“Weekend In WIP or On The Long Long Road To Xonira” File…

By Sean E. Ali

It’s been a while since I did a progress report on anything I’ve been working on. So let’s talk about a long overdue project I’ve stared at endlessly because I wasn’t happy with the result…

If you ask my friend, constant collaborator, publisher and colleague, Tommy Hancock about when I am satisfied with a project, he’ll probably say, if I’m not saying “I’m in love”, there’s a good chance I’m settling for what I have completed at the moment to meet a deadline. When I’m in love, then I figure I’ve hit the high note for the job and it’s not going to get any better than the end result I have.

We go for love, but settle for like, and never ever are married to the end product because we usually have other folks involved depending on the project…

Now if you ask my good friend, collaborator, colleague, and author, Derrick Ferguson about when I’m satisfied on a project, he’d probably say the same thing, but the deadline part is almost irrelevant when it’s one of his jobs. Which sometimes works to my favor, and sometimes it doesn’t because I linger when I should commit myself to something and just get it done…

Take for instance our current gig which is an updating of the second volume of his Dillon action/adventure series, DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL. I have been unforgivably slow (in my opinion) because for all the work I tossed into the project, something just wasn’t right. I was most definitely not in love like I should’ve been. I chose to go with a James Bond like idea on a lark that Derrick loved. Okay well and good, let’s go with that. Here’s the thing though, the more I worked on it, the more I couldn’t get it to work for me. Granted I’m not the only guy reading the book, but if I wasn’t sold on the final product, how exactly does it pull in anyone else? So I’ve stared at and fretted with this cover longer than anything in recent memory. I finally felt like I hit something workable, showed it off over at Derrick’s Usimi Dero FB group, which is usually a receptive audience for these things…

…and that’s where Perry Constantine came in, made one comment on the thing I had been hung up on and basically confirmed that nagging feeling in the back of my head.

Now, before I journey too far, Perry Constantine is a designer, author, columnist, critic, web designer who lives in Japan where he teaches English…

…yeah, he’s probably curing cancer and coming up with the eco-friendly perpetual motion machine that will revolutionize civilization as we know it. To say Perry’s multi-talented is a general understatement, but it’s all I’ve got.

As a designer he’s probably one of the best up and comers in the business. He’s quick, has a strong sense of design, makes great decisions when it comes to color, composition and layout, he has excellent design skills and if I weren’t in the running on a project against him, I’d pick him every day of the week and twice on Sunday. So if he catches something, unlike the bulk of folks who may or may not comment on my work positively or negatively, I stop to consider his input.

And yes if you’d like to call that an endorsement for Perry, feel free. I wouldn’t say any of the above if it wasn’t my personal experience working with him and around him.

So because Perry chimed in I went back to my source file, and considered what I was doing.

Which, for those of you playing at home, was trying too hard to make Dillon’s cover what it wasn’t. Dillon’s not James Bond. Cut that loose and the rest of it fell into place pretty quick. What I ran with is two heavy visuals from the story. I kept Dillon’s suit, killed a few details, flipped another and went with another strong visual from the story involving a Lovecraft like creature which was all tentacles and menace and mixed the two, and boom, boom: I had my cover.

And, more importantly, I was in love… finally.

Now I haven’t run any of this new stuff past Derrick, so by this time tomorrow I could be right back at it trying to compromise and revise the whole thing. That’s the nature of the job and in the end, the work is all that matters, so if changes come now, so be it; the itch has been scratched.

So the first image is the new (and if I’m lucky) final version of the cover. The other images are promo pieces that I’m sure Derrick will kidnap and distribute all over the interwebs. The images are all test pieces for a part of the full cover which wraps around the book. The place the image lands on is tall and skinny, so I fooled around with various graphics until I found something that worked for the real estate I had to fill. The resulting tests shouldn’t go to waste, so hopefully they won’t and they’ll do their duty as teasers.

The galley for the interiors are done and if we’re really lucky, you’ll be reading this within the next couple of weeks…

So my thanks to Derrick and especially Perry for their input on this.

I wouldn’t have made it this far without you.

So I said all that to say this…

The Deluxe Edition of DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL where our hero gets embroiled in a civil war, a quest for a legendary golden bell (see what I did there?), and a few epic fight scenes with a crew of wild heroes if ever there were some, is absolutely, positively coming soon…

In the meantime, I’ve got other stuff in the hopper, and I might get a jump on DILLON AND THE PIRATES OF XONIRA now since I have a better sense of what I want to do there already…

While you wait, look at the pretty pictures…

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