Heat All Around

Sunday, November 18, 2012

MuseIUp Publishing's Thanksgiving Holiday Parade of Covers

We at Muse It Up Publishing, Inc. have a great deal to be 

for this year. One of our most cherished Cover Artists, Suzannah Safi despite sustaining two feet of flooding waters during

Superstorm Sandy, she, her husband, and their four cherished stray cats survived.

The last I spoke with her, she told me they were still without

electricity, but she was making time to spend at Starbucks so she could use their

wireless connection to stay in touch with those of us who were

biting our fingernails waiting to hear she was okay, and so she can get her brilliant work for our covers done.

I am in

of the strength of so many of the people I am blessed to share my Muse home with and none inspire me more than Suzannah.

Kat and I discussed what we would have done if we'd still lived in

New Jersey when Sandy landed. We have only

TWO kitties, both strays adopted by us years ago...we would have stayed...not evacuated. I have since learned our apartment building DID sustain heavy damage, but even knowing that...

family is family...it matters little if the members have two legs or four. Our four legged family members depend on us, the two-legged ones, to make the choices for their safety as well as our own.

I have recently read a book of poetry by

Pultizer Prize winning author Laura Stamps...like Suzannah and her husband, Laura and her husband adopt

strays. These two women are heroes.

Suzannah I look forward to your full return to us. Until then, please accept this...

Now lets get down to the business of our

Thanksgiving Day Holiday Muse Parade of Covers.

These covers are only in the order I found them. not in any order of brilliance.

It is so hard for me to choose the covers that make this parade because Muse Covers haunt me for the most part with their exceptional beauty, but I have to be

brutally fair in selecting the absolute best from the panacea of them all.


Again, these are only in the order I saw them...not in any order of hierarchy.

1.) THE SEVENTH BULL by Gordon Rothwell, cover by MuseItUp Publishing's multi-talented C.K. Volnek. So why did I choose this cover? That's easy...it's brilliant, powerful, the font is easy to read and the images are so well blended I feel like I could actually see this in an elaborate frame, hanging amongst the best in a museum.

2.) GHOSTLY CLUES by Katy La Lone with another cover by C.K. Volnek. Here's another haunting, powerful cover. If I had one wish it nmight be not to make the font as dark, but that is the ONLY thing I might wish were different. With these old eyes it isn't always easy to see font that is almost the same color as the background. 

3.) EARTH ABLAZE by Kevin Hopson, cover by C.K. Volnek does it again. I have to tell you, I'm an avid Kevin Hopson fan, but this isn't about Kevin...although I WILL be reading this book when it releases, but this is about C.K. Volnek and her ability to create the right aura for Kevin's cover to convey...danger..and Boy Howdy did she come through.

4.) THE HIDDEN GLADE by...well me...cover by Marion Sipe. Praising my own books is always something I am uncomfortable doing. Luckily for me this isn't about me, but about the brillaint cover Marion Sipe created for my book. I'm not sure how to best praise Marion...but here's what I came up with...The glade in my story really exists, and Marion must have read my mind, so well has she created it, but she also gave me a haunting impression of the hero and heroine to add to the power of this cover. I am the first one to admit I do not understand how the CA's do what they do, but when they hit the artistic nail on the head the way this cover has, I have to give the artist the highest honors...hence these holiday parades. I am envious of their talent and cannot boast more highly or frequently about it. Thank you Marion.

5.) LOVE'S DECEPTION by Killarney Sheffield cover by Marion Sipe. Killarney has written a lot of books for Muse so has a lot of covers, but this is the first I fell madly in love with the moment I saw it. I don't know how Killarney feels about this cover, but for me Marion gave her brilliance, elegance, and exquisite majesty. LOVE THIS COVER!

6.) WANTED by Annika James cover by Marion Sipe. When a CA is on a roll the rest of us get to wallow in astounding beauty. Marion is proving this is the year of The Sipe. Look at this cover! How could I NOT include this one on my Thanksgiving Holiday Parade? I just love the way the heroines's eyes calls to me. I WILL be getting this book because I HAVE to let myself be drawn in by the eye...and THAT after all is what GREAT covers do...make you want to dive into the story beyond the cover.

