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Heartbreaks and Half-truths

Our friend from our neighbor to the north, Judy Penz Sheluk, has compiled and edited a new anthology of short crime fiction. Heartbreaks & Half-truths: 22 Stories of Mystery & Suspense includes a slew of talented authors, including several long-time Friends of the Wickeds.

Lovers and losers.

Whether it’s 1950s Hollywood, a scientific experiment, or a yard sale in suburbia, the twenty-two authors represented in this collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “heartbreaks and half-truths” in their own inimitable style, where only one thing is certain: Behind every broken heart lies a half-truth. And behind every half-truth lies a secret.

Judy’s here to present something special – how she ended up with the final cover!

Creating a Cover

It doesn’t matter how good a book is, if the cover doesn’t speak to readers, they aren’t likely to part with their hard-earned cash to buy it. I’ve also learned the importance of branding, an expensive lesson as I had all my book covers redesigned last year after a marketing expert at Left Coast Crime Vancouver told me that she “had no idea my books were part of a series.” But I’m guesting on The Wickeds today to talk about Heartbreaks & Half-truths: 22 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, the second anthology under my Superior Shores Press imprint. And pondering various ideas, I decided to share my cover art experience, start to finish.

The first thing I knew was that I wanted the same background, font and style as the first anthology, The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense.

I liked the moodiness of the background, and I wanted all the authors names listed on the front. In my opinion, whether they’re a Derringer Award winner or a relative unknown, they all deserve equal billing. I immediately turned to Hunter Martin, the mega-talented graphic artist who created the concept for Plans. The first step was to develop a blank template for the concept art.

This was sent to S.A. Hadi hasan, who drew the very creepy hourglass. Along with the template, I sent Hadi a rough sketch and instructions to create a blood-dripping heart, pierced by a rose.

The first heart was a bit on the skinny side, and it didn’t seem “broken enough,” but I thought it might work. I even went so far as to “finalize” the cover once Hunter put it all together. But as the days went on, I knew I couldn’t live with it. And so, back to Hadi to plump it up, give it a more distinctive crack, and add a leaf to the top of the rose.

The end result is exactly what was inside my head…I really need to be a better sketch artist when I send my instructions. Anyway, I love it, and I hope you do too.

Readers: what draws you to a cover? Title, artwork, blurbs, author(s)?

Edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. Featuring stories by Sharon Hart Addy, Paula Gail Benson, James Blakey, Gustavo Bondoni, Susan Daly, Buzz Dixon, Rhonda Eikamp, Christine Eskilson, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Flora, John M. Floyd, J.A. Henderson, Blair Keetch, Steve Liskow, Edward Lodi, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Peggy Rothschild, Joseph S. Walker, James Lincoln Warren, Chris Wheatley and Robb T. White.

An Amazon International bestselling author, Judy Penz Sheluk writes two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, and Heartbreaks & Half-truths: 22 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, which she also edited. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors as Chair (2020-21).

Release Date: June 18

Publisher: Superior Shores Press


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