Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shouting at the Heavens

On the mysterious cover difference -- it's something that you'll only see on the actual printed book because it has nothing to do with the design. It's something related to the printing/production process. Yes, I remain cryptic, but I'm curious to see if people notice. I guess if I were really that curious I'd have said nothing and waited to see if anyone noticed. But I do know a thing or two about marketing, and it's good to have another reason to send people running to the bookstore on May 1. I actually find this thing kind of amusing. I did notice it but didn't think it mattered, and then I got a call from my agent saying that my editor was really upset about it. They even mentioned the possibility of reprinting, which I thought was rather extreme. So this batch of books will go out as-is, and then it might be changed to the way it's supposed to be if they go back to press. Let's just say that it will be really easy to tell you've got a book from the first printing.

Yes, I'm evil to tease this way, but let me have some fun!

On another note, if any of you ever download things from the Internet to read on portable devices like a Palm or e-reader, what format do you use? I'm not talking about an official e-book, but is just having it in HTML enough to then grab the text, or is it easier to have a text file? Or maybe a PDF? Yeah, more teasing, but I'm still not sure if this is going to happen, given my crazy life right now, but in case I make it work, I'd like to know how to make life shiny, easy and happy for people.

Way back when I was starting the writing month thing and mentioned some books that might be inspirational, I said that The Artist's Way didn't do a lot for me. But I'm learning that there's one thing she mentions in that book that does seem to work, and I need to make more effort at it. The "artist date" idea of letting your creativity come out and play really does have an impact. It seems like creativity in one area of your life can't help but spill over into other areas of your life. For instance, I'd never considered that this voice class I'm taking would impact my writing, but it just might. I had to perform again yesterday, another round of what I jokingly call the Angry Italian Song. I got through it well enough musically, but the teacher said I needed to make it angrier. This is a real "my life is over because I've lost the love of my life and I'm seriously pissed-off about it" aria, an in-your-face fist-shaker. The thing is, I'm not even sure how to dredge up that kind of emotion. I'm not a particularly emotional person, and though I do have a temper, it doesn't get into fist-shaking territory. To use an analogy from The Office, I'm more a Dwight (shun/unshun) than an Andy (fist through the wall). I'm more likely to feel hurt than to really get angry, and that means I withdraw and stew rather than ranting at the heavens. At the most, I get bitingly sarcastic. But opera isn't about withdrawing and stewing, and it's hard to get a good aria out of shunning someone.

The teacher made me start the song again and again until she was satisfied with my degree of anger. I finally got frustrated and took it what I thought was way over the top, hamming it up in what felt like an exaggerated way. That was when she said I was getting there, and I have to admit that it sounded amazing. I've never put out that kind of intense sound. I think that may apply to my writing, as well. My mellow nature may make me easy to work with, but fiction is all about heightened experiences. If it were just like normal life, why bother? The emotions have to be stronger and the stakes have to be higher, and it might enhance my work if I dug a little deeper. What feels like over the top to me is probably going to come across as subtle but strong emotion. I don't have to become a drama queen in my day-to-day life to tap into my emotions and find new ways to express them artistically. This could be fun to play with, especially since book 5 (if they buy it) is going to get a lot more emotional. So, yeah, learning to sing opera arias may help make me a better writer.

For those in North Texas, I'll be speaking on the life of a writer at the public library in Coppell tonight at 7. I promise not to subject you to any Angry Italian Opera Arias.

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