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THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE Final Cover


I thought I couldn’t love my cover any more, and then?  Kensington’s Art Department did a little fine tuning and this is what we now have!

There are reasons behind every decision made by my publisher.  I know why they did this little tweak, but most important is it makes me feel extraordinarily happy for everything they’re doing to support my debut.

What I want to know is…what do you think?

the education of dixie dupree

 

 

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Great Expectations


This wasn’t an easy post to write.  I’ve sat on it for days, thinking about it, and wondering if I should write about this topic at all.  It’s likely (probably) premature for me to even think the way I am, but I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I’m what I call an “advance worrier.”  Meaning, I worry about sh*t in advance, and likely when I shouldn’t.  Can’t.  Help.  It.  Blame Mom.  Hey, I blame her. Dad never got overly concerned about much, while Mom worries about EVERYTHING.  Here’s a snippet of our conversation recently:

Me:  Hey, what’re you doing?

Mom:  Oh, I just got this disclaimer in the mail from Medicare.

Me:  What does it say?

Mom:  That my MRI might not be covered.

Me:  Mom, we talked about this before, that’s just a standard form letter they send out.

Mom:  But they say they might not cover it.

Me:  They will.

Mom:  I don’t know.  I’m going to call them.

Me:  Do whatever you need to do for peace of mind.  So, what else is going on?

Mom:  I think I saw a snake in the yard yesterday.  I better not work outside today.

Me:  That was yesterday, it’s long gone by now.  Go get some fresh air.

Mom:  I don’t know.  The damn thing could be hiding under a bush somewhere.  Waiting.

I think I’m about a 50/50 mix of Mom’s worry and Dad’s non-ruffly nature.  Then I get something like what I’m about to say here in my head, and I even worry about my level of…worry.  Yeah, worry about worrying.  How’s that?  Then I feel that I start to sound like Mom.

Anyway.  Here’s where my head’s at.  There was a slow build up via social media comments and emails which ultimately led to my understanding my debut book is an in-house favorite with my publisher, Kensington.  (heart, be still.)  This is, in the words of a few, a really good thing and hopefully means the book will also do well once it lands in stores.  Like I told my husband, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving.

Meanwhile, for the last several months, I’ve been working on my next project.  It’s a good story – if I can do it justice. (worry!)  Set in 1940, and told from the perspective of the fourteen year old daughter,  Wallis Ann Stamper, it’s about a singing family living in Appalachia who lose their home and all their possessions after a flood.  (the flood is based on historic fact)  Hunger and cold force them to leave, and try to make a living singing.  They eventually join a traveling show, where family bonds are further tested by certain events.

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, and this current book, working title THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET, are very different, yet I can’t help but worry about comparisons.  Stuck in my head is the idea DIXIE DUPREE is of a different caliber because I had years to work on it, tweak it, massage it, fluff it.  PERFECT it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the story of BITTERSWEET, but I won’t have the same sort of time to work, tweak, massage, fluff, and so I wonder – is it as good as it can be?  I don’t know.

I’ve still got some time here, and my intentions, of course, are to only send my best work – yet, (again) what if?  What if it’s not perceived in the same way as DIXIE?  No matter the stories being different, it’s about the writing.  Right?  There are expectations here – from myself, my agent, my editor, the publisher.  What if there’s head scratching?  Perplexity?  DISMAY?  Even a bunch of WTF’s?  The thought, “how did she write DIXIE DUPREE, then write…this?  I don’t even know what…this…is.”

You know what?  I hate to disappoint people, that’s what it boils down to.  I don’t like folks receiving something from me with a certain level of expectation, only to serve them up a good dose of disappointment.  What I want is for there to be the same level of enthusiasm, and excitement, and all that other great stuff – which came rather unexpectedly with DIXIE DUPREE – to happen with this story.  All the good things said about my debut have me worrying about the possible expectations with this new work.

Maybe I’m crazy to think this way – you know, before I’m even out of the gate, so to speak.  And thus, I begin worry about my worrying.  If only my worry quotient was a little more swayed, leaning more to Dad’s way versus Mom’s.  More like 80/20.

