The House on the Cover of Newberry Sin – C. Hope Clark guest post

Join us today as we get a sneak peek into what goes on behind the making of a great cover for a new mystery book. When C. Hope Clark shared the news of her newest mystery, Newberry Sin, I was excited. But the phenomenal cover and the glorious historic-era house gracing it fascinated me. For our Trisha Faye followers, she shares the story behind how this cover about, followed by a short snippet from Newberry Sin.

Stop by and leave a comment for Hope. Let her know how you like this new cover. Then hop on over and check out some of her mysteries. Personally, I think they’re great. I can’t wait to get my copy of Newberry Sin and add it her other books on my bookshelf.

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The House on the Cover of Newberry Sin

By C. Hope Clark

My fourth Carolina Slade Mystery is set in a homespun, tiny Southern town called Newberry, once again dropping my hard-headed protagonist into a mission over her head. With blackmailed sex in the mystery, I juxtaposed the contrast of a Mayberry-sounding name with SIN in the title, hoping to create some magnetic attraction.

But what to do with the cover?

The Slade series has a brand, each book with a different color theme but depicting a rural view sans people. Striking views with mysterious auras. A strong sense of setting pulling on the reader.

My publisher handles covers, but this time I had no idea what to expect.

Suddenly I get a call from the publisher, out of the blue. “Do you have any pictures of Newberry?”

I glanced at the clock. Four thirty in the afternoon. A beautiful, loud, bright shining sunny day. Newberry was forty minutes away. Could I pull this off?

No makeup and my hair barely combed, I threw on shoes with my sweats and t-shirt, grabbed a jacket and camera, and flew to that cute little town without a clue what to take pictures of.

So I took pictures of everything.

The Confederate cemetery, the opera house, Main Street, an old diner resembling the one in the story. Town square with gas lights around its border.

I hunted down a desolate dirt road for a historic site, Tarleton’s Tea Table Rock, hoping to capture its creepy, Revolutionary War feel only to hit a pothole I didn’t think was all that deep, splashing red wet mud from hood to tailgate of my car. Had to stop and drag out a limb from under the car, pretending I wasn’t really checking for a flat tire.

And I laid on the ground to capture angles of the AM radio station on the outskirts of town. Not that I’m a professional with my Nikon, but hey, everybody else takes pictures standing up.

And old white Southern houses. The town was rife with them. Most with American and South Carolina flags flying, the evening sun rebounding off the whiteness in spots, causing shadows in others. Postcard material.

Then I rushed home and emailed 70 pictures, praying someone had enough creative genius on the other end to make one of them work.

The cover caught my breath when it arrived in my email. The artist chose one of the white houses and painted in azaleas and redbud trees, taking out the plain green shrubs. Deep, smothering, gray, rain-filled clouds replaced what had been a bright sunny day. Eeriness in lieu of quaint.

I’ve already received emails and one particularly frantic Facebook message asking me how I selected that address, and if I knew who owned that house. Had I’d used its history in my story. Potential readers were already second-guessing how relevant the house was to the title. What SIN took place in that particular NEWBERRY house, and how much had I infused history into my mystery.

Of course, I assured people the house was snapped at random, and I knew nothing of its past. But still, I can’t help but softly smile at how it all pulled together . . . and the impact it was already making.

Almost makes me wonder if there IS a story behind that house.

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BACK COVER

Beneath an idyllic veneer of Southern country charm, the town of Newberry hides secrets that may have led to murder.

When a local landowner’s body, with pants down, is found near Tarleton’s Tea Table Rock—a notorious rendezvous spot, federal investigator Carolina Slade senses a chance to get back into the field again. Just as she discovers what might be a nasty pattern of fraud and blackmail, her petty boss reassigns her fledgling case to her close friend and least qualified person in their office.

Forced to coach an investigation from the sidelines, Slade struggles with the twin demons of professional jealousy and unplanned pregnancy. Something is rotten in Newberry. Her personal life is spiraling out of control. She can’t protect her co-worker. And Wayne Largo complicates everything when the feds step in after it becomes clear that Slade is right.

One wrong move, and Slade may lose everything. Yet it’s practically out of her hands . . . unless she finds a way to take this case back without getting killed.
Author C. Hope Clark, an award-winning writer of two mystery series (Carolina Slade and the Edisto Island mysteries), founded FundsforWriters.com, which Writer’s Digest has recognized in its annual 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for almost two decades. Hope is married to a 30-year veteran of federal law enforcement, a Senior Special Agent, now a private investigator. They live in South Carolina, on the banks of Lake Murray. Hope is ever hard at work on the next novel, and you can visit her at www.chopeclark.com.

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SNIPPET FROM NEWBERRY SIN

I strode up to the deputy, attempting to get a word in edgewise between the two. When Lottie took a breath, I slipped in my question. “Where’s the farmer’s vehicle?”

They both hushed. He wasn’t surprised. She suddenly realized my point. He’d met someone elsewhere then come out here . . . the other person taking off most likely when Hoyt decided to meet his Maker instead.

“Did he have all his clothes on?” she asked.

My, my, what led her to say that? Apparently, Lottie was already deep in to something I wanted to learn more about.

“You know I can’t tell you details about the body,” he replied.

Which meant no clothes in most folk’s language. I took note.

Lottie clicked her tongue. “It was a matter of time,” she said. “Just a matter of time.” She tugged my sleeve. “Glad you were here today, Miss Investigator. I’ve been meaning to call you about this.”

About what? I wasn’t sure this was Agriculture’s jurisdiction, but with Hoyt being a farmer, I’d go with it as long as I could. Or at least until my boss heard about it.

“Trust me,” she said. “Hoyt wouldn’t have died except for you federal agriculture people. It’s your problem through and through.” She smacked my shoulder. “Welcome to Newberry, child.”

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