Friday 20th November UPDATE for my COVER DESIGN CHALLENGE!
(Lots of interesting responses so far - these are sent straight to my email and don’t show up on this site. CLOSING DATE: 31st December)
START of the orignal post from Tuesday 18th Nov
At long last I’ve managed to upload the seven versions of the front cover for Paper Lanterns,thanks to my sister, Jo.(Scroll down to the end of this post to see why!)
Enter this Challenge and you could win one of the FIVE FREE copies of this novel. All you need to do to, is answer this question:
WHICH OF THESE POSSIBLE COVERS DO YOU THINK THE AUTHOR LIKES BEST?
• Scroll down to see the information which I sent to the designer to let him know the kind of thing I wanted ( Ideas for the Designer)
CLICK HERE to see THE ‘THUMBNAIL’ SIZE PICTURES OF THE SEVEN COVERS. (To see slightly larger versions of each individual cover*, click on each one, OR click the small box on the top left where it says, Slide Show.)
• When you have selected the cover, you think I like best, CLICK HERE to tell me your decision (this will be sent direct to my email)
Please write ‘Cover Design’ in the ‘subject’ box.
In the ‘your Message’ box, state the number of the cover you’ve chosen and make any comments - Although I’ve got my favourite, I might need to think again if enough people choose a different version!
(*The text on the cover says:
“Certainties are shattered as past and present inexorably unfold –
a deeply moving and unusual novel”Crysse Morrison, author of Frozen Summer and Sleeping in Sand)
Ideas sent to Designer,(Ian Hughes at Mousemat Design) for the front cover design for Paper Lanterns:
“I’d like it to convey that the overall mood of the book is largely optimistic, in spite of the fact that each of the three main characters have suffered loss and disappointment in their lives. I’d want there to be a hint of darkness/sadness -maybe darker green+ brown, but moving towards much lighter greens and blues.
Although the majority of the ‘real time’ action takes part in contemporary Hong Kong, I don’t want the cover to give the impression that it’s about the Chinese – as the main characters are all British, with attitudes and lifestyles to suit.
On the other hand, as I indicate in the blurb, HK itself is an important element in the story – both the contemporary one, and her grandmother’s love story from the 1930s.
Because of the book’s title, it could be easy just to plump for some images of paper lanterns, but if possible I’d like something (either abstract or representational) which can also refer back to, or hint at a key event in Ann’s life (aged 15/16) that led to the break-up of the family. The nearby woodland/park , and English trees in general, are quite significant in this particular story line.”
To find out more about my publishing venture, NOVEL PRESS, scroll down to read the previous post, Judging a Cover by its Book
Why I’m grateful to my sister, Jo
I was at my mother’s house in Sussex last weekend, and Jo, who lives on an organic farm in Cornwall, was there at the same time. We don’t see each other very often, so it was lovely to catch up on all our news. We stayed up late on Saturday night and she very patiently showed me how to use to Picasa, a user-friendly photo management site.
Yes, it IS the cover that I’ll be inviting people to judge, with a chance of winning one of five copies of my new novel, Paper Lanterns. (More about this below)
I’ve been learning a huge amount about the nitty gritty of publishing since Novel Press was dreamed into existence by our talented writing group. We met each other on the M.A. Writing course at Nottingham Trent University in the late nineties and a small group of us still meet regularly to critique each other’s ‘Work In Progress’.
I was lucky enough to have my novel,The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, published by Transita. Unfortunately, after bringing out thirty-two novels in under two years, they had to pull back from publishing fiction, and focus on their other business, HowTo Books.
We began to realise that the state of publishing was even more restrictive than when my book was launched four years ago, and after much discussion we decided to retain our own authorial autonomy and start a publishing house, Novel Press. I won’t go into all that just now, because there’s more than enough material for several future posts, and at the moment, I want to focus on my new novel Paper Lanterns – or more precisely, on selecting on the best front cover for it. Click here for a sneak preview, written by Bookcrosser, Lyzzybee.
In her ‘ordinary life’, Liz has started a second career with her new Editing Service. She’s done a brilliant job, copy-editing Paper Lanterns. (more of that in a future post)
‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is supposed to be the accepted wisdom, but I must admit that if I’m presented with a range of books, cover-side up, it’s the cover that will entice my hand to reach out for it. Certainly, this is only the start: next, I tend to read the information on the back, and then flick through the first few pages, but if I hadn’t picked it up in the first place…
There’s lots more to be said about covers: the way they help to indicate genre is just the start of it. Beyond that, I’d never really given much thought to book covers in general. When Transita sent me the proposed cover for The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, I loved it (even though the window was the wrong sort), and if I’d been asked to suggest an alternative idea, I wouldn’t have known what to say. When it came out in a large print version in 2008, I wasn’t at all keen on that cover.
