What you know, think you know, and didn't know.


Melissa Stevens’ UtopYA 2015 Resolutions!

I was lucky enough to be a guest on The Paisley Reader’s blog today! Check out my resolutions for next year’s UtopYA conference!

The Paisley Reader

utopYA Resolutions banner

Hi all and welcome to the next installment of the UtopYA Resolutions feature, hosted by Book Junkie: Not-So-Anonymous and me, The Paisley Reader! Each Tuesday either Ashley or I with have guest posts from authors, bloggers, editors, cover models, designers, publicists, or any UtopYA attendee in which they share the resolutions they’ve made for the year between the 2014-2015 conferences.

This week I am happy to say that today’s guest on my blog is Melissa Stevens, so take it away Melissa!

Melissa StevensutopYAn Profile:

– Melissa Stevens, The Illustrated Author
– Cover Artist/Designer
– Attended UtopYA in 2014 and is now addicted

So, last year, I was a newbie in every sense of the definition at UtopYA. I had never been to any type of convention, and because I was walking in blind and by myself, I was terrified.

Which is why, for the most part of the first day…

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Prince of Blood and Steel Cover Reveal! Wait, What?

The book, Prince of Blood and Steel has a new cover! What? You say? You just revealed the cover last week! You exclaim.

Yes. I did reveal the cover, and give you a behind the scenes on what goes into a cover.


After the reveal, the authors decided the cover did not quite fit what they were needing. So, we created a new one! This one focuses more on the sexy side of the book, not action. We also used only one person on the cover. Again, for more sexy.

Want to see??

I promise it is pretty.

Here you go!

Prince Front

And for the paperback version:

Prince Paperback

This cover focuses, as I said earlier, on the sexiness of the book. But it also stays with Seth, one of the main characters, instead of trying to show both the MC’s. His tattoo is on the back, an artistic version of a devil ray.

This is a much more sleek version of the cover and while I still love my original, it one hits all the marks it should, and needs to.

Prince of Blood and Steel Cover Reveal

Prince of Blood and Steel, by Aj Elmore and Nazarea Andrews cover reveal is today! Yay!

While most cover reveal posts are about the author(s), this one is all about the cover. (Don’t fret, I’ll give you all the lovely authorly details at the end of this post.)


So, first, I want to show you the finished product.

Prince of Blood and Steel Paperback

Prince of Blood and Steel Paperback

Pretty, huh? 🙂

This book is all about danger, sex and weapons.  🙂 So, obviously, the cover had to convey all that goodness. What this post is about, is how I went about taking two authors thoughts, and turning them into a cohesive cover that pushes a reader into wanting to read the book. Plus, I’m going to tell you some of the little stuff on the cover that you might not catch at first glance.

Let’s look at the background first, shall we? I’m going to show you just the back of the cover, but the background wraps completely.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00033]

Notice that interesting texture? Here’s a closeup.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00033]

That’s actually a texture of steel (moving along with the cover’s name). There is also smoke involved, to make you think, ‘smoking gun’.

I try to keep the background bland, so to speak. I want something interesting, but not too distracting. So let’s move on to the front.

The front is composed of two pictures, Original Man Beautiful woman in leather corset

a background (see above) and text.

Needing something sexy and dangerous, and preferably with a gun, this is what I came up with.

The woman is sexy, the man dangerous. The gun is smoking, carrying your eye to the title. Which, by the way, has more steel textures in it. I also used silver and gold in the coloring, because this family is supposed to be wealthy. The man (and gun) is out of focus to draw your eye first to the woman, then to the ‘danger’ surrounding her. It also creates a depth to the cover, something that is very important, and often overlooked.

With the spine, I carried over the font and coloring, keeping a cohesive feel to the entire cover. Since the background fully wraps, there is not as much worry about a solid line creeping on the front or back spine edge, distracting from the artwork.

And that’s about it! This is simply a small look into my thought process while creating a cover specifically designed for a client.

Please visit my website www.theillustratedauthor.net or if you have any questions, feel free to email me at theillustratedauthor@gmail.com

Now, for the promised author details!

Book Blurb

The exiled heir has returned home….

Seth Morgan has returned to New York to find his family’s crime syndicate in shambles and his brother, Caleb, plotting a coup. When a vicious retaliation puts Caleb in the ground, the younger prince is left to find his own answers in a family that feels like strangers.

A sheltered princess no one needs….

Emma Morgan has lived her life in the syndicate, protected and sheltered from their way of life. When her favorite cousin returns and asks for her assistance, she doesn’t hesitate—she’s been loyal to Seth most of her life. But the more they dig into the mysteries surrounding Caleb’s death, the more both are forced to realize that the most dangerous thing isn’t the crime they broker—it’s the family they’ve trusted.

Prince of Blood and Steel will be available January 2014. Make sure to click on the Goodreads link to stay up to date.

Link to Goodreads


Authors Info

AJ and Nazarea became friends in a writers group. Drawn together by a love of fictional bad boys and good wine, they are best kept several states apart but rack up a ton of emails and text messages arguing plot points.

Nazarea Andrews

Nazarea Andrews is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. She loves chocolate and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, and overgrown dog.

A.J. Elmore

Aj has seven tattoos, two dogs, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism.  She enjoys live music, and a diverse range of writing styles and genres.  She has been writing creatively and therapeutically since childhood.  She also supports artist collaboration and cross-media projects.  She is an advocate of experience as inspiration.  She lives and works in southern West Virginia as a bartender novelist.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aj-Elmore-author-muse/329812783118
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissVish

The authors are also doing a giveaway!
Grand prize:
Win a signed ARC of Prince of Blood and Steel, special first-look at a deleted scene, and a swag pack (US only).
2 Runners up:
Win an ebook copy of Prince of Blood and Steel.
Feel free to click the link below, it will take you to the Rafflecopter giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That About Covers It

So I’ve lurked around blogs for a while now, and looked at plenty of cover reveals, editing advice tours, and so on. And because I think this is so fantastic, I decided to try my own hand at a blog, this one covering…wait for it…


Covers are an integral part of a book’s design-the real estate of a book, so to speak. And with that real estate, you want awesome curb appeal.

Obviously, as a cover artist/designer (there’s a difference), I have an opinion concerning the covers. But I also have an insider’s view as to the process, and I believe my knowledge can help you.

Whether you are an author, a reader, another designer or just browsing through, give my thoughts a look. They might enlighten you in the world of covers.


My Motto.

My Motto.

What I do.