Friday, July 31, 2009

Controversial Cover Art

As those of you who follow Nathan Bransford's blog know, the world of book covers can be a pretty harsh (READ: As in you the author have little say in how it looks).

Besides having no creative control of your beloved work, you run the risk of having your cover contradict and/or misguide your prospective reader. I'm drawn to books by what their covers look like, I know this. So you bet your pretty sweet writing pen that I'd be ticked if your cover in any way shape or form misrepresented your work.

To stand up on my little soapbox here, how in the world is that even conceivably acceptable? As an author we're told by prospective agents, editors and publishers that our manuscripts must be flawless. As Jessica Faust said, "Good Enough Is Never Good Enough". We have to edit, rewrite, edit again, solicit beta readers, join writing groups, and work our manuscripts down until every word, each syllable, conveys the perfect connotation - a wordplay off the denotation that fits in imagery and syntax.

But it's okay for book covers like Justine Larbalestier's LIAR in which the protagonist is "black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short" to feature this:
What the heck? I agree with Justine, the Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin, did a fantastic job conveying her vision, as Jessica said "I never wanted a girl’s face on the cover. Micah’s identity is unstable. She spends the book telling different version of herself. I wanted readers to be free to imagine her as they wanted." Here's the Australian cover:

It just makes me mad, you know? And what about this?

Seriously, two different books by two different authors with nearly identical covers. How messed up is that. With all the cover art available, this is what we get?

Alan Cooperman of the Washington Post says: No. 1 is "Still Life" by Joy Fielding, a romantic thriller about a beautiful, happily married interior designer whose life is going just great -- until a car slams into her, breaks all her bones and puts her in a coma. (That will ruin your day alright.) Plus, she realizes that it probably wasn't an accident, but she can't see, speak or move from her hospital bed. It comes out from Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, on March 24.

No. 2 is "Keeper of Light and Dust" by British author Natasha Mostert, also a romantic thriller of a sort -- the sort being a supernatural parade of magic and martial arts involving a vampire, ancient Chinese wisdom and "biophoton emissions." In her acknowledgements, the author thanks her "two great dojos," a kickboxing champion and "the man with the stupendous flying kicks." According to her publicist, she's donating partial proceeds to a "boxing initiative to empower Afghan women." It comes out from Dutton, part of the Penguin Group, on April 2.

Cooperman concludes that the person who should be happiest about all of this is Stuart McClymont, the photographer. I'll give him that, but where does that leave you, the reader?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who vs. Whom

So here I am editing away this morning when I come across the following sentence:

Matt deserved to know the truth, seeing it was no-man’s hour and here he was driving me across town, tracking a man who’s name brought a ripple of fear to those who heard it.

(I know, it's a bit of a long sentence. Generally I have a tendency to write concise, snappy ones - this sentence is the exception.)

So what should it be? Those "who" heard it? Or those "whom" heard it. When in doubt, I check out Encarta - I LOVE their dictionary. But this morning their explanation of Who vs. Whom still left me confused.

So my next stop was Grammar Girl - who's tips have helped me loads of times - today was no exception. Grammar Girl gave a quick and dirty tip to help sort it out:

Like whom, the pronoun him ends with m. When you're trying to decide whether to use who or whom, ask yourself if the answer to the question would be he or him. That's the trick: if you can answer the question being asked with him, then use whom, and it's easy to remember because they both end with m.

For example, if you're trying to ask, "Who (or whom) do you love?" The answer would be "I love him." Him ends with an m, so you know to use whom.

Okay, so I think I got this. So in this case it would be "Who (or whom) heard it." The answer would be "He heard it." There's no m in he so you know to use who.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.... =)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sshh! I'm Writing

Silence. That's all I want when I write. No talking, TVs, lawn mowers, barking dogs, or music - especially music. I'm pretty sure my Muse is shy (that's her on the right). She flutters above my head dropping snippets of conversation ready to bolt at the first intrusion.

But that's just me. Some writers love writing to music - it sets the mood, develops the characters, teases the thoughts out of their minds. I've seen published authors such as Candace Havens and Stephenie Meyer acknowledge the likes of U2, Blue October, Sheryl Crow and Joss Stone in their novels.

Other writers create playlists and sites like Amazon have articles on "Building a Writing Soundtrack". That all sounds very cool. And it makes sense - music is creative, writing is creative - why shouldn't they work together?

Well, because my brain doesn't work that way. Nope, I need silence. It's the only way I can convince my Muse and her gold goddess dust to stick around; keep her from darting off every 5 seconds. Like I said, that's just me. What about you?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What's Your Favorite Fantasy World?

Okay, I'll go first.

Hands down - HARRY POTTER. Those of you who know me might have thought I'd go the whole TWILIGHT route, but nope, notta chance. Breathtaking beauty and rock-hard bodies are always good times, but I don't really want to live in a world with vampires and the Volturi.

Harry Potter on the other hand? Well his world's just magical.

Butterbeer, Quidditch, Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Haggrid, Hogwarts Express - there's just so much that's awesome! And Hermione? She could be my best friend.

What's not to love? Okay, maybe Snape and the whole house of Sytherin - but I'd take them in a heartbeat if it meant I could be a Gryffindor. How sweet would that be? I'd so ace my owls and become an auror. The Ministry of Magic could use a wizard like me.

Life would just be too much fun if we all had magic wands.

Well, that's what I think anyways. How about you?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

NYT Article - How Many Books Are Too Many?

I stumbled across this NYT's article while looking up some publishing facts:

Brace yourselves, novelists and would-be novelists. Figures released this spring show that a new book of fiction is published in the United States every 30 minutes. Even if you don't count the titles published through print-on-demand and other fee-charging, vanity-press-type outfits, the total still comes to 10,000 books a year -- or one book published every hour or so. And that's just the fiction.

