Medieval and Contemporary Romance
Two things make me pick up a book–a title that raises an intriguing question and a cover that appeals to my reading tastes and raises further questions. If the back cover blurb promises to deliver hours of reading enjoyment, I'm all in. Thus, my own covers must beautifully represent the stories. And time and again my graphic artist comes through. What follows summarizes our back-and-forth over the steps taken to create these covers. FOR COMMENTARY ON EACH STEP, CLICK THROUGH THE PICTURES (for mobile apps, tap individual pictures). Enjoy!
Not as enticing as the first installment of bare-chested-Scotsman-in-a-kilt, but nice. Once more, I pored over candidates to find the Scandinavian beauty with a bit of the huntress about her. Not quite Lady Elianor, but we can work with that, and the outstretched hand is perfect--once we get that poor thing out of it. Let's imagine it's a catch-and-release thing. As for garb, she's going to need a medieval gown to firmly place her in 14th century England. A lovely stop on the journey, hmm?
Hair good, Baron Boursier? Armor? Excuse me while I happy dance. Pleased with the keys, Lady Elianor? Excellent. So how do you two like sharing this cover? Ah, that was a twinkle in your eye, Baron Boursier! And you are blushing quite prettily, Lady Elianor. Now to bask in the light of a beautiful cover by an incomparable cover artist. Thank you for joining us on the journey.
Thomasin presented something of a challenge. She's no great beauty like Lady Elianor or Lady Quintin, but finally the young lady in my head found her match in this model. And yes, the original Magnus and Thomasin have a Scottish thing going on, but if anyone can fix that, it's my cover designer.
After digging through stock photos in search of the perfect model to represent my hero, I happened upon Jason Aaron Baca. How do I know his name? Before the cover reveal of the Baron Of Emberly, Jason contacted me. He had seen another of my Cover Evolution posts and wanted to know the name of my designer. Happily, I surprised him with a sneak peek of him in the role of Magnus Verdun. Fun!
"Too soft, too sweet," I muttered over the multitude of potential Quintin Boursiers. And then in strolled the lady herself, vim and vigor in every step. But that cap? Well, we're all allowed the occasional fashion faux pas.
Ta da! The finalized BARON OF BLACKWOOD! Hopping up and down happy. Thank you for joining me on the journey. Wasn't that fun?
Ooh, miracle! Now that looks like my sword-wielding warrior bride.
Cape? Yes, something a bit fuller, perhaps.
She’s coming along nicely.
The gown is very medieval, though I’m thinking blue. Love the castle on the water. However, the one in the story is across a rolling meadow. Can’t wait to see what you do with her hair.
Oh, you miracle worker, you! I thought the hair looked lovely before, but now… Happy dancing!
And the gown with the lacings up the back and the bits of lace visible beneath the sleeves.
Sigh… You are worth every penny!
Oh my, look at that sky! And those buildings! Awesome surprise. Now, let’s see… The vase is a nice prop, but I think it has to be sacrificed in favor of desert sand. Plus, the extra space will allow Alessandra to show off the 15th century gown for which she’s being fitted. As for her hair, it’s a more vibrant red. Think fire. And let’s give her green eyes. One last thing. The Lady Of Eve title placeholder is no longer needed. Yep, Lady Of Fire is a go.
Title back in place. Check. Red gown back in place. Check. Oh wait, no check. The gown isn’t entirely red. The sky has cast its purple glow upon your gown, Alessandra. What do you think? Yes, it is beautiful. So is it a go? Alessandra, did you just give me a thumbs up? You’re much too adaptable, my lady. Now back to the fifteenth century with you. I’ll see you later tonight when I rewrite your escape scene. And so, another spectacular cover by an incomparable cover artist.
Once again, we pored over numerous models in our search for one who perfectly fit my heroine’s character. And there she was, Little Miss Feisty. First things first—she needs to be flipped to be consistent with the format of the first two rewrites. And for this lady of fire, red hair is a must. Background? Uh… Surprise me!
