Thursday, April 28, 2016

Charles Leon Fantroy, Jr. Talks About His Book of Poetry 'My Life: Poetic Literature'

Title: My Life: Poetic Literature
Author: Charles Leon Fantroy
Publisher: ‘JourStarr Quality Publications
Pages: 151
Genre: Poetry
MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE is a compilation which derives from my many thoughts over a span of thirteen years.

My poetic words speak to the multitude of those who encounter hardship and encourage all to overcome the adversities that one faces. I aim to have my words reverberate from a mental realm; because if a particular plight cannot be handled mentally, than the physicalities are but a hindrance.

The mind is the maker and the molder of all conditions.The thoughts that I’ve transcribed onto paper are channeled to positively engage and to motivate all; no matter nationality or creed. I myself am a voice with an abundance of thoughts to share.

For More Information

  • My Life: Poetic Literature  is available at Amazon.

Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. was born and raised in Washington D.C. His journey through the trenches of a Federal Penitentiary started at seventeen years old. He honed and practiced his writing skills during his years of incarceration behind the four walls of Leavenworth, as a way to express himself. Now at the conscious age of thirty six, he has finally perfected his true passion, which is to share his rhythmical array of completed poems, fictional novels, as well as full length movie scripts. He has continued to educate himself in completing eighteen months at Stratford University as a certified internet specialist. Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. is soon to be released from prison where he looks to delve into a bright future of continuing to write quality novels and movie scripts as well as being a positive influence to society.

For More Information
The Story Behind the Cover by Charles Leon Fantroy

MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE was written by me over a span of thirteen years.
The CEO of JourStarr Publications was introduced to me through a mutual friend. And through that connection I am grateful to have an outlet for my material to now be published. This was a tremendously hands on effort on the part of the staff at JourStarr Publications and the finished product I am surely proud of.

The story behind the cover is basically at seventeen years old I had to make my own footprints in the snow, which I believe coincides with the footprints on the cover of the book.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tamara Lush Talks About Her Cover for 'Tell Me a Story'

During the day, Tamara Lush writes news as a journalist with The Associated Press. At night, she writes fictional romance tales about complicated, sexy men and the women who love them.

When Tamara isn’t reporting, writing or reading, she’s doing yoga, cooking for her Italian husband or chasing her dogs on a beach on Florida's Gulf Coast. She loves connecting with people on social media.

Her latest book is the erotic romance, Tell Me a Story (Book 1 The Story Series).
For More Information

Tell Me a Story was my first indie publishing attempt. Initially, I was worried about the cover. Clearly, I wasn’t capable of designing my own cover, so I had to choose a designer. My author friend,
Tina Ellery, gave me the name of a designer: Hang Le. I went to her website and was blown away by her portfolio – she creates sensual, different covers. Her work has a look about it; one can usually tell a Hang Le cover.

I contacted Hang and immediately loved her process: she had me create a Pinterest board for my book and my aesthetic. She asked me to fill out a detailed form about my story and I stressed that I wanted a sexy cover that told the reader it was an erotic story – but I did not want anything raunchy. I wanted a cover that conveyed literary erotica.

I added photos to the Pinterest board for a couple of months, and then she emailed me with a photo (the one that ended up on the cover). It was totally unique – no other author has used that image. I loved it, and she created the cover around that very sexy image of a businessman and a woman in lingerie. We didn’t go back and forth really at all – I adored it from the very first draft.

Since Tell Me a Story is the first of four novellas about the same couple, we will be using the same image but changing the title and the title color for the other three covers. I can’t stress how much I love my cover and the work that Hang did! Eventually, I will put all four novellas into a print book and the cover is going to be incredible.

She also did stunning bookmarks, with the cover on one side, and an image of palm trees on the other. The bookmarks perfectly convey the fairy tale-quality of the story, which is set in Florida. I would love to offer five of your readers (and you!) some bookmarks, so if the first five people who comment would like bookmarks, just let me know and I’ll send them!

About the Book:

Bookstore owner Emma Chase attends a sexy literacy fundraiser called Story Brothel in Orlando, expecting a few raunchy jokes and a chance to show off her writing. She’s intrigued when Caleb King, a successful real estate developer in a custom tailored suit, pays to listen to her read from her erotic novel.

