(In honor of this I’m doing a little contest, details at the end.)
So…let’s hop in the time machine, shall we? All the way back to September of 2007. I’d sold the second romance novel I ever wrote (after extensive edits and cleaning up and all of that stuff), a medieval non-erotic romance called The Black Dragon, to an epublisher called Triskelion Publishing, which later went belly-up. Thankfully I’d gotten my rights back and sold them to Cerridwen Press, Ellora’s Cave’s non-erotic imprint, before that happened, but I’m going to talk about that a bit more near the end of the post.
The Black Dragon was a big deal to me. It was, at the time, my favorite thing I’d written, in large part because when I wrote it I was thinking of all those great “old-school” style romances I read as a kid. I wanted to do an homage to them, a sort of throwback type of story. So it was written in a specific voice and with, I hoped, a specific sort of feel. I was inordinately fond of the story, and still am, to be honest, because I think I managed to at least somewhat capture that feeling I remembered from those old-school romances.
And of course I wanted a cover that sort of reflected that feeling, but I knew Triskelion’s cover art was…well…not always great. So I asked for a fairly plain cover, a sword of a field of red silk, maybe with a dragon shadow over it? Or failing that the H/h on the parapets of a castle at sunset, which was kind of an important scene in the book.
Below is what I got. I literally burst into tears when I saw it. My lovely book, stuck with that. I emailed and begged for a different model, or pose, or something, anything, to no avail. I was so horrified that when I posted it on my blog, the only positive thing I could say was that I liked the font they used for the title. It was truly nightmarish.
Anyway. The other day some of my fellow Reluctant Adults and I were talking about covers, and some of the covers we’d had throughout our careers, and linking to them and showing them. I happened to toss in the cover triskelion gave The Black Dragon, and Mario Acevedo–that scamp!–mentioned how much better it might be if Mark Henry’s face was on it rather than the original model.
This is the original cover (Cerridwen, of course, gave it a new cover, which I adored, and will post at the end as well):
Here is what Michelle Rowen, that amazing genius, did with it:
I ask you. Is that not the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen? I almost peed myself laughing.
The Black Dragon–retitled simply Black Dragon by Cerridwen, ended up earning me the best reviews of my romance career, which was immensely gratifying. I’ve never really had the urge to write another in that tone and style–although I keep thinking one of these days I’m going to dig out the ms of the first book I ever wrote and post excerpts of it so people can laugh at me and see how truly awful it was–but I’m still proud that I did it, and that I wrote it, and I’ll always be fond of it. When you get comments like “December Quinn’s gift of suspense and characterization is well demonstrated here in The Black Dragon…The plot will captivate the reader’s attention…The Black Dragon is a novel worth reading.” or “Black Dragon is a fantastic read, and December Quinn has done a lot of research to make it as accurate as possible. The entire story…had me turning page after page to see what was going to happen next… Ms. Quinn writes a fast paced, action packed romance that is not to be missed. I highly recommend Black Dragon.” or “With the clever blending of historical facts with the author’s vivid creativeness, BLACK DRAGON takes the reader to a setting and time where political unrest is widespread and battles are frequently fought over beliefs. December Quinn has superbly researched this era and crafted a most rewarding story filled with dynamic characters…Through Ms. Quinn’s skillful writing, I found myself believing all the events in the story in fact took place those many years ago.”, you can’t help but be proud, right? And it still amazes me that of all my romances, this one was the one that really seemed to resonate with people. But it still makes me feel good! (And of course let’s not forget my favorite review, the one that actually convinced me it was worth it to give the book to my EC editor and ask if she thought a home could be found for it at Cerridwen: “Knowing that when all else seems to be lost, December Quinn reminds us that love finds a way to bring the wounded home, even a larger than life legend like THE BLACK DRAGON is no exception.”)
Just imagine those reviews written for a book where the hero looks like Mark Henry. Makes it even funnier, doesn’t it? (Oh, and a reminder: I’m going to be picking the cover flat winners for the buy-Mark’s-book contest tomorrow, I think. The deadline totally snuck up on me!)
This is the cover the book has now:
Nice, huh? Makes me smile every time I see it. And if you have any interest in reading the book*, you can buy it here, on the Cerridwen site.
*I didn’t quote the reviews in order to sell the book, just so you know. It was just to point out that the book was always special to me. In fact, I think I might give away a copy of the book–EBOOK DOWNLOAD, not print, as the book is ebook only–today. Two copies! I’ll give away one here, and one on Twitter. To enter…hmm. You could take the cover of another of my books and Photoshop Mark henry’s face into it. OR you could write a blurb for a romance novel starring Mark Henry. Here’s what I’ll do. Commenting here gets your name in the hat. Commenting with a blurb, photo, or review quote for a romance novel starring Mark Henry gets you an extra shot.
OR you could hop over to Twitter, and just reply to me when I announce it’s time to reply.