Communion Of Dreams

We have a winnah!

Well, it seems that Tim’s strategy of taking advantage of the ability to get multiple entries for the second drawing paid off! His was the name we drew out of The Hat this morning — congrats, Tim!

I will be posting an announcement of the third and final drawing later this coming week. But here’s a little hint: there’s a new review of Communion of Dreams over at Amazon. Here it is:

5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, July 26, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This was an excellent adventure. Definitely worth your reading time. Has an excellent view of what may be a possible future.

Check it out. Comment if you’re inclined. Or maybe even consider writing your own review, and sharing your thoughts with others — I very much appreciate it.



Jim Downey

Luck of the draw.

Damn – I thought I had posted an update here on Sunday. But I got busy and …

Anyway. “Debi” was the name drawn from The Hat on Sunday, and she will be receiving the first of the hand-bound cloth copies of Communion of Dreams I am giving away.

Why yes, I did just say “the first“. Because I am going to give away another one here shortly.

OK, for all those who got their name in the last time, don’t worry, your name will stay in The Hat for the next drawing.

But if you would like to increase your chances, you can. And if you want to get your name added to The Hat — this Hat:


it is easy to do so. Just follow these steps:

  1. Mention Communion of Dreams online someplace. It can be anywhere available to the public. Your blog. Your Twitter account. On Facebook. In a discussion forum. In an Amazon review. Anywhere — anywhere, that is, except here or on the Facebook page for CoD. You don’t have to link to the book, or this blog, or anything. You don’t have to say anything nice about me or the book. Seriously.
  2. Post a comment here or on the Facebook page telling me you did so. Include a link to said mention. No link back, no entry.
  3. You can enter once a day, now through Saturday. Sunday morning I will tally up all the entries, make a new slip for each one, and add them to The Hat.

So, it’s the luck of the draw — but you can increase your chances of winning. Just like last time, I’ll even pay the postage. And let you pick which edition number you want of those available. And inscribe it as you prefer (well, within bounds…)

Please, only one entry per person per day, and open to everyone, as long as you follow the rules noted above. If you’ve already ordered a hand-bound copy of the book  (or are due one from the Kickstarter) and you win this one, you can have me either send it to you or to the recipient of your choice. Easy.

Don’t wait — get your entry in now. And tomorrow. And Thursday …


Jim Downey


Want a free hand-bound, hard-cover copy of Communion of Dreams?

So, I got these all done:

Finished product.

Finished product.

And I’m really pleased with the way most of them came out.

Most of them. But not all.

The first several text blocks I trimmed, I had the fence on my guillotine set in the wrong place, and trimmed the top margin a little too close. Oh, it’s the sort of thing that probably only I would ever notice (seriously, it’s only about 5mm off), but when it comes to my work I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So I just wouldn’t feel right in selling them for the normal $100 price. Instead, I’m going to use them for promotional purposes. Starting with having a drawing for one now.

So, if you would like a nearly perfect, hand-bound, cloth-covered copy of Communion of Dreams, do two things, and I will enter your name for a drawing:

  1. “Follow” this blog (or “Like” the Facebook page).
  2. Leave a comment below (or on the Facebook page).

You’ve got until Sunday morning, when I log on to see who has entered. Then I’ll put all the names into a hat, and draw one out. That person will get the copy of the book. For free. I’ll even pay the postage. And let you pick which edition number you want of those available. And inscribe it as you prefer (well, within bounds…)

Please, only one entry per person, and open to everyone. If you’ve already ordered a hand-bound copy of the book  (or are due one from the Kickstarter) and you win this one, you can have me either send it to you or to the recipient of your choice. Easy.

Don’t wait — get your entry in now.

Jim Downey

Step by step.