Pink room?  Softy cushy walls?  Is that what you’re thinking? 

creative-writing

 

 

I Say It’s Both


There’s this online place I visit, sometimes once a day, sometimes more – which is likely too much for my own writing good.  This online place is agent Janet Reid‘s blog.  I found her several years ago when I “entered” my serious writing stage.  Sometime back in 2011, I think.  She recently was awarded a very nice spot as one of the top 101 blogs for writers by Writers Digest.  Her blog is simply one of the best places for writers of all levels to visit.  Many of you out here already know this, but for those who don’t, or haven’t stumbled across her site yet, I say that because 1)she’s a top notch literary agent, 2)she tells it like it is, 3)with humor 4)and a dash of snark, and 5)she’s an overall industry expert.  (As to #5, this is my opinion and I know many others who feel the same way.)

Anyway, recently on one of her posts, folks started commenting, and like we tend to do, off topic it went.  We try to be good, and stay relatively in the same stratosphere of what she was posting about, but sometimes…meh, not so much.  That particular day there was a comment by one of the writers who said he “writes from the hip.”

I never did jump into the fray on this, because the Shark (a.k.a. Janet Reid) who also created Query Shark for anything and everything you ever wanted to know about writing a query, stepped in to remind everyone to stay on topic, keep individual comments to 3 or less, and no more than 100 words.  Often, too often, we get very wordy out there.

So here is where I wanted to add my two cents to that post’s off topic comments.  Like everything else with writing, there really is no right way, and no wrong way.  We each find OUR way and if it works for us, great.   First, because there are some who are now reading my posts who may not know a couple terms I’m going to use, I’ll briefly explain them.

Plotter – one who writes an outline, or synopsis of their book, beginning to end.  Plotters might carefully construct their story chapter by chapter, with the primary scenes/action and even a bit of dialogue or setting in each.  Or some might write a synopsis, knowing essentially what happens at the 50,000 foot level, from beginning to end.  The synopsis could be anywhere from 4-10 pages.

Pantster – likely self-explanatory, but for clarity, this is a writer who writes “by the seat of their pants.”  They don’t know from point A to point B what is going to happen.  They figure it out as they go along.  They sit and they write, feeling their way through as to what fits, or not.

Now that I’ve set all this up, what I wanted to say in the discussion/comments the other day is…I think we really do both.  In other words, it’s a mish-mash using both styles or techniques.  For instance, when I wrote DIXIE DUPREE, I said I used the pantster style.  I did it with book two as well.  BUT.  Although I didn’t have my beginning, middle, ending nailed down in either, I did plot them to a degree, along the way.  In other words, I had to stop writing and plan/figure out where the story needed to go.  I would decide, okay, Chapter X and Y needs to have this happen, and then I would write.

My latest WIP, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET is plotted.  I wrote a synopsis for it, which is about 4 to 5 pages detailing major events, and (yay!) I’ve stuck to it for the entire book.  But here’s the thing, despite the synopsis, there is a massive amount of writing and work to turn those 4-5 pages into a full blown story.  I know what I want to happen, but there is all that missing detail.

I was talking about the sandwich method of feedback on JR’s blog in another post, and in some ways, working with an outline brings to mind a sandwich method too.  You’ve got the bread, but nothing in between.  You still need meat, cheese, and whatever else in order to have a sandwich.  Otherwise, all you have is…two slices of bread. Even with my handy dandy synopsis, I knew nothing about how I wanted my main character to get out of a predicament, or how she would meet various characters.  Hey, some of those characters who showed up weren’t even in the outline.  Hmmm, that seems a bit pantster’ish to  me.

Writing a book is blending a bit of both pantster and plotter techniques, at least that’s my take on it. 

What’s yours?

Yet Another Post On Book Promo


Before writing this, I thought about how many other people have gone before me and shared about promotion and how it “sits” with them.  I’ve read tons of articles, tweets, FB posts, blog posts about this part of publication and how many authors have a kind of a love/hate feeling about it.  I’m on the fence, and really have no strong feelings in either direction (yet).

Here’s my strategy:

  • Try not to suck (this seems right as #1, don’t you think?)
  • Try not to annoy people (IDK…maybe this one ought to get #1)
  • Make promo interesting/fun (within my control)
  • *Build up a thick skin
  • *Realize I can’t fix everything

*more on these in a sec

Back when I worked at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT, and tell me that doesn’t show some AGE.  Hello, telegraph???) now called Alcatel Lucent, I was let go after nine years with the company.  I got a job selling ITT key systems for a subsidiary known as Metro Telecom, Inc.  I HATED that sales job.  I had to “cold call.”  Walk into some business at random, ask to speak to the manager, or the person in charge, and try to tell them to spend thousands of dollars, just like that! (snaps fingers) on a new phone system.

You can imagine how successful I was.  It’s really the only sales job I’ve had – until now.

