Sunday, October 31, 2021

Book Cover Junkie with Children's Author Faye Rapoport DesPres

A big elcome to children's author Faye Rapoport DesPres. Faye has published creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in a variety of literary journals. A graduate of the Solstice MFA Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College, she is the author of the memoir-in-essays Message From a Blue Jay and the Stray Cat Stories Children’s Book Series. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband Jean-Paul and their rescued cats. Visit her at www.fayerapoportdespres.com.

In this post, the author shares her experience on the creation of the cover design for her latest children's picture book, Frazier: The Very Special Cat...





The cover of Frazier: The Very Special Cat was mutually designed by the publisher, MaryChris Bradley of Writer’s Coffee Bar Press, and illustrator Laurel McKinstry Petersen. As the author, I was given the chance to review the cover and offer my suggestions.

Because Frazier is third book in the Stray Cat Stories Series, we wanted the cover to be somewhat similar to the covers of the first two books. All of the book covers spotlight an illustration of the cats who star in the stories along with background touches that tell a little more of their tales so the image won’t be too bare. For the Frazier cover, to complement the large centered illustration of the cat, we added one of the toy mice seen in the book. 

Because the cats’ heartwarming tales are written to help children develop compassion for strays, we wanted the cover images to be endearing and sweet. We also wanted to be sure to make the illustrations and backgrounds colorful and inviting so they would interest and attract young readers. Of course, it was important that the images and colors stand out and be noticeable to parents or children who might see the covers online or on a bookstore shelf. Featuring the cats front and center looking straight out at the “audience” helps in that regard, as does the jaunty font.

It took a few tries until the illustration for Frazier’s cover was just right, as it was adapted from one of the interior drawings and needed a few tweaks to work for the cover. For example, the tail had to be re-drawn so it was pointing upwards and fully visible. 

In the end, the cats featured in the Stray Cat Stories books are so lovable, and the illustrations by Laurel McKinstry Petersen so charming, that the covers interest children and inspire a love for strays from the moment young readers hold the books in their hands.

Find out more about this delightful stray cat series at Amazon or the author's website


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

❀New Dystopian Alert❀: 'The Willing' by Lindsay Lees

 


Welcome to Ovoidia where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man…




By Lindsay Lees


Title: THE WILLING
Author: Lindsay Lees
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 299
Genre: Dystopian



In less than a year, fifteen-year-old Gypsy Capone will be considered a woman in Ovoidia, a “utopian” city-state where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man, where curving architecture adds weird whimsy, sporks are the only cutlery, and true intimacy between the genders is a sign of suspect subversion. After all, if a woman just plays along, she’ll also do her job and have children, with the reward of a fine home in the “Communities,” where she and the other “Mamas” live together in harmony with everything they need. Right?

The irony: Diam and Isis, the two leaders of Ovoidia, are themselves females. Fun, yes! And just below the surface, perversely sinister. They personally execute these precise sacrifices by women to establish their “happy,” absurdly totalitarian utopia, and are backed up by their chosen army of male “crusaders,” enforcing a crime-free, fully controlled society.

Men are relegated to work in the “City” where they may “enjoy”—right there on the street if they wish—any woman they want and are welcome to satisfy their sexual and emotional needs at establishments called Gaje Clubs where only the most “gifted” among women are chosen to work.

Not surprisingly, in Ovoidia women have evolved until they feel nothing of sexual pleasure. But in Gypsy’s deepest heart, she realizes her own dark secret: she is the exception. Next she discovers to her horror that her secret, if known, could result in the ultimate punishment—genital mutilation.

To save her body and even her soul, Gypsy chooses a dangerous path—to single-handedly confront this scary and absurd world. She has the support of her allegiant sister Sadie and Miles Devine, a rogue, secretly gay crusader, and also “Doctor,” a morally questionable physician to help her. But none of them fathom the levels of paradox, incongruity, and twisted evil they will soon face, and the ride becomes something even Gypsy could have never imaged.

