Tuesday, 27 May 2014

CAN YOU JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER?



Whether we’re talking people or books, the exterior doesn’t reflect the truth of what is inside. Choices like shopping for a pair of shoes, or your opinion of the film you saw last week, have a large element of subjectivity. So when I look at book covers my own preferences naturally come into play. Choosing a cover for my book, The Unforgiveness of Blood, is the next step in my writing journey - and one that makes me excited and nervous as we’ve all been in situations where we have to make a choice, and a lot rides on that decision.

Graphic artists and those who design book covers for a living do a brilliant job of bringing to life an image which captures something of the essence of the story, and matching a writer’s vision can’t be easy – we writers are a fussy lot when it comes to book covers. And there is a great deal more involved than using Photoshop and finding a jazzy font.

                                                                          


However, when I’m choosing a novel, I’ll be honest – and I’m a visual person – the cover has no influence at all. Sure, I’d notice if it was amateurish, but I search first for genre, and if I’m into a particular author and notice one of their books on the shelf, I’ll pick up that one. Next I check out the blurb, but I always read the first page before deciding. 


Yes, I do glance at the cover but that is the packaging not the product, and it’s only since I decided to go the indie publishing route that I’ve given more attention to what is current in terms of design and layout. What I’ve found after several months of cruising the tables and shelves of my local bookshops, is endless variety (and genius) and no one common feature that says this will make your book sell.  
    
                                                                              
                                                                   
In any case, I’d like to share some of the points I’ve picked up in my research. To start with, fonts should be legible - which translates as not too fancy, or squiggly, and not too squished together as you have to factor in the thumbnail appearance. A log line isn't obligatory but can tempt readers. You can are even find fonts which are genre specific!

The cover artwork shouldn’t try to convey every nuance of your protagonist’s journey by cluttering up the space with a dozen images as this takes an artist longer to create – another aspect to consider when deciding your publishing date.  

                                                                                                         
                                                                
One piece of advice I read was, when in doubt, go for a more simple cover. Being something of a minimalist, as you’ve probably guessed by the covers I chose for this post, I love clean clear-cut designs. I’m a fan of Ansel Adams’ photography, and although I’ve not done much black and white photography for a while, I’m still drawn to the simplicity of such stark contrast. As far as book covers go, contrast is good and images with light and darker areas are effective.

There are millions of brilliant cover designs, but most people I know don’t buy a book because they love the cover. Yes, first impressions do count up to a point, and you want your cover to be professional because everything contributes towards attracting  readers, but ultimately it’s the story – what’s inside that cover – that will make people enjoy your book.

Writing Update                          

After a few days of winding down and dawdling through the pre-beta reader tweaks, I sent The Unforgiveness of Blood off to my beta readers. By the end of the week, feeling lost without the routine of working on my WIP, (the spare room still holding no attraction - occasionally I think I’ll hire a skip and just throw everything in) I've picked up and am  continuing with my nano 2012 edit. Now I have something to focus on while I wait for feedback - as well as mulling over my choices of cover design!

Today’s Haiku
QUESTION
how many veils of
deceit linger in mists of
hazy mental dust

Useful Links:
Derek Murphy’s blog is a master class for anyone thinking of going the indie route when it comes to designing covers:
This blog has a variety of designs and will open your eyes to the elements of cover design composition.
http://theinspirationblog.net/showcases/empty-space-40-stunning-minimalistic-book-covers/

I’d love it if you popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories...just click on the links to the right.

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku  

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.



Tuesday, 13 May 2014

SIMPLY GETTING ORGANIZED



Holding an entire novel of however many thousands of words in your head is quite a feat, and having your novel laid out in front of you in small bite sized pieces is an excellent way to spot weaknesses in plot lines and structure.

For instance if you’ve ever lost track of which characters did what, where and when, or if you’re reading through that last intensive edit you slaved over, and you notice your main character has a meeting in one chapter and in the following one happens to leave for the same meeting, then making use of index cards is a simple solution which enables you to look over your story in a clear-cut manner. 

You can summarize one chapter per card, noting what events take place and where. This enables you to move the cards and play around noticing if some chapters work better either earlier or later than your current order. Or cut chapters/events – if that is what is needed.

