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

How to Hear an Underwater Earthquake

English: An aerial view of Minato, Japan, a we...

An aerial view of Minato, Japan, a week after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a story in progress (now available!), I was doing some research on infrasound and sea animals and hydrophonics, and I happened across this amazing and terrifying recording.

The March 11, 2011 Tōhoku earthquake off Japan, which produced a devastating tsunami killing perhaps 16,000 people, was recorded by a hydrophonic array in the Aleutian Islands, more than 900 miles away. Despite the great distance, the recorded seismic disturbance is the loudest they’ve ever captured, even louder than the nearby underwater volcanoes.

Listen all the way through to the end, when the sound simply buries the microphone. It’s terrifying. Continue reading

Writer Brains and Research

Jules Verne, French science fiction writer of ...

Jules Verne, the godfather of plausible speculative fiction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Fantasy is even harder to write,” I alleged recently, “because you have to make the science work.”

If the science in a story isn’t plausible — whether you actually call it science, as in hard sci-fi, or whether it’s simply background dressing or setting, as in a romance set aboard a diving boat — the rest of the story won’t be plausible, either. In the romance above, for example, even if the story is supposedly just boy-meets-girl, if the couple blithely dives hundreds of meters without special equipment and resurfaces without ill effects, I’m not going to buy the happily-ever-after. Continue reading