You can judge a book by its cover

The Turn is coming! I’ve got the cover to prove it! And the tease in me is going to draw it out all week so I can take the time and tell you about the thought that should go into a cover.

There’s a joke in NY that the last person to design the cover should be the writer because most of us want it to be a pure expression of what’s inside, but after years of seeing how these are put together, I’ve learned a few things about what makes an effective cover, (I had a great teacher)  and what isn’t as successful. Rarely does the cover ever look like a scene of the book, but rather, it has elements that tell you what’s inside. Something magical for paranormal, a man and a woman if there’s lots of romance, a flavor of setting, (space, fantasy, castle, city, futuristic) weapons if there’s danger, wolves if there’s Weres, and fangs for vampires, you get the idea.

If I were to duplicate an image from the book, Trisk would be in a lab coat, that wonderful hair of hers in a bun with maybe a man in a suit or lab coat behind her smiling wickedly against a backdrop of a tomato field (or city) putrefying in the sun. Personally, I like the red dress much better. Covers are not so much duplicating an image from the book as finding the feeling they contain. And even after that, even the professionals don’t know what makes one cover fly off the shelves and others not.

I’m hoping this one jumps off the shelves like it was on fire.

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Yes, I know you can’t see the last half of it clearly. Tease, remember? And I want to slow down and talk about aspects of this absolutely fabulous cover as it evolved from what I first saw.

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At the heart of the story, there is Trisk, Trent’s to-be mother, and the cover should have her on it. My editor chose the model and put her in a bright red dress, and I think it does a fantastic job of reflecting Trisk. She’s a dark elf, like Quen, sophisticated, smart, and has been expected to focus on security as her career. And as beauty can be equated with danger, the model is indeed, beautiful.

But Trisk, like the story itself, has a core of science running through her. The original cover had all the beauty, but none of the science, so I suggested a DNA helix necklace. The necklace does double duty as the glints tend to draw in the eye and give hints that there might be magic involved. I also asked for the neckline to shift to a straight cut as that was the style in the sixties and I felt that that element of the book needed to be on there somewhere.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you the background, and tell you why I love my editor’s choice there so much.

 

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Is it a boy flower, or a girl flower

blankturncoverIf you haven’t heard, I’m running a contest this year to give away ARCs of The Turn, (Come back next week. I’ll have a cover to show you!) and since I’ve got a pumpkin patch this year, the winners will be chosen from those of you who correctly guess how many pumpkins I harvest. We’ve already had one round of entries, but I’ll be doing more both from FB and the newsletter over the next few months. You can double your chances by signing up to the newsletter and responding when the call goes out. (sign up is here: newsletter )

This year, the vines in my garden all came from three plants I started from seeds I kept from a locally grown pie pumpkin. I took a big chance that the original pumpkin would breed true, not knowing if it had been grown next to another variety of pumpkin, or even a zucchini, and so far, it looks like it is; the pumpkins on the vine are small, deep in color, and look perfect.  They have a fantastic resistance to powdery mildew, which is a plague upon my garden. We’ll see how they cook up.

But if I want to have more seeds for next year, I have to take care to make sure there is no inter-species hanky-panky by way of the bees.

It’s not that hard to pollinate your pumpkins, but you have to be attentive, especially if it’s hot weather as pumpkins don’t set well in the heat and you have to make sure the flowers don’t cook in their protective, ah, condoms?

Chances are, you’ve got pumpkin condoms in your kitchen. So the first thing is to identify the boy flower, which is carried high on the plant, right at the top of the leaves. The one here is likely to open the next morning. You can tell from its faint orange color.

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I’ve noticed that pumpkins put out a lot of males early in the season to train the bees to show up, long before any girl flowers appear, low and right next to the vine. If you’re unsure if you’re looking at a boy or girl, the female flower has a miniature fruit at the base of the flower. The one here probably won’t open for a few more days, but it’s got a nice ovum.

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Pumpkins open their flowers early in the morning, then close them in the afternoon, so if you go out the night before, you can usually identify which flowers will open the following day. They will have a nice orange color in comparison to those still developing.

