Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell

If you’ve read a book by RJ Scott or V.L. Locey to name two authors quickly off the top of my head, well, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  If you read some or all of the stories  in The Christmas Angel series by various authors, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  And of course, if you’ve read Forever In The Sun (co authored with RJ Scott) or Fallout,  you’ve seen a cover created by the artist for a book she’s written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus if you are a follower of either RJ Scott or VL Locey or the MM Hockey Romance Group, then you are familiar with the adorable chibis that Meredith Russell draws of the characters of the Harrisburg Railers hockey players and their mates and families.  I’m hoping she will extend it to the Rush soon.  Here is the first chibi she drew.  It’s Tennant Rowe! The others can be found here at

Railers Chibi-style promo pieces

Adorable, right?  If you are a fan of the Harrisburg Railers series by RJ Scott and VL Locey, then you know Ten is featured in a very special story that’s to be released this summer, June 30th 2019.  Here’s a look at the cover by Meredith Russell, of course|
Now onto our interview….

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Meredith Russell on Art, Book Covers and Much More

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

Making a draft varies author to author for me. Some come with ideas, or a set style they’ve adopted, or images they’ve found themselves and so we go down one route and a single draft, and it’s a rather painless process. Then others need to see something to help decide what they actually are after from a cover. I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to exactly how long I spend on a draft. There are various stages I go through – getting any info or ideas from the author, looking at what images are available and which might work together, some back and forth with the author as to whether images fit with what they’re after, and finally the cutting/pasting/making etc of the draft. The time adds up but usually after a few days I have something to show them and a starting point to tweak into something final.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock

I work pretty much exclusively with images from stock sites so I am limited in some ways to what I can find on them and how I can maybe manipulate them into what we need. However, I would love to venture into digital art but I haven’t found the time to devote myself to figuring it out or getting the resources I’d need. I’ve had fun creating some simple drawings for RJ Scott, and a couple of others, who have had me turn their characters into little cartoon people though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again it varies. Some authors have a set idea of what they want. Some (naming no names lol) come to me requesting a man with brown hair and give me a couple of details about the story’s setting. I do like to know about the storyline or at least key moments or places that can be incorporated into the cover.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

What feels like a long time ago now, I used to do bits of fan art, mostly fanfiction banners for myself and some other writers. When RJ Scott went on to self-publishing she asked me to create her a cover and it went from there.

What mediums do you use? 

I work on a pc. I do have a pen and tablet that I use for drawing the cartoon characters (see above), but also a lot of those do actually start out as pencil and paper sketches that I then digitize and use as a guide.

Do you have a favorite cover you have done? 

Oh that’s a tough one. I recently did a set of seven covers for a series called The Christmas Angel. I liked how they turned out along with the challenge some of them offered considering they were all set in different time periods. A few others I really like include Liam Livings’ And Then That Happened, RJ Scott’s Boy Banned, KC Wells’ A Christmas Promise, and an as yet untitled merman cover I created as a premade that Amber Kell bought off me. Somebody should poke her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

I do. I really love Jay Aheer’s work. She does some beautiful pieces.

Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

I don’t think so much as a child. I was more about the title and blurb, particularly considering what was popular in way of covers back then, or at least for the kinds of books I was reading. It wasn’t until maybe early twenties where I started being tempted by pretty covers, quite a few being the YA type books, or having a striking female model on them.

What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

I just really enjoy getting to work with the authors. I enjoy the sharing of emails, building a working relationship and even friendships.

If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

It would be, ‘Have you remembered about that request you got over on Facebook?’ Seriously, I have a terrible memory and am constantly emailing myself or telling people to send details in emails as my inbox is something I have open all day whilst on my computer and can easily check on my phone when I’m not at my desk.

From the Christmas Angel series…

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

Firstly, as an attention grabber. If you’re looking for something beyond the regular authors you read, the title and cover are the first things you’re exposed to so it helps if they make an impression. And secondly, covers can be a way of making a brand for authors. It might be they all have a set look – so maybe a single model on the cover, or simply keeping the font for their name consistent for all their books.

  • How has the eBook format changed that , if any?

I don’t think it’s changed it too greatly, in that whether you’re walking a row of books in a store or scrolling through online pages of somewhere like Amazon, covers are there to grab your attention.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse, generic covers ,etc.)

I think like with everything styles come in and out of fashion. There was the time of the headless models, shirtless torsos, two models, touched up single image covers,  Recently, for me at least, it’s been focusing on a single model on covers, for example The Christmas Angel series and having just one of the characters on there. And unfortunately, because cost is a factor for many authors when paying for cover art, repeated use of models from stock sites is difficult to avoid, but it offers artists the challenge to try and use them differently.

  • How do you feel about them?

Personally, I think the only trend I didn’t like was the headless men one. I know it was a way to make use of limited models in the earlier days, plus allows readers to form their own image of the character simply from whatever descriptions the authors wrote about them, but for me, I just wasn’t a fan. Otherwise, each trend has its place and does its job. There’s a risk of all books looking the same, but that’s then up to the artists, and also the authors and their input, to put their own twist on what’s popular.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

If you’re interested in my work both as an author and cover artist you can view details at my website meredithrussell.co.uk, or find me over at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/meredithrussellauthor. Thank you.

 

About Meredith

Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

Meredith Russell’s Media links
I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s spotlight with Meredith Russell.  It has been a joy getting to know her further.  Please check out more of her artwork and stories at her website listed above.
We have more Artist Spotlights Scheduled. The schedule to date (with links in case you missed one):
February 09:  Aisha Akeju
February 10:   Garrett Leigh
February 17:   Meredith Russell
February 24:  Reese Dante
March  3           Paul Richmond

Cover Artist Giveaway:

Please don’t forget to leave comments or questions for our artists to be entered into our Book Cover Artist Giveaway, a Gift Certificate for $10 the person chosen.  Please leave a email address where you can be reached.  Open until St. Patrick’s Day.
Now for this week’s reviews and tours.  Happy Reading and Listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 17:

  • Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

Monday, February 18:

  • Release Blitz Milo by Lily Morton
  • Amy Lane Author Guest Post
  • Harmony Ink YA John Goode
  • An Alisa Review: Port in a Storm (Kitten and Witch #1) by K.L. Noone
  • A MelanieM Review: Wolff (Redemption #1) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lucy Review: Shine (Uncorked #4) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review: For the Clan by Archer Kay Leah

Tuesday, February 19:

