History of the Book Cover For Find My Baby


This is an interesting blog post from Mitch Lavender, author of the newly-released crime thriller ‘Find My Baby’ on how he arrived at the final cover for his novel. I would also have gone with the one he selected.

More details at http://lifein64squarefeet.com/find-my-baby/

Originally posted on Lifein64SquareFeet.com - A Writer's Survival Blog:

Over the course of writing, editing, rewriting, revising, cursing, etc., I toyed with different covers for Find My Baby. These are several iterations of the covers I considered at one time or another.

Find my baby cover

This was the first cover, developed for my Nanowrimo author’s page way back in November of 2011. I liked this one at the time, but then an artist friend pointed out that the shadow on FIND and the shadows on my name were opposite of each other. My name was also a little too prominent on the cover. This works for known authors but does nothing for me. Eventually, I abandoned this one in favor of the next.

Find my baby cover-3

The font changed to give it a ransom note feel, and my name was reduced to a smaller font. It has a very dreary feel to it, and I abandoned this one pretty quickly.

cryptic FMB cover3

This was the second cover…

View original 343 more words

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Collection of winning short stories – free to download


Last year, GKBCInc held its inaugural short story competition judged by crime writer Tim Weaver. Tim is the Sunday Times bestselling author of novels Chasing the Dead,  The Dead Tracks and Vanished published by Penguin Books.
Tim Weaver


The theme for the first year of the competition was (perhaps not surprisingly) ‘crime’ and I was delighted to learn earlier this year that my entry, ‘One Stop Beyond’, came second. The story was based on a strange event I heard about years ago – but I added a wee twist of my own!

I have been informed that the winning and short-listed stories have just been published in an eBook collection. Please click here to download a free copy.




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Heaney and haiku

Some years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Seamus Heaney greatly appreciated the Japanese-style poetry form, haiku, and even wrote several himself. After the tragic news of his death last September, I submitted a tribute haiku to the ‘Seamus Heaney – In Memorium’ website, inspired by the great poet’s poem ‘Digging’. It was published on 5th September.

I decided to combine the haiku with a detail from one of my paintings of a cottage in the Mourne Mountains to produce a haiga (haiku with artwork)


The ‘turf’ haiku was also published on Chen-ou Liu’s ‘NeverEnding Story’, a bilingual haiku and tanka site where he translates poetry into traditional and contemporary Chinese.

The following haiku, ‘Ulster hedgerow’, is also featured on Chen-ou’s site.

Ulster hedgerow
the steady click
of golf balls


‘Ulster hedgerow’ was a tribute to the following haiku by Heaney. I love how he compares the sound of the army patrol’s walkie-talkies to birds squawking in the hedges of Ulster:

Springtime in Ulster:
aerials in hedges, squawk
of walkie-talkies

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney, 2008

‘Springtime in Ulster’ came back to me during a residential writing weekend in the countryside near the town of Banbridge, here in Northern Ireland. One of the group pointed out the continuous sound of golf balls being hit on a nearby course and it struck me how this contrasted with the sound described in the hedges of Heaney’s haiku, written during The Troubles.

Chen-ou Liu has written an interesting article on Heaney’s thoughts about how this Japanese poetry form may have influenced Western literature, with a subsequent online discussion.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky , editor of the Irish Haiku Society’s Shamrock Journal, has also written an informative article about the development of haiku in Ireland. This piece was first published in Bamboo Dreams, an Anthology of Haiku Poetry from Ireland. Doghouse Books, 2012

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Looking back (and forward)

As 2013 comes to an end, I realise that a lot of my year was spent studying and writing haiku, something that seems to have become more a way of life for me than a poetry form. It’s as if I have started to see the world through a ‘haiku lens’, allowing me to focus more on little things, like dew on a spider’s web, a perfectly striped pebble on the beach or a rainbow reflected in a puddle. This may sound strange, but it’s a good strange.

Writing and translating French haiku is another also activity I’ve enjoyed this year and I have recently been helping an online poet based in Paris to translate her poems into English. This was largely conducted via private messaging on Facebook, which was a very immediate way to exchange ideas. Having also read a lot of wonderful French poems on the site ‘Un Haiku par Jour’ (A haiku a day) I have come to the conclusion that French haiku is a lot more descriptive than its English counterpart, but it’s quite beautiful in its own way.

In July I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship to attend the full week of the John Hewitt International Summer Scheme at the Marketplace Theatre in Armagh. I enrolled on Stewart Neville’s three-day crime writing course and by drawing upon his experiences and giving us one-to-one feedback on an exercise, Stewart provided participants with a great insight into this genre.

