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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cover "Sketch" #1

Today, the artist doing the artwork for book #1 delivered me a concept "sketch" of the cover. I was blown away when I looked at it because it was not a sketch but an actual rendering. What he has done is taken my hacked up cover template which I created to show him how I wanted the cover laid out and he has dropped his rendering into it. The rough text and roughly drawn pyramid will be replaced by the artist eventually. And rendering he has drawn has a lot of cover elements missing. It's just to give an idea how things will look and to confirm we are headed in the right direction. I think that despite all the caveats, even at this early stage the cover looks stunning. When the cover is fully completed I think it will be better than a big 6 cover. 


Friday, February 24, 2012

Creativity Born in Silence

I got a piece of snail mail today that just dropped me into one of those muses about how what you create can be shaped so much by fate. What I received was a rejection letter from Arthur A Levine for a submission I did about 10 months ago. They told me that they had lost the manuscript between readings (thus the letter arriving after 10 months instead of 2 months). It was the footnote on a bit of irony because not receiving anything at all at the time was a huge source a frustration and laid down the challenge gauntlet for me: to not spend half my life trying to query, not do a cheesy self publish job on the book, but to do a real publication job on the book, better than the big six. After all, I live in Silicon Valley, the land where anything is possible :) So I did one of those head first dives in intense learning and was determine to learn to be a publisher. This meant finding a professional editor and taking a near vertical climb on my writing quality and the depth of the story. I had to survey innovations in book design and discovered that a book doesn't have to be just a pile of text but an encompassing visual/mental experience, which means extensive artwork and innovative book layouts. The creativity of the author doesn't have to be confined to just the written word, but can extend to every corner of the book---how it looks, how it feels. The technology is there and there are people with the skills to implement this creation. Many of them are sitting around barely using their skills, wishing for the opportunity to contribute their creativity. You just have to find them (it is like a needle in a haystack) and be their trigger. You have to dare to innovate where the big six don't seem to want to go, like book press files with full color art throughout the entire the book---designed in color from top to bottom. The total piece of art work being born. And all of this occurred because of dead silence. Sometimes great art can be born in silence. At least that is my hope.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Puzzle for Early Readers

I am sitting here at the moment composing the description for the artwork to appear at the beginning of each chapter of Book #1 "The Saeshell Book of Time: Part 1: The Death of Innocents". Each chapter will have a different picture depicting a major theme in the chapter. One of the characters in the book is the book itself and it talks to the reader directly in chapter 1. So I thought that the picture for chapter 1 should be a picture of the actual Saeshell Book of Time. But what would you put on the cover of that book? The gears started turning in my head and an evil smile appeared on my face. I'll put a puzzle that will torture the readers, just like the rest of the puzzles in the book. Here is what I told the artist to draw:

"A picture of a book with a shiny black cover. In the upper left hand corner half of the cover is a pen and ink drawing of a fairy drawn in metallic gold ink. A pair of blue translucent gemstones are placed where the eyes would be. In the bottom right hand corner half of the cover is an octopus drawn in purple metallic (reflective) ink. The octopus has a single yellow gemstone eye. In the middle of the cover, between the creatures, is an infinity symbol followed by an exclamation point, drawn in metallic blue ink."
 This cover has a symbolic meaning. It naturally represents something in the story (and taunts the reader because you can't possibly decode its meaning until you have read several books in the serial). But there is something more. It is also symbolic of a gifted person's life: the basic challenges within themselves that they face. Can you decode the puzzle? Can you figure out what are the metaphoric symbols related to giftedness appearing on the cover?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Music of Reading

I woke up to a typical writer Wednesday morning with tons of blogs written by various writers about characterization technique, settings—you know, all the typical writerly things (oh my, I used a word that isn’t the dictionary). I yawned. I don’t know. I should be interested in those things—in honing my craft—but I’m just not, at least this morning (my editor tells me that dashes slow down readers, perhaps annoys some). I use them quite frequently, possibly because I like being annoying, but more likely because I like putting speed bumps in so people will drive through my book more slowly and enjoy the scenery. I especially relish in annoying “data readers”, who quickly want to skim the surface—you know, get the gist of the plot or grab this book’s scifi trick—and then move on to the next cheap read. 

You can just hear their mind work as they read, "Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, huh! There’s nothing there.” The fact that they have rocketed through ten minutes of reading and come up empty handed, well, it just makes me shake with ecstasy. For ten minutes, I mesmerized their mind convincing it to read and read without offering one iota of data. It’s like listening to some old song that has that unusual rhythm that catches your mind, putting everything else to sleep, and then after you are done, have that rhythm hang there all day long, annoying you. People’s minds are very vulnerable to music. There is a secret they don’t know.

Every person’s mind is filled with music. Think about it. Think about all those nerve impulses of various frequencies surging through your brain—each one a note in a veritable symphony in your head. Just think if you had a little box that had a sensitive receiver with the appropriate filters you could tune to tune out the cacophony of notes and just focus on the major themes. You would be able to detect the theme songs of each person and know what music guides their lives. You would also understand why certain songs are catchy to each person—each song harmonizes with the music within their minds, highlighting for a brief moment a pattern driving their lives. For a brief moment their mind sings with the happiness of its form and existence, desiring to relish only in its ordered structure among a chaotic universe. 

Every person has a group of songs in their minds. Some are discordant, some harmonious, some carved into their synapses by their environment, most carved by genetics. By listening to music, sometimes I think we try to alter the course of our lives—harmonize certain desirable melodies. Music can be created with a voice as well as instruments. This voice can be the vibration of vocal chords or (you knew I had to get back to it sometime), it can be the music created when something is read. Reading creates those impulses—those waves of sound in the neural net of your mind. When I write, I seek to create my own song in a person’s mind for a short time, something which I hope harmonizes with one of their melodiesa part of them they wish to grow.  
 Certain musical themes run throughout the population, but some are not heard so frequently. I try to write one of those themes that are rare, minting it with the name, Gifted Fiction. It represents a particular kind of structure, a different wiring, which sometimes err uh, tries to read data. There are some with this wiring that hear the music. And our goal, is to spread the music—that harmonious song that can bring happiness and clarity to life—to the others.