Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cover Judging - On the Edge

There seems to be a correlation between the ridiculous and sci-fi romance novels - three of the five novels featured here have come from the marriage of these genres. My pile of Post-Its containing future features are over half sci-fi-mance. Many of the titles are vampire-related, a few are werewolf. I have a couple that are general magic - wizards and such.

But this one seems pretty special. I've saved it for Halloween week:First Glance: Very, very special: pretty girl in denim, leaning against an old pickup, holding a magic shotgun; disembodied floating strong-jawed head, complete with what I'm guessing are "piercing" blue eyes; sunset-y background, giving everything a nice reddish glow. Excellent, excellent work there. And the featured quote in the middle of the cover is a nice touch, too. Score: 4.5 out of 5

On the Edge - I'll go with it. It could refer to a magical world whose precipice stands on the Edge; it could refer to a clandestine romance; it could refer to our heroine's emotional state. I like when I have options. Score: 3.5 out of 5

What? No tagline! Sad day.

Back-of-the Book:
Fortunately, it seems they've saved their creativity for the back of the book:
"The Broken is a place where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is nothing more than a fairy tale."
Oooooooh, nice Wal-Mart reference. This book is clearly appealing to those of us in middle America - you know, because we all drive old pickups, own guns, and shop at the Wal-Mart. On the Edge was just published a few months ago, so TOPICAL! Points for being recession-friendly! Anyway, there's more:
"The Weird is a realm where blueblood aristocrats rule and the strength of your magic can change your destiny. "
All right. Obviously we don't like any bluebloods, and maybe in this case, "magic" is a stand-in for money or influence. OR BOTH. It's like a fable for our times or something. And here's our heroine:
" Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, the place between both worlds."
Ah, Rose. Another Rose. A delicate flower, but a flower with a built-in defense system: thorns. Never forget what Poison taught us: every Rose has its thorn. Our Rose, it seems, lives in rather dangerous circumstances:
"A perilous existence indeed, made even more so by a flood of magic-hungry creatures bent on absolute destruction."
Let's focus on this "flood of magic-hungry creatures bent on absolute destruction" as part of our economic fable. Could they be those unfortunate people who bought into the sub-prime mortgage market? Or is it another level up - are they the lenders who offered these mortgages? Or are they the ultimate evil - investment bankers? And how will our Rose defeat them? What magic will she use? Does she hold the key to bailing out the unsuspecting citizens who live in The Broken? Man, this book is taking me places I never expected. Score: 5 out of 5

Final Score: 13 out of 15 - On the Edge qualifies for the Silver Deveraux, but it was very close to the Gold. The disembodied head gets a major thumbs-up from me, as well as the apparent economic fable Ilona Andrews has crafted.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Thanks to Valérie of Bijoux Lélie for featuring my Jane necklace on her blog - check out her cute jewelry shop here! (I'm a fan of the post card necklace, btw)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Out of Context: Dispatches from the internet

"Judging from the winky emoticon you've added, I assume you are making a joke."

This has been another dispatch from the wide world of Internet.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cover Judging - Leigh Greenwood's Seven Brides: Rose

One day, I am going to create a series of novels. I'm not going to write it, naturally. I'm going to create it. I need only write the first book and after that, I'm free to enjoy a rewarding life as a brand-name author. My name will be in a larger font than the actual title of the book; the series title may be larger, too. It's likely that I may insist on a possessive. I'm just in the brainstorming phase right now, but here's a mock-up of the finished product (click to make larger):
It's good, right?

Oh, and I'd like to thank the person responsible for inspiring my pursuit of this whispered-about portion of the publishing industry: Leigh Greenwood.
First Glance: Pretty standard stuff here, but it's okay to do standard if you do it well. And this cover does it well: passionate couple standing at an impossible angle (seriously, 45 degrees, at most), frilly, slightly-revealing dress for her, sunset-y background. I'm slightly confused by his Ten Commandments get-up, since I'm assuming this is one of seven brothers who won the West. I like the little miniature portrait of Rose - that's a quality detail. Overall, good job. Score: 3.5 out of 5

Title: Leigh Greenwood's Seven Brides: Rose - I pretty much covered my thoughts on this in the intro. I'm just going to add my thoughts on the series concept of Seven Brides: why not go full plagiarism and call it Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? Or even go for a higher number! Nine Brides for Nine Brothers would mean two more moneymakers sitting out on the grocery store shelves! Regardless of Ms. Greenwood's oversight in this matter, I'm giving it high marks for branding, trite concept, and the afterthought of an actual title. Score: 4 out of 5