In September, my writing pal, Sue Morgan, helped me to organise a weekend writing break for our online writing group Splinter4all in Banbridge, County Down. We hired two beautiful stone cottages and the members of the group spent the time attending and presenting a variety of poetry and prose workshops. I facilitated a session on emotive poetry which was inspired by an event I attended in Belfast earlier in the year led by the great performance poet, Tony Walsh and he kindly allowed me to read some of his work at the event, which went down well. Meeting the Splinter gang ‘for real’ for the first time (they are scattered all over Ireland so I had never met the others in person) was a bit daunting, but when they started to arrive, it really did feel like meeting up with old friends again.


In October, I attended a very useful workshop in Banbridge library on editing poetry, run by the excellent NI poet Moyra Donaldson. By encouraging me to be ruthless and lop off the beginning of an old poem I’d brought along, she showed me that less is often more. Kill those darlings!

In November I had my first job as a ‘real’ poet when I conducted a series of six workshops in a school in Newcastle as part of the Belfast-based Community Arts Partnership Poetry in Schools Programme as Poetry Facilitator. It was great fun and I cried when reading the letters of thanks I received from the pupils – all twenty of them!

Just before Christmas I was pleasantly surprised to hear I’d made the longlist in the Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Competition and my kids recorded me reading my entry to send off, as there was no way I was going to get to Limerick on a Wednesday evening to read. Sadly, I didn’t make the shortlist, but getting that far was a real boost to he morale, as I hadn’t written any longer work for quite a while.

So, hopefully this year will bring more poetry facilitation in schools and although I intend to continue writing haiku in both languages, I will start concentrating on longer work such as flash fiction (still not very long!) and short stories (which are by nature, still quite short!) I’ve already written a bit of flash and micro fiction in the recent past, including work published over at Postcard Poems and Prose. Starting to write a novel is something I can only dream of, as I tend to agonise over every sentence before moving on to the next which means that it would probably take me a few years to complete the first chapter!

So, these were some of the writing highlights of my year which I found immensely enjoyable. . I hope that whatever you do in 2014 is a great success and that it is your most productive, healthy and happy year to date.

Black & White New Year

Black and white version of my ‘Winter Woodland Scene’ painting. Thanks to Dave Morehouse at Postcard Poems and Prose for helping me with the text for my cards on Redbubble

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I’ve decided to put my artwork onto Redbubble, a site that sells cards, prints, etc using an artist’s original design. I’m not really sure how it all works, but it’s good to have my pieces all in one place instead of having to sift through lots of folders on my laptop.

I discovered this site when I was admiring a card that someone gave my mother of one of their paintings – in fact, she ended up buying me the original painting as a present because I loved it so much.

I guess now it’s a case of waiting to see what (if anything!) happens. :)


Giants Causeway

Update – by the time I’d come back from work I’d sold fourteen cards – not a bad result, but I won’t give up my day job yet! :)

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Haiga from the woods

As I haven’t painted (or posted on this blog for that matter!) since the summer, when I spotted a post this week from An Mayou, an artist and haiku poet from Colorado, requesting some words to accompany her excellent piece of artwork, I decided to have a go.


The objective of a haiga is not to produce a haiku that simply describes what’s in the image, because the viewer/reader absorbs this information visually, but to combine it with one that is either in direct contrast with or complements the image. The resulting artistic collaboration should create a completely new narrative in the reader’s mind according to his/her own experience.

In An’s painting, the bareness of the dark trees with their stark branches suggested loneliness or grief to me, so I decided to write about a memory, in this case, the memory of spring and of someone who has departed. I hinted at the season through the use of a kigo (a season word) in this case ‘bluebells’, as they are abundant then. ‘Winter’ is itself a season that suggests death, so from the outset it is a sad path travelled in this haiga.

I am honoured that An loves the resulting haiga and has invited me to share it!

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Kiran’s Portrait

Kiran the bride 011I have been trying to paint a nose ring on an Indian bride all afternoon and it has proved to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to complete. I started this painting about eighteen months ago and was too afraid to attempt the nose ring at the time, so I put it away and forgot about it.

However, when I learned that I would be participating in an art exhibition next week, I thought it would be the perfect incentive to finish the painting. The photograph was taken at a Hindu wedding I attended in Delhi in 2006 and, although I’m pleased enough with the result, it doesn’t look anything like the bride, Kiran – but at least I finished it! :)

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