Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Writer's Guide to Spontaneous Writing

I was joking with an author-friend the other day about selling my own writing tips book, and I presented a tongue-in-cheek list of the steps to spontaneous writing. I am not a plotter. I can't plan my dinner meals, much less where a book is going to end up. So I have learned to do what my friend and I call "flow."

It's actually a scriptural principle, so though the points below are meant to be humorous (but in a strange way true), they are founded on Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." We are told, as Christians, to hear God's voice and follow it in everything we do. (Jn 10:4-5) To listen to the "still, small voice" in our heart telling us which way to walk. (1Ki 19:12)

I follow this principle as I write. I have as many as two dozen stories started at any one time. What I write in one maybe be one scene or a half dozen chapters on any given day. But when I'm done, I'm done, and I set that story aside and move on to whatever God has to me to work on next.

This doesn't make other methods of writing wrong. This is simply how I personally operate. I like the spontaneity of it, never knowing what will be next, allowing certain stories to cool and mellow before they're finished. Because the fact is, God always works it out in the end. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I arrived at the end and couldn't believe how I'd even gotten there.

All of that said, below are my personal tips for writing with "flow."

1. Create only one character and forget there has to be anyone else.

I start with one main character. He or she is the primary purpose of the book, though with it being romance there will be another character. I sometimes write entire scenes without giving characters names, and instead, concentrate on what that particular scene needs to be complete. This means the scene often determines the character's personality. Truthfully, I often don't know where that character is going or who they are until I get more toward the end of the story.

2. Throw out any ideas on how the book should progress or end. You're writing only one scene.

Julie is in a sandwich shop and sees an attractive guy. I think no further than that. Instead, I ask how Julie would behave, what she'd say and do, and on what note to end things that will make a reader want to keep going.

3. Don't ask yourself where is this story going? You no longer care.

Every scene must end on a high note. By this, I mean with some sort of unanswered question. By not tying up all the loose ends, I lead the reader to read the next section to see what comes next.

4. When you get stuck. STOP WRITING. And create an entirely new story. Seriously, new character, new book. You'll come back to that one one day. BAM and know the entire plot at once.

This sounds like a joke, but it isn't. I write until I'm tapped out, then I move on. I may not come back to that story for months or it may be days. Then one morning I'll wake up and know exactly what comes next. You simply cannot plot that, but it requires listening to your heart and the thoughts in your head and learning to go with what is currently hot, so to speak.

5. If you're seriously stuck in a scene and still don't know where to go, switch POVs (point of views). Better yet, write the opposite scene of what you think should happen. Don't consider if it fits or not. Who cares?

My biggest tip for getting unstuck is to WRITE. Pick a POV, a character, and go with it. It may be all wrong when you get to the end, but you'll know it and hence be unstuck.

6. Marketing? What's that? Don’t consider what genre or if it’ll sell. Write the story you want to write.

My closest author friends know I do very little marketing. This frees me up to write. I'm aware some needs to be done to sell books, but I do what fits my time and personality, what is in my budget, and no more. If God gave me the story, if I listened to what He said to write, then the book will sell.

7. Think as outside the box as humanly possible. She MIGHT have killed him with a refrigerator...

Honestly, the stranger it is, the more people will like it. One of my most popular books was written when I asked someone to give me the strangest storyline ever. She said a couple in a hot air balloon crash in the middle of gun-running activists, and thus was born FLIGHT RISK. Another story, recently released, NOT DONE LIVING, came about because I saw this romantic picture of a couple kissing in front of a Ferris wheel and said, "She tried to kill him."

8. The hero can be as perfect as you want. He's fiction. Create your own man/woman.

He or she is your hero, so make them however you want them to be, keeping in mind people's thoughts and habits so they still appear to be real. Quirks are great. If he hates cheese, put it in the story. I only avoid making them too incredibly silly (or males that are too female, females that are too male) or too obnoxious so I don't alienate my reader. In a romance novel, people want the characters to be a bit perfect in the first place.

9. Always consider the reader as being wrong about what you've written, unless of course they LOVED IT. That's all you need to feed on.

Surround yourself with positive people. By this, I do NOT mean to ignore correction. Every writer needs to learn and grow and admit when they have a shortcoming. But there's no reason to spend time at websites reading reviews by those who didn't get the story. That negativity will affect your thinking and in the long run your writing, so avoid it.

