The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Happy Mother's Day (Early)

          If you're interested in reading what I was like as a kid, check out my story in the May issue of Sasee. I was a wild child for most of my teenaged years. Luckily, my parents didn't give up on me (and give me away). "The Blessings of Being Chosen" pays homage to my mother.

       Also, Cathy C. Hall has a story there in Sasee as well. It's a sweet story. It's a story that most girls can identify with, and what happens in the last quarter of the story is what many girls would hope for. 

       And if there is a Listen to Your Mother show in your hometown/city, it's probably this Saturday. I would highly recommend it. I will be in the audience at the St. Louis show on Saturday afternoon. Our school librarian, Dr. Jenny Gray, is one of the performers. She came last year, heard me perform, and with just a tad of encouragement, submitted, auditioned and was accepted for this year's show. I'm really excited for her. She's had a blast (just like I knew she would).

This is a picture of my birth mother (Imogene) and my half-sister.
Note Imogene's forehead that goes on for miles and miles.
Sometimes DNA plays cruel jokes on us...

This is a picture of my mom. She was a stay-at-home mother
for most of my years growing up. My brother and I had stuff like homemade frosting smeared
onto graham crackers as an after school snack. Is it any wonder I now have a butt
as wide as a semi-tractor trailer truck?

               If you're lucky enough to have your mother still with you, have a great day on Sunday. And if you're like me---and you've lost your mother---fill your day with the family you do have. (I'll be traveling to Kirksville with my daughter and granddaughter to see my son. It's going to be a full, fun-filled day.)

            And if you want to have a good cry, if you want to be moved, if you want to read a poignant piece so you can be transported to a time in your past, read Lisa Ricard Claro's story about her mother. I didn't plan on tears welling up at five something in the morning, but Lisa took me there.

            What is one of your most favorite "mom" memories? And if you weren't close to your mom, how about a wonderful grandma memory?

Monday, May 4, 2015

What's Important in a Cover?

        On May 2, Catherine Rankovic spoke to the St. Louis Writers Guild. Her topic? Book covers.

      Here are some informational tidbits she shared during her talk:

  • The title should be in the top third of the book cover. Second in importance is the image that will capture readers' eyes. Third in ranking is the author's name. According to Rankovic, the author should be humble and thrilled that their name is on a book, so it should be much smaller than the title. (Unless, of course, you're James-freakin' Patterson or Stephen King. If that's the case, emblazon away in four-inch high lettering.)
  • The title should be able to be read from 12 feet away, and because it's the Amazon era, your book cover should still be distinct and recognizable when it's shrunk to thumbnail-size. Script typefaces should not be used in the title, and serif typefaces (as opposed to sans serif) increase the readability. (I didn't know those little "tails" on letters made the text easier to read. Did you?)
  • There are colors to avoid when considering a background color for the cover: purple, gray, blue-green, babypoop yellow, along with any other color that is the same hue as a bodily fluid. (And for years I've been dreaming of my book cover being the color of bile! Maybe she's wrong...)
  •  Leave your face off the cover. Leave yours and your relatives' artwork off the cover. Leave any ambiguous image off the cover. If a prospective reader has to study the cover to figure out what the image is (What is that?), that tends to turn people off.
  • Effective cover designs make clear what the book is about and stirs up feelings.

            Here are some covers I think work, based on what Rankovic said on Saturday:

Of course, if we were as popular and prolific as
George R. R. Martin, our name would take top billing.
The text is easy to read, it has the notation "#1 New York
Times Bestselling Author," and the image is easy to understand.
This ain't no contemporary tale, and cool-looking swords are involved...

Martin's best book, in my opinion, is Fevre Dream. It's spectacular!

This cover works--for me--because the title is in the upper third/half (which
is prime real estate as far as book covers), the text is easy to read, and the image
makes it clear--this is not a contemporary novel, and it has to do something
with African American maids in the 1940's or 50's...The "teaser" above the title
intrigues me. Change begins with a whisper. That line stirs up feelings.
What kind of change? Who's doing the whispering? In the end, will they be
successful? That book cover would have made me buy the book, if I hadn't
already been swept up the frenzy surrounding the novel...
Perhaps Catherine Rankovic would not agree with me, but this
cover is an effective one, from my perspective.
The text is easy to read, the watery letters intrigue me (What is this novel about?)
and the cover includes an endorsement from the New York Times. (And I was thinking
a blurb from my daughter or best friend would do the trick. Oh well...) The author's
name is intriguing as well. (What is it with these odd names for writers? said Sioux.)