The Sky Riders (TSR): Progress Report

jason clement writing the sky riders mac book pros
Jason Clement and I took the morning to work on our respective projects while onboard AireFire 1 yesterday. A sailboat in the beautiful 1000 Islands is about as peaceful a work environment as I can think of. While we got a lot done, we’d both confess we could have stayed longer.

I’m about 35% of the way done with the 1,200 edits logged by my Proofies on The Sky Riders (book 1). If you’re an artist of any kind, red ink can often be the bane of our existence. But don’t let it scare you. Corrections don’t point out your flaws so much as reveal the beauty of your work. With every correction I address, I can feel this manuscript getting cleaner and more effective. It’s exciting!

All edits will be done by week’s end; then it’s on to interior formatting and cover design. Target release date is Tuesday, September 10th. Stay tuned!


Building Sprig Records Studio: Log Entry 5


Finishing Schedule: Lighting, Flooring, Paint, Textures

Yesterday was a creative fire storm of wonderment as my design team converged on Sprig Records Studio with cameras, laptops, and iPads in hand.

Peter and Kristen dissected materials and color palettes, while Jason created a mobile office where he brought still images into 3D space for pre-viz of surfaces. A myriad of lighting concepts and materials were discussed, many of which were recycled. Another father-and-son team Bob and Rob Brola were there to make sure things stayed practical and within budget. And videographer and designer Joseph Channell was there to capture it all on camera.


A special thanks goes out to Jeff Arquette who’s sheet rocking expertise has been put to the test on this project. He’s treated every angle and curve with utmost care, details that would test the mettle of even the best sheet rockers.

From bamboo flooring to avante guard light sculptures to diagonal cedar siding, everyone came up with some pretty formidable and truly creative ideas that will add Sprig to the list of New York’s premier recording environments.

Now for searching sources, getting quotes, gathering materials, and inputting the timeline. Rock on.


[One of the pre-viz concept designs]

A Guide to Self-Publishing: Cover Design

Looks don’t matter.

If that were true, God would have made sunsets various shades of brown, restricted us from any lofty vista viewing, and ensured woman were completely unattractive to the male species.

It’s a total lie. Looks do matter, have always mattered, and will continue to matter.

How your book appears – whether on a physical bookshelf or a digital one – could be the difference between selling and not selling it.

But when hasn’t that been the case? I think the only exception might be the Bible. Although some people really dig all-suede covers with gold embossed crosses.

The point is, your book cover needs to look good.

Here are a few important points to consider when thinking about the functions of your own cover:

1.) A cover needs to highlight the book’s title. It might seem like a given, but you’d be amazed at the amount of amateur book covers I see that make the title almost impossible to read. The designer got carried away with their favorite new typeface, and never once stood 15-feet away to try and read the title.

2.) The author’s name is probably the second most critical piece of information. Resist the urge to be ultra artsy here. People instinctively connect last names to reputations; don’t make them have to hunt for it.

3.) The general graphic and artistic elements that make up the visual concepts need to reflect a key “hook” of your story.

One tip here is to keep it simple. A lot of people feel they need to highlight every character’s face, or show the family’s prairie house, along with all their livestock, farm hands, and a bolt of lighting that started the fire that killed Uncle Ned, and the warrant the unjust Sheriff put out for innocent Jim Bob’s arrest, and maybe the waterfall where Jim Bob fell in love with sweet Martha May. And don’t forget the oil pump that made the family rich at the end.

Can we add some doves?

Um, no. Just no.

Pick one solid idea that provokes people and execute it well. Making any design too busy with colors, images or typefaces screams “lack of professionalism.”

Recognize that the cohesiveness and integrity of your design will build instant credibility with readers. Most people can’t articulate why they like something, but our modern eye has been conditioned to know good design when we see it.

Likewise, bad design can and absolutely will be detrimental to a story. I have books that sat on my shelf for years that I simply couldn’t bring myself to read because the covers were so atrocious. Turned out a few of the stories were quite good. Pity.

Make sure that you get good critical reviews from professionals or art teachers, or higher a cover designer to do it for you. After all the work you’ve put into your manuscript, the worst thing would be to brand it with a poor cover just because you think you can design, or you really wanted to use that painting you did 10-years ago that probably shouldn’t been seen in public.

