The ARCs are here!

The electronic ARCs for A Dead Man’s Eyes have arrived and the physical ARCs are on their way. I am nervous and excited.

Why?

ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are copies of books that are distributed to book stores and reviewers three to six months before publication with the understanding that there is more editing and a polished cover to come. Their arrival means I can start begging for reviews and mailing copies to authors I admire in hopes that they will write a few kind words for my book cover.

My publisher, Level Best Books, will send ARCs to industry publications for reviews and will make the ARC available on the website NetGalley, where book reviewers, librarians, educators, any readers of influence, can read it for free. NetGalley members are urged to review the books they choose to read, so that will be a good reality check for me.

It also means that round two of editing has begun, the cover art will soon be on its way and that I have some work to do. I have to write acknowledgements, a bio and a dedication for the book, and get a professional photo taken to go with it all.

The photo part makes me nervous. I have put on a few (a lot) of pounds in recent years and I have aged, but I am counting a movement initiated by author Laura Lippman for confidence. She wrote a tweet in 2014, encouraging female authors (all women, really) to post bare-faced selfies in support of Kim Novak, who was criticized for her appearance at the Oscars.

The tweet went viral. The photos that emerged showed me that most female authors get boosts from make-up and Photoshop and that many of them, in reality, are just like me. I found their bare-faced photos stunning in a more honest, artistic way. It also helped me relaxed about the prospect of in-person events. Physical perfection is not critical for book sales.

Whew!

My journey to publication has switched gears with the arrival of the ARCs, and I will need to learn a few new skills to navigate at this speed. I am looking forward to the challenge and to sharing some of those adventures here. Thanks for all the support and encouragement along the way.


Make-up-free selfies: Why breast cancer awareness undermines the movement

My sister is a recent survivor of stage-four breast cancer, her second battle with the disease in eight years. During her chemo treatments — after she’d traded her hair for scarves — she experienced an awesome show of support from the staff at the elementary school where she works.
They all wore scarves or hats in her honor.
She was overwhelmed.
With those scarves and hats, her coworkers showed they were thinking of her, that they understood every day she came to work was a struggle and every day she missed work was a disappointment. The hats and scarves were symbolic of the strength, love, prayers and positive energy they offered.
Now imagine that, instead, they all showed up without make-up.
Let’s face it.
There is a reason we feel both brave and vulnerable posting make-up-free selfies. Like it or not, we judge books by their covers, especially female books. It would be awesome if the make-up-free movement helped women become comfortable with our natural selves (I know I’m not.), and if society would become more appreciative.
But here’s the trouble.
These particular selfies are not posted in an effort to affect change. Rather they are intended as a show of support for those less fortunate than us in terms of their health. We wear no make-up to bring ourselves “down” to their level, the level of people who are suffering and fighting.
We, as a society, do not accept the “natural look” as inherently beautiful. We clearly do not accept it ourselves as evidenced by the fact that we consider posting such a selfie a “brave” act — a challenge we present to others.
It’s done with a gulp and a “Here it goes!”
The intent is, no doubt, honorable.
But here’s the message we unconsciously send to those battling breast cancer: “You look like crap, so I’m going to make myself look like crap to make you feel better. See how brave I am? I am even willing to look like you.”
I have not quizzed my sister about her feelings on this topic, but I’m pretty sure she would have been overwhelmed in an entirely different way had her female coworkers honored her by wearing no make-up. And if she cried that day, I’m fairly certain hers would be tears of a different kind.
I’m not opposed to make-up-free selfies in general.
Not at all.
In fact, I have nothing but praise for author Laura Lippman who started the movement after an actress was heavily criticized during the Oscars for looking like herself. Laura posted a natural selfie and encouraged other authors to follow suit in an effort to take down some socially created barriers. Built self-confidence. Help females authors support each other.
It worked for me.
With my novels current under submission to publishers, I’ll admit that the potential for post-publication photographic attention makes me nervous. I can’t help comparing myself to photos of those always-gorgeous looking authors who seem to confident, so put together.
Then I saw this slew of selfies.
I learned that many of those women looked different without make-up, but not in a negative way. The lack of make-up drew my eyes to their smiles, something I had never put much emphasis on previously. They made me smile inside.They made me realize these other authors are just as real as I am.
And that was an awesome feeling.
They were brave to post those selfies, but brave for a different cause.
They were brave in an effort to create change.
While I am absolutely certain the intentions of those who post make-up-free self portraits are honorable and that the posts show an admirable level of braveness and humility, breast cancer awareness or support is just not the right reason.
Do it for yourself.
Do it because it feels good to be free.
Do it to free woman like me who have not yet found the courage.
Do it because you believe it shouldn’t require bravery and because you want that to change.