Monday, January 28, 2013

Interview with Lou Malcangi

Please welcome Lou Malcangi to my blog! Lou is the brilliant Art Director for Kensington Books and the designer of my own humble covers. I was so impressed with my artwork, I asked Lou if he would be willing to be interviewed.

Much to my delight, he agreed. :)

1. What is your job title?
Art Director, Cover Design Dept. I've been designing book covers since 1993.

2. Walk me through the design process for a book's cover. How do you choose the color palette, poses, models, fonts, where to place the title, blurb, and author's name?
Wow, that's a pretty intense question there! You're asking me to distill my professional existence into a few sentences, but here we go!
First of all each category of books seems to have its "look" political thrillers look like political thrillers and romance novels look like romance novels. We are not in the business of being vague or confusing the consumer. A book's cover is VERY important, especially to a new or unknown author. 

I have about 3 seconds of the consumers time to convince them to pick my cover up and give it a closer look. The real trick in book packaging is to look familiar but always try to incorporate some new, different, and exciting elements while designing. I like to work the entire design around my art/photo/illustration. I get especially excited when I feel that the the type I design doesn't just sit on top of the art but incorporates itself into the art work. 

There are more people than just myself who help direct the final look of a books cover, I usually work along with the books editor, and our sales dept management. 

Designing a cover is very much a cooperative effort. I am always on the look out for interesting compositions that that I can pick up and use in my books covers. I go to many sources for ideas, classical fine art, movie posters, comic books, ad on the side of a bus. I use all these influences as a starting point to help me achieve my goal, which is a great book cover.

3. Name a few of your current projects.
I usually work on the "butch" book covers :) Lots of thrillers, westerns and some cute mysteries as well.

4. What was your educational background? What prepared you for this career?
I just loved to draw, paint and create from the time I was a little kid buying comics and magazines in my local candy store in Queens NY.

I spent my childhood drawing superheroes, monsters, and TV personalities. As I got older, I started copying paintings from album covers to the backs of denim jackets. I thought that really taught me a lot about painting and composition. 

Then I really learned what it took to be an artist when I headed off to study painting at city university and the Art Students League here in NY. 

Somewhere in the midst of all my drawing, painting and sculpture classes I discovered graphic design. I had always been more of a fan of pop culture art than fine art, so commercial design came naturally. I always prefer a comic book or movie poster to the highbrow art that fill NYC art galleries. I fell in love with, and became obsessed with graphic design. Plus, being a geek who loved gadgets...I took to designing with a computer in a heartbeat.

 5. On those inevitable days when you feel like your brain is completely tapped out, what or who inspires you?
The mortgage bill...seriously I juggle so many projects at one time that if one is problematic or just stumps me, I can put it down and move to another book and come back later. Often to a good results and great relief to me. 

 6. How many people are in your department?
5 people design all the covers produced by Kensington, we're a busy bunch.

 7. Do you have any advice for someone interested in publishing as a career?
If you love books, and are interested in publishing, GO FOR IT! Get an internship, do anything to get your foot in the door.

 Do it when you're young and flexible career-wise. I loved reading as a kid and young adult and I really loved looking at those amazing book and album covers! I consider myself lucky to be doing what I do. If you love it, get involved with the business any way you can, internships, networking, groveling, whatever it takes. Life is so much easier when you have a career and not just a job.  

Thank you so very much, Lou! These are fantastic covers and now I want to read every one of them. :)

Dracula's Secret, Blood Wings #1
Dracula's Desires, Blood Wings #2
Dracula Unleashed, Blood Wings #3, to be released March 21, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Yard progress

The front yard is completely done, including planting. I tell you, the landscaping/building arts are a dark, mysterious magic to me. I try to prune or plant something and it ends in tears. These people do things with tools, rock, gravel, and wood, and then PRESTO!

It's amazing.


The stone path that replaced the lawn.

When the whole project is done, it will be the Edna Green Memorial Garden, in honor of my
maternal grandmother.

And of course, don't forget:
Dracula's Secret, Blood Wings #1
Dracula's Desires, Blood Wings #2
Dracula Unleashed, Blood Wings #3, to be released March 21, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

In memoriam

Today, I attended the funeral of my dear friend and fellow author Sloan Addams. She contracted polio when she was a very young girl and survived into her 70s with the harrowing reality of post-polio syndrome and resulting complications.

Despite her gimp status (her words, not mine), she was a world traveler, a mother, a teacher, and a writer of warm, cozy mysteries. She supported my crazy, sexy vampires, and would occasionally complain that I gave her yummy things to read at the times she was not allowed *ahem* intimate conversation. What a compliment!

In memory of Sloan, I am reposting my essay about going to a Turkish bath, dated October 18, 2010.

The hammam is one of the few things in the world that I experienced, but she did not.

