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April 03, 2010

Do You Have One?

"They came to town to see, that old tattooed ly-dee. She was a sight to see, tattooed from head to knee...And all around her hips, was a fleet of battleships. And over her left kidney, was a birds eye view of Sydney.."

  The Tattooed Lady  Kingston Trio c. 1963Lily_tattoos




Stand by for a scoop!


But first: Do you have a tattoo? Incredibly, that's a totally socially acceptable question to ask these days. Luckily, I guess, for KAREN OLSON, who now gets asked that very question at every event and speech and signing she attends.


It does make sense--you probably know her from her acclaimed Annie Seymour series--but did you know--she's left the newpspers printer's ink behind, and is now into a Karen_olson_color completely different kind of ink.


Does she have a tattoo? You'll have to ask her yourself. And as she'll now discuss, her gorgeous new heroine is now not the only "Tattooed Lady" (thank you, Kingston Trio) making the news.


Cover Girl


KAREN: I have to admit I’m a bit fascinated by Michelle “Bombshell” McGee’s tattoos. She’s all over the place, on the Internet and on the covers of the supermarket tabloids.


I’ve got a pretty hot tattooed babe on my book covers these days.

Brett Kavanaugh, the amateur sleuth in my tattoo shop mysteries, owns her own shop in Vegas.


She’s got quite a few tattoos: a dragon that wraps around her torso and peeks up over her right breast; a tiger lily that stretches along her side on her torso; Monet’s water lily garden on one arm; Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon going up the Alps on her calf; and a Celtic cross stretched between her shoulder blades on her back.


Pretty in ink

 She gets a new tattoo at the end of PRETTY IN INK, the second in the series that’s just out now, but I’m not going to say what it is. Only that her nemesis, Jeff Coleman, designs it and tattoos her.

While I was just imagining the way she looks with all those tattoos, thanks to the book cover, Brett has truly come alive.


I’m very ambivalent about e-books, mainly because I absolutely love wandering the bookstore and picking up books that look interesting or fun just because of their covers. Covers have always been incredibly important in marketing books, because of that impulse buy factor.

TheMissingInk RGB

When my editor asked me what I envisioned for a cover for the first book in the series, THE MISSING INK, I really didn't have a clue. But since this was going to be a little more "chick lit"-like than my previous series, I thought maybe one of those cartoon girls. A friend made the suggestion of the tattoo machine as a sort of "gun." So I gave those ideas to my editor, scant that they were, and figured I'd see what they could come up with. I said the only thing I didn't want was the color pink. So the cover was pink. But I loved it. It fit the book exactly.



I was a little more concerned about PRETTY IN INK. It had to be the same, but different. Problem was, in this book, there are drag queens.

Drag queens with tattoos. I had no idea what the illustrator would do with this one.


Surprisingly, he picked out the key to the entire book: the queen of hearts playing card tattoo that plays a huge role in helping Brett figure out the mystery. So he drew Brett holding playing cards: the queen of hearts. The colors are striking, and I began to wonder if this wouldn’t be my favorite cover of all.



Until I got the cover for DRIVEN TO INK, which will be out in September.I’m showing it off here for the very first time. A Lipstick Exclusive!

And now this third cover is my favorite. I wonder what he’ll do with INK FLAMINGOS?



How do you feel about book covers? Do they entice you to pick up a book?







 Karen E. Olson is the winner of the Sara Ann Freed Memorial Award and a Shamus Award finalist. She writes the Annie Seymour and tattoo shop mystery series. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, teenage daughter, and two fat cats.

And oh. She has no tattoos.

HANK: Sure.

KAREN: No, really. 


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I don't have any tattoos because when I was younger I could never find one I liked. Now, my wife forbids it. Hell, I hardly even have any good scars anymore (the guys here will know what I mean by "good scars) due to my darned healing factor.

No, best I can do is two piercings in my left ear.

If I ever did get a tattoo it would be on my butt, look like a label, and it would be "Made in Japan" DH and his best friend have threatened to get me drunk enough to get it. Why that one? Because I was born in Japan. You never know I might just surprise DH one day...

I love the cover and yes I'm very visual so the cover is very important to me especially with impulse book buying.

Unless the author is one I automatically buy, the cover is 90% of it. An old marketing dictum is "If they pick it up, you're halfway to the sale." Not sure if that's still true today, but yes, if I don't know the author the cover is a major influence.

And no tattoos. I'm one of those who admire them on others, but it's not for me....

Part of it is imagining myself 90 years old, and there that tattoo would still be. It's kind of why I don't have pierced ears.

I bet a lot more people have them that we think--and it's certainly generational. My adorable niece (MA, PhD, all that) who I stll think of as 10 but I think she's--30? Has amazing ones. The Dali flaming giraffes all up one arm.

