Friday, July 31, 2009

Cover Wars: When Cover Art Goes Wrong

This week, I was shocked to read a post over at author Justine Larbalestier's blog ( ) about the problems the cover art for her novel LIAR has created.

Not only has the American cover art caused people to stop and go "hang on, this doesn't look like your main character," but has actually made legions of readers question her story itself.

The story is about a young black women with short hair who is a compulsive liar. Because of the white lady used in the cover art, readers have been asking Justine if her character was lying to them about her appearance throughout the story, changing its meaning and destracting them from what she intended.

Some have also written to say they find it offensive.

The reason given for the decision? BLACK COVERS DON'T SELL.

My question is.... what the Hell?! This is 2009. People actually say out loud to other people that they aren't going to put a black girl on a book cover because no one will read it?

I started thinking back on the books I've read that have black protagonists, and realized that almost none of them had a picture of the character on the cover. For example, Neil Gaiman's ANANSI BOYS features a sillouhette of the main character instead of showing him in the light.

This is so strange to me, it literally blew my mind this week.

How can publishers make a call about cover art that casts doubt on the intent of the author and puts her in a negative light?

I'm sure this wasn't anyone's intention, and that the publishing house wasn't intending to cause any harm. However, now that there are complaints and others besides the author are speaking out, it will be interesting to see what the response is.

What do you guys think about this?

What do you think the publisher's response should be?

Am I totally overreacting?

All I have to say is:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life In Progress Thursday: Pics!

Happy Thursday! Sorry I wasn't able to post these sooner (busy week with my inlaws visiting), but here by popular demand are my pictures from Maui.

I figure since I couldn't put you all into suitcases and smuggle you there, this is the next best thing. Especially since airport security tends to get suspicious when your bags are breathing heavily.

Here's the view from our room. One word: Craigslist! We rented a condo over craigslist, and it was better than a hotel and much, much less expensive. Hooray!

Here are some of the crazy lava formations we saw when we were there. It was like being on an asteroid. Bizarre, no?

Here is the cove where my husband and I saw some huge freaking morey eels while snorkling. They were about 5 feet long, a half foot thick, and reminded me of flotsam and jetsam from The Little Mermaid :). I wanted to take them home and have them do my evil bidding.

Hana Highway made me wonder if dinosaurs might live there. It was prehistoric rainforest beauty nonstop. Plus, I had the best, freshest, warmest banana bread of my life at a little town along the way. Mmmm, banana breaaaad...

Speaking of food, this was my last breakfast in Maui, courtesy of McDonalds. Spam, eggs, and white rice w/ soy sauce. Local-tastic! (Seriously, though, the Spam was surprisingly good.)

I'm pretty sure pirates stop here on their way to Tortuga.

Here I am tired but happy on the way to the airport.

I'll miss it, but I'm glad to be home. My last day there some poisonous seaweed stung me in... let's just say my "swimsuit area." That doesn't happen here, so there's something to be said for the Pacific Northwest ;).

Have you guys done anything fun this summer? Any blog pics you'd like to link to and share?

Lay 'em on me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Writers live isolated lives.

We spend hours with our noses in books, shut in dark rooms with our laptops, staring off into space "researching."

We can be lonely. Cut off.

I'm an extrovert, and I love people, but for some unfortunate reason, I'm also very shy. I was never the type of person who has tons of friends or makes them everywhere she goes. I've always had one, maybe two friends if I'm lucky at any given moment, and it's difficult for me to meet new people. I long for friendships, but my shyness makes it hard for me to go out there and find people with interests like mine. I'm baffled how those non-shy people do it, and usually stand around, desperately hoping one of them will find me and introduce me to everyone else at a party.

Things rarely happen to you when you sit there waiting for them.

When I started writing, I finally realized "I shouldn't be doing this alone." Every site and blog I read was talking about critique groups and writer buddies who lift you up when you are buried under the Rejection Pile. So, I pulled up my bootstraps, and said "I'm going to be social, dammit!"

I didn't know where to start. I wanted to chime in on forums and blogs, but I had all of these worries, these doubts constantly swirling through my mind.

