Another bracket has concluded, and I’m still amazed at how popular this is getting. I’d like to set a goal to do better each month, which we didn’t do this month, but we still had an amazing turnout. As I type this, we had a total of 3,911 votes. It’s just humbling to see the support people are showing these authors and their covers. Last month, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure March was going to hold up against January. I feel confident that March is going to be even tougher. But that’s the past, and the future. It’s time to talk about the present.
The February Book Cover of the Month is…
The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.
Deyo is the first author to win a BCOTM competition as a previous month’s alternate. He lost to Lovelesslast month, and was hell-bent on not losing this time. Let’s look at the stats!
The Unleashed started out strong and finished superhuman. He went Hulk in the semifinals and didn’t slow down very much in the Finals. I was talking to both he and Joshua Robertson during the semifinals, and they were both going out of their minds looking for ways to get word out about the bracket. The Unleashed received 802 out of 3,911 total votes (21%, give or take what votes may come in the next 40 minutes). Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan couldn’t muster up enough votes to take down Deyo. Sullivan’s 320 total votes still don’t compete with Anaerfell’s 574 votes. Or even the 350 votes Robertson garnered in the last round alone. Without intending disrespect to Mr. Sullivan, it looked like the winner of his previous match was just going to be too tough to take down. Deyo took the finals 184-32.
A note on how I run the bracket. I’m a huge fan of Robertson and the showing he had, but I have a football mentality. Even though I recognize the right half of the bracket was probably stronger than the left half, Myth made it to the finals. For this reason, Myth will receive an automatic bid into next-month’s bracket. This is just the MOST FAIR way I have found to fill out a bracket. If I had another slot, it would have gone to Robertson, but if I deviate from what I have been doing, I invalidate the integrity of the competition. That’s important to me. It doesn’t mean we won’t see Robertson or Boyd (or both) again, but not in next month’s bracket.
The Unleashed is the second book in the Undelightened Series. Here’s the summary on Amazon:
Leam Holt has done the unthinkable. He’s saved Harbing from utter destruction by consuming the toxin that was intended for the entire town and he’s rescued Eloa’s father from Darkness Headquarters.
But at what cost? Stricken by the poison and unable to remember who he is or access his Light side, Leam is captured by Gideon. Surrounded by evil, Leam revels in his undiluted Dark power and connects with other violent and corrupt kids, especially the bold and gorgeous Rylan. Still, Leam struggles to piece together his memories, including those of the beautiful Eloa, whom he discovers is in grave danger.
While forces of Light work to free Leam, the world is thrown into turmoil. The battle over the prophet, the person who will lead the world into complete Darkness or Light, is heating up, and Leam’s role in the war grows murkier.
As always, I’ve purchased the book and added it to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I bought Manning’s cover, and Howard’s cover and they are also on my TBR. Manning’s is on deck while I finish reading the book I just started this week.)
Here’s Mr. Deyo’s Facebook page. Give him a like if you’re curious about his work.
The artist for this cover is Lisa Pompillo. I’ll reach out to her and see if she’d like to have an interview later on in the week. Until then, have a peek at her website and see her work! Mr. Deyo was kind enough to offer the following comment:
“It’s a great cover,” he said. “The book ain’t half bad either. Thanks for the votes!” Then he used a smiley face emoji with shades, but I don’t speak emoji, so I can’t replicate it. I am, however, obsessed with accurate reporting, so there ya go!
The March bracket is ready to go and will launch on April 1. It looks great, and I’m pretty pleased with how April is setting up.
I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebookpage, you can see what covers will make the bracket.
So this round didn’t break a record, but it was still amazing. I’m honestly refreshing as I type this. So I don’t know exactly what the final tally will be because it jumps 20 or so votes every time I refresh. So it’s all over, and I’m done refreshing. I couldn’t even prep this post because of how close the matches were. We ended with 981 votes. This pushed us to 3,693 votes (which is more than we had at this time last month, but that’s because there’s been more participation in the other rounds.) I’ve spoken to both the participants who stole the show these past two days. They’ve been working their tales off, messaging and texting everyone they could. It’s been an honor to watch.
Let’s talk about it:
The Closest Contest:
Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan edged out Heart Stone by Elle Katharine White by 9 votes, but both matches were only decided by 2% of the total votes.
