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My New Children’s Book is Published

Lords of the Arctic

My latest children’s book has been published! It was exciting illustrating for Patti Petrone Miller (author) and her wonderful story about arctic animals and climate change. This project was hundreds of hour’s worth of illustration. Finding ways to bring vibrant color into the arctic scenes of winter took some extra creativity and illustrating animals is something I thoroughly enjoy. I look forward to working with Patti again soon ❤

Yutu is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives in the Arctic region, and has been closely watching a family of polar bears. Solar is the large male, Climate is the female, and Ice and Snow are the cubs, who now must learn what survival will be like in a new world of melting ice that is deteriorating our polar caps exponentially. The bear family must travel over the ice to where seals are plentiful before the ice turns into water or their survival will become the most difficult should they fail and face certain starvation and possibly death. The travel is a long and sometimes dangerous journey for a starving mother and her two young cubs fresh out of the winter burrow. She must be able to eat enough seal meat to survive and raise her cubs. Solar will travel alone and face the same perils as Climate. He too must make the journey across the ice to find food before it is too late. Yutu’s parents head the conservation team. His father is an environmentalist, and his mother is a marine biologist. Together they team up with Yutu’s best friend, who is a veterinarian, his younger sister, the photographer who captures the animals on film, and his grandparents who tag along to make sure this journey supplies them with clothing, shelter and food. It will be a long journey as they follow the bears from the spring food hunt, to their hibernation, and hopeful survival as they travel through the brutal, fragile, and dangerous terrain of the Arctic to track and find a way to save the polar bears from extinction.

Lords of the Arctic is an ongoing series that will take the family through the winter, spring, summer and fall in the Arctic and Antarctic, and focus on the many special animals that live there; such as narwhals, penguins, seals, whales to name some. The series will teach children the importance of becoming guardians of the earth so future generations of humans and animals can survive. The books will also feature important links where the children and their parents can go online for more information about the Arctic and climate change, and what they can do to help. Teachers will also be able to utilize this series in their classrooms as a learning tool and center the curriculum activities around it in their daily planning.

Sneak Peek

Steampunk Tea Served Cold by Dennis De Rose

Thank you, author and editor Dennis De Rose for responding to last Wednesday’s Visual Writing Prompt. I’m happy to be sharing your story here! Dennis happy to hear any feedback so comments are welcome!

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“Opa, can you tell me a bedtime story? I’ve had a grueling day and I’m all keyed up.”

“Mikey, how can a six-year-old have a grueling day and be keyed up?”

“Opa, age has nothing to do with it. I need your help. Dad told me I had to be asleep in twenty minutes. I was already tensed up and now look at my fingernails. Opa, my life is a roller-coaster. And you’re the only one can make the ride as smooth as pudding.”

“Mikey, I love your analogies.”

“Opa, please, I don’t care about allergies. I need to relax and you know it only works with you.” Analogies and allergies, close enough…

“OK Mikey, get under the covers and let me turn the lights down. Let me think for a second. Are you ready for a hum-dinger? You want happy or scary?”

“Opa, remember, I am almost seven. I can handle anything. But Opa, don’t turn those lights down all the way. You know how I get. Before you start, what’s the title? You know the title has to come first.”

“How right you are Mikey. This story is entitled Steampunk Tea. When I was little, just about your age or a little older… I’ll never forget one bitter cold winter night…”

“Stop Opa, you know what I have to ask you?” I shook my head. “What in the world is steampunk?”

“Steampunk is something that takes place in the past; you know history, when a lot of machines were run by steam, before electricity, with elements of science fiction thrown in for good measure.”

Well, I kinda get it but it’s a little foggy. Like Star Trek but before the electric light was invented which must have been hundreds of years ago.” I patted Mikey on the head.

“… I thought I heard a noise in my closet. I woke up out of a sound sleep. Next thing you know I saw a big shadow by the closet door so I high-tailed it under my bed, grabbing my blanket and pillow in case I needed to build a fort. I knew the corner was the safest place to be. This wasn’t my first rodeo. But when I leaned up against it, the corner felt funny, like a sponge…”

“Wait Opa, when did you go to a rodeo?”

“Mikey, I’ve never been to a rodeo. When I said ‘not my first rodeo’ I meant I had been under the bed many times. It’s just an expression.”

Oh, OK, I’ve been to that rodeo too. I’ll have to remember that. Let me place that in my memory bank.” I just smiled and continued.

“… Next thing you know the sponge wall sucked me in and threw me out the other side. But I was lucky. I landed on a trampoline and I was dressed all warm and toasty.”

