Wednesday, September 22, 2021

❀Q&A on Book Covers with E.P. Bellows Author of Bandits of Basswood @LizzyPBellows @PumpUpYourBook #BanditsofBasswood #bookcovers

A few random things about me…

Um, let’s see… when I was eight, I had a pet turkey. I used to take it with me on my very short lived paper route. Needless to say, I was terrible at delivering the paper. No one wanted a “Dollar Saver” with turkey poop splattered across the front page. Apparently that’s where the best coupons are.

Books… well, “Treasure Island” is a fantastic pirate tale. I love just about anything by Roald Dahl. I would also like to thank C.S Lewis for sending me on an unrelenting childhood quest for portals to amazing worlds (even in the most unpleasant locations, e.g… the older brother’s closet, etc…)

I write fantasy stories for children. Yep – I am a HUGE fantasy geek. I can’t help myself! It’s too darn awesome to escape to another realm with sorcerers and wizards. The underlying theme in my stories is empowerment, self love, and living purposefully.

When football is on I turn into a different person. I may even use a curse word or two… or three. I enjoy running; which is a good thing because I need to do it in order to fit into my jeans.

I love to cook and really, really love to eat. I have a theory that avocados actually contain super powers and have the amazing ability to make any snack epic. I also love garlic… which, according to my loved ones, also has an unfortunate super power … the pungent breath-inator… or something of that nature.

Few things make me smile more than chocolate, cheese… AND, if the Chargers would make it to the Super Bowl again – just once:)



Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?

Bandits of Basswood is the prequal to Alexander Drake’s adventure. I had already written about Alexander (Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit), Jonn William’s son. Bandits of Basswood builds out the back story for the guardians, Imperius  and how the adventure really unfolded hundreds of years before; which is what drove me to write the story.

I needed to write the story in its entirety. A lot felt untold when I was writing Alexander’s story. Bandits of Basswood jumps in with a wild splash into the mystery of the Drake family and their important connection to Azra’s Pith. Of course, there is also magic and adventure... so much adventure!

Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?

Both! Azra’s Pith has been on a wild ride. I started with a traditional midsized publisher; which folded. I decided to have another go with a publisher... who also folded. Now I am going it alone. I liked having the support of a publisher; being an indie author does give me more freedom. Both have their bright spots. 

How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?

I knew before starting. I also had a cover visualized. The name John William belongs to someone very dear.  Basswood is also the name of a very special street with the cleverest of bandits in residence. So the title was a no brainer for me. 

Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?

I had a visual already in mind. My cover artist got to work on it before I finished the first draft. It helps me to have the cover done and sitting in front of me as I write. 

Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?

Nicole Cardiff is the cover artist! She has done cover art for other authors which is how I found her. She also did the covers for The Butterfly Curse, The Return of General Drake, and Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit. I hope I have the opportunity to work with her again. 

How was your experience working with the designer?

She was amazing! I definitely recommend. It was really exciting to watch my vision come to fruition. She exceeded my expectations. 

What has been the readers’ response to your cover?

Readers seem to love the covers! Bandits of Basswood is vibrant with intricate details. It has one of the bandits in full garb and a scamper foul giving a noble pose. 

What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?

Look at other books in your genre. There are some beautiful covers out there! Find one that that has the style you connect with. Many illustrators and cover artists will do freelance work and are willing to work with publishers as well as indie-authors. 

Anything else you’d like to say about your book?

Bandits of Basswood, and all of the Azra’s Pith books, is the inspiration of a childhood of wandering through the woods around my grandmother’s house and bicycling to the creek to catch frogs. After reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, I was forever in search of portals to magical worlds.

Other than my crazy mind and wandering imagination, my kiddos are an infinite source of inspiration. They have inherited my fantasy gene and never run out of characters and other tid-bits that should be in Azra’s Pith. 

