Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Adventures in Freelance Cover Design, or How Confident Sports Woman became a Fierce Winged Warrior

I'm a detail-oriented control freak. So, one of the nice (or maybe unfortunate?) things about self-publishing Anchored was that I got be a detail-oriented control freak about my book cover. I knew I wanted something that conveyed the tone of the story and the nature of my heorine: strong, sexy, and confident.

I'm not half-bad with Adobe Illustrator. Part of my day job involves making complex graphics describing scientific concepts, so I know my way around the buttons, and I know how to do things like apply blurs and change font kerning. When it came to cover design, though, I knew I needed a professional. I asked friends, did some research, and settled on Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs. The first thing I found out was that I needed to pick a cover model from Stock Photography Land.

Have you ever visited Stock Photography Land? It's an immense and fascinating place, and I spent about twelve hours over two days immersed in it. I wasn’t very good at navigating. (Side note: Stock Photography Land has a lot of expectant mothers in it. My search for “woman standing profile” turned up a lot of pregnant ladies in meadows looking peacefully into the distance.) Anyway, after many hours and many open tabs in my browser, I settled on Confident Sports Woman:

photo by ammentorp photography

She was almost perfect. Her hair was in an unfortunate ponytail, and she was wearing sneakers, but I loved her expression. To me, it said, “Bring it, asshole. I ain’t even scared.” She just needed wings. 

Kim also asked me to hunt down some covers I liked and thought captured the same feel I was going for. First I found this one:

Don’t you love this cover? All that wind and lightning! There's a hurricane in Anchored, so I was hoping for a similarly threatening sky. Plus, the cover model looks tough without looking contorted.

Then there was this one:

I love how forbidding that cityscape looks, and how the angel on the cover looks strong but weary. 

I gave Kim Confident Sports Woman along with my comparison covers and a bunch of writerly nonsense about “fierce” and “elemental” and “maybe there should be a knife.” Just four days later, she came back with this:

Amazing, right? I asked for a handful of tweaks, and: Boom! The final cover for Anchored!

I love that she looks sexy without resorting to a leather corset. (Not that there’s anything at all wrong with leather corsets, but Susannah would kill me if I even suggested one.) And this woman doesn't need a knife to look scary. She looks like she could kill a vampire with her bare hands. (And she can.) The stormy sky is a perfect backdrop, and I love the nifty title font. I sort of want to email Confident Sports Woman and say, “Hey, did you know you are an Angel? And you have Superpowers? And there’s this really hot guy who is totally in love with you and--bonus!--incredible in bed? You are actually Fierce Winged Warrior!”

But that would probably be weird.

Friday, April 5, 2013

New blogging adventure: Breaking Rules with Paranormal Unbound

I'm sort of a nerd. Actually, I'm a HUGE nerd. I'm incapable of not overanalyzing everything I get my hands on: books, The Vampire Diaries, movies, chewing gum wrappers. This is why I'm thrilled to be taking part in a new group blog, Paranormal Unbound.

ParaUnbound is the brainchild of my writer-friend Amber Belldene, Episcopal priest and author of sexy vampire romance Blood Vine. (Yeah, you read that right.) Amber rounded up a group of paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors who aren't afraid to flirt with the boundaries of the genre. We're going to be indulging in our inner (and not-so-inner) English majors, gushing about books, fangirling over Firefly and otherwise being ourselves. I'm honored to be blogging with these ladies.

Today is my debut on the blog, and Amber and I are having a conversation about feminism in paranormal romance. Stop by and chat--we're hoping the blog becomes a place where like-minded dorky genre enthusiasts can hang out. (Oh, and we're giving away books!)