Later, the mysterious Caleb with beautiful eyes asks her to read him a bedtime story at his penthouse condo – and she can’t say no to his demands.

But Emma’s been burnt before, and is reluctant to be the plaything of a rich man whose world is so different than hers. She also doesn’t need distractions because her business in danger of closing and everything she’s worked for is poised to crumble. Emma’s made it this far on her own, but as one-night with Caleb turns into more and develops into something deeper, can she trust him when secrets are revealed?

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Super Sized Success by Linda Zander

Title: SUPER SIZED SUCCESS: 9 Steps to Maximum Riches in Minimum Time
Author: Linda Zander, The Success Packager
Publisher: MAXAR Press
Pages: 138
Genre: Non-Fiction: Success/Personal Development/Self-Help/Business & Money

The only Get Rich Quick method that puts VALUES before profit as the non-negotiable to achieving lasting riches in all areas of ones' life. 

Super Sized Success delivers a revolutionary new definition of success never shared before... "Success is a balanced achievement of Wealth and Well-Being through consistently living the Truth of one's own grace inspired values."   Multi-Millionaire Author, Linda Zander, unveils the shocking Truth about Financial Wealth...that without relentlessly living the Truth of ones’ own values, financial success alone, simply put, cannot last nor make you happy.

Inside the pages of this book you will find practical, easy to use and launch 9-Fail Proof Steps that will make you so mentally, physically, intellectually, financially, and spiritually potent that you become Super-N​aturally driven to excel at the highest possible levels of human achievement. Powerful real-life stories, including those from the author’s own life, provide the reader with living proof that once one aligns their thoughts, actions, and character to reflect the highest Truth of their values, they have the unending power to become Wealthy, Healthy and Happy​.
Praise for SUPER SIZED SUCCESS: 9 Steps to Maximum Riches in Minimum Time:
"A brilliant new formula for achieving success!"
 --Judith Williamson, Director of Education , Napoleon Hill World Learning Center

Book Excerpt:
I was and still am an “adult child of an alcoholic.” I grew up in an alcoholic home with all its crazy drama. The instability taught me not to trust. I became excessively independent. I felt that if I didn’t take care of myself, nobody would. I didn’t realize that by being so obsessively independent I was pushing away people and especially God. If I couldn’t trust anybody other than myself, how could I trust God?
Once I realized I didn’t own cocaine, but it owned me, I became determined to beat the beast on my own. I went to AA, but in spite of going to meetings, I couldn’t stay sober or learn to let go and let anyone in, much less God. I kept thinking I could do it on my own. I kept slipping back to using in spite of truly wanting to conquer my addiction. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t beat this thing on my own! I literally had a 100 percent success rate of doing everything on my own without help from anyone! In my determination to fight this thing that had control over me, I went to a hospital out-patient program, got out, and slipped again. Determination was the driver of my existence. I checked myself into the Betty Ford Center, and that’s when the miracles started to happen…and then along came Dorothy.
Dorothy was the director of the chemical dependency unit of a prominent hospital, and she signed on to be the after-care therapist for our group therapy meetings. I went to a handful of group meetings and slipped again. What was I doing wrong? I went to group the very next night after using and confessed. Dorothy asked me to stay after the group session ended. She knew how badly I was trying and how badly I wanted to overcome this obstacle in my life. But she also knew my real problem…the underlying one that was preventing me from being successful.
She sat across from me, took my hands in hers, looked directly into my eyes, and said:  “Linda, do you want to get sober for once and for all?” 
“Yes!” I said.
“Are you willing to go to any lengths to get sober?”
“Okay, good. You will have to put your faith and trust in me. If you will put your trust in me and follow my directions, I give you my personal promise that you will succeed in getting and staying sober. Will you trust me now?” 
It was a gigantic jumping-off point for me. I looked at her and paused, and my mind was wildly racing. “Why is she doing this?”  “What does she have to gain?” “Why should I trust her?” …and then: “What do I have to lose?” 
In a flash, I realized this beautiful, intelligent, extremely busy woman had zero to personally gain from helping me out. She had no ulterior motive other than to help me slay the beast for once and for all. Right then, I can honestly say, I came to believe in a Source outside of myself for the very first time in my life. 
In letting go and letting Dorothy in, I first learned to trust another human being, and then after that, I learned to put my trust in God. I am now clean and sober for over twenty-six years, thanks to Dorothy. I got and stayed sober from that very moment of our conversation. I represent a very small percentage of addicts who get and stay sober. Dorothy got me sober, and I stayed sober because through that relationship and what it taught me, a gateway to God opened up that I otherwise wouldn’t have found. Napoleon Hill teaches the power of creating what he calls “Mastermind Alliances,” which he defines as “an alliance of two or more minds working in perfect harmony for the attainment of a common, definite objective.” Dorothy was the first mastermind alliance in my life, and the one that saved me. Learning to put faith and trust in someone other than just myself was the one-way ticket to learning that within every adversity is great opportunity and benefit waiting to be seized.
You see, Dorothy already knew the power of mastermind alliances, and her greatest mastermind alliance was with God. I came to know Dorothy, and then I came to know God. God is now the greatest mastermind alliance in my life, too. He is the director of our copartnership, and I have found great personal power and contentment in placing my trust in him.

