Old-fashioned hot spot

The metal grating in the floor of our second-floor bedroom at an Airbnb makes for a fascinating image, but it has a far more practical side. Back when heat came from a central wood- or coal-burning stove, getting the rest of the house warm was a problem. Hence, the hole in the floor.

 

What’s behind the new cover for ‘What’s Left’

Book cover design, as we’ve previously discussed, is a tricky endeavor. The presentation has to be visually catchy but  also reflect the contents of the book itself.

Ebooks, where my works are appearing, have their own additional challenges. Since these volumes are sold exclusively in online book retailers, their cover images are essentially thumbnails, unlike their print counterparts, which are meant to be displayed in stores or library shelves. Nor do these digital publications have spines, which are a unique design concern in itself – until recently, I hadn’t thought how crucial that narrow impression is in attracting my attention when I’m scanning a row of books for something to read. And ebooks don’t have back covers, where the words of praise appear and author’s portrait faces you. That’s a lot for an editor and artist to work with.

Creating a suitable cover for my novel What’s Left became maddening. The work weaves together a lot of themes and subjects, and hinting at them in a single visual image isn’t easy. Family, food and the restaurant they run, their Greek identity, the protagonist’s broken childhood all come into play. Every time I thought we had something functional, one of the in-house critics would raise a valid objection. I finally went with the egg yoke suspended in space as an attempt to convey a sense of being broken open emotionally as well as her own family’s long hours over the grill in their restaurant.

I still think it’s a striking cover, and I’m quite fond of it. But I’ve also been sensing it misses the mark. The focus in the story is on Cassia and the ways her grief as a child impacts her life’s direction. It’s the emotion, after all, that matters most.

I hope this new cover conveys that message.

What’s Left — Within a daughter’s own living Greek drama

For comparison, here’s the original cover:

This is the cover that’s just been replaced.

What do you think?

Antique farmers’ forks

As a child, I was so fond of a bone-handle fork at my grandparents’ that I always got to eat with it whenever I visited. Its design is simple, the metal something other than silver or stainless steel. I still find it elegant and rightly weighted in the hand. I imagine they came to western Ohio in a Conestoga wagon from Lancaster or York county, Pennsylvania.