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

Standard

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 Dead Things 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

Charlie Cochrane on Her Fav Reads and her new release Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane (author guest post, tour and giveaway)

Standard

Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Charlie Cochrane back again talking about the latest releases in her Lindenshaw Mysteries, Old Sins.  Welcome, Charlie.

 

🐾

 

 

What Charlie likes to read

Do you have a favourite book? I have many, in all sorts of genres. “The Charioteer” if we’re talking gay fiction, “Death at the President’s Lodging” if it’s mysteries, “Three Men in a Boat” for humour; the list goes on and on through different genre, fictional and non-fiction. Some of these books are a bit of a guilty pleasure, not least because I can see their flaws.

I’m a huge fan of classic age mystery writers; Dorothy, Agatha, Michael, Ngaio and the rest, but they have their feet of clay. Sayers could sometimes overcomplicate plots to the point of obscurity (which reader could really have worked out the sequence of events in Five Red Herrings?) and seems increasingly in love with her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey.  All of these authors shared a falling of their powers in later life – the last few Appleby mysteries are a pale shadow of the early ones – and, of course, all were products of their time, so modern readers might fund things which jar, such as anti-semitic references or the treatment of gay characters in a derogatory way.

Some of these authors reused plot ideas and devices. The classic story of the murderer assuming someone else’s identity, sometimes to benefit from inheritance, occurs again and again with Christie (as do other tried and tested story arcs). Marsh also showed an economy of plot, using the same method of murder both in a short story and again in a full novel. Her “Death and the Dancing Footman” falls into the category of “familiar plot” – the twist is the sort that an avid reader of the genre would soon spot –  but that doesn’t make it any less of a delightful comfort read. A sort of literary equivalent of mulled wine in front of a roaring fire.

The book has several of the staple elements of the archetypal classic age mystery: a country house, a house party cut off by snow, family rivalries, a sealed room death, an outsider who acts as ‘chorus’ and a witty, urbane and aristocratic sleuth, Roderick Alleyn. How I love “Handsome Alleyn” – I wonder if Ngaio loved him, too, like Sayers loved Wimsey. He seems just a bit too perfect at times.

That’s why I’m determined to show that neither of my male leads in the Lindenshaw series are anything less than human. They get angry, they make mistakes, they argue with each other, they make up, they talk about work, they refuse to talk about work…just like any of us. I’m also determined not to fall in love with either of them, although how can I resist falling head over heels for their dog Campbell?

A detective, his boyfriend and their dog. That’s the Lindenshaw mysteries in a nutshell. Old Sins is the fourth instalment in the series, and not only does Robin have a murder to investigate, he and Adam have got the “little” matter of their nuptials to start planning. And, of course, Campbell the Newfoundland gets his cold wet nose into things, as usual.

 

About Old Sins

Past sins have present consequences.

Detective Chief Inspector Robin Bright and his partner, deputy headteacher Adam Matthews, have just consigned their summer holiday to the photo album. It’s time to get back to the daily grind, and the biggest problem they’re expecting to face: their wedding plans. Then fate strikes—literally—with a bang.

Someone letting loose shots on the common, a murder designed to look like a suicide, and the return of a teacher who made Robin’s childhood hell all conspire to turn this into one of his trickiest cases yet.

Especially when somebody might be targeting their Newfoundland, Campbell. Robin is used to his and Adam’s lives being in danger, but this takes the—dog—biscuit.

Available now from Riptide Publishing.

 

About the Lindenshaw Mysteries

Adam Matthews’s life changed when Inspector Robin Bright walked into his classroom to investigate a murder.

Now it seems like all the television series are right: the leafy villages of England do indeed conceal a hotbed of crime, murder, and intrigue. Lindenshaw is proving the point.

Detective work might be Robin’s job, but Adam somehow keeps getting involved—even though being a teacher is hardly the best training for solving crimes. Then again, Campbell, Adam’s irrepressible Newfoundland dog, seems to have a nose for figuring things out, so how hard can it be?

Check out the Lindenshaw Mysteries.

