So in addition to being an amazing town (Nashville) and being super awesome in and of itself, The Southern Festival of Books introduced me to two new favorite things:
1. Kathryn Williams! We did a panel together about writing romance in YA and it was like we were separated at birth! One of her friends even thought we were old pals from the way we kept talking when we went to a Honky Tonk after the panel. Loved her! Excited to read her full back list. That’s us (signing next to Junot Diaz, *faint!*)
2. Fried bologna sandwiches. Let’s be honest–I am from the South so this was a reintroduction, but I hadn’t had one since childhood!
Based on the amazing website, this anthology of over 70 letters features authors writing to their teen selves, edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Keanneally. (Some of those authors include yours truly, Robin Benway, Carrie Jones, Sara Zarr… the list is good!)
Want to preview the types of stories you’re getting? Check out the Dear Teen Me website for letters that aren’t in the book (new ones still coming all the time). I like to think of Dear Teen Me as the more articulate and insightful version of a site I work on, Before You Were Hot.
In any case, this week you have a chance to win a copy of this brand spanking new book (it’s out at this month!). Just comment below and tell me what your “Dear Teen Me” letter would be about. You can be as brief or as lengthy as you like. Each comment is an entry, and you can leave more than one if you have multiple things to tell your teen self.
I’ll pick a winner at random next week. Happy Wednesday!
“I think I always imagined a girl being on the cover, though I’ve always been partial to covers that only showcase part of a character’s features. I think this jump-starts the imagination and allows the reader to picture the rest on their own.”I wanted something that stood out, that was magical, that showed the essence of the book and drew the reader’s eye. A cover’s so important to whether someone picks up a book or not. I wanted a cover that someone walking by in the book store had to stop in their tracks and look at.
“I have to say that Simon & Schuster was really great about coming to me for my ideas before they designed the cover for my book What the Spell? They asked me who I pictured as my main character, Brooklyn (I loved Chloe Grace Moretz and Leven Rambin). They asked me if there were any objects or artistic ways to showcase things that happen in the book.
“Past that, it was the genius of my art director who conceptualized the cover, chose the model, ran the shoot and chose the images that we ended up going with. Once they had a rough draft of what they were thinking of, I was able to see it and give my input. The sales team took a look and asked for some changes and after a few more rounds, we had our cover!
“The first time I saw my cover I was impressed with how closely the model resembled who I pictured as my main character. The model was gorgeous, and actually ended up wearing an outfit on the cover that I had the character wear in the book. Her mannerisms were even spot-on.
“But I have to admit, at first, I was like…hmmm, a white cover? But then my editor explained that it was going to be an opaque-white that faded into silver. And everything would be foil, so it would literally pop! That was the HOT factor that I’d always been dreaming of for my cover. Once I heard that, I was totally psyched.”My editor did ask for my opinion and I think they listened to me and took how I felt into consideration. But ultimately, there are dozens of hands that are involved in creating a book. So my opinion wasn’t the only valid one of the bunch. I was pretty happy with the cover from the beginning, but when everyone else put their feelings in the mix, I think we ended up with a much more fantastic product in the end.”I always felt like I was in good hands with the art department. I had the luxury of meeting my art director beforehand (the awesome part of living in NYC and being able to visit the S&S office whenever I need to) and I think we established a great rapport before she got started. She also read some of the book before starting, so I think she really GOT who Brooklyn was, as well as the feel of the story. There were only a few notes I had, but I think, even with those, we were all on the same page.
“The design changed a bit, but the concept was always the same. Fonts were switched, placement of the title and my byline changed, as well as the color for the words. Also, in the first version, Brooklyn was more close-up than the full-length shot we ended up going with. And of course….there was the addition of the foil that brought it all home!
“It was shot with models. And the thing that I thought was REALLY cool, was that they shot the covers for all three of my books at the same time. So, they had two models there: one for Brooklyn and one for Hadley, who’s the main character for my first book in the series, Life’s a Witch (What the Spell? is the prequel to Life’s a Witch). So, even though the other two covers haven’t been finalized, I’ve seen how the books will look as a series, and I’ve got to say, it’s something really special. I think the model for What the Spell? was gorgeous (don’t you agree?) and did a great job capturing the vibe of Brooklyn.
