CeeRee Fields On GIMP for Indie Authors

Name/Pen name: CeeRee Fields
TF3-1100
General location: I can be found roaming the countryside of the Netherlands or behind my computer if it’s raining.
  1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first book at seventeen. I had it edited by my English teacher, then tried to publish it. Back then… late 80’s early 90’s it was a lot harder to send a manuscript off as I had to send an actual hard copy formatted for each specific publisher. Needless to say, what takes a few minutes to send now took days and sometimes up to a week back then. The book/series, as by the time I started receiving rejection letters I’d written the second one was turned down. Not because of shoddy grammar, nor because of the story, but because I’d portrayed my female character as the head of security and given her and a few other female characters leadership roles. It was disheartening to read those rejections, but now I can write my characters how they come to me and share my stories without being told my female lead is too strong and should never be in that type of role.
  • What inspired you to write?
Games inspired me when I first started writing way back when. Primarily Mortal Kombat as I found the game and subsequent movies fascinating. Now, pretty much everything inspires me. A song on the radio, a sound outside where my imagination jumps into overdrives and I picture Zombies, instead of the neighbor rolling his garbage to the side of the road. Even a word or some event that I experience will bring a scene to life in my head.
  • Are you a planner or pantster?
This depends. If my imagination is in overdrive, I’m more of a pantser in that I fly by the seat of my pants to get the words on the screen as fast as possible. When I’m in a deep scene if it triggers something for another book, I’ll stop making a quick note and finish the scene. Then I’ll go back to the note, flesh it out and leave it so I can focus on my current story.
  • Which of your works is your favorite? Why?
It’s a tossup. I re-read all of my stories at least once a year because I love them. I love the worlds I’ve built, the interactions between the characters, and the action. Sometimes I forget I’m the author and I’m like ‘Dang, that’s a great comment’ and I’ll turn to my hubby and tell him. At which point, he rolls his eyes and says ‘You know that’s your book, right?’… I nod my head ‘Sure.’ But in all serious, nope I forgot. But my favorites would probably be Sara’s Kaos and Gravedigger. Sara’s Kaos, because my female main character, Sara, was put through the wringer and came out the other side with her sense of humor and kickassery intact. Gravedigger, because I loved how Josephine could be a homicide detective and have this really prickly exterior that set everyone’s teeth on edge and along comes Rhysian who just melts her. And she’s not quite sure what to make of him sometimes.
  • Would you say your stories are plot or character driven?
Neither and both. I write what I see in my head. One book, that I’m getting ready to release in November, called Naktmerié’s Monster, is character driven in that I needed Naktmerié to behave a certain way. However, it was also plot driven as there were certain plot points I needed to reach within the overarching storyline. It’s the same within the Rayburn Mystery series, which also feature Josephine and Rhysian as the MCs and take place after Gravedigger, when I wrote them there were certain events that absolutely had to happen. Then there were some I let the characters do the driving.
  • What do you take with you on vacation?
Haha. This made me laugh. I have a laptop, a tablet, an ereader with all of my books on it as well as the ones I’m editing, two mouses in case one breaks and a powerbank. And because most ketchup over here, in the Netherlands/Germany, has curry in it, you’ll find a full bottle of ketchup as well as honey mustard in my backpack. I’ve specifically asked for no curry ketchup and they tell me it is. My husband’s a chef so he tastes it for me and 9 times out of 10 it’s got curry in it. So, a bottle of ketchup is my constant companion.
  • What’s your motto as a writer?
Love your characters. Love the worlds you build. And don’t be afraid to push the boundaries.
  • What’s your next project or what is in your future?
Editing the next Josephine and Rhysian story, and finishing a couple of other stories I’ve started. I’ve also got a few surprises up my sleeve as Gravedigger rolls out. The first is the trailer which can be found on YouTube. Any information you would like to share about yourself? I love to read and game. One of the games, I’ve played for almost fourteen years now, is where I met my husband. We’re still together and we still play the game we met on.