  • Book Blitz for Blood Lust by L.E. Royal
  • Cover Reveal – Broken by Colette Davison
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ithani (The Oberon Cycle #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: My Fair Brady by K.C. Wells
  • A Lucy Audio Review: Rocking the Cowboy by Skylar M. Catesj and  Colin Darcy (Narrator)

Wednesday, February 20:

  • Ostakis by Angelica Primm
  • Review Tour – Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan
  • Cover Reveal,- The Rising by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A Lucy Review: Sweet (Uncorked #5) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan Harbor Cycle #8) by Sam Burns
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez

Thursday, February 21:

  • BLOG TOUR Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock
  • An ALisa Review: The Romantic by Elodie Parkes
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Redemption #2) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lila Review The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon by Megan Derr
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin

Friday, February 22:

  • OLD SINS by Charlie Cochrane Tour by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Jay Northcote – Better Place (Rainbow Place #3)
  • DSP PROMO Andrew Grey on Reunited
  • Book Blast – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • An Alisa Review: Ace of Hearts by Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris
  • A Caryn Review: Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock

Saturday, February 23:

  • Release Blitz Signal – Kris Jacen – Step Up With Me
  • “Ithani” by J. Scott Coatsworth Mark (OWL) Tour
  • A MelanieM Review:  Step Up With Me by Kris Jacen
  • A MelanieM Review Waiting on the Rain by Freddy MacKay

New Release Blitz for Snowed In: Nen and Anani by Nell Iris (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS 
 
Length: 22,312 words
 
Publisher: JMS Books 
 
Blurb
 

It is time to go to my son.


Nen waited to hear those words from the Vasilissa for fifteen rotations, since that time the snow wouldn’t stop falling. But now that he’s about to meet Anani, the love of his life, again, he’s afraid. What if Anani doesn’t feel the same anymore?


Anani, the guardian of the water element, was only seventeen when he was banished from his mother’s court. Heartbroken he couldn’t be with the one he loved, he lost control over his emotions and his power. No matter what he tried, the snow wouldn’t stop, and as a last resort, he was sent away.


When they finally meet again, Anani is hopeful but disillusioned. The law that kept them apart hasn’t changed. How will they be able to find their happily ever after?


And what happens when the snow starts falling again?

 
Excerpt
 

A third knock hushes the forest even more. Not a single insect can be heard. Is the wildlife waiting for me to leave? Is he? Would he answer if I call out to him? Or will the sound of my voice make him even more resolved to stay behind the closed door?


Before I have time to come to a decision, the door is yanked open and he appears in the opening.


The Vasilieu.


Oh, great Spirit, still my heart!


He is magnificent!


He is willowy tall and has grown so much these last fifteen rotations, reaching me to my nose, standing over a head taller than any other member of his family. He’s dressed like a commoner in a tunic and pants even plainer than my own — where’s his kaftan? The clothes hug his body and reveal every long sinewy muscle in his legs and arms.


Hair as white as newly fallen snow is parted in the middle and hangs straight to his waist. His nose, slightly upturned, gives him a mischievous look. His pale lips, imperceptibly darker than his skin color, are pillowy but set in a severe line.


But it’s his eyes that draw my attention. Pale blue eyes staring at me as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing. After a few heartbeats, they widen, and he lets out a gasp.


A wave of emotions hit me square in the chest. What was muted just moments before grows into an avalanche as though he let them loose, or lost control of them. They overwhelm me; I physically feel them, poking and prodding my breast, invading my heart. I stagger a few steps backward and sink to my knees without hesitation. I don’t avert my gaze. “Vasilieu.”


He narrows his eyes. “Do not call me that. You know my name. Use it.”


The barrage of his emotions intensifies, making it hard to breathe but easy for me to identify them. Disbelief. Uncertainty. Hope.


… Happiness?


Yes, definitely happiness.


“Anani,” I whisper. Never before have I uttered his name, not even alone in the night. Saying it now is terrifying and freeing all at once. And it feels right, as though my lips are meant to say it. Whisper it in his ear as our limbs are entwined and sweaty.


He surges forward and throws himself on his knees before me. Cups my cheeks and lets his thumbs caress my beard. His gaze flits over my face as if though he’s trying to take in all the changes that have happened since we saw each other last. The crow’s feet by my eyes. The corners of my mouth that are downturned from the lack of smiling. The first gray at my temples in a sea of black, bristly hair.


I’m an older, more tired-looking version of the man who watched him walk away all those rotations ago, while he’s more breathtaking than ever.


“Vasilieu. Don’t kneel before me. It’s not proper.”


“Nen. Oh Nen. Is it really you?” he asks as if he didn’t hear my plea. His hands explore my face; the fingertips linger in my wrinkles and lines, sending sparkles through my body. He tugs lightly on my beard and gazes into my eyes. I wonder what he sees.


“Vasilieu. Anani.” The second time I use his name is even more momentous. “Stand, I beg you.”


He sits back on his heels. “What are you doing here?” His disbelief melts away. Clearly, he trusts his own eyes and what he can see before him. Confusion takes its place. With grace, he rises to his feet, bends down to grab my hands, and pulls me to standing with little help from me. Spirit, he is strong!


He doesn’t let go.

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies’ room), loves music (and singing along but, let’s face it, she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (“Make it so”). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!


Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.


Nell is a forty-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, and now spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her lifelong dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.


Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angst, and wants to write diverse and different characters.


Email contact@nelliris.com
Web www.nelliris.com
Twitter @nellirisauthor
Facebook page www.facebook.com/nellirisauthor
Facebook profile www.facebook.com/nell.iris.12
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/nelliris
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/nell_iris/
QueeRomance Ink https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/nell-iris/

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A Lila Review: The Faeted: Box Set By Caitlin Ricci

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Rating: 3.3 stars out of 5

The Faeted Series

Joshua

There’s only one place to go for a guaranteed happily ever after…

Joshua, a dragon shifter, hates having to go to the Faeted Matchmaking Agency, but he’s running out of time to find a mate, and he’s failed everywhere else. He only has a few more months before he enters the next stage of his life, and he’s getting desperate. Dragon tradition states that he must have a partner to help him transition into independence from his clan. A long-time friend would be sufficient, but Joshua doesn’t have any of those, either. Faeted is his last hope.

Rex expected Faeted to set him up with someone fun and sexy, but he was never expecting a dragon. As Rex is an eagle shifter, a dragon would be a good match for him, since they’re both born to fly. Joshua is far more cautious than Rex expects a dragon to be, but Rex knows he can get Joshua to loosen up with a bit of a push.

Adrian

There’s only one place to go for a guaranteed happily ever after.