John William’s adventure begins with the mysterious disappearance of his father in Azra’s Pith. John William was determined to find him. He had no idea what dark forces he was up against... a wild adventure was about to begin and his life would forever change. I hope you will join John William and the rest on this journey! Thank you! 


Thursday, September 16, 2021

An Excerpt from Rosemary and Larry Mild's Mystery 'Death Rules the Night'



Publisher: Magic Island Literary Works

Find out more HERE.

About the Book:

In Death Rules the Night, the fourth Dan and Rivka Sherman mystery, Rosemary and Larry Mild deliver a smart, suspenseful tale that will keep readers spellbound.


About Death Rules the Night: Reluctant sleuths Dan and Rivka yearn for a tranquil life as owners of The Olde Victorian Bookstore in Annapolis, Maryland. When copies of a tell-all book on the prominent Atkins family go missing from the bookstore, from all the local libraries, and even from the author’s bookshelves, Dan wants to know why. But the price of “why” brings threats, stalking, break-ins—and a brutal murder. He and Rivka fear for their lives.


The Atkins family secrets are weaving a sinister web. Tom Dwyer, a retired truck driver, is ready to confess to a crime that he and Frank Mulhaney, another driver, committed twenty years ago. Frank plots revenge on Tom. Bookstore clerk Ivy hears ugly gossip aimed at derailing her wedding. Will the family secrets finally see the light of day? And will the killer ever be caught?


Death Rules the Night is a tightly woven, cleverly plotted tale with an irresistible cast of characters—including Lord Byron, the wily bookstore cat who springs his own surprise.


About the Authors:

ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction.  Rosemary and Larry have published award-winning novels, short stories, and essays. They co-authored the popular Paco and Molly Mystery Series; Hawaii adventure/thrillers Cry Ohana and Honolulu Heat; and three volumes of short stories, many of which appear in anthologies. After forty-plus years in Maryland, the Milds currently make their home in Honolulu, where they cherish time with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. 


ROSEMARY, a graduate of Smith College and former assistant editor of Harper’s, also delves into her own nonfiction life. She published two memoirs: Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother and the acclaimed Miriam’s World—and Mine, for the beloved daughter they lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On her lighter side, Rosemary also writes award-winning humorous essays, such as failing the test to get on Jeopardy; and working for a giant free-spending corporation on a sudden budget: “No new pencil unless you turn in the old stub.”  

LARRY, who was only called Lawrence when he’d done something wrong, graduated from American University in Information Systems Management. In 2019 he published his autobiography, No Place To Be But Here: My Life and Times, which traces his thirty-eight-year professional engineering career from its beginning as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, to a field engineer riding Navy ships, to a digital systems/instrument designer for major Government contractors in the signal analysis field, to where he rose to the most senior level of principal engineer when he retired in 1993.

Making use of his past creativity and problem-solving abilities, Larry naturally drifted into the realm of mystery writing, where he also claims to be more devious than his partner in crime and best love, Rosemary. So he conjures up their plots and writes the first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents.

THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.  

Connect with the authors on the web:

Brother and Sister

 from Death Rules the Night by Rosemary and Larry Mild

Cora drove her bright green Mercedes SL Class convertible up to the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel entrance and turned the car over to a young, good-looking valet parker, who tried unsuccessfully to flirt with her. Inside the lobby, she ignored the reception desk and headed straight for the elevator. Dressed in a navy business suit, she made her way directly to room 233. She knocked rapidly four times and waited.

“Who’s there?” a deep male voice answered. 

“Your sister.” 

Muddy opened the door and blinked twice. “What the hell are you doing here?” 

“That’s no way to greet your sister. Aren’t you going to invite me in?” 

“Sister schmister. What the hell are you up to? You’re not one to make social calls, especially not to me. Out with it, woman. You must want something from me.” 

“Of course not, dear brother. It’s just that I hadn’t heard from you in several days, and I wanted to thank you for handling the movers at the old house. It sure made our lives a lot easier on moving day. At first, I wondered why you volunteered, but then I realized that you were just being nice.” 

