Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wish I were in Denmark right now

Here's the Danish cover for The Penny Tree, which came out Jan 9/09. I love the cover art, though I've no idea what salgsomslag means! I tried to translate it online but got nowhere. Maybe it was intended it to be a subliminal marketing message that didn't come out right in the print process. You know the kind, right? Like how movie theatres were once accused of flashing buy popcorn / buy popcorn / buy popcorn at lightning speed across the screen during previews, only this was supposed to say buy this book / buy this book! *LOL*

On a final note, I just finished reading two novels I've been meaning to read for years. The first was The Dogs of Babel and the second The Bell Jar, an iconic novel that tackles the serious issue of depression and mental health. Both were beautifully written. Have a great weekend everyone :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Book talk, Camel Rides and IQ Tests

I spoke with a book club from Tampa tonight who went for drinks before we connected (who doesn't love celebratory readers, hmmm?) and after questions about The Penny Tree dried up here's what they asked:

Q: There's nothing more appealing than...?
A: A gentleman. I can't stand men with bad manners.

Q: Something you've always wanted to do but haven't is...
A: Ride a camel. No idea why, but I've spent years wanting to.

Q: Something my husband doesn't know about me is...
A: ...that for three years I've put the same IQ TEST IN A BOX in his stocking at Christmas and each year he says, "This is great!" then puts it aside and forgets I gave it to him. I'll keep re-gifting it until he says something. I'm aiming for five years straight.

Q: Books you've read recently that you enjoyed/admired...
A: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
(a NYT bestseller, represented by my agent Liza Dawson)
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (Winner of the Man Booker)
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (A true story)
Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones (Finalist for the Man Booker Prize)

Friday, January 9, 2009

The little darlings that drive a story forward...

Here's a topic that was a reader favorite during my book club chats in 2008 -- character creation. Do you find it hard to think up characters for your stories? Are they based on people you know? Do you have favorites?

Each character I've created to date (protagonists, secondary characters, even walk-ons) has, for the most part, arrived fully formed. Of course, before they showed up in my creative process I'd spent months (or in the case of the novel I'm writing now, years) thinking about the story before I began writing it, including the kind of characters I felt would best drive the story forward.

Once I know who the characters are and what role they'll each play, I think the best way to describe them is how they behave. I really don't like to go overboard with physical description. I prefer to give them beliefs or behaviors or characteristics that set them apart instead.

Yes, there have been a few rare cases where I've "fashioned" a character after someone I know (ie., Tommy in The Tin Box) but I don't typically do that. As for favorites, I have soft spots for Tommy and Lexie in The Tin Box, Erna in The Penny Tree, Louie in The Silver Compass, and a man named Jack in the novel I'm working on now.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Moments for the archives

I'll do a writing related post later this week, but for now humor me while I get back into a work groove...

In an email to my sister last week (she forwarded it to me) my oldest son had this to say: "BTW I know Santa actually doesn't exist. I figured it out on my own and then clarafide it with Mom that its just my parents. Don't tell my brother though. I think the truth would kill him."

Last night, when I told my youngest it was back to school this morning, this is what he said: "Are you kidding!? Learn, learn, learn! Why can't we just stay home for three months straight with our parents? Maybe so many of em wouldn't dee-vorce then cuz they'd have stronger families."

After taking our kids to see Marley and Me, our youngest said this while sniffing and wiping his eyes: "I don't understand why you and Dad put me through stuff like this."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Whoop! 2009 is finally here

A fresh start. Time to kick away the stool and take some risks. Time to focus on what's ahead vs. the puddles we may have had to jump in 2008. If you're a reader, I hope you're in the middle of a gem of a book you didn't see coming. If you're a writer, I hope the characters you dream up this year make your WIP stand out from the masses. And for everyone else, I hope 2009 is a year you'll never forget, in the best possible way.