Monday, February 24, 2014

What's Your Pleasure? by Anna Adams

When you’re walking through a bookstore, what stops you? Which are the covers you can’t resist?

Snow? That’s probably not a wise question in this hemisphere right now, but I’m addicted to winter weather. I’d live in Iceland if my family would come with me. Snow, on a dusky night, trees, towering, tufted in snow. More flakes drifting down. I’m drawn to that cover, and I want to know about the story.

History. Show me a woman wearing a medieval hood, as if she were maybe Elizabeth of York? Not only do I need that—I’m reading Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir right now. Normally, I deliberate and sample a book, but combine one of my favorite authors with one of my favorite subjects? That was a one-click.

Sun, shining through greenery? A woman making a dandelion wish—I was immediately drawn to Melinda Curtis’s Dandelion Wishes. A couple observing elephants on the African veldt? I'm attracted to Rula Sinara’s The Promise of Rain for both the cover and the title. And The Weather Girl. I’m coming for the parapluie, but I’m staying for the meteorologist.

I know where my weaknesses began. One of my earliest, happiest memories centers around my family gathering to watch The Six Wives of Henry VIII on PBS. We were all fascinated and horrified. After each shocking episode, we actually talked about the way members of the families we were watching treated each other. I needed to know more about the Yorks and the Lancasters--not to mention those busy Tudors.

Winter is my favorite time of the year since I lived in Iceland and then later, lived in Hawaii for almost five years. Maybe it doesn't seem normal, but the constant sun faded me. I buried myself in winter-set stories, trying to sink into some coolness. To this day, my computer’s background screen is always covered in snow.

The Promise of Rain gets me on two levels. Ray Bradbury’s "There Will Come Soft Rains" has haunted me since I read it as a young child. Any lyrical title containing the word, "rain," leaps into my hands, and my husband has a thing for elephants. I wanted to know more about that book since the moment I first heard of it, and it’s up next behind Elizabeth on my Kindle. The Weather Girl? One of my favorite movies is Les Parapluies de Cherboug. A red umbrella is a beacon to me, and I have a confession. I have four weather apps on my phone. Weather fascinates me. How could I resist Amy Vastine’s book?

Finally, I’d never heard of wishing on a dandelion until my family moved to Tennessee when I was ten. We’d always lived far from my mother’s family, and I’d never known aunts and uncles and cousins, who quickly became my siblings, as Tennessean cousins do. I loved hanging out with my aunt, one of my “second mothers,” who lived down the hill from us, and despite her terrible allergies, she picked a fluffy (snowball) dandelion from the field between our houses one day, and held it out and asked me to make a wish. 

I had no idea you could wish on a flower. (Why do some people consider dandelions weeds?) We had moved because my parents split up, and my mother wanted to be near her family. Every piece of that dandelion wafting through the air was a wish that my parents would find each other again. That wish didn’t come true, but that moment was so intense, I’ll never resist a dandelion wish.

These are the themes and images I can’t resist. I’d love to hear about the ones that drag you straight to the shelf, and where you think they came from. What kind of cover or story makes a book irresistible to you? And, why?

40 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! Winter covers draw me, too, though I couldn't say why.

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  2. You really made me go back and look at those covers again. Right now I'm pondering. What covers draw me? LOL. I'm drawn to houses, I know that. The old Victorian's especially. I don't have to have people. With your post, I'm realizing that I'm drawn to sunny. Hmm, I live in Arizona.

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    1. I'm sensing a Victorian theme, but I'm also attracted to older homes with those Tudor-style windows. Put a lamp inside, and I at least need to check it out!

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  3. LIz, snow in any form, on houses, on trees, on water, with foggy street lamps--I love snow, and I'm positive it adds to any story! ;-)

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  4. Pamela, there's a Victorian in the town where I live that's been used in many movies. Parts of The Odd Life of Timothy Green were filmed there. My husband (who, by the way, would love to move to Arizona) calls it his favorite house. :-) I definitely want to know about the stories people have lived under that gingerbread, beautiful roof!

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    1. Arizona is great. We've got three Heartwarming authors here.

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    2. Wow. I wonder if that many Heartwarming authors are concentrated in any other state. Are you all within visiting distance? My husband just thrives in the heat. He grew up in the high desert of Washington state, but he doesn't love the cold winters there. He'd move to Arizona tomorrow. :-)

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  5. Anna, all the covers you're talking about here are marvelous! I'm a sucker for a fascinating house--a holdover from my Gothic novel teenage years, maybe?

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    1. Kalupy, remember all those great covers with night-gowned women running from hilltop castles? Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt? I do miss those!

