Recently I realized that some of my covers are over five-years-old now. Some close to ten! While I loved the covers I had, I needed something fresh. Working with cover designer Francessca Weber on a group project (box set) I was really impressed by her talent. Check out what she did to these covers!
What do you think about the transformations? Do you have a favorite?
Howdy! Today I wanted to chat about the making of the cover for the third book in my ROMANTIC KNIGHTS TRILOGY. When I first started thinking about covers for these books, I had an idea. Three books, three main characters, seemed like a no brainer. I asked Steven Novak, my cover artist, (novakillustration.com) if he could put half of their faces on the blade of a sword, either like a reflection or an etching, and then make it look like a laser sword.
Book One, LEAP INTO THE KNIGHT, was the story of Darius and Maggie's love affair and had Darius on the cover. The very first cover Steven sent me was perfect! I couldn't believe that he had gotten it so close to the way I visualized it in my head. The only change I asked for was to bring the color up a little.
Book Two, LADY OF THE KNIGHT, has all three characters, of course, but it revolves around Maggie and some tough choices she has to face. This time the cover creation was harder. The images I chose just weren't working well and the red background color we started with made her look angry. But, after some work, I was pleased with the final product. (The full story is in an earlier blog post. http://forthecoverconscious.blogspot.com/2015/02/join-me-for-cover-work-and-another.html)
Book Three would be Orion's story. He is both looking to clear Darius' good name, and make amends with Maggie. Here's a blurb~
Maggie’s grief is nearly crippling.
She’s afraid she may never find happiness again, especially when someone seems to be targeting her loved ones.
For Orion, no other woman is like her. So to take his mind off Maggie, he continues to investigate The Eleven. Will he find evidence to confirm his suspicion that all is not as it seems on the Grand Council?
Can Orion, Maggie and The Forgotten Ones take on The Eleven and win?
The Eleven members of the Grand Council hold all the power. Can the ragtag group Orion gathered help him to restore his Master’s good name? Or will taking the risk mean losing the people he loves? One thing’s for certain, it’s bound to be a Knight to remember.
So, Orion in a sword, right? Not that difficult. Here is what Steven sent me:
Good start! He's keeping the branding consistent with the way the text is set up, and the general sword image. But this is the character's right eye, where the other two were the left. Also, the hilt is reddish, not like in the others.
Okay, now we're more in line with the other covers, but I'm starting to wonder about the red. The book is about fighting the forces of evil, so it works in that sense. But it is also the last in the series and ends on a note of peace, as all is resolved. Red doesn't seem to fit that. I ask Steven if he can do it in green.
I'm liking it, showing it around to a couple of people, getting them to vote on what color they like better. Of course the vote is split somewhat down the middle. I'm thinking that someday I may want to do a boxed set of the trilogy, so I decide to put them together, to see if that clears up the green/red issue.
Now, this is a matter of taste, of course, but I feel like the green, purple, blue are all kind of soothing colors and the red just doesn't match the mood. I asked Steven for one more thing. Could he make the green darker. Here's the cover.
And voila, the final product! But poor Steven is not off the hook yet. I need a teaser. I send him some images and quotes to choose from, and he came up with this...
Love this, but, you know, I'm me, so...I ask Steven to make the right side more black than green and then backlight the book. I also want the print larger, even if he has to make the book smaller. Here's the final.
So, a lot goes into making teasers and covers, especially if you're picky, like me. But the reward is having something you are satisfied with, or even thrilled with. I will forever be grateful that I found, and chose to work with Steven. He's got a great eye, fabulous imagination, and, above all, is patient. So what are your thoughts? Would you have chosen differently? I did see one thing that I would still change, if I hadn't already paid Steven months ago and had the book up everywhere. There are two question marks after the tagline. Here's a little teaser I did for the whole trilogy.
The last couple of times we visited, I shared with you the evolution of my Tempered series covers as well as the creation of those for The Visionary. I also provided a link to Pelican Book Group where you could see the beautiful covers they’ve created for my novel and short stories that are published through them.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve always envisioned something different than what’s typical for a romance cover for my novels. That’s also true for The Inheritance. When first contracted for the White Rose line at The Wild Rose Press, I sent in my idea…a large Victorian style home (since the heroine inherits one in the wine country of New York.)
As you can see, I was not disappointed. The Inheritance made the transition from White Rose line to White Rose Publishing to White Rose imprint of Pelican Book Group without a hitch.
But imagine my surprised delight when my editor informed me the novel is being edited for rerelease, complete with a new cover!