10. Someone told you to stick to one group of readers? Psh.

I write romance, yes. But I've written YA (young adult) and non-YA. Romantic suspense, straight romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, science-fiction (time-travel romance). Soon, I'm writing a story that's both historical and contemporary in the same book. I refuse to let anyone tell me what my stories need to be. There is a reader for every style, so I concentrate instead on writing well, not what I'm going to do with it or who will like it.

11. How long before you release another new book? 24 hours.

I do space books out. I'll decide to release certain ones on certain dates or before holidays - Valentine's and Christmas especially. (I give myself deadlines.) But I don't hold them back to concentrate on promoing any one for a while. If the story is done, edited, and formatted, then I release it. I've released six at once before.

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Maybe you're not like me and you simply can't follow those rules. That's perfectly fine. I've met people who spend days and days editing. I do mine as I go along. I've met others that outline and do character charts, I don't. What fits one writer doesn't fit others. God will work with your style, your habits and time schedule, just like he does mine. You have only to take the time to listen.


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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Graphic Design 101

I'm happy to host another excellent graphic artist/author today, Lynnette Bonner. I've asked her to talk about the one thing that drives me the most crazy - floating heads - because she excels at them. Thank you, Lynnette, for taking the time to share your knowledge.

Lynnette:

As a designer who creates a lot of inspirational romance covers I see a lot of floating heads and they make me cringe each time. So when Suzanne asked me to guest blog for her, I decided that might be a good topic to broach. Why do some covers with heads that seem to be floating work, while others simply…don’t?

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet with just two samples, but hopefully the principle will be clear and you’ll be able to avoid this pitfall yourself.

A head that draws attention to the fact that it is out of place and detached from a body is what grates on many people when they see it. But obviously not every cover incorporates the whole body of a character. In fact I’d venture to guess there are very few covers where we see the entire character from head to toe.

So how to go about getting just part of a body on the cover (here we are talking about heads) without making it look out of place? There really are two key elements to making this happen.


  • First, the head needs to be incorporated seamlessly into the cover. This sometimes means that it is slightly faded into the background and a bit transparent, but not always. And generally there needs to be an element from another part of the cover that ties in with the heads and makes them look like they belong, which brings us to my second point.


  • You don’t want your head to just hang there without something to “ground” it. When I design covers I almost always cover up the bottom half of my floating heads with another design element – even just the title works. This helps give the appearance that the head is not just bobbing along in space and happened to end up in the snapshot of your cover.
 

Let’s look at this cover. The white boxes were not on the cover, of course, but since I’m talking about why I don’t think this cover works, I felt it only fair that I remove the title and author’s name.  This cover has so much potential. I love the ship, and the blue sky. But the couple is much too small, and simply looks like they are floating off to the right. There are no other elements of the cover that link them to it in any way. This cover would have been much better served had the couple been enlarged to almost the full width of the cover and faded into the sky with the top part of the ship covering the bottom part of the couple – that would tie them in with other elements on the cover. They would also then have text over the top part of their heads – another element that would tie them into the cover. I would also like to see a little more of their shoulders so they aren’t JUST heads floating there. But make sure the fade is deep and very subtle as it fades. (That is another area where many covers have issues – the portion of the image that is faded isn’t deep enough.)



Here is a cover that I feel incorporates all those elements really well. Notice how the couple is nearly the full width of the cover, they are faded slightly which makes them seem integrated into their background, the bottom portion of the image has a nice deep fade effect so they seem to seamlessly appear in the sky, and there are two sections of text that tie them to the rest of the cover. I would have done two things differently on this cover if I’d done it. One would be that I would have made the title lower so that it spanned the gap between the couple and the bottom image of the road and tied them together. The second thing is that I would have moved the scripture caption a little more to the left and probably made it a touch smaller. But other than that, I feel like this designer did a rather nice job putting an attractive cover together.

I hope those two examples will give you a good idea of what most people mean when they talk about “floating heads.” If you have any questions for me, feel free to ask me via the comments.


