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Grand Theft Magic Now In Print

Richard Blunt Grand Theft Magic book cover artwork

Final book cover art by illustrator Duncan Long.

I got word today from Richard Blunt that his third book in the Lucas Trent fantasy series Grand Theft Magic is now in print.

Like most cover illustrations, this one went through several concepts before we landed on one that worked. Key to the project was capturing an ominous, even threatening feel coupled with magic within the fantasy genre.

We didn’t strike pay dirt right off… One especially awful concept painting I managed to create had one hand over the sorcerer’s head and the other hand in from of him. It was terrible beyond belief (and will not be posted). Use your imagination and it will still be better than the actual results.

From there I created several more versions. One was a bit more intriguing and laid the groundwork for half the final figure — the cool/ice side of him. In some ways it is more ominous than our final cover artwork.

Another version of the book cover illustration by artist Duncan Long

A more ominous cover concept painting by artist Duncan Long.

And here’s the final cover illustration with lettering:

Richard Blunt book cover illustration by artist Duncan Long

Final book cover illustration with lettering.

You can purchase this book from Amazon in Kindle, hardcover, and softcover formats at: Grand Theft Magic.

You can also view the Book Trailer at the author’s web site, and learn more about this book.

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See more of this book designer’s artwork at Duncan Long’s Portfolio.

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Worried about terrorism, disasters, economic collapse?

YOU CAN SURVIVE the Very Worst Manmade and Natural Disasters - A Handbook for Self-Reliance

Cover illustration for Duncan Long’s new book, YOU CAN SURVIVE the Very Worst Manmade and Natural Disasters: A Handbook for Self-Reliance.

I recently completed my self-sufficiency book — sort of a collection of survival, self-reliance, and emergency how-to secrets that I’ve collected over the last 30 or 40 years (during which time I’ve had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with Cresson H. Kearney, Kurt Saxon, Bruce D. Clayton, Jim Benson, and others). Needless to say writing this book was quite an undertaking with over 1,000 manuscript pages by the time it was all said and done.

The manual is aimed at anyone worried about terrorism, war, natural disasters, or economic collapse, and who wants to protect themselves and their loved ones from such catastrophes. And, perhaps despite what you might think from the somewhat lurid cover, I’ve takes pains to present a positive look at how to get through the worst while helping neighbors and community in the process. (Yes, there is a section on firearms and material about dealing with looters and rioters, but it is balanced with the understanding that guns may not be a suitable choice for all people, and that violence is best avoided when possible and certainly not a “fix” for most problems.)

Perhaps the title perhaps reflects the length of the book: YOU CAN SURVIVE the Very Worst Manmade and Natural Disasters: A Handbook for Self-Reliance.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

Duncan Long has been writing survival books and articles since the late 1970s (buyers of his manuals include the FBI, CIA, and US Marines); his articles have appeared in American Survival Guide, the Journal of American Civil Defense and Modern Survival Magazine.

In this brand-new manual, he shares his secrets and know-how to keep you and your loved ones alive during anything from an economical collapse to natural catastrophe, from terrorist attacks to all-out chemical, biological, or nuclear strikes. Sections give you a realistic assessment of the best defensive firearms, ways to find food in urban and rural settings, and how to improvise decontamination kits for dealing with chemical and biological agents as well as tips for dealing with highly contagious plagues.

You’ll learn how to handle medical emergencies when no doctor is available, food storage tactics, ways to heat your home when the utilities are gone, how to deal with rioters or looters, and guidelines to avoid being targeted by thieves, muggers, or even rogue government agents. Whether you’re concerned about a localized disaster, a government meltdown, or an end-of-civilization catastrophe, this manual tells how to survive in style while protecting your loved ones.

Buy it now – it may be later than you think!

