The Internet hosts HEAPS of advice for new writers and new authors. I do not weigh in on those, because publishing is a business where your mileage may vary. I'm doing what works for me!
Today, I have a single piece of advice for new authors: think carefully about your cover art. My publisher and I agreed on the cover for Life Before, and it truly fits the story, but I hadn't realized it would be everywhere. It's on my business cards, all over my website, on posters when I speak at book stores, and on name tags at book events. The cover was perfect for Xander, but I'm not really a dirty Chucks kind of girl.
Next Thursday, we're revealing my new cover. It's beautiful. I'll be buying new business cards and revamping my website as soon as possible!
Photo credits for the above: Mira Thomt, Abra Johnson and Carlos Barradas
To be fair, this was my most logical child. My dear 2010 said, "I wish tomorrow were my birthday."
First off, kudos to my four-year-old for using the conditional sense. Second, I tried to logic her out of it. It did not go well.
"It wouldn't really be fair if you had two birthdays, would it?" See what I did? I appealed to her sense of fairness and love for her sisters.
Irritated, she explained that didn't want two, she just wanted hers to be tomorrow.
I tried more logic.
"But if tomorrow were your birthday, my Love, you would be devastated when your actual birthday rolled around and it wasn't your birthday anymore."
My angry girl explained that she wanted to skip right to her birthday.
"You know, Love, if we skipped right to your birthday, we would SKIP your grandmother's birthday, and Genevieve's and Felix's, and Suzy Lou's, too."
She knew, but she wanted cake and presents.
I sensed whining on the horizon, but I had her!
"Love, we're not ready for your party. I haven't baked a cake or bought any presents. There are no decorations or anything."
Tears. I had made her cry. She knew, but it would be cool if her birthday were tomorrow.
I finally got it.
"You're right, 2010! That would be cool!"
And off she went to play, blissed out with her cool idea.
I'm new in Seattle, so I'm wading through the social structure looking for kindred spirits.
This week, when I finished the public draft of my manuscript, I needed to celebrate with someone. I shared the good news with an acquaintance and she was ecstatic.
"Tell me about this book!"
"It's contemporary YA about a guy whose mom is murdered on graduation day."
Her transformation was immediate: blank eyes, fake smile, squared shoulders. "I only read books for grown ups." And then she glanced furtively, as if the book police would arrest her for talking about YA.
I can't befriend a book shamer. I'm not embarrassed of what I write or what I read.* Here's a sample:
That's just one shelf of the 36ish in my house. (I'm not counting the children's shelves.)
I'm not ashamed of the YA or the commercial fiction. I don't need to justicy the Griffen & Sabine trilogy (though really, the letters! The envelopes! I swoon.) I also don't feel compelled to explain the two copies of The Time Traveler's Wife (or the other three copies floating around my house.) Hey, there is American Erotica on the shelf, too. (Also, I hadn't realized how similar the spines are for I Thought My Father Was God and In a Sunburned Country.)
I thought about cropping out the shelf below for aesthetic reasons, but why? It elaborates on the story. Liberating Grammar, written by one of my favorite college professors, is quite good. You probably recognize the Harry Potters (including an English, i.e. Not American version. There's a story behind that one.) What else is down there? More Bill Bryson, The Help, Erich Segal's Love Story. (There's a story behind that, too. Two stories, actually.)
I'm not ashamed of any of that. I didn't remove a single book from that shelf. (In the interest of full disclosure, note that I did remove a chocolate bar from the shelf. When Dove milk chocolate is found in the house, it's a sign. It was delish.)
I'll photograph every shelf in my house if you want. (Hey, that would be fun! Take photos of your closest book shelf and share it!)
Read what you love. Graphic novels ring your chimes? Go for it. You only like 18th century French literature? Bon appetit. Everything by Stephen King and no one else? Go ahead and scare the crap out of yourself again and again.
Being ashamed of what you read is one step removed from lying about who you are. Read what you love. It's the literate equivalent of letting your freak flag fly.
Don't be ashamed of what you loathe, either. I could never get into David Foster Wallace, no matter how hard I tried. Most fantasy is just not for me. Ditto space operas. Most of Shakespeare, even though they might revoke my bachelor's degree for admitting it.
I love lots of different kinds of books. I love adult contemporary. And I love really good science fiction. I love nonfiction. I love reading middle grade books (Is 2008 ready to read The Penderwicks yet?) and I love reading YA.
