The Sword Dancer: Guess My Cover Contest

I held this little guessing contest for the cover of MY FAIR CONCUBINE and it was a lot of fun, so I thought I’d bring it back as I anticipate the cover of my May 21, 2013 release of THE SWORD DANCER. (June 1 ebook release)

Now, it’s a common joke in Authorlandia that we give all this detailed information to our publishers and then marketing ignores it and puts whatever the heck they want on the book. So the way the contest goes is I will provide to you the same information and pictures I provided to the art department, and you guess what will be on the cover.

There will be two winners, the guess that’s closest to the final cover and the guess that I think would make the best cover. 🙂 The prize is a shiny advance print copy of THE SWORD DANCER a month before release date.

So let’s start out with the images: During my brainstorming and research phase, I collect all my reference images on Pinterest boards now. It helps me visualize parts of the story and also serves as a handy link to provide to the art department.

sword-dancer-pinterestTo see all the images and for a little preview of the story elements in THE SWORD DANCER, check out my Pinterest board.

Then there’s the Harlequin art fact sheet:

Time period: Chinese Dynasty 750 AD (it’s actually 846 AD, but 750AD is what’s in the database)

Setting: Ancient Chinese cities and villages. Tea houses. Several chases over walls and rooftops

CONNECTIONS TO OTHER BOOKS BY YOU: No Connection. Planned as a possible first book in a series based on connected characters introduced in this book.

Pitch: As a sword dancer and a famous thief-catcher play a cat and mouse game across the city streets and rooftops of imperial China, the one suspect that Thief-catcher Han cannot capture turns out to be the only woman he wants to hold on to.

Brief story synopsis (truncated to avoid spoilers): Thief-catcher Zheng Hao Han (Thief-catcher Han for short) tracks down a group of dancers suspected of stealing a shipment of jade. As the watches the sword dancer, he is mesmerized by her grace and her skill with the sword, which he is convinced is not merely for show. His thief-catcher instinct sends him after her in an ensuing fight scene and chase that ends up over the rooftops of the village.

1) What is this book about (beyond plot description)? The main themes are of law and social order vs. justice. The book is an adventure and revenge plot that pits a rebellious young woman on the fringes of accepted society with a straight and narrow magistrate’s son who has always questioned the ethics of imperial law.

Guess the Cover

In the comments, tell me what you think the cover will look like. Will it show only the heroine? Will it show the hero? Will it show both? Will he have a head?!?

How many swords will be on the cover? Will it be an action pose or a standing pose? Or a good old-fashioned clinch? (hero and heroine in a passionate embrace) What will be in the background?

Remember, the closest guess and the best cover description will win a book. The contest is open until March 1st and the results will be announced when the cover is revealed. I hope that’s soon….*bites nails*

Excerpt and info about THE SWORD DANCER


  1. Eve
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 11:12:16

    My guess: The hero and heroine face each other, and she lays a sword playfully against the nape of his neck. Rooftops or a courtyard may make a cameo in the background. And I do hope the hero looks like Michael Miu. /persistent fangirl

  2. Jeannie Lin
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 11:40:17

    If the hero looked like Michael Miu, I would draw little hearts around him. *swoons*

  3. Susan Blumberg-Kason
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 15:32:38

    Love this contest! I would say it’s the sword dancer with the yellow flowing dress! It looks like a cover imagine to me!

  4. FredTownWard
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 16:48:11

    After long and careful thought my guess would have to be that the cover will depict…

    the heroine…


    with a sword,…

    but realizing just how important that logic is to the publishing industry, I won’t be all that surprised if you get a steam powered spaceship or a cartoon bunny instead.

  5. Sherry
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 17:49:03

    I just read the excerpt and cheered when Li Feng smacked his nose with her knuckles. :] I would be really impressed if the art department came up with a cover depicting the heroine with two swords. Something like either of Chen Hao’s poses at 27:36 or 27:40 in this dance scene in a 2005 drama (I’ve never actually watched it):

  6. Sherry
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 18:16:24

    ^ What I meant above was that I never actually watched the drama, but I’ve certainly seen the episode I linked, haha.

    If the heroine struck a pose like that, there would be no room for the hero on the cover. Of course, if the hero looked like Chen Kun, I’d be drooling all over the place. 😀

  7. Rita
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 19:22:00

    Hmm, after reading the excerpt, I’ll take a jab at the far end of the spectrum, and guess an interior shot of a tea house, with the dancer looking elegant while she kicks a bench into the hero’s face. 😀

  8. Victoria
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 20:46:32

    Please, PLEASE give him a head, Harlequin! LOL Okay, I’m thinking sworddancer being restrained/held back by Mr. Love Interest against a rooftop back drop. I’m thinking she’ll have two swords. There’s my .02. 😀

  9. Jeannie Lin
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 09:21:27

    There seems to be an awful lot of feminine glee at the heroine beating up on the hero….