“Meaning you thought I was acting out of character?” he asked. His sarcastic tone was not missed. 

“Don’t get me wrong, Muddy. Motive aside, you were appreciated. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to come in and sit down.” 

“Of course, my manners seem to be malfunctioning today.” His hand swept through a healthy arc, showing her the way in. 

Cora took a seat in front of the wide glass sliding doors. The expanse revealed a view of the Annapolis City Dock and its famous Ego Alley, a tiny harbor inlet where boat owners paraded their floating prides and joys during the summer season. Muddy sat down on the bed opposite her and tried to analyze her real reason for coming. 

“Yeah, I was just being nice.” He sounded as though even he wasn’t convinced of his own generosity. Her gratitude didn’t sound right to him. She hasn’t any idea that I really needed time in the empty house to seal off the secret room from the new owners. 

“Muddy, I know you were opposed to Rae selling the house, but Daddy left it to her, and she should be free to do with it as she pleases. I believe she sold it for money to support her writing career.” 

“Rae should’ve asked each of us whether we wanted to buy it beforehand,” he complained. “She never asked me. That’s why I’m so pissed at her.” The old buzzard could have left something for his only son. The house would have been nice—even a partnership, so I could have blocked any sale. 

“I didn’t know you wanted to buy the house,” said Cora. “Were you able to save that much dough serving in the Merchant Marines all this time?” The Merchant Marines pays well, but not that well, she thought. 

“No, but one of you sisters might have wanted to keep it—maybe turn it into a bed and breakfast or something.” He admitted to himself, No way I could have saved that much, even if I’d behaved and avoided spending the lion’s share on whisky, waste, and whores. 

“I have no interest in that sort of thing,” said Cora, “and Gloria certainly couldn’t handle a project like that. No, Rae did the right thing in selling it. There are far too many rooms to clean and take care of without maintaining an expensive household staff.” 

“But our house has been in the family since colonial times,” Muddy protested, “and I don’t want to see strangers living in it.” Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give a crap. 

“I didn’t know you felt that way,” she said. “You’ve never taken any interest in the family history before.” The sonofabitch is lying. What’s his motive? 

“There’re a lot of things you don’t know about me,” declared Muddy. 

“I’m sure there are, but one thing is nagging at me.” 

“What’s that?” 

“Why are you so suddenly interested in Daddy’s book?” 

“Who says I am?” 

“It’s kind of obvious. I hear you’ve been following Dan Sherman, that bookseller, all over the place ever since he borrowed Daddy’s manuscript from Rae.” 

“Damn it. You’ve been talking to that Sherman guy, haven’t you?” 

“Maybe,” she admitted. “But why are you following him around otherwise?” 

“That’s my business—and you’d better stay out of it if you know what’s good for you.” He hadn’t meant to voice an ugly threat; it just spilled out. 

“What are you trying to hide, little brother?” Now I’ve got him, she thought. 

“That also is my business, not yours.” The bitch is getting too close. 

“I’ll bet dollars to donuts it has something to do with the house. Doesn’t it, Muddy dear?” 

“You’re all wrong, Cora. You couldn’t be more wrong.” Too damn close. 

“Ah! Perhaps you protest way too much, little brother.” 

“Now you’re getting much too obnoxious, I think you ought to leave.” 

“Why, Muddy? Am I getting too close to the truth?” 

“You wouldn’t know the truth if you stepped in it. Now get the hell out of here before I throw you out.” 

Cora stood and walked toward the door. As she passed him, he reached out and pinched her hard on the rump. It was his way of curbing his frustration—a way of having the last word. She spun around and slapped him—a stinging blow across the face in one swinging action. Stunned for only a few seconds, he returned an even stronger slap. She ran out the door in tears, the left side of her face wearing a red mark half the size of his hand. It smarted now, but later, it would turn sore, black and blue. She had failed to get Muddy to admit to anything, but she thought she knew what he might be hiding.