When I was in charge of every stage of the process myself (with a little help from my fellow writers at Novel Press) I began to look at the question of the cover in a different light. We’d chosen Mousemat Design, because they’d produced a majority of the Transita covers.
My task was to supply Ian Hughes with enough information about my novel for him to create the perfect cover. A tall order indeed. You can read a short description on My Novel page, but I felt that he would need to know more about what I was hoping for.
Within a very short time, he had emailed me three possible versions and I was delighted to see that he was heading in the right direction. Then followed three further versions, and finally, a seventh.
The Cover Design Challenge for readers is simple:
1) Keep an eye on this website to see when I’ve managed to upload all versions of a possible front cover (or follow me on Twitter or Face Book for updates.)
2) When The Cover Design Challenge is ready to go, all you need to do is to read the extra information that I sent to the designer and will post on my site together with the pictures, and then:
3) Look at all these pictures and answer this simple question:
WHICH OF THESE POSSIBLE COVERS DO YOU THINK THE AUTHOR LIKES BEST?
I’ll be very interested in your comments, and although I’ve got my favourite, I might need to think again if enough people choose a different version.
Each entry will be given a number as they arrive, and five of these will be drawn at random. The lucky winners will be contacted and will be sent a free copy of Paper Lanterns when it is published early in 2010
It was so sad to hear of the death of two more British soldiers in Afghanistan, today of all days, when we are reminded of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of other men and women killed in wars.
There’s nothing new I can add to this topic – the pros and cons of this war or that - the justifications and condemnations. I can only feel immensely grateful that virtually all my friends and family members are in good health, and (as far as any of us can know) are not in present danger - all except one, a fairly recent addition to our extended family, and he is often in my thoughts, particularly today.
The Sunday Times News Review has lain on the kitchen table all day. My eye was caught by the headline ‘ HIS LAST LONELY WALK’ and a picture of a beautiful young man, Olaf Schmid, who died last weekend, attempting to defuse his 65th bomb, on the eve of returning home on leave.
I was resisting the article – I didn’t want to read about that tragedy. I’ve just done so now, with a big lump in my throat. My heart goes out to his wife, Christina – his parents too. My son is one year older than he was.
What a courageous young man. The newspaper article quotes his words, “I go home, and people go,’ How many f****** Taliban have you killed?’ Well, it’s not really about that. It’s more about how many lives I’ve saved, I think.”
I live not far from Cannock Chase, 26 square miles of woodlands and heather-covered hills, a wonderful place for walking. I’d been visiting the Chase for years before I first came across the German Military Cemetery. Attached to the memorial building, there was a small, obviously lived-in, house probably occupied by a caretaker.
It just happened to be on the last day of the last millennium – a time when the whole country –indeed, the whole world – was in a state of excitement, some anticipating all the computers on earth grinding to a halt, with disastrous consequences, and others getting ready for the party of a lifetime. Hemmed all around by dark pine trees and a wire fence, were the final remains of 5,000 German Servicemen from two World Wars. So many young men. Just a small percentage of all the others from those two wars
There was something unbearably poignant about the headstones in their neat rows – each one shared by two names. This is the poem it inspired.
Millennium Eve in the German War Cemetery, Cannock Chase.
They’ll be restless tonight, mutters
Mr McAllister locking the door.
There are no windows in the back wall
of the bungalow. It looks onto
its own courtyard. Better that way
he said when he took the job.
He keeps all green blades clipped
to the regulation inch – or rather
two point-something centimetres now.
They’d like that. And each brown mound
in every row of every phalanx shows
no hint of grass or pale unfolding leaf.
Beyond these lawns, where Fritz and Heinrich
Hans and Gunter lie, two to a bed
dark pines mass up against the wire fence
that keeps out deer. No place in here
for their unruly steps. Their eyes
are too alive, their breath’s too warm.
He switches on the tele to Sky News
from all around the world. But those Chinese
don’t even have the same New Year as us!
Fireworks cascade above the city squares
on the meridian as midnight after
midnight fizzes past. Hush, he murmurs. Hush.
But all explosions are too far away
to stir the random couples underground -
no trace of sleep inside their hollow skulls.
If they could dream they’d be where only time
can measure distances. They’d watch those stars
whose light has not yet reached our skies, burn out.
