Monday, October 20, 2014


I’m going to take part in NANOWRIMO once again this year. This will be my third year. I’ll be taking a shot at getting the first draft of Embrace the Moon, the second book in the Knights’ Moon Series. I’m still in the throes of rewrites for book one, Inherit the Moon, but NANOWRIMO is always a good shot in the arm.
I can’t stress enough how taking part in something like this helps you establish a rhythm with your writing. My personal goal has always been about 2500 words per day, but sometimes you just can’t get that many down for some reason. Fifty thousand words in thirty days come out to roughly 1675 words a day. So I always try for 1700. This is a great exercise!  Give it a try!

It begins Saturday, November first. I’ll post my daily word count here. If any of you would like to sign up for it, drop me a line and let me know. We can be writing buddies.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Okay, let’s talk about covers today. The cover of your book is the first thing that is seen by the prospective reader, so it should be noticeable and say something about the book.  For my cover of Relevance I wanted a man with sadness on his face and I wanted to show the city wherein the book was set – in this case Chicago.
The first thing I did was go in search of sites that offered stock photos. I found quite a few, but my favorite, so far, is They have thousands and thousands of stock photos. So my quest began first by searching crying man. Because I have a picture in my mind of my lead character Alessio Magarelli I was looking for someone with amazing, expressive eyes. Alessio’s eyes are mentioned several times by his costars as having sadness about them. So finding a model with the right eyes was quite a challenge. Finally after going through hundreds of photos, I found them. Perfect. A man with his hands over the lower part of his face (nose on down) focusing on his large, dark, teary eyes. Beyond perfect. These were Alessio’s eyes.
After purchasing the rights to that photo for $4, I went in search of the skyline and found a terrific one that included the Willis Tower (formerly known as The Sears Tower). Another $4.
Now to put them together. First I tried having Alessio in a box to the upper left of the city scape. Both pictures were in color. That didn’t do it. I moved Alessio all over that cover trying to find the right combination. Then it hit me, make Al bigger and lay the city scape over him.
Here’s where I sing the praises of Photoshop and its layering (insert choir of angels).
If you’re not familiar with Photoshop, I can’t suggest it enough. It’s one of the most user friendly art programs out there. First I created the base layer which was Alessio. Then I overlaid the next layer, the city. I was able to enlarge the city to focus on the Sears Tower (which – in this story – serves as the straw that broke my Italian camel’s back). Next I erased around the buildings, revealing Alessio. I’d like to point out that I survived the insane intricacy of erasing around those damned antennas on the top of the tower. However I did question the legitimacy of the builder’s birth several times. Still there was something wrong. It was the color.  I turned the image black and white and, BAM, there it was.  Sometimes black and white just sets the perfect mood.
Once my cover art was designed, I married the layers. Next was the title layer – RELEVANCE.  I wanted to throw another hint out to the readers with that, as well. So I chose to add one color to my cover. Red.  Not the whole title, though. Just three letters. The ELE in RELEVANCE. And yes, that was not a happy accident. I know what ELE stands for. For those of you who don’t, it stands for Extinction Level Event. It was striking against the black and white. I feel it was a good choice.
The next and final layer was the byline.
Long story short, if you’re doing your own cover, take your time. Really hunt for the right images. Make careful decisions regarding color or black and white. Your cover is what makes them pick up the book; give it the time it deserves.
Relevance cost me a total of $8 to produce. I was fortunate that I have the training and background that made cover design easy. And that my editors on book one were quite happy to do so for a copy of the book and credit on the inner title page.
Epiphany’s cover was a bit more expensive as I paid a young artist to create it. I told him what I wanted – a black background with blood oozing down from the top. He surprised me by having the blood dripping down to leave the black forming the silhouette of the John Hancock building. Brilliant! I paid him $50. And once again my editor only wanted a copy of the book and of course, credit for her work.
Fathom’s cover will be a little more involved. It will have the underwater ruin of the Field Museum of Natural History with divers silhouetted against it and a large, red, pear-shaped diamond to set off the title. Not sure who will be doing that one. It’s beyond my expertise.  My plans for that one is to be done in a tealish green blue to depict the underwater scene, with the striking red gem placed near the title.
Add to that my concern over the cover for Inherit the Moon. I have no idea who’s going to do that one, and I’m thinking it’s probably going to be me. Arrrrgh.
That said, rewrites on Inherit the Moon are coming along very nicely in spite of the fact I tried to cut my right index finger off. Note to myself, when slicing cheese, cut downward not sideways. Still, I lived to write another day.
As soon as I get done with ITM it’ll be on to Fathom (book 3 in The Magarelli Series).

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Wow, it’s fall!  They don’t expect our temps to go above 49° today, although they predict a warm up to upper 50’s or lower 60’s next week. Perfect writing weather! Got my fleece throw over my legs, a cuppa hot chocolate (hocho) on the desk next to me, and the keyboard eagerly waiting being pounded as I finish my rewrites on Inherit the Moon.

Alessio Magarelli is enjoying some time off while I finish book one of the Knights’ Moon Series. I told him he better gird his Italian loins, because I’m coming for him in December.  My knee replacement surgery is scheduled for December 4th and the three months following that surgery will be devoted to two things: recuperation and the writing of Fathom, book three of The Magarelli Series.

On the general book front, I have just finished reading The Alter of Bones by Philip Carter. Interesting book. Liked the premise. I hear there’s a second one, The Path of Bones. When I read Alter… I couldn’t help but think, this does not sound like a man’s writing. The first thing to send up a flag was the way the author referred to the female lead’s cats. That just said WOMAN to me. And lo and behold Philip Carter is a pseud for author Penelope Williamson. I knew it was a woman!! That doesn’t change the fact that I liked the book. I don’t care about gender when it comes to authors. I just want an exciting story.

On that note, my name is not a pseud. LOL. It’s the real deal, legally and forever. I am – and always will be – PJ Morvant-Alexander.

Also new, I am able to take credit and debit cards! I am now the proud owner of a used Ipad tablet and I have signed on to Paypal with a business account. My card reader arrived Wednesday!  Yay!  Now when I have future signings or attend conventions, I will be able to take plastic. This is going to make it so much easier. So much more convenient for the buyers. 

On that note, it's time for my monthly shameless plug. So here we go:

The Magarelli Series:  go to and search Magarelli Series.
My site:
My blog:

Well, Mark and KJ Knight are tapping their cowboy boots at me, with a ‘git ‘er done’ attitude, so I must away to write. Hope to have Inherit the Moon out in the next month. No later than mid-November and December on belongs to Al.

For those of you in the Midwest, stay warm and enjoy the colors unfolding outside your windows!