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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: author photos, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 13 of 13
1. Advice for Getting Author Photos You Love

The email from my editor’s assistant popped into my inbox, the subject line glaring at me: Author Photo… (dun dun dun duuuuunnnn…)

If you’re like me, the thought of a professional author photo is both exciting and terrifying. I knew exactly what I wanted: a photo that would have almost magical qualities—a picture of me that would look good, and yet somehow also perfectly represent the real me to my readers.

I approached this task with dread. However, I am happy to say that, here on the other side of the process, I have pictures I LOVE.

Some of my positive experience is owed to planning; some of it is owed to luck. I did do some research. I looked at A LOT of author photos, and made decisions about preferences: color over of black and white, outside over inside, smiling over serious. So that much was planned. Luck entered in when it was time to find a photographer. Just before I started searching, my son and his girlfriend (who are both graduating from NYU’s New Studio on Broadway,) had actor headshots taken. My son raved about his experience with Amanda Pinto and Jake Nathanson of Sub/Urban Photography, told me about other authors they had photographed, and suggested I reach out to them. He also gave me the link to their website, (sub-urbanphotography.com,) which overflows with beautiful examples of their work. (Though I credit good luck with bringing me to Sub/Urban Photography, finding the right photographer does not require good luck–read on!)

When I emailed Amanda and Jake, I let them know what I was looking for, and they walked me through questions about clothing, locations, and whether I wanted to hire the freelance hair and make-up artist they work with. All these discussions were important, but after the choice of photographer, I would say the choice to hire a professional stylist had the greatest impact on my results. Alex Rivera, the freelance hair and make-up artist I worked with, not only listened to my thoughts about what I wanted, he had the training and experience to know how to achieve it. My son’s girlfriend, (who–like me–has long hair,) mentioned how great it was to know that there was someone standing by with a brush while she was being photographed outside in the wind. Sold.

In the end, this experience I’d been dreading turned out to be an incredibly pleasant and relaxing day. I rode the train to New York, met the team downtown, and after hair and make-up, we headed out to the streets of the East Village and Soho. (Yes, we shot outside on the street! Amanda and Jake knew where they could find lots of light and very little traffic.) Afterwards, I was sent a huge batch of proofs, out of which I chose three to be edited. (The results are attached at the bottom of this post.)

I was so happy with how everything turned out, I asked Amanda and Jake if they would contribute to this post. In response, they provided some excellent questions that authors should ask themselves, as a type of checklist before choosing a photographer. I’m thrilled to be able to share them with you:

First question to ask – Is this photographer a portrait photographer?

This seems like an obvious question, but it’s actually very important. Many photographers have different specialties, whether it’s event photography, weddings, live performance, art-specific work, etc. So for example, if you have a friend that takes photos and will take your author photo for cheap (or maybe even free), have you seen their portrait work and do they seem to have a knack for it? A portrait, especially one that goes on the back of a book, needs to reflect who you are as a writer. This doesn’t mean that if you wrote a serious book that you have to have a serious picture, but what about your personality plays a big part in your writing? Are you playful? Are you soulful? Are you witty? Photographers with portrait experience, especially with actor headshots, have to have that extra ability to make people comfortable enough to be themselves on camera. So if this photographer is a portrait photographer, you’ll be able to see that reflected in their work. Does it consist of beautifully composed pictures with people smiling awkwardly and stuck in tense poses? Or are you looking at an honest moment captured on camera?

Second question – Does the photographer typically work with non-actors?

Even though having headshot experience is almost crucial for taking an author photo, it’s just as important for the photographer to know how to work with people that aren’t used to being on camera. A great deal of photographers, especially those that work in major cities like NYC or LA, can be actor headshot centric. Look through the photographer’s work and see if they have anything like corporate portraits, family portraits, candids, etc., and see how they compare to the actor headshots. Do they seem just as natural as the headshots? If so, that shows you that they can use those interpersonal skills even on the otherwise camera shy. You know that they can help guide you through the shoot without expecting you to know exactly how to act or pose beforehand.

Third question to ask – Do you know anyone who has used the photographer?

