A Contest! Guess the Cover Art Themes and Win a Free Book

A contest! Let’s have a contest!

Wonderful Reader N asked this question about my book The Race:

Can I ask a quick question about the book cover? Was the design meant to suggestion a flag because it’s about elections? I am a little obsessed about book covers–maybe because my design sense is stunted from birth–and I’m curious where yours came from.

Great question! And yes! A flag is definitely one of the tropes. This is a story about America and its flailing democracy. But that’s not all! Here’s a reminder of the cover in all its glory…

race-cover4

The flag is definitely a key – some versions had a capital building silhouette, some had a close-up of a smiling politician, and on and on and on. This is a former governor who’s now running for Congress, after all. Politics and flag waving. Speeches on the hustings. Apple pie. Kissing babies. Fourth of July. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But that’s not REALLY what the story’s about. Or rather, that’s not ALL it’s about.

There are two other elements of the story that are reflected in the cover. I’ll send a free copy of the book to whoever first guesses each of the themes.

For those who haven’t read the book, a set of clues from reviewer alinefromabook:

I found this book absolutely fascinating. There was no crime to investigate, no thrills, no action scenes, no romantic scenes just a compelling story that is a journey through what motivates a man to do what he does.

The story is told by a lawyer who is asked by a disgraced politician to help him organize his biography. Then the politician decides he wants to run for office again. He has no support from the media, no support from his party and especially no support from his family. Why? Because while serving as the governor of the state of Wisconsin he had an affair and disappeared for a few days to be with his mistress. Only in this story, his wife does not stand by her husband on stage or anywhere else and neither do his children. People turn away when he walks down the street. And yet he continues until the last moment to be optimistic that the voters will come through for him. Our storyteller is with the candidate through every step of his campaign because he has no manager and no staff.

I couldn’t help but feel that there is a lot of truth in the author’s portrayal of the candidate that confirms my personal opinion that some of them seem to live in a bit of a fantasy world. I also found the author’s writing style to be very approachable, like a friend relating a story. Bottom line, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to everyone. And since it’s a novella and doesn’t require a huge commitment of time, those of you that might not typically pick up a book in this genre should really give it a try. I hope to read more from Jacke Wilson in the near future.

Is that enough of a hint? Let’s see!

 

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Filed under Authors, Fiction, Novellas, The Race, Writing

“Help! My Family Hates My Pen Name!” – The Result!

I’ve been running this blog for over a year (recently we ran through the best of the best and the worst of the worst) and I have to say this is one of the most fun things I’ve done. Let’s recap:

First, I posted a note from a Wonderful Reader who is struggling with a tough issue: her family does not like her pen name! In fact, it’s interfering with some of her familial relationships, and it might be affecting her writing:

I have a question. My pen name is my grandmother’s name. It took a long time and a lot of thought to chose that name, but now various members of the family (grandchildren and great-grandchildren of all things — she’s been dead for over 60 years and I never knew her) are offended that I’m publishing, even daring to blog in her name. Should I change to make them all happy? Should I write only “nice” things under that name? I’d love to know how you came to your name and what you think.

I posted my own response and opened the comments for additional feedback. And it was awesome! You guys had some empathetic, hilarious, and wise advice for our struggling Wonderful Reader.

Even after reading your comments, I generally felt pretty good about my response. I couldn’t compete with the many personal stories about choosing a pen name or dealing with family. But I think I got the important themes right. In short, my advice was to break down the decision into three options: keep it, drop it, or discuss it with your family so you all are on the same page about what you’re doing and why. The main point I wanted to make was that there are probably larger issues of self-esteem and control – issues that could be due to writing (or even life, really) and might arise no matter what pen name the reader is using. Does the reader feel like her family doesn’t respect her and the things that are important to her? That’s a larger issue that should be considered as part of the resolution.

There’s one thing that bothered me about this. I never really like those advice columnist that boil everything down to two things: 1) seek professional help, or 2) communicate better. Thank you, Captain Obvious! While that may be fine advice, even the BEST advice, it doesn’t really solve every problem. Not everyone wants to head to a professional to deal with each and every problem. (Some no doubt do want to and/or should – I’m not trying to say there aren’t serious problems people have!) And communicating better is often impossible. We deal with people all the time who don’t listen to us! That’s probably the reader’s problem in the first place! There are WHOLE SOCIETIES that are uncomfortable talking through issues. Do we really think the reader is going to solve her problems that way? Maybe. But it might not be practical.

