Dinner with Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Companion in Zeor: Senior editor Karen MacLeod. This online version may have been  scanned and OCRd from the typewritten original and then reformatted for the web. Scanned by Ronnie Bob Whitaker


The Sime~Gen universe was created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. This story or its setting may not be reused without explicit permission of the copyright holder, Sime~Gen Inc.  This story copyright 1977, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Sime~Gen Inc. All rights reserved.




Illegal (but Kosher!) hot dogs in a hotel room.


BY: Janet Trautvetter, Karen Litman, Nancy Deacon, and

John Berkowicz -- with Bruce Litman


((Editorial notes on background idea for the article: It was suggested by Jacqueline that I, Karen, write to Sharon Jarvis at Doubleday to find out for the readers of CZ how decisions are made which finally result in the cover decided on a book. Many of the zines' readers were unhappy with the artwork chosen for the paperback/hardbound editions of JL's books. The correspondence which was initially sent by Jacqueline and Karen is re-printed as part of this article. Ms. Jarvis was most cooperative and sent inter-office memos, and other information which JL refers to in this piece. I wish to thank Ms. Jarvis for her time. -- K Litman))


The Augustrek '80 convention was the first time that Karen had seen JL in about two years. Jacqueline also met Nancy, John, Janet and Bruce; all of whom were working together on the zine sales table.


As is Karen's custom (and the usual custom of every seasoned convention-goer) a stocked collection of goodies was brought for sharing in the hotel room. This is frowned upon by the hotel, but conventioneers find it the best way to exist on the least amount of money. So with a packed larder of specific items, we invited Jacqueline to dinner one evening.


MENU:- Iced TRIN TEA; Hebrew National Kosher Hotdogs; Rolls; Sauerkraut; Relish and other condiments; Elios Pizza (a N. J. Specialty); Granola bars; other assorted 'munchies . . .'


So we plugged in the "Watta Pizzaria" a most efficient item, the hot dog making machine, the hot-pot; and we had an excellent (illegal) kitchen on the dresser. Then, we had a feast!??


Many different topics were discussed during the course of the evening, the major topic being the book cover discussion. We also covered some nice insight into MAHOGANY TRINROSE, and other things. . . . .




(transcribed from Cassette) Jacqueline:- Sharon assigned the paperback cover person the job of creating a "series" cover with FIRST CHANNEL ((FCh)). With UNTO it was not a series cover, the concept of a series was not really being considered. It was considered, but they didn't want to signal that -- they didn't go into any great pains to signal it was part of a series, except that it says 'The Long Awaited Sequel . . .' She assigned him the job of incorporating, somehow, without going into detail, the starred-cross symbol into the cover illustration. Sharon wants the starred-cross incorporated into all the covers of the Sime Series, even if it stretches a point across, and there is no use of the Starred-Cross in the book itself.

For FCh, the artist came up with the idea of chaining Kadi to a monumental starred-cross of cement or stone. I looked at it and I said, 'Yech!' However, at the foot of the starred-cross, in the foreground are two men -- beautiful, muscular, bronzed men -- in very artfully ripped shirts and pants. One with his helmet falling off (it looks like a motorcycle helmet). Both Simes, well muscled, GEN looking Simes with tentacles that look bionic - segmented, grey metal worms, worse than the ones on the UNTO cover. These men are fighting with whips. It may not be apparent on the final cover size, but it is on the original painting. But, there are two Sime men, fighting in front of a woman chained.

There is a scene in the book where Rimon attacks Jord; where Rimon is jealous. Jealousy is one of the things that happens in the book. We had a whole thing with the gypsies and the starred-cross in FCh but we had to delete it because we ran over ((in word limit)). The scenes with the gypsies appear in some other form in TRINROSE, but in the sequel to TRINROSE, I may handle it in more detail. That's why the FCh cover has a starred-cross, although it never appears in the book itself. The cover will be in shades of brown and orange.