PRAISE

The Willing is stunning in its brutality as well as its sensitivity! Absolute must read. We all have a piece of Gypsy in us. We must consider our potential future as women now with eyes wide open.”–Amazon Reviewer

“The Willing is an unusually deep commentary on a malignant dysfunction in our society, dressed in fishnet utopian stockings. While the premise and its sensual details push the boundaries of belief, a community that is ostensibly focused on the greater good but is governed by fear and hypocrisy fits perfectly in the dystopian genre. Gypsy’s character is flawed and immature in many ways, but her shield-like honesty is refreshing among a sea of conformists. A rather feminist piece filled with satire on the state of equality, The Willing is weighty and serious in its message, and sad in its reflection of how women are treated in our modern world. For a change from the norm, Lindsay Lees provides a gripping story that will have you thinking deeply about the importance of the relationships in your life.”–Jennifer Jackson from IndiesToday.com






In a basement meeting room of the Head Gaje’s oval-spiral Headquarters, an arched doorway slid open. Doctor Gino’s tired, wrinkled eyes also bolted open; he had only been resting them. He’d practically been dragged from his bed, after all. Ovoidia’s Chief Crusader, Rigby Katz, entered the hermetical, bleach-white room holding his round helmet, nestled under his thick, toned arm. Eyes bright and vigilant—a caffeine glow—he must have only just finished his shift, Doctor thought. He had been a Crusader for over thirty years but had the good fortune of not appearing his age. Rigby scanned the room like a robot from Robocop or Terminator, one of the Pre-Ultimate Revolution movies. After completing a thorough assessment, he surveyed the white leather office chair where Doctor sat with his liver-spotted hands folded on the round table. 

"Oh good. I'm not the first to arrive." Crusader Katz clomped in wearing heavy black boots, clean as the day they were made. "Gives me anxiety waiting around, wondering if I'm at the right place. Easy to get lost down here."

A round clock above the arched doorway swept past the seconds. It was almost three A.M. Doctor hadn’t expected the tribunal meeting to take place so late.

"Do you know why we're having the meeting now?" Doctor asked, casually.

Rigby regarded Doctor with amusement, rather like the way a mama looks at her child when she asks where babies come from. "Yes, the Head Gajes had an inauguration party to attend.”

Doctor yawned. So much for not having time to get a coffee.

Crusader Katz removed a piece of spearmint gum and his cell phone from his utility belt. He owned the newest model, a razor-thin silver flip-phone with a peek window on the front. When he flipped it open, the interior buttons reflected electric blue on his milky eyes. Doctor didn't know why cell phones required upgrades. So long as they served their primary function who cared what they looked like?

Crusader Katz snapped the phone shut and shoved it back in his belt. "No service." He sighed.

"We're too far down," Doctor said, pleased with himself.

The steady hum of an air purifier oscillated from a corner. A few stray bubbles burped in a standing water cooler. Doctor eased a ballpoint pen from his lab coat and hovered it over the table, pinching the cap to make sure it was firmly secured. He was forever spilling ink or coffee on the ubiquitous white leather.

“I forgot my notepad,” Doctor said, surprised at his error. While most communications in Ovoidia were transcribed digitally, Doctor preferred to handwrite his notes for archival purposes.

He experienced nostalgia for the tactile fluidity the pen afforded the fingers. “Do you happen to have an extra pad or a piece of paper?” he asked Crusader Katz.

Just then, the meeting room door opened to the heady scent of a dozen steamed bouquets, as though the Head Gajes had bathed in the buckets of wilting flowers being sold on the streets in the mid-day heat. Diam, the eldest of the Head Gajes strolled, chin up, into the room. Her stilettos tapped like hail on glass as she walked across the marble floor. She wore a black satin skirt flared above her knee. Her skin shone, glossy and supple. Isis, the younger Head Gaje, teetered in behind her, gripping a round red lollipop on a white stick.
















Lindsay Lees is originally from Los Angeles and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and while growing up and later in college, she split her time between the two countries. Lindsay earned a B.A. in 2008 from Manchester Metropolitan University, and next an M.F.A.in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. 

The Willing is Lindsay’s debut novel. She currently lives a quiet Southern life with her husband and a houseful of pets. 

