A.J. Corza, Chris T. Kat, Dreamspinner Press, GotYouCovrd, J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC, Paul Alan Fahey

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – This Week’s Topic – Different Types Of Art To Choose From

Book covers come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and textures. Book covers are a window into the author’s soul, a little glimpse of what is to come, and the artist who creates the cover is just the mouthpiece of the author.

Book covers can be paintings, drawings, photographs, collage, and most often these days, photo manipulated, or Photoshopped, for the laymen. It pretty much depends on what the author wants done, what their personal vision is. More often than not, the authors don’t tend to have a set vision for the cover because their mindset is more about the broad strokes of a full story. A cover artist certainly takes the entire story into consideration but tries to narrow that focus to one specific idea. Let me tell you, it’s really hard sometimes to do that. Trying to distill 300 plus pages of detail into one cover without overcrowding or muddying up the works takes talent and skill.

I feel for the authors out there, though. Thinking and eventually accomplishing your goal of writing a book, then actually moving on to publishing a book is a feat in itself, but then…gah, the cover? What sort of cover do you want? If you’re a lucky author going with a publishing company, generally you get assigned an artist. Tthey show you three or so mockups, you choose and bam, you can relax your brain. Freelance authors aren’t so lucky. Their choices are: ask a family member or friend (if they’re lucky enough), doing it themselves, or going out into the world and finding an artist.

If you choose to do the latter, that’s when the real fun begins. It’s a lot like finding a new dentist, painful in every way. First you go to Google, then you type in book cover artist, and then you get buried beneath the virtual onslaught of artists there are. As I said before all shapes and all sizes.

One such type is Collage:

It’s the same exact setup as your everyday craft store collage. Find pics that fit and slap them together. Well, you’d think that, wouldn’t you? But any person that does collage knows that you can’t do that at all. You have to have an eye for color, for shape, and mainly for form, otherwise you just get a huge ol’ mess that turns people off rather than encouraging them to buy. Both of these covers for Paul Alan Fahey were done by J.M.Snyder and are great examples of the collage feel. Both covers are clean, concise, and a unique melding of pictures. Especially Bomber’s Moon, which definitely has more of a cut out quality to it but manages to be interesting without looking like a 7th grader cut out a photo that they liked and stuck it on a cover. Even the lighting that hits each picture in a different way still manages to look cool and to convey a really different, distinctive feel. It somehow, to me anyways, makes it almost feel three dimensional, especially with the black sky.

3D Modeling is another route an author can go, and this cover done by Zathyn Priest is a perfect example of 3-dimensional artwork. Lots of color and motion fill the entire cover. You can practically feel the warmth that must be coming off the dragon’s skin. Did I mention I’m a huge fan of the dragon? 3D really gives the impression that both the man and beast are going to wander off the cover and nip you right in the tender regions, doesn’t it? I’m pretty much digging it myself. Especially since I can’t even begin to tell you how much time goes into creating 3D art. I took a class in it when I was getting my A.A., and it was not what I would call even in the realm of easy. Hell, I had a bitch of a time getting a ball to look right, let alone a dragon and a man. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve seen any other artists out there doing 3D work on book covers, but if this is the sort of art that gets you excited, we know of at least one artist now, don’t we?

Then of course there is photography. The saying that a picture can speak a thousand words is too true, even if it’s only the opening gambit on a 1000 page treatise about the mating cycle of a cricket. You can learn so much from one photograph if you just take the time to look. Especially if they are used such as they have been on this cover. Look at the subject closely: doesn’t his face speak to you of a life fully lived? He wears his time on this earth in the creases on his cheeks and the pinched line of his mouth. Don’t his eyes convey a certain curiosity mixed with inherent knowledge that brings about a clarity of view from living that life? (And yep I just used up all my 20 dollar words for the day) Doesn’t that make you curious also?