Having a better understanding of what makes a great romantic cover, I can tell you my heart nearly burst with excitement to see this new one Nicola Martinez created for the revised version of The Inheritance…..
Hopefully the minor edits will make the story stronger and the new cover will have more appeal to readers who weren’t impressed with the original one.
I know I am certainly thrilled with it.
The revised, rereleased version will be published next year, but if you can’t wait for it, The Inheritance is still available at Amazon for Kindle, and in Ebook & Print from Pelican Book Group.
The Inheritance is about the chance we all long for…the chance to start over. Widowed at age thirty-nine and suffering from empty nest syndrome, Rebecca Sinclair is overshadowed by grief and loneliness. Her husband has been deceased for a year, her oldest child has moved to New York in pursuit of an acting career and her youngest child is attending college in France. Having spent over half of her life as a wife and mother, she has no idea what God has in store for her now. Will an unexpected inheritance in the wine country of New York bring meaning and purpose to her life and give her the courage to love again?
US Postal worker Raymond Jacobey has been in love with the little widow since he first set eyes on her. A wanderer searching for the ever-illusive soul mate, Ray has never stayed in one place too long. Raised by self-centered, high-power executives, he’s longed for the idyllic life of residing in a cozy house in a small town with the love of his life. Will he gain the heart of the lovely widow or will he lose her to the wine country of New York?
Rebecca’s heart fluttered at the charming, boyish grin he bestowed on her. She knew he’d spoken more than mere words; he’d spoken his heart. Tears filled her eyes and clogged her throat when she thought about what the future might hold. Standing on the threshold of that great unknown, she had never been more acutely aware of anything than she was of this moment, this man.
He was looking at her intently. His thumbs caressed the back of her hands, chasing the chill from her blood. Lethargic warmth stole over her. As though in a fog she watched him lift her hands to his mouth and press his lips to her palm in a caress so tender it sent shivers down her spine.
She lowered her gaze, and he lifted her chin with his finger and waited until she looked at him again. “I want to kiss you, Becca, here in the midst of Paradise,” he whispered, his lips covering hers with devastating tenderness.
Rebecca heard his primitive grunt of satisfaction when he let go of her hands and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. An answering purr escaped her as tiny pinpoints of pleasure bathed her senses with light and color. Never in her life had she felt so alive, so consumed with sensations.
Whether a moment or an eternity, she had no idea how long they stood there, his mouth in sweet possession of hers. All she knew was that when the kiss was over she was plastered against his hard body, her breathing was sharp almost painful and her fists were clenched in his thick, sandy-colored hair. Appalled at her wanton response and the needy way in which she clung, Rebecca flung away with a startled cry of distress, and began to run.
Author Bio ~
Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux
is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”
I welcome back author Pamela Thibodeaux who is sharing with us the evolution of her novel THE VISIONARY!
In my previous post, I showed/talked about the evolution of covers for my Tempered series and spin-off story, Lori’s Redemption. In 2010 my novel, The Visionary was contracted by Five Star Expressions. Prior to this, I’d had absolutely wonderful results in dealing with covers for my Pelican Book Group titles (you can see those HERE.)
When The Visionary was contracted, I sent my idea for a cover to the editor who, in turn, sent it to the cover department. Here’s what I described…. The eyes of a woman looking back, an old house and if possible a plantation house inset somewhere. After numerous attempts to no avail, I sent them this graphic….
As I mentioned before, I’m an author not artist but this was as close to what I envisioned that I could come up with. You have no idea how many options we went through! But the absolute worst was this…
Now I ask you, how on earth does anyone even think this is appropriate? About the only thing I liked on this one was the old dilapidated floor and walls.
They also sent me this one….
... which had the same floor but the wallpaper looked too modern and pretty. The home on this property was over 100 yrs. old so that just wouldn’t work, but I loved the woman looking back over her shoulder.
So I asked them to put this woman in place of the head popping out of the floor. This is what we came up with….and The Visionary debuted November 2011 in hardcover.
When I decided to self publish the ebook and soft cover edition, I once again called upon my friend, Delia Latham (Heaven’s Touch Designs) and here’s what she came up with…
Delia managed to have the elements I wanted in cover that’s softer and more colorful. As you can tell, getting a cover can sometimes be time consuming and frustrating, but when someone catches your vision, the end result can be stunning! Author Bio ~
Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”
A visionary is someone who sees into the future Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disturbingly prevalent in today’s society. Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives?
