Authoring nuts & bolts Promotion Writing Life

The latest in new shiny things.

Word for the day: colophon. Definition: “A publisher’s emblem or imprint, especially one on the title page or spine of a book.”  (h/t to

On the spine or title page. OR? Nah. How’s about AND?

The next print runs of my books will have a proper publisher’s colophon on their spines and title pages. It’s a small thing (literally, quite, quite small) but it gives me a great big happy. And since this world and my life are not over-supplied with happies at the moment, I want to spread what I have as widely as possible.

Why do I need another logo? I already have one, right?

Well, yes. And no.

The Dawnrigger dragon ship graphic is neato-keen, I love it to pieces, especially with the uniquely fanciful name font, but complex graphics aren’t paperback-friendly.  That’s why I commissioned a proper stamp-style emblem a few months ago. I think I posted a pic of it in its Original Artwork form because it is SUPER FAB, but…

…but ink & paper originals also do not play well with the finickier elements of print publication in the digital era.  Also, there are issues of legally registering the Dawnrigger Publishing name & symbol, and I had to research that, and so on, etc, blah, blah, blah.

All the Things took some time. Life, the universe, and a lot of factors conspired against getting the digital files, but I am pleased to say prettification is now in progress.

I’ve commissioned a friend who is an artist and a graphics professional on top of being a talented writer, to not only add the graphics, but to give my covers a nice refresh too.


And while I’m casting shouty-caps gratitude petals, I must a big thank you to ALL my cover artists and graphics designers, past & present, for all the cool & amazing things you have made for me. You know who you are. Please know you are valued & respected and adored and all.

As an aside, how is it I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many incredible, multi-talented people? It really is astonishing how many talented folk the world holds, and y’know, I really am grateful to know you all.

What’s that? Stop digressing and show you the new colophon? Oh, RIGHT! Here ya go:

That’s what’ll be on the spines & the title pages of my paperback books soon, along with the Dawnrigger Publishing logo. Don’t like it? Cool. The only person who ahas to love it is me, and I LURVE IT.

Can’t wait to see books with it. So excited.

Ooooh, I could get a stamp made, too. Hmm.

*wanders off to ponder the possibility of more shinies*

Until later, all!


2. Worldbuilding hIstorical notes nuts & bolts Writing Life

Making things real

I added a fictional battalion to the United States Marine Corps when I built the world for Rough Passages.

Here’s the thing about military units: they have insignia. That reality gave me a great excuse to look at unit badges and design one for the valiant second-career rollover Marines in Mercury Battalion.

I also built a Table of Organization for the Battalion, named all the companies and planted them all over the United States in proximity to the bases that support them, but that’s trivia for another post.

Here’s my take on Mercury Battalion’s Unit Badge. I swear I posted about this before now, but all I could find was a Facebook post. And those don’t count. So, Here:

For those interested in details:

Mercury Battalion was formed out of the 4th Marine Division in 1944, a few months after the 4th Division was pulled into emergency service after First Night.

Initially tasked only with protection of the civilian population, the 4th Division’s mission objective quickly expanded to include drafting and training hazardous rollover civilians as Marines themselves–in part as as an alternative to mass permanent incarcerations, and in part because the adage “fight fire with fire” had literal and practical application.

Over time Mercury Battalion has become the default post-rollover duty assignment for citizens whose powers are too deadly, too destructive, or too sensitive to be handled by the Department of Public Safety.

And why bother with an origin story I don’t intend to expand? Because being me, I had to come know which Division’s colors and symbols would best suit my creation.

I’m picky that way. I used units in both the 4th and 5th division as my main inspirations. If anyone is wondering.

1. Storysculpting Promotion

Londinium Cover Reveal!

I’m really excited today because I get to help Debbie spread the word about  the brand-new awesome cover for the next book in her P.A.W.S. Saga, LONDINIUM. The cover was created by the hugely talented Rachel Bostwick who also made the cover for the new box set of books 1 to 3 that are now available on Amazon.

So here goes – drum roll please – LONDINIUM (The P.A.W.S. Saga 4), on presale now.

“The pea soup has spoken,” said Caradog. “You are destined for Londinium.”
“Londinium?” asked Miri.
“It was the ancient city from which London sprang. The P.A.W.S. Institute of Londinium is the oldest in the world. It started before the city of today existed and straddles the old and the new. Unfortunately, today it is run by a fool.”

Join Miri as she continues her journey through Umbrae and Londinium with the help of werecats, wild warlocks, an old dog, a duck, and a whole lot of pea soup.

The P.A.W.S. Saga continues with Londinium.

Need to catch up?

You can do that all in one place with a brand new box set of books 1 to 3. Now available on Amazon.

DON’T MISS OUT! Get yours today.

Authoring Writing Advice

Books are pyramids

Bear with me here.

I’m not saying that books are literally solid geometric forms with five sides. I’m not proposing a radical change in book formatting.  It’s a metaphor. A simile, really, with a silent “like” lurking within the statement. If you’re in the mood for a little thought experiment, come with me ona tour through the idea of book creation as pyramid-building.

1. Story

Story is the solid base of the structure. Without a good foundation, your work fails, crumbling into the jungle soil and vanishing without a trace. You need a good story. The tricky part is defining the word “good.”  Your heart and the audience should be the sole arbiters of merit, but historically, the economics of publishing did not allow everyone to put written stories in front of an audience. Thus was the  publsihing industry born. Neal Stephenson provides a fascinating analogy for the publisher’s role in his answer to the second question in this slashdot interview.

Story is the element most often dismissed by gatekeeping editors and agents. Publishers know what sells now, and they want what they know. There’s little room for originality. New ideas and marginal topics get filtered out. Changes in “what sells” occur in faddish surges. This is the element that has been washed clean by the flood of self-publishing. Fir the first time in decades, possibly centuries, a huge variety of stories are being made directly available to an audience eager to judge them.