I got to thinking about all the steps/stages involved in doing the binding of the handbound editions of Communion of Dreams. Here’s a step by step description (with some images below) of the process of doing the cloth hardcover books:

  1. Gather the sections from the printed stacks.
  2. Fold each section.
  3. Collate the sections into books.
  4. Punch holes through the center of each section for sewing.
  5. Sew up the text blocks.
  6. Paste up the spine of each text block, allow to dry under mild weight.
  7. Trim each textblock to size: head, tail, fore-edge.
  8. Paste up each text block again; determine size for, cut, and add endbands.
  9. Determine size for, cut, then paste up and apply spine liners, allow to dry.
  10. Determine size for and cut bookboard for the covers: front cover, rear cover, spine.
  11. Determine size of necessary cover cloth, cut from roll goods.
  12. Layout and mark up inside of cover cloth for bookboard positions.
  13. Paste up and mount each piece of bookboard, nip in nipping press, allow to dry.
  14. Cut corners on cover cloth.
  15. Paste up and turn in edges & corners, nip in nipping press, allow to dry. This is now called the “cloth case”.
  16. Determine size and cut cover image for mounting to cloth cases.
  17. Position and mount cover images to cases, nip in nipping press, allow to dry.
  18. Trim back first paste-down sheet on front and back of each text block.
  19. Position text block in case, paste up sewing tapes and front half paste-down sheet, nip in nipping press.
  20. Repeat for rear sewing tapes and half paste-down sheet.
  21. Paste up front full paste-down sheet, nip in nipping press.
  22. Repeat for rear full paste-down sheet.
  23. Dry under mild weight.

Simple, right? 😉

Well, it is compared to what is involved in doing the leather-covered edition. I might spend some time doing a video version of that. We’ll see.

Oh, yeah — if you’d like to have your own hand-bound copy in either cloth or leather, full information on the limited edition is here.


Jim Downey

Sheets gathered & folded into sections.

Sheets gathered & folded into sections.

Sections punched for sewing.

Sections punched for sewing.

Starting the sewing onto linen tapes.

Starting the sewing onto linen tapes.

Bottom of the sewn text block trimmed off in the guillotine.

Bottom of the sewn text block trimmed off in the guillotine.

Drying time.

Drying time.

Marked up cover stock.

Marked up cover stock.

Bookboard mounted.

Bookboard mounted.

Corners cut, ready to turn in.

Corners cut, ready to turn in.

Back cover image positioned for mounting.

Back cover image positioned for mounting.

Sewing tapes and half sheet pasted out and pressed.

Sewing tapes and half sheet pasted out and pressed.

Second paste down sheet prepared and ready to press.

Second paste down sheet prepared and ready to press.

Finished product.

Finished product.

Another excerpt.

This is from the working draft of Chapter One: Pennant Melangell

“C’mon in,” she said, unlocking the door and stepping inside. They passed through the porch, into the church itself. Just inside she stopped, turned on the lights. With a sweep of her arm, she gestured across the interior of the space. “Now, where do you go?”

Darnell furrowed his brow, scanned the interior. “What do you mean?”

“You want to be healed. Where do you go?”

“Well,” he hesitated. “Well, to the Shrine?”

“You know the legend of St. Melangell. What if you didn’t?”

He looked around. “The frieze?”

She nodded. “All these places tell a story. Sometimes it is just in the layout of the building or what is left of it. Sometimes it is represented in paintings, friezes, or stained glass. You have to understand the story of the place before you can hope to use it.”

“An instruction manual.”

“Of a sort. Some of it will be intuitive – these are built spaces, created by other humans. And so in some sense just part of your heritage. But some of it will be based on symbolism which is drawn from a different culture than what we’re used to now. It may take a little while before your brain adjusts, and sees the proper cues.”

“Learn the language.”

“Close. More like learning the patterns. The rituals.”

“I’m not looking to get religion, sis.”

She considered him. “I know. Think of religion to be just one interpretation of the text. First you need to learn to read. Interpretation can come later, when you’re more fluent.”

Back to work.