About the author:
Born and raised in Malawi, Africa. Lynnette Bonner spent the first years of her life reveling in warm equatorial sunshine and the late evening duets of cicadas and hyenas. The year she turned eight she was off to Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school in Kenya where she spent many joy-filled years, and graduated in 1990. That fall, she traded to a new duet--one of traffic and rain--when she moved to Kirkland, Washington to attend Northwest University. It was there that she met her husband and a few years later they moved to the small town of Pierce, Idaho. During the time they lived in Idaho, while studying the history of their little town, Lynnette was inspired to begin the Shepherd's Heart Series with Rocky Mountain Oasis. Marty and Lynnette have four children, and currently live in Washington where Marty pastors a church.


www.indiecoverdesign.com
www.lynnettebonner.com




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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Photographs

Took a trip over to Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales this past week, so have a a few photos from there. It was pretty, as always, with early signs of spring.

First, here's a view of the tower itself.

Bok Tower, 2-19-2014 photo Panorama1-800_zpsee41c867.jpg

The camellias were in bloom.

Camellia 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0224_zps7a330e87.jpg

Camellia 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0228_zps5df27a79.jpg

Camellia 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0221_zps7a8c0e5d.jpg

Camellia 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0271_zpsdb29f2e7.jpg

And the azaleas

Azalea 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0253_zps694a5b80.jpg

Azalea 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0269_zpsafe0cf1b.jpg

Azalea 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0277_zps7f631ff5.jpg

Also the orchids

Orchid 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0212_zpsbeb47930.jpg

We found a butterfly (monarch) on a bed of dianthus.

Monarch Butterfly 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0216_zpse7e31554.jpg

Here's a look at one of the garden paths.

Path 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0251_zps76055610.jpg

One of my favorite images, however, was of a blue jay. This was taken through a plate glass window.

Blue Jay 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0308_zpsb1591226.jpg

So was his friend, the squirrel.

Gray Squirrel 2-19-2014 photo 500-DSC_0309_zps91d7f79a.jpg

This last image was taken at my grandmother's old place, not the gardens, but what an amazingly beautiful passionflower.

Passonflower 2-21-2014 photo 500-DSC_0310_zpsd85f1aa5.jpg

I omitted 2 pictures of Pinewood Estates. To see those visit, my 2014 album at Photobucket.


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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Story Saturdays

Don't forget to nominate any of my books released last year for THE GRACE AWARDS. Visit the Grace Awards blog for the voting form.

Also, WINGS (Paranormal Romance #1) is only 99 cents for a limited time at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or KOBO. This is a powerful allegorical story for both teens and adults. Be sure to get a copy!





99 Cents

Mason returned and stuck a plate beneath her nose. “Eat.” He tapped the edge.

Eat. Once again, she was a child. Marry me because this is what you want. Stay inside because you’ll run off. Her blood steaming, she dug her fingers into the eggs on his plate and smeared them down his cheek. “You eat it.”

He exploded. Hauling her up from the table, he toted her out the door into the morning sun and pressed her to the wall. “When are you going to learn?” he asked.

“When are you going to learn?” she spat back. Pushing against his arm laid crosswise over her chest, she gave an angry grunt. “If you wanted me humiliated, you’ve succeeded. But I’m tired of being treated like I’m a kid.”




“Tell me. Why’s a handsome man like you ignoring Jacquelyn Blythe?”

Haydn’s senses heightened. What was this woman’s game? He pulled himself up straighter in his chair. “Why’s a pretty woman like you sitting at my table?” he asked.

She smiled and pillowed her chin in her hand. “You look like you need a friend.”

“I need to get rid of Jacquelyn Blythe,” he replied.




Seriously? How had I gone from buying a pie to staying the night with a perfect stranger? An incredibly good looking stranger who, so far, had only been helpful.

“I can’t possibly. I mean, what if you turn into a werewolf during the night? Or some sex-crazed fiend? Or an ax murderer?” The fact I was saying all this to his face didn’t hit me until he responded, and then I simply stared at him.

“Don’t make me fall in love with you,” he said.

I pursed my lips. Did he really say that? And it became worse because he motioned toward me, one finger crooked. I leaned closer, a gnat drawn toward a sweaty face.


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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

No More Fear

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2Ti 1:7) 


From http://www.sxc.hu/photo/575316

This verse plainly states the three things we need to overcome fear in any form.

1.   We must have a revelation of God’s power.

All the self-help in the world will not rid you of the torment of your fear. You can think positive thoughts or take up exercise or some other form of relaxation all day long, but without putting God’s power, His strength behind it, you’re blowing hot air on an iceberg.