Anaerfell by Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd vs The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo is the match of the round. They went back and forth every step of the way. Deyo had a late surged and powered through the match with a 22 vote lead. Considering that’s only 2% more, it’s not as “big” a victory as it would have been in earlier rounds.
That should help you all see The Largest Victor area, but it’s wasn’t nearly that large this round.
Most Voted On Contest:
Deyo’s match against Robertson and Boyd had 732 votes. It was amazing. Like I said, I was speaking to both authors pretty much throughout the day. It was a nail biter for me, and I had not stake in the match. THEY were working their buts off.
Unleashed obviously had the most votes and is the current top dog. He has 619 votes so far. Sullivan’s Age of Myth following is going to have to really bring it if they intend to help him take this month’s title.
The Finals last until midnight of March 22. (That’s about 48 hours).
We’ve narrowed a great batch of covers down to four, any of which I’d be happy to stand behind!
We broke ANOTHER round record. (Could we break a record EVERY round? That’d be awesome!) The Elite 8 had a total of 457 (give or take whatever hashes out as Richardson and Sullivan continue to duke it out as I type this). This pushes us to 2,712 votes, every single one of which I thank you all for so very much! Even in the month of March (you all know there’s this basket ball thing right?), this bracket is still on the most popular brackets page on Brackify.com.
Let’s look at how this round broke down:
The Closest Contest:
I’m still refreshing the bracket while I watch Dragon Legends by Ava Richardson take on Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan. That thing was CLOSE! It came down to 1 vote, but Sullivan took it and 31% of the total votes.
The Largest Victor: Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd are on a tear! Their book, Anaerfell, defeated The Elven Tales by Fabi Ghittoni by 28 votes and 61% the votes for their match.
Most Voted On Contest:
Not to be outdone is the match I mentioned might have a ton of votes. It didn’t disappoint. With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu vs The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo racked up 155 votes (25 more than the above contest). Deyo is BACK in the Final Four, where he fell to last month’s winner. He hasn’t gotten over that, and he’s clocking a ton of votes this time around. Anaerfell vs Unleashed is set to be another nail-biting, vote tallying monster! I’m just glad I get to watch.
Again, all contests had more than 80 votes, but Deyo’s match almost doubled the lowest voted match. By all means, support the cover you like best, but you CAN vote for every match. I had one author ask if he had to win the match AND the round, that’s not true. All you have to do is win your match, so vote in every round to make sure all the best covers move on.
Least Voted On Contest:
Hearthstone by Elle Katharine White vs Flight of the Krilo by Sam Ferguson had the fewest votes with 80.
Bentz Deyo is out for revenge! He took the top number of votes again (88) for the round and has the most votes overall (241). Basically, the bottom two of this round would have had to team up to take him out. Anaerfell is no slouch though. This match pits the top vote earner (Deyo) against the number 2 vote earner. WOW is this going to be fun. Don’t worry though, Brackify is running smoothly, it can handle the votes!
The Final 4 ends at the strike of Midnight, March 20. That’s only 2 days, so call your friends, share my posts, get your readers engaged!
Last month was a bit odd because February is a short month. That’s not the case this time. Only the runner up to this month will get a second chance in the March bracket. So if you want to be sure you land in the Book Cover of the Year bracket, wining the month is your best bet!
Hello everyone! The Elite 8 is here, and the voting is getting more and more difficult! I don’t get tired of saying it; this was another record-breaking round! The Sweet 16 had 788 votes, which puts us at a total of 2,255 votes so far!
Let’s go over some numbers:
The Closest Contest:
We had two contests come within 5 votes. Heartstone by Elle Katharine White vs The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore and Dragon Legends by Ava Richardson vs Surviving the Evacuation: Ireland by Frank Tayell were equally close calls with Richardson and White each wining by 5 votes and only 53% of the total votes.
The Largest Victor:
This wasn’t close by any stretch of the imagination. With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu showed up big time against An Impossible War by Andy Remic. Beaulieu won by 45 votes, earning 71% of the total votes.
Most Voted On Contest:
I’m not sure what else Joshua Robertson, J.C. Boyd and Karpov Kinrade were doing, but they were certainly calling on their followings! Anaerfell by Robertson and Boyd narrowed out Silver Flame by Kinrade by 15 votes, which is tiny compared to the 139 votes that match received.
Least Voted On Contest:
Once again, every contest received more than 80 votes, which is great, but let’s make sure that if we call on our readers, we ask them to vote on every contest. Stone vs Sacrifice and The Destiny Thief by Luanne Bennett vs Flight of the Krilo by Sam Ferguson both only received 83 votes.