 

About Charlie Cochrane

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Endeavour and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Old Sins one lucky person will win a swag bag from Charlie! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 16, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

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

Standard

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

Add to Goodreads

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.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

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

Standard

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

 

BLITZ for Diamond Heart (Cherrywood Grove #2) by M.A. Hinkle (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Title: Diamond Heart

Series: Cherrywood Grove, Book Two

Author: M.A. Hinkle

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 4, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 60900

Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBT, contemporary, YA, high school, twins, arts/music/theater, gay, ace, panromantic, gender-bending, learning disability/social anxiety, family drama

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Gareth has a problem. He got expelled. Now he and his twin brother, Morgan, have to start over at an artsy new private school, and it’s all Gareth’s fault. Not to mention Morgan’s crippling social anxiety and Gareth’s resting jerk face aren’t making them any friends, and their father is furious with him. Gareth could live with this, but Morgan’s mad at him too, and Morgan is the only person alive who can make Gareth feel guilty.

Good thing Gareth has a plan. Cute, bubbly Felix, a student at their new school, has a crush on Morgan, and they both want to act in their school’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Gareth figures it’s the perfect way to help Morgan come out of his shell and set him up with Felix. Then, maybe Morgan will forgive him, and Gareth can go back to not caring about anything or anyone.

But Gareth has another problem. He’s been cast as Oberon, and Felix is Titania. Oh, and Morgan doesn’t like Felix back. And maybe Gareth is enjoying the play and making new friends and having a good time at his new school. And maybe—just maybe—he’s got a crush on Felix. Can Gareth keep up his tough-guy act long enough to repair his relationship with Morgan, or will Felix get caught in the fallout of Gareth’s dumb schemes?

Excerpt

Diamond Heart
M.A. Hinkle © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Everything started when I punched a guy in the face, but I only realized this was more than a regular Tuesday once my twin brother Morgan got home from school looking like he’d been hit by a truck.

Not literally. Morgan resembled the guy on the cover of a romance novel—not Fabio, the Twilight knockoffs, where they were angsty instead of buff. Morgan’s hair was always windswept, except when he pulled it back as per the school dress code. While our school had a dress code, at least it was gender neutral, so anyone could wear whatever they wanted as long as their skirt hit below the knee and their hair was kept out of their face.

Morgan’s hair is always kept out of his face, is what I’m saying.

I was hoping word hadn’t gotten around school, but what a stupid hope. Morgan was ashen. I got to my feet. “Morgan—”

He shook his head without changing his expression.

Crap. I tried to stand still as Morgan went through his getting home ritual: shoes placed in a neat straight line next to the door, tie loosened but not taken off, laptop removed from bag, bag hung on the hook next to the empty one where mine belonged. I put my hands behind my back so he wouldn’t see me digging my fingernails into my palm.

Morgan finished and turned to me. I couldn’t read his expression. “So what happened this time?”

I tried to make my mouth work. But for one thing, I had a bad feeling Morgan already knew the answer. For another—

If he didn’t already know, explaining would be impossible. This went deeper than being dumb and teenage and angry. This was about Morgan and his nerves and me protecting him the only way I knew how. If I could explain it out loud, I wouldn’t have been in this mess. I could have talked things out with Warren Beauregard III (really, truly his name in the year of our Lord 2016) the way Sesame Street taught me, and we would sing a song, and everyone would have gone home happy after learning about the letter of the day.

But before I could figure out how to put it into words, my father came downstairs.

My father—excuse me, Dr. Trevor Lewis, PhD and some other fancy letters—was a professor of Welsh literature. He spent most of his time buried in books written in a language barely anyone spoke, writing papers seven other people would read. Whenever he tried to tell me about it, my soul left my body from sheer boredom.

I didn’t see him much. In order to focus on his research, Trevor taught night classes, which meant all the good people working full-time jobs and going through school snored their way through his English 101. Therefore, he was at home while I was in school, and I was at home while he was at school. It worked well. I didn’t have to see him and remember we looked alike and I hated it, and he didn’t have to see me and remember the family disappointment.

“Let’s sit in the parlor, boys.” His voice was cool.

The change of scenery wasn’t for anyone’s comfort; the furniture was so old it doubled as a torture device. Morgan and I took our usual spot on the couch, Trevor in the chair across from us. Morgan chewed on his lower lip. I wanted to do the same, but I also didn’t want Trevor to see he had me over a barrel.

“The principal decided to avail me of a number of things about you, Gareth,” said Trevor, after a long, long minute of staring at me. He still hadn’t raised his voice. “He said you are, in most respects, a brilliant student. A leader in class discussions, consistently high achieving on standardized tests, and well liked by your teachers. I was aware of all of this.”

