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  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    Em_Press said:
    I doubt the women in your story have a unibrow. I personally don't enjoy looking at it on men or women. And your goal is to sell. Most people think like me. A unibrow is not in these days.
    Heh. The funny thing is they aren't described physically very much at all. No one is, really. Brunettes, of course, since most of the folks in that un-named country are brunette, but I'd have to go back and look to be sure.

    Strong, since several are athletes—swimmers and tennis players. Alejandra feels "solid" and "curvy" in Michael's arms at one point. "Pulled together," for the young woman, the niece of Carlos, who applies for a visa and wants to look good for the consul.

  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    edited March 2018

    No way! Frida without the unibrow? Wouldn't be Frida. Like Diego Rivera without a belly.

    Well unless your story is about her, then it's irrelevant how much she gets photoshopped, in fact if such an image is used it would be best to make sure she cannot be recognised.

     

    Promise isn't about Titian's "Venus," either, but the image suggests some aspects of the story, which is why I used it. Her nudity is part of it, for sure, and her expression is important as well.

    The story doesn't have to be about the image. The point of the image is to spark the reader's imagination, not depict a scene from the story.

    The Frida image (either one, in fact, although "Pistolera" would probably fit better) doesn't literally illustrate the story. It is suggestive.
    JBB


  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    edited March 2018

    Does Titian's Venus d'Urbino qualify as a sexy but sharp and cool cover? I think so, but others might not.

    I would  not class it as sexy or cool, but it is classed as art so the nudity is accepted.

    Perhaps the above is a more modern rendition? Note that she's not fully naked at all, but is perhaps far sexier?   

     Right audience, for sure.

    Now you have me puzzled as to what you class as porn.

    Yours is definitely hard to miss. I'd call her sexy. Titian's "Venus" is sensual. As an example of high key art, your image succeeds.

    Sexy in itself is harmless and often hot. But there are too many wannabe "sexy" covers around, and too many of them cross the line into "trashy." It turns me off, and the only description of trashy I can offer is, like porn, I recognize it when I see it.

    Whether the contents of books with these covers are porn or not is up to the reader. I'd guess since the titles are carried by Amazon and others, they presumably passed whatever requirement the bookstore has with respect to obscene materials (which is what Terms of Service seem to ban, although I'm sure there are exceptions, rather than "pornography.")
    JBB
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Promise isn't about Titian's "Venus," either, but the image suggests some aspects of the story, which is why I used it. Her nudity is part of it, for sure, and her expression is important as well.

    Then you should not use it. A cover should try to depict what is actually in the story.

    The story doesn't have to be about the image.

    Usually it is.

     The point is to spark the reader's imagination, not depict a scene from the story.

    Spark it about what is not in the book? A cover should at the very least give a good indication of what the book is about, and it's not about Titian's Venus.

    The Frida image (either one, in fact, although "Pistolera" would probably fit better) doesn't literally illustrate the story. It is suggestive.

    Some random woman standing holding a gun? Or in fact a woman who may be recognised? It's suggesting it is about her.


    JBB

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Yours is definitely hard to miss. I'd call her sexy.

    Thank you, but also 'dangerous' because of the gun?

     Titian's "Venus" is sensual.

    I don't find her as such. What a lot don't realise is that they often got their models for free, of very cheap, so they may not of been in the peak of physical fitness, if you see what I mean, because a lot of artists live/d on the breadline. They painted who they could entice to sit around nude. Then again there's no accounting for taste.

     As an example of high key art, your image succeeds.

    Thanks, but what does key mean?

    Sexy in itself is harmless and often hot.

    Indeed it is, and often sexier if some is left to the imagination.

     But there are too many wannabe "sexy" covers around,

    Do not forget that they have to be seen mainstream, so they cannot be too explicit. But what one sees as sexy, others may not.

     and too many of them cross the line into "trashy."

    Because Romance books often are trashy, I know many who write them. They are not written to be serious literature, just a harmless bit of titillation for females.

    https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sexy+book+covers&FORM=HDRSC2

     It turns me off, and the only description of trashy I can offer is, like porn, I recognize it when I see it.

    You know what they say? You cannot judge a book by its cover, which usually means a bad or trashy cover does not always mean a bad or trashy story. Some classic books have some really simple covers.

    Whether the contents of books with these covers are porn or not is up to the reader.

    No it's not, as I keep saying, the word has distinct meanings, and in law, What you mean is one man's flash of ankle is another man's shock, but in law it may or not be actually classed as porn.