7.) SHADOW ARMY by H.M. Prevost cover by Marion Sipe. This is almost turning into an exclusive Marion Sipe extravaganza...and why not? This work calls to the visual taste buds buried inside my retinas...I am beginning to think of Marion as  a weaver of sophsiticated "Where's Waldo?" type visual feasts. Seriously can you pick out all the clues Marion has blended into the main scenery? I'm still finding new ones every time I call her covers up and just stare at them.

8.) DAUGHTER'S OF SUBSPECIES by Mike Arsuaga cover by Marion Sipe. Like Killarney Sheffield, Mike Arsuaga has a lot of Muse covers to his name, but this is the first one of his I have loved from the moment I first laid eyes upon it. That does not mean I haven't LIKED some of his previous covers, but this is the first I have LOVED! Another Marion Sipe WINNER!

9.) THE JAGUAR SUN by S. Durham cover by Marion Sipe. S. Durham, like Kevin Hopson is one of our authors I stand in line for when I know a new book is coming out. All her covers to date have rocked me, none moreso than this one. Well Done Marion!

10.) REVELATIONS by Julie Lynn Hayes cover by Marion Sipe...Okay I am a sucker for a cover that makes me wonder if MY interpretation of the cover is on the money, and this cover has me asking myself such questions up and down, round and round. Because I am unsure I am seeing what my mind THINKS I am seeing you can bet I will be following up when this book releases to see how close or far from the author's story my conclusions based on the cover are. Ultimately a good cover makes you want to pick the book up, buy it and look beyond the opening pages. Therefore Marion's artistry is BRILLIANT here.

11.) IN LOVING HATE by Lynette Sofras cover by Nika Dixon. I am lucky to have one of my absolute favortie covers done by Nika, so I am a fan already. Here, Nika has chosen images for this cover that are so intriguing I cannot help grinning every time I see it. Simple, but stunning! Having learned a little bit about the dynamics involved with creating fine covers, I know how important choosing the right stock images are and then how important blending them so they do not look like a bunch of separate images, but one natural whole. Nika has done that here seamlessly.

12.) FAMILY TRADITION by Pamela Turner cover by Delilah K. Stephans. Before I begin enumerating the WOWs about this cover. I need to say you cannot read the author's name at all, and I know from speaking to many CA's the font should never deprive us of easily reading the title and/or the author's name.

Moving on...there are covers I instanty go WOW over because they call to mind earlier covers I went WOW over...this is such a cover. It reminds me so much of the cover done for Barbara Ehrentreu's debut YA book

IF I COULD BE LIKE JENNIFER TAYLOR by Kaytalin Platt. Many times I wonder how good or bad a thing it is for cover artists to pull their images from the same pool of Stock photos.

Long before I became a part of this industry I reeled from look alike covers.

Admittedly I was under the impression, back then, the covers were actually done by the artists creating much the way Monét must have done; with canvas and pallette of oils...I know there are SOME CA's that still do their covers that way, but most use computers and digitalization.

FAMILY TRADITION and IF I COULD BE LIKE JENNIFER TAYLOR show us two sides of the digital color pallette gifted CA's can employ. Here in FAMILY TRADITION we have the central image leeched of warm human flesh tones. Is the heroine here a vampire, zombie, demon?

JENNIFER shows the same face with a slight lip difference. The coloring of blood coursing through the heroines veins tells me, the viewer, I am not going to open the cover of this book and find myself in some paranormal urban fantasy. And THAT is part of what makes for a great cover.

13.) LONG SHADOWS by Grace DeLuca cover by Marion Sipe. This is a cover to drool over. This is Grace's second Muse It Up Release...how lucky can you get but to get a cover so powerful it will not let your eyes slip away? It is so breathtakingly intense I don't even know how to begin describing it. Is it a visual kick in your imagination or something deeper...something that wraps itself around your DNA inserting itself inside you at the cellular level? In my almost three years with Muse It Up, I have to honestly say this is one of the BEST covers I have seen so far. Exceptionally well done Marion.

