Evolution of A Cover – How I Designed the Cover for My Novel Council of Peacocks

Council of Peacocks
Evolution of A Cover – How I Designed the Cover for My Novel Council of Peacocks

What you see above is a before and after shot of the cover for my first novel, Council of Peacocks. I have a background in marketing. I truly believe in the importance of image. The old adage “You can’t tell a book by it’s cover” is, in may ways, false. If a writer does not take the time to invest in a good cover, it may be a sign that they don’t truly believe in the work. And if they don’t, why should you.

However, it can also be a sign that the author has no idea what good cover art is. That’s what happened in my case.

First Mockup

Last year, long before my set publishing date, I spent a solid month looking at cover artist. The best I found for a reasonable price was Ebook Launch. Check out their site. You’ll see very professional work for prices ranging from $99-$279. I contacted Dane Low. He was super easy to work with and very quick. I wanted an angry man to represent Wisdom and a 20-something blond man to represent Josh. In the background is the Yezidi religious symbol representing the Black Peacock.
As you can see, Dane Low did an amazing job of taking my vision and making it more professional. I highly recommend his work. The problem was with my vision, his not work.

My First Revision

As much as people liked my original cover, I wasn’t satisfied. Something just felt off to me.

I spent a few weeks doing nothing but looking at covers for urban fantasy novels. I focused on the top sellers and tried to discover why some covers worked and others didn’t.

In August of 2013, I decided to learn Photoshop. Since I plan on publishing many books over the next few years, it felt like a good investment. I purchased Photoshop Elements with Premier Elements (which retails for about $120). I already owned a Bamboo Graphics Tablet which I used for drawing comic characters.

I spent the next few months watching web tutorials and playing with the program. I used what I’d learned from cover research to update the image. I felt the new cover was slightly more professional but I also completely hated it. It felt so amateurish and ugly.

Now more than ever, I realized I had no clue what I wanted for a cover.

Revisions 2-15.

I literally did 15 revisions of the cover before I figured out what the heck I wanted. Some were decent, others were a disaster. On my 8th revision I cam up with this. I liked it until I was told it looked like Wisdom had a headache.


That told me I had a lot more work to do.

Final Revision.

And here’s what I ended up with. Starting with my 16th revision, I realized what I wanted the cover to look like. I did five different versions of this cover, tweaking the graphics slightly each time.
I feel good about this one mostly because it doesn’t feel like a “self-published” cover. Look at the list of top free books on amazon. Most of them have cringe-worthy covers. I understand why. Many feel they cannot afford a professional and few people have the time to devote to learning Photoshop. 

Picture Sources:

All pictures were either purchased from Fotalia or from the free stock photo site Pixabay. I should also note that DeviantArt has some great stock art. You just have to be careful of the permissions. Some photos allow complete control while others prohibit commercial art or simply require you give recognition to the originator of the image.

My New Year’s Resolution – Write Stronger Women

A few months ago, I saw this article on CBC.CA entitled Feminist movie rating system introduced in Sweden. My first response was “This is ridiculous.” Keep in mind I actually consider myself a feminist, so I was actually quite surprised at my response. Then I read the article. It blew my mind.

To pass this rating system, a film only has to meet the following three requirements:
(1) Does it have at least two women who are given names?
(2) Do they talk to each other?
(3) When they spoke, was it about something besides a man?

So, you see, their not even rating movies based on how women are portrayed. They’re rating the movie on whether or not women EXIST in the film.

Try the test out with any of your favorite movies and you’ll see most don’t pass this test.

Then I looked at my own writing. Admittedly I write genres that typically have a predominantly male target market. But that’s no excuse. Council of Peacocks has several women in it, all of them have names. I’d like to think that they are all strong characters. All of them have lives outside of the men around them. Most have super powers or, in the case of Elaine, are trained killers.

My newest novel, A Fallen Hero Rises, has five named women but only two that appear in more than one scene (I’m not counting the scene where Tadgh talks to his mother). I actively try pump up female voices in my work because I KNOW fantasy often under-writes them.

But I think I can do better.

My first two books are all told from the POV of male characters. This year I plan to change that.

In 2014 I will write and publish the sequels to Council of Peacocks and A Fallen Hero Rises. Before they are published I plan to apply the Bechdel test. I”m also scheduling two novellas to fill in the missing gender gaps. I will write standalone stories featuring Echo (from Council of Peacocks) and Eiodeesh (from A Fallen Hero Rises). This is easier than it sounds. In fact, I already have 70 pages worth of material from Eiodeesh that was cut from A Fallen Hero Rises for pacing.