Taylor thrashed about and fought the fear clamoring in her throat. Panic stole her breath. The monster held her while Trevor grappled with a gun. She struggled and kicked, but the monster held her fast. She had to get away. She had to stop him! She begged and pleaded, but the monster just laughed. His gnarled, horrid sound sent shivers of terror through her soul. A blast of gunshot, a flash of lightning, and the scream tore free from her throat and echoed through the room. The door burst open and strong arms encircled her. Gentle hands stroked and soothed, a soft voice caressed, tender words flowed over her. Taylor buried her face in Alex’s shoulder while he cradled her against his chest and rocked.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you,” she murmured. A pulse hammered against her skin, a tremble shimmered down her spine. She pushed herself closer, found safety and comfort in his embrace. Alex tightened his arms around her, smoothed her hair.
“It’s okay. That’s why I’m here and exactly why I didn’t want to leave you alone tonight.”
From the moment I penned Tempered Hearts in a 5 subject notebook, I envisioned the cover…. entwined hearts and the title and my name in rope font. When the novel was contracted by Writer’s Exchange E-publishing Co. I asked the editor what the criteria was for cover art, told her my idea, and she said I could provide my own.
Other than the old fashioned bodice rippers or sweet covers with cardboard characters, I really had no idea what romance covers should look like. All I knew was I wanted something different and unique. So, I talked with my aunt who owns a marketing firm and she created the cover for Tempered Hearts. For Tempered Dreams, book 2 in the series, still having no clue, I thought of a dreamy sky.
In 2004 the entire Tempered series which included these two, along with Tempered Fire & Joy (books 3 & 4) was contracted by another small press, ComStar Media. Wanting a little more consistency with the covers, they came up with a double heart graphic that would be used with all 4 covers while tweaking each to fit the title.
Years later, and after a million suggestions to change the covers to better resemble romance novels, I self-published the entire series under my indy imprint once the contract with ComStar expired.
Then the work really began.
I am a writer, not an artist and in most instances, I have some idea of how I’d like the cover to look, but for the life of me, can’t put one together! I still loved the idea of entwined rope hearts and rope font, and wanted a color scheme that would enhance the title & photos to reflect the characters, so I called upon a dear friend and excellent cover artist, Delia Latham (Heaven’s Touch Designs).
Although I did want couples on the books, I didn’t necessarily want them embracing. These are contemporary western romances so cowboys, horses and ranches, were a big plus. Tamera, the heroine in Tempered Hearts is a veterinarian, so a sexy female character wouldn’t work. Katrina (Tempered Dreams) is a battered wife when Scott, a doctor first meets her. Tempered Fire & Tempered Joy involves high school/collage age H/H so again, typical romance covers with couples embracing wasn’t what I was looking for. Not to mention I write Inspirational!
This is what Delia came up with and how the covers look today……
When I wrote Lori’s Redemption, a short story spinoff of Tempered Fire, once again I called on Delia…and then more recently, when I put together an E-bundle containing all 4 novels + the short story…..
As you can see these covers have gone through major transformation over the years. I don’t know about you, but I love the current ones!
Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”
I am very excited about this cover for a couple of reasons. One is that the background is my own photo, taken here in town at The Fox and Hound building, which holds The Fox and Hound Day Spa, condominiums, and various offices. It is a beautiful old building in downtown Bloomington, Illinois and the owner, Vicki Tilton, allowed me to wander around and take pictures for the cover of BLACKOUT, my first contemporary romance (without elements of suspense). I threw some of my pictures and some from stock photos at my cover designer, Steven Novak, and I'll show you what he came up with. First, a blurb to both entice you, ;) and give you a feel for what I was trying to capture in this cover.
Max. The consummate ladies man.
Max is good looking, but not an absolute knockout. With his charm though, he could have any woman he wants. Once he meets Faith, he doesn’t want anyone else.
Eli. He is a knockout.
But a dark past shadows him and holds him captive. Drinking dulls the pain, but meeting Faith makes him want to change all that.
Faith. She loves them both.
When a blackout brings her together with Eli, she’s happier than she’s ever been before. When another blackout tears them apart, Max is there to pick up the pieces. But can she forget the man who first made her whole?
So, we gots ourselves a little love triangle here! These are both great guys. Faith couldn't lose anyway she chose~but, at the same time, she does suffer a loss in choosing. Sigh. Anyway, that's what we going for. Love triangle, contemporary, both guys are construction workers at the beginning, Faith is a waitress. Let's take a look at what Steven came up with from the images I sent him.
