Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bill Paxton 1955-2017

Bill Paxton died. Shit. He was supposed to be immortal. "Near Dark" was the first movie I saw him in, and this bar scene is a classic of terror. While Adrian Pasdar was prettier, in this movie, Bill scorched the screen.

Shit.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I guess this is it...

This is the best cover I can come up with, at the moment, and I like it but I'm not in love with it. The covers for OT, RIHC6 and PM felt right the second I had them done. My other books, the covers were okay...and that's how I'm feeling about this one....which is not how I thought I'd feel.

 I love the artwork Zan did...but I don't think I really worked it out in my head as to how it would come together, and so I'm only satisfied with the final result, not enamored.

It's got Daniel and his shower curtain and shirt, with the pistol and the money. It's got Ace brooding over his left shoulder in a near perfect rendition of the character. It's got a guy who can be seen as both Tad and Van over Daniel's right shoulder. It's got the lodge in the background. It's got the snow storm. And their expressions are pretty dead on.

But does it draw you into the story? Does it make you want to read the book? That is what a cover's supposed to do...and I don't know if it does. I tried adding a laptop in front of the window but that felt cluttered and obvious. I tried adding keys around the edges of the art, but that was even worse. I even tried adding the reflections of characters in the window, but that just made things murky.

Thing is, I don't know what else I could have done to exemplify what The Lyons' Den's about. It's completely chaotic and off-the wall...and how to you put that into a cover? Can you put that into a cover?

This is why I'm bad when it comes to advertising -- no idea what sells or how to sell, even after reading up like crazy on it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Closer...

I worked a bit more on the cover and it's closer to what I wanted. I think I was being too optimistic in thinking the art, alone, would sell the book. It's good, but LD is a wild, off-the-wall story and needs more on the cover to reflect that. Here's another possibility...

I'm thinking of putting the three guys on the other side of a window and grabbing some faces off the web to mess with then put their reflections in the glass. I've gotten a little feedback off Facebook friends and followers, so we'll see how it goes. If I want to release this anytime soon, I need to upload a cover to Smashwords on Saturday. I forgot they have lead-time before making the book available in an ebook.

I may do a place-holder cover, to get it going, and change it later. I've received compliments on the artwork; I just need to figure out how best to use it. Floating, translucent keys with faces in them? A different tag line? A writer trying to write...what could go wrong?

Or...maybe my whole concept is wrong and I need to figure something else out...which would really suck, because I paid for this art, and the artist is expecting to be the cover.

And dammit, I just plain like it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Here we go...

I got the artwork and now have worked up a first pass on the cover. I would love to get some feedback on it...because it's not doing it for me...

Mainly because I feel like I'm doing something wrong with it. I like the art, and ZanVarin did exactly what I asked him to...but something feels incomplete. Like I'm missing a step, someplace, or a detail and it's screaming at me but I can't figure it out.

The artwork gives you a fair idea of what the story's about, but is it too big? Should I frame it smaller? Put it on the other side of a window? Get rid of the frame and bleed it off the edges?

The more I look at this mock up, the more I think I've arranged it wrong. The title is cute but not very easy to read. And the tag line at the bottom blends in too much. It's like it needs more black space...room to breathe...

I have to think about this. I don't want to negate the off-beat aspects of the artwork. But I need to do it just right so the cover doesn't come across as amateurish.

Ideas are very much welcome.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

More waiting...

I was expecting to get the completed artwork for the cover of The Lyons' Den, today, but the artist begged for a couple more days. What'm I gonna say? "No, I want it now," and get something incomplete or half-assed? I know how hard art can be. Sometimes it just happens and sometimes it takes a while. So long as I have it by this weekend, I'm fine.

I've set LD up to publish as an e-book on March 1st and just need the cover image to make it complete. Then I'll pull the paperback together and have that going within the next week. It helps that the book had already been published, once, so I've got everything in order, already. The price is set at $10.99 for the paperback and $1.99 for the ebook.

