Cover Art

I’ve been researching successful indie authors the past few days to get an idea of how I can maximize book sales. One point that gets hammered is the importance of having a good cover design. Word on the street is find books in the genre you are writing in, see what cover designs sell the most books, then get a cover similar to them. If it were up to me, this painting I made would be my cover for Way of the World – Michael’s Story:

Kingsley's island on fire

And I feel it would be complement the cover to Way of the World – Adam’s Story:

Upscale Saloon

Unfortunately, one truth I have learned about people is they’re much more likely to purchase a product that seems familiar to them, rather then branching out to try a product that seems unique and different. Here are my top three cover selections from the genre of Christian Fantasy:

a draw of kings resistance cover - depositphotos the gift of light - j. and g. publishing

Each of these covers was designed by a different cover artist. G. and J. publishing, Lookout Design Inc., and “Resistance” credited four various contributors.

Perhaps I’m dreaming big, because I have no idea whether these cover artists are even available, willing to work with me, or even within my budget. Still, these covers are impressive, and each contributed to a book that found its way into the top 100 bestsellers list for Christian fantasy.

What do you think? Which cover design is your favorite? Am I fooling myself by thinking the paintings I made would make good covers? Be honest now.

Looking forward to your responses.

– Thomas M. Watt

Author of “A New Kingdom

Storytelling Essentials: Suspense

zombie-t-shirts

Suspense.

We’ve all heard the term, but an alarming number of people, writers even, don’t have the slightest idea of what suspense actually means. Hearing the term alone may enough to bring to mind images of zombies, dolls that talk, or maybe even a person rocking back and forth, biting their nails, and darting their eyes every which way.

In reality, none of those things have anything to do with suspense.

Suspense – information delayed.

In other words, the last example about the “nervous rocker” in the bit above is exactly what you want your reader to be doing when attempt to incorporate this element in your future stories. And in terms of importance to stories, suspense is not too far below conflict, which is really saying something.

The television show “Lost” thrived on suspense. Take that back – lived on it. And that’s also why the ending came as such a disappointment – though the writers were masters at keeping you glued to your screen from questions, they weren’t so good at delivering meaningful answers.

The key to good suspense is to get your readers to want to know what happens next. Zombies running out to tear you apart isn’t suspense, it’s violent and horrific. Approaching a door that may or may not be an entryway to a room-full of bloodthirsty zombies, however, is suspense. In fact, once you get your readers to care about the lives of your characters, you will have them hooked from the moment your characters approach that door until the moment they open it.

That’s why great suspense writers keep always keep us reading on the edge of our seats – for every answer they give us, another question is instantly raised, and another three probably already exist.

If I can get you to take anything away from me it’s this – your ability to raise questions in the minds of your readers will always be more important than your ability to deliver an incredible answer, though the ability to do both successfully will make you a master. But if the meat of your story is boring, than nobody is ever going to make it to that epic ending you put all that time and thought into.

The following is an excerpt from “A New Kingdom.” I’ve highlighted every line that is meant to make you ask a question and keep you desiring an answer.

* *

There was a loud pounding at the front door. James shared a look with his dad, until Mr. O’keefe finally got up and hobbled over. He opened the door to find Greg, dressed in combat boots and army attire.

“This is beyond urgent.”

“Why hello there Gregg, my wallet’s on the counter over there, judging by your entrance that’s what you’ve come for, isn’t it?”

“Where’s James?”

“He’s here… Why?”

Greg barged in, rushed over to James, then grabbed him by the back of his shirt and began shoving him towards the door.

“What tha hell are you doing? What’s going on here, Gregg?!” said Mr. O’keefe.

The military officer kept his firm hold on James and didn’t break stride. He tossed James down the steps of the stoop, turned around and headed back in.