If you have a good eye, and have thousands of incredible images you can purchase with rights to duplicate. Combine the right image(s) with solid title and author typefaces, and you could be well on your way to crafting your own covers. While I’ve seen stuff done using text boxes in MS Word (the Lord knows I was a master text-boxer before I got better software), you really need something on the level of Photoshop or InDesign for true control and output integrity.

If you’re formatting for a print book, you will need to consider bleeds (like the interior), as well as how colors are going to print. One reason I love CreateSpace so much is that you can buy proofs to review before you finalize the files in their system. This is great for checking your interior and exterior designs.

Print books also demand a spine (as well as “back matter,” or what’s on the back of the book). While the spine may seem small and insignificant, pay attention to it. Both in stores and on peoples’ bookshelves, the spine will get the most long-term traffic of a book. Clear title and author texts need to be featured. CreateSpace can automatically assign and place a UPC bar code for you if you use their templates for layout. (Obtaining a template during your title upload phase with CreateSpace is exactly like obtaining a template for the interior design portion covered yesterday).

As for typefaces, any good designer will tell you that one typeface, maybe two, is what you should stick with. If you’re using a third typeface in a composition you better have a darn good reason. Beyond that your book will scream inferior and second rate (if not worse).

I would highly suggest employing the services of good graphic designers, if not for the entire cover at least for consultation. does amazing covers for dirt cheap with a fast turnaround. And The Miller Brothers and Jason Clement of New Life Media helped craft covers for the 2011 Editions of The White Lion Chronicles.

Here’s a look at some unseen cover concepts for Athera’s Dawn that I developed early on:

Eventually we decided on a Dairneag for the cover of Rise of the Dibor, a taken warrior for The Lion Vrie, and the statue-plaque of the White Lion’s face for Athera’s Dawn.

Here is the final cover, front, spine and back:

This cover printed the darkest of all three books, but the purple is still very striking.

Tomorrow we’ll start in on the technical, financial and legal processes of publishing through CreateSpace. ch:

Building Sprig Records Studio: Log Entry 3

Yesterday I had the honor of watching two of my heros collaborate.

Master audio engineer and producer Peter Hopper dreaming with master designer Jason Clement.

It was epic. Drawings everywhere, ideas spouting, visualization well underway. The studio is framed out, over 35,000′ of cabling laid, and ready for insulation and sheetrock. Now we’re working on the finishes list and lighting.

Team work is everything to me. Whereas before I preferred to work alone – taking credit, and penalties for myself – today I wouldn’t dream of doing something by myself. Co-laboring has become the only way I know, cherishing the inspiration and insight that others bring to the creative table.

Interesting that God views humanity with the same interest. Thus why he loves building with us, not around us.

Sprig Records is rising. ch:

Celebrating Good Men

Negative sells. That’s why we subconsciously think dads are dead beats by default in the news world.

The opposite is true, however, at least in my little corner of the map.

So here’s to highlighting two amazing men that humbly represent manhood to their generation, two men who’ll never make the 6 o’clock news simply for being great: Jason Clement (center) and Nathan Reimer (right).

Men who endeavor to be faithful husbands; who care deeply about the physical and spiritual wellbeing of their wives and children; who work more than their share of long hours in order to be proven good stewards; who are faithful friends, spanning time and distance; and who’ve resolved to point their children toward Jesus by first submitting their own lives before God as living examples of obedience, most often feeling they’ve missed the mark when the Father is thrilled that they’re even trying.

We’re charged in Titus 1 to be “lovers of good men.” And I’m honored to call them two of my very dearest friends. So glad they could finally meet yesterday.

Negative may sell, but it’s forgotten. Positive leaves legacy. ch:



As You Wish (thud)

There’s a steep little hill right outside one of the entrances to Eva’s elementary school.

Last night, after her 1st Grade orientation, the kids asked if they could run down it once.

Which turned into twice.

Which turned into fourteenths.

When suddenly the closest adult (without a recovering slipped disc) ran into the scene completely unannounced and took it to a whole new level.

Thanks for showing one of the many things that great dads are supposed to do, Jason:


And it’s amazing how once he set precedent, there was instantaneous courage for the kids to try things beyond their own means. (Thank God their mothers weren’t there).

In demonstrating what’s possible, fathers inspire us to attempt what’s not. ch:

Jason Clement Pulls a Princess Bride