Meet Tattoo Boy

tattoo man stevek

“Tattoo Boy” AKA A.J. Traverso*

On any given day you’ll find me trying to tie up the loose ends on my self-published book (I’m still working hard to get it into paperback format… it’s a process, believe me). Let’s just say I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of the computer, on email, on the phone, talking to graphic artists, printers, etc.

And my head is spinning. There are a lot of steps involved in this process . . . which is the reason there’s a picture of a partially naked, tattooed man accompanying this post.

Say what?

Let me backtrack. If you’ve seen the cover of Desired to Death, you may recognize the photo. It’s “Tattoo Boy,” AKA A.J. Traverso. But how did I pick that image? Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. I had to go through hundreds of half-naked men pictures on half a dozen stock image sites on the internet.

I even dragged a single friend into the process.

Me: If I look at one more half-naked man, I will . . . (I paused, not sure of what I would do . . .)

K: Let me help. (Smiling.)

Yes, K and I went through page after page of naked man photos (HALF naked, okay?).

We finally settled on this one. Why? Part of it was that we both agreed he was A.J. (AKA Tattoo Boy), part of it was “enough is enough,” and part of it was that day I found myself at Rite Aid Pharmacy . . .

There I was at the self-service photo computer, innocently trying to print a graduation picture of my lovely daughter (she’s graduating from college, soon!!) BUT what should pop up on the screen—filling the screen—but the latest torso of a muscled-up young half-naked guy covered with tattoos. Thank goodness MEH (My Engineer Husband) was with me to step in front of the screen to block it while I quickly, frantically clicked on buttons to close the image. I didn’t want some little old lady collecting her prescription to keel over (or steal my thumb drive).

All this to say, it’s been pure hell getting the cover ready for this book (you have no idea, no really, it has). But I’m about three weeks from the paperback books (of course, I’ve been about three weeks from the paperback books for approximately three months).

At least the scenery has been good along the way.

And if you’re wondering what MEH has to say about all of this? “Meh.”



*In the interest of full disclosure, some of the tattoos were given to Tattoo Boy by a very talented graphic designer.

Today I’m on a Q&A at blog friend Susan’s, you can see it here!

And here are some other blogs I’ve been on in the last couple of weeks…

An Interview with Smythe True, Canine Hero
Really fun Q&A with Maggie True’s dog, Smythe, by Lola on writer Shary Hover’s blog.

Meet Julia Munroe Martin
Q&A on Dina Santorelli’s blog about the release of Desired to Death.

The Empty Nest Murder Series and Julia Munroe Martin
In this guest post on writer Julie Luek’s blog, I give the backstory to inspiration behind Desired to Death, the first book in The Empty Nest Can Be Murder mystery series.




  1. Erika Marks says:

    Julia, I laughed out loud at the line about MEH’s reaction. Ha! Good for him!! I’m sure your eyes were glazed over by that point too;)

    Indeed, it is amazing, isn’t it, how every part of the process takes so much longer than you imagine! The details we never really think about until we have to and then what you think will be a quick selection turns into an all-day event!

    That said, I think you chose well!:)

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Thanks, Erika… I’m glad you approve of the pic pick. It sadly the selection took MUCH longer than a day. And MEH truly was meh about the whole thing. Glad to give you a laugh out loud 🙂 And yes, everything does take much longer than you’d think it would, I’ve discovered … from renovating houses to (apparently) self publishing a book!

  2. Your journey into self-publication both terrifies and amuses me. I don’t know if I will ever have the courage. However, maybe I need to revise my book so there is an incredibly beautiful man in it, as an excuse to look at half naked pictures of well-muscled men. 😉

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      My journey into self publishing terrifies and amuses me, too, Lisa — a PERFECT way to capture it. I have to say I really didn’t have much of an idea of what I was getting into… it’s been more rigorous than I expected for a number of unexpected reasons. As for the picture… I (and all the women in my book) would agree with your assessment that A.J. is a beautiful man 😉

  3. Christine M Grote says:

    Looks like you’re off to a great start with your marketing Julia. I bought the Kindle version. And if your experience is anything like mine, the Kindle sales will be the vast majority. But print books help for book clubs, signings, and that sort of thing. Good luck.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Thank you, Christine… I’m really sweating it, so it’s good to have positive feedback about the marketing and what to expect in general. And thank you for buying the Kindle version, I hope you like it! Yes, I have a book signing/talk in about a month and I’m hoping I have the book by then…

  4. Shary says:

    I know getting the print version out there has been a crazy mess, but you’ve handled everything so well. Looking forward to more details as your publishing journey unfolds. I’ve got my Kindle version, but I can’t wait to have my hands on the paperback.

    Go Julia!

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      THANK YOU, Shary!! I’m so lucky to have the best writer friends ever. How can I not succeed with all of you on my side? (p.s. I cant wait to get my hands on the paperback either!)

  5. What I am learning from your experience is that self-publishing is NOT for the faint of heart! While your photo selection process was laborious, at least -as you say – you had some good scenery! 😉 This post made me laugh is so hard in so many ways – another great illustration of your perseverance and your terrific sense of humor admits a grueling experience.

