Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of Bunnies and Cover Art

This past week my mind has been dominated by plot bunnies and cover art. When I work on tough covers in Photoshop, my mind seems to automatically fall into a pattern where it takes some random thought or idea and tosses it around until it gels into a plot. I get some of my best plotlines from doing cover art but it creates a backlog of stuff I need to write!

So this past week, I created a Regency cover for Pink Petal Books, my first Regency ever. I've done a couple of historicals for MLR Press, but no Regencies. Finding photos for a Regency can be difficult. In this instance, I found the couple almost right away but had trouble with an English manor house. In the end, I found what I needed and the cover is beautiful. The publisher said the authors love it. Nothing feels better to a cover artist than when the author loves their cover.

The other cover I made was for Tales of the Darkworld Volume Two, my next print book. This book contains Sunstroked and Breathe Me In, the most recent two books in the Tales series. Since neither one of them was long enough to go to print, they'll be combined as Tales Volume Two. For those of you who are familiar with my work, you'll recall that Tales Volume One is Shifting Winds and Hot Water together. All the other books in the series were long enough to go to print on their own.

Tales of the Darkworld Volume Two is 80,000+ words of M/M erotic paranormal romance. Both digital editions had hot covers so the creation of the print cover became a daunting task. How could I come up with something that incorporated both of those covers? Or even the best of the two covers? Especially when Sunstroked's cover had been an Ariana Award finalist.

I must have tried at least four different layouts before I realized I was going at this cover all wrong. I wanted a photo to represent Gargoyle Lodge where the bulk of Sunstroked takes place. Not a good idea. For one, every photo I found of lodges that looked like I envisioned Gargoyle...had snow. Since Gargoyle is in California and the book doesn't take place in snow. For another, I just couldn't blend a lodge with the Eiffel Tower from the Breathe Me In cover.

Once I nixed the lodge idea, I went back to Sunstroked and decided I needed the guy who is the main part of the cover. I found a different pose with the same guy and voila! My cover bloomed in my imagination! I took that pose along with the Eiffel Tower from Breathe Me In and layered them. A luscious bit of cover art began to unfold. I got another image of the model who was on the cover of Breathe Me In, a different pose. Instead of the tribal wolf from Sunstroked, I went with an actual photo of a wolf. The layers came together and...OMG. A hot, hot cover was born. I'm totally in love with it and can't wait for this print book to be in my greedy hands!

All the while I'd been working on these covers, my brain had been whirling with an idea for a cougar story. Now, first of all, you have to understand that I AM a cougar. So for me to make my heroes younger than my heroines is natural. But the idea I had rolling around in my head came about because of my daughter and her roommate who is male. He's kind of the protective sort and he looks out for Nikki, something I appreciate.

I started thinking about a woman who has had to take care of everything and everyone her entire life. Her daughter is in college now and her younger husband decides he wants a divorce. So she's suffering from empty nest syndrome, going through a divorce, and just tired of having to take care of everything. For once in her life, she'd like someone else to deal with all the crap of life. Enter her daughter's roomie's father who, while he is younger than her, is the type of guy who is used to taking charge. He's a widower, a hot fireman, and definitely interested in his son's roomie's mom. Sparks fly. Vulnerabilities are uncovered. Lust rises. Love grows. Perfect combination!

Damned plot bunnies. I've no time to write this story much as I'd like to. I have a plethora of other projects that must come first. But no matter what I have on my plate, the plot bunnies always come to life in my head when I'm working on the toughest cover art. I'm not sure what the correlation is or why this always happens to me, but it does. So I write up a quick plotline or synopsis and file the plot bunny away until I actually have to time to write it. I suppose I should be grateful that I do have ideas. I've seen plenty of authors on the loops bemoaning a lack of them. I don't ever have that problem thanks to my cover art.

Plot bunnies and cover art are forever linked for me. If I'm stressing over a cover you can bet that I'm hatching a plot for a book at the same time! Odd, but true!

If you want a glimpse of what I'm writing currently, stop over at my author blog for my Six Sentence Sunday offering. Hope you all keep it cool this Sunday!


  1. Lex, you really are an artistic genius when it comes to covers. I think Sunstroked is one of the best I've seen. Yeah, plot bunnies...what are you gonna do? Baseball and hubby do that to me too.

  2. I'm jealouse, Lex. Wish I had your talent.

  3. Beautiful covers, all of yours. You're such a talent, and every one is a work of art.

  4. Thank you, ladies! I work really hard to keep my art growing all the time. I love having nice covers and I try to give authors the best I can give them within the parameters they give me on their art forms. It's a fine line to walk but I love it when it all works out.

    Thanks for coming by!