The picture I painted three years ago as a placeholder cover design for my book (below) is obviously terrible. The table is too big and wobbly-looking, the woman looks like a mud flap girl (I ran out of time before I could paint clothes and shoes on her), and the fonts are all wrong. She’s supposed to be thoughtfully blowing smoke, but I couldn’t figure out how to paint it.

This is where you come in.

I’m inviting anyone and everyone to help me design a new cover for the book, one that is pretty, eye-catching, and conveys the sense of romance, adventure, and irreverence that my book is all about, with a hint of gravitas. There’s plenty of gravitas in the book, of course, but what’s unique about this book is that it’s mixed with humor and beauty — things not usually associated with Palestine.

Above all, I want to avoid Palestine kitsch. No depressing pictures of the Wall, no mothers in black veils wailing, no young men with scarves wrapped around their heads throwing stones, no tanks aiming their guns at kids. We all know that all of this happens. But it’s not fresh, and it’s not something most Westerners can relate to. It certainly doesn’t make most Americans want to pick it up on the way to their airplane for an enjoyable read.

A variation on the theme of a hookah-smoking girl silhouetted against a backdrop of deepening twilight is still what I’m imagining as the cover, and I really like the color scheme. But if you can think of something better, go for it.

The purpose of the book is to reach people who don’t know very much. I suspect that at first, most of the sales will be to people who already know a great deal but enjoy well-written, on-the-ground stories. But ultimately I want it to be a book that anyone will pick up simply because it’s a good read — a universal story of an American girl coming of age in the middle of a conflict whose breathtaking cruelty is juxtaposed with kindness almost beyond belief, dark humor, star-crossed love, inspiration, and some of the best times of my life. The reader will learn a huge amount about Israel and Palestine simply as an unavoidable byproduct.

A good cover is key. If you have a little time and inclination, and any ideas for a great cover, please send them my way! Along with my undying gratitude, the person whose entry is chosen to be the cover of the book (or whose entry the cover is based very closely on) will receive $300, a cover design credit, a big Thank You in the Acknowledgements section, and a free signed copy of the book.

Entries should be submitted to pamolson @ gmail by January 26.

Thanks so much, I look forward to seeing your designs!