HI Karen!

Never say out lout that you *don't* want a pink cover. It's like planting a subliminal message. You'll always get it.

No tattoos for me, but I've seen Kerry's, and they're the furthest thing from icky snakes wrapped around anchors. Pretty!

No ink on me. The book looks interesting, and I said I don't buy books based on the cover. But a cool cover and a TLC recommendation, that may warrant a buy.

Several of my pizza friends have large tattoos. Katie has Zoe tattooed in 2 inch high letters in between her shoulder blades. I said, "It's fine as long as you and Zoe don't break up."

"Too late. We broke up two years ago."

Cover art often does entice me to pick up a book and check it out. Especially if it is an author I don't know. So, yes, something different does catch my eye.
Tattoos...hum...so many of them now are more about art than simply an ex's name. Even in my 40's I am very tempted. Maybe next Margarita night with the girls! But, being a nurse, I have had the unforunate experience many times over of seeing faded and sagging ink on OOOLD bodies that just makes one shake your head.
As I have many times over, I think I will head over to the MLB to check out another author taked up on TLC. My hubby just shakes his head every time books come in the mail.

Hi, Karen! Wow, you've been busy. I enjoyed your first Tattoo Shop mystery so much, and will look for the others, as well.

Covers help, especially since modern covers are so genre-oriented; they're a kind of semaphore to the type, even before you pick one up. That did not use to be the case, back in the Dark Ages when I started reading. Unless you count Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books, which did have distinctive cover styles. You could always spot them on the shelves. Now nearly every kind of book has this same type of coding. No plain covers these days!

And no tattoos on my body. Years ago I managed a chi-chi maternity store. One of our customers was a young woman who had a tat in the space generally covered by a bathing suit bottom, just below her waist. Her mother came out of the dressing room, furious, saying she TOLD her daughter she'd regret having a tattoo. Seems the thing was now stretched out of shape by her daughter's belly bump, and instead of the cute little butterfly it once was now it was this hideously distorted Mothra sort of thing. That possibility always frightened me.

My youngest daughter has a tattoo on her ankle, a dove holding a banner with her aunt's initials in it, in memoriam to her aunt's death from cervical cancer. I'm so glad she didn't end up getting a matching tat with her old boyfriend. My sister-in-law looks more like Bombshell. She started getting ink way back in the early 80's, and even got her son tattooed.

When one of my aunts was having chemo for lung cancer they tattooed dots on her chest for where the lead lines went. Aunt Rosie was inordinately proud of those tattoos. I told her she should have asked for some roses, in honor of her name. That tickled her pink!

Hi everyone! Thanks to Hank and the rest of the fab Liptick Girls for having me over here today!

Doc: I had someone email and ask why I don't have piercings in this series, too, but then I'm opening a whole new kettle of fish...

Peg H: My daughter has said she should get a Made in China tattoo! (Of course I hope she doesn't...)

Dru and William: I do love impulse book buying. Even if I didn't know Nancy Martin, I would've bought Our Lady of Immaculate Deception because that cover just flies off the shelf at you!

Hank: My niece just got a gorgeous rose bush that stretched from under her arm to her hip on one side. Beautiful. A friend of my sister's is a tattoo artist now and she did it.

Nancy: I stopped saying what I don't want on a cover. Because next thing you know, I'll have a tattooed cat!

Alan P: Devotion tattoos are dangerous, for just that reason.

Kellee: I know a lot of women 40 and older gettng tattoos these days.

Karen in Ohio: I've heard a few stories about those chemo tattoos. And women who've had mastectomies who don't want reconstructive surgery sometimes get tattoos to commemorate their survival. It's interesting how much those tattoos mean.

These are great books - just picked up the new one a couple of weeks ago at Mystery Lovers.

Thanks for a great blog Karen and Hank!

I have to say that while a cover doesn't necessarily make or break my decision to buy a book, I have discovered some of my all-time favorite authors because their book covers "popped," causing me to pick them up and check them out. And the Tattoo Shop Mysteries have some of the best covers I have ever seen! Oh, and the writing is pretty good, too...

Hi, Karen!
I love the cover art work on your novels..they are beautiful,
I am drawn by covers and have discovered many great authors because of them.
Tattoos are not something I would probably get but family members have some and it's still a little shocking to see the decorations.
My kids and I had our ears pierced and that seemed like a big cultural leap for me.
But times change and the choices are vast.
I am looking forward to reading your novels.
They sound really wonderful.