Anaerfell is the top dog for this round. To show you how close that match was, in terms of total votes so far, Silver Flame received 135 total votes (which is more than With Blood Upon the Sand, which is moving on). In order to move on, Robertson had to surge to receive 138 total votes. In short, Robertson had to essentially win twice to stay in the tournament.
The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo is still the top dog in terms of overall votes with 154 votes, but Deyo is facing Beaulieu in the next round. Why does that matter? Deyo and Beaulieu are 1 and 4 respectively in terms of overall votes. It’ll take at least 80 votes to for either author to win this next round.
So now it’s on to the Elite 8! This round will last until March 18, which is only about 4 days! I think this round might be one of the closest ever. I’m VERY curious to see which 4 you all choose to send on in the tournament.
After yet ANOTHER record breaking round, we’re down to 16 covers. I’m so glad to see such a positive response to the contest. But enough about me and my elation, let’s look at what happened after 1,467 votes!
Let’s go over some numbers:
The Closest Contest:
We have a few ties here. The Winter Over vs War Factory and Ringing in a New Year vs An Impossible War were both decided by just four votes! War and Winter were the victors in those close contests. Over earns the tiebreaker in because it’s narrow 52% margin of victory.
The Largest Victor: Bentz Deyo is back people! He brought his following for his cover to The Unleashed to defeat A Gathering of Shadows by 41 votes! The Elven Tales had the largest margin of victory over Death’s Mistress with 71% of the votes. Those are some pretty impressive numbers.
Most Voted On Contest: Unleashed vs Shadows had the most votes with 119.
Least Voted On Contest:
I’m thrilled to say that every contest had 80 or more votes. Four matches were tied for the least votes at 80: The Destiny Thief vs Three Years With the Rat, Surviving the Evacuation: Ireland vs Smoke Happens, Age of Myth vs Explorations: First Contact, and Winter vs War Factory.
Most Votes: Unleashed is back on top with the most votes. Mr. Deyo spoke with me. He’s very determined to make the most of this second chance, and he’s already making good on his word with 80 votes in this round.
So now it’s on to the Sweet 16! This round will last until March 15. That’s 7 days to pick which 8 will move on.
I’m just stunned typing those words. I’ll ask you to bare with me as I’m simply musing right now, and my fingers happen to be over a keyboard.
I’m weird. There’s no arguing that point. I think the thing that made me feel most odd was that I’ve always known what I want to be. I remember talking with Collin Fogel, the cover artist for Bob, about the stories we would tell. We were in junior high. I remember role playing with my friends Sean and Ben, who later became my best friend and then my brother-in-law (though we’ve considered each other brothers before I even gave my sister away at the wedding).
All my life I felt weird because everyone talked about how they didn’t know what they wanted to do. I was always like, “Dude, I’ve wanted to do this since I was 8.”
On the second anniversary of this wonderful occasion, I want to talk about Bob (the book). Bob started out as a short story that no one wanted to publish. I’d put it aside to write something new because that’s sort of how I work. One day, me and Ben were talking (I never shut up around him). I mentioned off hand that I always thought it would be cool if the “every day normal” version of a grim reaper had to fight the “big and scary ‘IT’S YOUR TIME'” version of death. I think I said, “I always saw them eventually fighting.”
Ben, in his infinite wisdom said, “Dude, you have to write that book.”
So what inspired the original short story?
The first (of two) reason was in fact, Drew. In the book or in real life, Drew was pretty much a center piece of the family. He was getting on in years. Some days I’d go upstairs and sleep next to him just to keep him company (he was usually just waiting for my dad). Drew was a member of the family. Now, I’ll never argue whose dog he was. That dog loved my dad, and my dad loved him. But the credit for picking that dog goes to yours truly. (While I’m being arrogant, I’d like to point out I have this odd habit of paring things that belong together. Trust me on this, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.)
My sister and I finally got permission to buy a dog, and we went to the local pound. I will never forget that day as long as I live. We were roaming the cages looking at these dogs. In one cage, was this knee-high dog who seemed to want to kill us. We passed a cage and saw another dog who took one look at us and immediately wet the floor. I took a step back and saw this little, brown cocker spaniel. I am not lying. He looked to his left, looked to his right, then looked right at me as if to say, “You’re seriously thinking about one of these two?”
