Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top Ten List!

Coverartdraft5_Mayon   

 



I'm so honored to have the three novels I wrote in 2012 appear on a top ten list over at Jessewave Reviews.  Here's the complete list for those of you haven't seen it yet and want to add more great books to your To Buy list.

http://www.reviewsbyjessewave.com/2012/12/30/guest-reviewers-top-picks-for-2012/#more-84320

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas from me and Santa's little helper. 


AJ kept us on our toes last night as he systematically ripped open everyone's presents.  Pausing to admire and inspect each gift was wishful thinking on our part.  His squeals of delight made up for the mess.  The big hit of the evening was this little rocking horse. 

I'd like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Behind the Cover Art-Dan Skinner

studybreakninevariation

Behind the Cover Art

How often have you seen this comment by readers?  “I was drawn to the book because of the beautiful cover.”  Or sometimes, you see this. “The story was great, but I almost didn’t pick it up because of the ugly cover!”

Writers labor over a manuscript for weeks, months, and sometimes, years.  Once it’s accepted by a publisher, their “baby” goes through several processes before it finally hits the shelves.  One of the most stressful of these steps is choosing a book cover.  First, you have to decide which artist will be able to bring your vision to life.  Do you want it drawn or Photoshopped?  Do you have a preference for colors?  Should there be nudity, or should we take a more subtle approach?  What type of background did you envision?  What do your main characters look like?  Did you wish to convey passionate love or not?  The questions are endless, and most writers provide more information than necessary.  It takes a skilled artist to sift through the jumble of words and pull out the key elements of the story to create the perfect cover to showcase our work.

Join me in acknowledging the men and women who provide their expertise to make our cover art the best it can be.  Other than the initial round of applause when a book releases, they don’t get enough kudos, and I'm hoping to change that.  Each month I’m going to showcase a new cover artist to give them the online time they deserve.  It’ll also serve as an opportunity for you, the reader, writer, publisher, and aspiring artist, to pick their brain.  Feel free to comment and ask questions.  At the end of each month, one winner will be drawn from the list of visitors to win a $25.00 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press.

It's my pleasure to present Dan Skinner as my first cover artist.  He provided the photo art for my debut novel Horizons, so I thought it only fitting that he launch this series.

How did you get started in the business?

I began in this business as a fitness photographer while I was a personal trainer. I had a publisher see my work and ask to purchase some for their covers. The first two or three were very successful so they asked for more. Authors and other publishers began seeing my work and asking for covers so I began shooting scenes more specific for covers than for fitness. The business just naturally evolved from one thing into the other. Models began seeing my work and wanted to do shots like I was doing, so the type of model coming to me changed as well.


Do you keep regular hours or are photo shoots sporadic?

For the most part i keep regular hours to do portfolio shoots. Or, just the regular model shoots. When i do my romance type shoots I work around the models schedules because i have to find models who can work together and have enough time together to get comfortable. that sometimes requires a full day or two of them together before i can start getting shots that look realistic and natural.

Where do you find your models?

I find my models everywhere; in the store, in the gym, in the library, jogging in the park, on Facebook. Or, they actually find me. My work is very recognizable now because I've been doing it for about 12 years. Alot of the guys have grown up with my work as their screensavers and when they're old enough, they look me up and schedule to do a shoot with me. I had one boy come to me through his mother who was a fan of my work.

Is there a certain type that sells more than others?

I don't think there's any particular type of photo that is desired more than another. it all depends on the cover artist or the author's preference. The range can vary widely in what people want so I try to do what i think tells a story, or has a message that's important for me to convey. Or, quite simply, is something I've wanted to do myself.

How would an aspiring model get his foot in the door?

The easiest way for a model to get his foot in the door with me to do my type of work is to show me personality. To me, that is a talent as great as the ability to act. I do not look for a specific type because I'm trying to convey realistic images of romance and love and that has no boundaries or specifications with body types, ages or ethnic types. I want to show all of it. The wonderful diversity of love.


Can anyone buy your work?

Anyone can purchase the work. I don't work for any specific publisher or author. I have some people who buy pieces so they can print them and put them on their living room wall. I'm as freelance as a photographer can be.

