Can You Vague That Up For Me?

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Archive for the category “Cover Art”

WTF Stock Art Sites?!: An Open Letter to Stock Art Sites (and Photographers Who Sell Their Work There)

Dear Stock Art Sites and Photographers who Sell Their Work There,

What are you even thinking?

No, really. I mean that in all seriousness.

What the actual merciless fuck is the matter with you?

Have you seen some of the weird shit that ends up on royalty-free photo sites?

Look, I get it. Not everyone who uses your site is trying to find appropriate looking models or images for cover art and promo for books. I realize that a lot of pop psychology articles and/or think pieces feature a good many of your photos. As do myriad advice columns, and blog posts (including yours truly) but dudes, I’m mostly there for photos that my brilliant cover artist can turn into cover art for my books. Honestly, a lot of people are there for that reason. So, we need to talk. There are some things you guys need to cut the fuck back on.

Unless you’re new here, you won’t be surprised to learn that I have a list of things that annoy me we’d all like to see a lot less of. So, let’s begin, shall we?

Why are there so many photos of people taking selfies and/or using phones in inexplicably weird ways? Yes, I’m aware that many think pieces have been written about people’s selfie fixation. Then, there are the memes and bitchy, self-righteous facebook posts. The people making memes are usually using actual selfies, not stock art. And while I have no problem with people taking selfies, (Do it up! I wish I had that skill.) as far as the stock art goes, literally no one needs hundreds of pages of photos of people taking selfies. No. One.

Cheerful bearded young man showing thumbs up and taking selfie

So, this douche…

While we’re on the topic of phones, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the plethora of photos of people talking on their cell phone at weird and unlikely times.

Smiling woman talking on mobile phone in yoga studio

Yoga: You’re doing it wrong. 

If you really want to show people using their cellphones in their natural habitat, there would be page after page of people sitting on the toilet chatting or playing Words with Friends while waiting in a school parking lot for their kids.

While we’re on the topic of people doing inexplicably weird things whilst on the phone, we need to talk about the preponderance of Santa hat photos. No really. There are so many. Like…a terrifying amount. I mean, I like the holidays as much as the next person, but the sheer volume of models in Santa hats makes literally no sense. You guys, there are thousands.

Friends in santa's hats with phones

Are you showing him his gift? Do you have porn on your phone? Is porn his gift? What is even happening here? I NEED ANSWERS! 

sexy man Santa Claus

Dude. This NOT what your mother meant when she said “Put a hat on.”

Another common stock art standard is the thumbs up pose. I picked this one because Santa hat. (See? They’re everywhere.) Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to use the thumbs up pose sarcastically. Like when my husband asks me how the story’s coming.

But all the people on the stock art sites seems so damn earnest in their thumbs up giving. Why? Why are you people so earnest about it? Is the photographer blackmailing you? Is that what’s going on here? Are you signaling for help? (Oh, and the selfie douche? Scroll back up – he’s also giving the thumbs up. What the hell, man?)

Cheerful young woman in santa claus hat showing thumbs up


In keeping with the technology theme, I’d like to address headphones. You find a model that you’d really like on a book cover (not this guy) and bam! giant headphones  lousing up your cover art vibe.

Man in living room watching television and wearing headphones

Everything in my house is white because I make poor life choices. 

Look, I like being outside. I even like working outside. However, you can’t sit in direct sunlight and expect to be able to see anything on your screen. Also, what the fuck is with this guy. Have you even computered before, dude?

Man working with notebook in the park.

Now, how do I get to the Facebook, again?

There are also an alarming amount of pictures of women posing “seductively” with their blowdryers. I am…not sure what’s happening here. Or why. But I do know that I’m profoundly uncomfortable.

Pretty woman blowing on hairdryer

Anthropomorphizing has gone too far.

Also, please stop with the stupid hats that ruin otherwise cute-ish photos that could work for cover and promo art. Just lose the damn hats. They’re ruining everything.


See? This kid knows the pain of a bad hat.