14.) A DECENT DECEMBER by D.C. McMillen cover by...yep ANOTHER Marion Sipe. Okay as a December Baby I have a predisposed affection for snow, Christmas, and the promise of miracles. This cover gives me all of that and more. An exquisite winter feast. Another well done Marion cover.

15.) CHRISTMAS DELIGHTS by Yvonne Nicolas cover by Marion Sipe. Where to begin? The font is elegant and easy to read. I'm a Christmas fan...again, December you know being my birth month. One of my yearly birthday gifts was being allowed on my birthday 12/12 to high tail it up into the attic, bring down the lights and have at decorating our two acres inside and out...so I'm a fan of twinkling lights and this cover gives us a twinkle here and a twinkle there. Absolutely gorgeous and the coloring...outstanding. Together a brilliant pallette for my eyes to be pleasured by.

16.) REFLECTIONS OF ICE by Kat Holmes cover by Suzannah Safi. Just as this parade began with Suzannah Safi surviving the fury of Superstorm Sandy, we end this parade of covers with Book Two in Kat Holmes' Artica Lights series. When Kat first got this cover, she fairly melted before my eyes, and I can understand why. Elric, a bald...do we have a name for men who are the equivalent of a cougar?...takes my breath away. The lights, the crucial Artica Lights are there for one and all to see...but will anyone guess why the lights are so crucial?  

Suzannah brought to life the man Queen Awni relies on to help her rule over Artica, land of perpetual ice, and a man who's going to have his world turned upside down.

Well done Suzannah and Kat. 

This IS the season of giving

THANKS and I have much to give thanks for this year. I am grateful I lost no one close to me during the horrible attack of Hurricane Sandy.


helplessness I felt while waiting to learn the fate of my loved ones reminded me of the long, agonzing wait to learn the fate of loved ones in the hours after 9/11. I don't think you ever forget the agony you feel when such events enter your world and forever change it.

Lea Schizas and Litsa Kamateros who ARE the core of what makes Muse Publishing so special. They are the strength of Muse and the family

compass that allows the rest of us to sail through the choppy seas of publication and barely feel the slightest of swells against our boughs.

They're also the

heart and soul of Muse, guiding us through some of the emotional squalls that all too often stir the creative waters authors can drown in. Lea and Litsa, you offer your strength as the life preservers keeping our heads above the crashing waters keeping us strong until the emotional waves retreat. 

Thank YOU!

To those I call

family...many of you have no biological connection to me, but your connection could not be deeper if we actually DID have that

DNA imprint between us... You who came into my world via Muse It Up, Face Book, Twitter, this past year...each and every one of you have added to my

treasure trove of blessings. I cherish you and take none of you for granted.

Kat, Mama Bear, and

Spatz...you three make up the

world I wake to each day and cherish from the depths of my heart and soul. We have our challenges but you three are my pot of gold at the end of every rainbow...

even though you, more than anyone, know the real me, scars and all.

Thanksgiving...it comes once a year, but I give thanks for every one of you every day, 365 days a year...

Now go and have a rich
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Thanksgiving celebration. But remember Muse It Up has some really spectacular covers coming with my Christmas Holiday Parade, so come back and enjoy the best covers in all of Publishing Land.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

MUI Happy Birthday Cover Parade Celebration

Muse It Up Publishing

has accomplished much since its debut

two years ago in October 2010...and the covers are the initial lure...so how's Muse doing ARTISTICALLY speaking? I could be self centered here and only showcase my covers and my daughter's. Between the two of us we DO have a lot of covers...but that wouldn't be fair to all the other exceptional authors with really dynamic covers and cover artists...nor would it show what the artists are cranking out today.