     I'd guess since the titles are carried by Amazon and others, they presumably passed whatever requirement the bookstore has with respect to obscene materials

    Who says there are obscene books on Amazon? I really doubt there will be, or the covers would have to be blanked out!

     (which is what Terms of Service seem to ban, although I'm sure there are exceptions, rather than "pornography.")

    You have not as yet said what you think is pornographic, or obscene. You sample words are neither. It's when stories become graphically 'biological' they can be classed as porn.

  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    A cover can certainly depict a scene, if the author wishes it to do so. It's not a requirement. You spark the reader's imagination to consider, in conjunction with the title and perhaps the first few pages, what the story is about.

    How do you depict "Love"? With a heart? With two people kissing? Someone holding a kitten? All of the above, but none of those images need describe a scene in the story to illustrate the theme.

    "Venus" implies sensuality. It implies ambiguity. It implies readiness, or at least possibilities. All of those are elements of "Promise."

    Frida's image, well, her blouse is open, suggesting sensuality. The bullets and pistol are props, she's on her way to a costume party, I'll bet, or since she loved costumes perhaps she just wanted an image of her as a pistolera. As Em suggested, I may add some reference to Promise to tie it in a little if I try to use the image or one like it, but as it stands the image also suggests sensuality and playfulness, which are elements of the story.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    A cover can certainly depict a scene, if the author wishes it to do so. It's not a requirement.

    It normally is. Take a look at these again  > https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sexy+book+covers&FORM=HDRSC2

    It's how people know what is in a book. Or look at these famous covers >  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=famous book covers&qs=n&form=QBIRMH&sp=-1&pq=famous book covers&sc=8-18&sk=&cvid=AFD9F985D87A42D38C182A8F6E04EC1C

    You spark the reader's imagination to consider, in conjunction with the title and perhaps the first few pages, what the story is about.

    It's misleading to use a cover that has nothing to do with the story, and the blurb on the back cover, etc., tells what the story is about. Both entice a potential buyer to then look in the book (via a Preview on line nowadays.)

    How do you depict "Love"? With a heart?

    That stems from the invention of greetings cards I believe, otherwise no one would. It's not even the same shape as a heart, It's more the shape of a bottom! But that's a bit vague if the story is not totally about love.

     With two people kissing?

    That's usually the case, because it is obvious. But cover artists often attempt to use a description of the people to illustrate the cover.

     Someone holding a kitten?

    Not really, unless the story is about someone in love with a kitten. Or it could be about someone who catches them to cook for dinner.

     All of the above,

    Nope, the kitten example does not depict love.

     but none of those images need describe a scene in the story to illustrate the theme.

    Why on earth use them then? It would be like using an image of a rhino munching on grass on a motorcycle manual.

    "Venus" implies sensuality. It implies ambiguity. It implies readiness, or at least possibilities. All of those are elements of "Promise."

    But nothing whatsoever to do with your story. Is it about the painter? Is it about art theft?

    Frida's image, well, her blouse is open, suggesting sensuality.

    Or it could just be a very hot country, and it's nothing out of the ordinary nowadays to see people with so much chest showing, even in the streets.

     The bullets and pistol are props, she's on her way to a costume party, I'll bet, or since she loved costumes perhaps she just wanted an image of her as a pistolera.

    But is it anything to do with your story? Does she look like any one in it? If guns are used, are they that gun?

     As Em suggested, I may add some reference to Promise to tie it in a little if I try to use the image or one like it, but as it stands the image also suggests sensuality and playfulness, which are elements of the story.

    But she is not in the story ...

  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator

     As an example of high key art, your image succeeds.

    Thanks, but what does key mean?
    ....

    No it's not, as I keep saying, the word has distinct meanings, and in law, What you mean is one man's flash of ankle is another man's shock, but in law it may or not be actually classed as porn.

    ....

    You have not as yet said what you think is pornographic, or obscene. You sample words are neither. It's when stories become graphically 'biological' they can be classed as porn.

    I used "high key" to refer to the bright colors and lack of shading. Wikipedia says, "A high-key image consists primarily of light tones, without dark shadows. A photograph or painting so composed features a diminished tonal range of primarily whites and light grays." Yours has colors, but I'd still call it "high key."

    I have no definition of "porn" beyond what I've said, and the multiplicity of customs and laws and requirements is evidence there is no universal agreement on what it is. I'll stick with "bad writing."

