Guest Post/Virtual Tour with Giveaway ~ Society of Benevolent Strangers by L.A. Parker


Are Book Covers Still Important?

I want to say no.

Digital content has almost completely removed the necessity of judging a book by its cover. Today’s readers have an array of content to recommend a book–reader reviews, friend’s tweets, sample downloads, star ratings and blogs. Sure there is a postage stamp sized picture featured but generally it is so small that you only get a peripheral impression of the image. The book cover has been relegated to decoration, not information. Digital books open to chapter one, page one skipping the fluff and getting right to the core.

Yet I spend almost as much time thinking about my cover image as I do the story inside.

I want to say yes.

When looking for a good romance, does the headless/faceless half-dressed character on the cover cause you to select one book over another? Hardly. How many broken strings of pearls and blood spattered knives have you seen on detective novels? Or evil-eyes glowing out of the darkness on a horror cover? While repetitive, many genre specific images do let the reader know exactly the kind story they will find beneath the cover. Take romance for instance. Candy-colored cartoon women—chick-lit, yards of billowing fabric and bountifully revealed breasts—historical, buff shirtless men with scantily clad women clinging to them—erotica.

A well designed cover can establish a brand for a series. Think of a red apple cradled in a pair of hands on a black background. Twilight, of course. That iconic image set the tone for the series and made the books easily recognizable.

All that said, I think of a book’s cover as gift wrap. It does not need to inform as much it needs to set the tone for the story, entice the reader to unwrap and seek out the surprises inside. Society of Benevolent Strangers was the first book where I did not design the cover myself. I worked with cover artist, Karri Klawiter at Art by Karri. She was wonderfully patient and did a wonderful job creating my SBS logo on the back cover. After about six versions and revisions I had settled on a cover that I liked, one that seemed to illustrate Kate’s Journey.

I thought it was perfect.

Then Karri said, yes, it is pretty but it looks like a travelogue not a romance novel. Hmmm…I don’t feel that Society of Benevolent Strangers fits neatly into any particular romance cubby hole so none of the standard images seemed to fit. But I took Karri’s suggestion and I spent a good amount of time looking though stock photos of Africa. None of the iconic images of lions basking on the savannah or giraffes on the horizon at sunset had anything to do with my book. Kate is definitely not on safari. Although the book deals with refugee camps and aid workers, it does not take place in a camp so those images did not really speak to me either. Finally I found the silhouette of an African Hornbill sitting in a thorn tree and I thought of the flocks at Lake Baringo. The image was exotic and beautiful. I had found my cover!

I hope you unwrap Society of Benevolent Strangers and enjoy the story inside.

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societyPublisher: CreateSpace (August 21, 2014)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

ISBN-10: 1499517157

ISBN-13: 978-1499517156
​Buy: Amazon, Kindle, IndieBound, The Book Depository


Dr. Kathryn Hastings felt the tremor in her fingers and hastily dropped the scalpel back on the tray. Her career as a neurosurgeon had just ended. One slip and her patient would have come out of surgery a different man than when he went in.

On the advent of her thirtieth high school reunion, with her life at a crossroads, Kate finds herself dwelling on the past and choices she made–particularly those having to do with Clayton Beech. Desperately needing to find a new calling and to correct past mistakes Kate sets out on a journey that takes her from North Carolina to London, from Paris to Kenya.

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laBetween stints as a lion tamer and exotic dancer, LA Parker earned a degree in Art History from the University of Delaware.

After a harrowing experience excavating ancient ruins along the Amazon, she earned a second degree in Computer Science from East Carolina University.

Dabbling in the art of lying for fun and profit, she has published three works of fiction: Against the GrainStella's Sheets and Society of Benevolent Strangers.

Settling for a quieter life, LA is currently residing in North Carolina with her husband, son and dog, Tony, Zach and Max the Bandit, where she is happily dreaming up more fantastical and phenomenal lies for your entertainment.

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Giveaway Details:
Enter to win ebooks, prints, a silver toned peace crane necklace and peace crane ornaments folded from maps


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Excerpt ~ 

As the Land Rover climbed to the top of a rise, Kate caught her first glimpse of Lake Baringo. It was smooth, caramel colored from muddy run-off, and glistening in the dawn light. The sky was splashed purple and rose-pink above the Laikipia Escarpment as the sun crept over the cliff’s edge.