In the beginning except for two covers,

DEAD MAN'S GAMBIT by Frank Scully, cover by Annie Melton...and

AHTABAT: MAN'S EXTINCTION by Christina Schizas, cover by George Schizas all covers here at Muse It Up were produced at a phenomenal rate by New Covey Award Winning Artist Delilah K. Stephans.


Muse It Up Publishing's

Department has had quite of few additions built onto its wing. Currently sharing this part of the Muse It Up Estate with Ms. Stephans are the following gifted people, 

Suzannah Safi, Kaytalin Platt, Mike Zambrano, Nika Dixon, C.K. Volnek, Winterheart Design, and Marion Sipe. Not bad for two years. That IS a total of

 active cover artists!

So how are we doing?

October 2012 is the two year birthday of Muse It Up Publishing Launching onto the world's publishing screen...but if I were to showcase every cover released to date, we'd been here until October 2023...so let's just take a look at the covers from the last few months.

From the most recent creations backwards I give you the


1.) Salty Roses by Pat McDermott...cover by Nika Dixon. This cover went up after I had thought I'd completed this parade...but I SO love this cover I had to move all the others down a notch and place it at the FIRST position. The moment Kat and I saw this cover our jaws dropped, our eyes popped and our imaginations kicked into overdrive.

You can read EVERYTHING and still be able to see the extras Nika added drawing your eyes more intensely into the pleasure of this powerful cover. (It is astounding that the "more" does not OVERLOAD...but then it doesn't conflict and that may be why in this case MORE works.)

I have no idea what the story is about, but I will be checking it out thanks to the force of this magnificent cover. (Since it's book THREE, I will ALSO be looking into the first two books in this series as well.)

I have been fortunate to have a Nika Dixon cover, and know my book SHE'S GONE has received a lot of interest because of that powerful cover.

Pat, I wish you joy with this cover, but already know you have a winner.

WELL DONE NIKA! Keep it up!

2.) The Shadow of the Unicorn...cover by Marion Sipe. Some people are suckers for snakes, others adore dragons, werewolves, tigers and bears...me I am enchanted by unicorns. This cover has grace, beauty, magic, and an elegance I find very appealing. I have no idea what the story Suzanne has written is about, but the cover makes me want to find out...and isn't that after all, what a good cover is supposed to do? I'm also pleased, since my eyes don't quite decipher hidden meanings I can no longer decipher because the title and the author's name disappear into the covers graphics or coloring choices. (Sometimes script and font blend in so well in the background I feel like I should find me a gifted witch and have her bespell a magnifying glass JUST to darken everything around the font so I can read what my eyes are too weary to catch...but NOT in this cover). WELL DONE MARION AND SUZANNE...together you created a brilliant cover.

3.) A Hallowe'en Tale, cover by Nika Dixon is also brilliantly crafted. Like I intimated above, a lot of dark covers have fonts that disappear in the shadows, but Nika chose wisely. Her font is eerie enough for the season, and the orange pigment a striking contrast to the deepening darkness of the covers scenery...the bold slightly darker than sky blue coloring of the author's name with it's solid lettering is easy on these ancient eyes to read. EQUALLY WELL DONE NIKA AND V.L.

4.) The Bastards of Ran gives me one of my all-time favorite scenarios...OUTER SPACE with pigments that in some ways, almost manage to duplicate the breathtaking colors of Nature herself. This cover, created by Marion Sipe is just breathtakingly beautiful. For me, an artist that can come close to mimicking Nature has more than a leg up in my book. FANTASTIC MARION AND LARRIANE.

5.) Blood and Fire..my second all time favorite is the powerful coloring of the sun and fire. This cover, created by Suzannah Safi is easy for me to read, but it is also easy for me to see the glimpses of passion beneath the halo-like tendrils of fire surrounding the hero and heroine as they kiss. Suzannah knows how to raise one's temperature quite well. MAGNIFICENT SUZANNAH AND R.

