Cover Stories: Born of Illusion

born of illusion Guys, Teri Brown's latest novel, Born of Illusion, has 1920s NYC ambience in spades! It is so, so cool and creepy and lovely. Plus it's full of magic. The magician kind. I enjoyed it so much!

Here's Teri to tell the story of her cover (which also inspired an eyeshadow palette!):

"I had a sketchy cover idea of a trunk with a variety of magic items in it along with handcuffs and maybe a few old newspaper clippings of Harry Houdini's stunts. But, honestly, these were only half-hatched ideas and I couldn't quite make it come together in my head. When I told my publisher about those ideas, I got crickets back…

"And then when I first saw the cover, I gasped. It was so gorgeous. I was afraid, though, that the young woman looked a bit old for a YA. They were very interested in my input and l did tell them that the young woman looked a bit mature. I felt silly bringing it up because the cover was so stunning. It was such a small nitpick! But they were great--they tried to soften her jaw line just a bit to make her look a little younger.

"My editor and her assistant were actually looking through the stock art for a cover for a completely different book when they stumbled across this one. They knew immediately that this was the one. They just shot the cover for Born of Deception with the same model… I have seen some mock-ups and I don't know how they did it, but the second one is equally as stunning!

"A couple of interesting things about this cover… they actually employed a font artist to come up with the font for the book. They wanted it to have an old timey look, as the book does take place in the twenties. The artist took his inspiration from period magic posters, so it has a vaudeville show feel that I think is fabulous.

"The second interesting thing about this cover is that it actually changed the content of the story! After the cover reveal, everyone was talking about the pop of color from her blue eye… but in the story, Anna's eyes were brown like her mother's! My editor and I talked it over and agreed that readers would be horribly disappointed if Anna's eyes weren't blue. As it turns out, Harry Houdini's eyes were reportedly blue, so it worked out really well and added a layer to the story."

Thanks, Teri! I love this cover -- it's beautiful. And the same thing happened with the original Unbreak My Heart cover, except they had to age up the girl on the cover (see that story here). Also, I'm so glad the blue eye change fit well with the story -- kismet!

What do you guys think of this cover?

Cover Stories: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Daisy Whitney shared the Cover Story for The Mockingbirds last year, and she's back with a new tale for her latest novel, When You Were Here (out in June!). By the way, Kelly J. at Stacked says this book is "so good it hurts to think about." Here's Daisy:

"When You Were Here has always been a tough book for me to imagine a cover for. That's because most of the book takes place in Tokyo, but the main character is very much an American teenager. It's also because the novel is about love, and loss, and grief, and joy and finding a sort of peace and happiness when you've been the one left behind, but it's also a romance between a boy and a girl. Given all that, I pictured cityscapes and neon lights and maybe a boy walking away from the reader...But that's sort of as far as I could picture a possible cover.

"I did share those thoughts with my editor and I also told her I wasn't fond of gray covers, that I didn't want a Tokyo vibe on the cover, and that I didn't want a sad or depressed looking boy on the cover. To be sure, my main character is sad at the start of the novel, but he's very much questing and yearning for happiness so I wanted the cover to convey some of the hopefulness of his journey.

"The cover here is the second version. The first version I wasn't wild about and I told my editor so. Without getting into the specifics, the first attempt felt too much like an adult novel for my tastes, and it also didn't have a person on the cover. I love photographic covers and faces, so when I offered some feedback on the first pass, I suggested a photographic cover, and sent along several stock photo options of teens that I felt came close to the vibe I wanted. My editor shared all the photos and my ideas with the design team, and they definitely took them to heart. So when I then saw this cover, I was happy! Because this cover says a lot now about the story - the boy is yearning, he's looking, he's not shying away from life or troubles. He seems a boy with a purpose, like my main character! I like the sun on his face, and the thoughtful, contemplative mood of the cover. And purple is my favorite color so I love the font.

"This cover is completely different from the first version, and this is much warmer and teen-centric and I think draws readers in, but also makes it clear that they'll be going on a complicated journey.

"I think it's a stock photo, and I'm really happy with this cover. Given that this isn't the easiest story to wrap up in a jacket, I think the design team did a great job. They are tireless and they tried many different directions, and I'm thrilled to be able to have an editor who values my input and who engages in an open dialogue about what's working and not working about covers. When I look at this cover now, I do feel as if this boy is my boy - as if he wants what my narrator wants, as if he's at that crucial crossroads in his life. This is a boy who's going to be a man of action, to seek answers, and who also is yearning and longing for so many things. And that's what the story is about. It's about a teenage boy and his journey through big love and big loss and his quest to find happiness in the here and now."

