I have been working on the third edition of my novel Children of the Old Stars. The novel first appeared in a self-published edition in 2000. I created the first cover in Adobe Photoshop using a photo of a globular cluster and a model of the Cluster, the enigmatic machine-like intelligence that invades our galaxy in the Space Pirates’ Legacy novels. The novel was acquired by LBF Books in 2005 and Laura Givens created a much more professional looking cover. Given that the Space Pirates’ Legacy novels tell the story of pirate captain Ellison Firebrandt and his descendants, I had the idea that The Pirates of Sufiro should feature Ellison Firebrandt, Children of the Old Stars should feature his daughter Suki Ellis, and finally Heirs of the New Earth should feature Firebrandt’s grandson, Mark Ellis. So, Laura’s cover show’s Suki trying on the moon Titan trying to find out what the leaders of the galaxy know about the Cluster. The Cluster itself looms over the dome in the background.
The back cover of the novel reads as follows:
“An implacable alien intelligence called the Cluster has arrived in the galaxy and dissects almost every star ship it encounters. Grandson of an infamous space pirate, Commander John Mark Ellis is disgraced and booted out of the space service when he fails to save a merchant ship from the Cluster. Even so, Ellis believes he holds the key to communicating with the invader. His mother, Suki Firebrandt Ellis, is a historian who believes the galaxy’s leaders are withholding information about the Cluster. Clyde McClintlock believes the Cluster is God incarnate and provides the path to salvation. G’Liat is an alien warrior whose own star ship was destroyed by the Cluster. All together, they set out to stop the Cluster’s reign of destruction.”
In the novel, John Mark Ellis, Clyde McClintlock, and G’Liat find employment aboard a stellar mapping vessel called the Nicholas Sanson as part of their search for the Cluster. Laura’s new cover depicts Ellis and McClintlock on the Sanson along with Kirsten Smart, the ship’s corporate officer. They’re pondering a hologram of the Cluster. I think this new cover gives more a sense of colorful characters on a quest, which is what the book delivers.
I’m in the process of revising the novel for its new edition. I’m presenting each chapter as it appeared in the 2006 edition and discussing elements I thought worked along with ones I thought could use rethinking, then I’m giving patrons a first look at the revised chapters as I work my way through the novel. Patrons can also go back to older posts and download copies of other novels from my catalog. If you care to join John Mark Ellis and the crew of the Sanson on their journey, sign up at http://www.patreon.com/davidleesummers
As with The Astronomer’s Crypt, the rights to my vampire novels, Dragon’s Fall and Vampires of the Scarlet Order revert to me next month. I’ve been working hard this month to re-edit and re-format all of these books so I can launch them as soon as possible after the rights formally revert to me. My vampire novels are older than The Astronomer’s Crypt, so they required a bit more editing. The most challenging part about Dragon’s Fall was that it was originally intended to be released as a series of five novellas and the project had two editors. One editor worked on the first two novellas and a second editor came in for the remaining three. The upshot is that I caught some consistency issues plus a handful of typos and even a couple of outright mistakes such as sunlight shining through a window at night! This is the kind of thing guaranteed to make an author cringe!
Of the Dragon’s Fall novellas, only two were released as stand-alones both featuring covers by Laura Givens that I discussed in last Tuesday’s post. The cover for the collected edition featured a stock image of a vampire woman with some nice lettering by Laura. Of course the danger of stock images is that you sometimes find them on multiple covers and, in fact, I had the experience of revealing my cover and then within the week another author revealed almost the exact same cover with a different title!
For the new edition, I chose artist Chaz Kemp to do the cover. Chaz was artist guest of honor at TusCon in 2019 and is scheduled to be artist guest of honor at Bubonicon this year. I picked him because he has a lovely character styling that evokes days gone by and a lot of his work captures the kind of mood evoked in these books. The cover is basically a family portrait showing Desmond, Lord Draco, Alexandra the Greek, and the first ever depiction of Roquelaure against a starry, autumnal backdrop.
