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Friday, September 6, 2013

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--LOIS WINSTON, WRITING AS EMMA CARLYLE


new cover

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
I’m both traditionally published under my own name and indie published under my own name and as Emma Carlyle. For my indie books I’ve been lucky enough to have a very talented son creating my book covers for me. Even though I have a degree in graphic design and illustration, that degree was earned back during prehistoric times when we drew by hand. Most of the skills I learned in college are now obsolete, and my life has taken me in a different direction, one where I never learned how to illustrate on a computer. So I’ve come up with the vision for my covers, and my son has executed them using computer programs I don’t know how to use.

For the most part I’ve been quite happy with this partnership. Except when I’m not. Sometimes his execution is not quite my vision. Such was the case with the cover he created for my romantic suspense, Someone to Watch Over Me. The cover has always bothered me because it seemed more thriller than romantic suspense.
old cover

I’ve also not been happy that I’m so dependent on someone else. I like having control over my life and career. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve embraced indie publishing. So I decided it was about time I learned how to create book covers on the computer. Last weekend I made a concerted effort to learn the mysteries of Photoshop and create a new cover for Someone to Watch Over Me.

So what do you think about my first foray into the world of designing in the twenty-first century? Do you agree with me that the new cover says “romantic suspense” more than the old cover?

Someone to Watch Over Me
Dori Johnson is in hiding from the Russian Mafia. Six years ago she committed a series of felonies in order to create new identities for herself and her younger brother and sister. They’ve kept a low profile, living in fear of their lives ever since.

When Niles York, Dori’s boss, offers her the opportunity of a lifetime, she turns down the job, not wanting to risk discovery. However, her brother and sister convince her that after six years, she’s unrecognizable, and she can’t pass up such an opportunity. Reluctantly, Dori agrees to become the face and spokesperson for York’s new retail venture.

Jake Prentiss suspects Dori is hiding a secret, and he’s not going to let her jeopardize his friend’s business. As a former government operative, he calls in  some favors and starts digging into Dori’s past. What he finds has him convinced she’s out to sabotage York Enterprises. Too bad he’s falling for her.

Dori is falling in love with Jake, but she doesn’t trust him. He works for the government, and she’s a criminal. But then her life is threatened, and she has to make a decision that could either get her killed or put her behind bars for a very long time.

29 comments:

Suzie Tullett said...

I think it's fantastic that you're learning how to do your own cover art, Lois. When it comes to these modern day technologies I wouldn't have a clue where to start.

I can see what you mean about your first cover being more thriller. Also the relationship between the two models is a little ambiguous without a write up explaining their relationship. Although all kudos to your son as it's quite a task interpreting someone else's vision x

Lois Winston said...

Suzie, I think I'm half-Luddite, but I force myself to adapt. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Victoria Adams said...

Second cover does have more of the element of romantic suspense in hint and there is a tease of Daniel Craig in the male.
I'm not artistic - I go with a cover artist. But congrats on designing your cover.
Tweeted.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Victoria! I actually thought the male model looked a bit like Kevin Bacon.

I'm apparently one of the few people on the planet who doesn't like Daniel Craig as James Bond. He's a great actor, but to me he doesn't fit the image that's been cultivated for so long in the franchise. He plays Bond more as someone who grew up on the streets of London rather than someone groomed in boarding schools.

Sheila Boneham said...

Completely agree, Lois! And brava for taking this next step. You're an inspiration to those of us still hanging back in the traditional publishing world, but longing for more control over our public authorly faces. Good post - thanks!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Sheila. I'd still like to keep a foot in both worlds, but the right offer has to come along to get me to sign another traditional contract. There's something very liberating about having control over one's destiny.

Kathleen Kaska said...

I like the new cover. It reminds me of the Avengers. I also admire you for learning this knew skill. I'm still trying to figure out how Twitter works. Great job, Lois.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Kathleen! I did master Twitter, but I'm not convinced it really matters. I don't know that Twitter is very useful for much of anything. It seems like it's mostly about millions of people shouting 140 characters into a vast void. How many people actual read all those tweets, and does anyone really care?

Elise M Stone said...

I definitely think the new cover is better for romantic suspense. And I definitely envy you your graphic design skills. I would love to be able to change out covers on my books on my own rather than paying a cover designer, but I'm afraid what I would come up with would look like a kindergartner's collage.