Cheers, Sloan.


Photo from

When I was in Istanbul, the one place I knew I had to visit was a hammam. I went to one of the most famous Hamams in the world - Cagaloglu Hamami.

This is the description I sent my fellow author, Sloan Addams. She calls me Wonder Woman. I call her Power Girl.


Power Girl! I have come to the conclusion that the hamam is the cure for all the world's ills.

First, some nice lady pours hot water all over you as you sit on a heated marble floor. Then you get to lay there in wet, fabulous bliss. She comes in with soap and a exfoliating mitt and scrubs you all over, front and back, so that your skin is incredibly smooth and clean. This is not fast, either. It's complete relaxation.

You get rinsed by more hot, clean water splashed over you. This feels like heaven.

Then you realize that heaven is even cooler than you thought, because you get a massage with the soap suds. The soap and water is so thick and bubbly that your massage is slick and relaxes every damn part of yourself.

Finally, she washes your hair.

At the end, you ooze your boneless way back to your little room and try to remember how to put on clothes.

I bought some of the soap and one of the mitts there, so I can give myself a cheater's hamam here at home. No heated marble floors, you know. ;)

Her response?

Wonder Woman - I just turned green.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 Resolutions: The literary life and me

My favorite book on writing, bar none, is Making a Literary Life, by Elizabeth See. The section she wrote on rejection is life changing. I wanted to discuss it today, but I’d have to quote the whole damn thing, and that was way too much copyright infringement, even for me.

Instead, I’m going to discuss her chapter on making the magic, going beyond the words on the page, and into creating the life that makes you shine.
I can’t say it better than she does, so here it is.

Any philanthropist knows that the more money she gives, the more she’ll get back; any volunteer knows that hour spent in a good cause give us golden time. We all know, at some level, that stinginess doesn’t work.
If you start giving away what you want, you give the universe a nudge – you get the cosmic Jell-O trembling.
If you feel you don’t have enough love in your life (no writer, art6ist, human being can exist without love), don’t go around trying to steal it at low bars from impressionable young men and women: Try giving it away, in a blaze of affection, compliments and hugs. Start with your musty old grandma, your lumpy wife, your doltish dad: hugs and compliments- because you have so much love in your bank that you can afford to give it away, lavishly and recklessly.
So what are you waiting for? The best part of the literary and creative life is giving away what you most want. 

My books:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 Resolutions: Jenna Bayley-Burke and the Literary Life

Resolve 2013 : Creating a Literary Life

Welcome Jenna Bayley-Burke, author of Drive Me Crazy. What are your thoughts on my New Year’s resolution to Create a Literary Life? 

It sounds wonderful…can I be in it?
I’m still mired in the small-children-rule-my-world life, and will be for another decade and a half. I have grand dreams of a literary life. Attending readings, signings, book clubs, conventions. I’ll wear long cardigans and flowing skirts and sip tea all day long. I’ll write in quaint, local cafes where I’ll be known by the staff and regulars and ‘the writer’. 

I’ll read as much as an agent, a story a day at least, three on a good day. And I’ll know the authors, drop them quirky notes about how I loved their latest and recognized parts of the trip they took to Spain a few years back. I’ll read on a hammock, or a fainting couch. Preferably with bonbons.

*tires squealing* 

What the heck are bonbons anyway? I mean, really. When I am ready I don’t want anything that could dirty my fingers and get on the pages of the book or mar my e-reader case. This is why true readers covet m&m’s. And while I can hear the folksy guitar scoring that life, I’ve always been more of an uptempo, dance mix kind of girl. 

My literary life takes place online. Mostly on Twitter (the break room) or Facebook (the reception area). A few times a year I’m on the ball enough to arrange the kids’ and husband’s schedules so they can do without me for a bit. Conferences and brainstorming sessions leave me energized to write and create, but unfortunately I come home to the chaos created by my absence and… I don’t feel at all literary as I decode what transpired by laundry stains and what’s missing from the pantry.

 Alas, I’m not sure I’m much help on this one, Linda. So sorry. Ask me in again in a decade and a half. 
Find Jenna : Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Blog| Pinterest  

Keep the party rolling!

Maggie Jaimeson - Take a Vacation
Jessa Slade - Get Organized
Paty Jager - Volunteerism
Linda Mercury - Creating a Literary (or Creative) Life
Jenna Bayley-Burke - Eat Healthier
Cassiel Knight - No More Procrastination
Cathryn Cade - Take Time for those OTHER Creative Passions
Su Lute - Reduce Stress: Find and Follow Your Bliss
Jamie Brazil - Shrink My Closet

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Resolutions: Cassiel Knight and the Literary Life

Resolve 2013:  Creating a Literary (or Creative) Life

This one was a difficult resolution for me. First, I wasn’t quite sure what Linda meant by this. I’m also surprised because I think Linda is one of the few that have what I think as a literary life. She’s very dedicated to her writing and is published with eKensington. Sounds pretty good, eh?