You can find sample chapters to read online (and can also order the Kindle ebook) from Amazon.com at: YOU CAN SURVIVE the Very Worst Manmade and Natural Disasters – A Handbook for Self-Reliance

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Duncan Long is one of the “granddaddies” of the survival movement and has penned over 60 technical books and how-to manuals (published by Paladin Press, Delta Press, Lyons Press/Globe Pequot, and other publishers). Some of his manuals have been purchased for the private libraries of the CIA, US Marines, FEMA, the FBI’s FTU (Firearms Training Unit), and other US agencies. Excerpts from his books and technical drawings have even appeared in US Congressional hearings and US Congressional press handouts.

You can discover more about Duncan Long and his work at his web site: DuncanLong.com.

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The Publishing Options Open to Today’s Author

There’s a wealth of choices open to an author who has a new manuscript in hand, from self-published ebooks and POD (Print On Demand) to vanity presses to traditional publishers. There is no option that’s best for any given author — but there are a lot of bad choices, and some that are downright dangerous to a writer’s career.

Rather than rehash things needlessly, I’ll direct writers to Darlene Quinn’s nice overview of an author’s publishing options: An Author’s Publishing Options.

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Duncan Long is a writer/illustrator who has worked in the publishing business for decades, seeing his titles published by HarperCollins and Avon Press and small presses, as well as through self-publishing services. You can discover more about him at his: web site.

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Putting the Hell Into Halloween Artwork

Putting the Hell Into Halloween illustrations - artwork by illustrator and graphic artist Duncan Long

Book Cover art for Don MacPhail’s “X factor” – by artist Duncan Long

Halloween has come to symbolize the age-long struggle between good and evil. Ultimately evil is a rebellion against the God of goodness, and as such comes to a literally hellish end both in literature as well as in many religions.

Putting the Hell Into Halloween illustrations - artwork by illustrator and graphic artist Duncan Long

“A Place Prepared for Them” – by book illustrator Duncan Long

A certain logic can lead one to ask, “If God is really loving, why would He throw a sinner into Hell?” Of course if one is going to assume that the biblical account of Hell is true, then one should also look to the source material for the answer to such a question. And the New Testament proclaims one important fact: God does give each person an “escape clause” from the punishment of Hell; He did so by sacrificing a Son on the cross. Thus anyone can avoid Hell by simply repenting of their sins and embracing that salvation of eternal life. So as far as the Bible is concerned, avoiding Hell is not only doable, it requires only a childlike realization that the solution is free and simple.

Putting the Hell Into Halloween illustrations - artwork by illustrator and graphic artist Duncan Long

“The Accuser” (originally appearing in the Sun tabloid)

The biblical view also portrays Satan as the ultimate tempter, a jealous hater of mankind. This leaves Lucifer intent on dragging humanity into the fiery punishment of Hell (which was originally created for the Devil and other fallen angels).

Putting the Hell Into Halloween illustrations - artwork by illustrator and graphic artist Duncan Long

“The Serpent’s Curse” – by illustrator Duncan Long

Little wonder then that the first appearance of Satan in the Bible is as the serpent that tempts Eve, ultimately leading to the fallen state of mankind.

Putting the Hell Into Halloween illustrations - artwork by illustrator and graphic artist Duncan Long

“To Wake the Dead” by artist Duncan Long

Of course to be tempting, evil must enjoy a certain cold and decadent beauty. And often it promises a sort a corruption of eternal life — a sort of corpse-like existence of the undead, whether zombie, vampire, or something horrible that goes bump in the night.

Putting the Hell Into Halloween illustrations - artwork by illustrator and graphic artist Duncan Long

“Tempus Fugus” – by horror illustrator Duncan Long

And it’s that deathly substitute of a living death for life that gives so much of Halloween and the horror industry the terror that appears on the silver screen as well as in books and literature.

