Friday, August 16, 2013

Angela Knight is a Sexist Pig

By Angela Knight
Yep, you read that right. I was shocked too. I mean, I’m a feminist. I don’t believe people should be judged by their appearance. If some male confessed he expected a woman to be dumb because she was blonde, gorgeous, and had impressive headlights, I would be the first to accuse him of oinking.
Yet last week I discovered I was guilty of the same kind of thinking, only in reverse.
Like many mortal sins, this one took place in Vegas. My husband and I attended the RNC Convention Aug. 7-11.
I will admit, I didn’t have high expectations. This was the first year for RNC, and the first time you put on any big event, there are going to be bugs to iron out.
Attendance was part of an all-inclusive package of $250 for five nights at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, which I knew to be an older hotel. So given the fabulous deal, I expected the venue to be a bit seedy, and the event itself to be a little disorganized. Especially since Jimmy Thomas, cover model and RNC’s CEO, had never put on a conference before. (And yes, the huge, gorgeous hunk on the banner is Jimmy.)
I didn’t think any of that sounded encouraging.
I was wrong. The hotel has been renovated, and it’s huge. Among its attractions are a three-level pool with water slide. Now, plenty of hotels have a water slide, but this one is enclosed, and it shoots through a shark tank. With actual sharks.
Then there’s the Grotto, a seafood restaurant with a floor to ceiling tropical aquarium and an amazing menu; I loved the swordfish.  
The food was fabulous, and thanks to the deal Jimmy wrangled for us, we got $300 worth of meals at our choice of the hotel’s nine restaurants for $75. (There were other deals, but that was the one I picked.)
As for the classes, I learned great tips about book covers, promotion, and self-defense. (!?) I’ve gone to a lot of conferences over the past nine years, and it’s rare I find out something new in every class.

Too, Fiona Jayde designed this really nice banner and conference ad for me. The actual banner itself was sturdy and easy to put up; kudos to Jimmy, who worked the deal for the banners for his attendees.
Being a cover artist, I actually created a design myself, only to have Jimmy present me with two designs Fiona did for me. I instantly realized that Fiona’s were much better than mine, and so I went with hers.
By the way, my husband Mike and I went out to dinner with Fiona, who is delightful as well as a damned good cover artist. I really like her work.
So how did I find out the sexist pig thing? Well, part of the reason my expectations were a little low is because I didn’t know Jimmy.
Now, mind you, I love shopping for cover novel photos at his website,  Jimmy really understands women’s fantasies, and he knows exactly how to play to them when he poses. During a couple of different classes on creating memorable covers and swag, he gave us some great tips on the topic.
One of his points is that he has the photographer shoot a lot of images, then he just lets his eye skim over them to see which one pops out. He puts those on the site, because they’ll be more likely to draw the attention of romance readers.
He also stressed that what you’re looking for in a good cover is strong emotion, whether it’s a sense of sensual heat for erotic romance or tenderness for sweet romance.
Hand posing is very important in creating that emotion. When you’re aiming for passion, he said the fingers should dig into the skin of the other person, because that’s what you do when you’re that turned on.
Eyes are also important: both people should be looking at one another, not gazing off-screen. Which makes sense: if you were with Jimmy, would you be staring blankly into space?
I didn’t think so.
The models’ arms and legs should be bent, forming triangular shapes rather than extended into stiff, straight lines that lead the eye off the cover.
You want the reader’s gaze to circle around inside the image. If the characters’ eyes, the arms or the legs are pointed off-screen, he said, you’ll destroy the effect.
Jimmy is 6 feet tall, but he says he prefers to pose with women 5'2" or so on his covers because he wants to create the sense that the hero is physically overwhelming compared to her. (Though I’m tall, and I still found Jimmy physically overwhelming. He may not be 6’3”, but that is still one big human being.)
He said even if the woman crouches, the length of her arms and the size of her hands will unconsciously bother the viewer, because they’ll reveal she’s much taller than she looks.
So today I took his tips and went shopping  at Jimmy’s site,
Royalty-free high-resolution print-ready photographs are just $15, which is a great deal. I bought nine of them, including those shown here. A couple of them I got not because I have a book for them, but because they give me ideas for books I can’t wait to write.

Take the one on the left. I love this image. Look at his face. It just screams, “Yeah, she’s got me right now, but I’m gonna get loose in about five minutes and bang her like a kettle drum.”
Ah do declare, he’s givin’ me the vapors.
Then there’s the one below with BDSM Barbie and the guy on the other end of her leash. There's a whole book in this one shot. How did she get the drop on him, why did she do it, and what’s he going to do when he gets loose?
And he will get loose if I write it, because that’s just the kind of perv I am.
Like I said, Jimmy knows his stuff, and he understands romance readers in a way few men do.
Which brings me to the self-defense class he taught with Fiona. Most of those class things at conferences are fun to watch, but you wouldn’t be able to actually use those techniques if you were in danger.
I was attacked once, and I completely froze. I couldn’t move at all while the guy beat me like Apollo Creed whaling away on Sylvester Stallone at the end of Rocky. All I could do was scream, which did eventually drive him off.
Jimmy demonstrated how just digging your fingers into the notch of the collarbone can inflict pain enough to dissuade an attacker and give you a chance to run like hell.
Then he asked for someone to help him demonstrate how to fight off someone with a knife. He needed a partner taller than he is to do the move he had in mind. And since that described only one person in the room, my 6’3” husband sighed and volunteered. 
Mike’s been a cop for 25 years, and he knows something about self-defense. He said he was tempted to counter Jimmy’s move to see what he’d do. “But I was afraid he’d hurt me.”
Besides, the sight of my big hubby and Jimmy going at it would probably have given me the vapors…
I did mention my pervy streak, right?
Anyway, about the sexist pig thing…I must admit part of the reason I didn’t expect much from the conference is that I figured any guy who looked like Jimmy would have the IQ of a Cobb Salad.
Say it with me, girls: “Oink. Oinkoinkoink.”
Jimmy’s actually damned smart, he knows romance readers, and he has insights about art, covers and photography romance writers would do well to listen to.
I enjoyed RNC, which is going to be at the Golden Nugget again next year. I hope to attend it if my writing schedule allows.
And Jimmy, I promise to do a lot less oinking.

1 comment:

Rae Monet said...

Had a great time as well with you guys! That class was awesome! I love Jimmy, he knows his craft for sure!