A new cover for AutoFlick

The design team at Ecphora Press has been hard at work on a new cover for AutoFlick. The impetus came from a discussion I had with someone who has a lot more experience in the book business than I do. Our conversation took place at the IBPA publishing conference back in April.

Her point was that the classic cars make up a lot of the “scenery” in AutoFlick, and that ought to be the theme of the cover. Back when I was designing the original cover, I thought first of doing something with cars. But I’m no artist, or designer. All of my ideas were way beyond my skill set.

Then I stumbled on the idea of the Boy Scout shirt and the ocean, which reflect important aspects of the story of the novel. I bought a vintage adult BS shirt from the 60s on e-bay, and left it outside on the patio for the summer to “season” it. I shopped on e-bay for BS merit badges and learned that this is a whole market unto itself and the badges were often redesigned over the decades even if the skill (canoeing, etc.) was the same. I shopped e-bay for other badges, buttons and so forth. One of my favorites is a button that was given out at the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, an event that’s featured in the novel.

Then I sewed them all on the shirt and photographed it at various watery places: a lake a few miles away, the scrawny river in the woods behind our house, my vacation to the Pacific Northwest. Finally, I was in San Diego on business and went out to a beach and took the shot that ended up being the first cover.

So the new cover is coming and will be better. A real artist/designer is doing it. The Boy Scout shirt can go back to being a Halloween costume or cocktail-party conversation piece.

The funny thing, though, is that most of the critics who reviewed AutoFlick for the Ben Franklin Awards this year said they liked the old cover — average score was 8 of 10. One person, who didn’t like anything about AutoFlick, said the shirt didn’t have anything to do with the book. I’m assuming he/she actually read the book, but I’m less sure she/he sure looked closely at the cover.

Hey, Mom

I was cleaning out my cell phone because Apple had so helpfully notified me that I was running out of storage.

I deleted a lot of pictures, including a goofy shot of me wearing bizarro sunglasses and my Elmer Fudd red-plaid hat standing in the street in front of our house after shoveling the walk a couple of winters ago.

After I posted it on my Facebook page, I realized that I got my stupid smile from my mother.

Thanks, Mom. Wish you were still around.

Update from the writers’ group

We had another good meeting of the group this week, and it was my turn to collect feedback on my novel-in-progress. The group read Chapter 7, in which one of the principal characters expands at some length about one of her passions. I think it’s an effective scene, and several of the other writers said it brought this character into focus for them.

The biggest challenge in this project is breathing life into a relatively large number of characters. There are a dozen of them, and the narrative jumps around from one group to another. So it’s a win when readers get to know them as individuals.

What was interesting is that the readers had different impressions of who she is, what she’s about. I guess that’s one of the rewards of trying to let the character define herself by what she says and does, rather than having the narrator do it.

Plus, none of the readers seem to see her the way I do!

Update from the writers’ group

One of the authors in our local writing group, whose identity will not be revealed, recently chopped off the tip of his protagonist’s index finger.

At a key juncture in the story-to-come, I strongly believe the protagonist should hold the severed tip of his index finger in his good hand, point it at someone while also gesturing with the damaged finger, and say, “J’accuse.”

Agree or no?

Visas for sale

There’s an interesting story in today’s Washington Post (May 7) about the EB-5 visa program. According to the report, the program is being used to attract foreign investors into high-end U.S. real estate projects.

Think Kushner. Think Trump.

The sister of the First Son-in-Law apparently this weekend was in Beijing pitching a new Kushner luxury project to wealthy Chinese investors with this statement: “Invest $500,00 and immigrate to the United States.”

Raise your hand if you think real estate developers should be peddling legal residence in the U.S. as a perk, if not the thing actually being sold, to foreigners who may or may not have accumulated their wealth in legitimate, much less ethical, ways.

Mr. Kushner, a government employee, has reportedly separated himself from the real estate project being pitched.

A better approach might be to allow individual U.S. citizens to sell their own legal right to be here to whomever they choose, rather than allow speculators to sell what they don’t actually own.

Attentive readers, writers and editors will also note the classic misuse of “immigrate” in the pitch. A wealthy foreigner would be purchasing the right to emigrate to the U.S. and once here would be considered an immigrant.