It’s very important to me that my novels represent the entire human race, not just to 48% of them.

Buy Council of Peacocks on Amazon Now
There is a dark world, hidden in plain sight, filled with vengeful djinn and shadowy demons. The Council of Peacocks, a group of ruthless wizards, has plans for the human race. For centuries they have plotted and schemed. Now, the moment of Activation draws near.

Wisdom, an immortal sorcerer, has gathered a band of hybrid youths with extraordinary powers. They are trained to stop the Council. But there’s something that Wisdom doesn’t know. The Council is no longer working alone.
If Wisdom and his students cannot stop The Council, the world as they know it will cease to exist.

Buy A Fallen Hero Rises on Amazon Now
Three hundreds of years ago, a group of heroes imprisoned a dark god in a hell dimension known as the Void. Since then, the people of Maghe Sihre have lived in relative peace. Now, a secret war starts at the edge of civilization.

A young man from Earth, Tadgh Dooley, is burdened with a dangerous and impossible power. He is fod sel-onde, born with the ability to warp the fabric of reality. An unknown force draws him to Maghe Sihre and, in doing so, cracks open the Void. Can Tadgh gain control over his power before it’s too late? And what does the appearance of the Sword of Kassandra mean for the people of Maghe Sihre?




Slave Trader – In the Name of Freedom
Guest blogger, Victoria Roder
I am thrilled to have Victoria Roder here as my guest. Please help me welcome her.


Victoria Roder lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and house full of pets. She writes secrets and age-old revenge that lead to murder. Suspense that makes your heart pound, romance that makes it flutter, and the twists and turns that make you hold on. She is the author of action thriller, Bolt Action, paranormal romance The Dream house Visions and Nightmares, picture book An Important Job to Do: A Noah’s Ark Tale, children’s chapter book The Curse of King Ramesses II an inspirational It’s Not You – It’s Them: Six Steps to Healing and Thriving After Abuse, and her short stories have appeared in several anthologies.  Victoria also creates puzzles for magazines and activity books. Please visit Victoria at www.victoriaroder.com

In my action thriller Bolt Action from Champagne Books, Detective Leslie Bolt is a smart talking, gun hording, motorcycle riding investigator forced to work a serial murder case with her sexy ex-lover.  After a childhood of abuse suffered at the hand of her father, Leslie stashes a collection of pistols, revolvers, and even a Browning A-Bolt Stalker Rifle in her broom closet.  The “State Quarter Killer” is taunting police but with the help of forensic science, Detective Bolt is hot on the trail. You’ve got to check out the book trailer for Bolt Action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqcYL_G7h7s
Bolt Action is available in e-book:

Also available in paperback:

I’d love to see you on facebook:

The past few years have been full of high profile reads—50 Shades of Gray, Twilight, and more. Love them or hate them, you have to admit you have at least heard of them.
As Independent Authors we all dare to dream we will be next, and well let’s face it, you never know … right?  With some hard work and the right marketing any one of us could be the next most talked about Author.
With that thought I jumped on this Hop, what is a blog traffic hop? Well I didn’t know until I asked.
Basically, it’s an Independent Authors game of tag. 
One author posts, and then tags five other authors, who each link back to them. Exponentially it is a marketing gold mine, and you my fair reader have hopefully just increased your to read list. Finding new and exciting authors you may never have found otherwise. Some of us are still writing, others are just being released. 
Either way, for you Fiction Lovers, a treasure trove awaits and I’d like to thank fellow Author Marci Baun for tagging me to participate.
Click the links to find out about Marci Baun’s books.
In this particular hop I and my fellow authors each in their perspective blogs have answered 10 questions where you get to learn about our current WIP (Works in Progress) as well as some goodies as to our process, from characters and inspirations to photographic / cinematic eye candy! I hope you enjoy it!
If this or any other items pique your interest, please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions.
1: What is the working title of your book?
            Slave Trader – In the Name of Freedom.
2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
I think my main character, Detective Billie McCoy came first before the actual idea for the book. Once I’d established her, I put together some villains and thought about where I could go with them and eventually ended up with slave traders. 
3: What genre does your book fall under?
            I would say action / adventure / crime.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
            Umm. I have been looking but haven’t yet found anyone suitable. I think I would like someone new and unknown so they could grow and build their own reputation with the movie, and then the next one 🙂
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
            Slave Trader – In the Name of Freedom is an action/adventure story which follows Detective Billie McCoy in her fight for freedom after she is caught up in a modern day slavery trade run by a corrupt cop.
6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
            My book is represented by Wild Child Publishing.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
            My story flowed quite easily so I wrote my first draft probably within a couple of months. It’s all the editing that follows which takes up the time.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
            To tell you the truth, I haven’t really seen any that I can compare mine to but I’m sure there must be some out there, somewhere, maybe.
9: Who or What inspired you to write this book?
At the time I wrote Slave Trader (many years ago), there weren’t too many heroines around, in books or movies, so I decided to create my own. I wanted someone who wouldn’t crumble at the first sign of trouble, someone strong in character and genuine in personality, and someone able to look after herself … hence Detective Billie McCoy stepped into my world.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
            It’s fast moving with many twists and action scenes, and amidst it all is a building bond of friendship between certain unlikely characters.
Below you will find authors, who will be joining me by blog next Wednesday, November 14. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!
Chad Mcpherson: Author of Dangerous Waters