Pop a condom, excuse me, paper bag, over the unopened flower, both male and female, and tie them closed so bees can’t find their way in. You have to cover the male flower as well to prevent any pollen being brought in from a bee or wind. Paper bags work, but this year I used a shoe cover I got with a new pair of boots. The open mesh helped to keep the flower cool.

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In the morning, go out and just pluck that male flower right off the vine. Find the female flower you covered the night before, open it up, and be the bee. Just smear that male flower all over. Some people even go bzzzzzz when they do it.

You can throw the male flower away, and carefully re-bag the female. This is where the heat can become a factor, because I’ve had fruit fail to set because it got hot in the bag. This year, I put an umbrella up and shaded it. It seemed to help.

You can take the bag off right around dusk, but be sure to tie a ribbon around the stalk so you can find it at the end of the season and collect your seeds for next year from it.

This should give you a true-breeding pumpkin seeds.

Come back Monday for the first glimpse of the cover for The Turn. It’s really something.

 

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Hollows–signed to you!

September personalization at Nicola’s brings us to WHITE WITCH, BLACK CURSE, BLACK MAGIC SANCTION, PALE DEMON, and A PERFECT BLOOD. I’ve signed the Truth books, the Princess books, and even the YA, Madison Avery series, and at the end of this personalization cycle, I probably won’t do this again for a very long time as its asking a lot of the people at Nicola’s who have to organize it. Those of you who ordered any of the earlier titles, you should have them by now. If not, shoot them an email. (And if you are late hearing about my personalization push this summer, I’m sure Nicola’s won’t mind adding some of the earlier titles we’ve featured to you pile.

 

Just click the images to go right to Nicola’s, and don’t forget to tell them when you order the books who you want them signed to. I’ve linked to the mass markets, but you can upgrade to the hard covers by a quick search.

Also, if you have not heard, Gallery was convinced to do a very small print run of hard covers for the upcoming THE OPERATOR  mass market release. Like the first four Hollows books, they are for the library trade, but they will be available for a time through normal channels. And, like the first four Hollows books, there is a pretty good chance that they will be hard to find in a year or so, much like those coveted FISTFUL OF CHARMS. Best part, the mass market and hard cover will be coming out simultaneously a few days before Thanksgiving.

Since THE OPERATOR is for all intents and purposes a mass market release, there will be no tour apart from an appearance at Nicola’s on November 26 for Shop Small Saturday, so if you want one signed, you have to order it.

 

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To find out more sooner as opposed to later and get in on extra chances to enter for an ARC of The Turn, subscribe to my mailing list. This is where it will show up first: Kim’s Newsletter

I know I said I would have another shot at entering the contest this week, but I’m crammed and Tim can’t get to the computer to shoot out a newsletter. Hang in there. We’ve got time.

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The Turn ARC contest

It’s a little early to be thinking about giving away copies of THE TURN, but my pumpkins are turning orange. Yep, you read that right. Pumpkins and the Hollows, there is a connection. I’m thinking that the ARC will be ready to share just about the time the frost rims the pumpkins, and wouldn’t it be fun to give the ARCs away with a contest revolving around how many pumpkins I get out of my pumpkin patch.

I don’t know how many ARCs I’m going to get to give away, so we’ll pool up the correct responses and do a drawing when I harvest my pumpkins. (We’ll email you for your mailing address at that point, so please respond with an email you will still have in December.) Tim and I are trying to swing some consolation prizes as well, either hard covers of THE DRAFTER, or mass markets of THE HOLLOWS INSIDER. No promises, but it looks good.

Today, all you have to do is take a long look at my pumpkin patch and guess how many pumpkins I’m going to get. They are pie pumpkins, so there could be a lot hidden away, or only a few since it’s been really hot and they don’t like to set fruit when it’s hot.

You’re encouraged to submit another entry if you already did so from Friday’s newsletter.

Want to sign up? Here it is: Kim’s Newsletter Newsletter readers will continue to get extra chances from now to when we give these bad boys away, not to mention early looks at the cover.

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To enter:

  1. You have until Tuesday, Noon, EST to send Tim an email at coldtoastwritingsllc@comcast.net with the word PUMPKIN in the subject line along with your guess.
  2. He’s not going to be opening them, so be sure your guess is in the subject line along with the “magic” word, PUMPKIN.😉 Your email subject line will look like this: Pumpkin 42
  3. We’ll have a different word next time, so we can keep these things straight, and we will have another chance to enter in about a week.
  4. You don’t have to be in the U.S. to win.

