Sunday, May 25, 2014

Some Happy News!

I think I will be forever awkward about announcing such things, but I am really happy that Portrait of a Girl Running received a finalist award in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards! I don’t know if it will have an impact on anything like sales or popularity, but I do get a Finalist Certificate, a medal, some gold award stickers, and my book will be listed as a Finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards catalog which will be distributed at Book Expo America in New York this week. I won't be attending the awards ceremony in NYC, but I am grateful for the recognition.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

From Concept to Cover: Blind Stitches Update

It takes me a long time to design a book cover (probably one of the reasons I don’t do it for hire). I usually have an idea or concept in mind, and as soon as I compile the basics, I can’t wait to share, like here, on my blog. I also assign it as my computer desktop background so I can stare at it for a long time, or glance at it quickly and regularly. That way I determine its strengths and weaknesses, both in content and compositionally. The result of my last, weeks-long staring episode is significant—and really a no-brainer. The sheer cloth of the initial layout lacked interest and a human element, which I think is important when there’s an underlying love story. But it’s more than a love story, it’s a psychological drama set against an absurd backdrop.

Blind Stitches is about a ‘vicariously-delusional’* blind artist and a seamstress, and the painting of a dress that brings them together in a suspenseful tale of twisted family dynamics.

In this version of the cover, I think the painting makes all the difference. My artist husband  rendered it in the same Impressionist style that Nikolai—the purportedly blind artist—painted his sister’s wedding dress, designed after his delusional mother’s ballerina costume and modeled by … well, I don’t want to give it all away. Let’s just say it’s all rather twisted.

*Yes, I made up that term; you won’t find it in any psychology textbook.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cats vs Chickens

Who hasn’t heard of the expression Cat Lady, and usually in conjunction with crazy? Maybe you personally know a Crazy Cat Lady. The fact of the matter is, especially with all the cute kitty pictures popping up all over the place on the internet, Cat Lady has become so cliché. The concept of accumulating—or hording—pets, though, is still quirky, to say the least and makes for an interesting character embellishment.

In Blind Stitches, one of the characters—Aunt Anita—is a hoarder and a collector of not only things but pets, originally cats. Then I got talking with a friend, and in conversation about his upbringing on a farm, he divulged something so odd and amusing I just knew I needed to include it in a story. Chickens. They raised chickens and also had a few as pets—yes, chickens make fine pets and they can even be house-trained, although my friend and his 5 brothers never brought them in the house. What I found so amusing, in a twisted sort of way, was that when the chickens died—the pet chickens, not the ones destined for the pot after they no longer laid eggs—they ‘planted’ the chicken in the ‘chicken cemetery’ with their feet sticking up out of the ground like branches reaching for the sky. I have to say, I was at first stunned and then couldn’t stop laughing at the visual it conjured. And they would tag the feet, hanging little signs on the talons with the chicken’s name. Perfect!

Personally, I’ve never come across a Chicken Lady—I’m sure there are a few out there, but that designation is by no means cliché! And what’s even better is that chickens fit perfectly into the Blind Stitches storyline and help define not only the oddball Aunt, but the enigmatic young Romeo who has Asperger’s, and yes, he even knows how to house-train chicks! The free range chickens also emphasizes the stigma that poor Juliet has been trying to shed since she was a child, given that the three live on the fringes of an elite little New England town.

Oh, and I have one more bit of news—my husband, Todd, is currently working on an oil painting of a ballerina dress for my cover, in a style along the lines of which Nikolai would paint--sort of Impressionistic. The cover concept remains the same as I last posted, but it will provide a better nuance for the genre, which will likely fall into the Romantic Suspense. Or, hmm … maybe Dark Humor—is that a genre? or Quirky Psychological. Hmm ....