I was just looking at the paperback racks lately, and some of the better selling books are in orange. This is one of the vague things in doing cover art. Somehow or other the general public is sensitive to different colors at different times. They will buy books by color, it's a very subliminal thing, and they don't even know they are doing it. There are years, months - 6 to 8 month periods where purple books are selling like crazy. It doesn't matter what you slap a purple cover on, people will buy it. It depends on the 'in color.' The publishing house finds this out through feedback from salesmen, who know the colors of the covers of the books that were selling in a certain year; you make your book look like those, because that was what was selling.

The artist has the chance to read the book for which he is to make the cover, but seldom does. At the Cover Conference, the editor will come into the art department conference and say: 'I have this book, and I would like this scene, that scene or another scene illustrated. It's about this ---.' The artist will bounce an idea around from one artist to another. Finally the Art Department Director will say: 'We must have a chained woman on the cover; chained women are selling this year.' There may not be a female character in the whole book, but because it is selling, they will put a chained woman on the cover.

In RENSIME! (the prequel to SIME FROM GEN DIVIDED) I told Sharon I would build her the starred-cross monument to use for the cover. I really put myself out on a limb --- with that promise, but I think I can do it. The plot for RENSIME! concerns a political campaign for World Controller. To run for the office you must campaign all around the world, or at least hit the major cities. Well, take Paris, for example: The Eiffel Tower is long since gone. Mined for its metal. But the Arc de Triomphe is probably still there. A little weather-worn, but there. Well, at the story conference for RENSIME! I could see the cover. Looking through the Arc de Triomphe you see this monumental starred-cross which took the place of the Eiffel Tower. It's an artistic challenge!!! I have no idea how I will do it, but I take it as a personal challenge.

Jean and I learned through a conference that was held at SUNY ((State University of New York)) "The Conference on the Disciplines - 20th Century Women Writers" when they zero'd in on UNTO and the cover. UNTO's cover was an improvement on what I had before, and the cover for FCh paperback isn't perfect, but its an improvement on anything we've had yet. I am satisfied with it.

The original idea for the FCh cover was to have Kadi grovelling on the ground. Half naked, mostly naked, with two Simes fighting over her. My reaction to that was:- 'Kadi Farris, Kadi Morcot Farris, does not grovel!' No way! We hassled around. They said, "we'll tie her up then." Oh, come on . . . We finally got the cover I described before, where Kadi looks concerned and interested in what the men are doing; she is probably more concerned about them hurting themselves than hurting her. But she does not look terrified.


When you are working at selling your novel, the first person you get involved with is an editor, a person, as I mentioned in my interview in CZ#5. You are faithful to that person and develop a rapport with them. You follow them to another publishing house if and when they change jobs. The editor can go to bat for you to some extent, but a writer must be able to compromise. The title of your work is something, and most likely the only thing over which you have some control, but your contract also states that they can call your book anything they want . . . whatever is selling if necessary. Once you sign the contract you are committed to co-operate and produce your finished product. They invest in you, the time of the editor, detailing schedules around your book's release. The publisher is on a quarterly budget, and during that time he has passed up other potentially publishable material - some of which might even be better than yours - for you. What you can arrange in your contract depends on the volume of your previous sales, and how badly they want you. Many authors have built up bad reputations because they don't compromise in negotiations. There are certain rules each house has and you must follow them. Contracts are negotiated through a house's legal department. They make proposals, and you make counter-proposals. Contracts can take months or years to complete if the author is not very cooperative. I can write books faster than some places and some other authors can fill in the contract blanks. ((JL named a specific author who's name I am withholding.)) Some authors who are big names get their way because of their good reputations and volume, other houses can make good contract concessions to a beginning author if they have confidence that they will sell. I have good and fair contracts with my publishers, and it is a good learning experience to find out what you want and can get in negotiating book contracts. Your editor is in the middle-management area, and is a person who has responsibility without authority. Major houses make decisions by committee, so no one specific can be blamed if there is an error. You also can't break your contract just because you feel like it. If there is something that you can't possibly live with in it, the state in which you've negotiated your contract has legal recourses you can follow, but breach of contract is almost professional suicide. The author who I mentioned is having great difficulty getting published because of being hard to negotiate with. Even though this author is well known and has many books in print, now almost no firm will touch him.


