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See The Final Front Cover for ‘Visits With Angels’ Here!!!!
By Laurie M Conrad   


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The author and graphics/illustrator Diana Souza finish work on the new book: A Mystic's Journal Entries: November 4-7, 2010






Image: The final front cover for Visits With Angels


Thursday, November 4

A rainy, grey day; some fog. Mysterious and mystical ... A day for deep and magical thoughts ...

Went downstairs to feed the cats and there were the remnants of the delicious chocolate cake Diana had made yesterday, for the meditators. She had come mid-afternoon, bringing her own cake pan and an electric mixer. It was her final meditation and class before going back to Dallas; the chocolate cake was her generous and thoughtful "good-bye". Her mother’s personal recipe, and possibly the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted ... Once the cake was in the oven, Diana worked at her computer, at her usual place at the kitchen table - while I did my own work upstairs. After a time the unmistakable fragrance of chocolate wafted up the stairs, and I am always amazed at how baking or cooking can so easily make a house feel like a home ...

2:30 a.m.

Diana just left. She worked on the new cover again tonight, for hours. Diana had spoken to a fellow graphic artist earlier today about the two angel photographs: he said the new photograph was an excellent photo of an angel statue, but the first cover was more otherworldly, more angelic. Which has been my view all along. Diana reiterated tonight that in the second photograph the angel had aged - years; I told her the statue was not just a statue made of plaster or stone. And that the difference in the statue photographs reflected the mood of the real angel the statue represented - just like the stories in Visits With Angels. I reminded her of the story in the book about the woman who told me that a small statue of the Infant of Prague had bowed to her mother one day - He leaned forward so far that his little crown fell off and her mother had to put it back on His head. The woman I spoke with was there when it happened, saw the entire thing ...

Diana sighed and said: "This must be my annual Ithaca mystical experience. I always have one. The angle of the statue is exactly the same, the chin, the ear. And yet the expression is entirely different. And the second angel looks - years older. " I agreed, and said that the angel on the new cover looked very stern, "As though she is saying, ‘Don’t read this book.’ ". Then I pointed out that the angel’s eyes were looking in a different direction in the first photograph, and Diana wearily agreed ...

Diana had already decided to use the first angel photograph for the cover. Since our last meeting, she had tried a new texture filter on the first cover angel, as a prelude to the etching style she uses for the graphics in the interior of the book.

Diana then spent the next hours importing a new tunic for the original angel, taken from the second photograph; she altered it in photoshop using her Wacom tablet and stylus. She essentially was painstakingly redrawing and reshading the angel’s neck and robes. At one point I asked her why she didn’t just import the neck and robes from the original photograph, and she replied that she would, but she had unfortunately left those files in Texas. And we both laughed. I should probably add that we laugh quite often while we work, even during the most unlikely, disappointing and frustrating of times ...

I learned a new design phrase tonight, "the next door neighbor test". Diana said: "I always tell my students that we are not designing for other artists - show it to your next door neighbor who knows nothing about graphics." At one point while she was working, I took a break and practiced a new Mendelssohn piece, on the Steinway in the living room; at another point she stopped to down a piece of her chocolate cake, left over from meditation class last night. Other than that, we worked on the book. In any case, the front cover is limping along towards completion. And we are slogging it through to the end ... no matter what obstacles and disappointments arise.

I am beginning to wonder if the book will be done by the time she leaves Ithaca. Four days remain. Tonight Diana was so tired from all our late nights together, she could barely keep her eyes open; better stated, she could barely open them fully. Her eyelids hovered, almost half shut.

Friday, November 6

An e-mail from Diana:

Laurie,

I've had a breakthrough on the cover that resolves my design dilemmas !! This breakthrough takes care of my need to have something sharp in the image in order to make the blurry angel
look deliberate.

It's a big deal to me because now I can feel okay with the blurry angel. Interestingly, this breakthrough *also* heightens the dramatic impact of the cover -and- gives it a far more
mystical quality. Curiously, it also illustrates the underlying concept of the book: that angels and other Divine Beings actually visit us here in the ordinary context of our daily lives on Earth.


This is the cover I've been waiting for.

I'm NOT attaching it to this email because I want to be WITH you when you see it * ! * ! * ! * ! * !

L a t e r         t o n i g h t

Diana


Well, now I am intrigued ...

1:30 a.m.

Diana came over a bit after 11 p.m. and we went to get something to eat. She brought her computer with her and showed me the new front cover: it is perfect, and finished, done. She took out the stone background and replaced it with an Ithaca October sky - and a bit of earth, including a telephone pole leaning slightly to the left, toward the center of the cover. She was right: this new cover shows an angel come to earth, to help us humans in our earthly lives. Which is the thrust of the book, one of the book’s main messages. To celebrate, I treated us both to hot fudge sundaes.

Diana said that the new idea for the front cover came to her first thing this morning, when she first awoke. Two days ago she was deciding to finish the cover back in Dallas; I said we should plow ahead - because I know that often when all avenues are exhausted the answer finally appears, all of its own. I also told her that at some point last night I knew the stone background would eventually be replaced with something else, and I wanted to suggest that she put more blue and greys at the top of the cover - but then decided not to say anything. Her immediate response tonight was: "You already saw the cover." And I suppose she was right, I must have.

The next quandary is the back cover and spine, and we briefly discussed those; she showed me some photographs she had taken of a similar sky as the new front cover, with a rainbow in various stages of being - which I very much liked. We’ll see what she decides. We also discussed the cover for We Meet in Dreams; tomorrow we will spend a few hours taking photographs that might be suitable for that cover, or at the least possibly more ideas will then emerge. So far I have two inner images: the outline of a farmhouse and trees, the night sky overhead - or my street, facing the falls, and the hills and houses in the distance, with the night sky overhead.

As we drove back down the hill, I thought about the young Friendly’s waitress: as we paid for our food, Diana told her we were working on a book. She smiled at us and asked me the title of the book; then she said she felt her late grandmother was helping her. The waitress had enough Light to be an angel herself ...

After D. brought me home I spent a little time walking in the gardens. A light rain off and on tonight, but now clear and cold. Just a beautiful night. No wind, everything still; the remnants of the gardens lit by lamplight, all the various textures and shapes exaggerated in the darkness. I brushed plants and stems back from the sidewalks, where they had fallen or tilted from the weight of the rain. Last night I had gone out and dug up the gladiola and dahlia bulbs; they are drying on pieces of newspaper in the kitchen; soon I will put them in the basement, near the furnace so that they do not freeze.

I am so very pleased with the new front cover.

Saturday, November 6

Took a drive with Diana, to take photographs, possibly for the cover of We Meet in Dreams. Some of streets in town, with the hills in the distance - others in the country, a few miles out of town. We are hoping the photographs might give us some ideas. One thing we already know: most of the cover will be the night sky.

The skies full of grey clouds; a late autumn day with the feeling of winter. We stopped to photograph one lone apple tree with no leaves, only small yellow apples. Bitter cold, windy, Diana in a short borrowed jacket and long woolen scarf. Fields on all sides of us; sea gulls; geese on a pond. Short brittle stalks in the cornfields, carved in circular paths; I will paint them. The hills in the distance, the rusts of late autumn in the trees and on the ground, the colours more muted, more somber ... the end of a season.

She dropped me in town afterwards, and we went our separate ways. Met later again and got something to eat - and decided not to speak about the books. A short vacation.

Sunday, November 7
10:30 p.m.

Spoke to D. On the phone. She finished the book’s spine and back cover.

The book is done.


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