Monday, 26 April 2010

Under the Covers - Bekki Lynn

I'm particular about my book covers as most authors are and should be. No one knows our story and characters better. As the story unfolds, I begin to the envision the cover. What is on the cover is the gateway into the story. A cover artist and an author should work together on a cover as far as I'm concerned.

For the cover of my first Siren novel A Psychic Hitch I was asked for photos of possible cover options. I looked through my files of photos and sent in a few I thought would do - do as in fitting the 'sex sells' motto being thrown at me and in looking back over them, realized one was missing, so I sent it along. It was risky and I held my breath. That last photo was a hit and the final choice. You see, my stories are character driven not plot driven. So, while the title fits the overall struggle and plot surrounding the heroine, the photo is all heroine. The photo is aptly titled 'orgasm' and represents the heroines first ever orgasm the hero gives her on their first night together. It fits the heroine of this story.

I know most women prefer a sexy man on the cover of a book, but I was asked by someone who had critiqued the story for me months earlier to please not put a guy on the cover who might destroy her image of the hero. I so understood her point. So many covers have men on the cover who look good, but is not even close to resembling the hero of the story. This is a sore spot for me. I want covers to reflect the story, the characters and give an idea of what the story is about. I'm not all about 'sex sells', the story is more important and the cover needs to reflect that. I've seen so many covers that have been taken over the line and are embarrassing to look at, and it's those that give erotic romance a bad name.

Last Glass of Wine came along. I took painstaking moments to study photos of the couple who simply fit my characters and what would be perceived from them. I litterally made up the design on a page in my sitebuilder program and sent along the page address and photos. What I received back was different from what I had envisoned, but I was pleased with the final result. Jinger did a great job putting the professional touch to my photos.

One thing that did strike me as odd and I think it was someone else who brought it up -- why are my covers so white? I don't even like white walls, so yeah, I wondered that as well. Aside from the fact it's the way the photos were taken, I could have taken a blue tinted photo of the wine glass, but then I thought, it's a series and books in a series should have similar covers in one way or another. So, I guess white it is. Even the cover I've designed for the third book is bascially white. I'm quite amused at my muse for doing something a-typical even for me.

Now with my new cover, black is basic. I like black as anyone who's visited my website knows. It's sexy, it's easy on the eyes and anything goes with it. While the final cover of Jewel of the Sun's BLOOD DESTINY isn't my first vision, I had to do a one-eighty and come up with something else since the initial vision had been done on someone else's cover. I don't like doing what I've seen done on other covers. It's one of my pet peeves to look through pages and pages of covers and see how many are so alike or have the same couple or same male/female on them. Come on! With all the various royalty free photo sites available and the influx of photographers, there should never be two covers with the same people on them, much less the same design.

Anyway, I've yet to figure out much in cover designing, but what I've learned to do so far in making my new cover was not done solely on my own. Jesse, my son who often helps me out, and I worked on it all day and into the night a few months ago. It wasn't coming out like we envisioned, but we knew there was a way for it to. We went on to bed. The next morning, I was back at it and I had a thought and tried it. It worked. Excited, I went in and woke him up to show him and explain it. He slapped himself upside the head for not thinking of that simple thing. So, I finally had my cover for Jewel of the Sun's BLOOD DESTINY. I turned it in and it was fine until I saw it in the ebook format -- I didn't like it. Like so many other ebooks, the cover came out blurry. Why? I made it to the specifications I'd been given. So, when the publisher went to do the cover for the paperback, we found out it was a resolution issue with the photos themselves. So, I repurchased the photos at a higher grade and redid the cover, only this time, I also cleared up a matter that also bothered me. I encircled the hero's head in white rather than leaving it black on black. I love it even more. I'm looking forward to learning more tricks of the trade and doing more of my own covers. If I'm going to be nit-picky about my covers, I might as well take on the task where I'm allowed. I don't abide by the saying that writers should never do this or that, leave it to the professionals. Why, if I can do it just as well?