I'm not fun to talk to.

If I'm not interesting enough, no one will notice me.

If I'm too forward, people will think I'm psycho.

I'm too boring.

I'm too weird.

I'm smiling like a Killer Klown from Outer Space in my profile pic.

Someone will think I'm internet stalking them if I comment too much.

I'm not part of the group. I'm intruding on the others.

So now you know: I'm a little nutty.

However, here's the secret I learned from manning up and getting myself out there: Everyone else is nutty too. And it's okay :)!

We're all obsessive and hermity and strange, and we are all one big community of people who are following the same dream.

The second I realized that I was not alone was the second I realized that I loved getting to know other writers like nothing else. I've met some amazing people who have not only helped me shape my novel, but have just made me feel like, well, part of the gang in this secret world of writers.

The connections that bring us together as a community are the greatest thing that social networking/blogging has given me these past few months. I have friends with the same goals who help support me, and I them. If you're not trying to connect with other writers, I strongly encourage you to be bold and reach out. No one will bite you. I've discovered that fellow writers are some of the nicest, most genuine people I've ever met :).

(Just make sure you're balancing your networking time with you know... actual writing time. Heheh.)

So, to wrap up this rambling, thank you, all of you for making me feel so welcome. Thank you for sharing your knowledge for me. Thanks for just being funny and sharing your opinions, and making me feel like I'm not the only crazy person out there.

Also, if you feel unconnected and wandered here checking things out, feel free to email me any time at legacyoftheempress(at)gmail(dot)com. If I can help you get connected with some other writers, or be that connection for you myself, I'm happy to know you :).

For the rest of you, I'd love to hear your stories and about your road to getting connected.

How do other writers play a role in your life?

Are you shy like me?

Have insecurities?

Do you have beta readers or critique buddies that have changed you for the better?

What's your story?

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm Back and Possibly Better than Ever

Possibly ;).

I'm officially back from my vacation in Maui, and I have to say... even though being unplugged for a full week was relaxing, I missed you guys!

I had lots of awesome adventures, came home with only a mild sunburn (a miracle for me, Miss Whitey McSPF), and am now happily and thoroughly exhausted.

Tonight my only plan is to catch up on my emails, drink some beers, and launder all of the sand out of my underpants.

Tomorrow, I will definitely work on getting my pics off the camera and onto this blog. Sharing is caring!

On a side note, I live in Vancouver, WA, home of rain, clouds and temperate summers. Today my first day back? Yeah. It's 110. A HUNDRED AND TEN DEGREES. Sweat is literally pouring off me and onto my keyboard tray as I'm typing. Ew. Hence the cool, cool beers.

I'm not made for this kind of heat. I think I may actually sweat into a puddle and die. God, thank you for creating air conditioning units! I owe You one!

How are you guys doing? Did you have fun weeks? Productive weeks? Anything huge happen in publishing that I completely missed out on? :) I'd love to hear how you're doing!

It's good to be back.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blog Party: Luau Edition

Come on in, grab a drink, and mingle!

We're having a BLOG PARTY: Luau Style!

While I'm gone, please come on in, have a good time, and feel free to discuss whatever strikes your fancy among yourselves.

Making awesome progress with your WIP?

Need an answer to a writing question?

Having a crappy week (heaven forbid) and need a mai tai and a chat with some friends?

Do what you will. Enjoy the party!

I cooked up some kalua pork in my internet sand pit, blended up a pitcher of margaritas for Scott, and set up a full bar complete with pepsi products for the minors.

Have fun, and I'll see you next week!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Building a Platform & Other Fun Things

Who doesn't love platforms? They're sexy, fun, and.... oh, wait. Wrong kind of platform.

We've all been hearing a lot about platform building recently from agent blogs and writer blogs alike. However, I feel that it's been a bit heavy-handed about getting known online and not so much about working on publishing credentials. Sara Tribble (of "I Am Write") had a great post about this and will be hosting interviews with editors to help us learn how to get started.

She's also challenging us to write a short story or piece of flash fiction for each interview she posts :D. I'm game! Who's with me? Let's get on this bandwagon and try to build up our platforms (or at least writing skills.)

