Monday, June 25, 2007

Evolution of Another Book Cover Design

Riffing off my prior blog entry, here's more from Jenny Crusie on book cover design.

This time she's discussing another collaborative book she has coming out, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, a novel written with two other bestselling women authors, Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart.

This entry is interesting for several reasons. First, Crusie discusses the differing considerations involved when a book is in mass-market paperback (a much smaller canvas for the cover designer than hardcover or trade paperback). Second, this book's cover went through many more changes than the cover of Agnes and the Hitman, the subject of Crusie's earlier blog entry. Third, the publisher (St. Martin's Paperbacks) allowed them to go through eleven (count 'em, 11) drafts before settling on the final cover--over which the authors apparently had final approval.

Of course, Crusie alone packs a lot of selling power, and adding Dreyer and Stuart to the package means the publisher is anticipating very big sales numbers for this book. It's the Golden Rule: She who has [brings in] the gold makes the rules.

Closing thoughts:
1. Jenny Crusie has two books coming out this summer--The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, written with Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart, in June; Agnes and the Hitman, written with Bob Mayer, in August. She is currently working on a solo book (working title Always Kiss Me Goodnight), good news for the Crusie-holics among us (myself included).

2. Crusie's very cyber-wise and has websites for each of the new books as well as her own website and her blog. (For links to the individual book sites, go to her blog--the links run across the top of the blog page.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Have We Talked about Book Covers Recently?

I've blogged several times about book covers, or at least the unintentional humor to be found in bad ones (see Now for Something Completely Different, Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?, Romance Cover Contest 2006). Most authors have no control over, and very little input into, the cover designs for their books. The most they can do is make suggestions, hope the publisher considers them, and pray that the final result will appeal to book buyers. For the fiction authors in my writers' group, covers are a big concern. Last year we devoted a couple of meetings to analyzing and making suggestions for the cover of C.S. Harris' second St. Cyr mystery, When Gods Die--and, whaddyaknow, when she e-mailed her editor with our suggestions, the publisher actually revamped the cover with our list in mind. The final result was a marked improvement over the original.

New-York-Times bestselling author Jennifer Crusie worries about covers, too. Over on Aargh Ink earlier this week, she blogged about the struggle to develop a good cover for the second collaborative novel she's done with thriller author Bob Mayer. Take a look and watch the evolution of a book cover. (Agnes and the Hitman will be released in August.)

For interesting info on the Crusie/Mayer writing collaboration, see their joint site. This is one way to solve the dilemma of portraying the opposite sex--have a co-writer who does the p.o.v. scenes of the characters of his/her gender. Since Crusie is known for her wit and humor, while Mayer presents a tough-guy/macho-man face to the world, reading the potshots they take at each other adds a lot of entertainment value.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Meme about Me

Sidney Williams has tagged me to continue a bloggers' meme. Meme is a word I'd heard before, but I wasn't sure of its meaning, so I looked it up:
NOUN: A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. ETYMOLOGY: Shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme, from Greek mimma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate. See mimesis.--The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed., 2000).
Wikipedia has a much lengthier discussion of meme, and frankly I'm still not sure exactly what it means. Nevertheless, although I was startled to be tagged, I was pleased to be noticed. Hence, I willingly comply. (The problem is whether I can find eight other bloggers to tag in my turn.)

Ah well, here goes, according to the instructions:
  • I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
Here are my eight:

1. I believe in the supernatural and/or the paranormal--"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet. Act i. Sc. 5.

2. I believe there are other forms of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

3. I don't really trust people who dislike animals.

4. I am a major pack rat--mostly of books, papers, and sentimental stuff. I am working on getting rid of the extra stuff before I die, so my family won't curse me while wading through the stacks of Stuff in Boxes. (I don't expect to die for at least another decade or two, but you never know.)

5. I scorn clothing that bears the designer's or manufacturer's label/initials on the outside. Down with apparel snobbery!

6. I scorn the wearing of fur coats and expensive jewelry, the driving of expensive vehicles, and other flaunting of one's wealth and/or social status.