I love writing YA. In fact, I am happier writing YA than I ever was writing adult contemporary.
We've gone round and round the Internets about books for boys, books for girls, books for grown ups. It's all BS, people.
Books are for readers. Read on.
*I am, however, somewhat ashamed that I haven't organized my books in the eight weeks since we moved in.
Again. Yes, again.
Apple no longer supports iWeb at all, so the blog needs to migrate yet again to a new platform. Comments won't come with the posts, but categories will be supported.
We'll still be here at michelebacon.com, but we'll look different. We've always looked a little different.
Unsolicited advice: marry someone who can provide web support.
Everyone is getting hitched!
In the year I graduated college, I knew 17 couples who were marrying, and this year rivals that. Of course, this year has the second (and third) marriages you would expect in our mid-30s, so it's not quite the same. You are wiser. Smarter. Older.
You require less advice, so I have exactly two pieces of advice for happily engaged couples:
1. Decide what wedding element is most important to you, and be sure you get exactly what you want. Most of us can't afford the ideal cake, perfect dress, bridesmaids' dresses that make them ALL look fabulous, nutritionally-balanced yet delicious dinner, imported flowers, string quartet, finest champagne andstorybook venue. Choose one (or each choose one) and allocate an appropriate sum to it.
(If you couldn't agree on a single element, this second piece of advice is particularly important for you)
2. Spend more time planning your marriage than planning your wedding. Your wedding is one day of your life. It is one day you will scarcely remember except in photographs and others' anecdotes, particularly if you have a large wedding. Large weddings mean you won't get to talk to most people, you won't get to enjoy your nutritionally-balanced yet delicious meal, and you won't get to relish all the details until far later. It is one day.
Your marriage, though, needs bolstering. Talk about money. Talk about children. Talk about politics, and decide how important they are to you. Talk about religion. Talk about sex. Talk about love. Talk about life goals and where you want to be in five-ten-twenty-fifty years. Talk about how your in-laws look, because chances are your spouse will look like them in 30 years. Identify what's important to you. Lay your expectations on the line. Spell out your traditions and explain what you expect of your future spouse. Share the secret dreams that you hold deep in your heart, because on days you do not believe you can achieve them, you will need your spouse to believe in you.
Today brought this winter's first real snow. Most kids I know are beside themselves with joy and an overwhelming urge to make snow angels (without snow pants) and snowmen (without enough snow) and have snowball fights (without mittens.)
While you're reminding your kids how to dress for the season, I have some advice for you:
Brush off the whole car.
Seriously. I don't care whether you're in the snow belt or the bible belt. When you have more than a half inch of snow, your duty is to get it ALL off your car. Not just the windows.
And, unlike my neighbor, NOT JUST THE WINDSHIELD. (Yes, I was shouting.) How does she even drive like that?
Snow belongs on the ground, unless it's falling clean from the sky. No one wants snow from your car landing in their line of sight.
First, clear the roof of your vehicle, even if you're driving something huge. If you bought a Hummer, you need to take care of it. Remove the snow from the roof so swathes of it don't fly off your vehicle to blind your fellow motorists. If you can't handle this, buy something smaller.
Then brush down the windows, all of them. If your brush doesn't include a scraper, a credit card will work on ice in a pinch.
Lastly, brush the hood (for your own sake) and trunk (for those fellow motorists again.)
And, when you get on the road, don't pretend you've never done this before. Driving in snow is no big deal (except that one time, with apologies to Matt Merges and Lynn Cowan.)
Much of my writing centers around mothers and children. Kids are on my mind constantly because they're constantly in my house, on my lap, sharing my shower, riding on my back, tugging at my hair, in my room, in my clothes,
I know many young parents, and still more parents considering additional children. Several pairs of prospective parents mill around our social circles. I've said to them what I say to you: if you're doubting yourself, do not have children.
If you covet your neighbors' salaries and exotic vacations and material things, do not have children.
If you cannot function (and be courteous) on fewer than five hours' sleep, do not have children.
If you cannot imagine sharing your partner and your sanctuary, do not have children.
If you have an irrepressible temper, do not have children.
If you value peace above all else, do not have children.
You will just make yourself miserable.
If, however, the urge to procreate is overwhelming, and if you can prioritize your life so your needs are dead last, and if you can scarcely imagine the rest of your life without children, go ahead and make some.
And enjoy the ride; it is (almost) pure bliss.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: