Monday, October 31, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Elmore Leonard has written more than 40 novels — as soon as he finishes one, he starts on another. He's famous for his advice for writers. In 2001, he published a piece in The New York Times called "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle." He gave 10 rules, things like "Never open a book with weather"; "Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue"; "Avoid detailed descriptions of characters"; and "Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip." He wrote: "Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue. My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
He said: "I feel that I learned to write Westerns by reading and rereading For Whom the Bells Tolls. [...] But I was not influenced by his attitude, thank God. My attitude is much less serious. I see absurdities in serious situations, influenced in this regard by Vonnegut, Richard Bissell, and Mark Harris, and this shows in my writing. It's your attitude that determines your sound, not style."
Monday, October 24, 2011
So what should authors be thinking about when the consider their "perfect" cover? Believe it or not, this thought process should begin as soon as you begin sketching out the storyline and your characters. If you want a cover that is not just an honest reflection of your story but also one that will help it sell, consider the following:
Scenes/locations: Can the cover artist find an acceptable representation, regardless of whether your story is set in Colonial New England, the depths of space, or contemporary Manhattan? Depending on the stock art site, this might be a challenge, offering you the choice of something that isn't "historically" accurate or a background that must be pieced together. Collages have their place in cover design, but too much is NOT a good thing and rarely looks realistic. So make it easy for your artist--stay true to your concept but offer a simplistic backdrop that can be easily replicated.
Time: Period pieces are a big draw for many readers because it puts us in a time and place we've never experienced. However, be aware that due to photo stock limitations, you may not always get an authentic representation. So, again, keep your settings general to give the artist more latitude with the images. The final product will stay truer to your vision and the reader will have an easier time buying into the idea.
Characters: Here's a challenge for you...go to your favorite stock photo site and find a voluptuous redhead with violet eyes in a white laced "pirate-style" shirt being held by a 6 foot 6 inch muscle-bound man wearing leather pants with long black hair and a shock of white just over his left eye. Nothing...yeah, I thought so. Cover artists have just as hard a time finding that "perfect" couple shot, and the job can be made even more difficult if your sexy duo is so specifically detailed. Offer good descriptions, but understand that some "people" just don't exist in the real world.
Level of heat: Asking for a barely clothed couple in an embrace so hot that it melts the screen will get you exactly that. It's vivid, eye catching, and bound to draw in the reader. For many publishers and authors, heat sells. Ensure that the cover you request can keep pace with the sensuality of the content. Otherwise, the whole package becomes a lie that the content can't live up to.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Author / Experience Diversity
I have always considered myself a very accepting person when it comes to different cultures and life choices. I try not to judge people for who they are or what they do with their life. If it works for them, and they are happy, then good for them.
Not too long ago, I attended a conference that opened my eyes to lifestyles I’d heard/read about but never really experienced firsthand. Doms and Submissives, polyamorous marriages, bondage. I realized I have led a very sheltered life. I have read about people in Dom/Sub relationships, and how some Doms will make the Sub act as their end table, or will make them eat out of dog dishes. I was fascinated at this particular conference to see a Sub being led around by a leash.
I never expected to be shunned for being straight and monogamous. I consider myself to be friendly. When I come out of my shell, I will talk to anyone. And more often than not, people respond to my smile and the gesture. However, at this conference, I had two people shun me when they found out I was straight and married to my high school sweetheart. I couldn’t understand why that would bother anyone.
There are so many different cultures, races, and lifestyles out there…so many I am ashamed to admit I know nothing about. Though my parents raised me to be accepting of everything, to never judge a person simply by the color of their skin, I remained ignorant to how they lived.
I still choose to accept that everyone makes their own choices in life, that just because they are different than me doesn’t make me better than them. It’s a lesson I think everyone needs to remember. No one will love everything that you do, or believe the same way you do. If that were the case, this world would be a boring place.
The next time you find yourself crinkling your nose at the oddness of the person you see wearing a fuzzy bunny costume hitting on the 6’6” cross dresser on the corner, take a breath and remember: they probably think you are just as odd.
Love yourself for who you are, and everything else will fall in line.
Johanna Melaragno- Editor
Monday, October 10, 2011