So many of our new clients come to us through recommendations from prior clients. Honestly, these are the people you need to ask the most questions. They’ve been on your side of the shoot and were satisfied with how it all turned out, but why? Ask them what the shoot was like, how long it took, how much it cost, where did they take you (if it was an outdoor shoot,) etc. I would hesitate to use any photographer unless you know someone who has worked with them in the past and can answer your questions objectively. Just because they had a positive experience with them, or even a negative one, doesn’t mean you will have the same one. You may prefer someone that’s bubbly vs. neutral, fast vs. slow, and so on and so forth. The best possible situation, however, is you can get a consensus on this photographer from more than one person. If you know a handful of people who have used the photographer, each of them being from different professions and with different personalities, and they unanimously agree they had a positive experience, then chances are you’ve found the right person to work with.

Thank you so much, Sub/Urban Photography! I love my photos! (The one in the middle is the one I chose for the book jacket.)

Julie 1julie book jacketJulie 2

What kind of experiences have you had with author photos? As a member of the The Sweet 16s, I know many authors who are in different stages of the process. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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2. Author Photos

Hey Friends!

I’m in the exciting and fun phase of choosing an author photo for my book (Eeeeek!). My lovely fiance Russell Gearhart took the below portraits. I like them all so much I don’t know which one to pick. I’d love to hear your opinion. What would you like to see on the book jacket?

Please leave a comment below.


Thanks for your input everyone!

10 Comments on Author Photos, last added: 8/4/2014
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3. The thrill of seeing your name on your first book

I now have copies of my very first YA book–The Last Dragon! (grinning) On Saturday, I went to lunch at the editor’s house with my fellow writers from the Dragon Speaker series–Debbie Ouellet and Erin Thomas. We signed copies to each other, and received some copies of our own book.

What a thrill to see my name on the cover, to open up the book and see the dedication I’d written, and the story, the words that I wrote!

All the way home on the subway, I kept taking one of the copies of my book out of the back, grinning at the cover, reading a few pages, then putting it back. I’d stare at the cover peeking out from the top of the bag. I kept wanting to turn to strangers on the subway and wave my book at them, saying “I wrote this! This is MY book!” It took great restraint not to do that. (laughing) I satisfied myself by showing my book to a store clerk who I’ve had interactions with before, and she was lovely and excited with me.

Dragon Speaker Series authors - top, left to right: Cheryl Rainfield, Erin Thomas; bottom: Deb Ouellet

Dragon Speaker Series authors - top, left to right: Cheryl Rainfield, Erin Thomas; bottom: Deb Ouellet. And yes, that's a Wonder Woman belt I'm wearing. :)

Here's each of us holding a copy of our book in the order they appear in the Dragon Speaker series: Cheryl Rainfield with The Last Dragon; Deb Ouellet with A Hero's Worth; and Erin Thomas with Draco's Fire.

Here's each of us holding a copy of our book in the order they appear in the Dragon Speaker series: Cheryl Rainfield with The Last Dragon; Deb Ouellet with A Hero's Worth; and Erin Thomas with Draco's Fire.

Erin Thomas was savvy enough to ask for a photo with our editor, Paul Kropp (also a children's/YA writer); he's poking his head out behind Deb and me.

Erin Thomas was savvy enough to ask for a photo with our editor, Paul Kropp (also a children's/YA writer); he's poking his head out behind Deb and me.

Erin also managed to get a photo of Lori Jamison, the author of the 32-page teacher's guide for all the Dragon Speaker books.

Erin also managed to get a photo of Lori Jamison, the author of the 32-page teacher's guide for all the Dragon Speaker books.

8 Comments on The thrill of seeing your name on your first book, last added: 9/8/2009
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4. great signing at Indigo Yorkdale

Mahtab, Cheryl, Neesha, and Helene at our book stand

I really enjoyed the signing at Indigo Yorkdale. The staff were incredibly helpful and thoughtful, especially one man (I wish I’d gotten his name, but I arrived rushed). I had fun talking with my fellow authors Helene Boudreau, Mahtab Narsimhan, and Neesha Meminger; we had some great conversations. And I tried to make sure we were approachable, and not just sitting behind a table (which I can find intimidating, myself). I called out hello to people when they came near or walked by, and a few times I got up and invited teens from the teen section to come talk to us and ask us any questions about writing or anything if they wanted to. That was a bit outside my comfort zone, but I wanted to make sure we were engaging people.

