generate cover reveal and cover design process

ebook version:


Print version:



A leader of the free world with an appalling agenda.

A medical advance that promises to cure, kills instead. 

A declaration of revenge.

An act of war.

The race to stop it all.

Fear The Second Chance Institute. After decades of plotting and testing, the SCI stands ready to execute their plan and annihilate anyone who threatens it. They’ll stop at nothing and for no one—not the Deny the SCI movement, nor the Exiler Nation, Arbiters, and Genitors—even if it means war.

Fear Kira Donovan. Empowered, determined, and bold, Kira must persuade the Genitor leaders to stop the atrocities happening at the hand of the SCI—or, if they refuse, she’ll risk everything to do it herself.

Fear Ethan Darcton. Unwilling to submit to any authority, Ethan embarks on his own agenda, teetering loyalties between the Arbiters, the SCI, and the Deny the SCI movement on Earth.

Fear Blake Sundry. Rewarded for his sacrifice, Blake finds new life on Aether, an assignment to watch over the Exiler Nation, and unlikely allies in his crusade to save thousands of innocent lives.

Full of suspense, action, warring mandates, romance, and humor, generate is book #3 in the award-winning, bestselling daynight series.

Release date:

TBD. I’ll announce a date once I’ve worked out a schedule with my editor. I’m currently working on the second half of the book and trying to make sure all subplots are moving forward at the right pace (harder than it might seem–it’s a complicated story!) As much as I want to get it done, I refuse to rush it out and have it be less than my readers deserve (and, at this point, they deserve the very best ending to this story possible).

Design process:

I should really be having my husband, Jon, write this part, but, alas, he is on his way to China for work. Yes, my husband does the daynight series covers. But before you scream, “homemade,” I should mention that he runs a huge team of graphics developers from all over the world, has done professional photography, is a Photoshop expert, and (since Photoshop isn’t enough for this), he has just-enough-experience-in-Blender-to-make-worlds-and-gloves-even-if-it-causes-massive-amounts-of-stess-and-takes-an-obscene-number-of-hours-to-do. So, if anything, he’s vastly overqualified to do my cover. He probably would have said no way if it was a traditional romance cover (hot guy with a six pack), but SciFi is right up his alley.

I came up with the concept for the generate cover around the time of arbitrate’s release. I knew exactly what I wanted—hands juggling three worlds, including the newest world introduced at the end of arbitrate, Aether (technically Æther, but the old fashioned Æ combination does not show up on older Kindles, so I had to adjust accordingly).

The first reaction that I got to my cover concept was, “That will be hard, but I can try.”

Then, more than a year later, once further examined (paraphrased):
“That’s not going to work.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Think of something else. I can create the crystal world, but it will be tough to model hands and make them realistic. And if we use real hands, the lighting won’t be right.”

Little did he know that my backup plan would’ve been more difficult (marionette worlds…would still need the hands)—or that the hands would be *much* easier than the crystal world. Stubborn person that I am, I figured that if I held out long enough, he’d figure out a solution. And he did–by using gloves, he could create them in Blender and get the lighting perfect without having them look fake.

Jon provided an official quote (from the Boeing 787 en route to China):
“We’ve been working on covers together for a while, but when she told me this one had to have hands, I knew it would be a challenge. The crystal world turned out to be the hardest part of the cover to get right. Never fear, though. Difficult equals fun for me, and I hope you enjoy generate as much as I did making the cover for it!”—Jon Thomason

I’m not quite convinced he had fun making it :). I may be a little picky. He had to do quite a number of iterations—first on the fabric for the gloves (he created the gloves and fabric from scratch in Blender) and then on the planet Aether. Both Earth and Thera used in all three covers (daynight, arbitrate, and generate) were created using Blender and Photoshop previously. The Theran map was another fun exercise :).

To create the gloves, he used subsurface modifiers and “bones” (an animation technique). The fabric is a computer-generated texture (procedural shaders…or in more understandable language, a fine mesh bump-mapped onto the surface).

Some of the iterations are below.

Basic glove & ball:

Early hand

Textured glove:

Early hand with texture

Brown & white variants (too much texture…I wanted “silk” gloves):

early hand with brown texture

early hand with white texture

Mesh overlay (came closest to silk):

Hand Mesh


Blender images brought over to Photoshop

2015-02-23 Positive world-right hand

2015-02-23 Negative World-left hand


2015-02-23 Right Hand Only

The crystal world was the real challenge. As you’ll find out in generate, almost everything on Aether is made of oraclyte, a crystal-like substance that can take morph and change, taking on different colors and properties. The original direction that I gave him was “glass” or “crystal” for the planet. Unfortunately, glass in blender ends up looking *really* dark. That world could have fit the planet Rathe, but not Aether. So, he kept at it. The lighter the color, the flatter the planet looked. After many days and a crazy number of iterations, he perfected a crystal ball which could reflect color—and accurately display continents. A few of the iterations and tests are as follows:

Dark glass:
2015-02-23 Crystal World

Silver planet:

2015-02-24 Crystal World 1


2015-02-26 Crystal World with Color

Washed out continents:

washed out continents

Finally, he managed to create a perfect crystal ball base to work with:

2015-02-23 Crystal World (light)


Adding color (he played with color lights to try to get color within the crystal… some rendered well, but when motion was added, they looked striped or streaky):

rainbow planet

super color planet

Final product (crystal ball base; overlaid continents; color lights added in photoshop along with motion blur):

closeup of final Aether

I vastly oversimplified the process, but you get the general idea. It was hard. I’m very appreciative that my husband would take so much of his free time (of which he has precious little) to get my cover exactly as I envisioned it!


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  1. shanon campos-hatfield

    i loved this blog post…who cares if its “homemade” homemade is a good thing. Love the cover.

  2. Shanna Tressler

    I’m super excited to hear things are moving forward and definitely glad your taking your time to get things right. I love this series and I’m stoked that it’s getting closer to a release date. Your novels got me through some hard times this year and I’ll be happy to read the newest with a breath of relief this time. Keep doing what your doing, it works for me and I rant to all my friends to read your works!

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