Painting is another way to go. Whether it’s a full line sketch, airbrushed into full blooming beauty such as The Wolf and His Diva written by Chris T. Kat artwork by Paul Richmond, or a combination of photography plus airbrushing, such as the cover done by Ravven for Born in Flames by Candace Knoebel. Painted covers can be stunning and beautiful and can make you just want to jump into that cover and travel to that world. They can make you yearn to meet the man looking so sweetly at the squirrel, or the fiery redhead half covered in dragon scales. The beauty of an artist that can paint/sketch/or combine either element with photography? They can pretty much make anything your little heart could desire.

The question is, though, as an author, how do you choose? And there’s no easy answer for that. You have to go with what your gut tells you, but always, always remember that what you love may not be what the masses will respond to. Your covers are the first introduction to your buying public, and it is absolutely imperative that you take them into consideration. If you have a cover that no one cares for, who’s going to buy the book? So be wary, gentle authors, and don’t skimp on quality. The only one that you will hurt in the end is yourself.

Have a great day and may the good books be with you!

All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn.

Check me out on Facebook @: https://www.facebook.com/ajcorza

J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC

There’s A Storm To Weather In “I’ll Take The Rain”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words…they’ll destroy my soul.” ― Cassandra Giovanni

I’ll Take the Rain is a little snippet, only 23 pages; a slice of life between the narrator and his boyfriend. The author doesn’t give us any names. My only conclusion as to why is that this could be anyone in a relationship that isn’t healthy. This could be someone you know; it could be you.
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J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

In Which There’s A Difference Between Magic And Illusion – The Magician’s Apprentice by J.M. Snyder

Magic is the only honest profession. A magician promises to deceive you and he does. – Karl Germain

Ah, what a tangled knot we twist when magic practiced does exist, when illusion is not a simple guise, and to mock its existence proves most unwise…

Sorry. I’m pretty sure I’d make the absolute worst poet ever. Or rapper. ::word::

At any rate, what I’m trying to get at is that Damon Taylor is a man who takes magic very seriously. He is, after all, a practitioner of the arcane art, so who better to recognize a fellow aficionado than he? Who better to discover the man, Harry Marvel, a rather run down street performer who trades sleight of hand for loose change? Who better to feel that spark of energy, that current of lust that flows between them? And who better than Damon to transform Harry Marvel into Harry Marvelous, a man of extraordinary magical talent and showmanship?

And who better to turn back the hands of time and to manipulate reality than a man who is himself the living, breathing difference between what is true magic and what is mere illusion?

Damon borrows a little bit of trouble and brings a whole lot of the wrong sort of attention to Harry’s show when he decides to take it upon himself to teach a young and very verbal skeptic in the audience a lesson, a lesson I’m sure the boy won’t soon forget.

The Magician’s Apprentice is one of those short stories that did nothing but whet my appetite for a little something more, and it left me arguing with myself (I always win, BTW) over whether I’d have liked the story even better if J.M. Snyder had offered a little more backstory for Harry and Damon. Possibly. Probably? But then again, a good magician never reveals his secrets, so maybe this is the way I’m supposed to feel—fascinated by what I could see and left mildly off balance by what I couldn’t.

You can see what I mean for yourself if you buy The Magician’s Apprentice here:

J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Quintessential by J.M. Snyder

A computer is like an Old Testament god, with lots of rules and no mercy. – Joseph Campbell

Jerry is an old dog, and Quin is the guy who’s going to try to teach him some new tricks in J.M. Snyder’s Quintessential, a story in which the porn’s the thing that will capture the conscience of a man who has no interest whatsoever in learning how to use a new operating system, especially when the one he’s always used is just fine, thank you very much.

Quin is the quintessential IT geek who responds to Jerry’s call for help, but that help ends up turning into some sizzling sex and a little true confession between the two men—it seems that sneaky little Quin had some ulterior motives where Jerry was concerned, and it’s Jerry who’s reaping the benefits.