Something else going on soon is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, which you can read about here read about here. It's coming up in September, and there will be fabulous prizes and fun for those of you with blogs discussing books. Stop on over and check it out.

Lastly, I wanted to let you know that I'll be leaving you guys this upcoming week. I'm going to MAUI (SQUEEEE!!!!) and won't be back until next Sunday, 7/26/09. I promise to bring back pictures and to tell you all about it. I haven't gone anywhere since my honeymoon four years ago, and am so excited I'm literally vibrating with anticipation in my office chair. Is this day over yet?

Here's a pic for you, and have a wonderful weekend/week without me!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday!

Okay, okay. You got me. It's Thursday :).

I got distracted yesterday by my shiny award and had to share the love, but now it's back to work!

I'm excited to say that I've made progress this past week (yaaay!) and not only edited about 200 pages of my 323 page novel, but actually wrote 700 new words to beef up my Big Ending Conflict! It is going to rock about five times as hard now, at least in theory. This excites me!

One of the issues I've been overcoming in my writing is that I have a gift for understatement. Well, newsflash, Me: It's actually a curse! I used to underact in high school play auditions, and now I actually give my reader too little to go on in places where they could really use some assistance.

(More? You want mooore? None for you, Oliver Twist! Oh... wait...yeah, you're right. Thanks, Oliver... Dammit.)

That's what I've been battling during this last final major edit/rewrite. I need more Oomph Factor in my climax, and to flesh out a couple of my Important Subplots. It's all coming together nicely now. I have hope.

Thank you to all of the wonderful people who read my book and helped me come to these conclusions :D. Abby, Tere, Steph, John, Husband, Mom--I love you guys!

How have your weeks been, my friends? Any good news to report?

Anything you need some support with?

I'd love to hear how you're doing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award!

Yesterday I was surprised and touched to find out that I was awarded The Superior Scribbler Award for this blog :D! Thank you so much to Christine, who's blog I love and read every day.

However, this fabulous prize comes with rules attached:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award. You rock, Christine Fonseca!

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit This Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

So not only do I get a fun award, but I get to share the love! I'm a fan of that.

It's unfortunate that I can only pick five people, since I love and read a ton of amazing blogs each day, but here goes. My five picks are (DRUMROLL, PLEASE!):

1. Abby Annis

2. Sara Tribble

3. Tereliz Luziana

4. The Literary Lab

5. Cindy Pon

I chose these fabulous people for the award because they are genuine, fun, brilliant, and I am always entertained and/or enlightened by reading their posts.

Thanks to all of you for the great reading, and keep it up!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And the Winner is............


Congratulations Blair! You have just won my very gently used copy of WONDROUS STRANGE by Lesley Livingston. I will email you later today to get your address, and ship off your prize.

Thank you so much to all who entered! I ripped up tiny pieces of paper with all the entries and made my husband pick out of a hat the old fashioned way. Too fun!

Blair, please let us know if you enjoy the read, too ;). I love hearing about how other people experience books I enjoyed.

Anyone else read this one? Thoughts? Impressions?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 13, 2009

What Characters Do You Love to Write?

We all have them. Characters that we just can't get enough of, whether we're reading about them, or writing their stories. But what makes us love these characters so damn much?

I was wondering this week what makes us writers tick when we choose the characters we do. Are they people we want to be? People we are? People we could never be but want to test drive? What's the story?

As for me, I want to be Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica. I've always been a sucker for a tough chick who says all the things I want to say, but am too darn nice to actually let fly from my lips. I like tough gals who don't have to wear thigh high leather boots and a corsett to fight bad guys, but can do it in sweat pants and a hoody and be just as awesome.

In real life, I try to be badass as often as possible just for the fun of it. I lift weights, drink Scotch and whiskey *neat*, and have bungee jumped ( discount bungee no less.) This bleeds into some of my characters because a normal chick who becomes an awesome tough chick relates to my inner fantasy of being that chick. Minus the cigar smoke, because eww.

