Judging by the Cover

Never judge a book by its cover?!

Recently a major publishing house sent an e-mail asking me to vote on two different proposed book covers for a non-fiction work on financial scams. Clever marketing: Use a focus group to judge a product then market the product to that same group.

Obviously, the publisher knew enough to profile me and chose well, as both author and topic interest me.

Advice abounds on building a platform and knowing your readership.  Key question: Who is your reader?  Answer: Female. Romantic. Curious.

I asked my friend, a graphic artist, to design a mock-up cover for my manuscript One Dress, One Day. Naively, I believed accompanying artwork would make my proposal stand out. I sent mock-up covers to only two publishers. Nothing.

Of course, all the how-to-get-yourself-published advice columns and websites tell you the opposite. Perhaps I was influenced by Céline Dion’s story about how as a teenager, she wrapped her demo cassette with a big red bow then sent it to her future agent and husband, René Angélil. Too enthusiastic? Too late.  A lesson for me.

Fortunately, my artist friend became so involved in the manuscript that she begged for more. As a reader and artist, Joy responded to the drama, setting and pop culture but primarily became fascinated by the characters.  “What happened to the thief?” Joy kept asking me.  “And the baby?” [NO SPOILER ALERT]

At that point, my concept was a short hybrid text, a novellario, but now I am fleshing out my cast of quirky characters.  The thief, his lover, … this sounds like a lush Greenaway film with cannibalism. Rest assured, One Dress One Day resembles Almodóvar’s colourful cinema. A romantic romp in bittersweet Barcelona, circa 1990. Tapas and Sangria plus pop music within one dramatic 24-hour period.

Joy’s professional perspective not only led to the eye-catching illustration seen here but also reminded me to keep telling the story.  Rather like gossip, readers want more…   about the stolen wedding gown ensemble and how it touched the thief, the barmaid, the farmgirl, the blindman, the politician, his wife, the bride and groom plus the middle-age couple.

Here are the mock-ups. Which illustration did I prefer? The cover with a vague romantic couple in the background or the other with a blurb at the bottom of the image?   Flamenco? Taxi? 

Honestly, both covers inspire me to keep chronicling the lives touched by a stolen wedding gown.








Arriving by Taxi at the Grand Hotel

Setting:  San Sebastián or Donostia (Basque) lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay 20 km (12 miles) from the French border in the Basque Autonomous Community (Spain) Locals call themselves donostiarra (singular),  in Spanish and Basque.

A small city, it remains one of Spain’s most famous tourist destinations. San Sebastián,  was the European Capital of Culture in 2016. Events such as the eponymous international film festival (October) have given it an international dimension. Pedro Almodóvar just participated in the 2018 edition.

One of the port city’s landmarks is the Maria Cristina hotel, a five-star masterpiece that knew the mystery of Mata Hari and the Hollywood glamour of Elizabeth Taylor.

In One Dress, One Day, the jilted heroine, Inma, decides to travel there by bus from Barcelona. Quite a hike but she is determined to confront her politician-lover Gustavo Rubio, who is attending an emergency meeting at one of the most glamorous grand hotels in town.

Always a stand-out, Inma knows her arriving late  without luggage looks suspicious. She has just had a brush at the bus terminal with starchy Doña Alfonsa. Here is what follows:

“Aware of the older woman’s disapproval, Inma hurried out onto a side street where she intended to hail a cab quickly and reach the María Cristina Hotel before midnight. Obviously this had to be the PSOE’s meeting place. The taxi left her unceremoniously at the impressive staircase of the grand hotel. Inma did not wish to make a splash anyway.  Keenly aware of her surroundings, she strode up to the brass-framed revolving doors with as much confidence as possible.”


OOPS! onedressoneday is a blog for brides… not mine


One Dress One Day is a blog for all brides. Enjoy things that are traditional, modern, unique, and creative to help you create the perfect wedding day.

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A Short Evocative Title

Dolor y gloria (2019)

A Short Evocative Title, à la Almodóvar    

The director’s Julieta was supposed to be his English-language debut – a sweeping adaptation of the Nobel Prize-winning Canadian author’s work with Meryl Streep. But then, much like an Alice Munro story, life got in the way!

To use a cliché, no problema.

Pedro Almodóvar is getting the band back together. The Spanish filmmaker will reunite with two of his former stars, Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, for Dolor y gloria. The movie ( literal translation: power and glory) becomes his 21st feature film.

Unlike many of Almodóvar’s most famous works, Dolor y gloria  will center around a male protagonist.

The protagonist, played by Antonio Banderas, is a movie director in his twilight years reflecting on his career. Some of the people the retired director recalls are his first loves, his mother, and actors with whom he worked from the 1960s to the 1980s.

