Sunday, July 21, 2013

Artist's Block

One reason that people have artist’s block is that they do not respect the law of dormancy in nature. Trees don’t produce fruit all year long, constantly. They have a point where they go dormant. And when you are in a dormant period creatively, if you can arrange your life to do the technical tasks that don’t take creativity, you are essentially preparing for the spring when it will all blossom again.

Marshall Vandruff

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cover Scoop (Reblogged)

Today I wrote a post for The Lucky 13s blog about my cover and part of the design process.  I wanted to share the insider's view with all my readers here too, so I hope you don't mind if I reblog it!

Of all the things a debut author can be nervous about during the path to publication, I have to say that my cover was one of the biggest for me.  I thought about it all the time.  Would I love it?  Would I hate it?  Would it make sense to my book?  I was so worried about it that when I finally got the e-mail from my editor with the cover, it took me almost two hours to open!

But luckily, I LOVED it.  Although, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. 

Here's my cover story...

About six months before I saw my cover, I received a document full of questions that would help the art department with the creation of my cover:

CHARACTERS: Please give a description (hair color, eye color, height, age, sex, and race) of your two main characters. If your characters are not human, please be as descriptive as possible. Feel free to attach images for reference.

NAME: Kate Franklin
SEX: Female
AGE: 15
HAIR COLOR:  Brown hair (long enough to pull into a ponytail)
RACE: White
ATTITUDE: She’s going through some tough times for a lot of the story…she misses her mom and feels alone during most of the story because her Dad can’t/won’t connect with her and her brother has enlisted into the Army (which scares her).  She wants to find a connection to people, but has a hard time doing that because she doesn’t want to compromise herself. 
SIMILAR TO: Ellen Page, Willa Holland, Molly Ephraim, Ashley Rickards
CLOTHING: Current with the trends, but not too trendy…jeans (maybe skinny jeans), ballet flats.  She also wears a navy blue uniform skirt with white blouse.
OUTSTANDING FEATURES: She’s pretty average looking; I don’t think she has a feature that stands out.  She’s pretty, but not beautiful.

NAME: Jack Blane
SEX: Male
AGE: 16
WEIGHT: Tall and thin
EYE COLOR: Blue/Green
RACE: White
ATTITUDE: A bit cocky because he’s a star athlete and feels he gets privileges, but he’s also a good guy…he respects Kate and her father (the coach)
SIMILAR TO: Chord Overstreet, Chad Michael Murray
CLOTHING: I picture him in typical preppy type clothes (Hollister, American Eagle), I reference him wearing jeans with Converse sneakers, hoodies.  At school he would wear navy blue or khaki dress pants, white dress shirt and tie as part of his uniform.  His basketball uniform is maroon and canary yellow.
OUTSTANDING FEATURES: His eyes…they are a greenish-blue…kind of like looking at earth from space

*Swimming pool at night (Kate swims laps in the dark, her mom also swam at night when she got sick)
*Basketball court (the main character does not play, her dad coaches and she watches her boyfriend play)
*Beacon Prep School (old brick school)

*Maroon and canary yellow (the basketball team’s colors)
*Kate wears a navy blue uniform skirt if at school

*The main character fights off a sex assault by a player on the basketball team and wants to speak up about it, but her dad silences her (he’s the coach of the time), she must decide whether to say something or not.
*The main character has lost her mom and feels like her dad has shut himself down and won’t talk to her and her brother.  She feels like she’s alone with no one to talk to.
*The main character is pulled into the world of privilege and perks given to the basketball players at her school.  The players are basically treated like gods and can do no wrong (they get away with everything).

*Swimming pool at night (Kate swims laps in the dark, her mom also swam at night when she got sick)
*Basketball court (the main character does not play, her dad coaches and she watches her boyfriend play)

When I envision the cover I see either a silhouette of Kate swimming in a swimming pool at night (perhaps from above, so the whole cover is the pool and her silhouette is on the bottom) or Kate floating on her back in a pool at night maybe with her hair spread out around her.  Again, I see the whole cover the pool and a small part the main character of Kate.  I think this would evoke the idea of solitude or feeling alone, especially at night.

The other image that comes to mind is an empty basketball court and either Kate sitting alone in her school uniform on the edge of a bleacher or lying on the floor of the court (again, the whole court is most of the cover).  This would also evoke that idea/mode of being alone or solitude.  She doesn’t play basketball, but she’s surrounded by it.

Something similar to the cover for Carrie Arcos' Out of Reach...

After submitting all of this information to my art department, this is the cover that they came up with:

Not exactly like the cover that I suggest, huh!?!

If you look at my cover compared to the information I gave my art department, you would probably think it’s way off from what I was suggesting.  But the thing is, I think they got it before I did.  Throughout my comments, I kept referencing words like “solitude,” “alone,” and “scared.”  That’s exactly what the cover expresses.  I also love how the colors are those of the school and that the canary is in a basketball court.  The background looks like a school lunch bag and the vivid blue of the tear suggests hope.  I couldn’t have asked for a better cover, and I love the way the artist translated the emotions from the book.  

What do you think?  Would you pick it up off the shelf?  Click here to read more about Canary on my website.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Celebrate CANARY's Launch!

CANARY is flying into the world soon, and I'd LOVE for you to help me celebrate!

I'm having two launch parties...a physical one and virtual one on Facebook.

The physical one is July 31 at 6:30 at Fairview Park Public Library.  There will be cupcakes, prizes, and books to purchase and get signed (or you can bring your own copy if you've already bought one).

I can't tell you how excited I am to have my launch at the library.  The Fairview library is my childhood library. I begged my mom to take me almost every day (and when I was old enough I rode my bike), the librarians all knew my name, I did all their programs, and even worked there shelving books when I was in high school!

RSVP here if you can make it (or just show up and surprise me!):

The virtual launch will be online through Facebook and include prizes, books secrets, and other fun surprises!

RSVP for the virtual launch here:

I hope you can join me for one (or both of the events)!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sprout Head

On the first day at the Kenyon Review writer's workshop, one of our teachers presented each of us with a tiny head.  He told us to hold on to them while he gave his talk and try to figure out what they were.

It turns out that they are seed bombs.  People throw these all over urban cities and flowers sprout from them.  The idea is to add beauty to places that may otherwise just be run-down.  What a great idea!

He told us they were a metaphor for the week to come and all the ideas that would sprout from our heads.  I planted my "seed face" when I came home, so we'll see if great thoughts continue to grow from it!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kenyon in Picture

I think each summer I go to the Kenyon Review's writer workshops, it gets harder and harder to leave.  This was my first summer attending their program specifically designed for teachers, and I loved every minute of it.  I came home with some great ideas for my own classroom and filled a whole legal pad with new writing that I did.  I'm already looking forward to going back again next summer!

Here are some pictures from my week at Kenyon...
Bright and early ready to start a new day of writing.
I'm waiting for everyone else in our classroom with my best friend coffee!

My writing tools!  

We all read from something we wrote during the week.
This is the room where our reading was held.

Middle Path.  Kenyon College is so beautiful.

This is the coffee shop I was at two summers ago when I learned that CANARY sold!

This is the dorm John Green lived in!
He tweeted me his room number, but I couldn't get in to take a picture of the door
(which is probably just as well...that's border-line stalker!).