Visit her website or connect with her at FACEBOOK and GOODREADS.








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Monday, October 11, 2021

❀New YA/Teen/Historical Fiction Alert❀: 'Ancient Tales and Legends Series' by Cheryl Carpinello

 


"Unforgettable Characters...Ancient Mysteries Solved...Time-Defying Travel...A Teen / YA / Historical Fiction Must Read..."


By Cheryl Carpinello

Title: Tutankhamen Speaks
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator
Pages: 81
Genre: Teen / YA / Ancient Egypt Historical Fiction



From over 3000 years ago comes the voice of the Boy King.

Scrolls found buried in the basement of the Egyptian Museum. Transcribed in an ancient hand. Record the words of King Tut for all to read.

Tutankhamen answers all of the lingering questions, including the big one.

Discover the real story behind this famous pharaoh. Transport yourself back to an Ancient Egypt filled with mystery, magic, and danger!






Book Excerpt:

Growing up in Akhet-Aten

From the time I was able to walk, I had the run of our palace. Usually it was just me and Ankhesenpaaten. We played the normal childhood games.  We would run through the palace chasing and hiding from each other. The gardens and the pools were great places to hide. All too often one of us would fall into one of the pools as we raced by. Then we would move the game outside into the heat so that our clothes would dry. In Egypt’s heat, it didn’t take long. [missing text]

Sailing toy boats

When I was small, palace carpenters made me toy boats. Sometimes these were made to resemble the barges that would carry crops and animals down and up the Nile from one settlement to another. Some were fully outfitted royal barges complete with sails and the poles used when the barge was moving up river. I started playing with these in the palace pools. Later, as I got better at loading them and maneuvering them, I would find a place near the palace where the Nile ran slower. There I would dig out canals for the boats to float in. Sometimes Ankhesenpaaten would help me. One time we had so many canals built that it took all afternoon for our crop barges and the royal barges to enter into the canal system and then sail through and re-enter the Nile. I loved those days with Ankhesenpaaten and the Nile.

Senet

 In the evenings we would play Senet. My sisters and I became skilled Senet players, and our games would often last late into the night. My favorite were the casting sticks.

 


















Title: Sons of the Sphinx
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator
Pages: 189
Genre: Teen / YA / Ancient Egypt Historical Fiction



A grandmother’s gift usually bring happiness. Rosa’s gift: a very different story. Hearing the dead alienated her from classmates. Not good for a 15-year-old.

Many times very insistent, the dead cared little for her surroundings. They even bothered her in class. Dates? Forget that.

Then one day, he shows up in her room. An old dead guy. A really old famous dead guy. In living human form!

Thrilling story of battling good and evil in an ancient world.






Book Excerpt from Chapter 11:

A well-traveled dirt road leads back into the valley formed by the hills on either side. Although not high by my experience, rising up from the sandy floor, the Theban Hills are impressive. Jagged crevices run up and down the sides of the hills, and in many places, man-made square arches can be seen. The Tombs of the Pharaohs. I’m walking in the footsteps of an ancient people. How cool.

I hurry to catch up with him. A mistake, sweat stings my eyes and grit scrapes my cheek when I wipe my face. My shirt is sticking to me by the time I come even with him. Does Re never find a cloud to hide behind? Did I say Re? Now I’m starting to think as an Egyptian. Good grief. Must be the heat. There is no shade anywhere. Like a shimmering mirage on a hot highway, the heat rises in waves off the barren hillsides. No trees can withstand this burning furnace. The only shelter exists under the entrances to the tombs.

Tut hurries ahead, but I may never get here again, so I take my time. We pass one entrance, and I walk over closer to it. Heavy wooden doors covered in hieroglyphs bar the way. Ancient rope—rough, scratchy, and strong—twisted around the door handles and knotted tight, holds them closed. On the right door handle there is a clump of mud molded like those wax seals used on letters. It covers the handle and the rope. Symbols are pressed into it.

“Tut, what is this for and what does it say?”

He hurries over, curious.

“Why the rope and this lump of mud?”