On the flip side I also love writing really evil people, because I'll never actually get to be evil. I don't actually want to murder anyone, but it is sort of morbidly fascinating to don a murderer's skin for awhile and write them out. I like it when my characters are super bitchy, because I myself try really hard not to be bitchy on a day-to-day basis.

Is that wrong? I'm not sure.

You tell me! How do YOU write your characters? Why do you love them?

Are they are a part of you, or just something you like to try on for an hour?

What people do you love to write and why?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Facebook and Twitter

Hi, All!

I have finally gotten over my Technology Fears and have joined both Twitter and Facebook. Please come friend/follow/stalk me :D. I'd love to hear from you guys!

Also, please feel free to warn me about any newbie faux pas now. I will commit all of them otherwise. Probably twice.

Facebook: Rebecca Knight from Vancouver, WA

Twitter: @twoheadknight

What do you guys think of social networking sites? Do you enjoy them? Hate them?

I'd love to hear your opinions, and what you use the different sites for.


Support a Writer Who Needs our Help!

Writer Aaron Allston needs our help!

He is best known for his bestselling Star Wars novels, but also for his independent films. Recently he suffered a heartattack. While he's making a great recovery, his lack of health insurance (being a writer) is becoming an enormous problem.

The Aaron Allston Donation Fund and Auction has been set up to allow writers and friends to donate either money or items to auction. Please help if you feel led.

Click here to get to the Donation Fund website, and you can access the post on Colleen Lindsay's blog here where I read about the situation.

Thank you, and have a great Saturday!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Just For Fun Friday!


This week has been crazy for pretty much everyone I've talked to or stalked on the Internet, so here are some of my favorite pics just for fun. Enjoy!

Also, please remember to leave a comment on my post from Monday to be entered to win WONDROUS STRANGE in my book giveaway. Hooray for free stuff! (Extra entries given if you post a link on your blog, and put the link in the comments.)

Without further ado, Friday Goodness:

And last but not least (Probably what you're doing while looking at the things I find amusing)...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Don't Be Afraid to Chase Success

Today, one of my fabulous friends over at QueryTracker (Bodwen) posted about a dream she had last night. She was inside an hourglass with sand pouring down, and she knew the grains were moments in her life. It was about chest-high when a man came up to her hourglass and scooped up a handful of her sand. She cried out, thinking he was taking it for his own, but he threw it on the ground.

"Why are you doing that?" she asked. He replied that her sand was better than his, so she shouldn't have so much of it. He went to grab more sand, and she chased him away.

What I thought was particularly powerful about this dream, is that when she woke, she knew that the man trying to steal her sand represented all the people in our lives who are jealous that we are chasing success. They feel they are wasting theirs, so they want to tear us down instead of seeing us succeed.

How many times have we each experienced this as we tell people about our goals and dreams? I used to tell my non-writer friends about my dream of getting published, and they'd say helpful things like "Well, if you don't make it, at least you wrote a whole book," or "The odds are really against you, so if you don't get an agent, maybe you can self-publish."

Others have self published and rant on forums about how the publishing industry is broken, and agents can't find a good book if it hit them in the eye. (I have nothing against self-publishing. I only have something against people who give up trying to be traditionally published, and then try to tear down others who still strive for that.) By tearing down the hopes of those of us fighting to be a part of that industry, they are trying to justify why they gave up.

Don't let them.

Don't let people try to take your sand away from you. They will tell you that you don't deserve it. They are wrong. You will EARN it if you chase your dream all the way to the end. You absolutely deserve everything you earn through hard work and determination.

Don't let anyone steal your sand. It is yours and no one else's.

I have a quote that I live by while chasing my dream, and it is this: "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want the most for what you want now."

Don't give in to smaller dreams or suggestions meant to keep you from your Big Dream. You can do it.

Let the sand flow, and chase people away who try to take it from you. You can do it :). You need to believe that you have the right to chase your dream.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday!

It's only Wednesday, but it's already been a rough week. I've been cranky for a variety of small and silly reasons.