Jim Downey


I mentioned on Facebook the other day that sometimes I stop and consider the sort of chutzpah it takes to think that I should be mucking around with a 700 year-old book. That thought occurred to me following a session in the bindery working on the bible I have blogged about earlier. I had just done some work on it, then had to put everything into one of my presses and let it dry overnight, hoping that I had done the work properly. Hoping really hard.

What follows is a bit long, but might be of interest to some. At the risk of spoiling the suspense, the book came out well, though not entirely perfectly. You’ll see.

* * *

In my last post I had an image of the interior of the spine of the book. This one:


That shows the paper liners adhered to the inside of the spine cover material.  If you look at the top of the image, you can see some of the damage which had happened to the book — basically, some tears in the vellum cover at the hinge joint.

Repairing vellum is a bit tricky. You can’t use too much moisture, because it can cause the vellum to warp and shrink, even become brittle. So carefully I removed all the old liner material, then selected some heavy kozo and applied a methyl-cellulose/PVA mix adhesive, allowing the adhesive to dry partially before mounting the kozo to the damaged areas. That’s when I put everything into the press and hoped for the best. Here’s how it looked when I took it out:


One problem – in order to get the kozo mounted securely, I had to flatten the entire vellum spine, losing the nice shaping where it went over the sewing structure cords. We’ll come back to that.

On the textblock, I had to mount some new endpapers before I could add in the spine liners and hinging material. Fortunately, I had some nice handmade flax paper I made some 25 years ago which was a nice color tone match for the vellum. Here you can see it mounted:


Then I was ready to mount the hinging material to the spine. I chose a very heavy type of kozo, which would be strong enough but wouldn’t add much bulk, and applied it so that it conformed to the sewing cords:


Then I cut panels of another flax paper, and mounted those between the cords. Here is a pic when a couple of them have been mounted:


When those were done and dried, the text block was ready to be mounted back into the cover. But I had two problems. One was the spine vellum had been flattened by mounting the repair kozo, as mentioned above. But there was also another problem, part of the reason why the book had become damaged in the intervening centuries: the vellum cover had shrunk slightly, and the text block had swollen slightly, with the result that the cover no longer fit properly.

How to make it fit?

Well, I had actually already done one thing: I had placed the text block into a heavy press and slowly compressed it over a period of several days. But that only did so much.

The other thing I decided to try was to force the spine to stretch a bit. I did this by VERY slightly dampening the vellum, then putting a jig in place which would slightly push the front and rear covers away from each other. At the same time, I had mounted some cords the same size as the ones on the text block, and positioned the same way. This jig went on the inside of the spine, and on the outside I used a piece of foamcore which would partially compress, making the vellum conform to the shape of the cords and spreading it just a tich. A couple times over the course of a couple days I swapped out the jigs, using a slightly larger one each time. Here’s the final set, with the spine of the finished book alongside to better help envision what I mean:


That bought me about 3 or 4 mm of space. I worried about trying to stretch it any further. When I positioned the cover over the text block, the spine conformed perfectly, as you can see in the image above. I went ahead and pasted out the endpapers and mounted the text block into the cover.

Here’s how the pasted endpaper looked when everything dried:


And here’s the fore-edge of the book in its cover:


Yup — that right there is what is technically known as an “oops”. The cover doesn’t *quite* come around far enough, with perhaps 2 mm of the text block showing at the widest point. I hadn’t been able to stretch the cover (or compress the text block) enough.

However, the book was solid, and my interior repairs to the vellum damage turned out nearly perfect. Here’s a picture from earlier which shows the damage:


See that crack on the spine at the left side? Actually, if you look closely, you can see there’s a couple different cracks. Well, here’s an image of the spine at the same point with my repairs:


The cracks are still there, but they’re no longer a structural problem. The underlying kozo will now handle the structural forces. That should mean the cover will work as intended, and propagation of the cracks further down the spine should be stopped for at least a couple centuries.

It’s not a perfect repair, and that tempers any temptation I might have to inflate my ego any more. But it’s a pretty damned good repair, one I can take a measure of satisfaction with.

