Showing posts with label Laura Lippman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Laura Lippman. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Putting On Your Writing Face

Did everyone catch the Internet meme started in the wake of the Oscars by author Laura Lippman? Following the widespread criticism of octogenarian actress Kim Novak's appearance during the awards ceremony, Lippman posted a picture of herself without makeup, lighting, or filtering, along with a hashtag, #itsokkimnovak (Which translates to "Its okay, Kim Novak." I must admit that at first I misread the hashtag to read "It's so Kim Novak," which would have sounded a tad less supportive. My bad.)

Within days, everyone I knew on Facebook was jumping on board the auteur tout naturel idea. Someone assembled a montage of the pictures set to music. I'll post it if I can. Or you can scroll back through my FB timeline or Laura's to view it.

It was inspiring, even heartwarming to see a collection of authors put their morning faces forward. Not that we're the ultimate test case. As a species, we writers don't tend to be a glamorous bunch. (Your average writer's conference resembles a scene from The Invasion Of the Extremely Nice People Wearing Comfort Shoes.)

I was a few days late catching up with the trend, but I took a deep breath and posted my photo, seen here. (In response, I got several helpful replies suggesting make-up tips, mostly from Mary Kay and Avon reps. Thanks for that, ladies).


The experience made me question how I approach posting pictures in public. I'm a severe critic of my own photos, even those kept in house. My husband has to snatch the camera or phone away to keep me from deleting 90 per cent of the ones we take during vacations.

My last official author's photo was taken in 2007. I need have another one ready by the end of this year. Last time around, I remember that the photographer kept telling the makeup artist to "vamp it up some more". Next time, I may take a page from Laura's book and go unadorned.

But now I'm taking another look at my #itsokkimnovak photo. I may have to reconsider. I much prefer the girlified look I had in a recent profile in LA Beat Magazine.

Did you all post sans makeup, unfiltered photos online after the Kim Novak thing? Did you learn anything from it? Feel free to post a link to a picture of the "real you" in the Comments!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

See Me, Touch Me, Feel Me




Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits. I was doing the former on the Thursday last, wondering how I was going to fill my Saturday space, when my UPS delivery man (one of God’s truly good people) provided me with the answer. It came in an over-sized black padded envelope, and didn’t feel quite like a book, even though it bore a return address from the fine folks at HarperCollins. I was able to open it after a bit of struggle and the deployment of a knife, scissors, and a flamethrower (in that order). Demonspawn, our family cat, immediately appropriated the envelope, and was last seen attempting to contact his darkworld masters through the closed end; I took possession of the contents. These consisted of an oversized milk carton and a mass market paperback titled “and she was” by Alison Gaylin. The milk carton is a four-sided advertisement for the book.  My initial reaction was, “What the fu-heck is this?” My second was, “This is pretty cool.” I have been described as easily amused, and hard to impress. This little bit of advertising slight-of-hand, worthy of Donald Draper, managed to do both.

The conventional wisdom is that you’ve got to get out on social networks, groom and cultivate your website,  and make friends with a fourteen year old to show you how to use Twitter if you want your book to have a chance of getting noticed, let alone of selling copies.  And it’s probably true. But this milk carton as marketing tool is retro thinking out of the box. “and she was” concerns a missing child, and indeed, there is a picture of the child on one side of the carton. The other sides contain blurbs from Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Lee Child, and Lisa Gardner; an essay from Ms. Gaylin about Hyperthymestic Syndrome, an element which figures prominently in the book; and some bullet-point marketing information with a photo of the book cover.  

Expensive marketing? Sure. But. The milk carton is our new kitchen table centerpiece. Unlike Facebook and websites and Twitter and the like one can pick it up and touch it and be reminded of the fact that the book is out there and for sale and there’s a copy of it sitting nearby, waiting to be read.  No one has asked me to review the book, but of course this is what the whole package is all about. And the premise certainly looks intriguing. Hyperthymestic Syndrome involves the ability of a person so afflicted to remember, in full, any given day of their life, with all five senses. If I had learned of the book via e-mail there is a 50-50 chance I would have read it. Send me a milk carton, and I’m your loving baby boy.  I’m going to read “and she was” and I’m going to review it.

Am I old-fashioned? Or is there a marketing genius at HarperCollins who is taking us back to the future? If we all are using Facebook and Twitter and e-mail blasts to hawk our wares, are we making their particular needles stand out? Or are we all busily building a brand new huge haystack in cyberspace? And does it mean that to really, really make your book stand out, it is going to take more money than ever  to do so?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ghosts of Bouchercon Past


I'm heading back east this week for Bouchercon, the conference that is de rigeur for crime writers and fans. This year's event takes place in Baltimore, burial site of Edgar Allan Poe, and there are a staggering number of people attending. Which got me thinking about my first experience, lo those many years ago...

