A Conversation With: Jeanine Henning

Jeanine Henning, Nhakira, trilogy, fantasy, book design, book cover, artist, illustration, bookstagram, writer

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I’ve got to say a well-designed book cover plays a big factor in drawing readers! I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up a book because of its beautiful cover. Well, in this, Jeanine Henning has an ace up her sleeve. Not only is she a writer, she’s also a hugely talented artist who specialises in book design and illustration. So it’s no wonder her fantasy trilogy, Nhakira, boasts such gorgeous covers. Check out the beauty of the box set!

I’ve always been fascinated by the book design process, so I was psyched to be able to host a conversation with Jeanine where we chatted about her job as an artist and book cover designer, her favourite creativity tools as well as the Nhakira trilogy and why she chose to go to the self-publishing route over traditional publishing. Her enthusiasm and passion for all things creative really shines through her answers. I won’t say much more, but let her words speak for themselves! READ MORE

May Science Read: The Invention of Nature

Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature, Science, Earth, Alexander von Humboldt, May, science read, flowers, nature

Talk about beautiful book covers! I’m almost afraid to read Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World because I don’t want to damage this amazing book! As you can guess, The Invention of Nature is my 2016 science read for May. Now that we’ve explored the oceans in April, it’s time to follow in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors and crawl onto land.

In The Invention of Nature, Wulf traces the life of German explorer and naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt who has inspired other artists and scientists such as Darwin, Wordsworth and Thoreau, and the influences he has played in our understanding of the natural world and environmental science. I have to admit, I’ve never heard of Alexander Von Humboldt before this, but he sounds like a pretty amazing person and I can’t wait to start finding out more about him and his adventures across the world. Travel, adventure and nature, all bound up in a big, beautiful book – what more could one ask for?

Writing Wednesday: Every Writer I Know Has Trouble Writing

writing tip, writing advice, motivation, Joseph Heller, quote, writers, artists, inspo, inspiration

No one churns out a perfect, NYT bestselling, award-winning book the first time they take pen to paper. Every writer has to work through the process, the struggle to get the words on the page, the polishing and editing, the doubts and fears, the moments of “Aaaah, what the hell am I doing?!?”. But rest assured, you’re not alone! Even famous writers have their moments of struggle – Neil Gaiman, in his pep talk for NanoWrimo, reminisces about how he called his agent midway through writing Anansi Boys when he was feeling particularly down and discouraged about his book and just about ready to give up, abandon the book, abandon his entire career as a writer. “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?” she said. “You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients.”

So know this – that when you sit down to write a book, there will be hard times. There will be self-doubts and fears, troubles and moments of ‘Aaaaargh.’ But also know this – that every writer will experience the same thing. It’s all part of the process of writing a book. Think of it as a milestone, a challenge, or a baptism of fire of sorts. And also know this – that the only thing that’s truly standing between you and your dream is not the tough times, but your tenacity, your gumption, and your determination to never give up.

Book Review: The Sea Around Us

The Sea Around Us, Rachel Carson, marine biology, book review, female scientist, science, science read, April

For April’s science read, I explored the oceans in Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us. First up, I have to say – I really, really enjoyed this book. It delivered everything I was hoping for – a comprehensive, delightful, intriguing and thorough look at the territory that comprises 70% of our planet. In The Sea Around Us, Carson describes the origins of our earth’s oceans, visits prehistoric seas and marine fossils, explores the rich lively surface waters and the cold, dark depths of the oceans, the continental shelfs and vast underwater canyons, whirlpools and sea currents, tidal waves and upwellings, and so much more. It was like going for a ride with a marine David Attenborough. READ MORE

Monday Motivation: When You Do Something Noble and Beautiful

John Lennon, quote, wisdom, humble, humility, sunrise, noble, motivation

We’re going from the stars in last Monday’s motivation to the sun. I have to admit, like Gretchen Rubin, I’m a ‘gold star junkie.’ I like being appreciated for the things I do, perhaps a little too much! But life isn’t about the gold stars. It’s about doing good and making the world a better place, regardless of the recognition we gain. As John Lennon says, the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of its audience sleeps. We frequently take the sun for granted, yet we’d miss the light if one day it doesn’t shine. So keep shining bright, my little suns, whether or not anyone seems to be watching. Trust me, the world appreciates your light.

Book Review: The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle, romance, fantasy, historical, Andrew Davidson

I actually read The Gargoyle years ago, but I was rifling through my bookshelf the other day and came across it. I quite enjoyed the book – it was such an original story. And that cover! The cover was the first thing that drew me to the book and I just kept going back to it again and again in the bookshops until the day I finally picked it up. READ MORE

Writing Tip: A Little At A Time Does It

a little at a time does it, inspo, inspiration, motivation, writers, creatives, encouragement, patience, goals

I used to think I wouldn’t get any writing done unless I had at least a few hours blocked out to write. But what I found when I actually sat down at my laptop was – a few hours can run away with you. Thinking I had plenty of time, I’d start to procrastinate. Or I’d get caught up in researching for my writing, which, as everyone knows, can lead to exploring all kinds of crazy tangents on the web that may or may not have anything to do with the book you’re writing! I’d get distracted. I’d flip through another book for a reference, and get caught up reading a few chapters. I’d go on YouTube. And at the end of those few hours, sometimes I may have written a lot and I’d be fist pumping. But other times, I’d have actually written very little and I’d feel discouraged.

But when I started just trying to squeeze in a bit of writing whenever I had ten minutes here or 20 minutes there or even just five minutes somewhere, I was actually surprised at how much I’d fit in. READ MORE

A Library is a Necessity of Life

library, necessity, reading, quote, books, book lovers, motivation, inspiration, inspo

Author Spotlight: Cherie Priest

book review, cherie priest, bone shaker, steampunk, fantasy, American Civil War, Seattle

I must admit, at the start, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Boneshaker, the first book in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series. I really wanted to like it – after all, the premise was unique, the cover phenomenal (just look at it!) – and I didn’t much mind Priest’s slow, deliberate pacing either. But for me, the story kind of meandered and didn’t go anywhere and also got kind of confusing toward the end. I put down the book without much desire to buy any more of the Clockwork books. Mind you, I was very tempted, though, as the premises and covers of the series did their best to lure me in!

But when Priest released Maplecroft, the first of her new alt-reality Gothic series featuring real-life notorious alleged axe murderer Lizzie Borden, I was hooked. READ MORE

Monday Motivation: We Are Made Of Starstuff

stars, carl sagan, starstuff, quote, science, universe, galaxy, wisdom, motivation, inspiration, inspo