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becke_davis
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Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

Today's guest blog is sort of a sneak preview, since Julia Spencer-Fleming will be featured here in May. If you haven't discovered her series yet, you're in for a treat!

 


 

Julia's website is here: http://www.juliaspencerfleming.com/

 

Like this week's featured author, Hallie Ephron, Julia blogs at Jungle Red:

 

http://www.jungleredwriters.com/

 

Jungle Red

 

 

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becke_davis
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One Was a Soldier (Clare Fergusson Series #7) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

 

 

On a warm September evening in the Millers Kill community center, five veterans sit down in rickety chairs to try to make sense of their experiences in Iraq.  What they will find is murder, conspiracy, and the unbreakable ties that bind them to one another and their small Adirondack town.

 

The Rev. Clare Fergusson wants to forget the things she saw as a combat helicopter pilot and concentrate on her relationship with Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne. MP Eric McCrea needs to control the explosive anger threatening his job as a police officer. Will Ellis, high school track star, faces the reality of life as a double amputee. Orthopedist Trip Stillman is denying the extent of  his traumatic brain injury. And bookkeeper Tally McNabb wrestles with guilt over the in-country affair that may derail her marriage.

 

But coming home is harder than it looks. One vet will struggle with drugs and alcohol. One will lose his family and friends. One will die.

 

Since their first meeting, Russ and Clare’s bond has been tried, torn, and forged by adversity. But when he rules the veteran’s death a suicide, she violently rejects his verdict, drawing the surviving vets into an unorthodox investigation that threatens jobs, relationships, and her own future with Russ.

 

As the days cool and the nights grow longer, they will uncover a trail of deceit that runs from their tiny town to the upper ranks of the U.S. Army, and from the waters of the Millers Kill to the unforgiving streets of Baghdad.

 

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becke_davis
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Awards

  • 2002 Agatha Award for In the Bleak Midwinter
  • 2003 Anthony Award for In the Bleak Midwinter
  • 2003 Macavity Award for In the Bleak Midwinter
  • 2003 Dilys Award for In the Bleak Midwinter
  • 2003 Barry Award for In the Bleak Midwinter
  • 2007 Nero Wolfe Award for All Mortal Flesh
  • 2007 Gumshoe Award for All Mortal Flesh

 

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!



Julia Spencer-Fleming

blogs about book covers

 

Today is the day my seventh book, One Was A Soldier, officially launches. “Pub date,” we call it, although of course the books have already been printed up and shipped to bookstores. At Barnes and Nobles all across the country, people are going to walk through the doors and see my book in shiny stacks. What’s it like for the author?, you might wonder, scanning the covers in the New Books or the Mystery section. Well, I’ll tell you.

 

 

 

One Was a Soldier (Clare Fergusson Series #7) 

It’s like appearing center stage at the Miss America pageant in somebody else’s dress.

I’m all ready to tell you my qualifications and show you my talent and explain how I want world peace, but first, you have to select me. And for many readers, that means selecting the cover. “Me! Pick me!” the covers in the New Books section plead. Their glossy paper garb is as carefully loaded with symbols as the pageant’s March of the States. Here’s Miss Women’s Fiction Book Club Selection, wearing a faded print of a cotton dress while hiding her face. There’s Miss Fantasy, decked out in chain mail and dragons, next to her cousin Miss Urban Fantasy, who’s showing off her tattoos between leather bustier and pants.

The covers say, “I’m the kind of book you like.” They try to let you know what sort of mood to expect: sunny? Dark? They want to tease you with suggestions about what’s inside. Abandoned, knocked over baby carriage? Oooo. Fluffy cats? Yeah! Some are as graphic-intensive as the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Others look more like Spinal Taps’ Black Album. But they all have one thing in common: the author didn’t do it. Didn’t do it, and usually don’t have much say in it.

 

 

 

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [Remastered] 

I’ve been blessedly lucky with my covers. I write a mystery series with a heavy romantic story line set in a small Adirondack town that itself is another character - or what a reader recently dubbed “Literary Mystery Romantic Suspense Ensemble Drama.” The talented folks at St. Martin’s Minotaur have given my stories moody, atmospheric covers that emphasis the setting, with satisfying visual hints as to the mystery within. The few times that an early cover idea clunked - there was an unfortunate experiment with showing church steeple and woman’s face that hinted strongly of vampires in Millers Kill - my editor and the artists were very willing to listen to my concerns. In the end, they came up with a stunning cover that remains one of my favorites.

