Sunday 22 May 2016

Judging Books By Covers
Would you choose a book wrapped in brown paper with just a few general words of guidance written on the front? Out of choice, I know I wouldn't. For me, the cover of a book plays a very important part in persuading me to read a novel. I usually like to make up my own mind about what characters look like in detail when I'm reading but the mood of a story can be suggested by colours and the atmosphere suggested  in an image.

Here is a photo of my main character in the novel I've sent to NWS for a critique. I googled 'beautiful Sicilian girl' and this image is the one I think most closely matches how I picture her. The hair, eyes and face are all as I see my eighteen year old heroine looking as she travels to Sicily in search of her Italian father. This is for my eyes only; I wouldn't want to influence anyone else with this image as another reader will see a different girl's face in his or her mind's eye. 

Black and white images create different effects. When my ghost story 'The Journey Home' appeared on Alfie Dog Fiction, I'd changed the accompanying photograph from colour to monochrome to create a more spooky feel. 

On the other hand, 'Meet Me By The Jacaranda Tree', a short story set on the beautiful island of Madeira, needed vibrant colour. 

If you would like to read these and my other short stories please click HERE

I'm always very excited when cover reveals are shared prior to publication. One of the most striking covers that suggests the very essence of the book is the one for 'Ghostbird' by Carol Lovekin. I interviewed Carol as part of her blog tour back in March. See Carol's interview HERE That cover would certainly have persuaded me to pick up the book and buy it and the story was everything that the cover promised.

Recently, Juliet Greenwood revealed hers for her forthcoming book, 'The White Camellia' due to be published by Honno in September. Having enjoyed Juliet's previous two novels, I'm looking forward to reading this story set in 1909. There's something fascinating about the image. Although the young woman's face is clearly visible, it's the emotions and thoughts behind the image that I want to find out more about by reading the book. I wonder if she's feeling sad and why. Who is she thinking about?

On Susanna Bavin's blog  this week, author Linda Huber shares her personal writing rules. One was to 'Find a Great Cover Designer'. Linda switched to self-publishing and makes the point: It's so hard to get noticed amongst the millions of books out there, and it doesn't help if your book cover disappears in the middle of the others. I found fabulous covers for my first two self-published books and as they were pre-made, they didn't cost the earth.  

I love the depth and range of the blues in this cover and already I'm wondering about how a butterfly figures in the story. Perhaps it's symbolic in some way. 

Whilst browsing Facebook on Thursday, I noticed author Rosie Thomas was offering a signed copy of her novel 'Daughter of the House' to each of the first five people to send their addresses to her. I wasted no time and I was one of them! It arrived in the post the next day. :-) The book was published on May 19th by Harper Collins UK as a paperback. I'm never early for anything so I can't believe that for once I was on the ball! As a big fan of Rosie's writing, I can't wait to start reading it. And it has an amazing cover, don't you think?

How important do you think book cover designs are? Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover? I'd love to hear what you think. Thanks. :-)

Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Llandeilo Book Fair
I spent last Saturday at Llandeilo Book Fair, surrounded by talented writers.The fair was organised by Carmarthenshire author, Christoph Fischer, whose idea 'was to showcase some great authors and to share some of the super books being written in Wales including a wide range of genres, from historical fiction, literary books, thrillers, fantasy, Sci-Fi and children's books - there will be something for everyone.' And there certainly was!

It was great to meet up with friends and be introduced to new ones. There was a buzz about the whole day and you couldn't help be enthused by the writers when discussing their books. 

It was good to hear about forthcoming publications, too, especially from authors whose previous novels I've loved. Thorne Moore's books, Time for Silence and Motherlove are both excellent reads and I can't wait to read her new book, The Unravelling, due to be published by Honno on July 21st.

There were talks, readings and workshops offered through out the day. The first one I attended was 'The Tudor Image' by Judith Arnopp. Judith is the author of six Tudor novels and three set in medieval times. We looked at paintings of Tudor monarchs and considered the images they were intending to portray. The private selves were well hidden behind expressionless faces which acted as masks. As a historical author, Judith has to see beyond the blank portraits, enter the characters' heads and imagine their thoughts and emotions. 

Next, I went to children's author, Sharon Tregenza's workshop. It was for children but I had a great time!  We chose a picture of an animal and then asked questions about it. From our answers, we wrote a story. The little girl on my table had some very imaginative ideas and one child who was about eleven wrote the whole of her story in rhyme! Everyone was given a bag of goodies including a copy of Sharon's first book Tarantula Tide which won the Kelpies Prize and The Heart of Hawick Award. Her second book The Shiver Stone is published by Firefly Press.

It was good to meet up with author friend, Judith Barrow, again. Those of you who read my blog know I'm a big fan of her family sagas that form the Patterns Trilogy. Judith's lively workshop was about building characters in short stories and novels. The handouts will prove useful when we create those killer characters! Thanks, Judith. We also looked at how using dialogue can make a character become more rounded and come alive for the reader. We chose a scenario about which to write and shared our characters with the group. For more about Judith's last book, Living In The Shadows, you may read the interview with her on my blog on 15th July 2015.

Wendy Steele's talk on 'Fantasy and Magical Realism' was fascinating and something completely new for me. Wendy talked about how she sees fantasy as 'taking the humdrum and seeing it and showing it through new eyes.' She creates magical, mythical creatures in a realistic world. You will find her books HERE.

One of the highlights of the day was listening to Carole Lovekin read from her wonderful book, Ghostbird. Having read the book recently, the chapter was still fresh in my mind but hearing it again read by the author, the person who created the character of Cadi and her ghost sister, seemed to make the words come alive still further. For more about Carol's book, you may read the interview with her on my blog on the 20th March.

Last but not least, I caught up with Julie McGowan. I first met Julie at one of her writing workshops at Penarth Book Festival last year. At Llandeilo, she read from her novel Don't Pass Me By. It's set in WWII, a period in history which I find interesting and one that is the backdrop for one of the narratives in my own novel. 

Have you attended a book fair or literary event lately? If, so, please share your thoughts with us. Hay Festival 2016  is coming up at the end of the month. Will you be there? What have you booked?

Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.