Tag Line: "Seven brothers who won the west - and the women who tamed their hearts."
Again, pretty standard. The dude is manly, obvs, since he's out winning the West. After he's done raising the homestead, he's going to need a strong-willed woman to fight with and eventually love. Points for cramming two cliches next to each other, though. Score: 2.5 out of 5

Back-of-the-Book: Evidently, our Rose's full name is "penniless, friendless Rose Thornton." Desperate for work, Rose responds to a want ad asking for "a woman to cook, clean, and wash for seven men." Now, not only does she have means of support, but she happened to be hired by an "incredibly handsome man" named George.
"But when she first set eyes on her hero's ramshackle ranch (Alliteration!) in the wilds of the Texas brush country and met his utterly impossible brothers, Rose decided even George's earth-shattering kisses weren't compensation enough for the job ahead of her."
I wonder how that job interview went. "And regarding payment: are you willing to accept earth-shattering kisses as compensation?" I guess our girl was okay with this arrangement when she was staring at George's "incredibly handsome" face, but then she met his brothers . . .
"Never in her life had she seen a place more in need of a woman's touch, or men more in need of a civilizing influence. The Randolph brothers were a wild bunch and they weren't about to let any female change their ways . . . not until George laid down the law and then lost his heart to the beguiling spitfire who'd turned all their lives upside down."
Yep. The back of the book just summarized the entire plot for you. You're welcome! The brothers lives are turned upside down by Rose, the "beguiling spitfire," and George and Rose get together. The End. Points for the thesaurus work, though. Score: 3.5 out of 5

Final Score: 13.5 out of 20 - Leigh Greenwood's Seven Brides: Rose gets the Bronze Feather for sheer competence. Entertainingly cheesy cover, decent tag-line, and a "beguiling spitfire" of a protagonist. Good enough to place, Ms. Greenwood.

Monday, October 12, 2009

On paper . . .

One of my favorite things about fashion/home design shows is the sketches. I love it when the designer has a clear idea, sketches it out on paper, and by the end of the show . . . there it is, in real life!

I am in no way an artist - seriously. But, I can draw rudimentary little flowers, a skill I use when making my headbands. Usually, my third-grade style drawings look nothing like the finished product. But this time . . .
. . . it did!

I was so excited about it that I had to share it with somebody. So I am sharing it with you, Internet.

(necklace available here)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TV Style: Gossip Girl

You know I love Gossip Girl. And you know I love the insanely awesome style they all have. Particularly, I love it when they get preppy.

One of my daydreams about going to prep school involves the uniforms. I always picture student after student personalizing their uniform: fraying the edges, wearing their tie a certain way, going crazy with accessories. It's probably unrealistic, but hey, it's a daydream!

Anyway, this is why I loved Jenny's first-day-of-school outfit: she's playing on the pleated-skirt-and-blazer look with her cute shorts and rad vest; she's got her tie, but she's layered it with a bunch of necklaces and she's wearing aviators, one of the official sunglasses of cool. It's like my prep-school uniform daydream come to life!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breaking Coverage: Get it, COVERage?

A few months ago, a book cover crossed my path. It was so amazing that it has since become legend in my mind. I've described it's absolute awesomeness several different times to several different people: "he's, like, scaling a wall shirtless, as his blond ponytail streams down his back and it looks like there might be fire in the background, maybe symbolically, I don't know, I didn't read the back."

Unfortunately, I was less observant then, and didn't catch the title of this feat of book coverness. But then, by a simple twist of fate, this book crossed my path again, unbidden, tonight.

And now I know its name: MICAH.

You're speechless, right? I don't know if I should even break it down - clearly I'll be awarding it the coveted Golden Fabio. I'll go through the motions anyway . . .

