Cover Story

Great covers are forged, not born.



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And it’s a collaborative process. I love the cover for A Wizard’s Forge (to be released September 19, 2016). Long ago, when I first imagined what the cover of this book would look like, I wanted the focal point to be Vic’s hair. I envisioned it flowing down her shoulders and twisting into the point of the totemic dagger that symbolizes her quest for vengeance. The novel, after all, chronicles Vic’s unlikely transformation from a bookish teenage girl to the most powerful and dangerous person on her planet. It also has some thematic roots in the Grimms’ “Rapunzel,” so the hair also has its own totemic symbolism.

The final cover is better than that, because it captures Vic’s grit, determination, and general bad-assery, as well as suggests her transformation isn’t easy. It’s hot and hard; it’s painful, and it’s going to leave scars.

In a technical brief on the design process published on Fstoppers, artist Steven Meyer-Rassow writes:

In the book, Vic is forged into life through both external and internal events, and the author and publisher were keen to use this idea of forging and bringing to life as the visual vehicle for the cover composition. We all agreed Vic should be poured into life somewhat similarly to molten metal or lava pouring out of a furnace and creating a fiery weapon.

revenge-tv-show-seriess-posterYep, that’s all true. We had several brainstorming discussions to arrive at this idea, however. First I told everyone my idea with the hair twisting into a dagger. We also talked about the world of Knownearth and my preferences for fantasy and scifi artwork. Initially, if the hair-to-dagger idea couldn’t be executed well, I wanted to go for a more abstract cover design with a single symbolic object on the front, similar to some of the Song of Ice and Fire covers. Some of the first spit-ballery images we used for brainstorming appear on one of Steve’s Pinterest pages, and we all became fixated on the poster art for the first season of ABC’s Revenge.

Because AWF is thematically structured according to the forging process (it’s divided into four parts: Ore, Smelt, Forge, and Temper), we arrived at the molten metal idea. After the first brainstorming session, Steve roughed out some sketches that involved Vic either sitting in a forge fire or being cast from molten metal. However, Patrick–my project manager at Wise Ink Creative Publishing–worried that this approach would make people think the book was about a male wizard creating women, like some sort of golem or Frankenstein’s Bride. The book is really about how Vic recasts herself–it’s her self-actualization. Then Patrick and his colleagues proposed the artwork capture the pouring into being concept as portrayed in the title sequence of Netflix’s Daredevil.

That idea inspired Steve to propose this piece of art as the inspiration for AWF‘s cover. After that, we were off to the races. As Steve describes, he sent out an online casting call, and we chose Michelle Duckett. I couldn’t have asked for a better model–Michelle perfectly captured Vic’s complexity, toughness, and vulnerability in that hunched, over-the-shoulder frown.


The final cover wouldn’t have come into being without this team effort. It’s so good I want hurry up and to finish AWF‘s sequel, just so I can work with this awesome team of people again, and see how the cover for A Wizard’s Sacrifice turns out.

The eBook of A Wizard’s Forge is available for pre-order on Amazon now, or if you’d like to purchase a signed copy of the physical book, please contact me through my website.


A Wizard’s Forge by A. M. Justice (Book Review)

Thank you Amira for this awesome review of A Wizard’s Forge! Readers, check it out…

Real Talk 4 U

*I was given an advanced reader’s copy of this book for an honest review.


A Wizard’s Forge (The Woern Saga Book 1) by A. M. Justice

Release Date: September 19, 2016

Page: 366

Price: $4.99 (Kindle Edition)

Rating: 5/5

Review: I’m just going to start this review by saying that this book was amazing!

It had a little bit of everything that I crave in a fantasy novel. There was adventure, betrayal, romance, magic, a strong female lead and we also got to witness that same leading female overcame some very tough challenges.

This book conjured up some very intense emotions because a lot of the content that’s present is very gripping and intense. A Wizard’s Forge definitely isn’t for the faint of heart and, just as a warning, violence; mental and sexual abuse; and physical torture are all present. These things are, at times, explained in detail, so…

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Preparing for the Breach

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends…” —Henry V, Shakespeare

2016-07-22 15.14.16Anyone who follows my Instagram feed can see I’ve been in Europe the past two weeks. We toured London, Paris, and Venice. The last stop rekindled my desire to return to my long-neglected historical novel, Galileo’s Doctor, part of which takes place in Venice. I abandoned family to tiptoe through silent churches, taking panoramic shots of the art and architecture. While they shopped for souvenirs, I peaked through windows in warren-like alleys and wondered how on earth Venetian women managed to walk on those rough cobbles in their 12-inch platform heels.

