Many Faces of Emma

I’m so excited!

Back in November I learned that my book THE EDUC ATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY was made into a Japanese manga edition, which is basically a Japanese comic book.  My entire story is depicted in pictures.  Here’s the cover.  Don’t you love it!  I especially like that my hero is holding an artist’s brush in his hand. (And if you’ve read the book, you know why she is blushing 🙂 )  I get second billing on the cover.  The artist, Motoko Mori gets top billing which is appropriate as the entire book had to be reduced into dialogue and pictures with a much smaller page count.  I love how they depict emotion in the book.  Here’s a depiction of the big kiss scene.  Note the fireworks and discretely placed flowers.  


This whole experience, however,  made me  think about the various cover depictions of the same book.  


This was the original cover and is still my all time favorite.  I love the colors and the sensuality of the bared shoulder.  This cover is actually a painting.  I think the artist, Leslie Peck, did a fabulous job. This heroine looks quite a bit different than the manga heroine, don’t you think? 

Actually the manga edition is the second Japanese edition of this novel.  Here’s the cover from the first.  I’m thinking that the field of daisies is to suggest that the heroine is innocent.  Her gesture suggests that she has a secret, which is true – she’s pretending to be a widow but actually is quite the innocent –  but this is quite a bit different than the American version which suggests she’s about to expose all,  no secrets left there  🙂

Let’s take a look at two other covers for the same book.  I believe the image to the left – the one with the drool worthy hero – is Dutch, and the one to the right with the green dress is Norwegian.  

I love looking at the differences between all these covers for the same book.  All except the manga book have the heroine (and definately the hero) in some state of undress.   The Norwegian and the Dutch covers could probably be interchanged with any romance novel – not much unique there.  

So which cover is your favorite?  Have you ever read a manga book?  Do you find that the image you carry in your mind of the heroine in a book closely resembles the ones on the covers?  How do you feel about hero’s on the covers?


Let’s chat about romance covers and I’ll send a copy of THE CASANOVA CODE to someone leaving a comment.

OH!  and lest I forget –

Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS! Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!



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  • Jane says:

    I haven’t read manga in a long time. I always like checking out the foreign covers to see how they differ from the American versions. It is weird when the cover doesn’t match the descriptions of the hero or heroine.

    • Jane, don’t let the rooster mangle the manga!

    • Jane –

      I dearly wish I could read this. I can pick out some scenes based on the artist depictions, but I’d love to read the dialogue. It’s so short – just 100 pages or so. I wonder about the story being exactly the same. But the concept of an artist creating this version is just so extremely cool.

      I do hope you haven’t put your Christmas tree up. The GR is terrible about roosting in the branches and kicking the ornaments to the floor. He returns to the lair with tinsel in his feathers and sometimes glitter on his beak.

  • Fedora says:

    Wow! That’s neat to see the different interpretations the covers give the story! I think my favorite is still the original, and for me, the manga covers are a little too cartoony for my taste. I have read some manga, but don’t often. Amusingly, my kids are starting to read it, but for now, it’s still mostly the Pokemon type stories they go for rather than the more soap opera/romance themes 🙂

    And I’m not sure–sometimes the covers match what I have in mind, and other times not… I try not to get tied up in knots over it either way 😉

    • Fedora – The original is still my favorite as well. It’s so sensuous with the bared back and the strap slipping off the shoulder. It’s my very favorite of all my book covers.

      But the manga cover is pretty neat too, though, I never imagined Emma with her hair down in that red dress. I understand what you mean about the cartoonish quality. I found the scene where Emma teaches the girl about french kissing using stick of sticks of hard candy as props. In the manga edition, the girls are holding what looks like tootsie-roll pops (a candy that wasn’t invented till 1931 BTW). I never did see the scene where the girls practice the art of removing their gloves with their teeth 🙂 .

  • Mary Preston says:

    The original cover is my favourite. I also think it’s wonderful that’s it’s actually painted.

    My son reads Manga, so I have read some & watched some. It’s certainly an extremely dynamic & recognisable art form.

