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Posts from the ‘BY THE MAD GENII’ Category

Seasonal Releases

When is the best time to release and promote your books? Usually, indie authors look at me and say “Uh, when they’re finished?” or they start thinking about staggered serial releases. But in our wonderful world of not planning releases a year out, there’s an interesting question: when do you release Holiday-themed or seasonal books? We all know the outcry when Christmas decorations appear in the store before Halloween, but is it better to release a Christmas romance before in early November, or early December? Read more

7 Rules for Cover Design

I feel like I harp on this topic. Covers, cover art, cover design… if it’s ever too much, tell me. Here’s the thing, though. It’s not just that I’m an artist and designer and I enjoy the process of book creation. It’s that even though people will say they don’t care about a book cover, they actually do. They will totally judge your book by it’s cover. And your book cover signals a lot about your book, whether you are conscious of it, or not. Every little choice, from font to color focus, says something about the book. I think by now everyone reading this knows the cardinal rule of a book cover: cover art is a marketing tool, not a scene from the book. Sure, there are rare exceptions where a scene depiction works as cover art. But it’s not common, and besides that, the second rule of book cover design is: it absolutely must be legible at thumbnail sizes. Read more

Paragraph as punctuation

For fiction writers, paragraphs are a form of punctuation. They break up large blocks of text, they signal a slight change of emphasis or subject, and sometimes they’re like the pause before a comic delivers the punch line. Let’s take an example – it’s not intended to be an example of good writing, it’s just something I threw together for demonstration purposes.

Blocks of text:

 The castle, beautiful and vulnerable, rose from a hill covered with juniper trees. Built of white stone that glowed almost golden, it was an impressive sight in the light of the setting sun. Elion deduced from the location and the light golden hue that it had been built of locally quarried limestone, not the best choice for defensive walls. Within those walls, he could see a profusion of towers, balconies, peaked roofs and aerial bridges from one tower to another. If one could erect a catapult on the sloping ground outside the walls, it would make short work of those bridges. High arched windows in the towers doubtless let in the natural daylight, but they could also let in besiegers who climbed the towers making full use of the decorative carvings covering the outside. As for the aerial bridges, a catapult would make short work of them. Still, the castle was beautiful in an overwrought Gothic way. It would be attractive to a traveler who was not concerned with defense. His companion, Zaleria, spurred her horse forward across the narrow bridge from the previous hill. She was eager to reach the imposing gateway that was currently closed by massive doors ornamented with evil-looking spikes. As if they were expecting an elephant to ram the doors, Elion thought.

And I think the reader will skim all this and not really take in most of it – which would be a pity, because you wouldn’t have written all this detail unless you meant to use it later, right?

Read more

Danger, Danger, Danger

Yesterday was a perfect example of if something can go wrong, it will. I was happily sitting at my desk, doing research on the current work in progress. In this day and age of the internet, that meant I was online, browsing maps, looking at building floor plans and checking the headlines for a certain ay in history. So imagine my surprise when, after taking yet another sip of coffee, I input a new search term and. . . nothing. I tried reloading the page. Nope. nothing. In fact, I got the notice that Safari couldn’t connect with the server. I was suddenly thrust into the First Circle of Writer Hell–I had no connectivity. Read more

Thinking Like a Stranger

A schematic of a patrician’s home/ware-house in the Hansa Museum in Lübeck, Germany. Author photo.

Well, that’s what all writers do, isn’t it? We get inside the heads of fictional people and other critters, find out their motivations (or give them some) and then see what happens. Right?

But what if you need a character with a mind that works in a very different way from yours? Read more

Something Wicked this Way…

What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows… 

I didn’t grow up reading comic books. There were reasons: I’ve been reading, and a fast reader, since I was probably 4, and comic books were not a good return on my tiny book allowance. Also, I didn’t grow up in an urban setting. Books were hard to come by, and I clung to them. Clung to them bitterly when the time came to move and I had to thin them down to the necessaries over and over through life. Also, I grew up in a very religious household, and there were books I just wasn’t allowed to read (although I will say that comics were never on the verbally forbidden list – that dubious honor went to two authors when I was allowed free range at the library. I was not supposed to read Robert Heinlein or Danielle Steele. I never bothered with the latter. The former… well, how do you think I wound up here?). So to recap: I was a bitter clinger to my books, my Bible, and my guns (ok, my parent’s guns, which yes, I was taught to shoot). Stay with me, here, I’m going somewhere.  Read more

Getting back into the swing of things

I’m going to admit right off the bat that my brain is not fully functional, at least not for much more than caring for Mom. One week ago today, she had reverse shoulder replacement. She’s doing great, especially considering her age. By day two post-op, she’d cut the pain meds down to half. By day four, she cut them out entirely except for at night. The problem is she is right-handed, profoundly right-handed and it was her right shoulder they replaced. So, for the next five weeks or more, that arm is in a sling and she can’t use that hand for much more than holding her cellphone. She hates asking for help. I am trying not to hover too much and I am once again sleeping–or not–like I used to when my son was a toddler.

But that also means I’m out of the loop about what’s going on in the world of publishing. Well, not exactly out of the loop but what I have been privy to isn’t for pubic consumption–yet. Read more