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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Comedy of Covers, Part Sept

Seven cover stories...that's a whole week of blogging.  (And more because I took a couple of days off to do things like vacuum and write exciting and fascinating books.)  Just think how much sausage I'll be able to make with stories like the time I didn't know my book was coming out in audio until I got the publisher's catalog! 

That's right, folks.  I found out when you did.  Let's take a moment to hope that all six books have already sold to the movies, but everyone concerned has forgotten to tell me.  I'll find out when Halle Berry issues a press release saying how excited she is to have landed the action-packed yet cerebral role of Faye Longchamp.

Okay, back to the seventh cover.  But you're wondering what I'm talking about, because I've only written six books.  Au contraire.  (Wow.  You start counting in French and, next thing you know, you're just spewing the language of romance at every opportunity.)  I wrote an environmental thriller called Wounded Earth in the mid-1990s, and it was good enough to get me a hotshot Manhattan agent.  It was also good enough to get me attention at all the major houses and nibbles from the movies, but it never actually sold.  Reasons for turning it down included things like, "Everybody here loved it, but we're concerned that the heroine is too smart and successful and a little hard-edged, and we think our readers won't identify with her."

I don't know about you, but I read that and I think two things.  First, I think they see their audience as people who can't identify with a dynamic woman because, maybe, they're not real smart or successful or dynamic.  As a reader myself, that hurts my feelings.  Second, I think they see themselves as different.  They can identify with a successful woman, but their readers can't.

As a writer, this makes me ask myself, "They want me to live with a wimp for 90,000 words?  I don't think so."  And thus, Faye the independent archaeologist was born.

The fact is that I still loved Wounded Earth.  I thought readers would love it, and its heroine Larabeth McLeod, and I'm just thrilled that modern technology has given me the ability to publish it myself as an ebook.  So, as of this month, Wounded Earth is available in versions to suit most e-readers and your computer on Smashwords and on Amazon, with more vendors to come.  (See ordering information at the bottom of this post.)

But that meant that I had to come up with a cover, and I don't have a brilliant and talented graphic artist on staff.  I have me.

I fired up Microsoft Paint, which came free on my computer.  I fumbled around and learned to use it a little.  Then I went online, searching for public domain images that suited the book.  Given the title and the environmental theme, Earth was a no-brainer.  I found a beautiful public domain stock image, and was very sorry to have to cut off a beautiful starry sky, so that I had the planet only.  (And only half of it, for dramatic effect.)  Then I found actual images of nuclear tests done in the 1950s and 1960s, and they're in the public domain, as all images made with your tax dollars should be.  I used the Mohawk test, because I liked the colors and the perfect mushroom cloud.  Then I overlaid Earth on top of it, and figured out how to put a whitewashed band across the whole image to carry the title.  I really like the colors and visceral impact of the result:

To learn more about Wounded Earth or to purchase it, go to:

And feel free to let me know what you think of the cover.  I'll be e-publishing more work in the future, and it's good to get feedback.  Thanks!

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