All posts by Michael Paul Gonzalez

The Cover Process – Making My Novel Beautiful

Never judge a book by its cover, they say. I say nonsense! I like pretty covers. When it came time to design the cover for Angel Falls, I wanted to do it right. My artistic skills are fairly minimal (as you will see shortly) so I had to commission an artist. There’s a lot of places to look out there on the web, but I knew the style I wanted, so I searched for similar artwork on DeviantArt until I found the artist who hit the mark perfectly.

Enter Bea Gonzalez! (no relation)


I wanted the cover to be reminiscent of stained glass portraits of saints, giving off a vibe of Hell, while elevating the main characters to iconic status. The artistic process is always a delicate balance, and I like to give artists as much free rein as possible, but time was of the essence here. I wanted her to know roughly what each character looked like, what they wore, and a bit about their personalities so that she could give their faces the right expression. Just like in playwriting, I think the most important part in this kind of collaboration is to tell the artist as much as you can about your vision without dictating how the finished piece of art will work. So, I designed a word document outlining how I saw the characters in my head (comparing them to actors/characters I knew and giving samples of clothing or colors I liked), and then used my astounding photoshop skills to create the following image.

Breathtaking, yes? As you’re about to see, Bea is a miracle worker.

Here’s the progression of the images she sent me. Subtle adjustments were made to facial expressions and clothing, but she works FAST and blows my mind.

And the final cover image, suitable for framing!


Make sure you become her fan over HERE. Let her know I sent you!

The sun still rises, even if we have to fake it.

We fake everything in LA.

We fake everything in LA.

Yesterday when I went for my morning jog with my crazy dog Ollie, we had to pause to look at some construction up on the hill. They were fixing something, shoring up the shoulder on the road, but from my skewed perspective, it looked like they were faking the sunrise. Typical Hollywood, right?

It made me think about the bombings in Boston, and all of the violence that has followed, and the months and years of violence it may lead to at home and abroad. It’ll get better if we keep working on it. The sun has risen over the best and worst days the earth has had. It’ll continue to do so. It’s been a bad week, and the world has had a lot of those. We get a chance to start fresh tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that, and so on. We can make the sun shine anywhere, even if we have to fake it for a while.

Music Mondays – Hallelujah!

I got sucked into a random vortex of songs containing the word Hallelujah while writing a few nights ago. Something about that word makes for magic moments in song. Here’s a few I heard that night and a few more I just plain love.

You can’t do a list like this without a mention of one of the 1,001 covers of Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece.

Hallelujah by kd lang

The New Face of Zero and One by The New Pornographers

Float by Erin McKeown

Battleflag by Lo Fidelity All Stars

And one to break your hearts a little,

With by Jason Webley

Any songs make you feel particularly holy?

Music Mondays Return!

In honor of the pending blog post about the development of the cover art for Angel Falls, let’s talk covers!

I’m a cover-lover. I’d bet you are too.My only rules, if I were to have any, is that the song must take the original and make it different. It doesn’t even have to be better, just different. I want whoever is singing to own that song. And I don’t mean the annoying “hey we’re doing rap to bluegrass” kind of cover, or the “we’re hipsters who slow hard rock songs down and sing melancholy harmonies on guitar” kind… although there’s a few of those I like too. I like to hear a song I’ve heard hundreds of times before done in such a way that I have to pause just so my brain can wrap around the new sound.

Here’s a few of my recent favorites.

Butch Walker and the Black Widows cover Nirvana’s In Bloom.

Tori Amos covers Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence

Queens of the Stone Age cover Billy Idol’s White Wedding

Lord Sitar covers The Who’s Miles and Miles

Do you know what a gayageum is? You’ve never heard one played this way before.
Luna Lee covers Jimi Hendrix’s Voodo Chile

Saving the best for last:
Daniel Mustard covers Radiohead’s Creep (the honest pain in this one KILLS me every time)

Artwork to come later in the week. in the meantime, what are some of your favorite covers?

The eagle has landed!

And by “eagle” I mean my first novel, Angel Falls. And by “landed”, I mean… taken off. Launched. Begun its ascent to the heavens, powered only by your love and good word-of-mouth. Anyway. I’ve been meaning to blog more leading up to the novel, but things have been crazy busy here, in good and bad ways. There’s a LOT that’s about to happen. Interviews, contests, giveaways, and hopefully a new blog platform that integrates better with Joomla. This is a placeholder of sorts. A start line. A note to the world that says, hey, I just checked my blog pageviews for the first time in a long time, and I see some new hits coming, so it’s time to get busy reconnecting. Next week,, I’m going to tell you the story of the cover for Angel Falls and how it came to be, and announce another few things. I get bored by self-promotion, though,so expect rambling and comedy and funny pictures, like this one:

Are you done laughing yet? See you soon!

It was a Pleasure…

One of my fondest memories of LA is walking down Larchmont Street with my wife after lunch, just killing time on a nice weekend. There is a bookstore at the end of the block (Chevalier’s Books), all glass windows and nice displays. We’d never been in before, but we wandered by and saw a table set up by the window where an older man sat, alone, reading at a table. There was someone standing near him and talking to him, but otherwise the store was mostly empty. We walked a few more feet and saw a sign on the window: Ray Bradbury signing books today.

