and a host of opportunists snapping at the scraps. In desperation, they turn their hopes to a foreign face, praying for reprieve against the dark plots determined to see them dead.

Meanwhile in the east, hiding among the starving remnants of the imperial army, Rurik Matair has survived attempts on his own life, and war besides, only to become isolated from those he cares most about. But even as the madness of a nation infects the heart of the army, a new commander offers the hope of stability—and the possibility that new changes will right old wrongs.

Yet one cannot hide from truth. As Rurik and his friends face the reality of those around them, young and old alike are forced to realize a terrible fact: even faith can crumble, and what stalks its ashes might be something far worse.”

October remains the time of debut. It shall not be long now!

Bringing Color to the Cover

Behold! I have seen the glory of the coming of the artwork, and though its ways may be mysterious to a lowly writer like myself (whose contenders for most notable scribble most assuredly include a stick figure horse), I have found sufficient luck in this life to be blessed with a skilled artist.

In the past, I’ve waxed philosophic on the qualities that make for good cover art. And as ever, I want to take the time to thank my accommodating artist, Matthew Watts, for his skill and speed with a computer and a brush. When an idea crosses the man’s path, he can surely run with it, and take it to all sorts of delightful ends (and if last week’s cover art extravaganza didn’t prove that to you, you’re cold inside. Bitterly cold.). He listened to my own insights and produced many of his own, and pursued doggedly idea into action.

As you may recall, this is the piece we settled on:

© Matthew Watts 2013.

© Matthew Watts 2013.

But that was the bones of the thing. First comes the notion, then the boundaries, then the color and the detail that give the thing life. Draft-hopping, as it were. And like dipping one’s hands in the primordial ooze, each draft grants a vision of evolving life.

If that was the birthing, this is childhood—the transition from when the idea meets the page to when the idea has truly gained an identity of its own. And even in this, you can see it’s going to be a beauty.


© Matthew Watts 2013.

Quite the development, no? We’re going for a notable difference from the stark, winter-fueled chaos of the previous book. The change of season factors fairly heavily into the book, and with spring coming, that means color—colored thoughts, colored scenery, and thusly, Matt went for a more lively color scheme, to soothe and tempt the eyes, where the other lured with its sense of foreboding (And before you ask, no, the cover is not in red–this was another draft; as I said, the transition before the final. Next week I shall unveil that, to suitably stun and awe and hopefully get some love on).

I also opted out of the full picture wrap-around for front and back this time around, exchanging, for the back, something a little more reminiscent of the book’s war aspects, while also providing an easy setting for the text. (Which–also don’t mind the text. It’s presently using the summary from The Hollow March, here, because at this stage in the process the summary had still been a work in progress!)

Additionally, I’d like to take this time to update you on the release of At Faith’s End! Mark your calendars: 2 months out is what we’re looking at, putting us up for an early October release. Tell your friends and get interest generated early; I couldn’t have done anything without you kindhearted readers that decided to take a chance on me!

(And if you want to keep up to date on all potential announcements related to the Haunted Shadows series, or simply join the discussion with other people, be sure to check out the Facebook Page yonder. Yonder I say!)

A Brush with Covers: The Final Countdown

Today is the grand unveiling: the chosen one, as it were. Though the art has gone through the long walk to fleshed and colored perfection since this, the piece that follows is the rough draft from Matthew Watts that won my heart and secured its place as the cover art for my second (upcoming) novel, At Faith’s End.

© Matthew Watts 2013.

© Matthew Watts 2013.

Why? The style, I found, was most consistent with what we ended up going for in The Hollow March, the first book in the series. Yet consistency was hardly the only factor. While others spoke to moments–a chaotic battle, the gripping devastation of war itself, the struggle toward a path–this one, I found, best captured the full scope of the book. It combines the nature–the wild–with those elements of the urban, and maintains the lonely, almost voyeuristic feel of one looking in–finding himself apart. And the lone swordsman figure does have its roots in that heavily fantasy background! That said, the level of detail, even at this early stage, also gripped me right off the bat.