Cheryl, Helene, Mahtab (in back), and Neesha, all at our table

I was honest with the teens when they asked about Scars and my arm. One girl said “And I thought I had it bad at home,” and kept asking me more. After a long discussion, a bunch of teen girls asked me to sign bookmarks for them, which I thought was sweet.

our table, all set up

It was also lovely to see some people I’d only met on FaceBook, such as Christie Harken, and also other fellow writers who came by to support us such as Gillian O’Reilly. And it was also lovely to sell some books! There weren’t quite as many people as there might normally have been, since it was Easter weekend, but it was a good experience, and I think we all had fun.

our books on display next to our table

I liked that we had freebies to give away. I had three different bookmarks (each have different tips about dealing with self-harm on the back) and cards; Helene had bookmarks and buttons; and Mahtab had postcards.

I have trouble smiling for photos sometimes (the child porn stuff I went through as a kid), but I think these photos turned out pretty well. It helps that I was with people I liked!

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5. Author Photos -- My Epic Fails

With my new book, BookSpeak!, coming out, I knew it was time to update my official author photo. The last time I put one up was just before Stampede came out in 2009. (Fiona Bayrock and I posted our thoughts on author photos then on our Bubble Stampede blog.) I hate having my picture taking. Group photos are OK. Individual photos, not so much. I look bad in most pictures.

I got out our digital camera with timer and spent a couple of hours one morning messing around with it, trying to get a decent shot. I wanted an outdoor shot, but with the camera perched on a deck post and me running around to the yard estimating where I thought I needed to be in 10 seconds...um, the results were iffy, at best. Here are some of the better fails.

I moved indoors for the shot instead!

I also went to the arboretum down the street to try to get a few pix of me with leaves. When my spring book comes out, about leaves, the publisher will have a webpage for me, and I thought it might be fun to have a leafy picture. I had seen a few cool pictures recently of faces mostly hidden by leaves and thought that might be fun to try.

Wrong again. I stalked around the arboretum like a fool, standing almost inside small trees, taking pictures of myself.

Not artsy. Just creepy and/or lame. Then, to make matters worse, I uploaded these images to Facebook last night and didn't Publish them. Just wanted to be able to copy them to use here. But I forgot to set the Album Privacy to me only. Oops.

Anyway, I did put new author photos on my site. I don't love them, but I don't hate them enough to mess with the whole thing anymore. I'm safe for another couple of years!

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6. Author Photos

Hey Friends!

I’m in the exciting and fun phase of choosing an author photo for my book (Eeeeek!). My lovely fiance Russell Gearhart took the below portraits. I like them all so much I don’t know which one to pick. I’d love to hear your opinion. What would you like to see on the book jacket?

Please leave a comment below.


Thanks for your input everyone!

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7. New York Times Figures Out Aggregators

This must be some kind of a tipping point. Users won’t know this as “RSS,” but the mainstream march continues.

New York Times goes aggregator

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8. GTD with GR

John over at Library Clips does an amazing job of explaining just how detailed you can get using RSS aggregators to become more efficient by setting up a Getting Things Done implementation in Google Reader. It may even make your head swim a little. Me, I’m nowhere near this level of productivity, but it’s good to see someone else taking full advantage. As with all software, John is a power user and the other 99% of us will never achieve this level, but see if there are any tips (and sites) here that you can incorporate into your own routines.

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9. Marketing Tasks: Three Months Out

It’s hard to believe that TEN LUCKY THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED TO ME SINCE I NEARLY GOT HIT BY LIGHTENING will be out in just three months, but it will. And it’s a great example of how the pre-publication time flies by and why it’s so important to stay organized and on top of your Promotional To Do List.

The bulk of promotional and marketing tasks to be accomplished this month have to do with press and promotional materials.