Finding a Faeted match is always supposed to lead to true love, but Adrian doesn’t believe that anymore. After six months of perfect bliss with his fire mage Corrin, Adrian caught him kissing someone else at a party. Now he wants a new match, and he never wants to see Corrin again. A matchmaker at Faeted gives Adrian another mate and tells him to go to a hotel to find him.

But when Adrian gets to the hotel room, he finds Corrin there, waiting for him. Naked and bound, Corrin has served himself up as a perfect peace offering, if only Adrian is willing to take a second chance at love with him.

Caldren

There’s only one place to go for a guaranteed happily ever after.

Caldren has been looking forward to having his own Faeted match for a long time. It’s what all the brownies do, and Faeted has always taken good care of them. As a brownie, he’s a gentle person who just wants to help his mate out and keep things clean. He likes honey, books and a tidy house.

He’s surprised when his mate turns out to be a dragon, at least, according to Faeted. They’re aggressive and powerful, so Caldren doesn’t think he would be a good match for someone like that, but his kind have always trusted Faeted to do what is best for them.

Bannock is a scary dragon, just as Caldren expected him to be. But he’s also fair and firm. He appreciates what Caldren is and what he needs. It isn’t long before Caldren realizes that sometimes a little brownie needs a dragon to be whole.

Faeted includes three very short erotic stories:

Joshua: 4 stars

This story has the most plot of all three in the series. Perhaps since it’s the first one and it’s the readers introduction to the Faeted Matchmaking Agency.

It has a nice premise but Joshua changes drastically as soon as he meets his mate. Gone is the shy dragon trying to find a companion. Lust takes over him and everything he mentioned wanting at the beginning of the story.

Definitely an erotic short for those with an exhibitionism fetish.

Adrian: 3 stars

I’m guessing Adrian is the least favorite story for many people. If you don’t tolerate cheating, this story is not for you. Even when it’s an intoxicated misunderstanding in the end.

The sex scene is a bit tedious with many stops and goes. It was nice, just not great.

Caldren: 3 stars

This was an insta-lust submissive story. The characters were interesting and the sex scenes well thought. Unfortunately, not enough to make it memorable.

The cover by Posh Gosh is for Joshua, and it matches the main concept of the story. The Sepia color gives it an old feel.

Sale Links: Amazon | Nook | Pride

Book Details:
ebook, 106 pages
ISBN: 978-1-78651-714-2
Published: November 20, 2018, by Pride Publishing
Edition Language: English

New Release Blitz and Giveaway for Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan Harbor Cycle #7) by Sam Burns

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK – Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 45,000 words approx.
 

Cover Design: Melanie Farlow @ Clause & Effect

 

The Rowan Harbor Cycle Series


Book #1 – Blackbird in the Reeds – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Wolf and the Holly – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Fox and Birch – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Hawk In The Rowan – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Stag and the Ashe – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #6 – Adder and Willow – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6.5 – In Any Light – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

Blurb

Rowan Harbor has had a tough winter, and Devon Murphy wants nothing more than to make it better. When he proposes a solution to the town’s low morale, it creates a rift in his relationship with his boyfriend, Wade. They’ve hardly ever argued, and when things get tense, Devon has no idea how to handle it.


But an evil presence in his town targets the people Devon loves, he has to put his personal worries aside and face danger down again. Will he be able to protect his town, and if he can, will Wade be waiting for him when it’s done?
Sam wrote her first fantasy epic with her best friend when she was ten. Like almost any epic fiction written by a ten year old, it was awful. She likes to think she’s improved since then, if only because she has better handwriting now.



If she’s not writing, she’s almost certainly either reading or lost down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while pretending to research for a novel.


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A Free Dreamer Review: Battle of Will by Sasha L. Miller

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

At a memorial service meant to honor the dead and mark the beginning of a truce between Skirfall and Morcia, Ackley spies a figure who does not belong—a mage interrogator whose presence will only cause harm should the Morcians realize who he is and all the people he has tortured. But the problem rapidly grows much worse than that when Ackley realizes his true purpose is assassination of the Morcian crown prince—an assassination Ackley prevents, but at great cost.

Banished from his own country, bound magically to the crown prince of his enemies, Ackley is certain of just one thing: whether he can figure out how to break the spell or not, his death is assured.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fantasy lover, and “Battle of Will” promised to be an interesting story. And the story was interesting, but it did also have some flaws that spoiled the experience at times. The first 60% or so were really intense, with a lot of action, mystery and intrigues. You never knew who you could trust and who was orchestrating the assassination of the royal family. I was honestly astonished that the whole mess got resolved so early on and felt like the rest of the story was a little drawn out. I did enjoy the whole “studying magic” process, but it was a bit much.

I think Beorn was a great ruler and a very likable character. So many fictional royals seem to not want to be rulers, but Beorn never struggled with his heritage and the responsibility it comes with. He was very level-headed and I think he’ll make a wise king. Ackley was also a great MC. He’s very intelligent and I loved how he wasn’t in the least bothered by Beorn being a crown prince. It didn’t change his attitude toward Beorn in the least.

As much as I liked the two MCs individually, I just didn’t feel the romance between them. For the most part of the book, there’s no hint of any romantic or sexual attraction whatsoever. Not
between the MCs, not between anybody else, neither present nor past. It almost felt like the author was halfway through this great Fantasy novel and then realized she forgot all about the
romance. The feelings just come out of nowhere and took way too long to surface, considering Beorn and Ackley were forced to be in very close proximity 24/7 for months. There aren’t even
any past lovers or the most fleeting attraction to anybody to indicate the sexual preference of our MCs. Honestly, the book would have been better without the romance. It was kind of
unnecessary.

The other big complaint I had was the lack of depth. We never learn why Morcia and Skirfall have been at war for years now. We really only learned the very basics of the our MCs’ pasts. I
still don’t know how Beorn came to be the last of his line. What happened to his mother? And how did Ackley become the bodyguard of a Skirfallan prince? And what exactly led to him losing
that job again? The world building lacked depth as well. We get a lot of magical theory with really intricate spell diagrams, but I’m still unclear on how you actually go from a complex to
drawing to making magic.

Just like the romance, the epilogue felt like an afterthought. A bit like the author forgot to incorporate a sex scene, so she added an epilogue for some smut. Overall, “Battle of Will” is good, but not great. It’s a solid high fantasy novel with a rather flimsy and unnecessary romance.