I’m reminded of a story about Bill Murray when he was directing his first movie. He was asked to describe the kind of advice he gave to actors, and he said he tried to be practical. A Method Actor might come up to him and say, “I’m supposed to look like I’m in pain in this scene. What should I be thinking about? What do I need to know in order to get the sense of pain to come across in the scene?” And Bill Murray would shrug and roll his eyes, and then look at one of the crew and say, “Somebody go find a rock to put in this guy’s shoe.”

Practical advice! A few of you pointed out what I thought would be a great option. Not communication, not choosing between two bad options, but another way out. Here it is: Continue reading

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Writers Laughing: Garrett Hongo

A grainy photograph but the personality comes through nevertheless.

hongo-laughing

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

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“Help! My family hates my pen name!”: The Response

Wonderful Readers! You have proven yourselves to be some of the wisest and most thoughtful people I “know.”

Yesterday I posted a comment from a Wonderful Reader struggling with her family’s objection to her pen name. She had an interesting twist on the issue – and your comments were amazing. For everyone who’s arriving late to the conversation, you can read the original post and the comments here.

I’ll post the resolution soon. But first, I thought I’d post my original response. This was my effort before I had the benefit of your feedback: Continue reading

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What if your family hates your pen name? A request for advice!

A very interesting question came in from a Wonderful Reader:

I have a question. My pen name is my grandmother’s name. It took a long time and a lot of thought to chose that name, but now various members of the family (grandchildren and great-grandchildren of all things — she’s been dead for over 60 years and I never knew her) are offended that I’m publishing, even daring to blog in her name. Should I change to make them all happy? Should I write only “nice” things under that name? I’d love to know how you came to your name and what you think.

(She agreed to let me post this on the main page to ask a wider audience for help, though she’s asked to remain anonymous.)

Readers, what do you think? Anyone face anything similar? How did you resolve it? What happened to your relationships with your family? With your writing? With your sense of self?

And even if it didn’t happen to you, what do you think of this? Dead for over 60 years? On the other hand, who “owns” a name? And who are we to hurt people, even if inadvertently? And what does a writer do if they can only write “nice” things?

A very fascinating set of issues here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

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It’s the Jacke Wilson Show! Episode 1.1 – The Halloween Episode

jackewilsonshowimage

Here we go! Episode 1 of THE JACKE WILSON SHOW, an effort that has been seriously hindered by my complete lack of any knowledge about how any of this works. I had a lot of fun! And it’s yet another disaster! Ah well. Someone needs to take these tools away from me. (Or not! Who am I, Laura Miller, angry at the barbarians at the gate? Even the plebes deserve a few toys, don’t they? And a voice? They get to have their say, don’t they? Don’t they?)

Ahem.

Readers, I could use your help! Like I said, I have no idea how any of this works. Take a listen, and let me know what you think! Does it sound okay on your player? In your headphones? Honestly, I did my best. I hope you enjoy it!

Download the mp3 file: The Jacke Wilson Show 1.1 – The Halloween Episode.

Show Notes:

It’s the JACKE WILSON SHOW!

On this week’s show: lusty lizards in space, Leo Tolstoy, a lost scene from Macbeth, a new play for Bryan Cranston and Kate Winslet, Homer Simpson sings a Christmas Carol, a revised Edgar Allan Poe (with even MORE spookiness), and A History of Jacke Wilson in 100 Objects #13 – The Monster. Enjoy!

JACKE WILSON is the pen name of a writer whose books have been described as being “full of intrigue and expertly rendered deadpan comedy.” Born in Wisconsin, Jacke has since lived in Chicago, Bologna, Taiwan, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Mountain View, and New York City. Jacke now lives and works in the Washington D.C. area. Like his writings, the JACKE WILSON SHOW takes an affectionate look at the absurdities in literature, art, philosophy, great books, poetry, current events, hard news, politics, whatever passes for civilization these days, and the human condition (that dying animal). For more about Jacke and his books, visit Jacke at jackewilson.com.

Credits:

  • Danse Macabre Hook, Greta Sting, Fanfare for Space, Return of Lazarus by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Marjorie P. Katz, read by Jacke Wilson Jr.
  • The Lost Scene of Macbeth, Lusty Lizards (excerpts), and A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #13 – The Monster  by Jacke Wilson

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Filed under Authors, Fiction, Podcast, The History of Jacke, The Jacke Wilson Show, Writing

Update: Giveaway Over!

Five lucky winners will get their copies shipped today. Congratulations!

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