“Lump of mud? Oh Roosa, you are looking at the Necropolis Seal placed here by the priests. That it is still here means that the tomb is intact. No one has entered since the burial.”

“Does the seal say whose tomb this is? Is it a pharaoh?”

“No, not a pharaoh. Here.” He points to a set of hieroglyphs. “These state that this is the tomb of the dignitary Ramose.” He pauses. “I remember hearing stories about him when I was young. He was the governor of Thebes during Thutmosis IV’s time.”

“Do all the tombs carry this seal?”

“Yes, but even in my reign, it was becoming difficult to keep the tombs sealed. Thieves continually broke in to steal the property of the dead.”

“Tomb robbers.”

“Yes. When they were caught, their hands were chopped off.”

I gasp at such horrible consequences.

“You are shocked. I understand that in your time, there does not exist an undisturbed tomb here.” He waves his hand around the entire valley. “Who are these people who think they have the right to touch a Pharaoh of Egypt, even a dead one? They disturb our sacred resting places and steal the items left for our journey into the afterlife. May they all be cursed along with their families.”

I stand beside him, my mouth agape. Up to now, Tut has been determined in his mission, angry at Horemheb, but he hasn’t lost his composure. Until now. I try to find words to soothe him.

“They only want the world to know about the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. How magnificent they were. How they lived.”

He turns on me. “You don’t learn about a people by stealing what is sacred to them. In my time and yours, they are nothing more than common tomb robbers!”

“Scholars have shared what they learned. They search for knowledge. I learned about you from the artifacts in the exhibit.”

“Harrumph! What do you and they know? Nothing. Nothing at all! All you do is seek the treasures and the gold to make yourselves rich.” He spits in the dirt. “You wouldn’t know wealth if you were buried in it. Tomb robbers, the whole lot.”

He stomps away almost at a run, propelled by his anger. I hurry to keep up with him. We round a bend and to the left a small path winds up a cliff and then disappears. His chest heaves with ragged breaths and he’s actually vibrating he’s so enraged.

“We aren’t all like that, you know.” I whisper, wanting to avoid a harsh response. “Some of us understand that true wealth comes from within, from one’s heart, from love for others, and from respect for family.” I pause. “Some of us do.”

He says nothing; he doesn’t turn to look at me, but his breathing slows; his fingers unclench.

 






















Cheryl Carpinello taught high school English for 25 years. During that time, she worked with numerous students who didn’t like to read for a variety of reasons. However, she discovered that even the most reluctant readers became engaged in the classroom and in reading when she introduced units on King Arthur and the works of ancient world writers. Upon retiring, she set out to write fast-paced, action-filled stories in these setting to encourage young readers to read more. When not writing, you can find her reading, spending time with family, and traveling.

“In 2008, my husband and I spent three weeks traveling around Egypt via train and visiting all those magnificent archeological sites. Since we returned home, Egypt has never been far from my thoughts. I truly believe that I left part of my soul in that ancient land. To satisfy my longing to return, I wrote Sons of the Sphinx and Tutankhamen Speaks.” Visit her on Twitter and Facebook.


OTHER BOOKS BY CHERYL CARPINELLO



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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Book Review: Death Rules the Night, by Rosemary and Larry Mild

Death Rules the Night is the fourth and latest Dan & Rivka Sherman mystery by tour-de-force author duo Rosemary and Larry Mild. 


This time the authors take us to the charming and historical city of Annapolis, where Dan and Rivka, having said their goodbyes to their demanding city careers, have just bought the Olde Victorian Bookstore in the hopes of a more relaxing, peaceful life. Except, that’s not exactly what happens when an old tell-all book about an old family goes missing—not only from their bookstore but from all libraries. Of course, analytical Dan and feisty Rivka have to look into it. The only problem…death surrounds the book, and murder soon pays a visit. 

A clever, suspenseful plot, unexpected twists and turns, compelling characters and, of course, a lovable bookstore cat named Lord Byron make Death Rules the Night a thoroughly fun and entertaining read to curl up by the fire this autumn.

Find out more at the authors' website.