    • Mary – Definitely recognizable – all those big round eyed women! While the cover is in color, the inside comic is black and white. I prefer the anime on TV where the colors are so bright and glorious. Some of the shows my daughter watches are absolutely beautiful. But those are in English so at least I can understand them 🙂 .

  • Donna, how incredibly cool that you got a manga edition. That’s majorly special. Love the cover – reminds me of the Japanese anime cartoons I used to love as a kid. My crit partner Annie West has had a couple of manga editions of her books. My favorite was For the Sheikh’s Pleasure. They did a beautiful luxurious tent for the ‘climactic’ scene of that one. Covers have been on my mind lately because I had to come up with one for the Winter Wife!

    • And you did a major-league beautiful job with that cover, I think. Very classy and intriguing.

      I know you have a Japanese edition of Claiming the Courtesan. Perhaps a manga edition will turn up on your doorstep as well. This one came as a complete shock to me.

      What’s interesting is to see the depiction of sex in the manga book. Some scenes are far more explicit – like for oral sex – than I would have imagined. I wonder if the history of Japanese erotica – which ironically I included in The Casanova Code – impacted the development of manga.

  • Helen says:


    I too love the original cover and the story I have not read a manga but have seen pictures of them and they look good. I love looking at covers but one thing that always annoys me is if the hero or heroine on a cover has different coloured hair to the one in the story LOL but I do often look at the cover and use that picture as a guide while reading

    Have Fun

    • Helen – I wonder if they have English translations of manga? I’ll have to check the next time I’m in Barnes & Noble. I’ve not actually read a manga book, but I have seen anime on TV.

      I know what you mean about the covers not matching some of the basic elements of the characters. I’ve heard of some authors going back into the manuscript to change hair color to match the covers. I once heard a publisher say they cringe when the heroine has ash blonde hair because her hair always looks grey on the covers (darn flash photography). I remember one cover where the heroine was written as being rather plump – but the cover model was a size 0. 🙂

      I agree – I like it when the cover sort of matches the story.

  • Carol Cork says:

    Hi Donna

    I’ve never read any manga books so I’m it’s difficult to comment. I love the original cover of TEOMB. There’s something sensual about her pose. I tend to have my own vision of the H/h because often the cover illustrations are at variance with the descriptions in the book – hair colour, stature etc. Not to say I don’t love those sexy covers with those delicious shirtless heroes! 🙂

  • Carol –

    I love that cover as well. If I remember correctly, it debuted at a period when the heroine’s backs were all the rage. There’s something so blatantly sensual about a woman’s back – although if placed on a contemporary cover, there’d have to be a tattoo in the center of it :-).

    I agree about those shirtless men – Yum! Of the two photo-style covers with men, I like the one with the heroine in the blue dress. He looks much more agressive than the hero in the other cover – which I guess says something about me. LOL.

  • Maureen says:

    I’ve never read a manga book but the library has a bunch of them now so it would be interesting to take one out and see what I think. I like covers like the original that are more like paintings. They just always catch my eye.

    • Maureen – I’m with you regarding the creativity and downright beauty of the painted cover. I love that first cover. Unfortunately, the same artist that did the first cover also did my second and third. The second cover, while a pretty painting, did not capture the spirit and nature of the story – that’s a disaster – and with a painting, there’s nothing you can do to fix it. So there’s pros and cons. But I do love that first cover.

  • Mozette says:

    I can’t stand manga books but my niece likes drawing them herself.

    I’m sorry if I’m not as descriptive as I normally am today… my little budgie passed away yesterday afternoon at 6:30pm from heart failure; a week after a suffering a stroke. I’m absolutely shattered about it as she’s been with me for 7 3/4 years.

    • Barb says:

      Sorry to hear about your Budgie Mozette

    • Oh Mozette – I’m so sorry. That must have been a heart-wrenching discovery. I know how much you loved that budgie from your interview in the newsletter. I’m sending gentle, healing hugs your way.

      • Mozette says:

        The heartbreaking thing was that she died in my hands on Saturday night…. so I didn’t find her in her cage on her own. When she was having problems breathing, I took her outside and sat with her. This is the place where she’s always wanted to be her whole life – outside with other birds and free of the cage… I thought it was very apt.

