Friday, August 31, 2012

Cover Story: Calling Me Home

Certain days in an Book Pregnant author's life are just a little more special than others. Obviously, there's the day you get "the call" from your dream agent. Then there's the day you make your first sale (and every sale thereafter!). The day you see your manuscript typeset in first pass pages is pretty thrilling, too.

But it's possible one of the most exciting days after you have your book contract in hand is the day you first see your cover. I experienced this once before when I received the file of my German cover art (seen to the left here) and that was pretty mind-boggling. I loved it so much I plastered it all over the place. "Zu zweit tut das Herz nur halb so weh" (Pendo's title for Calling Me Home) released there August 20!

I was on vacation the last few weeks of July. First, we spent several days in Illinois for a family celebration, where I also had the pleasure of meeting fellow Book Pregnant author Amy Sue Nathan (The Glass Wives, Spring 2013).

In the midst of the driving and switching hotel rooms every night or so, my St. Martin's Press editor emailed to request an address where they could overnight something--something NOT work. I knew immediately what it would be! Lydia Netzer, another St. Martin's author and Book Pregnant friend who shares the same fantastic editor, experienced this months earlier when she received her cover for SHINE SHINE SHINE. It would be several days before I could get an overnight delivery without the risk we'd have already moved on, so I gave my editor our upcoming address in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, though I knew I'd go crazy waiting in the four or five days before I'd receive the delivery.

Once we arrived, the rental office promised to call when they received my package. The next day, around 4 p.m. (a day or so sooner than expected!), I got a call. Everyone had just settled in for a late sandwich or nap after our first fun day at the beach. We were sunburned, sandy, unshowered, and exhausted. And yet, my husband, the official driver on the rental car contract, graciously dragged himself up from his comfy spot in front of the television and chauffeured me the ten miles to the office. We arrived with about 15 minutes to spare before they closed.

Design by my now-favorite book cover designer,
Olga Grlic
I carried the book-shaped package to the car, handling it as though I carried an incendiary device. I knew its contents had the potential to create any number of emotions in me. Would I cry when I saw it? From joy? From disappointment? From devastation? Would I clap my hands and scream because I loved it so much? Or would I be angry because the designer and my editor had so utterly ruined the vision my story had conjured in my mind for so many years?

I will tell you this: It was one of the most loaded moments along my journey to publication.

But I also knew this: My editor loves my story. I knew, from previous conversations, she had turned down other prototypes she wasn't pleased with. I trusted she would know the right one when it came along.

So I peeked into the package, just for the littlest glance. Then I read the note my editor had included with her thoughts on why this one worked so well and how in love the staff at St. Martin's was with it. How they literally gasped when they saw it the first time. Then I pulled the cover, which she had carefully wrapped and taped around another hardcover book so I could get the full effect, from the envelope.

Strangely, my reaction was not unlike my reaction 15, 18, and 23 years ago, each time I saw one of my beautiful children for the first time. I am not a screamer. I am not a clapper. I am not one to cry at expected times. When I held and studied each of my babies the very first time, I felt strangely awed. Reverent. Quiet. I simply stared at their faces, then studied each limb, each tiny fingernail, so surprised to see how different they looked than I'd ever imaged, yet somehow so perfect. On an intellectual level, I knew I already loved them more than I ever dreamed I was capable of doing, but on a human level, I wasn't quite able to grasp that just yet. With each child, it was hours before the emotions really began to flow, before I was finally able to wrap my brain around their arrivals, their surprising perfection, their little bits of me and their characteristics I never, ever, imagined. And then, I was carrying them around, showing them off, placing them here and there for photos--which light, which background, which setting could possibly show the world what I was seeing through my eyes?

And that Monday in July, before long, I was carrying my "book" around my vacation home, placing it on the hammock in the ocean breeze for a shot here, propping it in the port hole window with a view of the Outer Banks there, stacking it with a book about the Outer Banks so I'd never forget where I saw it the first time.

And I loved it. 

Five weeks later, I love it even more. Yesterday, I received my advance reader editions, and seeing the cover attached to my "real" book, though shiny where it will be matte, and paperback where it will eventually be a slipcover around a hardbound book, my affection simply continues to grow, just as it has every day and every year  for my amazing human babies.

Calling Me Home is available for pre-order now at Amazon and and many other sites. More info about the book is available at my websitePre-orders are really important in the lead-up to publication, so all of us at Book Pregnant truly appreciate those who take the time to order one of our books in advance. You are guaranteed the lowest price up to the shipping date once you place your order on many sites. 

A version of this post first appeared on my group blog, What Women Write


  1. Love it, Julie. Like your babies, I'm sure the inside of your book is just as beautiful as the outside. I can't wait to read it!

    1. Thank you, Lori! You have been so encouraging, and likewise, I can't wait to read THE LIFE LIST!

  2. I remember how we all shared in the excitement of discovering this cover. It is just as stunning now as it was the first time I saw it. Gorgeous.

    1. Thank you, Barbara! And you have a beautiful new book baby this week! The REAL LIVE THING!

  3. Love it! It's so beautiful. And I absolutely can not wait to read it!

  4. What a beautiful post. I love this story and I love your cover! I didn't know my cover was coming, so for the first few seconds after I opened the package I had no idea what I was looking at! When it finally sank in, I had to sit down! LOL

    1. Thanks, Ellen. I remember that day, too! Yours was a pretty unique experience, I think!

  5. Beautiful, Julie. I cannot wait to receive my copy (and yes, I have pre-ordered!) XO!

  6. Love this! and love the cover, too! Thanks--this is Anne Barnhill

  7. Julie, I ADORE your cover. It's truly lovely. Both of them are, actually, but I can really see why the St. Martin's staff was gasping at the one with the gold and silver leaves.

    Congratulations on the beautiful artwork and on your upcoming release!