Every year the All About Romance website http://www.likesbooks.com/
runs a contest for the best book covers published in romance industry in the USA during the previous year - romance in this sense covering a broad church. So large and popular has this particular contest become that it now has its own dedicated site at Cover cafe. www.covercafe.com/contest/2005/coverintro2005.shtml
I am delighted to announce that the cover for Shadows And Strongholds (St Martins Press) has made the final ten in the historical section as adjudged by the panel. If anyone would care to vote for it in the final placings, then please do! I am thrilled not only on my own behalf, but on Larry Rostant's. He's the illustrator of my new look covers and when I told him Shadows and Strongholds had made the final, he was touched and really pleased because this is the first award of any kind he's been up for.
'Shadows and Strongholds' belongs to the genre of 'headless bodice' covers of which there have admittedly been a plethora since The Other Boleyn Girl brought them to the fore. Some readers say they have become tired of them, but they still seem to be doing very well across the board and personally I love mine (and not only because I have seen sales more than quadruple since their inception!) Of course there are abominations - there are in any style of cover, but done well, the 'headless bodice' and its variations 'bodyless feet' for e.g. The Time Traveller's Wife, can be dead certs for getting readers to at least notice and pick up the novel in the first place. To judge from the finalists in the historical section of the 2005 Cover contest, the 'headless bodice' has had strong appeal to the judging panel with five of the ten being of this type. I also notice from glancing around that heroines with their hands behind their backs appear to be a key feature! Here's the url to the historical section. http://www.covercafe.com/contest/2005/HST.html
When Larry first designed Shadows and Strongholds, the heroine's gown was blue velvet. I sent in an example photo of a typical gown of the period that a re-enactor friend had made using orange and gold brocade from a bolt of cloth especially woven for English Heritage. That fabric design and the colours have been morphed onto the Shadows and Strongholds gown. It's not strictly accurate in style, but the fabric is! I have been told that the cover was the hit of the Frankfurt Bookfair last year and that foreign publishers who had given Shadows and Strongholds a miss in the old hardback cover, were coming back to reconsider buying purely because of the cover art. That might not be what one wants to hear as a wordsmith, but as a commercial author, one gets down on one's knees and says thank you!