Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Remember When . . . I Designed A Soft Breath of Wind

I designed this cover quite a while ago, but hey. Why not do the step-by-step for my own book, right? =)

I'd had the idea for A Soft Breath of Wind for years. As in, years. Even before I rewrote and re-released A Stray Drop of Blood. The idea for the story came to me all at once, in an idea-swirling two days that saw it go from germ to full-fledged in my mind. I frantically wrote it all down in a few pages of notes, knowing it wasn't the time to write it yet back then in 2007. But as I sat in a class at my very first writers conference, the teacher asked, "If you could only write one more book--if you knew you only had one more year to live--what book would it be?" My answer: this one.

Still, six years passed. Many other books came to me and were written down. This one was always there, waiting, but the time wasn't right yet. After a Skype chat with a bookclub in July of 2013, though, I knew that time had come. So to inspire myself, I opened up Photoshop and got to work on the visuals.

My inspiration was a photo I had discovered some months earlier in my various searches through iStock and Shutterstock. I always save compelling images to a lightbox, either the one called "Random" or the one called "Historical." =)
Loved, loved, loved this the moment I saw it. The photographer's description is that she's a Spartan queen. Sparta-loving me highly approved...though I didn't have another book with Spartans in my plan. ;-) When I considered images for this sequel, though, this one came to mind. So I looked at the model. And I thought, "Is she too pretty to be Zipporah?"

Well, yes, probably. But this is a book cover. If you're going to err any direction, err toward too-pretty, right?

There are quite a few images in this photographic series, but I chose this one because of the wind. I knew I wanted the wind to represent the Holy Spirit in this book, so having it on the cover would be awesome. But I didn't want her bare leg showing. I got to work with my copy and paste and clone stamp tool to cover that up.

And while the hair blowing in the wind looks great, it's also really tricky to get right when I'm taking out the background. I spent hours with a teensy-tiny eraser, going in between each strand to make it look right.

I didn't save this image separately, so have to show you the layer from the final version, which also has lighting effects put in. You can't actually see the super-dark part on the final cover, but the shadowing as she goes down is just what I was looking for.
You'll notice I actually deleted some of her hair. There was one piece "catching" that flying curl that bugged me, and it didn't look right as I was deleting the background, so it went bye-bye. But I did keep a few key wisps, and that main flying curl. Love it. =)

But I still had to work on her pretty factor. See, Zipporah is scarred. The first scar she receives in the very first chapter. It runs from her left temple down to her chin, along the side of her face. She could easily cover it with her hair, but more often than not she doesn't. And as I looked at this model's oh-so-lovely face, I realized that it works perfectly with the way she's squinting into the sun, doesn't it?
Now, how did I make that scar? Actually, I just found an image of someone with a nasty scar, copied the scar, adjusted it's size, and faded it. This layer is at at 54% opacity, so that it looks like an old, healed-up and fading mark.

But I also wanted to show a scar she gets in the course of the book. This one is cross-shaped and on the opposite side of her face. So I took the same scar image, duplicated and moved the two parts around into a cross, and left it at 100% opacity so it's bright and new.
There we go. I actually love how she looks with the scars (terrible thing to say, I know, LOL. I would never wish them on the model!), so it was time to move on to the background.

I searched iStock for Roman countryside or Roman villa or something like that and came up with this one. It's of the Italian countryside, and I really liked the hazy look. Plus, the buildings in the back have an old-world feel. Perfect.
I adjusted the color a bit toward the pink/orange range, blurred the entire image to make it look out of focus, and added the same lighting effects I used on Zipporah.
So adding her in overtop...

