Friday, September 23, 2011

Greek Billionaires and Handsome Strangers

I'm suffering from severe attacks of the sleepies these days, so a big TGIF! Before I pass you over to the wonderful Kate Walker (who has a very relevant and timely post on covers), I want to give a giant shout out to Leigh T Moore. She's just opened up an editing business, so if you're looking for someone experienced to cast an eye over your MS, she's your gal.

I also want to say a big thank you to everyone who has and is continuing to spread the word and review Willow! I'm so thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful group of supporters.

So, here's fellow RNA and romance writer extraordinaire Kate Walker, on 'Finally Getting the Book Cover I Wanted'.


One upon a time, as all good stories should begin, my editor would ask me to contribute some ideas for the way the cover of my book should look when it was finally produced.   I used to think long and hard about this – describe my hero very carefully, give glowing descriptions of my heroine’s beauty, the style of her hair . . .  I’d give a scene that I thought would look great, something atmospheric, sensual, passionate. Hopefully something that would really represent the book I ‘d written. But when the covers finally appeared, often it seemed that – well, either I hadn’t written the book I thought I’d written, or the art department didn’t see my  story – or my characters in quite the way that I thought they should.

There was my very first book – The Chalk Line (1984) . The hero was described as having jet-black hair  - I got an ice-cold blond . Admittedly I’d asked for a snow scene, but I’d never imagined that the weather was going to bleach my hero’s hair quite so badly!   Then there was The Golden Thief. (The hero, an actor named Leigh Benedict was the ‘Golden Thief’ of the tile –he was meant to be gorgeous – tall, blond, devastating. A Robert Redford in his heyday type.  Hmmm – what I got was RR well past his heyday – or perhaps it was Robert Redford’s older, fatter, uglier brother.   And his heroine wasn’t quite the young, fabulous blonde I’d hoped for either.  In fact I did rather wonder if she was meant to be the hero’s mother, rather than the sexy, passionate love of his life.

Fast forward a few years and there was  Wife For A Day  ( 1998)– obviously being the wife of my hero Ronan Guerin, even if just for a day, had all been too much for Lily!  Her hair – her strange, wild, crazily bouffant hair had turned totally grey or again perhaps that was his mother  the hero was trying to force feed with a strawberry.

I began to wonder if I really had written the book I thought I had. Or were my heroes developing some strange mother fixation?   I’m still forced to wonder at times because the cover of Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride (2007) seems to show a  mother – in a bridal dress – together with her  tall – v-e-r-y tall  . . er – husband?  No, he only looks about 16. Or perhaps I’ve got it wrong again and I really wrote a story about a cougar heroine and her 16 year old toy boy?

There was my first ever sheikh book –  Desert Affair (2002) - and I was truly sheikhen when I saw the cover. My son thought someone had spilled ink all over the book  -  and for ever after this one was affectionately known as The Blob because of the big dark stain that spread across the cover. It doesn’t look too bad in the paperback, but believe me, when it was in a hardback edition with the top of what is now clearly a towering sand dune cut of by the title and my name, it just looked exactly like – The Blob.  The title was a little iffy too – you see, Desert Affair was actually set mostly in London – in a wild, fierce snowstorm.  But what with the Blob and Desert Affair, it sold pretty well!

I tried everything I could – I went into even more lyrical and detailed descriptions, I cut picture out of magazines, I  pointed out just who had been my inspiration for the hero of each book  (Hugh Jackman as a Spaniard, Hugh Jackman as an Italian, Hugh Jackman  as an Argentinian. None of them looked at all like Hugh Jackman).   My very first cover in the ‘new style’ covers that came out recently – The Proud Wife (2011)  really wasn’t bad at all – it  featured a glamorous, beautiful woman – it was a stunning photograph. But – well, my heroine was a passionate, voluptuous heroine, fiery and feisty, not the glacially calm creature on the front of this book.

So when my latest book –  The  Return of The Stranger -  the one that’s out on 2nd September  (4th October if you’re in  America) was accepted, I really just gave in. A tall dark hunk was my hero – the book is inspired by Wuthering Heights  so I probably added ‘gipsyish’ or some such. Nothing  more.  And I didn’t hope too hard and I got . . . .