10,000 books a year. Gulp.

That means I've got a pretty good shot at this whole publishing thing, right? right?!

Yeah, me and the other 10,000 writers - who are all competing for the same audience, who happen to have shrinking budgets and attention spans.

Demand is down - supply is up. I'm not Alan Greenspan (or Ben Bernanke), but I did take high school economics. Things aren't looking so great for the publishing industry. Rough waters matey.

But who doesn't know that? That's old news. Interesting, but still old.

So what to do. What to do.

I know! Keep writing. That's an excellent plan. I'll just keep writing, and editing, and writing some more. Because what else is there to do?

Anyone got any other ideas?

Here's a link to the article if anyone's interested:

I. Am. Editing.

Editing, like writing, is best done in snippets. No more than a 1,000 words at a time. If I attempt to do more I end up with rubbish. Unfortunately there's no rushing my process. I'd love to spend the weekend editing BEAUTY SECRETS and then blast out my queries. But I can't. It wouldn't be ready, not really.

I believe in this novel and it needs to have a fair chance in the publishing world. Yep, I've gotta wait. Wait for my beta readers. Wait to finish editing. Wait until my MS is fan-flippin'-tastic. Only then will I send out my queries.

Now if I could only find patience...

Monday, July 13, 2009

It Was Professor Plum With The Knife In The Study!

Deciding how you're going to bump somebody off is the easy part. It's intertwining the lives of your suspects that's difficult. What's their back story? Their secrets? What makes them a suspect - the belief they'd kill another person? And what does this realization do to your protagonist?

These are the questions that aren't always easiest to answer. But you have to.

So right now it's a mystery in my brain, a puzzle that I HAVE to figure out. How to make it all work...

Lookin' for Love

It happens every time I'm writing a novel. I box myself up and ignore the rest of the literary world, paranoid that whatever I read will influence my book. Overly cautious? Probably. Justifiable? Absolutely. It's happened more than once. And I don't even realize I'm doing it.

Anyhow, I realize that even though I lock myself away, authors are still out there publishing their novels. And now that I've finished writing another novel I'm eager to read them. I loved BELONG TO ME (de los Santos). But I just didn't feel the same way about VERY VALENTINE (Trigiani) and RUN (Patchett). Honestly, I returned VERY VALENTINE to the library after the first three chapters. Too much description for me and not enough story.

I read RUN over the weekend and kept waiting for it. You know, the I-just-can't-put-it-down feeling? But I put it down. Again. And again.

So now it's back to the library in search for the perfect book. The one waiting for me to devour. Because that's what I do. If I find a book, and I love it, I devour it. Just me and the book. What a perfect day.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lip gloss & Lies

At least that's what I'm calling it for now. While BEAUTY SECRETS is being read by my lovely beta readers, I've decided to start research on a sequel - LIP GLOSS & LIES. I don't know about you, but I love sequels. Especially reading them. I think that saddest thing about finishing a novel is having to say goodbye to the characters. With sequels you're able to delay the inevitable. That and as a writer, I'm always interested to see how the author will introduce the plot. Especially with murder mysteries. Sometimes I find myself saying "Seriously? Another dead body? How many can a person possibly stumble upon?!" But then there's other times when I'm like, "Wow, that was cleaver." I want to be that "Wow."

Which is why everything I write is grounded in reality. I want to be true to the human emotion. The human experience. I think that makes writing more challenging. You can't just "make something happen" because you want it to. It has to make sense, be honest.

So I'm off to dive into my research. I already have a rough plot outline, but there's just so. much. to. do. I love it. This is the exciting part. The creative part. Yeah, I'm thinking about plot cliches, marketability, and all that other creative-sapping, dream-destroying goodness that is the publishing industry - but that doesn't stop me from writing the story I want to. I'm just aware of the facts. Not controlled by them. Or consumed by them. It's part of being a writer. A part that I'll accept any day if that means I get to publish my novels.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Belong to Me - have you read it?

Wow, that's all I gotta say. I am not worthy to call myself a writer after reading this book. And Chapter 11? I cried, no, make that bawled, remembering those loved ones that are still dear to my heart even though they're not here anymore.

And I'm not even done with the novel yet.

Part of me is debating staying up all night and finishing it. But, the other part wants to savor it. Every character. Every storyline.

I think I've found a new author to add to my "favorites" - Marissa de los Santos is amazing!!!!

I Am Commercial Fiction

And I'm not talking about my writing either. Nope, I'm talking about me. I'm commercial fiction all the way. You see, I like to think that I appeal to a broad audience. I try to at least. People are fascinating, from all walks of life. It's nice to be able to converse with everyone ranging from brain surgeons to homeless folks. Everyone has a good story. You don't need to have credentials or a house to be able to tell it.

I guess sometimes I'd like to be literary fiction, but I don't always fit in with the "intellectually adventurous audience." But you know what, I'm okay with that.

I think my writing reflects that too. At least BEAUTY SECRETS does. You don't have to be a literary fiction socialite to get it. To me that's important. Maybe someday I'll tackle a literary novel, but for now, good ol' fashioned whodunits are what you're going to get from me. Who doesn't like a good mystery anyway?

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Hey everyone, welcome to the new blog!

Woot woot!

I'm super stoked to have the new website up and running ( New website, new novel, new blog. It's been a very busy summer. I'm pretty proud that I managed to exceed my personal deadline and finish BEAUTY SECRETS before the 4th of July.

Well, I say it's finished, but is a novel ever really finished? Er, right. Didn't think so. A big thanks to Sheri and Amy for being Beta readers. I really, really, really appreciate it. Someday when it gets published I'll give a shout out to you in the inside cover. You guys rock!!!

What about you? Who would you give a shout out to if you published a novel?