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Shirley Reva Vernick
's latest novel, The Black Butterfly, is her third for young adults, following the award-winning The Blood Lie and Remember Dippy.
She's here today to share her Cover Story!
"Designing the cover for The Black Butterfly
spanned several months and numerous drafts, and I think the effort really paid off. This is my third novel with Cinco Puntos Press, and while I immediately liked the initial designs for the first two books, I wasn’t crazy about the early renditions of The Black Butterfly
cover. I didn’t have a specific image in mind of what I wanted, but I knew it needed to evoke a sense of eeriness and otherworldliness.
"This novel is about ghosts, haunted mansions and strange dreams, after all. The original cover versions didn’t capture that, in my opinion. The early designs were all variations of the cover on the right.
"The designer was thinking that the hands resembled a butterfly. One of the thumbs is supposed to be see-through, like a ghost. But it just didn’t work for me. The typeface of the title is meant to look like a teen’s handwriting, since Penny, the main character, is something of a writer. But I felt the typeface didn’t match the mood of the story inside.
"Then the designer suddenly 'got' it. Out went the photos of hands, and in came an illustration of…something wonderful. Something dangerous, ambiguous and compelling. Part butterfly, part phantom, part human, part mystical. I love how the dripping streaks of color could be either tears or blood—or both.
"I consider this cover to be a true collaboration among the publisher, the designer and me. While I’m not the most visually oriented person (which is how I ended up with a green house when I thought I was picking out grey paint), I do appreciate being included and heard.
"In closing, I should mention that the designer gave birth a few days after coming up with the new prototype, and she jumped into the tweaking stage just three weeks after the delivery. Talk about girl power!"
By: Little Willow
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Happy anniversary, readergirlz!
In honor of our seven-year anniversary, we're catching up with rgz divas and featured authors. Kicking off our anniversary series (or shall we say, anniver-series?) of posts is none other than our own Melissa Walker.
7 Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. I have kept a diary every year since third grade.
2. I have been known to sip pickle juice straight from the jar.
3. My dad passed away 10 years ago, but I can still hear his voice when I need advice.
4. I love the idea of collecting sea glass, but I'm lazy about actually doing it when I'm at the beach.
5. I find it delightful when cocktails are served in their proper glasses.
6. I sing show tunes to my two-year-old in hopes that one day she'll be my Broadway companion (my husband isn't into musicals).
7. I still think the world looks magic if someone is blowing bubbles nearby.
We'll be posting updates and tidbits from familiar faces all month long here at the readergirlz blog. Stay tuned and celebrate with us!
Sometimes we hear of those in the publishing industry who dissuade authors from writing in different genres. As if YA readers don't read various styles of storytelling. YA readers do, and so do YA writers. Therefore, writers like the freedom to crossover. We choose the best genre to tell our story. Because ultimately, it's all about good story.
I'm happy to share two books by authors writing in different genres than they usually do. The first is Skin by Donna Jo Napoli. I did expect fantasy when I picked up the work, but then quickly entered into Sep's world as she discovers she has vitiligo. The realistic work is paced well as Napoli draws us alongside Sep. We feel compassion, frustration, and ultimately empathize with a character accepting her new self and redefining normal.
The second work is by our own rgz diva, Melissa Walker: Ashes to Ashes. I expected a contemporary work, which, true enough, the story begins with, but the paranormal afterlife caught me by surprise. (I don't tend to read flaps. :~) Melissa's setting is fresh and will draw you to think and ponder your own beliefs. That is of course after you've run with Callie through her trial, been pulled and torn through her decisions, and cheered her character growth. And as always, Melissa writes of real, compelling love. My favorite quote: "Life is fragile, worthy of reverence and gently care." Great thoughts for the new year!
Find these, rgz, and let us know what you think, here or on facebook. Happy new year!
by Donna Jo Napoli
Ashes to Ashes
by Melissa Walker
Katherine Tegen Books, Inc. 2013
So excited to share my trailer for FIRSTBORN! Right now it's an exclusive at Hypable.
We'll do a Cover Story soon with Diva Melissa Walker. Thanks for celebrating with me! And thanks to Kirkus for the starred review. Happy holidays, rgz!
