Monday, August 24, 2015

200 on…unknown cover artists

Art is hard work. Whether it’s writing or sculpting or painting or making killer cupcakes, creating is hard work. And all too often, the creator receives scant acknowledgement.

When Underground Voices and I decided on the artwork for The Beginning Things, I wanted to acknowledge the artist in some way…like include her name on the acknowledgements page…give her a big shout-out on social media…or send her a copy of the book.

But it turns out that the artist is unknown. UV discovered TBT’s gorgeous girl on a stock artwork site, and for whatever reason, the site owners were unable to let us know who painted her. 

I would love to somehow hunt the artist down. There’s a part of me that wants to buy the original and have it hanging up on my wall. I know that somewhere it exists. It might be tiny – a little 8 x 4 pastel sketch. Or maybe it’s bigger—some huge canvas. Or maybe—horror of horrors—the artist photographed the original and submitted it to the online artwork site, and somehow, the original was lost or destroyed. 

Hunting down an artist from an artwork is nigh on impossible, but the possibility haunts me.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

200 on…G-strings and front covers

Underground Voices recently finalized the cover artwork for The Beginning Things. I love it – it’s understated and seems to have caught the “sense” of twelve-year-old Tot, the novel’s main character. They’ve kept me involved in the process—a move that makes me love working with small independent presses.

UV originally sent three options. I had trouble deciding between two of them: I liked the composition of one (a framed image that allowed the title to stand against a plain background) and the artwork of another. UV combined the two to arrive at this final choice.

There was one further revision: the original artwork showed the girl wearing a slightly cropped sweater which exposed the band of a tiny G-string. While Tot is sexually active (and that’s a big part of her story), she is na├»ve in many ways: she wouldn’t wear sexy undies. UV responded to my concerns immediately and had the image edited to lengthen the sweater.

They sent me two sets of the original artwork: one portrait image of the front cover only and a landscape image of the front and back cover spread. This landscape version has proved a great choice for promotional postcards. I love Vistaprint!

Monday, July 06, 2015

200 on…Ego, “Desiderata,” and the Writing Life

Recently, I was struggling with ego’s seesaw. I explained to friends that writers are often private people—loners who tend towards isolation. That’s how we get the work done. But once the writing is done, we need to persuade people to back our work…either as publishers, promoters or as buyers. That requires ego.

Of course, everything requires ego to some degree. But promoting and receiving praise for my work engages my ego in a big way, and that can be dangerous for a recovering alcoholic like me.

There are clear connections between ego and my drinking: if someone offers me a drink and I take it, I’ll want the rest of the bottle (or wine box); if someone offers praise, I crave more…and more and more. I abstain from alcohol, but the success of my work doesn’t allow me to abstain from ego.

My pal, D, responded with a copy of “Desiderata” in which Ehrmann says, “enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

With ego, the healthy answer rests inside balance. But as with sobriety, the challenge is maintaining that balance.

(Image by Irene Shpak at