In both of the talks that I’ve attended recently by writer, R.J. Ellory, I was fascinated to hear the way he describes three categories of novels. I realised that even if I hadn’t classified them so clearly before this, I recognised that this is actually how I view them too:
1: the ‘airport ones’ that you might take on holiday with you, or curl up at home with on a cold wet day. These are escapist entertainment, often following an established formula. They are quickly devoured, enjoyed, and as quickly forgotten. They do ‘what it says on the tin’ and serve a specific purpose. They are ‘give-away’ items that you can pass on to friends or charity shops without a qualm.
2: literary fiction, which is often described as ‘style over content’. These books might sometimes need a bit more thought and effort while you read them, but they will make a long-term impact on the reader, and will often be re-read quite soon, not because their plot has already been forgotten, but in order to savour the beautiful phrases and sentences and admire the sheer skill in the use of the English language. Each subsequent reading is likely to reveal more treasures.
3: a combination of 1 and 2 – beautiful and skilful use of language, but more commercial, with, perhaps, a more immediately accessible and gripping plot. R.J. Ellory aims at being in this category, and it is certainly where I’d have placed his novel, A Quiet Belief in Angels. (the only one I’ve read so far)
I was reminded again of these categories a couple of days ago, when I came across the link to this article on the on-line BookSeller: >“Chick lit offers fully rounded heroines for fully rounded women”. Apparently, >“the latest publishing phenomenon to sweep America, which has just arrived over here, features a new heroine: the young woman who is seriously overweight – and doesn’t care.”
I don’t tend to read Chic Lit myself, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the dress-size of its protagonists. It’s the formulaic plots that don’t hold much interest for me. (Having said that, I used to adore Georgette Heyer’s predictable Regency romances in my younger days, and their heroines were always beautiful, and they always won the dark, sardonic hero in the end.)
Nowadays, I prefer to feel that I’m learning something new from a novel, whichever category it might fall into. I’m currently nearing the end of a very enjoyable novel (on CD) Amenable Women, by Mavis Cheek. One of her themes is the importance (or not) of beauty for a woman, particularly how plain women are perceived in our culture now, and in Tudor times.
I was particularly interested that Mavis Cheek had chosen this as a key theme in her novel, because it also plays a part in my new novel, Paper Lanterns.
There seem to be a few themes in this particular post: categories/genres of novels; possibilities of lots of sub-divisions in each of the three I’ve named – and a whole lot more to say about what people are looking for when they pick up a novel.
What a lovely afternoon it’s been - even the weather cheered up for my long drive to Leicester on a very special occasion: it was the launch of yet another collection of poems by Alice Beer. I wouldn’t normally draw attention to a writer’s date of birth, but this information on the back is relevant to the content of “Window on the Square” :Alice Beer was born in Vienna in 1912, and moved toEngland in 1937. She lives in a flat in Leicester overlooking De Montfort Square
The other important statement on the back cover is:
ALL PROFIT FROM THE SALE OF THIS PAMPHLET
WILL BE DONATED TO HAMLIN FISTULA UK
If you don’t know about this life-destroying condition, (and even if you do) click here to find out more about this charity, and, for a very brief photo story of one young woman’s path to recovery, and a chance of having a normal life restored, click here.
I met Alice in August 1996 at my first residential poetry course with the Arvon Foundation at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire, and, like many others who have fallen under her spell, have kept in touch ever since. This contact was easier to maintain because of the fortnightly poetry group, Soundswrite, that held its first meeting in 2000, and I was delighted to see that Alice also was joining this wonderful group.
If you’d like to find out more about Window on the Square, and support this very worthwhile charity, this book is available via the link to Alice’s web-page above, and also the link to Soundswrite.
One of the poems that were read this afternoon has helped me to decide which of my own will be Poem of the Week. Alice’s is called Puzzling, and recounts her sighting of a fox on three very different occasions . The most recent of these took place below her window on the square,
‘it trotted off,
not leisurely and not in a hurry, intent
on its own business and left me wondering
why I felt as if the clouds
had lifted on this dark December morning
a gift bestowed on me.’
I, too, am fascinated by the urban fox, and its parallel world –
Monochrome foxcubs tumble on the lawn.
Sparrows and finches stir
and test their voices.
As day noses up behind next-door’s
privet hedge and sycamore
the cool earth yawns and calls.
Wet grass springs back after each footfall.
A tunnel strokes damp fur as cubs creep down
into their solid sleep.
Their dreams dissolve above them
and this house, a block of shadow
is rubbed out.