Diana Peterfreund tends to have great covers, and when I saw For Darkness Shows the Stars
(a post-Apocalyptic take on Jane Austen's Persuasion
, hello!), I fell in love with the starry sky. So I asked her about it, and here she is:
"I always have an idea in mind for my covers, but since I’m not an artist it’s probably best that my publishers ignore me. They did ask me to send inspiration pictures, though. I sent in a lot of pictures of harsh seascapes and rocky cliffs and beaches beneath a sunset/sunrise and a starry sky. Sometimes there were forlorn women standing on these beaches. I think Harper and I were totally on the same page about the direction we wanted to go in, which mostly makes me feel like I’m finally getting a hang of this imagery thing.
"I asked for something very lush and romantic, to fit the feel of the book. Also, because this book has such a distinctive title that bucks the trend of the one-word YA book titles, I asked for a fun font treatment that really highlighted the title..."
I'm a sucker for bridges. And running. And flowing hair. So the cover of Eve
? Kind of up my alley. Here's Anna Carey
to talk about the cover of the first book in the Eve
"I had a vague sense of what the book might look like. The name--Eve--conjures so much. We all know Adam and Eve, and there's so much imagery associated with their story. Originally I saw the cover as having a lot of lush greenery. I sometimes saw a pale girl lost in the forest. It's funny, the book trailer captures a lot of those original images and ideas that were left behind as the cover evolved.
"The designer asked for a list of images or words that appear in the book. I can't seem to locate that list, though I'm 99% sure the designer came up with the bridge idea, which I love. It's hard to go back through your book and decide which imagery is meaningful and/or metaphorical--so much of that is folded into the manuscript unconsciously. I'm pretty certain all my suggestions were fairly basic. Thankfully she didn't put a wall or a cluster of trees on there. I don't think it would've had the same effect..."
What a thrill to be joined by my friends Elizabeth Mosier, Siobhan Vivian, and Melissa Walker in a two-part conversation about favorite young adult books, writing influences, and process. A big thanks to Michelle Wittle who pulled this all together for Philadelphia Stories.
Please visit this link
to 'hear' us talk (Part 1).
Part 2 of the Philadelphia Stories YA Roundtable continues here,
as Elizabeth Mosier, Siobhan Vivian, Melissa Walker, and I talk about character, plot, and the advice we give to other writers. Our great thanks to Michelle Wittle!
's debut novel sounds like something I need on top of my pile. ("Sylvia Plath and an old typewriter usher an angsty virgin through the worst summer of her freaking life.") Also, the cover spoke to me. So I spoke to Arlaina about it. Here she is: "I had this fantasy that the cover of And Then Things Fall Apart
was going to be a newer, updated version of a classic The Bell Jar
cover, like the one with the creepy letters and the rose, or the Victoria Lucas (Sylvia’s pen name) with the dark purple letters, or even the cool one with the spirals. Like one of those, but 'updated, for the youth of today!'
"I mentioned my 'Updated, for the youth of today!' idea to my editor… and we never spoke of it again.
"At first first first, I thought the cover was a little too cute. But too cute or not I fell in love, immediately, with the typewriter. The BLUE TYPEWRITER. And my huge ego loved that my name was right there in the middle. I was also happy there were no bodies on it, no anonymous 'teens' acting 'quirky' in stripped tights and pink hair..."
Read the rest of Arlaina's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com
Linda Joy Singleton has been here to share her Cover Story for Dead Girl Walking
, and she's back to talk about her latest novel, Buried: A Goth Girl Mystery
"For this cover, I actually thought they would show more of a Goth girl. I wanted something with a girl in dark flowy clothes, netting, piercings combined with a mysterious setting. "Flux usually asks me for suggestions and I did a search on Goth girls and sent some of my favorites in as examples. I wanted something beautiful, edgy and mysterious.
"When I first saw the cover, it was a surprise, not what I visualized but dramatic and mysterious...."
Read the rest of Linda Joy's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.
