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UPDATE 10/25/2014:

While MOTOR DOLLS cover didn’t win the public vote, it did win Judge’s Choice! As a prize, MOTOR DOLLS won a featured book ad. What a perfect opportunity to have a sale! From November 10, 2014 – November 22nd, 2014 autographed copies of MOTOR DOLLS will be offered at 30% off!! Click this link to find out the details!

Curious about how the cover came to be? Read on!


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You know the old adage “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? When it comes to actual books, it’s difficult to abide by that rule. We’re visual creatures. Certain images draw us in–exactly why choosing a book cover is such a tough decision for an author. I mean, it’s our number one marketing tool; what initially draws the reader to our novel; the key to the book’s success. Many people select what they’ll read based solely on a cover, sometimes passing up others for the same reason. I know I’m guilty of such.

Luckily, I have NO regrets with my cover. How could I? Look how amazing this is! Okay, sure. I’m biased. But come on!


Here’s a bit of background.

Sometimes the universe brings people together in interesting ways. A few years ago, after buying the Motor Palace in Winslow Arizona, my feller and I were having dinner at the Turquoise Room (also in Winslow) and we struck up a conversation with our waiter, who told us about his friend Miss Tayva and her Triumph motorcycle project. Somehow the topic came around to art. After the deal with my agent and the publishers went a direction I didn’t care for, I toyed with the idea of publishing the book on my own, and wanted a genuine Motor Doll to do the cover. Tayva fit the bill.


Tayva is an immensely talented creative force, who has worked in many art forms since the age of two, water colors being her favorite. When we first talked about the cover around four years ago, I didn’t have a clear vision in mind, just knew it had to have cars or motorcycles or both. I gave Tayva free reign from there.

Tayva at work

Her process:

I created four separate  sketches for the cover!
The first one featured a split scene sort of image–half with a motorcycle and Jeda, and the other half with the Ford truck and Benny.
The second concept was strictly motorcycle. It was half inspired by David Mann and half inspired by George Frizzell. This is the one I actually started painting. I discovered that painting motorcycle engines is quite fun! It looked great, but it wasn’t right for the novel.
Then, I sketched another featuring the Buick Special and the Ford truck.  Lori had mentioned the art of John Bell, so I used his work for reference. It still wasn’t fitting enough!

While Tayva was busy working on ideas, I got serious about getting the novel out there, working with an editor to give it a good polish, formatting it for publication, but I still  needed a cover.

And then–as fate would have it–I bought a stack of mid-century pulp fiction from Sweet Pie in Quartzite Arizona. Sweet Pie is a trip, man. Yes. He’s mostly naked. All the time. And no. That’s not a half of an avocado on his parts.

On the drive home, I looked at the covers of my new purchases, and well… duh! How obvious!  At long last, I knew without a doubt what I wanted for MOTOR DOLLS, something reminiscent of these fabulous 50s pulp novels.

Tayva was totally on board.  She’d already thought about basing the cover on the first chapter, which worked perfectly with the plan.

Coming up with the right concept was a total challenge!. Also, I hadn’t painted cars as subjects in a VERY long time, but once I got started on the piece… I can honestly say they are my favorite thing to paint.
Figuring out how to convey the mood of the first chapter was a bit of a challenge, as well. With the pulp novel feel, no doubt The Man In Grey had to be a part of it… He was pretty much an afterthought (the painting was finished once I decided to add him). The cover looked amazing but was lacking an edge/a bit of drama. The Man In Grey’s presence brought just that.

She was right, as you can see by the final result.

MD CoverOnlyWeb

Her painting perfectly captures the mood in the opening chapter of the book, the Blindfolded Death Race, where Jeda has been challenged to a midnight race with one caveat. Read this little excerpt and you’ll see how well this painting captures the mood:


Jeda pulled up next to a lone, deep blue Packard glowing in the moonlight on the runway and shut down her engine. “Looks like this is our start!”

Benny glanced along the row of greaser boys lining the sides of the weed-ridden airstrip and tried to push down the nervous tickle in her belly. “Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to shoot from the sidelines rather than in the car with you?”

“Not this time. This race requires a passenger.”

“Really? Why?”

Before Jeda could answer, a guy in a Rusty Devils jacket stepped between the two cars poised at the starting line. “Team name?”

Jeda grinned at Benny, then turned back to the club guy. “Motor Dolls.”

The guy nodded and wrote it down. “Motor Dolls it is.”

He turned to the other car. “Team name?”

The Packard passenger glared at Jeda as he answered, “Agents of Death.”

A chill shivered down Benny’s spine. Something about the way he looked at Jeda and said those words seemed much more sinister than called for. The organizer jotted the name on his clipboard and looked back and forth between the two drivers. “You both set?”

Jeda nodded, and so did her competitor.

“Good. Here’s the shtick. The driver of each car will be blindfolded—”

“Blindfolded?” Benny raised her brow and whispered, “Funny you left that part out.”


If  you’re itching to know out what happens in this insane Blindfolded Death Race, guess what?? It’s your lucky day! The book is available in print and eBook from Amazon, or if you’d like an autographed copy, you can order from the Motor Palace Press store!

And now back to the BOOK GOODIES cover contest. I’m not big on contests, but Tayva’s work was just too fine not to enter. And hey!!! Guess what?? We made the finals! Now it’s up to the public to vote. This round will be based on the number of comments left on the entry. If you’d like to cast your vote, click the link below (the Book Goodies image) and leave a comment. (VOTING HAS NOW ENDED)

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Wish MOTOR DOLLS luck, and hey… Be sure to check out Tayva’s other passion, handmade lucite jewelry! Click the picture to visit her SparkleLux website!


And now… it’s time for me to get packing. This Saturday we head out on our annual ride, this year to Nashville. It nearly got derailed because of some other exciting news… our new property near Joshua Tree!! More on that later.

I’ll be updating the blog from the road, sharing our adventures, mainly for my own “diary” purposes but feel free to subscribe and read along. You’ll find the subscribe box at the bottom of this page.


Many thanks and later gators…


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