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Archive for January, 2009

Venus Is Out!

My first novel for Samhain Publishing, Venus in Blue Jeans, releases today, January 27, 2009. I’m still sort of stunned about that. I started working on Venus three years ago and now it’s actually going to be published. Whoopee!

The whole Venus saga is kind of an illustration of the way romance publishing works, which is, I think, very different from the way other kinds of publishing work. I started writing Venus because, frankly, a contest judge had pissed me off. I had another book that I was sending around the contest circuit. These days I can admit it wasn’t very good, but at that time I really thought it was. One contest judge told me flatly that my book wasn’t any good because my hero and heroine didn’t meet within the first ten pages, and everyone knew that all romantic heroes and heroines had to meet within the first ten pages (preferably the first five). Now since I could immediately think of at least three very good romance novels where that didn’t happen, I was, shall we say, annoyed by this pronouncement.

So, I thought, what about a book where I spent the entire first chapter not having the characters meet? In fact, what about a book where that was the whole point of the first chapter? Thus was Venus born. Part of the first chapter is available at Samhain, and I’ve posted the whole thing here on my Web site at http://www.megbenjamin.com/excerpt.html.

Having had my revenge on the contest judge, I now had a collection of characters I really liked and sort of a plot. I say “sort of” because I knew in general terms where I wanted it to go, but I wasn’t sure about the specifics. And from this point on, I had a lot of help from a lot of different people. The folks in my critique group at my local RWA chapter, for example. They not only told me when I was going wrong, they also applauded me when I was going right. Contests were a huge help. A lot of judges liked that first chapter, but they also told me things I could do to make it better, and the things they told me often helped me whip the rest of the book into shape, too. And I also had a wonderful editor at Samhain, Lindsey McGurk, who always managed to pick out just the part of the book that wasn’t working (and the part I really hoped she wouldn’t notice!).

In general, this book, like a lot of romances, came out of a very supportive community of writers. Romance writing differs from other types of writing in that respect. I think romance writers want other romance writers to make it, and that’s a nice feeling to have if you’re trying to get started in your craft.

So Venus In Blue Jeans is available at Samhain Publishing in ebook form, starting today. I hope you’ll like it, and if you do, I hope you’ll tell me so. Actually, I guess I hope you’ll tell me if you don’t like it, too. That’s how I got into this thing in the first place, after all. You can reach me at meg @megbenjamin.com. Drop me a line—I’m really anxious to hear from you!

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On Covers

 

Venus in Blue Jeans

Venus in Blue Jeans

The cover for Venus in Blue Jeans is up, and I’m so excited I can hardly type! It’s one thing to think about what your cover might look like. It’s something else to actually know. Having seen the process for the cover creation (and having done some research to let the artist know what I wanted), I’ve developed much more definite opinions about covers than I used to have.

 

Take the way the characters are shown, for example. One of the things that makes most romance covers stand out from non-romances is the subject matter. Romance covers almost always feature people rather than, say, a bleak winter landscape (which seems to be a staple of literary fiction). In most cases the people bear at least a nodding resemblance to the descriptions in the book (although not always—historical covers from the nineties seemed more interested in having the heroine look like a smoldering siren than in having her look like anything the author described) . If the cover really works, you can imagine the people in the picture as the hero and heroine, but there are times when, although the people in the picture appear to be the same type as the characters, they don’t quite work. The hero’s jaw is too square or the heroine looks vapid or the dress isn’t quite the kind of thing the heroine would wear (one best-selling historical features a heroine who spends most of her time in male clothes but who shows up on the cover in an elaborate gown that appears to have been recently disarranged by the hero).

The features that invariably attract me to covers, though, are faces. There’s a tendency now to go with torsos on some romance covers, particularly erotica. The bodies are usually beautiful—spectacularly muscular men and amazingly voluptuous women. But without a face, they’re just bodies. It’s easy to poke fun at the way romance heroes usually show up without a shirt no matter what the occasion, but it’s the combination of bare chest and seductive face that attracts, not the chest alone.

I love my Venus cover because of Docia’s face. Sure she’s got a great body—that almost goes without saying (although Docia herself has a lot of doubts). But the face, the smile, the tilt of the head are the things that really make this cover work. Check it out! I hope you’ll like it as much as I do.

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