The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, May 28, 2007

Off I.F. for three days. And "B"

Was in Philadelphia for three days, missing various planes and having mucho stress getting there for my event. Went off I.F. for that time. I was 174.6 when I left, and 179.4 this morning. Hah! I’m sure glad this isn’t some kind of “diet” that I’m planning to go off of. Obviously, until my set-point adjusts, the body can gain weight one HELL of a lot faster than it loses. No wonder people get discouraged! But then, it takes a lot longer to grow a forest than to burn one down, to build a building than to demolish it, to build trust than to lose it. Just the way life is…
Another weird thing about I.F...under the name "Feast/Fast", it seems to be used to overcome Jet Lag! The plan seems to be to make travel days fasting days. There is more to it, but you might want to Google the concept and see for yourself...
Here’s the second installment of my “ABC of Writing” series. Including the ad at the end. Heh heh.
'B' is for Bookcovers

As in: do you have any influence over what goes on the
covers of your books? The answer: sometimes. If you
and your editor trust each other, and you have some
leverage. Or if you negotiate it. Writers like Harlan Ellison
have a huge amount of input on such things, but newbies
can expect minimal. You can certainly make suggestions,
but be polite to your editors, understand that they have
sales departments and bosses and art departments to
interact with--you won't always get your way.

May I tell you a story? Back about 25 years ago, I
published my third novel, my first solo work, 'Streetlethal.'
The lead character was black, in fact described as
'unusually dark for an American black man.' When
the book came out, the guy on the cover was a tanned
white guy. I was furious. The editor was embarrassed,
but said that the Art department had insisted. I talked
to the art department. They in turn blamed sales. I
talked to sales. They said that the truck drivers who
end up putting the books on racks would have rejected
a black man on the cover, surmising it to be 'Shaft in
Space' or some such. Sigh. Boy oh boy, was I pissed.
But I held my temper and motored on. When the
sequel, 'Gorgon Child' was published two years later,
there on the cover was...a black man. Now, curiously
enough, the WOMAN on the cover with him was now
a blonde, where she was actually described as a
mixture of black and Polynesian.

The truth is that there was really no one in particular
to be angry with. They were doubtless correct: when
the first book came out, it WOULD have affected sales.
And probably did even with the sequels. Human
beings have these interesting, odd perceptual habits.
But if I'd freaked, I would have accomplished nothing
save cutting my own throat. No. I swallowed my bile,
and went forward. My commitment was to my career,
not my ego.
Writing is not magic. Building a career in alignment with
your values need not be a mystery. YOU CAN BE A
PUBLISHED WRITER! No question about it, for 95% of the
people reading this, if you have decent basic language
skills, and the ability to work hard and tell the truth. A
professional writer, making your living? I can't promise
you that--no one can. But I can give you the best shot
you've ever had at it. The LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG course
is simply the best in the business. Order your copy today

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