Some friends and I were discussing book covers the other day, There are all kinds: The Cartoon, The Rose Garden, The Theme (or Story), The Brawny Lad, The Headless Lovers and The Clutch. The last two come in a couple of sub-varieties determined by the amount or lack of clothing they wear.
Since the genre began garnering readers (to become the most popular genre ever), the marketing departments dictated the kinds and looks of the covers. Usually, these were the infamous (and loved by many) Clutch covers depicting a man and woman in a passionate embrace. Way back then, the clutch might have had a glimpse of the gentleman’s chest via an open shirt. Likewise, the heroine’s dress might be sliding off her shoulders. Over time, the hero’s shirt opened wider, then vanished as if thrown to the floor. The heroine might be in her undies or covered by a sheet...or, ahem, by the hero.
Then came The Cartoon covers. These were usually drawn in a style similar to cartoon pictures hence the name. For some books, they were perfect. For others...one has to suppose the publisher might have been trying to save cover model money. I do like these covers on the more humorous or snarky types of books. Why? To me, they bring to mind a lighter element. So they help me decide whether I want to buy or not.
The Rose Garden covers were the answer for those who complained about the Clutch covers. There could be a vase with flowers, a bouquet of flowers, a single flower...They didn’t all have to be roses, by the way. Any lovely flower would do. The problem with the Rose Garden, for me, was I had no idea what to expect when I opened the book. Would it be highly passionate? Or sensual? Would the story be historical? Or contemporary? The Rose Garden, while undeniably lovely, simply gave no clues.
Similar to the Clutch covers, we have the Headless Lovers covers. No, not really headless. We just never see their heads. All we see are their torsos. These covers are so close in design to the standard Clutch they’re almost the same. I’m guessing the idea behind this was to allow the reader to use their imagination to fill in the hero or heroine’s face since a lot of us complained about the cover model bearing no resemblance to the hero as described in the book.
Last, but not least, we have the Theme or Story cover. This may or may not have the image of the hero or heroine. They will, however, have elements of the story. For instance, in my novel, Heartstone, you’ll see a wolf looking at a woman’s hand as she holds a glowing stone. That’s pretty descriptive of the title...except for the wolf. But as we open up the book, the first scene tells us the heroine notices a wolf-like dog across the street from her shop. So the wolf on the cover does give a hint as to what’s inside. I have to confess I love Theme covers.
Oh, yes, I missed one type of cover...The Brawny Lad. This cover simply shows a muscular, bare-chested male (with or without the head) from shoulders to hips. Now...I have to admit, a muscular, bare-chested man will get my attention Every. Single. Time. I am not dead, after all.
What are your favorites? And why?
On the sign hanging over the door, the Old English letters spelling out The Treasure Chest gleamed in the morning light. The dark green awning that would prevent the hot afternoon sun from entering the windows added to the quaintness of the store.
Keriam Norton sighed happily. She treasured the old, well-worn and well-loved items in her inventory. They had a history, a past, a connection to earlier times, and now, with her help, they'd have a future.
She wished she could say the same. For all she knew, she and her mother, Meredith, had dropped out of the sky twenty-six years ago. As for the future, she would be satisfied with the store.
In the window, her cousin, Janna, fluffed the skirt of an old ivory wedding dress. Keriam smiled, remembering how the young woman had held it up to her body and admired it in the oval mirror. A true romantic, Janna fantasized about her wedding day constantly.
At least one of them had a fantasy.
In three hours, people would come into the store and browse through the collection of lovingly worn antiques.
She swallowed and rubbed suddenly damp palms against her pants legs. She took a deep breath. Released it slowly.
She and Janna would chat with them. Point out the eighteenth century armoire, the Art Deco or the kitschy collection of farm implements gracing the walls. Everything was going to be just fine.
Her stomach took a queasy roll.
Facing people she knew, and ones she didn't, was going to be hard. It hadn't always been so, just since her parents died. She inhaled raggedly at the surge of grief. So much had changed for her since then. But today was going to be a good day. It was, she repeated.
Janna backed out of the window. A moment later, she trotted through the front door to stand at Keriam's side. Her cousin's excitement poured off her in waves.
"Well? What do you think? Is it fantastic?" Janna asked.
"Oh, yes. Seriously fantastic."
"Are you sure?"
"It's beautiful." Keriam focused on the display, on the wedding dress with its yards of lace, fighting the rush of anxiety and joyous anticipation Janna was feeling. It would be worse if Janna actually touched her, she knew, and kept a careful distance between them. "Now. Let's get ready for hordes of customers to make us filthy rich."
"In your dreams," Janna said, laughing. As she passed through the door, she added, "Mine, too."
Keriam stopped as the weight of unseen eyes danced over her skin like thorny little ant-feet. She whirled, taking in the entire street with a sweeping glance.
Roseberg’s small business district, composed of ancient brick storefronts, would soon be bustling but now was serenely quiet. And yet...
Someone was watching her.
Across the street, a large black dog sniffed a reproduction coach lamp near the curb. Keriam dismissed the animal, letting her gaze move toward the intersection. A shadow, long and sharp in the sun's slanting rays, moved and vanished before Keriam could identify it. No faces pressed against the glass of the shops lining Main Street. There was no traffic.
Her attention returned to the dog. It sat, tongue lolling, tail idly sweeping the sidewalk. It had a feral tilt to its pale eyes that made her think wolf. Which was ridiculous, there weren't any wolves in this part of Michigan.
Then...expectancy flashed through her body, heightening her perception. From the east came the scent of the pig farms and the rendering plant, faint but distinguishable to her acute senses. Automobile fumes from the highway drifted, mingling with the occasional perfume of green, growing things from the surrounding farmlands. A silent call hung in the cool, morning air and she let the door close without going inside. She shut her eyes, fighting the urge to follow the call, to abandon Janna and the store.
A single, deep bark cut through the wild sensations and, as if a door slammed shut, the scents were gone, the call silenced. Her heart skipped a beat, then skittered like a wild thing. These episodes were coming far too often. And too powerfully. How long before she could no longer fight them?
How long before she lost her mind?
HEARTSTONE is available in both print and ebook format from Mundania Press. If you buy Heartstone through the Mundania site, you can use the code LSCOTT10 at checkout and receive a 10% discount on your total purchase)
Heartstone is also available from Amazon
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I’d love you to go to my website and check out the prologue for Heartstone. My editor and I decided that the novel was just fine without it but I thought readers might enjoy reading it for free.