Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some Non-Controversial Book Cover Discussion

Sooooo...I heard back from my publisher. Needless to say, this was an occasion of great excitement and celebration, perhaps even minor squealing and drunkenness (figurative and literal). At any rate, I found out the next steps in the process: I'll be doing another round of edits (which I expected), not quite as drastic as the last round but fixing lots of small issues. Due May 3, so obviously the original publication estimate of April no longer applies, but I was just happy to hear my book was still on the radar.

Then, I was asked to generate some alternative title ideas for the editorial staff to consider, which was an interesting task considering I am CRAP at titling anything. Plus I liked my existing title. Fortunately, I get to keep my title (The Latte Rebellion), which is good considering the alternatives I was able to come up with (a few choice examples were Beyond House Blend: The Official Autobiography of Agent Alpha and Skin Deep, Coffee High, so it's no wonder the existing title seemed fine by comparison). So that's one reason I'm quite happy right now.

I was also asked--and this occasioned more happy spazzing on my part--to generate some ideas for the book cover. It's not common for an author to get much say in what the cover looks like, so I was basically overjoyed to have input. I looked at a lot of existing covers, including those pictured here, and evidently the cover artist they've chosen has a good idea of what to do,'s just a matter of waiting to see what she comes up with.

What was extra funny about this is, a couple of months ago I had a very vivid dream having to do with the title and cover of my book. I dreamed that my publisher had decided to change the title to Deep Woods (which, incidentally, has zero to do with ANYTHING in the book) and had sent me a sample of the cover, which looked a lot like this sketch here only in color, lots of dark browns and greens and ambers: the main character, her back turned, regarding a crow on a branch; the main character with two shirtless guys (was I thinking about Twilight, maybe?) in the lower foreground; everything framed by two trees at the left and the right and looking an awful lot like the cover of a DragonLance novel.

I think, in the dream, I was appalled.

Fortunately, I don't think I'm in any danger of my book looking like this and I now can be certain there will be no utterly random retitling. Reason to celebrate. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Found First Line Experiment #1: Speculative Politics

What's the Found First Line Experiment? Well, I just made it up, sort of. It's vaguely based on a writing exercise I read about in Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. I clicked into Google News, picked the third article down, took the first line, and wrote a story starting with that line. I'm trying to post more creative explorations here, and also trying to do more "fun" writing experiments that I can use to simply let go and enjoy myself...and why not share some of the results? If you decide to try it, too, leave me a link.

Not every rookie political wannabe gets to have his campaign announcement on national TV. It's why I felt lucky. Not charmed; not privileged; but lucky. I didn't have any famous family members, I wasn't part of any East-Coast old-money political dynasty. I wasn't involved in the city council or the school board. I'm not even very telegenic. I'm told I have big pores.

What do I do? Well, I used to teach. I volunteered at hospitals on the weekends.

So when they picked me, I felt like the luckiest guy in the world.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mythbusters Volunteer Recap, Part I

I've been meaning to post my Mythbusters photos for quite a while now. I've been informed that, with good reason, they would like us NOT to post the photo we got to take with Adam and Jamie, because it was in the room where the experiment took place and they don't want to give anything away prior to the airing of the show. So I'm also not going to say much about the experiment itself until then (though, if you know me well enough to e-mail me about it, I'll probably tell you one-on-one). Anyway, just the lead-up to the experiment itself was a novel experience. After responding to their Twitter call for volunteers, I was selected to be part of a group that would be experimented upon on Wednesday, January 20.

That morning, I left the house at 6:30 a.m. in order to ensure I could get to San Francisco, specifically the edge of the Mission/Cesar Chavez area, by 9:30. This may sound like overkill, but it turned out I needed that entire time (plus a little) due to the fact that it rained heavily throughout the trip and didn't let up until I got there (of course). But it was worth it, of course. Once I arrived, I knocked on the door of what appeared to be a sort of warehouse, which houses the Mythbusters/M5 Industries offices and workshop. In the photo above, you can see the check-in table and a few of the other volunteers (there were about 25 of us). We got name tags and proceeded to wait in what seemed to be the kitchen/break room area until we were called down for our turn to participate in the experiment.

While we waited, we were asked a few inevitable questions such as our ages--at which point I found out, happily, that I was NOT the oldest person there by a long shot, though the group was a bit skewed towards 20-somethings. Also, we were asked The Ethnicity Question. That's always been a fun one (or not) for me. As a child, I enjoyed giving the most complicated possible answer by going into excruciating detail about every single fraction of my ethnic makeup. Now I try to suit the answer to the situation, usually going for less rather than more detail. But this wasn't a multiple choice situation, just the check-in guy going around and writing the answers down.

So I opened my mouth and said "Pakistani, Czechoslovakian, and Caucasian." And then realized how that sounded, after everybody else was all "Caucasian" or "Scandiavian" or "English and German" or whatever nice and simple answers they were lucky to be able to provide. The guy kind of laughed and said "Cool," and then I was glad I hadn't given him the really detailed answer but instead just went for the largest fractions. For a second I thought I should have given him one of the mashup ethnicities that Rob and I came up with--Pakislovakian or Czechistani--but figured I sounded weird enough already. He didn't need to know that anything my maternal grandmother said about her heritage is suspect except for the Irish and probably the English parts, nor did he need to know that the Pakistani part actually originated in India but has quite a bit of Arab blood mixed in, too.

Despite the fact that discussing my ethnicity makes me sigh sometimes, and also that my answer to that question at the Mythbusters studio probably made me "the weird volunteer," I had a good time. As for the experiment itself--I'll just have to give you a post-airdate debriefing, during which you'll find out why I'm also probably now "the problem volunteer."