Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Don't judge a book by its cover

How many times have we heard that cliche? Don't judge a book by its cover. Don't judge someone by how they look on the outside. Don't judge a situation when you don't have all the information.

This is great advice for life situations, but when it comes to choosing books, we, as readers, are tremendously shallow, because we have to be. We browse books selectively, automatically putting aside anything that doesn't fit our visual requirements. Unless you show up at the bookstore or log onto Amazon knowing exactly which book you're looking for, chances are you are skimming book covers and titles, waiting for something to grab you.

Book covers tell us what we can expect to find inside. Will it be scary, sweet, contemporary, historical, romantic, exciting, scholarly, futuristic, paranormal, epic, contemplative, funny? We set our expectations based on the colors, images, fonts, and composition of the cover.

A pastel background with a curvy text surrounded by daisies? Might be romance, might be women's fiction, might be historical.  Definitely won't be sci-fi or horror. If you pick up this book, begin to read, and find zombies chasing you through a deserted warehouse on page three, you are going to feel cheated. Not that there's anything wrong with zombie books, but you didn't sign up for the living dead. You were probably hoping for a love interest with all his own body parts.

What happens next, after you slam the book down in disgust? You leave a bad review. Not what I expected, you'll say. Totally misleading cover, you'll type furiously. This isn't good for either the writer or the reader. We all want a good experience, on both ends of the book cycle.

Writers, choose your covers carefully. If you're self-published, consider getting some help with your cover unless you have some sharp graphic design skills. If you're traditionally published, pray that the powers that be share your vision for the book. And readers, always read the blurb.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Facet Fiction Friday

Head on over to Felicia Rogers' blog to check out 15-line excerpts from what could be your next read! I posted mine. Do you have one to share?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why I use a pen name

I feel like I'm here--and everywhere that I use this name, really--under false pretenses. Like I'm trying to put something over on someone.

I'm not. I'm still exactly the same person, with the same personality, sense of humor, talents, flaws, and dreams.

A pseudonym, a pen name, a nom de plume. Whatever you call it, it is a time-honored practice, and there are many reasons for using it.

Maybe you're super-famous, and you want a little privacy.
Maybe you're not famous at all, and you want a little privacy.
Maybe your real name is...er, less than lovely.
Maybe you write in a specific genre, and you need a name to match.
Maybe you're in the Witness Protection Program.
Maybe you write in multiple genres, and you want a different persona for each.
Maybe you always wanted to be named Destiny, and this is your chance.

Me? I write non-fiction under my real name, and I don't want to confuse the issue. I waffled about it for a long time, but finally my first fiction book was finished, and I had to put a name on the cover. It was the moment of truth. What would it be?

Two things tipped the decision for me. First, I am sometimes frustrated with authors who keep changing genres. I never know what to expect from them, and this messes with my sense of order. I understand why they do this; they have built a reputation on their name, and to use a different one for each genre would mean to start from scratch each time. I get it.

I, however, haven't built a reputation at all. I have the luxury of making the decision now, while I'm starting out, and going from there. One name for nonfiction, one for fiction. At least for now.

Second, I am a fairly private person, and I have found a sense of freedom in using a pen name. I can explore what I want to write with a new sense of adventure. I like it.

So I might feel like a fraud, but I'm not. I'm still Jenna from the Block.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It's ready!

My first YA book is hot off the virtual presses and ready for reviews. You can get it for Kindle (or the Kindle app on your mobile device) here:

Castle Girl

Happy reading!