We picked him, named him, and took him in the car. (Yes…he pooped in my car, but I got over it. He was actually a very loyal traveling companion.)
There’s a bit of debate in the family over where his name came from. You see, I fancy myself a football guru. In those days, there were two quarterbacks at the top of their game: A young Brett Favre and Drew Bledsoe.
Yeah, the name Drew was on my mind, but for the record, I have been and will ever be a 49ers fan. So, to put a long-time family discussion to rest: Yes, I liked the name Drew, and I first gave it thought because of the Patriots quarterback. (Note: This was well before the Tuck Rule and the soon-after hatred I bear for that organization.) But Drew just sort of was. He was never a Fido or Barkey. He was never a dog. He ate what we ate. He went were we went (I mean traveled…he pooped outside after that one time in the car). He was a member of the family. So when I sat down to write about what it must be like for someone who has to watch death, I thought about the relationships and what we lose when people die. I wanted to feel like some parts of us always remain.
Which brings me to my second reason:
Well, I won’t get too deep. It’s been nearly 20 years, but it’s still a bit hard to talk about. My family’s seen some rather hard times. I’m not trying to compare our troubles to others, only speak on how our troubles affected me. There were some very special people in my life that I had to say goodbye to. I won’t go into the details because I’m a private person, and not all of this information is simply mine to tell. But watching those people leave my life ripped a part of myself away. That pain found its way into Bob’s story. These people didn’t die. They simply had to leave.
So as I wrote the full version of Bob, I realized what I was writing about. Inevitably, you have to say goodbye to the people you love. Being in the military, I’ve done that quite a number of times. If anyone’s figured out how to make it hurt less, they’re smarter than I am. It hurts. Every time. Moving, deploying, death. It just fucking hurts. What I wanted was a little way for me to feel like some part of them is with me, and some part of me is with them.
Why am I saying this now? Well…because sometimes, the people we miss actually come back. Last year, when Bob was but a mere “new release” one of those people I had to say goodbye to and I reconnected. This individual had a nickname for me, and the first words the person asked were if that nickname was still approrpriate.
I only cried a bit more than I am as I type this.
You see…I’m weird. I’ve know what I wanted my whole life, and I can say my dream came true. I have new goals to pursue, and WAY more to learn about this dream occupation of mine, but I also know the happiest time in my life. It’s not any one time. It wasn’t JUST that night when I got that Facebook message. It was all the times I felt a bond form that I knew nothing would break. I remember the first time, the first WORDS I ever read to The Junior (Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, she was 1 night old). I remember teaching The Boy his first Jutsu (The Transformation Jutsu. Now he uses it to hide and ambush you with tickles. Listen, I like Anime, and a young man needs to learn his techniques). I remember the MOMENT Ben became my best friend (We were talking about a particular day on the bus, and how he was ready to stand up for me). I remember climbing trees with Collin.
I could go on forever. And that’s the point of Bob. Life goes on. The human soul, in whatever form you think of it, never goes away. It actually grows. I believe our souls grow each time we form a bond with someone new. Those bonds never break. Even the mortal limits of existence can’t erase a person, and that’s special.
So I created Bob. This guy who has the honor to take that essence of what makes us special and Pass On those memories to others, so that we never really leave.
I want to take the chance to thank all of those who’ve read it. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reviewing it. Thank you for showing interest in my work. I’ll never pretend that I don’t throw myself (figuratively) into my work. I do. Ever book I write has some part of myself in it. That’s because writing is just another form of sharing one’s soul with the world. Thank you for allowing me to share that part of my soul with you.
Happy birthday, Bob. I shall always strive to live because that’s the point of life.
Their feedback was honest, sometimes painful, and always helpful. Good Alphas do that for you.
I’m a huge fan of this project for a lot of reasons, and I honestly feel like this project has put me on another level.
So, what’s next? Well, while I wait for my developmental edit, I get back to redesigning The Journals of Bob Drifter. I’m also starting the development of my next writing project, tentatively called The Truth of Emotion. ToE is a short story told from Kaitlyn’s point of view. Kaitlyn is one of the main characters from Caught. ToE is meant to bridge readers from the end of Caught to just a bit before Caught’s sequel (which had a title until I realized I need a new one, so give me a minute on that). The JoBD re-design will take the bulk of my attention, but I should make a bit of progress on those other things as well.
I’m glad to be moving forward on this. Progress always makes me happy.