For the first time, we see Desmond with his goatee and Chaz gave him a lovely dragon emblem, denoting is rank as one of the King’s Dragon’s in ancient Britain. Also for the first time, we see Roquelaure, whose past is couched in mystery. Although he often wears a cloak in the books, it’s noted that he could easily be confused with Sir Lancelot of legend. Chaz’s version captures that aspect of Roquelaure nicely. Alexandra looks thoughtful as she ponders the subject that she cares most about: Freedom.
I was also honored that Marita Woywod Crandle, owner of Boutique du Vampyre in New Orleans and author of New Orleans Vampires—History and Legend provided a new quote for the cover: “A journey into the time of lords, battles, sailing the seas, and vampires. A wonderful escape into historical adventure.”
Observant readers will notice a subtle change to the book’s subtitle. Originally, the book’s subtitle was simply Rise of the Scarlet Order. I changed it to Rise of the Scarlet Order Vampires for this edition because over the last few years, even though the cover featured an obvious vampire on the cover, people often asked if it was a book about dragons. Alas, the only dragon in the book is Desmond, Lord Draco!
Two weeks ago, I mentioned that I’m about to wrap up three book projects. One is the novel Upstart Mystique by Don Braden, which I’m editing and publishing. One is the anthology Exchange Students edited by Sheila Hartney that I’m publishing. The third is my novel, The Pirates of Sufiro, which I’ve revised for its twenty-fifth anniversary release. Over the last couple of months, each of these projects has involved a lot of time at the computer. I’ve been reading, revising, sending emails and making sure that everything is ready for typesetting and final cover creation. I have completed preliminary typeset copies of Upstart Mystique and Exchange Students and I’m just waiting for the covers to proceed. The Pirates of Sufiro is out with early readers. And so now I wait…
Okay, my cover artist, Laura Givens, works fast enough, I don’t imagine I’ll be waiting long, but finishing the typesetting does depend on having a finished cover. That might surprise some readers, but the reason for this is to assure the book has a cohesive look. I like to make sure the fonts used in the headers and on the chapter titles is a close, if not exact, match for the fonts used on the cover. This is certainly not an absolute requirement for publication, but I think it gives the book a much more polished and professional look.
For me, the transition from being very busy to waiting for stuff I need to complete projects is always a bit of a challenge. I wonder what my early readers are going to think about that stuff I’ve been slaving over for the past year. Are they going to like it or tell me I was wasting my time? I always look forward to seeing the covers Laura comes up with for work. Waiting for those is more akin to waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. I know good stuff is coming, I just don’t know exactly what it is. Of course, it’s not productive to sit around fidgeting about either of these. I think the very best things a writer can do while waiting to hear back from people is write something or read something. In that spirit, I’ve been catching up with some fun reading and will share some of that over the next couple of posts. I also started working on a model of the Enterprise from Star Trek: Discovery that I received as a Christmas present. You can see the work in progress in the photo.
I spent a day during my first break of the new year making sure I had everything I needed to complete the model. I planned to start it once these projects were all complete as a sort of reward to myself, but I decided to get an early start. It turns out this model is a very simple build, but it has a LOT of decal work. I decided that I really needed to invest in a product I’ve seen recommended to me on several modeling forums and by some friends called “Micro Sol” which really helps the decals settle onto the surface of the model. Of course, this is the one thing I needed I couldn’t find locally, so I had to order it. So, I’m waiting on that project as well! So, I’m back to reading and thinking about what writing projects are next for me. I do a lot of my thinking by walking, so I am getting some exercise in while I wait. If people keep me waiting long enough, who knows? I may just get that next writing project started.
2019 marks two important milestone anniversaries. 25 years ago, Kumie Wise, William Grother, and I formed Hadrosaur Productions. That same year saw the publication of my first novel, The Pirates of Sufiro, in audio form.
Hadrosaur Productions was founded to be a multimedia company, publishing books, producing audio books, and ultimately producing video projects. To prove the concept, I gathered a bunch of co-workers from Kitt Peak National Observatory and we recorded my first novel. I edited the audio recordings on primitive audio software and then had the master tapes duplicated. My wife and I took these around to science fiction conventions in Arizona and New Mexico and sold them at our first dealer’s tables. I have fond memories of these times since it was my introduction to fandom and response to this audio edition was generally positive. Looking back, fans liked seeing other fans get together and create something like this. As you can see the artwork is simple. It’s just a drawing of Captain Firebrandt, First Mate Roberts, and Suki ready to face life on the planet Sufiro. I drew the illustration. I also drew the Hadrosaur logo that would be the company logo for many years. As you’ll notice, I credited myself as “Dave L. Summers.” My name is common enough, I was looking for a way to set myself apart and I liked the way Dave L. Summers flowed off the tongue.