The problem that Playboy Press is having now with getting into science fiction is typical. It's with distribution. I would like the fans to canvas the local bookstores that they frequent and see if they are carrying my books. Ask for the manager, get the name of the person who orders the books. Be sure to get the proper number and address for the store, and the name and address of the distributor from whom they order. If it's Walden Books, get specific information. Somehow Walden gets the books but doesn't give them the proper distribution. Also get the phone number of the store. Let us know by post card (use the PO Box) and we will let Sharon know. She will then send a Playboy representative to the store and show them a catalog in which my books appear. In time, a local fan will appear from that area and then we will have more readers and people to correspond with for the Sime zines. Your help will increase the distribution of the books which is a pyramid effect, a tier effect. The bookstore is the local outlet, the distributor for the store a regional, and then the national level. The more you request the books, the more you pull for them, the more you get. BE PERSISTENT!!! until you get the answers we are looking for, go back again and again until you see the manager or the order person. It's the same thing with the public libraries. Stick a Zeor flyer in each of the books in the SF section, to spread the word. Reach out for the demand and eventually it will pay off. It's a great way for friends to become other Sime fans. As Lori pointed out in CZ#5 ((Language of SF)) what are you talking about? Let them know.



P. O. Box 290/Monsey, NY 10952

Lori Tartaglio Michael Tartaglio

Associate Editor Associate Editor

Karen Litman

Senior Editor


Reply to: B-17 Champagne Apartments

Somers Point, New Jersey 08244


May 19, 1980


Ms. Sharon Jarvis - Editor

Playboy Book Division

747 Third Avenue

New York, New York 10017


Dear Ms. Jarvis:


Attached, please find a copy of a letter from Jacqueline Lichtenberg dated April 24, 1980.


Mrs. Lichtenberg and I feel that the exchange of ideas on this topic might make interesting reading to the subscribers of our "Companion in Zeor" fanzine. I was thinking of using the correspondence generated from the exchange as a feature in a future issue, a number of months from now.


I personally agree with Mrs. Lichtenberg's ideas on cover art. Although I do not necessarily take into consideration the appearance of a book cover when I am choosing reading material, I also feel it should reflect something from the book's content.


I tend to choose books on the recommendation of others who have either read the work, or who have read prior works by the author. I also tend to read varied types of books, fictional, historical, and SF and would read something by an author with whom I am familiar -- no matter the cover appearance, rather an author's bookjacket which might appeal to me.


I would appreciate any copies of correspondence, or an exchange of ideas which can explain to our readership what is considered in the marketing of a book, since many of the readers have been dissatisfied with the covers of Jacqueline's books, both paperback and hardbound.


Please expect a copy of Companion #5 some time before the summer is over. We have been having some production and printing problems which has prevented the release of the issue as planned.


CC: Jacqueline Lichtenberg Sincerely,

Jean Lorrah Karen Litman

Karen Litman

Senior Editor


8 Fox Lane

Spring Valley, NY 10977




Dear Sharon,


An afterthought on artwork for sf covers:


The emotional effect on the bookrack browser on sight of the cover should be of about the same texture as the aftertaste the book leaves in the reader's mind.


SF (at least the way I write it) has the character of "renewing the world" - or bringing the mind staled by everyday life into a new perspective on problems, leaving the impression that problems can be solved by stepping outside normal parameters.


The purpose of abstract art is just exactly that - to take a new perspective on the familiar and renew the world. Ordinary, everyday things are depicted in extraordinary ways. And it works.


However, when you use those same workable extraordinary ways to depict extraordinary things, the emotional effect of the vision is totally lost. You've taken something which already has emotional distance (because it's impossible or nonexistent) and depicted it as being impossible or emotionally distant -- and you've gained nothing artistically.