The cover by maderr is a little simplistic but I do like it, especially the old-fashioned font.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 427 pages
Published December 30th 2013 by Less Than Three Press, LLC (first published

Note: This story is part of LT3’s Serial Fiction line

New Release Blitz for Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Foreign to You

Author: Jeremy Martin

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 11, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 83900

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, Young adult, fantasy, shifters, hunter, stag, forest, reincarnation

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Synopsis

The harmony between humans and fianna, a species of shapeshifting deer, begins to wither as racial tensions and deeply rooted resentment turns violent.

Ruthless hunter Finn Hail and prophesied liberator Adelaide may be heroes to their own species, but they are enemies to each other. With war on the horizon, the reluctant pair must team up to find the most elusive of prey: the god of the Forest.

As enemies press in from all sides, true intentions begin to show. For Finn to save the boy he cares for most, he might need to aim his gun at the very god he seeks. And Adelaide, with her festering hatred for mankind, will have to determine if peace holds true salvation for her people.

Excerpt

Foreign to You
Jeremy Martin © 2019
All Rights Reserved

It is strange to sit in the Forest with a rifle, bullets, and the intention to kill. The Forest is meant to be a place of harmony, where the order of things is meticulous, spontaneous, and beautiful.

I am a blemish in an otherwise blissful system.

My only justification for upsetting said balance is that I am here, with a gun, to silence another disturbance.

“To the right,” Jay whispers, his words turning into clouds similar to a furnace expelling smoke. His voice is so soft the branches seem to lean downward greedily, as if the leaves could catch each of his words like raindrops. With the meek backdrop of the Forest, Jay’s features are highlighted and prominent. His sturdy jaw, light stubble, and bright eyes were all a combination of classic handsome.

I, on the other hand, am classically average. Brown hair, dull eyes, and a nose that’s a little too big.

After waiting in the same spot an unholy amount of time, my body had sunk deeper in Pa’s musky leather jacket while my muscles and thoughts had stiffened from neglect. The slightest stirring from Jay startles me out of my daydreaming and from my cocoon of warmth. Unlike me in the present moment, Jay’s attention and energy are crisp and alert while his entire body leans forward in anticipation.

“Do you see him?” Jay murmurs with thinly veiled anxiety. He scrambles for his rifle with shaky fingers, brings the scope up to gaze through. I blame the cold, or my own fleeting concentration, but I cannot see what he does. The only abnormalities I see in the surrounding Forest are the slabs of meat Jay strung up on the branches like decorations to attract the ferals.

With a huff of frustration, he angles my line of sight with his rough fingers, squishing my cheeks, and gripping my head. Within an instant of the contact of his skin on mine, my mind sharpens.

Allowing my gaze to soften so I can absorb more of my surroundings, I finally see the tiniest of movements. A flash of white that doesn’t belong to the never-ending bark. A drifting smudge in the sea of stillness. Yet, the Forest is so dense the leaves tend to bunch together like armor, protecting its inhabitants from invaders. Between one blink and the next, the Forest returns to its previous state. Not a twig out of place. Nothing exposed.

“Found ya,” Jay says, his voice trembling. I study his nervous movements. Gloved fingers twitching individually. Teeth tugging at his bottom lip. Chest barely rising and falling as he forgets to breathe. For he has the skills of a great hunter, but not the heart for it. Jay was the boy who once found a rabbit with a broken leg and attempted to nurse it back to health. He was the same boy that cried for four days after his father snapped the creature’s neck to put it out of its misery.

I’m not good at vocalizing emotions, making them into pretty little words, which is a genetic trait from Pa. All I can tell Jay is, “Stay calm,” and that doesn’t sound like near enough. I wish I could tell him that we should head back to town, that he deserved much more than loud rifles and dirt.

But I don’t say those things.

I move past him, my boots squishing in the mixture of mud and snow. Each step is heavier than it needs to be, and my impatience starts to hum within my ears with each squish, squish. As I stalk, I strain to find the distortion of the brown that slipped away.

“It was probably a raccoon,” I tell Jay, despite knowing we are meant to be silent. Loud hunters gain no prizes. “I bet you got caught—”

A snort comes from my right, and as I turn, I find a beast stationed between two oak trees.

Its massive frame looms before me with red-rimmed eyes, thick and building black veins, patchy fur, and teeth bared. My eyes soak up every inch of the deer, my heart hammering in time with his exhales. From this distance, the beast is nearly magnificent, practically the size of a horse. His nostrils flare as he paws at the ground, catching all wayward smells while each muscle twitches and throbs. Unlike his cousins, this stag does not flee at the sight of a human. Instead, he lowers his brow defiantly, his antlers posed daggers.

It is an unholy combination of god and devil.

A loud crack fires off behind me, and before I can even blink, the bark of the nearest oak shatters into a thousand shards.

With fear leading it, the stag rears back onto his hind legs and lashes out with hooves strong enough to break bones. I attempt to leap backward, but my boots do not leave the mud willingly. As I fall onto the ground, my rifle skids across the Forest floor. I scramble for the dagger stored at my hip, but my gloves make the hilt as slick as a trout. As the stag brings down the weight of its body with an aggravated snort, I roll to my side so that the hooves bury themselves into muck, not flesh. I manage to free my knife and drag it across the beast’s torso before I make a dash for safety.

The buck, alarmed by the sudden pain, moves his eyes frantically, rolling them around his skull and exposing the whites. Its scream, a noise rivaling that of a horn being blown, attacks me even from a distance.

Another gunshot fires off too close, missing once more. As mud rains down from the misfire, the stag flees, taking blood and the stench of rot with it deep into the lush green.

Crawling out from the bush I dove into, I can hear Jay abandoning his usual stealth to reach me. His right boot slips in the slush as he nears me, causing him to crash down beside me. “Shit, Finn. Are you okay?” His hand creeps near my knee before stopping inches from it. “I thought—”

“What even was that?” I snap, pointing at the crude hole in the ground. Instantly, Jay’s cheeks flare red, his face hardening defensively. “You were aiming for it, right?” Jay is deadly silent. I work my jaw, hoping to alleviate the ringing still echoing in my eardrums.

Jay curls his fingers into fists. “Next time would you rather I let you go? You seemed to be handling it well,” he bites back with sarcasm.

At the lodge, Jay will find any reason not to pick up a gun. Instead, he studies the plants, tinkers with complex traps, and vanishes like a frightened barn cat at the sound of a rifle exploding. I shouldn’t be surprised he’s an awful shot, considering his lack of practice.

“Well, I’m alive,” I tell him, wanting more than anything to be on the move again, and to distance myself from the anger that quickly rose to the top. “But maybe leave the guns to me?”