Taking hold, and using, God’s power only happens if you first accept that God didn’t give you the fear in the first place. Fear is the devil’s department. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (Jn 10:10) He’s a thief and a robber whose goal in life is to keep you defeated and depressed.

To combat fear, we must take hold of the truth which sets us free. (Jn 8:32) Jesus defeated the devil through His death and Resurrection and shared with you and I complete salvation for mind, body, and soul. (Col 2:15) God wants you well and happy and successful.

Which brings me to point two …

2.   We must know God loves us.

The greatest relief to anyone struggling with fear comes in knowing they are loved. You can’t overcome panic alone, and you don’t have to. God isn’t some ethereal being way up in the heavens somewhere, He comes down to where you are in order to lift you up and help you stand. (Ps 113:7-8)

Nothing you ever do or say will change the extent of His love. Like a father does their earthly child, He cares for you and me unconditionally with only the best wishes for our lives. (Mt 7:11)

Knowing that, we can lean on Him because He will never leave or forsake us, but always be here, a constant reassurance of peace and protection that never ends and never fails. (Heb 13:5;Php 4:7)

Yet you say, “Peace is all I want, and I don’t know how to find it."


To answer that, we need point three …

3.  We must renew our minds to the Word of God.

A sound mind, a mind free from fear, comes from constant meditation on the Word of God. You must put God’s Word in your heart until what’s inside of you is His promises, not your fear.

Fear distorts reality, making that thing which tortures you look far bigger than it actually is. When, in fact, God is more than enough, and we, like Job, need to “lay our hands upon our mouth.” (Eph 3:20;Job 40:4)

Stop speaking the fear! Because your words give it a place in your life. (Eph 4:27) Instead, make God what you focus on. If you have to tell yourself to shut up one thousand times a day, then do it. You’ll find gradually, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, you are stronger.

Renewing the mind is a process, and sometimes, a long one, which we must dedicate ourselves to. (Rm 12:2;Eph 4:23) But as we do, we’ll fall in love with the Savior all over again, and look back one day to see the fear is gone.

God was capable of watching over us all along. We needed only to believe it.

About the author:
Suzanne D. Williams is the author of FEARLESS, her testimony of how God freed her from crippling panic attacks. For more information about the book, visit Becky Combee Ministries, Inc.









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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Photographs

This week's photographs begin with an iris blossoming in my yard. I've read that these aren't actually iris at all (something to do with the petal structure) but why quibble? I was happy to see any sign of spring.

Iris 2-9-2014 photo 500-DSC_0112_zps529da0aa.jpg

That same day, there were some pretty cold-weather clouds at dawn.

Clouds 2-9-2014 photo 500-DSC_0106_zps98ec8ff3.jpg

The day before Valentine's Day, I baked a Hummingbird cake. Yes, it was delicious. If you'd like the recipe, you can find it at one of my favorite recipe websites - Grandmother's Kitchen.

Hummingbird Cake 2-13-2014 photo 500-DSC_0116_zps71571b22.jpg

This last set was taken on Valentine's Day on a walk at the Circle B Game Reserve in Lakeland, Florida. There's always something to see there.

Greater Egret
Greater Egret 2-14-2014 photo 500-DSC_0167_zpsae1c9357.jpg

Raccoon (We saw about 5.)
Raccoon 2-14-2014 photo 500-DSC_0145_zps4a0c92e4.jpg

Pelican
Pelican 2-14-2014 photo 500-DSC_0188_zps56c7caf2.jpg

Warbler (Unknown species, but maybe Yellow-rumped)
Warbler 2-14-2014 photo 500-DSC_0151_zps9fe383de.jpg

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2-14-2014 photo 500-DSC_0182_zpsbaf0138f.jpg

Bald Eagle (Was being dogged by crows incessantly. Raptors are not popular with other birds.)
Bald Eagle 2-14-2014 photo 500-DSC_0136_zpse0a4dd11.jpg

Cormorant
Cormorant 2-14-2014 photo 500-DSC_0200_zps9751c9ed.jpg

Cormorant
Cormorant 2-14-2014 photo 500-DSC_0199_zpsb2c3456b.jpg



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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Story Saturdays

Up front, EDEN is available in audiobook at Audible. I'm excited about this release because the narrator did a perfect job, not one mistake in reading. Be sure to listen to the sample.