Granted, book promotion is different.  It’s not cold calling, for one, unless I decide to contact people in a mailing list to persuade them my book is something I think they’d enjoy.  That’s not my thing though.  I’d rather use a mailing list to send news about events, special prices, or share how the book is doing.  I don’t plan to email anyone and ask them to buy the book.  On my Ick Factor Scale (IFS) it ranks a -1 bazillion out of 10.  And notice that acronym?  IFS?  Yeah.  I can imagine people reading that email and thinking, uh huh, well, that’s a big IF, alright.

There are many ways to promote a book without sounding like a carnival barker.  As some of you know, I just did a traditional sort of ARC giveaway.  That’s a book promo I think works.  The publicist has suggested we do a Goodreads giveaway next month, and I think that will also be another wonderful way to promo.  In other words, when I can give something, it makes me feel better.  Be it time to answer questions, giving someone a book, or simply sharing news, I’ll always feel I’m on the right side of promotional efforts if I’m doing the giving.

That is the key word for me.  GIVING.

Now on to that *thick skinned part of the list above.  I am not thick skinned and I’m going to get bad reviews.  It is impossible to dodge that bullet because we already know reading tastes vary and are very subjective.  Not everyone is going to like my book.  That’s right, you there, you might not like it, at all.  You might even think, I can write better than this, how the hell did this happen?  I know.  How do I know?  Because I’ve had those same thoughts.  🙂

In order for promotional efforts to be authentic (hey look how much fun I’m having!), and to have the panache to face the public when I know there are 1 star reviews hanging around for everyone else to read, will require the ability to let those negative reviews go.  Or try not to read them.  (Good luck, Donna, you know you’re too nosy) Maybe I’ll just back up and re-read the good ones, and hope that sort of balances things out and move on.

On to *realizing I can’t fix everything.  For example, right now I’m very hands on with my Facebook Author page.  (www.facebook.com/donnadaviseverhart)  So, today, I was responding to a couple new comments, and I sent an invitation to a new contact to Like the page.  While I was poking around out there, FB has these analytics, and I checked that out.  I actually felt a little lurch in my heart when I saw an Unlike.  Geez.  Already???  Somebody liked my page, then unliked it?   My first thought was why?  And, what can I do?  I thought, well, if I know who, then I can reach out to them and maybe “fix” whatever caused them to unlike me.  Okay, not me, it.  But see?  That’s the thin skinned part of me, and the fix it part of me reacting.

Realistically, what can I do?  Nothing.  They have the right to do what they want.  And for all I know, this was an unlike that went right back to a like.  I just did that today.  I liked the Southern Independent Book Alliance site, and then unliked them because I wanted to “Like” them via my Author Page.  Of course I like them!  I’m a brand new member!  But, I think they would see that “unlike,” just like I did via the analytics.

Now that I’ve shared all this, I ought to print it out and keep it where I can see it.  then I should read it a few months from now and see if I still think the same way.

It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure.  As a reader or an author, what do you think about book promotions?

 

Finding Pennies


I made no move to mark or signal in any way my father’s one year anniversary of passing.  About three days before the official day, Mom and I went out to the grave site and swapped out the Christmas flowers for a selection of silk flowers I’d picked out, varying shades of off white, sunny yellow and deep blues.  A Spring bouquet.

She worried over the stone.  “Look, Donna, it’s sinking.”

I bent over and strained to see.  Yes.  Maybe that one corner was dipping into the rain sodden ground, ever so slightly.

“We have to call the cemetery office.  We have to tell them to fix it.”

“I’ll call them today, Mom.”

“Here, brush it off.  I don’t want it to be dirty.”

I whisked away a few strands of dead grass.  A bug.  A small bit of dirt.

“There.  That’s much better,” she said.

We didn’t get that quiet time we wanted with Dad.  Right beside his grave two men worked to prepare an “Opening.”  They were polite, and kept about it, but it was hard to stand there and feel any sense of connection to Dad, so, we left.

As is often the case when dealing with loss, those left behind, the ones impacted the most might tend to look for “signs.”  Several weeks after Dad passed, when Mom’s grief had diminished to a more manageable sadness and she once again became more aware of her surroundings, she began finding pennies here and there.  We were at a Minute Clinic at a CVS store for her to get a pneumonia shot, and while sitting in one of the little waiting chairs just outside the clinic, right in front of her feet – a penny.

“Oh!  Look, Donna.  A penny!  That’s your father signaling me.”

She bent over, picked it up as I said, “What?”