Here's an Adult Excerpt from Jewel of the Sun's BLOOD DESTINY to celebrate it's release day today:

“Let’s go to the bed,” he managed to say. She started to fall when she forgot to lower her leg before attempting to move forward. “In a hurry?” he asked, catching her. He meant to make light of it, but the huskiness of his voice gave a different meaning. The fire raged in him.

“I guess,” she said, righting herself.

She sounded equally as affected. He grabbed the camera, turned off the lights and left her to follow him. He didn’t dare touch her right now. He’d hurt her with the need threatening to erupt. When he flipped on the lights around the bed, he saw her climb on the bed and sit with her legs under her. She ran her hands over the cool satin, her eyes on them. His chest heaved and he raised the camera to capture the innocence of a seductress. Cassandra raised her head and looked through the viewer at him. “What do you want?” she asked with a sultriness, causing shivers to shoot through him.

The camera slipped, but he caught it. He swallowed. “Give me what you’re comfortable with.” Under normal circumstances, he knew beforehand what the client wanted, but this wasn’t a client. Shudders swept through him when she leaned back on her elbows, bringing her legs forward. The glimpse of the green thong she’d left on had his zipper pressing into hard flesh.
He wanted shots of her with her hand splayed over the scrap of green, the ring, the bracelet, maybe a finger slipped beneath the band as if she was thinking of removing them. Images raced through his mind. Heat broiled in his gut and more sweat beaded on his forehead.

She rubbed the soft sole of her foot against her ankle as she shook her hair back behind her. He reached for a softener lens and snapped it on the camera as she moaned.

“Do you feel it?’ she asked him.

“What do you feel?”

“I’m not sure. It’s like…It’s stronger than before.”

She ran her fingers through her hair as he forced himself to watch via the viewfinder. The air thickened around them, heavy, breathless air filled with monumental tension. He wanted to rip the sheet from her body and give a warrior cry as he joined with her body.

“I’ve awakened from these bizarre dreams…feeling like I’ve had hot…sweaty sex.” Her tongue ran over lips and she blew out while her breasts heaved. “Now, it’s like…intense foreplay.”

“The psyche factor,” he told her as he moved around the bed. She fell back on the pillow and the look on her face combined with her heaving breasts caused him to lower the camera. Color came into her cheeks and spread, her hips rose and her heel dug into the bed. He forced himself to continue taking shots, but the sounds of the camera no longer played a song for him. He’d never seen anyone come alive as she was. She groaned and balled the bedding in her hands. Her eyes closed and he forced down a moan and tried to tune out the raging fire within himself.

“So hot…wonderfully hot,” she whispered as her back arched, tipping her head back.

She reached for the knot lying in her cleavage and undid it, tossing the fabric aside. Perspiration rolled down his chest from the effort of trying to hold himself back. Her beautiful, perfect breasts lay before him, the tips hard and begging to be touched. He backed up and picked up the remote to the hidden cameras he used for couples who wanted full range shots with privacy. What was happening before him needed recorded, even if it was in stills. She was consumed with the same fiery passion he’d been dealing with.

“More, I need more,” she mumbled.

end of excerpt

Available at eXcessica, All Romance Ebooks, Fictionwise and Bookstrand



Lindsay Townsend said...

Wow! That is an intense, sensual, stunning excerpt, Bekki! Congratulations on the release today of JEWEL OF THE SUN'S BLOOD DESTINY!!

Exciting cover - I'm not surprised you're delighted with it. I love the two models - you've captured them exactly right and they look so apt for the story.

I love your Last Glass of Wine cover - so original and beautiful. You have such artistic ideas!

I'm filled with admiration for authors who can also design art-work and covers. Yours, Bekki, are especially compelling.

Have you ever fancied being a full-time cover artist as well as a writer?

Bekki Lynn said...

Thanks, Lindsay.