It was an apple Eve used to tempt Adam in the Garden of Eden. It’s an Apple that Quin uses to tempt Jerry, too, just not that of the fruity variety. You don’t bite this Apple; no, this Apple has bytes and Quin uses it to his fullest advantage.

If you’re in the mood for a little titillation and flirty banter, for a quick taste of some system software seduction and don’t mind when your men getting it on quickly, then this short and erotic story ought to fit the bill.

Buy Quintessential here:

J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC

No Place Like Home: A Vic and Matt Story by J.M. Snyder

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke. – Charles Dickens

Okay, there are no two ways about it; this story is just too cute. I love Matt and Vic, have loved them for a very long time, so whenever J.M. Snyder decides to pay them a visit, it’s pretty much guaranteed to make me happy. Well, No Place Like Home is no exception.

If you’re not familiar with Matt diLorenzo and his big, burly, pierced and tattooed lover Vic Braunson, who’s all ::grrrrr:: on the outside but squishy on the inside for his beloved, let me bring you up to speed. Vic has superpowers. Vic gets his superpowers from Matt. Matt gives Vic all sorts of strange and sometimes wholly unfortunate powers when they have sex. There, you’re caught up. Actually, their story is far better than that, infinitely better, and this is why I leave the storytelling to the people who know how to do it.

Based on the title, you can probably guess what these guys are getting up to in this chapter of their life story. Yes, there’s a storm; yes, there’s a Good Witch (“Good” being an entirely flexible designation); no, Matty isn’t in Kansas anymore—or Richmond either—and yes, there’s a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Lion that’s anything but Cowardly. And there’s a yellow brick road. Need any more clues? I didn’t think so.

And yes, there’s even a message at the end, though Dorothy’s wasn’t nearly as romantic as the one Matt and Vic share when their adventure is over—that home isn’t the somewhere but is very much the someone with whom your heart resides that makes you feel safe and warm and sheltered and loved and connected.

No Place Like Home is fun and sexy, pretty much like all the other installments in this series, and while love stories aren’t necessarily a horse of a different color, Matty and Vic are true originals. This was a sweet little trip over their rainbow.

Buy No Place Like Home here:

Clare London, J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Gems – It’s Never Too Late For A Little Horror From J.M. Snyder & Clare London

Yes, another October has passed, which means the time to have read these two short horror stories has passed too, so it’s a good thing I’m always in the mood for a good mind-screw of the twisted and ghoulish variety, no matter the time of year. Even though they’re not very long on word count, these two tales are still the sort that made my hair stand on end and sent me around the house, turning on all the lights so even the deepest, darkest shadows couldn’t hide all those sinister things that only seem to go bump when you’re home alone.

J.M. Snyder’s Infected Heart is the story of a college laboratory experiment gone wrong. It’s the story of a brilliant young man, Rich Murdoch, whose grandiose scheme to find the secret to immortality ends up becoming a cautionary tale about the dangers of playing God and attempting to outmaneuver Mother Nature.

Trust me when I say there’s absolutely nothing natural or godly about what happens when the serum he develops makes its way into the human population. It’s a devastating and terrifying blow to mankind—and to his lover, Donnie, an unintentional casualty of genius gone horribly wrong.

It’s a race against time for Rich, as he culls victims from the ever-dwindling herd of uninfected, who become unwitting sacrifices to Rich’s higher purpose as he works to find a cure for the human holocaust he’s wrought. But this isn’t a story of good versus evil; there is no evil here, only a tragic mistake that he’s working diligently to put an end to.

Infected Heart was creepy to me in the same way books like The Stand and I Am Legend messed with my head. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, who really knows what freakish and nightmarish viruses might be lurking in test tubes around the world, just waiting for a single slip-up to set them free on the unsuspecting masses? That’s the truly scary part of it all.

What made this one even more twisted was the way J.M. Snyder chose to end it. If there was any evil to be found in this story, I’d say that’d pretty much be it.

