Tag Archives: Design

Gotcha Covered

Last night’s writer’s meeting was ill-attended; only three of us showed up. However, that allowed me to seek advice from the librarian who leads the group, and ask her how the exteriors of books affect 1) inclusion in the library’s collection, and 2) reader choice.

Concerned about my preference for simplicity in artwork or design, I was surprised — and yet not — by her responses. Sure, if the artwork is cheesy and/or seems at odds with the subject matter, the staff might have a laugh, but what’s most annoying to them are book covers so minimalistic they reveal nothing about the content. She mentioned one publisher that tends toward such spareness there’s no artwork or even a description of the plot. Just the title and the author’s name.

So simplicity of decoration is fine, but tell readers about the story. Give ’em some reason to choose your book.

“If the reader flips to the back to read the blurb, you’re almost guaranteed they’ll check out the book.”

Then she looked at my rough draft for the cover of Thieves Honor. It looked like a thriller, not science fiction, but the fix was easy: She suggested I flip the background image, so the front became the back, and vice versa. The color gradiant and the angle of the light changed, giving the illusion of outer space rather than what the photo actually portrays — a table, a wooden chair, and the light from my computer screen all running together into a tie-dye abstraction of formless color.

The current draft of the front cover:

in-progress cover (c2016, KB)

in-progress cover (c2016, KB)

So, can I get away with no focal image on the cover, or is some artwork still needed? And is the look too “homemade” to be taken seriously?

For reference, the original image in its original orientation:

Abstraction (c2016, KB)

Abstraction (c2016, KB)


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Crystal Bridges, part 2

Water from Crystal Spring and other springs and streams on the Museum grounds provide all the water used in irrigating the Museum’s flower beds and lawns.  No city water is used for this purpose. —Crystal Bridges blog


Not only are wings of the Museum built out over the water, but there are many bridges on the walking trails.

On a bridge, looking back at one of the Museum galleries (c2014, KB)

On a bridge, looking back at one of the Museum galleries (c2014, KB)

Bridge leading up to a short, winding, foliage-lined walk up toward the front of the Museum (c2014, KB)

Bridge leading up to a short, winding, foliage-lined walk up toward the front of the Museum (c2014, KB)

The day I was there was pleasant, bright and mild, though the humidity finally did me in. Breathing wet air and slogging along in clothes sopping with sweat might dampen one’s enjoyment of the surroundings, but there’s always a shady spot to rest, feel the breeze, and enjoy the view.

No, not this view! Although you might see something similar. The painting below is Landscape, oil on canvas by William Trost Richards, and one of my favorite works currently on display. (Pardon the glimpse of gilded frame in the lower right corner. The gallery was crowded, so I took shots from whatever angle was available.)

Landscape (1864-1865) by William Trost Richards

Landscape (1864-1865) by William Trost Richards

And, as you’re walking, if you need rest of another kind:

Restroom along walking trail -- Frank Lloyd Wright meets the USS Enterprise. (c2014, KB)

“Skyspace – the Way of Color” by James Turrell — Frank Lloyd Wright meets the USS Enterprise. (c2014, KB)

I bypassed the building to view the wildflowers on the hill behind and alongside it. As you can tell from the second shot, the day was bright and I didn’t adjust the camera to deal with the brilliance. Still, I like the colors.

Wildflowers (c2014, KB)

Wildflowers (c2014, KB)

Tiny suns (c2014, KB)

Tiny suns (c2014, KB)




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Rising From the Dust Bin: the Resurrection of a Story

A few weeks back, I abandoned a novel I’d lived with for almost two decades.

Tuesday, I resurrected it.

Last year, I agreed to help some friends independently publish a book. My research and practice has been sporadic, and I’m a notorious procrastinator. Knowing I’d dragged my feet long enough, and needing a test document to help me learn to format a paperback, I figured I’d give ol’ dusty a chance. I opened the document, renamed it as my practice copy, and started fiddling with the layout.

Hours later, my brother and I had a brief conversation about his original concept for the cover art, something he dreamed up during his time in Germany. We realized we’d had different visions all these years: He’d always seen the image as being shrouded in night, and I’d envisioned it as a menacing, shadowy ruin in the light of day. No worries. Different perspectives can yield interesting, unexpected results.

I’m excited about the story again.

It still needs finishing. There are notes and highlighted text, such as “more background material here” or “insert word that means fire.” I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them. However, after choosing the right font and seeing a rough mock-up of the pages, I realize, “Y’know, this looks downright cool.”

Which reminds me of an epic poem, written to be part of the oral history of the land. Early in the poem, a search is conducted for a legendary ancestral sword that had been lost as the generations forgot their heritage. The sword is found “buried long ‘neath dust and midden.”

Where this story has been.

Maybe it still has something to teach me, more than the countless hours and many revisions by which I learned how to create characters and construct dialogue. Now, perhaps, as I stumble my way through formatting the interior of a paperback book, the story will remind me why I loved it and felt compelled to write it.

I have no illusions that it is great literature. Someone else might take the same characters and plot points and create something amazing. But this is the first book I finished. The first of a stack of half-starts and scribbled notes that actually became a novel.

Time to set it free.


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Coming Soon: Power Elements of Story Structure

Calling all writers!

In a matter of days, a friend — fellow writer and editor Rebecca Luella Miller — is releasing a new e-book: Power Elements Of Story Structure.

Here’s the cover, designed by artist and author Rachel Marks:



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“Serial Saturday”

Just a brief note about “Serial Saturday”:

Episode 28 (“Head Games”) of Thieves’ Honor will be published this weekend, only a bit later than usual. Friday was a day for sleeping and letting my mind rest due to exhaustion and illness. I’ll be back in the thick of things in a few hours, and will post the revised episode ASAP.

Meantime, check out this cool piece of old space-saving furniture design. It might not make for the most comfortable seating, but it’d be a sturdy table.

I like seeing how designers can create multiple practical uses for one piece of furniture. Although much of it is ultra-modern and slick, it’s certainly not a new concept.


                                                      c. 2013, KB


Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Creativity, Life, Uncategorized


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