When I asked for the couple to be put in the wine glass, I wasn't exactly sure if or how it could be done. Jinger did it and I was thrilled. I fell in love with the sensuality of the couple, it looked so real. And I learned it is - the models are really married to one another.

Fancied being a cover artist -- no not really. I get this idea in my head and have to sit down and try to bring it out. I think I've always been that way about things.

Chelle Cordero said...

I've also been told by readers that they don't want too clear a depiction of my characters as they'd rather leave much of that to imagination.

Great excerpt - you've got me fanning myself.


Savanna Kougar said...

Bekki, I hadn't really thought about your white backgrounds, but they're perfect for your two stories and have a special impact, especially when placed next to other cover art.

I especially love LAST GLASS OF WINE!

As a contemporary cover, JEWEL OF THE SUN is a gorgeous statement about your heroine and hero.

Sex may sell, but if the cover art doesn't fairly represent the story, I have no use for it.

And, I do think some of the cover art has gone to an extreme I find *not palatable*. Actually, it's just a huge turn off. And I'm damn liberal about nudity in general.
Still, there's a difference between the body as sexy art and a *wham-bam-no-thank-you maam* cover.

Bekki Lynn said...

Oh, I agree, Savanna. I'm the same way. I like to be teased, but blatant is out.

I was just at the grocery store and I've just now come to the conclusion that I am a cover junkie. I had no reason to be anywhere near the book section, but there I was. I love looking at them. Maybe that's why I don't enjoy book stores as much as I used to. All you get to see is spines, for the most part.

I did notice darker colors seem to be the current trend on the shelves.

Bekki Lynn said...

Chelle - I've noticed more and more covers with the couple blended into the background and I do go for that. Blending is something I want to learn how to do so bad. That goodness for youtube videos. ;)

Linda Acaster said...

What a great post, thanks. I am in awe of writers who can sort their own covers - something I have to learn double-quick as I am in the process of bringing up two of my backlist as ebooks. A whole new world!

Celia Yeary said...

BEKKI--covers are very personal, aren't they? Whether the cover is for my book or a book I'm trying to decide to read, it's almost a visceral reaction. You and I write very different categories/genres, so the covers are quite different, as well. I do like the Last Glass of Wine cover. I've had a back and forth conflict about covers since I began reading romance--not that many years ago. I'm beginning to think I don't want people on there, even though my first two have cowboys. But you see, these come from stock photos and I've spotted my first guy on at least three other covers in different genres. I might be the only one who noticed, but I didn't like that. So, now, with my new books, maybe I'll ask for something besides a person. I'm with those readers who tell you they don't want to see the hero on the cover. I understand perfectly.
I'm impressed with your knowledge of how to make covers. I could not do it--but then, I didn't think I could write a romance novel, either.
One thing I require on my covers--three things--whatever they are, just three thing. Very informative, interesting post--Celia

Bekki Lynn said...

Celia -- you can do anything if your heart is there.

And yeah, I have stories where I see photos that would be perfect for their covers, but they aren't of people. I totally see how it can work -- then, too, I think we'd have to be more careful with the title. The two would have to speak enough of the story to draw a reader in. Very possible. I do see a lot of covers without faces.

Bekki Lynn said...

Linda, a lot of people use Photoshop, but I feel the cost isn't worth it when you can get other programs which do the same thing so much cheaper.

I have Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 for the fifth of the cost of Photoshop. And Youtube has some wonderful vids on how to do different features.

And you're not limited to covers - there is much you can do with them.

Savanna Kougar said...

Bekki, interesting about the darker colors as a trend.

Siren always wants the lighter colors because they say they sell better for them.

Yup, I'm a definite cover junkie... only I can't afford them all!

Bekki Lynn said...

Oh, Savanna, I know and then what would we do with them if we could. lol

StephB said...

I love all your covers. They definately pique interest. Very interesting about light and dark colors and what sells. Good luck with your new book!