 Perfection!  That’s my hero just as I imagined him – he’s dark and sexy . . .  and everyone I’ve shown this cover to loves him. There’s no blob, no sign of his mother . . . it’s just Heath Montanha  - the hero of The Return of the Stranger, very close to the way I’d imagined him. There’s a moral to this story – say little, keep it zipped – and hope, just hope that someone in marketing has read the book and decides to give it the cover it deserves.

For now, I’m happy – so I’ll settle for that

 Standing high on the windswept moors, the lone figure of Heath Montanha vows vengeance on the woman who destroyed the last fragments of his heart...Lady Katherine Charlton has never forgotten the stablehand with dangerous fists and a troubled heart from her childhood. Now the rebel is back, his powerful anger concealed under a polished and commanding veneer. When ten years of scandal and secrets are unleashed, with a passionate, furious kiss, Heath's deepest, darkest wish crystallises...Revenge - and Kat - will be his!
 WebsiteBlogFacebook Author Page created by Romance Book Paradise Promotions.

Kate is generously giving away one copy of her novel, Bedded by the Greek Billionaire (pwoar!) to a lucky commenter (commentator?). Thank you, Kate! Happy weekend, everyone.

108 comments:

  1. Not commenting to win, but wanted to say I'm so glad I didn't go through all of that with my covers!

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  2. Kate, this brought a smile to my face! But I totally agree, the cover you got this time is perfect, though sadly I think he might be just a bit too young for me... I can dream though!

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  3. I smiled all the way through this! Must have been so frustrating - but I'm so glad you have the perfect cover now!! :)

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  4. Kate, I adore your hunk and thanks for sharing your cover stories.How disappointing it must have been!

    Covers-bad ones-have been very much on my mind at the moment.

    A timely post indeed, Talli. ;)

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  5. I've heard so many disaster cover stories! I'm glad to hear sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. Means I have a fifty fifty shot of no problems!

    The cover is really good! He is one heck of a hunk :)

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  6. Hi Kate - great post!

    I'd love to win the Greek book - but I'm more than intrieged with the new one - you had me at Heathcliff!

    Janice x

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  7. Great cover!! Love the post. Nice to meet you Kate. :)

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  8. LOL - What a fab post! And just for the record, my hero description always starts with, 'Imagine Hugh Jackman...' ;)

    I do love your new cover though, very sexy!

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  9. Mother fetish? Cougar with 16-year-old boy toy? HA! HA!I would love to have seen those covers. Glad you got a perfect one this time.

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  10. Hi Kate! Welcome to my blog - it's a pleasure to host you. Thanks for such a wonderful post on a great topic near and dear to every author's heart.

    And thank you, everyone, for the comments!

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  11. Oh my, that last cover is simply beautiful ;-)

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  12. Wow, he does fit the bill exactly! Congrats on all your stories.

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  13. He IS scrummy and good enough to eat! Yay!! Hello Talli, hello Kate! Take care
    x

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  14. Wow, what a journey! So glad you got a winner this time around! :)

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  15. Loved your amusing take on the covers, Kate! So glad you got the perfect cover at last (and he does look deliciously gypsyish)

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  16. Its great to meet you, Kate! Best wishes for you and Bedded by the Greek Billionaire.

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  17. That's a great tale of cover woe. Glad you finally got one that matched your vision. Wow. :)

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  18. Think he looks very like McSteamy from Greys Anatomy - gorgeous Kate!

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  19. 18 comments! I go out for the morning - there was no wine - ahem - no food in the fridge - and I come back to all these posts! You've been busy!

    First of a ll - a greta big thank you to Talli for inviting me along and hosting my blog today - I know all about those attacks of the sleepies so I'm agreeing TGIF! Now I need to read through the posts and say Hi to everyone. Thak you all for visiting

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  20. Alex - believe me, I wish I hadn't had to go through all of this wit my covers! A good cover is a delight - a bad one . . . my editor assures me she loves the next one but I'll reserve judgement till I seee

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  21. 'and I was truly sheikhen when I saw the cover.'

    Cute. :)

    Congrats on getting where you are, today, Kate. Long, beautiful journey.