Victoria Roder:

Molly Dean: Author of The Twilight Garden
Twitter: Molly Dean@mollydean1

Rae Lori:

Website – http://www.raelori.com

Blog – A Writer’s Dream – http://raelori.blogspot.com

Sale sites – Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Rae-Lori/e/B002J4W09O

Sandy Curtis:

Website: www.sandycurtis.com

Blog: http://sandycurtis.com/blog/?cat=1

Buy Fatal Flaw at: http://clandestinepress.com.au/content/sandy-curtis

The Evolution Trilogy
I have been spending hours starting to get the formatting reading for the last book, Return, and then thought to brush up Hybrid and Complications whilst I was at it.

Now, can someone explain why what I though would take 30 minutes took 4 hours?!?!

So, annoying…

When I used to work as an Accountant I would get my stuff done really quickly, and then would be twiddling my fingers for the next job, or clock watching every minute… yet, this is truly the longest job EVER. It is never done, never finished, there is always something I can do better, some other social networking site I can join or update!

So, let me make it clear to any of you sceptical readers out there – this self-publishing lark is no biscuit! It’s gruel! I must be mad!

You just keep smiling…

I am coming to the conclusion that for my next project I am gonna go a hunting… a hunting an agent! Tally ho!

Excuse my rant & if you want to make me feel like my time has been well spent please take a look at my updated descriptions for the books and leave some feedback!

By the way, I have also included my first editorial review, by Christine Thompson, a journalist from the local newspaper in Gibraltar. I am really chuffed with the review, and glad that someone who is not my ideal reader can appreciate its value – woo hoo!

Thank you 🙂

Vanessa xx

Jessica Knauss, Famous Author
Interview: A World of Joy Author Juliet Kincaid
Welcome Juliet Kincaid, whose story in A World of Joy features not just people, but also Maine Coon cats.

Q: Tell us about your story.

JK: Another Christmas Carol is actually the third of the mystery stories I’ve written involving Jen Shirey, a young female private detective, and several Maine Coon cats. In the first story, “Cat Show Caper,” she meets the cats and their owners, Blanche Hubbard and Blanche’s mother, Mrs. Elvira Jones. In the second, “Catnapped!” Jen travels to the Hubbards’ bed and breakfast located in a small town much like Westin, MO. Here she meets Blanche’s personable son, Eric Hubbard. By time “Another Christmas Carol,” takes place, Eric and Jen have gotten to know each other fairly well and seem ready to take their friendship to the next level — until Eric’s old flame shows up.

Q: What was the inspiration for the tale?

JK: Part of the fun and festivity of the holidays for me is attending productions of seasonal favorites like the Nutcracker Ballet and A Christmas Carol. Also, in and around Kansas City, historical homes are often open to the public with appropriately seasonal decorations and costumed guides. Yet in Dickens’ original story and in our very real lives, we can have mixed feelings about the holidays. Partly, this arises from disappointment when holidays don’t meet our high expectations for them. So Jen’s cranky and not at all joyous to start the story, pretty much like Ebenezer Scrooge, but the story ends happily for Jen, as it does for Scrooge.

Q: What other writing are you working on?

JK: Currently I’m writing and publishing Cinderella, P. I. stories and a novel. Like “Another Christmas Carol,” they’re crime fiction, but not murder mysteries. They have humor and happy endings. Walls, a Cinderella, P. I. Novel is now available as a Kindle eBook and a trade paperback. And Cinderella, P. I., and Other Fairy Tale Mystery Stories is also available as a Kindle eBook. The trade paperback version of the story collection should become available this month. And coming in January 2014: January Jinx, the first in the Calendar historical mystery series.

Q: Do you have holiday traditions of your own? 

