Friday, March 6, 2015

What’s with beards?


…by Senior Editor Victoria Curran

I walked into my chiropractor’s office last night and took a moment to appreciate that since I’d seen him three weeks ago, he’d grown one of those well-groomed metrosexual-style beards. “It’s cold!” he complained. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed his beard if we hadn’t just had a beard “episode” at the office.



When did beards become a thing? Apparently they were hot in 2013 (according to the Google machine) and predicted to be on the way out. But it’s only recently that I became aware of them—somewhat suddenly after I missed seeing that two out of four covers had heroes with beards on them…when there were no bearded heroes in the books. That’s when I realized that I now consider bearded men to be hotties: I took the cover images for granted and didn’t even see the beards. I highly doubt I would’ve missed a beard a couple of years ago, even though Mr. Clooney had one.

Well, one of the two Heartwarming authors who had a beard thrust upon her loves her cover even if the hero doesn’t quite match up to the guy inside the book. The other took a very strong stand against the cover beard. Personally? I think it’s important for the cover image to match the image the author has created, or at least be in the same ballpark! I’d love to hear where you guys stand on this: If the book has a fabulous eye-catching cover but as you read the story, it’s not capturing the gist of the characters inside, does that affect your read? How? Please weigh in!

I don’t know why I always seem to talk about covers. Maybe it’s because that’s the part of the book creation that’s most out of the author’s hands and so, as editors, we do our best to make sure the author’s vision is represented. Maybe it’s because I think Heartwarming has such strong ones…

And that brings me to the March books. Love love love them. 



Really happy to have an interracial romance from Rula Sinara, her second book in the From Kenya, with Love miniseries, After the Silence. And speaking of covers, we ran options past Rula because we found such a diverse range of heroines and she took one look at the one I was so sure best fit Hope Alwanga and said, “That woman is Ethiopian! There’s no way she’s Kenyan.” The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.

One Perfect Year is the fourth Harmony Valley Novel from Melinda Curtis, set in vineyard country California (in case the wine title didn’t tell you that!). In fact, each book in the month is part of a miniseries, including Amy Vastine’s The Best Laid Plans (Chicago Sisters, book 2 of 3) and Cheryl Harper’s The Bluebird Bet (Welcome to Tall Pines, book 2 of 2). If you’re a new reader to Heartwarming, no worries: the books stand alone. But if you love them, you know you can read more because of the miniseries connection.

You know who else has a beard? The St. Patrick’s Day iconic leprechaun. (Although I dearly hope I wouldn’t miss that beard if I saw it on one of our covers.) I wish you all a happy St. Paddy’s Day later this month, and I sure hope spring’s around the corner—my chiropractor’s finding the beard way too itchy!

Victoria

45 comments:

  1. Victoria! I'm chuckling at the fact that you recall my first reaction to my book cover choices :). I'm so excited that this book is finally out!

    And is that actually your chiropractor in the pics? He must be having fun with the fact that he's modeling beards on a romance blog! He'll have to put that fact to good use lol ;).

    I like short beards like the one on Mel's cover because they're just enough to give a guy that tough, outdoorsy look. But it doesn't work on all guys. It depends on how their beard grows, face shape etc...

    I'm one of those who really likes a cover to match the story/characters...but then I'm a bit OCD LOL!

    What? No sexy leprechaun romance cover models? ;)

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    1. Shoot, missed op! I should've had Dana Grimaldi post a sexy leprechaun--what was I thinking???

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    2. Yes, that really is my chiropractor! He gave me permission to snap him. (I didn't get him to sign a model release, though, so I hope he hasn't changed his mind.)

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    3. I think facial hair can be oober-sexy...on the right guy. When I was 'on the road,' lots of band dudes had goatees, and so did a few college profs., all of whom were responsible for some hairy daydreams. Larry had one years ago; nice and soft, but he quickly tired of maintaining that 'just right length' look. When he shaved all but a Tom Selleck-like mustache, I did not complain....

      As for bearded heroes on Heartwarming covers? Sure, why not...if it fits the author's image of her hero!

      And yes, cover characters should at least resemble those in the book. (I saved all 104 letters from readers, asking why my dark-haired, tanned, brown-eyed half-Cheyenne hero WAS A REDHEAD on the cover.)

      We who write Heartwarming novels are truly blessed. I haven't seen one yet that wasn't picture frame-worthy! But I digress.... I have this cramp in my side, see, nothing some chiropractor finesse couldn't fix....

