Put me in the top circle

Of the witch-hat houses I’ve seen to date, this comes closest to the shape I envisioned for my novel What’s Left. I like the way the top room in the tower connects to the attic rather than the master bedroom. Now, if the place were only pink to match the one in the story.

Inspired by a Shaker spirit

In my novel NEARLY CANAAN, Jaya searches in her spare time for an means of personal expression that isn’t quite poetry or prose but somehow truer to her spiritual stirrings. After I finished drafting the book, I came upon an exhibit of Shaker gift drawings and writings channeled by one member of the monastic community to be presented to another. Sometimes these would also originate as song, and an unique form of musical notation also arose.

Here are a few examples.

Spirit Message from 1843 appears to be a random series of letters or perhaps a new language akin to speaking in tongues.

 

Thus saith Holy Wisdom, detail

 

A Tree of Life, a central Shaker concept

 

Detail, To Sally Lomise, 1847

 

Mystical letters and images

 

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?