6.) Another Suzannah Safi cover, A Heap of Trouble takes center stage. I am normally not a fan of covers for Western sagas, but this cover gives us so many levels of interest how could I NOT love it? She employs red, one of the brightest colors there is, and yet makes it seem peaceful, contented, heartwarming. SUZANNAH YOU AND LORRIE GAVE US A WINNING COVER FOR SURE!

7.) Three Miles Below...a gorgeous cover by Marion Sipe, but for me, not quite perfect. Why isn't it perfect? I hate to say this because everything else about it is STUNNING, but I cannot really read "BELOW" It melds too well into the background. Everything else about this cover is so good I couldn't just let this one remain in the CA netherworld, never to be brought out and paraded...so Marion, great imagery for Kevin's next story, but many of us have weary eyes that cannot distinguish between dark scenery and dark fonts.

8.) Her Last Day by Delilah K. Stephans is another book I want to say is PERFECT because it is my first collaboration with my daughter Kat...You can read the title, our names, and Daria, the story's heroine is beautiful...but I cannot really see the activity going on behind Daria. Vesuvius is erupting...the reason for it being called HER LAST DAY, and yet it is so dark in the background I cannot tell it is THE volcano that is about to bury Pompeii for generations to come or a smoke cloud from a forest fire. Still it is a BEAUTIFUL cover and Daria could not be more perfect...Thank you Delilah.

9.) Into The Dark cover by Marion Sipe is powerful! I love the hint of the figure in the back being whirled down the drain in the forefront with hints of maybe blood AND the red shoes being left behind. Even though Marion gives us font that has varying intensity, enough of it is there for the brain synapses to fill in the gaps...making this an intriguing cover...and maybe that's why the font is perfect...the font is as intriguing as the concept of her figure in the background spinning down into that illuminated grate up front. FANTASTIC MARION AND I'M DEFINITELY INTRIGUED STACY.

10.) Drago's Revenge cover by Mike Zambrano. I HATE this cover so much I love it! It don't think it is terrifying so much as marrow chilling. That much blood and a hand with claws so sharp makes my skin feel lacerated. I want to run for my first-aid kit and find any wounds upon me and sew them up NOW! Mike chose fonts that allow you to read the title, the author's name and even the series' name. That's a sure sign of genius at work. WELL DONE MIKE AND BEST OF LUCK S.B. you incredible

Knight of the Muse Table, you!

11.) The Minotaur, cover by Marion Sipe. Truth be told time...I LOVE everything about ancient Greece including its myths and legends. I would have been sorely disappointed if this cover were anything BUT brilliant...fortunately for me and all the world, Marion came through with flying colors. She did an excellent job with the type of fonts she used AND the colors. GREAT COVER MARION AND CHRYSTALLA CAN'T WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK!

12.) The Mage Evolution cover by Marion Sipe. I honestly don't know why I love this cover. There's something wickedly enticing about this one, but I can't put my finger on why. Maybe the eyes and the slight, knowing smile? It can't be what's happening in the background because I can't really tell what's happening in the background...so it must me the hint of wicked playfulness in the heroine's eyes and her grin. I love the ease I have in reading title and author's name...even though I do not normally like text bands...here they really work well. FANTASTIC MARION AND VIRGINIA.

13.) Vengeance is Sweet, cover by Mike Zambrano. Okay know what I LOVE about this one...those EYES! Holy Hannah! The font and placement of the title could be better. The "t" in Sweet gets lost in the heroine's nostrils...It would have been better if it had been brought down to below her chin and the color altered enough to make it less of a monochromatic variation of the background, but the author's name IS perfect. Still LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the eyes and the hint she knows something we don't. That alone would make me check out the back cover and see what the story's about. WELL DONE MIKE AND JO, GOOD LUCK!

14.) MAGIC TO THE RESCUE cover by Marion Sipe...I cannot lie...I am a die-hard James Hartley fan. This is the sequel to his MAGIC IS FASTER THAN LIGHT book, released in 2011, and I have been looking forward to this sequel. I don't remember who did the cover for MAGIC, also a cover I loved, but I really, really love this one. Again I love anything outer-spacey and this certainly fits that bill. Normally using the same color for the font that is used in the graphics does not work for me...here it works MAGNIFICENTLY! EXCELLENT COVER MARION!

