Tag Archives: Novellas

Judging a book by it’s cover: use clothes

I am more than a bit fed up. Fed up of seeing half naked people on the covers of books. In the last few weeks I have seen lots of new releases with covers that have left me wondering if the cover models are a bit cold. I must add the caveat that these are covers used by Indie authors. When I go through a library, look at the shelves, nearly all of the people on cover image are dressed. Even the Mills and Boon’s/Harlequin cover people are dressed. There is a very clear line in the sand really.

So what is my bug bear?

It was a timeline full of naked blokes, that was the straw that broke the camels back. Book blogs and tours, blitzes and things, are carrying the same images. Torsos and a V. Then there were the lingerie clad women.

The latter, would fall very much in to objectification. I think the former does too. We just don’t admit it; we can ogle and objectify women, but doing that to a bloke…well, Diet Coke break makes it okay but not objectification.

On a deeper, more intellectual and academic level, what do these covers say about societal perception of the genders?

Recently, the concept of toxic masculinity has been risen as well as what does it mean to be a male in modern society? Leading to how are men represented in media and the written word, what is it it we expect from the modern man. There is some element of men being charicatured by the covers and the content of books. Arrogant, well-built millionaires who sweep a gasping, well-endowed damsel off her feet. I’m genuinely cheesed off for the male of species; we build ’em up, we break ’em down, shift the goal posts. If you don’t match the dude on the cover, inside the book, the one in our imagination then you must be a bit wrong….

The damsel. The one that appears on the cover, half dressed with come to bed eyes. The damsel, that needs rescuing, might be up the duff and fights with her internal tension as to should she, should she not sleep with the tall, dark and brooding shipping magnate? (Yeah, how many shipping magnate, tycoons and billionaires are on the covers….with all that money, they might have posed in a suit… ) The damsel couldn’t possibly be dressed, we might not recognise her with her kit on and we don’t need to have three dimensional characters.  She must be attractive, pouting, and good for one, two, maybe three things.  What messages does this give to other women? If you are not like this, then you don’t fit, we don’t want you and neither does anyone else. You know you have to comply to a checklist and disclose your vital statistics, yes?

The representation of women on covers is equally heavy-weight.

(Another thing; I didn’t see many-if any-cover images of characters from BAME groups.  That is another aspect of debate.)

The bigger picture question remains the same.

Why do it in the first instance?

I get it, if the book in question is centred around mature/adult content, then sure it reflects what goes on between the leaves and the sheets as it were.

Can you imagine, if Dicken’s was rebranded in the same way? George Eliot for that matter. You have Madam Bovary, Lolita, and Lady Chatterley’s lover too.  The content is the crux, with a very sobre front cover. I really don’t want to see bits and pieces on the cover. I’m sure that until the print presses started steaming, most covers were plain.

You know, the answer is simple. Sex and Salaciousness sell.

Leaving nothing to the imagination, immediate rather than delayed gratification grabs and garners attention. It gets people talking, gets people writing blog posts. It get’s people saying ooh-er missis.

So far, only one out of four books has people on the cover.

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My challenge was to whether or not I wanted a human being on the cover, never mind two. Whether or not they would dressed, that never crossed my mind. When it did, the thought made me feel altogether uncomfortable. Somehow, being half naked in Montana, might give these two frost bite.

It is also, not as easy you would think, to find BAME people for covers.

I like my cover; the designer is a legend and made it exactly how I wanted it to be. I could not have imagined a half-naked Aditi or Devan on the front cover; that is left for the inside. That is the bit, in my mind at least, matters the most. In comparison then to other covers, it is modest, muted and doesn’t hit you between the eyes. I would rather the content tugged at the heart strings and fired up your imagination, to be perfectly honest.

If you do want to ‘see’ a half naked Devan, he does exist.

Inside the book.

 

 

‘Costume Drama’ @Peace Novella

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Devan Coultrie experiences Halloween US style….and it’s all a bit intriguing.

‘Costume Drama’

Copyright 2017 Punam Farmah

“Go take a walk, Kiddo,” Richard put a hand to Devan’s shoulder to steady him. “Take Aditi with you,” he added quietly. “Go off for half an hour, forty minutes. Just the pair of you; your mum and I will take care of your guests and prepare for the next bit of this evening.”

