Anyone who used to read my posts on Trashionista will know that I’m a little bit obsessed with book covers. The good, the bad and the ugly; how they get chosen and designed and how the authors feel about them. And why (oh why) does fiction by women get stuck with inappropriately childlike, insipid, or ‘romantic’ cover art?
It pastel-coloured, splattered with flowers and has a bird carrying a heart. Would you guess that this is thoughtful novel, focused on a women-only Cambridge college and the politics of Oxbridge-entrance? In short, it’s a classic campus novel, in the same vein as David Lodge, and the cover loses readers who would love the book, while irritating those who buy it expecting a light, romantic read.
(For more on this, see Marie Phillips’ wonderful rant).
Anyway, it’s no surprise that I loved the inside story on the cover design for Joshilyn Jackson’s Gods in Alabama. It’s a wonderful book – go buy it right now – and an example of how wonderful cover art can be. Joshilyn reveals the true extent of author involvement (very, very little – and that’s if you’re lucky) and gives a sneak peek of the cover for her forthcoming book A Grownup Kind of Pretty (don’t get too excited, it’s not out until January 2012). Hop over the cut to see it.
Brought up on film, I was led to believe that writing involved bashing at a typewriter or computer keyboard for – ooh, minutes – before triumphantly typing the words ‘The End’ and slugging a stiff drink to celebrate.
However, in my sadly non-celluloid world, typing these words just means that the next phase of work can begin. I’m at the end of my Don’t Look Down draft, AKA The Big Freaking Mess.
My first draft is an exploration. I spew out whatever rises up from my subconscious until I finally realise what the book is actually about. Which is invariably not the thing I thought it was about when I typed the first couple of sentences four months ago.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that my word count bar is at 62,304 words, not 80,000. Don’t be alarmed (as if), I will at least 20,000 words in the next draft. I under-write and many scenes are pure dialogue; talking heads waiting for the scenery to be painted in. Many more scenes are full of notes to myself like ‘write this better later’ and ‘something, something, something – remember the breadstick!!!’. Not pretty.
So. Now I print out the GodAwfulMess and lay them out on the bed. I scribble notes and stick colourful post its in likely places, and I re-jig my book soundtrack and I work on my collage until I’ve figured out some more STUFF and then, then I take a very deep breath and begin the next draft. Wish me luck!
Florida-based satirist Carl Hiaasen has tackled eco issues, strip clubs, big game hunting, rare species, and golf. Now he pokes his sharpened pencil at celebrity culture in what promises to be another witty and wise thriller.
Star Island focuses on twenty-two-year-old pop star Cherry Pye, her entourage of body guards and publicists, and an obsessed paparazzo who kidnaps Cherry’s stunt double by accident.
I haven’t read an ‘adult’ Hiaasen for a couple of years (he has been largely concentrating on his – excellent – books for kids) and am really looking forward to this one. Luckily I don’t have to wait long as it’s out tomorrow. Hurrah.
This week has mostly been about the mucus. Having come down with yet another Cold From Hell, I’ve been thanking my lucky stars that my job involves sitting in bed, staring at the Netbook for hours at a time.
To distract myself from the disturbing death rattles emanating from my chest, I focused on my writing goals for 2011. I’d vowed to start a writing blog (done!), I vowed to write every day on the WIP (mostly done), and also to try something new. I always say that I don’t ‘do’ short stories, so yesterday I wrote one. About a zombie.
Of course, it hasn’t all been about the typing and the Lemsip and the fun family game ‘name that snot’. No, I’ve had to venture outside, too. There are pesky chores like grocery shopping (what do you mean we can’t eat pasta and pesto again?) and the school run.
Yesterday, I was blethering to my mum about my zombie story, enjoying the fact that my hoarse voice makes me sound like an actual adult human instead of a hyperactive six-year-old who has just discovered helium, when she gave a wry smile and said: “I wonder what inspired that.”
It wasn’t until I got into the car and caught sight of my waxy complexion, the dark circles around my eyes and my slightly glassy stare that I got her meaning.
Zombie snot. Inspiring? Yes. Attractive? Not so much.
The very generous Lani Diane Rich (NanoWrimo success story, writer of Time Off For Good Behaviour, The Fortune Quilt and many more) has been running a free daily podcast on all aspects of writing, storycraft and publishing here.
Lani also runs seminars, workshops and classes online at StoryWonk and registration is open for four brand new seminars (this month) and classes (in May).
Lani is also planning some intensive six-week workshops for later in the year, in which she will work closely with you and your project. So. Very. Tempted.