I have to disagree on Twitter though. I find it very useful. I follow a local person who has more news than any of the news stations. He tweets traffic accidents, police actions, lost pets, you name it. Recently it was the way I found out it was my ISP causing my email problems. Followers tweet him information, which he shares, and questions. If he doesn't know the answer, he retweets the question to see if a follower can fill the rest of us in. The perfect use of social media!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Elise. I'm lucky that I have a background in design. What I lack are the technical skills that are being taught in art school these days. I've got a lot of catching up to do, and much of it is too overwhelming. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it takes much more time and patience!

As for Twitter, of course there are exceptions, and it looks like you've found a good one. I just get bleary-eyed scrolling through all those tweets in search of something meaningful. Still, I do scroll, hoping to find the hidden gems.

Rose Anderson said...

You did such a nice job on that cover.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Rose. Glad you like it.

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Love your cover, Lois. You've done a great job of resurrecting those graphic design skills. Another career in the making?

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Joanne! Not sure I can handle juggling yet another career.

Morgan Mandel said...

Both covers are great, but the one you did accurately depicts your book's genre, and that's important.

Morgan Mandel

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Morgan. That's why I wanted to change it.

DirtyMartini said...

The second cover most definitely has more of an air of mystery about it...btw, my cover design skills are pretty prehistoric as well...I do know how to handle a box of Crayolas and a piece of construction paper though...

Cheers,
Alan.

Lyndi Lamont said...

Lois, I definitely agree that the new cover says romantic suspense versus the old cover, which is suspense without the romance. And I am in awe of you learning how to create a cover in a weekend! Wish I could figure it out. I've tried, but it's so confusing. I'm really not a Luddite, but there are some things I just can't master. Maybe some day. You have inspired me to try again. :)

Lois Winston said...

Alan, if you ever start writing children's books, maybe those Crayolas and construction paper will come in handy. ;-)

Lyndi, don't give up. If I can do it, you can do it.

Jerri Hines said...

Love the cover! Great job!

Anonymous said...

Superb job on the new cover, Lois! I agree with K. Kaska - it is like the Avengers - but the 2013 version - so you are ahead! You are one fantastic woman - the way you plow right into hard new challenges - you inspire me! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Jerri!

Thelma, you've started my day off with a smile on my face--and a bit of a blush!

Kris Bock said...

I like the image and it definitely looks more like romantic suspense with a touch of humor. I'm afraid that the text at the bottom makes the cover look more amateur, though – too many different fonts. I'd recommend using the same font for both names and the "writing as," *maybe* with one of them italicized.

Karen McCullough said...

This is just my opinion, so take it for what it's worth, but I'm going to agree with Kris that while the new version definitely says romantic suspense, it doesn't look quite as professional and polished as the older one.

As Kris noted, there are too many different fonts and the title font is likely going to be hard to read at smaller sizes. I'm also bothered by the couple's pose. On the plain background, with no context, the angle of their bodies looks awkward. To be honest, they look like a pair of models, posed on a dark background rather than two people in a dangerous situation.
Again, that's just my opinion, since you asked, but it's clear that a lot of other people really like the cover.

Lois Winston said...

Kris and Karen, thanks for your honest and constructive criticism. I'll definitely take your comments into consideration.

Claire said...

I like the new cover, Lois, and think it conveys romantic suspense more than the first.

I like the "off angle" of the models. It looks like she wants to be as engaged in the drama as he is, and puts her into a personal space with him. Good job.

If you are artistic as in hand drawing, there are several tools out there to do that directly on the computer. I have an artist client to whom I recommended Bamboo - a small drawing tablet with a USB connection - and she loves it. I don't use it too much, as I'm not really an artist like she is, but I've found it easy to use. You might want to try it if you'd like to go with original art that you can bring into photoshop and add the text.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Claire. In the book Dori is a take-charge heroine not used to having help from anyone. She bristle at the thought of Jake "protecting" her. That's why I chose that particular photo. Glad you like it!

I'll check into Bamboo. Thanks for mentioning it.

June Shaw said...

Great job, Lois! The cover you created does say romantic suspense much more than your first one.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, June!