The plot details confirmed for Dolor y gloria  might sound like Almodóvar is creating his own version of Federico Fellini’s 8½. The storyline suggests Banderas’ character (Dolor) may resemble that of  Guido Anselmi, played by Marcello Mastroianni in the Fellini film.  Actresses Penélope Cruz and Julieta Serrano play women from Banderas’ past.

Dolor y gloria will mark Banderas’ first Almodóvar feature since 2011’s The Skin I Live In. The actor was a staple of the director’s early career, having starred in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989).  Of course, Cruz has won best actress at Cannes. In fact, she was nominated for an Oscar for her work in the haunting Volver (2006), considered one of Almodóvar’s finest works.

Why Pedro Almodóvar?

As a Canadian translator with some Spanish blood, I have been a fan of this famous cineaste since his first international hit, Mujeres al borde de una crisis de nervios (1988), frequently shortened to Women on the Verge in English. I follow on twitter his film production company El Deseo, now run by his younger brother. I have contacted El Deseo twice and received a polite acknowledgement of receipt at least.  My desire (pun intended) is to be able to meet Pedro Almodóvar someday.  I tried to meet Jean-Paul Gaultier who has created costumes for two of Pedro’s films but failed last year in Montreal.  It is starting to sound like I’m a teenaged fanatic or a stalker, no? I simply would like to discuss my novellario project with him, maybe over tapas! I do dream in colour, as they say. Vivid colour, like Almodóvar’s films.

Again, Why Almodóvar?

Almodóvar’s tales lend life a sense of the uncanny mixed with 
telenovela chic. Casts usually include strong, daring women.  
At times playful, Almodovar’s cinematography corresponds to my vision; i.e., his energetic use of space, shape and colour.
His original choice of music always strikes a chord with me. 
The soundtracks of  his films evoke both the multi-faceted character of Spain and incredible plot twists.
The latest film has reportedly wrapped up filming and is slated to open in 2019.
PROXIMAMENTE as they say in Spanish. I say “I can’t wait”!

Inma’s Shrine Includes Famous Almodovar Poster

Inma’s appartment was like a doll’s house. Amazing how her aspirations could be seen in every nook and cranny.  Of course her lover, Rubio, did not pay attention to much beyond her bed and butt.  A quick glance around her humble abode reveals…

“In the south corner, above the old-fashioned radiator, there was a shrine to each of her idols or goals.  Half a wall was filled with celebrity clippings and classic or blockbuster movie posters including a tough John Travolta and angelic Olivia Newton John embracing in Grease; the loud, colorful images from Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios. Another corner held miscellaneous memorabilia of old Hollywood, including the Casa Blanca classic frame of Bogart and Bergman, plus a laughing Marilyn on her fishnet haunches in Bus Stop. Sloppily painted ceramic souvenirs lined a simple shelf above her bed:  an orange burro whose side baskets served as toothpick holders, a terra cotta bonbon dish Saludos desde Granada and a miniature Asturian clog inscribed Para mi madrina on one side and Oviedo on the front.  This last clunky thing she treasured as a gift from her sister’s twin boys for whom she was both aunt and godmother. Her library included El Feng Shui para todos, Cantos nuevos by Lorca, something by Castaneda and a warped abridged Spanish-English dictionary from her school days.”

How much do your surroundings tell about you?  How deep into your dwelling can a visitor dig?

In method acting, an actress would want to know what is in her character’s handbag so as to prepare for the role.

What would be in Inma’s medicine cabinet or pantry?  These details speak volumes.


ALMODOVAR in Inma’s Apartment

Inma’s tiny apartment is that of a barmaid, would-be singer, starstruck señorita.

The décor describes her best.

“Half a wall was filled with celebrity clippings and classic or blockbuster movie posters including a tough John Travolta and angelic Olivia Newton John embracing in Grease; the loud, colorful images from Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios.

Of course, Inma’s books, magazines, bibelots, and furniture have not been mentioned yet.

Books may be deceiving. People often keep books to keep up appearances or because they hate to throw away school material. (Maybe there will be a test?)

I once visited the room of a new beau whose books matched my tastes, Camus, Genet, Nelligan, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, … Later I found out these volumes were left behind by a roommate. To my chagrin, I found that out too late. In One Dress, One Day, Inma also learns about judging and appearances.


Dir: Pedro Almodovar

Film critics speak of idiom. In linguistics the terms is technical. In Spanish, un idioma is a language. In ALMODOVAR’s cinema, idiom means his vast repertory of images that make the viewer breathe, feel, smell Spain.  Like magic, almost magic realism. This director captures the power of a headkerchief plus the creamy lipstick of his leading ladies, including Penelope Cruz.



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