Today, Shirley Marr is here to share her cover for Preloved
. It's such a sweet title, right? And the concepts are as emotional as the final cover. Here's Shirley:
"I'm a very visual and 'big picture' person, so with every new novel I start, after I come up with the storyline and title (which I make happen at the same time), I look around for an image which I think best sums up what I am trying to write. Preloved
is a vintage-flavoured romantic ghost story with themes of second chances and second hand things. I found a particular image with the theme, motifs (whimsical vintage bike!) and 'feel' I was going for.
"So yes, I make myself an 'unofficial' cover. I don't go as far as putting my own name on it, but the image itself is as influential to me as any notes and research I collect, I will often glance at it for inspiration.
"I didn't have any input into the covers that were created..."
Read the rest of Shirley's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com
How does a book get a cover? How does a story emerge as a bright concentrate of itself?
Melissa Walker has been asking authors this question for a long time, and I'm lucky on two counts—Melissa (an author supreme) is my friend, and she has kindly asked me. I tell the story of the Small Damages cover
(and lessons I learned before the Small Damages
cover) over on the Barnes and Noble Community Blog, with all thanks to dear Melissa.
I was just about to post this when Cynthia Pittman, a Facebook friend, pointed me toward another act of supreme generosity on this warm July day. That generosity comes from Sarah Laurence, a so-intelligent, thoughtful reader who is also a writer who is also an artist who is also a woman who has learned to live a magnificently balanced life as a creative artist, mom, wife, and lover of the world beyond. Sarah read Small Damages lately, and she had this to say.
Melissa and Sarah: thank you.
is here to talk about the cover of his latest (and incredibly great) novel:
"The idea I pitched for the cover of Boy21
was a shot of Finley and Russ from the neck down. Finley would have been in his team uniform and holding a basketball. Russ would have been in his space costume and holding his makeshift astronaut helmet. I still think that would have been a good cover, but I have to admit that what the designer came up with was much much better. Maybe this is why I am a fiction writer and not a jacket designer!
"When I saw the design, I yelled, 'YES!' Alicia [his wife] came running into my office to see why I was yelling, looked at the image on my computer screen, and said, 'That's so much better than what you pitched them. That cover is amazing! Amazing!' It was a happy day.
"At one point they changed the photo of Russ, who is depicted on the cover. The photo they swapped in featured an older-looking teen who appeared harder and maybe even menacing. It didn't look like Russ at all. I immediately wrote an e-mail explaining why the original photo captured Russ perfectly. The teen on the cover now has an intensity--especially if you look into his eyes--but he also looks a little vulnerable and as if he would be a complex person. Russ is a very complex character, who is troubled, but is also wise and compassionate and intuitive. I believe there was a meeting regarding which photo to use and, happily, everyone at Little, Brown agreed..."
Read the rest of Matthew's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com
I had the chance to hang out with Jessi Kirby
in Houston last year, and I can confirm that she is fantastic and fun and smart and all the things she seems to be. Also, her book, In Honor
, contains a Tim Riggins type. SOLD. (Read a review from A Book and a Latte
Here's Jessi to talk about the cover:
"My publisher asked for input before they got to work on the cover, and I said 'It’d be really great if you could somehow include the car, (which is a 67 Chevy Impala), and Honor in her dress and red cowboy boots.'
"When I saw the cover, I absolutely LOVED it. Truly, madly, deeply loved it. From the font, to the car, to the boots, it was EXACTLY what I was hoping for..."
But of course there were a couple of changes! Read Jessi's full story on melissacwalker.com
Terra Elan McVoy
has been here before to share her adorable covers for Pure
and After the Kiss
(read those Cover Stories
), and now she's here to talk about Being Friends With Boys
. How great is that title? Here's more about the cover, from Terra:
"I never have any idea about my covers; I’m so lucky to have been assigned to such smart, clever, amazing people at Simon Pulse to work on them. This team does such an incredible job, and I figure it’s best to leave that work in their capable hands!
"Admittedly, my very first thought when I saw the cover was, 'But there aren’t any coffeehouses in the book! They never drink coffee!' Very quickly though, I realized that was a pretty lame and limiting response.
"My editor was incredibly patient with me and let me just sit on my first reaction until I came to my senses and realized this was perfect.