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  2. Wow, very informative. I rarely look at the cover after I buy a book, and my imagination seldom melds the cover guy with the hero I'm reading about. That being said, Rula's cover is awesome and knowing the story behind it even better! Now, of course I'm looking at the two guys and their beards and thinking I'd go out with either of them :) They could take me to the end of a pier for dinner (hehehe)
    Hubby has never had a beard. Not sure I've even dated a bearded man, but I've taught many. I do a getting to know you activity with my college freshman and one of the quests is to find the man in class with the best beard. Inevitably we have a debate: beard or goatee? Are they the same. Thoughts?....

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    1. Hey, Pamela--it wasn't actual this month's books I was referring to. But interestingly, I see we do have a sort of beard on a March book, too! Huh. More scruff, though?

      Goatee screams intellectual to me. No?

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  3. This is interesting as my sister and I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago. We talked about how all of the young news announcer males have suddenly gotten beards, and that many other guys on TV do too. Also ads. Both of my sons-in-law have short beards and mustaches. I take it for granted on them. I don't think they look good on all men. And I hate scraggly looking ones. I suppose cover art follows trends. And beards are definitely trending now.

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    1. But what if you're reading a book about a clean-shaven guy and the guy on the cover has a beard, Roz? If it's just shadow like Melinda's hero in One Perfect Year, do you even notice? How dramatic does the departure between image and content have to be before the cover bugs you?

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    2. Victoria, I hardly noticed the one on Mel's cover hero. I don't know that I would think about it even if the cover showed one and the story didn't say anything. Because men can go a few days without shaving and then shave. I probably wouldn't give it a second thought. But that's me.

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  4. My weatherman suddenly quit wearing a toupee and grew a beard. Really sexy.
    I agree about the cover matching what's inside.

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    1. Well, toupees are a whole other story, Patricia!!!

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  5. Oh, and all the books look really great this month...as always. Can't wait to read them.

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  6. The beard is definitely back in. And now that harlequin covers aren't "painted" (or painted over images or whatever they used to do), the photos are hot!

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    1. And I'll go on record as saying I love my cover! I love the couple, the pose and the colors. But he does have short hair (and a receding hairline...is that European or what?). In revisions I had to give Gage a haircut before the end of the book - lol!

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    2. I agree, Melinda, the covers are much more contemporary looking now.

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    3. Tell me you didn't start the book with a pony tail on Gage????

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    4. Mel, I think those painted-over images you talk about were called 'painted photography.' We used them at American in the 90s.

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  7. LOVE a man with well-groomed beard. :) As far as covers, from a reader's perspective, they definitely draw me and can sell me on a book. As a writer, the idea of a character NOT matching what I have in mind (or being so far off track I can't connect the two), terrifies me, LOL. It's why I'm a fan of setting covers so I can let the readers (and me) draw their own conclusion for what the characters look like. Lovely post, Victoria! And I agree--the HW covers are fab!

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    1. I'm curious to look back in ten years, though, and see if we think the bearded guys are "so 80s" or whatever....

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  8. Ron's had a beard since his early fifties when he went to art school in Vermont in January and his face chapped. He liked it, I liked it, and he's had it ever since. His is more of an 'old salt' kind of beard. Like you might find him at the helm of the 'Mud Hen.' I like covers that are as close to how the characters looks as possible, but sometimes you have to mess with that a litte. My first book for HW had an artist/heroine just recovering from chemo so her hair was just growing back. The cover had the back of a woman with a gorgeous long braid - but she was working at an easel with a beautiful Tuscan scene. And you probably wouldn't want a partially bald heroine on a cover. I think the cover captured the spirit of the book beautifully - and no one ever mentioned the hair disparity to me.

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    1. Ah, interesting, Muriel. I didn't even pick that up at the time we were creating the cover! Thanks for this insight.

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  9. With respect to cover models matching the characters in the book, I'm still wondering how Logan, one of our black Labs, made it on the cover of my upcoming May 1st release, THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE. The dog in the story was originally an Irish Wolfhound.

    Being a cover model (or a look alike) seems to have gone to Logan's head. He now expects treats whenever we take his picture!

    Congratulations to the authors with March releases.

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    1. You've got to frame that cover, Kate!

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    2. Logan already took care of that. It's hanging above his monogrammed LL Bean bed!

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    3. I don't believe it, Kate. A dog more spoiled than mine.

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  10. I think beards are handsome depending on the man. Some men can't grow them evenly or some of the weird configurations (a soul patch? yikes) aren't for me. I haven't written a character with a beard yet... a little scruff maybe when he forgot to shave... of course my April cover model has an entire pelt so who am I to talk- lol.