CHAPTER 3

Whatever Gregg had to say was important, and James knew it. He crawled under a cluster of trees limbs and made his way over to the kitchen window. He couldn’t hear anything, but Greg’s frantic pacing and sporadic arm-waving told him all he needed to know – James and his dad were in danger.

James watched as Gregg finally stopped, tossed his arms in the air, then raced through the contents of his backpack. He hurriedly put together the pieces of a telescope, then set it up by the backyard window. After some frantic jolts of aim, he found whatever he was looking for. Gregg waved Mr. O’Keefe over to take a look. Mr. O’Keefe looked amused before he did. Afterward, the expression on his face dropped to a blank, lifeless stare.

Mr. O’Keefe walked over to the counter and swiped his bottle of whiskey into his chest. He took it with him to the kitchen table, sat down, then reached to unscrew it. He stopped short, then placed his hand around its body instead. He leaned back, ran his hands through his hair, then squeezed his eyelids shut. His lips moved so slow even James could read them:

  “Everyone is going to die.”

 * * *

Hope this helps!

Thomas M. Watt

A New Kingdom

The Worst Kind of Marriage – Part 6

Image

Missed the beginning? – Click below

“What the fuck are you doing?” said Huerto. He was holding Amanda up, his fist clenching her hair.

Bethany concealed the knife behind her back. She did not want the sick-kidnapper to know she found it.

Four months since Bethany was taken from her normal life. Amanda just arrived, and it was Huerto’s intention to make a wife out of her. Bethany already was.

Huerto pointed the gun. “What do you got there honey?”

Bethany swallowed and looked at Amanda. The teenager’s face was bloodied from the beating. Her eyes were down and her blond hair was layered with red streaks from Huerto’s wet fingers.

“A good wife doesn’t hide things from her husband.”

Amanda lifted her chin. Her mouth was agape and jaw looked off center. She shook her head slowly side to side. She asked Bethany earlier not to put her life at risk.

Bethany bit her thin lips and squeezed her eyelids together.

“WHAT DO YOU HAVE?”

She sniffed. “A knife.” Bethany looked at Amanda again. The poor blonde girl wanted to live. She deserved to live and who was Bethany to jeopardize that for her.

Huerto spoke through gritted teeth. His face was pockmarked and his toupee a puffy bread loaf. “That’s not good of you dear. Not good at all. Bring it here.”

What is life?

“Now,” said Huerto.

Life is freedom. Life is laughing. Life was hers until Huerto took it away. Now he was going to take Amanda’s.

“Honey?”

Bethany stepped forward. This isn’t life.

“Give it here,” he said, dropping Amanda and flapping his hand together.

I’m already dead.

“Very good dear,” said Huerto, as Bethany took the knife from behind her back and slowly moved it towards his hand. “Now-”

Before Huerto could finish, Bethany swung the knife up and sliced it across his jugular. The rifle shot once into the dresser and he fell back. Blood sprayed everywhere and he knocked porcelain plates and china to shatter. He tried to yell but only sputtered blood and babble came out. Huerto swiveled his head side to side and stomped his heel into the ground. A puddle of blood oozed onto the wood floor.

“Let’s go!” Screamed Amanda. She stood and ran out.

Bethany took the knife and ran after her. She locked the door to the room once they exited and ran down the stairs. They smiled and reached the front door and heaved to pull it open then realized something.

The front door locked from the inside. The windows were all boarded up. Everything needed a key and they didn’t have a key. Huerto had the keys. All the keys. He also had a rifle.

The girls looked at each other.

“Do you think he’s dead?” said Amanda.

“He’s gotta be,” said Bethany.

A loud ‘thump’ came from upstairs.

Part 7, Coming Soon!

– Thomas M. Watt

The Worst Kind of Marriage – Part 5

Image

Missed the beginning? – Click below for Part 1

Bethany finished up the stairs. She entered the room first, while Amanda followed behind. Huerto, The sick pervert who had kidnapped each of them and called himself a husband, was in the back, carrying his rifle with him.

