a picture is worth…

I get asked this question frequently: do you make any money writing?

I tell people that I make enough each month to pay for a subscription to Shutterstock, since images for book covers are my only real operational cost.

Right now, I am struggling to find the perfect cover for the next book in the Just Like a Woman series, which is ready to be published.

I want it to be a dark-haired female army officer in a jacket, Vietnam era.

When I originally wrote this story as a fan-fiction, I researched female uniforms of the era so I have images on my computer that fit the bill.

Problem is, none of those are free images.  And none of them are evocative. When you put in “female army officer uniform” on Shutterstock, however, you get images like this.

Nazi Domme.jpg

So not the look I was going for.

The best way to look for images for book covers is to start with a picture that has some element that you are looking for, color or stance or whatever, and then start clicking on all similar photos by photographer, model and style.

You end up with a bazillion open tabs, but you will eventually find something you like.

Kind of like porn.

Just make sure to clear your browser history.

Anyway… my attempt to find an appropriate image for the next book in the A Marriage Bond series has been equally frustrating, but for another reason.

In this case, there are plenty of images of Revolutionary Era uniforms available on Shutterstock, that of re-enactors.  Great pictures, great attention to detail.

But if you read the fine print, most of them say “for archive purposes only.”

Which means, if you research the terminology further, you are only allowed to use those pictures for educational and other morally upright reasons like research papers and newspaper articles… and, clearly, not historically set erotica.

I can honestly say that I did not know about this limitation until I started writing smut.

Such a bummer. This is one of the exceptions, but it took some time to find.

The hands are too old. But the colors are good. Sharp and vital.


So, anyway, as soon as I find the picture I am looking for, I’ll get a new ebook published.

In the meantime, have a poem.

What’s unique about this poem is that instead of writing as a woman, I am paraphrasing a male speaking for the second half of the poem, as if I were him. It comes from a place of empathy, trying to understand and forgive.


stand with your back to the mountain
and your shoulders to the foothills.
let other folk go to and fro
as you fight your battle of wills.

say it: I will not go further.
this is my haven and my home!
my father lives here, as do I,
where the snakes and tumbleweeds roam.

o’er me, the peak of the summit,
soaked in the high noon lemon sun,
reminds me that I am unmoved
while fear has been put on the run.

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Hours I own all of these ideas, but none of these images.
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