Christmas in October & the Pitfalls of Designing a Genre Book Cover

This is not the entry you may think it is. Oh I could certainly rant about Christmas decorations for sale before Halloween, but hey–

Blah, blah, blah.

We’ve all heard it and said it before, and of course I hate it. But yeah, who doesn’t?

This entry is about replacing an old cover with a new cover.

First, let me tell you, and this hurts. Seriously hurts.

I said a very painful farewell to Paisley’s cover.


I love this cover. I couldn’t believe I found a Paisley–a real Paisely right down to the cigarette holder–to put on this cover. And MJ Butler did a splendid job of creating it.

Why did I say goodbye? Well, you might have known before I did.

Readers who saw it didn’t recognize it as contemporary romance.

Heck, they didn’t even know it was contemporary. Paisley, the wild child whose story this is, wears designer couture and the first time we see her, she’s in a marvelou jazz age black dress, holding an empty cigarette holder, crashing a society ball. She has Louise Brooks hair. This picture? Paisley.

Genre book covers have their own language that is recognized by that genre’s readers.

This true in science fiction and fantasy, in mystery and thriller, in all the genres. Their readers can spot ‘their kind of book’ by the cover. That doesn’t guarantee they will like that particular book, but check out the  cozy mysteries and hard science fiction novels. See what I mean?  

‘Sweet’ romance covers have sweet, romantic couples or images. They don’t have bare male torsos on them. But there are always nuances. And they are so easy to get wrong if you don’t have a pro handling it for you, or–as I did–a team of readers who volunteer to give cover feedback.

Oh wait.

Do you want to be on my ‘cover team’ and give feedback on covers before they are made?

Please sign up here!

Okay, back to updating that cover.

I needed to update.

httpwww-istockphoto-comphotos108203757So, first I found  an adorable contemporary romance image that fit my story because there is a scene where Chris has too much–oh, wait. That’s a spoiler. Okay, let me just say, this fits.

Okay, his hair would have to be blonded [which yes, can be done!] and it’s not exactly perfect to a specifc scene in the book, but it’s perfect for reasons, and I thought–adorable.

And I sent it to a friend who gave it the acid test–the one that I always forget to do. She went and looked at the 100 best selling Kindle contemporary romances and skimmed the covers and said, “I’m not seeing covers like this.”

People, that is always the place to begin.

What do best-selling covers in this genre look like today?

And be prepared to ignore covers for books by Stephen King and JK Rowling and other big name superstar writers whose names would sell a book on brown paper bag covers, and who often already have a ‘brand’ that is their own.

That stock photo would have been an impulse buy that gave me another cover I love that might not get readers to click to find out more. Do I want to go to the expense and effort of commissioning a new cover and then advertising it, to get a cover that might not work–and would be a wild throw of the dice? No. I do not.

Authors often want the wrong covers.

And often for the wrong reasons. Yes, you may look at those covers and think they’re too genre, and yes, you might want your cover to set a new trend.

But what is more likely to happen? The very readers you want to buy your book will never even give it a second glance because it doesn’t look like the books they love.

Hard truths are hard.

So I found two other potential images that I liked a lot, one more than the other. And I sent those images to my contemporary romance cover team, and they voted–and also gave me feedback.

The contenders:


Gotta tell ya. I love that couple on the left.




Also gotta tell ya, of the 35 readers queried, only 2.5 preferred the swoony, dipping couple.

[You are probably asking, how did .5 get in there? Because when one person who says she likes it best also says she’d click on the other cover first, just to see if the book looked good? That is not quite a full vote for swoony cover, if you ask me.]

SWhat did they prefer?

Abs, baby.

Bare rippling muscles.

I thought all those torso covers were just because readers have ‘learned’ that they are on the books they prefer. But these readers made it clear, they love those bare torsos. Mrrrow.

Which is why I should never use my own opinion to choose cover art. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Well, Paisley had her cover.

Now I guess it’s time for Christopher Quincy Abbott III to get his.


It’s only October, and it’s way too early to be showing us a Christmas cover. [You do remember the title of this entry was Christmas in October, right?]

