Thursday, September 26, 2013

VBT - Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective by Christine Amsden with Guest Post

Judging a Book by its Cover:
Reflections on the Cassie Scot Cover

Whether they should be or not, books are judged by their covers. Cover artwork is the first and most prominent representation of a book and as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. (It's a cliché for a reason!) As an avid reader I understand the reality. As an author I confess that it feels weird to have my art (the story itself) judged by someone else's art (a cover picture).

Let me start by saying that I don't create my own covers. Most authors don't. Most of us have little control over them, although I'm happy to say that my publisher gives me more input than usual.

The cover art for Cassie Scot was painted by Ural Akyuz. Wait, painted? Yes, that's right. If this cover strikes you as a bit different from other urban fantasy novels then that's probably because the popular trend these days is for photo manipulation. This style does create striking, vivid, even beautiful images, but I confess that I've got a soft spot for handcrafted art. Photographs are almost too perfect. Paintings leave me with a sense of the abstract. This seems particularly fitting since the title, with the “para” in “paranormal” struck through, is also abstract.

I really like the cover for this book. I didn't care for the cover for my last book, The Immortality Virus, so this is something of a relief! It has also been something of a relief that the response to the cover artwork from the public has been generally positive. I've seen one naysayer (that doesn't mean there aren't more) who thought the cover looks dull compared to others in the same genre. Well, like I said, we didn't do the photo manipulation for this project. If you're in love with that style, this may seem a little dull. I prefer to think of it as different, but to each his own. :)

In case the picture isn't giving you a thousand words, here are a few hundred more to help fill in the details for you:

The woman on the cover is Cassie, more or less as I envisioned her when I wrote her. I even provided the artist with a link to a picture of the outfit she is wearing, though he adjusted the color to better suit the background. She’s looking off into the distance, thinking of… well, any number of things. This series is written in the first person, and a lot of it takes place inside Cassie’s head. There is a mystery, some romance, and even a bit of action, but her own desire to be something more than she is drives the story. It will drive the entire series, actually, only resolving in the final volume.

There is a glow coming from the lake, one the crescent moon can’t fully account for. This is an abstract, a representation of a source of magic that Cassie can’t see and is therefore not looking at, though she knows it’s there somewhere. It is intentionally subtle, and I don’t expect readers to pick up on it. It’s enough that I know it’s there, and if you care to buy into it, then so do you.

Mostly though what I asked for, and what I got, was lovely cover art. There is some darkness in this story, but it is full of light, life, and hope. The leaves are green, the plants are in bloom, and Cassie has a snapdragon tucked behind her ear.

The body of water in the background is Table Rock Lake, a man-made lake that stretches for many miles through southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas. The story takes place in a fictionalized town called Eagle Rock, MO, a tourist town on Table Rock Lake in the Ozark Mountains.

There is a real Eagle Rock, by the way. An old friend of my grandfather’s used to live there years ago, and my family visited him when I was a child. He would take us out on the lake on his motor boat. I can’t remember exactly what made me think to use the town’s name and location for this story, but I assure you, it is fictionalized. The real Eagle Rock has a population of 1 or 2 dozen people, and if you blink driving through, you’ll miss it. It was a beautiful area, though, and going with the advice “write what you know,” I decided it would suit this story nicely.

Ural Akyutz should be available to do the artwork for the rest of the series, which will give the books a consistent look and feel. I was nervous while waiting for the cover artwork for this book – more anxious nervous than excited nervous because of the experience I'd had with The Immortality Virus. Now as I anticipate the cover artwork for Secrets and Lies, the second book in the Cassie Scot series, I am excited exited.

It still feels weird to have my story judged by Ural's artwork, but I stand behind it. I've used the cover artwork on facebook, twitter, google+, and have it printed on the bookmarks I hand out to readers I meet in person.

Whether the cover is to your taste or not, I hope you'll consider judging my book by its first couple of chapters. That is unapologetically mine – my voice, my style, my character. I have a prominent link to them on my web site or you can find them here: First Chapters.

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective
Cassie Scot Book One
Christine Amsden

Genre: Urban Fantasy (paranormal, mystery, romance, new adult)
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Date of Publication: May 15, 2013
ISBN: 9781606197
Number of pages: 260
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: Ural Akyutz

Book Trailer: 

Book Description:

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family's reputation isn't easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.


My parents think the longer the name, the more powerful the sorcerer, so they named me Cassandra Morgan Ursula Margaret Scot. You can call me Cassie.
I've been called a lot of things in my life: normal, ordinary, and even a disappointment. After the Harry Potter books came out, a couple of people called me a squib. Since I haven't read them, I have to assume it's a compliment. 
Personally, I prefer normal, which is why the sign on my office door reads: Cassie Scot, Normal Detective.
You have to understand that around here, when your last name is Scot, people are easily confused. Not only are my parents powerful practitioners, but I have six talented brothers and sisters. Plus, my family hasn't always been known for its subtlety. When weird stuff happens around here, the people who are willing to believe in magic are prone to suspect the Scots.
The day I opened for business I got a call from an old woman who swore her cat was possessed by the devil. She also swore she'd read my web site, which clearly stated the types of work I did and did not do. Exorcisms were on the No list, and while I hadn't specified pet exorcisms, I would have thought it was implicit. 

About the Author:

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.)

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.


2 $10 Amazon gift cards

Schedule Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective by Christine Amsden
Sept 2-30

September 2 Spotlight

September 2 Interview

September 3 Spotlight

September 4 Guest blog and review

September 5 review

September 6 Interview

September 9 Spotlight

September 15 Interview (need by Sept 1)

September 16 Guest blog

September 17 review

September 18 Spotlight

September 18 Spotlight and review

September 19 Guest blog

September 19 Spotlight

September 20 Guest blog

September 23 Spotlight

September 24 Spotlight

September 25 Spotlight

September 26 Guest blog (review later)

September 27 Interview

September 30 Guest blog

September 30 Spotlight


  1. Thanks for sharing the great excerpt and the giveaway. Sounds like my kind of book and I am looking forward to reading it. evamillien at gmail dot com