    Many equate "explicit" with "porn." I think that's a false equivalency. Here are a couple of examples.

    WARNING ######################## FOLLOWING TEXT IS EXPLICIT

    This is porn:

    “I loved watching Dad fuck Wynter. I was already familiar with that tight, little twat, and I knew he was getting a great fuck from her. She always pushed back when she was fucked. I think he may have been surprised by that.

    "God, why haven't I done this before?"

    He was ramming her so hard her little head was bouncing off the headboard. But she sure as hell didn't complain. She started screaming "Fuck me Daddy, fuck me Daddy, oh god, fuck me harder.”

    Excerpt From: Lorenzo Abajos. “Getting to Know My Sister.” iBooks. 

    It's porn because there's no art, no emotional involvement. In fairness, that's a tiny portion of the story, but the characters don't seem to get much more developed. It's *not* porn because of the incest, in my view.

    It's not the language, that it's explicit or "biological," or the use of graphic English. After all, if D. H. Lawrence can write "Here tha shits an' here tha pisses" as he fingers the corresponding parts of Lady Chatterly's anatomy, it's not the words alone. That's pretty biological, but It's the emotional context of the scene that makes it good writing. I don't consider Lawrence porn or obscene,  but others most certainly did and some still do.

    In the first example, nothing is done with the language. That's what makes it porn. Or, if you prefer, means it fails to make the grade even to "erotica."

    Here's some "erotica" (that is, not porn):

    "I want," I said, and pressed my cheek to his thigh, "you to tell me to suck your cock."

    His hand twitched on my head, and he groaned a little at my words. "Elle..."

    I smiled. I kissed his thigh, nuzzling the hair, softer on the inside and higher up. I brushed the soft weight of his testicles with my lips, earning another soft gasp from him. "Say it."

    "I want you to suck my cock."

    I took him in my mouth, an inch at a time, steadying myself by holding on to his thighs. His grunt was reward. The way he pushed forward into my waiting heat another. The way he whispered my name as he stroked my hair yet a third. I took him all the way in ... [and so on].

    From Dirty, by Megan Hart

    We know a little about what she's feeling, and a flash of what he feels. In other words, neither language nor explicitness nor subject matter alone make a passage porn. Or make it great literature, for that matter.

    JBB


  • Em_PressEm_Press Professor
    Totally agree with you, Kevin.
     A citizen of the world.

  • Em_PressEm_Press Professor
    Joe, she's cute, but she's not your story. Camouflage her a bit with the font over her...unibrow 😂
     A citizen of the world.

  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    edited March 2018

    A cover can certainly depict a scene, if the author wishes it to do so. It's not a requirement.

    It normally is. Take a look at these again  > https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sexy+book+covers&FORM=HDRSC2

    "Venus" implies sensuality. It implies ambiguity. It implies readiness, or at least possibilities. All of those are elements of "Promise."

    But nothing whatsoever to do with your story. Is it about the painter? Is it about art theft?


    But she is not in the story ...

    Have a look at the image below. It's on the cover of the 2009 Everyman's Library edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas completed the story in 1846. The story itself opens in 1811. Edmond Dantes was 19 or 20 years old when he was falsely accused and imprisoned. He escaped 14 years later. He then disappears for ten years or so. So the Count is somewhere in his mid-40s when he reappears and the story of his revenge begins.

    According to the flyleaf the image is a detail from "The Man with a Glove."  He's a youngish man, perhaps in his 20s. Titian painted it in 1520 or so, I think. So, in other words, there's no way this image represents any scene or any character from the book. It's true the story has important interactions between the Count and several younger men, but it's the Count who matters, but even if the age of the man in the image is accurate for the younger characters, his costume is wrong. That's my point about how a cover image does not need to relate directly or literally to the story itself.

    The answer to your comment about "Venus" is contained in my statement. The point of the "Venus" image is not *that* woman; it's not about *art;* it's not about *Titian.* It's in what the image represents or might represent to the viewer. The qualities of the image. The story isn't about Renaissance furnishings or what the hell is in that little chest the girl is investigating or what drapes the painter used or the size of the model's boobs. My story includes the qualities I suggested the image represented to me.

    Who cares why Frida wore what she did in that "Pistolera" image? Maybe it was hot, maybe she liked showing off, why does it matter, if one possible interpretation is the one I suggested earlier?

    And that's about it. I think I've said about all I need to say on the subject. I see your points. I don't agree.

