Now, one more new book cover

At a recent online writers’ conference, I was convinced to bite the bullet and release my novels at goliath Amazon in addition to the alternative ebook retailers where they’re already available. As I began pondering the new hurdles and strategies, I looked at Hometown News as a first offering.

A few years ago I had replaced the original cover, which sought to convey a sense of an idyllic small town where children could grow up safely, at least at the onset, with another of more urgency, reflecting the broader sense of the ultimately dystopian novel.

The new photographic image, though, was problematic.

The flames coming out of the residential window had the emotional message I wanted to convey, but they kept eating up the title and author credit, no matter which color I tried.

So I came up with this, trying to employ a trendy design element:

Returning to it now, though, I still felt an unease. The solution, in the end, was to make the artwork a bit smaller to give it more impact. Got that? It doesn’t make sense, but here’s how I’ve gone:

By the way, it’s now also available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon, as well as at Smashwords and affiliated ebook retailers.

What’s your take on the new design?

Deep in the throes of fiction

I was in the midst of revising what’s now Nearly Canaan and found myself surprised to find myself living vicariously in the minds and hearts of the villains. Well, three of them. (I won’t name them, since they all start out as darlings. Don’t want to spoil your reading.)

Yes, I was even looking for reasons to like them.

Not so, their real-life counterparts.

The villains, eh? Never expected that!

Apparently, Tolstoy never knew about kefi

In my novel What’s Left, Cassia’s clan wasn’t like a typical happy family. Hers was more like a hippie circus extending from the restaurant they jointly owned and operated. Much of their joy sprang from the fact they were different.

Only when tragic events rocked their course did they begin to resemble others around them.

It’s an inversion of Tolstoy’s great opening to Anna Karenina.

Likewise, their road to recovery includes their distinctive application of kefi, a Greek approach to living that defies precise translation. Still, I try in my novel. Cassia’s aunt Pia embodies it.

What would you suggest as a secret to happiness?

When one road’s blocked, try another

Sometimes details advance a story. And sometimes they raise unnecessary hurdles. In my novel What’s Left, what Cassia discovers about her deceased father (her Baba) is much better than this. So I cut it.

Hey, how many 12-year-olds would even know what a biochemist is? Or, for that matter, 16-year-olds, depending on when she’s making the connection? You still get the drift in the final version.

Under a different system of education, he might have become a biochemist or mathematician. He had leanings that way, which were not supported over time. So instead, he became a photographer — a very adept one who leaves behind what I’m finding to be an astonishing archive of social upheaval and redirection.

~*~

Oh, my, she wouldn’t ever say that last sentence, would she? Of course it had to go!

The point of her observation, though, remains pertinent. Many kids are thwarted at key points in their development, not just educationally, either.

What would you say has been a crucial obstacle in your past? How have you coped? Has it changed the direction of your life?

~*~

A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive witch’s hat tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my novel What’s Left. If only this one were pink, like hers.

~*~

 

High on the trail, the view becomes clearer

In my novel What’s Left, what she discovers about her deceased father (her Baba) is much zestier than this passage. So I cut it. You’ll still get the drift in the final version.

As a kid, your Baba figured out he never quite fit in with his surroundings. He thought about things he couldn’t explain to others, though to be fair about it, he rarely caught their signals, either. Deep within himself, he sensed there was much more to life than what was happening around him. I think he wanted the big picture, which is what he must have felt when he was climbing mountains.

~*~

Too many things are trying to happen there, I’m afraid. We can move along better without having to trip over the added baggage. I do like the image of climbing mountains to feel the big picture, though — something I see as recharging his soul.

Where do you turn to recharge yourself? Anyplace special? Music? Dancing? A deep bubble bath? Meditation? Or is it something else altogether?

~*~

I’m also thinking about typical encounters with professional photographers. There were strange, formal portrait sessions when my sister and I were very little. Do families still do that anymore? Then there were the senior portraits in high school or yearbook group shots, which were akin to elementary class pictures earlier. But weddings are the big event for many, the mother lode of the profession.

Tell me about your parents’ wedding pictures. What do they reveal? What do they mask?

Greek-run restaurants are a staple of the American scene. Cassia’s family ran one. This was another, in Lowell, Massachusetts, where her aunt Pia was from.

~*~