Cover edits for Chameleon in a Mirror — and some bad publicity for Yseult

Before I get on to my updates, I need a little hand-holding here. One of the covers that my cover artist proposed for Yseult — and which was never used — has showed up on the site “WTF Bad Fantasy Covers” with the following comment:

Nice to see that peroxide blonde dates back so far!

(I’m guessing this is based on Tristan and Isolde. The best part of the doomed romance poetry about them is that the dying Tristan literally hugs Isolde to death. She did ask him to, though, so it’s romantic, or something, IDK.) *

I have no idea where the person running the site got that cover. I posted it back in the day, just because I was curious how people would react. (I liked the sword, but I didn’t like the mascara, and most of my readers here and on Facebook agreed.) Everyone who reads this blog probably knows that the cover of Yseult looks very different. It actually even got some praise when the book was published from ebook guru Joel Friedlander, who said, “Another strong and evocative cover from Derek Murphy.”

Here’s the real cover:

It’s a drag to get slammed for something you didn’t even do, and I’m feeling kind of down. 😦

While I’m on the topic of covers, I played with the cover for Chameleon in a Mirror yesterday, trying to integrate some of the suggestions I got here and on Facebook. This is the result:

Chameleon in a Mirror cover

What do you guys think?

I’d like to get the book finished in time for Christmas, and I’m looking for some beta readers who would be interested in a 100,000 word time travel based on the life of Aphra Behn. Here’s the blurb:

A time travel based on literary history, CIAM is set in the colorful and turbulent times of the English Restoration. The protagonist, Billie Armstrong, has long wanted to rewrite literary history to give Aphra Behn, the first professional woman writer in England, the prominence she deserves. But when Billie accidentally activates the magical properties of a baroque mirror, she gets more than she bargained for. What develops is an unwilling masquerade in a tale of license, love and literature, a high-spirited Restoration romp, as Billie does her best to survive in a strange era and ensure Aphra’s literary survival in the future.

If you would like to volunteer, either drop me a note or let me know in the comments. I’d be happy to trade critiques too. 🙂

Part of my progress for the week was working on the CIAM cover. I also wrote about 3200 new words of A Wasted Land, the next Pendragon Chronicles book. A big translation job has been keeping me very busy, though, so I haven’t had as much time to write as I would like. I really have to cut back on the “frittering” if I want to get a few more things off my to-do list!

* Update: Lauralynn pointed out to me that they have now posted a disclaimer and another cover for Yseult, which they claim is the one that actually got used. Well, not quite. If you click on the link and look closely at the second cover, you should easily spot a lot of details that are different. It was one of Derek’s early designs for the cover we finally ended up with. Ce la vie!

25 thoughts on “Cover edits for Chameleon in a Mirror — and some bad publicity for Yseult”

  1. That bad fantasy covers site is nothing – for the really bad ones, go to (it always makes me feel better about myself LOL). My cousin, who does book cover design, found one of hers on that site. It was one where the author told her exactly what to do, even though my cousin advised against it, and sure enough, resulted in an awful cover. CIAM cover looks great! Love how your name looks (and is in my favorite font! ❤ ). My only suggestion would be consider a different font and/or placement for the title, to improve readability, especially at reduced sizes. But it's good in any case – have fun and good luck!

    1. Thanks for the comforting words, Jennette! And I’m glad you like the cover for CIAM. That’s very encouraging, especially coming from you! Now I am off to look at lousybookcovers to make myself feel better. *g*

      1. Ah, good, I don’t have to post the reject. But the cover they posted isn’t even the real cover either, just an early version. Look at it closely, and you will see the differences. 🙂

  2. Ruth, if you don’t mind a non-book writer (i.e., marketing copywriter/editor/proofreader) reading the book and giving feedback, I would be honored to assist!

  3. Hi Ruth, that was upsetting but I hope looking at the really bad book covers has cheered you up.

    Thinking more about it, I wonder what the value of such a site is? Because I’d prefer to see some reasons WHY the book covers are so bad. Explain how they could have been improved. Then there’s some sort of value to displaying bad book covers. Posting up book covers merely to point at them and laugh is just plain mean.

    Have a good week, Ruth. All the best.

  4. I was going to say that at least you got an apology for the cover art, but after about half a second’s reflection I don’t think ‘my bad’ constitutes anything of the sort. People who don’t do their homework are lazy amateurs!

    Chameleon cover art … POW! Bloody Brilliant! Gorgeous.

    Would love to beta read.

    **big hugs** if you’re still feeling cerulean.

  5. I think anything said on Tumblr can be taken with a grain of salt! I don’t blame you for being upset about it, though, regardless! (And incidentally, I read this post this morning when it first came through my email, and I was staring at the “real” cover they used in their post thinking, “I’m sure there’s something wrong with that.” So I was glad to see your update and realise I’m not going crazy!)

    I really like the cover of Chameleon in the Mirror and would love to beta for you. I don’t actually know much about Aphra Behn, but the blurb sounds really awesome. My email address is fuzzyagent999[@]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au.

  6. I like the cover you actually went with for “Yseult” better than the one you turned down, so I think you have great taste in covers. (And the unused cover for “Yseult” isn’t “bad” as much as it is “so what?” The cover you went with is intriguing and evocative. The cover you turned down looks like publicity for an actress, not a book.

  7. I just spent two days hashing covers over with my graphic design friend. It was fun. We wound up with covers we love, but your comments remind me that it’s not about what WE like. 🙂 I salute your bravery in posting covers-in-progress. I love the gorgeous colors and overall design of CIAM, but all those arms/hands make me think this will be a steamy romance. Would the cover be stronger with fewer images? That is, instead of the arms, the central image behind the title just the the mask, the dress, and the chameleon? Once listed on Amazon, the cover as posed might be hard to see.

    I too am pushing away on final edits for a fall release. Years of Stone is set in 1840s Van Diemen’s Land, a colonial prison. Would you like to trade a beta read? bluebethley at

    1. Well, there is a strong romance sub-plot in the book (which doesn’t end HEA, however, which means I can’t market it in that lucrative genre, sigh). But something that indicates romance elements may not be a bad thing.

      One of the joys of epublishing is that nothing is set in stone, though, so if this cover doesn’t take, I can always try a new one! 🙂

      Do you still want to trade crits now that you know about the romance sub-plot? *g*

  8. Ruth,

    There will always be those who like to point and laugh. Scrolling through your post, though, I saw many lovely covers there.

    I think you can hold your head high.

    Since one of my current WIPs (in the beginning of its first editing run right now) is a Shakespearean England time-travel fantasy titled Chameleon’s Dish, it seems only fitting that I offer you a beta-read (and maybe, someday in the next year or two, you could return the favor…when I’m ready with Dish).

    Even if you can’t, though – I love peeking at other people’s WIPs, and this sounds intriguing!

    lastly, great progress this week! Sorry I’m late to the party – you got caught in my conference whirlpool! =)

    1. Thanks, Shan! I’ll be in touch. And I’ll be happy to read you Shakespearean England time-travel fantasy *g* when you’re there (weird about the names!). Six chapters into the read-through right now, so might take longer than I initially anticipated …

      1. Ruth,

        My everything takes longer than I thought it would. I tend to love using Shakespeare in my titles. For this one, with a little girl who finds herself lost on an alien world in an alien time. it was almost necessary…

        I’ll be here, when you’re ready! =D

    1. Heh, that’s funny, Eric! But seeing as the image is a stock photo, not too surprising. For a little while, there was a cover out there with the same figure that ended up on Yseult, until the author apparently noticed and changed it. Nothing you can do about that except commission original art, which I can’t afford to do.

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