Also, WINGS is now available at Amazon. It will be for sale at B&N and in paperback form within a week's time. I encourage you to get this book. The message of the power of God is so strong in it that I know it will bless you.

This week I've been working on a story I completed over a year ago and did nothing with, TATTOOED. I've revamped the cover. I might use it as an example for a Graphics 101 blog one Tuesday. But let me just tease you a bit and say you simply have no idea how long it took.

Here's this week's storylines. Enjoy!



The elevator doors, some twenty feet down the hospital corridor, gave a metallic clank, discharging a slew of reporters, who, gazes sharp and cameras focused, forged Charity’s direction like one great beast. Forming a phalanx around her, the crowd of a dozen or so men and women blasted questions one overtop the other, all of which began with, “Mrs. Lang … Mrs. Lang …”

A broad-chested man in a tweed sport coat stuck a mic in her face. “Holden Lang is quite a catch. How come we hadn’t heard about his marriage until now?”

The snap of a camera flash sent dots swirling in her vision, and she reversed.

“Rumor says he’s been hiding you at his private estate,” said another.




He leaned his hands on the metal wall, an almost casual stance. “It doesn’t bother you to take someone’s life like this?”

She tossed her head, sending her dark brown locks swirling around her head. “Obviously not. I’m here, aren’t I? They wanted the best, so they hired the best.”

“And you’re the best?” he asked.

She snorted. “I’m done talking.” Arm stiffening, she made to squeeze the trigger.

But in one swift motion, he spun around, twisting her wrist, and wrenched the gun away. He smashed her backwards toward the wall, and she flew sideways, smacking the building with a thump.

He aimed the gun at her heart. “I’m not done living.”




It was the same dream he always had. Darkness surrounded him, along with a thick fog he couldn’t see through, then hands pushed him hard enough he stumbled and fell, landing his full weight on the palms of his hands. He tried to stand after, but a foot kicked him, forcing him flat on what seemed to be concrete, but gritty, rasping. It ground into his skin.

Then came a tremendous boom and sharp pain in his chest; a distinct wetness spread through his shirt and outward. Gasping, his mouth working like a fish brought out of the water, he tried to breathe and form words but couldn’t. He didn’t want to die, not now, not here.

Antony Mirelli shot up in bed, his chest corded tight, sweat filming his skin. Hanging his head between his knees, he shoved the bed covers aside, beckoning cool air to wash over him.

Why did he keep dreaming that?

There’d be no sleeping now. The desire to even try was gone. He pulled himself up, his pajama bottoms slipping down on trim hips, and ran one hand over his abdomen.


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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A BIG TURN OFF

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Prov 23:7 NKJ)

Thinks no evil (1Co 13:5 NKJ)




I despair of a world where black becomes white and white becomes gray.

Where all it takes to make what used to be wrong, correct is a few years’ time and the persuasion of men.

Where fear and depression are allowed to run rampant, celebrated even.

Where deception and falsehood are okay as long as that’s what you believe.

I want a line in the sand, a barrier I cannot cross, a book of rules that keep me from straying.

I want to know that no matter what I do, A and B will still be A and B and not C or D or E or F.

I want nothing to shift from its ordered place and everything to be fixed and solid. Concrete. Definite. Precise.

I want to be able to do something wrong and it actually BE wrong, not simply my opinion of how things ought to go. And I want Someone Higher than me to pull me aside and say, “Whoa. Stop that. Now, say you’re sorry.” And to feel relief knowing I’m on the right path now because there IS a right path.

It doesn’t really matter what the forces around me say about this age, this time, the God I serve. Because He was and is and is to come. He’s the same, unchanging, and nothing they do or say or feel or write or alter or shift will move Him.

He’s unshakeable. Inflexible. Unwavering. Abiding. Lasting. Permanent.

He’s bigger than you or me or the United States or North America or the Atlantic Ocean. He’s above all and in all and through all. He created it all, and He’ll out last it all.

Think of that next time you turn on your TV and some yahoo in a business suit tells you how things are going to be from now on. And I have a suggestion. Then turn it off, and meditate instead on things that are lovely and of good report. (Php 4:8)

You’ll feel better.

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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Graphic Design 101

I'm super excited about this new feature on the blog. I plan to discuss tips and techniques to good book cover design. I will have guests share their knowledge from time to time as well. It will not be a link to free stuff on the web, though I may include certain links.