~Author Bio~

CeeRee Fields currently lives in Groningen, the Netherlands with her husband and cat. Since she was born in Alabama and moved to the Netherlands, Dutch is not her first language which gets her into mischief in various stores around town when she tries to speak it. She loves writing, building worlds that her characters can explore and break if they feel the need. Action, adventure and love are her favorite things. And when stuff gets blown up who says the guy is the only one who gets to do it? She can be found at: Website: www.ceereefields.com Twitter: twitter.com/ceereefields Facebook: facebook.com/ceereefields

And now – GIMP of Indie Authors

Hi everyone! Thanks for having me on your blog, Debbi. Debbi invited me to talk a bit about GIMP. I’m not getting into a huge amount of detail as the software is a powerful tool and it would become complicated to try to explain it in one post. Instead, I’m going to show you what I’ve used GIMP for so you can see what some of the capabilities are. First and foremost, the reason I chose to use GIMP, which stands for GNU Imaging Manipulation Program, is because it’s free. I’m on a very tight budget as I’m sure most of you are as well. GIMP isn’t new, it’s been around since the late 90’s. As many of you are probably in the same boat as I am, being a new author, I don’t have a lot of money and the little I do have I want to use to promote my books. So, when I can find software that performs as well as a paid program, and it’s free, I’ll go with it.  Some of you probably already use GIMP, some use Adobe Photoshop or whole other program. I love Photoshop and have used it in the past. GIMP has the same functionality, it’s just set up a bit differently. And yes, you can even get a ‘Dark Theme’ for GIMP, so it looks more like the Adobe Photoshop themes you see in the YouTube tutorials. So, let’s dive in.  First and foremost, I am self-taught in GIMP. There are a LOT of ways to manipulate images within this software; however, I don’t know them all. I don’t use every tool in the program, though I’ve probably clicked it and then quickly clicked UNDO when some weird effect happened that was just atrocious. Since we don’t have time in one blog post to hit on every piece of GIMP, I’m having Debbi layout a photo array below as I walk through my thoughts and let you get an idea of what GIMP is capable of doing. I decided to use my latest book covers as I’ve updated them. The first ones I designed were total junk. It took me a couple of years of research, auditing a few creative design classes, and delving into the book market to understand why the first ones didn’t work. With that knowledge, I was able to update my covers in such a way they look fresh and fit their genre. With time and practice, you can get the hang of this too. These are my old book covers. You can laugh and feel free to tease me in the comment section. Because I’ve laughed at them as well. It’s kind of like looking at the big 80’s hair and over the top shoulder pads when I flip through my family’s photo albums. I laugh at those too.
As you can see… total junk. The second ones are better than the first, but again not great. As this series is what I call a ‘genre-bender’ I didn’t want ‘glowy’ covers. It’s not a magic-based fantasy book, and I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for in my research, nor in any pre-made book sites that didn’t cost me a fortune. So, more research and a year later I had it, but we’ll get to the new covers in a few minutes.
The cracked glass effect with the black and red dreamcatcher on one of my old book covers was a challenging effect to achieve as I had to get two images to line up and then cut away the pieces of the dreamcatcher I didn’t need to seem as if it were attached to the glass. The same with Birch’s earring as that was just too over the top for the character. I deleted it then had to manipulate duplicate of Birch underneath so her neck didn’t have a big scrape down the side, but instead, had the texture of skin. To show you what I mean, below are the originals photos I used for the different book covers. The photos were purchased with a license, so I have a legal right to use them If I am ever in doubt, I email the host site and ask. As one of my teachers was fond of saying ‘There are never any stupid questions when you’re learning.’ I have a tendency to ask a lot of questions.
Birch’s Pictures I use for Old Cover
As you can see, I cut the female image out to use on a different background for Birch’s cover. On the first two covers, I altered a photo to have an entirely different haircut to fit my character better because I wanted to see if I could.
