My Beauty, and My Beasts

Back in October, I introduced you to my new title, KATERINA’S WISH.

Now, allow me to introduce you to Katerina. She looks like this:

Kinda cute, isn’t she? You can call her Trina if you like, all her friends do. I received this cover image in early November, along with another image, of the full cover, front and back:

After having a month to reflect, here are the top five things I LOVE about this cover:

gold-number-5 The way the title is incorporated into the scene with the curving font, as if the wind that blows the dandelion fluff blows the title as well

gold-number-4 The care the illustrator took to include many small details from the story

gold-number-3 The character is shown in silhouette, giving readers the freedom to shape their own image of Trina in their minds.

gold-number-2 The vibrant colors, that are going to make this book jump off the shelf and into readers’ hands.

AND (drumroll)

gold-number-1 The fact that the Magic Carp still has a place on the cover, even if it isn’t in the title anymore.

You gotta admit, he's kinda cute too.

That’s a lot to love! Upon emailing this cover to friends and relatives, I received replies within minutes, raving about all these points. One of my favorites said:


I read it and thought, over the moon?  Am I? Oh dear.

Because I wasn’t. I wanted to be, but really I was just sort of numb.

Receiving my cover image was a moment I had waited for eagerly. A cover seemed like the moment that was going to make it feel real, because once there is a cover, you can actually start picturing it as a BOOK instead of a manuscript.  So, I was filled with excitement/joy/fear/hope/excitement/fear when I got home from work and found an email waiting for me, with the subject line “Cover!”

Before opening the attachment, I called my son over from the sofa for the “unveiling.”  For better or worse,  I didn’t want to be alone.

I clicked on the jpeg and waited in silence for it to open….

It opened….

“Oh.” I said.

I have talked to authors who loved their covers, and to authors who hated them. I’ve heard about shrieks of delight and moans of absolute horror.  So I was expecting a wave of strong emotion.  My reaction could better be described as an Out-of-Body-Experience.  This beautiful image opened, with this picture of a total stranger sitting under a tree, by a pond, and my logical mind thought, “Oh, it’s lovely and contains many details from my book.” But my emotional self floated dispassionately away, saying, “That’s a nice cover for somebody, but what does it have to do with me?”

It’s like when you get to know someone named Pat via email, and then after a year you finally meet Pat, only to discover that the “Pat” in your mind was a 6 foot tall bearded python wrestler, when in reality Pat is a petite lady with a perfect manicure.  And you have nothing against Pat and her lovely nails. But when you meet her, you say, “Oh.” And your emotional self floats away, saying “But what does this person have to do with pythons?”

Mind you, I never envisioned Trina as a bearded python wrestler. The image on the cover doesn’t NOT look like her. It’s just that I never had an actual image of her before. I saw my story from a first person perspective, seeing the world through her eyes, so this was my first moment of being pulled into the third person perspective of seeing her from the outside.  Plus, my mind just wasn’t ready for the whole idea that My book was actually going to be a BOOK.  So the net impact of all those factors in that one glorious moment?


Fortunately, I had my son (and soon after my husband) telling me it was great, and  congratulations and excitement started coming in from other quarters.  Unfortunately, though, the Worry Monster and the Suck Monkey dropped in for a nightcap late that evening.

“Sure, it’s pretty, but no teacher is going to want to use it in the classroom with such a girly cover,” said Worry Monster. “And that’s really the only chance your book had.”

“Exactly,” agreed Suck Monkey.  “And what’s up with those unfashionable boots Trina’s wearing? Kids today don’t want to read about ugly footwear.”

“With a cartoony-looking cover, no one’s ever going to take you seriously as a writer,” Worry Monster continued, holding out his glass for a refill.

“I told you to write the zombie chicken book instead, but would you listen to me?” said Suck Monkey.

“Clearly, you are doomed,” Worry Monster said.

“There’s no hope for any of us now,” Suck Monkey replied, and he ate all my chocolate.

The chocolate was really the last straw. So I threw them out and changed the locks. I prefer what Erin Murphy had to say on this blog a few months ago:

Enjoy the process! Don’t question it and analyze it into oblivion–find ways to enjoy this time. You’ll never have another debut book!

With that in mind, I’ve reflected on this cover, and on the reaction I’ve had from friends and family. I’ve looked at other covers to see what the trends are and to assure myself that my cover fits my book and recent marketing trends.  I’ve talked to book sellers who are excited by beautiful covers, and I’ve given myself permission to accept that this beautiful cover really is MINE, and it really is beautiful.

