Friday Face-Off: Metaphorical Crowns

Today I’m returning to the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is “Heavy is the head that wears the crown”  – A cover featuring a crown

I thought I’d do something a little bit different, because the first book that came to mind was a metaphorical crown: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett, last book in the Discworld series.  Unlike last week, all the covers for this one are pretty good–and no one’s made the mistake of showing an actual crown!

I like the simplicity of this one, and the way they evoked a crown without actually depicting one.  It has an appropriate natural and homey feel with the bees and the sand dollar.

This one is more communicative, and I like how the images glow against the dark backdrop.  The Nac Mac Feegle on her hat brim is a nice touch, and I can’t decide if I like that her expression isn’t sweet, or if it’s just a touch too irritable.  But it kinda fits!

I love the energy of this one, the action promised in her cloak and those massive boots, and I like the swarm of Nac Mac Feegles all around her.  And Tiffany’s expression here feels perfect.  This is also the only cover that makes it look like a comedy!

In some ways less striking than the previous cover, this one is still my favorite, because I think it’s the cover I needed on this, Pratchett’s posthumously-published last book.  We still have the witch’s hat, the swarm of Nac Mac Feegles and the mountain landscape, but I love the way Tiffany is clearly leading them here.  This cover captures an element the others don’t, that this book is about Tiffany accepting the (metaphorical) crown as a new leader in her world.  Tiffany actually looks like a (metaphorical) shepherd here, and there’s something very satisfying in that.

Have you read this one?  Which cover do you like best?

Writing Wednesday: Police Plots

I wrote recently about my research into the Paris police of the 1880s.  I’m working on that strand of my novel right now, building up the role of Commissaire Mifroid.  He’s actually one of my point of view characters, in a way.  There are times when I want the reader to know something that Meg and the Phantom do not, so I included excerpts from Mifroid’s notebook.

Despite having that in place, I still didn’t have him prominent enough throughout the second book in earlier drafts, and didn’t have enough detail on his investigation.  So today’s excerpt is an excerpt 😉 from Mifroid’s notebook–the first one that appears in the novel, in fact, which I have greatly expanded since previous versions.

Excerpt from the Private Notebook of Jean Mifroid, Commissaire of Police
10 Mar 1881

Continuing investigation into disappearance of Philippe de Chagny, Raoul de Chagny, Christine Daaé.  Second interview of de Chagny housekeeper on 9 Mar, confessed to seeing RdC and CD on morning of 2 Mar.  Last known sighting of RdC and CD.  Expressed plans to leave country, consistent with letter received by M. Giry.  Still tracing leads re: travel, current whereabouts.

Housekeeper provided no further info re: PdC.  No additional sightings after evening of 1 Mar, at Opera Garnier.  If abducted, no ransom.  Murder?

Suspects:

RdC – Motive: inheritance?  Interference with proposed marriage to CD?  Opportunity: Last seen by myself seeking PdC at Opera, emotional state extreme at time.  Capability: Possible, with weapon.

CD – Motive: Same as RdC.  Opportunity: Also at Opera at time of PdC disappearance.  Capability: Slight physical strength, unknown ability with weapons.

Cloaked man seen with PdC on stage – so-called Opera Ghost? – Motive: Unknown.  Opportunity: Likely.  Capability: Unknown.

Also continuing investigation into fallen chandelier.  Evidence points to sabotage.  Connection between sabotage and disappearance of PdC?  Connection to long-standing legend of Opera Ghost?

Friday Face-Off: Heroic Covers

Today I thought I’d try a different-for-me meme, and join the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’ – A cover featuring a hero

One of my favorite bookish heroes is, of course, Alanna the Lioness in Tamora Pierce’s wonderful book series.  I thought I’d highlight the second book in the series, In the Hand of the Goddess, because I’m fascinated by how cover illustrators handle the issue of a female hero disguised as a boy.  The answer is…not very well!

We start here with this rather awful cover, which clearly did not even try to depict Alanna’s disguise.  It’s an action sequence and her hair is the right color, which is about all I can say for it.

This cover graced the library copy I read the very first time I encountered this book, so I have a nostalgic fondness for it.  I like the drama of the moment and the framing of Alanna, as well as the nice detail in the setting.  She at least isn’t showing much figure, but that hair isn’t helping the disguise.

This cover wins for the most convincingly androgynous protagonist–she actually could be a girl disguised as a boy, and neither the disguise or the true gender seem impossible.  I like the clothing choice and the sword hilt too.  It’s just too bad she has such a glowery expression!

By contrast this one has a great expression, resolute and defiant, and I like the hair style.  I want to love this cover, probably for the expression alone.  If she was just standing a little less model-like, with a little less figure…well, then I could more easily forgive it for not only getting the color of her magic glow wrong, but also the color of her horse wrong.  And is it really safe to hold a sword like that?

This is the cover on my copy, and I like the detail of it a lot.  Someone actually read the book because there’s a lot of elements in play correctly here: the purple glow for the magic, the horse in the background, the jewel on the sword hilt and the necklace.  Points for putting Faithful on her shoulders too, and the ghostly Goddess hands look protective and evoke the title nicely.  If she just looked a little more boyish (and what’s with the tunic/miniskirt?) this would be the break-away favorite.  Instead, I’m calling it a tie with this next one.

This is just a little bit busy–but I’m liking all the detail in her clothing, we get Faithful, the magic necklace, and the Goddess hands, plus a convincing job done on that disguised-as-a-boy aspect–which obviously is a stumbling point often!

Cover comparison really is pretty fascinating 🙂  Especially with a book as difficult to depict as this!