"The cover did change, in one important way..."Read Terra's full Cover Story at melissacwalker.com
Diana Rodriguez Wallach
has a fast-releasing trilogy of stories coming out this fall, and each has a different cover. Here's the story of #1, and the full-series cover:
"I told my publisher that I really wanted a mirror in all of my covers. I wanted that to be the element that tied the series together visually.
"My release is a little different from your average book. Reflecting Emmy
is the first short story in my Mirror, Mirror
trilogy. Each of my short stories—Reflecting Emmy, Nara Gazing, and Shattering GiGi
—will be released individually as ebooks in September, October, and November, respectively. Then they will be compiled together to create the Mirror, Mirror
trilogy, with an additional short story prequel and bonus material, to be released in December.
"So if you add it all together, that’s a whopping FOUR different covers for this series..."
Jason Odell Williams
is an Emmy-nominated producer, and his first novel was just optioned for a three-picture deal. Whee! Plus, Jason tells a good Cover Story. Here he is:
"I never had a cover in mind while writing Personal Statement
. I never really picture a cover or poster for any of my work (books, plays, films) until the writing is at least mostly finished. So with Personal Statement
, I never had a preconceived idea; I was so focused on just finishing the manuscript.
"So once I had a solid first draft, I sat around over dinner and drinks with my publishers Carey Albertine and Saira Rao
and we started brainstorming cover ideas. We thought about something hurricane-related, like a trashed backyard that could look like either the morning after a storm or a wild party. But that didn’t really say enough about the 'Personal Statement'-college application part of the book. Another idea we floated around was having a shot of the major players in some sort of pose like an album cover or action shot during the Hurricane prep, but again that felt too linear and only dealt with the volunteer aspect of the story.
"So we came up with the idea of crumpled up paper, all of these false starts when trying to write a personal statement and succinctly tell strangers at college 'who you are.' The one we had sort of settled on was the one with the can of Red Bull and the 'cover' page of a personal statement with a boot print and coffee stains on it (right). And we were pretty happy with it and were going to go with that. But Carey & Saira wanted to punch it up a little, so they asked Nick Guarracino
, who had recently been brought on to do the illustrations for another book they were doing, to take a look at the cover and make it pop more.
"He read some of the book, looked at our cover, and instead of punching up the old one, he came up with 6 completely different options. My publishers looked at them all and knew right away it was the hand thrusting up from the pile of pages. They texted me the image and I took one look and was blown away. The last I knew, our cover was going to b the page with the coffee stain on it, so to then suddenly see this amazing, bright, dynamic, bold arresting cover, I was so excited and thrilled. I immediately texted back and said 'YES that’s the one.' (I may have used some profanity in my excitement... as in 'Holy SH*TBALLS that's amazing! I love it! Yes!')
"And I actually never saw these other options (left) until this week. And while the girl’s face was a close contender, there is something sad and melancholy about it that’s not quite right for the book. Also, it’s hard to put a real face (even half of a face) on a book cover. And I never liked the idea of 'casting' a character before someone reads the book. (What if the Rani on the cover doesn’t match the Rani in your head?) So in the end, I know we made the right call with the hand thrusting up from the pile of balled up pages.
"Nick told me the photo was made by taking a picture of a friend’s hand and then using photo shop to add the balled up pages and the color in the background. Then he made the hand look more feminine and ethnically ambiguous. What I like about that is then the hand becomes like a mirror… you see what you want to see. When I first saw it, I thought it was a white guy’s hand. Others see a white girl or an Asian or Indian-American girl. And now when I look at it I can't decide if it's Emily Kim's hand or Rani's. So it’s cool that the hand has that 'every-person' quality to it.
"And now, the more I look at the cover, the more I see how right it is for this book. The hand at first seemed to be simply frustrated to me, but now I also see defiance and breaking free and standing out from the crowd. The hand is coming up for air after drowning in expectation for so long. Of course, I’m reading a lot into it and people looking at the cover for the first time might never see any of that, but I think what the cover does convey, even at first glance, is a sense of being bold and explosive and exciting. It would make me stop twice if I saw it on a shelf (even a 'digital' shelf!) And for all of those reasons, I love this cover couldn't be happier!"