Bethany looked to the bed. Her puddle of blood still remained. She clenched her stomach wound. She was dizzy.

Get a hold of yourself.

Bethany squeezed her eyelids closed, grimaced, then remembered she had one chance to escape.

Find the knife.

“Ok my little lady. Are you ready to get our wedding underway?” Said Huerto to the young blonde teenager.

Amanda sniffed, but did not answer.

“I love you, you know,” said Huerto.

Amanda sniffed again.

“Say you love me bitch!”

Huerto smacked the young woman across the face with his rifle. After she kept at a hunch and he started to swing again.

“HEY!” Said Bethany.

The pock-marked Huerto stopped. He looked at her funny, smirked then raised the barrel in her direction. “What was that, honey?”

“Don’t hit her.”

Huerto shifted the bolt handle then locked it down, loading his rife. “Dear, I’m beginning to wonder if you’ve forgotten how this relationship works. Have you?”

Bethany looked down. She spotted the bloody knife. It was on the ground behind Huerto.

“I’m the master, you’re the slave. Right?”

Bethany gulped. She looked at Amanda.

Amanda barely shook her head. “No,” she mouthed with her lips.

“Right?” said Huerto, holding the gun to Bethany’s pale cheek.

She finally nodded.

“All right, great!” He hugged Amanda in close with his free arm. “Let’s get the ceremony underway. Are you excited baby?”

Amanda didn’t answer.

Huerto threw her headlong into the desk near the window. “I said, are you FUCKING excited!” He walked over to her then kicked her in the stomach.

Bethany looked at the ground. The knife was in plain sight, and Huerto’s back was to it.

“ARE YOU?” Screamed Huerto.

Amanda cried.

Get it. Get the knife.

Bethany started after it, but as soon as she did Huerto whirled around and loosely aimed the gun at her. “Where are you going?”

Though she was curled up in the fetal position, Amanda bit Huerto on the front of his shin.

“Ahh!” He returned his attention to her and smacked Amanda in the ribs with his barrel.

Bethany moved fast, too fast. When she reached for the knife she kicked it instead. Over shoulder she saw the painful expression on Amanda’s face. The young girl bit Huerto’s leg again anyways, and dealt with the repercussions.

The knife had slid under the dresser. Bethany crouched to her hands and knees and reached for it. The blade cut her fingertip and she felt it spin away.

C’mon!

She could hear Amanda getting pummeled. Time was running out. Bethany lowered all the way to her stomach, felt around underneath, then finally took hold of the handle. She shimmied her arm back out, knife in hand. She gritted her teeth, shot to her feet, then turned around.

“What the fuck are you doing?” said Huerto. He was holding Amanda up, his fist clenching her hair.

Part 6, Coming Soon!

– Thomas M. Watt

I Should Not Post This

Surgery, hand’s asleep, drugs are messing with my head.

I am not a little boy nor good thinker when I’m floyed.

Yes that word I made up there  ’cause currently I don’t give a care.

Good time to post? Not so much. Hard to think I’m all drugged up.

Get me Cheetos and some cheese ah forget it I’ll take the keys.

Oh what’s that I cannot drive? Well fine then you drive I’ll ride.

Cheetos Cheetos what a plan, cat named Chester seems like nice friend.

I like his glasses and his wit, be fun to hear him joke a bit.

How was my surgery you want to ask? Wearing arm sling but it will pass.

Naked walking through the streets, buttoned shirt on just one sleeve.

Like the way girls look at me, like I’m wounded just to treat.

Favorite parts of girls is there – the way they care when life’s not fair.

Yippy, yes, yippet-yeah – I like the girls who love to share –

All their kindness with a stranger, even when he could mean danger.

Danger sexy or a risk? Hope I didn’t myself convict.

Meant to say a sexy way, now my image is in decay.

Well, ripe, welp, outwith, forgive me drugs are writing this.

