Dear Beloved Friends Who Make My Life Complete,
No, I haven’t been drinking, despite that suspect, gushy opening and my whispered-about reputation in certain circles. (I did think about doing such, earlier this evening, so there is a certain element of truth behind the gossip, but I also have focus issues and I never got around to swilling the demon hooch.) But you would still be right in assuming that my effusive salutation hints of planned nefariousness, hooch-scented or otherwise.
Because I need your help.
I just wrapped up this year’s National Novel Writing Month experience, that frenzied “writing challenge” I relish every November, wherein I scribble madly for 30 days in pursuit of a demanding and somewhat-irrelevant goal of capturing 50K words that fell out of my brain and into a file on my laptop. For those who are interested in the details, and I realize said folks are in a minor, possibly miniscule contingent, I managed to pass the 50K barrier, just a tad. Actually, the 100K barrier fell, as well. I was a very busy little boy.
End result? Much to my surprise, I’m almost done with the short-story collection I’ve been planning to publish for some time now. I still need to do a final edit of the selected pieces, and many of you fellow writers who’ve published their words know that the Final Edit can burn your soul with its relentless proofreading and tiny changes and constant, does-this-work tinkering. It can take forever, without the right degree of perseverance. That aside, I’m almost done, aside from a few quibbling points.
And this is where you come in, Beloved Friends Who Complete Me. (Really mean it! Pinky swear! That blouse looks really cute on you.)
Some of you may recall a relatively-recent “Past Imperfect” post I shared (memory-trigger found here) wherein I babbled about one of the characters being aware I needed something to fill a gap in my story collection, a gap known as “Chapter 12”. This part of the post was actually true. (The rest of it? Not so much.) Also true? There is currently a gap at Chapter 30, as well. The two gaps are intended to be transition pieces between the three sections of the story collection. Those pieces are not necessarily necessary (my eighth-grade English teacher just spit out her coffee), but the flow-designer in me is saying “you need bridges here. Find them.” But I haven’t, yet.
To set the scene of the structure: The first third of the collection concerns my Wee Bairn days, as a single-digit and barely double-digit child, age-wise. The second third of the collection involves a multi-part serial concerning my internment at a certain convenience store in mid-80s Tulsa. (Those of you with a sharp memory will recognize said serial as the “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” stories. I have greatly expanded that run of reflections into a very sizeable chunk of this planned book. Risky maneuver, granted, but it feels right, as it was a pivotal period in my life.)
The third third of the collection involves more recent stories, with “recent” being a relative term, as some of the entries involve flashbacks to what happened during the first and second timelines in the book and… well, I’m probably losing you as I’m already losing myself with this cryptic meandering. Suffice it to say that the third third has a hole that needs to be filled.
Ergo, we have the first of my implicit, essentially co-dependent requests for the Faithful Readers of this blog: Can you think of a past story of mine which could be that bridge between Little Me and Freshly-Adult Me? I realize this is a lot to ask. But there have been so many times in the Journey of Bonnywood wherein one of you will make a comment about one of my long-buried stories, a comment that inspires me anew, and I hope that can happen again, in some way.
Second request? That gap at Chapter 30…
This slot has been reserved for an excerpt from my book “Screaming in Paris”. (I already have an excerpt from “Unexpected Wetness” nestled into the “younger years” section of this new story collection.) I’m not sure of which scene to pick from the Paris travelogue, so perhaps those of you who’ve read “Screaming” can provide inspiration. What scenario first pops into your mind when you think of that book, assuming that you think of it at all? (I realize this is a taxing and formidable task. Frankly, right now I couldn’t tell you where my car keys are in this house, never mind recall even the slightest whiff of a plot detail from a book I read years ago.) Still, perhaps someone out there can provide a trigger.
Okay, moving on with my List of Pitiful and Unrequited Requests for You, Dear Reader.
I need to come up with a cover design. With traditional publishing, this would be something I wouldn’t have to worry about. All of that mess would be left to the devices of a cadre of artsy people who are paid to create alluring images that will beckon the masses. The actual author is generally excluded from any participation in the alluring. As a self-published author, I don’t have cadres of people doing anything. It’s all on me, from the initial concept to the actual words, followed by the relentless editing and on to the final, tidy bow topping the package of my madness. Me. Not looking for sympathy (no one is forcing me to do this), just putting it out there.
As I’ve worked on this collection, for far longer than I should have (focus issues, I have many of them), various cover-design concepts have flitted through my admittedly-fevered brain. Two of them keep reappearing, so I trust that they must mean something to me, somehow, even though I’m not a graphic designer nor a member of any artsy cadre. (Unless I’ve been drinking. Then I think I’m a member of everything, and I’m convinced that I have a mellifluous singing voice that can enchant nations, when in reality my tonal qualities are more offensive than rabid cats mating in a dark alley. But I digress.)