 

Blog Hop: Time-Travel Book Browsing

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: If you could travel back in time to purchase the first printing of a specific novel, what book would that be?

Seems to me there’s two ways to approach this…is this a book I’d buy to keep and cherish, or is it an investment?  If we’re looking at it as an investment, than the three that come to mind (although none are actually novels) are the Gutenberg Bible, a Shakespeare First Folio, and Action #1 comic book (the first Superman story).  I think any of those would be a very tidy investment!

Aside: I saw a First Folio once in Stratford, and just for fun I tucked one into the Phantom’s bookshelf in my Phantom trilogy, on the theory that he has a lot of money, and they may have been less sought after 140 years ago anyway.  I don’t call it a First Folio, just mention the title sitting on the shelf in one paragraph–and Hamlet, surprisingly enough, has a bit of a prominent role in the story.  /End Aside.

If we say I can buy the book but not re-sell it, then of course my brain goes towards L. M. Montgomery.  I probably wouldn’t get a first edition Anne of Green Gables (although I do have a “Thirty-Eighth Impression” 1914 copy, which I believe to be in the style of the first edition–$10, I kid you not).  I’d actually rather have a first edition of The Blue Castle, seeing as it’s my favorite.

Truth is, I’m not that enthralled with first editions, though.  I’d much rather have a signed copy of a favorite book than a first edition.  The cheapest L. M. Montgomery signed book I can find online is over $1,000 though, so…not something I’m purchasing!  At least, not right now. 🙂  But if I could time-travel to buy a book, see Montgomery and have it signed…yeah, that would definitely be what I’d do!

I’d also be rather tempted to get pre-first editions–to get a Strand magazine edition of a Sherlock Holmes story, or the original magazine installments of A Princess of Mars or The Phantom of the Opera.  I think that would be great fun!

If you could time-travel to buy a book, what would you get?  Would you sell your purchase, or would you buy something sentimental?

Writing Wednesday: French Rabbit Holes

Sometimes revisions require research, and mine has tumbled me down a few rabbit holes recently.  Trying to research different areas of France doesn’t sound complicated, does it?  I just wanted to place the village Meg is from, an almost throw-away line in a scene where she’s on the train heading to Leclair.  It got complicated.

I knew the village was in the south of France because…it just is, always has been.  Some things just are, in stories.  I read a somewhat horrifying novel about the Nazi occupation of France a while back and decided on the spot that I was going to make sure Meg’s village was not in the worst of the occupied zone–not that it really matters, since my story is set 60 years before World War II.  But it could matter to my characters’ children.  Anyway, call that a whim, and it was easy to find out where those borders were.  Conveniently it was the northern half that was occupied the longest–so far, so good.

I also knew it was an agricultural economy in the village, which might have happened because I read so many L. M. Montgomery books about farming villages.  So I figured, a little research on what bits of southern France are dominated by agriculture.  So I did some Googling, I found a map that suggested the area around Toulouse was probably about right.  So now I just want to find some information on that area.  District.  Province.  State.  Whatever it’s called.  And…rabbit hole. Continue reading “Writing Wednesday: French Rabbit Holes”

Writing Wednesday: As the Days Go By

I spent a couple of hours writing this past Sunday morning, more concentrated time than I can usually spend.  Most of it went to trying to nail down my timeline for Book Two of my Phantom trilogy.  I’m usually comfortable enough with vagueness–setting scenes in early April, a Thursday in June, the end of July and so on.  But the Phantom threw a wrench (or a lasso?) in that idea.

Throughout this book, Meg and Erik are both counting from the time Christine left.  Meg goes about it fairly reasonably, and is soon remarking on how many weeks or months it’s been, which allows for some vagueness.  Erik, however, is more intense than that.  So I spent a morning going through each of his scenes to insert a remark on how many days (and hours) it’s been since Christine left.  Which meant I had to actually know exactly which date each scene is happening on.  Happily, it’s very easy to find a calendar of 1881.  It’s a little more brain-scrambling trying to get all the numbers lined up and make sure all references are consistent.  But I think I got it–and I really like it as a character tell for him.

Here’s an excerpt where I put in Erik’s count.  I swear he’s actually getting less angsty by this point, though it may not be super evident from this particular excerpt–set on Sunday, June 5th, 1881, at about 4 in the morning.

*******

The special performance was going to be so…far from what it could have been, if his own opera had gone differently.  If she was still here, launched on the career only he could have given her.  Continue reading “Writing Wednesday: As the Days Go By”

Blog Hop: Studious Reading

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you take notes about the book you are reading as you read?

In brief, no.  I don’t take notes of any fiction I’m reading, which is a big bulk of my reading.  The closest I come is that I will occasionally flag or underline (in a book I own, of course) a quote that strikes me, often to be written down in my quotes notebook later–but not in the midst of reading.  And even that happens…I don’t know, one book in fifty?  Or even a hundred?

I will note, when the fifth book of Valente’s Fairyland series came out, I reread the previous four with a pencil in hand, and did copious underlining (like, every page…) because they’re that brilliant.  But that’s a vanishingly rare situation.

I also read spiritual books, and for those books I do a lot more flagging or underlining.  I have a spiritual journal as well, and after I read one of my spiritual books I transcribe quotes into my journal.  But again, it’s after I read the book–I don’t stop reading to copy things out.  I tried that and didn’t like it.

Reading is relaxing for me–or it’s a quick snatch in a small space of time.  In either case, it’s not conducive to copying down notes.

Do you take notes while you read?  Or do you flag things to make notes later?