Guest Post: Melissa F. Olson & Cover Model

Melissa F. Olson is a fellow 47North author, a friend, and the motivational force (read: slave driver) for Westmarch Publishing–a publishing group I am a part of (more on Westmarch in a later blog post). She cut her teeth in urban fantasy with her highly acclaimed Scarlet Bernard stories (DEAD SPOTS and TRAIL OF DEAD). Her latest novel is a crime fiction featuring a tough, snarky, and pregnant, private investigator in Chicago. THE BIG KEEP has already been wracking up great reviews. She was kind enough to let me design the cover for the novel, and gracious enough to guest post on my blog about that process.

Thank you so much to Roberto Calas for hosting me today, the last day of my blog tour. I’m doing something a little different for this post: as you may or may not know, in addition to his writing duties, Roberto does freelance book cover design. In fact, he recently designed a gorgeous cover for my new mystery novel, The Big Keep, using a photograph by Elizabeth Kraft. Since Roberto did such a wonderful job with the photo, I thought it might be fun to hear from the woman behind the photo: the cover model, Michelle Hockersmith.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, and how you know the photographer, Elizabeth Kraft.
Elizabeth Kraft and I went to the same high school, where her oldest sister was good friends with my brother so it just kind of made sense that Elizabeth and I would become friends also.

A few things about me: my birthday is the day after the book release (which I think is pretty cool), and I’m a mommy to two awesome kids: Lilly, my 9 year old daughter; and Peyton, my 4 year old son. I am currently a high school art teacher in the Twin Cities area.

2. What were the weather and conditions like on the day of the shoot? Was it hot going around in a leather jacket and boots in June?
It started out a little sketchy actually; we were worried we’d have to reschedule due to some rain.  I’m pretty sure we all said a few prayers asking for the sky to clear and for the sun to come out…which it did. It ended up being a beautiful day with a lot of sunshine. Not only was it sunny but it was incredibly windy, haha!  It makes me laugh thinking about it because my hair was in my eyes more than not and the wind gusts blew up lots of sand.  Getting sandblasted facials is always fun. Overall it was actually a perfect day to be wearing boots and a leather jacket.

3. What kind of direction did the photographer give you as you posed?
The photographer gave me a few emotions that the character could have been feeling.  She told me to think back to when I was pregnant and having the weight of the world on your shoulders, being completely exhausted, but also having that energy which comes with excitement.

4. What was the hardest thing about the shoot? The best thing?
The hardest and the best thing for me would probably be the wind. It created awesome pictures, but was extremely frustrating at the same time.

5. Which shot was your favorite? What were your thoughts on the photo that ended up being chosen for the cover?
All of the ones we did in the ally seemed to really speak to me.  I was able to truly get into character and have the feeling of the Chicago life.

When I saw the cover I was shocked, to be honest, only because I didn’t even remember that picture!  I just kept looking at it and thinking wow that really does fit the part, she looks worn out and powerful at the same time.  It’s the perfect cover picture


Cover Reveals: Scourge and Scourge: Nostrum

Hey there,

So, big news on the artistic side of things. 47North has given me two birthday presents on this fine June 11. They finalized the cover for The Scourge:Nostrum (Book 2 of The Scourge), and they have re-released The Scourge (book 1) with a brand new cover. Can I just say that 47North is the best publisher in the world? Yes I can! And I will! They worked with me tirelessly on the Nostrum cover, accepting suggestions and re-designing over and over again until we reached something that both the publisher and I liked. Big thanks to my editor, David Pomerico, for his tireless work on this.

First up, The Scourge: Nostrum (release date June 18):

This cover clearly shows what the book is about. The knight in the foreground is, ostensibly, Edward. Nice dynamic pose with suitably battered and weathered armor. Flailing hands in the background indicate to the viewer that this is not a typical historical fiction. Blood-spattered environment tells readers that this might have some gore and violence. The helmet on the knight is not a greathelm, but I think we can live with it. I can, at any rate =)





The Scourge (book 1) underwent a facelift as well. Those of you with the print version might notice that the background image for this is basically the same artwork from the back cover. Although I truly love the first cover, and prefer it artistically to this one, this design has a certain elegance and mood that I like. The cover also clearly depicts what the book is about: Three knights on a journey, with supernatural enemies standing between them and their destination. I think this will more clearly define the book for shoppers and steer the novel into the hands of the people who will love it most.

Big thanks to everyone at 47North!







The Beast of Maug Maurai: Book II – Cover Reveal

Hi everyone,

The cover for book II of THE BEAST OF MAUG MAURAI (book title: Feeding the Gods) is ready!  It’s similar to the cover for the first book, but more so. I’m all gushy over this one. It took ages to get the helmet to look right, but I think I got it to where it needs to be. What do you think? I know the shield in the first book cover was all rusted and rotting and stuff, and I had initially planned to do the same with this helmet. But while I was working I had this vision of the helmet reflecting the forest, and sort of shining brightly. So deal with it. ;)

<TECHNICAL STUFF>For those of you into graphic design, the helmet was a TurboSquid purchase. I could have made one, but it would have taken me a long time and probably wouldn’t have come out as good as this one. I brought the .obj model into Maya and mapped the forest to an environment texture in the Reflection Color attribute. It took me about two hours of fiddling with the lights and the texture settings to get it to look right. The glow in the visor is a point light with glow effects, enhanced in Photoshop with several layers of paint with outer glows.I used a Lens Blur on the forest to make it fade into the background a bit, something I probably should have done on the first cover.</TECHNICAL STUFF>

I’m really looking for feedback on this, so please let me know your thoughts. Mercy buckets.

Click for the Imax® version. (The bigger version of this image is not affiliated with Imax. Nor will it cost you $5 to see it)




Print Cover Reveal – The Scourge

Happy day.

47North just sent me a full-cover mock-up for The Scourge. This includes the back cover and spine, and will be used for the print version that will be available in February.

It billows with awesomeness, and I am thrilled with it!  Have a look:

The Scourge’s kick-ass print cover!

As you can see from the back cover text, this was taken from the Latin translation of The Scourge. Okay, not really. It’s just dummy text (Lorem Ipsum text, for that graphic designer street-cred). What do you guys think? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks!


Cover Story

Just got the okay from my editor at 47North to release the cover for my new Kindle Serial novel, The Scourge. I have to say, I *love* it. Great use of color and detail. Have a look below and let me know your thoughts please.

Cover for my newest novel, The Scourge

There’s etched armor and blood. What more do you need?

The first episode of the novel will be released on November 13. Just a reminder, with Kindle Serials you pay one price ($1.99) and you get each episode delivered to you for *no extra charge*. Please have a look at the Amazon page for more information, and pre-orders are welcome!


Thanks! And please let me know your thoughts on the cover.