The name of this story collection is “Peppered Fruit”. (Yes, go ahead and relish in the double entendre, if you know me well.) The first cover concept goes something like this:
Thin slices of lemons and limes are the featured element, thin enough that they are essentially translucent. There’s an initial row of them at the top of the cover (three, I’m envisioning, lime, lemon, lime.) Then we have “Peppered Fruit”, naturally in a font bigger than anything that might follow.) Two more rows of slices (lemon, lime, lemon, followed by lime, lemon, lime). Insert subtitle of “Stories from Bonnywood”. Another slice-row (lemon, lime, lemon), insertion of my name, and a final slice-row (lime, lemon, lime). Crisply-white background, so the fruit slices pop, cleanly, as if they are suspended in air. I’ve thought about minimal sprinkles of pepper on the slices, but it might make things look a bit sordid, not sure.
Second cover concept:
Think Rubens or Cezanne, style-wise and period-wise, and voluptuous images of fruit. Perhaps a cornucopia basket of some kind, at the top of the image, with fleshy fruits (pomegranates, figs, whatnot) spilling out of such and down the page and across a faded tablecloth on a worn table. In the lower foreground, perhaps on the right, a wooden pepper mill has been knocked over, contents strewn. The same three text blocks are used (“Peppered Fruit”, “Stories from Bonnywood”, Me), in a highly-stylized script font with delicate, flowing lines. Said text should not be overwhelming; the image should win in this case.
Of course, these are just two options, designs that are admittedly difficult to imagine if you don’t have my brain. (And trust, you probably don’t want to have it.) I may change my mind tomorrow and decide that both ideas are no longer working for me, especially when I sit down and try to create them. But I’m very interested in what you might think about the two concepts, especially those of you out there who I know are designers and artists. (Can you feel me nudging you, certain Dear Readers? I think you can.)
Taking this a step further, you might even have cover ideas of your own, based on merely the book title, that “Bonnywood” tagline (which I want to keep), and the notion that most of the stories in the collection are nostalgic and semi-autobiographical in nature. In fact, you might even be interested in fiddling around with design examples. (Hint, hint.) But there is a caveat: I ain’t got no money. There wouldn’t be any financial compensation, just a warm nod in the book credits and a copyright notation. I’m just being honest and hope anyone who steps forward understands that.
Okay, that felt somewhat raw and wrong, leaving a bad taste. (Honesty often does that.) Then again, doesn’t that describe the whole situation with book-publishing these days? Millions of people self-publish; three of them might actually make any money in doing so. Moving on…
My final needy request involves the just-mentioned “publishing” angle. I fully admit that I did not handle the release of my first two self-pub books in a responsible and professional manner. I just threw them out there and hoped for the best. I want to do better this time, and part of the “better” is actually promoting the release instead of letting the ship sail without posting a notice of embarkation on the walls of a local pub whilst serving wenches frolic and card games end in violence.
I follow scores of folks who do book reviews and book promotions. I’m hoping some of you who do so have noticed my following (and my efforts to share your efforts on Twitter), and perhaps you might be interested in letting me know what I should do to make the release date a good thing. Any information you can share will be embraced, with great thanks.
And really, that previous line applies to anyone who provides advice, guidance, design suggestions or mere thoughts on any of the above matters in the comments below. I always appreciate anything that is ever shared here at Bonnywood. (Aside from those wretched spam violations.)
Thank you for reading this far. I realize it was a bit tedious at times, but I wanted to share and I do need a little bit of help. If nothing else comes from this post, at least folks are aware that I have a book on the verge of being ready, and my knowing said fact has been surfaced will give me the kick in the ass that I also need. Get it done, get it out.
I promise to get back to the typical Bonnywood whimsy in the next post, most likely a revised “Past Imperfect”. (It’s my go-to thing. Perhaps you’ve noticed?)
Note on the opening photo: This is an image I’ve used before, in a post concerning my finding of what I thought was the long-lost final draft of a manuscript I penned in 1990. (Trivia: What was previously known as “Chapter 17” in that draft has now become “Chapter 2” in this new collection, albeit considerably re-imagined and extended. Everything old is new again, eh?) The photo is a bit mundane for a post wherein I babble about art design, but that’s just the point, as I don’t HAVE a design. But I’d like to have one, soon. (Nudge, nudge.)
Secondary Note: This is the first post in the “Sunday in the Park with Brian” series that did not open with Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” painting. Said development may or may not (emphasis on “may not”) appear as a trivia question during a heated final round on “Jeopardy”. Still, mark this day down in your personal diary, says the writer, with an emphasis on self-indulgence…
Categories: The Journey