Sworn Loyalty Cover

Sworn Loyalty was the eleventh medieval romance novel I published. The first ten were all novels I had written over the years and then worked on self-publishing from December 2011 through July 2012. Designer Debi Gardiner and I worked together closely for that eight month period, honing and perfecting the style of covers I wanted for these novels. In each case Debi perfectly captured the mood and atmosphere I wanted to convey. She is a talented illustrator and drew each image from scratch.

Seeking the Truth Knowing Yourself A Sense of Duty Creating Memories Looking Back Badge of Honor Lady in Red Finding Peace Believing Your Eyes Trusting in Faith

At this point my "library" of books was out and published, and I was now writing novels from scratch. This meant there would be more of a gap between them :). It was not until a year later, June 2013, that I was ready to tackle the cover for the next book. This was Sworn Loyalty, with an anticipated publish date of late July 2013. The two main images I wanted to convey with the cover were the tambourine, for the heroine, and the crossed swords, for the hero. I also wanted a Celtic feel to it so it was clear at a glance what the setting for the story was.

Debi's first set of images did an awesome job with the tambourine.

Sworn Loyalty cover

In looking at this set, I had a number of ideas for tweaks. I tend to always want the images to "stay within" the gold ring for whatever reason. I like them to be fully contained inside the ring. Also, I wanted the swords to have more prominence, as both characters wield swords. So the swords should go on the outside, with the tambourine over them like a shield. The heroine's task in the book is to shield the hero.

I wanted a sharper style of design for the Celtic imagery, to go with the dangerous world they inhabit. I wanted the non-black designs to have more of a parchment color. I wanted no pink ribbons :).

Debi came back with these alterations.

Sworn Loyalty cover

I definitely like the swords behind the tambourine, but they don't stand out enough. The one on the bottom right was intriguing but a bit too large. I felt the silver ribbon blended in too much, so I thought maybe a pair of green ribbons would do better. Green is the hero's color. I liked the design on the tambourine, but found the inter-blade dots were taking away from the shapes of the blades, so asked for those to be reduced.

Sworn Loyalty cover

Here we go, I was really liking these. The black swords were best, but I don't like things touching the gold ring. They needed some space. Of the two variants of tambourine design, I liked the one without "dots" best - the one that just had the curved blades. I also wanted some definition to the blades - a bit of hilt stripe and fuller line.

Sworn Loyalty cover

Sworn Loyalty cover

Now we're getting into fine details. I liked the greyer lines in the tambourine celtic design, and wanted thinner linese on the blades. I wanted to remove the "top line" of the hilt wrap as I felt that was too high up on the pommel. Yes, I'm picky about swords :).

Sworn Loyalty cover

From these, I chose the elements that I liked best of them - the darker blade, the lighter hilt wrap, the simpler grey in the design, and we were set!

Sworn Loyalty cover

Sworn Loyalty cover

Voila! It gives exactly the sense I was hoping for. The pair of crossed swords for both the hero and heroine. That crossed swords is also the hero's emblem. The tambourine is for her - and it still has an edged blade on it. She is the shield, or valkyrie, for him.

I highly recommend Debi for any graphic projects you might have! GardinerDesign.com

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