Lessons in book cover design

So we already know some things about book covers in this modern era: Besides the usual menu of needing to represent genre and tone, they need to be legible (both title and genre/mood) as thumbnails, and they should be high contrast for visibility on mobile and black/white ereader screens.

Yesterday I realized another new criterion: They should look good in push notifications.

screencap of middle section of BAIT in phone's push notification Continue reading

CON JOB is now an audiobook!

Con Job book coverSo this is fun — Con Job is now an audiobook! So if you’re pulling a long drive, or trying to ignore the stitch in your side during your run, or picking up clutter in your living space, or wherever you listen to audiobooks, now you can do it with Jacob and his geeky friends.

Of course, you have to be prepared for a little murder along the way. Continue reading

Con Recaps! (And some cool news.)

So July was kind of a blur, and the first part of August, but all for very good reasons.

Cong Abbey by night, Celtic crosses and gravesIreland Writer Tours

Long-time blog readers know I blogged about writing in Ireland in 2015, and I went again this year. It’s a great week, full of fabulous touring and inspiration. But I stayed a little longer this year with organizer Fiona Claire to prepare for 2017, when I’ll be co-teaching with the talented Lorie Langdon!

Stay tuned for more information on this, but trust me, it’s going to be amazing. As I said in my newsletterWant to explore a 15th century castle, walk through an impossibly green forest to an ancient waterfall, and climb in the footsteps of both 8th century monks and Luke Skywalker? All while improving your writing craft and exploring your publication options? Continue reading

Writing Women.

Let’s talk about lady protagonists.

No, this isn’t another rant about needing more strong female characters, nor the problems with Strong Female Characters (TM). (That’s an easy problem to solve, really: you write good characters, and some of them are female. Done. Not every character needs to carry the impossible weight of universal representation.)

No, I’m going to talk about just the number of females, and my own part in the current state of affairs. Yes, this was partly prompted by Jo Eberhardt’s “The Problem With Female Protagonists,” but I think I’m going to add some additional data and personal takes.

First, let’s look at a statistical truth: There are more books and films with male protagonists than female. (The very fact that we call out but-look-a-female-lead! is proof of it being outside the norm. Nobody needs to point out gravity, because we’re all used to it.) But because we’re all neurologically programmed to notice the abnormal more than the normal, when we do start seeing “diversity,” it feels bigger than it is.

This is why research shows that if 17% of a given group is female, the men in the group report an equal number of men and women, and when the number of females reaches 33%, the men report a majority of women. The “excess” of women over the “norm” is what’s perceived, not an actual count. Continue reading

TOC Reveal for Covalent Bonds!

a geeky valentine for mine.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guys, I wrote a romance.

I know, I know. It surprised me too.

But it was a geeky romance, so it was easier. And, it was actually really fun! It’s a story about tabletop gamers and a convention and a desperate attempt to save a game. Continue reading

Writers Learn EVERYTHING.

I know I’ve talked about the fun and eclectic nature of story research before, but it’s worth returning to.

Devils Hole Pupfish Latina: Cyprinodon diabolis

Devils Hole Pupfish Latina: Cyprinodon diabolis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics I have researched for this single short story include but are not limited to:

  • the Devils Hole Pupfish
  • the history of Chinese bronze casting
  • the natural history of Kazahkstan
  • cassowary attacks
  • the destructive “Cultural Revolution” in China
A poster from the Cultural Revolution, featuri...

A poster from the Cultural Revolution, featuring an image of Chairman Mao, and published by the government of the People’s Republic of China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All to make the story more plausible and real. You’re welcome.

(This story will be published in early 2017.)

#WIPjoy Day 17: Fear & Heroism

Einherjar are served by Valkyries in Valhöll w...

Einherjar are served by Valkyries in Valhöll while Odin sits upon his throne, flanked by one of his wolves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia

Today’s #WIPjoy suggestion is to share a line about fear.

I often have problems with word count, so here’s not a line, but a conversation. Continue reading

#WIPjoy Day 14: Cliffhanger

Share a cliffhanger? I’ll keep this short, in the spirit of #WIPjoy, but here’s Euthalia’s first day in the Norse village, beating out communication with the very few words she knows with a kind older woman.

It was fresher than the boat’s provisions, at least, as they had saved the spices and treats to bring back to the village. And Euthalia, no longer surrounded by dozens of strange male warriors, found herself relaxing enough to feel real hunger. She devoured the bread.

“Good, good,” praised Birna. She nodded. “Eat. Tomorrow, slagtoffer.”

Euthalia did not know the word. “Slag — what?”

Birna smiled, a little tightly, and drew her hand across her throat.

Well, then. Continue reading

Loki Laufeyson, a Piece of Work (in Progress)

The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s #WIPjoy, Day 9, is a fun one: “Share a line that shows off your antagonist.”

In the spirit of sharing, I’m going to give you not a line, but a whole paragraph.

Here’s the thing: any time you find yourself in Norse mythology, even if you’re just visiting, you’re going to have Loki as an antagonist. That’s the nature of Loki. Even if he’s not the primary antagonist, he’s going to be an antagonist, because Loki.  In modern interpretations Loki is often something of an anti-hero, but that’s not consistent with the source material, in which Loki is pretty much just a turd to everyone. (A useful turd, sometimes, but still a turd. And if he does get threatened or beaten fairly often, well, he usually had it coming.) Continue reading

C is for Chimera Early Reviews & Pre-Orders

Greek-style chimera art on vase with superimposed C and authors' names

C is for Chimera

So the early reviews are coming in for C is for Chimera, and guess what was in the very first one?

On the more fantastical side of things, “N is for New Beginnings” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh and “I is for Ignite” by Sara Cleto were my favorites of the anthology, blending fairy tale and myth with characters who want to step outside the bounds their worlds have set for them.

Boom. I love days like this. Continue reading