02/16/2016 In Books, Guest
Feb 16, 2016

Mute Witness; by Rick R. Reed—Guest Post and Giveaway

A Tale of Two Covers: MUTE WITNESS

The DSP Publications version of Mute Witness is its second incarnation. The book was originally published by MLR Press, with a different cover (by Deana C. Jamroz). The DSPP has been extensively re-edited and has gotten a whole new face, thanks to cover artist Aaron Anderson.

I love the whole cover art process, but it always makes me wary because it’s so vital to the success of the book. After all, this is the first impression, the “face”, if you will, of the book!

Which cover do you like better? Let me know (and with maybe a reason why) in the comments below.

First we have the original, from MLR. Here’s what I wrote I was looking for in the cover art request form:

A very strong, simple image keeps running through my mind: the face of a child, perhaps wide-eyed, with the mouth completely blurred out, as if it doesn’t exist. Like a face without a mouth (mute witness…get it?). And maybe that’s all we need. The boy in the book is eight years old and has dark hair and green eyes, but those details do not have to be strictly adhered to.

Again, I prefer more straightforward photographic images as opposed to filtered art or illustrations.

The book is more of a thriller, so the typeface and mood should lend itself to that genre.


Second, we have the DSP Publications cover. Here’s what I wrote to the cover artist about what I had in mind:

The tone is very serious and the plot itself is somewhat mysterious/suspenseful. It’s about child abduction and abuse and the very erroneous belief held by narrow minds that gay people are somehow linked to pedophiles.

 I think the primary focus should be on the missing child, who is truly the “mute witness” to what happened to him. I am attaching with the form several book covers that I think convey the right image (although I am open to any and all ideas—please don’t limit yourself to my thoughts). These are all photographic and fairly simple, with a somber tone (my favorite of which is THE GOOD GIRL).


And here are the book covers I attached for inspiration.





{Don’t forget to leave a comment and let Rick know which cover you liked better. – AQG}




Mute_Witness_FinalTITLE: Mute Witness

AUTHOR: Rick R. Reed

PUBLISHER: DSP Publications

COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson

LENGTH: 290 Pages

GENRE: LGBT, Mystery & Suspense

RELEASE DATE: February 09, 2016

BLURB: 2nd Edition

The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.

Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.

And then their perfect world shatters.

Jason goes missing.

When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.

As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.

1st Edition published by ManLove Romance Press, 2009.



IT WAS one of their rare lazy evenings. Summer, and the evening air was fresh and clean after an afternoon thunderstorm, with just a hint of a breeze. Normally, Sean and Austin were so busy that if they weren’t trying to change something about the little Cape Cod on the Ohio River they had bought a year before—adding a deck, putting in a new kitchen, stripping away years of white paint from the woodwork downstairs—they were too tired to do anything but crawl into bed and pass out, usually before eleven o’clock. Lovemaking, since they had bought the money- and-time-sucking house, had become relegated to weekend afternoons and the occasional early morning.

But today, Thursday, had been an easy one. Austin had called into work—the Benson Pottery, where he was a caster—and taken a mental health day. Things had just been too damn busy lately, and he needed the break. Waiting until Saturday was out of the question. Sunday seemed further away than the next millennium.

Sean, a reporter for the Evening View, the local thrice-weekly compilation of ads sandwiched in with a little editorial, had the day off. The couple spent the day in Pittsburgh, at the Andy Warhol museum, then had an early dinner at the Grand Concourse (the best paella on the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers), beat the brutal thunderstorm home, made love (acrobatically, in the kitchen, atop a butcher block), and now the two were curled up in front of the TV. Sean had rented Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and, after a bowl of Jamaican and a couple of vodka and tonics, the two were teary-eyed with laughter.

