'a HARPER novella: Teenage Female' - COVER REVEAL

  Hello, fellow humans!

      My next book, titled "a HARPER novella: Teenage Female", is coming out on October 13th! This is my first real, book-length, Elizabeth Harper narrative and serves as the prologue to next year's "a HARPER mystery: Among The Dirt And Bones". I'm happy to announce that it's available for pre-order on kindle right now! I'm also happy to share with you the cover art, which is the main reason for making this post!

      So, without any further ado...

      TA-DAAAA! And for my next trick, a little background information on its creation!

      In the interest of not spending money I didn't have to (or, in reality, didn't have), I elected to do this one myself. Even though I really wanted to be able to have my friend Deric do the art, I can't afford to pay him what he deserves, so from here on (and retroactively), all 'HARPER' books will have an original illustration by yours truly, including the last book for this year, "God Bless The Girl", and next year's "Among The Dirt And Bones". But I'll get to those two when the time is right.

      It's time for "Teenage Female" to have its day in the sun!

     Anyway, I had a handful of ideas for the cover, most of which happen to be fairly spoilery for things that happen in the book. In the end, I decided a simple drawing of Robyn Ackerman, an at-risk teenage girl Elizabeth Harper takes under her wing, was the way to go. So, like I always do, I took to my pocket notebook and produced the following sketch (it's about two inches longways), scanned it, cleaned it up a bit, added some rudimentary colors, and made the main title logo.

      Since the bulk of the Harper stories take place in Seattle, I thought a nice touch would be to put the eye logo on her shirt like the old smiley face Nirvana shirts.

      Then came the real work; Making that into a good enough illustration for the book cover.

      In the old days when I drew exclusively on paper, an illustration like the one I ended up with would've taken me an incredibly long time to do, but I was able to get this one done in around a month, thanks to technology being a thing. Robyn here is a composite of some people I know and some free stock models. I picked certain features I thought were right for her (in my mind, Robyn would look something like a young Aimee Mann, though not nearly as tall or lanky - slender, with long, dirty blonde hair ), then kind of clipped them together in a weird Frankenstein monster collage for reference.

      Once I had my reference, I just had to draw what I saw and tweak things as I went, which I did using GIMP and my HUION pen tablet. I started with a really ragged, blue base sketch, then kind of went over that with a more thorough red sketch. I wasn't happy with how wide her arm placement made her look in the blue sketch, so when It came time to do the red, I made sure to bring it back a bit.

      When I had those bases covered, I moved on to finally doing proper line work, which mainly consisted of carefully following the red and doing subtle tweaks where needed. After that, it was time to start detailing things to bring the whole piece together. I wanted Robyn's clothes to have some kind of texture on them, so I decided to start that by taking a page out of my sketchbook, scribbling on it, and scanning it. I then cut/copied/pasted the scribbles and adjusted their hue/saturation as I saw fit, almost making her look like she stepped out of a panel of some cheap manga.

      When I was satisfied with that aspect, I revisited my initial sketch and used its base colors to make my flat layer. Then came time for some lighting/shading. Since my reference was a Frankenstein monster, each piece of it had its own lighting which would obviously look like awful trash on the book, and that's the opposite of what I wanted. So I had to come up with the lighting myself. In order to shave more time off my work (I'm in the process of writing two books and editing three right now), I loaded up a random 3D model, posed it and played with the lighting until I had a decent visual reference, which I then referred to for my shading.

      The last step was to add some different filters in order to make the image pop a bit more, then I ran that through the same 'noir' filters I used on the short collection back in May. Since they'll be coming out between main releases, the prequel books will all have a sort of vintage filter put over them, as something of a visual cue that they aren't the next book in the current timeline. I do have to stress, however, that they are part of the same continuity and color the mainline books in really important ways. If it says "a HARPER somethingorother" on it, it's important to the whole picture.

      And there you have it! The cover art to "Teenage Female" and a nutshell rundown of its creation. I hope you like it, and I hope even more that you like the book when it comes out this October! This is one of the stories I've been waiting to tell from the start (Robyn Ackerman was actually the first character I created for the series outside the Harper family), so I'm especially excited to finally have it coming out. 

      "a HARPER novella: Teenage Female" will be available both digitally and in print, so pre-order now, and pre-order often (okay, maybe not that second thing, you only really need to buy it once or twice)! As with the short collection, the print edition of "Teenage Female" will be available a week earlier than the digital to make up for the fact that I can't set up a pre-order. The digital edition (which, again, can be pre-ordered right now) arrives on October 13th!

      That means, the print edition will be available on October 6th, with the limited edition 'Noir' cover for the first month of orders. The date of October 6th is significant to one of the characters, but I won't say who or why just yet.

      Anyway, I'll have more to say about this and future books in the days and weeks to come, so definitely keep your ears to the ground, and keep your eyes peeled! After this one, there's one more release coming this year; A full-fledged novel titled "God Bless The Girl"! If you liked the Reggie/Maryanne college shorts "When I Met You" (which can be read in full in the Amazon preview) and "The Heart's Filthy Lesson", that book is definitely for you, as it picks up where they leave off.

      That's enough out of me...

      Happy reading, everyone!
      -Dan Burley