I did not relax. Before everything else, Trevor was a rhetorician. He was not reassuring me; he was laying out background before he launched into his thesis. According to family legend, when he defended his dissertation, the evaluators only asked one question apiece because his argument about whatever he studied was so watertight.

“What I did not know is you have also been consistently on the verge of expulsion from the moment you started high school. I don’t see the point of going into detail of the reasons. I’m sure you’re aware—swearing, uniform violations, lashing out at other students.”

The expulsion part was news to me, which was not going to help my case.

Trevor waited, not to see if I wanted to respond. He was pausing for effect. “And it has only been by the grace of the aforementioned good qualities and my not inconsiderable donations to your school that you have not been run out for conduct unbecoming a member of their academy.”

I bit my tongue. Literally. It hurt. Sometimes, I appreciated Trevor’s frankness. Take when he talked about college. He always said, “I expect both of you to attend either the school where I teach or the University of Wisconsin, unless you get into an Ivy League college.” It might sound controlling, but I knew exactly where I stood with him—in the garbage.

“You’re getting kicked out?” Morgan asked, as though I should have led with it when he came in the door.

“I guess, but I just found out too.” I didn’t even know my school expelled people. Then again, I was the only kid ever written up for fighting on school grounds.

Morgan stiffened like we were going over the first drop on a roller coaster, only there was no track at the bottom to catch us. “I can’t stay there by myself.”

Now that was news to me. Among other things, Morgan was valedictorian, first chair violinist in orchestra, and student council secretary. (He’d be president, but then he’d have to talk.) All the teachers thought he was God’s gift to academia, and he’d been fielding college recruiters since we were in eighth grade. And everybody adored Morgan. Girls wanted to bang him, guys wanted to be him/possibly also bang him, nonbinary people high-fived him, et cetera. I wasn’t exactly an outcast, but I wasn’t anyone’s first choice for gym, either.

Trevor’s expression was unreadable. Behind his glasses, his eyes were the color of a freezing winter sky. My father had never been cuddly, but he used to talk to us more, before my mom killed herself four years ago. Suicide should have been the low point, but things only went downhill in our family from there. After the funeral ended and all the flowers were thrown away, we never talked about her again. I hadn’t bothered trying, but Morgan had, and Trevor dismissed him. Not in so many words, maybe, but we got the hint.

Anyway, as long as Morgan was calm and under control, he and Trevor had long and involved conversations about books and crap. But the second Morgan faced something more complicated than precalculus, Trevor was out the door faster than blinking, leaving Morgan alone with his deep-breathing exercises. And me. I always cleaned up the mess, whether or not I made it.

To be fair, I usually made it.

I got to my feet, one hand clenched in a fist. I wasn’t going to hit Trevor—no use. It wouldn’t get a rise out of him. But the pain helped me concentrate so my voice would come out calmly, the same way it did at fancy dinner parties when one of Trevor’s too-rich friends asked me a question that drove me up a wall. I knew Morgan hadn’t meant to say anything out loud, nor would he appreciate it if I answered him right now. So I put on my best Trevor face and pretended Morgan wasn’t hyperventilating beside me. “Well, this is all pretty shitty. When do I find out?”

Trevor’s expression hadn’t changed an inch; he might have been staring at one of the insipid paintings hung on the wall. “You’ve been suspended for the rest of the week while they decide. In the meantime, I suggest you research alternative options. I have enough work preparing for midterms.”

I bit the inside of my cheek hard enough to taste blood so I wouldn’t answer. Morgan was about ready to barf all over the fancy Persian rug, but he almost always was. I couldn’t tell if it was worse than usual.

“You wanna help me search?” I asked. If I didn’t give Morgan some kind of out, he would sit there until the end of time, caught in his own head.

Morgan stood, jerkily. He nodded at Trevor and followed me upstairs.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

M.A. Hinkle swears a lot and makes jokes at inappropriate times, so she writes about characters who do the same thing. She’s also worked as an editor and proofreader for the last eight years, critiquing everything from graduate school applications to romance novels.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Tracker Hacker (Codename: Winger #1) by Jeff Adams and John Solo (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Well, I’m almost at a loss for words for this review.  First of all, I listened to the audiobook and kudos to John Solo for a great job portraying a variety of voices, both male and female, especially given the MCs were teenagers.

Second, I must be honest in that I thought the story ended rather abruptly.  I knew it was first in a series but I didn’t realize so many threads would remain open when the book ended. And suddenly it was over.