Do you take requests?  I have a thing for redheads and can never find the right guy in stock shots.  Would you hunt high and low for me if I wanted a Prince Harry type?

I do take requests if I can do them. I am sometimes hampered by which models are available. Some come from all over the country so I can sometimes only shoot with them once or twice a year.

Once a photo is purchased, is it taken off the market?  It's very disconcerting to find your character on four other books in this genre.

Once a piece is purchase it is taken off the market. I have various versions that were taken in the same sequence that can go out, but they are all different. But I don't think anyone has ever been duplicated. I do see a lot of them end up on blogs but there is absolutely nothing i can do about that.

Writers are plagued by pirates who offer downloads of our work for free.  Do you have the same problem?  How do you avoid that?

I do have my work pirated. I have seen so many pieces end up on Amazon as prints with someone else's name on them and ll the profit going to someone else, but there's nothing I can do to track it down and stop them. i tried once. It wasn't worth it. I'm producing too much work and it is so recognizably mine it is getting harder and harder for people to claim it to be theirs.


Is there anything you'd like to say to a potential customer? 

Potential customers are always invited to peruse my galleries of new and older work and tell me what they like and what they are looking for, or suggest to me what they would like to see. i am always open for storyboard suggestions as long as they're tasteful.

How could potential buyers view your work?

http://cerberuseros.deviantart.com/

Some of Dan's favorite shots




Please comment on this blog instead of Live Journal or Facebook to make it easier for Dan to keep track of his visitors.

Finally, if you are a cover artist interested in appearing in this series, please email me at mickie.ashling@gmail.com.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Horizons Series Reviewed

The Horizons series was recently reviewed over at Hearts On Fire Reviews.  Horizons was my first published novel (2009)and appeared on several best seller lists for many weeks.   Despite a few errors in football timelines (I'd love to re-edit the entire novel) it's a great love story and continues to be very popular with readers.  Taste is the spin-off and Daddio is the recently published sequel. Here are the links to the reviews. 

Horizons

Review for Horizons: 4 stars of 5 

http://heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=15727


Taste

Review for Taste: 5 stars of 5
http://heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=15589




Review for Daddio: 4 stars of 5

http://heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=15698

Book 4 in the series is my current WIP.  I'm jumping ahead a few years so you can expect some new challenges for Lil and Grier as they learn how to deal with a teenager and all the drama that goes on at that age.  Stay tuned! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

What Inspires A Story

I like to share pictures of the places I write about.  Here are some  photos I borrowed from Trip Advisor of the Albay Province in the Philippines where my story Mayon takes place.


Naga Photos



                                        This waterfall is located in one of the mountain parks.

Naga Photos


                                              Spanish style architecture.

Naga Photos


Zipping through traffic jams and avoiding potholes is a lot easier in a pedicab. This popular means of transport is the preferred choice of many locals who'd rather depend on their study legs than pay for imported gas.

Naga Photos



The World War II Willis Jeep was refurbished and turned into a  means of public transportation. Owners outdid each other with colorful (and oftentimes garish) designs to make them as attractive as possible.   They changed the name to "Jeepney" and continues to be used throughout the country..

Legaspi Photos

      Rice paddies abound in the shadow of the volcano because the soil is so rich.

Legaspi Photos

This is all that remains of the church at Cagsawa after Mount Mayon's fierce eruption in 1814.
    The townsfolk who'd gathered together to pray for help were buried alive.

Legaspi Photos

This water buffalo aka kalabao is an indispensable part of farming in the Philippines.  

Bicol Region Photos

              A birds eye view of Mount Mayon. Note the lush greenery at the base.

                 Did you know that black-sand beaches are composed of volcanic minerals and lava fragments? This is why you only see this phenomenon when there's a volcano in the vicinity.  

Bicol Region Photos

                      A modern day beach shot with Nipa huts along one side. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Inspiration


A friend sent me this for inspiration.  You think he wants to read another book in the Horizons series?  Hmm...I'm thinking , yes.

Aside from the lovely visual, this post is a test.  I've switched my feed on Goodreads to this blog and want to see if it cross posts without a problem.  I'll have another surprise post next week.  Stay tuned.