Tag Archives: paperies

And Now I Wish I Could Make This A Real Thing

So Rose Lerner recently noticed that Booklikes had substituted a scholarly book cover in place of the proper cover for Cecilia Grant’s A Woman Entangled. But Rose is gifted with a sense of fun in addition to her keen observational eye, and she quickly had put together a series of faux-scholarly romance covers.

They are delightful!

And now everyone’s getting in on the game. Isobel Carr has a roundup post, but here is my own hasty contribution.

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Because what form would a Greek robot romance take, if not that of the marvelous Loeb Classical Library?

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How Do You Read a Clinch Cover?

Recently the glorious Sequential Crush posted a link to Scott Edelman’s thoughtful reflection on the differences between romance comics covers and romance novel covers. He points out that he’s never noticed this variation before — that makes two of us, to my chagrin — and then he says something about clinch covers that surprised me:

They depict (or seem to anyway, since we have no idea what the characters are really thinking) people in love. And more than just in love, happy in that love. What you’re seeing is the aspirational goal of a romance—its, yes, “happily ever after” loving conclusion.

And I realized there is another disconnect here: Scott Edelman assumes that a clinch cover depicts the happily ever after.

Cover for Sandra Hill's Frankly, My Dear. A tan-skinned shirtless man with dark hair holds a tan-skinned, dark-haired woman in a yellow historical gown. Red background. The cover pose references the famous movie poster for Gone with the Wind.It has never occurred to me that clinch covers were meant to be happy. Angsty, of course — impassioned, sure. But happy? Never. For one thing, as Smart Bitches loves to point out, there is a distinct tendency for the couple to look constipated. Or sleepy. But I always interpreted the clinch as the moment where the hero and heroine have recognized that Doin’ It Is A Bad Idea, but have decided that We Just Can’t Help Ourselves. (Leaving aside questions of ravishment and forced seduction, which were definitely operating in many an Old Skool clinch cover. I’m looking at you, Kathleen Woodiwiss — though most of your clinches were stamp-sized mini-clinches glued on top of a misty landscape, for some reason.)
Clinch cover from Victoria Alexander's The Emperor's New Clothes. A pale-skinned blond man with a blue neckerchief half-wears a lighter blue button-up shirt while standing hip-deep in a pool of water. His arm is wound around the waist of a pale-skinned, red-haired woman in a damp white chemise with her hand on her hip, looking tempestuous.
This view of the clinch might explain the Mysterious Wind, which will often be tugging the hero and heroine’s flowing locks in opposite directions at the same time. They’re caught, you see, in a literal storm of passion — they lean toward each other even as the wind swirls around, about to tear them apart. The clinch is danger — the love is under threat — separation and destruction are looming.

Then again, this is all my own interpretation. I went through my collection, looking for clinch covers that showed scenes from the actual text, and came up empty-handed. (Curse my tendency to cull my shelves every other year!) The closest was the Victoria Alexander cover above, which is from a book I found recently at a library sale and haven’t had a chance to actually read yet. But judging from the title and the synopsis on the back (mistaken identities, actresses in the Wild West, and untrustworthy ladeez), I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the scene on the cover is almost certainly not the happy ever after.

I don’t have a conclusion here. I’m just kind of fascinated. Thoughts, o Reader?

 

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How NOT to Promote Your Book

Scene: an independent bookstore, less than a week before E. L. James will be arriving to sign books. Phone rings. I answer. The following dialogue is as accurate in quotation as my stunned memory would allow.

ME: Bookstore — this is Olivia — how may I help you?

CALLER: I have a question about getting a ticket for the E. L. James signing.

ME: Oh, I’m sorry, we’re all sold out.

CALLER: I have a secondary question.

ME: Fire away.

CALLER: I’m a photographer with a book out. It’s about women and beauty and self-esteem and has been carried by the University Book Store. I would like to attend the E. L. James event and hand out my business card to people in the signing line.

ME: … No.

CALLER: No?

ME: I would strongly encourage you not to do that.

CALLER: Why not?

ME: Really? Well, because it’s inappropriate. The people in the signing line are here for E. L. James, not because they have issues with their bodies or their self-esteem.

CALLER: But I’m trying to help people!

ME: I can’t consent to your help on behalf of my customers.

CALLER: But I’m watching Katie Couric right now … I miss the next few sentences, wondering what on earth Katie Couric has to do with this. Though it’s clear she really believes she’s doing something important.

ME: Again, I would caution you against this.

CALLER: Are you going to have me arrested?

ME: What? No!

CALLER: So it’s not illegal, then.

ME: … Can I take your name down, please?

CALLER: Only if you agree that I can hand out my business card.

ME: Well, it looks like we’re stuck. Thanks for calling, and have a wonderful afternoon.

Exeunt omnes, pursued by a bear.

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Stop The Presses: Tired Writer Cannot Write

Okay, so it’s been two weeks now that I’ve been working full-time at the bookstore. Nights and weekends. It’s fun, I get to look at pretty books all day and alphabetize — I am one of those nerdy types who finds alphabetizing a soothing and engaging activity — and help customers find books as best I can. Even the foot-killing four-hour register shifts haven’t really dampened my enthusiasm.

Except…

I haven’t been able to write since I started.

It’s not a question of inspiration. I still have all my ideas, I’m still doing research, still fine-tuning outlines. The stories are somewhere, waiting. But every time I sit in front of the keyboard, all I can think, over and over, like the phonograph inside my head is stuck on this one groove, is this:

I’m so tired.

I’ll try to push through — I know that voice can be made to go away — but every time I put down a sentence I know it is wrong. Know, deep down in my bones, that there is no life in it. Everything feels so absurdly shallow, suddenly — not in terms of subject matter, but in terms of my own engagement. And a writer disengaged from what she’s writing is not going to write anything worth reading. Especially not in romance.

And it hurts, because I like to think of myself as disciplined, as determined, as a writer who works and does not wait for inspiration to strike. I’ve gotten stuck before — who hasn’t? — but when one story is stuck another one is sure to be working, so I bounce from one to the other until the first one unsticks itself, like they always do.

This is the first time I can ever remember where nothing is working.

And it feels as though I have failed on some profound moral level. Chuck Wendig, penmonkey patron saint, would certainly disapprove. But it seems, to my shame, that I am somehow fundamentally incapable of working full-time and also doing anything substantive in the wordsmithery.

I tell myself to just get on with it. But the listening half of me has that same gut-level revulsion as when your coach in the sport of your choice looks at your broken ankle and tells you to walk it off.

Other writers do this. They do this all the time. 

What on earth is wrong with me?

In comments: please leave sympathy, tips, and any good jokes you may have heard lately. Bonus points if they involve terrible puns. You see what I’ve been reduced to.

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