Upstate Expectations Cover Reveal

Hiring an illustrator to do the cover for Upstate Expectations was one of those “oh man I’m a real author” moments. So was getting the audiobook made.

[insert mind blown emoji here]

I spent some time on Instagram looking for illustrators and landed on Chelsea Kemp. Her characters were full of emotion and depth and they were, simply, cute!

The first versions of the cover were ones that I created in Canva using their AI tool to make the characters. I found graphics to make the background and researched colors.

And I’m totally happy with this cover, I’m proud of what I was able to put together. But Upstate Expectations has felt different fro the start. More developed, more structured, and for it I followed more of a process when it came to having Beta Readers and a timeline for publishing. It feels good to understand the start-to-finish steps! (Unlike with Here For It where I just uploaded it and hoped for the best.)

After making sure Chelsea could hit my timeline I emailed her the following:

The main characters of Upstate Expectations are Nora Heely and Jimmy Lewis. The “pet” is a giant, pink stuffed bear that he wins for her at a carnival and she has to carry around all night. We didn’t talk about backgrounds but I have a city skyline meets forestry thing that I like but I’m willing to part with it if you come up with something! 

I’d love to have the cover reflect the night they meet. Nora’s car is dead and she is stranded on the side of the road in a thunderstorm. She hit the road after getting fired from her job so she is wearing black pumps, a tan/beige pencil skirt, and a silky top. Her hair is down and gets wet in the rain. Jimmy stops to pick her up. He’s wearing jeans and a henley (olive green) because what romance hero isn’t wearing a henley. Nora has to hike her skirt up in order to lift her leg to climb into his truck. 

I was envisioning them standing at the truck door, her skirt high, and one leg propped up on the runner board. He’s smirking, maybe has one hand in his pocket and the other holding the top of the door open for her. She is proud and has her chin held high even though she’s out of her element. She had a rolly suitcase with her too – I’m fine if it has a leopard print or something.

Before he can drop her off for the night at her friend’s house she climbs into his lap and things get spicy! Then over the course of the next week they fall in love.



I used an AI tool to create the images that are on the cover right now (above). 


Redhead, blue eyes, 27, lives in NYC. She has a wardrobe in creams, blacks, and olive greens and will be found wearing heels more often than not. 

Visual: Abigail Cowen 


Dark brown hair, on the longer and shaggier side, full but trimmed beard, brown eyes, olive skin, 31, lives in Lakeville, NY (an actual place that I’ve never been so for the book’s purpose it’s fictional). He wears jeans and t-shirts mostly in his job as hardware store owner slash contractor. 

Visual: Can Yaman

And this is what she came up with:

Amazing right?! I’m so in love with it.

Upstate Expectations releases February 13, 2024 in paperback, ebook, kindle unlimited, and audiobook formats.


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