Not really. I was one of the happy few who braved the cold (and, apparently, the Russians) for the conference in Anchorage, Alaska last year. The ringing refrain appeared to be, "This isn't a normal Bouchercon, no one's here!"
But it was my first, and having nothing to compare it to, I had a rip roaring good time. Sure, the panels weren't necessarily packed, but how could you complain when sidewalk vendors sold reindeer sausages, there was a late night Karaoke bar directly across the street from the hotel, and at least two "police actions" occurred nightly within a three block radius? For better or worse Anchorage appeared closer to "Deadwood" than "Northern Exposure." So I thought I'd take advantage of this post to reflect on the high- (and low-) lights of
Bouchercon 2007, aka "Bearly Alive."

-Wandering down the streets at night looking for the next publishing party that featured an open bar (which seemed to consume a good chunk of every evening,) we ran into a drag queen in full Wonder Woman regalia. Here in San Francisco, that would mark an ordinary stroll, but in Anchorage?! Kudos to her for braving the cold, those wrist bracelets couldn't have been doing much to keep her warm.

-Brian Thornton bringing down the house with his rendition of AC/DC's "Back in Black." I'm starting a petition to get Brian on American Idol, he was a giant among ants that evening.

-Apparently the Anchorage zoning laws mandate that every block have ten bars, ten gift stores selling virtually identical souvenirs, and one run-down restaurant with the ubiquitous reindeer sausage. God help you if you need a pharmacy, although considering that number of assaults and stabbings that occurred during our stay there, a pharmacy would seem to be a valuable addition to downtown.

-Why was I one of the only people who didn't manage to see a moose? To hear others tell it, they were tripping over them every time they left the hotel. I suspect they were confusing moose with drag queens in superhero attire.

-Alexandra Sokoloff, Jason Starr, and I badly mangling Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." What Brian Thornton did to elevate the art of Karaoke, we erased with a few verses. I blame a lethal combination of reindeer sausage and whiskey, which combined to convey the delusion that we, too, might be able to sing. We couldn't, as it turned out. Seriously, it was grim.

-Best panel: the one with the drug sniffing dog chasing David Corbett out of the hall (that didn't really happen, but wouldn't it have been funnier if it had?)

-Best author 30 minute slot: Declan Hughes. There's a man who puts on a show when he's reading. And there was juggling at the beginning. A tough act to follow.

-2nd Best author 30 minute slot: Rumor had it that Laura Lippman took everyone who showed up for her session out for drinks. Classy. And again, tough act to follow (I'm raising this argument with my publisher to explain why I need a bigger advance next time. How else am I supposed to buy rounds?)

-Worst 30 minute author slot: mine. My flight arrived late, and I didn't receive the programming schedule until breakfast the following morning. At which point I discovered that I had been enlisted to spend 30 minutes entertaining strangers, and I had to be there in five minutes. I killed five minutes reading the paper with them, them mumbled for the duration. Awful. I promise to do better this year.

-Lukas Ortiz, Alex Sokoloff, Jason Starr, and I managed to get completely lost on a bike ride that began as a three-hour tour of the shoreline and concluded with us pedaling onto the tarmac at the Ted Stevens International Airport. And still, no moose.

Like I said, a rip roaring good time. I can hardly wait to see what happens during "Charmed to Death 2008." Baltimore is going to have a tough act to follow, at least in my book. Perhaps they should import some drag queens, and maybe a moose...

PS: if you're attending the conference, here's where you'll be able to subject yourself to more of my non sequiturs:

10:30AM Thursday: Author Karaoke with fellow kill Zone authors Kathryn Lilley and Clare Langley-Hawthorne. We WILL NOT SING, this I promise you. We will discuss book blog tours. And we might juggle.

11:30AM Thursday, Int'l E: I CAN'T STAND UP FOR FALLING DOWN: Booze, hootch & firewater in crime fiction. Ali Karim(M), Ken Bruen, Michelle Gagnon, Con Lehane, Elizabeth Zelvin

11:30AM Saturday, Int'l D: PSYCHO KILLER: Why are we so fascinated by serial killers? Brian Lindmuth(M), Mark Billingham, Michelle Gagnon, Jonathan Hayes, Alan Jacobson


PPS: For truly brave souls...
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