Witch and the elements horror art by artist Duncan Long

“Witch and the Elements” – horror art by artist Duncan Long

Be scared. Be very scared.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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When not ruminating over the theological implications of horror and Halloween, Duncan Long works as a book designer and illustrator. You can see more of his horror (as well as science fiction and fantasy) artwork in Duncan Long’s Online Book Cover Portfolio

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Kerry King’s HIM is now in print

HIM - supernatural book cover artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

HIM – supernatural book cover artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

Just got word from Joe Dansereau (president of Unicorn Castle Books) that Kerry King’s book HIM is now available for purchase. It’s a supernatural story, “based on actual events that happened in 1974″ and, as such, seems like the perfect gift for Halloween.

Learn more (or buy a copy) at the author’s website: Kerry King’s HIM

HIM - supernatural book cover illustration by artist Duncan Long

HIM – supernatural book cover illustration by artist Duncan Long

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See more of Duncan Long’s Book Illustrations and Artwork

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Trial by Evil Dolls: 32 Days of Halloween and Horror

Rag Doll Halloween and horror book artist and illustrator  Duncan Long

“Sad End for Rag Doll” by horror book artist / illustrator Duncan Long

Dolls are normally a cheerful toy that many a young child cherishes. Yet there’s something sort of spooky about their lifelike qualities of a doll, and it isn’t rate to see a child become a bit terrified when first being exposed the “uncanny valley” of human-like toys. Little wonder then that more than a few horror stories have employed a doll of one sort or anther to become the object that terrorizes rather than charm.

Voodoo dolls, ventriloquist dummies, and puppets of various sorts all become the stuff of nightmares for the writer or director wanting to spin a tale of horror. “Little Chucky, please don’t call home.” Little wonder then that more than a few books and movies have transformed an innocent doll into a monster that makes us jump and scream.

On the flip side, there can be a certain tragedy to a doll that is worn out (perhaps from the loving over-care of a child). A broken, threadbare doll becomes a stand-in for a broken human being, something pitiful and at the same time horrifying, a gentle reminder of age and decay and death for those who once played with toys. The broken toy seems the quiet metaphor that whispers quietly in the ear, “Thou art mortal.”

And that realization of mortality is perhaps the greatest fright of all.

Here are two more of my creations that hopefully will inspire a little shuddering and perhaps a chill up the spine or the realization that this life is finite and sometimes quite tragic:

A Marionette Named Martha horror book cover artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

“A Marionette Named Martha” by horror book cover illustrator Duncan Long

Devil Doll Halloween horror book artist and illustrator  Duncan Long

“The Devil Doll” by horror book artist and illustrator Duncan Long

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Find more of Duncan Long’s horror and genre artwork for book and magazine covers at Artist / Illustrator Duncan Long’s Online Gallery of Horror and Fantasy Artwork

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Good Gone Bad: 32 Days of Halloween

The Evil Good Fairy Book Artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

“The Evil Good Fairy” by book illustrator Duncan Long

One of the more troubling and often horrifying inventions of story telling occurs when something we’ve come to expect to be good turns out to be bad. These quickly transform the things of everyday life into the monsters from the dark corners of the mind. Invasion of the Body Snatchers as well as many movies that portray the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, or other childhood heroes into monstrous beings have delivered viewers and readers many screams and thrills over the years. Sometimes the transformation can be subtle and still terrifying: The eyes a little too open, the person that smiles or laughs a little too often, the guy that stands a little too close while talkig to you. It doesn’t take much to raise the creep factor in an alarming way.

Thus the terror of the “evil twin,” the crazed girlfriend (or boyfriend), or even that overly friendly guy behind the desk at the Bates Motel in Psycho. Each can turn the everyday into horror of the most terrifying sort.

With those things in mind, I wanted to offer a few of my illustrations (most looking for a magazine or book cover to appear on) to perhaps add a little more chill to these dark Halloweenish evenings.

