Evolution of a cover, part 3

Originally published at Publishing Renaissance on February 12, 2009.


Thank you for your continuing indulgence on the travails of designing a cover if you’re not a designer of covers. As I said last week, it took me almost a year and hundreds of hours of Photoshopping to come to the cover I did, which I affectionately call The Bewbies™. Originally, The Proviso was one book and it was enormous. I originally titled it Barefoot Through Fire. Then I figured I’d probably do better to split it out into 3 parts, 1 part per romance. This is the story of book 3.


As discussed, music really influenced me in the writing and designing of this book, both philosophically and thematically. The heroine in the third couple’s book, Justice, loves Rush (“Neil Peart writes my hymns and Rush is my choir.”)and her favorite song is “Freewill.” Since free will is one of the major themes in this couple’s relationship, I titled the book thusly. And Justice is very well aware how the song “New World Man” fits Knox. The clock, you will notice, is almost at midnight, which is also significant, but I’m not going to tell you how. 😀


And Justice for All… was the original title to the Knox and Justice story that I began in 1995. I liked the duality of the theme and Justice’s name being encompassed in the title, but when I got to working on it again in the fall of 2007, I was uneasy with how trite it seemed, which was probably unnecessary insecurity on my part. But then I changed it back, leaving off the “and.” Trite or not, it still fit the story.

The courthouse image is that of Platte County, Missouri. It’s the real county on which I based Chouteau County. Chouteau County has a bad reputation for corruption, and its prosecutor, Knox, blatantly fulfills and spreads that reputation. This is the only made-up place in the whole series. I don’t know the Platte County prosecutor, but I’m sure he’s a nice guy and I’d really hate to be dragged all the way up there to account for myself for casting aspersions on him and his county.  And you know, it’s a really pretty courthouse and deserves to be on a book cover.

[Added November 6, 2009: The Platte County prosecutor’s name is Eric. Eric Zahnd, actually. I had no idea when I was writing The Proviso and Stay. And…like Eric Cipriani, he leans libertarian. Freaky!]


The third cover seemed to cover all my bases thematically. Or at least, that’s what I was trying to do. Since Justice is a girl and the Goddess Justice is always depicted as a female, it fits that way, too. However, like the other 3 covers, this represented only a small part of structure of book 3, much less the structure of the series. The art is by Edwin Abbey for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvanian capitol building.


What’s different about book 3 is that its theme is not overtly sexual. The relationship of couple number 1 is based on sex and the “sinfulness” of sex; couple number 1 communicates through sex. The relationship of couple number 2, while not based on sex, is more sensual than sexual and has no “sin” component. The relationship of couple number 3 includes sex, but their issues are those of the mind: agency, trust, philosophy, and interdependence.

So I had a real problem in that the other 2 book covers were similar thematically and this book cover just…wasn’t. And it wasn’t ever going to be. When I put all 3 of these together, they were jarring, and I wasn’t fully satisfied with cover #3. I probably would have changed it 2 or 3 more times if I hadn’t finally decided to braid all 3 stories together. But I did, and that’s where my experimentation with the individual covers stopped.


Next week, the evolution of The Bewbies™.

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