Cover kibitz and winners of the Guess My Cover contest

After the exciting cover reveal yesterday for The Sword Dancer, it’s time to dish about the cover and also reveal the winners of the contest.

First, the lovely cover courtesy of the Harlequin art department:


Many people have raved about the gorgeous covers I’ve received and I know I’ve had immense cover karma. I’ve also been told that their favorite cover is still Butterfly Swords. Now part of that, I believe, is that initial spark of seeing an Asian woman, front and center, boldly holding a sword on a romance cover, of all things. Let’s revisit “Butterfly” for a second:

butterflyswordsfrontI remember when I saw it, I was thrilled, but at the same time, I wondered if it was too different from what was out there in romance. I was grateful that the hair and clothing were appropriate for the Tang Dynasty, but in the scenes where Ai Li is wearing red, she was in a wedding dress which I thought should have appeared more opulent. These are all little quibbles, of course. Which is why we call this “cover kibitzing”.

If you look at the progression of my covers, from Butterfly Swords to The Sword Dancer, it’s clear that the artists have gradually become more comfortable with the Tang Dynasty look. I love that the dancer is in motion and she fills the cover. The sword is a jian and it looks like an ornamental one a dancer would use. The background with the trees and the lake are perfect for the setting, especially because there are more specific references to the subversive world of “rivers and lakes” in this story than previously. Also, the hanfu robe and hair dress are more luxurious than in Butterfly Swords and in line with the sort of look that I’ve always dreamed of for my covers, the cinematic look of a wuxia movie poster.

house_of_flying_daggersMy critique partner, Shawntelle Madison, pointed out that The Sword Dancer cover can easily go for fantasy as well, which I think is also perfect for the feel of my stories. And yes, it’s different compared to other historical romances out there. But my stories are different and there’s no hiding it. The people who will be drawn to the The Sword Dancer are hopefully looking for something new and adventurous. And I think they’ll find it. 🙂

With that said, this is a dream cover for me. I have absolutely no quibbles with it.

And the winner of the guessing contest for closest cover is: Susan Blumberg-Kason.

Susan guessed they would depict the sword dancer in the yellow flowing dress that I had on my Pinterest board. Though they changed the color of the robe, I think that’s definitely the direction they took. And it looks even more amazing than the original reference picture.

For my favorite cover, the cover I would have loved to see: Eve.

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

Not only are we both persistent fangirls of Michael Miu, but I think the pose she described between the hero and heroine is perfect for capturing the tension of their showdowns in the book.

The winners will receive one of my advance print copies as soon as they arrive next month. Thank you very much for everyone who participated and huge thanks for everyone for the well-wishes, shares and retweets of the cover reveal yesterday.


Pre-order: Amazon | B&N | BookDepository | Powell’s

You can check out the book page and excerpt for The Sword Dancer here.