Hey everyone! I am super delighted to have my very first guest on Magical Musings today. I met Charlene Sands through my local RWA chapter and was so very lucky when she and I were paired for the mentoring program. She is the best mentor ever, and I’m happy to say she’s now also one of my dearest friends. Thanks Charlene, for being here, and for being one of the best parts of my writing journey! I’ll let her take it from here…
THE GREAT COVER-UP by Charlene Sands
One of the very nice things about being traditionally published with a New York publishing house is that an art department deals with making marketable covers. They take care of appointing models to represent your story on the cover of your book. The author is assigned an Art Fact Sheet to describe the hero and heroine’s physical traits. At the same time, the author also describes the theme of the story, any major turning points and locations of particular interest that would enhance the cover. For me, the majority of the time, they’ve gotten it right. Not that I’m always thrilled with my covers or titles, but for the most part I am.
The one negative about being traditionally published is that the author has no control over the final artistic vision of the cover. So when I received the rights back to a story I’d written, I decided to self-publish it. It was a long arduous process but I trudged along, maintaining my Harlequin deadlines as well. But when it came time to finally put a face to my story via a dynamite cover, we hit a major roadblock. I know, I know, how much does it really matter, you might say? But for me, not portraying the story with the right cover is one of the Top Ten Deadly Sins.
It’s right up there with not having the right title to suit your story.
Doing the Fox Trot to Salsa music
Naming your baby Gertrude Louise, when she really should be Heather Renee
Eating celery when there’s perfectly good chocolate in the house.
The pre-made covers I found just didn’t connect or give the right “feel” of a contemporary western and who could afford a real cover model and set? Not me.
Well as luck would have it, my son-in-law is a photographer and he suggested that we do our own cover shoot. He’s a talented guy and I only had to think about it for a few seconds before agreeing it was a great idea. But that still left us with who to use for our hero and heroine.
That’s where my daughter Nikki came in. She’s auburn-haired and petite and about the same age as my heroine. Her dear friend, and Zac’s brother-from-another-mother, ( the best man at their wedding and Godfather to their little girl), Tony was willing to help out. As you can see in the pictures, Tony is tall, dark and handsome- the perfect hero.
We chose Paramount Ranch for the setting. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s where the series, Medicine Woman was originally filmed and the historical town is still set up, complete with livery stable, sheriff’s office, wagons, train depot and gorgeous landscapes of the Santa Monica Mountains. On a side note, we took a field trip there with my nephew’s class years ago and saw them shoot one of the episodes. Jane Seymour made a special point to come out to speak to the children and she was lovely to them. So, the area had always stuck out in my mind.
We had a few poses in mind and I learned a lot about placement and lighting. Believe it or not, near dusk is the best time to shoot. Bright sunshine and the shadows are gone. We only had an hour of good lighting that day, but I am happy with the results.
So not only was I the babysitter of the cutest new little cowgirl in town, but I was helping to direct. I never thought I’d hear these words slip through my lips to my daughter and a man other than her hubby. “Get closer. Hold him around the waist and look passionately into his eyes like you really mean it.” Many shots were tossed out because everyone was laughing too hard. If nothing else, we had a great time!
Once the shoot was done, we developed two covers. My only stipulation was that I wanted to stray away from the Harlequin look, and develop something unique. I loved putting it to a vote with my Facebook and Twitter friends and fellow bloggers. I liked both covers equally so I left it up to my readers to decide. It was pretty cool. Which one do you like best?
Can you guess which one was chosen? Post a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $10 Amazon Gift Card. (One random winner will be selected and that winner’s name will be posted tomorrow, 1/24.) You can see which cover was chosen here:
THE COWBOY CONTRACT:
Trey Walker thought he was cursed when it came to women, but after a disaster destroyed nearly everything veterinarian Maddie Brooks owned, Trey offered the petite redhead shelter at 2 Hope Ranch. Maddie was smart, sexy and good with animals… impossible to resist, yet he vowed not to break her heart.
Maddie knew the temporary arrangement she made with Trey was strictly business. For over a year she’d tried to get the handsome rancher to notice her, but the man never seemed interested. Now, she’d be living under his roof and using his barn to treat animals.
Could she be the woman to break the Walker Curse?
Special thanks to Robin Bielman, a great friend and talented writer for inviting me to be a guest blogger today!
Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling author of sexy contemporary romances and stories of the Old West. She’s been honored with the National Readers Choice Award, the Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice Award and she’s a double recipient of the Booksellers’ Best Award. She belongs to the Orange County Chapter and the Los Angeles Chapter of RWA.
Charlene knows a little something about true romance–she married her high school sweetheart! When she’s not writing, she enjoys sunny Pacific beaches, great coffee, reading books from her favorite authors and spoiling her two baby granddaughters.
She invites you to read her self-published romance, The Cowboy Contract along with her upcoming continuity from Harlequin Desire, The Texas Renegade Returns releasing in March 2014. Join Charlene’s newsletter for upcoming releases and fun contests at www.charlenesands.com
You can find her on Facebook and Twitter too!