“Haven’t you heard about pennies from heaven?” she asked.

Vaguely, I think I had…I wasn’t sure.  She said after a loved one has passed, if you find pennies (or other change I guess) in odd places, it was a sign they were with you.

“Hm,” said I, with some skepticism.  It’s possible you could find spare change just about anywhere, if you looked hard enough.

But then, a couple weeks later, we were standing in the backyard discussing what she was going to do about mulching and trimming, and there on the ground at our feet, another penny.  In the grass.  How odd.

And still again, I took her to a store to pick up a few things, and as we waited in line to be checked out, what did we see?  Yep.  Another penny right by her foot.

More recently, my brother and I accompanied her to a minor procedure.  While she and I sat side by side in the waiting room, (my brother paced) there on the carpeted floor?  Sigh.  Yes.  A penny.

She was thrilled.  “I see you, Daddy.”

I have to admit, my hint of skepticism was waning.

And then this happened.

We’ve been dealing with the flu, here in the Everhart household.  I recently washed a blanket I’d taken down from the closet to use one night when the fever spiked and I was certain death from freezing was imminent.  After it was dry, I folded it back up and was putting it back on the closet shelf.

In that closet hangs my Dad’s coat.  The one I’d given him years ago, and the one he wore ALL the time – especially after he became ill and seemed to stay cold.

DSCF1924

After he passed, I told Mom I wanted it – sentimental reasons and all.  I brought it home, washed it, dried it, and hung it up.  It’s been in the closet over a year.  I took it off the hanger, and something made me put it on.  I shoved my hands into the pockets, and stood there a moment, breathing deep, wishing, in a way, that I hadn’t washed it because it only smelled of detergent.

I wiggled my fingers in the left pocket and encountered a flat round object.  I pulled it out and stared at what lay in my hand.  Yes.  A penny.

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Coincidence? 

I don’t know, what do you think?

 

Newsletter or Blog


You might have noticed I keep monkeying around with things “out here.”  Chalk it up to preparation.  Again, I go back to my need to be organized and have certain requirements for the new part of this writing gig called Promotion in place.

The latest and greatest?  WordPress helped me again this morning to change the pre-order hyperlinks to actual store icons and they are now located in a more visible spot in the Sidebar.  Yay!  (Here’s a heads up.  With the Kensington button, the book is not yet up on their site.)

As I mentioned before, I prefer to be ahead of the game and not scrambling around at the last minute.  With that, I’m also up in the air about keeping the Blog, or going to a Newsletter format.  I’ve talked about that here, and in other “places.”  You might notice the tab that was called Blog now says Newsletter – as if I’ve made up my mind.  I changed it so it will simply allow me to convert to doing the Newsletter – maybe once a month (or more as needed), if I choose to go that way.

I’ve also added back in my Twitter feed (recommendation by publicist) and a way for you to follow me.  That was a head slap moment.  And…I’m actually sort of curious about that feature.  WordPress seems pretty straightfoward, i.e., has a way for folks to follow if they aren’t on WordPress via email – so I hope it works!  If someone out there reads this and doesn’t know what WordPress is, then you are my perfect guinea pig!  Sign up to follow/receive the “Newsletter” currently looking like a Blog.  🙂

At this point though, this “Newsletter tab” is still all about me ying-yanging about whatever I like out “here.”  I will have comments open as always.  (CRAIG)

Also, if you could, hop on over to Facebook and “Like” my (also new!) Author page, I would be very grateful!  To find me, go here: http://www.facebook.com/donnadaviseverhart.  I’ll be on the lookout for the LOVE there too!

I’m always looking for your input, so if you have suggestions, want to weigh in on any of this, or simply have something to say in general, I’m here – with the little red eff!

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Welcome To A New Look!


I’ve been working behind the scenes to transition my blog to a new and improved “website.”  Across the top you’ll see the new  “menu” items (The Book, About, Contact, etc.), but I’ve also chosen a theme I hope will represent this new part of my writing career.

I like simplicity.  I like organization and structure.  I like to have features lined up like little soldiers, and not too much clutter.  The old blog was starting to look a little cluttered.  Don’t get me wrong…I loved the old blog with my little lizard – okay, some called it a red eff, or maybe it’s a salamander, but the dark background and white font?  Not so much.

I have “The Book” as my static page for now.  I am still poking around out here and so, if you see some further changes or rearrangements to content, that’s why.  I’m not sure the blog will stay.  It may go to a newsletter, and if so, I’ll be converting that space to a page that will say “Newsletter” and a form to sign up, and I hope you will!  All that is up in the air right now because I like to chit chat, but I’m finding my time for that more limited.

