Heat All Around

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

Monday, October 1, 2012


Look carefully all you Muse Loving Celebrants...aren't we ALL dancing here giddy with joy as Muse Slides past its OFFICIAL two year birthday.

You KNOW in one of my incarnations I am

LADYBUG LIN...reviewer most unusual and I I owe that part of me to being one of the lucky people who's been with Muse...oh happy day...since the very beginning. (See those two dancing LadyBugs...one is me, and even though I haven't quite convinced her, the other is my collaborating daughter Kat Holmes....I can't quite call us writers in a shell since Ladybugs don't have shells, but you get the idea.)

Although, we do have a gleeful turtle and I know LOTS of authors who can write really hot stuff, but shyly remain inside their shells the rest of the time...So I'm certain some of my fellow Musers are dancing on their ceilings quietly and shyly at home being the excited little turtles they are.

I see a prickly hedgehog, and to those who can lay claim to that part of this year's Muse celebration...thank you for making us all keep our eyes peeled, our armor on and the path ahead always in focus...even when things are a bit strewn with

porky-pine needles and a few clouds of icky stuff along the way.

Muse It Up Publishing, Inc. is TWO...but many of you who were not here at its birth might not know just what a miracle it is.

October is a very, very busy month for our leading lady LEA SCHIZAS and has been for many years.

Lea, a firm believer in this industry and aware of limitations many of us have in traveling to the learning conferences conducted here, there, and, yes, everywhere, spread her seemingly unfaltering energy and butterfly wings, to bring the best the industry has right here and for free year after year. I AM of course referring to the FREE

Muse Online Writers Conference...and that takes place in October.

I remember two years ago wondering how Lea and her partner the equally amazing Litsa Kamateros, managed to put together the Conference AND our explosion into the e-pub world all at the same time...but Oh WOW did they ever accomplish it.

Muse It Up Publishing, Inc. is TWO.

AND By The way...ORIGINALLY Muse It Up Publishing, Inc. was not supposed to debut until December 1, 2010, but Lea, Litsa, the editors, our two CA's at the time, and all of us authors worked diligently so we could surprise the world with THIS early arrival on the e-pub scene.

October...a month already dedicated to putting on a show...although usually it's a Trick or Treat type scene...

but we do it better. Meet Bonella

...a Muse It Up Regular...especially at this time of the year, who rises from her...cobweb encased crypt...to tease, taunt, and challenge Musers to never molder in their cobwebs, but create, create, create, and do so with with a smile and joy.

Bonella is just another example of what makes Muse It Up Publishing a place where thinking outside the box keeps all of us from complacency and allows us to truly celebrate the Muse-within.

Bonella is not the ONLY way Musers celebrate October.

See...we dig deep and share the passion for being the best, because Lea and Litsa encourage us to soar.

I mean think about it...could YOU have made a costume from these?...

Muse It Up Publishing is Two...and it is winning awards like gang busters...

BUT...it is also showing it has some pretty impressive print muscles as well...

VERY impressive print muscles...

Muse It Up Publishing, Inc. is celebrating its SECOND birthday today...and yes it's had growing pains, but that's normal...look at all it's accomplished in such a brief time...

So I say


We are two, but I see five in my headlights, ten, fifty and on into the next millenium.

Happy Birthday Muse It Up...

Lonnnggg May Your Banners Wave.