Other writers haven’t been so lucky. Mega-talented romance author Suzanne Brockmann had an early cover disaster when Get Lucky, a book about a staggeringly handsome (and doesn’t he know it) Navy SEAL came out with a male cover model who bore a striking resemblance to the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

 

 

My friend Cathy Pickens’ delightful Avery Andrews mysteries have covers featuring brightly-colored southern meals with gravity-defying butcher knives sticking out of them.

 

 

Southern Fried (Southern Fried Mystery Series #1)

 

 

 

Most famous of all must be Christina Dodd’s historical romance Castles in the Air, which has a three-armed heroine on the cover. Really. Three arms.

 



So today, out I go in my borrowed finery, hoping you’ll like what you see and pick me up. Do give me a try - you’ll like what I have to say about working with children and promoting international understanding while twirling a flaming baton...

 

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Fricka
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

Welcome to our forum, Julia!

I enjoyed reading your blog, especially the part about book covers, and how they usually are not the choice of the author! I did get a giggle out of the cover with a three-armed heroine! Thanks for sharing that and the other incongruous covers(at least to the actual plot line of the books they covered!)

I've only read one of your books so far, and (forgive me--I've temporarily forgotten its title! CRS moment here!) it was the one where Claire's priest had ordered her to take a break from Russ. T wasn't sure if that was going to be the last book in the series or not. Since it looks like Claire and Russ are still in a kind of relationship, I think I probably need to go back and read some of the earlier books to get up to speed, as the saying goes. Thank you for joining us here on the Barnes and Noble mystery forum.

Now for several questions:

 

Do you have a personal goal of writing and delivering a book to your publisher every year? Or is that more a matter of contract?(i.e., are you contracted to write a certain number of Claire/Russ books?)

 

Does your contract allow you to explore other areas other than the aforementioned series, if you decided that's what you wanted to do?

 

You have been lucky, as you wrote, that you actually like the covers that have been chosen for your books. What would happen if you violently disliked one that was chosen? Do you have sufficient clout that you could get the publishing company to change it before going to press, if your editor learned that you did not like the cover?

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie
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maxcat
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

I loved the blog, Julia, did that bookcover with the three arms get away with it and sold copies to a lot of people? It's very interesting about bookcovers as sometimes I will pick up a book just for its cover. Most of the time, I do read the inside jacket. Bookcovers are appealing and are a draw to people who love your books. It's a statement that you, as the author, has made. I'm glad I read your blog and will check your books out.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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becke_davis
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

Thanks for a great blog, Julia! Did you know Suzanne Brockmann hated that cover so much she had stickers printed up and offered them to her readers - so they could put the sticker over his face!

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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

Fricka,

 

My goal is to deliver a book a year, although I've been spectacularly unsuccessful in that recently! My contracts do specify a book a year, but editors know creating a good story isn't like stamping out die-cuts. I've gottne nothing but understanding and support from St. Martin's Minotaur about the delays leading up to submitting the ms.

 

My most recent contract if for three Clare/Russ books. The last one was for two, plus a book of my choice, which turned out to be One Was A Soldier!

 

I did disagree pretty vehemently witht he cover(s) of All Mortal Flesh; my publisher responded by inviting me to sketch out my idea, which became the basis for the (much more skilled and interesting) final cover.

 

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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

Maxcat,

 

Christina Dodd really made lemonade out of this one - she drew so much good-natured attention to the "unique" cover I beleive the book went on to become a bestseller! (It doesn't hurt that she's also a wonderful writer.)

 

If you go to her website, www.christinadodd.com, she has a funny page dedicated to the infamous cover.

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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

Becke, I read that on her website. The funniest part of her story, I thought, was her teenage son, who said, "If that's what the handsomest guy on the SEAL team looks like, I feel sorry for the rest of the men."

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becke_davis
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JuliaSpencerFleming wrote:

Fricka,

 

My goal is to deliver a book a year, although I've been spectacularly unsuccessful in that recently! My contracts do specify a book a year, but editors know creating a good story isn't like stamping out die-cuts. I've gottne nothing but understanding and support from St. Martin's Minotaur about the delays leading up to submitting the ms.

 

My most recent contract if for three Clare/Russ books. The last one was for two, plus a book of my choice, which turned out to be One Was A Soldier!

 

I did disagree pretty vehemently witht he cover(s) of All Mortal Flesh; my publisher responded by inviting me to sketch out my idea, which became the basis for the (much more skilled and interesting) final cover.