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  22. Hi Susie - I'm glad I made you smile - that and the fact that it's Friday is a plus. The cover hunk is rather too young for me too - but no one said we can't still appreciate beauty!

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  23. Jemi - if I made readers smile then I'm happy. Believe me, what with some of the covers - and some of the titles - Bedded by The Greek Billionaire for example -publication day can be a trial as well as a joy. And lots of readers think we choose both titles and cover. (Though the title of my next one - The Devil and Miss Jones was actually my suggestion. I couldn't believe they let me have it.

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  24. Hello Glynis - I took a look at your blog and I love your hoe. Is it as idyllic as it seems? I'm so glad you love my hunk - he's earning a real buzz in the romance writign world. I wish you good covers for the future

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  25. Hi Jen - hmm 50/50 shot at no problems? I don;t think I'd go quite that far! as well as the WTF were they thinking - there are the Huh? covers, the 'well at least I can put up with this one' and the 'it's nice but it doesn't look anything like my hero and heroie . . .' But then I suppose authors are never really pleased unless a cover looks very like what's in their imagination

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  26. Hi Janice - good to see you here. To tell you the truth, my editor had me at 'Heathcliff' when she said 'we want you to write. . . ' But bits of the book were tricky as Wuthering Heights isn't really a love story. I love the book so I hope I've done it justice as a romance - The Bronte Society tought so- they asked me to talk about writing it in their Festival last week

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  27. Hello salarsen - nice to meet you too. Thanks for commenting

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  28. Xandra - you and I are on the same wavelength - my workshops are know for their rather large images on Hugh J - want an alpha hero - Hugh Jackman as Wolverine - Beta - HJ as Leopold - Gamma? HJ in Animal Attraction . . . .

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  29. Em-Musing - if you really want to see those covers (though I shoujld warn you that some of the experiences might scar you for life!) they are all up on my web site (http:///www.kate-walker.com) under the names of the books.

    Enjoy - er if that's the word!

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  30. Hello Talli - it's a pleasure to be here - thank you for inviting me along. Hope you get plenty of sleep at the weekend

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  31. The cover my publishing company gave me for my first book was a disappointment for sure. Striking model in high fashion clothing... who looked nothing at ALL like my plain, shy heroine.

    I love being an indie author now because I can get my covers exactly as I like them, so no more heartaches with misrepresented books. Most people agree the cover I did for myself was WAY better than the 'professionals' came up with. Go figure!

    Your new cover is gorgeous! So perfect!

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  32. Hello Sarah, nice to meet you - that does seem to be so many people's reaction to my Return of the Stranger cover - it was certainly mine

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  33. Talli! You are too cool. Thanks for the shout out, and wow. I dream of my beautiful book cover, so this was a great guest post. Thanks, Kate!!! :o0 <3

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  34. Hi Clarisa - he does fit the bill doesn't he? Personally - for 'exactly' I'd have preferred him a little bit more ruffled-looking but I'll take this one happily

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  35. 'Kitty' thank you for visiting. I have to tell you that I have a Charlie Cat too - but he's only just one year old - but as Maine Coon he's already BIG and still growing. Sadly I lost my eldest - Sid to oral cancer this week. We don't know how old he was as he just wandered in off the streets one day. I wish your Charlie many happy years more

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  36. Hello Karen - it was a bit of a journey fro9m the first book to here. The thing is, I don't expect that it's really over yet. Each time I get a new book, I shall have my fingers tightly crossed - and I expect there will be some more horrors before we're done

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  37. Hello Stephen - nice to meet you too. Actually Bedded By The Greek Billionaire came out . . . when did it come out? - 2008 - I just got a Japanese edition of it this week. The 'hunk' - Return of the Stranger is out in shops now.

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  38. Hi LG - thank yu m- I believe any conver success is worth celebrating - you never know what's coming next! But at least this one will keep me going for a while.

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  39. Ooops - so sorry Rosemary - my scrolling skipped you - I didn't mean to ignore you. I thik the reason why this cover works is that he looks gipsyish - could be Brazilian, as my hero is - and that stare straight to the camera . . . but then some people have complained about the beard - some people are never satisfied!