JK: My daughter and I are looking forward to attending a friend’s ladies tea, a mystery dinner theatre with a Roaring 20’s theme, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, a wild and fun variation on the usual story from the Owen/Cox Dance Group. We will spend Christmas itself quietly with just the two of us. We’ll give each other gifts, eat well (maybe we’ll roast a duck this year), and take joy in being together.

Q: Where can readers fin out more about your writing?

JK: My web site is www.julietkincaid.com, recently restored after a hiatus. I post blogs on a variety of subjects including my experiences launching a new career after the age of sixty and what I learn from the books I read that help me write my own.

Q: Thanks for sharing your story from this joyous anthology.

JK: Thank you so much!

Spread the yuletide cheer! A World of Joy is available for free download now.

Sally Ember, Ed.D.
High Praise from Rebecca T for “#ThisChangesEverything”!

Here are some excerpts from the latest glowing #review, written by Rebecca T, “The Literary Connoisseur,” for Sally Ember’s original, sci-fi, romance, paranormal, multiverse, utopian ebook, This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series.

“If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, this book was written for you!”

“If there’s one thing I can say for sure about Sally Ember’s writing, it’s that she knows what she’s writing about. She’s very, very intelligent, and so is her story. (With occasional witty humor that had me chuckling.)”

“Clara’s love life is not easy whatsoever, being the CC and all, but even though it killed me when she would pour out her emotions and heartbreak, that was my favorite part of the book. It gave a human touch to a book about aliens!”


Link to full review here: http://theliteraryconnoisseur.blogspot.com/2014/02/this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember.html

All buy links, more reviews, Pinterest Board and other links: http://www.sallyember.com Look right and scroll! Available for $3.99 wherever ebooks are sold. Share!

Filed under: Reviews, The Spanners, Themes from The Spanners, This Changes Everything, Volume I of The Spanners Tagged: aliens, Book Review, Clara Branon, ebook, Epifanio Dang, Many Worlds Collective, multiverse, paranormal, romance, Sally Ember, sci-fi, The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything, utopian, Volume I

Wendy S. Russo
Book Review: Reaping Me Softly, by Kate Evangelista
Omnific Publishing Release Date: October 2012 YA Paranormal Ever since a near-death-experience on the operating table, seventeen-year-old Arianne Wilson can see dead people. Just as she’s learned to accept her new-found talents, she discovers that the boy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, Niko Clark, is a Reaper. At last they have something […]

Tamar Hela
Seeress Cover Reveal
Book Title: Seeress

Series: A Runes Novel #3

Author: Ednah Walters

Expected Release Date: April 2014

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Firetrail Publishing

Presented by: As You Wish Tours

Banner Made by: Julia Hendrix

I love Torin St. James…
I crave his touch…

I need his strength…

Raine Cooper is certain of two things: her love for Torin St. James and her destiny to be a powerful seeress. But when she starts having premonitions, they are unclear and disturbing. Worse, they involve Torin. Not sure what to do, she keeps quiet.

But when the visions are about her and another man, Raine realizes she needs to talk to someone. Just her luck two new students arrive at her school and they seem to have answers. When with them, her powers are enhanced and her visions become clear. There is only one problem: Torin does not want Raine to have anything to do with the two girls but he won’t explain why.

Can their love survive the secrets they are keeping from each other?


EDNAH WALTERS grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and dreaming of one day writing her own stories. She is a stay-at-home mother of five humans and two American short-hair cats (one of which has ADHD) and a husband. When she is not writing, she’s at the gym doing Zumba or doing things with her family, reading, traveling or online chatting with fans.

Ednah is the author of The Guardian Legacy series, a YA fantasy series about children of the fallen angels, who fight demons and protect mankind. AWAKENED, the prequel was released by Pill Hill Press in September 2010 with rave reviews. BETRAYED, book one in the series was released by her new publisher Spencer Hill Press in June 2012 and HUNTED, the third installment, was released March 2013. She’s working on the next book in the series, FORGOTTEN. Visit her at www.ednahwalters.com.

Ednah also writes YA paranormal romance. RUNES is the first book in her new series. IMMORTALS is book 2. She just released book 3, GRIMNIRS December 2013. Read more about this series and the world she’s created here www.runestheseries.com.

Under the pseudonym E. B. Walters, Ednah writes contemporary romance. SLOW BURN, the first contemporary romance with suspense, was released in April 2011. It is the first book in the Fitzgerald family series. Since then she has published five more books in this series. She’s presently working on book seven. You can visit her online at or www.ebwalters.com.