David S. Atkinson Talks About Cover for 'Not Quite So Stories'

Authors often have a lot less control over cover design than many people think. I've gotten lucky with my three books in that my publishers have wanted my thoughts and input, and actually listened to them.

For my first book, Bones Buried in the Dirt, I had a concept of an image but not an exact image to use. I explained my idea to my publisher, what I was thinking and exactly what I wanted it to convey and how, and she went out and found the perfect image to license. I was very happy and she made sure of that before going forward.

My second book, The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes, was similar. I had less of a concept in mind already, but I talked with the publisher about what I wanted it to convey and we came up with an idea. Then he actually commissioned an artist to do an oil painting of it. The artist did several mock up pictures, letting my publisher and I make comments and suggestions before we finally approved. Only then did the artist do the oil painting. Again, my publisher made sure I was happy before we finalized.

For this book, Not Quite so Stories, I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do. A short story collection is a lot harder to capture in an image than a novel with a single story. I told my publisher I wanted something that conveyed the essential essence of the stories, the absurd 'something' that's off from normality in each and functions as the focus around which the stories operate to explore how the characters deal (and/or fail to deal) with the absurdity of the world. I thought perhaps of a chaotic scene involving a bunch of objects/characters from the stories (such as the killer teddy bear from "60% Rayon and 40% Evil," the cymbal monkey from "Monkey! Monkey! Monkey! Monkey! Monkey!," the orange from "Cents of Wonder Rhymes With Orange," and so on). Then she employed a cover designer named Ruth M'Gonigle to see what she came up with. Ruth's design was very different from what I'd been thinking, but it conveyed what I was going for in such an elegantly minimalistic way that I couldn't conceive of any other cover.

I mean, the simple title in alternating black and white text on a teal-ish background…it seems so normal. Then the quiet way that the "SO" is cut in half, sliding off on the top, it perfectly captures that 'something off' in each of the stories. I loved it, and she only needed to show me one draft idea before we both jumped at it. Ruth M'Gonigle is a star at cover design.

About the Author

David S. Atkinson is the author of "Not Quite so Stories" ("Literary Wanderlust" 2016), "The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes" (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and "Bones Buried in the Dirt" (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80K). His writing appears in "Bartleby Snopes," "Grey Sparrow Journal," "Atticus Review," and others. His writing website is and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Steve Lawson Talks About the Cover of 'Giant Killers'

Title: Steve Lawson
Author: Giant Killers: Overcoming Obstacles and Seizing Opportunities
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 144
Genre: Christian/Christian Living/Personal Growth

It seemed a lopsided battle. On one side, a small shepherd with a sling and five stones. On the other, a heavily armored ten-foot giant whose taunts and challenges immobilized an army of seasoned warriors. The story of David and Goliath has become an almost universal underdog story; but in reality, Goliath never stood a chance.

In Giant Killers, emotional intelligence speaker, consultant, and author Steve Lawson identifies the five vital emotional and social skills David possessed: identity, discipline, graciousness, action, and hope. When combined with the power of God’s grace, these strengths made it possible for David to defeat Goliath, build a mighty army out of social rejects, and establish the greatest kingdom in the history of Israel.