I have had this new cover for over a month. I sent it out to my newsletter subscribers with a special price of .99, because there are benefits to being a newsletter subscriber.

But then I decided to leave the price at .99 since Some Enchanted Season was about to return to full price.

So suddenly, even though I didn’t intend to officially ‘debut’ my new Christmas cover until November 1, I realized anybody  who goes to Amazon already is seeing the nes cover and the special price.

People who don’t read my blog or follow me on social media are already getting the benefit of the special prica and cover and–what am I thinking???

I am supposed to let y’all be the special ones.

So here I am, telling you about my Christmas book in October.

And without further ado [which is about damned time since there has already been way too much ado] meet Christopher Quincy Maitland III, scion of an old New York society family, and definitely not looking to be involved in a scandal this Christmas.

Scandalous: A Holiday Romance

Christmas in October?

Shoot me.

Or, you know, go buy it.

It’s only .99!



I almost forgot to show you the original Scandalous cover!

The one I not-so-fondly refer to as ‘
the one with the Cadaver Ken doll on it.’


You’ve come a long way, baby!












What Have the Furys Been Up to Lately?

PatriciaBurroughs_TheDeadShallLive_800pxI know you’re wondering, and so let’s look at them one at a time, because The Dead Shall Live is being edited and time is getting tight and I don’t have time to do a longer post.

Today? I am putting the final touches on a short story set in the universe of the Fury Triad. This is a fun prequel where we get to see Cosmo and Greylund in their Oxford days, along with their friend Prince Al Tair, unintentionally wreaking havoc in Ordinary London. Let the chaos begin!

If you want to close your eyes and imagine three charming young rakes riding through Ordinary London leaving havoc in their wake, you can listen to what I’m listening to!




The #BookQW of the week is VOICE

#BookQW is a twitter meme

Writers post quotes from their work–published or not–that use the word of the week.

Anyone is welcome to join in.

Each week, Mindy Klasky will choose a word for people to use on Twitter, in quotes from their books, using the hashtag #bookqw. If you’d like a weekly email reminder of the #bookqw, you can sign up at:

#bookqw word of the week

Some people just post a short quote as a tweet. Others make graphics. Whatever you want to do. Just use #bookqw as part of the tweet, and then anybody who follows the meme will see yours, too!

I post mine on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter. Once it’s made, why not? If you join in, tag me and let me know!

This week the word is VOICE.



Click for larger image.

Cross-posted at The Fury Triad.




Score Big with Eight Great Football Romances

Hey, even if you don’t read sports romances, maybe your friends do, so share, why don’t ya? Thanks!

Score Big with Football Romance

I’ve got the best news: this week is the official kick-off of football season in the US–and with college football back, too, we’ve all got lots of chances to catch our favorite teams playing our favorite game.

So what makes this even better? We have EIGHT football romances for you to huddle with right here, each of which is a touchdown (and the extra point, too!).

Check out each one–and as a bonus, each author is giving you her own favorite sports romance recommendation.


Some Enchanted Season by Patricia Burroughs ON SALE for .99 at Amazon

Find Patricia on Facebook, Twitter and her website. And sign up for her newsletter!

Patricia recommends . . . Sosie Frost‘s Happily Ever All-Star, A Secret Daddy Romance. “She hooked me with the sizzlin’ guy on the cover, reeled me in with “Secret Daddy,” and totally delivered with laugh-out-loud funny and heart-tugging sweetness.”


A Tempting Dare by Cathryn Fox only $1.99 at Amazon

You can find Cathryn on Facebook, Twitter . . . follow her on Amazon and BookBub, check out her website (for a free book!)

And sign up for her newsletter

If you’re interested in joining Cathryn’s Street Team, they’d LOVE to have you. They have a lot of fun over there, and lots of special prizes and contests for her lovely FOXY ladies!

Cathryn recommends . . .Dare to Love by Carly Phillips: “A hot, heartwarming story about family, love and trust. Oh, and did I mention it’s HOT and FREE right now??”