Devan nodded as he rubbed his eye with the heel of his left palm. Drinking bubbles on an empty stomach was never a good idea. Tonight, the bubbles collided with butterflies of joy to make him feel all too disorientated. He stood against a table at the side of the Brewer’s barn, trying to steady himself. The barn was teeming with all of the guests that he and Aditi had invited to share their vermillion and gold themed celebration. His bleary eyes moved from his father’s face and towards Aditi a short distance away.

Released from her mother’s embrace she was floating towards him in a dress that echoed the barn’s colour scheme. Devan couldn’t help but smirk at the red Wellington boots that peeked out from below her hem as she walked. He was altogether transfixed as his father walked away knowingly.

“Can we please go take a walk?” asked Aditi under her breath; a forced grin was fixed across her face. “If one more person asks if babies are next, Dray may have to stick me in a cell.”

“Yes, of course,” replied Devan. “Dray’s not sticking you in a cell; not tonight anyway, darling,” he blinked rapidly as he pressed a palm to his mouth and stifled a yawn.   “Tonight is Halloween, and I don’t want to bail you out, not really. Grab Mum’s shawl; we’ll go watch the Ghoulies come out to play on Main Street. Call it an intermission in tonight’s proceedings.”

Aditi yawned too, nodding in agreement. “Grab a bottle,” she said fanning out her eyelashes to focus. “Some samosas if you can as well. I’m starving and you look hammered already.”

Devan trudged out of Oakview’s gates with Aditi’s arm firmly curled around his. His movement was somewhat hampered by his recovering leg, Aditi’s Wellington clad gait and the presence of snow on the ground. He had been rather surprised this morning; Devan had woken to find Oakview smothered in a marshmallow fluffy snow. As he and Aditi walked toward Main street, Devan found himself blinking rapidly and widening his eyes to make sure that he wasn’t hallucinating. Tucked under his jacket was a bottle of bubbles, just in case either of them got thirsty.  Nestles in Devan’s pocket, were two samosas wrapped in a red napkin that he had smuggled out as requested.

“Pumpkin!” he exclaimed, grinning a little and pointing. “By the Realtors, she can’t be more than two,” laughed Devan. Toddling along, being pursued by somebody who looked a lot like Tin-man, was a child dressed in a bright, orange, sphere-shaped costume.

“Wicked Witch,” squealed Aditi, “There!” she added, tugging at his jacket. “Wicked witch of the west and who is that, who is she with?” she asked, her brows knitting together in curiosity.

Devan also frowned as he saw the teenage couple sauntered passed them on the other side of the road. “That’s either Thor, Loki or non-descript Viking of a sort. Oh, look, incoming,” Devan gently nudged Aditi with his elbow. “Bloodied, brooding vampire, the sort that doesn’t glitter in the sunlight, and with a werewolf….”

Aditi laughed wheezily and pulled a pink shawl tighter around her shoulders.

“I’d forgotten how big Halloween is over here,” Devan commented. “At home, it’s all about All Hallows Eve, going to Church on All Saint’s day if you’re that way inclined. This,” he continued, with something of deep sigh, “Is trippy on a whole new level.”

“Beetlejuice,” Aditi said sharply, her eyes darting towards a passing figure.

“Just the once, dear,” chided Devan, putting his hand to her and feeling the iciness of her fingers. “Somebody already said his name a few times for him to appear. Hmm, Dude in a hockey mask,” he said glancing over his shoulder. “That’s proper old school Halloween. Sometimes the oldies are the best.”

“We’re not exactly dressed to trick or treating, now are we,” giggled Aditi. “Next year, you might want to do this whole Halloween thing properly.”

“Oh, flip me, no,” Devan tutted as he shook his head. “You just about got me into this suit. You can forget dressing me up as superhero or a slasher movie villain.”

“Bah humbug,” scoffed Aditi, she watched still as the people of Peace milled around. “It’s all a bit of fun. Only here and in the States, would you get a street full of costume drama.”

“The pumpkin was cute,” Devan conceded. “Was most likely a pudding at Christmas or something suitably cute and fluffy. Halloween has got be the one time of the year where you can wear what you want and all bets are off. Nothing is too much and too little is debateable.”

Aditi arched a brow having caught his gaze. “Hold off on the pumpkin there, Mister,” she said quietly. “No immediate plans for seedlings of any kind, thank you very much.”

“Look, Mommy, it’s James Bond!” yelled a child version of Captain America, his shield waving excitedly at Devan.