Happy Girl Having Great Fun And Wearing A Multicolored Hat

I feel you, kid. I feel you. 

We need to talk about all the hearts. They’re everywhere on stock art sites. Paper hearts. Puffy hearts. Dough hearts. Rock hearts. Balloon hearts. They’re like a flea infestation in a dairy barn. Weirdly, the majority of the hearts are hiding people’s faces. What does that mean? And why are so many people hiding behind hearts? I need someone to explain the psychology of this to me.


Please just stop already with the hearts.

Apropos of nothing, what is with nearly every couple having a Jack and Rose pose on stock art sites?! That shit needs to stop.

young couple  on beach have fun

There’s only room for one of you on that hunk of wood. 

While we’re talking “romantic” images, what the hell is it with one partner looking really into it, but the other one looks…

Sexy passionate couple

…regretful of her life choices and possibly nauseated.



…like he thinks he’s entirely too cool for this trendy European street scene.

Beautiful sexy couple portrait. Model man with girlfriend posing

…about to fly into a murderous rage, but not before ascending to the throne in Hell.


…bored, now.

Speaking of couples, are these two about to get it on in their kid’s preschool classroom?! What the actual merciless fuck are we supposed to get from this photo besides a deep sense of discomfort and shame?

Flirtatious couple enjoying breakfast

Look, I don’t want to kink shame, but…

Speaking of kink…

I guess…

I would very much like someone to explain the absolutely baffling fuckery of this photograph.

Tiny apartment sized ironing board? Check.

Itty bitty travel iron? Check.

Portrait of judgmental cat? Check.

Late 80s bridal lingerie? Check.

Dude with sardonically arched eyebrow and buttchin? Check and check.


Young attractive couple and british cat in a dark room

Ironing out the kinks in their relationship…?

Then…there’s this. I have zero words for this super low-budget ren faire photo, and that’s coming from someone who actually enjoys ren faires.

Folk musicians and woman dancer.

The Minstrels of Misrule, slaying their cover of “Mr. Brownstone” while Lady Eowyn performs her interpretive dance piece. 

I could go on for pages about stock art.

And probably days.

No, I could definitely go on for days. There are just so many inexplicable photos there. Which stock art photos baffle you the most?

The Evolution of Cover Art for Rewritten: Or Why I Am the Literal Worst

I’m lucky enough to have tons of amazing people in my corner when it comes to the business side of writing. One of those people is my friend and cover artist, Kris Norris. Se does amazing things with cover art and she basically has the patience of a saint when it comes to dealing with me.

I’m the worst. The absolute worst.

I get an idea for cover art, and I love it. And she makes it. And then I squint at it and think of all the reasons it’s not really right. Reasons that St. Norris has been subtly hinting at for days, but she indulges me anyway. Why? Because for some reason, she loves me. And also she’s a glutton for punishment.

So, I found this stock art for my upcoming release, Rewritten, and fell in love with the idea of it. When the story begins, Angus and Eliza’s relationship is a bit combative. Here, this is the blurb–it explains things pretty well.

Betrayed and completely exposed, she’d sworn off kink. Hell, she’d sworn off men. But she hadn’t counted on him…  

One of the hottest voices in Sci-Fi, Angus Domhnull is renowned not just for his sweeping sagas, but for his stupidly gorgeous looks—and the fact that he’s taken almost five years to finish his latest novel. Now, assistant editor, Eliza Burrows, is stuck minding him, and his brooding nature is pushing every sexually submissive button she has. But even if Angus wasn’t her publisher’s star author, he’d be off-limits—after a painful betrayal, Eliza doesn’t play anymore, and she’s not about to start again with him.

Unable to deliver his long-awaited manuscript, Angus is saddled with a keeper—and her creative input—that he never asked for. Despite the resentment and animosity brewing between them, he finds himself drawn to Eliza. As he learns more about the intriguing woman behind the prickly facade, he falls for her, hard and deep.