Available in all e-formats here:

Clare London’s Perfection was just frightening, in an “it rubs the lotion on its skin, I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti” kind of way. ::shivers:: No, there’s no cannibalism here, but if it’s murder you’re looking for, with a side of miscreation to up the creep factor, then this is the story for you. It’s a psychological spine-chiller about obsession and possession, and a man with a broken mind and unhinged ideas about love and commitment.

This is the story of James, a man who doesn’t do romantic entanglements. He’s more a co-workers with benefits kind of guy, who wants nothing to do with Vic Ellison on a permanent basis. Vic’s the kind of guy you see and think he’s basically harmless but you don’t necessarily want to socialize with him outside of work. In fact, he’s so unremarkable as to be nearly forgettable—unless you’re looking for a quick screw, like James, then Vic is perfectly serviceable. Until he becomes a bit too close and clingy for James’ liking. Then Vic just disappears, and James realizes, much to his surprise, that he misses him. Oh James…

But like the proverbial bad penny, Vic returns with a new position in the company, looking to take up where he and James left off. But Vic is…different too: more confident, more polished, fitter and a lot less forgettable looking than he was before he went missing. He’s, for lack of a better term, put together in a way he never was before. Unfortunately for James, he’s about to find out how very put together Vic truly is.

In a world that’s become increasingly narcissistic and appearance-centric, Perfection becomes a cautionary tale about the obsession with the façade while overlooking all those little cues that should warn you to be very careful what you wish for. James finds out the hard way not to play fast and loose with the quiet ones. Especially if you’re not prepared to throw your whole self into it.

There’s no happy ending here. Except, perhaps, for Vic. He does end up stealing James’ heart in the end, after all.

Available in all formats here:

J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC

The V in Virtue & The V in Vulnerable by J.M. Snyder

So, it’s really no big secret that I find Matty diLorenzo and his big, burly lover Vic Braunson utterly shmooptastic. In “me-speak” that means their relationship is like a milk chocolate outside with a sweet, creamy, marshmallowy center, and I just want to curl up under a blanket and gorge myself on them because, really, it makes me happy. Yes, they are the Mallomars of my fictional romance—gooey and delicious and I just want to eat them up.

The five books in J.M. Snyder’s V series, which is an offshoot of the Powers of Love series, are slice-of-life vignettes that not only focus on each of the strange superpowers Vic inherits every time he and Matt make love, but also focus on the everyday things this couple, like any couple, might consider—everything from the decision to get a pet to confirming their bond by making a formal commitment to each other.

Book four, The V in Virtue, and book 5, The V in Vulnerable, follow the boys through an agonizingly long and celibate week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, then goes straight into a robbery at gunpoint that sends Vic to the rescue.

At some point along the way in their relationship, Matt decided it would be a good idea to abstain from sex for the week between the holidays, then to celebrate at the stroke of midnight on December 31 by making love, in honor of the anniversary of his and Vic’s first time together. Oh, it has all the earmarks of a truly romantic gesture—until roughly day three of no sex, at which point it starts to feel a whole lot more like Hell Week than the holidays. But, of course, the wait ends up being more than worth it, even if midnight finds them at a party at Roxie’s place and Vic has to use his super-strength to guarantee them a little bit of privacy so they can ring in the New Year in their own way.

The series has been a sweet and shiny lead up to the “with this ring” portion of the program, and finally Matt settles on the perfect time and place in which to find the tokens that will symbolize and announce to the world their bond with each other. Unfortunately, some would-be robbers also settle on the exact time and jewelry store that Matty does, and a hostage situation quickly sucks all the fun right out of ring shopping. Well, that and the fact that Roxie also invited herself along on the excursion.

A phone call from Officer Kendra, Vic’s friend on the Richmond police force, alerts Vic that Matty’s car is parked outside of the jewelry story where all the action is going down, and Vic rushes to the rescue in his city bus, using his latest superpower—the ability to create mirror images of himself—to thwart the criminals and collect his reward from his lover: the perfect ring and a solemn vow to love each other forever.