Jessica Brody has shared two previous Cover Stories here (for My Life Undecided
and The Karma Club
). She's back to tell the tale behind the cover of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father
"I’m terrible at envisioning covers. So no, I didn’t really have an idea in mind. But I knew I wanted it to show the contrast of my main character’s two worlds (spoiled heiress and working girl) which I think they ended up doing really well!
"Honestly, I was surprised when I saw the cover. It was SO different from the light, pastel, girly looks of my other YA book and my publisher had told me they were going to keep with the same look. So when I opened this, I almost thought that they sent me the wrong cover! It was all edgy and kind of punk rock-ish. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it..."
Sarah Beth Durst
has shared the Cover Stories for her novels Enchanted Ivy
and now she's here to tell her perspective on the scintillating cover of Drink, Slay, Love.
"Creating the cover for DRINK, SLAY, LOVE was a traumatic experience. The problem began when the vampire hired to pose as Pearl came to the photo shoot hungry. She drained three assistants before someone had the presence of mind to pass her the bottle of donated blood that you see on the cover. The photographer snapped shots of her as she sated the last of her hunger with the bottled blood. Though they'd originally planned for a panorama, he was forced to do a close-up due to the carnage that littered the studio behind her.
"Okay, that's not true. She only drank from two people and both survived..."
Read the rest of Sarah's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com
Diva Holly Cupala was here to talk about the cover of her debut novel, Tell Me a Secret
. Now, her second novel, Don't Breathe a Word
, is out this month, and it has a cover that manages to convey both darkness and sparkle! Here's Holly with the Cover Story:
"After the gorgeous cover HarperTeen put together for Tell Me a Secret
, I knew to expect something fantastic for my second, Don't Breathe a Word
… though it came about in a completely different (and for me, much more nail-biting) way…
"The original working title was Street Creed
, which is what the design team initially had to work with. The first cover concept was… steamy (below). It featured two gorgeous creatures, probably Italian models, who met as if by chance after a swirling, beaded-dress-bedecked night for an almost-kiss. Sigh.
"But it didn’t feel like my book.
"Don’t Breathe a Word
is the story of Joy, who runs away from home to escape an abusive relationship to the streets of Seattle. She finds allies who have secrets of their own, including Creed—a homeless boy who dreams of making it in the music industry.
"There is a steamy relationship (and Creed is swoonworthy!), but there are no beaded dresses. In fact, the only scene where that dress could have appeared was at a fundraiser party where Joy meets her boyfriend Asher—the dark reason she has to leave. Also, I was worried with the final title, it would look like 'Don’t Breathe a Word about that naughty thing we did after the prom.' No. Oh no..."
Read the rest of Holly's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com,
and read about her amazing launch contest
You guys, I'm reading Miranda Kenneally
's Catching Jordan
right now, and it's filling my Friday Night Lights
void! Yay! Here's Miranda with her Cover Story:
"I imagined my main character, Jordan, lying head-to-toe in a patch of grass with her best friend, Sam Henry. She’d be holding a football and he would be playing with some white clover.
"[My publisher] didn’t ask for input, but I couldn’t have been happier with the first options I saw.
"There were three options, and I didn’t have any comments other than, 'I love them!'
Read the rest of Miranda's Cover Story, and see previous cover tries for the book, at melissacwalker.com
I've got a new copy of Melissa Kantor's The Darlings in Love
, and she's here to share the Cover Story! Here's Melissa:
"I had a fantasy
of the cover, which might be different from an idea. When I was a kid, there was this book Forever
, by Judy Blume. On the cover was a locket with a picture of a girl's face, and when you opened the cover, you saw more of that picture--the girl's whole body, the boy she was standing with, etc. It was this amazing reveal. Well, since pearl pendants play a big role in the story of the Darlings, I wanted the cover to picture a chain with a pearl on it, and when you opened the cover, you saw that the pearl was actually on a girl's neck and that girl was standing with her two best friends. There's a name for that (a cutaway? something like that). But my editor said that covers like that tend to snag and rip and that's a real problem. As happens with so many things in life, reality intruded on fantasy.
