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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creating A Book Cover for Colors of the Sea

When I wrote my YA novel Colors of the Sea, I remember getting to know the main character of my book,  sixteen-year old Winona Ray.  It's funny because here she was being developed and created in my mind, but writing about her was like getting to know a new best friend.  She was so interesting to me.  I wanted to know what motivated her, why she was struggling and how she was going to overcome the obstacles placed before her.
Exploring her mind forced me to go deeper into myself.
Can you say therapy!  
Winona's the type of girl who wants to change the world and for her, it starts with healing the sea. This is all very nice and environmentally correct, but I kept wondering why saving the sea was so important to her?  The obvious reasons where right in front of me; she loves to swim, loves to be near the sea and passionately studies marine biology.  Even more important, she has a spiritual connection with marine biologist and writer Rachel Carson. Winona resembles Rachel in many ways.
Over the course of writing, I realized Winona's goal of healing the sea was her deeper desire to herself.  I would cry when she was hurt (she's a sexual abuse victim and it was horrible going through those experiences with her), laugh when she had a moment (because all teenagers do) and cheer when she succeeded.
I'd think or feel something and it was almost like I was experiencing it  through her eyes.  Oh my, that first "kiss" between Winona and a really cute mystery boy named Darren left me covered in goosebumps, manly because it wasn't a kiss at all but some sort of distorted CPR while she's trapped underwater.  I read the scene over and over again.  Even still when I read it; I tear up because the passion is so real.
With Colors of the Sea completed, I've spent the last two years editing.  Oh, yes, my friend Mr. Editor.  I used to want you to leave, but now I understand why you don't.  It took me a while to warm up to editing, mainly because it is so time-consuming, but I get it now.  I'm a more disciplined writer because Mr. Editor is my friend.
Anyway, I was at church last year when an amazing young woman walked into the building.  I about fell out of my seat.
I leaned over to the counselor and said "That's her."
"That's who," he asked.
"That's Winona."
Yes, this beautiful care-free seventeen-year old girl reminded me so much of Winona I couldn't take my eyes of her.  It was like Winona was right in front of me.  I wanted to finally meet her in person and give her a hug, after all we'd been through so much together.
The wonderful thing about growing up in a large family in Mesa is  so many of us are connected.  The girl I was looking at was the younger sister of a dear friend of mine.  If you know me, my mind was already coming up with ideas.  How could I capture the heart of Winona now that I had someone who reminded me so much of her.
It didn't take long before I got up the courage to ask Brittany (aka Winona) if she would pose for a possible book cover.  Keep in mind I had no publisher, no desire to self-publish and no book contract.  Still, I had to make a book cover for myself.  I owed it to Winona.
Brittany was such a sweetheart and agreed to help me.  She left the time and place up to me; the some-what professional big-dreaming writer.  I had no idea what to do next, but God has an wonderful way of bringing inspiration and that's what He did.
My neighbor had recently returned from Hawaii and wouldn't you know it, she wanted to come over to my house and show me the pictures from her trip.  She knows of my love for the sea and already had some 8x10's photographs of the ocean printed for me.  I had to ask.
"Can I use one of your photos for the cover of a book I'm working on?'
And she said yes.
Last, but not least, I wanted something artistic to seal the deal.
I have a huge collection of ocean stuff: shells, coral, sculptured dolphins and whales, sharks teeth, mermaids, Nemo, ect.  I stayed up all night brainstorming about ideas when I started taking pictures of a conch shell.
Here's how it all came together.
Brittany is a natural and worked great with the green screen.
Here are two of my favorites.

 Isn't she gorgeous.
My favorite photos of my neighbor's Hawaii trip.

Next, my graphic designer, Max Cox at Legend Express added the conch shell in the background.  The conch shell is symbolic to Winona in many ways.

I love how my book cover came out.  It's one of my favorite completed projects (although I will be making some changes to the text), because as you know I have so many projects ongoing, just ask Mr. Editor.
For those of you brave souls, I will be posting the first chapter of Colors of the Sea on My Dear Trash tomorrow, August 13th and will feature it over the weekend.  I will also give you the latest update on my progress toward publication.  I still have a long way to go, but good thing's are happening.  Persistence does pay off in this crazy passion of mine called writing, I'm a believer in that for sure.

1 comment:

  1. You are so inspiring--really! I am in awe of your motivation and persistance for your writing. I really felt your passion for it in this post and I am looking forward to reading the first chapter!! I wish you and Winona the best of luck!!