        Today, I went and got her Christmas ornament altered to show the years I’ve had her. On the back it now says: ‘2005 – 2012’ in gold glitter with little red hearts around them… very nice. The lady who did this is the same lady who wrote Little Miss Stevie’s name on the bauble two years ago; so she was upset to hear my little bird was no longer with me.

  • Barb says:

    Love your original cover Donna

    I have seen anime book but never read one … my grandson is into anime… will have to look next time I see him and see if they are in english but I am sure the ones he has aren’t romances lol

    • Thanks Barb – The original remains my favorite as well – though I do like that the cover shows an artist hero on the manga one. I bet the manga books over here are in English – unless they’re in the Japanese bookstore LOL. Yes, we have those over here.

      One thing that is different about the Japanese manga and the English graphic novel – besides the big round eyed heroines – are that the manga heroines are skinny girls with no curves. In the graphic novels, the curves are exaggerated – huge boobs and tiny wasp waists. Funny how the misrepresentations are for women – and women only – on both sides.

  • Connie Fischer says:

    It is really fun to see the differences in covers of romance novels from country to country. Some tend to feature one point made in the novel and others not so much. I was asked to give my opinion on covers like this one time and found that it was quite thought provoking. I prefer it when a cover matches the plot of a novel.

    • Connie – I agree with you there. My third book, THE SEDUCTION OF THE DUKE was the closest representation of the story for all my books. The heroine’s corset was fashioned from the research book I’d used for my story. She was wearing the corset featured in the book as one of the ways to seduce the duke. My last two books have had photographic covers and while pretty, don’t necessarily capture a scene from the book. I ususally get to mention a color for the heroine’s dress – but that’s about the extent of my involvement with the cover. It’s always a game of crossing one’s fingers and offering prayers to the cover gods while waiting to see what the publisher has blessed us with. 🙂

      • Connie Fischer says:

        I’m sure that it is difficult to get the plot of the novel depicted on the cover. From chats I’ve had with authors, they don’t always get a lot of say-so on the cover. However, I think they all look delicious!

        • Connie – I think that’s one of the benefits of indie publishing – you get to have a say in the cover. However, having that say may prove more challenging then it appears.

  • Sandyg265 says:

    I’m not into manga but it’s interesting how book covers vary between countries.

    • Isn’t it? It think it’s interesting that only the Japanese and American covers tried to be unique to the story. The other two covers were pretty standard romance fare. They could have been placed on just about any book.

  • EC Spurlock says:

    I am a huge anime/manga fan and i always think it is cool when US romance books get translated into that format. (One of the writers in my local RWA chapter had a book translated into Japanese text, followed by Manga, from there to an anime TV series, then to a live-action TV series, then back to an anime series again! As I recall the last two were actually running concurrently and ran for several years, with episodes added on by the Japanese TV station’s house writers.) Often the artist will make adjustments to details to make it more understandable to their audience, who may not be familiar with Western history/cultural tropes, so what they may actually be eating is a stick cookie called Pocky that is very popular in Japan. And yes you CAN get English translated versions (I have a friend who converts manga to English/western format for a major comics company, in fact) but they can be a long time coming after the original is published and often the more erotic ones don’t make it because there’s not as much of a market for them. You’ll have to ask the Japanese publisher if/when an English version will be released.

    It’s always interesting to see how different artists in different countries interpret the covers. In this case I do like the original best, but I’d love to see a translation of the titles on the Dutch and Norwegian versions, as by the look of it they’re clearly not the same title!

    • What an interesting observation about the titles, EC. I have an asian client who knows a little Japenses (she’s from Taiwan). She looked at the title for TEOMB and said the characters indicated a powerful woman – but could translate it all. I hadn’t really thought that titles would be different from one foreign book to the next. Translation might make it different – like the title changed to “Teaching Mrs. Brimley” or “Educating Emma” (which was one of the titles considered for the American version) but not something substantially different – but who knows? Makes me want to learn Japanese (grin).

      Cool beans about your friend! I can not see this book going to a tv series…but then I couldn’t imagine it as a manga book either. 🙂 Guess you never know what the future holds.

  • I haven’t read a manga. My son reads them and loves the Japanese anime thing. But I love the original cover to your book, Donna.