“A trampoline, Opa, are you making this up as you go along? This story sounds fishy to me.”

“Mikey, I swear I am telling the truth. This is for real. Now, where was I. So, there was a pretty girl standing next to the gadget, like she was expecting me.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Hey, boy, where did you come from?” After I stopped bouncing, I got a good look at her. I could tell she was older than me. Her long red hair was tied up with pink ribbons; her cheeks were red probably from the cold.

I sat on the edge of the contraption just looking around, trying to get a sense of my unreal surroundings. It was dark, cold and foggy to beat the band. Looking over my shoulder, I saw four giant blinking teapots, each one sitting atop four huge spaceship-like legs on rubber wheels. My mouth fell open, my eyes grew large and I started to shake. It was hard to breathe.

The girl stamped her foot to get my attention. “Boy, I asked you a question. What’s your name and where did you come from?”

After she helped me down, I calmed down and answered her questions. “My name’s Dennis and I’m from New Holland, Michigan. And to answer your next question I don’t know how I got here. I was under my bed one second and bouncing on that thing the next.”

She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. I didn’t know what that meant so I just stood there, waiting. “Come with me and I’ll show you around. Don’t be afraid. By the way, my name’s Carla and I’m almost eleven. Follow me.”

Carla grabbed my hand and all of sudden I didn’t feel the cold and I stopped shaking. Walking toward the lights, the teapot structures grew clearer and I saw people walking back-and-forth, talking to their neighbors. There were old bikes scattered about. The people were dressed funny. Some of the men wore cowboy hats, dungarees and heavy cotton work coats. The women wore bonnets, funny long hoop skirts and heavy wool shawls. The four teapots were tethered and each one had a metal ladder going from bottom to top. Walking closer, I dared to touch the hollow leg of the first teapot.

Carla grabbed my other hand. “Don’t touch that; you’ll burn yourself. Each pot is propelled by a steam engine located at the top, in the lid. Steam is forced to the wheels under high pressure. We are one of the clans, the Tea clan, and we move from place to place trading with other clans. This is our pot. Stay here while I talk to my Ma and Pa.”

I stood there listening to people speaking a language I had never heard before and watching kids playing some sort of tag game, running around the legs and wheels from one structure to the next.

Carla tapped me on the shoulder and my hair stood on end. “What’s wrong, breathe.” She smiled and her eyes lit up. “I asked Ma and Pa if you could stay with us for a while until we can figure out how to get you home again. Climb up but be careful. I will be right behind you. Take your time.”

We climbed up and through a door, but not any door I’d ever seen; there was no doorknob and it wasn’t on hinges. The door was made of a thin rubbery self-sealing material. “What the blazes is that? And it’s warm in here.”

“We traded for that new door stuff. My Pa tried to explain it to me but it’s too technical. I’ll figure it out later, he told me. The heat is forced down through vents in the ceiling. This is the second floor. Did you notice the bottoms of the kettles glowed red? Each home has a coal bin at the back; the coal is fed by conveyor belt to the fire pot. The bottom floor is a little warmer. We’re lucky the floor is heavily insulated. Oh, I forgot to tell you to take off your shoes and those thin socks.”

“Carla, my feet get cold easy. What am I going to wear?”

“Here, I have an extra pair of wooden shoes and heavy wool socks. We all wear wooden shoes. How do they feel? If you like them you can keep them.”

“You know, they feel very comfortable and my feet are toasty. Usually my feet are cold even wearing my heaviest socks. Thank you.”

“Would you like something to eat and drink? The cold always makes me hungry. We have some goat cheese, some homemade black bread and iced tea in the cooler.” I was getting sleepy so I just shook my head. “I have to go downstairs. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

We sat together at a low table in the center of the room. “Denny, how do you like the meal? I know it’s not much…”

I looked up from my plate. Carla had surprised me. No one had ever called me Denny. “I never had goat cheese or black bread but I like it. The cold tea reminds me of home. Say, something has been bugging me. How come you can speak English but everyone else speaks a different language?”

“I speak English because you do. I cannot explain that. It’s like I’ve always known English. My parents and their friends speak Dutch.” I tried to wrap my mind around that but like other things I’d seen, I just couldn’t figure it out.

“Say, Carla, I’m kind of tired. Is there someplace I can rest for a bit? We can work on me getting home tomorrow.” Carla nodded and guided me to a darkened section of the room divided into three heavy-curtained bedrooms.

“Here, this is the extra bed. Sometimes I have a friend over. Tonight you are my friend.” I had never seen a featherbed before. As I lay down she helped me remove the wooden shoes but the wool socks were so warm I decided to keep them on. She placed a light blanket over me as she bent down and kissed me on the cheek. I never heard her parents come in.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Mikey, when I opened my eyes I was cozy in my own bed still wearing the same cloths.”

