If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30. It is now also available in audio.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

You can’t tell a book by its cover…or can you?

Today on Salad Bowl Saturdays we welcome Judy Alter who offers some more insight into the "wonderful" world of book covers. ~ Jim

It’s an old adage that you can’t tell a book by its cover. Regardless, I’ve heard many an author moan over their latest book cover. Indeed, I have done some moaning myself. My first three New York-published books were from Doubleday, in their DoubleD western series which went to a list of subscribers (mostly prisons, I suspect). The covers were ordinary and unremarkable, not designed to catch the reader’s eye on a bookshelf. One was Mattie, about a woman doctor on the prairies of western Nebraska. I made a point in the text that her soddie was at the only tree crossing of the river for miles—three lone trees. So there it was on the cover—an English-style thatched cottage surrounded by luxuriant greenery.

But the worst was to come. My first “big” book was for Bantam, a fictional biography of Libby Custer. On the cover, Libby stood in knee-deep prairie grass next to a barbed wired fence; in the background was bare red dirt around a log fortress. Yikes. I wanted to point out that Custer was killed in 1876 and barbed wire was experimented with in the early 1870s but successfully demonstrated in San Antonio in 1876—there was no way Kansas was fenced while Libby was there.

Worse, one friend said Libby looked like Madonna in 19th-century clothes, and another pointed out it was the ubiquitous West: Kansas in the foreground and Arizona in the background. In addition, there were no logs in the West for stockade fences (those were used in the East a century earlier) and Libby herself pointed out that she was surprised that western forts had no protective fence around them. But I was inexperienced, delighted to have a real trade book from a major eastern publisher, and I kept quiet…until it was too late.

One more horror story—I wrote a fictional first-person biography of  Etta Place’s years with the Hole in the Wall gang. A major point was that she rode with the gang on robberies, so what did the cover show? Men robbing a train, with no woman visible. Similarly, Ballad for Sallie, my story about a young girl who is a street orphan in Fort Worth in the late 19th Century, featured a gunfighter mounting his horse, guns blazing on the new print edition. Go figure.

I was once at a conference where a book distributor—the kind who puts books in grocery store racks, etc.—said openly he lays the covers out and picks that way without ever opening the book, reading a blurb or any advertising copy. He surely thought he could tell a book by its cover—or that buyers would.

All that said, I love the covers for the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries--kudos to Kim Jacobs of Turquoise Morning Press who designs them. She sent one for Skeleton in a Dead Space that I vetoed immediately—a skeleton in red and black with dripping blood wasn’t the mood of the book at all.

She agreed the free-lance designer had missed it and designed the cover of the book herself. It was smashing and perfect.

Judy Alter 
Murder at Tremont House is the second Blue Plate Mystery from award-winning novelist Judy Alter, following the successful Murder at the Blue Plate Café. Judy is also the author of four books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, and Danger Comes Home. With the Blue Plate Murder series, she moves from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.

Follow Judy at http://www.judyalter.com or her two blogs at http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com or http://potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com. Or look for on Facebook at  or on Twitter where she is @judyalter.


Gloria Alden said...

Judy, how horrible that your earlier covers were such disasters. It seems that small publishers do a better job than the large publishers. At least that's what you experienced.

I'm fortunate that I have a grand-daughter who is a graphic artist. We work together on what I want and I can veto some things and suggest others. From the positive comments I've got on my covers, I know that is important.

Warren Bull said...

There are so many things a writer cannot control. The cover is one of them.

KM Rockwood said...

How unfortunate that your early publishers weren't open to your input on your covers. I have to say I have been reasonably happy with my covers (although I'm not thrilled with the publisher's style, the pictures have been pretty good) One of them, Buried Biker, we decided to put a biker on the cover. I had a tough time conveying the differences between a chopper, a road bike, a touring bike, etc. We needed a chopper.The problem was made worse by the fact that Harley Davidson is very possessive of their emblems, and true choppers are Harleys. The one on it isn't quite what I would have selected, but it is a chopper, and the model on the bike is so handsome, I don't think anybody notices that that the bike itself should probably be more stylized.

I'm glad you've been able to get better covers for your more recent books.

E. B. Davis said...


I'm so glad you finally were able to get book covers that did justice to your books. Your previous book designers must have provided you with plenty of motivation for the killer antagonists in your books. Among the title, the cover, and the jacket blurb, you can only control two out of three. Glad on the last one you actually got veto power!

Shari Randall said...

Thank you for stopping by, Judy! Sounds like your sense of humor has gotten you through - so glad that now your covers are more evocative of your work.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

An interesting tale of your covers, Judy. Fortunately, the past is done and the current ones you like. Much better that way than t'other.

~ Jim