Judging Books by Their Covers

The artist who has designed all my Oberon covers thinks I’m easy.

Ha! If only she knew! Sure, I’m ecstatic with everything she’s done, but, then again, I’m sure she’s reading my mind.

Well, reading my mind and then making it look tons better than I ever could––that’s a certainty!

But, covers are not always so trouble-free. I’m currently awaiting the cover of a new novella, Waiting for The Big One, due out this summer from Venus Press.

Considering the amount of harassment I've already given the unfortunate artists assigned to me, I’ll be lucky if it even gets a cover. I’m afraid my rather lengthy list of…ahem…corrections…may have quite frightened the poor man away.

But, what’s an author to do? Covers are sooo important, n’est pas? According to common wisdom, they’re one of the top two things readers look at when deciding whether or not to buy a book by a new-to-them author.

The other, of course, being the back-cover blurb. Followed by favorable reviews––depending on the source, of course––word of mouth, and whatever buzz an author can stir up via promos, chats, giveaways, website contests, etc, etc, etc.

The latest cover I’ve received, for the not-yet-released eighth book in the Oberon series, Dream under the Hill

Dream under the Hill

Lovely, isn’t it? It is, IMO, the prettiest cover in the series. Odd, considering this is the absolutely darkest book I’ve ever written.

How dark is it? Well, opinion varies. I’ve heard everything from, "It’s not as dark as you think," to "If I hadn’t been reading it for a critique, I would have stopped reading after the first couple of chapters."

Now, contrast that to the cover of book seven, Visions Before Midnight:

Visions before Midnight

Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE this cover, as well. In fact, it might be my favorite…although the cover of book 3 Sound of a Voice That Is Still, which was exactly as I’d pictured it, certainly gives it a run for its money.

Sound of a Voice That Is Still

See what I mean? And if you think it’s gorgeous here, you ought to buy the book and see it in its real color.

But, as I started to say, before I got sidetracked by all this beauty, was this: Anyone who judges Dream under the Hill by its cover, is probably in for a surprise. It’s a dark, violent and complex story. Not to mention really, really long. But, it’s a good story, I think, with a fabulous ending that ties things up, not just for this book, but for a lot of the series, as well.

Which gave the last book in the series, And Shadows Have Their Ending the chance to be light and uncomplicated, And short, since I sent most of the Oberon’s residents out of town for the course of it!

All the covers, as well as excerpts, reviews and other goodies can be found on my website: www.oberoncalifornia.us

But, while we’re here, here’s an excerpt from Dream under the Hill, just to whet your appetite…

This is one of my favorite scenes. Taking place at a wedding reception, it features an upset Marsha being waylaid by her husband, Sam. I thought it very romantic when I wrote it, and I still do.

"What’s wrong, angel?" Sam asked, intercepting Marsha just as she’d been about to make good her escape into the ladies room.

Oh, crap, what’s he doing in here, she wondered staring at her husband in dismay. He’d been out on the terrace only a moment earlier. Why couldn’t he have stayed where he was? "Nothing," she said, trying to blink the tears from her lashes. Damn it, she hadn’t wanted him to see her this way. She’d spent entirely too much time in tears lately, and that had to be the most boring thing on earth to deal with; someone else’s useless self pity.

"Nothing? Are we starting that again?" Sam took a handkerchief from his pocket and lifted her chin. "Here, let me see. You’re going to smear your makeup."

"Serves me right," Marsha murmured. "I don’t know why I even bothered putting it on."

Sam dabbed carefully at her eyes. "I don’t either. I can barely see your freckles under all this stuff.

Marsha sighed. "Oh, like that’s a loss." She was usually an extremely pragmatic person, and she’d long ago come to terms with her looks. Or, so she’d thought. But vanity was a funny thing and very hard to kill. It kept coming back, like crab grass or shingles or fleas or any other pernicious ill. Migraines. The IRS. And, at the moment, she hated her freckles.

"It is a loss," Sam insisted. "I love your freckles."

"Sam!" She stared at him open mouthed, surprised by the baldness of the lie. "You do not!" She knew damn well the type of woman her husband admired. Or, at least, she used to know. Not one of them had freckles.

Sam stopped wiping and looked at her sternly. "Yes, I do. I even have favorites."

"Favorites?" Marsha smiled in disbelief, daring him to continue. This should be good. It was hard to hide your tastes from someone who could read your thoughts, and it had always amazed her that Sam had managed to fall in love with her in the first place, especially considering how far she fell from his usual type. Tall, slim blondes with porcelain skin and classic features, those were the kind of women he favored. No one who looked remotely like her.

"You have one right here," Sam said, as he placed the tip of his finger on her cheekbone, just below the outside corner of her eye, "that’s shaped like the map of Australia. But, sometimes, if you smile in just the right way, your face crinkles up and it turns into Cuba."

"Cuba?" she repeated on a gurgle of laughter.

Sam smiled. "Mm-hm. Just like that. And then, over here on this cheek," he continued, as he turned her head and gently traced a meandering cross along the side of her face, "there’s a whole bunch that resemble the constellation Cygnus. The Swan."

"Then there’s your back," he said, taking hold of her shoulder and starting to turn her around–

"Okay." Marsha stopped him. "I got it. I believe you." She didn’t care if it was true, or if he’d just now made it up, she was touched by his tenderness. Although, tonight, when she removed her makeup and scrubbed her face clean, she would check it out and see––just to know.

©PG Forte 2006, All Rights Reserved.

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