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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

29 December 2009

The old year now away is fled

My final blog post of the year seems a fitting time to look back at 2009 and forward to 2010.

Social networking

One of the biggest writing-world surprises of 2009 for me was the abandonment of blogs for Facebook. Many of the writing friends I connected with at the beginning of the year through visiting each others’ blogs I now see primarily on FB. As much as I enjoy reading the tidbits my friends post on FB about their families, their activities, and their progress on a story or book, the trend toward FB dismays me.

If blogs go the way of dinosaurs, I will miss the long essays, thought-out arguments, carefully constructed jokes or photo displays, and tutorials. Although some people do occasionally post longer material on FB, most information is conveyed as sound bites, slogans, and aphorisms. FB works well for announcing one is baking chocolate-chip cookies or has posted new photos of the progress of their barn renovation, but is totally inadequate for making a nuanced argument.

And yet I myself have gotten sucked into hanging out at FB, to the detriment of my blog. My intention for 2010 is to start blogging again every week; please feel free to nag if I don’t.


None of my friends had awful covers this year, and many were blessed by the cover gods and received gorgeous covers. Many of the books I bought also had great covers. Granted, I will buy a book because it has nice cover art, but still, in 2009 cover art seemed to take a turn for the better. Perhaps with the economy still in the tank, publishers felt they needed better covers to entice people to approach and buy their books. Whatever the reason, I was happy for the trend and hope it continues.

The reactions to the cover for Like Mayflies in a Stream have been strong and contradictory. One bookseller thought it was a great cover because the contrast, the tension between the figures, and the lighting all draw the eye to the book. Other people have said that they found the cover repellent. I now routinely ask people at booksignings what they think of it. It’s fascinating to hear how differently people react, and I wonder how many of the covers I loved in 2009 turned other people off.

Dark and stormy night

The trend in both fantasy and romance toward dark books set in grimy, unpleasant places and headed by heroes with questionable moral compasses continued in 2009; I stopped buying most such books long ago. The rise of steampunk seemed to promise a change in direction; instead, I fear we are getting much the same books, only now they are set in a violent, grimy, gloomy Victorian London.

It’s not that I want to read variations on Pollyanna. But life is both glorious and horrible, beautiful and ugly, uplifting and soul searing; I want to read books that reflect the full range of human experience, not just the dark half. My life has enough dark already.


One of my goals for this week is to set writing goals for 2010. What’s floating around in my head is that I want to send out several stories (which will require writing them first), write another novel, and go to a couple of writing conferences. Oh, and get more sleep so I will be rested enough to accomplish the other goals.

How about you? What did you think of 2009’s covers? Or my cover? Are you tired of dark books yet? What goals will you pursue in 2010?

Happy New Year, everyone.


Rick said...

Wow! Are you back or what? And thanks so much for telling me about your twice monthly blog.

I loved your comments about Social Networking and Covers. I'm with you on both counts.

As a writer, I've got one werewolf novel to finish by the first quarter latest, and two suspense novels before the end of the year. I'll try and throw in some happy endings to brighten up the landscape!

Happy New Year to you and more to come.

Bernita said...

Am not fond of dark books - life can be dark enough.
I have 3 plots I'd like to realize in the coming year - a year which I hope will be lovely for you.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've found my desire for dark books waning over the years, although I still like them pretty dark. I do like some more happy endings and you're right, life should have both dark and light. I liked my covers a lot!

Rae Ann Parker said...

Shauna: You are not the only one who has let blogging go by the wayside for awhile. I confess I did, too but plan to start again soon.

I agree that books are darker lately. I looked at a list of Best Romances of 2009 and was surprised by the number that leaned on the dark side, not something we saw a couple of years ago. I definitely lean to the lighter books or dark books with a happy ending.

Here's to a fantastic writing year in 2010.

Shauna Roberts said...

BERNITA, I'm with you on having enough darkness. I think such books appeal more to young people who haven't been through the deaths, surgeries, and natural and unnatural disasters we older people have. Thanks for your good wishes, and I hope your three plots turn out just as you imagine. Will one be a Lillie book? I hope so.

RICK and CHARLES, I hope you didn't think I meant to dis your books. Charles, I think you do a good job of mixing both elements. Cold in the Light may be horror, but it's also a story about friendship, loyalty, honor, and sacrifice. Although there are evil people in the book, I finished it feeling hopeful because of the good characters.

There's a place for all kinds of books in the fantasy genre, but I'm annoyed that most of the new fantasy books coming out have dreary settings and unlikable characters. And romance novels with zombies? Not a good mix unless it's funny, to my mind.

Shauna Roberts said...

RAE ANN, I hope this will be the year that you sell! I looked at a list (not sure if it was the same one) of best romances and, like you, noticed that most were dark. I hear publishers generally aren't buying light or funny romances right now. Have a great 2010.

Rick said...

You book dis'er you! :)

Just kidding. I didn't take it that way at all, in fact I totally agree with you and really enjoyed your post as always.

Unknown said...

Searching for somewhere to contact you...not really a comment, but I guess it

Thanks, Jo-Anne, for taking the time to post this for everyone else. I certainly will take advantage of these opportunities.

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Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

And we shall nag- in my opinion Facebook and Blogs can work together.

Shauna Roberts said...

RICK, thanks.

JO-ANNE, I don't remember what of yours I was responding to (not unusual for me), but thanks for dropping by and posting the links about promotion.

ARCHAVIST, I agree—I find it useful when I don't have time to visit blogs that you, for example, put a brief bit about your newest blog post on FB with a link. But some people seem to be neglecting their blogs for FB, and I miss the depth of content that seems out of its element on FB. If that makes any sense.

Lana Gramlich said...

Personally, I liked your cover. ;)
Happy New Year, hon! *hug*

Shauna Roberts said...

LANA, happy new year to you, too! Good to know that an artist likes my cover.

Lisa said...

On social networking -- yes, it was quite a phenomenon to see so many blogs abandoned in favor of Facebook. I became enamored of FB for a while but now spend most of my social networking time on Twitter.

I've resolved to return to my blog too, although I intend to focus my posts more on what I've been reading than anything else. We'll see how that goes.

Book covers? I'm one of those weird people who don't pay much attention to them. In general, I prefer them when they're very simple and I'm not a big fan of photos on covers. I'm boring :)

Shauna Roberts said...

LISA, I hope you do return to your blog. I always enjoyed your thoughtful posts, including the ones on what you've been reading.

I can't imagine ever becoming a Twitterer, but then I never expected to join, much less enjoy, Facebook.