Rebranded: Secret Sky (formerly titled “Awakening”; The Gift Legacy, #1) by JP McLean @jpmcleanauthor

Author JP McLean

 

 

Before I start, I’d like to thank Karen for having me here today and for her support over the years. She’s a fine example of authors supporting authors.

 

 

 

The Anatomy of a Rebrand

Often times, the writing we’re closest to is the most difficult to see. It’s why writers need beta readers, editors and proof-readers.

When The Gift Legacy books originally came out, the titles and covers were reflective of the content. Many readers agreed and provided the positive reinforcement I looked for.

But right from the start, beneath all the cover-love, there were rumblings that I studiously ignored. I filed the nay-saying in the “not everyone would like my books” drawer. But as the books found a wider audience, the rumbling grew louder.

About eighteen months ago, I finally stopped and listened. And what I heard was Awakening, Revelation, Redemption and Penance sounded more like they belonged in the religion/spiritual writing genre than in the fantasy/thriller genre. The critics were right and the beautiful covers compounded the perception. In hindsight, it seems quite obvious.

A title and its book cover have a job to do and mine weren’t doing the heaving lifting they needed to do to attract the fantasy and thriller readers.

I’d just finished writing the fifth book in The Gift Legacy series and needed to make a decision to continue along the path I’d chosen, or make a change.

I went with change and made the difficult decision to rebrand the books with new titles and new covers. It meant holding off on publishing that fifth book while I wrote the sixth and final book in the series. It meant I could lose all of the wonderful reviews that I collected on Amazon. Reviews are an author’s lifeblood, so I didn’t make the rebranding decision lightly.

Thankfully, I’ve had the support of family and fellow authors. My good friend and author, Elinor Florence, was instrumental in helping me brainstorm new titles, and then my online blog family and social media connections helped tease out the best of them. And back in July, the design team at JD&J Designs began the process of designing new covers.

The first book in the series has is launching November 13, and I couldn’t be prouder of the final result. I hope you’ll agree. Awakening is now Secret Sky.

An intrepid young woman. An incredible gift. A terrible price to pay.

As a child, Emelynn Taylor accepted a stranger’s gift that changed her life forever. This gift wasn’t wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow, nor could it ever be returned. Now, it’s taken over her life. Striking without warning, it strips Emelynn of gravity and sends her airborne, unchecked.

Haunted by terrifying flights she can’t control, Emelynn returns to the seaside cottage of her childhood, where she vows to take command of her dangerous gift. Here, she discovers an underground society whose members share her hidden ability, and a man who sends her heart soaring.

But is this secret society using the gift for good, or for evil? Unravelling the truth will plunge Emelynn into a fight for her freedom—and her life.

The first book in The Gift Legacy series, Secret Sky is a thriller that skirts the edges of reality in a world within our own. Buckle up and escape the ordinary: take flight with Emelynn Taylor.

Link to downloadable pdf preview https://jpmcleanauthor.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Secret-Sky-Ch1-for-website-preview.pdf


Author photo:  JP McLean

 

JP McLean

Website:  https:/jpmcleanauthor.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JPMcLeanBooks

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jpmcleanauthor

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/jpmclean

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.ca/jpmcleanauthor/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jpmcleanauthor


Buy links

Kindle:  http://mybook.to/SecretSkyKindle

Amazon print:  https://mybook.to/SecretSkyPrint

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/secret-sky

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secret-sky-jp-mclean/1129809297

iTunes:  https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/secret-sky/id1441056564?mt=11

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10 Statements – JP McLean


Dear Jo-Anne, thanks for your kind words; it is always a pleasure and an honour to have you on my blog.

Dear friends and readers, I hope you enjoyed Jo-Anne’s guest post as much as I did. Peace, coffee, and a cheesecake. ☘

 

From Child Scribbler to Global Success: Art Inspiration in ‘Connectedness’ @SandraDanby

Connectedness is the story of Justine Tree, a globally successful artist who goes in search of the daughter she gave away when she was an art student. To get an idea of Justine’s success think Tracey Emin, Paula Rego, Tacita Dean, Phyllida Barlow. Key to Justine’s story is the risk she takes in searching for her lost daughter. She has built her career, her public image, her reputation, on baring her emotions for the world to see, of searching the depths of her soul and putting it into her art. Except she has been hiding a large secret for twenty-seven years.

In order to understand the adult Justine, I had to know how she started out as an artist. So I set her childhood in a location I know well, the East Yorkshire coastline where I also grew up. There are two key influences at this stage of her life.

The first, Pablo Picasso, is mentioned by her father when her attempt to draw a pigeon is proving a challenge:

The woodie was getting restless in his box in front of the Rayburn. He could move his wing and her mother was making noises about him being shifted from the kitchen to the shed. Justine wanted him to get well and fly again, but she wanted to keep him too. So far she had thirty-three sketches of him. On Saturday the touring library van arrived, and she quickly found a book about Pablo Picasso. She flicked through the illustrations and found one of a dove, but it was not what she expected. It was a black line drawing on a white background. Pigeons weren’t white. Davy Jones was mostly grey with a pink breast and two white patches where his collarbones would be, if birds had collarbones. Justine made a mental note to ask her father.

She closed the book with a bang.

