Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Interview with my Cover Artist Najla Qamber

Today I'm interviewing my fabulous cover artist, Naj Qamber. Naj does all the covers at Inkspell Publishing, and we're very lucky to have her. I sat down with her to ask her a few question.

1. What made you decide to become a graphic artist? Did you study it in college?

 I think I was 16 when I decided to become a graphics designer. I used to manipulate photos together when I was about 13 and I managed to build a big enough portfolio that it caught the eye of a local Creative Director and he sort of took me under his wing. He gave me an internship at a local design studio and I was usually working on corporate design. 

My time at the studio made me realise what I wanted to do with my life. And I loved reading YA books back in the day (I read historical romance mostly now), and I would always look at the beautiful covers and say "One day, Naj. You'll get to design book covers too!". 

Inkspell was my very first client! And nope! I did not study it in college. But I do have a bachelors degree in Business Informatics to help me run the business and handle clients the best way a business could.

2. How long have you been designing book covers? How many have you created?

I think since I was 18, so that's about 6 years (8 years for graphics design as a whole). I might have designed about 500 covers by now, if we're counting pre made covers as well. Wow! I didn't realise I've designed that many!

3. Does it take a lot of time to design a book cover? What is the process involved?

It actually depends on the project really. If the cover involves a lot of detail and elements, it could take me about 3 hours to put together. But on average it takes me an hour and a half to put together something. There are times when it doesn't take more than 30 minutes. The toughest part of the design process is the feedback stage. That's where a lot of time is put in. We're talking about an extra 4 to 8 hours all together. 

The process, put simply, is like the following:

Inquiry stage - I give the client my prices, and if they're okay with it, I give them two dates. One for the brainstorm and one for for the first draft of the design.

Brainstorm stage - iron out details, talk about what we'd like done, etc.

Feedback stage - the client gives me their feedback after I show them the preliminary. 

Finalising stage - I send over the clients book cover and any other swag designs she/he ordered with it. 

4. Do you have any covers that are your favorites (other than Tiger Lily, of course!), or any work that you are especially proud of?

 Hmmm, that's a very good question! Now that I think about it. I actually don't have a favorite cover. But here is some of the work I'm proud of:


Thank you, Naj! And thanks for the wonderful cover.

Tiger Lily is available for pre-order on:

And on Kobo:

For more information about Naj and the fantastic work she does, check out her website:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cover Reveal for TIGER LILY

After revealing a bunch of beautiful covers for my friends and colleagues, I finally have the chance to reveal my own.

TIGER LILY, a work of young adult fiction, is available for pre-order now on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018A6N548/?tag=wendedikeccom-20 and on Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/tiger-lily-10.

Lily Madison thought dying because of a bad manicure was the worst thing that could happen. She was wrong. 

Waking up in the hospital and realizing she’s being stalked by an entire herd of naughty little ghosts turns her entire world upside down. She begins to doubt her own sanity until she realizes she isn’t alone. A Goth girl, named Zoe, can see the ghosts, too. 

Most of the ghosts look like fuzzy blobs, but one is not blobby at all. He’s a very hot, very annoying dead guy named Nick. Although they dislike each other on sight, Nick soon realizes Lily is his only hope. With the help of Zoe and Mr. Wan, the manicurist who almost killed her, she has only days to get Nick and the other ghosts back where they belong or the whole world will be in terrible danger. 

But sending the ghosts back means saying goodbye to Nick forever, and Lily isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to let him go. 

TIGER LILY will be released January 13, 2016. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy Book Birthday to Sheridan Jeane and Casey Clipper

I have two friends who released new books yesterday. Both are fabulous!

The first, ONCE UPON A SPY, is the third book in the "Secrets and Seduction Series" by Sheridan Jeane.


The second, HEIST, is the first in the new "The Men of the Law" series by Casey Clipper.

Congratulations, ladies! So proud of both of you.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Best of the Burghosphere

Most Wanted Fine Art teamed up with Pittsburgh Bloggers to create something new and exciting. The Best of the Burghosphere (http://mostwantedfineart.com/2014-events-at-mwfa/best-of-the-burghosphere-2015 ) is a way to honor and acknowledge the contributions of bloggers in Pittsburgh.

I signed up to participate, even though I’m sort of a slacker blogger. I do most of my blogging on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Capone-the-Wonder-Dog ), and so my actual blog has been severely neglected. Abused. Abandoned.