When the attraction between them ignites, Eliza lets Angus bring her to one place she swore she’d never go again—her knees. He wants more than just her submission, but her past and the secrets she’s hidden could destroy everything…

So, St. Norris took my annoying stock photo (inevitably, I always like a landscape orientation when a portrait orientation would work better) and made this fantastic cover that I really adored. I loved the torn paper, the partially erased writing, the couple crabbily sitting back to back. I thought it was the cutest.


And it is the cutest. However, at best, it looks like a straight contemporary romance. It doesn’t look like an erotic romance and definitely not an erotic romance with BDSM elements.

That usually leads me to texting her the phrase: Hey, Norris…please don’t hate me, but…

So after some discussion and agreement that it looked a little too sweet and looooooooooots of scrounging for cover models, St. Norris came up with this.


Definitely more of a steamy romance look while still keeping the ripped paper/erased words thing that I loved so much. I loved it–though part of me was still stuck on the cutesy cover. See? The worst.

Jess Jarman (also a saint, frankly) and I share the Bound series. And we love it. It’s so much fun to write a series with one of your BFFs. Sometimes, we even borrow each other’s characters. For instance, one of her upcoming characters, Kit Sterling, puts in a brief appearance in Rewritten. It’s  both awesome and nerve-wracking to write someone else’s character (probably why I don’t write fan fic) but I know that she’ll tweak whatever doesn’t work for her. And I’ll do the same when she’s got one of mine.

Anyway, Jess and I were talking, and several people had mentioned to that we might want to consider rebranding the whole series. Freshen it up a bit. So, we hemmed and hawed and eventually I said: Hey, Norris…please don’t hate me, but…

And Norris, amazing woman that she is, rebranded our whole series. Look at all of our new pretties!


And here’s Jess’ upcoming release, Safeword Protected!


And here’s the final for Rewritten!  I absolutely love it, and it totally fits the book!  (I promise, Norris, I won’t change my mind again!)

And you can pre-order it now at:

Amazon  * B&N  * iBooks  *  Kobo


Cover Reveal for Out of Sync!

I’ve been busy, busy, busy. It’s amazing what getting rid of a bunch of negativity and stress can do for one’s productivity!

But I wanted to share my shiny new cover for my upcoming release, Out of Sync. It’s the 5th book in my and Jess Jarman’s Bound series, and the lovely Kris Norris made the gorgeous cover. It’ll be out in a few weeks.

out of sync

Ten years ago, Morgan Weaver walked away from everything he loved—his burgeoning career as a composer, his cello, and his best friend, James. Family obligations and guilt keep him tied to a job he hates, and his dreams have collected even more dust than his instrument.

James Shepherd was left reeling when Morgan abandoned not only their dreams of writing and performing together, but their friendship. James forged on to become an internationally known musician, but he’s always felt Morgan’s loss and has never been able to shake the feeling that he’s responsible for the other man’s choice to leave everything behind.

A simple request from Morgan’s sister brings the men together in a way neither of them expected, and long-denied desire bubbles to the surface overwhelming them both. Knowing it’s only temporary, Morgan finds himself lost in a haze of submission, finally able to experience being at James’ mercy and determined to enjoy it while it lasts. James, however, has other plans and is equally determined to show Morgan he can have all he’s ever wanted—including what they have together.


James stared at Morgan. His wide gaze kept darting between James’ eyes and his lips, and his expression bordered on desperation and need. It was a much better look than he’d had earlier. He only seen Morgan that defeated one other time, and he refused to let it happen again—not if he could stop it.

He tightened his fingers in Morgan’s silky curls and tugged back his head. Giving Morgan all the time in the world to stop him, James slowly lowered his face, but once he touched Morgan’s lips, he was fucking lost. They parted on a gasp, and James wasn’t sure if it was the need for more air or to speak. All he knew, was that Morgan’s mouth was open, and he was sweeping inside, tasting the smooth sting of scotch and the warmth of the man he’d never stopped wanting.