    I, like Erika, am amused by MEH’s “meh” response. And I keep thinking of Joe’s Magic Mike “shimmy” in Desired to Death. Ha ha ha.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      I would agree with this wholeheartedly: “self-publishing is NOT for the faint of heart!” And I was definitely quite naive when I started and probably still am to some extent, esp. with marketing. I would say in some ways, however, I am an expert (ahem, tattoos, half naked men). Yes, MEH is meh about the pics. As for the Magic Mike dance by Joe — I cannot confirm nor deny that it was based on real life 🙂

  6. There are worse things to deal with then semi-clad, muscular men. Your husband’s reaction was fantastic. 🙂

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Yes, I suppose you’re right, Karen… there are a few worse things to deal with! Glad you liked MEH’s meh 🙂

  7. Oh my goodness, the things we end up researching as writers! So glad you had your best friend to um, help you through it 😉

    I think the picture you finally decided is perfect! I’m about halfway through Desired to Death now (I’m enjoying it so much I haven’t been wanting to put it down, but unfortunately I’ve just been having one of those crazy weeks so I’m not at the end yet!) and I agree that the Joe’s Magic Mike shimmy was hilarious! I love the chemistry between Maggie and Joe. It’s romantic and deep and also laid back and true.

    I’ll definitely be picking up the pb version 🙂

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      It’s terrible the things we writers do in the name of authenticity, isn’t it!? Yes, my friend was more than happy to assist me! Glad you like the picture and thinks it fits, and I’m more glad that you’re enjoying the story. I love the words you chose to describe Maggie and Joe’s relationship… “romantic and deep and also laid back and true”… that is so TRUE. 🙂

  8. Julie Luek says:

    I started the book!! It grips you from the first paragragh. Seriously. And now I know who AJ is. Shhhh no secrets given away. Really a good read. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m at a particularly good part and want to go read more. (And I’m not just saying that for this comment. I’m seriously hooked and going to go read!)

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      You made my day!! Thank you, Julie! So happy you’re enjoying it, and I’ll be so curious to hear what you think when you’re done — please let me know 🙂

  9. Barb Riley says:

    You know I can’t wait to get my hands on the paperback! With all these early glowing reviews, my excitement is growing.

    Too funny about the, ahem, exposing of your tattoo boy at Rite Aid. Like others, I’m learning a lot from reading all about your self-publishing experience: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I appreciate all that you share along the way.

    If you need any help with future muscular cover models… well… let me know. 😉

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      I can’t wait until you get the paperback, either, Barb… and we’re inching ever closer! Today I’m optimistic after two steps forward. And if I need more help with muscular model searches, I’ll be in touch! 😉

  10. Cynthia Robertson says:

    It’s a BIG process. But you’re more than half way there. Others who’ve self published say it gets easier after the first one is under your belt. Good luck, Julia!

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      THANK YOU for your support, Cynthia. Yes, I’ve heard the same thing about future books, and I’m looking forward to things settling down so I can write #2.

  11. Ann Mc says:

    MEH’s reaction? Too Funny! The book is amazing and my reaction was, “WOW!”

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      MEH is the best, thank goodness he understands my rather weird tasks… and I’m SO glad you liked the book, Ann!

  12. Kate G says:

    Julia, you are a hoot! I chuckled out loud at your hardships with the beefcake pictures. You’re making light of such extensive efforts. I’m amazed by all the balls (no pun intended) you keep in the air! You are such an impressive, gifted, fun and head-working lady.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      You’re the best, Kate! I may be making light of some of my efforts, but thank goodness for good friends who will help lighten the load by listening. Thank you for your kind words!

  13. I love how you turn a stressful situation into a comedy! This is one of the reason I can’t wait to read the paperback version of your book!!!

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Thank you, Jolina — I’m really looking forward to you reading it, too. As for turning stressful situations into comedy, believe me I have my moments, but when I put it in perspective, it seems to be the easiest way to cope. Thanks again for your kind words.

  14. There is so much work involved with Self-publishing! Have you heard of Scrivner? I heard it will automatically format ebook and createspace for you. It’s half off right now so I’m buying it today 🙂

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Thank you for that tip about Scrivner! I hadn’t heard that, but it makes it much more worth checking out (I always shy away from learning a new piece of software). I’ll check it out (thank you for letting me know in your second comment that it was no longer half price). Thank you too for your visit to my blog!

  15. Gosh, I bet your head is spinning! You’ll learn so much through this process though won’t you? And thank goodness for MEH! Loads of luck with the rest of the process, and hope we see it in paperback very soon.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Yes, head is spinning, that’s true, Abi! And I JUST this minute got off the phone with the printer… it’s a go, and I should have paperbacks within about 2 weeks time!! YAY! Thank you for all your support and kind words, wouldn’t have been able to do it without my good friends. xox

  16. “Meh” from MEH. Perfect — and exactly what my hubs would say, too. I’ve heard that formatting is more of a nightmare than most people realize. I hope you get through it with some sanity left!

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Nightmare is a PERFECT way to describe it, Annie! I’m beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I still have a bit of sanity left. Now I can’t wait to get back to writing!! Glad to hear there are other “meh” reactions from husbands out there!