Saturday, September 15, 2012

Behind the Cover: Cover Elements

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

I know it’s been a while since my last post, and for that all I can say is – GRAD SCHOOL.  What, you thought I was going to say I’m sorry?  LOL  Did we miss the last post – I am a Goddess.  Goddesses do not apologize.

Wait a minute.  The hubby is trying to get my attention.

* Five minutes later *

Ok, so I have been informed that while I am a Cover Goddess, and the love and adoration of my husband’s life, (yeah, I added that in, sue me), that I am still, in fact, a mere mortal. Whatever!   

As such, I guess I can apologize for taking so long to get to the next topic in my Behind the Cover series of posts.  I know there are some readers eagerly awaiting the X-Factor post that is quickly coming up.  I believe slacker it a term I have heard muttered under someone’s breath a time or two.  No, wait, that’s at my day job.  Never mind.

Anyways ...

Back to the topic at hand … just what else goes into creating a cover.

So … After I put the images together to see how different elements look together, I place the title and author name on the cover (often not in the color or font that I will ultimately use, but rather just a generic placeholder to start to formulate placement).  Then I start to play around with all the elements – the images, the font (style, placement, color, and effects), shifting them around until I get something that I am happy with. 

Part of an effective cover is making sure the font matches the theme.

Let’s look at Destiny’s Shadow by Rita Karnopp.  Here, the font is of a western style, which is appropriate for a historical set during the time of western expansion.  Now what about a story set in the orient?  The font needs to have an asian feel.

But what if it is a chilling story?  Something a little dark …  Then you have something like the font for Into A Dangerous Mind.  It kind of has a surreal quality to it, which fits the theme of the story.

After I get everything placed, I start in on effects of the font.

That could by anything from a beveling, back-shadowing, to another layer of the same text in a different color.  Whatever it takes to make the text stand out from the images.  Because you want readers to be able to read what the cover says – and not just in a massive size, but also the tiny sizes a lot of websites use.  It has to stand out.

Once I get everything laid out so that it looks good, I start adding in the extras – little things that just make the cover pop.

 What do I mean?

Well … in some cases, it could be a border.  You can see a hint of a border on Into A Dangerous Mind (above).  But it blends in, adding a subtle effect to the cover rather than standing out.  So how about some that stand out.

See how the pearls in Ann Cory’s cover make the pearls the ladies are wearing kind of pop?  How about the rope around the edge of Ginger Simpson’s cover?

In others cases, it might be elements from the story; for example the cover for Impulsive.  This is a collection of stories by Jamie Hill, and I wanted to bring something from each into the cover.  So there is a bottle for the genie, a trumpet for another story, and snow for yet another.  

 We can also see elements of the story in Lee’s Killough’s cover.  This story involves a wolf, and a gun in some form or another – that much is evident from the cover.

 Its little things like that that assists a reader in knowing a little more about the story at first glance.  Obviously, the book’s blurb is a major information source.  But a lot of the times, a reader will see a cover long before the blurb (especially if they are skimming websites for something to read), so I have to make sure that I assist the author any way I can in drawing the reader in.  They’ve worked hard on their story, put together a blurb, made sure the title fits the books and is something that will catch attention, and then it falls on me to wrap their hard work in a pretty package.

At the same time, I have to be true to the reader – creating a cover that actually fits the book.  I know I would be very disappointed if I picked up a book with a smoking hot embrace between a couple, only to find out that all the intimate scenes are ‘fade to black/closed door’.  I would feel like the cover did not depict the book in a true light.  However, something with a soft fully-clothed embrace in a park or something would fit.

Well, I guess that’s it for this issue of Behind the Cover.  I believe the next topic up will be series.  And after that, the X-factor.  So stay tuned.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Siren of Luxembourg

I'm actively working on Book 4 in the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series, LADY OF LUXEMBOURG. I am sharing my ups and downs. Ups, mainly, and a few downs. As I write, I realize how challenging is the task I set for myself. Making the reader believe in an immortal afflicted by a curse that makes her an ondine (siren, mermaid) from the waist down one day each month, is no small feat.