I was assigned a blog (http://thomascwaters.com) to read and explore. I also had to choose an award/category for this blog. I chose “Most Thorough, Informative, and Professional Coverage of Events in the LGBT Community and Beyond.”

From the moment I opened Mr. Waters blog, I was impressed with the amount of work that had been put into it. It is so incredibly professional, thoughtful, thorough, and educational. I loved reading so many of the articles. As a writer of romantic fiction, I found several of his blogs to be very helpful with correctly addressing LGBT issues and writing about a trans character appropriately and accurately.

This isn’t just a blog for people who are part of the LGBT community. This is a good read for anyone.

Reading Mr. Waters’ blog inspired me to put more time and effort into my own blog. It also made me curious about what other bloggers are lurking around the Pittsburgh area. Thank you to Most Wanted Fine Arts and Pittsburgh Bloggers for creating this event!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cover Reveal for Colleen S. Meyers

I'm so excited to share the amazing cover of my good friend Colleen S. Meyers' debut novel. 

Colleen plays many roles. Not only is she a veteran, a mother, and a practicing physician, but she is a writer of science fiction and contemporary romances. Colleen’s dreams include surviving her son’s teenage years, exploring every continent on this planet, except Antartica, cause that’s way too cold, and winning the Nobel peace prize. Dream BIG! Currently she is getting ready to publish her first novel, MUST REMEMBER in November of this year.  Until then look for her at Three Rivers Romance Writers, at Facebook  Colleen Myers, and at @ColleenSMyers.  


Nineteen-year-old Elizabeth ‘Beta’ Camden is a survivor.

When the E’mani—those pale alien freaks—destroy Earth with a plague of madness and scoop up the remains, Beta is one of the ‘lucky’ ones. For years, she endures their tortures, experiments and games. Then one day, she manages to escape their ship with her life, and no memory of her time with them.

Stranded on their world, Beta wanders the mountains, looking for a way home. She stumbles onto the Fost—the E’mani’s ancient enemy.  Their war with the E’mani is old and rooted in magic that the Fost once had and the E’mani crave. Magic Beta soon discovers she’s developing along with strange tattoos and disturbing glimpses of her past. The Fost take her in and train her in their ways. As she spends more time with them, she falls in love with their culture and with Marin—he of the hot hands and slit eyes.

But the E’mani took her for a reason and they want her back—dead or alive. If Beta doesn’t remember that reason soon, they’re all going to die.


Oy. No more weekday frat parties for me, no matter how
noble the cause, especially when I have a test the next day. What was
I thinking? And last minute cramming with a headache was not a
good idea either. Forget it. My eyes drifted to the clock.

And now I was late. Damn it. With a sigh, I threw down my
pencil and scrambled up, my head throbbing. I traded my Eeyore
jammies for skinny jeans and a fitted white t-shirt. Shoes, where
were my shoes? Gah. I ducked and rooted around in the deep, dark
spaces under my bed. Hmm, the green dress I borrowed from Sarah.
Mental note: I need to return that. English book, various dust
bunnies of uncertain lineage…there.

Sketchers on, I grabbed my backpack, turned up my iPod,
and ran out the door. No time to primp.

Good thing the campus I lived on was small. There was a big
central courtyard—the quad—filled with towering oak trees and
wide-open spaces surrounded by squat school buildings and
classrooms. If I hurried, I’d make it…

I raced into the quad out of breath and slowed, turning in a
complete circle.


No one around. Unease skittered through me on soft paws.
The courtyard was always busy. I pulled my headphones out of my
ears. Was there some sort of event I didn’t know about going on?
The unnatural silence pressed in on me for a second as the
echoes of my steps faded.

Then screams—men’s and women’s—poured from Main
Street. I broke into a run and shot between the buildings toward the

Cars littered the intersection. Some guy rear-ended someone
else, causing a chain reaction down the road. A horn blared nearby
and a faint breeze blew the smell of gasoline, smoke, and copper my
way. Clusters of people stood among the wreckage.

Congratulations, Colleen, and we're all looking forward to reading this book in November!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Capone's Cojones

It began at doggie daycare a week ago, when one of the trainers there gave Capone a speculative look.

“Is he still intact?” she asked. It took me a full five seconds to understand her meaning.

“Oh. Yes. Yes. Very much so.”

She frowned. “And how old is he now?”

“Ten months on Saturday. Still a baby. A big, hairy, 85 pound baby.”

She shook her head. “We should have mentioned this before, like two months ago, but there is an extra charge for intact male dogs.”