“Opa, do you expect to believe that wild story? I mean, I loved the story but…”

“Well, Mikey, you don’t have to believe me but look under your bed.”

Mikey’s eyes grew as big as saucers. “A Pair of old wooden shoes and heavy wool socks! Opa, I can’t believe it. How…?”

“That’s for you to decide. But they’re yours now if you want them.”

A tear rolled down his cheek. “Opa, you can turn the light off now and thanks for everything.”

I kissed him on the cheek. He smiled at me and gave me a big hug. The door closed with the softest click.

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Dennis is a wonderful storyteller and a good friend. See below for links to his other writing and his editing business.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

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Wednesdays Visual Writing Promptline orange

Visual writing prompts are an excellent method to spark your creativity. They are a means of exploration into your journey as a writer. Taking part in writing prompts can lead you into depths of writing discovery that may have otherwise eluded you.

Taking twenty minutes to participate in prompts like this on a regular basis can unlock your true potential as a writer.

Good Luck!

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The Challenge

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dared go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours.

  • Use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing.
  • Start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog.
  • Or just practice your skills.

It’s true that a picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered!

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Please post a link to your writing in the comments section 🙂

I look forward to reading your writing.

Have Fun!

Author Graphics: A Crash Course On Color

When it comes to graphic design you want to make the right connection with potential readers. You want to attract them. Your color scheme is crucial, not only in the design of your book cover but also in the design of your author brand. Your book is a part of your brand so the colors you choose say a lot about what you have to offer on a larger perspective – your brand plays a big part in what will keep readers coming back for more.

The mood of your book is reflected through the color scheme you choose for your cover. This tells potential buyers what your book has in store for them. A mistake many DIY authors make in cover design is choosing a picture that describes the theme of their book, but whose colors lack the ability to reflect the mood.

Your brand tells your audience what themes you have to offer as a writer. It sets the stage for all of your books to come. Your brand should complement your books, your style.

You want both the right images and the right mood to market yourself. Understanding the way colors affect the majority of us will help you know exactly what colors will work best for all of your graphics. I’ve listed genres of books most likely to contain certain colors, but you can use all colors, although some will be more dominant.

Here’s a helpful resource with advice you will want to consider while creating graphics that will work for you…

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The psychology of color:

Color speaks to us. Each color ignites an emotional reaction within us. It’s your job to choose the colors that elicit the right emotion in your audience, color speaks for your story louder than you may realize.

It’s been proven in scientific studies that color evokes specific emotions in almost everyone. How our brain perceives what it visualizes is relative to the psychology of color. The way that colors influence our minds is used in marketing to influence our purchasing decisions. The color of your book cover makes the first impact, it sparks a reaction in the potential buyer before they focus in on the image or title. This is your chance to make them look a little closer and not pass you by.

The look of your book is the major influence on a consumer’s buying decision. When it comes to your cover, you will want to get serious. Understanding the psychological impact of the colors you choose is imperative. That decision will make a difference in how many copies you sell or how much attention your marketing attracts.

Check out the following descriptions of how color can affect us. This will be a great help when you start designing.

red copy

Romance – Erotica – Cook Books – Non-Fiction: Red is known to elicit strong emotions in almost everyone. It increases passion and intensity and can also increase appetite.

Horror – Thriller – Mystery: Probably because red is the color of blood, it is related to survival, alertness, and safety. Stop signs, for example, are red for safety purposes. Red is also associated with danger.

Graphic designers know that red is known to increase the heart rate, so they use it in their graphics to attract impulsive shoppers. In marketing, red creates a sense of urgency.

ORANGE copy

Self Help – Romance – Nonfiction: Orange is warm and inviting, it stirs a joyful excitement or intrigue and interest. It also stimulates the mind and offers encouragement. Orange encourages viewers to look on the bright side of things. In marketing, orange is used to influence impulsive shoppers because it encourages them to buy.

YELLOW copy

Romance – Children’s – Non-Fiction: Yellow can be used in almost any design because it makes people think and grabs their attention. You’ll want to steer clear of using too much yellow because that could cause anxiety. Yellow can also invoke cheerfulness. It represents youthfulness, optimism, and clarity.

GREEN copy

Fantasy – Non-Fiction: Green is a warm color that soothes depression. In marketing, green is associated with wealth. This color represents health and calm, especially new growth. It is also a symbol of fertility.