    Cheers,
    JBB


  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    edited March 2018
    Em_Press said:
    Joe, she's cute, but she's not your story. Camouflage her a bit with the font over her...unibrow 😂
    !! I'm not ready to let her go yet. I like your idea of creating a link or reference, whether literal or not, between the story and the image. On the unibrow, we'll have to see. I wasn't entirely kidding when I said without the brow you don't have Frida. In addition to the odd flower arrangements she wears, the brow is her signature look. It's trying to have it both ways, I guess. Frida herself isn't in the story, but having a recognizable figure catches the eye, even if it's other qualities in the image that the story contains.

    For sure, I concede the point that unibrow or not, Frida represents a more modern woman than "Venus" does, although I see things in "Venus" that others do not.

    JBB

    EDIT TO ADD: I forgot to ask about your tagline, "Citizen of the World." Are you an Eric Ambler fan? In A Coffin for Dimitrios one of the bad guys introduces himself to the protagonist as "a citizen of the world." He's actually a Dane, although I can't really remember whether the "citizen" bit was anything more than a little side note to keep the narrator guessing about him.
  • Em_Press said:
    That is a superb image. With large simple pure white big ( like above) font which is in nowadays. 

    Write one paragraph to make the image usable and relevant. Even if it's just a wish or stream of consciousness.... A dream. 

    And you can look for and buy the image. I once paid 100 for a cover image. It is now my bestselling book. So worth it. The cover is crucial.

    I agree that from a purely artistic and aestethic perspective, the pistolera picture above would work quite well, depending on permissions, of course.

    The second cover that Em_Press posted for "A Town Like Alice" would also be very effective, though misleading for the setting of your story. Still, the "soft focus" effect can be very useful when done well.
  • If you find a comparable image to use as a cover I'd say leave the unibrow, there are people [like me] who have a spouse with a similar brow. And yes, Frida Kahlo was a beautiful person.
    I thought it was a shadow from the lighting.
  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    Skoob_ym said:
    If you find a comparable image to use as a cover I'd say leave the unibrow, there are people [like me] who have a spouse with a similar brow. And yes, Frida Kahlo was a beautiful person.
    I thought it was a shadow from the lighting.
    It kind of comes and goes because of that, but it's real (for good or ill). And her brows themselves put caterpillars to shame.

    I'm playing around with Em's idea on fonts and background. Not coming up with anything dramatic yet, but there's hope. Funny, that second background image is beautiful, but it doesn't look like Australia.

    My wife wants to watch the mini-series from the early-80s (?) again.
    JBB
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I used "high key" to refer to the bright colors and lack of shading. Wikipedia says, "A high-key image consists primarily of light tones, without dark shadows. A photograph or painting so composed features a diminished tonal range of primarily whites and light grays." Yours has colors, but I'd still call it "high key."

    Oh, OK. Thanks. However it possibly looks different on my PC screen (and balanced to match my printer.)  To me it looks quite tonal. I rarely do light from one side though. I use a main light 'direction' and a lesser secondary one, I think it looks more natural. I am not keen on shadows that cannot be seen in to, unless the mood of the drawing calls for it. Light 'directions' in my mind of course, because I do them all on my PC.


  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I have no definition of "porn" beyond what I've said,

    You cannot make up your own definition of what it is. There's enough definitions around, and they all say more or less the same.

     and the multiplicity of customs and laws and requirements is evidence there is no universal agreement on what it is.

    There are international agreements as to what porn is or is not. Some countries do have their own rules to add to it, such as what exactly they consider to be explicit, but the bare bones of the agreement underlines them all.

     I'll stick with "bad writing."

    That's a ridiculous conclusion. Just because one story says bollocks and one says testicles, does not mean one is written badly. What you can publish is nothing to do with how well a story is written, but what it's contents describe.

    Many equate "explicit" with "porn." I think that's a false equivalency. Here are a couple of examples.

    The only difference between your two examples is that one is poorly written and one is not so poorly written, otherwise they could both be classed as porn. What is or is not porn, and illegal porn to boot, is pure common sense. If something is going to disgust or shock most people, then it's more than likely illegal porn. All you appear worried about is if Lulu will object to your story. But really you should know what is objectionable in general.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    I have never read the Count, but I have seen many variations of the story as films and TV series, and the man on that cover looks pretty much like the character in all of them. He's of the time.
  • Depends on how broadly we define, "Of the time," but now we're just debating semantics.
  • Em_PressEm_Press Professor
    Joe, you made me want to read A Coffin for Dimitrios.

