Hey there!

This is where I put some of the words, some of the time! Not all the words. Not all the time. But sometimes.
The blog

A Mother's Eyes by Keven Allan

Mar 11, 2024

 This may be my favorite book cover I've designed so far. it's just so pretty!

It's the first in a trilogy, so we'll be seeing more of these. This book is currently in its final stages of production, so stay tuned! I'll update the info as soon as the release date is announced!

That Time I Paid Too Much for a Jacket, and then Complained About it for a Really Long Time

Mar 4, 2024


  • I needed/wanted a black jacket.
  • I am a cheapskate.
  • I like shopping at thrift stores.

With those thrilling facts as a set up, I will now reveal to you that I one day found myself at the local thrift store, trying on jackets. There were several that a really liked. But something must have gone horribly wrong with their pricing sticker machine, because they were expensive. Like $40.00. $40.00! For a used jacket at a thrift store! Well, as I said, I'm a cheap skate, and I wasn't having it. So while they looked amazing on me, I hung them and their expensive pricetags back on the rack. 

Except there was this one. Black with faux leather accents. That was really exactly what I was looking for. And it fit perfect. It made my skin look brighter and my IQ higher. But it was $30.00. Still a ridiculous price for a thrift store. But I wanted it enough that I thought I might try haggling a bit at the register. Not something I've ever done before, but why not give it a try?

So I took my overpriced jacket, and my son took the crappy little porcelain music box he wanted to buy up to the register to purchase our wares. 

The music box had no price tag on it. I make my kids do their own haggling, so he said to the man at the register, "This doesn't have a price tag. So can I get it for $0.50?"

Register man called a manager over for approval, and the manager said, "This is a nice little music box. We'll sell it for $2.50." 

My son had $1.75 to his name. He said, "Oh. I can't get it then."

They said. "Ok." and set it aside, confident that some other compulsive hoarder would come along and buy their dumb music box. I rolled my eyes and told them to add it on to my purchases, because I thought they were being lame. 

But then it was my turn. I said, "Thirty dollars seems like a lot for this jacket. Is the price flexible at all?"

Register man said, "Of course!" and called over the same manager who doesn't know how to accurately price things. Manager looked the jacket over, checking the seems for secret veins of gold, and said, "I think we could do $20. No, $25.00. Yes. $25.00."

This is where I should have said, "How about $15.00?" since that was the far upper limit of what I was willing to pay for a used jacket with no recognizable label. But instead, I rolled my eyes again, and said, "Fine." and took my jacket lined with diamonds and my son and his music box and we went home where my son immediately ripped the musical mechanism out of the music box and threw the porcelain cat on the porcelain log away.

You probably think this story is over now, because how long can a person drone on about crap they found at the thrift store? but you are very wrong. 

Because the next thing I did was get the jacket cleaned. I bought it at the thrift store. I don't have a clue what sore of hijinks that jacket got up to before I brought it home with me. I wanted to wash all that hijinks off.  The label said Dry Clean Only, so I took it to the local dry cleaner, signed the little form promising that if the item was ruined I would not hold them responsible and went about my merry way.

A few days later I went back to pick it up, excited to start rocking my new black jacket. But something wicked had happened at the cleaning facility, and my faux leather sleeves were now stiff, flaking, plastic sleeves. I would never be able to wear it to the library or a funeral, for it was far too noisy.

Did I complain to the dry cleaning cashier. No, Brown Bear, I did not. I had signed the waiver. I could have yelled at her, but what good would it do? In the end, I knew I still would have walked out with a trash jacket they wouldn't take responsibility for. Besides, I am pathologically nonconfrontational, and so I said nothing and took my garbage jacket home.

It has been about a year. That's how long it took for me to come to terms with this, and not fly into a fuming rage every time I tried to write about it.

But here is the thing. The people at the Thrift Store, while they might suck at pricing things, and suck at haggling, they didn't deceive me in any way. They offered a used jacket, at a ticketed price. And I paid. I am the one that paid the price. Even before I sent it to the dry cleaners I was so mad about how much I paid for it that I felt a little sick. Who is the moron in that scenario? Me, that's who. The dummy who paid a price she didn't want to pay for something that no one was forcing her to buy. 

And whose fault is it that my jacket was ruined at the dry cleaner? Well, the dry cleaner, obviously, but that is why they make you sign a waiver. Because stuff like that happens, and it probably happens all the time. 

What is the moral of this story? 

Do you know? I don't. Maybe it is not to be such a cheapskate. Except if I was a TRUE cheapskate I wouldn't have paid $20 to have it professionally cleaned. 