Because this is my debut novel. My beautiful, vibrant, whimsical, hopeful, serious, debut novel. And I’m delighted to have a cover that says all that.

In fact, I’m over the moon.


Filed under cover art, Happiness, Satisfaction

21 responses to “My Beauty, and My Beasts

  1. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    I’m glad you’ve finally found your spot over the moon, Jeannie! Neither the Suck Monkey nor the Worry Monster own spacesuits (they don’t like the way the space-age material mats their fur), so enjoy the ride!


  2. One thing I’ve learned–I blogged about this, too: NEVER ask a writer if she is over the moon. It sucks the writer into a vortex of relentless self-examination that rarely ends well.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the ride, Jeannie. I’ve enjoyed riding along with all you EMU’s Debuters…


    • Thank you for this comment Audrey. I would like to say it makes me feel less neurotic that other writers have the same sort of experience, but then I realize that I feel just as neurotic as before. So I guess it’s more that I’m glad not to be in the vortex alone.


  3. Your Worry Monster and your Suck Monkey are hilarious. I’m sure they didn’t sound that way to you. But they are. Which means that you have a great sense of humor and perspective and taste–all three of which will sustain you as you read reviews, here from readers, and see the covers of your next books. What I especially like about the cover is (1) that it means I’ll soon be able to read the book and (2) it has the same colors as EMU’s Debuts. Do you think that’s where the artist came up with them?


  4. The thing about process is that it is fluid. You’re always moving. Or something’s always moving. (Sometimes I feel like I am standing still while it all flashes and spins around me…) So it would stand to reason that you can’t just be frozen, there, over the moon. At one moment you will be, and at another you won’t.

    And then if you take into account that fact that the moon is in process too…well…

    Honestly though, you raise the curtain on such a real issue, Jeannie. The pressure to Feel What You are Supposed to Feel. But it doesn’t work that way. That’s why embracing the process is so empowering. It doesn’t matter what you feel or what your reaction is or what stage you are at…you are in the middle of it and you are choosing to feel darn good about that.

    I happen to LOVE your cover. One of the best I’ve seen. It doesn’t matter, but I have to tell you that I DID have an emotional reaction to it. It just resonated for me…made me want to not just read the book (which I do!), but just simply hold it in my arms.


    • Thanks, Tam. It is a relief to know that other people have similar experiences with not feeling quite the way they are supposed to. When I was a kid, we had a do-it-yourself snafu with a light switch in our house so that it was wired backward, so down was on and up was off. I’ve always wondered if I”m like that switch, so that the things that flip the switch trigger the wrong emotional response. But I think that this process is so emotion-intense in so many ways that it is impossible to have a “right” response to anything.

      I’m glad you love the coer. I’ll be sure you get to hold it as soon as possible (but not til I’ve held it first.)


  5. Suck Monkey and Worry Monster walk into a cafe full of writers. And because all the writers invite them to sit down, Suck Monkey and Worry Monster cannot make up their minds so they exit, after which the only sounds heard are those of appreciative sighs over exquisite moonlit covers… (Well, and slurping cappucina)


    • I can see Suck Monkey and Worry Monster are going to get about as much millage as the zombie chickens. Before much longer EMU’s Debuts is going to have a whole cast of characters to start our own warped little version of Sesame Street.

      Or maybe we should just settle for the cappuccina and leave it at that.


  6. It’s gorgeous and makes me want to read it. Love the cover. And hey, her skirt length isn’t going to start any online kerfuffle and scandal, so you’re one up on me!


    • Though I should add I love my cover and have found the accompanying kerfuffle quite entertaining.


      • Thanks, Michelle. I love your cover, too. As for the skirt length, mine is set in 1901, so… Fortunately those boots cover her ankles, so I think we will be okay. My only real regret about my cover is that it isn’t giving me an opportunity to use the word kerfuffle.

        But the real question is, will we be able to get Mike into THIS skirt for the book launch???


  7. It is GORGEOUS. I don’t even care what it’s about; I must read it.


    • Thanks, Caroline! I see you have a historical fiction book debuting in 2012 as well. Congratulations. Looks like our covers have some things in common (although the colors make for very different visual impacts.)


  8. Pingback: Covers: The Wisom Behind the Obsession | EMU's Debuts

  9. I really do love your cover, Jeannie. It’s striking. The colors are an immediate draw and then the details make you linger. This will be a book that lots and lots of kids pick up. COngrat’s! You lucked out, M’Dear!


  10. J. Anderson Coats

    The real question is, does the carp have a name? And can we add him to our collection of EMU’s Debuts plush toys?


  11. Pingback: Surprising Steps along the Path | EMU's Debuts

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