“How much?”

She winced. “It’s actually double the fee.”

That made a day at doggie daycare sound more like a day at the most exclusive spa in town. “Gosh. Okay.”

I was in a pinch, moving my oldest back to college that day. It would take hours and I couldn’t leave Capone alone. When I got back to pick him up that evening, the people at doggie daycare kindly charged me the regular rate since they hadn’t warned me ahead of time. As I paid and waited for Capone to be brought forth, I explained my dilemma. 

"Quite a few people have encouraged me to wait a year or two before getting Capone neutered. They said it would be better for his health in the long run." 

The girl working behind the counter listened sympathetically. “Has he exhibited any…behaviors?”

“Not at all.” I responded, quite proud of the fact that Capone was not a humper. He did have a brief interlude with a Mexican blanket a few months ago, but nothing at all since then. But maybe there were other things I should be worried about. I frowned. “I mean, he doesn't...uh...hump. Are there other behaviors I should worry about?”

“Well, there is marking….”

I stared at her. “Is that when they pee on every tree, bush, rock, fire hydrant, and anything remotely shaped like a phallus when you take them for a walk?”

She nodded. “My dog started marking, and I kind of ignored it. Then he started doing it inside….”

“Oh, no.” I suddenly imagine pee splattered walls and couches and curtains.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “That’s when I knew it was time to get him fixed."

I called the vet the next morning and made the appointment. Capone is now scheduled to be emasculated on August 27. Not everyone in my house was happy to hear the news.

“Do we have to do it?” asked my husband on a long distance call from Amsterdam. “I feel bad for him.”

“I’ll feel bad for us if he starts marking our furniture.”

“I guess so. Wait. How much is this going to cost?”

It would be roughly the price of a new set of tires for our car. My husband gasped when I told him. “I think we should wait,” he said. “It’s not just the money. I feel so sorry for him.”

“I think it’s time,” I said. As the only person in the house without testicles, I quickly realized I had to be the one to make this decision, and I had to stand firm.

My oldest son, already back at college, reacted with shock. “Can I see him before it happens?”

My middle son quietly patted Capone’s head and handed him extra treats. “Poor puppy,” he said.

My youngest had a different plan. “I think we should breed him. He’d make really cute puppies.”

My husband had been all for this idea, too. “Let him have at least one happy memory.”

I rolled my eyes and messaged the breeder, who really didn’t need Capone’s services. I knew this would be the case, but I had to contact her just to confirm it. Otherwise they all might have wondered if we’d rushed into things and missed out on the possibility of an affair de coeur for Capone.

Then the questions started, mostly from my youngest. “Do they actually cut off his….you know….?”

“Yes. I think so.”

“Can we keep them?”

“His balls?” He nodded, very seriously, and I shook my head. “Uh, no. We cannot.”

Whenever the subject of the surgery came up, every member of my household had the same reaction. A wince. A flinch. A sort of doubling over (like someone had punched them very low in the stomach), followed by the instinctual and involuntary covering of their male parts. It was like every time they thought about what Capone would go through, they imagined it happening to them, too.

“It’s not going to be that bad,” I said, rolling my eyes as they did their flinching ball covering dance once again. “You guys are ridiculous.”

Even the neighborhood children were concerned. “Will they put him to sleep for it?” asked one little boy, his blue eyes huge in his face.

“Yes, they will.”

“Phew,” he said, giving Capone a pat. “I’m glad you won’t remember it, boy.”

It was like a conspiracy among males to protect other males. Every conversation I had with my husband (still in Amsterdam) often centered on Capone and his balls. “I think we’re rushing this…” he began, but I stopped him.

“It’s time. He’ll be calmer.”

I looked at Capone, sleeping on the floor and snoring like a cartoon character. A loud inhale of a snore followed by an exhale that sounded like “waba waba waba.” It had to be the cutest dog snore ever. For a lab, Capone was a very calm puppy already. If he got any calmer, he might be comatose. Maybe this wasn't the best argument for neutering.

“I don’t want him marking our house,” I said.

“Neither do I,” said my husband.

“And I don’t want to pay double the price for doggie daycare.”

 “Neither do I.” He let out a sigh. “Lots of dogs go through this, I guess.”

“Yep. Most do.”

And so it’s been decided. Capone will officially be turned into the dog equivalent of a eunuch next Thursday. He will recover very quickly, I’m sure. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the guys in my family. I think it’ll be a long time before they can look at Capone without wincing and flinching.