What to do oh what to say, kind of stuck on girls all day.

I wonder if writer’s get laid by well-played prose and timely plays.

Quite so cool oh it would be, to say a line and make them scream –

“Oh you’re so brilliant sexy man! Oh please come hither to my bed,

Say me more so I can dream about your brain you dazzle me.”‘

I would respond, “Oh, ha-ha, aha tee-he, girl you’re… something autumn leaves.”

 “You said something in that phrase, I am quite sure you’ve ruined this blaze.”

“What, a blaze? You mean this trick? You mean the way I feed my dick?”

“Oh you bastard! Don’t you care! And your followers, with them you’ll share?”

“Shit I guess so, wrote it down. Damn my lady you’ve made me frown!”

“Perhaps you should now, after-all. You’ve proved yourself has too much gall.”

“Hmm… I like that!”

“Well they won’t! In fact they’re turned off by your quotes.”

“Damn I tell you, damn I say, girl just run please go away.”

“Ugh of course of course I will. You’ve turned me off without your quill.”

“Well I’m drugged so it’s okay, but one quick word before you stray?”

“What! What is it? I’m leaving goon, I hate the thought I thunk to spoon.”

“Yes me too just with my wiener. Shit I said it -“

“Dare go on I’ll kick your knees. For the love of blogs what did you need?”

“What? Oh yes now I remember – please purchase Cheetos and bring them hither.”

– This has been Thomas M. Watt post-op and on a variety of drugs.

The Writers’ Dream

Image

Back is hurting, ass is sweaty, tired of hunching, always pressing,

Got to get back on my feet got to get those words to seep –

Through my fingers, from my pen, to the desktop, repeat again.

How many drafts does one book take, how much perfection do readers crave?

Doesn’t matter, I don’t care, I know one day it will get there.

Perseverance? That is shit. Try to spend one year like this.

Learn to get up when you’re damper, know each word from front to backwards.

See description and how it lies, find out what meets readers’ eyes.

For it is not the talk of bees, nor the words that make you pleased.

What readers want is not so much, just to read and feel a rush.

To stimulate the modern mind, without much pictures in faster times,

To do the work of talking grand is indeed one dumb-ass of a plan.

They did not come here just to see the mind of yours and learn you’re deep.

They came instead to just relax, to grab a book and eat a snack.

To keep them going for one night, to let them think your book reads right.

Get them thinking it’s a treat, get them wondering why ‘Jack leaps’.

Raise a question, submit the answer, in the middle fill with banter.

Do this once and you’ll achieve, fulfillment of the writers’ dream.

– Thomas M. Watt

Wild Bill

Wild Bill

Wild Bill is by far the most menacing of all his bandits. He carries with him an 11 inch Belgium pacifier. The sawed-off shotgun is attached to a shoulder sling, and lining the interior of his black coat are steel hacksaw blades.

He was the father figure to my main character Michael, influencing him into committing both the Bandit Beach Massacre and the Slave Owner Slaughter.

To find out more about my novel, “Way of the World,” just check out my website at http://www.thomasmwatt.com

Wild John

Wild John

We don’t get to meet Wild John until nearing the end of, “Way of the World,” but he is an intriguing character, to say the least. Michael meets John in the middle of the desert, and the stubbly-bearded man is wearing no clothes.

That’s right, he’s absolutely naked.

Michael inquires as to why, and the response strangely alludes to his connection with divine forces. Wild John goes on to say Michael is ‘from above’, to which Michael dismisses quite easily.

Obviously, being a ruthless murderer throughout his childhood makes it easy for Michael to be know that he is no angel.

Wild John leaves Michael with the curious words, “I have to make straight the way for the promise.”

Michael shrugs, and leaves the naked man with a potato sack to use for some pants.

To find out more about my novel, “Way of the World,” or to view illustrations, paintings and excerpts, feel free to check out my website at http://www.thomasmwatt.com