I have a blast designing book covers for all different genres–and sometimes I’ll have particular fun doing one in a style I’ve never attempted before. But then there’s my comfort zone…and for me, that’s historical covers.
When Meghan Gorecki contacted me about designing the cover for her Civil War novel, I knew this would be a “comfort zone” cover, which made me smile. I’d critiqued the first couple chapters for her already and also knew the synopsis, so I had a bit of a feel for it before going on. That’s always nice. And of course, Meghan had some ideas.

1.) Must have roses. “Somewhere, anywhere,” she said. 😊
2.) Must have heroine only
3.) She liked sepia tones, mauve, dark red, browns, maybe a splash of navy
4.) She absolutely adored this cover for Joanne Bischof’s upcoming novel (which I also love, and which my book club will be reading as soon as it comes out!)


Some other elements she mentioned were the script/letter overlay (as letters are an important part of the story), a Pennsylvania farm, maybe a Civil War battlefield…
My first attempt included something else she’d mentioned, but which she decided would, in fact, be a spoiler, so I won’t even mention it or show you that first cover. 😉 Suffice it to say that though it was a no-go, we both fell in love with the coloring, which gave me direction for what we did eventually go with. Which began with this…

I have no idea where this picture is actually from, but living in a state that borders with Pennsylvania, I can verify that this could be a PA farm. Or WV farm. Or a MD farm. Or any other number of farms in the mid-Atlantic. 😉 The rolling mountain in the background, the green grass, abundant trees…yep. A perfect background. I did have to do some resizing, though, and actually stretch the grass and sky both, to end up with the needed format…

So then it was time to go in search of a heroine. There aren’t a ton of stock photos that have a genuine hoopskirt dress, but I liked the colors and positions of this girl…

The dress wasn’t wide enough, and the face and hair didn’t fit the description of the heroine, but those can, of course, be changed. Let’s start with the new head. I liked the expression on this girl’s face, and the body position was the same, so that would work.

Putting this head on the first body/dress and widening the skirt, I ended up with this…

Not a bad start! Next, of course, came the roses. I played with a few different options. First I thought maybe I’d do a trellis…

But that ended up obscuring too much of the background, and it was hard to get all the edges to look neat and tidy. So I ended up going with this shot that was in the color scheme I wanted.

Aren’t they pretty? I made them the foreground and ended up with this.

Of course, the coloring of the three different images doesn’t exactly match in this, does it? It looks like a mash-up. Looks “Photoshopped.” Isn’t natural. So I added a filter.

Much better! Isn’t it amazing how a photo filter over the different layers can draw them together? This one is Nashville, part of the Instant Hipster Photoshop Action pack.
So this is our basic image. There are, of course, still a few crucial elements missing, and some tweaking too. For starters, this girl’s hair is too dark, so I did some lightening. This can be a tricky step, actually. Darkening is easier, and making it red is the easiest of all, LOL. But with some detailed changes to the curves, brightness, levels, saturation, and coloring, I ended up with a result Meghan and I were both happy with.

Next came that text overlay, up in the sky. Had I just plopped it in there in a normal fashion, it would have looked like this:

That wouldn’t do, of course. I changed the layer blend mode to Overlay, however, and got this.

As an added bonus, this even brightened the sky, which I loved!

So now the image part is finished. It’s time to turn to the title and series name, etc. First, I added some fade layers so that the words would stand out.

This actually has two different fade layers. A cream one more in the center, where the title would go (currently where my logo is) and a teal layer on the bottom, for behind the author name. So plugging that important text in there…

The normal serif type here is Oldstyle, which has a bit of a typewriter look. I used that for both “Amongst the” and “Meghan M. Gorecki.” We tried out a few different scripts before we found the right one, and we decided on Marcella Script.
The only thing left was the series! The series Title is Keystone Legacy, and I knew she wanted a keystone incorporated into it, so I found one with stylized elements on the side, made it gold, and put the name in there.

So adding that one, we have the final front cover!

And here’s the full cover too.

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable
upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac.
Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by
opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a
young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever
nearer to the homefront?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a
way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor
Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his
family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with
Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front.
The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but
when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able
to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history brings
these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to
tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.
If you follow the link I have on the title above, you’ll see that the Kindle version releases tomorrow and the paperback is already available. 😁

I hope you enjoyed the peek into the cover design process on this one! What’s your favorite part of the cover?