Game Changer by Ann Jacobs

Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo/ARe/Smashwords

Ann is on Facebook and Twitter . . . visit her website and sign up for her newsletter!

Ann recommends . . . “Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series won’t disappoint you, no matter which pro sport you fancy! As a football fan and steamy romance lover, I have The Perfect Play high up on my keeper shelves—but there’s not a loser in the 12 hot novels and novellas. Check out Jaci’s website and get in the game!”


When We Were Us by Tawdra Kandle is FREE on iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo/Google and Amazon/–if they get their act together! If you have problems, let me know in comments and I’ll make sure you get the book.

Visit Tawdra on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/website, and follow her on Amazon and BookBub.

Sign up for her newsletter!

Tawdra recommends . . . “Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen. She’s my favorite hockey writer, and this book has it all: sizzling romance, hunky guy, sassy chick and all the right moves!”


Bold by Nicola Marsh

Amazon/Barnes and Noble/iBooks/Kobo/SMASHWORDS

Hang out with Nicola on Facebook and Twitter, and visit her website, where you can sign up for her newsletter!

Nicola recommends . . . “Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, part of her Chicago Stars series. Cal Bonner is a seriously hot hero and this book got me hooked on SEP. It’s on my keeper shelf!”


Playing for Keeps by Liz Matis FREE on Amazon/iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

Get to know Liz on Facebook, Twitter and on her website. Sign up for her newsletter!

Liz recommends . . . “Blindsided by Jami Davenport, the first book in Jami’s Seattle Steelheads subseries. So much hot fun with these hunky football players . . . and some old favorites from the hockey books, too!”


Play by Holly S. Roberts is FREE on Amazon/iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

Meet Holly on Facebook, Twitter and her website.

Sign up for her newsletter!

Holly recommends . . . “Diva in the Dugout by Arlene Hittle. Arlene is a riot to be around, and her stories are romantic comedy. Add baseball to the mix, and you’ll understand why I love this woman and her books.”


Under the Autumn Sky by Liz Talley is available on Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

Get to know Liz on Facebook, Twitter and her website

Liz recommends . . . “The Deal by Elle Kennedy, the first book in Elle’s sizzling and wickedly funny Off-Campus series: football players, snarky women and the bumpy road that leads to true love . . . eventually.”


a Rafflecopter giveaway











My Football Romance’s Awesome Twin!

So when I was looking for a wonderful and muscular cover photo for Some Enchanted Season’s update, I went through many, many stock photos of guys with muscles bared who were holding footballs, wearing football gear, something.

One thing that was noticeable–very much so–is that they all have very short hair. Which isn’t actually the norm for professional football players in the US. And yet, it is what is trendy fashion and what the models have. So even though Rusty Rivers doesn’t have short hair, I wasn’t showing his hair anyway so… I made do.

Until I found The Guy. Various poses of The Guy. Everything about The Guy was awesome, and I immediately knew he was The Guy.  I figured out which pose I wanted.

And then immediately had to change to another. Why? Because Sosie Frost had already used the same pose on her book.


I love everything about this cover. I love the colors. I love The Guy. I love his hair. I love the fonts used. I love the tattoo that the cover artist added to the photo.

I love everything.

And guess what–I ended up buying that darned book because its subtitle is, A Secret Daddy Romance. And that made me go, huh? And I read the blurb, and it was kind of catnippy for me, two people in forced proximity who are not supposed to fall in love. I’ve written that before. Maybe more than once. 😉

Veteran running back Jude Owens is one of the best and most respected players in the league. A brutal concussion nearly ended his career, but Jude refuses to retire without earning the ultimate honor—a championship.

But first, he needs me to clear him to play. As the Ironfield Rivets’ neurologist, I usually treat bad boy quarterbacks and beastly linebackers. I can’t be impartial when my lifelong crush hops onto the exam table. Not only is Jude gorgeous and a gentleman, he’s my brother’s best friend…and the father of my unborn baby.

Or so everyone thinks.

