Friday, July 25, 2014

The Angel In The Room

When I decided to go the Indie-pub route with Angel Food, I wasn't sure what I would do about the cover. My dad's an artist, so he came up with a few sketches. The one above has been put through the Sierra filter on Instagram--for some reason I can't find the original--and was pretty much a perfect representation of what I had in mind. I really wanted there to be an Airstream--because I love them, because they are so popular, so lovely and shiny, and because the characters of ANGEL FOOD live in one. Then, just messsing around, my dad did a couple other sketches. I don't know if he'd want me to share these with you, because he's an artist and these are just rough etchings, but I'm going to anyway. (Sorry Dad!)

You can see these were rough drawings, but I am especially fond of the second one. It's the first visual representation I've seen of Isidore that's not inside my brain, and I think she looks pretty awesome.

I adored my dad's work. But the cover needed to be digitally rendered, and that's not his thing. So we turned to Noah's sister Mercy and her husband, Trey. Mercy and Trey live in Portland where they make beautiful things, mainly baked goods at the bakery they work at together, and beautiful music from Trey's band. It is my understanding that they're going to be launching a freelance web design business. There are a million great pictures of them, but I only chose two. One where you can see how cute they are, and the second so you can see all their tattoos.

Don't they look like creative people? For the cover, Trey first did exactly what I asked him to, which was this:

I loved this cover. It made total sense to me. But one of my early readers pointed out that this cover made her expect a horror novel, which Angel Food is not. It didn't incorporate any of the humorous elements. Or the road trip motif. So I let Trey do his thing, and he came up with the version that became the official cover.

Perfect. It looks even better in real life. It makes a beautiful blue book (I'm always drawn to blue books) and does a much better job of representing the tone. I'm so proud of what Trey did. I was nervous opening the package to see my book for the first time. Scared that it would look like amateur hour up in here. I was thrilled to see a very attractive and eye-catching (if I do say so myself) book looking back at me. It was a moment I won't forget.

Self-publishing is hard, and scary. The benefit is that you get to be in charge of everything, but the downside, of course, is that you are in charge of everything. Going through the book last night I found an error here or there. I can't for the life of me understand why, as I went over the entire book maybe 20 times over the course of two years. But I do understand why--I'm human. I was working without a professional editor. Mistakes are going to happen. There aren't too many, and I'm hoping most people won't notice them. If they do, I'm hoping they will forgive me. When I see an error in a book, I wonder: how did they not notice that?! But now I understand. Because I went over the book 20 times and things still snuck past me.


The book is out as it wanted to be out, and that is a big step and this is an emotional day. Allow me to share a couple more things here. I have to promote myself because I don't have promoters! And then we will be back to observations on Russian cabdrivers as microcosms of the entire human race.

Marie at The (Not Always) Lazy W has already managed to get up a review. Marie is always a delight to read, but here is a sample from her lovely (and honest) review:

Brittany crafts these incredible scenes. These bloody, violent, highly sexual, emotionally charged and laugh-out-loud funny scenes, the likes of which I have never read before. Do you know how some chefs have a knack for striking bizarre flavor combinations, but it works? It is suddenly the most wonderful thing that has ever touched your tongue? That. She does this with characters, dialogue, and surprise events. She folds together one element with another in ways that leave you shaking your head and wanting so much more.

Thank you, Marie! And thanks to all of you! I have been so moved by your encouragement along the way. That goes for every single one of you. I am so honored to be a part of this amazing community of writers and people, all of you so talented and inspiring in your own ways. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I might never have done this without you all. (I would never bribe a child or a reader, but some of you might find your name in the acknowledgments.)

So I want to end with this passage my dad wrote. He is calling it a 'liner note' for Angel Food. But I like to think of it as Angel Food's first fan fiction. I was afraid my parents would hate this book. My dad reads The New Yorker and my mom is Lutheran and the novel flies a bit in the face of both those things. But they didn't hate it. Thanks, mom and dad!

"You think nothing is better than a road trip across the southwest. As the sun sets over the distant mesas that glow like Eldorado, and the high desert sage is softened in purple shadow, your teabag mind is steeping in distant thought, as the Airstream bus hums along. Your restless kid sister, whom you love, is finally at peace in the shotgun seat dozing with her ear buds in. Your troubled brother lounges in the back occupied with a game on his i-pad. Serenity at last.

But you're always looking over your shoulder, even when times are good. You check the mirror again. That's no semi. Your heart sinks as you catch the sweep of streamlined wings. You're transfixed as you quickly discern the flowing robes, the Apollo- like torso, the serene but stone grim face, Buddha on steroids, its strong arm aloft with a flaming sword.

You wish a cop with flashing lights was behind you. You wish the devil himself was behind you. You've dealt with evil before, but this is worse. On your tail is the very wrath of God.
You punch the cruise control switch off and you floor it!"

Thank you so much, everyone! I love you! I hope you like the book.

*The wing art in both versions of Trey's cover is by online artist Katie Litchfield. Trey added the blood.


  1. Replies
    1. Hooray! Thank you so much, Mary. That means a lot.

  2. Just ordered it! Oh Brittany I'm do proud of you I can't even stand it! You are a publisher! No amateur hour here! The cover is fabulous and I cannot wait to curl up and read. I'm so impressed you just went out and did it. You valiant angel. You inspire the heck out of me!

    1. Angella! This means so very much to me. (I really look up to you). Thank you.

  3. Super-stoked to read this. Love the art. And once again, I loved your novella on Shebooks. Congrats!

    1. Thank you, Denise! I'm about to go read your Shebook!

  4. Glad you like the Isidore sketch. And yes, I'm embarrassed by the first clunky sketch.But kudos to Trey! He did a great job capturing the haphazard road kill fun of the novel.

    My blemished ego aside, I am beaming with pride that you persevered and saw that Angel Food was born. You are an Artist. And that, as your Grandfather once told me, takes guts.
    So I would say little missy, just as your Grandfather's favorite actor, John Wayne, would say, "You've got True Grit!"
    Love, Dad

    1. Thanks, dad! I'll take the sketches down if you want, but I think they're awesome.

    2. Brittany's Dad: I understand that artists are self-critical, especially of rough drafts. But I think your sketches are fabulous and I hope your embarrassment is short-lived.

  5. Oh, my god. Just reading that passage made me shiver in wonder at your writing (which I do all the time when I'm over here!). I think my copy comes tomorrow -- at least I hope it does, so that I can bring it on my trip to the east coast on Sunday. I just can't wait. And thanks for telling us a bit about the process of self-publishing -- you are brave and hip to do it, as well as smart. Now here's my most important sentence: How can I help you to sell this book beyond the usual Facebook, blog thing? Seriously. How? Can you come out here and do a reading?

    1. Wow. I'm really touched by this, Elizabeth. I don't know what to do, really! I'm trying to educate myself quickly on marketing. It's not easy for me.

  6. I love your dad's comment. You come from a family of true artists. It explains a lot about you in the very best way. This is just so awesome.

  7. Well, you know I just loved the book. Loved it enough that I ordered it. Can't wait to hold it in my hot little hands. Ooh, I'll come visit so you can sign it for me, k? xoxo

  8. Thank you for sharing a bit about the self publishing process. Would you do it again? I think it is very brave and must require a while new bank of creativity even after birthing a novel. WOW. I agree... blue books are magnetic, Why is that? You 100% made the perfect choice in cover art, though any of those cool drawings would have fleshed out beautifully. Your end product is just the right amount of kitsch, which is what your novel offers. Love it all so much, and I love you too. Please keep writing. xoxo


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