    I recently received a few foreign books from my series, and I have to say, the one I liked the most was the Japanese version of Every Night I’m Yours. The woman looked a little modern but the background was beautiful.

    • Christie – I didn’t know you had a Japanese sale. Congratulations!

      Aren’t the books cool the way the paper covers wrap around the paperback just like our paper covers wrap around a hardback? Mrs. Brimley is part of the “Raspberry collection” according to the inside paperback. I’m guessing that’s sort of an imprint. Anna Campbell’s Japanese cover had a different imprint, but I can’t remember what that was.

      Both Anna and I were surprised by the Caucasion woman dressed in asian attire on our regular Japanese covers (For me, the one with the daisies) – but then the story concerns a european heroine so I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised.

  • Minna says:

    Oh, that’s funny. We were talking about manga and anime the other day during the thesis lesson.

    • Minna – How appropos. What was the premise of the thesis question?

      While I don’t read manga, I have seen a couple anime shows by osmosis when my daughter has them on tv. Both the content and artwork seem to be a melding of the innocence and heroic intentions of childhood in a more threatening and mature adult world.
      It’s an interesting combination.

      • Minna says:

        The title of the thesis was Abusive Subtitling in Hayao Miazaki’s Castle in the Sky. We also ended up talking how in this country for instance in the bookstores they don’t seem to understand that all comics are not automatically meant for kids and our teacher told us how she had been looking for a how-to-draw-manga-book for her nephew who likes to read and draw them. All things considered, it was a good thing she took a good look what was actually in them before buying, because some of them were definitely R rated!

        • Minna –
          Your comment reminded me of one I heard yesterday. Someone heard a bookseller discourage a woman from buying FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY for her 12 year old niece. The woman had heard that this was a good book (snicker) and her niece liked to read…so….

          Seriously, people need to think first.

  • Louisa says:

    Mangle the manga. SNORK !!

    I still absolutely love the original cover, Donna. And I must admit The Education of Mrs. Brimley is STILL one of my all-time favorites. Sigh.

    How cool is it that it has shown up in manga. I have several friends who are big fans of manga. I’ve always found it intriguing and very expressive. And I would think the history of Japanese erotica has definitely influenced the art of manga.

    I’ve been watching the evolution of e-book covers as well. Some of the self-published or indie published e-book covers were REALLY rough when this whole revolution started. However, lately I have seen some really great ones. (The one for The Winter Wife is gorgeous, La Divina and I LOVED the story!)

    One of the prizes I won in a writing contest was an original cover painting for one of Stephanie Laurens’ covers! It is absolutely gorgeous and very precious as the only other person who has one of these paintings IS Stephanie Laurens. Is that not COOL!! The detail in it and the artistic skill is amazing.

    • Lousia –

      Very cool about the Stephanie Laurens cover paintiing! I thought about contacting the artist to purchase the original painting for TEOMB – but at the time (and still) couldn’t really afford it (sigh).

      You’re so right about the evolution of indie covers. I remember the early ones and you could pick out an indie book at twenty paces by viewing the cover alone. Now there’s some gorgeous covers out there and it’s a bit of a surprise to find that they belong to indie authors. I love that indie publishing as created a group of cottage industries, like cover artists, in a time when “work from home” jobs are really appreciated. The bandits banner was created by one such emerging talented artist –
      Lyndsey Lewellen.

      • Louisa says:

        Oh trust me, Donna, had I not won this painting I know I’d never have anything so beautiful. It is one of the things on my “Once the pets are out grab this!” list in case of a fire, flood or zombie apocalypse!

        Like you, I am so please so many talented cover artists are now able to actually make their living doing romance covers. It has opened a whole new world for so many truly talented people who might spend the rest of their lives trapped in soul-sucking day jobs. Oh wait! That’s me !! LOL

    • OMG – forgot to add – THANK YOU for the Mrs. Brimley love, Louisa. MWAH !

      That book and the story of how it came to be published is still one of my favorites as well.

    • Cassondra says:

      Louisa, I can’t even imagine that. How wonderful!

      We can dream of having that happen for one of our books, can’t we?

