The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Don't judge this book by its cover

Happy New Year first. That's more important than anything that follows in this blog. We have a shiny new year in which to be tried and tested and occasionally found wanting, I am certain. There will also be moments of near-nobility, I am equally certain. Our New Year's Eve followed its typical pattern. We watched The Sting (always on NYE), ate popcorn and were predictably in bed by 10:30. We can only assume that someone rang in the new year for us. Whoever you are, thanks!

Harlequin strikes again. Right before Christmas, my editor forwarded this cover for my book that comes out in mid-March. I stared at it, shook my head, and wondered what on earth? No one on the cover resembles anyone in the story, which is about a dour and extremely veteran frigate captain who has been granted shore leave for the first time in forever, now that Napoleon is on Elba (we know how that turned out, eh?), and peace might actually be breaking out. He and his young son are headed home to Scotland for Christmas. Enter Mary Rennie, who is a nice lady on the verge of spinsterhood, who has been sent by her relatives to track down four fruitcakes that were mailed to long-ago friends. One contains a little ring that Mary's cousin threw into the batter because it was a paltry ring from her fiance. One thing leads to another, and Mary has to find that ring. And so on.

I have no idea who these people are on the cover, and so I emailed my editor. She put on the sad face (via email from London), and couldn't imagine why I was disappointed. I replied that the cover bears absolutely no resemblance to anyone in the story, not even any characters I might have written and then edited out. This email was met with the note that everyone in England is now on vacay and won't return until January 2.

It does matter a bit, because my captain has a peg leg. The guy on the cover has both legs, and even more, looks as though the only trouble he has ever encountered might have been the occasional bad hair day. Sigh. At least my other publishers like to work with me and get covers that actually have something to do with the story.

I shouldn't be such a complainer. I was whining about this to Diane Farr, a lovely writer, who told me that Signet once put a homely lady, a guy and a dog on one of her covers.When she complained that there isn't even a dog in the story, the editor replied, "Readers like dogs, so we put a dog on the cover."

My daughter Liz came up with the perfect solution. "Mom, just ask them to send you the cover first, and then you can write a novel to fit the cover." I call that brilliant, and I will suggest it to my editor when she returns from vacation. I should have known that a perfect cover, such as the one for last year's Her Hesitant Heart, was a one-time event. Oh well. You'll still enjoy The Wedding Ring Quest. Appropriately enough, the ebook comes out on April Fool's Day.

I just read a wonderful book, Michael Zuckoff's Frozen in Time. It's a true story about crashes, death and survival on Greenland's forbidding ice cap during World War II, and a 2012 expedition to locate one of the crash sites. I couldn't put it down, so it was a good thing I had just emailed Book Two of The Spanish Brand series to my editor at Camel Press. I recommend Frozen in Time heartily. I've already loaned my copy to a friend, and it'll make the rounds. My son Jeremy sent me the book for Christmas. We send each other books for Christmas. I usually read the ones he sends me, then send them back to him so he can read them and keep them. I may hang onto this one. It'll go onto my shelf next to another book called Frozen in Time, this one about the ill-fated Franklin Expedition of 1845 or so, when three Royal Navy ships are trapped in the Arctic in pack ice. It's also paired with a recovery story, which is astounding.

So it goes. We're well-rested on New Years Day (refer to first paragraph), and thinking about turkey for lunch.