“And the lady in red too,” smiled the superhero’s mother, brushing a lock of red nylon hair from her face. The rest of her costume was green and white, creating the look of poison ivy.

“James Bond,” cooed Devan, beaming at Aditi. “James Bond is always better than token man in tux.”

“If you say so,” replied Aditi, sounding unconvinced. “Not token though. You are my man in a tux, and don’t you forget it. Pass me that prosecco, would you.”

“Yes, dear,” sighed Devan, slowly threading the bottle out from beneath his jacket. He continued to watch as they walked hand in hand down the street; they would have to return home shortly. Perhaps it was the cold, perhaps it was the bubbles; he would swear blue, black and blind that he saw Mister Spock talk to Gandalf with Spiderman listening in.

Diwali Short Story @PeaceNovella

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Let me introduce you to Devan Coultrie. This is his Diwali and in Peace, Montana.

Diwali: Love, light and Peace
By Punam Farmah
Copyright, 2017

Candles and clay lamps lay in a brown box that sat upon the kitchen table. A second box sat next to it; brand-spanking new and illustrated with twinkling fairy lights. Reaching into the first box, Devan gently put his hand to a stack of five clay lamps and let them rest in the centre of his left hand.
“Don’t you dare drop them!” said his mother as she passed behind him. Bags of groceries hung heavily from her hands. Devan saw a large, red and white bag of plain flour peeking out from the well-filled bags. His mother Avni was preparing the food for the Diwali Celebrations. The flour was required to make the pastry for samosas.
Samosas. Devan couldn’t remember the last time that he had dipped crunchy, flaky, cumin infused pastry into sweet but spicy tamarind chutney and savoured the taste. As the vague and fuzzy around the edges memory splutter in his memory, he heard his stomach growl and gurgle. Placing his palm to his gut, he rued having got up late and missing breakfast. With his leg still healing, he was effectively barred by his mother and Aditi from so much as lifting a finger and doing anything for himself. Both had been absent when he had woken up. Now, they were were occupied with other things rather than wanting to feed him.
Diwali was all about good food, good times and good energies. His parents were here in Peace, Aditi too; having them here, did rather make him feel like this home. Peace by name was becoming peace by nature.
“Will there be Jalebis, Mum?” he asked, using both hands to cradle the clamp lamps. Devan felt as though the lamps were china in his hands; the feeling rather mesmerised him but also rather made him feel cautious having been warned not to drop them. “Gulab Jamun too?” he queried, studying the pink hues of the terracotta that the lamps were made from.
“Right behind you,” replied Avni as her husband walked into the kitchen with a stack of white boxes labelled ‘Deepak’s Sweet Centre, Colorado’. “Your Massi knows a small sweet centre,” she said, placing her shopping bags upon the nearest worktop. “I called before we left to see her, placed an order for all of today’s sweets. Your father and I picked it all up on our way back here. Lovely people,” commented Avni, a smile dancing across her face. “Not much call for Jalebis and Gulab Jamun this side of the pond, or even in Colorado, actually; so they threw in an extra half a pound of each when I told them it was for Diwali. Told them that you’d spread the word around Peace.”
“I’ll try,” nodded Devan. He couldn’t help but laugh at his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit. “Being the only Englishman in Peace is one thing. Being the only part Indian,” he shrugged and rolled his shoulders deeply. “I’ll see what I can do, Mum; not promising anything.”
Devan’s father, Richard, had followed his wife and deposited his load next to the shopping. He looked at his son, and then at the box on the top of the stack; he furtively opened the lid. “Want one?” asked Richard. A bright orange Jalebi glistening with sugar syrup was held like a freshly boiled egg between his thumb and fore finger. “I’ll split it with you.”
Devan’s eyes widened at the sight of the sweet. Gently placing the divas back into the box, he moved as quickly as he could towards his father. Snatching the spiral-shaped sweet, Devan snapped it in half and thrust it straight into his mouth.
“You never did share your sweets, son,” chortled Richard, hard and from the depths of his ever increasingly rotund gut.
“Notmajebis,” said Devan; the second half of the jalebi was crunched down upon quickly. Rapidly chewing away the sweetness, he licked the tips of his fingers to get each and every last drop bit of the sticky, sweet, sugary syrup. Satisfied that he had got every last bit, Devan focused back upon his mother.
Avni had found an apron and was tying it behind her back. “Leave all the food to me,” she said lifting flour and potatoes out of her grocery bags. “Aditi is working on the drinks, and making sure of the guest list. You, Devan, your Dad, you have one job; one job alone.” She jabbed a finger at the candle. “Get to it,” she said firmly, “And quickly.”
“You heard her,” Richard nodded and clamped a hand onto Devan’s shoulder. “The sweets are one thing. There are also lanterns to hang from the trees, more fairy lights and enough tea lights to make sure that Oakview is visible from space. I’ve left all those by the gate, I’ll meet you there. You’ll need this.” He pressed a black and chrome candle lighter into Devan’s hand. “We have a lot of candles to light, young man.”
As dusk started to fall, Devan walked back towards the house. His route had been lined with what must have been hundreds of tea lights and candles in glass jars of all shapes, sizes and colours. Each one danced in the gentle breeze; a beacon that heralded a new start, a new year for Devan, his family and all of those invited to the shindig in the barn. Even the gates onto Oakview shone and glimmered with fairy lights that were plugged into his RV. His next job was to get showered, shave and to suit up.
It took him ten minutes to walk, but the walk was worth it. “Oh,” he all but gasped as he took in the view of the house. All of the lights were on inside, the porch was filled with candles. His home appeared to glow with iridescence as the sunset. Stopping by his front door, he saw Aditi make her way down the stairs. In her hands was a stainless steel plate atop of which were clay divas. Full of mustard oil, each contained a cotton wick; having been lit, the flames flickered and fluttered seductively.
Aditi paused at the bottom step, the plate held between them. “Happy Diwali, gorgeous,” she whispered, revealing pearly white teeth.
Devan took one of the clay lamps, and held it carefully between his hands. He glanced at the flame, and then back at Aditi. “Happy Diwali, beautiful. Happy Diwali.”