Good luck!

Kim

 

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We’re having an ARC contest

It’s 80 degrees as I sit in at my desk and type this, windows open and paper almost limp from the humidity, but there is a shift in the wind, a feeling more than a tangible something I can point to.  Fall is coming, which means we’re closer to the release of THE OPERATOR (which I have some good news about) and THE TURN (which won’t be until early, early spring, but I have some good news there, too.)

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I’m still doing the editorial rewrite for THE TURN, but I’m already thinking about how to give away some of the ARCs that I’m going to receive. I also have a very large pumpkin patch this year, and yes, the two do have something in common. To find out early–and have an additional chance to put your name in the running for an ARC of THE TURN–you have one more day to sign up for my newsletter, going out tomorrow P.M.

You don’t have to sign up to find out how to enter the ARC contest, I’ll tell you here as well next week, but signing up will give you an additional chance(s) to enter.

Kim’s Newsletter Signup

As for the good news about THE OPERATOR? I’ve been told there will be a small hardcover print run, mostly for the library trade, but available through normal channels for a time. This is very similar to what Harper did for the first four Hollows books, and you know how hard it is now to find a hc of A Fistful of Charms.

I’ll be offering these hardcovers signed and/or personalized through Nicolas when they get the order page up, but if you can’t wait, they’re at Amazon and B&N right now.

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And if you are on my twitter feed . . . The Rachel twin I was talking about wasn’t anything to do with writing. It was the modifications I made to my original Rachel “action figure.”  (rolls eyes) Sorry. It would have made more sense if Twitter had posted the picture.

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Hollows personalization part two

I’ve signed the Truth books, the Princess books, and even the YA, Madison Avery series, which puts us right in the middle of personalizing the Hollows. Last month, I’ll offered to sign the first three titles that you ordered from Nicolas, my local store. I’ve not yet gone in to personalize them, so if you’re waiting, hang in there. Those of you who ordered any of the earlier titles, you should have them by now. If not, shoot them an email. (And if you are late hearing about my personalization push this summer, I’m sure Nicola’s won’t mind adding some of the earlier titles we’ve featured to you pile.

August means the second set of three Hollows books are available, starting with one of my favorite, A Fistful of Charms. This is the one that is set up in Mackinaw City, pulling heavily on my early family vacations. I’ll be going up there sometime this month to enjoy the fudge and cool breezes on the island. Not to mention hearing the horses 24/7. Unfortunately, unlike the other titles, you can’t upgrade to hardcover on this one. They are just about impossible to find.

Also featured this month for personalization will be The Outlaw Demon Wails, and For a Few Demons More.

Just click the images to go right to Nicola’s, and don’t forget to tell them when you order the books who you want them signed to. I’ve linked to the mass markets, but you can upgrade to the hard covers by a quick search.

 

Also, early heads up that I’ll be running a contest in about a month for those coveted ARCs of THE TURN. I don’t know how many I’ll have to give away, so winning will get you into a select group that I will draw the ultimate winners from. Runner ups? I am going to try my hardest to have something to give to you, too, but I don’t know yet. This is something I’m doing on my own, and I won’t know how much participation my publisher is going to give until I actually, ya, know, get there. And yes, pumpkins are involved.

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To find out more sooner as opposed to later, subscribe to my mailing list. This is where it will show up first: Kim’s Newsletter

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I think there should be a charizard

This weekend, I found out there are no less than five Pokemon in my garden all accessible from the sidewalk, so it’s no imposition. Among present are Pidgey, Nidoran, and a Bulbasaur, which I think is appropriate, as it is a garden.

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I don’t actually have the game, so I’ve not looked, but I can’t help but wonder if there might be a Charmander in my office, surrounded by said garden. There’s a dragon sitting behind the desk. (And a few at the ceiling, and on the back of the couch, and even a white one under Tim’s coffee table hanging with the Godzilla we rescued from the trash, and ah, well, yeah, a Dalek.)

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Knit your own: I made the pattern myself, so please be kind. http://www.kimharrison.net/Dragon/KimHarrisonsDragon.html

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