Bitter Ends: Making of a Book Cover

In an earlier post I wrote about how I designed my own book covers for my previous books using my own photographs. In this post I focus on the book cover for Bitter Ends my forthcoming collection of short stories.

Part of the thrill for me in creating a book cover is digging into my files and discovering that one photograph that expresses what’s in the pages in between and expressing it in a way folks who see the cover will be interested enough to take a peek inside and maybe even buy the book.

Like my previous book of short stories, Devious TalesBitter Ends is a collection of tales filled with murder, revenge, greed, and other mayhem along with a couple of slightly less deadly yarns. That said, the cover needed an ominous look informing the potential reader what they are getting.

In digging through my files I first focused on a few images taken in New Mexico back in 2013. One in particular was of a deserted highway with its colorful mountains in the background. I felt it reflected a feeling of vast emptiness and a bit of dread. I saw bodies potentially buried everywhere.

Below is the original image followed by a series early versions of the book cover.

Book Cover NM -2013 Pt2-2354

We were on our way to visit Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch located in Abiquiú, New Mexico,when I pulled over and took the above shot that was my first choice for the cover.  Cropping it was the first step followed by the lettering. I tried various fonts  and colors before settling on the image on the right.

I spent some time reviewing the image, asking myself was this what I wanted. Did it visually express the stories and entice potential readers. The more I looked at it, the more I wasn’t satisfied that it did.  I went back to digging into my photographic archive.

I next found a photograph taken just two months earlier in Yellowstone National Park. We were on a photo tour and came across this area  in the park that had burnt. We stopped and took a series of photos, one of which is the first photo below.  Looking at it, I thought it projected a dark, eerily, end of life feeling.

Bitter Ends2

Some cropping followed and then some software experimenting resulting in the two early versions below.

I still wasn’t completely satisfied and kept working at it. Finally, I came up with what I envisioned visually expressed what I wrote. Below is the final cover.

Bitter Ends will be available in January from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a  paperback and ebook.


Bitter Ends2-009



Favorite Books of the Year: 2018

With 2018 coming  to a close ‘tis the season for lists so I thought I‘d share a list of my favorite crime/mystery books I read this year. Most were published this year, but there are a couple old-timers in there I read for the first time in 2018. The first two are my topped ranked. Other than that they are in no particular order.

The Woman in the Window


Read my review here.



Read my review here.

The Neighbor


Read my review here.

Two Kinds of Truth

Two Kinds

November Road


A beautifully written road trip/conspiracy thriller that will surprise you right to the end. Read my full review here.


The Killer  Inside Me


Read my review here.

Early Autumn


Read my review here.

The Man Who Came Uptown


Read my review here.



Read my review here.

Dark Sacred Nights

Dark Sacred



Fugitive Red – Jason Starr

Blood Feud – Mike Lupica

Old Black Magic  Ace Atkins

The Chill of the Night – James Hayman

Don’t Let Go – Harlan Coben

Then Came Darkness – D.H Schleicher

The Deep Blue Good-by – John D. MacDonald

The Hangman’s Sonnet – Reed Farrel Coleman

The Girl in the Green Raincoat – Laura Lippman


Sunrise Photographs From Blackwater NWR

We were fortunate enough to get a great sunrise (November 30th) at The Blackwater NWR is located in Cambridge, Maryland.

Check out my photography website.



Blackwater NWR Sunrise No.3 - CQ-0752


Blackwater NWR Sunrise No.4 - CW-0750


Blackwater NWR -No. 2 Sunrise CW-0731

Bitter Ends – Coming Soon

My new collection of short stories, Bitter Ends, will be coming out in January.  Twenty short tales of murder, revenge and other mayhem along with a couple of slightly less deadly yarns. No exact date is set as of yet. Will be keeping all informed.

Bitter Ends2-003

Cats and Bookstores

Gotham1Cats of the Gotham Book Mart

There is a certain aura that overwhelms you when you enter a bookstore, I’m not talking about your chain type Barnes and Noble store but those small independent stores that have been under a financial siege for years now.  Browsing a bookstore is an adventure. It’s a place to meet old friends and discover new ones, authors of all kinds will jump out at you. Bookstores are a piece of heaven here on earth. And any bookstore worth its salt has a resident cat.

cats in book

                                                                 Hodge (Chicago) 

Yes, cats and bookstores go together like salt and pepper or peanut butter and jelly; neither are complete without the other. When you walk into a bookstore and lying down, resting his head on a small stack of books is a feline who takes a quick glance up at you, then makes the split decision to judge if you are worth his energy to greet or should he just lower his head and  go back to sleep, you know you are in bookstore utopia.

Cats, like bookstores, are above the fray of the outside world. That’s why they are perfect for a bookstore where customers are all hoping to find the next book that will pull them out of their mundane daily life and for a time escape from the real world.

When you find your next perfect book to read there is nothing like taking it home, sitting in your favorite chair and having your own feline buddy snuggle up right next to you. Cats carry themselves with a certain dignity and manner that demands the reader hold the book in one hand and pet them with the other.

Cats in bookstores most likely began with the owners attempting to cut down on the mice/rats population in their store. These days the furry feline is way too regal to be strictly a mouser! Anyone who owns a cat knows it’s their house and you only live there to serve their needs. It’s the same with bookstore cats. It’s their store, their only job is to make your stay more inviting,  cozy and pay attention to them.