Do you ever wonder if there’s a story behind the cover of a book you love? In the case of Last Writes, there is.

The first edition of Last Writes was my fourth book published by Penguin. As every book got close to publication, I got the same email: “Here’s your new cover. We hope you love it as much as we do.” If I didn’t love it, the response was, “Sorry, it’s too late to make changes.”

LW Penguin

Penguin cover

To say I was horrified by the cover they gave Last Writes is a vast understatement (that’s it on the right). It’s a perfectly fine cover for a cozy, but that’s not what I write. My readers are looking for mystery/suspense. This cover would attract cozy readers, who wouldn’t like the story, and would not attract suspense readers, who would.

A move

Shortly thereafter, I moved to Suspense, a smaller publishing house. There, I had artistic license on the redesign. The story of Last Writes answers the question, “What does an old stuffed bunny have to do with a missing three-year-old in a religious cult?” Shannon Raab, the cover designer, and I were having a hard time coming up with something just right.

On a whim, I googled “stuffed bunny, little girl,” and Voila! I could hardly believe what I found. Following the image took me to a newspaper story about a British family on holiday in New York. Their three-year-old daughter, Ruby, was devastated because she had lost her stuffed bunny there. The article asked anyone who found it to contact them.

Sadly, the bunny was never returned to them, but that picture was absolutely perfect for my cover. With a bit more detective work, I tracked down Ruby’s mother through her Facebook page, and guess what–she’s a photographer. But as it turns out, she hadn’t taken that photo, a photographer friend of hers had. So, cutting to the chase: her friend and I negotiated a fee and I was more than thrilled to get the rights to use it.

Thanks to Terry Rydberg for a terrific job on my new covers. Please check them out here.

What She Saw

What She Saw was also just re-released after a complete rewrite. The new editions of both books came out today and are available through in e-book, print, and audiobook through Amazon or wherever you buy books.