I can live with that.


Jim Downey

Well, I suppose that’s meant to be encouraging …

Thanks to everyone for helping make the promotion a success — I think we got an excellent response for a book which has been available for some 18 months, with 1,366 total downloads of Communion of Dreams! That breaks down as 1,193 in the U.S. market, 66 in the U.K., 102 in Germany, two in India, and 3 in Canada. It may be silly, but I think that it’s a real hoot that there are people in India who have downloaded my book.

And it wasn’t just Communion of DreamsHer Final Year also was downloaded by someone in India with this week’s promotion. And altogether there were 272 total downloads of that memoir.

There is also a new review of Communion of Dreams up on Amazon. Here’s a bit of it:

I’ve been reading science fiction for over 40 years, and it’s my favorite subject, but I’ll be very honest and say that even after reading this entire book, I could not understand what the artifact actually was. I also did not understand what the burl was, nor what the gel was. I think this story could have been a lot more exciting if it was trimmed down by 50%. I applaud the author’s first efforts at writing, but I think he should try again.

Well, gee, I suppose that’s meant to be encouraging, and the reviewer does end with:

“Practice makes perfect — best of luck with your next book!”

So maybe they’ll like St. Cybi’s Well if I don’t spend too much time with characters, setting, or have too many difficult concepts in it.  And I probably shouldn’t have it set in Wales, since that’s not science-fictiony enough. I’ll have to keep that in mind.


If you have some thoughts on the book to share, I’m always happy to have the additional reviews.

Well, maybe make that I’m usually happy to have the additional reviews.


Jim Downey


Good times, bad times … *

Partially related to stuff which happens in St. Cybi’s Well, but also I suspect because I just turned 55, I’ve been thinking about “time” a lot. The perceptions of it, how it ‘works’, how it is portrayed in books and movies. This topic is hardly new for me, though, since tropes about time travel are so common in Science Fiction.

Anyway, one interesting little side-track I was considering this morning was what you could do with a series of stories/books premised on a slightly different concept of time than what we commonly work with. Specifically, I was thinking of time as a manifestation of other aspects of the universe, analogous to how weather is a manifestation of other physical characteristics on a planet.  You could have something like a “time forecast”, wherein changes in the quality of time itself had an impact on the story/characters. Perhaps our little corner of reality has long been in a ‘calm’ period of time weather, with things moving along smoothly and placidly, so that we’ve come to expect that it will always be that way. What happens when there’s a change? Perhaps a new front moves through? A storm? A tornado? Does everything get jumbled, a la October The First is Too Late? Perhaps it could literally be the best of times and the worst of times simultaneously.

Something to play with. But for now, I need to get back to work. And you, if you haven’t already, should take advantage of this last day of the week-long promotion and go download Communion of Dreams and/or Her Final Year.


Jim Downey



Happy Independence Day, everyone!

And a quick update on how things are going with the promotion so far: almost 1300 downloads of Communion of Dreams, and the current ranking for that book is #647 overall in the Free Kindle Store (it down all the way to #289 at one point on Tuesday evening!) And Her Final Year is presently at #1,570, with 231 downloads so far. Remember, the promotion ends tomorrow night — so take advantage of it now!

Have a safe & fun Fourth!

Jim Downey

*Because I’m 55, get it? Yes, I am so very clever. Also because of the meaning of “five by five“, which is unknown to most people these days, belonging to another era.

A reminder …

… that the promotion is now running, and both Communion of Dreams and Her Final Year are now free to download!  Things are off to a good start, and as I write this Communion of Dreams has been downloaded 500 times already, and is currently doing quite well in the Kindle rankings. Things have been a bit slower for Her Final Year but it is still doing well, and for the first time ever I’ve had one of my books downloaded by someone in India. That’s pretty cool.

So, if you haven’t gotten your copy of either book — or if you know someone who may be interested in either one — this is the time to act! Get ’em while they’re hot!


Jim Downey