Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Past Lives


Reclining Model,
Sir William Russell Flint, RA,
sanguine on English India paper, c. 1840.

That model looks like me in the morning before I've crawled out of bed and had that first cup of coffee.

Biographies.

Every writer should have a short and snappy bio on hand.

Or several.

A good exercise in judicious selection of the facts.

And tone.

Tone depends on the project.

I noticed bios included at the end of the funny and satiric collection Did You say Chicks?! - while furnishing some or all of the standard resume information ( credits, occupation, location, education, marital status, off-spring and/or pets) - all provided an irreverent take on at least one of the above.

In bios, it seems one should conduct oneself accordingly. Whether it's mystery, raunch, literary or whatever, suit the mini-bio to the subject.

What Comes Around:
James' new book, The Writing on the Wall , is due to be released by Wild Child Publishing soon or tomorrow. James not only produces edge-of-your-seat prose - he's one of the best at plot and pace - the book has an absolutely killer cover. (You may have to scroll down to last Monday to see it.)

Groaner Q & A:
This one's for Jaye...
Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
A: Frostbite.


29 comments:

Vesper said...

Oh, I like very much the drawing - it is warm, and lazy, and sensual, it speaks to me of time to indulge in whatever your soul desires most (for me reading, or writing, or thinking...). How I wish I could look like that upon waking up in the morning. :-)

Congratulations for your story appearing in "Weirdly"!

Marianne McA said...

Nick Hornby wrote a lovely short story that was published in The Guardian this summer - 'J Johnson, A Writing Life.'

It had a very simple format - perhaps a dozen of J Johnson's bios strung together.
I didn't keep it, and the story isn't available online, but the bios were very simple, along the lines of - 'James Johnson works at such-and-such, Title of book is his first novel, James lives in Some Town with his wife Whoever'.

And over the years you met him as James, and Jim and Jimmy, saw him have children, move job, move location - saw him reinvent himself as a children's author, watched as his wife disappeared from his bio to be replaced with a new 'partner.'

I was really impressed by how much of a story Hornby told with such sparse and seemingly undesciptive snippets.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Vesper.
When I said I looked like that I was thinking of her rather stunned expression.

And I'll say again. You have a lovely blog.

A very clever application of "showing by telling," Marianne!

Jaye Wells said...

My own joke? Now i've arrived. Thanks, B.

One thing I see a lot in bios is the laundry list of wacky jobs held. It seems a tad overdone.

Bernita said...

Jaye, I imagine Spawn either has or soon will make you a present of similar groaners!

I agree.While I understand the urge to present oneself as unusual, unique,and different from the common horde,those bios end up sounding the same.

bunnygirl said...

What an interesting sketch. It looks very modern, not 1840s at all!

Bernita said...

Decollete dishabille is timeless, Bunny.

Charles Gramlich said...

To have a bio one must have a past. And who knows the past?

spyscribbler said...

I like that little bit of vulnerability on her face. She's pretty!

I gotta work on my bio. Ugh. Never did like the things!

Robyn said...

Then you must look pretty damn dishy first thing in the morning!

Am I the only one who doesn't really care if an author is a PhD who started as a ditch digger and lives in a cottage by the sea with fish and two dogs? Just write me a great story and I'll keep you in Alpo.

writtenwyrdd said...

I dread having to produce a bio. For one thing, I absolutely will not have a picture or discuss my work in the back of a book. So I think I'll take the Anne McCaffery style, which more or less says nothing charmingly. Or so I hope!

Bernita said...

That's why we're fiction writers, Charles...

An exercise in selective revelation, Natasha - and a major pain.

Robyn, at first sight of myself in the morning mirror I reel back in horror...

Usually, I don't care either. In fact, I do well to remember the author's name. But bios are an industry necessity.

Bernita said...

Elizabeth Peters also manages quite well, Written.

Church Lady said...

Very much easier said than done, but I agree with you. I believe everyone should update their bio every year, and I try to get my husband to do this (which is like asking him to switch off the golf channel). But I don't have one at all anymore, so I'm standing on thin ice.

Love the drawing!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Chris.
They are needed for more than book covers.

The Anti-Wife said...

Does, "she made a lot of mistakes and stupid choices but appears to have learned from them" constitute an acceptable bio?

Carla said...

Lovely drawing. I bet you have a killer bio :-)

Bernita said...

Nope. Who hasn't?
Instead, style yourself as " a Lady of Subtle Experience."

Bernita said...

You're back!
Thank you, Carla.
Nope. One very comme il faut...

Gabriele C. said...

You look rather pretty crawling just out of bed.

I look more like a vampire who hasn't got any blood for a week, my hair can take out Medusa's snakes any day, and my mood resembles that of Poseidon when he found out someone had grilled one of his bulls. :)

Bernita said...

Gabriele, I look stunned. And "crawl " is an accurate word.

"my hair can take out Medusa's snakes any day," - that's funny and clever!

Sam said...

Staring at picture of lovely lady lounging in bed. Thinks - 'she does look like she needs some coffee, but if I looked like that in the morning, WOW, what would I look like in the afternoon?'
LOL
Bios can be fun, and it's true that for some reason Anne McCaffery's stands out.

Bernita said...

When I look at that picture, Sam, I think :need coffee...:need shower...:need for eyes to uncross...

James Goodman said...

Trying to come up with a snappy bio has led me to cause death to many a braincell, lol.

suit the mini-bio to the subject I think you've nailed it here. Fabulous advice.

Thank you so much for the lovely compliments. They are much appreciated. :D

Bernita said...

Wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it, James.

Travis Erwin said...

I hate writing a bio but since the task usually accompanies a sell, it makes the chore a bit easier.

Seeley deBorn said...

I was making a bio in my head when I woke up this morning...

I like the one in which I have doctorate of parapsychology the best.

Bernita said...

Indeed, Travis. A genuine motivator.

The John F. Kennedy University used to have a graduate parapsychology program, Seeley, though I don't know if it still does.

Vesper said...

Bernita, you're too kind about my blog. Thank you so much.