    Socrates — 'I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.[As quoted in Plutarch's Of Banishment]'

    I myself am of Canadian nationality, Greek of bloodline, and a citizen of the world. :)

    Skoob, second cover image stems from the painting below:

     A citizen of the world.

  • Em_PressEm_Press Professor
    You made me so happy that you both liked the second cover image! :)

    She was in the jungle first then the Australian Outback. So it's kind of relevant.
     A citizen of the world.

  • Em_PressEm_Press Professor
    Joe, what's your title and author name?
     A citizen of the world.

  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    edited March 2018
    Em_Press said:
    Joe, you made me want to read A Coffin for Dimitrios.

    Socrates — 'I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.[As quoted in Plutarch's Of Banishment]'

    I myself am of Canadian nationality, Greek of bloodline, and a citizen of the world. :)

    Skoob, second cover image stems from the painting below:

    I think Eric Ambler was a pretty educated guy. He probably knew the quote; I certainly didn't. I think Ambler's stuff—just about all of it—is a hoot, and a lot of fun to boot. The narrator for "Dimitrios" is an academic who also writes murder stories, and there's a hilarious exchange with another character who has a "great idea for a plot."
    JBB


  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    Em_Press said:
    You made me so happy that you both liked the second cover image! :)

    She was in the jungle first then the Australian Outback. So it's kind of relevant.

    Em_Press said:
    Joe, what's your title and author name?
    Hi Em—

    Apologies if this is a duplicate; I don't know what happened to my earlier reply. Joe "Bondi" Beach is my pen name. Promise is the novel from which I posted the excerpt for feedback.

    As a thank-you to everyone who took the time to look at it and comment I will post shortly a link to download the entire PDF source file for the Lulu print edition of the novel.

    I have a Tumblr blog as well. I'm mostly reposting images at this point, but there's also my stuff as well as other printed stuff I liked. Also book and bookstore and reader images. There's a million of them. And who knew there's a blog about people reading real books (not phones) on the Buenos Aires subway system!
    JBB
    (Sorry this got attached to your post about the cover. She might have found that spot even in Australia's "Dead Center," so the image is doubly relevant. It's that from a distance our first thought is dry and desert.) 
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    I glanced at the blog, and got trapped by a few images. My infant son would have appreciated them as well, though more from the POV of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    edited March 2018
    I glanced at the blog, and got trapped by a few images. My infant son would have appreciated them as well, though more from the POV of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    "Trapped" worries me. Did the images have some kind of "mouse-trapping" or some other unwelcome aspect (bearing in mind "NSFW" is part of the blog's title)? If yes, please let me know and they'll be gone. Thanks.
    JBB

    ETA: Funny how infant creatures tend to see the world in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner—not to mention midnight snacks.

  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    Paul, if you're around, can you tell me whether posting (as a thank you to posters here for commenting on the excerpt) a link to a free PDF download of the source file for a print edition published on Lulu runs afoul of the Forum rules? This isn't an announcement or promotion per se, although I'll also include a link to the novel as published on Lulu.

    Thanks,
    JBB 
  • Em_PressEm_Press Professor
    Joe, have you done any versions of the cover? Do you want me to play a bit in Photoshop and show you?
     A citizen of the world.

  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    edited March 2018
    Thank you to everyone for your comments on the excerpt and cover image from Promise. You can download the PDF source file here. It's free, there's no registration, no log in, and Google won't even tell me how many people downloaded it.

    If you are inclined to do so and have a moment, please feel free to comment on Goodreads or wherever you like, positive or negative.

    It's also available for purchase on Lulu here, and shortly on other sites as well.

    Cheers,
    JBB



  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    edited March 2018
    Joe,

    By 'trapped' I mean something different as my duty station has nobody who would object to the images. Rather, like my son is now, when I was a tiny demon I wasn't fed on a bottle. Call it an atavistic memory that still catches me off-guard at times, while allowing me to appreciate the beauty of both form and function.

    The good news is I fully understand why the kid starts to growl when I get too close during feedings.
    I glanced at the blog, and got trapped by a few images. My infant son would have appreciated them as well, though more from the POV of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    "Trapped" worries me. Did the images have some kind of "mouse-trapping" or some other unwelcome aspect (bearing in mind "NSFW" is part of the blog's title)? If yes, please let me know and they'll be gone. Thanks.
    JBB

    ETA: Funny how infant creatures tend to see the world in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner—not to mention midnight snacks.


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