Covers That Could Have Been

The first book in my new Hanger’s Horsemen series released last Tuesday, and I’m so excited to have a cover that features a rugged cowboy hero. I’ve had a few heroes make appearances on other covers, but they were always the supporting cast to the heroine.

I have three covers where the heroes get an arm and a leg in the picture. (Although you gotta admit that arm on Levi is pretty nice.)

My first hero only got his leg in the picture.

I did get nearly an entire hero on three of my covers, but the heroine remains the focal point.

So having my cowboy hero front and center this time was an exciting change. And I love the model they chose as well as the addition of the horse as the supporting actor.

However, when I asked my publisher if they had any cover mock-ups that failed to make the final cut, I was surprised to find an entirely different cowboy on the cover. One with a shy smile, rugged physique, and a lot more facial hair.

Here are a few of the first version mock-ups. Notice the different poses, the different backgrounds, even different hat colors.

If I had to pick one of these iterations, I think I would take the bottom middle. I like the hat tip, the smile, and the sunset in the background. Although, I strongly prefer the font and series designation of the one at the top left, which is most similar to the final copy.

All in all, I think they made the right call. I really like the final cover.


Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger’s Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they’re the ones in need of saving.

Barnes & Noble


  • If you were to select one of the runner-up covers for this book, which would you pick?
  • What do you think of having a hero-centric cover? Is it less romantic without the heroine?




Birth of a Book Cover

One of my favorite parts of the publication process is seeing my book cover for the first time. Will it capture my characters? Will it reflect the tone and style of my story? Will I love it?

Thankfully, my publisher has blessed me with some truly fabulous covers. That helps ease the anxiety over whether or not I will like what they come up with, because authors really have very little say in the design of their covers. We give ideas and feedback. We give descriptions of our characters, their clothing, and the setting, but then we turn it over to the Art Department and trust them to work their magic in a  way that produces a cover that will catch a reader’s attention.

With my latest project, Stealing the Preacher, I had several fun ideas, all of which required that my preacher be tied up somehow on the cover. So when my project manager finally sent me the finished cover, I couldn’t wait to see how it had turned out. Well, here it is:

Yep – I got my preacher tied up. WooHoo!!! Crockett Archer is in for one crazy adventure.

But how did this cover come to be? Well, my editor was kind enough to send me several pictures she managed to take on the sly during the photo shoot.



First, meet our two cover models, Isaiah and Katie. They make a cute couple, don’t they? Notice that Katie is actually a blonde. My heroine is a redhead. Thanks to some serious photo-shopping talent, her locks changed color on the cover.





Now we need some costumes. I love the dress they found for Joanna Robbins (my heroine). The style is gorgeous. The only problem is that Joanna never once wears red in the book. She’s a redhead, remember, and there are very few redheads that can carry off red clothing as well. However, from a marketing perspective, the red is very eye-catching and will easily draw a reader’s attention, so I couldn’t argue with the color. In fact, I went back during the editing phase and added a deep red skirt to Joanna’s wardrobe.



Next comes the really fun part. Time to play with different poses and scenarios. My original idea was to have a lasso around Crockett’s middle because that accurately depicted the scene in the book where he first met Joanna. Aren’t these shots fun?

The one they ended up choosing, however, does a great job of capturing the heroine’s personality while still keeping my preacher tied up, so I am completely satisfied with the final result.









Some of the photos were taken in a studio, others were taken in the designer’s back yard. They did all they could to ensure they got the perfect shot.









So what do you think? Did they do a good job?

What makes a good book cover in your opinion? Do you prefer men or women on the cover or both? No people at all?

Also, if you like sales, I thought I’d let you know that today only, my third book and the winner of the 2012 Carol Award and 2012 HOLT Medallion, To Win Her Heart, has been discounted for a one-day promotion. Today only, you can download the e-book version for only $2.99.  This price is valid for both Kindle and Nook.

Click on the book cover to order through Amazon.