Let's check back here in another year, and see if time has lent me any wisdom. 

But, since I mentioned it, why does WISDOM sound like WAS DUMB? 

Why did I buy that jacket? I don't know. I was dumb. I wisdom. 

You have to admit its problematic. 

Splinter's Edge by Boydell Bown

Feb 8, 2024

 I really only designed half of this cover. It was really only so so, until the author, Boydell Bown, suggested changes to the title font and updates to the backround. And now it is awesome. It hardly counts to put it in my portfolio, but I wanted you to know about it too!


Lahn just wants to ignore the world, build some code with his AI, and hide from the starless green sky.

But when horrible visions of future-tech destruction invade his carefully curated calm, he will have to risk his life and fight his fears to find out if the visions are real, or a product of his own depersonalization.

If the visions are real, everyone’s at risk, especially those he loves most. And no one but Lahn can save them all.

Probably time to put on some pants.


A Dickens Christmas, narrated by Benjamin Fife

Nov 22, 2023

Another cover design for ebook and audiobook. 

Audiobook cover

Ebook cover

Till Koi Do Us Part by Elesa Hagberg

Sep 1, 2023

Another book I wrote, and cover I designed. 

 A fun short story about koi, love, and magic gone wrong.


Lessons Learned from our very first cruise.

Aug 25, 2023

We went on a cruise last year, and we learned some valuable lessons that I believe must be shared. You're welcome. 


1. Plan in time for Flight Delays.

About 4 hours before we were planning to leave for the airport, we received a notice that our connecting flight had been canceled. Period. No rescheduling, no delays, just canceled.  Which meant we could fly to New York, but then we'd be stuck there. My only option was to call customer service. And wait on hold for two hours. So I did. And the lady I eventually talked to was nice and helpful and tried very hard to find another flight for us, but because we had to be in Miami by 2:00 pm, we had a very narrow window to fit the flight in and the only viable flight was full. Sorry for the inconvenience. Wish we could help. 

Ultimately, we decided to drive up to the airport as planned and hope that someone there could help us. And if not, we could fly to New York and spend the weekend there. Surely there were worst places to spend a weekend. 

But, we found someone smart and capable at the check in counter, and that flight that had been full 4 hours before suddenly had two open seats and she put our names down. We had a flight all the way to Miami. 

Still, it spooked me. All the way up until we actually got on the boat, I was sure something would go wrong. That they would have given our tickets to someone else, or that we'd suddenly test positive for Covid, out of the blue, or that our passports would be invalid. 

We wanted to take a red eye flight so that we wouldn't have to pay for a hotel in Miami the night before our cruise, but we didn't account for the crap fest that is the airline industry right now. Stuff happens. Weather happens. Things go wrong. We should have allowed some extra time to account for it.

It was pouring rain in Miami. Thus the canceled Flight. That isn't a water feature on the wall behind us. That is rain pouring down the glass of the covered walkway leading onto the boat. 

Myth #1: You can buy anything you need on the cruise ship.


FALSE! Yes, there are stores on board the cruise ship. But unless you are in the market for watches or designer hand bags, you probably won't find what you need. For reals. There were two of THE SAME jewelry store, but not one convenience store. Perfume, yes. Expensive sandals, sure. Advil? No, ma'am. Tweezers? Not if your life depended on it.

#5: Bring your own snacks. (I almost wrote snakes there. That might be a good tip too, but you'll have a hard time getting them on board, until you get real creative with your hiding places.)

Say one night you get a sudden craving. M&M's! Any kind will do! Actually, any candy bar at all will work. But this is the same problem as the one above. You can't get snacks anywhere on board. Unless you want Rum Cakes, you are shuck out of luck. I suggest you plan accordingly. Seriously. I just wanted a candy bar. Why does the souvenir shop ONLY sell rum cakes?? Why?  

Myth #3 - The dining room is always open. 

I might be different on other ships, but on Royal Caribbean that was not the case. My dad always says that his main complaint on his cruise was that they fed him too much. So I was just expected food being pushed at me from every side, all day long. But no. There was a buffet upstairs that was open with extended hours around meal times. But the food was really only so so. Standard cheap buffet food. The food in the formal dining room was fantastic, but the servings were rather small like you would expect in a super fancy restaurant and it was open with much more limited hours, and if you didn't make a reservation you might have to wait for a table for a while. 

