Scott’s new book, Afterworlds, needed a very different look from his previous WWI-era steampunk trilogy. The change gave me the opportunity to rebuild the site from the ground up–including the SMF theme, something I’d never done before. It’s now responsive, which makes everyone happier. As with Justine’s theme, a lot of image functions that used to be done by hand are now automated.
Justine still loved the 2008 version of her site, but wanted to refresh and update it a little. We decided to keep the background, which had become a signature look for her, and give the main content more contrast. We rethought the navigation entirely and replaced some of the old-school blog features with a Twitter sidebar.
Showcasing both the US and Australian editions of Justine’s books is important to her, but it had always required extra work for both of us, creating two versions of the featured image for each book (one with the US cover in front, one with the Australian) and randomizing which one appeared. I took the opportunity to automate this process in the new theme. Now, Justine simply uploads each cover and checks a box for its country (using a custom taxonomy). The covers are still displayed stacked one atop the other, but this is now handled in CSS instead of Photoshop. The three books at the top of the site are the three most recent, but the plugin randomly chooses whether to display the US or Australian cover. This same custom plugin also builds the cover gallery for her press kit and displays foreign edition cover galleries on each book’s page.
Cassie had been using WordPress with free themes for some time when she sold her first novel. As its release date approached, she needed a “more grown-up” look. I took advantage of the striking cover art and worked a little magic so the text of Cassie’s blog posts wraps around the model’s silhouette — a common technique in print layouts, but one that’s seldom used on the web.
The design was refreshed in December 2013 with a new mobile layout.
The crew at PressBooks asked me to customize the standard WordPress importer to behave a little differently: instead of immediately publishing the stuff from the old blog, they wanted to put the imported content into a queue and let the user select where it should go: their book’s front matter, the main chapters, or the back matter (which PressBooks has set up as custom post types). The tricky part here was adding a new bulk action — custom bulk actions aren’t supported in WordPress!
The authors of this collaborative novel wanted a small website, separate from their own, to showcase the new book. To get things up and running quickly and inexpensively, I wrote a WordPress theme based on _s and Bootstrap, with a color scheme based on the book’s cover. Since most of the content was already written for Justine’s site, this became the first real-world test of the Selective Importers plugin. (It worked great.)
The site also features an experiment in managing book reviews: a custom post type with fields for the reviewer’s name, publication, and URL; the review text; and a toggle for starred reviews. This makes it easy to display the reviews in a consistent style.
When Scott’s Leviathan was published, his publisher hired a graphic designer to revamp his website in fine steampunk style. Alas, the firm wasn’t entirely conversant with WordPress’s best practices, and the result was a table-based (!) design that broke every time Scott added a large image. (Which he does every Friday.) I redid the theme in CSS, fixed the image issues, widgetized the sidebars, and built some custom mini-plugins to make it easier to maintain some of the fun little features, like the lizard message.