  • catslady says:

    My daughter was/is a huge manga fan. She has lots of these books and I’ve read some of them. A totally different way to “read” a novel but very enjoyable. My daughter’s nickname is Anime (of course people that don’t know think it’s Anna May lol). She has drawn some of these characters that are some of my favorites. I like all but one of the covers above – just not the one that makes your book look like a contemporary.

    • Yeah – there’s not much historical in that cover, is there? I think Anna said the same thing about her Japanese cover – and then Christie said something similar above. Seems to be a trend – I wonder why that is?

      LOL on Anna May. I bet there’s a huge demand for anime artists. I know the artist (Motoko Mori) got top billing on this book. I figure he/she deserves it. It must be difficult to draw an entire book, figure out what scenes to illustrate and how to encapulate the dialogue.

  • Diane Sallans says:

    I’ve heard of manga but had no idea they they did romance novels. Is it very easy for you to tell what is going on thru the Japanese version – or do they include an english translation too?

    • Diane – no English translation, purely Japanese. I asked a bookseller if she could bring in a few copies for a book signing and she said the book isn’t available in this country. I think that means it’s not available in the B&N warehouse. LOL. One would have to order the book from Japan – or visit a Japanese bookstore – to find it.

      But I can tell what’s happening because I know the story so well. However, there are a lot of frames with a character and a dialogue bubble – and I haven’t a clue what they are saying. But if there’s two characters in a frame, I can sort of guess by their expression what’s happening – but mainly because I know the story.

  • Barbara Elness says:

    How interesting that a Manga edition was made from your book, The Education of Mrs. Brimley. I have to say, my favorite cover is the original as well, I think it’s gorgeous.

  • Thank you Barbara. It’s always been my favorite – but the Manga one is just cool in its uniqueness. I really didn’t think they turned romance novels into manga books but I’ve heard manga is a good market. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

  • Cassondra says:

    Donna, what a cool thing, to have the different covers like this!

    The original cover is my favorite. I’ve loved that cover since the first time I saw it. I think my second favorite is actually the manga cover. Very sexy, actually…his expression and her chagrin. And I love it that he has the paintbrush.

    I wish I could read it too! It would be really neat to see which scenes he chose to illustrate, and how the manga interpretation goes, with the much shorter length.

    Very cool that you get to see all of these, btw.

    • It’s funny, Cassondra, the scenes included in the manga edition. A friend was thumbing through it and found a frame illustrating oral sex – complete with tongue – that I’d missed on previous perusals. LOL – I didn’t think they’d include that!

      The next time I see you I’ll bring a copy so you can check it out.

      • Cassondra says:

        I would LOVE to see it.

        And is it explicit–like with body parts and stuff?

        Do they think of this as a racy manga book?

        • It’s not overtly explicit, although there are a few frames where the heroine’s nipples are suggested. There’s one frame with the hero’s head between the heroine’s thighs, but that’s pretty much all you see. This isn’t shunga. But I have no idea if they thing of this as racy manga – and as I don’t read manga, I can’t say either way.

  • Donna, this is so cool! I also like the original cover best. It’s just so beautiful.

    Once upon a time, the boy could read some Japanese. Maybe he could translate it for you.

    As you know, I’ve read comic books most of my life. They’re sort of like American manga, and they share the same storytelling restrictions. Not much really fits in a dialogue balloon.

    • Nancy – That’s what I figured – so it would be really cool to see how they condensed the story to fit in the frames with a little dialogue – a real art form to reduce a 100,000 word novel like that.

      One thing I find interesting is the difference in depicting the female form in the two cultures. In this edition, the heroine is a stick version with few curves, while in American comics the female curves are exaggerated beyond realistic proportions. I suppose there are some differences in the depiction of the heroes as well. I’ve not seen an American comic hero that doesn’t have a nice set of shoulders on him. The Japanese hero sees more etheral.

      • From the little bit of looking at the boy’s manga I’ve done, Donna, I’d agree that it’s a cultural stylistic difference. I always heard American comic book heroines were so, er, zaftig (not sure that’s the right spellilng) to appeal to the adolescent boys who were considered to be the primary audience. Many more women read comics now, but the heroines are still that way.