There were several other restuarants, but half of them were not included with your cruise meal plan, which means you had to pay to eat there, just like you would in any restaurant. It was also rather hard to tell which restaurants were free, and which weren't, so we ususally just stuck to the ones we were sure about. And they were all only open around meal times. You could order room service too, but most of that food also cost extra. Fortunately there was a Ben and Jerrys on board. Yes, their food was not included with the cruise meal package, but the cruise had also kindly given us $100 credit to be spent on whatever we wanted onboard the boat. Richard used a bunch of it on Lobster one night (again, not something that was included in the free meals), but we had to spend the rest on something. Good thing I like Icecream so much.

B) - Take Cash. Or, maybe, don't.

I meant to take cash, I really did. But what with the flight kerfuffle, we never stopped at the bank to get any. Which left us in Nassau Bahamas without any cash. It was the weekend, so there were no open banks, and I didn't even have a debit card to pull cash out of an ATM. Which meant no souvenirs, which was kind of sad, but also gave me an excellent excuse not to buy anything from any of the vendors that were pushing their wares at us. 

After hanging out on the beach for a while I would have liked to rent some four wheelers to explore the island, but it started pouring rain, which might have made four wheeling somewhat less exciting.

We just ran around on foot and explored the town and got soaked, and found a woman in a shop who gave us some Bahaman coins, just for fun.

And it was awesome! And we didn't spend an arm and a leg! So who's laughing now?

Well, there you have it. Every single lesson we learned while cruising, that I can think of at the moment. 

We tried escargot, which was, you know, snails.

And didn't really mind being in an interior room, because no windows meant it was DARK, and morning sort of lost meaning. It was very restful.

All in all, we had a great time! I may have seen more half-naked women than anyone ever needs to see, but it just makes me all the more excited for our next cruise. To Alaska! Someday!

This is the end.

Echoes of the Past by Ashley Packard

Another Cover Design.....

Anna Wilson is faced with the prospect of starting her first job out of university. She worked hard for this coveted position not for the prestige, but because it fit her life plan, would make her parents proud, and most importantly, the location was close to her grandmother, her only remaining family.

 Accepting this job was a seal of fate according to Anna's grandmother, who grappled with the guilt that Anna planned her life around her.

After graduating from university, Anna's world gets turned upside down when she receives the devastating news her grandmother passed away, leaving behind an unexpected inheritance, a chest full of old postcards, and tickets for a trip her grandmother planned leaving in a few weeks.



The Dissection and Reassembly of Cohen Hoard by Elesa Hagberg

Jul 11, 2023

 The Splinter Press team agonized and debated for a very long time, but the cover for The Dissection and Reassembly of Cohen Hoard has finally been chosen! 

I designed several covers, (SO MANY), and Faralee designed several covers, but in the end it was decided that this cover I designed made the right promises and best communicated the genre. Phew!


Audiobook cover:

Paperback/Hardback cover

And there was much rejoicing.

I Am An Author

Jun 10, 2023

 Folks, it is official. My debut novel, The Dissection & Reassembly of Cohen Hoard, will be released on September 15th, 2023. 

If you like specuative fiction about nerdy guys going on adventures involving dissembodied limbs, this is the book for you!

Lindy likes to help by sitting on my keyboard while I type. She likes to pretend that SHE wrote this book. But it was me. Promise.

The Plot by Theresa Flannery

May 30, 2023

Another book cover I designed! The Author is working through revisions, but it should be available on kindle soon. 

Being framed for her family's murder is only the first problem Emily has to face. The second is that the real killers recruit those they can't kill, and Emily evades their attempts at every turn. With an ex-bounty hunter and the FBI as her only allies, Emily's whole focus is taking down the Cabal before they get a chance to take her down.

Jim loved being a bounty hunter, but he's only got one more case before they close their doors. As soon as he sees Emily's picture, he knows he's in trouble. She's everything he needs in his life, and despite trying to push him away at every turn, she needs him if she wants to survive.

Mere Mortal by AJ Stevens

Apr 30, 2023

INDEED defines a book cover designer as, "a professional who creates artistic covers that match the content of the book". (And if we can't turn to INDEED for our definitions, where can we turn?)

You know what that means? I am a book cover designer! Who saw that coming? 

What qualifications do I have, you ask? I took one Graphic Design class my first semester of college, so I've obviously got the training. And I did digital scrapbooking for years, so I've sure got the experience! That must be all it takes!



Mila will do whatever it takes to save her sister, even walk straight into the one place she should never go: the Immortal City. The problem? She only has one life, and the Immortals will do anything to take it from her. 


Audiobook cover:

Paperback/Hardback cover: