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Entries in Songs of Willow Frost (19)

Saturday
Jun292013

Want an early copy of WILLOW?

If you're itching to get your hands on an early copy of Songs of Willow Frost, they're starting to pop up on eBay (I love how quickly these things appear online).

Or you can follow the arrow and join the FANLIST in the upper right. I'll be drawing from these names next Saturday and giving away three signed copies.

What is this fanlist, you ask? Well, if I'm doing an event in your area, you might get a postcard letting you know ahead of time. Or occasionally free advance reader copies (ARCs) of my books and those of other authors might show up in your mailbox (because I only have so much shelf space and darn it, sometimes these books need good homes). Oh, and perhaps a holiday card or two.

And if you'd just like to read the first two chapters for free, they're online here.

Thursday
Jun272013

Passing thoughts on poverty

I grew up poor. American poor, which in the big scheme of things isn't that bad. In high school we lived in rent-controlled housing and a single-wide trailer. I never owned two pairs of shoes at one time until I was sixteen and then it was only because I needed work shoes. I shared a checking account with my mom so my income from washing dishes could pay our rent. But as Pat Conroy once said, "The greatest gift a writer can receive is an unhappy childhood." My gift, compared to Pat's, was small.

Visiting Tanzania was an opportunity to evaluate the pluses and minuses of poverty. The negatives are obvious and grim. From a shorter life-span, to not having clean water, to living with the imminent threat of diseases that we don't even think about anymore. (Sad that my dog is better immunized than any of the children we met).

But the surprising thing was that there are peculiar pluses of poverty, not that I'd wish it upon anyone. But while the poor in underdeveloped countries are chained to daily subsistence living, they're not chained to possessions, or the commercialism that comes with them. They aren't bombarded with messages 24/7 that say, "You're not slender enough, you're not rich enough, drink this, eat this, buy this and be happy."

They just are happy. Because happiness is free.

***

Speaking of free things (and if you can forgive this crass, commercial segue), the fine folks at Random House have posted the first two chapters of SONGS OF WILLOW FROST online, for free. SONGS is set during the Great Depression so there's that poverty thing again. There's also abandonment. But if you look real close, if you search between the lines, you'll know there's a glimmer of happiness, somewhere.

Friday
May242013

BookExpo, it's like Comic-Con but with fewer Princess Leias in metal bikinis

Princess Leia convention or Las Vegas librarians?I'm heading to NYC next week where I'll be tossed about that sea of humanity known as BookExpo America (BEA). I've never been, though I've attended the San Diego Comic-Con and the Frankfurt Buche Messe, so I'm envisioning this as somewhere in-between.

What will I be doing there or thereabouts? Let's see, I'll be mingling at a couple of swanky industry cocktail parties where I'm hoping to bump into the reviewer for Publishers Weekly who panned HOTEL. (I'm not mad, just curious—what's the penalty for misdemeanor assault in New York City?)

I'll also be at Random House for a Library Journal Breakfast, back at the Javits Center for an ABA Bookseller Luncheon, doing some interview-type stuff for Google and BookPage, and last but certainly not least, I'll be at the Random House booth (#2739) on Friday at 10:00 AM where I'll be (wait for it...) signing and giving away 200 advance reader copies of SONGS OF WILLOW FROST.

See you soon.

Thursday
May232013

The making of a book cover

Choosing book covers is like choosing what outfit you're going to wear to the bookstore. Do you go in footie pajamas with bed-head? Do you go in a grey, three-piece suit, wearing a nose-ring? Or do strap on a corset from the Victorian Age?

With WILLOW as well as HOTEL, I was asked for my input, which I benignly gave. I was hesitant because I was an art director in my previous career and never once was the process improved by the client saying, "Hey, I've got an idea!" That adage about a camel being a horse designed by committee was never more apt.

But when prodded I relented. And I didn't just send written ideas, I knocked out some rough (very rough) thumbnails in Photoshop.

And just like with HOTEL, my ideas might have been directional (at best) but the designs my editor came back with were 100x better that my ideas. That being stated, here are my roughs, and the eventual covers we had to choose from.

 

Here's an early design that we felt was too generic.

 

And now the good stuff, courtesy of The Book Designers.