After a quick smile, Jay squares his shoulders and flexes his hands as the facade of a hunter starts to settle back over him. As the best parts of him get stuffed away. “I’ll find him again,” he promises, and I have no doubt that he will. It’s often teased that Jay has a nose more acute than a hound. He carries a rifle for formalities, but his talents lie within his knowledge of the land. Animal droppings, tracks, and broken twigs are all parts of Jay’s trade. It’s what makes him valuable to a band of killers. “We are losing daylight,” he points out. “And we’re approaching Falling Rock.”

Are we that far out? I think, dazed. With Jay, time isn’t something I usually keep up on. When we were young, I would battle fatigue for one more hour with him.

I scratch at my neckline where sweat starts to bead. “Well, I left you a blood trail, so my portion of help is exhausted.” I let the edges of my lips rise, and Jay accepts it with a nod. This is how comrades treat one another.

Right?

Jay rises, body hunched close to the ground as he follows the red through the bushes.

Once upon a time, back when it became evident a gun only felt natural in one of our grips, Jay tried teaching me the art of tracking, taking great pride in his skill. But at that age, when I was young and full of pride, I pretended it didn’t interest me. Eventually, after I’d declined his guiding hand enough many times, Jay stopped trying to explain his methods to me.

Today, Jay is further removed, his words shorter than usual. The same tension sparking between us with the simplest of blunders, or the slightest of nods, because this is the first time Jay is tracking a feral.

The first time I have been tasked with killing a feral.

This feral is a rarity. The majority of the ferals stay in the Forest, killing what crosses their paths. Yet, this particular beast had entered human territory, killing a farmer and his wife before peeling back into the trees. It makes our mission important. It is more than just killing.

It is justice.

After a rough mile of trekking over minor cliffs and rocky outposts, Jay brings me to a halt with a snap of his wrist. As he shrinks down, I mimic him. Pointing at the snow, he shows me a large divot in the otherwise perfect layer of white. I don’t need to be a tracker to know the buck must have slipped on ice, crashing into the remaining snow and splashing against the fluff like a sponge full of red paint.

I pop two bullets into my rifle, check the safety, and snap the chambers shut. Slinging the gun onto my back, I notice that Jay’s eyes barely leave the blood, lost in the color. Doubt is starting to build upon his shoulders, gnawing at his edges.

“Are you ready?” I ask. He doesn’t know it, but the same uneasiness lines my stomach.

“We’ve come this far,” he tells me. He takes a bold step forward, and I can do nothing but follow. Despite the ground dropping away into a steep slope, it is clear the feral struggled up the side of the mountain.

Jay begins climbing first, taking fistfuls of roots and rocks, to propel himself along. As we move, the blood remains consistent on our right. Before long, Jay crawls over the top of the outpost, disappearing for a moment before reappearing to hoist me up. Once we are on even ground, I want to thank him, crack a joke, or anything, but my words are swallowed up as I look over Jay’s shoulder and across the plateau.

I follow red snow until I find the once four-legged stag wobbling on two legs, erect for a breath before plummeting onto his knees. There is blood all over his body, tainting his skin like a rampant infection. Even from here, I can see his muscles quivering and shaking, his body burning off the gentle flakes that land on his shoulders.

His frail human shoulders.

Every part of him seems at war as he spasms and writhes. Despite the fur drifting off his body in decaying clumps, his antlers still hang from his brow, holding steady in the air with crimson stains along the tines.

I snap my rifle in front of me.

When the stag turns to me, he tries to raise his hands. Hands that should be human but are jagged and blackened. A droplet of blood creeps from his eye and down his cheek and drips onto his bare leg.

It is clear he is suffering, caught between two bodies.

I hear him mumbling, but I can’t make out the individual words. Despite my head screaming, don’t get any closer, you idiot, I find my boots propelling me forward. As I near the fiend, his voice breaks like a young boy in puberty. “Begin again,” he raves. “Begin again, begin again—” he lets out a tangle of screams, his claws tearing into his cheeks. “Pain, pain, rebirth.”

“Finn,” Jay says, grabbing my shoulder with his giant hands, startling me from my daze. “It might not be too late. We might be able to help him.”

“He is sick,” I say. I stare at a point behind the beast, letting my words flood me with false confidence. “He is just an animal.” It is Pa logic. Town logic.

“Wait, Finn,” Jay pleads. None of the other hunters would hesitate to kill the feral, I want to tell him. Not after the feral’s hands were stained with blood. Blood from Norsewood.

“He’s changing—”

“It’s too late for that,” I tell him sternly. “He has already done enough damage.”

Jay looks away, squinting into the distance. “Something doesn’t feel right.”

Killing never feels right, I want to tell him. But in the seconds I take my eyes off him, the feral lunges at me, fangs angled at my throat.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Jeremy Martin, born and raised in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, considers himself to be a part-time writer and a full-time mess. If he isn’t nose-deep in a book, he’s obsessively playing video games, re-watching The Office for the umpteenth time, or lost in nature. Foreign to You is his debut novel.

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More On Book Covers And Cover Artists ~ This Week Garrett Leigh! Our Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Author and Artist: Garrett Leigh

More On Book Covers And Cover Artists

 This Week the Fabulous Garrett Leigh!

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

When I am looking at book covers, I can spot a Garrett Leigh cover just at a glance.  It has a certain style, a tone, a composition that states that yes, this cover was created by Garrett Leigh, and no other.

When sending out Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words questions, Garrett Leigh not only snapped immediately to mind because of the instant recognition factor in her covers but because Leigh is also an author as well.  Leigh is in a unique position in that a Garrett Leigh novel can have (although not always) a Garrett Leigh cover, one perfectly tuned to the story and characters within.

I can think of only a few other author/artists off the top of my head in a similar position.  Meredith Russell, LC Chase are among them.

So we are lucky to have Garrett Leigh here today answering our questions about books, cover artists, the future of covers, and much more.  Check it all out below.  Also the link to Garrett Leigh’s design website, Black Jazz Design.  Don’t miss out on the gallery there and all the many book covers.  Such a delight!

From Garrett Leigh:

Cover Book and Cover Artist Questions:

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

The time frame varies from job to job. For example, I’ve worked on a series cover today, book 6, that took me half an hour, as we already knew which model we were using, and exactly how the cover would look. Over the weekend, I did a job for a publisher that required three markedly different drafts, before one was chosen to work on further.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock)

I’m a photographic artist, so most of images come from stock sites, or my husband’s collection (he is a pro photographer/videographer). Stock sites are invaluable, though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again, it depends on the job. Some authors have a clear idea of what they want, and the book is already written, and some have no clue and want their art before they start writing the book. When working with publishers, you also have to consider house style.