        • Interesting. I thought it was because the American comic artists were men with certain… issues…LOL.

        • Cassondra says:

          Nancy, I don’t think those stacked ladies were only to appeal to adolescent boys. I think it was males in general–American ones anyway. All the men I know like curves.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Donna, I love the manga cover! It’s so cool that you’ve gotten to see Mrs. Brimley translated into so many different languages. I love the Dutch one, but still think the original is my favorite. They managed to capture the essence of Emma’s innocence in that one, despite the bare shoulders. 🙂

    I really like clinch covers, even though the hero and heroine rarely look like I imagine them once I start reading the book. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend in historical romance covers toward heroines who seriously look like they have suntans. Some look decidedly Hispanic, which most of the heroines are not supposed to be.

    As long as the cover is attractive, though, it doesn’t throw me off or put me off buying the book. The only covers I really don’t like are ones which send a message contrary to the story inside. This doesn’t happen often, but I’ve seen it in the past. I think publishers and many self-published authors, do a great job with covers. They really are what catches the eye first and makes me want to pick up a book!

    • Yes, I feel honored to have seen all these covers. That’s one thing I never considered in all those years of trying to get published.

      LOL on the suntans – can’t say that I’ve noticed that. But I soooooo agree with you on the covers that convey a message different than the story inside. I suppose it’s difficult managing all those subtle clues. I remember I picked up a book based on the author’s name. For some reason, the gleam of the sword on the cover made me think the story was paranormal – but it was strictly medieval. Subtle suggestions….

  • Melody May says:

    I haven’t read any manga, but brothers probably have. They like stuff like that. Depends on the the story, sometimes the cover is what I envision and other times not so much. I have to say I love the magna cover.

    • Thanks Melody, I love this one too. It’s hard to see in the photo I took but there’s light little stars and bubbles sprinkled on the cover that give it a certain magical ambience. You can see some of them in the hero’s hair. Not that there’s any magic component in the book – but it makes the cover sparkle.

  • Hey Donna!!

    I’m thrilled to see Mrs. Brimley in a Manga style book! It’s a whole new market for authors.

    Lyndsey started reading them as a teen as much for art work as the stories. I think it’s influenced her art work, as well as her writing. The hero of her YA Steampunk is Japanese.

    And we won’t get me started on covers, but my soon to be released historical erotic novella, Bella’s Touch, has a paintbrush on the cover, although it isn’t used as your hero did in TEoMB!

    • Suz – Now that’s a tease! I can’t wait to see how it’s employed 🙂 . LOL, Just say “erotica” and any unusual implement and the imagination just takes over. When is Bella’s Touch due for release?

  • Cassondra says:

    You know what bugs me in a cover, is if the heroine has dark hair, and the cover has her as a blonde.

    I know that happens when you publish with big houses, and certainly it won’t keep anyone from buying a book. But I love flipping back to the cover and seeing the person there…I do it several times while I’m reading, usually. Although since I’ve had a kindle, with no color cover, I can’t do that.

    I admit that I don’t like clench covers. I like individual people on the cover–either male or female. It leaves a question in my mind, and makes me okay to carry the book around without getting comments about what I’m reading.

    Your original cover for Mrs. B, to me, was perfect, and is still in my top two or three covers EVER.

    That manga cover, though… I like it almost as much, for its genre.

    • I wonder if the hair match thing was the reason for that rash of headless hero/heroines on the cover. LOL

      Normally I see the cover before I turn in the manuscript. If the hair color doesn’t match, there’s time to change the cover or the manuscript. So far, they haven’t gotten a mismatch on my books – but I know authors that haven’t been that lucky.

  • LilMissMolly says:

    I can’t imagine THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY was made into a manga edition! I can’t picture it – or any historical fiction in pictures only. But, good for you for having another audience for your best book. I still like the original cover best too.

    • Hey Molly!

      isn’t it incredible? Hey – I’m bringing it with me to a booksigning this coming Saturday at the Pickerington B&N. If you’re feeling REALLY curious – come on by between 1 and 3 pm. 🙂 You can take a lot at the illustrations yourself.