For this post for the Literary Lagniappe, I thought I’d give a glimpse into what can go into a cover. A short time ago I held a contest for the cover design for the upcoming novella, Magic and Steel—Mt’wan Comraich, a legend from the world of the dragshi.
The dragshi are more than just a man or woman. Each are two beings–one a dragon, the other a human–sharing one body in space in time and able to change forms with the other at will. The primary design of the cover for Magic and Steel would center around a dragon and a sword.
One of the complications of the cover for Magic and Steel was whether or not to keep the design similar to that of the already published full-length novels Dragon Destiny and Hatchlings Curse. Although the novella was not planned as a romantic fantasy, romance fought for its place amidst the fantasy. Still, to enable the legends a separate identity from the chronicles of the dragon shifters, a different concept would be needed.
So a contest was held and the readers spoke. The concept of the dragon and sword won unanimously which reflects the inconsistency of what the author’s heart calls for.
My preference included the addition of another of the inhabitants of the world of the dragshi. The large cats that looked like tigers or pumas called me and I added them to accommodate the ‘rule of three.’ I justified it because in appreciation for saving it from a pride of attacking cats, a dragon provided the fire to forge the sword. Maybe my heart was prejudiced because I had several photos I’d taken of our world’s version of the magnificent creatures. But none of the readers who participated selected the design with the great cats.
An alternate design featured a different animal, a beautiful husky named Shadow. The sole vote resulted from prejudice. It was her dog. The same person who preferred the design containing Shadow, also selected the dragon and sword concept as her second choice.
So the dragon and stone design unanimously became the cover for Magic and Steel.
Now before there are howls of outrage that I betrayed my vision, I want to state that my first cover sketch was a dragon hovering over a sword. When I was a system’s analyst, I always fought with reason and logic, but tried to gracefully accept defeat if my opponent’s counters made better sense. The rationales presented by the voters were cogent and relevant and I yielded.
The cover would be two elements—a dragon and a sword. With the design chosen, there remained the final build. None of the artists I had asked permission to use their swords responded, so I acquired the image of a blade, added the hilt of another because the hilt of the Civil War saber on my shelf didn’t fit the picture of a highland broadsword. For the magical abilities of the enspelled sword, Mt’wan Comraich, a sunbeam rose from the stone in the center of the hilt. Without planning it, the third element fulfilled the rule of three.
At the end of the contest, the winner was not what I thought.
But one that fit the tale.
The Lady Mairin Alidryer of the Dragshi searched for the one man in the world intended to be her mate. However, the man she left behind when she gained the freedom of flight refused to accept the truth that she did not love him. Now the head of a band of raiders, her former suitor swore to have Mairin on her knees in front of him.
All that stands between his plans is the true human, Kedar, wielder of the enspelled sword, Mt’wan Comraich.
Bodyguard to the Lady Mairin, Kedar dared not fail in his duty—or more dangerous—love her.
Read an excerpt here.
To celebrate the latest flights of dragons, Magic and Steel and Hatchlings Curse, one lucky person who leaves a comment will win a pdf of the fantasy novel, Dragon Destiny, the first book of the Dragshi Chronicles. Contest ends 11/13 at 11:59PM EST.
A former feature-story writer and correspondent, Henderson has also written fiction as long as she could remember. Her heritage reflects the contrasts of her Gemini sign. She is a descendent of a coal-miner’s daughter and an aviation flight engineer. This dichotomy shows in her writing which crosses genres from historical adventures and westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of romantic fantasy, she is the author of two series: the Dragshi Chronicles and the Windmaster novels.
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