If your novel is multi-stranded, have a different colour card for each strand; when laid out in columns it’s easy to perceive how the rising action/climax/falling action/conclusion arcs complement each other. If you have chapters containing flashbacks, using another colour for those chapters shows you at a glance if the balance between current action and recall of past events is a good one. 

However, another way to benefit from these handy little bits of card is for scene assessments. Choose a chapter that has several scenes, and using one card per scene, write the outline of the action that takes place. 
For example:

Immediate and extended family gather together for wealthy grandfather’s eightieth birthday at family mansion.
Younger children are playing outside in the garden, one climbs a tree, falls and breaks a leg.
Old rifts resurface as an argument breaks out between adults as to who is at fault (main action).
Upset parents go with child to hospital in ambulance.

After you’ve written out your cards in this way, check each scene has a definite beginning and end point plus a mini-arc of rising and falling action. You can also move scenes around to see if placing them in an alternate order moves the story forward more smoothly. Transitions between scenes, as well as the rhythm of action scenes contrasting with quieter ones become clearer.

I don’t work with Scrivener or any of the other excellent writing programs available, because I haven’t found the time to explore how they work, but I imagine they must eliminate most of the above problems. In the meantime, index cards as an organizational tool are a great aid to visualizing your story, are cheap, available at all stationery shops, and don’t need any instructions or practice!

Writing Update

I’m making good progress adding research details and working through the second edit of The Unforgiveness of Blood©, and I hope to finish by the 25th May as I’m managing two chapters a day...so fingers crossed! One aspect I’m paying attention to is making sure my protagonist’s internal conflict doesn’t disappear amongst the multitude of swarming supernaturals that constitute the external conflict (okay, I’ve used a little artistic licence in the latter half of that sentence).

Part of my brain is meditating on a cover, for both the current WIP and for An Unstill Life©.  You can find great covers over on Wattpad, so more research coming up in that direction. And I’m getting flashes of ideas for the second book in my supernatural trilogy, and keep having to run and scribble them down before they fly off into the ether. I have to admit, that even if no-one ever buys a single copy, I'm enjoying myself.

Today’s Haiku
conversation ebbs
and flows, threatens to drown me -
I breathe deep and wait

Useful links:
A detailed look at using index cards from The Writer’s Digest.
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/create-structure-in-your-fiction-using-index-cards

I’d love it if you popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories...just click on the titles to the right.

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku  
Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL



 



I’ve seen other bloggers receive this nomination, and wondered with moon eyes and downturned mouth, when my turn would come?  Well, days, weeks and months have passed, and at last, I’ve been Liebstered!

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have a following of between 200 and 3000 – depending on which resource you read. You can, if you want accept the award as an honorary one if you don’t wish to pass it on, but I’m happy to accept and pass the baton on to other bloggers.

Here are the Liebster Award rules:

Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
Thank you, Lora Hughes for kindly nominating me for this long desired award. Check out Lora’s brilliant blog, The Writing Closet at: http://lorahughes.blogspot.co.uk/

Answer the questions posed.
Here are Nora’s thoughtful, intriguing questions:

1.  What is the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten?
This question poses no challenge – it was an absolutely delicious peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake bought at a cafe in a small town when I visited a friend who lives so far away I’ve not revisited – despite the lingering memory of that cheesecake!

2.  Do you need contact with people in order for you to create?
No, I don’t. Am I inspired by life? Yes, but I believe everything and everyone I’ve ever seen, read, heard or experienced in any way influences my writing. Meeting other writers, whether online or in person, and reading books and blogs about the writing process makes me want to start writing straight away, but I believe my creativity and inspiration comes from within myself. 

3.  Does (your) despair have its place in (your) happiness? 
Whew, this is a difficult question, Nora. Is any emotion we experience pure or somewhere on a spectrum? Like every other human being on the planet, I experience a range of emotions every day, and sometimes I’m up and sometimes I’m down. So in that sense, I guess you could say my despair has a place in my happiness, but I focus on the full half of my glass – I have so much to be grateful for (like not living in a war zone, having running water and electricity, and being born in a country that provides a free education) that I do my best to not dwell on the things I don’t have. I comfort myself with the knowledge that there’s always someone better off...and someone worse off than me, and in the long run, although everything is real – it is temporary.

