Category: Uncategorized

The thing about covers

As you probably guessed by now, I do my own covers. I do my own tiling in my house, too. I could get someone in, and they’d do a better job in half the time, but I’m really driven by wanting to know how something is done. And now I know a lot about how to do tiling, and even more about how not to do it, and 100% enough to appreciate someone else doing it.

Original cover for paranormal in the peaks. Argana, McGillyCuddy and Berkshire looking pensive
First cover

I’ve changed the cover to Paranormal in the Peaks 3 times, which is way more than I’ve ever had to re-do the tiling. When it was first published, it looked like this. It even had a different name! I’d got a subscription to depositphotos and wanted actual pictures of the peak district. In my mind when I visualise my characters, they’re as real as you or I, but I couldn’t find any photos that looked like any of therm. And although they look photorealistic in my head, I know the stories have a pulpy, comicy vibe. So, I drew the three most prominent human characters and chucked them on the cover.

Dust hands, job done.

By the time I’d got to releasing The Devil in Derbyshire, I’d had plenty of feedback that the cover was off-brand. Not off-brand for me, but for the genre. People didn’t know what it was, and that was maybe putting off potential readers. Wanting to revamp it, I did what I hadn’t done the previous time. I looked at a bunch of genre covers. Argana’s a young protagonist with a bunch of allies and there’s spooky goings on … it’s urban fantasy, right? They’ve got dark, single figure covers with sparks of magic and stuff. Yeah, I can do that.

Argana Zeit pressing her fingers into a swirl of magic while Max stands guard.
Second cover

That cover did better. It looked something closer to professional, and it got easier to persuade new readers to take a punt on it. But something was dawning on me – AZ lacks many of the major tropes of successful urban fantasy. None of the main characters are vampires, were-wolves, zombies, plant liches or any other urban fantasy regulars. Nobody dies or shags on-page.

On the other hand, everyone lives in a quaint village where they all more or less get on. Plus, she has a dog and solves whatchamacallits. Ah. This is Cosy Paranormal Mystery, isn’t it?

Argana and Max looking puzzled in front of peak district hills, with tentacled monsters in the background.
Third cover

And Cosy Paranormal Mystery covers have an altogether different look. Dark purple or blue backgrounds, exaggerated illustrations without anything that could be described as perspective. Not a photo to be seen. Cheerful, chunky fonts.

Here we go then, round three. But maybe, like the bathroom tiling, I’ll pay someone to do it next time. You learn from your mistakes? Yes, well, you can learn too much 😉

The Devil in Derbyshire

The Devil in Derbyshire: Weird Tales of Argana Zeit Volume 2

Argana Zeit dreams of the day she can give up her day job and get paid to save the world … or at least, her corner of it. There’s a curdling strangeness in her hometown of Trotterwell. Poltergeists defraud the dead. Shopkeepers curse their customers. Mortal rivals set moles on one another. The local magician has been hexed. And naturally there’s an eldritch horror masquerading as the devil.

Beset by mysteries, Argana Zeit and her dog max are going to get the chance to prove themselves … but can they?

Features the cosy mysteries:

  • Argana Zeit vs the Mole Marauders
  • Argana Zeit and the Cursed Tattoos
  • Argana Zeit and the Educated Dead
  • Argana Zeit Saves Halloween
  • Argana Zeit and the Wolf Moon

Available on Amazon, here in the UK –

and here for US readers –

Paranormal in The Peaks

Paranormal in The Peaks: Weird Tales of Argana Zeit Volume 1

Is Argana Zeit’s limitless curiosity the power that will sustain her, or the curse that will lead her to disaster? Ghosts, possessions, pan dimensional monsters, ancient entities, angry tree spirits … there’s not an occult mystery in all of Derbyshire she won’t stick her nose into.

Available as both an e-book and paperback, this collection is a convenient way to get your hands on these, the first seven Argana Zeit stories:

  • Argana Zeit Ruins Halloween
  • Argana Zeit is on the Menu
  • Argana Zeit Stones the Solstice
  • Argana Zeit Rings the Other World
  • Argana Zeit Collects Snow Toads

Now out on Amazon – UK link here and US here.

Argana Zeit and the Bay of Ghosts

Masked urchins are stealing hermit crabs. There’s child cultists and a fisherman who just might be a ghost. But that’s not all that awaits Argana Zeit on holiday in Robin Hood’s Bay … something ancient and terrible has been waiting for its time.

This novelette, which takes place in the summer before Haunted Busker, is exclusively available by subscription to the Owain Oakwood mailing-list.

So head on over to the sign-up area and dibs your copy!

Argana Zeit Saves Halloween

It’s Halloween so naturally paranormal investigator Argana Zeit would like nothing more than to stay in and keep her head down. Some chance! When illegal ravers are abducted in the woods on her patch, she’ll get dragged into this mystery.

Pour yourself a bowl of pumpkin soup and settle down for an hour or two to enjoy paranormal shenanigans.

Included in the collection The Devil in Derbyshire, available here.

Argana Zeit and the Cursed Tattoos

Jason’s tattoos are eating him – or at least, that’s what he believes. And he’s not the only one. When her friends start falling under the curse of a rogue tattooist in Matlock Bath, Britain’s most inland seaside town, Paranormal Investigator Argana Zeit must unravel the mystery and break the curse. Before anyone goes mad. Er, madder.

A stand alone, long short story, Included in The Devil in Derbyshire, available here.

Argana Zeit vs the Mole Marauders

Internet attention-seeker Akira Pixels has turned his croquet lawn into a giant roulette table, and is running an ad-hoc casino with it. But when someone’s rigs the game, paranormal investigator Argana Zeit will be dragged in. There’s a body in the woods too, and something very strange is going on with the moles!

Included in The Devil in Derbyshire, available here.

Argana Zeit Collects Snow Toads

Winter in The Peaks, away from the lights and the gritters of the city, it’s a dangerous time. But there’s one car crash that doesn’t look like an accident, and paranormal investigator Argana Zeit needs to find out who – or what – caused it before anyone else gets killed. There’s something waiting in the blizzard. And it isn’t friendly.

Oh, and there’s the thing with the toads.

This rounds off the collection Paranormal in the Peaks, available here.