The blue gown is too vivid for the early middle ages. How about a slightly brighter color than the original? The laced bodice is nice, but let's bring back the fur--it has a "just out of the dark ages" look. Her hair is beautiful, but I prefer it mostly draped over the shoulder on her right side as in the original. You're right, the castle looks better on the left, so let's push Rhiannyn more in that direction and proportion her similar to the other three covers. Nice water under the bridge!
Welcome back, Rhiannyn of Etcheverry. Have I got a hero for you :) Note: From start to finish, these covers take about a week to complete. Well worth the wait!
After poring over models to find the perfect heroine, my designer presented me with this mockup. That's definitely my 11th-century heroine, and what a gorgeous background. In keeping with the design of the other "Lady" covers, move Rhiannyn left. Oh, that does present a problem with the castle. Can you flip it so it's on the right? I love her hair and the tress across her face, but it needs to be longer and lighter. Her gown is too lavish, will need sleeves, and let's try a different color.
Hello Ashlingford Castle! I see why we had to switch horses, the original's neck and head too far forward to fit the cover. What do you think of a different mane? As for the gown, I love its transformation and the addition of the sword belt (I'll have to work that into the rewrite). Definitely keep the stunning pink, but lower the sleeve toward the wrist and nix the multi-colored ruffles.
Now for the magic. My cover designer found this gorgeous model. So…a face replace, a 15th century wardrobe change, and away we go!
Ta da! The finalized LADY EVER AFTER. Happy dance time! Thank you for joining Lady Catherine and me. Now back to the rewrite!
After another day in stock photo land, I presented my cover designer with this. Not exactly what I wanted, but if any graphic artist can make it uniquely Lady Ever After, it’s mine. And thank goodness she’s a first-rate photo manipulator since this model is now appearing in various poses on one romance cover after another.
Oh my word, nearly all my ladies in a row. Yes, this model is perfect, and since the story kicks off with a tournament, the mounted battle in the background is spot on! So changes… Juliana the fair of auburn hair needs work on her tresses. I love the free-flowing look, so just a color change and addition of a braid. And how about a circlet? Also, a necklace would be nice. As for her gown, what about… Purple? Dark Gold? Red?
Whereas THE VEXING’s cover was the easiest of those my graphic artist and I have tackled over the years, I believe LADY BETRAYED’s was the most difficult. It would not come together. Work began on it at Christmas, so that--and angst-y Tamara--are to blame. My graphic artist found this model and the hunt ended. So, yes, this was the easiest part.
The background color is fab, and love his armor. Can you cover that bit of chest? Don't want a little old blade to pierce his heart. That’s Beata’s job. He has a short beard, so toss in a few more whiskers. How about gold for his sleeve? And let's see his leather wrist guard. Now Beata... Her hair is black and would look lovely with a braid. Does she have an eyebrow? Ah, let’s darken it. The crushed velvet gown and color don't work. As for the author name banner, let's try some other colors.
The big TA DA! Dear Readers, meet Sir Durand Marshal and his lady, Beata Fauvel, soon to be Lady Beata Marshal.
THE VEXING’s cover was revealed through a series of “unwrapping the package” teasers, but no release is complete without a breathtaking “before” and “after” only the most talented graphic artist can create—mine ☺ I pored over stock images to find the right Sir Durand and Lady Beata. And just when I thought I would have to settle, this… Durand looks younger than his early thirties, but that’s my man. And that’s his unlikely heroine, The Vestal Widow. So away we go!
PART II: The Awakening
Beautiful mockups! Lothaire’s scruff and his armor are perfect. Let’s go lighter hair, longer, and nape-bound. Can you minimize his neck crease? Laura's hair color is lovely, but add a bit more and make the braid larger. I like the blue gown, but the color is too similar to The Longing and The Vexing. Since I haven’t had a heroine in this series wearing red, let’s go with red gown/copper cape. Background wise, I'm thinking copper like the cape and author name banner the same red of her gown.
PART IV: The Awakening
TA DA! Another cover that came together fast and gorgeous. Meet Baron Lothaire Soames and his beloved, Lady Laura Middleton-Soames.
PART I: The Awakening
The hunt through hundreds of stock images to find THE AWAKENING’s cover ended the moment I saw this one that beautifully symbolizes Lady Laura’s “awakening.” Now for my incredible graphic artist to make it uniquely mine. The heroine’s hair is bronze-y and Sir Lothaire’s is wheat-colored. And my hero is close-shaven--but hey, don't all knights have "rough" days when they're too busy to scrape away the stubble with a sharp knife? Clothes-wise, I’d love to see alternate gown and tunic colors.
PART II: THE RAVELING
The moment I saw this stock image, I knew it was THE ONE. This was my heroine, Honore, and...well, ALMOST my hero Elias.
PART I: The Raveling
THIS is my hero, Elias--our oldest son, Skyler, who lives and works in France. After the beginnings of what would have been a massive headache coordinating a photo shoot 4000 miles away, complete with costumes and hiring a female model--and heart palpitations over the cost!--I put myself in the hands of my amazing graphic artist. A photographer was hired to shoot Skyler in hundreds of poses and this one was chosen to replace the face of the male model in the stock image that follows.
PART I: Days—actually months, off and on—searching, and finally I decided on three models for the first cover of my new Age of Conquest series. Quite pleased, I sent to England and into the hands of my graphic artist: a gladiator, a Robin Hood, and a viking, two of whom would require major costume changes. A carousel of heroes, I told her, the background a mix of maps and the Bayeux Tapestry. As ever, she made my vision into something wondrous! So here we go. First, Sir Cyr D'Argent.
PART II: Now that we have Sir Maël medieval-ed up—hooded cloak, armor, and weapons—he needs the distinctive silvered black hair of the D’Argents. As for his fancy plate armor and sword—not period appropriate, but we’ll address that once he’s on the cover with Guarin and Dougray. Oh, and what do you think about this cover’s background having a different tint from MERCILESS?
PART V: Odd position of Maël’s left hand—resolved! Green hood/mantle—wonderful! Scar prominence—perfect! Background tint—excellent! That’s a wrap. Cover is finalized!
PART I: Since Guarin D’Argent is the hero of FEARLESS and his brother, Dougray, will be the hero of the third book, enter stage right their cousin of the fourth book. This model meets every requirement of Maël D’Argent—attractive, brooding, half his face in shadow (if you’ve read MERCILESS, you know why). Now let’s flip him so the shadow is on the right side and get him in medieval garb.
PART II: Well done, dear graphic artist! As always, your talent amazes. Now, as much as I like the purple mantle as will my purple-loving friends, it’s not a color my hero would wear Robin-hooding about the wood, so let’s go “earthy.” And though those gauntlets are amazing, they’re not 11th-century appropriate.
PART I: Well, well, who have we here? Not Sir Dougray whose tale this is. As readers know, each cover in the Age of Conquest series features three heroes. The center one is the hero of that book, the one on the left the hero of the next book, and the one on the right the hero of the book after that. So this must be Book Five’s hero. Here’s a clue as to who this is—to join the series, not only will he need medieval clothing and armor appropriate to the time period but long red hair and beard.
PART II: Yes, indeed, that’s my Theriot D’Argent, but this particular pose doesn’t work. Let’s try another.
PART I: I’m always excited to work with my graphic artist to create a cover, but methinks more than usual. Not only is the youngest of the D’Argent brothers and cousins making his first appearance, but Theriot is the last of the young men of that family to be featured on the covers of the 8-book series (sixth book releasing 2021). I narrowed down Theriot’s model to two, and I think you’ll agree this one didn’t quite meet the D’Argent requirements. But as you’ll see, the second one did.
PART II (to fluff it up a bit): Individual portraits of all three heroes whose ladies await them—Vitalis of RECKLESS...
PART II ~ My model looks great in medieval armor. However, I’m not shook with the black belt, and can we get a different buckle on his hip belt? As for his hair, more silver, please! And per marked-up proof, give him back that wonderfully broad neck.
PART V ~ That’s a wrap! Now let’s schedule the cover of the seventh book, LAWLESS, for its Summer 2021 release. Looking forward to finally giving Sir Guy his own heroine and placing him front and center on his own cover.
PART I ~ The search is over. Behold, the hero of DAUNTLESS, the eighth and final book in the Age of Conquest series releasing late 2021! Yes, he looks like a certain actor named George something or other. No, it won’t be easy getting him to trade that leather jacket for medieval armor, but “George” needs to go back in time about 1000 years.
You flipped them around--I like it! And love, love the clock and the book. But as for the tunic--not doing it for me. That man has to have armor. And since Kennedy is from the future, how about we replace her medieval gown with 21st-century clothing? Regarding the tagline, it needs to be more visible. P/S: Could you lighten up Fulke's hair and make him look less scruffy--just a bit?
And here we have the final cover. The green gown is perfect for Kennedy, and I like that the color is pulled into the tagline. Yes, indeed, my cover designer is amazing.
PART II: Hmm. Sorry, but that background doesn’t grab me. The colors are just… Just. Design-wise, I’d like something unique (I’ll forward some cover ideas). As for Piper’s hair color, it looks pinkish. Let’s shoot for red. And don’t forget the Pickwick sign.
PART I: I’ve never searched so hard for the right cover models, but I finally found my Axel and Piper. Axel is pretty close to perfect, but we must do something about my heroine’s hair. Make it red and give that choppy ponytail a bit of length. And since Piper is not a cargo shorts kind of gal, use this couple from the waist up. And we need a small Southern town background that incorporates my Pickwick, North Carolina roadside sign. Have at it!
PART II: I believe these two will fit Reece and Maggie nicely. Now give that young lady red hair and pop this image into the Southern Discomfort series template!
PART II: Looking lovely! Regarding the picture of Bridget and J.C., the greenery around them is busy in relation to the other pictures. Can you soften that? And J.C.’s hair should be medium brown, and let’s go back to Bridget’s bouquet being white. For the sign, mark out “Welcome To” with black rather than purple. Since the title font yellow is a bit dark compared to the other books in the series, let’s lighten it.
PART II: After a long hunt and nearly crossed eyes, I landed on this couple. That’s pretty close to my Adda. And Nick… Definitely, Nick! Okay, let’s pop these two into the New York scene and make Adda’s dress red—maybe even her shoes.
PART I: Last year, I presented three versions of Stealing Adda’s new cover and asked for feedback. Overwhelmingly, THIS cover was the favorite. However, many of those familiar with the story noted that as lovely as it was, it didn’t quite fit the characters, especially my suit-and-tie hero. So…back to the drawing board.
PART I: When I decided to feature a couple on the 2nd book in my Head Over Heels collection, my graphic artist and I tried to combine the elements of Kate as an artist and Clive as a doctor, but the models on this mockup and the next didn’t appeal. Thus, I went on the hunt for a couple with appeal. Criteria: male model needs a long coat that can be transformed into a doctor’s coat, and female model needs to be considerably shorter than the hero and wearing some type of heel.
PART II: The background rocks! Ditto on the length of Harriet’s hair. Now all we need is a nice shade of red. Pants-wise, blue jeans are the way to go, but can we get rid of the ripples in her back pocket? And I’m not shook with the brown jacket. Let’s try something brighter. As for Maddox’s t-shirt—or is that underwear?—can we lengthen his jacket to cover it? Now for the title font’s color. That shade of orange doesn’t do it for me. Let’s coordinate with whatever color her jacket ends up.
PART IV: And there’s my Harriet and Maddox. Aren’t they a cute couple? Time for a motorcycle ride! You know you want to, Harri!
PART I: I knew exactly what I was looking for when I went searching for Harriet and Maddox, so the moment I saw this couple…end of hunt. Now for Harriet’s clothes… That’s a lot of black leather, so let’s try blue jeans and change the color of Harriet’s jacket. And can we shorten her hair a bit? As for the background, since a church figures prominently in the tale, let’s pop one in, and if we can work in a motorcycle for Maddox, all the more fabulous.
PART II: Well now, that’s a good beginning. First off, let’s move the couple near the right edge to see more of the skyscraper behind and down a bit to see a little more of their faces. Next, let’s make the color of Jack’s scarf less busy and lighten his hair. For Grace, change her coat, purse, and shoes to colors that pop and complement the title color.