Unfortunate Slang

The title of my forthcoming short novel is “How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box”. I had a cover image in mind, which included, among other things, a photo of a pretty girl. People seem to like pretty girls on covers, and this particular photo resonated with my idea of the main character, who is a sort of uncertain-gendered – but pretty – artificial creature. In some ways she reminded me of a guy I used to know who was one of the prettiest women I ever saw – a trans female who never lived to make the full trans due to heroin and a certain abusive boyfriend. Jake (not his real name) was also probably the worst employee I ever had to manage. He was absolutely unable to do any sort of useful task whatever, but required such constant handholding that he might as well not even have been there. I had to fire him, which was not fun, but necessary. And I digress. The problem with putting the photo of the pretty girl on the cover is the unfortunate slang use of the word “box”, and especially the context of “inside this box”. She deserves better, so she won’t be seen on the cover. Instead, we have this final candidate, which I like even better anyway:



Elephant Bus: Illustration


The original photos used for two of the various covers of Snapdragon Alley over the years came (with permission from the artist) from a blog post from gakuranman.com, specifically those from an old abandoned “elephant bus” he once found. This illustration is from a gimp project compositing a couple of those photographs

between the rocks and sky


sometimes you get lucky

here a photo from bean hollow is the bottom layer, desaturated and heightened contrast

added a photo of a bird in a tree with blue sky, opened as layer in gimp, and merged as ‘difference’ 100%

heightened contrast a bit more

the font is ‘stoned heights’

Smashwords, Amazon Kindle and the Do-It-Again Dance

I like to change the covers of my books, and I do it fairly often. Every time I do, though, I know I’m in for a document re-formatting exercise. It seems that when you upload a new cover, the good folks (and I mean it) at Smashwords run the document through their software again, the software which is always changing, and make you go make changes to your book (though all you touched was the cover!). Sometimes their auto-vetter makes odd requests, such as ‘please remove the question marks from your copyright statement’, and you look and there are no such marks. Usually, though, it’s not too much to comply with their demands.

Amazon does it a little differently. Every now and then I started getting emails telling me that “at least one reader” has reported some formatting issue with one of my books. Typically, the issue is just something that Kindle would like to see in your book – a table of contents, for example. Then you have to do all that again.

It’s all fine. The books do become improved over time, but it can be a lot of work, especially when you’re foolish enough to have written and published a lot of the dang things.

Anyway, here are a couple new ones …

Appropriately the font for this one is ‘Aftershock Debris’ – the image comes from a section of a photo of a diorama put up during the ‘Lux City’ street architecture show in Christchurch last fall.


The dangling skeleton here can be see on display at the Steampunk Museum in Oumaru, New Zealand.

the font is called ’28 Days Later’ and the overlayed texture is grain extracted from a photo of a golden sunset ocean I took at San Gregorio Beach.

Cover Art: Renegade Robot


While biking around Christchurch I’ve been taking lots of photos of the city in its present state of near total instability, with the idea that some of these photos are going to be useful if not inspirational in the future. This brick block of a building is the only thing left standing on Wilmer Street between Montreal and Durham. I have no idea what it is or was used for, and I’m so curious what will happen to it, and that utterly ruined block, over time. Must return to Christchurch  someday!

The robot in this cover was hurriedly put together by my son after I gave him a home school assignment, and he couldn’t wait to get back to his Minecraft tutorial videos. I did modify the drawing a bit, then tweaked its opacity and then merged the grain of the layer into the brick building to give the idea of the robot “hiding in plain sight”. In the book, the robot looks nothing like this. In fact it is tiny and green and communicates by spitting out text on a tickertape from its oral opening.

Renegade Robot, by the way, is an entertaining little story. It was lots of fun to write.