Therefore, sf about impossible or extraordinary things, (such as I write, humans with tentacles, people with venom fangs), should be depicted with photographic accuracy - NOTHING SYMBOLIC.


Make the impossible seem real, and the world is renewed.


Make the possible seem unreal, and the world is renewed.


Make the impossible seem unreal, and lose everything of value.


Make the possible seem real, and you've said nothing, dulled the world.


Now, I wonder if any of your artists can understand this idea.


The thought that set me off was something you said in your letter on the FIRST CHANNEL cover - using the starred cross as a background behind the figures. That image suddenly shifted to mean two figures floating in limbo before a stage backdrop of a starred-cross, which scene never appears in the book, nor does it LOOK REAL. It couldn't be a photograph.


What the book needs is a photograph of that auction tent interior, with men and women Gens dressed seductively, in collar chains, with swaggering salesmen promoting the wares to tentacled, prosperous and self-controlled Simes. In the foreground, the Rimon-Kadi incident. A REAL PHOTOGRAPH OF THE IMPOSSIBLE.

Live Long and Prosper,





The tentative title for the HoZ sequel is SHEN THE TECTON! It came from the button that Jean ((Lorrah)) was wearing at the dealer's table this morning. It basically has the theme of the book and of the period in which it takes place. Jean was very fond of her title - TO OUTLAW LOVE, but I wouldn't accept it. It makes a fine short story title, but not one for a novel. It's a real forceful title, and the fans here at the con seem to like it when I've mentioned it. The problem is that the only English word is 'the' but I guess we will get the point across. In our chronology of the Sime Universe, the book is listed as untitled. I know we mentioned TO OUTLAW LOVE in CZ#5, but here's an official retraction. I hope we can sell the publisher on it, but if fan opinion means anything, I am fairly sure that SHEN THE TECTON! will be the title.


((Just a short outline on TRINROSE, due out in January))

Mahogany Trinrose is more than the story of the first esper channel - it goes into the Karmic aspects of life experience. The book reflects Jacqueline's beliefs and insight into Karma. The character of Hal is committed to helping Ercy because he owes her a life. Somehow "he" "killed her" in a former life. Ercy even "sees" this in visions. The concept of souls woven together from one reincarnation to another, and of Karma - fate - that this individual is here at this time, with this set of choices. Compound that with the other individuals involved, and their Karma . . . the story goes in to why Ercy is what she is.


Jacqueline on C. J. Cherryh's SERPENT'S REACH:- It flipped me out, and I loved it. One morning I woke up with an idea on a new series involving a hive culture. I can not for the life of me, now retrieve that idea! I know it's there, somewhere, as I mentioned it to Sharon. Then, along comes C. J. and she out-does me. So I don't feel like doing it any more. I have to go along and do her one better -- IT'S HARD!


I would like the zine to start a writer's workshop type- round robin. Start off with a fragment of a story that someone is developing in the zine, and publish the added portions, and any changes in it as it develops. Someone can send CZ a storyline and we can all work on it to watch it develop into something that should be a learning experience for us all. Let's get some feedback on the idea, and if it's good, I think we can start something that will be really worthwhile.


//SEE 'HOW GREAT DISCUSSIONS ARE "BORN" in this issue to see what we go through with our own Round Robins -- Eds.//


Our lovely convention meal was finished off with a chilled bottle of Jacqueline's favorite Sherry. We brought it in the cooler from New Jersey, specifically for her . . . a gift from the entire COMPANION staff. It was a most enjoyable evening for all of us.






Companion in Zeor is Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000  by Sime~Gen Inc.   The individual story here is Copyright by the author, licensed to Sime~Gen Inc. for publication.  All rights reserved.  

The Sime~Gen universe was created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. This story and its setting may not be reused without explicit permission of Sime~Gen Inc. 




This Page Was Last Updated by JL  03/05/01 09:17 AM EST (USA)


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