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Books scratching at the inside of my eyeballs

Another potential coverPlanting season begins around March on our farm, and for the rest of the spring, summer, and early fall, the garden swallows up my time.  I tend to come up with ideas for about half a dozen ebooks while weeding each summer, but don't have time to write during warm weather.  The ones that scratch the hardest at the insides of my eyeballs are the ones I hit first in the fall, which this year was Growing into a Farm.

However, Growing into a Farm has an unusual half-sister --- a young-adult novel about a seventeen-year-old girl who returns the abandoned intentional community where she was conceived.  While I'm not so sure the book will be any good (or will ever get finished since it currently seems to be causing much weeping and gnashing of teeth), that's what I'm working on at the moment.


I've gotten far enough into Saving Hippie Holler that it asked for a cover, so I started experimenting.  You can see version 1.0 above --- Mark told me he liked it...but that it looks like a science fiction book about aliens.  Version 2.0 (below) probably captures the theme better, but still seems to be lacking something.  Ideas?

Young adult coverIn case you're curious, other book ideas waiting in the wings include:

  1. Low-cost greenhouse add-on --- I'm actually already about 80% through formatting and updating this book which my father wrote when I was an infant, so it'll definitely get finished the next time Saving Hippie Holler starts making me tear out my hear.
  2. Garden ecology --- I've been working on this one in my head for years, and I might finally be getting to the point where I have enough photos and data to make it a book.
  3. Several new chicken ebooks --- I just can't decide whether I'd rather write about chicken behavior, wild chicken feed, or designing a forest pasture.
  4. Permaculture deer --- We finally seem to have (mostly) won the war, so now might be a good time to share ways to work around (and with) the deer that want to destroy your homestead.
  5. I'm also vaguely considering trying to make print copies of my most popular ebooks available, but didn't hear too much enthusiasm when I broached the idea on facebook, so I might let this one lapse.

As a side note, I seem to have very low self esteem when it comes to writing fiction, so I could I could use some comments stating, "What a great idea, Anna!  I'd love to read a fictional, young adult book!"  Feel free to copy and paste those two sentences into the comment form below....



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I think you are highly qualified to write and publish this book. I like the dragonfly cover the best and would gladly preview it and give you encouragement or whatever you need. I think the locals around Wortroot area call it Hippy Holler. :) I am not certain of that though.
Comment by Maggie Fri Nov 8 08:18:31 2013

"What a great idea, Anna! I'd love to read a fictional, young adult book!"

You might want to read the biography of Anne Tyler, who lived as a child and teen at Celo Community.

Comment by Errol Hess Fri Nov 8 08:27:39 2013

OK I'll oblige..."What a great idea, Anna! I'd love to read a fictional, young adult book!"

In all seriousness, I admire your ability to get your thoughts out on a page. I too am a writer and have always been daunted by the spectre of writing fiction. So, I say go for it! If I may add some constructive criticism of your proposed cover designs...I like the second cover because it immediately identifies that the story is about a young girl. The arrangement of the title on boards across the page, however, dominates the imagery and evokes crime scene tape (in my mind, of course). I look forward to reading the book!

Comment by Mike Gaughan Fri Nov 8 08:33:24 2013
Anna--being outside of your comfort zone writing fiction is a valuable opportunity to grow and learn. The process may be challenging but I think you can do this. Don't let it get you down though. Give it time. It'll come. Tears and gnashing teeth might mean you needed a break an hour ago, though. Best, best of luck.
Comment by jen g Fri Nov 8 09:22:41 2013
Anna--being outside of your comfort zone writing fiction is a valuable opportunity to grow and learn. The process may be challenging but I think you can do this. Don't let it get you down though. Give it time. It'll come. Tears and gnashing teeth might mean you needed a break an hour ago, though. Best, best of luck.
Comment by jen g Fri Nov 8 09:23:53 2013
I think option #1 is a prettier picture, but I can see where someone 'judging a book by its cover' might get the wrong idea about it. However, the silhouette on the second cover bothers me. (It might also give the wrong impression.) If it showed details of an actual person, I think it would be less ,,, provocative.
Comment by Rhonda from Baddeck Fri Nov 8 09:59:28 2013

As a writer, I'm not gonna lie. Fiction is the hardest thing to write (at least for me).

