Royce Writes: The School Visit

I am looking forward to an upcoming school visit with students at Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School in Albany, NY next month, but I won’t be traveling there to do it.

Their wonderful librarian, Kimberly Bramfeld, noticed I offer free Skype sessions. Skype is a brilliant and convenient way for me to connect with readers and for schools to give students the experience of meeting a real, live author. Well, virtually live.

I’ve had years of public speaking experience and adapt my presentations to fit any audience – whether in-person, on Skype, or at professional conferences.

To make it the best experience possible, I strongly advise teachers/librarians to prepare their students by having them read, or listen to, the book that is the subject of the visit. In this case, it’s The Dead Boys .

Interested in scheduling an appearance? Please email me via my website’s Contact tab. 

The Great Cover Design

Designing book covers is fun! I’ve always thought so but have not been so intimately involved in the process until recently. I’m working with ePublisher Gere Donovan Press to bring my best selling German series, Mapper, to the United States. We decided to expand the three book series into six parts for U.S. readers. Here’s the visual process we went through to come up with our final (and awesome) designs!

In August, Gere Donovan sent me this image with the idea that the cover would stay the same for all six books but with different titles.

Clansmen Cover Idea 1

It didn’t win my team over – spoiler, there is no giant spider in my story – it was a little busy for the eye, we wanted different cover images for each book, and there was something oddly familiar about the illustration. Upon some research, I discovered that it was the same image used for Author/Illustrator Walter Moers’ book, A Wild Ride Through the Night.wild ride through the night



The illustration is in the public domain, as it’s one of hundreds of engravings created by Gustave Dore. That got me thinking…

….I looked up Gustave Dore and found other images. Did I mention there are hundreds?

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Hello, Photoshop!”

Blackpool Cover Idea 3

While I messed around on Photoshop, I conducted a highly scientific survey of friends (a one-line Facebook post) about the proposed book cover from Gere Donovan. Many liked the artistic look of Dore’s work. But my team and I wondered…”will it sell books?” I recalled once talking books with THE buyer for a major retailer who said definitively, “I can tell if a book will sell by its cover.” 

2014 Washington State Sasquatch Award Winner for Middle Grade Books
2014 Washington State Sasquatch Award Winner for Middle Grade Books

She then looked down at the copy of my soon to be released book The Dead Boys. Let’s just say she did not immediately place a big order. (Insert sad face here and shameless plug – if you loved the new series Stranger Things, you will also love The Dead Boys.) Anyway, back to the Mapper Series covers. My team decided to experiment with something more modern-looking.


We raided iStock and other photo sites to find some images with cool looking knights and came up with these.

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We kind of liked them. But some of our friends from the follow-up Facebook survey thought they were boring. Too traditional.

We probably spent way too much time on this process (but hey, I was having fun) and then decided we should have a conference call with Scott from Gere Donovan. We fretted about letting them know that we weren’t sold on their first idea (the Gustave Dore image). But we shouldn’t have been so worried. Five minutes into the call, Scott said he was really happy that we didn’t like the cover! Upon reflection, he had already decided he didn’t like it either. Phew! After further discussion, Scott suggested that we could use more modern images and cited some trends he’d recently noticed in book covers. We liked his thoughts and, after several rounds of shuffling images between six books, Photoshopping, and further extensive surveying of our beta viewers, we loved what they came up with!

Oh…and by the way, they are Kindle-ready by by clicking here!




So Royce has been Doing a LIttle Genre Jumping Lately

By Guest Blogger: Cara Buckingham

Royce has been on a roll. As you may know, his book, The Dead Boys won Washington State’s 2014 Sasquatch Children’s Book Award. Naturally, you might be wondering what middle grade readers can expect next. Well…he has more stories to tell for that age, it’s just that they’ll have to wait. You see, Royce’s first YA title, The Terminals just came out and he has an adult legal thriller called Impasse due out next March.

The Terminals is a spy thriller for young adults with a twist. Royce started developing the story several years ago when he wondered ‘what if  group of teens with only a year to live could spend their remaining time completing dangerous spy missions?’ The result is an action-packed, entertaining read that is still fun but more grown up than his middle grade monster stories.

And talk about growing up, Royce’s next book, Impasse, is a full-fledged adult legal thriller. The story follows Stu, a washed up attorney who’s sent into the Alaskan wilderness for a week by his law partner to ‘man up.’ Royce says his experience as an attorney prepared him to be a technician when it comes to writing. He never thought he’d come home from work and write about work – he’s a prosecuting attorney having worked in the criminal justice system for 13 years and has practiced law for more than 20.

For all of his middle grade fans, don’t you worry, he has many stories to tell and feels lucky to be able to be creative and try out new genres. And he has several outlines prepped for more middle grade novels. In the meantime, feel free to recommend Demonkeeper, The Goblin Problem (formerly Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure) and The Dead Boys to your friends…and stay on the look out for the Kindle release of Demonkeeper II and III.



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