Playing Around with a Cover Design for My Novel in Manuscript


I posted a few weeks ago that I had completed a draft of a novella, “Layin’ in the Grave So Long.” I have continued to work on it since then, and the manuscript has now grown to 144 pages of text and about 41,000 words. Some publishers would count that as a novel, not a novella.

I’m still dinking around in the manuscript. But today I had a little fun mocking up a cover for the book.

I used PowerPoint as I wasn’t happy with the one free page layout program I found. Maybe I’ll spring for a better one from the Apple Store. In any event, PowerPoint put a half-inch white border around the mock-up. My preference would be to have the cover image and the black of the back to bleed.

Yes, I do love the cover design of the books published the New York Review of Books Classics series.

Both of the photos are, of course, my own. I think I’ve posted the mermaid before; it’s the centerpiece of a kiddie ride at the Minnesota State Fair. I’ve posted photos of the cicada, but this is a new photo that I took today.

Again, if anyone is interested in reading and commenting on this now rather longer manuscript, I’d appreciate it. I know personally the editor-in-chief of a very fine small press here in town, and I may bug him with the manuscript–but only if I get some good feedback from others before I do so.



Pretty Literally Old School

Old School

As I mentioned in a previous post, last fall I purchased a slide rule (a Keuffel & Esser 4081-3) from an antique shop in Hopkins, Minnesota–a suburb of Minneapolis. I have since acquired several more slide rules.

After I purchased my first K&E 4081-3, I went online to teach myself again how to use a slide rule. I had learned some about how to use a slide rule during high school. By the time I began college in fall 1975, slide rules were already falling out of favor. And I didn’t take any math courses in college, as I had taken enough math courses in high school to fulfill the requirement for the bachelor of arts degree (i.e., two years).

I realized, too, that I had forgotten not only how to use a slide rule but also how to do any sort of mathematics beyond the most basic. I had forgotten all of the algebra and geometry that I had learned. And the rather saddened me, as I had been a very good math student in high school. (I earned the awards for Algebra I and II and Geometry.)

So, starting in February, I began teaching myself algebra again. I have worked through one book on algebra, and I’m now working through a second. Both cover approximately the same material, but the second book is somewhat different–and it contains vastly more problems, and far less explanation. I question its pedagogical approach in general. But I’ve been able to work through it, given my recent work in the other book.

In keeping with my love of vintage things*, I’ve been using my slide rules when necessary in working the problems in the algebra books. This photograph shows my work on a word problem involving a delivery company with ten drivers and certain financial and other constraints.

The Melo melo shell should feature in later photographs. For now, its curves balance the linearity of the work shown here . . .

* But not vintage attitudes about the rights of minorities, women, persons in the LGBTQ community/communities . . .



Layin’ in the Grave So Long


Until a few years ago, I’d never really considered myself a visual artist.  I thought of myself as a writer. A number of my poems have been published–mainly at online sites, but some in actual print publications.

This past fall, Concho River Review published one of my short stories, “Hell for a Nickel.” I’m hopeful that I can find publishers for more of my short works–and then I hope to find publishers for my longer works, and especially my novel, “Blood Shed for Me.”

A few weeks ago, I began working on what I originally thought would be a short story: “Layin’ in the Grave So Long.” But the current draft exceeds 28,000 words. This is an awkward length: far too long for a short story, but about half the length of a novel.

Still, I had fun writing this work.

I’m hopeful that some of you folks will want to read it and offer suggestions. If you comment on this post, I can send you a Word version of the work for your review and comment.

A bit about the story: It covers three days in the life of a law professor who has been accused of having an affair with one of his students–a firing offense. He is navigating that accusation and the chaotic shape of his marriage: his wife believes that he is having an affair with the student, and she is having a virtual affair with an old boyfriend.

The current draft just barely exceeds 28,000 words.

Please let me know if you’d like to read it. I’d appreciate any and all comments.

All the best,