Cover Reveal and Designs for Author Zachariah Wilhelm

I’m about to mention Zachariah Wilhelm’s awesome new book, A Spark of Light, which is now available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle. Inside you’ll find a collection of short fiction and essays that center on the universal theme of light in a world of darkness. Also, if you want to keep up with his current projects, you can visit him on his website!


In college as a writing major, we get to the end of our education and have to compile a portfolio of all the best work we’ve done in our core writing classes. What’s even more daunting is this: we have to print it in a physical book form, complete with a cover.

Most writers are not graphic designers. We imagine all the cool book covers we’d like to see with our name on them, sure. And we might actually attempt to design a few, but for people at PCC, they typically syphon the project off to a graphic design friend to better focus on the content (since that’s the main part that will be graded).

My portfolio is next semester, but half my class is doing theirs this semester. Eager to practice and attempt a book cover myself while helping my fellow writing friends, I asked Zachariah Wilhelm, who sat next to me in Creative Nonfiction, if he had a cover designer yet. He said no, and the design was due in two weeks.

I volunteered. And boy was I ever excited.

This is what we came up with in the end. He wanted the spark to have severe contrast with the darkness around it, since that’s a strong theme he has throughout his stories: that spark of light in the darkness, that flicker of good in a world of evil. We also wanted to try to connect some of his pieces together with the cover, so we decided to rely on a dark forest and a tire swing, both of which are mentioned in the book.

Zach's Book Final Flattened.jpg

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The Drawing Journey

Everyone loves art, but most people think they can’t do it. My studio art roommate and I complain about how many time we hear people boast that they “can’t even draw a stick figure.” Besides this being the most cliché excuse in the book that leaves us artists wondering why you think it’s so important that everyone know that about you–it’s simply untrue.

People that can draw haven’t gotten there because of raw talent (well, with the exception of Dave Ham). Most of the time, they need to practice just like any other hobby or skill. And even the ones with all that raw talent still get better through practice.

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Not With My Watch (Short Story)

This was a short story I wrote for my Advanced Creative Writing class. The goal was to write a literary story that focused on characters and description more than plot and action, but still manage to balance all aspects well. While our teacher told me that no one has attempted a science fiction short story for this project, she was in full support of me trying to write a literary sci-fi, referencing Ray Bradbury and George Orwell.

While I ended up sticking more to spiritual and “paranormal” (for lack of a better term) than sci-fi, I feel it’s safe to say that the story content hasn’t been done at PCC’s creative writing classes. The story is inspired from a concept my roommate and I are developing about a guardian angel watching over a young troublemaker throughout her entire life. In the original story, Eitan, the angel, is tasked with guarding her from the moment she’s born, keeps her out of childhood dangers, coaxes her to Christ, protects her from wayward rebellious stages, boyfriend problems, eventual marriage problems, and ultimately sits beside her during stages of cancer and taking her home.

This story focuses mainly on one section of this would-be larger story (and animation if we were ever to go through with our plan). Eitan is a character who’s appeared in several of my short stories (originally a response to Frank Peretti’s exquisite novel This Present Darkness), but as of now, this story takes place at the beginning of the canonical timeline.

Eitan and the other angels in the story appear similar to demons because they once were the same creature, which explains the rams horns while the demons have goat horns. Their ears are sheep-like while the demons are more swine-like. Angels have bronze skin and demons have pale skin.

Not With My Watch


The parkway leading to Highway 27 was mostly abandoned at this time of night. The only vehicles that did pass, tires thundering over bridges and echoing through the underpasses, belonged to those who were returning from a brutally tiresome day’s work, a late taxi from the understaffed and woefully inefficient local airport, or from an unexpectedly long evening of gaiety and frivolousness that parents wouldn’t approve of. Every twenty feet or so the parkway attempted and failed to show off its winning personality by displaying its wide collection of travelers’ trash. Gum spots the size of silver dollars cemented themselves to the shoulder’s asphalt, aluminum beer cans in the shape of pancakes twirled with each pass of an eighteen-wheeler, and the local gangs thought it would be a special kind of genius to graffiti the “55 MPH” speed limit signs. The only signage that successfully avoided wayward teenaged boys was that of the “No Littering” notices. Instead, a shrine of cracked beer bottles was laid at its base.

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How to Meet Your Characters Without Doing Tons of Character Worksheets

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ve probably come across that one blog that suggests character interviews is the solution to every writer’s writing block. Then they’ll give you a long fill-in-the-blank worksheet that has questions entirely irrelevant to your character’s interests. Why do you want to know about their love life? Who cares if they have a theme song? And they don’t have time for sports — the world is at stake, for Pete’s sake!

I will say that Charahub is a pretty legit place for these kinds of questions, but I personally think interviews are mostly useless unless you’ve already got a pretty good grasp on the character’s main interests that pertain specifically to the plot of your story. Only after you figure out their most immediate concerns (saving the world), can you focus on love lives and sports.

That being said, over the years I’ve discovered different ways to learn your character’s psyche — and some of these ways I’ve never heard recommended anywhere else.

Know Your Characters

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VBS Airship Paint Job

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For VBS (Vacation Bible School) at my church, I was commissioned to paint an airship for the steampunk theme. I only had a few brushes, black, light brown, and dark brown paint, but I had a ton of fun creating it. The pipes are just PVC spray painted, the gears are cardboard (courtesy of our church secretary), the wing is an easel with cloth draped over it, and the giant balloons are, well, giant balloons.

The boat itself was named the Gangfield, which was randomly a name I chose based off a character I read in a book once. It felt airshipy enough.

 

Heritage Foundation Artwork

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My dad was working on a presentation at the Heritage Foundation in the coming week or so, and asked if I would be willing to illustrate a few of his key points in the PowerPoint. He wanted me to depict how someone would feel if their employer treated them different ways and asked for the three emotions of “beaming,” “crushed,” and “frustrated.”

I also screen recorded the process and put together a speed art video below.

heritage-drawings

Kindergarten Tree Mural

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The school administrator asked me if I’d be willing to spruce up the kindergarten classroom in the school (because at the time, all the classrooms were white walls — soo prison-like!). I readily agreed and worked with the teacher on what the mural would look like. She wanted a tree she could use to teach the seasons throughout the year and asked if I’d paint the tree without leaves. After a week of work, I called it finished and watched as the kindergarten teacher added leaves for the beginning of the school year.

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