“In the end, I love it. I love the look of the series as a whole. I think the model was perfect and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the book pops on bookshelves. I was at a bookstore the other day and took a picture of the paranormal romance section. And you know what I noticed? There wasn’t a single white or light-colored cover among the bunch. Everything was dark–blacks and reds and blues. My covers are going to be brighter, they’ll stand out and even though there’s no lack of darkness in my stories (What the Spell? is about a girl who comes into her witchy powers and decides to use her newfound magical skills to infiltrate the popular group at school, bewitch the guy of her dreams and try to avoid the trouble that seems to follow her everywhere she goes), it’s actually really very funny and light at times. My editor describes it as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Bring it On and I think this cover captures that.”
Thanks, Brittany! I think there’s something very cheeky about this cover–it definitely speaks to the humor in the book–and I can’t wait to see a hard copy with the silver fade and foil. Love those details.
AND, I should mention that the book is coming out in 3 e-book installments (beginning last week, check out the first one!), and then will hit bookstores in hardback nationwide on January 15, 2013.
PS-Hold the phone! Stop the presses! This cover has CHANGED. The new one is the one you see at right, and here’s what Brittany has to say about it: “The truth is, the original cover we had was beautiful. The model was gorgeous and I loved the simplicity of it. BUT we knew we could kick things up a notch and make WTS? something truly magical.” Read her full blog post about the changes.
We went to Martha’s Vineyard with Dave’s family in September and it was like, “Oh yeah, THIS is what everyone talks about.” What a seriously amazing spot–bikes, ocean, farmland, forest, lighthouses! Gorgeous.
Pop culture aside: Lots of Jaws paraphernalia around, since they filmed most of it there. That movie, man, I can watch it whenever it’s on.
This photo of June with her dad by the ocean makes me miss my own father in a bittersweet way (but mostly sweet). Yay for daddys’ girls.
Mindi Scott‘s second novel, Live Through This, received a starred review from Kirkus that says, “What makes this more than another ‘problem’ novel is the author’s steadfast refusal to deal in stereotypes and easy answers.” Also, you should absolutely read Mindi’s brave and compassionate “Why I Wrote This Book” post.
She’s touring with the GCC, so she’s here to talk about her brand new cover (check out her Cover Story for Freefall too):
“The first time I saw the cover art it was accompanied by this note from my editor, Liesa Abrams:
I had no clue, to be perfectly honest, how this cover should look. I wanted it to convey the depth to the story but not feel so serious as to not also show that it’s accessible, something you want to pick up.
Luckily even when we editors are like “uh . . . I dunno . . .” there are these people called “designers” at publishing houses who translate story and tone into visuals, ha.
So Jess Handelman had this stock photo that felt right to her of a girl curled up on this background. Only, originally the girl was a brunette and I was like nope, Coley HAS to be blonde. It’s key for her to be blonde! So she shot another model and layered it on this background and today shared this final version with everyone.
“It was very gratifying for me that my editor was insistent that the girl on the cover look the same as the one I described in the book. I know that it doesn’t always happen that way.
“The thing I love most about this cover is that there are three (maybe even four!) scenes within the story that this image could represent.
“Now, the book takes place in the winter, and there is never a situation where she’s lying around outside barefoot, but I tend to think of the background, confetti, and clothing all as metaphor. (By the way, Coley would never wear that skirt. Not ever. In dressing the model this way, the photographer covered Coley’s legs much more than she ever would have done on her own.)
“The parts of this image that are literal are the girl’s appearance and her body’s positioning. To me, she looks totally overwhelmed. And that’s what this story is about: A girl who pretends that she has it all together, but who is keeping a secret that is breaking her down.”
Thanks, Mindi! I like the idea of the cover as a metaphor. While I’m a stickler for details, like the blonde hair, I’m also fully into the feeling of a book’s cover, and this one conveys an emotion that seems to fit the story’s tone.
Also, I love the sound of this book! In addition to the Kirkus star (!), there’s this incredible blurb: “Harrowing, sad, funny, and romantic. I couldn’t put it down.” –Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss
Yay! What do you guys think?
Check out the trailer too:
This one’s for an ARC of the middle grade novel The Dogs of Winter, which is out this month and already has a starred review from Kirkus. An excerpt: ”[Pyron] presents Ivan’s story as a first-person narrative in beautifully composed writing enhanced by Ivan’s visual acuity and depth of emotion.”