Story is only one element, though.  A trite, cliched, clumsy story can be a bestseller. There are four more elements that must be built and polished before a story can–or should–be called a book. They are all important, they all rely on each other, and they all work together to create a singular result. As long as the story works, it will hold up the rest.

2. Craft

Inspiration, imagination and ideas are the bedrock of the work.  Now I’m talking about the mechanics of writing, and this craft, it’s a complicated mining engine. A writer digs around in her imagination, pulls out ideas, and then crafts them  into a series of words that the mind of another person can use to rebuild the same idea. Think about the miracle that is communication, and be awestruck. We reduce concepts like eternity to four syllables, confident that our readers will divine the same meaning from the same construct. It’s a miracle, really.

Spelling, grammar, and structural guidelines are tools that make miracles happen. Know your tools. Treat them with care. Learn to use them properly before you get creative with them.  Then get creative. I drive screws using a power drill with an accessory rather than a screwdriver. That’s my choice.  I mix metaphors with abandon when writing the POV of a character who dissociates her emotions into animal form. That’s my choice too. I can also accurately use it’s and its, there, they’re and their, just as  I know how to use that power drill without putting out an eye or gashing myself bloody.

If you haven’t mastered noun-verb agreement, if you can’t place a period where a full-stop should occur, if you are shaky on tenses, then you are not ready to publish. You are ready to write, to discover, to explore your ideas in text– all this, yes, please do– but be aware of this unhappy truth: when presented to others, your work will slump like concrete made without gravel and collapse beneath its own mass of errors.  (Am I milking the building metaphor for all it’s worth? You betcha.)

3. Cover

Until we stop being a visual species, humans will make initial judgments by sight. Every book needs an associated image that says to each passing reader, “C’mon, look at me. Touch me.” Some books shout that message in bold words on fields of stark color, some flirt with bared bodices and naked torsos, some whisper it with a subtle swirl of pastels, but the message is the same: “PICK ME, PLEASE!”

If you can’t buy or create professional designs, stick to a simple cover with minimal graphics. Less can be more. Less is definitely better than Bad. Your cover doesn’t have to be dazzling. It simply has to avoid sucking. Your blurb comes under the aegis of “cover” even though it is text.  You’re not trying to explain your book with the blurb. You’re creating a brain image that tempts the reader to engage. Clickbait the heck out of it. Humans respond to specific phrases as if they were enticing images. I wrote an article about that once. More views than anything else I’ve ever written, and it’s about nothing.

4. Components

Once a reader opens the book, the cover’s work is done. The job of the book has barely begun. There’s more to the text than the content. If you distract, disgust or confuse your readers, they won’t stick around long.

Getting to know all the parts and pieces of a book beyond the body of the story takes a whole ‘nother skillset. As with the cover, either hire a good workman, or collect your own tools and practice with them. Ignore the traditional forms at your own risk. You can make stairs without banisters, but people are more likely to fall. Let me outline a few of the safety features readers expect to find in Your Book  2014 edition:

  • A font that sets the mood for your book and smooths the way for a reader’s eyes to reach past letters to meaning. Typography is worth a post in its own right. I’ll write it, I promise.
  • Appropriate front matter — include at minimum a title page and copyright statement, and if you want your book in libraries, you’d better know what cataloging information to put into that space.  Do you need a table of contents? Maybe, maybe not. Do your research.
  • Running page headers and page numbers within the story. These are the wayfinding signs and guideposts for your reader.
  • Chapter & section decorations. Too much fancy stuff distracts from the story) but little touches make your pages unique & more appealing.
  • Back matter: that’s what comes after the story ends, material that encourages further reading & engagement. (An “about the author” paragraph. Notes about the world you created. Properly paginated appendices. All that jazz. Look at traditionally published books for ideas.)

I love electronic publishing because so many safety features come standard with the vehicle. Page numbers? Pfft. They don’t exist. Running headers, tables of contents and font choices? Generated automatically. Huzzah! I can concentrate on the essentials!

That said, I love flourishes and decorations and dropped capitals when done right. They make a book more than a sterile string of words.

If you’re killing trees for your creation, treat their sacrifice with some visual honor. Using default screen fonts for print publishing is like wearing flip-flops to a friend’s wedding. Sure, she’ll understand. She knows you. She might even think it’s funny. It’s still a sign of disrespect, and she’s not the only person at the event. Sloppy front and back matter content flags your book as an amateur production.  You insult your readers by refusing to polish your presentation. If you don’t care enough to dress up, why should they care enough to come to the party?

4. Criticism

To avoid having gaping holes in your final monument, get all your work assessed and evaluated by others before publication. This last side makes the structure stable. It brings everything together.

Some forms of art are more participatory than others. Storytelling is impoverished by isolation. Book publishing is crippled by it. (In my humble opinion.) I won’t say writing without an audience lacks purpose.  Writers everywhere know the deep satisfaction of writing for an audience of one.

In most cases, however, stories improve on being heard, and writing improves on being read. Books improve on being seen and their errors corrected.  No one is an island. No artist can view their work with the same clarity as an objective observer. Get advice and feedback on all aspects of your book: story, craft, cover and components. You can do it all yourself. You can go it alone. Your work will likely be the poorer for it.

And now we’re done.

That’s a base and four sides that diminish as they rise, leaning against each other to form the sharp, clear point. I described each piece individually in an order, but it’s normal to work on several sides simultaneously, building toward the top as you go along.

As you create, you work first on one element, then on another, then the next, until you reach that final peak. And the view from the top is stupendous.