Friday, February 27, 2009

The real photographer

All right, I have to fess up. I gave credit in both a recent blog and on the back cover of Getting Lucky to the wrong person. Proper credit is due to Lee Fortier, and the cover is being fixed to reflect that. Apologies to Lee for my senior moment.

Here is the final version of the front cover.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the radio

Yesterday another writer and I were guests on "Exploring New Mexico" on KSNM radio here in Las Cruces, talking about our participation in the upcoming "For the Love of Lit" event this Saturday. They asked questions about When Pigs Fly, so that's nice publicity. The effect of exposure like this is hard to quantify, though. A friend and I were chatting today about the efficacy of advertising, and I think a given ad or appearance may not always be what sells books so much as the cumulative exposure over time. At some point a person may think "Gosh, I keep hearing about that book—maybe I should try it."

Hmm, I wonder if they'd let me link to a podcast of the show? I'll check.

Today iUniverse sent revised cover and interior proofs of Getting Lucky, which I promptly approved. So the production cycle grinds along—oops, I mean it races forward.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Extraordinary Magic of Everyday Life

My friend Dr. Judy Hilbert has just published a new edition of her novel The Extraordinary Magic of Everyday Life through Lulu. I helped her out with layout and proofreading and took the cover photograph, so I have a bias in its favor. But I can honestly say it's a sweet and sensitive short novel about friendship and survival.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Getting Lucky cover

Today iUniverse sent me the proof for Getting Lucky. They have done a good job all in all. The text is packed a bit more tightly than in When Pigs Fly, 187 pages as opposed to 306. That apparently results in a significantly lower list price than WPF, although the $14.95 price is tentative. The pricing is one of the few aspects of book publishing over which iUniverse has the final say.

Their graphic artist did a nice job, although the bloody bullet hole on the four-leaf clover doesn't look as vivid as I had hoped. My wife looked at it and asked why there was dirt on the clover. Some of the problem is monitor resolution, but I've asked iU to have the artist make the blood unmistakable.

Other than that and a few other tweaks, this book looks nearly ready for production.

Buy the way, I purchased the background photo of a Lowell, Massachusetts canal from David Delay, who owns the copyright.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do you eavesdrop?

It seems to me that if you don't eavesdrop on other people's business you can miss out on a lot, especially if you are a writer. Years ago at work I overheard two women talking about shaving their legs. One said to the other, "If I had legs like yours, I'd get a guy to shave them for me."

Then yesterday in a grocery store I saw a man of about 35 walking with one arm gripped tightly around the shoulders of a girl of about 13. As I passed them, I heard this:

Girl: "Why did you hit me?"
Man: "Because you needed to be hit."

As innocent as it could have been, that snippet of conversation disturbed me. There are certainly a lot of blanks a writer's imagination could fill in.

Do you eavesdrop? Do you find it grist for your fiction-writing grindstone?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Old computers in the family

Right: Our XT, sometime in the '80s

It's a peaceful morning here in my son's Austin home, where I currently have the second floor all to myself in a comfy chair by a window. Nancy and Jeff are in separate rooms downstairs, doing separate tasks on their laptops—we seem to be a family of six: three people and three laptops. We—Nancy, Jeff, and I—all enjoy each other's company, but we also enjoy our electronic company. Last night, Nancy and I tried to remember each computer we've ever owned, going back to the 1980s, and we couldn't. We started with a Timex T-1000, on which I taught myself enough BASIC programming to display "Hi Mom" on the TV screen we used as a monitor. There were the Commodore 64, the RadioShack TRS-80 (known irreverently as the Trash 80), and the IBM PC Junior, which was the first computer we could actually do anything productive with. I wrote my first freelance articles and my first novel on it. There was a plug-in cartridge with Lotus 1-2-3 that Nancy used to manage our finances.

We've had various XTs, at least one 386, a bottom-of-the-line Pentium 60, and...and...we lost track of them all. As we lay in bed the night of Valentine's Day I reminded her of the monitor we once had that caught fire when we plugged it in. After all this romantic pillow talk we fell asleep, visions of gigabytes dancing in our heads.

Gasp! My "family of six" reference neglects our two cats, who didn't come along on this trip. I apologize to both of you, George and Gracie. You mean more to us than any electronic gizmo.

By the way, this morning I uploaded the February issue of The Internet Review of Books. If you love good books, you will love this website. Please check it out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Books both written and read

Ach! I never meant for a week to pass between blog posts. 

Two major projects are in the works for me—launching Getting Lucky and applying for iUniverse’s Star program for When Pigs Fly. This week iUniverse told me that GL is about two weeks away from getting a cover design.  The Star designation for WPF requires me to fill out forms showing that I have a decent plan to market it.

Meanwhile, back on my Kindle, I just finished re-reading Huckleberry Finn, enjoying it less the second time around. Just about the time I was royally tired of the tale, young Huck busted out for the Territories to keep from gettin’ sivilized by Tom Sawyer’s aunt, and the story ended. It is now official: I have read the n-word enough to last me a lifetime.

Next up was The Great Gatsby, a beautifully written novel about a bunch of people who struck me as self-obsessed and worthless—not a character in the tale was someone I would have crossed the street to meet.

Now for a change of pace I’m reading Kill for Me by Karen Rose. So far it strikes me as so-so writing—not bad, not great—but by God, it is one fast-paced novel. Don’t even think about character development; by the time a character is developed, he’s dead. Fifty pages in, so many people are getting shot to pieces and left for dead, I fear for the whole state of Georgia by the end of 400 pages. I can almost picture the author hyperventilating as she writes.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Good downloads from Gutenberg

Tonight I downloaded Franklin's AutobiographyDavid Copperfield, and Mathematical Amusements from Gutenberg onto my Kindle. Then I took one look at the last one, laughed at my foolishness, and deleted it so my brain wouldn't explode. That's a book from the 19th century by the Englishman Dudeney. Fuggedaboutit, as my Joisey brother would say.

The first two won't harm my brain, though; I know because I've read them before.

Even if you don't have a Kindle, do check out Project Gutenberg, where you can find lots of free (if often dated) reading material you can read on your monitor or print out.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Love potion #9

On the first Saturday of every month, I chair the general meeting of Mesilla Valley Writers here in Las Cruces. For February 7, I've promised a Valentine's Day writing exercise. Members usually write for 20 minutes and then read aloud to the group. 

Here's what I have in mind:
A young man has a date with a young woman, but he is afraid to profess his love to her. So he purchases a potion on the Internet that is "guaranteed" to make her fall in love with him. Show us what happens on that date. Does the love potion live up to its promise?
What do you think? Can you suggest any ways to improve this exercise?