Everybody’s got their sexy . . . .

When I first heard that the Bound in Darkness series was being translated and released by foreign publishers, I just assumed they would use the same covers as the original American version from Pocket.  Boy howdy, was I wrong.

Here’s what the first book, My Demon’s Kiss, looked like at your local American Barnes & Noble store (or similar outlet in the U.K. or Australia or wherever English-language paperbacks were sold):

The story takes place in medieval England, but this is very much an American romance cover – it’s all about the torso, baby, all about that chest.  (A straight male friend, who is understandably immune to the charms of such an image, dubbed this gorgeous hunk of man flesh a member of the Medieval Village People.)  Subsequent installments featured the same model with even more flesh showing – not a bad thing at all.

The Germans went for a much more understated look, I think – much more like what we Americans would think of as women’s fiction.  It’s beautiful; I love it; but I’d never peg this as a romance.  (And yes, it’s exactly the same book.)

 

I love the castle, and the model is gorgeous, but would you think this was a medieval romance?  To me, it looks more like a ‘woman’s thriller’ – she looks like a beautiful American tourist whose just been swept up in an international intrigue by a dashing Eurotrash dude who may or may not be a spy.

But far and away the most striking for me is the Italian version.  Remember those dudes on the covers of Johanna Lindsey and Bertrice Small books in the 1970s?  Amateurs – understated banker types by comparison to this guy.

It’s the Pagani Zonda F super car of romance novel covers – the chest hair!  The lace!  I just adore it -and I just know he can’t believe it’s not butter.  (Stupid in joke – sorry, Fabio.) 

There’s also a Japanese version from a publisher best known for anime – I can’t find it, but if anybody else can, pleeeease send me the link. 

So tell me this, kittens – if all three of these books were in a language you were comfortable reading, sitting side by side on a shelf, and you had to buy one, which one would you pick? 

Hanging out my own shingle . . .

Well, kittens, it’s official, and I can officially talk about it – as of today, I am a free, unsigned, unrepresented author.  My agent, Joy Azmatia, is no longer working as an agent.  And rather than going through the dance of trying to find another one, I’m going to try it on my own for a bit.  Joy has been awesome; the agent I had before her, Timothy Seldes, was legendary for his talent and influence.  They were both more than lovely to me – smart, kind, supportive, energetic – I couldn’t have asked for more.  They both behaved like my career was just as important to them as it was to me, and I can never thank either of them enough.

But publishing has changed.  And I’ve changed, too – I’m not as eager as I used to be, not as willing to compromise.  I’ve been writing genre fiction for a long time now, and I’ve had a fair amount of mid-list success.  But I’ve never really felt like I fit in.  What I do has never really checked off all the boxes of what my genre is supposed to be – supernatural historical romance, with vampires – I can’t even define my genre without a whole sentence.  And my box office as a writer has reflected that.  The readers who have enjoyed my novels have really enjoyed them, and I love them all – you know who you are.  And I hope I’ve done a good job of pushing my own vision of emotions and relationships and the universe at large through the mask of genre expectation – I hope these stories have been me.  But I know they haven’t been completely me.  I know there are things I’ve wanted desperately to do that I haven’t done because it wasn’t what mainstream publishing wanted – historical periods I’ve wanted to explore, relationships and characters I’ve wanted to talk about, beliefs I’ve wanted to share.  The last couple of years, I’ve been working on two different projects, one an urban fantasy romance, one a contemporary pulp saga, and the idea of trying to force either into a mainstream publishing genre box makes me want to cry.

So I’ve decided I’m not going to – or not yet, anyway.  I’m sad to lose my agent and scared to death of all the work and commitment publishing on my own is going to require.  I’m learning all kinds of new stuff – if I didn’t have so many gifted friends to hold my hand and help me, I wouldn’t dare to even try.  But after a couple of decades of being a storyteller for hire, I’m ready to open my own shop.  Watch this space for the results – and in the meantime, pray for me, y’all.