Ooh… good luck!
Gretchen McNeil‘s new thriller, Ten, got a blurb from Christopher Pike, the author who scared me silly all through middle school!! He says, ”TEN is a real page turner! Gretchen McNeil knows how to plot a thriller: Her setup is flawless and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat.” – Christopher Pike, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the THIRST series and REMEMBER ME
Woohoo! If I weren’t such a scaredy cat I’d start it tonight. But Gretchen is here to share a very short and sweet Cover Story, because her cover team nailed it:
“The image in my mind as I wrote looked almost exactly like what I got! And they never even asked for my input! Mind readers…
“When I first saw the cover, I gasped. It was perfect. It changed very little. There was a different treatment for the title (which I also loved). Basically, it had ‘TEN’ then a countdown of crossed out numbers from 9 to 1.
“Other than that, totally the same!”
Thanks, Gretchen! I love the font treatment so I’m glad it ended up this way. Also: The tagline is brilliant! And I must admit that when I saw this cover from far away I thought it was a battleship, not an island. Is that weird? In any case, it’s a dark and creepy cover with blood-red highlights — awesome.
What do you guys think?
Today is my dad’s birthday, so my sister and I are going out to dinner to celebrate, because we miss him a lot. Here’s a tribute I wrote a while ago. Happy Birthday, Dad. You would love, love, love your hilarious granddaughter June (who looks a lot like little me in that photo!). Also, love that photobombing kid in the background–great smile!
Win-It Wednesday will be back next week. Mwah!
Kristen-Paige Madonia has a cover that stood out for me instantly. In a way it felt both old and new somehow. Anyway, here she is to tell its tale:
“For the cover, I imagined something that had to do with San Francisco, maybe a gritty photo on Haight Street or a shot of a bus moving through the city, but nothing particularly specific. Authors, especially new ones, don’t have much say when it comes to the cover design. There’s a lot of trust involved with selling a book, and you essentially hand over the cover to the art director and hope for the best. My editor asked for my thoughts early on in the process, but the only request I made was not to include a picture of an actual person. It’s a common design approach in YA, but for me I wanted to let the reader imagine what the central character, Lemon, looked like as opposed to including a photo of her on the cover. Other than that, I didn’t make any specific suggestions.
“When I first saw my cover, I thought it was so unlike any cover I had ever seen, and I was thrilled with how distinct it was. The only information they gave me ahead of time was that they were creating ‘something outside of the box,’ so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it never crossed my mind that they were working on a tattoo-inspired design, we just never discussed it. It’s a funny thing, to have an image that represents a project you’ve worked on for so long, but once Simon & Schuster shared the cover, it was clear that it was perfect for FINGERPRINTS OF YOU.
“They did ask for feedback, but in the end not much changed. We played with the background a little and added more texture. We also tweaked the color, which was originally slightly rose colored. In the end, we thought the cream color was a better fit, it seemed more edgy and more reflective of the mood of the book.
“The final cover art was a custom design and font created by a tattoo artist living in San Diego named Terry Ribera. My brilliant art director at Simon & Schuster, Krista Vossen, created the concept and the original sketch, and then she brought in Terry to draw the final art. Krista did an amazing job before she turned it over to Terry though, and once the book came out and I started receiving so many questions about the cover in interviews, she shared a lot of details about the process and, eventually the original sketch (below). I love the original sketch just as much I love the final cover, and I feel so fortunate that she worked as hard as she did to make sure the artwork represented the novel.
“I’m guessing that it’s getting featured on shelves more frequently because the cover is so unique and colorful. It’s absolutely perfect in terms of the story and represents the idea that Lemon is in the midst of taking flight as she stands on the brink of adulthood. The opening line of the novel reads, ‘My mother got her third tattoo on my seventeenth birthday, a small navy hummingbird she had inked above her left shoulder blade, and though she said she picked it to mark my flight from childhood, it mostly had to do with her wanting to sleep with Johnny Drinko, the tattoo artist who worked in the shop outside town.’ The image on the cover, of course, is the tattoo that Lemon’s mother picks, but it also demonstrates her want for freedom and her search for her own identity.”
Thanks, KPM! I’m super into it, and also: How tight is that first line?! (Um, and the JB blurb on the back–INCREDIBLE.) I’m sold.
What do you guys think?