Morgan’s fingers clenched on James’ arms, but he didn’t push James away. Instead, he just hung on. James slid his other arm around Morgan’s waist, and pulled their hips flush together. The groan that that escaped Morgan’s lips as their hard cocks ground against each other was the most delicious thing James had ever tasted.

Anger and lust slammed together, and he kissed Morgan harder, deeper, walking him backward until his back was against the wall. When he’d come home and found Morgan dozing on the couch with his computer open and empty glass of scotch, he’d lost it. He’d thought he was getting through to the other man—helping to pull him out of his self-imposed corporate prison. But leave him alone for one night, and he was right back fucking to it.

And the way Morgan had snapped back had sent James’ emotions careening everywhere. Pride in the fact that Morgan had stood up for himself. Arousal that mixed weirdly with that pride. Worry for whatever had set him off in the first place, because he knew that as explosively angry as Morgan had been, it hadn’t been directed at James—not all of it anyway. And concern that this man that he cared about was going to continue to trade his happiness for a life of misery and servitude. All of his emotions twisted together until the only action that seemed remotely sensible was to kiss Morgan like he’d been dying to since James had shown up his office less than a week ago.

He trailed his lips down the side of Morgan’s neck, nipping with his teeth, drawing little shudders out of the man. His fingers convulsed on James’ arms, and every little bite drew Morgan’s hips forward in sharp little jerks.

“Jamie,” he breathed. “What are you doing?”

He trailed his lips up to Morgan’s ear then sucked the lobe between his lips and flicked at it with the tip of his tongue before releasing him. “I’m doing what you told me to.”

“What…I—” his sentence ended on a gasp as James raked his teeth over that same bit of flesh.

James drew back a bit so he could look into Morgan’s eyes. His pupils had practically swallowed the warm brown of his irises. He dragged the pad of his thumb across Morgan’s full bottom lip. “You told me to do what I wanted, remember?”

He nodded, somehow managing to appear both desperately aroused and ready to bolt at the same time.

“So that’s what I’m doing.” James chuckled quietly as he tilted his head back and forth as he considered his next words. “Well, maybe not exactly what I want.”

“No?” Morgan’s voice came out rusty, like he rarely spoke.

“Well, you’re not tied up and naked, and I’m not finding out all the pretty shades of pink your arse can turn.”

Morgan’s eyes dilated a little further, and his breath caught, his chest lifting and holding tight against James’.

“Nor is my prick buried balls deep inside you, so…no. I’m not doing quite what I want. Not yet.”

Morgan swallowed thickly. “Oh.”

“But, I’m not going to do any of those things.” James thrust against Morgan, unable to keep his hips still.

Morgan thrust back, clearly needing more than James was giving him. “You’re not?”

James leaned forward and nipped the other man’s lower lip, pulling back slightly before releasing it. “Not yet.”

“When?” the other man choked out.

“Here’s the thing, Morgs…if this is going to make you run from me like it did last time…” His voice cracked a little on that last word as ten years’ worth of guilt choked him. “Make you run from the things that are most important to you, it’s not happening. Not now, not ever.”

Lips slightly parted and gaze hungry, Morgan shook his head, wordlessly.

James sobered. “If all I ever am to you is your friend, I’d rather have that, than tonight…no matter how fucking hot I know it would be.”

Morgan met his gaze and James couldn’t look away if he wanted to.

“I’m not looking to pick out china patterns with you—you don’t need to worry about that,” James rushed to say. “But no matter how hard I want to make you come…no matter how badly I want to feel your mouth around my cock, I’m not willing to be the cause of not seeing you again for another ten years.”

Morgan fisted the front of James’ shirt. “When’d you get so fucking noble?” Without waiting for an answer, he yanked James forward and captured his lips, pushing inside and taking his mouth as thoroughly as James had claimed his moments before.


New Cover Art! I Have Some!

So, this is a short post, because honestly? I feel like I’m coming down with a cold and I’m trying to finish a galley. And get ready for Authors After Dark. And get ready for the start of school. And do my day job. And after looking at this list, I’m considering adding running away from home. I hear MN is nice… But anyway, here’s the new cover!

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