Feb 22, 2016

Ever wonder how a publisher (or an indie author) creates a cover? Here’s how I created THREE WISHES…

1st STEP: I connected with photographer Jennifer Ilene in Uganda on a mission trip, and when I came home, I fell in love with her work. Here’s one image that I want to write a book to MATCH because it’s so beautiful:


2nd STEP: Jennifer told me she was going to do a cover shoot in Oregon, and we might be able to make it seem like it was anywhere on the West Coast (since my book was set in California, this was important.) This shipwreck on the coast sold me:


3rd STEP: We put out a call for Latina cover models, looking for someone in Oregon who was willing to spend a day or two shooting pictures for THREE WISHES and FOUR WINDS. I wanted to get them both done at once, since I knew we’d want the same model for both covers. We heard from about twenty brave souls, willing to volunteer! So many beautiful girls…

4th STEP: The model that captured us from the start was Graziella LiVolsi, who happened to be an avid River of Time reader! This was one of the pics she sent us:


5th STEP: I started the hunt for the right costumes in Hollywood, that were right for the era. Here is one of the pics Western Costume sent, that included both the one I chose for THREE WISHES (green and black) and the one for FOUR WINDS (ivory):


6th STEP: Jennifer mentioned she wanted to use flowers if possible. Fortunately, another Ugandan-mission connection lives across the street from the fab Ponderosa & Thyme, and she offered to donate extra flowers from a wedding she was doing that weekend. Here is the crown she ended up making Graziella for the FOUR WINDS shoot. (We just used a single rose for THREE WISHES.) Don’t they look like they could be picked from a hacienda garden?


7th STEP: I found out that Jennifer thought I wanted a wolf-dog in the shoot and had already coordinated one to be there, with a handler. Surprise! Therefore, I began to write a wolf-dog into the story. Hey, a She-Wolf actually ties into the River of Time…I finally nailed which costumes I wanted, negotiated the rental charge (gulp!), added a third dress on spec in case one didn’t fit (the costume house was nervous), and Fed Ex’d to Oregon. In addition, I ordered a crinoline off of Amazon and Fed Ex’d that, too, to poof out the skirts.

8th STEP: The costumes, Jennifer, Graziella, and the wolf-dog all converged in Oregon for the photo shoot. The costumes were reportedly BEAUTIFUL (whew!) in person and even better, fit Graziella! I sat at home, chewing my nails and praying for good weather and good light and texting Graziella to make sure she didn’t have nail polish on and then texting Jennifer to make sure she had a towel for Graziella to stand/sit on so these CRAZY-EXPENSIVE costumes wouldn’t get wet/damaged and then texting Jennifer, begging for sneak peeks…and basically just WISHING SO MUCH THAT I WAS THERE. (Next time, I will go.) The GOOD news was that it was a gorgeous, sunny October day on the coast, so rain wouldn’t get in our way:


The BAD news was that it was a gorgeous, sunny day. It’s actually really best for photographers if there’s a bit of cloud cover. Who knew we’d hit a hot, cloudless day in October in Oregon?? Still, they managed to shoot both covers in one day! Model and photographer were both pros.

9th STEP: I looked through hundreds of photos and narrowed it down to my top 20, then my top 4.

10th STEP: This was the winner for the front cover of THREE WISHES. (You’ll have to WAIT to see FOUR WINDS!)


11th STEP: This was one of the contenders for the back cover:


12th STEP: Jennifer had a friend do some Photoshop work, to add some moodiness to the sky and blur out the shipwreck behind her, since it would’ve been a wooden shipwreck at the time, rather than rusting metal, so we wanted to make that less obvious. Oh, and get rid of tourists on the outskirts who were most definitely not dressed as 1840s peeps. 🙂


Here’s the one we ended up choosing for the back cover, with Photoshop-magic clouds!

M1351 Storm

13TH STEP: My husband, Tim, did further Photoshop work on the images, and started playing with fonts for the title. We wanted the cover design to look like the original series, and yet be different enough that readers would understand that it was a spin-off series, not more of their beloved Italia. We finally found Rambies for the font, which I liked really well. He added a series title and a new emblem that we’ll use on FOUR WINDS too. Then he went back and made the font have little hatches through it, giving it a bit of an antique feel…

14th STEP: Doubt kicked in. I began to wonder if we needed something more romance-y for the title font. We found Miguella (font on left cover, below), which I liked, but ultimately decided was too much and also covered up the beautiful photo too. Some of the River Tribe on Facebook liked it, but the majority voted for Rambies (font on the right cover, below).


15th STEP: Font now decided, we placed the back cover image and text and created a spine…It’s not final, but it’s close!


16th Step: I kiss my husband.

Voila! Easy-peasy, right? Uhh, no. But I adore it and so I think it was worth all the time, effort and expense!

Ready to read this new spin-off series? You can PREORDER the Kindle version of THREE WISHES right now, for $3.99. It comes out April 8. On April 10, the cost will go up to $4.99. Information on ordering a different e-format (Nook, iBooks, etc) or a paperback will be announced as soon as those options are available. Thanks for your support!