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  40. Hello LG - great to meet you adn thanks for commenting. This cover was so right I just had to celebrate it

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  41. Hi Scarlet - 'He looks like Mc Steamy' is what so many people say when they see the Return of The Stranger cover.

    Did you like your very first cover? And have you see your next one?

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  42. 'Sheikhen' indeed Suze! I think I used that when I did get one good cover for a 'sheikh' book - but I don't do them often. Thank you for your congratulations

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  43. Kate,
    What an interesting journey you've had w/ people interpreting your characters far differently than you've imagined/written them! I do like your current cover.

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  44. India - commiserations on the cover that was just not right. I think the art department should be made to read the book before they start planning a cover. I know editorial fill in a form - and we authors can add in any comments if we want, but I'm never sure how much these are listened to.

    Your own choice of cover would be so much better because you know your characters inside out and can hope to portray them so much better

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  45. Hello LTM - thanks for commenting - and I wish you lots of beauiful - and perfect - book covers to come

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  46. Book covers can be so iffy, lol...That last look is certainly a hugh jackman whatever, yummy!

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  47. I don't know what I expected to see when I clicked on Desert Affair, but it wasn't the literal thing with no humans in sight.

    I too had a list of things I wanted for my cover, but got none of them with the first two. However, luckily for me, the covers are awesome.

    Oh, yeah, that guy does look good.

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  48. Okay, this post was actually hilarious. Thanks for sharing, ladies!

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  49. It's always interesting to find out the stories behind book covers. Glad you finally got the cover you wanted!
    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  50. Love the new cover! No comment on some of the others...

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  51. That's so great that you got the cover you wanted, congratulations!! :) And the cover is GORGEOUS. :)

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  52. Have a good weekend! You deserve good sleeping and a little bit of good wine, of course :) Thank you for your interesting post.

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  53. Thanks for sharing your story Kate. I love the cover! Have a great weekend! :)

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  54. Hi Kate,

    It's nice to meet you. :) Loved this post - thanks for sharing!

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  55. Heath Montanha looks like Dr Sloan from Gray's Anatomy. I like that cover!

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  56. I agree with helencaldwell. McSteamy! So handsome.

    I guess that is part of the appeal of self-publishing. There is supposed to be more control on the finished product, the book cover especially keen since it's the face of the product.

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  57. Hugh Jackman was the inspiration for one of my main characters! Swoon...

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  58. Hi Kate! Wow.. so much behind the covers...and I'm really glad that the latest one worked out perfectly ;)

    McSteamy just about sounds perfect!

    And Talli, I am also sleepy most of the days..something to do with the fall?

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  59. Kate, i had a smile all the while i was reading this post. Wow to all the mishaps regarding the covers.

    But the cover that you have got for 'The Return of the Stranger' is perfect. I would buy the book just by looking at the cover.

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  60. That's a pretty attractive guy. Sometimes the men on romance covers turn me off. Not this one!

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  61. Wow! Great story! I love book covers, and reading the author's thoughts along with the covers was awesome. Glad she got the cover she wanted in the end!

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  62. Frankly speaking Kate, I thought I was the only one to think about the cover of the books but we are in the same boat. By the way i really loved the cover of "The Proud Wife". It really enlightens the nature of the main characters.

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  63. Hi Kate,great interview. I think cover determines the interest of readers to some extend. It was great to know about the stories behind your covers.

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  64. Wow! What a journey you have had. I really enjoyed reading this post, Kate. Also. thanks Talli for having her here!

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  65. Thanks Kate,
    As you said, Less is More...
    and give a lot of thanks in advance!! I haven't gotten to the stage of a cover, but I'll remember your words!
    regards,
    Lizzi

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  66. Yummy..ahem..gorgeous cover!

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  67. Sorry to be late getting back to chat with you all - I've been so busy and unexpected visitors meant that the day was not my own - but I'm here now, and everyone has been busy commenting so I'll see what's going on . . .

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  68. notesfromnadir - I think everyone interprets a description in their own way. It's like the cliché 'tall dark and handsome' - 'tall' can mean such different things - I'm 5 foot 9 inches so to be tall, a guy needs to be 6foot+ - but for a woman of barely 5 foot it's very different.

    And I know lots of 'handsome' men who just leave me cold - yet are perfecti0on to someone else.

