Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Working Title and Cover Layout for My Book

I teased you a few of months ago when I wrote that I had a working title and cover idea for my book. I actually have four title ideas, which are slight variations on the theme pictured to the right. The only differences are the wording and the punctuation at the very top. I am soliciting your feedback on whether you like the title and cover concept at all, and if so, which of the four options you prefer. But first, for your reading pleasure, the updated synopsis and a short excerpt:

Synopsis

Paralysis can strike without warning – one moment you’re a dynamic and independent person and the next, a quadriplegic. That’s what happened to my late mother when she crushed her cervical spinal cord at the age of 35. But sometimes paralysis chips away at your movements, a tiny bit every day, until you become locked inside the useless shell of a body. That’s what has been happening to me since an aggressive form of MS began to ravage my cervical spinal cord. Although we followed different paths, we ended up at a similar place.

In a straightforward, irreverent, and sometimes inspirational manner, I tell the story of a mother and son’s mutual suffering and shared resilience. I revisit a childhood growing up with my extraordinary mother then take the reader on a journey through more than a decade of my adult life spent battling primary progressive MS.

My mother prepared me for challenges we could never have imagined I would face. And through the writing process I grew closer to her by finding new meaning in the legacy she left behind.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 – The Birch Trees

Parents raised their children differently in 1969. At the beginning of the summer, Mom told me, “You can go anywhere on the street until suppertime.” It was a big street for a five-year-old. 

One day, I grabbed a hatchet from the garage, went to the far side of the field behind our house, and chopped down a medium-sized white birch. It dropped into the field. I placed the hatchet back in the garage and burst into the house, more than a little pleased with myself. Mom had already seen my handiwork from the kitchen window.

With arms folded across her chest, but an amused look on her face, she said, “Oh, Mitchy, you can’t do that. It’s not our property.” This detail concerned her more than my having brandished a sharp instrument and felled a tree without gloves, safety goggles, hard hat, adult supervision, or a Forestry degree from an accredited university.

My shoulders slumped, and I wondered how much trouble I was in. Mom said, "Don't worry. I won't tell Dad about the tree, and neither should you." She patted me on the head, but I still felt awful for what I had done.

My parents served these opposing roles in my life – disciplinarian and protector. As a child, I didn't like to try new foods, and my mother accommodated me. Once, Dad became so fed up with my fussy eating that he pointed his finger at me and declared, "You will sit there until you eat those green beans. I don't care if it takes you all night."

Nothing in this world could have made me eat even one of those slimy, green snots. I remained closemouthed until Dad went to bed. Mom picked up the beans, threw them away, and whispered, "We'll just tell Dad you ate them all, but you still don't like them." As an adult, I enjoy a wide variety of foods, but I won't touch green beans. Dad is long gone, but I refuse to capitulate.

Book Title and Cover Design

The title and artwork idea came to me in the middle of the night. The next morning, I asked Kim if she could draw it for me. She said, "I can't, but I know a sixth-grader, Devan, who probably can."

Devan did a great job producing the basic sketch, which I modified only slightly and added the captions to in Photoshop. I have a professional artist ready to go with this idea if I like it enough. I need your help to determine if I do.

Please respond to the poll on the top right of this page, entitled, Which Title Do You Prefer? But also give me your thoughts in the comment section or in whatever way you prefer communicating with me. If you are receiving this post as an email, click here to go to my webpage where you can vote on the top right.

Here are the title/cover ideas:

Option 1





























Option 2





























Option 3





























Option 4





























Option 5 – none of the above

The editing of my book continues in earnest. I expect to finish the manuscript in the first quarter of next year and then begin the long process of shopping it around. It’s conceivable that I'll publish in 2016, but it could slip into 2017.

29 comments:

  1. As always, love your writing. Very anxious for you to publish

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  2. Option 2 ... I love the tree story. Your mom was a special woman.

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    1. it was difficult for me to pick an excerpt. I wanted to choose something interesting, but I didn't want to give away too much. I hope this was a good compromise.

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  3. Mitch, congratulations on the progress of your work! So many people say "I could write a book," but very few actually do it!

    Your first chapter is very engaging; it draws the reader right in to your family and your life. And Devan's artwork is just right, very well done.

    About the title -- this seems like nitpicking, but I'm gonna raise it anyway. Whether the wording is "didn't" or "doesn't," I look at the charming cover and my obstinate brain says, "But it DID fall -- look, it's in the chair..."

    I know the saying, of course, and so will just about everyone who sees the book. But what about "Not Far From the Tree"?

