Let Your Voice Be Heard (Or Read)

I don’t really play many Christmas songs for myself. Generallly, I get enough of them from the world around me in stores and in commercials. But for some unexplained reason I found myself at iTunes this week searching for Christmas music and discovered Christmas with Weezer. Whether it’s the crazy distortion on the guitar or just the moody tone, the band has stayed true to these classic songs while giving them new life for me.

And that’s one of the great beauties about art. Musicians, like other artists, can add their personality to their craft, making it their own so that no one song will sound the same when performed by two separate artists.

Writing is the same. Voice is so important to what we do. Writing voice gives our work personality. Character voice makes the players in our story stand out from each other. Two writers can tackle the same story with the same plot and characters and come out with different versions, completely unique thanks to the voice of the writer. Agents love it too as many of them say strong voice is what they look for in a writer’s work.

So how can writers perfect the art of voice? I often wrestle with this. I have the tendency to write out the voice in my writing. By this I mean, I appreciate craft and know this is also something readers and the publishing industry both value. Good writing is essential. But when I am too conscious of the craft of writing, the voice is dull. If I’m not careful, my focus on the structure can kill voice when I sit down to write.

So I try to find a balance, knowing I must have both. I’ve always felt the best way to write with great voice is to give myself permission for imperfection. Then the voice comes. After all, when the first draft is finished, I can go back and fix things that fall under the umbrella of craft. Most important to me is that the writing has personality and that the audience has read something from a unique perspective. So I hope you find inspiration in the arts this season and here’s to letting our voices speak.


Cover Art

A good book cover will draw you in. A great cover might tempt you to pick up the book and read the back, sometimes even open to the first page. Lots has been written and discussed on the topic of cover art to know it’s a key marketing feature.

I know for myself that the visual of the cover remains in my mind as I read a book. Months or years later, the book cover will bring back the story and characters. Long after the book has made it to my shelves, one look at the cover and I can remember the book from where it sat on my bedside table, or how it peeked above the edge of my purse when I pulled it out to read.

But now that I mostly use my e-reader, how important is the cover to me anymore? I pick up my kindle and it delivers me to the page I was last reading. The visual that goes along with the story isn’t as prominent as it used to be. Regardless, I still think every book, paper or electronic, benefits from good cover art.

From early on in the process of writing Shadow Dreams, I had this image in my head of the main character Adele. Her face, the daisies in her hair and her ring all feature prominently in the opening chapter, as well as a key scene later in the book. I knew this image of her would make a stunning cover. And truthfully, I am drawn to covers that feature the character’s image. After acquiring a photographer and choosing a model (Julia frances), I had this photo taken and the cover produced. While I’ve posted the photo in a previous post, the background work, done by the amazing Alexandria N. Thompson (Graphic Designer), adds a whole new dimension.

Whether I take the route of self-publishing this novel or not, this artwork has special meaning for me. It is very fulfilling to see a visual image of my character and I am thrilled with the end product.

Thanks to Ed Huang, photographer for his vision and talent.