"Once the pearl necklace idea was nixed, I think we discussed there being three of something, to symbolize the thee Darlings. The only thing I didn't
want was three cupcakes. There are a lot of cupcake covers out there."
"When I first saw my cover, I hated
it. I am not exaggerating. I remember calling my editor and making it clear that I was furious
. I was like, This is the worst
cover! What were you thinking? I hate
this cover, etc. She's a very calm, rational person, and she tried to get me to be specific, so I more or less listed everything about the cover (from the font to the color to the cookies) and said why I hated it..."
Read the rest of Melissa's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com
named Jenny Hubbard
's debut a Flying Start
last spring, and summarized the novel thusly:
"Set in the early 1980s, Paper Covers Rock
is structured as the journal of 16-year-old Alex No Middle Name Stromm, who is holding onto some secrets about the recent drowning death of one of his classmates."
The title and cover caught my attention, and here's Jenny to explain that gazing boy from Paper Covers Rock
"I didn’t envision a cover while I was writing, but after I found out it was going to be published, I envisioned a black-and-white photograph of three boys in silhouette on a rock, their backs to the viewer.
"All I said [to my publisher] was, 'Please don’t put a face on my narrator.'
"The cover that is currently on the book is not the first one that was designed for the book. The first one caused me to burst into tears--truly. It was entirely wrong, both in mood and character depiction. What the reader would have seen was a free-spirited, smiling, skater-dude boy in mid-jump over water..."
Read the rest of Jenny's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com
The lovely Laura Resau
has a new book out! The Jade Notebook is the third in her beautiful series about Zeeta (read her Cover Story for The Indigo Notebook
). Kirkus Reviews
says, "In this third in a series of novels focusing on Zeeta and her wanderlust-stricken mother, readers are immersed in the details of a lovingly described coastal town in Mexico and an action-filled mystery surrounding the poaching of ancient sea turtles that make their home there... a graceful conclusion to Zeeta’s story."
Here's Laura to tell the tale of the cover:
"I'm happy and honored to be back on your blog, Melissa--I could spend all day reading these fascinating cover stories
"The Jade Notebook
is the third and final book in the travel-adventure-themed Notebooks series, each of which is set in a different country. The series went through a few different cover looks over the past few years. If you're curious, you can read the story behind the hardcover look of the first in the series, The Indigo Notebook
. For that cover, my publisher, Delacorte, did a photo shoot of an open, vintage-style suitcase containing items that evoked each different setting..."
Read the rest of Laura's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com
View Next 25 Posts
By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 16, 2012
Melissa Walker may be the hardest working woman in YA literature. She’s young, talented, and whip-smart. Her bestselling novels include Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design, Violet in Private, Lovestruck Summer, and Small Town Sinners. She also blogs her heart out at IHeartDaily, BeforeYouWereHot, and ReaderGirlz. Melissa’s most recent novel Unbreak My Heart will be published on May 22. Listen in as we discuss writing, motherhood, and what happens when you break up with your best friend.
Nicki Richesin: Congrats on Unbreak My Heart (out this May 22 from Bloomsbury). Love the title! Could you tell us a bit about the novel and how the character of Clem first appeared to you?
Melissa Walker: It’s the story of a girl who has lost her best friend, through some fault of her own, and is dealing with the aftermath of the friendship breakup. But she’s also about to spend the summer with her family on a sailboat–not the best place to wallow alone. At the end of the day, my editor wrote the line that sums it up best; the book is about “The year that broke her heart. The summer that healed it.” Clem has been in my head for a long time, since I suffered a friendship breakup. I always knew I wanted to write about someone who experienced that same thing.
NR: You got your start working as an editor for ELLEgirl and Seventeen. What did working for these publications teach you about writing?
MW: I think that having a “real job” that let my inner seventeen-year-old speak made me realize that there’s a place for that voice (the one in my head).
NR: I had the pleasure of meeting your mom in your hometown Chapel Hill, North Carolina as part of the Crush tour (full disclosure: Melissa contributed a beautiful essay to the collection). She said you have always been a writer. Did having such a strong identity as a writer early on h