Then it was time for a series of comical doubletakes. Me to my wife. Us to the sign. Us back to the man at the table. We scurried in, amazed that the store was so empty when a literary legend was inside. I scooped up Fahrenheit 451 and Stories and got them signed. We didn’t say much to him, as he seemed a bit tired, but he was very friendly. We expressed our amazement to the cashier at his presence, and she said, “Oh, he just comes over to sign books sometimes.” Unannounced, no fanfare, just… hey, I’ll sign some books if you have them.

Words, worlds, wonder. Ray Bradbury had much to give, much to teach, much to say, and thank god we’ve got his thoughts captured on paper for the generations to come.

The Morning After (13.1 Miles)

I’m jotting this down blearily as I spend Sunday night recovering from running in the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Half-Marathon. This is the third half-marathon I’ve run, the second in 2012, with 2 more to go (PLUS a Zombie escape fun run 5K thing later).

What have I discovered?

The San Diego event was huge. Not Big, HUGE! I think there were in excess of 25,000 people running here (it also had a full marathon component). So, I feel bad griping about some of the volunteer/layout issues, because this one was bigger than the others I’ve run in. Still, it’s hard not to complain when you approach a table for water and they kind of make eye contact with you, then turn away/don’t extend the cup. It’s hard enough to get my considerable frame up to speed (and I use the term “speed” here very generously), so having to slow down more than I already did to grab water, and sometimes having to stop altogether when someone decided to walk across the path, well, that puts a damper on seeing a time of 2:11.

But I had fun on the road, really I did! I turned in my fastest half-marathon yet! My goal is to get under two hours by the end of the year. I’m going to lay out my playlist highlights from this run, along with some thoughts about it.

The day before, the best of all possible omens. I met David Bowie’s Doggelganger on my way to pick up my stuff.

The Beginning:
Gear. This time, I wanted to look sexy and have less ache in my calves at the end and zero chafed/bleeding nipples (TMI, I know, but you should have seen me after the Pasadena run. I used a ton of BodyGlide before that event, and STILL I…you know what, scratch that, nobody should ever have to see something like that, let alone hear about it). So.
Compression gear! I had compression sleeves for my calves, a compression shirt to avoid chafing, and I’ve gotta say, that’s the way to do these long runs. No issues whatsoever.

We were led into battle by the Marine Corps Marching Band.

Everyone had the chance to put a custom name on their bib. Mine said Monkeywright, but some of the other runners were self-deprecating and fun:

Pre-race also looked like a triage unit, everyone getting last minute musclework done…

I rolled out to some fairly calm music…

The middle:
Things start to pick up after mile 4, time to focus on pace. I need music to keep my feet kicking, and I’m usually not a huge fan of mashups, but this did the trick:

Mile eight and my foot starts to get a weird twinge in it. The options are to pull over and stretch, or power through. It wasn’t too bad, but it was nagging, so I gave my foot a pep talk. It went something like this, where my brain was Mike “The Hulk” Easton, and my foot was scared straight:

Others on the highway weren’t so lucky. It turned into a rainbow shower of gatorade-colored vomit and people cramping up. I didn’t think the climb was that bad, but there were a lot of people falling out here.

The end:
The RnR marathon series is notable for having a local rock band/music group every mile or so on the course, and the selections here were great. Nothing was as awesome as the drum group coming off the freeway:

I never really get to hear the bands because I have my iPod going full blast. I felt them though, very cool. As for my playlist, I built it incredibly well. My power song to kick off the last three miles happened pretty much exactly when I needed it. If you’re not getting into Swedish  rap power trio HereComeHeroes, dammit you should:

This rolled into a string of victorious songs, notably YATTA, where I couldn’t stop myself from doign the little arm wavey dance during the chorus. Nobody cares about anything after mile 10, so you can feel free to act like a lunatic.

My iphone locator went dead, so my wife couldn’t see my approach (and later, it became a horrible mess of garbled texts and dropped calls trying to find each other). She didn’t see me coming because she was trying to simultaneously set up video, so I slowed down a bit and made a horrible face. The important thing is, she was there near the end, and it’s really the best thing in the world seeing her cheering me on, even if she didn’t quite get the picture she wanted.

The finish line was great, if a bit too crowded. People milling around, groaning, celebrating, seeking ice and medical attention. They feed you well and make sure you get water, gatorade and anything else you might need.

Off to medal engraving! I thought I’d call my wife so she’d kno where to meet me, but no dice. Text? No. Apparently Sea World exists in a black hole where no signal can escape.

The After Party:

We went for breakfast in Encinitas, but the highlight of going back to the hotel and cleaning up was meeting royalty. That’s right. THE Waffle King. I have been knighted in the carb kingdom.

Sir Waffle-ot am I.

No, YOU’RE a bad breakfast-themed royalty pun! I’m tired!

The collection grows…

So many things.

This is just a brief “What’s Happening” post to let you know some cool things:

1. I am running my third half-marathon next Sunday in San Diego
2. I am starting a 15-day (hopefully) juice fast the next day.
4. Holy crap!
5. Yeaaaaah!
6. So anyway, now there’s lots to do. I’m strategizing readings, interviews, Twitter things, a new, separate website for the book, all kinds of things. Writing a book is hard, selling a book is harder, marketing the book is harderer. Still, you will ALL very soon have a copy of my book in your hands. By year’s end if I can make it happen. I’m narrowing down cover artists (which will be a very exciting prospect if all goes well) and readying the word cannons (which is what I call my hands). You’ve been warned!