Friday, September 3, 2021

❀Q&A on Book Covers with Julia Hengst Author of Venus Underwater @VenusUnderwater @PumpUpYourBook #VenusUnderwater #bookcovers

Julia Hengst is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an avid surfer, traveler and word nerd who resides in Maui. Passionate about psychology, spirituality and media literacy, she holds an undergraduate degree in Media Studies from UC Berkeley, a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, and an imaginary degree from the University of Puns.



Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?

Venus Underwater: Songs from Mermaidia is the first book of a series called Venus and Her Fly Trip. It introduces the world of mermaids and gives an overview of mermaid life: how baby mermaids are made, what they study at school, and what they do for fun. This first book builds the world through songs, poems and short narratives that are full of puns and word play. The sequel will build on this world and follow a day in the life of our heroine, Venus Greenus.

The book series as a whole was inspired by my work as a therapist and from working with teens for 20+ years. During a conversation some years ago with my brother, the father of three girls, he asked what is the biggest problem facing kids these days. Self hatred, I told him. When he asked what he can do to prevent self hatred in his girls, I began to ponder this in depth. This kids book series is my long form response! The books have various ideas and interventions from trauma informed therapy, positive psychology, meditation and yoga, all dressed up as silly mermaid puns and goofy characters. 

Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?

My team and I, affectionately known as the Mermaid Brigade, raised funds for the first two books using Kickstarter. We did this because 1) I didn’t have enough money to publish it out of pocket, 2) we wanted to retain creative control for the whole series, and 3) it builds an

audience with investment in the book right from the beginning. All the women involved in the project are very kind hearted people who understood the need for getting kids tools, so there was a wonderful network we tapped into for raising the funds.

The process was humbling! We tried the first Kickstarter to fund all six books, with a high target goal, and we did not succeed. This was painful and took me a couple months to regroup. We did a second Kickstarter with a much lower goal ($15,000) and fortunately reached it. We wanted to make sure we met the goal this time and the amount doesn’t actually cover printing/shipping for two books, so I’ve also paid a bunch out of pocket from my day job as a therapist. 

How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?

The title for the series, Venus and Her Fly Trip, came pretty early on once I knew the heroine’s name is Venus. Then it became clear the first two books would largely be underwater, the second two books would be on land, and the last two books of the kids series would be in between land and water. I divided these into Venus Underwater, Venus Made-of-Light, and Venus and the In-Betweens, each of which would have two volumes.

Finally, as the brainstorming became more detailed, I decided to have each of the volumes be unique. For instance, this first book, Venus Underwater: Songs from Mermaidia, has songs and poems and will soon have an actual soundtrack! It’s being composed by two friends of mine, both music teachers in public schools. The second book, Venus Underwater: Wisdom Eye Storybook, will be a normal storybook.

In Venus Made-of-Light, there will be a storybook and a coloring book, while the final two books of Venus and the In-Betweens, one will be on white paper and the other will be on black paper. 

Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?

Esther Samuels-Davis is the illustrator, and she is so talented! She studied at California College of the Arts but is currently based in Berlin, Germany. For the first Kickstarter, I commissioned an original piece from each of the three artists who will do the various books. This cover image was the image Esther drew for the Kickstarter. As we began to work with the book designer, it became clear this image was perfect for the cover. 

Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?

As Esther and I began to look for a book designer, she told me of a couple she’d met at a book fair in Spain. This couple, Danny and Yvonne, are award-winning designers and illustrators, and they were smitten with Esther’s work. They told her they’d love to work with her, so she passed their information on to me. ( Thanks to that introduction, we’ve been working with Danny Nanos as the designer and he will also design the second book, which Esther is also illustrating.

Esther and Danny worked together on the cover, and Esther ended up hand-drawing the letters after we tried multiple fonts. We wanted the script to look watery and organic, which I think succeeded.

How was your experience working with the designer?