As far as the story itself is concerned, the most important aspect is the tone. I wouldn’t want to make a super gritty thriller cover for a cute holiday romance.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

Entirely by accident. I wanted something specific for a book of my own, so I made it myself and went from there.

  • What mediums do you use?  

Photoshop, Illustrator, Daz, Wacom.

  • Do you have a favorite cover you have done?

That’s like asking me to choose between my children, but I do have a few I don’t like. And no, I’m not saying which ones, haha.

  • Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

Loads. We’re super lucky in the romance genre in that there are dozens of stellar artists to choose from. And I’m good friends with a few too—Kellie Dennis, Jay Aheer, Meredith Russell.

  • Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

Not that I can remember, but I mainly read Enid Blyton, so…

  • What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

When a job “clicks” and the author is over the moon. It makes the trickier jobs worthwhile.

  • If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

Where the hell did you put the spare laptop you bought for camping last year?

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

The cover is equally, if not more, important as the blurb. I choose my books with my eyes first, and if a book has a crappy cover, I’ll scroll on by unless it’s been specifically recommended to me.

  • How has the eBook format changed that, if any?

eBooks have been around as long as I’ve been a professional artist, so I honestly couldn’t say.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse ,generic covers ,etc.)

Chalkboard cursive fonts are still in, with warm happy colours. But the moody black and white hero is a long time favourite in the romance genre.

  • How do you feel about them?

Naked torsos? I’ve produced many covers with torsos, and read many books with them on the cover. I think they’re awesome if they suit the book.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I bought a cheap laptop last year so I could write on a camping trip. If anyone has any ideas as to where I might have put it, that would be amazing.

About the Author/Artist:

Bonus Material available for all books on Garrett’s Patreon account. Includes short stories from Misfits, Slide, Strays, What Remains, Dream, and much more. Sign up here: https://www.patreon.com/garrettleigh

Facebook Fan Group, Garrett’s Den… https://www.facebook.com/groups/garre

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer, cover artist, and book designer. Her debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards, and was again a finalist in 2017 with Rented Heart.

In 2017, she won the EPIC award in contemporary romance with her military novel, Between Ghosts, and the contemporary romance category in the Bisexual Book Awards with her novel What Remains.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.

Contact Garrett Leigh at:

Website
Twitter

 

 

 

 

More to come next week with author/artist Meredith Russell .  Meanwhile keep checking out our reviews and our covers below.  What do you think of them?  Do they grab your attention?  I love quite a few this week.  Have a great week.  Happy reading to all!  And Happy Valentine’s Day!

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

 

Sunday, February 10:

  • More On Book Covers And Cover Artists ~ This Week Garrett Leigh!
  • Our Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A Lucy Review Full Bodied (Uncorked #2) by Shea Balik

Monday, February 11:

  • Release Blitz NOBLE HOPS by Layla Reyne
  • Release Blitz – Outlaw Girls – Miss Merikan
  • PROMO Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin
  • An Alisa Review: How Not to Blend  (Lovestrong #1) by Susan Hawke
  • A Lucy Review: Snowed In: Jonah and Cooper by Kris T. Bethke
  • A MelanieM Review: In Case You Missed It (#lovehim #3) by S.M. James
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Battle of Will by Sasha L. Miller

Tuesday, February 12:

  • TOUR Kicking up My Heels by Liam Livings
  • Release Blitz – In Case You Missed It by S. M. James
  • Andrew Grey on Rebound
  • An Alisa Review: Stepbrother’s Secret (Men of Meadowfall #6) by Anna Wineheart
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Rebound by Andrew Grey
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2) by TJ Klune
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) by Amy Lane

Wednesday, February 13:

  • Release Blitz – Damaged by Tricia Owens
  • PROMO The Vampire’s Quest by Damian Serbu
  • Blog Tour – Darkness Dawns by Zakarrie Clarke
  • An Alisa Review: Square One by Dale Chase
  • A Stella Release Day Review: How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2) by TJ Klune
  • A Jeri Review: Damaged by Tricia Owens

Thursday, February 14: Happy Valentine’s Day ❤️

  • Release Blitz for Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn
  • An Ashlez Audio Review: Road of No Return: Hounds of Valhalla MC (Sex & Mayhem #1) by K.A. Merikan and Wyatt Baker (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Review: Hidden Hearts (Bad Valentine #3) by Clare London
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Blood Echo by L.E. Royal
  • A MelanieM Review Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane

Friday, February 15:

  • Tour and Giveaway:Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • A MelanieM Review: Peony Lanterns by Patricia Correll
  • A Lucy Review Blush (Uncorked #3) by Shea Balik
  • A Lila Review: Faeted Box Set By Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review :Royal Guardian (Rise of the Symbionts #1) by Jo Tannah

Saturday, February 16:

  • A MelanieM Review: Little (Trenton Security #2) by J.M. Dabney
  • Release Blitz – Nell Iris – Snowed In: Nen and Anani

 

A Caryn Review: No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Yes, this series just keeps getting better, and this is my favorite story so far.  These characters, and the world they live in, are all just so engaging, despite being lifted from various world mythologies.  There may be some spoilers for Semper Fae in this review, but I will try to keep them minimal…

At the end of the last book, Diego had been banished from the human world for 3 years and 3 days, and he spent that time with the wild fae, picking up knowledge and wisdom wherever he could, but he was also trying to forgive himself for all the chaos and pain he unwittingly caused while he was spellbound.  He wasn’t the one who cast the spell, so shouldn’t have tried to shoulder all the responsibility for the repercussions, but, well, that’s just who Diego was.  He still hadn’t come to peace with his role in the violence when the 3 years were up and he had to return – and for Diego, there was never the option to just walk away.  But he knew that he was too broken to resume leadership of the Fae Collective, thus leaving Zach, who had become the de facto interim Consul, to continue in that role.  Diego was still an important political figure though, and he felt he could best contribute to the general good of the world by acting as a diplomatic liaison.  In the 3 years of his banishment, tensions between the growing number of magic users and regular humans had escalated, and the Fae Collective had taken on the role of international mediator, and occasionally launched covert rescue operations when situations were especially dangerous.

