Tuesday, 28 June 2011

...and here's the code!

Go to the Smashwords website and at the checkout enter the codeYH25N It's not case sensitive. Enjoy!

Free Download Tomorrow

Go to the Smashwords website and at the checkout enter the code ******* which you will find on the blog tomorrow morning! And my short story for children is always free.

Monday, 27 June 2011

New Book: Free Download

To get a free download of Moon in Leo, check this blog on 29th June- I will post instructions, code and link to the Smashwords site. Please pass on to anyone you know who loves a good story!

Meanwhile, we have been hard at work to bring you our next title: Paths of Exile, by Carla Nayland. Here is a preview of the cover-

A Guest Post from Carla Nayland

Dragon head transplants: the background to the double-headed dragon in the Paths
of Exile cover design

Paths of Exile is set in what is now northern England (mainly in Yorkshire and Derbyshire) at the beginning of the seventh century.  It tells part of the story of the historical Eadwine of Deira, driven into exile and on the run from a relentless enemy but determined that he will not only survive but return one day to reclaim his conquered kingdom.

The warring kingdoms at the heart of the story, Deira and Bernicia, would later combine to form Northumbria, one of the greatest kingdoms in Britain during much of the seventh century and the kingdom that gave us cultural treasures such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the works of the Venerable Bede.  This was also the period of the great ship burial at Sutton Hoo, famous for (among many things) its magnificent gold and garnet jewellery.

For the cover design of Paths of Exile, I wanted an original image closely connected with the story, and one that would also reflect some of the colour and vigour of this ‘Heroic Age’.  Later Anglo-Saxon England was famous throughout Europe for its skilled embroidery, and that gave me the idea of creating an embroidered design for the book cover. 

The dragon’s neck and body are based on a dragon I found adorning an illuminated letter in the Lindisfarne Gospels.

The Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript is one of the great treasures of Anglo-Saxon England, and was produced in Northumbria only a century or so after Paths of Exile is set.  The monks who wrote and illuminated it would probably have heard stories and sagas about Eadwine (assuming that they shared the literary preferences of their successors, who were scolded by Alcuin of York for listening to secular sagas), and their parents and grandparents would have remembered him. 

The Lindisfarne Gospels dragon looks a rather placid and amiable creature, and I had a more warlike beast in mind.  For the dragon’s head, I looked to the Sutton Hoo shield, which features a fierce-looking gilded dragon complete with sharp teeth and gleaming garnet eye. 

The Sutton Hoo shield is from the early seventh century, the same period as Paths of Exile.  Its probable owner, King Raedwald of the East Angles, was later a friend and military ally of Eadwine (although in Paths of Exile Eadwine has yet to meet him).  So Eadwine may well have seen the dragon-shield from Sutton Hoo in action.

I transplanted the Sutton Hoo dragon head onto the Lindisfarne Gospels dragon body, and made the dragon double-headed by taking a mirror image down the centre line and adjusting the body coils to fit. 

Having completed the design, I marked it out onto cloth and set about the embroidery.   The dragon’s body is embroidered in chain stitch in two shades of golden-yellow embroidery floss to give the impression of rows of scales.  The heads are in long-and-short stitch and the jaws in buttonhole stitch.  The dragon’s eyes are in satin stitch in crimson floss, topped with crimson glass beads to recall the garnet eye on the gilded Sutton Hoo dragon. 

And yes, a two-headed golden dragon does play an important part in Paths of Exile.  There’s a clue in the free sample chapters available from my website  – but if you want to know the dragon’s full significance in the story, you’ll have to read the book. 

Paths of Exile will be available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and all good bookstores- bricks and mortar and online, from early July.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Burning Oil: Treading Paths

A bit of a report on progress...

I sat up very late last night, or rather this morning, working over what would once be called galleys of the new book, Paths of Exile. Later in the morning- at about half past five, ready to sign a pact with the devil in exchange for a few hour's sleep, I gave up the unequal fight, rolled out of bed and sat down at the computer again.

I can spend inordinate amounts of time adjusting what seem like tiny elements  in the book's layout, interior design and typography.

You would probably say that you didn't notice that there were three returns before a chapter heading and one after- and that is exactly what I am aiming for! For the interior design of the book, my aim is to make the reading experience as easy and seamless as possible. In my long phone conversations and email exchanges with the author, we find that our aim is the same.

My choice is a classic type face in a point size which makes it easy to read without squinting, but doesn't leave you thinking you’ve picked up a large print edition, or a children's book by mistake. This is so that you don't notice the typeface or layout- you just read the story. The book has to be of a size and thickness that "feels" right, and doesn't make you think you're reading a text book. You shouldn't notice whether it's big or small. So the design parameters are the opposite of those for the cover: we want you to notice that! 

We have been much complimented on the cover of Moon in Leo, and I think the cover of Paths of Exile will be just as alluring- but very different. It is a collaborative effort between me, Kate and author Carla Nayland who has supplied the photo, the hand embroidered dragon and a runic quotation. I have done a lot of the early work, finding fonts, exploring colours and putting together a series of "thumbnails", but designer Kate will be the one who gets it right.

I should now be addressing the issues I scribbled on my notepad before my abortive attempts to get some sleep: "widows and orphans" and the above mentioned returns before and after chapter headings.  So instead, I'm writing a blog post! (How I love displacement activity!) However I hope it will be of interest to readers to get a glimpse of what goes into the work of a micro publisher: basically exactly the same as goes into the work of any publisher. The difference is only in scale, and at Trifolium Books, there are just three of us. Mostly, it's me- so I am Jill of all trades.

I'd better get back to my widows and orphans. But I'll make a cup of coffee first!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Latest News: New Book Out in July; Free Ebook at End of June!

I have been dropping hints recently- I can now announce that Trifolium Books' next publication is to be Paths of Exile by Carla Nayland. This is a reprint, with a new cover, revised and expanded maps and extra features including a character list and information I hope to be able to post a preview of the new and gorgeous cover design before the end of June. Just to whet your appetite, the picture below shows Carla's design for one element in the cover. 

Paths of Exile was Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009.

... a wonderful story, one that conjures up this long-gone age in extraordinary detail and reveals a profound understanding of its politics, cultures, and religions based on extensive research. It may be true, as Nayland admits, that “solid facts are rare indeed in 7th-century Britain”, but these characters—some real, others pure fiction—are so solid and credible that they will stay with you long after you turn the last page....
Full review on the Historical Novel Society website

-And a reminder: Moon in Leo is available as a free download on 29th June