For D’Reaper’s Destiny’s old covers, you can see I used a lot of different graphics to get the visual I wanted. It just wasn’t right for the genre. I incorporated a lot of the primary elements mentioned throughout the story. I’ll let you in on a secret I learned from this. You don’t need to dump everything, including the kitchen sink, into the cover to capture a reader’s interest. I learned I needed to find one strong element and convey that piece to the reader and let the blurb and story do the rest. Now that you’ve seen the old stuff, here’s the new book covers for Birch’s Faith and D’Reaper’s Destiny…
New Cover for Birch’s Faith
A big improvement, right? I still kept Birch’s primary photo of the female I’d used through all the book covers, and I zoomed in on the blue background with the full moon. Nothing else was really needed as Birch had her knife, which is her go-to weapon of choice. The background was set up where she and Zev meet again and shows the aftermath of the explosion. So it was perfect. The current covers slot easily within their chosen genre as a New Adult Fantasy Romance (not glowy!).
New Cover for D’Reaper’s Destiny
With D’Reaper’s Destiny, I went a whole different direction and decided to weaponize the female lead. As her weapon of choice is dual wielded crossbows, I found a fantastic picture and used it. I still had to fiddle with the colors as Zroya, the female MC in D’Reaper’s story doesn’t wear black and her hair is more golden-red. Which is conveyed now. Sara’s Kaos and Vyolet’s Stryfe I didn’t alter much. Below are the original photos.
Original Photos
The most I did was alter the ‘glowy’ effect at the bottom left of Sara’s image, and I did this by duplicating the photo multiple times and erasing the glowy piece. Vyolet’s Stryfe I just zoomed in as the background was perfect, the gun she’s holding perfect as something similar is in my story, which was eerie since I found this after I wrote the story. But both images conveyed precisely what I wanted.
Now, I’m going to unveil the book cover for my upcoming release, Naktmerié’s Monster…
Next to D’Reaper’s original cover, Naktmerié’s cover was the most intricate as no one picture worked… This was my original book cover from when I had just begun playing with it.
However, it had too many elements. So, I zoomed in and focused on just the woman and the view as that’s a HUGE focal point in the story. With her being blind I chose to have her facing away, and as her abilities are from a certain ‘sect’ they’re red, hence the red mist swirling around. These are the images I used…
The reason I’m putting all these examples and photos in here is so you can see that I did a LOT of manipulation within some of these covers. Including the fonts/text effects I used. It’s everything you’d use when designing your own covers, adverts, FB/Twitter Banners and so on. And yes, it is possible to do it all in GIMP… with the ONLY cost being the photos and maybe the fonts. As this is an overview, below is a video that explains the Toolbox in GIMP and the various tools within the Toolbox. It’s about twenty minutes long, but I explain each of the tools. There are a few I’ve never used, and I say ‘I don’t use them.’ If there’s a tool you see that I bypass and want to know how to use it, ask me. I’ll look into it and get back to you. I’m not going to pretend I know it when I don’t; however, I have no problem broadening my knowledge base and researching something. I also want to say that I’ll be breaking down my covers in a GIMP video series geared for authors. I’ll try to keep it to around 5-10 minutes per episode as I explain what I did for each cover, as well as the text effects I used to make the titles unique. I also have a series in mind of different text effects, like glitter and metal, so you can learn these and use them in your own work.
* * Glitter Photo here * **

As you can see, I can go on and on, because this is a subject I love to talk about. However, Debby’s going to kick me off soon, so I’ll end with this. Learning any new software can be overwhelming, but once you have the knowledge, it becomes easier and easier to use. One heads-up, if you are going to play with GIMP make sure to use a duplicate image so if you ‘accidentally’ export/save the image it won’t overwrite your original. I did this once before, and I’d like to save you all the headache, so just keep it in mind. Otherwise, relax and play. GIMP is a blast to use, and the worst that can happen is you’ll have to click ‘Undo,’ or start over.

Thanks again for having me, Debbi. This was fun!
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