Cheers!

Charcoal-grilled lamb and asparagus are accompanied by German-style potato salad in our Smoking Garden. The gin-and-tonic beside me belongs to the photographer. I’m sticking to beer. These really are some of the best days of summer. (Photo by Rachel Williams)

 

Uncovering alternative takes on real history

Textbook versions of history gloss over a lot of details, especially when it comes to the lives of common people rather than the powerful and rich. The biographies of great figures add to that top-down perspective.

One of the things I love about genealogy, especially in nonconformist traditions or ethnic subcultures, is the way it opens alternative understandings of the hopes, dreams, and struggles of life outside of the spotlight.

I look for it in fiction, too, as well as poetry.

My own novel What’s Left springs from that kind of investigation from a Greek-American experience. My new The Secret Side of Jaya adds three other takes from the agricultural prairie, the Ozarks, and finally Native American strands.

Maybe histories aren’t always told by the victors. Not if you look closer or take a longer timespan.

Maybe this is backwards, but the cover can change the story

This self-publishing field means an author is typically deeply involved in all parts of the project rather than just the writing itself.

In my Smashwords releases, I initially hired a book designer to do the covers, but my current releases have all been created by me. (Someday, I really would like to have an artist design the front, but for now, I’m sticking to photos or existing stock artwork. We’re on a strict budget.)

Still, finding an appropriate image can be a challenge.

Has anyone else had this experience? You come across a picture that clicks and select it – and then you go back into your manuscript to make the visual fit better with the text?

For me, that happened with the portrait I settled on for Promise – the model gave me a clearer vision of my character Jaya. (That novel’s now part of Nearly Canaan.)

More recently, with Yoga Bootcamp, the handstand dog reminded me to keep the story lighthearted and humorous in my final revision. Did my decision to nickname the swami Big Pumpkin and Elvis come after the pooch was on board? I don’t recall now, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

Do tell me about your favorite book cover. Does it influence how you see the story? If you’re a writer, has the art on your book led to revisions?

~*~

By the way, I do hate it when the character on the cover is shown, say, as a blonde but is described in the story as a brunette. That sort of thing.

And don’t forget: You better be good to toads!

Feel like quitting?

Got the day after Labor Day blues? Think of a job or school or volunteer post. Whatever. If you need an excuse, you can always tell them something like this.

  1. I’m tired.
  2. Won Megabucks.
  3. Am about to be beamed up, out of here.
  4. Got a better offer.
  5. Have had enough B.S.
  6. Don’t like the public I’m dealing with or my coworkers or the setting or my surroundings.
  7. Don’t agree with policy.
  8. Can’t live with the dress code.
  9. Just don’t care.
  10. It’s too expensive compared to the pay.

~*~

And here I am, retired.

What would you add as an excuse?