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I Am Mothman.

The Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, is this weekend. I love this event filled with cryptids, Men in Black, conspiracy theories, and everything Mothman.

And a great weekend to announce that this is now the home of IamMothman.com. We’ll have features, graphics, and tons of fun starring your favorite winged legend.

To get started, here’s the schedule for this weekend’s main event…the Mothman Festival. The small, river town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, is awakened this Saturday and Sunday. You’ll even find me there signing copies of the Mothman Mysteries and Midnight Guardian series books.

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The Art Behind the Mothman Mysteries: the Cover

In my last “Art Behind” post, we took an in-depth look at the BRAND and the development of Eric’s alien tattoo in the series. In this post, we’ll look at the icing on the cake, the book cover.

As I mentioned before, I’ve used stock photography in the past for my covers, but I wanted something special for this new series. Fortunately, Joshua Labello of Envy Ink was up for the task. I remember having the initial conversation with Josh. I didn’t have an exact idea for the cover, and even if I did, I’m not sure if I would have shared it with him. I hated the idea of limiting his artistic process.

So, instead, I told him about the book and its characters. We talked about genre and YA covers that I liked. He also asked me about marketing and what items from the book might stand out. I told him about Bridget’s red umbrella and how I thought that the red would be a nice splash of color for the cover.

From the initial discussion, Josh started sketching and came up with these two images.

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Loved the idea of setting it in the graveyard. The book is about the dead rising and much of it takes place in the cemetery so it only seemed fitting. Also, loved the idea of Eric and Bridget together and Bridget behind Eric. I thought that was important symbolically as she always backs him up.

I looked these two over for a long time before responding. Then, I decided that the first one looked a little too much like a Fabio cover to me. Not that that’s a bad thing, just not what I was looking for in a cover for a clean YA. The second image, however, seemed right on the money, except for one thing.

I had described Eric’s hair as long. Which I realized right away was way too vague. I see how a rocker with long hair would look like this; however, Eric Jansen in my mind looked more like Chace Crawford and less like Bret Michaels. I asked Josh to think more surfer and less 80s hair band.

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So, the next round of sketches looked like this.

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Eric was shaping up nicely, but Bridget seemed off. Eric often refers to her as a “tiny thing”. I had pictured her as the petite, flat-chested girl next door. I think I described her to Josh as average, but pretty. She’s a good foot shorter than Eric. In this version of the cover, Bridget seemed much younger than Eric. I knew they should appear to be around the same age.

So Josh went to work on Bridget. He needed some reference, so I sent him a pic of Bella Thorne in her Disney days.

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And then I didn’t hear back about Bridget for a while. Instead, he kept her under wraps and went to work finalizing the tattoo and “dressing” Eric.

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Then one day I got this, and I couldn’t believe how close Bridget looked to how I had pictured her.

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Painting time! What color are his eyes again?

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Finally, Josh called me into his studio where we had a two-hour session to finalize the cover. He had already sketched the wooded cemetery background.

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I watched as he blurred in fog around the tombstones and put in the finishing touches like adjusting the shade of Bridget’s shirt.

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Can you spot the differences? Josh couldn’t get it out of his head. So, a little while later, I received a new version that had a few more tweaks: white reflection in the eyes, a little more fog at Eric’s chest, rain bouncing off the umbrella and texture on the black clothing.

Finally, I set the text and we had a cover!

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Next time, we’ll look at the music behind the Mothman Mysteries. If you missed my post on the development of the artwork for Eric’s tattoo, you’ll find it here. There’s also a post on Mothman here. Stay up to the minute on Mothman Mysteries news. Now available for ebook preorder at all major online bookstores. Wrong Side of the Grave lands March 3, 2015.

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The Art Behind the Mothman Mysteries: the BRAND

cover1I’ll admit it. I’m a total control freak.

So, when it came time to think about the artwork for my new series, my first thought wasn’t about who to hire. After all, I designed all the covers in the Midnight Guardian series. I do have some professional graphic design experience. If you live in southern Ohio or western West Virginia, some time in the last two decades you’ve likely driven past a billboard that I created. I can drop shadow, gradiate, mask, powerclip, and manipulate fills and nodes like a fiend. Yet, I cannot hand draw. I even have trouble with straight lines. It’s completely sad.

And that’s exactly what I wanted for this. Not straight lines, but original hand-drawn artwork. The main character, Eric Jansen, has an alien tattoo. He calls it his BRAND which stands for Biometric Remodeling Apparatus with Necessity Duplicator. The BRAND has some extraordinary built-it features. I knew that I wanted his tattoo to be the symbol for the series. I didn’t want a stock photo or clipart. I wanted original. And I got it with Joshua Labello. Read More

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Finding Mothman

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been busy wrapping my next book, Wrong Side of the Grave, which will be the first in a new series of standalone Mothman Mysteries. The series will be YA/teen and this time, kiddos, I’m delving into sci-fi. But you know me, this series has strong paranormal influences (think Doctor Who).

So what’s my YA Sci-fi Mystery about? Mothman.

In western West Virginia, Mothman is a creature of legend. In fact, there he is below with the big red eyes and gray wings nestled in the center between Nessie, Chupacabra, Bigfoot and the Yeti. He’s in good company.

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Mothman is a winged humanoid creature. He stands on two legs, but his skin is gray and he has big red eyes that rest near his shoulders. The moth part comes from his giant wings that are reported to hum and glide on the air rather than flap. He doesn’t need a running start, witnesses say these great wings can straight up into the air like a helicopter.

Mothman caused the biggest stir in 1966 and 67 when according to journalist John A. Keel more than a hundred people sighted him in the area surrounding Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Some even blame Mothman for the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge in which took forty-six lives just days before Christmas in 1967.

He’s been mentioned on the X-Files, been the star of movies, chased by reality show hillbillies, and has his own museum. There’s even an annual festival where the Men in Black trot him out for festival goers to catch a quick selfie!

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Over the next few weeks we’ll explore the legend, the art, and the music behind this new series. Next week, I’ll share with you how I’m taking this legend and giving it a YA twist. Until then, check out the Mothman Mysteries page on my site for a description of the book and the official Spotify playlist. Only one legendary creature rocks out loud!

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