    But this cover does seem to have hit the right spot for so many!

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  69. Myne - covers can be iffy, really iffy - and donwright bad! But this one is special - because at last they got it right

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  70. JL - believe me - that 'literal thing with no humans in sight' was not what I expected at all either! I was a bit stunned (understatement) to see the image I was given. There were alot of books with sand dunes on the covers at that time. Now I'm forced to wonder - which would have been worse - a sand dune and no people - or really really wrong people? Hmmm

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  71. Matthew - I'm glad you enjoyed my post. I hoped to raise a smile or a laugh. And some of those covers, all you can do is laugh - otherwise you'd cry

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  72. 'nutschell' - Hi - Covers are a topic that I think readers know little about. One reader thinks I personally choose my own covers - and that I know the modeals personally . . . I wish! She's asked for an introduction to the guy on this cover!

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  73. Sarah - I'm glad you like this cover. As to some of the others - well, better no comment on some of them, I think. The honest comment might not be appropriate for a public forum

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  74. Hello Bethany - thanks for commenting - and I'm glad you approve - it's 100% ositive so far

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  75. Hi Olga - I'm not sure if you mean that it's me - or Talli - that desrves the wine and sleep - but believe me I'll be grateful for both and I hope Talli gets both too.

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  76. Hi Catherine - thaks for commenting - I hope you have a great weekend too

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  77. Nice to meet you too Shannon - thanks for commenting

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  78. Hi Helen - and Angela - two more votes for 'McSteamy' for this cover - I'm just grateful that they gave me this cover and didn't decide to keep in for a Medical romance in that case.

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  79. L. Diane - I think that Mr Jackman is currently the most popular role model for so many romance nbovelists when creating their heroes - he is very . . .inspirational!

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  80. Hello again Ju - good to see you here. The truth is that I think there is even more behind the covers that I know of - but the Art/Marketing Dept don't share too much till we get to see what they've decided on. And then it's too late to change it!

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  81. Sonali - I'm so glad I made you smile. I was smiling as I wrote the post - and at least this post had a 'happy ending' with this cover. I hope a lot of people share your feeling that they'd just buy the book for the cover. I could live with that!

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  82. Hi Theresa - some of the models on the book covers look gay - which is not the image wanted! Some are someone else's idea of what is handsome - and that doesn't work for me. Sometimes - just sometimes - the 'hero' is just right.

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  83. Hello Peggy - thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about the covers - and the way I felt. As I was writing I did thank that if I'd had some better book covers that I wouldn't have had so much fun writing the post - so it's an ill wnd . . .

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  84. Kritisha - we're definitelty in the same boat. Did you mean you liked the UK cover of The Proud Wife - or the USA one? They're very different. But I do think some of the UK covers are so much better these days.

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  85. Hi Rishal - the cover is definitely very important in making a reader pick the book up from the bookshop shelves, We all hope that a book is bought because it has our name on it, but the cover does help - specially with new readers.

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  86. Hello Anne - definitely a journey through book covers - and I suspect I'll continue to keep journeying - so I'll hope for some more good cover stories too.

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  87. bluemistlizzi I hope that when you get to the stage of having a boo cover for yurself that you have some really great ones that you're truly happy with. Good luck!

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  88. Donna - I agree - Yummy describes him . . . ahem the cover very nicely

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  89. Hi Kate ~ I'm late popping in as I was away for a couple of days. Just had to tell you I got a chuckle or two out of this post as I own some of those covers/books that you weren't too happy with. Since the North American cover will be different, I probably will only get to enjoy your latest here on the net. He's a bit young for me but he's dreamy anyway. Love the title The Devil and Miss Jones.

    So sorry to hear that Sid passed away. You have had a tough time this year with your fur babies. I know you have many happy memories of Sid. Charlie will take over Sid's duties now.

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  90. Hi Talli and Kate .. great post on covers .. shows us how the Chinese whispers never work ... but eventually all things come right - and he does look one handsome 'chap' .. with lots of intrigue ..

    Fun .. and Talli - hope you're having a good weekend, getting some sleep and enjoying life in general - wonderful Indian Summer weather .. cheers Hilary

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  91. Hi Kate, Hello Talli,

    I'd like to say I'm the one person who've always picked up a HM&B book without really looking at the cover! Now I do check out the authors name, since I know so many.