Lilian Roberts
Interview with the M.J. Schiller, the author of the “ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION”

Today I am delighted to welcome M. J. Schiller on my Blog for a very enchanting interview. M. J. Schiller is the author of the popular “Rocking Romance Collection” 

MJ is a lunch lady in the heart of Central Illinois. My gosh, can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has an eighteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and sixteen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.

Welcome M. J. ! I am so happy to have you on my blog today.
Hi Lilian, I am very happy to be here. 

Please tell us a little about your current release “Between Rock and a Hard Place”

Glad to! 😉 BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE begins when Detective Heath “Hawk” McGowan is called to the penthouse of rock star Jasmine Barrett. Jasmine, or Jazz, as her fans call her, has discovered her best friend’s body slain in her own bed. As the killer continues to bring her dead bodies like a cat bringing its owner mice, Jazz’s terror sends her into the arms of Heath. But there are so many reasons why they shouldn’t be together. Heath actually lists them at one point—shortly before he gives in and kisses her.

Can you give us an Excerpt of your new book? 
Heath walked down the hall with a long, drawn-out sigh. He entered the bedroom, closing the door and leaning on it for a second. He threw his things on the bed and sat down on the end and ran a hand over his face. Then with a huge, exasperated exhale he threw himself backward so he was lying on the bed staring up at the ceiling. He crossed his hands behind his head to form a pillow.
There were so many reasons why he should not become involved with Jasmine Barrett. A. I am the lead detective investigating the murder of her best friend. Very unprofessional, unprincipled, not to mention, unethical. B. She’s very vulnerable right now. She said so herself, her feelings are all over the place. I can’t take advantage of that. C. We lead very different lives. She’s a rock star. I’m a cop. It would never work out. D. There’s Jack to consider. He couldn’t bring someone new into his life without a lot of forethought. E. I’m in the middle of an investigation. He couldn’t let those bottomless sea-green eyes, which seemed to cry out every time he gazed into them, distract him. Or her body, molded by the gods…or her legs, which were…geez…a living sin…or any other part of her…her siren’s voice…curvy hips…her… All these things were bad and wrong and he was a professional. All, very bad. Very, very bad. He squeezed his eyes shut. This was never going to work.

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have gobs of people help me, and many mentors along the way! Where to start? A friend who found out I was writing told me about an essay contest on author Laurie Larsen’s website. I entered and was fortunate enough to be one of the winners. Laurie then told me about Romance Writers of America and invited me to a meeting. With the help of the very talented authors there I became published with Crimson Romance. Through Crimson I met a slew of authors who give me advice and encouragement, and not just about writing. They also help me by promoting my books and even purchasing them. Then a friend invited me to join a group called Tweets For Romance Authors. That’s where I met you, Lilian and you graciously helped me by letting me be here today on your blog.

Who is your favorite author?
Wow, that’s a big question! There are so many great ones! If you’re talking classics, I love Charles Dickens and F.Scott Fitzgerald. More recently, Nora Roberts (of course), Kristin Hannah, and the romantic suspense author, R.T. Wolfe. She’s awesome!
Where do you research for your books?
All I can say is thank heavens we don’t need the card catalog anymore! I do most of my research online, but I also feel like living life is research itself. I store information as I go along. If we go on vacation, I may use that location later, so I pick up brochures and take notes.

How do you describe your writing style?
Gosh, that’s a hard one! I think there are certain things you will always see in my work—humor, drama, action. I like including family relationships and kids, too. I try to add the odd detail that makes things seem more real, like the hero of my latest romance, BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, is susceptible to cold headaches (or you may call them brain freezes). This is based on my husband. He rarely can eat something cold without going into some exaggerated fit, claiming steel rods are being jammed into his cranium!

What do you think makes a good story?
The happily ever after, and the going through heck to get there. I love characters that are broken but are healed through one another.

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?
Yes, I have a real fancy one. My name is Mary Jean Schiller but I go by M.J. Schiller. I’ve just always thought M.J. sounded cooler!
What are you passionate about these days?
Well I’m always very passionate about my writing, trying to learn more about it and become stronger at it. Besides that I’m an advocate for our men and women in military uniform, teachers, children, and animals. I’m also passionate about music, thus my ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION.

don’t watch much TV, but when I do I like to watch with my kids and we love Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Dr. Who, and Vampire Diaries.

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?
I think names evoke a feeling. I just have to hope that the feeling my reader has is mutual. I work as a lunch lady and a while back my coworkers and I brainstormed about sexy guy names, and then drew up a list of girl names as well. I still use that list!
Thank you so much for having me today, Lilian, and allowing me to tell your readers a little bit about me and BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE.


How can people find you ?

You can find M.J.at:


BN and Amazon.


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