At this point in time, I have designed more covers for Melody Carlson than any other author–something I certainly wouldn’t have imagined I could claim a few years ago, LOL. But given that she now has sixteen books out with WhiteFire and more in the works…yep. That’s a lot of covers. 😀
Her upcoming series with us is set in 1915 Oregon, so I rubbed my hands together in anticipation over this one. It’s an era I obviously know well in terms of fashion, having researched it for years. Which of course means I also knew how hard it was to find stock images that get it right.
But I had a secret weapon up my sleeve when I sat down to tackle the series concept for this one–Matti’s Millinery. I’d contacted this wonderful seamstress’s site before about the possibility of using their images, and I knew they were willing to chat, were reasonably priced, and had some great Edwardian selections. So after some conversations with them and Melody, I did indeed find a model who would work perfectly for Anna, the heroine of Melody’s new Legacy of Sunset Cove series. Yay!
The first book in the series is Harbor Secrets. Newspaperwoman Anna McDowell finally goes home to Sunset Cove with her teenage daughter after running off to get married as a young woman–but only because she receives word that her father has suffered a stroke. Desperate to make things right with him before its too late, Anna goes back to the idyllic coastal town only to discover it’s not so idyllic anymore. Oregon’s statewide prohibition has brought trouble to the town in the form of rum runners. Can Anna, with her investigative reporter’s instincts, keep her father’s newspaper afloat and help weed out the troublemakers from Sunset Cove?
For this first cover in the series, Melody said she’d like to see the character from behind, small and distant rather than in the foreground. That means I’d need full-length images of the model, which Matti’s Millinery did thankfully have.
This was our favorite for this first book.

It’s really perfect. Anna, a no-nonsense businesswoman in many ways, frequently wears suits that are nearly masculine in style, so this jacket is perfect. And even the hair color is right! Pleased that I had the oh-so-important model figured out, I turned to backgrounds.
Each book in the series will feature a beautiful Oregon coast scene. For Harbor Secrets, I really liked this one.

Sizing it for the book cover–which involved stretching the sky a bit–gives us this.

Then we add the model. Eagle eyes may notice that I flipped her around so she’s facing the water and the largest portion of the cover, and also that I deleted the hand that had been positioned on the column, cutting it instead at the elbow, so it looks like both of her arms are in front of her.

This is a fine foundation, but I wasn’t wild about having the dress be brown, so I decided to make it a teal/blue to better coordinate with the water color.

So this is good…but I wanted the cover to be a bit moody, to better hint at the mystery Anna is out to solve. Step one was to add the Sutro filter.

And then I also added some fog and haze, using the Pretty Photoshop Actions fog applicator.

I was loving that, so it was time to turn to the title. I wanted to go art deco, to really solidify the era feel, and I tried out So. Many. Fonts. Eventually I decided on Carlton. Here it is with just the title…

Obviously needs something more, so I decided to add some art deco elements to frame it.

That’s better! Plus it gave me a good place to put the series name and number, just on the top and bottom…

Nearly there! The only thing left to do was add Melody’s name. And voila! The finished cover!

So there we have it! A cover that hints at mystery, establishes the era, and features a small-sized heroine from behind, as Melody requested. She loved how it turned out, and so did I! What do you think?

A B O U T   T H E   B O O K
A Peaceful Coastal Town…Threatened by a Storm of Secrets

It’s 1916 when newspaper woman Anna McDowell learns her estranged
father has suffered a stroke. Deciding it’s time to repair bridges, Anna
packs up her precocious adolescent daughter and heads for her hometown
in Sunset Cove, Oregon.

Although much has changed since the turn
of the century, some things haven’t. Anna finds the staff of her fathers paper not exactly eager to welcome a woman into the editor-in-chief
role, but her father insists he wants her at the helm. Anna is quickly
pulled into the charming town and her new position…but just as quickly
learns this seaside getaway harbors some dark and dangerous secrets.

With Oregon’s new statewide prohibition in effect, crime has crept
along the seacoast and invaded even idyllic Sunset Cove. Anna only meant
to get to know her father again over the summer, but instead she finds
herself rooting out the biggest story the town has ever seen and trying
to keep her daughter safe from it all.