Now is a good time to begin putting together a full spectrum wardrobe of author bios. As we’ve talked about before, they can be devilishly hard to write, and you’ll need a variety of sizes. A very clever example of these varying-in-detail type bios can be found on Shannon Hale’s website. As we’ve said before here at SVP, it’s nice to have a 50 word, 100 word, and 300 word bio on hand for the various requirements of those who will ask you for them. But start playing with them now and trying a number of approaches and angles. If you start now, you may just have one you like in three months. Maybe.

This is also a good time to think about getting an author photo. You’d be surprised how often you’ll be asked for one, and if you give yourself enough lead time, you can wait for a good hair week to set up the photo shoot.

Another thing to begin thinking about at this three month mark is a press kit and whether or not you’ll want to put one together. A press kit, for those of you who don’t know, is a nice folder that contains information about you and your book, usually with the intention of being sent to the press so they can have all the information at their fingertips should they care to write about you or your book. A press kit might contain a short and long author bio, an author photo, a color postcard of the book cover, maybe a short interview with you answering some basic author FAQs about how you came to write the book, your path to publication, etc.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have yet to send out a press kit on myself. (Bad Violet!!) I did, however, send out many, many of them when I worked for a non-fiction publisher.

And lastly, I recommend getting some high quality, color postcards of your book cover. I know that Mary’s been researching the pricing on these, but I’m not sure if she’s ordered them yet. Usually, it’s a pretty simple and straightforward process and there isn’t much graphic designing involved, so it lends itself well to a do-it-yourself (read budget!) type production. But because it does involve graphic production and print time, it pays to get started early. Plus, you'll want to have them back in time to mail out before your launch date!

2 Comments on Marketing Tasks: Three Months Out, last added: 4/8/2008
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10. looking at you sideways

I don't know. You turn your (still extremely jet-lagged, just in the opposite direction) back for one moment and the tabs to be closed are already breeding...

First, the big sadness: Cody's Bookshop has closed completely. http://www.boingboing.net/2008/06/21/codys-books-of-berke.html
I've loved doing signings and events with Cody's over the years, thought they were special and will miss them very much. It makes me glad that Kepler's is still in business,

I'm a Hachette author in the UK and much of the Commonwealth. I see that, from an Amazon-selling point of view, this might not be a good thing to be.

I guess I'll start finding other places to link to when I want to point to books. Amazon is always the easiest way to link, so it tends to be the place I default to.

I got a bit puzzled last year when my name got left off the National Theatre of Scotland production of "The Wolves In The Walls" at the New Victory (it was there as writer of the book the thing was based on, but not as co-adapter or as writer of most of the extra lyrics). Still, I felt that things had swung a bit far the other way when I saw this article from Variety on The New Victory winning the National Award for Excellence...

Here's the second part of a two part interview with Alan Moore at the Forbidden Planet blog (where you can learn what he thinks about Gordon Brown being petitioned by the public for an honour on Alan's behalf ):

The door to Hell. It's in Darvaz in Uzbekistan.

Weird Tales is blogging an entry a day on its 85 weirdest storytellers of the last 85 years.

I was thrilled by Sandman, the whole thing, being on the Entertainment Weekly top 50 new classics of the last 25 years, and baffled why, when they did the entry on what the longest work on their list was, they only listed the first volume of Absolute Sandman, rather than the whole thing. And googled to make sure that my friend Marc Bernardin was still working there to ask him (not that it's anything to do with him of course) and found myself reading this:

I met Miriam Berkeley on a plane in late 1988, on my first professional trip to the US, I think. She's a photographer who photographs authors -- here's an interview with her, along with some of her great author photos:


Hi, Mr. Neil!

