Making the Cover (with Mary Toth)!

Becoming the Plagiarist by B.T. Higgins

Like any sane person, I judge a book like I judge a lasagna. Is there a generous layer of bubbling cheese on top? There should be! If no? Then I am suspicious. It might be a ‘healthy’ lasagna. There might be broccoli hidden down there. You never know. What else did they remove to make room for the kale?

A book is also filled with delicious layers and magical flavors, but unless there is a bubbling layer of cheese on the top it’s natural to be suspicious of its quality. What part of the book is the bubbling cheese? The cover. Of course.

Making the cover for Becoming the Plagiarist proved to be a lot of fun. I worked with Mary Toth illustration.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the concept art and steps that led to the final cover, which is revealed below:

Mary took some of my thoughts, concepts drawings, a selection of published covers that I admired and put them through her creative blender. The first step was thumbnails sketches. These drawings helped us visualize the cover without investing too much time in any one pose.

Here she made a sketch with more detail of one of the poses.

We finally decided on the standing pose, so she went to work on the next version. A week later, I received this more-detailed drawing. The cover started to take shape quickly.

I really liked it. It caught my eye. It gave hints about what the story might contain. Why does that kid have a magical looking walking stick? What are all those orbs above his head? Compared to my concept art, things were really starting to bubble. If you know what I mean?

Mary recreated the cover digitally. She added more detail. The background started to take shape.

Now it was time to add color. The options were many. Here she did a mock up of different options.

In the end, I chose my favorite colors like I was ordering a la cart from the color menu. It is amazing what can be done with digital painting. Here is what Mary sent back to me.

At this point, all we needed to add was the Title and Author.

Drum roll please!

The final cover for Becoming the Plagiarist!

Many thanks to Mary Toth Ilustrations!

Christmas in July!

Come celebrate Christmas in July with 30 Ambassador International authors and 30+ books!
From July 20th to July 24th authors will talk books (from nonfiction to historical from children’s to romantic suspense, there’s a book for everyone), research, missions, and other fun topics. Plus, there will be many giveaways!
Hope to see you there! Just click the link to join the group.

I will be the host on Friday (24th) from  8:00-8:30 pm CST (5-5:30 AKST)

The Maker’s music is our source of strength, restoration and encouragement.

Theme Five (An excerpt from the Digging Deeper section of The Cracking of Monday Egg)

Think about it

I have always thought it funny that a blanket can also be called a comforter. We have a huge comforter on our bed at home. It is thick, white and fluffy. We call it the cloud because when it envelops you it feels like you are lying in a cloud. It is warm and wonderful on cold Alaska winter nights.

The other meaning of the word comforter is a person who comes and consoles you, makes you feel better. After Jesus died, rose back to life and ascended to heaven on a cloud, he sent the Holy Spirit to believers to be our comforter. When we are discouraged, he strengthens us. When we are tired, he provides the energy to keep following the Maker. The Holy Spirit is the music that fills our hearts with good hope and reassuring love. When I listen to music, especially while lying in the cloud, I am thankful that we have a perfect comforter.

2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.(NIV)

Zephaniah 3: 17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.(NIV)

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (KJV)

Discussion Questions

The first time the music came to Monday he felt it was alive and sparking with energy. It arrived layered with feelings, as though it understood his pain. (Chapter 10)

As time went on, Monday learned to drink the music in, as it swelled and softened in exactly the way he needed. Every time the Maker sent the music Monday realized it was new, written for that very moment. Because of the music, Monday had a response greater than his sorrow. (Chapter 20)

  • How do you feel when you realize someone understands your pain?
  • What would it be like to have a dependable source of encouragement when you feel discouraged?
  • Would a reminder that God delights in you give you hope?
  • Jesus asked God to send us the Holy Spirit as Comforter. Do you believe you can experience his comfort?
  • What are some ways you hear the Maker’s music and receive its restoring power?

We can trust The Maker.

Theme Four (An excerpt from The Cracking of Monday Egg The Digging Deeper section.)

Think about it

I stood in a thick forest. Birch trees with their white bark felt like skyscrapers around me. Huge cottonwood and spruce trees tried to blot out the sky. Between the trunks, devil’s club and cow’s parsnip competed for light with the wild raspberry and fox currant. My legs were exhausted from bushwhacking through the thick brush. Scratched and sweating, I found a spruce log that had fallen over a deep ditch. I couldn’t tell how deep the ditch was since the devil’s club, with its brutal thorns, filled the space completely. The log would take me straight over the thorny brush. If it were rotten, it would drop me into it.

I stepped up on the log, listening for the sound of cracking wood. Could the log carry my weight? Slowly, I stepped out. Balance. Step. Careful. I got over the ditch. Not too far. The thorny clubs brushed at my ankles like hungry dogs. I took another step, out toward the middle. The log moved slightly under my feet, but then held firm. It did not shatter beneath me. I slowly crossed the log, passed the danger, and found safety in a grassy meadow. I had reached my camp.

I like this memory because it reminds me of how the Maker leads us. He straightens our paths. Brings us over the thorny traps. To a peaceful meadow. Where we can find rest.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. (NIV)

Discussion Questions

As Monday wrestled with his response to the crackings, the Maker reminded him, “It is only the few who can trust me to bring the good out of the bad circumstances. Will you be one of those, Monday, or will you go live in Thorn Dome and hide?” (Chapter 20)

  • When have bad circumstances made it difficult for you to trust God’s plan for your life?
  • How can you trust God when others in your life have not been trustworthy?
  • Is it possible to trust God when you do not understand what is happening or where he’s leading?
  • What do you know about God that helps you trust him?
  • How does it feel when you truly place your trust in God?

The present circumstances may be discouraging and make you doubt.

Theme Three (An excerpt from The Cracking of Monday Egg)

Think about it

A mother’s precious baby dies after two weeks of life. A 40-year-old man has a stroke and loses muscle control over the left side of his body. The rain does not come, so the farmer’s crops fail. A boy listens to his parents arguing and feels like his world is about to implode. A woman is robbed at gunpoint while walking to her car after work. A 30-year-old pastor is put in prison and brutally beaten for talking about Jesus Christ.

The world is littered with suffering like the garbage dump is littered with trash.

We cannot deny it. The most natural thing to do when experiencing hard times is to feel discouraged and doubt that the Maker is still in control. After all, if the Maker loved me, he wouldn’t allow suffering, right? Let’s find the truth on this hard subject. The Maker doesn’t promise to keep us from suffering. He promises many other things though, like a future and a hope. The Bible teaches that the Maker is our refuge in times of storm. If we put our hope in the Maker, he will never leave us nor forsake us. Even if the suffering continues.

I have found that the Maker walks with me in hard times, so I am never alone. I am never hopeless, no matter how I feel.

Put your hope in the Maker.

Job 4:5But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;it strikes you, and you are dismayed.(NIV)

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV)

Psalm 43:5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and may God. (NIV)

Discussion Questions

After Crow’s attack, Monday was very angry. He railed at the Maker about the injustice of the assault. Overwhelmed with discouragement, Monday declared, “It isn’t fair. It is… it is…just wrong.” Then the healing pain began. (Chapter 10)

  • What circumstances make you feel discouraged?
  • How can you find hope in the middle of a hopeless situation?
  • Does God understand when you have doubts?
  • Has there been a time when God reached out to you in your despair?
  • Can anything good come out of your suffering?