Sedona O'Hala Series:

Executive Dirt

Dragons of Wendal Series:

DragonKin

Moon Shadow Series:

Ghost Shadow

Now Available:

Soul of the Desert

Cover Art Discussions

A Favorite Artist: Chris Dunn

chrisDunntreeAs you know, I love to bring you news of the best artists, books, musicians, stories…anything that is just too stellar to be kept a secret. Chris Dunn is probably not a secret any longer, but I only stumbled across his work about a year ago. He does book covers and book illustrations. And they are each a wonder to behold!

I wrote to Chris and asked him for a bit of history or glimpse into his inspiration. This was his reply:

I don’t have many quirky stories to share however, one thing you might find interesting is where I found my original inspiration to produce illustrations using anthropomorphic animals. I grew up reading the Redwall Abbey series of children’s books by Brian Jacques. Unfortunately, in 2011, Mr Jacques passed away and so I decided to create a homage to his life as a writer and to the wonderful characters he created, which have sparked my imagination ever since. That homage was my first animal illustration of a mouse sleeping at his writing desk. The mouse is supposed to be Brian, and the snow falling outside the window represents the Winter of his life. That piece is called ‘Jacques’ Rest’ and you can see it here.

You can also read about how the artist John Howe inspired me with his Tolkien illustrations by clicking here.

I know a few of us are fans of Brian Jacques, and I’ve certainly read Tolkien and appreciate the stories and some of the artwork (although I did not know about John Howe.)

It’s not possible for me to pick a favorite from Chris Dunn’s work. There’s a lot to love! I love the owl shot. I think that best represents me when I’m at work writing! That’s right about what my work area looks like too!!!

Here’s another one that intrigues me.

chrisdunnairmail It’s a bit cut off–click to view the whole picture! If you let your mouse hover over the picture after clicking, it will enlarge and you can see some of the terrific detail. In the first picture I posted at the top–you really need to hover. That shot has so much really great detail from the red squirrel hanging laundry to the harness on the crow. Fabulous stuff.

Thank you Chris Dunn!!!

Unrelated books, but covers with fantastical creatures:
Dragons of Wendal

DragonKin

Posted: August 18, 2016
Filed in Art Reviews, Cover Art Discussions

Amazing Artist Assnezana, Short Stories and Translations

I’ve always wanted to have at least one of my works translated into Spanish. Never mind the why of it, but it’s part of my heritage and I always felt it was necessary. I had plans for how I’d get here, but sometimes dreams take longer than you plan and don’t come together quite the way you expect.

At any rate, I’ve been working with a translator on a fantasy short story called “Snitched, Snatched.” Getting it right in English was hard enough, now Gustavo Bondoni must tackle trying to get it perfect in Spanish. Luckily he is skilled as a story teller, and I’m counting on that skill to come through in “Snitched, Snatched.” He has his own short story collection out (in English) on Kindle: Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (20 stories.)

All of this leads to needing a cover that reflects the story, captures its essence and has a magic of its own. Enter Assnezana and her fantastic artistic talent.

You can find more about her here: Assnezana and see more of her work on Jaguarwoman.com and also on Dreamstime/assnezana .

She has some awesome artwork; more magical settings like the one in the cover, some aquatic settings and some fabulous garden settings. Check them out!

As for the story, look for it on Kindle in about a week if things go smoothly, two if they don’t! I’ll post more about the release date as it gets closer.

Another Artist

I haven’t worked with this artist personally, but did check out the portfolio and prices–both good! If you’re looking for cover art, you might give Shaed Studios a look. The samples are all photo-manipulations, and I don’t know if the price covers the photo (or how many) but the samples looked well-done with nice fonts.

From an email:

Shaeddyn has a Bachelors of Media Arts and Animation
What you get: I charge a flat fee that will give you as many drafts as you need to be happy. You don’t pay unless you are satisfied with the end result. When you have paid for the end draft, I will send you full versions of the cover for each format you need them in, and the image will then belong to you to do with what you please. I will use the image in my portfolio for examples of work.

Doing multiple drafts is very important–so is the ability to opt out if you just can’t get to an agreement. Many authors are picky and sometimes it’s impossible to get your “vision” realized the first time around. Of course, with terms like these, the artist can always opt out too, which is equally important!

Make sure to ask if you get to choose the photo and what rights are assigned to you. Most photo sharing sites allow ebook use and up to 500k print copies–always double-check before entering a contract so that you know where the photo is from. If the artist provides the photo (some do) make sure you understand whether you are getting an exclusive (rare).

Posted: August 10, 2011
Filed in Art Reviews, Cover Art Discussions

Another Bad Cover

Remember my little article on covers? Okay, I’ve done several, but specifically, the one where I babbled about poses?

What *is* it with this pose???


At Graves End

What is she supposed to be doing? Looking for fish beneath the ice? Dropped an earring and has a leg cramp??

Posted: August 11, 2011
Filed in Cover Art Discussions
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Artist: Assnezana

I may have to write a story to go with this fabulous artwork. Assnezana did the artwork for Snitched, Snatched. I’m looking at this and picturing a dragon in it somewhere…

She does some awesome artwork. You can find her background work on the Jaguarwoman site.

Posted: April 17, 2012
Filed in Art Reviews, Cover Art Discussions

Artists

I’ve been very privileged to work with some great artists. Some of these artists are actively taking commissions. Some of them will work on a commission via a referral if they have openings.

Deb Wentz did the Under Witch Moon cover (referral only). She does illustrations.


Valentino Sani
did the cover for Under Witch Aura –Book two in the Moon Shadow Series (Coming in Dec 2011). He works by referral only, but you can buy some of his fabulous photos on Dreamstime.com. He is a professional photographer and does photo-manipulation. The guy has more talent in his eyelash than I have in both my eyeballs.



Assnezana did the cover art for Snitched, Snatched . She also did the backgrounds for Dragons of Wendal.

She sells through this site:
And here is her DeviantArt site

She generally sells just the backgrounds and leaves it up to you to add the text and/or make changes. But her work has flair and is a bit unusual. Her prices are extremely reasonable. She can be found on Facebook or if you want her email, please contact me and I’ll pass it along:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/assnezana


John Dotegowski did the cover for Year of the Mountain Lion. He does some awesome illustration. He takes commissions; contact him via his website.

RazzDazzDesign.com They do a lot of photo-manipulation, but may be able to help with clipart and possibly illustration depending on what you’re looking for. Razz did this cover for Catch an Honest Thief, although ultimately I decided not to use it.


Here’s an artist I’d like to work with:

Anne Marie Broughton As of this posting she was open for portrait work and cover art. Her prices are reasonable and her work is quite astounding!

Posted: July 9, 2011
Filed in Art Reviews, Cover Art Discussions

Cover Art Comments

Just for the record, most sorcerers (be they women or men) do not do the majority of spells in their underwear. Or in High Heels. Or fishnet stockings. This probably comes as a shock, I know.

When looking for photo art for possible covers it seems that many photographers tricked their victims subjects into dressing in as little as possible before staging the spell shot.

Look, I don’t know *that* many witches, sorcerers or the like, but I know a *few.* None of them, not one, does spells in evening attire unless it’s an absolute emergency. No one goes out in a mini-skirt planning to throw around a fire ball or three. When working for a client they *never* show up for work in their bra, underwear, corset or–heaven forbid, a towel. Seriously. How is one supposed to work a spell while holding onto a towel???

Do not go there, people. Do NOT, I beg of you.

Oh sure, some witches like to drape a scarf or two, but you don’t want too many of them–fire is an oft-hazard of spells, so you want to be careful of too many flowing robes.

Does anyone wear jeans to work anymore?? Anyone????

P.S. Most witches do not wear pointy little hats anymore either. Another great shock, I am sure.

Posted: June 9, 2011
Filed in Cover Art Discussions

Cover Art: Jim Hines Models For Us

And here I thought I did in-depth reporting on cover art! Well, author Jim Hines has gone out in the field (possibly left field) to uncover the secret behind cover poses. He’s dedicated. Very dedicated. Check out Jim Hines version of being a cover model.

Jim Hines is the author of the very excellent Goblin series, starting with Goblin Quest. I reviewed it here, back when I was just starting to do reviews. In short, it’s a very good fantasy series and worth a look for both YA and adults.

Jim has also written the alternate fairy tale series Princess Series series. I’ve read the first book, which is a wild adventure of what happened to Cinderella AFTER the happily ever after. She’ll get some help from some other fairy tale characters you may recognize. For a frugal and fun way to check out Jim’s writing, he has an anthology on sale right now for 99 cents: Goblin Tales

Posted: January 13, 2012
Filed in Book Reviews, Cover Art Discussions
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Fabulous Artwork – Jaguarwoman

You know I love to point out fabulous artwork. Sometimes I see artwork and it just makes me want to write a story to go with it. This latest work by JaguarWoman is like that. I love the colors, the themes–this is just one piece of the work that is sold as a set here. The unicorn pieces that are part of the set completely captured my imagination. I *immediately* wanted to write a unicorn story. Or two.

The prices for the work varies depending on the use (cover use is a bit more expensive than the price shown, but use the contact button to ask any questions.)

Also note that the words on the various pictures are not included when you purchase the artwork. You’ll be able to load your own titles or phrases.

Posted: March 29, 2012
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Have You Ever Shot A Gun?

I’ve been working on covers lately. Part of that means I look at every cover I see and evaluate it. Do the colors make me want to buy? Is it too loud? Too soft? Too … weird? I saw a cover the other day where the lady on the front was in some kind of…well, let’s hope it was a fighting stance. It looked more like she had a really bad cramp or…maybe, yeah, she might have just crapped her pants. That could be a scene in the book for all I know, but it really isn’t what I want on the cover (of her book or any other book, frankly.)

Anyway, in my various evaluations, I keep running across covers similar to this one:


Blood Challenge

I have seen three or four or six covers where the woman is in heels and crouched in a similar position with a gun. These ladies have one leg stretched out and one leg in a crouch. Sometimes she’s in a mini-skirt, sometimes leather pants, sometimes jeans. The backdrop varies from a cityscape to waterfront or she looks like she’s balancing on a wall. No matter where she is…This is a silly stance. Yes, yes, I am *sure* it is sexy (it must be because that is the only possible reason to use this stance.)

Go ahead. Try it–and remember you’ve got to get into this position quickly and you have a gun in one hand (or have both hands around the gun). Then, when you’re crouched, use both hands to hold the gun.

I’ll wait.

Okay, if you can even GET in that position without pulling anything (I hope you’re able to get back up, too!) try holding your hands out with an invisible gun. Keep your hands steady! Did you fall over? How long did it take you to find your center of gravity?

When you hold the gun in a shooting position, are your arms moving as you try to keep your balance?? No rocking back and forth!

Yeah, it’s possible to get a shot off, and if you hold very still, you can maintain the position and find your center of gravity such that you can hold the gun across one knee.

But if you’ve ever shot a gun, this is not the position you’re going to rush to get into if you’re in danger.

See, if you’ve ever shot a weapon, you know that a major requirement is balance. Not just to get the shot off, but to handle the recoil. And if you’re in a hurry, crouching down to avoid getting shot, you’re scared. You’re moving, you’re looking everywhere, but the one thing you need to be is steady–fast. You go down on your knees–both of them. Maybe you even fall onto your stomach because from there, you can use the ground to steady your arms and you might be marginally safer. I’d sit on my butt before I’d attempt a crouch like the ones in these covers.

I *know.* It’s Hollywood. It’s imagination. It’s fiction. But yanno. If you really want some laughs, put on a mini-skirt and heels and try it… just don’t try it with a loaded gun!

(related poses on covers)
(related poses #2)
(Maria Complains about Cover Art)
(Maria complains more about Covers)
Maria Complains about Stock Photo selections
What?? Another complaint about cover art? This time about guy cover art…

Posted: June 21, 2011
Filed in Cover Art Discussions
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