Thought you might enjoy this:



That's cool: Turning wordclouds into art. I have to go and play with Wordle, don't I?

why do the characters in your children's book "The Dangerous Alphabet" look so very similar in appearance (hair color, eyes, clothing - even, somewhat, the shapes of their faces) to Al Columbia's beloved underground cartoon characters, "Pim and Francie"? The similarities are pretty uncanny. Are you and your illustrator very big fans of Al Columbia, or is it simply a very big co-incidence?

thank you for your time.


brent higgins

I'm not sure I've ever seen anything Al Columbia's drawn, apart from a promo piece for Big Numbers about 18 years ago, but I googled Pim and Francie, found a picture, and can't figure out what they have in common with the brother and sister in The Dangerous Alphabet apart from being male and female children, and his hair being lighter than hers. So it's a mystery to me too.

Sent some pictures of me taken for Time Out Sydney...

And here's a scan of the Entertainment Weekly photo page with my top ten on it. A photo almost unique in the history of pictures of me in magazines, for actually looking like me...

In my head Eddie Campbell whispers, "Ah. Righht. Another picture from the Neil Gaiman School of Looking at You Sideways.")

STOP PRESS: "The Witch's Headstone" (which will, later this year, be Chapter 4 of The Graveyard Book) won the Locus Award for best novelette. Thank you to all who voted for it, and to Gardner Dozois who accepted the award on my behalf. It's a really terrific list of winners, too.

From Locus:

Locus Awards Winners

Winners of this year's Locus Awards, voted by readers of Locus Magazine in the annual Locus Poll, were were announced this afternoon at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Seattle, at an event led by Master of Ceremonies Connie Willis.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)
Making Money, Terry Pratchett (Doubleday UK; HarperCollins)
Un Lun Dun, China Miéville (Ballantine Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill (Morrow; Gollancz)
"After the Siege", Cory Doctorow (The Infinite Matrix Jan 2007)
"The Witch's Headstone", Neil Gaiman (Wizards)
"A Small Room in Koboldtown", Michael Swanwick (Asimov's Apr/May 2007)
The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, Connie Willis (Subterranean)
The New Space Opera, Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, eds. (Eos)
Breakfast in the Ruins, Barry N. Malzberg (Baen)
The Arrival, Shaun Tan (Lothian 2006; Scholastic)
Ellen Datlow
Charles Vess

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11. Poetry Friday: Photo Meme and Comic Strips

Meme Rules:

Take a picture of yourself right now.
Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair -- just take a picture.
Post that picture with NO editing.
Post these instructions with your picture.


Then I went all Top Model and tried to do "Tyra Eyes."

It's harder than it looks, I swear.

I gave up and went for Comic Book Me.

I like this one. A lot.
What's the big deal about being two-dimensional?

In case you've missed them, the Poetry Foundation is doing a series called "The Poem as Comic Strip." Here's the beginning of the poem they've chosen for #6:


by A.E. Stallings

Every night, we couldn’t sleep.
Our upstairs neighbors had to keep
Dropping something down the hall—
A barbell or a bowling ball,

And from the window by the bed,
Echoing inside my head,
Alley cats expended breath
In arias of love and death.

Read the rest (as a comic strip) here. Look for the link at the bottom of the introduction.

Graphics by Maui-born artist, R. Kikuo Johnson.
Or for the straight text by poet A.E. Stallings, here.

And if you have PhotoBooth on a Mac, I'd like to see a ComicBook version of YOU. Please.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Author Amok.

9 Comments on Poetry Friday: Photo Meme and Comic Strips, last added: 9/25/2008
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12. The story so far....

posted by Neil
I seem to be spending the day recovering -- napping and sleeping and waking and not doing much of anything, really. It's wonderful. Perhaps tomorrow I will have a functioning head again. Not today.

So, for those of you following the story, Coraline came out yesterday. (Here's the Metacritic what the reviewers are saying list. It's at 80%. This is incredibly good.) The box office estimates and tracking had us coming in in 5th or 6th place for the weekend. It's now looking like we'll be in a healthy  third place, and that a lot more people than anyone expected are going to see it.

Which is good for Coraline, and good for Laika, and good for the Portland animation world, and good for Henry, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't good for me.