So, I thought about this one a bit. Actually looked online to see what other’s thought about creating a literary or creative life and for me, it seems to boil down to how we hold ourselves out to others.

We have to figure out what our creative life should look like and that is something only we can do. I know mine means quitting my day job so what I’m doing now and planning for the future involves creating my literary life around making enough money to quit the day job, keep myself (and my dogs) in the life style to which we’ve become used to and indulge in my passions of writing, editing and promotion. And I have a plan to get there in the next two years. It’s a slow plan but I love knowing what’s waiting for me when I succeed.

My literary life won’t be everyone’s. How I get there also won’t be the same but I think what is the same is how we present ourselves to others. To start: Do you like to tell people you write books? Do you like to tell them what type of book you write? When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer and when they ask what I write, I proudly tell them action/adventure romance. If you can’t do that, figure out what’s preventing you. 

There are other things around how you are perceived by others in your goal to create a literary life but ultimately, being comfortable telling others you are a writer and not shying from telling them you write romance, erotic, young adult or science fiction and fantasy should be your first step. Take pride in what you do.

Have a fantastic 2013!

Cassiel Knight resides in the beautiful, and evergreen, state of Oregon with her husband of over 20 years and two female Shih Tzus, which are her children in every sense of the word. When she isn't editing, writing or reading (and that is most of the time), she can be found playing with her Shih Tzus, gardening (when the weather permits and sometimes when it doesn't) and cooking fancy meals as long as someone else does the dishes. She writes paranormal romances with kick-assitude that blend archeology and mythologyjust a few of her favorite thingsfor Samhain Publishing, Lyrical Press and Champagne Book Group.

You can find me at these places:

Continue the blog party!

Maggie Jaimeson - Take a Vacation
Jessa Slade - Get Organized
Paty Jager - Volunteerism
Linda Mercury - Creating a Literary (or Creative) Life
Jenna Bayley-Burke - Eat Healthier
Cassiel Knight - No More Procrastination
Cathryn Cade - Take Time for those OTHER Creative Passions
Su Lute - Reduce Stress: Find and Follow Your Bliss
Jamie Brazil - Shrink My Closet

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 Resolutions: Cathryn Cade and the Literary Life

It All Started With Barbie    Cathryn Cade 

My first memories of reading are such good ones—carrying home books from the public library in a pile so high I had to balance them under my chin. And then devouring them as fast as I could. Being read aloud to by my teacher after lunch every day. (My mother says she and my dad read to us every night, but darn it, I can’t remember that, even when I look at the family photos.)

Dr. Seuss was a favorite—Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Then on to The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Black Stallion, Tarzan of the Apes. Hey, I didn’t say I was into great literature, just good stories. 

So much so that when I grew up and went off to college, I fell in love with a career. That’s when I knew I wanted to be not just a teacher, but a librarian. And for many years I loved the job. Stayed home with my two boys in the middle, then went back to it.

I still love a good adventure with some mystery, suspense, a character who learns something important about herself, and a happy ending. Which is why I find it so very satisfying to read romance. I think Jayne Ann Krentz said it best in an interview with the Seattle Times. 

While the (popular) fictional landscape may change, the players remain consistent. At the core of all the genres are the archetypes. We know what a hero's supposed to act like. He's still gotta have the classic heroic values—courage, honor, and determination.”  

And of course many of our favorite heroes are heroines! With the same qualities as the male hero, but tempered with the best of femininity—compassion, tenderness and a strong belief in family. 

And that’s why, when it was time to move on to a new career, it was romance writing that attracted me. Did I mention I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to draw those big, crooked letters on wide-ruled paper? My stories sort of continued the wild adventures had by my Barbie and Ken dolls. 

So in a weird way, I have Barbie to thank for my career. No wonder I write erotic romance with a muse like that—boobs like a stripper and eye-makeup to match! Add the fact that she and Ken hung around naked in the dark a lot, and there you have it. (In their Barbie carrying case, what did you think I meant?) 

What’s your favorite genre of romance? And can you remember the reading path that brought you here? I’d love to know. Leave a comment!

Happy New Year,
Cathryn Cade
... red hot romance!
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Continue the blog party!

Maggie Jaimeson - Take a Vacation
Jessa Slade - Get Organized
Paty Jager - Volunteerism
Linda Mercury - Creating a Literary (or Creative) Life
Jenna Bayley-Burke - Eat Healthier
Cassiel Knight - No More Procrastination
Cathryn Cade - Take Time for those OTHER Creative Passions
Su Lute - Reduce Stress: Find and Follow Your Bliss
Jamie Brazil - Shrink My Closet