Thanks, Daisy! The emotions that this cover invokes are spot on for me. I love, love, love the sunlight behind him. So bittersweet. Can't wait to read.

What do you guys think?

Win-It Wednesday: Signed Unbreak My Heart Paperback!

UnbreakMyHeartPBThe winner of last week's giveaway of Spellcaster by Claudia Gray is... Jasmine V! For the next two weeks, I'm going to celebrate the paperback release of Unbreak My Heart! It's out on Tuesday of next week (YAY!) and I have three signed copies for three winners!

You may have noticed on Twitter and FB that people have changed their icon's to the "I Read YA" button, and everyone is talking about what YA book they're currently reading. SO, in honor of the "I Read YA" movement, here's how you enter the giveaway, via rafflecopter, below:

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Cover Stories: The After Girls

after girlsLeah Konen's debut novel, The After Girls, is out this month, and the cover is nothing like what she expected. Here she is to tell the tale: "I thought a lot about the cover for The After Girls once I knew it would be published. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but truthfully, we all do. It sets the tone for the book, it puts an idea of the characters in your mind, and it's often what makes you want to pick up the book in the first place. The After Girls follows two teenage girls attempting to uncover the mystery of their best friend's suicide, and so I imagined a cover that was moody, dark and, most of all, about friends. I saw blue and purple hues, storm clouds, woods, friends hands tightly clasped together, maybe even an image of the skeleton key that figures so prominently in the story ...

"Needless to say, the cover was nothing like what I'd expected. I actually received an early image as I was packing up my whole apartment in preparation for a cross-country move from Brooklyn to San Francisco. I was already on edge (moving does that), and as I read the email I was both elated and completely nervous. My agent's words in the email: 'It's different than I imagined it would be, but in a good way.' I was terrified to download the image--I hadn't had any input on the cover, and I had no idea what to expect.

"After several minutes of freaking out, conceiving the worst covers I could possibly come up with (my agent did say it was 'different'), and coaxing from my boyfriend, I finally opened the file. I saw the colors before anything else. Subtle blue-greens and yellows, with just a hint of darkness, like something was off. A girl's image hovered at the top over two friends walking, their backs to us. It wasn't what I'd imagined--and I loved it. It did what my imagined covers hadn't: it portrayed the eeriness, the spookiness, the ethereal sense of loss, but it also showed healing and moving on. It showed what I had always felt, that even though The After Girls is dark and gothic, it is more about love and friendship than death and grief.

"Though I did have some tiny tweaks, which were taken into consideration, the cover changed only slightly from the initial version I saw--and I was fine with that. Even though I had little input, in the end, I think it's very me. It's youthful without being overly so, mysterious and hopeful. As a good friend (who doesn't read YA) said when I first showed it to her: 'It looks like a book I'd actually want to read!'"

Thanks, Leah! The trailer is lovely as well -- the watercolor atmosphere of the cover and the look in the trailer appeal to me a lot.

What do you guys think?

Win-It Wednesday: Spellcaster by Claudia Gray

SPELLCASTER-coverRuth Silver is the winner of The Boyfriend App! Hooray! Also, I believe there is a lot of money to be made in the teleportation field. Someone should get on that. This week I'm giving away a signed copy of Claudia Gray's latest, Spellcaster (read the Cover Story here). The lovely Ms. Gray fulfilled my Girl Scout cookie wishes this year, and included a book to boot!

To enter, just follow the rafflecopter lead below. Bonus if you leave a comment telling me what spell you'd cast if you could... I believe, at this moment in time, mine would be a spell that would make me an amazing cook who always had every ingredient she needed in her pantry, whenever the urge to make dinner struck. (As a non-spellcaster, tonight I ate leftovers again. Sigh.)

Good luck!

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Cover Stories: Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy

Cover w TaglineTerra Elan McVoy will be teaching with me at Smith College this summer (yay!) and she's back with a brand new book and a cover that somehow is both very in keeping with her past covers and also very different. Here she is to tell the tale: "I know I'm like a broken record at this point, but the case of Criminal's cover, as with all of my other books (save the paperback edition of Pure), I didn't have much to say when it came to the design, other than, 'BAM! This is awesome!'

"Since Criminal is in so many ways a very different book for me though (edgier and darker, with a much less confident protagonist), I was curious how the design team would work to set this book apart from the beautiful sweetness of the others, and yet keep it in line enough so that they would all look good together. I knew I didn't want anything that too strongly focused on the violence of the book (a gun, for example, or handcuffs or jail), though I did wonder about utilizing police CRIME SCENE tape or something like that.