4.  Give me a link to a recording of your favourite piece of music.
I’m not particularly musical, but like anything with a good beat – and I loved all the versions of this theme song to The Wire, although the first is my favourite, because some music just resonates more than others.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR9_wbTrInI

5.  Talk about the relation between mental health (good or bad) and the creative act.
Oh dear, another question which is really making me think and which I don’t feel qualified in any way to answer although I’ll give it a go! On the one hand, being creative when experiencing say, exhaustion, may be impossible, yet on the other hand, being creative puts you in touch with a deep inner part of yourself, it’s uplifting, renewing, and is often recommended as therapy for mental illness. New Zealand writer Janet Frome, who spent eight years in a mental asylum, said 'Writing is a boon, analgesic, and so on. I think it's all that matters to me. I dread emerging from it each day.' 

6.  Recommend something for me to read that you haven’t written.
Chronicle in Stone by Ismail Kadare – a book to enjoy as a reader and learn from as a writer.

7.  Give me a link to something that you have written.
This is a short story I posted on Wattpad about a relationship break-up and the aftermath.

8.  Is there a moment you can remember when something happened or you had some thought that changed things for you?  If so, tell that story.  If not, what could have changed everything?
There’s at least half a dozen moments when something did happen which changed things for me, but those stories are not for telling here...and the list of things which could have changed everything is a long one – I might even write a novel about it one day!

9.  What is THE most amazing thing about human beings?
Their potential.

10.  Write a summary of how you see yourself.
A writer following my dreams.

Choose a number of bloggers to nominate.
Again depending on your research - this varies – the number you can choose is between three and ten. I’m nominating four bloggers, which seems a small number, but somebody pipped me and nominated several bloggers I had in mind – and almost everybody else I know has already been Liebered!
But here are four fabulous bloggers whose sites are well worth a visit.

Christine Campbell is one of those people I’m happy to have met since starting my own blog. She’s a positive, upbeat person who makes you realize that the beauty of life is happening all around you – and you should stop and appreciate it! Christine has a new book Flying Free just released – so check out her blog at: http://cicampbellblog.wordpress.com/

Anita Dawes offers support to other writers, posts great photos, and is a generous soul who is running a fundraiser for the Merlin Charity which works to deliver medical expertise to the toughest places in the world. Buy her short story White Roses and all proceeds go to the charity. Find out about Anita at her blog: anitajaydawes.blogspot.com

Jan Baynham is, like me, on a writing journey which she documents on her blog. Jan’s cheerful posts reveal her enthusiasm, determination and enjoyment of the writing process. Check out Jan’s blog at: http://janbaynham.blogspot.co.uk

Lisa Reiter is an inspiring lady who writes a lively blog where she posts some of her writing, yummy healthy recipes and talks about a number of topics including her survival of cancer. http://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com

Make up more questions for your nominees to answer.
Here are my questions and I look forward to reading the nominees’ answers:
1.      What is your earliest childhood memory?
2.      What was the first story/poem you ever wrote?
3.      Post a link to your favourite poem.
4.      Who do you admire, in terms of style, as a writer?
5.      What is your current writing goal?
6.      Who is your celebrity crush?
7.      Post a link to your favourite painting.
8.      What do you think is your biggest obstacle to achieving your goals?
9.      What wish is at the top of your bucket list?
10. Post a link to your most popular post.

This has been fun, and a change from my usual blog topic – so thank you again, Lora!

Writing Update
The read through of The Unforgiveness of Blood©  is finished and I’ve settled on a title that connects to the vampires in the tale. To be honest there’s not a whole lot of fang action, and what there is focuses on my moody heroine, as the novel is more action-adventure/romance oriented. Some pages of the manuscript have only a few marks, but others look like I’ve thrown the inkpot at them. My intention is to work hard so that the additions, corrections and decorations are finished, and the book is ready for beta readers by the end of May. The goal is still to publish in July! (Or August...)

Today’s Haiku
FLIRTING
he likes her curves so
has problems meeting her eye –
she takes advantage

Useful links:
This link is to an informative post on the history of the Liebster award:
One of the most helpful posts on the Liebster Award I came across:
http://wordingwell.com/the-liebster-award-the-official-rules-my-first-blog-award-and-a-few-personal-secrets-revealed/
And here are the links to my nominees – all in one place!
http://lorahughes.blogspot.co.uk/

I’d love it if you popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories...just click on the links to the left.

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku 

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

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Apart from writing, I'm compiling a bucket list of places I'd like to  visit...from Iceland to Hawaii and onwards....
         

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