I'm also trying to think up a good idea for the cover of The Alice '65. I'm starting early in the process so I can make it happen better. And maybe cheaper. I dunno...Zan's a great artist but I don't think he'd be right for that book. My first thought is -- upper body of Adam in the suit he wears to the premier, holding a copy of the book, his glasses and hair askew and tie undone, Casey's head propped up on his right shoulder, smiling, her eyes turned to him, with Gertrude, the black panther, nuzzling him on his left side.

I need to get back onto that book. Soon as I finish this beta read, which is going very slowly, I will. I'm 1/3 of the way through it and now know the main issue to contend with is the writer having two separate novels slammed into one -- a fantasy about a teenage girl whisked away to another world where she is destined for greatness, and the drama her grieving father and brothers are going through back home. First goal is to break those apart...and dispense with a sub-plot where the whole story is being told by an observer to his son.

Fortunately, that is one problem I've avoided in all my books...so far.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Unconscious serendipity...

I'm Beta-reading a book for a fellow author, since she was kind enough to do it for me on OT, and I don't like it. The story doesn't get started until page 72; everything prior to that is unnecessary...and repetitive to the extreme. It's a sci-fi/fantasy work, as well, and while I can enjoy that genre, it's not my favorite. Plus, I know she wrote it and edited it very, very quickly.

So...it got me to wondering about The Vanishing of Owen Taylor and whether or not that's what I've done in the story. I had one Beta reader suggest starting the story when Jake arrives in Palm Springs and fill the rest in as he goes along, and I did try it...but I wound up keeping the lead-in with Jake meeting his stepmother in Paris. I think I got the set-up going good by the end of the first chapter, and that meeting and some things the woman said to him keep resonating throughout the story.

Still...I went back and reread some of it, just to see how it went. Make sure I wasn't deluding myself. And discovered I'd done a complete circle back to the beginning of the story. Not just referencing the meeting in Paris, but also referencing when Jake kneels before Tone and all but begs him to be honest with him. At the end, it's Tone kneeling before Jake and saving him from crashing into total despair...by being completely open and honest with him.

I didn't overtly plan that. Didn't even see it till today. And, son-of-a-bitch, it makes me fucking proud of what I wrote. But I don't consider this just an ego boost; to me, it's affirmation that I'm doing right by my stories. And will continue to do so.

And that's the problem I'm having with this book. I mean, I'll finish it and give her my notes, and hope they aren't too brutal. I'm not even considering talking about her style, and have only noticed a couple of typos, so those comments will be minimal. But it is viciously obvious to me that she's not listening to the characters. She's not letting the story flow through her. She's telling it what to do and it's fighting her...and I don't think she can see that. To be honest, I don't know if she ever will see that. And since these are not my characters, I can't force the issue. But it's sad to see them in turmoil.

And if that doesn't make you think I'm totally and completely off my rocker, nothing will.

Friday, February 17, 2017

One of those weeks...

Nothing has gone the way I wanted, this week. I'd hoped to have a new draft of A65 done to print out and red pen, but work interfered, massively. The California Book Fair kept me in the office till 7 and 8 pm, the first three days of the week, by which time I was starving so stuffed myself and felt bloated and irritable when I went to bed...and it's absurd.

I'm also faced with being told I'm doing things wrong at least twice a day, sometimes even though it's how I've been told to do them by one supervisor who didn't bother telling the other supervisor. Great confidence builder, that...as if I needed it. I actually got so down, I considered quitting...but I can't. Not unless somebody's got $36,000 to lend me so I can get out of debt.

I also didn't get my phone back from Sprint till yesterday...and that took over an hour to settle because the clerk couldn't get the phone to connect to my account, or something. Also not a great builder of confidence. And while my info was saved on the cloud, I had to completely reinstall the apps I'd had on the old one -- Google Maps, Twitter, GMail, Messenger, etc. -- and log back into things like email and itunes and stuff.