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    2. Of course I do...still have a lot of them on my bookshelves! I remember that, back then, I refused to buy any Gothic that didn't have the house on the cover. I also was narrow-minded enough to be turned off by a woman in a contemporary dress, although my favorite Gothic, and one of my favorite books of all time, is a contemporary: Nine Coaches Waiting.

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    3. I was the same. In fact, I remember one of my mom's books, with a woman in a pink, belted 70s dress on the cover. I put that one off until I didn't have anything else to read. ;-) Man--those books--where you can't be sure if the oh so dark heroes really are the heroes, until they come through. Kathleen O'Brien, I fear you've made me go search my shelves. Surely I have Nine Coaches Waiting... I know I have The Ivy Tree. ;-)

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    4. If you don't have NCW, you might want to get hold of one. I was surprised how well it holds up...doesn't really feel dated at all. Stewart is such a genius!

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    5. Couldn't find it on my shelves, and I'm despairing that her stuff isn't available for Kindle--but thank goodness so many have been re-released. After word count for today, I'm heading to the bookstore! She is a genius! Love her atmosphere and her characterization--and the fact that I forget I'm reading while I'm reading her stories.

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  6. It's interesting; I recently took a course on self-publishing and got tips on designing covers and things like contrasting primary colors were mentioned, pops of color- like your pink umbrella, the font and it's placement... stuff like that... are very crucial in affecting your sales! Great post :)

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    1. LOL, Karen! I literally thought, when I saw the Alison Weir book with Elizabeth in her hood on the cover, "Oh, no. I have to buy that one, too." Oh--and there's lots of rich red on the cover. I'm living proof those elements=sales!

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  7. Hey, Anna! Great post. :) That old adage never judge a book by its cover...yeah, I do that . I like different--something I haven't seen before. A while ago that's how I discovered a new author--didn't even read the back, just bought it and it was great. I think I'm attracted to the artwork, colors. But when I think back on my old favorites, I remember Jude Deveraux's early historicals with such fondness. :) They were just elegant and classy to me. That said, put any image of Greece on the cover, and I"m yours, LOL

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    1. Hahaha! We all have our things, don't we? I'll take Greece, too! I do remember those lovely Jude Devereaux covers. Remember Jayne Ann Krentz titles from the same time period? I'd read her books just to get the wordplay she always used! Doesn't hurt that they're both such great storytellers!

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  8. Great post. Now I'm thinking. I'm drawn to misty covers, the ocean, trees, mountains. And cowboy hats or boots. I love those!

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    1. Totally agree on misty, ocean, trees, and mountains. I never think I'm attracted to cowboy hats or boots, and then I see a cowboy looking vulnerable--boots, hat, and a baby or a dog or a heroine who looks pretty enthralled--and I'm there!

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  9. You must forgive me my language...but I feel as if I'm a cover slut. Or perhaps I should say a recovering cover slut. We don't have a brick and mortar bookstore closer than 45 minutes. When we had one here in town, I had a tremendous to be read pile because covers sucked me in time and again - historical ladies with a flirtatious look, dark and dangerous heroes whose eyes met mine, or spunky shots like that on Jen Snow's What a Girl Wants. I think Mr. Curtis is grateful I'm not quite the sucker when I buy ebooks as I was when I could hold that book in my hand. Great post, Anna!

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    1. Mel, we're down to one brick and mortar store nearby, and I love that place, but I think I'm even more easily tempted with my Kindle. You look at one book and a whole stream of "you might like this" covers flows through the bottom of the screen! Delicious torture! ;-)

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  10. I love a cover that exudes warmth and comfort....a fireplace with a tea set and a napping cat or dog nearby, a lovely B&B, a beautiful traditional home, a park with blooming flowers and trees, the countryside. Things like that. I'm also drawn to those historical fiction covers with the women dressed in garb that reflects the era in which it's written. I don't like chaotic looking covers that make me feel nervous before I even open the book. Oh...and I definitely have a thing for cottages, like the thatched roof ones I love in England with the wildflowers. I won't typically pick up a book unless I like the cover. Otherwise it would have had to have been recommended.

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    1. Laurie, you made me see all those images. I'd pick up those books as well, excepting to see challenging stories about complex people who find comfort in the things that comfort me as well. :-) Maybe that's the real draw? That we feel as if we'll instinctively know the characters in the stories?

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  11. This is fun to think about. I love autumn leaves on a cover, a hero with a baby or a child, and a woman with attitude. I have a Gone With the Wind poster in my office with Rhett and Scarlet in a clinch and a background montage of soldiers in blue and gray, Tara, and Atlanta burning. I think it might be from the movie rather than the book, but I miss covers with the central romantic pair and that background montage of other elements in the story. It was attention-getting.

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    1. Muriel, I don't know how I forgot about autumn leaves. I have a favorite tree, which is not on my property. Every year I take pictures of it as autumn changes it, and all the while, I'm wondering how long till the house owners come out and have a word with the crazy lady who photographs their tree every year.