Tooth Fairy by Halloween and horror book artist and illustrator  Duncan Long

“The Tooth Fairy” by book artist Duncan Long

Evil Twin horror artwork by book artist Duncan Long

“The Evil Twin” by book artist Duncan Long

Venus in October by book illustrator Duncan Long

“Venus in October” by book illustrator Duncan Long

Ralph the Flying Monkey by Halloween and horror book artist and illustrator  Duncan Long

“Ralph the Flying Monkey” by horror book artist and illustrator Duncan Long

You Better Watch Out by horror book artist and illustrator Duncan Long

“You Better Watch Out” by horror book artist and illustrator Duncan Long

Troubling Concepts by Halloween book artist and illustrator Duncan Long

“Troubling Concepts” by horror book artist and illustrator Duncan Long

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Artist / illustrator Duncan Long creates horror, science fiction, fantasy, and other genre artwork and illustrations for magazine and book covers for large presses as well as self-publishing authors. See more of his artwork at Duncan Long’s Book Illustration Portfolio

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Creating the book cover for My Odyssey

Kathryn H Clark My Odyssey front book cover layout by graphic artist and designer Duncan Long

Kathryn H Clark My Odyssey front book cover layout by graphic artist and designer Duncan Long

I recently had the pleasure of creating the book cover illustration as well as the graphic design and layout for the cover of Kathryn H. Clark’s memoir My Odyssey. After several false starts, a friend of the author sat down with her and created a sketch which we then followed greatly simplifying the process as well as getting the artist (me) up to speed. The author also had a photo of the ocean around Greece (where much of her story takes place) which I employed as a reference for my painting for the back cover as well as the window inset of the ocean in the front illustration.

The author had some key objects (which were central to her story), and I tried to incorporate as many of these as possible into the final artwork. These included a vase, a writing quill, a feather, a leather bound notebook, a dolphin figurine, and the moon. I created a larger digital painting of each of these, then placed them on the background I’d painted, keeping each in a separate layer so they were easily positioned on the surface of the background. With a little tinkering, moving, and resizing, all the objects made it onto the cover layout (most on the front with the moon eventually appearing on the back cover).

Here’s how things appeared on an early version of the front illustration:

Early  cover illustration with various elements - illustrator Duncan Long

Early cover illustration with various elements the author wanted appearing (illustrator Duncan Long).

It worked, but was a little busy, so we decided to get rid of the Greek ruins on the island, move the notebook to the center of the table, give the dolphin a base to sit on, and move the feather onto the notebook. These changes resulted in a more satisfactory arrangement (and also made me thankful I’d maintained each object on its own layer which made shifting them around a lot easier):

Cover illustration with various elements shifted into new positions - illustrator Duncan Long

The book cover illustration with some of the various elements shifted into new positions (illustrator Duncan Long).

Once the front illustration was settled on, the layout of the entire cover began. At first I tried a sans typeface, but that didn’t really reflect the personality of the author well, so I changed to a more ornate script-style type with a tried-and-proven classic serif for the text. After jugging things around a bit and changing out several different photos of the author (and adding the moon over the ocean) we came to this final wraparound design:

Book cover graphic design for final layout - graphic artist Duncan Long

The final book cover graphic design and layout for the memoir (graphic artist Duncan Long)

That was about a week ago.

Now…  Let me wander from the subject just a tad to note that I continue to be amazed at how rapidly books go into print these days. Even though I’d just put the finishing touches on this cover a week earlier — today I found it available for purchase at Amazon. (By way of comparison, the first novel I wrote back in the mid-1980s took four YEARS from submission until it was in print with a major press. Yes, that slow even for back when, but not unheard of and the time lag is instructive, I think.)

This is a great time to be an author.

If you want to read a very moving story, I’d encourage you to read this book. You can purchase the ebook from Amazon.com here or the print version via Amazon.com here.

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Writer / illustrator Duncan Long concentrates mostly on creating book and magazine cover artwork. You can explore his illustrations and graphic designs at his Graphic Art and Illustration Portfolio

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Cover Illustration: Troy A. Rutter’s Science Fiction Novel

Troy Rutter  Journey to Phaedra book cover science fiction artist Duncan Long

“Journey of Phaedra” science fiction book cover artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

I recently had the pleasure of creating the illustration above for Troy A. Rutter’s upcoming, young adult science fiction novel Journey to Phaedra. The author approached me about creating a cover illustration with possibly hundreds of suspended animation pods on the inside of a large spaceship bay, with one large one that had opened to reveal a human being inside up front.

