For several years now, I have been creating book covers. I’ve learned a great deal about the tricks of the trade; how to make the models blend into the background, how to make them look natural, and appealing. Most important, I try to create my covers so they almost tell a story by themselves. My hope is that they will speak to the viewer and invite them inside the pages within.
Of course, I’ve done my own covers. My favorite is Taming Jenna, a historical western set in Utah. The heroine, Jenna, is a Pinkerton Agent assigned to bring in a train robber she can only identify by a scar on his bottom. Jenna tracks him to a Utah canyon, pulls a gun on him, and make him drop his trousers.
Jenna isn’t the usual heroine. Losing her father at a young age and having to care for her mother and raise herself created a woman determined to be able to out-cuss, out-shoot, and out-think any man. She dresses like a boy and fears nothing, except marriage.
My challenge for Taming Jenna’s cover was to show Jenna’s character. To do that, I picked an image of a woman dressed in jeans and a gun belt. Her eyes reflect her determination to succeed. Why didn’t I show Branch, the hero? If I ever re-do the cover, I might do that. But Jenna is a loner, who thinks little of men and wants nothing to do with them. So showing her alone seemed appropriate.
Naturally, I show her in mountains similar to those in Utah, and of course, she had to have a horse.
The hero, Branch McCauley, is humiliated when she gets the drop on him. Finding out he’s the wrong man, she skedaddles, but Branch goes after her. As a bounty hunter, he happens to be after the same outlaw. He wants revenge, and to learn what she knows about the villain.
The story is a fun series of ‘I catch him,’ ‘you catch him,’ and ‘we catch him together.’ Too often for Branch’s comfort, Jenna gets the best of him—until she takes a bullet and he has to take her to his family in Park City for doctoring. There, she learns what a family should be like, and feels the first flush of attraction for a man.
So much for trying to be friendly, Jenna thought. What now? She clenched her knees together to still their shaking and swallowed the knot of fear in her throat.
"Look." McCauley shifted his weight to one leg. "Why don't you put your gun away and have a sit? I might know something about the hombre you're hunting."
Hombre. Sounded Spanish—like Mendoza. Had to be him. She needed to get his six-shooter away from him. Surprise seemed the best means. She squeezed the trigger of the .44 Starr. The bullet kicked dirt onto the man's scuffed boots. He jumped and let out a yelp as though she'd set his feet afire.
"Dammit, kid, going up against me won't get you anything but a six-foot hole in the ground."
"Shut up and toss over your gun, or I'll turn them boots into sieves. ’Course, my sights might be a bit off." She raised the muzzle toward his groin.
"You made your point," he growled and unbuckled his gun belt. He tossed it over.
Instead of the fancy weapon she might have expected a gunslinger to own, a plain Colt lay at her feet. No ivory handle or engraved barrel. Only an ordinary .44 Peacemaker, crafted and worn for one reason—to kill. The thought did funny things to her innards.
"All right," she said, getting back to business. "You aren't going to like this, mister, but I don't know any other way to be sure who you are. Drop them trousers to your ankles."
Find Charlene at: Website
Find Taming Jenna at: Amazon
What kind of covers appeals to you--ones with real people posed? or graphic?