7. Since Hurricane Katrina I've become addicted to watching HGTV, a cable channel about home redecoration and remodeling. So far I haven't made use of the information--too much Stuff in Boxes in the way--but I dream of feathering my nest "as shown on TV."

8. I love owning thousands of books because it means I'll never run out of things to read, and it makes me feel rich and replete.

I'm tagging C.S. Harris, Shauna Roberts, Farrah Rochon, Roz Green, Lana, Charles Gramlich, Stewart Sternberg, and Kate S. Those on my list who have already done their part in such a meme won't even have to respond (just let me know where your meme is posted). As for those who haven't yet "memed," here's your chance to tell other bloggers/blogreaders a few facts about yourself.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Martin Cruz Smith

I return to blogging after yet another prolonged absence. This time it was partly due to loss of my Internet connection. It was days before I could find enough time to stay on the phone with tech support to recover the connection. (My ISP tries to weed out the weak-willed by making the customers first fight their way through a jungle of computer-voice links, then slog through the prolonged "you're-on-hold-but-we-really-value-your-call" waiting period, before reaching someone who can actually help.) Once I got finally got hold of a live human technician, we spent half an hour tracing various software paths to figure out what the problem was. It appears I screwed up some settings while trying to uninstall a piece of hardware a couple of weeks ago. I'm glad to be back online now, after going through days and days of Internet Withdrawal.

The topic on my mind right now is Martin Cruz Smith, whose latest novel (Stalin's Ghost) was just released. He rates a lot of respect in my weekly writers' group. Three of us had read his work and recommended him repeatedly to the others for several years. Two of them finally got around to reading some of his work in the last few months and both have raved about him--see comments on the C.S. Harris blog. (I thought Charles Gramlich had a Martin Cruz Smith entry on his blog, too, but after skimming several months of his entries I can't find it. I guess I was confusing his comments during our meetings with blog commentary.)

Anyway, if you haven't yet read Martin Cruz Smith, try one of his books. I recommend you start with Gorky Park. I've decided to re-read some of his books myself, starting with Gorky Park. I love the character of Arkady Renko; I'm a sucker for a noble hero who fights against overwhelming odds. C.S. Harris' one-sentence analysis of his character in her blog entry (see link above) is spot-on:
[O]ne of the most fascinating aspects of Arkady’s character is that as much as he hates totalitarianism and bureaucracy and coercion, he genuinely believes in all that is good and noble about the pure communist philosophy.

I Googled Martin Cruz Smith and came up with some items of interest. Apparently he's not a cyber-wise author--the only "official website" for him is an amateurish and out-of-date page on However, I found other pieces of interest:

Here are other interviews of him:
He's one of America's best living writers, in my opinion.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Back on the Blog

Egads. It's June 1, and almost a month since I last posted here. My apologies for the extended absence (if there is anyone out there still checking this blog). Life got in my way this month. The last two weeks in particular have been awful.

A long-time coworker committed suicide at his office in the place where I work. I didn't work directly with him, and wasn't close to him, but had known him for many years. He had a wife to whom he'd been married for 30-plus years, and five living children. It is a great tragedy, not only for the obvious reasons but also for others not so obvious.

Apart from that, in another sort of tragedy, I learned that someone I care about is addicted to a powerful substance. That addiction explains certain behaviors in the person I didn't previously understand, but it also presents a fearful picture for the future. I alternate between worrying obsessively over what will happen in this person's life, and then trying not to think about the situation at all. I know addictions can't be overcome unless the addicts are willing to work and suffer to resist whatever it is they're addicted to. I feel helpless.

The nascent worry lines in my forehead now are permanently engraved.

But it is June 1, and that is another month and, to me, June 1 has always represented the start of another season--Summer Vacation from when I was a child in school--and I have always loved the idea of a Fresh Start. I will enter the Summer Season with hope that by its end the things that worry me will have been alleviated, or even cured.

Oops. I just remembered that today is the official start of Hurricane Season...

I will be a positive thinker: No disastrous hurricanes will strike this year. New Orleans will not be hit.