When three Canadian students with magical ability were taken captive in the nation of Shere’alej (very reminiscent of Saudi Arabia, to me), Diego and Finn took a small contingent of guards to meet with the prince and negotiate their release.  When the meeting turned into an ambush, Diego and Finn were taken, shackled in iron (for Finn) and lead (for Diego) to nullify their magical abilities, and imprisoned at a hidden, remote facility, and their guard sent back to Tearmann island.  With their magic out of reach, Diego and Finn had only their wits to use to escape.  Fortunately, one of their guard was Theo Aguilar, the vampire that had briefly served as Diego’s lieutenant while Diego was out of control – and Theo was determined to rescue them no matter what.

Theo was a conflicted soul who thought he had become basically evil after being changed to a vampire and rejected by his religious family.  His soul, however, was moral, honorable, and kind, but he couldn’t seem to see past how others were frightened and suspicious of him because of his vampire nature.  I think Ms. Martinez did an amazing job of describing his inner conflict and how it informed his choices.  He had a constant need to prove himself – to others, but also to himself.  The one person who truly saw through his prickly facade was the selkie Limpet.  Limpet was an innocent, curious, at times almost childishly naive, but also brave and devoted.  At first that devotion was focused on Diego and Finn, but he quickly transferred that dedication to Theo, despite Theo’s intense efforts to dissuade him.  Limpet’s sincerity and affection ended up being the perfect antidote to Theo’s abhorrence of who he had become.

The story progressed in two concurrent arcs – Theo and Limpet developing first a friendship, and then a romance as they searched for Diego and Finn, as well as Diego and Finn’s efforts to break out of the prison and bring all the prisoners with them to safety.  I found this book to be much easier to follow than Semper Fae, with a smaller cast of characters and a tighter scope and plot line, as well as a clear ending (although there is definitely room for further sequels!).  In addition to an engaging narrative, with relatable characters and plenty of character development, the pacing of this book was so much better than the others in the series, and it was a great read.  I am impressed with how the series is progressing, and looking forward to more…

Cover art by Emmy@studioenp remains consistent with the others in the series.  To me, the model represents Theo, although I guess it could also be Limpet, and the hawk flying over the desert sand dunes was perfect for the plot line.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 281 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Pride Publishing (first published September 5th 2014)
ISBN 139781786517029
Edition Language English
Series Endangered Fae #4

Book Covers and Artists! This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju Our Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Cover Art by Aisha Akeju

Book Covers and Artists!

 

I’m so very excited about this month and perhaps into March.  We are getting back answers from artists and publishers to our questionnaire on Book Covers and Book Artists.  We asked how they came to work on covers,  what they thought about the current state of book covers, their inspirations, role models, and even the process the authors went through so see covers for their stories.  So many questions to help us get insight into an aspect of our stories we love and that, frankly, fascinates us, me especially.

We have sent out our questionnaires to many of our favorites artists and publishers who have been gracious enough to answer back so our Sundays will be full this month and probably into March with answers and insights from everyone from Garrett Leigh, Reese Dante, NineStar Press, Riptide Publishing, Meredith Russell, Dreamspinner Press, and more.  I can hardly wait myself.

For me, even before I could read, it was the cover that grabbed my attention, made me want to reach out for it.  Want to know what was inside…  Just as it was for so many others.  Book covers draw us to the story inside.  It makes us want to ask that question “what is that book about”?  Even before we read the blurb or are old enough to know what a blurb is. It’s the cover that tells a story, catches our eye, “says Read Us!”.  If the artist does their job.  That is.

For those great covers?  One glance and you’re hooked!  My eye slides by, boom and back it goes.  I  need to examine that cover and book closer.  I pick it up, turn it over, look at it, and often buy the story.  Job done.  It’s always been that way.  Gothic, fantasy, science fiction, name the genre…I still have the books and can go fish out the story and the cover artist that hooked me.

I can still remember the great Anne Cain cover’s for the first edition of J.L. Langley’s My Fair Captain.  Hot damn as they say.  It may have been the first of the half naked torso covers but to this day for me, it’s still one of the hottest.  *fans self*  All others have been just pale reproductions in my mind next to that one.  Fair?  No, but that is the power of that first impression.

Anne Cain has left a lot of those!

So have all the artists who has participated in Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words first venture into insights on Book Covers , Artists, and, their current role in Publishing.  We hope you enjoy it.

First up in our artist spotlight is someone I have long admired.  I found Aisha Akeju through the many stories of Megan Derr, Mell Eight, and other authors at Less Than Three Press.  They are unfailingly fantastical, highly artistic, incredibly imaginative,and always, always, make me look closer.  I just love her works.

You probably have seen her covers if you have read a Megan Derr story.  I have included the link to her website.  Please check out her covers there, also on the LT3 website as well.  They always have a section on the cover artist for each book you buy. I love that about them!  I have included a link to Less Than Three Press as well.  Gp and check out all their new releases as well as the covers!

 

This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju

 

Megan Derr at Less Than Three Press forwarded me your email with questions for cover artists and while I can’t answer all the questions for lack of time, I’ve answered some of them below. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about something I love and I hope my answers are helpful!

AISHA AKEJU

aisha-o.com

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  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere?
I’d say about 90% of my covers are comprised of stock material, and about 10% are elements I’ve had to create for the covers. Because sometimes a request is so unique you can’t quite find what you’re looking for.
  • How much input comes from  the author and/or storyline?  
Pretty much all of it, I’d say. I work off of a cover request sent to me from the publisher. I wouldn’t know where to start without it. The cover request includes the book title, author, number in a series if applicable, and what the author would like to see on the cover. It also includes a brief blurb describing what the book is about. I’ll then do my best to fulfill the cover request.
  • How did you get to become a cover artist?
About eight years ago, a friend who I’d done some art for suggested I reach out to Less Than Three Press and offer my services as a cover artist. So I emailed, fingers crossed, and I was lucky enough to be picked up as a contractor. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • Do you have a favorite cover you have done?
I have quite a few favorites! Too many, probably. I quite like Dust on the Wing by Parker Foye, Hellbeasts by Katya Harris, A Honeyed Light by Freddie Milano, and The Neighbor by Bernadette Chapman. But I find I’m most proud of the covers that requires me to flex my graphic design muscles a bit. A few are: Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust by Lynn Darrow, The Devil You Know by Camilla Quinn, Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde, and The Show Must Go On by Buggy Brooks.
^^^^^^
  • Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?
Natasha Snow! She creates stunning covers and I’m honestly in awe of her talent.
  • Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?
Oh, absolutely! I always gravitated towards the books that had covers I found appealing. I think it’s just natural when it comes to books. It’s perfectly fine to judge a book by its cover. You’re putting a lot of trust into a product you’re not sure about beyond a blurb. It certainly helps if the packaging is nice to look at.
  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?
I think the book cover is integral to selling books. It’s the packaging that’s responsible for catching a reader’s eye and hinting at the story within.

