Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jacket Photo Madness

My bedroom looked like clearance day at the What Was I Thinking House of Fashion.
“What’s taking so long?’’ asked my husband, accustomed to a no-frills spouse.
My glare sent him fleeing for the TV room.
I hadn’t put this much effort into my appearance since I was fifteen, sneaking out of the house to see Grand Funk Railroad.
Honestly, I’m not normally obsessed with the external. I think I’m stylin’ when I get out of my writer-at-home sweatpants and into slacks with a zipper.
Even so, preparing to take my jacket photo for my first book put me in a tizzy. Imagine having just one authorly image to present to the literary world. Or, at least to the portion of the world that purchases paperback mysteries.

As any woman of a certain age will tell you, the camera is no friend. And my publisher’s posing guidelines ban the favorite tricks of the fifty-something set. No arms or hands in the head-shot, they said -- meaning no propping my chin on my fists to tighten the ol' neck wattle. No animals, either. Probably to cut down on the number of mystery novelists cuddling pet cats under middle-aged chins.
I wasn't going to use a kitty. My mysteries are set in Florida’s cattle belt, so I wanted to peek over the back of a Brahman cow. Too bad I can't, since a heifer that size was bound to make me look slim.
My husband, Kerry, poked in his head again. “Why don’t you try a scarf,’’ he suggested helpfully.
“I can’t wear a scarf,’’ I said, my voice rising like Naomi Campbell in supermodel melt-down. “Every one will think I’m just using it to hide my neck!’’
Confiscating the sharp objects off my dresser, he backed out the door.
I used the privacy to work on my …. uhm, profile . . . by hefting up my bra straps. But there’s only so much give before the garment becomes a garrote. Since the publisher also bans mystery writer cliches like fedoras and collar-up trench coats, posing in a strangulation device would surely be frowned upon.
After all my crazed preparation, my news photographer friend had to reschedule our shoot. I have another week to decide who I want to be for this photo. Which isn't nearly enough time to lose 10 pounds, discover the real me, AND find the perfect scarf.