Brown copy

Fantasy – Spiritual – Non-Fiction: In marketing, brown is associated with dependability, reliability, and resilience. Brown is a base color in nature and is great for fantasy books and can be used as back-drop color for them as well as spiritual or some non-fiction books.

BLUE copy

Non-Fiction – Spiritual: Blue gives off a sense of confidence and increases productivity. In marketing, most businesses use blue in their brand because it creates a sense of security and trust. It is a calm and safe color that inspires clarity and creativity. Different shades of blue are great for the entrepreneur, and any book cover where its attributes are relative to the theme.

PURPLE copy

Fantasy – Erotica – Historical Fiction: Women are drawn to purple, it is the color of creativity, mystery, and regeneration. Purple contains the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is not a good color for non-fiction marketing because it can influence too much introspection and can be a distraction.

WHITE copy

You should never use pure white in design because it will blend into the backdrop of webpages. Use different shades of white for a clean look, to express perfection. This color is mainly used as a secondary color to bring attention to a portion of your design hierarchy.

BLACK copy

Just like white, you should never use pure black in your designs for exactly the same reasons. Some webpages and backdrops are pure black, and your design will disappear in them. Lighten your black a bit and mix it with a different color, so at first glance, it will appear to be black but will still stand out on the web.

Black represents a degree of sophistication, mystery, power, and control. Black in your design can also represent a darker nature or negativity.

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When you’re choosing your colors, your last step will be to choose a hue or two that highly contrast with your main color pallet. You can use these colors to highlight areas that you want your viewer to focus on or have their focus drawn to. You can also use these colors with your fonts. In fact, fonts are often used for the same effect, to draw the eye by being large or expressive.

Not all of the reasons you’ve read here should be taken into account when choosing your colors for the cover of your book. What you do want to always keep in mind is the theme of your book and what colors will represent that theme the best while also invoking the right response from potential readers.

For author graphics, you’re wanting to set the right mood to attract attention to whatever you are marketing at that time, a blog post, the release of your book, etc.

Good luck with your graphics!

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Your feedback is appreciated! Questions and comments are welcome!

My Prima Dreams by Dennis De Rose

Thank you, author and editor Dennis De Rose for responding to last Wednesday’s Visual Writing Prompt. Your story was vivid and alive, I’m happy to be sharing it here! He’s happy to hear any feedback so comments are welcome!

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My Prima Dreams

… by Dennis De Rose

Bonjour mes amies, have you got a moment? Let me tell you a little story. My name is Mathilda and I am not what I used to be…

It was 1945 and the Big War had just ended. I remember the American soldiers freeing us from those German war dogs. That’s what my Maman called them. All these years later I am still haunted by my memories: looking out my bedroom window, seeing mothers and their children shot and killed or reduced to bits of bloody flesh thanks to German Sprengebombes, so many falling from the sky. I would go to bed shaking and wake up still cringing under my covers. I was only ten years old.

I will never forget the day Maman told me we were going to take a little walk, just a few streets down from our home. After lunch she bundled me up, grabbed a small bag from the floor and we began our little journey, I remember looking around, seeing people who appeared to be dazed as if they were looking for something that should be there but wasn’t anymore. The Americans were busy moving huge blocks of stone with giant growling machines. Ladies in uniform were handing out water in metal containers and sandwiches wrapped in heavy brown paper while talking to the lost ones, trying their best to comfort them. One of the ladies smiled at me and gave me a piece of bread and cheese. That little act of kindness will be etched in my memory forever.

Oh that building, it was like a giant stone masterpiece with its huge arches, two winged angels looked down on me from maybe 500 feet, at least that’s what I saw when I looked up. The golden façade nearly blinded me. And when we stepped inside it took my breath away. The Grand Foyer was magnificent, mirrors everywhere, parquet floors, sculptures and paintings, colored marble all around.

Maman had enrolled me in the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris and we were inside the Palais Garnier, a monument dedicated to producing the best opera and ballet worldwide. You see, Maman knew I had my heart set on becoming the best ballerina ever, she had watched me as I pirouetted through the halls, dressed in my pink tutu. But I did not know I would be staying here for a very long time, only allowed to see my Papa and my Maman every Sunday.

I kissed Maman on the cheek. She handed me the cloth bag and Mme. Carlotta showed me to my tiny room on the very top floor. She had a grumpy face and she was very quiet. Quiet people make me nervous; they cannot be trusted. The room was dusty and very hot, too hot for winter. Looking around, which didn’t take long, I spied a small rickety bed, a wooden chair in need of serious repair, a little beat-up wooden table, an old desk light with a funny looking bulb in it and a clay pot under the bed. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the dust motes flying all around. The one saving grace was the small dirty window that actually opened so I could see outside and get some fresh air.