Given that Danny’s wife Yvonne is an epic illustrator, he has tons of experience and is just a super kind, easygoing and helpful guy. He has explained a lot of the process to me, and has been supremely open to feedback from Esther and me, ensuring the book looked just how we wanted. 

What has been the readers’ response to your cover?

People love the cover! Esther’s art speaks for itself. It draws readers right in upon sight. Plus, the unicorns are a crowd favorite! Who doesn’t love a seahorse unicorn?!

What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?

Find a professional artist or book designer with experience. There are sites like Reedsy and Fiverr that are super helpful for finding professionals.

Anything else you’d like to say about your book?

This is just the beginning! I have been delighted at the feedback so far, and feel very enthusiastic about finding increasingly clever ways to get real psychological tools to families and kids that need help. This series has a lot of good intention in them, and people are so hungry for that in this media-toxic world. I think people are good deep down inside and this book and the whole series will help remind readers of that. I can’t wait to connect with more good-hearted people in the world through these books.


Amazon →

Author’s Website →

Thursday, September 2, 2021

❀Q&A on Book Covers with Irene Woodbury Author of Honeymoon Roulette @PumpUpYourBook #puyb #HoneymoonRoulette #bookcovers

Luckily for all you fans of romantic fiction, Irene Woodbury knows that what happens in Las Vegas doesn’t have to stay there. The Denver-based author has captured the heart and soul of Sin City in four colorful, suspenseful novels.

In the gritty, engrossing Romeo Stalker (2021), a Vegas showgirl’s life is plunged into stalker-hell when her ex returns from prison and learns she has a new boyfriend. Love and Payback (2021) is a dark, dramatic look at a married woman’s mysterious death in Sin City, where she has gone to meet an Internet love.

In the darkly humorous Honeymoon Roulette (2021), a bride goes rogue after learning her handsome fiance may have killed his first two wives. And A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis (2021) is the vibrant, funny story of a mixed-up newlywed who goes to Vegas for a girls’ weekend that never ends.

Irene, a successful travel writer whose favorite destinations are London and Las Vegas, is currently working on another novel.

You can visit her website at or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?

Honeymoon Roulette is a dark-humor novel about Roxy Drake, who runs away one hour before her Las Vegas wedding after her parents inform her that her fiancé was married twice before, and both wives died early in the marriage. Her fiancé was a person of interest in both

deaths. The book details Roxy’s adventures, and misadventures, as she tries to survive in Las Vegas and ends up being kidnapped to a farm outside the city, where she’s held captive and forced to do menial labor. There are elements of romance and dysfunction throughout, and it’s funny in its own quirky way.

The idea for the book evolved over time. My novels have always been set in the city of Las Vegas. I thought it would be interesting to venture to an area outside the city, and it was.

Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?

I self-published. It can be challenging, but it’s worth it because you make all the decisions about covers, titles, length, pricing, etc. I had a publisher for 10 years. After they sold the company, I started self-publishing, and I like it.

How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?

I came up with many options while I was writing Honeymoon Roulette. At some point, I decided on Honeymoon Roulette, and it stuck. 

Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?

I knew I wanted a roulette wheel, but the cover artist chose the colors, and I love them. Normally, a roulette wheel is red and black. Well, mine is purple and teal green. A bit unusual, but I’m happy with it.

Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?

He’s an independent freelancer that I found through Google about five years ago.

How was your experience working with the designer?

Good. It’s really a collaboration between the writer and the artist. There’s a lot of give and take.

What has been the readers’ response to your cover?

Everyone loves the colors They’re bold and dramatic, but also attractive and romantic. Book covers are works of art. People love looking at them—and they do judge a book by its cover.

What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?

Try to find someone who listens to your ideas. It’s a collaboration. Both sides contribute ideas and feedback. Very creative, but it can be stressful if one side isn’t happy with the result. 

Anything else you’d like to say about your book?

Great settings. I loved reveling in the wonderful locations as I wrote. I hope the readers will enjoy them, too. But it’s all about the characters. There are some wonderful ones in this book!