It is, in short, the very essence of what I could desire, and particularly once the color started to be added, this piece truly shone. But you’ll see more of what I mean in that regard in the week to come.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the walk down cover art lane. Have you enjoyed it? Do you agree with my choice, or did you prefer one of the others? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’d be willing to share them. And as I’ve said before, if you HAVE enjoyed them, be sure to check out their creator, Matthew Watts. He’s a wonderfully skilled, incredibly efficient artist out of the UK. Professional to the core, with a creative mind to match. I cannot endorse him enough.

Plus, if you missed the other works in this series, take a few moments out of your day and peruse the blog. There has been one every day this week, and they’re worth the trip. Stay tuned for more At Faith’s End-related musings in the weeks to come as well, as we get closer to release (the aim is September/October of this year).

(And if you want to keep up to date on all potential announcements related to the Haunted Shadows series, or simply join the discussion with other people, be sure to check out the Facebook Page yonder. Yonder I say!)

A Brush with Covers, Day Six

We’re in the home stretch now. Today I’ve put up the last of the runner-up portions of the cover art rush–that journey from rough choices to deciding prospect for the At Faith’s End cover. This bit of art makes a person want to shout SIEGE! at the top of their lungs, as war comes to the walls and streets of Idasia. For a Hollow March always leads to perilous ends.

And be sure to return here tomorrow. for the unveiling of the rough cover that would go on to form the final beauty on which the last touches are only now being placed. At Faith’s End is drawing near now, and that’s enough to make me feel downright energetic. I hope some of those vibes rub off!

But without further adieu…


© Matthew Watts 2013.

(And if you want to keep up to date on all potential Haunted Shadows-related announcements, or simply join the discussion with other people, be sure to check out the Facebook Page yonder. Yonder I say!)

A Brush with Covers, Day Five

Day five of the assault on rough cover mountain displays what I like to call the “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” approach to the artistry. Another notable shift from previous days, and in the end, not the right feel for At Faith’s End–but for another book? Possibility, limitless in scope, dwells atop that mountain, or perhaps merely the perilous climb to self-discovery.

Also a point of note: if you only return here one day this week, I recommend it be Sunday, when I unveil the the rough cover that led to the actual final artwork for At Faith’s End!

© Matthew Watts 2013.

© Matthew Watts 2013.

(And if you want to keep up to date on all potential Haunted Shadows-related announcements, or simply join the discussion with other people, be sure to check out the Facebook Page yonder. Yonder I say!)

A Brush with Covers, Day Four

Day four of the cover art extravaganza showcases another shift of scenery. Gone is the war, the madness of the aftermath, and more of a focus on character–specifically, Rurik and Essa, hacking their way through one of the book’s many forested landscapes. What are they looking for? Will they find it? (And after The Hollow March, why are they doing it together?) Well, you’ll just have to read to find that out, silly.


© Matthew Watts 2013.

(And if you want to keep up to date on all potential Haunted Shadows-related announcements, or simply join the discussion with other people, be sure to check out the Facebook Page yonder. Yonder I say!)

A Brush with Covers, Day Three

Day three of the cover art extravaganza: or when At Faith’s End goes to war. Whereas yesterday’s artwork captured the dread aftermath of war and pricked at the lonely and hollow qualities of what it leaves behind, today’s carries one right into the heart of it. And without giving too much away, I think I can safely say that this one is indeed a moment from the book itself–one of the more chaotic, at that. You will also notice a few of the black powder-styled weapons therein that continue to carry this series’ world a touch beyond the strictly dark ages feudalism of many other fantasies…


© Matthew Watts 2013.

(And if you want to keep up to date on all potential Haunted Shadows-related announcements, or simply join the discussion with other people, be sure to check out the Facebook Page yonder. Yonder I say!)

A Brush with Covers, Day Two

In which the second of the covers that might have been makes its appearance in rough form…This one is a haunting reminder of the war lying at the heart of the series, as well as the horror it leaves behind both in the characters, and in the world.

© Matthew Watts, 2013

© Matthew Watts, 2013

(And if you want to keep up to date on all potential Haunted Shadows-related announcements, or simply join the discussion with other people, be sure to check out the Facebook Page yonder. Yonder I say!)

A Brush with Covers

Alternative title: On the Path to Finality; Starting it Rough.

In which I play the part of a reasonably regular blogger. Don’t let it throw you for too much of a loop.

