Monday, 31 December 2018

Kindle Romance Covers of the Week - 30th December 2018

I've said this a few times before on this blog, I'm sure. But I do so judge a book by its cover. That might not be right. Or fair to the writing. Particularly if the author hasn't had total control over the final design of that cover (traditionally published) or struggles to find the resources to hire a great cover artist (self-published). 

But I am totally sucked in (or totally put off) a book by what it looks like. And I don't think I'm alone.

So I'm back doing what I did some years back which was to trawl through the latest releases on Amazon Kindle (they aren't paying me, I wish. I haven't even got affiliate links sorted out, folks) in the past 30 days and grabbing a few of my favorites, which you can see in composite (in no particular order) above. In this case, I filtered specifically on Contemporary Romance, as I'm doing my own tiny bit of market research.

The things that typically make me want to read the back cover copy:
  • Font choice and use of font (see above, 'There Was This Boy')
  • Color (see above, 'Love You', 'Lost and Found'
  • Balance of text/image (see above, 'Romy and Juliet', 'Wall of Flowers')
  • Novelty (have I seen this a million times before? See above, 'Dateless' - interesting camera angle)
  • Tie between the image and title that isn't the usual generic clinch/abs that gives me a stronger sense of the contents (see above, 'Love Unleashed', First Time Player')

...among other things my subconscious is most certainly doing on my behalf that I have no clue about :)

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Alice and Chris: Work-in-Progress Playlist

There's something about the right music that puts my brain just where it needs to be for the words to flow. Every story I write comes with its own musical exploration, searching for songs that capture the mood and emotions of my characters.

Sometimes it comes with surprises! One character, an intense and angsty guy, only seemed to want to come out on the page when I played Adele non-stop. Don't ask. I haven't a clue why.

Here are some of the songs that are helping fuel my current work-in-progress. Set in one of my favorite places, eclectic east Austin, it's all about living through deep loss, found-family, second-chance love, and some symbolism around fire. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Struggles of a Non-Visual Writer

I spent most of my life collecting images. I have boxes full of faded magazine clippings and expired calendars. I'd always been fascinated by color, shape and contrast. I even spent time as a studio-dwelling art major in university.

You can imagine my shock to learn that I'm not, in fact, a 'visual person'.

We have many senses - hearing, taste, smell, touch. Apparently, you can determine a person's predominant senses simply by the language they use. Just ask someone to describe their favorite holiday, and if you listen closely you'll begin to notice if they speak about it in terms of what they saw, what they heard, what they tasted, and so on. Key words relating to each of the senses will crop up every time.

Someone tried this exercise with me, and while I described the smell, and feel and sound of a village in the south of France, I used a surprisingly few number of visual cues. I know from photographs that the sky was blue, and the tree blossoms were pale pink and there were bright yellow dandelions everywhere, and an incredible natural waterfall in the middle of the town. But that's not what I talked about. I talked about birdsong, and the taste of the fresh goat's milk and the feel of the spring sunshine on my skin.

But how can an art major 'flunk' at being a visual person?!

Thinking back, I can see now that I never was able to draw anything straight out of my head. I always needed a model. It's the internal visual sense that I lack. And my continued attraction to external visual things is likely a way of compensating for my lack of 'inner eye'.

So what does this have to do with writing?

The writer is the eyes of the reader. The writer looks around that internal landscape and paints the reader a picture. That descriptive function is vital for building a sense of place, mood and context. So what happens if you're not all that hot on the visual stuff? How is your reader going to 'see' if you can't? Is all lost? Do I just quit now and go back to my scrapbooks?

Not necessarily.

Just because you're a non-visual writer, doesn't mean you'll be bad at description. Quite possibly the opposite, in fact.

Think of all the other senses you can activate in your writing! Instead of just relying on visual cues, you're giving your reader the tastes, smells, and sounds. When you do focus on what things look like, you will likely need to take your time and really force yourself to look around internally. All this makes the work richer and builds a deeper sense of setting and place

Like anything else, you can work on strengthening your visual sense. Visit locations and take photos and notes. What do you actually see if you look closely? Not what you think you see, but what is truly there.


Guess what? Not all readers are visual readers. Maybe they like to smell, taste, and touch their stories too! And if you're non-visual as a writer, your tendency to overcompensate and try harder to fill your descriptions with visual cues will thrill those less-visual readers too.

I should know. I'm one of them.

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