Sadly, Venice faces many threats, from climate change to a dwindling population (thanks to foreigners pricing Venetians out of their homes). I hope ingenuity saves this gem of a city, but I’m glad I could share it with my daughter and see it again myself, making more memories, and I hope, a great story whenever I finally finish Galileo’s Doctor.


My new website:

In the meantime, I am gearing up to launch A Wizard’s Forge. Look for more regular posts here, including from other authors. Also, my new author’s website is up, and it is amazing, thanks to RockdotVoss (and be sure to check out Jennifer and Mike’s awesome and totally relatable office farce, B.S. Incorporated). And praise for AWF is starting to trickle in on NetGalley and Goodreads (thank you, reviewers!). I’m really excited for this launch, but also nervous. I’d rather write than market. But no author can succeed these days without it, so I’ll try to gain some inspiration from the Bard:

…Imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height.
The game’s afoot.

Notes on a Silent Epidemic

Fellow author Bruce Blake takes time out from promoting his latest novel to focus on depression, suicide, and having the courage to ask for help. Thanks for sharing, Bruce.

Bruce Blake

So here’s a thing: my newest release happened yesterday. Conventional wisdom says I should be pushing that, but what kind of man would I be if my first post was about not being too writing/book centered on the blog, and then my next post was nothing but pimping a new book?

Not much of a man, I think.

Instead, I have something far more important to talk about, something that affects far more people than we realize. Please return later in the week to see me whoring out 100000 words of epic fantasy.

**Trigger warning – depression, mental illness, and suicide**

About a week ago, my son posted a very brave and raw admission to Facebook. I am going to share it here–with his permission–but I wanted to touch on its subject myself first.

A number of years ago–I can’t recall exactly how many, perhaps 10 or 12–a man I knew…

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Somebody Is Reading My Book!

A_Wizards_Forge_cover_Text_FINALI don’t know about you, but nothing turns on my OCD more than releasing a new book. A Wizard’s Forge won’t be released until September (although you can preorder it now), but my publishing partner (Wise Ink Creative Publishing)  posted an advance review copy on NetGalley, a site where book reviewers and bloggers can download free Ebooks. AWF has been posted for about a week and it seems to be doing well. The cover has garnered several dozen thumbs-up signs, and there have been roughly twice as many review copy requests. That should make me happy.

I’m a wreck.

Grace Kelly—or her modern day incarnation, Eva Green—would file this information away and let the chips fall over the next several weeks and months. Neither would betray the slightest concern at that

Oh my God somebody in the world is reading my book!


Grace Kelly reveals the contents of her valise to Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. He’s confused; I’m awed.

I adore both actresses because I aspire to their consummate cool (I also desperately wish I was as lovely—something as a feminist I’m not supposed to admit, but which I still feel). Rear Window is my favorite Hitchcock film because of Grace and her overnight bag (when those slippers pop out of all that chiffon, be still my heart!), and Eva…well, if I ever met her, I’d probably lose more than my cool, kinda like this lady meeting the late great Heath Ledger.


I’ve certainly lost my cool now, because

Oh my God somebody in the world is reading my book!


and it’s interfering with my life. I can’t help thinking, what passage is this stranger reading? Has she reached the part where Vic escapes from Lornk? Chapter 7, “Asylum,” may be my favorite in the book. What does he think of the chapter where Ashel decides to join the war effort? That chapter is such a turning point for Ashel, where he becomes a deep thinker full of conflicting emotions. Has anyone posted a progress report on Goodreads or, good heavens, a review yet? (A couple speedy readers have already posted reviews on Goodreads: 4 and 5 stars!)  I have a jam-packed week at the day job and a big trip coming up. I’m supposed to be contacting other authors and book bloggers to set up a blog tour. My new website requires attention as Jennifer and Mike at RockdotVoss finish its fine-tuning. And oh, yeah, I have a sequel to rework, which is turning out to be a bigger job than I anticipated. But I can’t stop checking on the status!

Confident authors are supposed to release their books on the world and never read reviews or, indeed, look back. I can’t do that (after all, I rewrote the damn series). The bottom line is, as much as I wish I were Grace Kelly or Eva Green, I’m really Sally Field. I write first for me, and I write what I like, but I sooo want you to like it too. My fingers are crossed that you will.

A Wizard’s Forge will be released to the general reading public September 19, 2016. You can preorder your copy now on Amazon.