For example, I'm going on vacation in 11 days, which is wonderful, but this means I needed to buy a swimsuit. You ladies over 100lbs out there understand what I mean when I say trying on swimsuits is a traumatizing experience. After much bikini-wrestling, I finally said "Screw it, this one is fine" and bought one. Yet the crankiness was already implanted in my subconscious from staring at my pasty midsection in a poorly lighted fitting room mirror. Weak. Sauce.

I'm also sleep deprived because my brain has been hyper the last few nights, and am starting to suspect one of my legs may be longer than the other. No proof yet, but troubling nonetheless :P.

Luckily, before the wave of crankiness hit, I was really productive last week and this weekend! :) Hooraaaay for progress!

--I did a ton of editing on my novel and am about halfway through the manuscript combing for any and all passive language.

--I got some suggestions on how to make my closing scene ever more Epic, and have jotted down the changes. I am ready to roll.

I feel like I'm about 2-3 weeks away from really having a Perfect Manuscript, which is an amazing feeling. (Disclaimer: "perfect" is here defined as "as close to perfect as I can possibly get it.")

So, now I'm trying to shake the risidual crankies so I can be productive tonight as well. The picture below definitely helps the mood, especially when I imagine Patrick Stewart reading the caption:

Hehehehe. Every time, man. Every time.

I'd love to hear how you are doing!

Any tips for battling crankiness?

How is your week going?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Business of Writing

I read a couple of articles yesterday on the business side of writing that I wanted to share.

Many of us have the dream of being full time writers at some point in our lives. It's why we do what we do. We spend hours, months, years, perfecting our craft, being rejected, and perfecting it some more.

But do we ever think about what to do once we get there?

In this article, writer Jeff Vandermeer discusses some of the pitfalls of being a freelancer, and how to protect yourself for the Bad Times .

One of Jeff's readers references a similar post by one of my favorite writers, John Scalzi, who gives a ton of practical tips on how to manage your money if you plan to be a writer.

What I love about John's advice is that it is in-your-face frankness, which I will always appreciate. My Mama raised me right when it comes to money (don't buy it if you can't pay cash, save everything you can, credit cards aren't magical goodies creaters, etc), but I still learned things from this article. Stash half your money away because you'll have to pay taxes on a quarterly basis, for instance.

What do you guys think about this? Have you given thought to the kind of life you'll lead if you manage to be a full time writer? Are you full time writer and want to share how it's going?

My motto is always "be prepared," so I appreciated this look into a writer's life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Book Giveaway: Enter to Win "Wondrous Strange"

I just received a new shipment of books from Amazon (my favorite store in the world), and decided it would be fun to have a Book Giveaway to start the week out right.

I recently finished reading WONDROUS STRANGE by Lesley Livingston and very much enjoyed it. It's an entertaining read, chilling at times, but mostly sweet and funny. Livingston interweaves Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream with a tale of faeries invading New York City in a way that is delightful and fresh.

Since my house is teeming with piles of books and very few bookshelves (I've been meaning to buy some but... I'm ....just... so... cheap!), I thought I'd have a contest and give it away to one lucky blog reader.

To enter, please leave a comment in this post. All commenters will receive one entry.

For an additional two (count 'em, TWO) entries, put a link to this giveaway on your blog or website, and link to it in the comments section.


You'll have until Monday, July 13th (7/13/09) to get your entries in.

Good luck, and Happy Monday!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Okay, I know I'm early, but I'm off to have fun this weekend, so I thought I'd say it now ;).

Happy Independence Day, my friends!

Oh, and did you know that kitties love corn on the cob? Yeah. That blew my mind, too.

Check it out:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Work In Progess Wednesday: Blog Party!

Yep, you heard right. We're having a party on my blog today, so virtual beers are on me!

My in-laws have been staying at my house for a few days, so I have no new progress to report and need to get my booty to work tonight. Because of this, I want to hear what YOU are working on and get to know you all a little better.

Now is your chance to sidle up, grab a cold one and a lounge chair, and get to know the other people following this blog.

What do you love to read/write?

What is your current project?

Give us your best pitch ;)!

Do you blog?

What is your favorite way to deal with rejection?

Enjoy the party, and try not to break anything while I'm gone, you crazy kids!