It’s been a few months since I dropped back into writing, and one of the first things I did, was to look back at some of my previous work, if only to remind me that at some point in the past, I had been able to do it, and hopefully that would encourage me moving forward.
The novella in the collection, Die, Blossom, Bloom, is FREE now, so if you fancy something to read over Christmas, you can get it HERE.
One of my first successes (it’s all relative!) was Die, Blossom, Bloom. At the time it was by far the longest piece I’d ever written at 20k words, so that was impressive (to me) by itself! This book has now been available on Amazon for 4 years, doing its thing without me checking on it over the last few years, so I thought I would have a look to see how it’s getting on. I was pleasantly surprised:
It got me thinking back to where it came from and that’s what you’ll find today…
Die, Blossom, Bloom
Die, Blossom Bloom is the story of TED HARRIS, an old man who feels a yawning chasm of grief and guilt from the loss of his wife and the way her life ended. Keeping these details secret leads him to commit acts he never thought himself capable of.
The old adage of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ might work out in the real world, but in writing and publishing, people really do judge a book by the cover. With the sheer volume of books available on Amazon, not to mention the rest of the Internet, readers need a way of choosing which books they think they will enjoy, and that’s the cover.
Now, I’d like to think that I’m skilled enough to make the covers myself, but I’m not. In the past I have gone with ‘homemade’ covers, but alongside some of the books you see for sale, they look amateurish, and that’s a reason for a reader to move onto the next book.
What I have done, however, is put together concepts for how I would like the covers to look, before speaking to designers. What follows, is a list of some of those concepts, along with some the images / places / people that have provided the inspiration for A Sinister Six.
In image one, I was seeing what I could make the blood like. As an author of horror, I’d love to tell you it was my blood, so we’ll go with that. The title covering the screen didn’t work for me. I could have tried a better font, but I didn’t think the font was the problem.
Image 2 got me a little closer to my vision. I can’t tell you how long I worked on getting the blood-splatter effect just the way I wanted it. Well, I can – it was too long. But what I did like from this iteration, was the style of the text; blocky, close together and the colour gradient from dark to light. The size wasn’t right, though.
Image 3 is eventually the way I went. I felt that the layout was the way I wanted, The font and size looked good, as did the blood-splatter. I decided to go with a border, otherwise the book looked odd on a white page.
The stand-alone novella had been doing quite well, so it felt like a good time to revisit the cover design.
Again, I tried my own design idea. I liked the idea of the protagonist, Ted, losing his mind, so I came up with what you see in image 4. This is what I sent to the designer, and they came up with something infinitely more professional and is the cover you can see on the book now:
Before I reached that stage, I contacted local colleges that had students that were interested in producing a cover for Die, Blossom, Bloom as part of an art project. I got several really good and creative designs, but ultimately, none of them felt quite right, so off it went to a professional.
What I would say to any would-be authors looking to self publish, is don’t be tricked into thinking you can do it all yourself, especially not where the cover is concerned. Just look at the huge list of books available on Amazon. Do you see any that look like my home-made effort? No? Of course not, and for good reason: they are bad!
Characters of Die, Blossom, Bloom
The protagonist of this story is a man by the name of Ted Harris. He is an elderly Gentleman that has retired and changed his city life for a country village existence. After many years of enjoying the slower pace of country-living, Ted loses his wife and the story is about Ted’s efforts to keep the secret of her death from the village.
Ted was, for me, a reasonably easy character to create. He was an amalgamation of my grandad and my father-in-law. Before I go any further, I would like to point out that neither of those two men did anything resembling any of the things that Ted ends up doing (to my knowledge), but they both had traits that I used for the creation of Ted Harris.
I think it was something that many men of their times did, but for them, a button-up shirt, trousers and shoes were ALWAYS the way to go. There was no comfy, easy, casual wear. Shirt and trousers. This story opens with Ted up a step-ladder, pruning some of his prize roses in his shirt, tiny spots of blood appearing where the thorns catch him.
Ted is the kind of man who do his gardening, on hands and knees, but still in shirt and trousers. At some point, he allows himself to unbutton the cuffs and roll the sleeves up. But not often.
Image 1: my grandad with a very young me. On the beach in shirt, trousers and shoes.
Image 2: my grandad and I again, at a family day out. He’s got a tie on this time.
Image 3: playing in the garden, shirt and trousers.
Image 4: playing cricket, shirt and trousers.
He was a man of his time who spoke and acted in particular ways that shaped the way I created Ted Harris. He was also a keen gardener. His lawns were ruler-straight, and you could play golf on them, they were that manicured!
My father-in-law was also part of Ted Harris. His part in the creation of Ted is smaller, but no less important. He was a very private man, who rarely shared his thoughts and had no time for gossip and idle chatter. He was also a gardener, a groundskeeper at a large park, but that plays a bigger part in The Girl in the Park, another of the Sinister Six stories.
If there was ever a song that I had in mind when I wrote this, it’s this amazing tune made famous by Julie London all the way back in 1955:
As mentioned, Die, Blossom, Bloom was later released as a stand alone novella and has received some positive praise over on Amazon, a selection below:
“A gripping look at the flowery passions and life in an idyllic English village that seems like it’s straight out of Midsomer Murders. When I read the first few chapters, I had to look up Boseley – and specifically his age, as his portrayal of the elderly hero’s daily struggles were so convincing that I felt certain Boseley himself would be in his 70s, or even older.”
I guess that means I did a good job of portraying Ted, because I am most definitely not in my 70s.
“This story could be true in any little town. What Ted and Sissy went through just trying to fit in IS shamefull. Since the town people did not want outsiders moving in, the community did not care too much when Sissy was no longer around. This story shows how a couples love can carry them through anything.”
“Even though the story starts with a killing, its true meaning only gradually appears in a masterful narration that soon turns surprisingly dark. Too dark, perhaps, for some readers, as this is not a novella for the squeamish.”
“Ted finds himself deeply suffering after the loss of his wife. I must say I felt quite sorry for him. Boseley has got in some quite touching details. But this is a horror story, so be prepared.”
“You never really know how you are going to react until you are in a situation. Ted just wanted to protect the secret of his garden and the privacy of his wife, but that’s not quite how things ended up. The story is sinister but you do feel sympathy for Ted and a strong dislike for his nosy neighbour. “
Die, Blossom, Bloom is now free. You can grab a copy from ALL GOOD BOOKSELLERS.