Okay, I actually love this cover. The colors are beautiful. Like the font. It says contemporary. But this cover doesn't say love triangle. And while it does say construction, it doesn't give us HOT construction worker, just hardworking construction worker. And who needs that? ;) Granted, these are images I sent him, but sometimes it's hard to know until you see it all together. Next--->
Okay. LOVIN' this one! The background picture is a set of stairs at Fox and Hound. It captures, for me, the mood of the book, the many layers and building of Eli and Faith's relationship, with all its twists and turns. It also gives that angsty feel, I think. I love how the guys are shadowy, like she's conjuring them up in her mind while trying to decide on which to choose. I like the way she is turning, looking over her shoulder, like she is knotted inside by this decision. She's looking back at her past relationship with Eli, while still moving forward with Max. You almost get the feel that she'd like to run away from this decision altogether. One problem though. As I'm sharing this cover with writer friends I keep getting the same response. The guys look too alike. Upon further examination I discover the reason why they look so much alike is they are both photos of the same model! Well, at least I am consistent in what I like in men. So, we can't have that, and I ask Steven to change it.
Okay, better. The guy on the left really captures Max. But the guy on the right isn't exactly Eli. And we've lost that neat translucent effect.
Now we've got it! He's added the tagline and the collection name. I like the backlighting on the title and my name. The guy with the longer hair really captures the soulful look of Eli. With two hunks like this, how can she choose? You'll just have to read the book to find out!
BLACKOUT will be available June 1st with a release date of June 15th!
Thanks for joining me! Any thoughts on the evolution of the cover?
My last post showed what can happen when a cover artist and the author are on the same page. Like my cover for TAKEN BY STORM. I told Steven what I want and he sent it. I thought it was gorgeous! No changes needed to be made. That's got to be kind of rare.
However, Steven and I don't always start on the same page. But, with a lot of patience on his part, we eventually get there. Today we're going to be looking at the cover creation for my romantic suspense, UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR. Let's start off with a blurb to give you an idea of what we're trying to capture.
Dylan Fisher is a paramedic & part-time mall Santa Claus. But he never heard anyone ask for what Delaney asked for, a dad. When Dylan’s eyes land on her mother, Keira Kelly, he almost finds himself in need of CPR. She was stunning.
Keira is still grieving the loss of her husband, but a reckless driver has her thinking about nothing but survival. When she wakes in the hospital to find a hunky paramedic at her bedside she begins having thoughts that would put her on the Naughty List for sure.
Okay. So it needs to say hot paramedic, Christmas, and romantic suspense. That's a lot to encompass in one cover. Here's the first cover I got from Steven.
I've got to admit, as this picture slowly came up on my computer I was like, wow! I love it. Only problem was Dylan's a paramedic, not a doc.
So we get cover 2. And, yowza!Again, I love it, but I'm a little concerned that this isn't right for my book. Maybe it's me, but bare-chested men make me think the book's going to be really racy. Now I think my writing is hot, but not verging on erotica by any means. I also feel like we're missing the suspense element. I suggest adding siren lights to give it that urgency and the tagline, "When Christmas magic turns to murder." I show the cover around and several people comment that they aren't getting a Christmas feel, so I suggest adding some holly. About now I'm definitely kicked off Steven's Christmas card list and probably well on my way to being an ex-client.
Cover three. Whoa! Too much going on here. I meant the ambulance lights instead of the guy. And now the guy's all funky colored...
Cover four. Now we've got urgency all right, but no romance. Sigh. I ask Steven to bring the guy back, but put a shirt on him. I'm also moving the holly around to get it in just the right spot. Steven's replies are getting shorter. "Take a look at this one." He no doubt is imagining a special place for me in the fiery pit.
Cover, gulp, five. I really, really like this one.
...but is there too much white now? Could we make his shirt red to bring out the Christmassy feels?
Cover six. Okay. Really
digging this! We've got Christmas going on. The tagline gives us the suspense. The dude is fully clothed, but still hot. This is working!
But, although I liked the banner being purple before, now it doesn't work. I ask Steven to change the banner to red, and the font on the tagline to black, and the exclamation point to a period. I'm always getting carried away with exclamation points. I'm excitable.
At this point Steven is either a). rethinking his choice of careers, or b). figuring out a way to do away with me that involves hemlock. Cover 7. Now it's really coming together. It's
Christmasy, we've got the hot guy, and suspense with the tagline, and we're all color coordinated. Or are we? I had one last change to make.
Steven?! (In my best whiny voice.) Can you make the banner red closer to the red on his shirt? And change the REAL ROMANCE COLLECTION to green? Our final cover--->