Now, none of this would have happened if Henry Selick and his amazing team of fabricators and animators hadn't worked miracles. A lot of this is to do with the amazing reviews the film has been getting over the last few days.  A lot of it has to do with Focus Films' serious advertising on TV for the film. But in addition that, I like to think that a lot of it has to do with the work that Weiden+Kennedy have been doing over the last few months. Things like the Koumpounophobia Trailer, or the spooky trailer, or the boxes for bloggers, or the keys, all come from them, and if adults were being encouraged to go, or reassured that it wasn't just a kids' movie, it came primarily from them.

This is the Weiden Kennedy blog entry on what they did, that takes yo backstage and thanks everyone involved http://blog.wk.com/2009/02/shes-heeeeere.html. And I want to thank them, too.

(Incidentally, before we leave the subject of film critics, for the record, it's even more fun getting thumbs up from Messrs Hill and Wheaton than you might imagine. And you probably imagine it's an awful lot of fun.)

Not a question: when they´re taking your pictures, stop talking!!! They took funny pictures of you during Coraline´s premiere! Tell miss Maddy she look terrific in green!

The trouble is, most of the time the cameras are flashing. It's not one guy taking a picture of you: it's dozens of people all with cameras. And sometimes you know your picture is being taken, and you shut up and smile (or don't smile) but often you don't know, and sometimes you're in the middle of talking to someone when the flashes go off, and mostly then, if you're me, you just keep talking. 

Sorry about that. Let me make it up to you: Here's an article from Toronto, mostly about me and Toronto, that I'm only posting because I like the photo. Mostly, I don't like photos of me. But I like this one. And look, I'm not talking.

And Maddy's green dress was truly adorable. As, of course, is she.

Hi Neil,

just wanted to know if you had the chance to see the German Edition of your fracking amazing Graveyard Book ?
I saw it a few days ago in a local Book Store - the book is inside a Metal Box - very neat ! :)




That's beautiful. I'd heard they were doing the books inside metal boxes, but hadn't seen them yet.


The Coraline Haiku competition for tickets to last Thursday night's premiere.

And this came in from my friend John Lorentz, and is a terrific round-up of the news from Portland, including the premiere, and some TV:


From the Oregonian's web site:


KGW (the NBC station):


KOIN (the CBS station)


KATU (the ABC station):


KPTV (the Fox station):


It's been strange to randomly hear your voice from various local TV
and radio newscasts during the last day.  And several of the news
people picked up your Twitterings and passed them on in the articles.

Hope you and Maddy had a good time last night.


And we did, and we were, and now we are glad to be home.

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13. Golden breakfast things...

posted by Neil
It's a beautiful day. Kyle my photographer houseguest is off down the creek taking photographs. 

you will see a photo that he took of me and my dog the evening before last, when the light was golden and it turned the dandelion clocks into sparkles. (Probably Bill Stiteler will turn it into another of his toe-curlingly evil "Hey Girl" pictures.)

(He is out to get art made, as you will learn from the caption.)

I think that this amateur Wolves In the Walls fanart is my favourite photograph of recent vintage though.

which begins,
You are inside Neil Gaiman's mind. (Hands and feet must stay within the car at all times. Management not responsible, etc.)

Please note -- now coming into view on your left -- a highly unusual conglomeration. The phrase "a jumbled, jammed-together mess" might be an apt way to describe it, as would the adjective "higgledy-piggledy." There are fantastic creatures of every size and shape and color; a flaming arch leading into 37 alternative dimensions; a button; a crumbling staircase; a battered-looking witch's hat; a row of brooding Doric columns; a headless doll; a few hounds of hell, snapping and straining at their leashes; a peanut butter sandwich; a talking cat; a disembodied bloodshot eye; and the occasional troll.Currently visible on your right, my friends, is an ancient scroll upon which is written the minute particulars of your destiny -- yet sadly, another line of it disappears each time you lean close and try to make out the words. (Sit down, please -- you have been warned!)

Which is a fine way to start a newspaper article, if you ask me. Possibly the best way.


And I am getting emails from people who have found copies of CRAZY HAIR in book shops, so I think it has started to trickle out into the world, although according to Amazon the official release date is Tuesday. 


Oops. They're all back from the creek. Gotta go.  (I've made bubble and squeak and poached local duck eggs for breakfast.)

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