Identity. Discipline. Graciousness. Action. Hope. These five important emotional skills establish how we perceive and express ourselves—and how willingly we seize the opportunities God provides. Who better to demonstrate these powerful traits than David, who slew his own giant?

We all face giants in our lives—challenges and obstacles that intimidate us, limit our potential, and keep us from moving forward. It’s easy to feel like David fighting Goliath. And that’s good—because David won. Like David, we can overcome any challenge, seizing with confidence the opportunities God places in our path. Giant Killers teaches you how to do so, providing a foundation on which you can build success after success. It all begins with you—and your willingness to trust in God’s grace.

For More Information

  • Giant Killers: Overcoming Obstacles and Seizing Opportunities is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

A former small-business owner and church planter, Steve Lawson recently stepped down as the senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Greenville, Texas, to focus on his writing, speaking, and leadership training activities.

He holds a doctor of strategic leadership degree from Regent University, a master of divinity degree from The King’s University, an MBA from Amberton University, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Texas.

Lawson owns Leadership Transformation Inc., providing emotional intelligence training and consulting to organizations of all sizes. More information on his consulting services is available at An avid blogger and writer, Lawson is available for speaking engagements in churches, seminars, and conferences. You can contact him at

He and his wife, Karen, live in Greenville, Texas. They are the parents of three grown daughters.

His latest book is the Christian/Christian living/personal growth book, Giant Killers: Overcoming Obstacles and Seizing Opportunities.

Steve Lawson Talks About His Cover

Giant Killers began as the final project for my doctorate in strategic leadership. For that project, I wrote a manuscript showing how God’s grace informs and empowers each of the five main components of emotional intelligence.

Because my book was originally my final project for my doctoral degree, it read way too much like an academic document to be anywhere close to ready for publishing. In addition, I had to find an angle that would appeal to a larger audience. I mean a book on how God’s grace informs and empowers emotional intelligence isn’t the most attractive of concepts to the general public. So in a moment of inspiration, I chose the story of David and Goliath as my launching point for the book, and continued to use David’s life as a great warrior and King as my running metaphor.

I wanted to show how important it is to develop the skills related to emotional intelligence and how they impact everyday life. I wanted to show how they not only enable us to overcome difficulties, but also how they set us up for success. In addition, I see so clearly how an understanding and acceptance of God’s grace brings supernatural power to the process. So the story of a teenage boy killing a giant seem like a good place to start. It is a story familiar to many, and is very inspirational to those of us facing our own giants in life.

The story about my cover could be a long story filled with false starts, wasted money, and stupid decisions. I chose to self-publish my book and actually went through three self-publishing companies (insert long story here) before landing with Amazon’s Create Space.

I actually began with a company called Winepress. According to their website and several review boards, Winepress had been in the self-publishing business for decades. They actually designed my cover, and that is still basically the cover that I’m using today. Unfortunately, they suddenly went out of business before we got much more done than the cover design.

It actually turned out to be good for me that they went out of business, but I’m going to leave that in the “stupid decisions” category and let that story remain a mystery for now. However, I like the cover that Winepress designed. So when I teamed up with the designers at Create Space, I sent them the photo used in my cover. They then sent me two options, one of which was with my photo and some improvements on the cover. I really like their improvements and stuck with my original cover design.

Giant Killers is about breaking glass ceilings. It’s about discovering who you really are, who you are meant to become. But it’s more than just self-discovery, it’s about personal development and change. It’s a book that helps you develop the skill set necessary to face the struggles in your future with confidence. So having David’s sling as the focal point on my cover made perfect sense.

I’m very passionate about the message of Giant Killers and its ability to be transformational in someone’s life. All of us face obstacles. All of us deal with struggles that we can’t seem to overcome. And all of us, at one time or another, have had opportunities pass us by because we weren’t prepared or confident enough to take them on.