Sean looked over at his younger boyfriend and thought how lucky he was to have found Austin, especially in a town the size of Summitville, where the population hovered just above ten thousand. Even better, Austin was his fantasy man, with a broad, beefy body that his mother and her friends would have called strapping, sandy blond hair, and the bluest eyes he had ever seen. When Sean first met him, he thought Austin’s eyes had to be fake, enhanced by those tinted contacts that never looked real. But he found quickly that the young man was simply blessed with arresting eyes to go along with his broad shoulders, dimpled chin, and infectious smile. He wore that smile right now, coming down from a fit of inappropriate laughter after hearing Elizabeth Taylor tell Richard Burton something along the lines of “I’d divorce you if I thought you were alive.”

A sick sense of humor was yet another thing the pair had in common.

It was what they both would have agreed was a perfect day. Well, Sean might have had one more item to add to the “perfection” list. Having his son, Jason, around for at least part of the time would have been all it would have taken to make the day ideal, but these days, Jason was for the weekends only.

In any case, this was close enough to nirvana. He closed his eyes and let his head loll back on Austin’s shoulder.

Sean was just thinking about slowly undressing Austin and then leading him into the bedroom for round two when the phone rang. Its chirp startled both of them out of the cocoon of warmth that had surrounded them, a cocoon built from good sex, supreme relaxation, and the afore-mentioned Jamaican weed.

Austin said, sleepily from under Sean’s arm on the couch, “Don’t get it. Please don’t get it. Just let the machine pick up. I don’t want to talk to anyone. And I don’t want you to, either.” Sean eyed the little answering machine next to the cordless, wondering when they would enter the twenty-first century and use voice mail like everyone else. But, unlike voice mail, the machine did allow them to screen calls, and for two men who appreciated their privacy, this feature had voice mail beat all to hell.

Sean let the phone ring its customary four rings, although his tendency would have been to answer it. But if this would make Austin happy, then he was willing to do it. Especially since he had things in mind for Austin that did not involve the telephone. Things that would erase their fatigue and perhaps keep them up the better part of the night. Sean grinned.

On the fourth ring, Sean pressed the pause button on the remote control and sat up straighter to listen.

“Whatever it is, it can wait,” Austin whispered in Sean’s ear, flicking his earlobe with his tongue and giving his crotch a playful squeeze.

And then the moment shattered.

Shelley’s voice, almost unfamiliar under the veneer of tension that made it higher, quicker, came through. Shelley and Sean had been married once upon a time and their union had produced Jason, the best little boy in the world. As soon as Sean heard Shelley’s voice, he thought of his son, who shared his dark hair, green eyes, wiry frame, and his fascination with stories.

“Sean? Sean, I hope you’re there. This is important. Please pick up.” There was a slight pause. “It’s about Jason. He—”

Before she could say anything else, Sean sprinted for the phone in the entryway. “Shelley? Sorry, I was…”

“Jason is missing.”


DSP Publications (eBook)

DSP Publications (Paperback)

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble


Rick R Reed_Author Pic

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

:: Website :: Blog :: Facebook Page :: Twitter :: Google+ ::


Winner’s Prize: E copy of Rick R. Reed’s psychic thriller – THIRD EYE

a Rafflecopter giveaway


February 9: Prism Book Alliance

February 10: Gay Media Reviews

February 11: Divine Magazine

February 12: Love Bytes Reviews

February 15: Bayou Book Junkie

February 16: The Land of Make Believe

February 17: The Novel Approach

February 18: Diverse Reader

February 19: Joyfully Jay


Visit the Website: Creative Minds
Email Sid @ creativemindspromo@gmail.com



  1. steve says:

    I like the second cover better. The first cover does not convey the horror of a missing child. The second cover says a dark tale is in process; a missing child, automatically linking gays to pedophiles, and possibly murder.

  2. Jen says:

    Definitely agree with Steve. The second cover is quite chilling and gets the terribleness of a child missing across.

    • Rick R. Reed says:

      I think what the first cover tried to do too hard was bring in the m/m aspect of the story. I love that aspect, but the real story is the abduction and how it affects everyone around the little boy. The second cover really captured the raw emotion of that.

  3. Mary Preston says:

    Interesting. thank you.

Add a Comment