Jude offers to pose as my boyfriend and the baby’s father to save my reputation. In return, he needs my help to stay on the field. The pretend romance keeps me close enough to take care of him, but I can’t protect my heart. Our stolen kisses and nightly indiscretions have transformed this fake relationship into something so very real.

I can’t complicate our arrangement by falling in love, especially as Jude’s obsession with football blinds him to everything but the game. When his symptoms worsen, the only way I can protect him may be to sit him on the sidelines. But ending his career will ruin our Once Upon A Time.

It’s up to me to save my prince charming…

Even if it means I lose my happily-ever-after.

Happily Ever All-Star is a sexy, flirty standalone romantic comedy with no cheating and a guaranteed happily ever after. For a limited time, Bad Boy’s Baby, Beauty and the Blitz, and Once Upon A Half-Time are included with this file!

I bought the darned thing–even though I haven’t bought or read a contemporary romance in years. And didn’t even notice that [see above] right now you get three other books from this series as part of the download!

I read it. And it’s terrific. Which is why I’m telling you about it now. Because seriously, check it out. This may very well be a book you find adorable and funny and sweet and even angsty, too.

Oh, and since they are twins, we’ll check them out side by side.


Aren’t they adorable? Now, with her books you get four books for the price of one. With mine, you get one book for .99. That’s a couple of bargains any way you look at it!

And watch this space. Tomorrow I am bringing you more football romance goodness, along with a contest!





An old favorite with a new cover!

Football season is starting, folks, and here at PlanetPooks I decided it was time to update the cover on my football romance.

Dare I admit it?

Okay, I’ll admit it.

I dragged my feet on this one. I didn’t want a bare-torso on my covers.

But hey, the readers have spoken. Since I changed the cover at Amazon and let my newsletter subscribers know about it, sales have quadrupled!  And I guess honestly? This is the cover that sexy and surly Rusty Rivers has deserved for a long time.

Brace yourselves. Grab a fan and your smelling salts. Ready?



Some Enchanted Season: A Football Romance is waiting for your reading pleasure at Amazon, and available for KU subscribers.

What Readers Are Saying

The most appealing aspect of the story to me is the physical, sexual chemistry between the two that is evident, if not at first sight, certainly at first (incidental) touch. I love reading well-written descriptions of physical love scenes, and this author delivers on that with skill and a fluidity of words that completely loops the reader into the story. If you enjoy reading romance, I strongly recommend this book.
Subversa, 5 Star Amazon review
I really like the characters in this story. Kevyn is a real woman, not perfect but fighting her own failings and insecurities while making a name for herself. Rusty is outwardly arrogant and self-assured, but inside he’s looking to find something that will fill the void that the impending end of his sports career will bring. Together, they learn that love, despite the pain and struggles, is worth the risk. It’s a quick read but really gets you thinking that we don’t have to be perfect to have success or deserve happiness.
Tammie, 5 Star Amazon review

Don’t forget to tell your friends!








Happy Independence Day!

This is my least favorite ‘big’ holiday if you’re talking classic activities. I can’t tolerate heat, and I live in Texas. Unless they’re part of another activity, fireworks are okay but generally not worth the trouble of going to see them.


History you never knew or understood before, complete with laughter and with tears and the very human people who made it happen.

And yet I love the Fourth of July, Independence Day, if you’re talking about what it represents. And my favorite way to celebrate?

He's a what? He's a what? He's a what? He's a Music Man! [And the Beatles cover of "Til There Was You" was on "Meet the Beatles" in 1964.

He’s a what? He’s a what? He’s a what? He’s a Music Man! Americana at its finest! But it HAS to be Robert Preston. Sorry Matthew Broderick. But no. [And the Beatles cover of “Til There Was You” was on “Meet the Beatles” in 1964.

Movies. Air conditioning. Wallowing in the feel-good warm-and-fuzzy patriotic feels I get from watching my favorite movies for the day. History, Americana, and a rousing bit of patriotic rah-rah-BOOM! Fireworks of a different kind.

AKA "the day ham radio saved the world!"

AKA “the day ham radio saved the world!”

Oh. And of course, all the food that goes with it!

What about you? How do you celebrate your national holiday?