Take a little tour yourself, test out the social media features, and as always, let me know what you think – or if something didn’t work!

 

Cover Reveal, THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE


UPDATE!!! I found out today THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE is available for pre-order on Amazon. If you’re so inclined, hop over to the “Books” tab in the upper right hand corner of the blog here, and click on the Amazon link!

A huge THANK YOU to an unknown source who threatened me bodily harm, and a good chompin’ if I didn’t get ON IT, quick. *Some* of you probably know who I’m talking about…

I will let this speak for itself, but suffice it to say, I am over the moon in love with my cover!  Below this, I’ve also included the back/flap copy.

Cover DIXIE DUPREE

In 1969, Dixie Dupree is eleven years old and already an expert liar. Sometimes the lies are for her mama, Evie’s sake-to explain away a bruise brought on by her quick-as-lightning temper. And sometimes the lies are to spite Evie, who longs to leave her unhappy marriage in Perry County, Alabama, and return to her beloved New Hampshire. But for Dixie and her brother, Alabama is home, a place of pine-scented breezes and hot, languid afternoons.

Though Dixie is learning that the family she once believed was happy has deep fractures, even her vivid imagination couldn’t concoct the events about to unfold. Dixie records everything in her diary-her parents’ fights, her father’s drinking and his unexplained departure, and the arrival of Uncle Ray. Only when Dixie desperately needs help and is met with disbelief does she realize how much damage her past lies have done. But she has courage and a spirit that may yet prevail, forcing secrets into the open and allowing her to forgive and become whole again.

Narrated by her young heroine in a voice as sure and resonant as The Secret Life of Bees’ Lily or Bastard Out of Carolina’s Bone, Donna Everhart’s remarkable debut is a story about mothers and daughters, the guilt and pain that pass between generations, and the truths that are impossible to hide, especially from ourselves.

Let me know what you think!

 

 

There Is Nothing There


Summer evening, late. The road traveled lies within city limits, moonlight over a pastured landscape, blackened shadows of barns line a ridge while cattle bed down within a barbed wire fence.  Along the road moves a car, sporty red, fairly new, the driver, a young woman.  She’s tired, her fatigue earned by a previous late night and then an all day job, followed by another late night.

She drives with windows down, a sultry breeze skims in and out, occasionally scented with mowed grass and wild lavender.  A pop station plays a top forty list, barely audible.  The road is as familiar as the rest of her routines.  It is the route home.

Her mind wanders over the day, and the evening.  She’s just left the home of a friend.  She should have been in bed hours before.  An internal thought floats, I’m too tired to be out driving, followed by a vague movement in her peripheral vision.  She automatically turns her head to see-only it’s not possible anything could be there, just outside a car going forty-five m.p.h.  She’s right.

There is nothing there.

Another thought blooms, I’m so tired I’m seeing things.  Seconds later, a row of mailboxes snagged by the car’s high beams also captures the surprising view of an old man.  He is bent over, as if to pick up something on the ground, while glancing back at her over his shoulder.  She swerves to avoid him, and looks at her rear view mirror.

There is nothing there.

Inexplicably, she is filled with a sense of dread.  As she passes an old abandoned house, she senses something, a presence, a nightmare quality awareness entering the car.  The passenger seat, she feels she shouldn’t look there.  She can’t explain why.  Heart rate elevates, hands get sticky on the wheel as she tells herself, act normal.  Act like nothing is wrong.  Turn up the radio.  Sing, if you can.  At the old grist mill, even if the light is red, go through it, DON’T STOP.  You can’t stop.

She can’t explain why she’s having these thoughts, yet, her hand goes to the radio and music fills the car.  She hums because she can’t form words.  She thinks of the word evilUninvited evil.  The stop light is at the bottom of a long hill.  It’s RED.  She swallows and her heart bumps erratically.  Foot on the gas, her driving is somehow steady.  She keeps humming.  The grist mill is to her right. The old wheel is turning, and frothy water spills in a cascade.  She hasn’t slowed down.  The light is still red.

Twenty feet from the light.  She is going too fast.  She plans to run it.

It flips to green.

Ascending the hill beyond the light, she is suddenly at peace.  The past minute or so dissolves into night air.  There is no explanation for what she just experienced, only relief she no longer feels that strange sense of foreboding.