The proposal seemed a daunting project given the amount of work involved in creating and arranging all the pods from different angles.

Like many complex “shots” the idea was probably better suited to a movie where a camera could pan and zoom to cover the area and let the “eye” know what it was seeing without too confusion. (I’ve found that often “illustration” concepts don’t work because of our tendency to see things the way they’d be in a movie with varying camera shots within a scene).

Unfortunately complex scenes often became a confusing jumble on the cover of a book, especially given the lower resolution of today’s ebooks. Additionally, such pictures are also expensive to create due to the time needed to paint the various bits and pieces that comprise the visual mosaic.

So my solution was to “zoom in” on just a line of the pods. This had the added plus of making it possible to create just a single detailed pod and then digitally duplicate it to create a line of the devices, thereby keeping the costs for the project down.

Once we’d agreed on this approach, I took a stab at creating a row of the suspension pods:

2 Science fiction artist illustrator Duncan Long book comp1c

Concept artwork for Troy A. Rutter science fiction novel by illustrator Duncan Long

Since the hero in the novel eventually had to be standing inside (and one would assume, easily step out of) a pod, the base of this first concept artwork was a bit too high. Rather than redo the design, I simply “lowered” the units into the floor (the plus of working with a 3D model at that point) so the glass covers of the pods would be closer to the floor. This yielded another bit of concept artwork for the book cover:

Concept artwork by science fiction book cover artist Duncan Long

Concept artwork (for Troy A. Rutter’s science fiction novel) by artist Duncan Long

After bouncing the idea off the author and a few friends, the general consensus was that the design was working.

The next step was to create a single pod with more detail, along with the translucent cover (shown here half open), first generating a single unit from 3D software and then switching to my digital paint program to add details and make it less “computer art” looking to the eye:

single pod painting with open hatch - artist Duncan Long

A single pod with an open hatch cover. This single pod could be easily duplicated to create a row of pods. A closed hatch (not shown) was then added over each of the closed pods with the open hatch going alongside the pod containing the hero.

This basic model was then detailed and duplicated along with a duplicated cover that covered the opening of each pod. The half open cover (shown) then went on the pod where the young man would be standing.

Once this was done, the young hero was created; this was pretty straight forward except for his expression. Eventually I created three different “faces” for the author to choose from, with the third variation seeming best suited to the concept of the scene from the science fiction story. (I enlarged the mouth slightly on the final version for the cover as this one seemed a bit too small to my eye.)

The various expressions of the character for the science fiction novel

The three expressions created for the cover illustration. Eventually the one on the right was employed for the cover.

Once all the elements were in place, I created a science fictionish textured background (sort of a cross between a circuit board/conduits and stone).

Line of pods sans floor which was painted in later

Line of pods sans floor which was painted in after the arrangement of pods was in place.

I then added a polished floor with pod reflections, and a variety of lights to glow on the pods (with a slight variation in colors for the open pod). Finally a beam of light singled out the open pod to draw the viewer’s eye to it, and to show something special was going on with that particular suspended animation unit.

Closeup of complete science fiction illustration by artist Duncan Long

Closeup of completed illustration by artist Duncan Long

So….

Here’s the mockup with the lettering of the final cover for this science fiction novel:

Final "Journey of Phaedra" science fiction book cover by illustrator Duncan Long

Final “Journey of Phaedra” science fiction book cover by illustrator Duncan Long

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Artist / illustrator Duncan Long has created a number of science fiction illustrations for novels and magazines, including Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. You can find more of his science fiction artwork at: Duncan Long’s Portfolio of Science Fiction Artwork and Illustrations

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