A sketch of a preview

I’ve been working with my book cover designer Alex Nereuta this weekend. I would say, “this is the fun part” but that would make it sound like the writing itself isn’t fun, while of course it is. Sometimes.

Although we already had ideas for the covers of the second and third novels in the Embodied trilogy (Starley’s Rust and the as-yet-unnamed thrilling conclusion), these were thrown out the window with the help of some inspiration and alcohol on Friday evening. Fast-forward two days and a stock photo has been bought for the Starley’s Rust cover. Designing the cover is exciting. It’s what people see on Amazon, Apple, and Elsewhere. People will judge the book by it. And in the great tradition of coming up with creative concepts in drinking establishments, the sketch was drawn on a napkin so that Alex and I would remember it afterwards:

A napkin with some ink on it.

A napkin with some ink on it. Photo credit: John B. Dutton

Some of the best ideas of all time have been thought up in Montreal pubs. Well, at least one, anyway. It should also be noted that some of the worst ideas of all time have been thought up in Montreal pubs (although not all of them by me).

Now that Starley’s Rust is in the hands of my editor and readers, I can put the rusty ol’ marketing machine back into gear and start chugging it down the information superhighway. It’s coming your way, so watch out for it!

Setting isn’t the same thing as location

I’m getting back on the horse. That’s if the horse’s Latin name was equus socialmedius. In other words, I’m trying to post more often. Now that the first draft of Starley’s Rust has been written and is in the hands of my editor, I can put more time into blogging, posting, tweeting, and, um, tumbling.

Horses being social, without the use of media.

Horses being social, without the use of media.

That being said, I’m wary of spending too much time on social media work compared to, you know, work work. But to help stoke the flames of the buzzfire without having to write 800 words every day or two, I’ve decided to write more frequent shorter blog posts with links to articles by other writers or in the media (like yesterday’s post). So here’s another one. It’s short, but it makes a very good point. It’s written by an “award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor” by the name of Richard Ridley.

He’s written this concise article about the crucial difference between location and setting. Very good advice. I’ll add another cent to his two cents: basically, if you’re describing scenery, it had better have an emotional impact for the reader, otherwise you might as well be writing an IKEA catalog.


Photo credit: Βethan / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)



There’s no way of saying this without innuendo…

Does size matter? Where novels are concerned, I mean. Unless you’re using it as a doorstop, the number of pages in a book shouldn’t really be related to its quality, right? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s read stupendously long novels that were unputdownable and skimpy volumes that seemed like a total waste of my time.

I guess when something is good (like my favourite novel, Don Quixote, or War and Peace) you never want it to end. But British author Ian McEwan (who wrote another of my favourite novels, Atonement) made the case to the BBC last week that shorter is better and that American authors in particular apparently feel the irresistible need to plonk a hefty tome down on their editor’s desk. Blam! “There it is. Another Great American Novel. And don’t you dare cut it down…”

War and Peace and Bull_20140905_225341

My copy of War and Peace next to my latest, considerably shorter, literary opus.


McEwan makes a good point about how enjoying an entire novel at one sitting leads to a similar sense of satisfaction as watching a great movie. His newest book, The Children Act, is about 55,000 words long, even shorter than the first draft of my sequel to Silent Symmetry, Starley’s Rust. I’m therefore in good company. And I firmly believe that when it comes to The Great American Young Adult Novel, shorter is sweeter. What do you guys think?

Click here to read the full article on Ian McEwan’s BBC interview, as it appeared in the Daily Telegraph.