My Friends Have Me Covered

With the loss of my best friend, Bonnie Myrick Eaton, to COVID in January 2021, I was left on my own to make a cover for the last book in the Pierce Family Saga series. Bonnie had warned me many times that she wouldn’t be around forever, and I needed to learn to make book covers, but even if I had listened, images are not at the top of my skill set. With no cover skills, I was dragging my feet on finishing Hiram’s Girls.

I knew what I wanted the cover to look like, so I turned to Dave Leiker of Dave Leiker Photography for the photo. He enlisted the help of Greg Jordan, Executive Director of the Lyon County History Center and Lisa Soller, Deputy Director who opened the Howe house and arranged the lamp in the window. Many thanks to them for the wonderful cover photo.

Photo of the Howe house, Emporia, Kansas, by Dave Leiker Photography

So now I had a great photo, but how was I going to transform it into an eBook cover? With my limited Photoshop skills, I gave it a try. Here is my attempt:

My best effort

Still not satisfied, I sent my file to friend and publisher, Tracy Million Simmons of Meadowlark Press. Lucky for me, she couldn’t resist playing with the file and making it better instead of just giving advice.

Final eBook cover by Tracy Million Simmons

With an eBook cover completed, I turned my attention to the paperback. Tracy had offered her help, but I didn’t want to put too much on her, so I went to another friend, Gordon Kessler, who has created many covers for various authors over the years. We used to be in a critique group together and members of both Kansas Writers Association and Kansas Authors Club. He was kind enough to take the original photo and Tracy’s eBook image and create the paperback cover.

Final paperback cover by Gordon Kessler, with the help of all who came before.

So a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the book cover for Hiram’s Girls. The book is currently on preorder on Amazon and will go live on September 4. If you liked the previous books in the series, I hope you will enjoy this one, as well.

For Want of a Cover

for want of a father final copy

One of the requirements of the Kindle Scout campaign is that the book must have a cover. In addition, one of the Author Q&A questions I could choose to answer in 300 characters (includes spaces) or fewer was “Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.” In 300 characters? Really? Read on and you will see why that was an impossible task.

 

When you don’t have a budget, a talented friend can save you.

FWF5cover blogYes, my initial cover budget was zero dollars. What saved me was Bonnie Myrick Eaton, my friend and talented Photoshop guru. She spent many hours working through all my ideas, even the early ones that were truly unworkable. Those of you who have been following the blog may remember the empty picture frames. My idea was that the empty frame signified the missing father. The picture frame is one that held my grandmother’s picture, and the background is my kitchen cabinet door. It is easy to see why this didn’t work.

 

FWF small frame cover

Not to give up to easily, Bonnie took a picture of one her frames and tried that. It still wasn’t quite right.

 

 

 

Old pictures and copyright woes

I can’t show you the next effort, but the cover was wonderful. Karen Overturf let me borrow two old photographs, and I used them as inspiration for my main characters, Lucy and Cordelia. I was ready to purchase the pictures and use them for the cover when I ran across a disturbing article titled “Copyright and the old family photo.” Besides explaining why a photo of one’s grandmother taken over 100 years ago may still be under copyright, the author includes a chart showing what photos may or may not be under copyright law. Since I had to swear to Kindle Scout that I had the rights to everything I submitted and I couldn’t do that with the photos of the young women, I had to pass on a wonderful cover.

A search for symbols

Next, Bonnie and I brainstormed for symbols of the fathers. We thought about pipes, pocket watches, and boots. I suggested an empty place at a dining table. Nothing seemed right. Finally, I realized we had been looking at fathers when we should be looking at daughters. The girls were traveling to be united with their fathers.

The stagecoach on the cover

Cowtown stagecoach, Wichita, Kansas
Cowtown stagecoach, Wichita, Kansas

I remembered a picture I had taken several years ago during a visit to Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas. Since the girls were traveling by stagecoach, I saw this image as my best option. I sent the photo to Bonnie and she did her Photoshop magic. I also got permission from Old Cowtown Museum to use it. I wasn’t sure if I needed permission since I took the picture, but I wanted to be certain I wasn’t violating any laws. So ends the story of my search for a cover.

If you have not nominated For Want of a Father for publication, please do so. If you have, thank you for your support.

 

 

 

Which Book Cover: Please Vote

 

I’m still revising For Want of a Father, so it may seem a little early to worry about a book cover, but I need something to visualize. Thanks to writing buddy and Photoshop whiz, Bonnie Myrick Eaton of Keyhole Conversations, I have the above three possibilities. Now I need your opinion, so there is a poll at the end of this post. Before you take it, though, here is a back cover blurb in process.

Back cover blurb

1859, Kansas Territory

Half-sisters Cordelia, 17, and Lucy, 13, suffer from the lack of a father in their lives.

Cordelia has never met the man who dazzled her mother Minerva with promises of love and a life together, then disappeared, leaving Minerva with child. To save her parents from the shame of a daughter bearing a baby out of wedlock, Minerva marries a man who demands sons, but she produces only one living boy. She dies in childbirth, trying to fulfill his demands and leaves Cordelia, the bastard child, without a parent.

On their mother’s death in 1855, Cordelia, Lucy, and their two younger sisters go to live with an Aunt in Westport, 150 miles from Lucy’s father. In the four years since she last saw her father, Lucy has idealized the life she could have with him if he would only send for her. She has grown up and is ready to take on the work of running a house, certain her father will appreciate what a fine daughter he has in her.

Two events occurring within ten days of each other give the girls the opportunity to learn more about the men responsible for their existence. Cordelia gets word that her father is prospecting near Denver; Lucy’s father wants her to return to his home in Hidden Springs. Cordelia cautiously decides to search for her father, unsure of the kind of man she will find while Lucy is overjoyed that her father wants her home. Will either father live up to his daughter’s fantasized image of him, or will each father break his daughter’s heart?

Cover ideas

I considered a couple of possibilities on the way to the picture-frame images in this post. I thought of a split front cover showing a miner panning gold (Cordelia’s father) and a blacksmith (Lucy’s father), but I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the appropriate images and the cover would be too busy. Next, I thought of an empty chair at the head of a dining table, but I’d need furniture for that. Finally, I settled on the empty photo frame, which is not to say it is the best idea. If something better comes to mind before publication (I’m planning on June or July, 2016) I will use it. I know it is asking a lot, but if you choose none of the above, I’d love to have you leave a comment with your opinions of a cover that might work better. Thank you for your help.