Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Want to Self-Publish Because of the Cerulean Sweater

I have not read The Devil Wear Prada but I've read Everyone Worth Knowing by Laura Wesiburger. I tried recently to get through Last Night at Chateau Marmont, but it wasn't a good time for me reading-wise, I was more focused on writing energies. Okay, I have no idea if this scene is in the book, but I loved it in the movie version with Meryl Streep. The famous cerulean sweater.


In the movie scene, Meryl Streep's character as the editor-in-chief of New York's hottest fashion magazine, nay, bible, informs Anne Hathaway's character that she didn't choose that sweater, but a fashion line two seasons ago featured cerulean as a color. Then the next season other designers featured cerulean in their collections and that made it's way down the fashion lines to the bargain-bin sweater she was now wearing. 


Here's why I'm self-publishing: I want to be the person putting out the new cerulean line two seasons before everyone else wears it. Come again? Elizabeth, you're writing a book not designing clothes. I know that. My point is that I know my story isn't typical. I don't want to be typical. Craft wise, yes we should all be well-read in our genre and know the rules. Then break them. If you are writing a book just like another story already published, you're not going to make it out of the bargain bin. 


I know there will be readers who are annoyed my ending isn't perfect and I follow the hero's trip down Cupid's Path, and not his fiancée or the mother of his baby. And I do get flashes of scenes from the women's point-of-views. Such as Alexis calling her sorority sister from undergrad and talking about wedding dresses. You want to know what Johnathan's concerns about the wedding dress is? Is it in budget? Yes? Okay, then I can't wait to see you in it on our wedding day. That's it. He doesn't care about the fabrics used, the length, the line of the skirt. But if this was a traditional chick-lit, I would absolutely throw in a gushy, trying on the wedding dress scene. Shoot, chick-lit Hall-of-Famer Becky Bloomwood (Kinsella's Shopaholic) has TWO wedding dresses, and the drama of choosing between the two lasted nearly the entire novel! 


But so much about the publishing world is about what other books is your book like? As if your book must be similar in details, with just minor permutations or the silly, ignorant reader won't know what to do. In my opinion, there is wearable couture, and then there is the ready-to-wear lines. Wearable couture? Dan Brown's conspiracy thriller making secret societies cool and stuffy academia suddenly equips the hero physically and mentally for a life-or-death chase across countries, with no military involved. A spy type thriller with no military? And you're replacing the Establishment with the Vatican? Stephenie Meyer's vegetarian vampires. Vegetarian vampires? Whoever heard of a friendly vampire? Even Rice's Louis killed. 


With indie publishing, there aren't editors deciding which plot lines and story constructs are hot at the moment. I'm not arguing we don't need editors, we most certainly do. In fact, I am not proud of the way book releases are handled by many self-published novelists, with first drafts going to print. Editors welcome there! What the book world doesn't need is the bandwagon approach to publishing. Don't chase a reader trend, make one. Write to make people pause and decide if they like it. Be prepared to hear more from the people who don't like it than from the people who do. 


Forgive my constant pep-talk posts. They help me get excited all over again about my book as I'm currently stuck in the middle doldrums. Here's an excerpt from what I wrote yesterday in the dentist's waiting room and finished this morning, there's 1,000 words total to this scene:



     “Didn't you wear that same tie yesterday?” Eric gestured to the slate blue accessory with a satin geometric design around Johnathan's neck. Johnathan grabbed the tale and looked at it. 
     “A gray one like it.” Of course it was the same tie. He forgot to pack a different tie in his overnight bag. Yesterday's became today's recycling after he and Alex woke up at her place that morning. The last two weeks were a blur of dinning out, sleeping over, and alternating who packed an overnight bag.
    “No, I don't believe so. I believe that is exactly the same tie you wore yesterday.” Eric thumbed screens on his smart phone and showed the impromptu pictures from yesterday with the Claw, the mechanical hand at the end of the Hedis armature. It wasn't operational yet. He zipped through the scenes of showing what most men would do with a sudden third hand. Finally, he found Johnathan's poses. There was the CEO, struggling against the inactive Claw around his neck, and a slate blue tie with a satin geometric design dangling underneath.
    Johnathan hung his head. The cement floor of the work cave was a piece of abstract art. Various oil and lubrication stains made a random pattern of darkened splotches. Rainbow bits of electrical wire hid here and there, temporary visitors until their heavily modified Roomba was released. Neon drops of epoxy and other unidentifiable materials held permanent positions. At least until a good floor scraping.
     “And I also believe...” Eric held his pointer finger in the air, as if testing the wind, then brought it down and pointed it back to his best friend.  “You are in love with Alex.”
     No shock. No shame. Johnathan faced his oldest friend with a sheepish smile and eyes full of defiance. “She loves me back. I was going to tell you, but she had all of these rules at the beginning and I just tried...it was a miracle I didn't screw things up.”
     Eric played with an actuator on the work bench in front of them. He flicked the toggle switch back and forth. Click. Click. Click. Johnathan waited.
    “I'm not stupid. You two sucked at hiding.”



"Cancelled" arriving Late Summer 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

1 comment:

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