 


Hi Julia! Really, being allowed a year per book is almost twice as long as some romance and paranormal authors I've spoken to. I wonder if the time frame is linked to the genre, or if you have an understanding publisher. It makes sense that a publisher would want an author's best effort, and I don't see how that can happen when a book is rushed out of the author's comfort zone.  

 

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JuliaSpencerFleming wrote:

Becke, I read that on her website. The funniest part of her story, I thought, was her teenage son, who said, "If that's what the handsomest guy on the SEAL team looks like, I feel sorry for the rest of the men."


Love it!!

 

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eadieburke
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

[ Edited ]

Welcome Julia:

 

I just got a copy of ALL MORTAL FLESH and can't wait to read it. I am also looking forward to your next visit - by then, I should have your book finished!

 

Hope you enjoy your visit with us as we always enjoy the authors who visit!

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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TiggerBear
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

Well thankyou for an interesting post Ms. Spencer-Fleming.

 

I just don't get it though, what's wrong with the guys cherub cheeks?

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TiggerBear wrote:

Well thankyou for an interesting post Ms. Spencer-Fleming.

 

I just don't get it though, what's wrong with the guys cherub cheeks?


He's supposed to be Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and all the super hot guys rolled into one. Suzanne Brockmann's heroes aren't always especially good looking, but this guy was. The cover looked more like a comic book character - nothing at all like her hero.

 

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TiggerBear
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

 


becke_davis wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

Well thankyou for an interesting post Ms. Spencer-Fleming.

 

I just don't get it though, what's wrong with the guys cherub cheeks?


He's supposed to be Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and all the super hot guys rolled into one. Suzanne Brockmann's heroes aren't always especially good looking, but this guy was. The cover looked more like a comic book character - nothing at all like her hero.

 


No offense meant. But I'm used to paranormal books. They never hardly ever even come close to character descriptions. It's considered an industry joke among consumers. So I have to ask, is it typical that romance covers look like the characters normally?

 

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 


becke_davis wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

Well thankyou for an interesting post Ms. Spencer-Fleming.

 

I just don't get it though, what's wrong with the guys cherub cheeks?


He's supposed to be Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and all the super hot guys rolled into one. Suzanne Brockmann's heroes aren't always especially good looking, but this guy was. The cover looked more like a comic book character - nothing at all like her hero.

 


No offense meant. But I'm used to paranormal books. They never hardly ever even come close to character descriptions. It's considered an industry joke among consumers. So I have to ask, is it typical that romance covers look like the characters normally?

 

 


Oh, I didn't take offense - no worries. I was just trying to explain why that cover drove Suzanne nuts. Personally, I don't think most covers look much like the heroes or heroines in the stories. In fact, I prefer "faceless" covers. I'd rather keep the characters features in my imagination.

 

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TiggerBear
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

 


becke_davis wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 


becke_davis wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

Well thankyou for an interesting post Ms. Spencer-Fleming.

 

I just don't get it though, what's wrong with the guys cherub cheeks?


He's supposed to be Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and all the super hot guys rolled into one. Suzanne Brockmann's heroes aren't always especially good looking, but this guy was. The cover looked more like a comic book character - nothing at all like her hero.

 


No offense meant. But I'm used to paranormal books. They never hardly ever even come close to character descriptions. It's considered an industry joke among consumers. So I have to ask, is it typical that romance covers look like the characters normally?

 

 


Oh, I didn't take offense - no worries. I was just trying to explain why that cover drove Suzanne nuts. Personally, I don't think most covers look much like the heroes or heroines in the stories. In fact, I prefer "faceless" covers. I'd rather keep the characters features in my imagination.

 


Ah ok I get it the author hated the cover, oh.

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Guest Blog by author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING!

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 


becke_davis wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 


becke_davis wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

Well thankyou for an interesting post Ms. Spencer-Fleming.

 

I just don't get it though, what's wrong with the guys cherub cheeks?


He's supposed to be Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and all the super hot guys rolled into one. Suzanne Brockmann's heroes aren't always especially good looking, but this guy was. The cover looked more like a comic book character - nothing at all like her hero.

 


No offense meant. But I'm used to paranormal books. They never hardly ever even come close to character descriptions. It's considered an industry joke among consumers. So I have to ask, is it typical that romance covers look like the characters normally?

 

 


Oh, I didn't take offense - no worries. I was just trying to explain why that cover drove Suzanne nuts. Personally, I don't think most covers look much like the heroes or heroines in the stories. In fact, I prefer "faceless" covers. I'd rather keep the characters features in my imagination.

 


Ah ok I get it the author hated the cover, oh.

 


She hated it so much she ordered stickers to place over the guy's face and distributed them to her fans!