The hot air in the room, my room now, made me tired so I decided to nap; I hadn’t slept well the night before. A sharp knock at the door shocked me to attention. Opening the door, I expected to see the sour Mme. Carlotta. The lady gestured and mentioned her name, Mlle. Yvette. I followed her down a set of backstairs and into a small poorly-lit dining room.

Our first meal was not gourmet, a bowl of warm thin soup, a crust of bread, a slice of goat cheese and a small glass of watery wine. Mlle. Yvette sat at one end and Mme. Carlotta was seated at the other. Suddenly, it struck me, no one was talking. I raised my hand to ask a question and before I could utter one word, my fingers were whacked with a long narrow stick courtesy of Mlle. Yvette. I cannot tell you what I was thinking, it was very unladylike. If my Maman ever heard me say those words I would have soap in my mouth before I could blink an eye.

Another sharp bang on my door, and I was awake at 6AM the following day. Fifteen minutes later we were seated at the same table drinking weak coffee and eating a slice of stale bread with butter and a slice of the same goat cheese. It looked moldy but I dared not utter a peep. Without a word spoken, Mme. Carlotta grabbed me by the hand and yanked me toward a small closet on the other side of the room. She glanced at me as she opened the door. I remember thinking she might be going to shove me inside and lock the door. Instead, she handed me a dirty white tutu and an old pair of pointe shoes, obviously one size too small, while gesturing toward a screened-in alcove.

My first day of beginner instruction and it continued until 10 that night with only two short breaks in between. I found out the hard way that my pirouette was a disaster, my plie was horrendous and my pointe work was shoddy at best. Over time, my grand plie, my demi-plie and my pointe work improved.

Let me rest. I need something to drink. All this reminiscing is making me thirsty. Now where did I put that bottle of Dom Perignon? Here it is. Half a glass, there we go. You know, I have to laugh. We French must be in love with the letter P, so many ballet words begin with that letter. How funny is that?

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the second day things started to look up. I made a friend, very quietly I might add. Violette Verdy was a third year student and at the top of her class. She was blonde to my black and tall to my short. Maybe she felt sorry for me but we became friends and I never questioned her motives. She was the Ying to my Yang. We became inseparable, on the sly of course.

You know, from that day on, my tutu seemed cleaner, my shoes no longer pained me and the long hours didn’t seem as long as before. But the food was still substandard, nothing could fix that. I felt lighter on my feet and my dancing improved (Violette worked with me afterhours up on the roof). But don’t tell Mme. Carlotta or Mlle. Yvette, that’s our secret. My room was still hot and dusty but I found out Violette was no better off.

I saw Maman and Papa every Sunday and I would show them what I had learned. We talked about the school and my new friend, Violette. But I never complained about what went on at school or during classes. They laughed when I told them the students had a nickname… Les Petite Rats. Maman was such a good cook but when she asked me what we were eating I would change the subject.

In 1950, Violette graduated at the top of her class and was given the coveted title of Prima Ballerina. I graduated from Intermediate two years later, dancing in several shows in and around Paris until I met my future husband, Michel, a pastry chef. By that time, Violette was touring all over Europe but we still kept in touch by post. We spent as much time as we could together whenever she was performing in and around Paris.

Violette gave up dancing in 1965 when she married Charles, a famous singer, and settled on the outskirts of Paris (I remember teasing Violette because Charles was five years younger). Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris was looking to replace Mme. Carlotta and Mlle. Yvette due to their age and less than desirable disposition. Violette was a welcomed addition to the staff. In her free time, she often played with our three children, Mireille, Michelle and Michel Jr. Violette and Charles never had any children of their own.

Time flies when you’re having fun, that’s what they say. After my children were grown and had families of their own I decided to do something else after helping for years in our bakery. I never forgot that little dusty room and how it bothered me so much. I spoke to Michel and we agreed that I should clean houses to help me pass the time. We didn’t need the money. A few years later Michel sold the bakery.

I’m ready for another glass of wine. When I think about it, I have done quite a bit in my life. The love of my life, Michel, passed away eight years ago but we were happily married for almost 60 years. Violette, God bless her, died one month after my Michel. Luckily, Charles is still around and we spend quite a bit of time together. He still sings like he’s 30 and he fills my days with joy as we sit around remembering the “old” days.

Say, it’s been awfully nice chatting with you. I have to rush off. Charles is meeting me at the old bakery (I still get a discount). I’m not what I used to be but I’m happy.

Bon soir!

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Dennis is a wonderful storyteller and a good friend. See below for links to his other writing and his editing business.