Now, this is a sequel, so I wanted it to have the same elements as the cover of A Stray Drop of Blood. That includes a texture layer over the entire cover and flourishes sprouting out behind the cover model. I stared at Stray Drop's cover REALLY closely to dissect the fun elements Tekeme put in. He used a distressed leather texture and a nice subtle flourish.
I wanted something new for this one, so I went with a parchment texture. I loved how it added a softness to it, a kind of glow.
 Then I put in some flourishes. Similar style to the ones used in Stray Drop, but not identical.
Then it was time for the border. Again, not identical to Stray Drop's, but the same feel.
Okay, so now we're looking at the main front cover. The only thing left to add is the words. Again, I wanted some consistency with Stray Drop, so I knew I'd use the same fonts, and the same box thingy around my name at the bottom. I adjusted the color so it was purple instead of deep red.
But we're still missing a very key element, right? The title, LOL. I actually struggled with this even as I designed the cover. My original title was Who Quickens the Dead. Which is, um, not good, LOL. Thematically it worked--in that God gives life to the lifeless. But it doesn't exactly sound good. So I decided I wanted something that speaks to wind. I toyed with a few ideas.

The Wind of the Spirit. Okay, but not quite what I was wanting. Especially because I'd seen other books with the same title, LOL, and I like to be original. For a while I liked The Whisper in the Whirlwind. But I had Whispers from the Shadows coming out, and two Whisper titles in different series seemed like a bad idea. So I decided to keep the same rhythm as A Stray Drop of Blood. And my mind settled on A Soft Breath of Wind. So I went with it. =)

Ah yes. There we go. Just one tiny thing missing. On the cover of Stray Drop, there's the blood drop behind the title, which I loved. I wanted a similar element here, but I'm working with wind instead of blood. Sheesh, how was I supposed to do that?? Well, I did a search for wind vectors at and came up with this.
Fading that out to 30% opacity, I plugged it in behind my title and had my front cover!
But of course, the back cover of Stray Drop was just as beautiful as the front, and I wanted that to be true of this one also.
So I used my background image again, my parchment texture to get that layer under the words (using one of the funky erasers to get a torn-looking edge), and for the image on the back, I headed to Wikimedia Commons. There I found an image of a man in ancient garb reading a scroll. I also found a picture there of an ancient villa portico. I put the two together, blurred and faded them, and otherwise carried over the same elements from the front cover--the border, the purple shade of the box for the author area. I created some back cover copy, and ended up with this.
I haven't yet put in my About the Author, but you get the idea. =)

And there we have it! My full cover for A Soft Breath of Wind, which I'm hoping to finish up in the next couple weeks. I'm getting excited!


  1. Awesome! I can't wait to read this. And please tell me when it releases. :-)

    1. What, you're not going to read it early for me?? ;-)

    2. Of course I am, but I still want to know when it releases. :-)

    3. Tentative date is Nov 15. Might shift around as the WhiteFire schedule settles, but it'll be within a month of that date.

  2. Yes! Never mind it's a sequel to a book I've read, the cover alone makes me want to read it :)

  3. Oh my! I am so excited. I can't wait to read this book! SDoB is one of the most awesome Biblical Fiction stories I have ever read. It rates right there with A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers.

    1. Thanks, Anne! I'm praying this one lives up to it. It's a very different story, focusing on the power of the Spirit rather than the blood of Jesus. Well, not "rather than," but you know what I mean. =)

  4. This cover is gorgeous! It's the type that makes you want to read the book without ever knowing what it's about! It's so cool that you can design the cover for your sequel and I loved that you tried to make it match the first one in enough ways that they looked like they belong together! So many times sequels don't have that and it always bothers me!

    1. Thanks, Abbi! I definitely agree that there needs to be continuity in a series!

  5. Wow that is amazing!!! I absolutely love the final product!! Soooo awesome!

    1. I love how it turned out too. =) Thanks!!

  6. WOWZERS!!!!! Gorgeous, and if I may say so, much prettier than Book 1 in that series.

    1. =) Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED the cover of Stray Drop when I saw it, but I really like the lighter look for this one. Lovely colors, and the airy feel is what I wanted. I did request the browns and jewel tones in ASDoB though. So I won't compare them too much. ;-) But I won't object to you favoring my work either, LOL.

  7. I can't wait for this book. I love your first one. You are such a good author! You did a beautiful job!!!
    From Patty Ryan

    1. Thank you so much, Patty! I can't wait for it either, LOL. So I should probably get back to work on it, eh? ;-)