This week, the book portions of the site’s labors are being dedicated to the artistic side of the process. The cover art of At Faith’s End, I’m proud to say, has recently progressed into its final stages, thanks to the efforts of the wonderful returning artist, Matthew Watts. For those of you that read The Hollow March, he was the one that handled both the original and the second edition covers, in truly marvelous fashion.

From day one I’ve said I have been blessed to have found him as an artist. Quick, professional, and the quality, well–the quality speaks for itself! If you haven’t seen his portfolio yet (and if I haven’t made it clear already), he comes highly recommended, and I advise you to scurry off to his site as soon as possible.

That said, in honor of his efforts, every day this week I will be posting a snapshot of one of the rough drafts that paved the way (or what might have been) to the final we’ve spent recent days discussing. And with that, I give you the first…


© Matthew Watts 2013.

But Chris, you say, he gave you SEVEN different roughs to choose from? While I admire the math skills that went into that, no, actually–Matthew was kind enough (or cruel enough, depending on how you look at it–given how hard it was for me to choose which one I liked best) to provide 17 different rough covers in the first stage of our process. I’ll simply be sharing 7–and next week, talking a bit more about the process of development.

So be sure to keep tuning in: many a pretty picture awaits!

Setting the Mood

The writer is an oddity in this world for a simple reason: he is more than the personality of self, but a soul that must be capable of tapping into a hundred different personalities as the pen may guide him. The writer, matched perhaps only by actors, artists, and spies, must have the capability to tap into the inner workings of the mind and breathe life into characters that are nevertheless nothing like him.


Biting. Sparkling, drooling, or just plain snarling, it’s still not cool. (Photo credit: virginsuicide photography)

Remember that little detail the next time someone sneers and calls your labors child’s play. Also refrain from biting. People don’t like biting very much.

Yet the problem with this arrangement is that, often enough, we find ourselves at the whimsy of moods. Fickle things, really, but they can be the key difference between a well-written scene and a downright enthralling one. I would never council a writer not to write simply because he doesn’t feel quite into character—that’s the beauty of editing, of the multiple drafts we must insist upon our craft—but it can make things difficult. Some characters may be so inherently different—perhaps so dark, or so flamboyant—that our own minds cannot begin to connect with them on a regular basis. The mood—their mood—may strike us once in a month, once in a year, and if we do not throw ourselves at their scene in that time, we may never capture perfectly that essence for which we so strive.

I know, I know. You’re thinking: Chris, why are you making this sound almost spiritual? Are you high?

We are notoriously fickle people, us writers, and this is the reason. We have to be. Our moods roll with the wind, and our writing with it. Though we can train ourselves to perfect the skill of our pen, the creativity behind it ebbs and flows as the storm upon the sea—we never know quite when and to what means it will gather.

Fortunately, there are ways to help manipulate ourselves. To manipulate the moods and personalities we so crave. While nothing’s ever certain, they can help:

  1. Music . Why do you put the Barry White on when you know that special someone’s coming over? Because deep down everyone knows that music stirs the heart and moves the emotion to the beats. A sad song can drag us down to the deepest depths of mortal despair. A fast song can revitalize a weary body. A smooth song, peppered with those deep, low notes and reverberating bass well…be still those quivering legs. Probably also relevant to your Valentine’s Day interests.
  2. Travel. I don’t mean a road trip—although that might not hurt either. Simply, I mean get outside. Go to your favorite place. Climb a mountain. Sit down in the local coffee shop. Walk the lonely streets. Different places, different people—these things can strike a chord as sure as that picture of a sandy beach you stare every day at your work desk.
  3. Read. Watch. Listen. Tell me this is self-explanatory.
  4. Drink. Oh come now, surely you knew this was going to be here somewhere. While I’m not advising that you go out and get yourself royally bombed (be sure someone else has possession of both your keys and any Text Message-capable devices), there is something to be said for the mental tweak such beverages bring. They’re mood affecters—it’s what they are made to do. Have yourself a sip, let the liquid do its work. Don’t overdue it–just one or two. At worst, you relax (never a bad thing for a writer), at best you unlock the very best level of the creative flow. Just be sure to go back and edit extra carefully in the morning.

A little trip can go a long way.