Of course, this is a medieval novel, and in the context of the time, it makes more sense. Also, this story was inspired by authentic legends from my native country, France. Legends resonate in our hearts, and even the staunchest scientists now admit that at the origin of these legends resides a kernel of truth. That's the kernel I've been chasing.

Then I discovered that if I believe in my immortal heroine, she breathes life on the page. Melusine is a woman, an immortal, a Fae, descended from angels predating Christianity. After a disastrous mistake, she now follows the righteous path. But for abusing her powers in childhood she is cursed. She seeks redemption, but if the Church ever discovers her true nature, she will burn at the stake....

From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.

If you missed this series, you can find the first three novels in one volume: PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE, PAGAN QUEEN, SEDUCING SIGEFROI, in kindle for a friendly price HERE

Here are athe blurbs for each novel:


806 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) -
As the Vikings raid the coast of Alba, Pressine of Bretagne sets out to seduce King Elinas of Dumfries, chosen by the Goddess to unite the tribes against the foreign invader. Elinas, still mourning his departed queen, has no intention to remarry. Head-strong and independent, Pressine does not expect to fall for the very attractive, wise and noble ruler... Furthermore, her Pagan nature clashes with the religious fanaticism of the king’s Christian heir, who suspects her unholy ancestry and will stop at nothing to get rid of her.

"I really enjoyed Princess of Bretagne. Kind of reminded me of The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, with its subtle references to Arthurian legend (I'm a sucker for anything Arthurian). Like Mists, you captured the historical period while weaving in the mystical elements. Since I now have my new kindle, I've added Pagan Queen to my TBR list. After the one I'm reading now, I might just bump it up a notch or two." Kathy Fisher-Brown, author


810 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) - Queen at last, Pressine brings victory to her beloved Elinas and prosperity to their growing kingdom. But she has to contend with the intrigues of Charlemagne's bishops, spurred by her Christian stepson. While Elinas, on the battlefield, remains unaware of his son’s machinations, Pressine fends off repeated assaults against her life. She also fears the curse that could bring her downfall. For the love of Elinas, she will tempt fate and become with child. But when her indomitable passion challenges the wrath of the Goddess Herself... can she win that battle?

"Schartz is an accomplished writer, whose pacing, conflicts, and goals are always complex and whose good characters are always likeable, and whose villains are evil incarnate. You have to like her villains as much as the good guys! Mattacks is a magnificent example of this!" - 5 stars - Manic Readers
"...details of the period making that long ago era of history feel alive and vibrant. She’s able to weave in the mystical in a manner that appears natural... Mattacks and his diabolical plans play an important role... he’s a creepy guy... unexpected happenings totally caught me off guard... great plot ploy that I can only assume will pull the series forward... I want to know more..." - Romance Junkies - 4 ribbons


Luxembourg - 963 AD - To offset the curse that makes her a serpent from the waist down one day each month, Melusine, exiled Princess of Strathclyde, must seduce and wed a mortal knight, the shrewd and ambitious Sigefroi of Ardennes.
Sigefroi, son of the Duke of Lorraine, suspects Melusine is not what she appears, but her beauty, her rich dowry, and her sharp political skills serve his ambitions. He never expected her to soften his stone-cold warrior heart.
So close to the Imperial court, dangers and intrigue threaten Melusine. War looms on the horizon, a Mermaid was sighted around Luxembourg, and Sigefroi’s bishop brother questions her ancestry. If anyone ever suspects Melusine’s true nature, she will burn at the stake...

"As always, Schartz spins a great story. It’s a bit bloody and bloodthirsty in places... But that's part of the drama, and Schartz certainly knows drama." Manic Readers 4.5 stars

Happy Reading!

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