    But bringing it home is a different story, I've a eighteen year old daughter, and unless the cover model is very young and hot, she won't read it!

    Before I would just dive into a story without much attention to the cover, but now we have intense debates on covers in my house!

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  92. Lucky you, Kate! As you know, my upcoming cover is dire. It's a crap shoot. But you have to rejoice when you get a good one.

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  93. How frustrating for Kate. It just goes to show that illustrators don't often read the text. Although I have to agree that this recent one has come up trumps. What a hunk!

    Oh yes, and a message for Talli, there’s a brand new award waiting for you on my blog. It’s a ‘thank you’ type of award :-)

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  94. Kate, Oh my! You had to just start to laugh as each cover came to you. I am so glad this latest one is perfection! And...that stranger can return to me anytime! :-)

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  95. Hi Kaelee - I think you have one of the largest collections of Kate Walker books - with some of the very oldest covers! - in existence. One day you must tell me which ones you don't have so I can look out for them for you.

    Thank you for your kind thoughts about Sid - it's hard but I know I didn the right thing for him. And he trained Charlie well to pick my prize winners - usually right down to the picking an extra winner or two!

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  96. Thank you Hilary - I'm gload you enjoyed the post. And yu put your finger right on the point about this cover that really made me happy - that 'lots of intrigue. It's not just that he's a very handsome 'hero' - it's something about the look in his eyes and on his face that would make me want to reach for this book - if I hadn't written it of course!

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  97. Nas - I didn't realise that you had an 18year old daughter! You don 't look old enough.

    But it does raise an interesting point about covers. Do you find that there are covers you agree about - ones you both love? Or is that very rare?

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  98. Anne - I know - your current UK cover . . . well, I sympathise! But at least it doesn't seem to be adversely affecting sales. It is a crap shoot and we just have to take what we get - that's why to good covers are worth celebrating

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  99. Hello Rosalind - there is a story that's handed down in Harlequin M&B history that there was one art editor who used to boast that he (had to be he - didn't it?) had never read a single M&B title - and it showed in the covers he chose for some of the boks! But then that's nothing new I suppose, so many critics seem to know all about series romances without ever having opened the covers. But the art dept is at least give the Art Fact Sheet from editorial

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  100. Hi Tracy Jo - I agree that I had to laugh- it was either that or cry! And some of those coers are so bad they're classics. Robert Redford's older brother for example and 'the blob' as the UK cover of Desert Affair is affectionately known. So I'm just enjoying having this 'handsome stanger' for my latest - and waiting slightly apprehensively for news of the cover of The Devil and Miss Jones . . . watch this space!

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  101. Not commenting to win, but her troubles with covers have been issues with me even as a reader. I do like to try and figure out what the cover's showing in the book, but often I'll ask if they even read the book or just plastered some random character on the front.

    And covers can be important in selling a book, especially now with so many sales in ebook format.

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  102. Aren't covers one of the most angst producing part of this process? I'd never imagined having to deal with that. Glad to hear others have had the same go around.

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  103. Oh my, I haven't gotten far enough to sweat over the cover. I'm still sweating through the middle. Sorry you had to endure all those covers to get to this one, but it looks like they finally got it right.

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  104. Wow Kate I never thought of everything that goes along with getting a cover you have certainly given me something to think about! But I am going to agree and say the cover you got this time around is defintely perfect the guy on the front has a certain mystery about him in his eyes and that for me goes along perfectly with the title " stranger"!

    Thanks for the great post and thanks so much for the chance to win.

    Desere

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  105. Wow. That cover...seriously hot!

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  106. That cover is absolutely gorgeous. What a shame you had so many disappointing experiences first though.

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  107. Hey to all our lovely friend,

    The winner chosen is Gynis and Janice Horton, Congratulations, Ladies!

    Kate Walker is with another awesome post, this time on "Which line to Target" at :

    http://nas-dean.blogspot.com/

    Hope to see you all there!

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  108. How wonderful, I have just found out I won a copy of your book, Kate! Thank you.

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Coffee and wine for all!