Let me start by saying that I use Photoshop CS5 and Microsoft Publisher 2010 to create book covers. Photoshop, to do techniques, and Publisher to assemble the layers. I always use a 6"x9" front cover for ebooks.

For this first post, I wanted to share how I got to the end result in my latest book cover, DUNWOODY'S because I am particularly proud of the results.



My initial idea was for a department store display window image. Needless to say, hours of searching later, I hadn't found exactly what I wanted and so began to wonder if I could create it. I settled on two images of two different girls, both RGB color images purchased from stock photography sites.

We'll set my selection reasons aside for now (and probably talk about that on later blogs) and concentrate on how I achieved the effect. Below is an overlook at my Photoshop layers (minus the text) in the layers palette. You will want to refer back to this as you read.



 Bottom Layers: Modern Girl and Historic Girl
 

1. Create new transparent RGB image with each girl on a separate layer.
2. Adjust images left and right (Move Tool).
3. Uppermost layer (historic girl) set to Blending Mode/Overlay. 

This allowed me to see both images at once.

To remove the edges of each photo (the original images centered the girls, so moving them either direction revealed the hard edge).

4. Create layer mask on each image.
5. Set foreground/background to black and white. Use gradients on the mask to fade the edges.

(This is an easy masking technique which any number of tutorials on the web can tell you how to do more precisely.) 

Note that the gradient on each image was opposite of the other.

That is the simplified explanation of merging the two images. In fact, it was more time consuming than that and I had to move back and forth between them until the edges were gone like I wanted and the background was removed from beneath each girl. 

I also used a soft brush set to either white or black (black hides, white reveals in a mask), adjusting the opacity of each as I worked. Below is the end result of the two layers.



Color was obviously an issue, which I will address shortly. 

6. Created new blank layer, merging both girls into one image. (Hold down the ALT key while clicking on the drop-down arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the layers palette and select "merge visible".)

7. Filtered layer using Phototools (v2.5), to add skin softening and some overall clarity. (The software creates a layer automatically.)

8. Shift the photo to grayscale. This hides the color differences.

I prefer to use Channel Mixer with Monochrome selected as it allows more control over the Red, Green, and Blue of the images. Black and white pictures need more contrast to be visually stimulating, and I also wanted the levels of gray in each to match. 

8a. Duplicate the Phototools layer.
8b. While holding down the ALT key, Create new filter adjustment layer on the layers palette and select "Use previous layer to create clipping mask".
8c. Select "monochrome" and adjust Red, Blue, and Green channels.

The result:



9. Window effect.

Window reflections are typically a backwards view of whatever is across the street. I selected a black & white street scene available for commercial modification that fit the image in my head.

9a. Set the photo as a new layer. Size to fill the image and edit/transform/flip horizontal. This makes any writing backwards like you'd see it in a window reflection. 
9b. Change layer blending mode to Overlay, opacity 83%.


10. Layer mask on street scene to remove distracting lines from the girls' faces. (I used other images of people sitting behind glass windows as a reference).

11. Flyer layer. (Another commercially available generic image changed to grayscale.) I placed the flyer slightly off the scene so it wouldn't detract too much from the image of the girls.

12. Add in additional reflections.

My last four layers were brush work to add highlights and additional reflections. I used a Bokeh brush and another that creates dotted lines, putting each on a separate layer and varying the blending modes and opacity.

13. Text.

Text I ordinarily do using Microsoft Publisher 2010, which allows me to resize it as needed. However, because I wanted to text to have texture and lighting to look as if it were on the glass outdoors, I created each in Photoshop as separate PNG files.

For this technique, visit this excellent tutorial. I used gold foil for the title, DUNWOODY'S and black silk for my name, adjusting each as suggested and painting dark and white highlights to make it more readable.

I warped the title using Free Transform/Warp so it would be so straight.

Once again, here is the final result.



14. Assemblage (Microsoft Publisher 2010)

The placement of the title worked out to be across a white reflection in the street scene. I did return to Photoshop and adjust my bokeh highlights to allow the "Y'S" to show up better.

I opted to center my name and the Romance symbol for readability. (We'll cover text placement and font choices more fully later.)

I hope you enjoyed this look at one of the more difficult covers I've done. If so, leave me a comment on the blog!



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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.