(This post has been delayed due to Covid-19. I’m thrilled to finally be able to share it.)
I spent a lovely afternoon with my husband at a book store.
When we finally found the books there the game began.
The Cover Game
What can you tell from a book cover? If you know the book, what makes sense about the cover? If you don’t know the book, what do you guess the story is about?
What clues to genre does the cover give off? Is the book meant to inform or entertain more?
Do only established authors get to put their names on top of the title? Do certain fonts express credibility?
Most interesting to me was the branding of an author. How can you tell it’s from a particular person? Do an author’s books all have something in common? I want to compliment V. E. Schwab on the use of the first letter of her first name in her book covers. It struck me and I’ve since become a reader and fan.
If you’re ever again able to browse in a bookstore, here in Indiana or elsewhere, it is a fun exercise and will give you much to think about.
What will my covers have in common?
From now on, I will always make sure my covers convey the visual arrows I want potential readers to have. As far as cohesiveness, they will all be painted by my true love.
Have you ever played the cover game? What did you learn?
A post by another author caught my eye. She declared she wanted to come to Indiana just to visit our local restaurant chain. I decided it was time to make my own, postponed, trip happen.
“Books & Brews” has a literary inspired menu of dishes and drinks. I met another writer there to eat (Slaughterhouse Five naan pizza, of course), admire the shelves of tomes, and ogle open cabinets of board games. It is the perfect place to bring the family, catch up with old friends, or even sneak off to plot.
Of course I mused what they would offer as “the” Gender Chasm. Perhaps a pie split into a pink strawberry side and a blueberry side with a crust divider between them?
Have you been to Books & Brews? Would you drive here to go? Have you been to other book themed restaurants?
My first outing in Indy was to a coffee shop called Calvin Fletcher’s. I had breakfast, nursed my first daughter, and bought a bag of whole beans as a gift for in-laws. I imagined what our lives could be here, and hoped it would include writing.
As I finish editing Gender Chasm, I have been thinking about that trip. Many times I’ve desired to come back. Today I put my two children in daycare, left the house a mess, and brought my editing notebook with me to a table in the corner. I ordered my coffee “for here” so I wouldn’t be tempted to go home and check on the beef stew I have cooking for our house guests tonight.
I love the coffee shop atmosphere- mismatched plates, man buns, and music I wouldn’t normally listen to. If I hadn’t come I could have worked a little harder on scrubbing the kitchen. I could have made my own cup of black brew and not taken the risk of driving to the city.
Maternity leave is time you use to adjust to adding another person to your family. It’s also a great time to commit to daily writing or editing, and I’ll be blogging about that next month. However, there are things I miss about working:
Goals. Housework is an ever populated list directed by yourself. Work work is an directed by another’s expectations and to me that is refreshing. My company decides my work budget, minimum requirements, and gives approval to me when it is complete. I get to do activities, which I love, and creatively employ my solutions.
Ideas. More than one novel idea I have involves the geriatric population and dementia. My work gives me access to people and situations that provoke ideas. Also, when trying to describe things I see, I come away with great lines like “stomped vegetable nose”.
Income. It will take money to make money as an author, and working provides that resource. Also having a paycheck means I can afford traveling and other experiences that will enrich my stories.
Since I really do enjoy being an activity director, it’s difficult for me to imagine not being around seniors. Perhaps if I do need to give up traditional work in the future I can still volunteer to get my old people fix. My blog A Smile Among Wrinkles can tell you a little more about that part of my life.
Indiana is never a place I expected to live as an adult.
When I was a child, I found out my mother had attended Indiana University. I reached for my encyclopedia and looked up the state. There were pictures of Native Americans and a few paragraphs of demographics. I still wanted to follow in her footsteps and felt settled that I wouldn’t have to choose a college for myself until I learned that she attended higher learning at Indiana University in Pennsylvania. After that, I didn’t give the mid-west another thought.
Living here has been pretty comfortable. The similarities in commercial offerings are such that I forget I am actually 13 hours from my parents and no longer an hour from meeting friends halfway.
After my first year here, I can say I feel settled. I have a favorite coffee shop, diner, restaurant, park, and library location. In Summer we saw waterfalls and in Fall we went to a pumpkin patch. I’ve been to the zoo, children’s museum, and the Kurt Vonnegut library. We’ve made our way into the city a few times, including the observation deck above the Mayor’s office.
We own a house here, now. We are friends with our next store neighbors. The grocery store clerks all know I want paper bags.
Perhaps the highlight of the year has been attending Vonnegutfest and hearing John Green speak.
The night began with High School students who attended Vonnegut’s High School (Shortridge) reading their winning essays and giving me hope for the future. A bonus was Calvin Fletcher’s offering their new cold brew flavor for free at the bar.
John Green was introduced, then spoke for a half hour about writing in Indy, things he agreed with Vonnegut about, and how he’d like to see the world change. Never more have I wanted to settle down and make a stable community instead of searching for the next place.
When a writer gets to pick out a new desk, we may want things that are different from other normal desk wielding people.
My old desk felt confined and too shabby to inspire me. When I really sat down to write, I liked to take my computer to an open table instead. This led me to believe my next desk should be open and with more space to spread out.
To begin my search I looked for used desks. Used have the benefit of coming pre-assembled, pre-historied, and pre-depreciated.
Yet, writers can be practical too. An open desk with elbow room would be difficult to get up the stairs. Good options were not close to home, and logistics of getting help with the loading the desk into a truck narrowed down the choices. I didn’t want to sacrifice desk top space or drawer space to help keep clutter out of the way of my writing supplies just to find something easy to move. I also didn’t want to have to wait too long to write.
So, I began to look for new options that would ship in a box and not require me to use a truck.
Never before have I bought my own furniture and it was difficult for me to decide without the limitations of seeing what is available used and local.
I knew having the printer handy would be important to have paper copies to critique. The finish was up to me entirely, and I even researched matching bookshelves to make sure I could accommodate all my reference materials nearby while still looking nice in the room. I wanted open shelves with easy access and closed shelves for things I didn’t need as often and didn’t want to have as eye sores. In the end, I also picked a desk with a hanging file drawer large enough for each story idea in its own file.
The final product is something I’m so happy with. Everything has been convenient to reach, I can keep binders and books open as I write, and there is enough storage for me to limit things in view to things that aid me in my focus.
I could not be so close to a museum for Kurt Vonnegut and not take a visit. In a college ethics class, I did my final project on his secular humanist beliefs. He is someone I would have been lucky to know. I read Slaughterhouse Five before the short trip into Indianapolis which I believe adds much to the understanding of the displays in his Memorial Library. To see his struggles as an author, successes in his dreams, personal challenges, and sparks of creativity in person were comforting and inspiring.
Have you visited any good museums dedicated to authors or writing?
When I found out I had a chance to visit Indiana, I needed to look on the map to see how to get there. I began to research fun things to do. For this I use Pinterest and http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/.
I enjoyed my time there, including a trip to a not-for-profit coffee shop where I was able to sit and catch up on my journals.
Now that I know I will be moving to this state, there are other things I would like to find out. How does cost of living compare, for example? If I could visit again I would go to the local library, the local gym, and the local grocery store. Online I have researched things like Meetup groups (including writers’ groups) available to me to join. I’ve added Parks and Recreation newsletters to my e-mail subscriptions. So far things look promising.
What considerations do you make when moving to a new place?