“Oh, Clay, stop!” Kate gasped. She was pulling at the buckle of her seatbelt. “Please, let me see it.”

Clay stopped the truck, feeling like a jerk after the previous day. His feelings of betrayal had not lessened—she should have waited for him—but he did not enjoy making her miserable. Kate had her door open in a second and was at the edge of the road before he could climb out.

Bobbing up onto her toes, Kate tried to get a better view over the tall grasses and lush plants—flourishing from the recent rains—that grew between the edge of the road and the steep slope leading to the water below. She edged closer to the slope, looking for a better vantage point.

“Don’t step in the brush with those flip-flops,” Clay warned, coming up beside her. “Watch out for snakes and scorpions.”

“Oh. But I want to see.” Kate pouted.

“Come here.” Clay held out his hand and she looked at him, her eyes narrowing warily before accepting. Automatically, his thumb rubbed over hers, the contact was electric, and he almost pulled her into his arms, his resolve to keep her at a safe distance momentarily failing. He could have easily taken her without much ceremony in the dusty track, but mentally, shook off the impulse. Instead, he pulled her to the front quarter panel of the vehicle.

“Okay, let’s see if I can still do this.” He grinned then pushed her against the side, put his hands on her hips, and emitted a small grunt as he lifted her up onto the hood until she was perched on the edge. “You weigh about the same as I remember, maybe less. Can you see now?”

Kate put her hand on his shoulder as he turned to look out across the lake with her. “Yes, I can see now,” she spoke softly in wonder at the scene before her.

A small flock of pale pink flamingos rose from the water and swirled past them before settling a few hundred yards north from where they started. “I thought they would be pinker.”

“They are at Bagora. Baringo is a fresh water lake, Bagora is a soda lake and that makes them bright pink.” Clay smiled then pointed northeast toward the middle of the lake. “Look, over there. See the islands? The big one is Ol Kokwe and beyond that is Samatian Island. There are volcanoes on the north edge and geysers from the geothermal activity. A few pods of hippos are scattered around. The lake is still muddy from the rains.”

“Hippos? Where?” Kate scanned the surface of the water but saw nothing disturbing the polished bronze surface.

They watched as the sun climbed higher, burning off the purples, pinks and reds of sunrise. Clay pointed out a lone Verreaux eagle soaring overhead looking for breakfast. Colorful finches chattered in the fig and acacia trees behind them as a black-faced monkey watched the couple with curiosity.

They enjoyed the peacefulness of the morning until Clay heard the rumbling of a large truck in the distance. “We’re going to have to get moving, sounds like they pulled that truck out of the mud.”

Kate started to slide off the hood, holding onto Clay’s shoulder for balance.

“Wait.” Turning toward her, his blue eyes focused on her face as if he were memorizing it, he brushed a stray strand of hair out of her face. “This is not going to be Paris. I have to concentrate on what I do here. I can’t… Kate, it’s just not going to be Paris.”

“No, it’s Africa.” Kate smiled as she stared into the depths of his blue eyes for a moment, and then sighing, she looked out over the beautiful lake one last time. “I think I’m going to love Africa.”

post-divider rightTour Schedule

November 27 – Introduction at VBT Café Blog

November 29 – Review & Guest Blogging at Coffee, Books, & Art

November 29 – Interviewed at The Avid Reader

December 1 – Guest Blogging at Mythical Books

December 3 – Spotlight at Deal Sharing Aunt

December 12 – Lori's Reading Corner

December 16 – Review & Guest Blogging at SimpliRead

December 18 – Reviewed at Debbie Jean's Blog



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  1. Loretta Sullivn says:

    Sounds like a good book to read on a long winter night!  Thank you for the giveaway.  The peace crane ornament intrigues me!

  2. Toni Nyman says:

    I for one think book covers are still important.  I read mostly real books and most of the time the book cover is what draws me to check out the book.  This cover is stunning.

  3. Janice Santillo says:

    Would love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.


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