Covers and Diversity

There’s been a lot of controversy on the ‘net lately over the N. American cover of Justine Larbalestier’s LIAR. Controversy because the girl on the cover looks nothing like the way the main character is described in the book — particularly, she’s not black.

(LIAR’s N. American cover, and the Australian cover, for comparison)

I don’t think anyone’s discussed this more clearly or eloquently than the author herself, so I highly recommend you check out her post on the subject, if you haven’t already.

But I’d like to reiterate something said there, because I see misconceptions about this pop up all over the place: Most authors have little to no control over what their book covers look like.

I consider myself very lucky that my publisher liked one of the concept suggestions I gave them enough to use it when they designed the cover for GHOST; I consider myself lucky to have gotten a cover I love and most readers seem to, too. I have writer friends who’ve gone through all sorts of stress trying to get elements of their cover changed, often just to be told, “Too bad, we like it, it’s staying like this.” Or who’ve lost covers they loved because one influential person on the business side of things didn’t like it. And you know what? Most of the time that makes sense, because it’s the job of the sales and marketing people to figure out what kind of cover will best appeal to the book’s audience, not the author’s.

But I can’t express how upset I feel when I see people making comments like, “Well, the author must be okay with his/her book being white-washed, or s/he would have made them change the cover!” (I use dual pronouns because I’ve seen this sort of thing said many times, about many books.) Because it’s so far from the truth. Even Ursula Le Guin had, as she puts it, “endless trouble with cover art” for her Earthsea books. (The article is mostly about the miniseries, but she talks about covers further now.)

So please, if you’re offended by a cover, and what it leaves out or seems to advocate, let the publisher know! But don’t blame the author.

There’s also been a call for readers to read more diversely, to try stepping into the shoes of characters who are different in various ways. Justine has a series of awesome guest posts on the subject right now at her blog.

I’ve been making a conscious effort to read more authors of color and books with characters of color since the RaceFail discussions earlier this year. If you’d like to do the same, I highly recommend the LiveJournal community Writers of Color 50 Book Challenge, where people post reviews of/thoughts about books by POC. It works well for me because I like to hear a little about a book’s strengths and weaknesses before I decide whether to pick it up (something lists don’t help so much with), and I get to hear about great books all the time by watching the blog on my Friends list.

Writer At Work: Why I write

Because I can be having a crappy day and feel totally wretched, and then after an hour and a half on the laptop with my characters, I’m smiling again.

Yeah, writing — particularly for publication — can result in a whole lot of stress and anxiety. But you know what? It takes away far more than it brings. My life wouldn’t be half as happy without it. That’s why I write.

Flashback: Kids

October 16, 1997 (Megan is 16)

Babysitting yesterday was a little… hectic. I was just looking after the youngest, who’s young enough to still be in diapers and to need a bottle of milk before going to bed. He can’t talk. When it was his bed time I tried to give him his bottle but he didn’t want it. I tried again a little later and he still didn’t want it, and right after that he started crying for his mom and I couldn’t get him to calm down. I had to call my mom to see what to do, and she recommended walking around with the kid. I tried that, and at the same time sang ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’ without the words since I couldn’t remember all of them. Pretty soon he quieted down, though he still wouldn’t drink his milk, so I put him to bed and in a few minutes he was asleep.

My first experience with a kid that young. I must say it’s a lot easier to look after kids who can speak–at least they can tell you want they want, and you can reason with them. I wonder what you do when you first have a kid? How do you know how to look after it properly? I guess there must be books or something.

An Introduction to Flashbacks
The Flashback Cast
The Flashback Timeline

Spread the Word Giveaway Winners!

Congrats to the winners of the Spread the Word Giveaway!

The main prize pack goes to…. Diana Marie!

And the swag packs go to…

Cindy Bacon
and Lexie!

Hope you all enjoy your loot!

Thanks to everyone who entered–and never fear. There’s another, much bigger giveaway coming at the beginning of August!

Wonder: Ghost Stories – Ouija Boards

When I was about 15, I bought myself a Ouija board. It wasn’t one of those nice, old-fashioned ones, but at least it was wood, and I figured it was good enough.

One evening I took it over to my best friend’s house. I was sleeping over, and the two of us were alone in the house. We turned off most of the lights and sat across from each other over the board, and waited for the ghosts to come. When the planchette started moving, we asked tons of questions–about who the speaker was and their life, and about things in our lives (mostly about boys).