And third, the plot was incredibly complex as it dealt with computer programming, coding, and electronic communication. The espionage business is alive and well in this story. So kudos to the author for a complicated and interesting plot.

Theo is a high school hockey player whose parents are both spies. Though only sixteen, his genius is more than welcome in their organization—TOS: Tactical Operational Support—and he’s their go-to guy when the electronics get complex. His code name is Winger, and in this installment, Winger is called upon to stop whatever group is behind the plot to deactivate the tracking devices each agent has implanted. Things go from bad to worse when they find the devices have been taken over and the enemy is using them to mind-control the agents. And that includes Winger’s dad who goes missing. Amidst the espionage plot, Theo and his boyfriend Eddie try to find alone time, though Eddie is injured, while stopping a kidnapping attempt on Theo.  The plot is very complex with mystery, romance, and lots of computer geek speak.

I’d recommend it to those who enjoy a YA story, especially when mixed with espionage and intrigue.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.    The cover is a close-up of a young man’s face and superimposed on the background of that is a computer grid, no doubt in recognition of his talents. It’s gray in tone so not very attractive.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Audible Audio, length 6.22 hrs
Published December 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 17th 2017)
Series Codename: Winger #1

Andrew Demcak on Writing, Characters, and his new release Darkfeather (The Elusive Spark #3) by Andrew Demcak (guest blog)

Standard

Darkfeather (The Elusive Spark #3) by Andrew Demcak

Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrew Demcak here today talking about his latest novel Darkfeather.  Welcome, Andrew.

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview  with Andrew DemcakDarkfeather (Harmony Ink Press, 2019.)

Q: If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

A: I write GLBTQ YA paranormal and sci-fi, but romance always creeps in. Darkfeather has my most romantic storylines yet. My longest standing couple, James and Paul, are going to break up when James meets someone new, someone really different, someone who stepped right from the pages of Abominable Snowman Casebook. Kiera and Lumen are going to add a third person to their relationship and become a throuple. My gay aliens, EBE and UBE, were reunited in the previous volume of this series (The Elusive Spark), Alpha Wave, and it felt so good. I like bringing reality to these very fanciful characters, it helps make them believable. I don’t think a character could be so flawed as to be unlovable. That’s what make characters interesting, their flaws. It makes them more like us.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I love loyalty, even blind loyalty. I also love bumblers. I think it’s really sweet to see a bumbler finally do it right and get his guy.  That’s what I did in Darkfeather with my yeti prince, Falling Star.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

Yes – I wrote the beginning of my novel If There’s a Heaven Above (JMS Books) back in 1987, but didn’t look at it again until 2007. It’s a story about my 20-something years in the Los Angeles club/music scene. When I discovered the writing again, I was completely transported to that place and time. I had to write the story and I did.

What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

I wanted James and Falling Star’s first kiss to be special. It happens in a lake when they are chasing each other underwater. I think I’m the first person to write an underwater yeti kiss, but I hope I’m not the last.

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I write because none of these GLBTQ YA characters or stories existed when I was a teenager in the 1980s. I would have loved to have read them. I’m writing to my 17-year-old self, filling in the emotional blanks, and making up for all that lost time.

Blurb:
James, Keira, Lumen, and Paul—teens with special abilities granted by their alien DNA—bonded over hardship, becoming friends and sometimes more. But now they’re held in Fort Bragg and subjected to painful tests by the evil Dr. Albion, and those ties are coming loose just when they need them the most. Budding romances and family relationships are tested as each teen struggles to choose where to stand and who can be trusted. Reunions with lost family members and the possibility of love with new allies strain already tense relationships, and not every heart will survive unscathed. But the Star Children are the only ones who can command an alien spaceship needed to intercept the Nibiru object—an unidentified celestial mass plummeting toward the planet. If they can’t work together, an unimaginable catastrophe will strike the earth, and they’re the only ones who can stop it.

About the Author

 Andrew Demcak is an American poet and novelist, the author of five poetry collections and six Young Adult novels. His books have been featured by The American Library Association, Verse Daily, The Lambda Literary Foundation, The Best American Poetry, and Poets and Writers. He was a *FINALIST* for the prestigious Dorset Poetry Prizethe Gloria E. Anzaldúa Poetry Prize,  The Crazyhorse Poetry Award, and the Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence in Poetry.

He has a new collection of flash fiction/prose poems coming out from Nomadic Press in 2019 titled Cryptopedia. His newest YA/Teen GLBTQ2-S novel is Darkfeather, The Elusive Spark series, Book 3, (Harmony Ink Press, 2019).  He recently released two other YA/Teen GLBTQ2-S novels, How Do You Deal with a Dead Girl? (Big 23 Press, 2018) which Kirkus Reviews called “An eerily amusing horror tale that will have readers rooting for the characters,” and Alpha Wave, The Elusive Spark series, Book 2, (Harmony Ink Press, 2018). About his Teen GLBTQ Sci-Fi Coming-Out novel, A Little Bit Langston, The Elusive Spark series, Book 1,  Kirkus Reviews raved “This book really … takes its place in the marginalized-will-lead-us genre, as popularized by The Matrix and the X-Men franchises.” His first Young Adult (YA) novel, Ghost Songs, was published March 13, 2014. His first literary novel, If There’s A Heaven Above, was published January 5, 2013 by JMS Books, and was nominated by The American Library Association as an “Outstanding” novel for older Teens (17+). His first play, The Inevitable Crunch Factor, won the Cal Arts’ New Playwrights Series and was cast and produced in a multi-week run. His fourth book of poetry, Night Chant, was published by Lethe Press. His other poetry books are: A Single Hurt Color, GOSS 183::Casa Menendez Press, 2010, Zero Summer, BlazeVOX [Books], NY, 2009 and his first poetry book, Catching Tigers in Red Weather, three candles press, 2007, which was selected by Joan Larkin to win the Three Candles Press Open Book Award.

To reach Andrew:

Author website:  www.andrewdemcak.org
Social media: Twitter: @andrewdemcak,
Facebook: Andrew Demcak, Vero: Andrew D

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

Standard

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

======================================

  • 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)

Love to Listen to Your Romances? Check Out in the Deep (Out in College #1) by Lane Hayes and Michael Pauley (Narrator)

Standard

Both Now Available in Audio!

Title: Out in the Deep, Out in College #1
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Narrated by: Michael Pauley
Release Date: January 17th, 2019
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 4 hrs and 34 mins
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Water Polo, Coming out

Add to Goodreads
Listen to an Excerpt & Purchase at Audible

Synopsis

Derek Vaughn is a little too serious. He’s a type A control personality with a penchant for order and a love of water polo. But he’s determined to enjoy his last year of college. The real world with a serious job and big expectations can wait for a few months. He’s going soak up every minute on campus with his friends and teammates before he moves on. The only possible kink in his plan is the new guy on the team… also known as his nemesis.

Gabe Chadwick has big Olympic dreams. His transfer between Southern California universities has nothing to do with scholastics. The degree is his backup plan. He’s not there to party or make friends. And he certainly isn’t going to announce his sexuality. But he can’t deny there’s something special about the uptight team captain. However, when an unwitting friendship and mutual attraction collide, both will have to decide if this is the real thing or if they’re about to lose it all in the deep.


Title
: Out in the End Zone, Out in College #2
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Narrated by: Michael Pauley
Release Date: January 23rd, 2019
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 4 hrs and 58 mins
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Football, Coming out

Add to Goodreads
Listen to an Excerpt & Purchase at Audible

Synopsis

Evan di Angelo is an upbeat, good-natured goofball who loves his friends and family… and football. A traumatic accident may have ended his hopes of playing professionally, but he’s made the most of his four years on the field at a small Southern California college. He’s learned the hard way to embrace change, take chances and try things outside of his comfort zone…like agreeing to play fake boyfriends for someone else’s senior project.

Mitch Peterson knows that being his authentic self is the path to true happiness. He’s grown from a shy, quiet kid from a broken home to an out and proud budding internet sensation bound for grad school. An awesome senior project is the key. It’s unlikely anyone will believe the hunky, straight athlete is Mitch’s new lover, but it’s worth a shot. However, as their tentative friendship blossoms into unexpected attraction, the lines between reality and fiction blur for both men. Evan is forced to face old demons and decide if he has the courage to take the next step and come out in the end zone.

 

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Meet the Narrator

Michael has well over 50 audio book titles currently available for purchase on Audible.com. He is versed in multiple styles and genres including fiction (novels and short stories) ranging from romance to science fiction to crime dramas to thrillers; business strategy books; health and wellness books; and even an occasional children’s book.

Fans of Michael’s narration are welcome to follow him on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

If you are interested in working with Michael to produce your next audio book, you can contact him directly at voice@michaelpauley.info

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

More Poll Results and Book Cover Questions. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Standard

 

More Poll Results and Book Cover Questions.

 

More results from last week’s polls on book covers.  I really did sort of expect these tbh.  Yes readers to look and choose books by their covers, yes, they look at the names of the cover artists, and while they say they might not have a preference over type of cover, when it comes right down to it?  They love a “painted” cover over of photograph.  Maybe I should look at demographics on that one as that is my preference as well.

This week Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is sending out our questionnaires to publishers and cover artists, to get a feel on the state of book covers today, how many of these artists came to be book cover artists and much more.  I have included the questions I received from our readers in our form.  I can’t wait to get back the answers!

If you have more questions, please continue to send them in, it’s never too late to revise our form as we send it out to more people.

With stories these days, you might see the same or re-released/revised story several times.  That means multiple covers, eBook and audio formats too.  Each time it’s job is the same.  Reach out to readers, grab their attention, make them want to read or listen to that story with a cover that looks fresh and vibrant!  Dramatic, current, and catchy.  Wow!  That’s an artistic job and a half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above are three different covers for Andre Norton’s Witch World.  One from 2016 and the original from 1963.  At the end there was one more version.  1986.  Each era leaving its mark on the design and style of the cover.  And yes, mine is the 1963 version which I still have.  I have to admit each speaks to me in a different way.  What do they say to you?  Which do you prefer? And if you aren’t familiar with Andre Norton, what a fantastic author awaits you!

When covers are done beautifully, we remember them.  And the artist that made that cover sing to us.  And of course, we picked that book right up, perhaps even again, to dive into the story and get lost in another world of an author’s creation.   This from someone who was up til 4am with a new Rhys Ford story…lol Yes, the cover of that story is fabulous!

So yes, along with all of you, I’m dying to know what answers will be coming back our way from these amazing artists and the publishers.  What wonderful Sundays we have ahead of us!

 

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 27:

  • More Poll Results and Book Cover Questions.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Audio Release Blitz K.A. Merikan – Road Of No Return

Monday, January 28:

  • Release Blitz Marina Vivancos – Rat Park
  • BLITZ Escaping Mortality by Sara Dobie Bauer
  • PROMO TARA LAIN on The Case of the Voracious Vintner
  • A Stella Review The Fairy Pond by Jason Black
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Escaping Mortality by Sara Dobie Bauer
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: Devil Take Me anthology by Rhys Ford , Ginn Hale ,Jordan L. Hawk ,T.A. Moore ,C.S. Poe ,Jordan Castillo Price , and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

Tuesday, January, 29:

  • BLITZ Imminent Dawn by R.R. Campbell
  • AUDIO BLITZ Out in the Deep (Out in College #1) by Lane Hayes and Michael Pauley (Narrator)
  • Release Blitz for   Gage, Trenton Security Book 3, by JM Dabney
  • Book Blast – Bad Deal by Ember-Raine Winters & Faith Ryan
  • A Lucy Review Forever Starts At Midnight by Kim Breyon
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: The Case of the Voracious Vintner (Middlemark Mysteries #2) by Tara Lain

Wednesday, January 30:

  • Release Blitz – The Other Book – Roe Horvat
  • PROMO AUGUST LI on Nomad’s Dream
  • Cover Reveal, – Touch Of A Yellow Sun – V.L. Locey
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li
  • A MelanieM Review: Inside Out by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1) by K.J. Charles

Thursday, January 31:

  • BLITZ Living on the Inside by Londra Laine
  • DSP COVER REVEAL Inked Music by Sean Michael
  • An Ashlez Review Bad Deal by Ember by Raine Winters & Faith
  • A Free Dreamer Review The Witchin’ Canoe by Mel Bossa
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Contact by M.D. Neu
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: A Late Summer Night’s Dream by Catherine Curzon

Friday, February 1:

  • COVER REVEAL Forlorn by Elvira Bell
  • Terrible Things by Beth Bolden Blog Tour 
  • Inside Out by Aimee Nicole Walker Blog Tour
  • An Alisa Review : Awakenings and French Songs by Nell Iris
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Escape to Paradise (A Planet Called Wish #4) by Caitlin Ricci
  • A MelanieM Audio Review:His Consort by Mary Calmes and (Narrated by Scott Smith)

Saturday, February 2:

  • BOOK BLAST – The Selkie Prince’s Forbidden Mate (The Royal Alphas series, Book 4) by J.J. Masters