    As for the cover matching the book description, I would say it's important. I suppose that stems from the fact that I began reading Harlequin from such a young age (12) and hadn't completely left books with pictures behind. Many a scene with the hero or heroine would send me back to the cover to stare at them and imagine the moment in my mind's eye. If the hero didn't match the description, it always felt like a let down because then I couldn't reconcile them.

    Ultimately, studies show a cover is a very significant factor in influencing a buyer's purchase, though, so if the beard looks good, wear it with pride :) And these covers look gorgeous as always!

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    1. Confirmation that we've got to stay on top of the art fact sheets you guys fill out; thanks, Karen. (Soul patches indicate a lazy man, as far as I'm concerned. Work harder at that little indent, guy!)

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    2. I 100% totally, completely, and absolutely agree, Karen: Soul patches...no, no, and no thank you. LOL I know a few guys who wear them, and have yet to get a straight answer when I ask "Why?" Ver-r-ry suspicious, if you ask me.... If you tell anyone I said this, I'll deny it, but when I'm talking to a guy with one of those teeny tufts, I'm always tempted to give it a little tug. So if you read a news headline that goes AUTHOR ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT AND BATT-HAIRY, you'll know why.

      I'm a cover-peeker, too. Sometimes--especially during action scenes--I'll turn a book around and try to imagine the hero wearing the expression described by the author. Very disappointing when the art department didn't 'get it,' isn't it? :)

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  11. I'm in agreement with just about everyone...I like to have the cover models look like the characters. I just got my incredible, fabulous and eye-catching May cover for Katia's Promise and the hero has a short, manicured "shadow" beard, which the hero doesn't have. BUT he looks so good and his blue eyes are exactly the piercing blue I described that now I wish I'd put a bit of scruff on my guy. Your chiropractor is MY kind of guy. I may just have to book an appointment!! What a cutie. No wonder you go to him. I adore all the March covers. I'm reading Rula's book right now and it's phenomenal--as expected. GREAT work all the way around EVERYONE!

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    1. Hey now! He's married (and I sent his office the link to this blog), so no booking appointments up here in Canada!

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  12. I love Heartwarming covers, but even then I'm happiest with the ones without people, because I want the reader to decide what they look like to them. That being said, I really do want the outside to match up with the inside. Oh, and I love beards. My husband seldom grows one, though I really like his, because he hates the in-between part. My sons are seldom clean-shaven. When they are, for whatever reason, I think their wives, kids, and I all look at them funny, as though we're waiting for the beards to grow back.

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    1. Interesting, Liz: I've never recognized that particular angle of having an iconic or scenic cover, minus the people... You must've loved that last cover!!!

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    2. Oh, I absolutely did! It's my favorite cover I've ever had. I think they're all beautifully done--I was just sighing over Rula's--but Eleanor's in February was a particular favorite. Again, no people. :-)

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  13. A cover is a big influence in my choice to buy, especially if I'm unfamiliar with the author's work. Heartwarming books always have attractive covers. The cover model should at least be close to the description of the character in the book, although a reader wouldn't know whether that's the case until after the fact. As far as beards go, my husband grew one about five years back, and he has kept it. It's neatly trimmed because he works in business and needs to appear professional, and although I wasn't sure at first, now I prefer him with a beard. It makes him very handsome, IMHO! Love your books and the blog, ladies! Have a great weekend!

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    1. Hope you have a great weekend yourself, Christy! Thanks for weighing in on the covers. (And the beards.)

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  14. I recently read a very good book with two characters on the cover who had nothing to do with those inside. It really bothered me. One of my newest characters is presently growing a beard. Don’t know yet if he’ll keep it.

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    1. Well, the way beards are trending hot, every author may as well have their heroes grow beards and then shave them off...long hair then shave it short! Have a great weekend, Marion.

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  15. Not a fan of beards. My former husband had a beard and mustache one grime. I hated it. It was like kissing a toothbrush!

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    1. Freudian slip of the fingers, eh, Patricia! LOL

      Seriously, if anyone has a good excuse NOT to like a beard, it's a lady whose ex was bristly!

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  16. Oops! 'a beard one time' -- 'grime' was purely a typo. I swear!

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  17. I just saw all of Loree's comments and had to say...Loree, you're hilarious! :)

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  18. It's the coffee. Lots and lots of strong coffee. Without it, I'm a slug. mmwwoohaha

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  19. I like a five o'clock shadow or some scruff but I'm not a huge fan of full beards. I do love the March covers (especially my own!) but I love all the Heartwarming covers. The art department does a fabulous job!

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