I’m not sure if book five is the final book in the V series, because the end felt very much like a ceremony of two, a communion between the only two people who really matter, but that doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t like to see the Full Monty, with Roxie and Kendra playing “best men” to these two lovable grooms.

Buy the V series HERE.

Anne Brooke, J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC, Musa Publishing, Small Gems

Small Gems – Angels and Airheads by Anne Brooke & Just a Little Note by J.M. Snyder

“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” And sometimes it takes nothing less than a gigantic nudge from your guardian angel to get you to open your eyes and see the miracle that’s been right in front of you all along.

Ricky is a bit thick, missing all the signs and even the outright nudges from previous angels that his best mate Jez is something more than just a friend, but Madred, the guardian angel from the Fourth Sphere in Heaven, isn’t exactly the sort to suffer the mental reasoning of an obtuse human. After all, how could the bright, brilliant, and beautiful Jez be in love with someone like Ricky? Ricky himself certainly can’t fathom it, so it couldn’t possibly be true. But then he’s given the chance to see with own eyes how he looks through the eyes of the someone who means more to him than anyone else in the world, and then it’s up to Ricky to take the chance on seizing his miracle.

Angels and Airheads is a story of perfect love in an imperfect world, and what could be more sweet than that?

Buy Angels and Airheads HERE.

Tommy may be the musical the students at Lakeside High are rehearsing to perform in the school’s auditorium, but Just a Little Note is a little bit Cyrano de Bergerac behind the scenes of this sweetly charming coming-of-age story.

Bryan Lovett is in love with his friend Jesse Carter. Jesse Carter is in love with his friend Bryan Lovett. The problem is that neither one knows the others’ secret, and then there’s Emily, the girl who’s in love with Jesse and who wants Bryan to help her land the object of her affection, which complicates things all the more because really, how do you help the girl who’s now both your friend and your rival for the affections of the boy you both love? Oh, the complexities of first love and high school romance.

When Bryan suggests Emily write Jesse a note to tell him how she feels, he might’ve anticipated Emily would jump on the idea, but never did he dream she would complicate things by begging him to help her write that note. Finally, though, Bryan does agree to do it, and pours his heart and soul into the words he himself would say to Jesse if only there weren’t a crippling fear there to hold him back.

Letter composed, rewritten in Emily’s hand, and delivered, it doesn’t have quite the impact on Jesse that Emily expected. It does, however, have the exact impact on Jesse that Bryan could only have ever dreamt of. And unlike the tragedy that was Roxanne, Cyrano, and Christian, that little note was nothing but a happy beginning for Jesse and Bryan.

J.M. Snyder wrote this one in the 3rd person present, which was ideal for this “play within a play”, as she skillfully directs the reader through the story toward its happy ending.

Buy Just a Little Note HERE.

J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC

Santa Vic by J.M. Snyder

Santa VicSanta Vic by J.M. Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beneath Vic Braunson’s tattooed, pierced, and buff exterior lies a gooey marshmallowy middle. Vic might look tough, but the man has a heart of gold, and it beats only for Matt di Lorenzo.

It’s Christmastime in Richmond and Vic has been asked by his boss to play Santa again at the company party. Saying no isn’t exactly an option, and the deal is sweetened just a bit by the offer of a little extra bonus, which Vic knows will go a long way toward helping achieve Matt’s dream of owning a home of their own. So, Santa Vic it is, even if it’s not the most comfortable of options.

This is the story of a man who comes to realize some truths about himself; that he has been heroic for far longer than he has had superpowers. That the gift of love is something he’s given for many Christmases but hadn’t defined it until he had the opportunity to make the holiday special for a complete stranger, a little girl who would be spending the day in the hospital.

Whether you know Vic and Matt or not, this is a sweet and heartwarming holiday story that can be read as a standalone. J.M. Snyder added just the right amount of spice, as well, to make it a sexy, sexy treat. I have to say this one made me love Vic even more than I already did, and it made me even more anxious for the next installment in the Matt & Vic series.