15.) DEATH PLANET cover by C.K. Volnek. OMG we finally have a cover with a hero that doesn't look like he belongs in a cartoon series. This guy really looks like he would know how to navigate the criminal world out there in the universe rather than be sitting on his balcony, overlooking the double moons of some far off galaxy, sipping Mai-tais made from martian rum. This guy looks like he could tackle the creature from the black Andromeda Pulsar and not try to stare him into surrender. You have breathed life into this series C.K. With the strength of your chosen hero! EXCEPTIONALLY WELL DONE!

16.) THE NIGHTMARE PROJECT by Jo-Anne Russell, cover by Marion Sipe. What an eerie cover to have pop up right as Halloween approaches. This is a perfect cover in all respects. You can read the title, author's name, and without a great deal of struggle and/or strain upon the aging eyes, you can even read the name of the series...or in this case, TRILOGY. The colors of Halloween, orange and black are blended nicely too. I LOVE the use of orange for the scripted word NIGHTMARE in the title. Truly creative. Another WELL DONE Marion.

17.) TURN ME ON by Virginia Nelson, cover by Marion Sipe. A lovely, sensual cover where all the elements are so well blended you cannot tell they are separate images plunked down to create this completed cover. If I were to wish for one thing it might be a little bit of lightning of the word "ON" only because since my car accident on 9/22/01 and the four operations to my eyes after it, straining to see the slight nuances between font and backgrounds hurts like the devil on my left eye. but that's a self preference...and after all, the publishing world is not in place to please me and my quirks.

All in all...WELL DONE MARION!

18.) UNDEAD AMERICA by Leah Rhyne, cover by Marion Sipe. Somebody once told me it is really hard to make skin look this pale, or the alternative, darker, but Marion managed it here with incredible aplomb and a skill that lifts her in the ranks of CA's as far as I'm concerned.

This cover SEEMS simple, but thanks to the lessons I'm getting from my salaried CA friends from one of the big Pub Houses, I know it's not. I count at least three separate images expertly blended and the fonts along with font coloring also makes this cover a WINNER!

19.) CONNER HOUSE by J.T. Seate cover by C.K. Volnek sends shivers up and down my spine and yep, makes my bones clack. I have a feeling, from the cover, if I read this book, I am going to be checking under my bed each night before I fall asleep. I'm not sure for what yet...a dark demon, or a serial murderer, or my neighbor who covets my new melamine dishes from Target.

I could wish for a little lightning of the font's color, (It's really hell when eyes are about to celebrate their sixty-first birthday), but other than that...fantastic cover.

20.) TAKEN by Marion Webb-De Sisto, cover by Marion Sipe. I LOVE waterfalls, so this cover has a leg up before I notice anything else...but it loses nothing when I begin looking at the rest. The hint of the angle wings...magnificent...the sky with it's variegated cloud coloring...breathtaking...heroine, a promise of beauty...and the font exceptional both in styles and coloring. I AM impressed.

And that completes my choices for this Second Birthday Celebration and our Muse Cover Parade.

I am

proud of the exquisite work of our cover art department and know we will only get better and our covers more

powerful as the years ahead spread out before us.

Before I end this parade I just want to say, some of the best covers, for me. are those that seem the most

simplistic. Sensory overload detracts and I found this out very early in my career here at Muse when I thought I knew what should be on my covers...as a result I got this cover...

I know now it would have been much better if I'd asked not to have the businessman and the belly dancer...the hero and heroine on the cover...but had asked for nothing more than a swinging pendulum...

Jimmy Thomas, no matter how popular he is as a cover model, does not do starched up businessman very well. Simple would have been better.

So I leave you all with that truth...simple is often so much better than sensory overload.

To Lea, Litsa and all my Muse Brothers and Sisters