      I totally get what you're saying about those covers. Back in the movies around GWTW's time, almost all the posters were like that. Especially, noir, after WWII. I love those. The clinch and then the scenes that led you into the story. In fact, I was looking at a book one day last week that pictured a woman, in a slinky 30s gown, leaning against a wall, in that 30s way they had, with different objects coming down the side of the cover. I was tempted, but it turned out to be the story of a serial killer also from that time, who apparently murdered people living in his apartment building. I might go back to it, but it was a little gory for me on that particular day. :-) Nevertheless, that cover sure had me.

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    2. Not Tara RANDEL, obviously, though that would be cool, too.

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    3. Tara Randel on a GWTW poster? That would be a whole different story! Time travel! :-)

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  12. I'm all about winter and Christmas covers:) I hate to say this, but every Christmas I buy just about every holiday release I can find, and almost never have enough time to read them-it's my retirement tbr pile, while soaking up the Arizona heat lol:)

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    1. Jennifer, if I weren't writing a Christmas novella right now, I'd certainly own your gorgeous The Trouble with Mistletoe! (And it's on my wish list for later, so I won't forget.) I do the same every year. Along about October, all the Christmas releases show up, and I start piling them in. Someday, I'll be in my Icelandic sod house, and you'll be on your sun-soaked AZ patio, and we'll both be working our way through our holiday release collections! ;-)

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  13. Anna, love all the talk about covers! I adore water. Oceans, lakes, streams, perhaps even gullies. LOL!

    Also dark, suspense covers. Not screaming women, but eerie glimpses down dark streets or alleyways.

    Yes, yes, yes to Nine Coaches Waiting!

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    1. Or canyons, Debby! :-) All your covers have that "read-me" suspense vibe going! I remember one with the brick house set in trees in almost darkness. I thought I could hear the leaves blowing!

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  14. Anna, I had to really think about this. At first I thought I'm not drawn by any particular covers, and maybe I'm not because I think color stops me to take a second look. So probably reds and oranges and bright clothing or flowers. Not so much snow, but ocean or waterfalls. Now I'll have to see when I go to B & N. Usually I go with a list of books in hand. And when I get the books I usually like the covers.

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    1. Roz, I was talking with a friend about the way I visited the library as a kid. If a book looked good, I just grabbed it, and I usually read them all. But now, like you, when I am about to shop for a book, I have a particular book in mind. After I get there, I'm more open to something new, but I miss those days of just grabbing what I saw because it appealed in that moment. Oh--and I know I'm attracted to anything that has a saturation of deep, rich red. Also share your partiality to water! ;-)

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  15. Anna, I love this post, and not just because you took me by total surprise by including my cover and saying such nice things (thank you!!!), but because I'm a 'cover' girl. I love covers and I'm especially drawn to covers that evoke emotion/mood or draw me into a setting...and I like great use of color. Whether serene or warm, I like it when colors work well together and aren't chaotic. I can't resist a quiet, seaside image on a cover...probably bc I'd want to go there ;).

    And I'm still thinking Iceland and Hawaii...wow. Very cool experiences, Anna! Thanks again for including me :).

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  16. Rula, you have such a beautiful cover and title, and I sneaked a peak at the first chapter when I bought it. I love your Anna and all the pressures and responsibilities tugging at her! Can't wait to finish The Promise of Rain!

    I totally agree with everything you said about the way covers draw us. I like the way you put it, and it reminds me to be aware on every page that the choices I make for language to tell the story needs to convey those emotions as well.

    Living in Iceland and Hawaii was cool. You can imagine how different the cultures were. I'd love to visit both again!

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  17. Like Rula, I love this post and not just because you included my cover ;)

    I am also a sucker for an interesting cover. The Heartwarming line, hands down, has the best covers of all the Harlequin series. I knew I wanted to write for them when I saw them. I fell in love with Tara's ORANGE BLOSSOM BRIDES and Roz's THE HOPE DRESS. So gorgeous. I know they say you can't judge a book by its cover, but a cover is your first impression, like it or not!

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    1. I had not seen Roz's cover for THE HOPE DRESS, but it's beautiful! So elegant. And I do love Tara's cover for ORANGE BLOSSOM BRIDES. That one evokes such a romantic feel. I love the angle, looking down, too--gives it such a sense of movement. And, Amy, I completely agree about the Heartwarming covers. Each one tells a story that makes me want to read. ;-)

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  18. Harlequin produces lovely covers in general. I'm always thrilled with the Love Inspired Suspense covers too.

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    1. Dana, the Love Inspired Suspense covers are always filled with the perfect suspense-y ambience. My friend, Debby Giusti, writes for them, and I've loved all of her covers!

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