Shirley Showalter, Author of Blush: Tips on Choosing Your Novel’s Cover Art

Shirley Showalter, Author of  Blush, Knows How to Captivate Visually

Hey, all.  Bringing you August’s post about one hot memoir and a very hot author.  I’ve picked Shirley Hershey Showalter’s memoir, Blush,  for its tremendous cover appeal.  I know you’ll enjoy Shirley’s memoir about a Mennonite girl’s introduction to what Shirley calls in Blush’s subtitle, “A glittering world.”

Don’t you love the title?  I did.  Here’s a peek at Blush’s cover.

Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World

Blush, by Shirley Showalter

What Is Blush’s Subliminal Message?

When I first saw Blush’s cover, I looked twice, then I got busy digging in, learning more.  And isn’t that what cover art does?  Goodreads folks say that one main reason they buy books is the appealing cover.  I have a simple rule:  the cover art must draw us visually into a world, and it must make us want to open the book and take the journey.  Shirley’s cover art, coupled with her memoir’s memorable title–love the title’s sweet double entendre, don’t you?–express the subliminal, which is crucial to selling any book.

Finding Your Novel’s Subliminal Message Isn’t Easy

It’s difficult finding our book’s subliminal message, much less conveying it through cover art.  What appeals subliminally to romantic suspense readers might not appeal to paranormal romance readers.  With Blush, the subliminal lies in the contrast Shirley sets up in her title.  In Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, the message is a “hint” of the fresh-faced, sheltered girl’s reaction to a “glittering” world.  What subliminal message do you get?  I sense the clash of innocence with a world of superfluity or “glitz” on its surface . . . of possibility.  Before I even read Blush, my gut is clenching with fear and yet with anticipation.  “Don’t go out into that world, Shirley,” I’m shouting.  “It’s not a completely glitzy place.”

See what I mean, though?  See how Blush’s cover and title make me connect with Shirley’s subliminal message and want to go straight to Amazon and buy Blush?

Shirley Showalter: Mennonite Author Meets Glittering World of Romance Genre

I don’t usually focus on authors per se–that’s not RGB’s focus.   Yet I like Shirley’s memoir’s cover so much for what it teaches us about cover art and for what it does for us as a community of romance readers and writers that I’m adding some extra bio because there’s an important question needing answered.   How would a book like Blush fit with titles like Surrender Your Love or Fifty Shades?  Can Blush, a memoir, become a genre hopper?

Shirley reminded me that Blush is her memoir, so “it might not qualify for most definitions of romance.”  Agreed.  She noted her goal was to avoid misleading, and she’s right.  She also noted, however, that Blush contains romantic elements that touch on her “parents’ courtship and continuing romance and on Shirley’s own introduction to dating at a box social.”

Do we care if Blush doesn’t fit nicely into any specific romance genre?  Not even.  What I pounced on was Shirley’s remark that she was only eighteen at the end of Blush, and she hadn’t “met the love of [her] life yet.”

Deep breath–pounce!  Pounce point is when I and other readers decide we absolutely must read your next book, Shirley Showalter!  Who is the love of your life?  As a young Mennonite, what was that courtship like for you?  Okay, is he . . . Mennonite?  If that story’s not romance–I’m from Billings (not).

Blush will connect with many romance readers via the hot “Mennonite theme” and Shirley’s exploration of the issue of “realism in Mennonite fiction,” which is what Blush is about.  I’ll read Blush and also Shirley’s next book because I connect with her cover art and with Shirley as author.  I want to hear more bout her “straightforward depiction of the courtship practices she experienced.”

Shirley Showalter, Author: Learn More

It’s not just her cover art that you’ll learn from and enjoy.  Shirley Showalter is someone who’s met the glittering world on her terms, thank you, yet she reminds us through her writing and life that she’s grounded solidly in family and Mennonite culture, the reality of which she shares with us in Blush.    Visit her on her Web site at  You may also wish to like Shirley’s Facebook page at

Copyright, 2013, Mary H. McFarland.  You may freely plagiarize.  All images belong to Shirley Showalter.


7 thoughts on “Shirley Showalter, Author of Blush: Tips on Choosing Your Novel’s Cover Art

  1. An interesting analysis, Mary. And timely as I get ready to work with a designer on the cover of my novel. Shirley’s cover is full of intriguing messages. I, too, look forward to reading her story!

    • Carol, thank you. Yes, the “subliminal message” must shoulder the work of evoking the world and inviting readers in. Good luck with your cover. I look forward to seeing it and reading your work.

    • Carol, thanks, and sorry for the lateness of my reply. Please share with me your experience in working with your designer. I find the experience of working with a designer made me realize I should have visualized my novel’s cover the moment I started writing. How goes the progress on your cover?

  2. Thank you, Mary for this enlightening post on the power of a book cover to connect and evoke responses. I always knew I loved Shirley cover for BLUSH but now I know why–it sends a “subliminal” message about innocence meeting life’s challenges. I’m already excited about BLUSH but I have to say that has been ramped up by your enthusiasm and insights. Yay, Mary and Shirley! You’ve given me food for thought about my own book cover. Thank you!

    • Shirley’s cover generated the excitement that I, too, needed to do the digging. So glad I was able to ramp up your enthusiasm. Those covers are more work and art than we realize. They’re powerful tools for authors! Thanks so much for your comment.

  3. Thanks for your enthusiastic response to this cover, Mary. Your questions were great for making me think about how covers affect us emotionally, even on an unconscious level.

    I too love the cover. I can say that because it’s the work of my publisher, Herald Press. The artist, Merrill Miller, was able to take an old photo, blend the colors to match the title, and find just the right font to top off image and color scheme.

    If this cover attracts more readers like you, I’ll be very grateful. And I hope that readers who like romance, especially Amish and Mennonite romance, might be intrigued by my simple story of a quieter world in a less frantic time.

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