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    1. Lisa, you are not nitpicking at all. Your comment points out that this is an imperfect analogy. what I'm trying to say is that because of the similarities between my mother and me, "the apple didn't fall far from the tree." However, that title is too long and too cliché, so I thought I would shorten it, but by adding the… I would be telling the reader to finish the cliché themselves in their own head. Then I decided to throw in the wheelchair catching the apple as a device to say that I didn't fall down to the ground. I was rescued by a wheelchair. But I've often wondered if this is me trying to do too much with one imperfect analogy. Your title idea – the other half of the cliché – is interesting. I need to think about it. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  4. Brilliant Mr. Sturgeon. Simply brilliant..; I like #2.

    JE

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    1. oh stop. No, don't stop. Yes, definitely stop. you are embarrassing me :-)

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    2. I mean option #3. I like the ... but not so sure about the word quadriplegic.

      JE

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    3. Mitch, I was going to comment on the matter further but didn't want to do it in the comments section and did not find your e-mail so... in the words of Will Smith's character Hancock... "good job."

      JE

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    4. thank you so much! by the way, in the right-hand column of this page, near the top, there is a button you can push that says "click here to email me." that will fill in my email address in your email program. Or you can just type in: email@enjoyingtheride.com

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    5. you also got me thinking about the word quadriplegic. If I have a picture of a wheelchair on the cover, I may be able to do without such a technical term in the title. Maybe it could be "the apple didn't fall…a mother and son's mutual suffering and shared resilience" or something like that.

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    6. I think I agree with JE.... I like #3 - the apple doesn't fall...
      but not so much "quadriplegic" for the cover. Maybe a mirrored journey?.
      Just a thought.
      Love the tree, apple and chair image!!!
      Dee/OH

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  5. Your excellent descriptions transport the reader through space and time. I felt like I was in the kitchen with you and your mother. Can't wait for the book! Carmen (not quite anonymous, but certainly a social media idiot!)

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    1. you said that most eloquently, for an idiot of any type :-)

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  6. can't wait to read the whole thing.

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    1. Stephen – I'm dancing just as fast as I can :-)

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  7. Love the story, love the writing, love the concept for the title but I can't tell the difference between Options 1 and 2, (which I slightly prefer,) or between Options 3 & 4. I've counted leaf buds, wheels, squiggles....Whoa, wait a second...it's the dot, dot, dot! OK, I prefer Option 2.

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    1. Daphne, I'm dying to know how many leaf buds there are! Glad you like it.

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    2. Heh, heh, heh...well, maybe I was fudging a little on having counted ALL the leaves!

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  8. I think #3 because the story goes on...

    Also, I think this is a tale of triumph over tragedies which should be weaved in, somehow

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    1. triumph over tragedy? You've got me thinking…

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  9. Option 2. The words IMMEDIATELY formed in my mind (given permission by the ellipsis). Great title. I wrote a book, too. I've had MS since 1972 and I'm still walking. Don't konw why. Maybe my Irish stubbornness. I had an offer from a literary agent who was going to take my book to NY. She wanted a two year contract. That's a long time! My lifetime, perhaps. I can't say I've sold a million (or even a couple of hundred) but I self published. I don't know how much energy you have to promote a book. I did not feel I had any to spare. Could I do an interview? Maybe by phone. But, perhaps a marketing firm could be employed to gin up the ideas (I find the cognitive drag among the worst of stymptoms. Too tired to think!) Put ads in the right places. On the internet, these days. It was very important for me to learn that you and your mother did not both have MS. The heredity question lingers in the articles. Seems evident to me. I know at least four sets of siblings or mother =daughter. I think they're barking up the wrong tree, myself. Do you see any evidence that they are getting closer to a cure that would not kill an overly sensitive one like me. You can find my book at Muddling Through MS - 40 years doing it my way. I published in ebook format only. I have definitely found it a negative not to have a physical book - to sign, to show in the window, etc. But, again, I don't have the energy for book signings. I do as little travel as possible. Self publishing suited me. I did not need the income. Writing the book was very cathartic - and of course it pissed off a couple of relatives. I wish you all the best.

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    1. Kate, thank you so much for writing. I think, even if I self publish, that I'll have some physical books printed as well.

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  10. Also, because the 'options" are not all in the same place. The first, on the left, at the top.The rest on the right. I've read the comments and looked at the pictures and I think a lot of the people are confusing 2 and 3.

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  11. I found, toward the end of the process, that I had to make decisions without too much notice. They came one after another. As in preparing for the SATs, remember, they said - go with your first instinct. Still good advice.

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    1. this sounds a little bit like having a house built – lots of decisions one after another. Not looking forward to the stress near the end.

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