I believe that can change. I believe that we can develop the skills and character qualities necessary to take on both obstacles and opportunities with confidence. And I believe with all my heart that God’s grace has tremendous power that we have yet to understand. And I am convinced that He is not only willing and able, he wants us to experience that power more than we ever will. And I believe that the combination of the skills and character qualities found in emotional intelligence combined with the power of God’s grace have the potential to make us an unstoppable force.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Second Death by T. Frohock


Inside the Book:

Title: The Second Death
Author: T. Frohock
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Format: Ebook
Save the world, or save his family… For Diago Alvarez, that’s the choice before him. For unless he wants to see his son Rafael die, he must do the unthinkable: Help the Nazis receive the plans to the ultimate weapon. And while Diago grows more comfortable not only with his heritage, but also with his place among Guillermo’s Los Nefilim, he is still unsure if he truly belongs amongst them. In a frantic race to save the future of humanity, Diago is forced to rely on his daimonic nature to deceive an angel. In doing so, he discovers the birth of a modern god—one that will bring about a new world order from which no one can escape. The Second Death is the final chapter in T. Frohock’s haunting and lyrical Los Nefilim trilogy, which bestselling author Mark Lawrence has called “a joy to read.”  photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpgB&N

Meet the Author:

T. Frohock has turned her love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She currently lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Rosie Claverton Talks about her Mystery Novel, 'Captcha Thief'

Rosie Claverton is a screenwriter and novelist. She grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study Medicine and adopted Wales as her home, where she lives with her journalist husband and pet hedgehog.
Connect with the author: / @rosieclaverton /                                                           
Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
Captcha Thief is the third novel in The Amy Lane Mysteries, which stars a pair of Cardiff-based crimefighters – agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane and streetwise ex-con Jason Carr. In this book, they're on the trail of a murderer and thief, seeking justice for a dead security guard and hunting down a stolen Impressionist painting. I wanted to write something different than the usual serial killer take, so an art heist seemed like the perfect option to test my detective duo.
Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
The first two books in the series Binary Witness and Code Runner were published by the digital-first imprint of a large publishing house, but they didn't want to continue publication. Crime Scene Books are a small independent press who were enthusiastic about Amy and Jason's adventures and wanted to see them in print. It was an unusual journey, but I'm pleased with how it's turned out.
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing the story, or did it come later?
This book has gone through a heap of titles, like its brothers before it. I try to name the series on a theme that merges both technology and crime. It was named Stealth Portrait and Exhibit @, before we finally settled on the the much-improved Captcha Thief.
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
I had a lot of ideas about what the cover might look like, trying to consider the art gallery setting and the skulking criminal menace of the previous novels. However, the concept from the artist was completely different to those ideas and yet it really works well for the novel.
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
My designer was Mark Hobin and I worked with him via my publisher, who clearly has impeccable taste.
How was your experience working with the designer?
I gave them a lot of information upfront about what kind of themes I thought would work well with the book, and then he ran with it. He focussed on the computer side of the mystery, with the binary code and computer keys surrounding the mysterious criminal figure.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
They love how eye-catching it is, particularly the appropriate captcha text style. It immediately tells the reader it's a book about cybercrime, and the vibrancy of the colours feels exciting.
What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
I was looking for a cover for my Amy Lane short story Car Hacker and my first step was asking my friends who their favourite designer was. That gave me a shortlist of reliable creators who came personally recommended. Make sure you can see a gallery of their work, particularly of books already published so you know authors have invested in their skills.
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
The cover highlights Captcha Thief's connection to the world of computers, but it's not technical. I deliberately use broad brushstrokes for the hacking, and there's also Jason running around Cardiff with his one terrible password and a passing knowledge of Facebook. It's not all binary, code and captchas!

Liefdom by Jesse Teller

Inside the Book:

A fiery fairy battles for purpose.
Liefdom is the story of Gentry Mandrake. Born with natural weapons in a race known for pacifism, he is cast out and hated for his differences. He hunts for a place among his people, while fighting to defend the human child bound to him. His violent nature makes him wonder at the purity of his soul, while the dark creatures he must face seem too great to defeat. Can he overcome such terrible foes to defend those he loves?

Meet the Author:

Jesse Teller
Jesse Teller lives in Missouri. He hasn’t always, but like storytelling, it snuck into his bones. He lives with his wonderful, supportive wife and two inspiring kids. When he is not pounding too hard on his poor keyboard, you can find him bumping into walls and mumbling to himself.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Cover Talk: The Drafter by Kim Harrison

Title: The Drafter
Author: Kim Harrison
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 560
Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Sci Fi/Fantasy
Book Description:
Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. When Peri discovers her name is on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. Her memory of the previous three years erased, she joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her fateful final task. Her motto has always been only to kill those who kill her first. But with nothing but intuition to guide her, will she have to break her own rule to survive?