So last night I splurged on Chili's ribs and a salad...and a half hour meal took over an hour thanks to crap service, capped by them not having Amstel Light or Corona when I really wanted one, but really pushing Bud Light, so I'm drinking Dr. Pepper and munching on chips...and I'm close to walking out.

Short story part of this -- I'm in a foul mood and that makes everything worse than it probably really is. Tonight, I came straight home at 5 and just vegetated. I did get another update on the artwork for LD, and it's looking good...so that makes me happy. And I have a couple more ideas for A65. And was smart enough to stay away from it, because when I've got this kind of mood on, anything I write will be crap and that will just feed my sense of inadequacy.

So I'm sleeping in, tomorrow, and don't care that it's self-indulgent.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Cover progression for LD...

Wow...the cover for LD has gone from this...
...to this, both done by me...
 ...to this, which called for minimal changes...
...to this...

and this weekend, I should have the final result.

I feel good about it and have already roughed up a layout for the artwork to fit into. Looks like I'll make my March 1st deadline and get at least the e-book out there.

Coolness...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"The Alice '65"

Rockin' right along. I now have 56,320 words, 221 pages, and am up to page 92 on a re-rewrite. Casey and Adam are working well in third person, though I'm still not totally pleased with the style. It will not stop feeling lightweight. But...it's getting better. I hope.

Adam and Casey, both, are deepening their stories -- Adam in his sense of otherness within his own family and Casey in her conflicted emotions about her father's misuse of her and her career. I'm still working with them on these aspects, because neither one is willing to just tell me everything, yet...so I have no idea where this is going. But I don't care; it's the journey that counts.

I'm reading an interview with Paul Auster, who wrote City of Glass and he said something that hit me --

I can’t imagine anyone becoming a writer who wasn’t a voracious reader as an adolescent. A true reader understands that books are a world unto themselves—and that that world is richer and more interesting than any one we’ve traveled in before. I think that’s what turns young men and women into writers—the happiness you discover living in books.

That practically describes me...and Adam, actually. I began writing in high school. Really bad stories that were derivatives of much better books, then concentrated on art while also doing comics for my family and friends. I don't think I finished any of them...but I did try all kinds of layouts and designs. Then I shifted to full-on art...and then film...and then back to writing...full circle.

Adam's not a writer, but I get the sense he may be thinking of being one. I don't know, yet; he hasn't shared with me. But he talks about reading anything and everything and has a career that keeps him in contact with books, as if to give himself time to decide. 

Maybe that's what I was doing, too...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Not the best ever...

I just watched a new version of The Witness For the Prosecution made by the BBC in 2016...and it's nothing like the play or movie adaptations. Apparently they went back to the original story and then completely re-imagined it into a 21st Century morality...or lack thereof...in ways that diminished it.

Setting it a few years after the end of WWI, the focus of the story is on John Mahew, the solicitor who's more of an ambulance chaser, lost his only son in the war and has a troubled marriage. Leonard Vole has been arrested for the murder of wealthy Emily French, and his only alibi is his Austrian wife...which doesn't count for much, until it turns out she's not really his wife. And winds up being called to testify on behalf of the prosecution in his murder trial.

The acting was good, as were the cinematography, sets, and costumes. Very sumptuously produced. But the director had no idea of what he wanted. On far too many occasions, it looked like he shot everything he could think of and then built the film in post. Didn't help that Sara Phelps' script fired like a shotgun instead of a sniper rifle; it was trying to hit every target on the range and wound up missing most.

What I found fascinating was how they made the murder victim a middle-aged predator of young men, like a black widow who lured Leonard into her snare. I dislike the subtle suggestion that it's her own damn fault she got killed. They also made Romaine (who was Christine in the films and play) less in control of herself and added in a hint of lesbianism, a la Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, that was just wrong for the story.

Reality is, this script could have been cut by 20 minutes, easily, and lost nothing. After the lovely job done on the new version of And Then There Were None, this is a real disappointment. And enlightening as to the need for focus, clarity, and above all, awareness as to what you're trying to say.

Not worth a second look.