Monday, 19 April 2010

Cover Art ~ I am the Troublemaker

Yep, when it comes to my cover art, I can be a troublemaker. Okay, I can be a troublemaker over anything I feel strongly about. That’s my nature and I’m sticking to it.

While, I absolutely LOVE all of the cover art for my books! Shout out to Jinger Heaston, David Burton and Anne Cain! Still, one reason, I’m going with my own cover artist for BRANDED BY THE TEXANS, is because I need and want artistic control over the final product. So far, I can tell you Amanda Kelsey’s ~ ~ initial design for Branded is cowboy-hawt-yummy.

The incomparable cover artist, Jinger Heaston, has designed most of my previous cover art. I am constantly in awe of her creativity and the variety of designs she comes up with as the cover artist for Siren-BookStrand.

For STALLION OF ASH AND FLAME, I got to work with Jinger personally on the final version. Why? Because I am a troublemaker and I wanted Stallion’s cover to truly reflect Trail and Seneca’s love story. Heck, I worked darn hard on that book. As usual it was a labor of was fun, adventurous...but, at the same time it was tough as pulling those poor hen’s teeth. Yep, I struggled to get the story written just right.

So, when the approved cover for Stallion wasn’t quite to my liking, well, I made it known, and probably created some ill will. But, when do you take stand for yourself and your book?
Fortunately, Jinger Heaston is a generous lady and worked with me. Not only is she professional and willing to listen, she’s fun.

Remember, the cover art is the first impression of your book. The cover art hits that part of the mind that thinks in symbols, the daydreaming part of the reader’s mind. It’s what she/he sees first, often making a decision to purchase, or not. I don’t know about anyone else, but I ‘feel’ cover art with my heart, my soul, my being. And, IMHO, it should give the reader ‘the truth’ about the hero and heroine’s story, or whoever the lovers are, as much as possible.

Yep, I’m also sorta picky, because like a lot of us, it’s just damn annoying and a downer when cover art ‘lies’ about a story. Either the actual content of the story, or the appearance of the characters. One of my *not* faves was the heroine who was a svelte brunette, but portrayed as a voluptuous blonde on the cover. Or, the hero’s long flowing locks shown as raven black when he was actually a dark blonde with close-cropped hair.

Okay, that harkens back to the days of my beloved bodice rippers, way back in the days when I dreamed about becoming an author. Yep, because of bad cover art experiences, I determined my covers would tell the truth about my romance novels. Of course, I had no idea how the publishing business actually worked, at that time.

That’s one reason I’m so personally grateful for the rise of small print/ebook publishing. As an author, I have artistic input on the cover, more so, than with the Big Guy publishers. Don’t get me wrong. I adore a lot of the cover art from the NY publishers. I smile with appreciation and mentally swoon over any and all cover art that floats my boat no matter where it’s from or who has designed it.

So, now, how does the cover art represent STALLION OF ASH AND FLAME?

The hero, Trail... well, there he is on the cover. He looks part Apache, even though he’s from an equine shifter world. This is because his race shares the same ancient ancestors as the Apache.

The heroine, Seneca... there she is, the woman Trail stud lusts for, but has never approached because she’s not a one-night stand and that’s all he can give her. His race is not allowed to mate permanently with humans.

The fiery stallion... Trail is on a mission to halt the raging forest fires that threaten the portal between his world and Earth. Not only can he shapeshift into a stallion, he can also phase into a flaming state that devours any furious blaze.

You can imagine Seneca’s mind-jarring shock when she first sees Trail as a stallion of flame, even though, at the time, he’s rescuing her from the bad space-alien guys. Yep, the suspenseful plot is paranormal and complex.

Trail and Seneca’s love story is a contemporary that takes place in southeastern Arizona, where there are caves, mountains and a national forest. This setting is crucial to the plot for several reasons. Trail’s portal is located inside a cave. Seneca has discovered a pair of ancient amulets inside another cave, hidden deep in the lower elevations of a mountainous area. And the assortment of bad guys are using the forest for their own nefarious purposes.

STALLION OF ASH AND FLAME just came out In Print. Jinger Heaston’s cover art shines, even more evocative and passionately gorgeous in print than on computer screen. I know I’m looking at it right now. Thank you, Jinger.

Here’s the blurb ~

Drojovv Zyan of the V’Trailuc Realm is a man-stallion of ash and flame on a mission to save his world’s crucial Earth portal from the fires ravaging the National Forest surrounding it. Pretending to be the tracker, Trail, he settles in a small southeastern Arizona town. When he gets an eyeful of the beautiful ranch owner, Seneca, he stud lusts after the Earth human, a woman he’s not supposed to take as his Mate.

Trail leaves her alone until her brother is in a bad motorcycle accident and she needs a hired hand. Soon both of them are threatened by a whole horde of enemies. At all costs Trail must protect her. His world depends on it, her world depends on it. And his heart comes to depend on it.

Trail and Seneca invite you to read their love story ~
STALLION OF ASH AND FLAME ~ Available from Siren-BookStrand ~ A man-stallion of ash and flame on a mission to save his world’s Earth portal must save his Mate, a human woman forbidden to him ~ *5* Fallen Angels’ Review ~ 4 *5s* from readers ~ ~ IN PRINT

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Also author of ~

All Shades of Blue Paradise ~ Jinger Heaston, cover artist ~
Red Lioness Tamed ~ David Burton, cover artist ~
When a Good Angel Falls ~ Jinger Heaston, cover artist ~ In Print
Tangerine Carnal Dreams ~ Jinger Heaston, cover artist ~
Murder by Hair Spray in Gardenia, New Atlantis ~ Jinger Heaston, cover artist ~ In Print
Black Cat Beauty ~ Anne Cain, cover artist ~
Her Insatiable Dark Heroes ~ Jinger Heaston, cover artist ~ In Print


Lindsay Townsend said...

Superb, Savanna! I love your Stallion of Ash and Flame and I love the way the cover captures your vision. I think you were right to talk to Jinger and much kudos to Jinger for working with you so closely.

It's strange how with 'big' publishers you can get some strange covers. My first novel, Voices in the Dark, takes place in Florence and the heroine has darkly curly hair. Hodder gave me a cover with a heroine with straight hair and no sign of Florence or Italy, which to me were major possible selling points.
But by then the cover was done and I had no input, excerpt for 'approval'.
That said, I love my 'knight' covers!

But it works so much better when the artist and author can work together.

Many happy sales, Savanna!!

Savanna Kougar said...

Lindsay, your KNIGHT covers are to yummy-die for! I always take long moments just appreciating them.

I think publishers, regardless of size, really ought to get that their sales would increase in the long run, the more faithful they are to the author's story.

Readers appreciate it. Certainly, authors appreciate it. And cover artists just want everyone to be happy so they can continue designing covers.

LK Hunsaker said...

Savanna, your trouble-maker tendency makes me laugh. I so empathize. ;-)

I agree that the symbolism better represent the actual book or it just doesn't work no matter how gorgeous. I'll look forward to seeing what you and your artist come up with next.

Savanna Kougar said...

LK, yeah, what would the world be without us troublemakers?

Yep, I'm looking forward to the final creation, too!

Bekki Lynn said...

I love the flaming stalion, Savanna. Your covers always have this unique flavor and beauty.

Kudos for standing up for what you want.

Savanna Kougar said...

Bekki, thanks. I get a little thrill every time I see my flaming stallion.