Cover Talk with Kim Harrison

I’m Kim Harrison, better known for the urban fantasy series, the Hollows, but now have turned my sights to crafting the SF thriller, The Drafter.  I’ve always been fascinated with how cover artists put together something to get the right reader to pick up the book. I am lucky to have two covers for The Drafter, a more literary image for the hard cover that was aimed to grow my male audience, and a more thriller-oriented image for the mass market to hit my usual urban fantasy readers. I’m hard pressed to pick my favorite of the two, but the image of a woman confidently running into danger does convey the action, strength, and pacing of the book.

Being traditionally published, I have less say in the cover than someone self published, but that’s never bothered me. I was given a choice of several covers, and we finally settled on one, giving it some further tweaks to get the Opti symbol on the cover and the colors to allude to crisp, clean action. I also asked for the burst, which is the small blot of color that highlights the “also includes” message that had originally been on the back, and all of this leaving space for hopefully a few nice words for some of my peers.

I know cover purists demand that their cover be a recognizable scene from the book and the figure on it match the image of the main character, and I will admit that once I know what the cover model is wearing, I might tweak the text to include it, but it’s rare that I will ask the cover artist to bring anything closer to the reality of the text. For example, Peri Reed would never have hair that long; it’s a huge liability in a fight. She’d be wearing something more polished, too, and perhaps have a sexy, brooding man running beside her. But the image we went with conveys the feeling of the book: danger, urgency, independent thinking, bold action, and a futuristic setting that is not too far from our own to be unrecognizable. And that works for me.

Cover Talk: From Ashes Into Light by Mouw Gudrun

Title: From Ashes Into Light
Author: Gudrun Mouw
Pages: 240
Genre: Literary/Visionary Fiction
Publisher: Raincloud Press

From Ashes into Light is a transpersonal tale of epic tragedy, spirituality, family, and personal redemption. It is told through three distinct voices: the haunting story of Ruth, a Jewish adolescent during Kristallnacht in World War II Austria, Saqapaya, a stalwart Native American from coastal California during the time of the Spanish conquest, and Friede Mai.

Friede is born during WW II to a Bavarian soldier and an East-Prussian mother. As those around her struggle with the inevitable chaos and paradox of war, young Friede opens her heart to gruesome enemies, at times helping her family members escape atrocities.

With war behind them, the Mai family immigrates to the US, where Friede, her veteran father and ex-refugee mother, struggle with reverberations of trauma, suspicion and prejudice. Upon leaving home, Friede meets her spiritual guide and confidant in her fiancé’s Rabbi, who helps her see that the voices from her past are teachers and the horrors of history also contain beacons of light.

Cover Talk with Mouw Gudrun

Planning the book cover actually started with the title, because I did a lot of back and forth with the title. There were many, let’s say two dozen, versions of the title and nothing really seemed right. The second-to-last title was Out of the Ashes. And it was for this version that my publisher paid for a designer to make a cover.

The two of them worked together on a version of the cover, showing me about four versions. The three of us agreed on a black cover with a feather through which you could see a vintage photo of a WWII-era city. I liked it, since much of the story takes place during WWII, and there is also a Native-American element and the feather conveyed some of that.

But after the first batch of ARCs (Advance Copies) were printed, my publisher changed her mind. She decided she wanted a more feminine cover. Also, right after that, a poet reviewer came up with the title: From Ashes Into Light. The change was subtle, but the title finally clicked.

At first I was skeptical the cover needed to change, because I liked the first cover. But then I saw what the publisher ultimately she came up with, probably the eighteenth version of the cover, and I was glad she changed it.

She did something fun too, which was post a poll on my Facebook page, letting my friends pick which direction to go with the cover. We got about thirty votes over 3 versions of the cover. Then from there, she did about five more versions to get the final cover we have now.

The final cover ended up using the same overhead picture of a WWII-era city, but instead of sepia, it was a mixture of rich purples and blues. Over that is a play of ash and dark and light, just the right element to add some mystery and connect readers to the title, From Ashes Into Light.

Some complaints we’ve had about the cover is that it looks contemporary and the book is historical fiction, but the subject matter of reincarnation is so radical and visionary. So ultimately I feel the publisher captured just the right blend of both.