If I wrote horror stories, I’d use this material in some way, as a beginning for someone’s world falling apart, where they can’t tell what’s real, what’s not, are they crazy, or are they really experiencing events which get more bizarre and scary.  But I don’t write horror, and in some ways I’m glad, I almost scared myself writing this.  🙂

And here’s the thing,  this is a true story.  This happened to me about twenty-five years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it.  So why make a blog post about it now?  Because…about a month ago, I watched Abigail for the day.  I took her to my Mom’s for a visit, and the drive to take Abigail back home took me down this road for the first time in many years.  I thought about it for the first time in a long while.  My question has always been, what the heck happened?  What WAS that?

What do you think it was?

Dark Hwy

 

 

 

The Anatomy Of A Book


I’ve always loved books, but one in my hands today is not treated the same way as it was years ago.  When I used to start reading, I would sometimes peruse the dedication page, but most often I would jump right into the story.

Not now.  Now actually meaning anytime since about 2009.   When I pick up a novel these days, I virtually dissect it.  Like that stinky little frog, or God forbid, that ginormous EARTHWORM thingy we used to have to cut into and take apart bit by bit in biology class.  That’s how I go through a book, dissecting it bit by bit.

By dissect, I mean I read/look at everything.  When I’m enamored with an author, as I am with too many to count, it’s not just about being entertained that interests me.  It’s about the skin, spine, bones, heart, lungs, eyes (vision) and brains of a book.  (yes, this post will be filled with terms using various organs I decided on; cheesy but effective, don’t you think?)

When I pick up a book now, I study the cover (skin).  This used to be the very first thing that drew me in.  With a quick first glance over the shelves, I could immediately pick out one I thought I’d like.  Since deciding to write and pursue publication, I’ve dreamed about a cover for my own book.  Today when I look at covers, I still have a penchant for a certain vibe they carry, while knowing I like many different types.

Here are a few of my favorites:

With BASTARD, the picture of the young girl and the figure of a woman nearby, hand on her hip, plus the model of the car tells you this will be a story about conflict set in a time some decades ago.  COAL RIVER and ONE FOOT IN EDEN are covers I love, portraying darkish settings which, (IMO) tells you there’s trouble ahead.  The covers evoke a sense of heaviness/darkness, serious stories about serious topics.  With CEECEE HONEYCUTT, the book was pitched as STEEL MAGNOLIAS meets THE HELP.  The hummingbird and flowers just below the scrolled volute (?) makes you envision people with sweet Southern charm who get their happy ending.

I’ve become pretty consistent about flipping the book to look at it’s spine.  This is just to see who published it, and since I started doing that years ago, I’m now familiar with many of the imprint logos.

With the cover also comes flap copy or “bones.”  By reading that, I understand the story’s structure and what it’s about.  It will tell me (in some cases) if the author used first person, third, is it from multiple narrators or one.

Next, I take a look at the heart, which to me is the dedication and the acknowledgements pages.  I call this the heart because this is where authors will likely let you have a peek at their emotions.  I like to see who the books are dedicated to because it also tells me a little bit about the author’s relationships, are they married, with or without kids?  Dogs?  Cats?  The acknowledgements gives me an idea of a book’s journey.  Who did the author know?  Who helped them?  How long did it take?  Not all of these answers are given, but after reading many, many acknowledgements and dedication pages, I usually think I know a little something more about how a particular book came to be.

Next comes the lungs, that breath deep inside, that in and out movement which pinks up our skin, makes us gasp, or laugh, or literally stop breathing during a particularly tense scene, as in…the story itself.  Self-explanatory, no?

Then, there is the vision for the book.  How does the publisher see the marketing of it?  There might be blurbs by other authors of the same genre, for one.  Sometimes these are so abundant, they fill some of the inside pages at the front along with one or two on the front cover, and the entire back cover may have them.  There are reviews to go after, and sales people who contact distribution channels to place the books in stores.

Last, but not least, the brain.  This is where you are encouraged to think about the story with Reading Guides, particularly if a difficult social issue is written into the story.  Occasionally there will be a “Conversation With <insert author name>.”

Strange, but true, I look at all of it.  Even the ISBN #’s, copyright date/s, and print editions.  And disclaimers.

The other day I picked up my next read and I spent time looking at the list of books the author has finished since his debut.  I thought, “I’m doing it again.  Dissecting.”  But it’s fun, and all of it is there for a reason, whether for the reader or the authors themselves.  And I don’t smell like formaldehyde.  That’s a plus.

Do you spend time “dissecting,” books, or am I the only one with this quirky habit?

 

 

 

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