I was an English major, so I got all kinds of writing classes in college. My favorite was based on the book "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg> It has some great excercises and tips for improving your writing, which will improve confidence. It worked for me. I'm not even exaggerating, I wouldn't be writing at all now if it weren't for this book (and the professor who built her class around it) :)

I've read your non-fiction so I know you have a great foundation. I know you can do this! :)

Comment by Emily from Bristol Fri Nov 8 10:12:38 2013

"What a great idea, Anna! I (am sure that Jennifer)'d love to read a fictional, young adult book!"

Close enough? <G>

Comment by Seth, Philly's Most En-Titled Commenter Fri Nov 8 10:32:04 2013

I'd love to read some fiction by you. YA fiction would be great. I recently read some opinion pieces in the NYT on YA fiction:

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/28/the-power-of-young-adult-fiction

They talked about how the clear voice and lack of pretentiousness was appealing to all ages.

In terms of the cover, I agree that the profile is a little creepy. I like the dragonfly. I would consider trying another font for the subtitle and author's name. I think they might be what is giving the scifi vibe. I think that same font may be on my daughter's copy of Ender's Game (great book, btw).

I'd love to read such a book. Although my life hasn't (at least to this point) taken such a path, I love to read about such things. Go for it!

Comment by Jim Fri Nov 8 11:26:20 2013

As an English teacher, I frequently find myself reading YA fiction. I already enjoy reading your non-fiction so I cannot imagine reading your fiction would be any less enjoyable.

I really liked all of the ideas you posted, also. I would be the one Old-fashioned person who would jump at the chance to get your e-books in a print format. I like my Nook, but there is just something about paper books, especially those for the garden/homestead. Easier to underline, highlight, and sticky-note. :-)

april

Comment by April Connett Fri Nov 8 12:16:38 2013

Anna, my favorite fiction for recreational reading is YA novels, and I would really enjoy reading one that you wrote! Do not give up, writing is challenging. When I imagine a cover for your novel I see a sort of pathway through the woods, with a misty view of buildings in the background, more in a graphic style than a photo style somehow... (maybe play with some of the filters whatever image processing software you are using?) I do agree that the giant dragonfly looks rather sci-fi... But really YA fiction, particularly the sort that has both postitive meta-content* and useful informational bits** woven into the story, are my very favorite sorts of things to read, other than non-fiction DIY books

*Good YA books leave me feeling empowered for the task of building a good life, whereas many regular adult books are about "life sucks and then you die" which leaves me wondering why I wasted hours of my precious human existence reading the book in the first place ** one example that immediately comes to mind is how I enjoyed reading the books of Gary Paulsen about young people in dire situations in the wilderness, and how they survived..

Comment by alison Fri Nov 8 12:26:10 2013
Please do write that book! Along with homesteading memoirs, I love reading YA fiction, and finding one with the premise you suggest would definitely catch my eye. As for the cover, while the dragonfly is a great photo, I agree it might lead a person to think of Scifi rather than hippie. Perhaps a bare foot shot in the grass (or hand with tool?), rather than a body silhouette, would convey what you want better. Good luck to you!
Comment by Linda Sing Fri Nov 8 14:34:23 2013

I know you have it in you and it will be great. The more tears and anguish the better it will be. I remember you telling a two year old whose father had left her with us while fixing something at FLOC and the only way she would stop crying was when you told her a story!

I do like the second photo better - the lettering particularly. One suggestion would be to put the young person in some action, like hammering something or cutting a board.

Keep on writing!!!

Comment by Sheila Fri Nov 8 21:07:26 2013
Just keep on plugging away at it Anna. I look forward to reading it some day.
Comment by everett Sun Nov 10 09:28:04 2013
I will await most anxiously your book on how you've (mostly) won the deer battle. Please be sure to let me know when it's available!
Comment by Larry Eiss Mon Nov 11 16:19:34 2013

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime