Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meet Cameo Hopper

Today I'm thrilled to introduce to you Cameo Hopper- the model used to represent Callie on the cover of FAERY MARKED.


Welcome, Cameo! Please, tell us a little about yourself.
I'm from Tennessee, so I'm a southern girl at heart. I believe in courtesy, manners, and helping others. 

I have two little brothers, three little sisters, and one older brother. I also have two younger brothers-in-law. Naturally, I play the protective older sibling role quite well. Nothing makes me happier than knowing my siblings are safe and successful. 

I begin my Masters degree in clinical psychology this fall and plan on continuing on to get my doctoral degree. I chose this field because I want to help those who are hurting heal and become whole. I truly believe that a persons past doesn't have to define them and that healing is possible. There can always be beauty from the ashes.

I'm an old soul. I love history, culture, and the simple things in life.

Wow! Another big family. And working on your Master's degree- congrats! That's a great accomplishment. Psychology is quite a different field from modeling. How did you get started with modeling?
I started modeling as a favor to a friend who was attending Paul Mitchell Cosmetology school. Priscilla asked me to be her model for the 2013 Fashion show and I agreed. Modeling in this particular show enabled me to meet many local models, photographers, and hair and makeup artists. I was selected as the top model for my segment, and Kelsey Keeton was the top model for her segment. She met me backstage at the show and recruited me for her book cover. My career took off from there.

That's amazing! You and Kelsey work so well together. Have you worked with anyone else? Or done more than book covers?
I have modeled for several companies and have been featured on book covers, in magazines, on promotional videos, and am in the portfolio of many area photographers. I believe I have done 20 book covers to date...perhaps more with stock photos. I have also done promotional on site modeling and runway modeling. 













Congratulations! That must be so exciting to see yourself on that many covers. 

I think we all fantasize a little about what it would be like to be on a photo shoot. What are they really like?
Shoots can be really fun but can also be stressful. The balance between the fun and the stress depends heavily on the chemistry between the model and photographer. Prep is probably the most time consuming and stressful part of any shoot. Hair, makeup, and wardrobe can take hours! Once I get in front of the camera I begin to have fun! I love posing and creating something new and beautiful! 

It can be awkward working in an intimate setting with a fellow model but we giggle through it. It takes a lot of trust to look a stranger in the eyes and pretend you are in love. I have been fortunate to work with some amazing models who make the awkward moments fun!


What's the most exotic location you've done a shoot at?
Shooting locations....oh where to begin! I jumped off of a waterfall for a shoot once....that was crazy! 




Oh, my goodness! That looks so incredible!

What's your favorite part of modeling?
My favorite part about modeling is the creativity behind it! It's like making a piece of art and the possibilities are endless. The picture can be dark, moody, intimate, delightful, and etc. I love the moment when the edited and finished product is revealed....it's like opening a present. 

Such a great description. Like with any job, I'm sure there are parts that aren't as fun. So, what's your least favorite part?
My least favorite part of the shoot is being uncomfortable....I mean physically uncomfortable. Some of the most beautiful poses are really difficult to hold while waiting for the picture to be snapped. 




I can't imagine holding a specific look while trying to ignore the discomfort you are in. That must take a special kind of concentration. 

Do you prefer to do solo shoots or shoots with other models?
I can be more creative when shooting alone. However, I like the atmosphere and energy that comes with shooting with multiple models. My favorite person to shoot with is my husband. He has done two covers with me...and both were a blast to shoot. 


I bet that was tons of fun, and created some amazing shots. 

Have you ever specifically been requested for a cover by an author?
Yes, I have had several authors request me for a cover. It's always so flattering to be selected to represent a character that they wrote up and hold dear. Tiffany King, Lila Felix, Sarah Dosher, Quinn Loftis, Adam Kuntz and several others are authors who asked for me by name. 




That must have been so exciting for you. 


You've been on many book covers, but do you enjoy reading? And if so, who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite author is Jane Austin! Favorite poet is E. E. Cummings. I will read just about anything I can get my hands on. On average I go through three non text books per week. 

That's a lot of books! And some great authors :-)

What do you do to relax?
My favorite thing I can do to relax is snuggle up with my husband on the couch, cover up with a quilt, and drink a cup of coffee.

Do you have a favorite drink?
Coffee!!! I love coffee! 

Me too! 

Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting with us. You can find Cameo on Facebook.




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Meet Kelsey Kukal-Keeton

Today I'm super excited to introduce you to the woman behind the lens of the photo that made it's way to the cover of FAERY MARKED. 

Welcome, Kelsey! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a sister to 2 Sisters and 8 brothers...only grew up with three of them though. All are half or step. I grew up in the Ozarks and was basically raised at Silver Dollar City, so I am an extreme people person and don’t know a stranger. 

I am a student at MSSU in Joplin Missouri as an Art Education Major. Sadly I still have 2 semesters left to finish.

I LOVE meeting new people. I am a Starbucks ADDICT. As in I have t-shirts, my Christmas tree is decorated in all Starbucks Christmas ornaments, and I should be a platinum card holder there. It’s my guilty pleasure. 

I sing and travel with my family on occasion through out the year, we do a lot of gospel and family oriented shows. I used to model and travel doing modeling when I was younger, which is how I have so many model contacts. I am an AWFUL typer... its best if you make sure I spelt everything correctly. And I love GOD, and am thankful that he put so many amazing people in my life!

Wow! 10 siblings!! I can't imagine that. I can see how that many people would be great for a traveling show- which sounds awesome, BTW! So, how did you get started in photography?
I have always loved taking pictures, but I mainly got started after going on a month and a 1/2 abroad trip to Sweden with MSSU to learn photography from a world Recognized photographer who partners with MSSU. I found myself mainly taking pictures of random couples, which I find funny now. Who knew my love of couples would turn into an income? Thanks to a lot of photography friends, models, my husband, and Family I have been able to make this a “job”. I have a great team of supporters.

I think it's great that your love of couples has turned into an income. It's always great to work at something you love doing. Do you mainly work with photography for book covers, or can we find your work in other places?
I pretty much only do book covers, other than personal friends hiring me or suggesting me for “life” photography. I am a licensed cosmetologist too, so when I am not doing the book cover thing, I am usually hired by brides or other photographers for Hair, Make-up and posing help.

Wow! That's quite a lot of talent you have. What's it like to be on a photo shoot?
This question makes me laugh. There is A LOT of laughing, uncomfortable face to face modeling, with me saying things that just makes everyone start laughing harder. I think we laugh way more than anything.

Laughter is always a good thing! Is it difficult for you to get the look you're going for with the model?
Actually, no not really. Sometimes there are wardrobe issues, to just get what you need by the time you need it. But the posing and getting the models to do what they are asked is pretty easy. 

And I'm click happy. I like to get different poses just “In case” I take what the author has asked, and then I take what I think fits the description they sent me. The authors fill out questionnaires that give me good insight into what they are looking for, and MOST the time I am able to get it. But not always.

What's the most exotic location you've ever been to for a shoot?
Florida or New Orleans. I haven’t actually gone anywhere for a shoot other than my immediate area. but when I travel I usually have a model with me and we take lots of pictures to take advantage of the different scenery.

That sounds like fun! I'm sure those 'extra' pictures come in handy, too! So, I take it that an author can contact you to request a special shoot?
Yes, this is what I call a custom photo shoot. Authors give me character descriptions and I send them all the models I have that fit. They get to choose who their models are to represent their characters and then we go from there on storyline, what the models need to wear, how to pose. etc.

Wow! That sounds incredible. I know I like to look at picture of people when I'm creating my characters, so I can get a better feel for them as a person. 

Do you have a preference between photographing people or things/places?
I prefer photographing people. I MOSTLY love being able to do REALLY out of the box hair and make-up and then taking the pictures. It is so time consuming for me to do all the Hair, Make-up and Photography, but sometimes I need it for a creative release. I love fairytales, fantasy, and all things magical. My goal this year is to make time to do some shoots for me where I am able to apply all my passions!

That sounds like a lot of fun. I've seen some photos with out of the box hair and make-up and cool costumes- they are so amazing! With all the hats you wear, what do you like to do to relax?
If I have time to actually relax, you will find me reading or spending time with my husband and 2 kids. 

Those are some of my favorite activities, too. Where can we find your work and contact you about photos and custom photo shoots?
I post all my pictures on my website http://www.kkeetondesigns.com or on my Facebook pages. I have my photography page and my Hair and Make-up page. If you are interested in purchasing an image or hiring me for a custom shoot its as easy as messaging me on facebook or emailing me.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Kelsey! Be sure to go check out her pages-her work is fantastic!!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

THE SANCTUARY OF NINE DRAGONS by Christina Weigand

Today, Christina Weigand joins me to talk about The Sanctuary of Nine Dragons, the newest release in her PALACE OF TWELVE PILLARS series.

Welcome, Chris! How did you find yourself drawn to write your series PALACE OF TWELVE PILLARS?
I was taking a Writing for Children course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. For the second assignment I needed a short story idea. I started to wonder what if a teenage farm boy woke up one morning in the palace of a mad wizard who told him he wasn’t a farm boy but a prince and wizard. [What a great idea!] So I wrote the short story and in the process of writing it I discovered there was more of a story than could be contained in a short story. I also discovered that I wanted to know what brought that boy to the starting point of that story, who his parents were and why he was being raised as a farm boy instead of a prince. Because of that farm boy, Brandan and Joachim came into being. Brandan and Joachim kind of took over at that point, although I didn’t realize until I was writing Sanctuary of Nine Dragons that the story had evolved into their story. Aaron/Airyn the farm boy does appear at the end of Palace of the Three Crosses and plays a big part in Sanctuary, where that first story about the farm boy actually becomes part of Brandan and Joachim’s story. [That is really cool you could take that short story, create a trilogy, then connect the short story into it.]

Did you intend for the series to be allegorical or did it just happen? I think it’s a little bit of both. The title of the first book, Palace of the Twelve Pillars, does represent the twelve apostles of Asha and I suppose you could say the twelve disciples of Jesus or the twelve tribes of Israel, although there is no direct reference to them in the book. The second book, Palace of the Three Crosses, was the one that I struggled with the most, because of the obvious relationship to the three crosses at the crucifixion. In the story there are not three crosses or a crucifixion although Joachim and Brandan do bear several crosses throughout the story. Sanctuary of Nine Dragons was just because I was dealing in multiples of three and liked the number nine. I did toy with changing it to seven dragons, but by the time the idea occurred to me I had two books published that referred to nine dragons. I couldn’t switch canoes midstream. [No, I think your readers would have wondered about that. Besides, nine does seem to work better with your numbering scheme.]

What do you want your readers to learn from your series? I want young people to see that they have choices, that there are many paths to take. I want them to see that there are consequences for every choice they make and give them the tools to make the choice. [I love that you said this. I tell my son all choices have consequences. Good choices had good consequences, bad choices have bad consequences. It's such an important lesson to learn.]

The Sanctuary of Nine Dragons is the current release in this series. Will it be the end of our time with Brandan and Joachim? Or do you have more planned? Well I can’t give away the ending. What I can tell you is that the younger generation, Prince Airyn being one of them, is making noise to continue their story. So someday we may see the return of some of the characters. After all it was Aaron that started the whole ball rolling and I’m pretty sure he and his siblings and friends would like to have their story told. And of course any story with Prince Airyn would have to include his parents. [Just what any good character will do- beg for their story. I'm sure your readers will love to hear more about these stories!]




Title–Sanctuary of the Nine Dragons: Book Three 
Series–Palace of the Twelve Pillars
Author–Christina Weigand
Genre–YA Fantasy
Publication Date–February 2014
Publisher–MuseItUp Publishing
Cover Artist–Charlotte Volnek




Book Blurb:Joachim banishes Brandan to prison island of Hyogo. His infant son, Prince Airyn disappears from his cradle. A chain of events is set in motion that will pit brother against brother, friend against friend, parents against children as Brandan and Joachim struggle for control of their sanity and their very lives.

With Brandan declared dead and his son missing Joachim sinks into despair and anger, where those close to him fear he may never return.

Is Brandan really dead and if he is, who is manipulating the Mantion and enemies of Crato?

Can Maeve save her country and her husband from the tentacles of evil pervading the land?


Excerpt:
On swirling winds, Myrria glided gently encircling the hidden fortress high in the Anna Mountains. Her long purple snout relaxed momentarily and she sighed before landing. She was home in the birthplace of dragons, within the soul of Asha. Granted she had been hatched in that distant cave at the Palace of Three Crosses, but her heart and soul had been born here in this holy place.

It felt good, refreshing, to be home, even though she would not be here long. Asha notified the remaining guardian dragons. Only five of the nine would be present, for three, Asha’s originals already resided with Him in the Final Resting Place. They were with Asha at the dawn of creation, and had served their purposes here. Now they worked for Him in other places. One day Myrria and her compatriots would join their predecessors; however—in this time, in this place—they still had a job to do. It fell to Myrria and the remaining guardians to fulfill His purpose.

* * * *

As she landed, she saw Alorn, Cielo, Dryas, and Stefano already in place in the great hall. Until recently, they had been six, but even the guardian dragons of Asha could be tempted and led astray by Sidramah. Tatsu had been such a one. Sidramah’s power bound him as his tentacles ensnared him. Under the thrall of Sidramah With the aid of a few spells from Waldrom, Tatsu soon rejected Asha to chase the evil one’s empty promises.

They now stood five strong before Asha, and received the monumental task to fight evil and bring their world back from the brink of destruction.

Myrria kneeled before the throne of Asha. “I am here Master. What is your will?” She then rose and took her place in the circle. The room they stood in was not so much a room as an amphitheater. It had no roof, thus allowing the dragons to take-off and land easily. It was large enough to accommodate a dozen dragons and hundreds of two-legged creatures comfortably. Upholstered benches lined the perimeter of the circular room, while the center was open to accommodate the Circle of Nine. The walls shone with green and white marble. Interspersed along the wall there were doorways, some small, others large enough for the dragons to navigate. Situated on one wall was a diminutive crystal throne. It was on that throne where a being, Asha now sat. He was neither human, Kningrad, Mantion, or dragon, yet somehow embodied them all. It was as if a mist, constantly changing, constantly adapting inhabited that place. It was all things to all creatures.

“Welcome, Myrria. I’m glad you arrived safely. I fear this meeting does not bear good news.” The white mist on the throne changed color to a dark threatening-blue before it spoke again. “Evil is afoot in the land. My children have been led astray, and the time has come for my hand to sweep the evil away.” The mist turned to a calming pink color. “I have sent one who can save them, but he can also bring about their final destruction.

“You, my Guardians, must seek him out. Protect him and ensure he is guided on the right paths.”

Alorn lifted his great, ruby-red head. “Tell us who is he, Lord, that we may fulfill your wishes.”

“I cannot reveal his identity…yet. Just know there are three who need you now. My power will be seen in all, but only one will be the savior in the end; however, all are needed to bring my Will about and they must all be protected and nurtured.”

“How will we know them?” Stefano leaned forward.

“All will be children of Brandan or Joachim and they will blend the lineage of the three races.”

“We know of Joachim’s children, but Brandan has none.”

“He has one, a half Mantion-half human child. Gorou is the third and he will be the hardest to protect and nurture.”

“Why a child of Brandan?” Cielo asked. “Brandan has already chosen the path of evil time and again. Would not a child of his be exposed to that same evil?”

“Although, he fathered the child, Brandan knows not of his existence. Moreover, all my children are exposed to evil and all must choose which path they will follow. With your protection and guidance, we can lead these three down the right path.”

“What of Sidramah? He will want them for his own.”

“Sidramah has planted seeds to make your job most difficult. In the end, if you and my children remain faithful, we will defeat him. Now, go. There is much to be done.”

The five dragons took to the air as the mist evaporated. A peaceful breeze was all that remained. If anyone had remained they would have heard a gentle keening as if someone was mourning.

* * * *

Darkness settled on the forest outside the city of Wyrzburg as Brandan and Tatsu landed. Brandan intended to return to the Palace of Twelve Pillars, now that Lukan had been found guilty of attempted murder. The way was finally clear for him to get rid of his brother Joachim and his wife Maeve. Well, maybe not Maeve. She seemed a strong woman, one who could make a good partner. If only she was not Kningrad, but maybe Brandan could overlook that flaw.

First, he had to get back into the palace. After dismounting, he tore and rubbed dirt on his clothes and then mumbled magic words. He stumbled hard as gash appeared and his left calf bone broke. Blood oozed out quickly staining his pants.

“Master is all of this necessary?” Tatsu asked.

“I want Joachim to believe that Andrew was working with Lukan to kill us both.” Brandan grimaced in pain. “This way, it will look as if I was injured while trying to escape Andrew, who turned out to be Melvane in disguise. It will look as if the Mantion played a part in this charade. A perfect plan, don’t you think?”

The big, jade-colored dragon nodded. “At least let me take you closer to the palace.”

“No! I want them to be surprised. You landing in the palace courtyard would take that away.”

“If you think it’s best.”

“I do. Return to the Cave of Njori. I will call when I need you.”

Tatsu flew off as Brandan found a sturdy branch and used it as a crutch to limp slowly toward the palace.

Joachim and Maeve sat in Lilia’s aerie sharing tea during a few quiet moments. With infant twins and a kingdom to tend, there were few of those to be had. With the disappearance of Brandan, there was even less rest for the royal couple than usual.

“Highnesses, thank goodness I found you,” Matthias said, as he ran into the room. He panted trying to catch his breath.

The king set his cup down. “Is something wrong with the children?”

“Sire, King Brandan has returned.”

“Why didn’t you bring him?”

Matthias raised his hand to stop the king’s questions and Maeve put a hand on Joa’s arm.

“He couldn’t come to you. He was badly injured and taken directly to his rooms where a healer could tend him. King Brandan asked for you to come, Sire.”

Maeve stood.

“The king requested only his brother,” Matthias said. “No one else. The healer agreed it was for the best.”

“I will walk with you husband and then check on the children. Come to me when you are finished.”

The king nodded and they followed Matthias to Brandan’s rooms. When they arrived, Maeve kissed Joachim on the cheek. “Asha be with you, my love.”

“And with you.” Maeve walked slowly away and down the corridor deep in thought. I hope all is well with Brandan, but I fear there is trouble brewing.

Myrria whispered in her head. “Be cautious, beloved of little one. All is not as it seems.”

Thunder rumbled in the distance on the moonless night. Maeve shivered and ran the rest of the way to the rooms she shared with Joachim and their twins.

BUY LINKS:
Smashwords Link


Bio:
Christina Weigand’s a writer, wife, and mother of three grown children and a middle school daughter. She is also Nana to three granddaughters. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Pennsylvania, returning there after a short sabbatical in Washington. Currently, she’s working on fantasy novels and inspirational writing. Through her writing, she strives to share the Word of God and help people young and old to realize the love and mercy He has for everyone.

When she’s not writing, she’s active in her local Church as a lector, Bible Study, or with the church theater group, volunteering at her daughter’s school helping the children develop a love for reading and writing. Jesus fills her home with love as she shares Him through her writing.


You can find Christina here:





Friday, February 21, 2014

Cover Reveal: Nicoel Zoltack's BLOODLUST

Today, I welcome Nicole back to the blog as she shares news on her upcoming release. Trust me, you're gonna want to add this to your TBR list! Take it away, Nicole!


Hi, everyone! Nicole Zoltack here and I'm so happy to share with you the cover for my upcoming release.


Isn't it just beautiful? And it's perfect for the story.

Here's the blurb for BLOODLUST, a NA epic fantasy romance.

In a world torn by prejudice and hatred, six races struggled for supremacy.

Desperation…

Barbarian-Princess Ivy is unwilling to allow her father to provoke the other races into war and forms an unlikely alliance with Lukor the goliath to save her people from utter destruction.

Betrayal…

Unbeknownst to her, Lukor blames the barbarians for murdering his sister and plans on sabotaging her goal.

Bloodlust…

Almost despite each other, they grow to respect each other on their journey to decode secret messages from the trolls. But nothing Ivy can do will prevent the war as her father is blinded by Bloodlust and incites it himself. Not even killing him and becoming Barbaroness can stop the tide. And when Bloodlust claims Ivy, forcing her to kill everyone in her path, she must make a choice to destroy even Lukor, who she may have started to fall for and him in return.

The cover is so fitting, am I right?

The story will be released on February 24th. Ack! So excited. I'd love for you to share this and I'd even kiss you if you add it on Goodreads.

What do you think about the cover? The blurb? Does it sound like something you'd like to read?

Bio:
Nicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially fantasy romance. When she's not writing about knights, superheroes, or zombies, she loves to spend time with her loving husband and three energetic boys. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they're unicorns!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dress in garb. She'll also read anything she can get her hands on. To learn more about Nicole and her writing, visit her blog.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Welcome, Suzanne de Montigny!!!




Are all unicorn stories charming stories made for young girls? Well, that's not the case with The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy, the first book in Suzanne de Montigny's trilogy of the same name. This is a story of what really happened when the asteroid struck the earth, causing the extinction of the dinosaur – all except one, that is. Darius, the sole survivor whose purpose is to lead the unicorns. It’s about the unsurpassable friendship between the young unicorn Azaria and Darius as they fight to save the unicorns from the same fate as the dinosaurs. Be sure to leave a comment at the end of the blog for a chance to win a copy of Suzanne’s e-book

Welcome, Suzanne! Please tell us a little bit about The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy
Well, Mary, it’s a story of unicorns surviving the great asteroid that transformed the earth into a near moonscape, and about how they overcame, especially after the arrival of the humans.

Uh-oh. That sounds rather ominous. What did the humans do?
Pretty much what humans do nowadays. We constantly hear about the poaching of elephants and rhinos for the ivory of their horn in Africa, and the very same happens to the unicorns, only it’s the healing power within their spiral horn that sends Ishmael into a frenzy of greed.


I always wondered if it was true about unicorn horns having special healing powers. So, what age group is this story for?
It’s a story for kids 9-12. But just a warning, when you think Shadow of the Unicorn, think along the lines of Harry Potter. It’s not a tale for the young and impressionable. There are ghosts and all kinds of other scary things to make your hair stand on end.
Oh! That sounds fantastic. I heard The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy won an award last summer.
It did indeed. I was so pleased. It won Gold in the Global E-book Awards for Best Fantasy/Alternate History. I was on cloud nine when it happened.

So you said it’s a trilogy; Can you tell us about some of the other books?
I’m in the final stages of completing The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Deception. Again, not a story for the weak of heart. This book takes place sixty years into the future when Icharus, a corrupt leader has created a false god to frighten the unicorns into submission. Rebelling against his tyranny, Ulysees and his best friend Teo befriend a horse and hence, the unicorns are rediscovered by the humans. I won’t tell you much more other than to say, they find Darius again and that there will be another cataclysmic event.

That sounds awesome. Are there any other books you’re working on that are near ready?



Ah, yes. My fiddling mystery – A Town Bewitched. It’s about a fourteen-year-old child prodigy in classical violin, Kira, growing up in the small town of Hope, B.C. She and her best friend, a girl adopted into a white family from China, are forever teased and bullied. And what makes things worse is Kira’s father has just died. Then, when Kate McDonough, the red-haired fiddler, takes the town by storm with her mysterious Celtic music, only Kira seems to know who has been vandalising the town leaving dead and gutted birds as a calling card.

That sounds great. Be sure to keep us posted on it. In the meantime, where can we buy a copy of The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy?


At the following links:











Thanks, Suzanne. This has been very interesting. Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy.




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How Does Anita B. Carroll Make Those Stunning Covers?

Today is the final installment of my interview with cover artist, Anita B. Carroll. You can find part one HERE and part two HERE.

MW: Welcome back, Anita! Today I'd like you to share a bit about your process. How you work, from start to finish.

AC: Of course! My cover design process is all about the planning, research, reading the book and teamwork. Coming up with the concept is the most challenging aspect of creating a cover, designing the concept is the easy part. It’s like a puzzle, and once I have all the pieces that I need, it all fit perfectly together. 

So, I do a lot of pre planning before I begin the actual design, just like if I were to design my own house I don’t just dive into it and begin building it. I guess this is where my background as a web designer and developer has proven to be so helpful to me.
In regards to how long it takes me to design a cover, there are so many variables that comes into play, but if I were to only count my actual design time, it can be anything from as little as 3 hours to a few days. However, if I include all the planning, research and reading the book, 7 to 10 days is a more realistic view.

To me, designing a book cover is a close partnership between the author and designer, so I want as much input/information as possible. My perspective is that I am responsible for creating a design that needs to be both sellable and attractive, but most importantly that it really represents the story and the author’s vision accurately. I want to ensure the design sets the mood before the reader has read a single word. I want emotion. As an artist, I truly believe emotion sparks inspiration and the author is a key element to ensure the visual representation is true to his or her story.

I wrote an article on my blog that takes a closer look at my cover design process. http://race-point.com/2014/02/13/a-closer-look/


MW: What a great article. I can see how that all played into the making of Faery Marked's cover. Clearly you've designed a few covers over the years. What are some of your favorites?

AC: Oh gosh, I enjoy designing so much and sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure that I am not dreaming. I will never send anything off to an author or publisher that I personally don’t feel really good about, so picking a favorite would be like choosing favorites over my children. 




However, I do get very inspired when I work with amazing works of photography, and the cover designs for both Kelly Ilebode’s “The birth of the sparrow,”  and Heather Letto’s “Impervious”- which will be released in fall 2014 from BookFish Books- are simply stunning! 

Another photographer’s works that I also really like and have discovered fairly recently is Kelsey Keeton’s of K Keeton Designs photography.  I used Kelsey’s photography for Faery Marked and it is an amazingly perfect fit for the story. I simply love it. I had been searching for days, and when I discovered this gorgeous captured pose of Cameo Hopper I thanked my lucky stars. It was a perfect fit for Callie.


Kelsey Keeton’s of K Keeton Designs photography (http://www.kkeetondesigns.com/)

MW: I fell in love with that picture for Callie as soon as you showed it to me. Great choice! What can you tell us about the importance of covers? And, have you ever had an author not like the choices you've made and had to start the design over?

AC: Over the years, having worked as a visual design consultant within a much more conservative license to design, has really molded me into understanding that creating visual representation of essentially a product is all about teamwork. 

Creating a cover design that is a true representation of the story and fits into the author’s vision is so important to me, and I love picking the author’s brain, so to speak. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. I admire authors so much, and find it truly a privilege to design the cover for all of you creative writing minds. 
Knowing that the cover design can make or break the success of the book, is a responsibility that I take very seriously. I wrote a small case study article that was featured on Kobo’s writing life about how something as simple as the typography can affect book sales. It was another reminder that the quality of the cover design does matter.




I do realize many designers feel the need to put their mark on their designs. My way of leaving a “signature”, if you will, is creating what I would like to think is high quality work (At least I hope I do!) I set a very high standard for myself since all my creations are a representation of me as an artist, and it is my most important asset when promoting my services. 


So, if I am provided with photography that is of poor resolution or have requests to use a font type that doesn’t translate well for either print, the screen, or display the wrong mood, I will offer up suggestions.

Fortunately, I have not had to do any major changes to a design or experienced anyone disliking my designs so much that I had to start over, and I believe that is due to being able to really narrow the concept down before I begin designing. 

If I propose a concept that the author may not like, I actually look at that as progress and realize that we need to brainstorm in more detail to make sure I really understand their vision. Sometimes there can be too many ideas floating around, and if you try to bring all the elements into the design it doesn’t usually lead to a clear understanding, so I try to help navigate through the maze to achieve a strong, yet simple focus. 

Essentially, I don’t take it personally since it is the concept that is in question and not my ability to design and produce quality work.



MW: Anita, thanks so much for sharing all this great information with us! If you're looking for an awesome cover designer, who'll really get your story, check out Anita at Race-Point.com. (And don't worry if your story isn't in it's final draft-she did a great job from an unedited version of Faery Marked!) 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting to know Anita B. Carroll

The lovely and talented Anita B. Carroll, cover designer extraordinaire, returns today to talk about how she got started in the cover design business. (If you missed yesterday's post on the making of the cover for Faery Marked, you can find it HERE.)

MW: Welcome back, Anita!

AC: Thanks for having me back.

MW: Anytime, it's truly my pleasure. Yesterday we talked about what went into the making of the cover for Faery Marked. Today, I'd like to hear how you got started in the design field.

AC: Growing up in Norway I had several influencers within design and in several different forms; fashion, interior, visual and nature. 

My grandma was a fashion designer and one of my biggest idols. So by the age of ten, with my own sewing machine, I was designing and sewing clothes. I also watched and helped family members build structures, and had re-designed my room more times then I can count. My father was an electric engineer and an avid photographer and I would spend hours admiring his works, he gave me my first 35mm camera when I was nine. 

So, with all this exposure, learning naturally about balance, patterning, and colors, I think I knew I wanted to be a designer already at a very young age. I just didn’t know which kind of designer I wanted to be. I find design so interesting and fulfilling, and don’t really like the idea of having to limit myself to one specific area. 

However, my college studies were non-design related but focused on sports medicine, marketing, and foreign languages. It wasn’t until after I graduated and moved overseas to the US that I started tinkering with HTML and content development, and it sucked me in. 

With self-taught skills I began my professional visual design career as an intranet webmaster for Symantec Corporation, based out their World Wide Headquarters in Silicon Valley – Cupertino, California. That was 17 years ago. My interest for creating graphics became a reality as my Linux, HTML and JavaScript coding skills grew stronger, since I wanted to bring my website design up to a new level. 

I have always loved imagery both graphic design and photography, and once I discovered Adobe’s software program Photoshop, there was no turning back. I attended a comprehensive Photoshop training program, from beginner to advanced level, and loved every minute of it. 

A few years later I transitioned over to an internet start-up company with focus on home improvement and was appointed the Lead Web User Interface Designer role. During this time I was very fortunate to take studies with Jared Spool, the Founding Principal of User Interface Engineering, and his team as my instructors. 

So, in the beginning my visual design career was heavily focused on web user interface design, web graphics and web usability testing. One of my proposed web site designs was chosen as the new storefront for the 60,000+ pages web site re-design project, and only six months after implementation the company was acquired. I worked with wonderfully talented people and it was truly an invaluable fun learning experience.

When I relocated to New England to the Greater Boston Area with my husband about a couple of years later, I formed my visual design consulting services business, (Race-Point.com) supporting clients such as small business owners, organizations, and artists with all their website, graphic, brand and identity design needs including social media marketing.

Prior to the self-publishing era, designing book covers has, for the most part, only been offered in-house. So unless you were working for a publishing company, designing covers was not easily accessible to a freelancer. So it was definitely on my radar but Ifound it serendipitously when one day, my passion for creating art DID fatefully intersect with my love for reading. (I really LOVE reading.) 

Having designed business-oriented visuals for so many years, the difference was immediately noticeable, and it felt amazing to design with free license and I had so much fun with it. At the time, I had a great group of clients, but I knew then that book cover design was where I wanted my focus to be. 

So gradually I began shifting my design services, it was important to me to make sure all of my business clients were taken care of before I jumped all in. Now, over five years later I am so incredibly grateful and thrilled to say “I am in!”  





Original Photography works and PREmade book cover designs by Anita B. Carroll 
(http://race-point.com/pre-made-book-covers/)


Discovering cover design has truly been a gift, and offers me such a wonderful outlet to implement my works in photography, in addition to using my digital image manipulation skills. 

Each book has its own story and identity (brand,) and I believe the author should be involved in the creative cover design process. 

Which is why I LOVE working with SPA’s (self-published authors) and publishers such as BookFish Books. You guys are absolutely a dream to work with. You truly understand the art of creating a cover that is a perfect fit for the story. Creating a cover is such a close partnership with the publisher, designer and author, and that requires teamwork and trust.




MW: I totally agree. A cover can make or break a book. And check out those before and after graphics above! How cool are they?!
I must say, we at BookFish Books are blessed to have you creating such stunning covers for us! 

Come back tomorrow to learn more about Anita's process, and see some of her favorite designs.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Behind the Cover of Faery Marked

Thank you so much to all who hosted me for the 'Oh, What an Knight!' blog tour the last three weeks. And thanks to all of you who stopped by and left comments, and of course entered the raffle to win copies of the series. 

And the lucky winner of Quest of the Hart, Charmed Memories, and Different Kind of Knight is: LINDA TOWNSEND.
Congrats, Linda! Just e-mail me at mewaibel(at)gmail(dot)com by Friday, 2/21 with what version you'd like to receive.

And now, for some more exciting things!

Today, I am thrilled to share with you the first of three posts with Anita B. Carroll of Race-Point.com, the cover artist for my upcoming release, FAERY MARKED,  the first in a YA Paranormal trilogy releasing this summer from BookFish Books.

Today, we'll talk about what went into the making of this amazing cover, then over the next two days, Anita will talk to us about how she got involved in cover design, and share some of her work with us.

Here's the book blurb, to give you a bit of background:

When Callie Rycroft wakes to purple flames on the ceiling, she discovers that not only does the Faery realm exist, but she is the human who must save it. Chosen as Champion by the Faery Queen, Callie is tasked with finding the Cordial, a magical elixir to strengthen the portal between the Human and Faery realms.

The upside? Reece Michaels, the boy she's been crushing on for years, is assigned as her Guardian. Callie hopes by spending time together, he'll start to see her as more than just his best friend's sister.

The downside? She's in a race not only against time, but another Champion and Guardian-a Guardian who stands to threaten her developing relationship with Reece.

Magic, mistaken identities, and hidden agendas are the least of Callie's worries when she learns the Cordial requires a sacrifice. Will Callie be willing to risk all, even Reece, to complete her task as Champion, or will she let the portal fall, destroying both realms?

Now, a warm welcome for Anita!

MW: Thanks for coming by today to visit.

AC: You are very welcome. I'm so excited to be here.

MW: And I'm excited for you to be here and share what went into the making of the cover for Faery Marked. When you started working on this cover, what was your thought process? What did you want the cover to show and how did you go about making that happen?

AC: Once I received the information from you and the rest of the publishing team with answers to my cover questionnaire, I felt that I had a good understanding of what your vision was. However, I still wanted to read the book so I also could get a good feeling about how the story is told and what it is about.

I find that reading the book really helps me capture essence of the message and visualize a concept that has the right focus. I almost feel as I am designing in the blind if I have not read the story. That’s perhaps where my experience as a brand and identity designer comes into play, I have to really understand the product that I am designing for.
Reading Faery Marked was a real treat. I enjoy reading stories told in first person, and since the main character Callie, a high school student, being a human unexpectedly gifted with the magic of faery powers, I knew I somehow wanted the cover to display both realms.

The book title is very fitting, and since being a faery marked proves not to be as magical as Callie initially thought, I also wanted to incorporate Callie’s vulnerability and hurt. Overall I used the next few days thinking about the story and began analyzing what feelings I was left with, and began going over my notes from you.

Prior to reading the story, we had discussed cover concept ideas and we were thinking of only featuring Callie’s tattooed silver wings. However, after reading it I felt it was important to place the focus on Callie. So I began searching for photography that would feature Callie, but in such a way that her features were still left up for imagination, as well as a way for me to incorporate the tattoo on her wrist.
Kelsey Keeton’s of K Keeton Designs photography (http://www.kkeetondesigns.com/) —BEFORE  


Once I found her, I was excited to present my new concept and was
so thrilled that you and your team also liked the new direction. I
began designing once I got the approval from you to move forward
with the new concept.

Sometimes I am often left with specific color schemes in my mind
and navy blue, purple and silver were very prominent for this story,
so a starry night vibe felt very fitting.

I incorporated the purple swirls as a way to represent the purple
flames in Callie’s bedroom ceiling, the tear to display her emotional
journey, and since in the story winter solstice is an important date, I
knew I wanted to try and find a way to incorporate this as well,
which is why I used the snowflakes.

Usually, when I begin designing I have a pretty good idea of what I
want to create, but I never know for sure if it’s right, so it is not
uncommon to design several mock ups before I hack it. With Faery
Marked it felt right from the start, so I knew we had a good concept
growing.



AFTER – Cover Design by Anita B. Carroll of Race-Point.com (http://race-point.com)


AFTER – Cover Design by Anita B. Carroll of Race-Point.com (http://race-point.com)


MW: I think you did an awesome job. I love all the little details you
captured without being too busy. Thanks so much, Anita!

You can easily connect with Anita:
Website/Blog/Portfolio: http://race-point.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RacePointUS
Twitter (@RacePointUS).

Anita enjoys connecting with self-published authors of any genre,

so please feel free to contact her directly at: anita@race-point.com
with any cover design questions and needs.


Learn more about Anita:
2013 YATR Literary Awards Nominee
for Best Cover Designer & Cover Design
Examiner.com and Kobo Writing Life
Featured Cover Design Specialist


Anita B. Carroll is a visual design consultant
and owner of Race-Point.com, supporting
self-published authors and publishing
houses with all their business brand identity
design needs, and offers a FRESH take on
book cover design.

Anita has over 17 years of experience within
the visual design field, starting out
managing creative initiatives for both online 
and print publications, for Fortune 500 
Businesses in Silicon Valley, California. Experience applying brand visual design and content
guidelines consistently across several products. 

Anita is specialized in Heuristic Evaluation, Web User Interface Design with focus on online
usabilitytesting, a valuable skill when designing book covers for the rapidly growing digital
market. Anita is also an avid reader. Discovering book cover design has provided the 
opportunity to combine her works in photography and graphic design skills.

Anita’s work has been featured in the KOBO Writing Life, Examiner.com, Anneli’s Place,
Monadnock Living Magazine, Amherst Citizen, The Milford Cabinet, and The Union Leader.

Over the past 17 years, Anita has gained experience in both the United States and Norway, and
is currently working out of her home studio in New England—US, where she works with clients
from around the world.

Anita is also an avid photographer and a Lampwork Glass Artist, and her works have been
displayed at various galleries in New England throughout the years.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling and exploring what Mother Nature has to offer with her
family. … You might spot her at one of the U. S. Cape beaches, biking the National Sea Shore
trails, photographing the gorgeous coastline, as well as capturing beautiful moments through
beach portrait photography.



Be sure to come back tomorrow to learn how
Anita got started designing book covers.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Oh What a Knight! Final Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Today is the last day of the Oh, What a Knight! blog tour. I hope you've enjoyed all the stops along the way.

Today I'm talking about all three books in the Valendria series with KF Breene at her BLOG.

And in case you missed the post with HK Carlton (or were too young to visit) Jay Scott is hosting a behind the scenes of Valendria today at ON WRITING.

If you missed a post, you can find the entire listing HERE

And, don't forget to enter to win a copy of QUEST OF THE HART, CHARMED MEMORIES, and DIFFERENT KIND OF KNIGHT. Entries are available at each post!  I'll be drawing the winner tomorrow and announcing it on Monday. 

GOOD LUCK!