First Glance: There are hardly words. It's beyond perfect. The ponytail, the shirtlessness, the ridiculous muscular display, the desperate need to reach his beloved. It's everything a romance novel cover should aspire to become. Score: 5 out of 5

Title: I don't even care that it's a boring title. The picture earns the right to a boring title. Score: 5 out of 5

Tag Line: "Raising the dead was easy. Love was hard . . . "
[record-needle scratch] Whaaaaaaat? You're telling me that supernatural forces are involved? And that conquering said forces is far less complicated than love? Full credit, friends. Score: 5 out of 5

Back-of-the-Book: Evidently, this book is part of an 18-book (and more coming) series about intrepid vampire hunter Anita Blake. Could the titular Micah be part of a forbidden vampire/hunter love? No. It's even better:
"But I’m not alone. Micah is with me. Micah, head of the St. Louis wereleopard pard. King to my Queen. The only one of my lovers who can stir my blood with just a glance from his chartreuse cat’s eyes. I was happy to have him at my side."
This book is like the proverbial many-layered onion - you keep peeling back a layer, only to find a new, possibly better layer.

At first glance, it's just a cheesy cover featuring a shirtless man named Micah scaling a wall to reach his beloved. Then it turns out to be a supernatural romance, wherein the supernatural forces are much less complicated than love. And then you learn that it's not just any supernatural romance: it's a vampire hunter/wereleopard romance. And the wereleopard has "chartreuse cat's eyes." It's a process of discovery that's so rewarding, I feel as though I can't do anything but take you along for the ride. Score: 5 out of 5

Final Score: 20/20 GOLDEN FABIO. Are you kidding? I might even have to change the name of the award to the Golden Micah.

Note: So, is wereleopard a thing now? It would make some sense if the leopard-man from Burning Wild belongs to this species. What instigates the wereleopard's transformation? Do they get along with their canine brethren or is there some kind of feline superiority complex happening? There are so many questions.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cover Judging - Miranda and the Warrior

This week's winner comes to us from the great HarperCollin's imprint, Avon, a publisher so bold as to declare "We know what women want."

After mastering "what women want," Avon decided to move on to what young women want. And what these kids want is knowledge - kids want to learn about the past, but they want to do it in a fun way! They want to read historical fiction, but they want romance! They want adventure! They want shallow, perfunctory research and broadly-drawn caricatures! And thus, the Avon True Romance series was born.

A quick Wikipedia search reveals that this series contains twelve books, all written by popular authors (this explains why Meg Cabot, whom I usually adore, wrote the dreadful Nicola and the Viscount and Victoria and the Rogue). A few books in the series were returned all at once this week, so I was able to pick my favorite: Miranda and the Warrior.

First Glance: Adorable. ADORABLE! See the way she looks at him with complete twitterpated-ness? And how he returns her gaze austerely, standing beside her with manly confidence? And they are in the mountains, perhaps in uncharted territory! Adventure! Yet her adorable yellow dress remains stain and wrinkle-free! Symbolism! It's like they captured the purity and truth of a girl's first love, set it in frontier times, and put it on a book cover! Score: 4 out of 5

Title: This is hard, because obviously the title needed to conform to the Avon True Romance house style: "Girl and the Man with Historical Occupation." (Beside the aforementioned Meg Cabot titles, we have Amelia and the Outlaw, Catherine and the Pirate, and my personal favorite, Tess and the Highlander. You know I love anything involving highlanders.) It's hard to fault the author for giving the book such a boring, pun-free name.

Yet, Miranda and the Warrior doesn't work for another reason: Miranda isn't a believable frontier name. With the entire tome of Little House on the Prairie available, you'd think the author could skim through and find a better first name. Something like Nellie or Ida or I don't know, Mary? Score: 2 out of 5

Back-of-the-Book: Miranda is the only child of a U.S. Cavalry major, making her a prime bargaining tool when the Cheyenne warrior Shadow Walker kidnaps her. Evidently, Shadow Walker believed he'd captured a girl, "but he comes to realize that she is not just a girl, but a headstrong woman" (I believe the correct terminology is 'not a girl, not yet a woman'). Miranda, naturally, "defies him at every turn," yet inexplicably, "captive and captor grow closer and soon uncover feelings they had thought impossible" (Stockholm Syndrome?). We are left with but one question: "Would they risk everything they once held dear - for each other?" I think we all know the answer to that question. Score: 3.5 out of 5

Extra credit: While I can't offer credit for the name Miranda, I can provide a few bonus points for Shadow Walker. Score: +3

Final Score: 10.5 out of 15 - That gets the Silver Dodd, for excellence in adorably chaste cover art and competence in back-of-the-book final question asking. Congratulations to Miranda and her warrior, Shadow Walker.