About Aisha Akeju

A New Yorker born and raised, creativity has always been a part of Aisha’s life and is, in fact, in her blood. The daughter of an artist and museum director, Aisha picked up a pencil before she learned her ABCs, learning to draw at her mother’s knee and “borrowing” art supplies from her mother’s drafting table when she grew tall enough to reach. Her love of art has only been matched by her love of books, becoming a voracious reader at an early age after falling in love with the written word after her first taste of Green Eggs and Ham, and becoming a published author by the time she was nine years old. Her passion for art and books helped shape Aisha into the illustrator and graphic designer she is today. Her love of fantasy and pop culture weaves itself into her life and her work.

Aisha graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Illustration, and prides herself on her unique style in all her endeavors. With several years of experience under her belt, Aisha currently works as a freelance designer, creating book covers and promotional images for independent presses, publishing houses, and self-published authors. In her spare time, Aisha illustrates for fun and profit, crochets gifts for friends and family, plays mom to a slightly evil and completely ridiculous cat, enjoys table-top gaming, and is a harcore kpop fan.

To learn more about what Aisha can do for you, please see her offered services and read testimonials from satisfied customers.

 

 

That’s our Artist of the Week.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Next week we have Garrett Leigh, who is both an artist and an author.  Let me know if you have any questions for our artists in advance!

 

Meanwhile check out the covers below for the upcoming reviews.  How do they strike you?  Do they tell you a story?  What are they saying?  And then check out what our reviewer has to has say about the covers and their relation to the story they are reviewing.  Interesting stuff!

 

Meanwhile have a great week! Stay warm if you are caught up in the polar vortex!  And always happy reading and listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 3:

  • Book Covers and Artists! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju
  • A Barb Review His First Family by Victoria Sue

Monday, February 4:

  • HARMONY INK PROMO Andrew Demcak 2emails
  • DSP PROMO Sean Michael on Educating the Professor
  • Alisa Review: Omega Teacher’s Secret (Men of Meadowfall #5) by Anna Wineheart
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Trenton Security #3) by J.M. Dabney 
  • A Jeri Review Rewind by Rowan Shaw
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Tracker Hacker (Codename: Winger #1) by Jeff Adams and John Solo (Narrator)

Tuesday, February 5:

  • Release Week Blitz Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke
  • BLITZ Diamond Heart by M.A. Hinkle
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Educating the Professor by Sean Michael
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Rebuild My Heart (Lexington Lovers #4) by Ariel Tachna
  • A Lucy Review: Bubbly (Uncorked #1) by Shea Balik
  • A Lila Review: Not Dead Yet (Not Dead Yet #1) by Jenn Burke

Wednesday, February 6:

  • Series Blitz – The Knights Club Series – CJ Baty
  • Review Tour Marina Vivancos – Rat Park
  • DSP PROMO Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga on Syncopation
  • An Alisa Review: In the Lion’s Den by Abigail Kade
  • A Stella Review: Rat Park by Marina Vivancos
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Inside Out by Aimee Nicole Walker

Thursday, February 7:

  • Release Day – JJ Harper – Gage (Redemption Series
  • Release Blitz – My Anti-Valentine Collection – DJ Jamison
  • DSP PROMO M.D. Grimm on Eye of the Beholder
  • A Caryn Review No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Ruff Trouble by Sharon Maria Bidwell
  • A Lila Audio Review A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)

Friday, February 8:

  • Gage, Trenton Security Book 3, by JM Dabney Blog Tour
  • Review Tour – The Other Book – Roe Horvat
  • Release Blitz – TL Travis – Forgive Me Father
  • An Alisa Audio Review From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review Hexhunter (Hexworld #4) by Jordan L. Hawk
  • A MelanieM Releases Day Review: Eye of the Beholder by MD Grimm
  • An Ali Review : The Other Book by Roe Horvat

Saturday, February 9:

  • Joe Cosentino on Drama Castle (A Nicky and Noah Mystery Story)
  • Series Review Tour – NASU and ENRAI (Blood Sealed Book 1 and 2)

A Stella Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li

Standard

RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Two men, each with a hidden destiny. Can they defeat a web of deceit and dark magic to ensure their fates intertwine? Bedouin Isra al-Grayjaab’s dreams lead him to Janan, an amnesiac beggar on the street of Qena—one who steals his heart and starts him on a seemingly hopeless quest. With only their wits, Isra’s knowledge of the desert’s secrets, and the aid of a mercurial djinn, they must recover Janan’s past. But neither can predict his true identity or the lengths others will go to see that his mind remains broken and his true power out of his reach. In a sweeping romantic adventure that takes them across the Eastern Desert to the modern streets of Cairo and on to the luxurious Red Sea Coast, Janan and Isra seek a truth that will either bring them into each other’s arms or tear them apart forever.

Each time I read a new story by August Li I am in awe by the author’s talent. I already said this but he is one of my favorite authors and his name has become a guarantee, I don’t even read blurbs anymore, I simply go in fan mode and just need the book in my hands. When I saw the cover of this new release, I was very curious about it. Nomad’s Dream is very different from my usual mm readings, starting with the setting and the main characters. Plus I found this novel a little different from what the author usually writes, it was more sweet and romantic, not too much, just that little bit more that perfectly balanced the magical and mysterious part.

The story is set in the desert for two third’s and I completely lost myself among the bedouins tribes, the camels and the dunes. I was deeply engaged with Janan mystery and the love for Isra. I found everything so real and true although the magical elements and the character of Flicker (I adored him and never doubted of his attachment to Isra).

I have to confess my heart went to Isra since the first pages, I saw his clear soul, his loyalty and devotion to his family and himself. I saw how troubled he was until he finally reached the man that was hunting his dreams. And then my heart ached for Janan, being so lost and poor and later seeing him flourishing beside Isra was very heartwarming.

The author developed a beautiful plot, there is some action, some mystery, and then there are many times where Isra and Janan are alone in the desert that were my preferred moments. He did a so great job I breathed the peace they were living. I fell in love with quite a few secondary characters too, some of them would deserve their own HEA, they were well defined and interesting, all of them so brave and generous.

I feel to recommend Nomad’s Dream, in my opinion the author delivered another amazing success. I felt a sense of loss when I finished the novel but it gave me some serenity I needed.

The cover art by Tiferet Design is well done, I like the colors and it perfectly fits the book.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Nomad’s Dream
ISBN 139781644050149
Edition Language English