"What makes the final cover so perfect to me, is that it is definitely different from the others (all black, notably different font), but it also blends with them. Like the rest (below), there's the title, and my name, a solid background, and one stand-out visual that makes it pop. (In this case, the golden bullet.) Even though there is a hint of the violence on the cover, it feels perfect because it is so simple, and so symbolic. That the bullet is tearing through the title, shattering it into little bits, is perfect not just because it looks cool, but because this violent act of Dee's completely shatters Nikki's life.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 10.01.57 PM

"I will admit that when I saw that the cover was completely black, I did have a moment of, 'Oh no! How is this going to stand out now?' since my friends have had fun sending photos of Pure, especially, popping out on the shelf amidst a field of darkly-covered YA titles. I think the end result is so perfect and gorgeous, however, that I'll be able to handle it. All in all, I'm very pleased with the whole jacket, and I hope it entices readers to pick it up and read what's inside!"

Thanks, Terra! I really love your covers and the way that one symbol stands in as the full design. (See Terra's past Cover Stories for Being Friends With Boys, The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, After the Kiss and Pure.)

What do you guys think?

Win-It Wednesday: The Boyfriend App

boyfriend appI have been a very remiss Win-It Wednesday host. Sorry! The winner of The Chocolate War is Samantha Jo P!  (Your win is just in time for the Stacked Read & Blog Along with this book!) This week, I'm giving away a signed copy of The Boyfriend App, by Katie Sise. Here's a pic of Katie reading from her book at Thistle & Clover last week (she also makes really awesome jewelry, hence the table display -- such a fun book party!).

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 7.23.39 AM

Reviews so far have called this book "too cute for words" (Book Scoop) and "a unique story line and a spunky, nerdy protagonist that doesn't fall at the feet of others" (Book Jems). Yay!

To win a signed copy of Katie's book, enter below in various ways. I promise to pick a winner faster this time!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Wednesday!


Cover Stories: Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Shadowlands_CVR_500px-2 Kate Brian, aka Kieran Scott, is here to share her perspective on the cover for her latest novel, Shadowlands. "I’ve never had the privilege of being asked for input on my covers, so I’m always holding my breath a little bit, waiting to see what the designers come up with. Most of the time, when I see the final result, I breathe a sigh of relief, and that was definitely the case with Shadowlands. I love, love love this cover. Every time I look at it I think I love it a little bit more. I love the moodiness of the colors, the gold shimmer of the title, the way the clouds and the birds wrap around the letters. It seems to be in constant motion. But I especially love the reaction it inspires from readers when they first see it. At an event the other day, a girl picked up the novel and said, 'Oooooh! Spooky!' And then she gave it a little hug. You really can’t ask for more than that.

shadowlands original"All that being said, I think I loved the original cover even more (right). The proposal for Shadowlands was put together by the awesome folks at my packager, Alloy Entertainment, and then pitched to a couple of publishers. When they originally sent out the proposal, they included a mock-up of the cover so the first thing the editors at the publishing houses saw was a piece of art that set the mood. That cover included a stock photo of a girl, who faced away from the camera, and was looking up at a flock of hovering and diving crows. You couldn’t see her face, but you could tell she was running. She had this voluminous skirt she was holding up with both hands, and with her face tilted toward the sky, you got the feeling she was terrified of the crows, or of what they symbolized, and that she was running for her life. Once the trilogy pitch sold, the powers-that-be decided to hire models and have a shoot, which is great, but the girl on the cover of Shadowlands the novel, as opposed to Shadowlands the proposal, just doesn’t convey that fear. She looks almost like she’s daydreaming. She’s beautiful and I love the movement of her hair and that she’s still looking up at the dreary sky, but I do miss that fear I felt with the first cover. There’s definitely a terrifying element to the book (girl on the run from a serial killer), so it was nice to have that emotion conveyed. Still, I’m more than happy with the final product, and happier every time I hear that, 'Oooooh!'

BH_70-nCcAELfal.jpg-large"As for the question that seems to be on every reader’s lips, the girl on the cover is supposed to be Darcy, and the girl on the back cover is Rory. This always confuses people because the book is from Rory’s POV and she’s a blond tomboy, so the cover doesn’t meet with their expectations. I have to admit, this was not the designer’s fault. Originally, the novel was from both sister’s POVs, something that changed during the editing process, but by the time the change was made the cover was already done. It was too late to replace Darcy with Rory. They both appear on the cover of the second novel, Here After (right), which is this awesome dark purple color and possibly even spookier than the first. The great thing about both covers is I think they’re intriguing enough to catch a browser’s eye and make them pick up the books, which is really all I want out of a cover! Reel ‘em in so they’ll read the flap. Keeping them there is my job."

Thanks, Kieran! I got a Hitchcock vibe from this cover from the start, so I was spooked immediately. I like seeing the girl more on the final cover, but I do love the fear in that first cover. Tough call.

What do you guys think?