In 1995, I attended a writer’s conference at the University of Arizona where Ray Bradbury was the keynote speaker. An agent was also slated to attend and attendees were invited to send her their manuscripts. I sent mine and she agreed to represent it. The upshot is that she placed the book with a publisher and ultimately the mass market edition of The Pirates of Sufiro was released. As it turns out, Roberts never had a first name before this edition. The editor gave him the name Carter. I liked it well enough that I let it become canon. The cover of this edition features what appears to be simple stock art of a spaceship and a planet. The ship really doesn’t look like anything in the book, but I didn’t have a strong objection because it said “science fiction” and looked more professional than my line drawing. I’m also credited as “David L. Summers” here, the only time I used my name as I use it in scientific publications. Alas, my agent and my publisher both proved to be scam artists who worked to separate authors from their money. I never saw a dime from this edition other than from copies I sold myself and I ultimately had to go to court to get my publishing rights back. Still my experience wasn’t all bad. This edition did turn up on the shelves of the New Mexico State University Bookstore and Waldenbooks at the local mall and they even invited me to do a book signing. I also got a nice half-page write up about the book in the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Print on demand publishing was starting to get off the ground about the time I got my rights back. At that point, I had also gotten acquainted with several artists through my work editing Hadrosaur Tales Magazine. I hired Jeff Ward to do a cover for a new edition I would publish through Xlibris. This is the first professional cover for the book where I had full control of what appeared. Prominent on the cover are the faces of Captain Firebrandt and his grandson, Commander John Mark Ellis. At the bottom of the image is Firebrandt’s daughter, Suki Carter Firebrandt. She stands in front of Ward’s version of the Firebrandt homestead. Jeff has since gone on to do covers for such venues as Apex Magazine and the SFWA Bulletin. This version would only be used for four years. At that point, another cover artist I knew and worked with, Nick Johns, introduced me to one of his other clients, LBF Books. This edition is also the first one to credit me with the name I have used for most of my writing career: David Lee Summers. At this point, search engines existed and I looked long and hard to see which version of my name was relatively unique and wouldn’t be confused with a plethora of other David Summerses. I ultimately decided on my full, legal name. To me it sounded like a name a writer would use.
In 2004, Jacqueline Druga of LBF Books read and loved my newest novel, Vampires of the Scarlet Order. She asked what else I had and I mentioned The Pirates of Sufiro and its sequel Children of the Old Stars. Jackie asked to read them. She loved them and offered me a contract. Around that same time, I met artist Laura Givens at MileHiCon in Denver, Colorado and she asked if I knew any publishers looking for cover art. I introduced her to Nick and Jackie and they soon started working together. One of Laura’s first covers for LBF would be her cover for The Pirates of Sufiro. We decided to take the idea I had for the Xlibris cover and expand it across the series. The Pirates of Sufiro would feature Captain Firebrandt on the planet next to the homestead. Suki Firebrandt would appear on the cover of Children of the Old Stars in a habitat dome on Titan. John Mark Ellis would appear on the cover of the as-yet unwritten Heirs of the New Earth. For this version, Laura created what I now consider to be the iconic Firebrandt. In many ways, he bears a strong resemblance to the version I had way back in my first crude drawing on the cassette tape version.
Laura’s cover has been canonical for over ten years. When I re-envisioned the series as a four-book series called the Space Pirates’ Legacy, Laura improved on her iconic image of Captain Firebrandt for the new Book One, Firebrandt’s Legacy. So, it was natural that I would ask Laura to create the cover for the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Pirates of Sufiro. She has done so and I have to say, the newest version is the best yet. Come back on Saturday as I unveil the newest cover for an all-new and improved visit to the planet Sufiro.