My surrogate grandson is Zack Warden, BMX pro, where most of the guys have full sleeves, chest, back & legs! They called Zack 'the tat virgin' cause he didn't have any. He told them he would get one when he found the right one. He did and you'll love it!
A pink flamingo, wearing shades, smoking a cigar & holding a martini!
The BMX guys didn't 'get it', but family was ROFL. His Mom & I both collect flamingos.
I guess I'm the exception to the rule, I always look at the title & author of a book & ignore the cover.

Like your covers, Karen!

Re ebooks and the death of cover art. One of the sad byproducts of the recent CD and iTunes revolution was the death of album covers. Album cover art was collectable in itself. (ie Warhol's Sticky Fingers for the Stones). I fear we will lose something vital as the conversion to eBooks gains steam.

And yeah, I've got a tat. A gecko on my ankle. Went down to South Beach and got it on my 50th birthday as a reminder to never take myself too seriously.

i picked these books due to the cover they looked very interesting, and yes i have several tattoos, my back is a work in progress, and from the hips down. love your books.

I must agree that cover art might suffer because of the new ereaders.
My little rant is the assumption that the new iPad is going to cure grandma's tech ineptness.
Being one of the first "kids" on the block to have all the bells and whistles of computer technology and a grandma I do not feel feeble in the computer age.
I like the tactile feel of books, going to the store and seeing all the glorious books.
Smearing an iPad with my index finger to get to my latest book title does not entice me.
With all that said, I need to rearrange my book collection so that I can add to my books.

Love your books! Looking forward to the new one also!

I have 2 tattoos, 1st one was when I was 40, to commemorate my graduation from college (daughter & I went together.) It is a butterfly on my ankle and I chose it because I really felt I was a different person at that stage in life, sort of coming out of my cocoon. The 2nd was the next year for Mother's Day from my daughter. Those roses won't wilt ;-)

I often purchase a book by a new to me author based on the cover. Or at least it will make me pick it up, read the blurb on back or inside jacket & maybe a few pages to see if it is something I'd want to read. Of course I keep a large binder with lists of books I want to read and have so many faves on my auto-buy list, you're one of them.

No tats here. But, while I'm an early adopter of technology, I'm slow in jumping to fashion trends and to forms of body decoration that permanently revise tissues. It took me until I was 24 or 25 to have my ears pierced. For a few years after that, I was a little prone to earring envy, and had one more piercing added to my right ear, but it has now probably grown back, 'cause I've become rather sedate in wearing a pair of matching earrings these days. Wouldn't rule out a tat, but probably won't go there.
Book covers: hugely important to catch my eye, ever since the Nancy Drew buckram covers. But I won't buy even the most gorgeous cover if what's inside doesn't appeal. Cool covers, Karen--I'll take a look inside as soon as I have the opportunity!

By coincidence, just after reading this and the comments, I went over to Facebook to see that SB Sarah had an update linked to this:

None for me. I don't often wear patterns on my clothes either.

Babysitting dogs and a cat this weekend I have to wonder..does a cat know how to spell?
Walking on a the cat's remains of the day I was convinced that the routine has upset her and she left me a printed message..BI...
I know that she was going to finish that with an expletive.
That is why I am considering having "I DON"T DO CATS" tattooed on my forehead!

Kathy: Hope you like the book!

John: Always good to see you.

Marie: I do hope you check out my books. They're fun.

Rita: Love the flamingo tattoo!!

PJ Parrish: Agree with you about album art. And your tattoo sounds great. We should never take ourselves too seriously. I turn 50 this year, but not sure I'd get a tattoo :) Too much research.

Sandy: What are the designs of your tattoos?

Marie: I agree with you about loving the feel of a book in my hands. I've avoided e-readers so far, because it just feels unnatural somehow.

Kay: I love the meaning of your tattoo!

Laraine: I had a second piercing in both ears but let them grow over. So much for any rebelliousness.

Holly: I love www.contrariwise.org. They've got some really cool literary tattoos!

Marie: Cats can do a lot of things we don't think they can do. They're sneaky.

No tats for me -- I hate pain! (acupuncture, a whole other thing, it's to reduce pain). . . there is also that "what will it look like in x years?" factor . .

Book covers do entice, but I tend to follow authors I like and recommendations, and use the library's online catalog to reserve books. I also relate to
>ambivalent about e-books, mainly because I absolutely love >wandering the bookstore
an indie book store owner here said she now has people wandering her store, browsing and making lists of books to buy as ebooks. Tough times for bookstores . . .

I love book covers, and yours are great, Karen, I won't get a tattoo, because I never know what size my skin is going to be. I like the feel of a book in my hands, and plastic just doesn't do it for me. and I still use my favorite Indie as much as possible because I just like the people and don't want them to close. Besides, how do you browse to see what catches your eye? Right back to the book covers, right?

