Anyway, with a title now in hand, I was able to put together some stock images in paintshop to make a cover. It's not exactly what I had in mind, but it's as close as I could get with free images. I'm pretty happy with it, though! This year I went with paintbrushes as the theme because Adair is my artist-mage. (I'm still referring to him as an "artist-mage", but in the story it'll probably be "illustrator-mage" because technically all of the mages in this story are artists in some way.)
(At some prompting of Wrimos on the forum who know more about graphics than I do, I darkened the font. This looks nicer, but the brighter blue is more the tone of the story- otherwise it just looks too serious.)
In a time where magic is suspect and mostly kept hidden behind other occupations, Adair is a carefree apprentice Illustrator-Mage with the ability to make what he draws have the semblance of life, often at the most inconvenient of times. When a wealthy patron arrives at his master's door to request a map, insinuating that it needs to be more than a mere drawing, this commission is passed on to the teenaged apprentice to serve as his final test towards his promotion to Journeyman rank. Little did Adair realize the man's true motives for this request.
As the map's new owner seeks out more mages to exploit in his quest for power, Adair feels a tug from his creation to follow. This pull leads him to a carnival where he meets a mysterious sword-dancer just coming into his own magic- and who Adair soon begins to suspect isn't what he appears. Much to his amusement and relief, Adair gains the help of this young dancer, his performance company, and a few other clandestine mages they meet along the way.
In order to free himself from what his creation has become and stop the harm its bearer is doing to an unwitting population, Adair must put aside his daydreaming to become the hero his unlikely muse is inspiring him to be.
I may edit this slightly, but it works until I actually write said story (because who knows what may change along the way?). I still have an outline to finish this week, but I'm definitely looking forward to November 1st!
Edit: And one of my friends awesomely tried her hand at my cover and I like this version much better. The brightness is much more the tone of the story than the darker version I had come up with. :)