Sworn Loyalty CoverSworn 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :).
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!
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
Creating Medieval Romance Novel Covers
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