Hi, checking in! I had to stop ot BArnes and Noble today (checking tom ake sure they had DRIVE TIME, and whew, they do. The good news. The bad news, it's shelved in romance. Ahhhh..),
Anyway, it intrigued me that they're selling their ereader, the Nook. I asked the clerk--is it strange to you, to be selling a piece of equipment that's essentially designed to make the books you're selling obsolete?

And she said --We expect people will buy books for their homes, and nooks for travel.

Okey dokey then.

books for their homes, and nooks for travel . . . makes sense as we are encouraged to lighten our travel load. A home without books is unthinkable! I just found a copy of Eugene Field's _The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac_ at AbeBooks. I borrowed it long ago from the Lindenwood Library and made peace with all the heavy boxes of books when I move . . . "there is no truer love than that of a (wo)man and (her)his books."
I've asked the library to order your "Inked" books, Karen. I can't buy everything myself, but they can because we keep voting to support with our taxes ;-)

As for the Zoe tattoo, "It's fine as long as you and Zoe don't break up." -- we are creative people, what can ZOE stand for to give it a new meaning?

Storyteller Mary: People will go to their local bookstore and make notes and go home and order online, too. It truly is tough times...

Lil: "I never know what size my skin is going to be." LOL!

Hank and Mary: I definitely can see the appeal for a Nook or Kindle when traveling or on my bus commute. It's much easier than carrying a big book. But so far I've stayed away from it.

And Hank, it's possible your books are in romance because your publisher is Mira and bookstores just automatically think that it's romance because of that.

Just starting _Prime Time_, and have to say "You're only as good as your last story" would pull me in . . . and the book is definitely holding my interest!!
I'd be discouraged by how many books I haven't yet read, but it's sort of security against ever having to be bored.

I've also noticed that I have to make sure the in-progress book on CD in the car has to be a different genre from the paper copy I'm reading . . . or I end up confusing the plots . . .
In the car right now is _Good Omens_ by Neil Gaiman

Karen, your books are next in my TBR pile! I've been getting tats since I was 32 (that was 20 years ago). Initially, the relationship between the tat and important life events were apparent coincidences (I'm now pretty sure my subconscious knew better at the time); the last 6 (of 9) have all designed themselves around important times/events in my life. My understanding is that that's what tattoos have traditionally been about; I like it. I don't worry about what they'll look like when I'm 90; they'll age right along with the rest of me, and I don't have a problem with that :)

Love the covers, btw :)

Do I choose a book by its cover? Yes. In fact I wouldn't be reading this right now if it hadn't been for the bright red and yellow against black pattern on Harley's Dating is Murder (I'm also a sucker for puns.) I am putting yours on my TBR list since they have both bright colors and puns.

I don't have any tattoos and since I'm so fickle about things I don't want anything that might last more than a couple of months. But I do enjoy seeing them. There are certainly some works of art out there.

Kerry: I hope you enjoy the books!

Al S: Puns. What can I say? I've had fun coming up with the titles for this series!

Puns were good enough for Shakespeare, so I like them, too!

They do temporary henna tattoos at Ren Faire . . .

and now I have the "Lydia the Tatood Lady" running through my brain, thanks to this blog (and Hawkeye Pierce and Groucho Marx).

Karen, I'm late to the party, but I love the tattoos and I love the book covers!

I read The Missing Ink recently and liked it a lot. The cover is a cool one, but if I hadn't recognized your name on the cover, I might not have given it a try, as tattoos don't really interest me. However, I read the blurbs by the other TLCers, and read the first couple pages, and decided to give it a try. I'll definitely be looking for the next one - I liked the characters and the mystery was good.

Too bad we didn't get a tape of Hank and me singing "The Tattooed Lady." You could have embedded it here instead of having to type the lyrics. Ah well, another moment passed…

Nice post!

Karen, I'm late too and I'm sorry I missed your day at TLC. As I may have told you a 1000 times, I LOVE your book covers for this series. And even though I read a lot of ebooks, I still think book covers are a large part of the ebook buying/owning experience. That's why I use my iTouch to read ebooks. I've kept from buying Kindle, eSony and other similar ereaders because I couldn't see the covers in color. That small problem has been solved with the new NOOK, but even that didn't pull me in because I knew the iPad was on it's way.

On my iTouch I get Kindle, B&N, ereader, and Stanza ebooks, and some of them even have color inside the ebook too. Plus you can change the background and font colors.

But I got off-topic...as I do frequently. The bottom line for me is that no matter whether I buy paperbacks, hardbacks or ebooks, the cover will ALWAYS matter to me. And your's are awesome!

How many people actually have 8 true friends?Hardly anyone I know.But some of us have all right friends and good friends.

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