Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kim Kardashian's Fairytale Wedding vs. Real Life

There’s been plenty of publicity about the lack of judgment shown by reality-TV star, Kim Kardashian, who filed for divorce after a mere 72 days of marriage. Many aspersions have been cast on her character for going through with a wedding extravaganza for which she supposedly was paid millions of dollars by celebrity magazines. She claims not to have made a profit on the wedding, and so on and so forth. I take anything this young woman says with a large grain of salt, but one quote struck me.

She expected a fairytale life after her fairytale wedding. Oh, really? Why? What makes her think she’s immune to the ordinary problems of real people?

Without having access to any factual details, I wonder if the breakup of Miss Kim’s marriage went something like this:

She: Now we’re back from the fairytale honeymoon, we can sell the rights to a tour of our lavish new fairytale home.
He: I’d rather hang out with the guys. I’m tired of all the hoopla.

She: We’ll name a charity after me, and throw a huge party and get other celebrities to attend and even perform at our fairytale event.
He: Training season is just around the corner. I won’t be home.

She: Oh, pooh on your silly little career. I can make us millions.
He: I’m a star athlete at the height of my powers.

She: Your team is locked out and you’re not doing anything to keep us in the news. Stop being so lazy. Get us a magazine spread or a TV interview about our fairytale marriage.
He: I’m just living, that’s all.

She: I know. Let’s get me pregnant so I can sell the rights to my fairytale pregnancy photos and the fairytale birth, and the first look at the fairytale new baby.
He: You gotta be kidding. I wouldn’t adopt a dog into a family like yours.

She: Adopting. Great idea. Then I won’t have to ruin my figure. What country has the cutest orphans?
He: You’re nuts.

She: I’ll have my publicist start talking up adoptions, maybe get some photos of you and me shopping for baby clothes at an upscale baby boutique.
He: No baby, dammit.

She: We’ve got to do something to keep in the public eye. How about if you have a brawl with the owners, or a teammate?
He: No way. I could get a huge fine or be tossed out on my ear. Lose my career.

She: You hardly have a career anyway.
He: Gee, thanks. I wanted a traditional supportive wife, not a shrew who cuts me down all the time.

She: Traditional wife? This is a fairytale, remember?
He: And you're the witch. Happy?

She: How dare you! You’re not the fairytale husband I fantasized about.
He: Get real. You’re not a fairytale princess.

She: I’m going. Goodbye.
He: Make sure the tabloids pay you plenty of money for your exclusive fairytale story about our fairytale divorce.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Covers that Tell the Story

On Halloween, children and adults run or slink around in costumes, most of them trying to look like superheroes, fairies, or spooks, scary or sexy as they choose. For the last several years, the hottest trends in book covers have been what amount to Halloween settings. Dark and spooky. Sometimes bloody. Often featuring young women garbed in tight leather, toting enormous weapons. Yet some of these books are romances dressed up to look spooky, just as we dress up at Halloween and pretend. Given this popular cover trend, how can we tell if there’s a romance inside?

It certainly helps if there’s a clinch cover. The hottest new romance self-promotion item this year is trading cards. Author Keri Stevens had them made to promote her paranormal romance, Stone Kissed. You can check out both front and back on her Web site.

Sometimes, we know the book is a romance because the cover is beautiful and features a woman who does not look as if she’s about to kill someone. Take Darker Still, by Leanna Renee Hieber, for instance. This cover impressed me with its beauty, its simplicity of design, and its artful, romantic glow. The sales copy describes a yearning, otherworldly romance with a tortured aristocrat trapped in the world within a portrait. That’s fine, but the cover itself sold me. I truly did not need the details. In the past I have bought many romances because I loved the covers. A picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes is more effective, too.

I picked up these promotional pieces at the New Jersey Romance Writers conference. I had to ask author Lisa Dale if Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier was a romance or what’s called women’s fiction or a "book club read," often a story of an older woman and possibly several of her friends, and entanglements of the distant past, or about a family problem, or even a coming-of-age or a coming-to-terms heroine. Lisa says this story is a strong romance with additional elements. The cover is attractive but misleading, I think. Someone looking for a romance might pass it by.

Vicky Burkholder, an author whose bookmark I picked up at the same conference, has some books out whose covers didn’t immediately appeal to me. She told me she did not design them. Ah, but her bookmark, which was her choice, spoke strongly of a romantic sensibility. It’s so romantic. Her Web site header is a sunset afterglow, which I find equally romantic.

The cover for Echoes at Dawn, by Kathleen Ann Gallagher, struck me as even more dramatic and romantic. And nary a weapon to be found. Thanks, ladies. I’m looking for romance, after all.

But I admit I couldn’t resist picking up the sexy cover to Surrender to Sanctuary, which clearly is a tale of another gun-toting strong female. Her spike heels and black hose also give an indication that this romance is likely to be hotter than some, as the sales copy also states.

These book covers all impressed me visually, made me curious, and made me interested in the books themselves. The best of them also gave an accurate indication of what kind of romance I would find beneath the covers.