 

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Welcome to Peace #PeaceSeries

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Welcome to Peace, a new novella series that will be kicking off very soon!

It all started out with an idea had by S.H.Pratt.

A novella series set in Peace, Montana.

 

 

There was just something about this writing project that hit my radar, so I knocked on the door and asked if there was room for a little one. After the initial rites of initiation and double checking that I was who I proclaimed to be, I was let in and found myself part of a burgeoning group of extremely creative and talented writers that were working towards a very intriguing goal.

This couldn’t be more different could it, from tomatoes, courgettes and chillies?

That really is central to the whole premise of Peace. There are over a dozen writers from the whole spectrum of Indie authors world. Each author brings something different, unique and invigorating to the Peace Series. Even me, I think, with would-be green fingers, muddy wellingtons and inky pens with a mind of their own.

Kicking off from September, Peace starts to bloom-I have to place a gardening pun in there someplace-as the buds that have been forming since last October start to erupt and unfurl.  The first three covers have have been revealed; very soon the books will be released onto Kindles and eventually you will also be able to get your hands on paperbacks. (I do like a good paperback, me).

The first three books are written by A.H.Stagg, Krysi Foster and L.C. Fenton, and below you can find further details about the books and who wrote them.

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L.C.Fenton What Peace Remains

For further details about L.C.Fenton

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Krysi Foster Love in Peace

For further details about Krysi Foster

 

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A.H. Stagg Songs of Peace

For furher details about A.H.Stagg

I do hope to post more details as they are released. However,  if you want to have a look anyway, then please have a look at the Peace Novella Series website. I am hoping that you will, as there is also a Peace Readers group. If you click here,  and tell ’em I sent you! (Seriously, go, Peace needs you, all right?)

You can also find the Peace Series Facebook page, where all details will be posted in due course.

Also, if you happen to know about Thunderclap, you can help support the Peace Campaign. 

My own story is called ‘Retreating to Peace’. For now, I have to keep my counsel and can’t really let any cats out the bag. Yes, I know cliches. I can’t even give you any teasers.

What I can tell you, is that my story involves a character called Devan Coultrie and he has his own FB page. In fact, you will find that quite a few Peace characters do.

Oh, wait, I do have a teaser, just not my own!

This is for Peace in Flames, by the fabulous Caroline Andrus.

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There you have it, an introduction to Peace. In the coming months, I do hope to share more information about the releases whilst counting down to my own release in Spring 2018. In the meantime, go check out the website, you can also follow the @PeaceNovella handles on twitter and Instagram. Go say hello, they don’t bite!