The scariest moment was when the lamp that had been lighting the living room abruptly turned off. I think we both jumped about a foot in the air. Then my friend remembered that the lamps were on an automatic system to turn on and off (for when her family wasn’t home, to discourage burglers by making them think someone was home), and it wasn’t so scary any more.

Nothing the “ghosts” told us that night actually came true. And I wasn’t entirely surprised. After I got home the next day, I got out the Ouija board and tested the planchette. And I discovered that I could very easily move it without feeling like I was moving it. I knew I was directing it, but the sensation was as if my hand was being pulled. (This presumably is because of how smooth the board and the bottom of the planchette are.) So I’m sure neither of us cheated that night, but I’m equally sure we were in fact the ones moving the planchette.

How about you–got a Ouija board story to share?

Friday Five

1. Three and a half days left to enter to win an ARC of GHOST plus swag. Many thanks to everyone who’s participated so far! 🙂

2. My buttons arrived! Are they not lovely?

That’s a lot of Cass.

3. Some person has put up not one, but three ARCs of GHOST on Ebay. With a photograph clearly showing the “Not for sale” bit at the bottom of the cover. *headdesk* But really it just bugs me because that means three people who actually wanted to read the book didn’t get copies at whichever convention the seller grabbed them at.

4. My friend and ghost book twin Saundra Mitchell has posted a most excellent (and true) vlog about how to write a novel. If you have any writing inclination at all, watch!

5. I have discovered a new TV show to love and squee over. Is anyone else watching Nurse Jackie? I first saw the posters in the subway stations in NYC and figured, hey, Edie Falco, worth a try, and now I await each new episode with the sort of gleeful excitement I have not felt since Dexter’s first season (not that the shows are much alike, other than both being awesome).

Flashback: The G.A.P. Syndrome

September 18, 1996 (Megan is 15)

The G.A.P. syndrome has struck. (In case I’ve never explained this, G.A.P. stands for Guys Are Pathetic, it’s a “theory” N and I have come up with.) I’d decided I should talk to F at the next possible chance. We had a quiz in History yesterday, and there was the perfect topic–ask him how he thought he’d done. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him during History, but then that afternoon, while I was going from Math to Geography, he ended up right next to me walking down the hall. He didn’t notice me though, or even look at me, so at first I said nothing, but eventually I convinced myself to speak. I said “hey” but he didn’t hear me. So I repeated myself and, feeling rather pathetic, sort of waved my hand in front of his face to get his attention. He still didn’t notice! I don’t know where in heck he was but it wasn’t in that hallway, that’s for sure. So, now knowing that I did not exist, I went on to Geography (he’d turned down a flight of stairs) and was grouchy for the day.

Basically, I’ve given up on him. If he is so out of it he doesn’t notice when someone’s hand is in front of his face (and I felt so stupid after that too), I don’t want to deal with it. I have this feeling he’d be B all over again, and I think I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime. Perhaps I’m being harsh, but I just can’t handle liking someone who most of the time will act like I’m not there (even if not purposely). It would shatter everything I’ve come to stand for. So f*** that, move on.

An Introduction to Flashbacks
The Flashback Cast
The Flashback Timeline

Just for Fun: Two different kinds of goodness!

For your enjoyment…

First, it’s the 15th, and that means Debsness! Want to win a pack of cool tie-in items relating to the Debs’ books? Click on the image below, and it’ll take you to the entry page:

Find Out What's In The Bag And Win It Today

I also want to share with you this TV series/?? that Chris stumbled upon, which is one of the silliest things I’ve seen in a long time. This is the episode we watched last night, all about Maths:

Enjoy! 😀

Writer at Work: Trailer Making

I finished my GIVE UP THE GHOST book trailer today! (Finished being a relative term. I need to get feedback from people before I can post it publicly, and may need to do some tweaking.)

I have to say it was some of the most fun non-writing book work I’ve done! Hard work, yes, but picking out the images (I got to “cast” Cass and Tim, hee) and the music and bringing it all together–I can’t wait to share it!

With a little luck you’ll be seeing it by the end of the month.

And I should go now, because there is a cat on my lap demanding my attention. 🙂