‘Are you all right, dear?’ The lady who drove the library van was sitting at the tiny desk where she kept the wooden box in which were stored everyone’s library cards. They were little envelopes, really – blue for children, red for adults – into which the library lady slipped the ticket for each book borrowed. When you returned the book, the ticket was put back into the book, which was returned to the shelf.

‘Are you searching for something in particular?’

Justine was standing beside the adult section of the bookshelf, out of bounds to children.

‘I’m trying to find out about Picasso because my dad said he drew a pigeon and I’ve got a pigeon. Davy Jones.’ She waited for a reaction.

‘Davy Jones,’ she said again, ‘like the Monkee. The English one.’

There was no sign of recognition on the library lady’s face.

She started to sing ‘Hey Hey We’re the Monkees’, including some dance moves popular in the playground. The library lady did not smile. Justine stopped dancing.

‘He’s not a pet, he’s wild. But he’s injured and I’m trying to make him better. But,’ she held up the Picasso book, ‘this isn’t a drawing of a pigeon. It’s white.’

Maybe Picasso didn’t draw a pigeon after all, or maybe it wasn’t Picasso who drew it but another artist altogether. But her father was always right. He knew everything about birds: where swallows went in the winter; why owls sicked-up their poo; why a woodpecker’s beak didn’t break with all that hammering.

‘Well now, let’s have a look.’

They both leant over the page, studying the illustration.

‘Yes, I see what you mean. This is actually a print, a lithograph. The title is French for dove; it’s called ‘La Colombe’. Picasso made it in 1949 when he drew another very famous dove picture, ‘La Paloma’, which is also sometimes called ‘The Dove of Peace’. I know it’s confusing; two pictures of doves, made in the same year, one title in French and one in Spanish. But, you see, although he was born in Spain Picasso has lived in France for many years.’

The second influence on the young Justine is a real place, the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. Justine visits on a school trip and is disappointed with the absence of Picasso works hanging on the walls. When she finds a picture of a tiger, it makes her reconsider what she is looking at:-

Justine trailed from room to room without a glance at her questionnaire or her study partner Susan Pratt. Painting after painting, wall after wall, room by room, it all seemed the same to her. Just like those sea paintings in the library at Brid. Dark brown and grey. Ships tossing on the sea. Fishermen pulling in nets. Mariners shipwrecked. And then she turned a corner into another room. It was empty of people; just four paintings but dominated by the largest. At first it made her think of a tiger, with a large eye, and green-striped fur. Then she thought it was a paper cut-out of a tiger, laid flat, like the dresses you could cut out of Twinkle magazine with tabs to attach to the body of the paper girl. Then she wasn’t sure at all what the painting was of, except that it definitely wasn’t a shipwreck. She read the small plaque on the wall. It read: ‘The Archer by Eileen Agar, 1967.’ That was all.

I was seven when this was painted.

She took three paces backwards and, with her arms folded and fingers neatly tucked in, studied the painting. Then with her sketch pad and best HB pencil, specially sharpened last night, she sat on the polished floor opposite the painting, her back leaning against the wall. She thought there was probably a rule saying ‘no sitting on floors’ but had purposely avoided reading any signs so, if caught, she could honestly say she didn’t know it wasn’t allowed.

‘The Archer’ had two outlines, one inside the other, which she drew. Each had shapes that were a bit like legs, a head, a mane. The outer shape was solid black and was the shape she imagined an animal skin would be if it was cut off the animal and laid out flat like a rug. What a disgusting thought. Surely that couldn’t be right. She concentrated on the inner shape. She sketched in the green tiger-patterned parts, though now she wondered if it was meant to be grass. At the top left, where the animal’s eye should be, there was a daisy.

She stopped and examined what she had done.

That’s not right.

She tore the page out of the pad, folded it into two once, again, and again, and then slotted it in at the back.

This time, she decided to really study the painting. To wait before drawing anything. To see what she could see.

She could see a tiger.

 

About ‘Connectedness’

TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALSO HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING

Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.

 

About the ‘Identity Detective’ series

Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz.

 

Author Bio

Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.

 

Author Links

Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness at Amazon

Author website

Twitter @SandraDanby

Facebook

Goodreads

Pinterest

 

Photos [all © Sandra Danby unless otherwise stated]:

Book cover: Connectedness
by Sandra Danby

Photo: Sandra Danby, author
(c) Sandra Danby

Photo: Ferens Art Gallery
(c) Sandra Danby

Picture: Ceramic fragment of brick decorated with the face of a woman, Pablo Picasso, 1962 – Musée National Picasso – Paris
(c) Sandra Danby

Photo: “Three Doves” by Pablo Picasso, 1960
(c) Sandra Danby

 

The Room #humanity #hope

Picture “The Room” by Valentina, 12

The room is located in the cellar of a church, originally meant to be an archive. Old printed lyrics, hymn books, and documents are scattered in a rack by the wall. The two windows are small, let only a hint of light into the room. The floor is covered with an old green carpet which protects little from the cold; during summer maybe pleasant, in winter a source of distress. The whole room smells of mould and wet carpet.

Despite all this darkness – there is this warmth; the warmth and the hope of the people living therein. And also the warmth of those who support them, be it by grocery shopping, teaching German, or simply by stopping by for a get-together with tea and nuts. The endearing lady, who picks up the laundry every week, returning it freshly washed and ironed, presents a bouquet of flowers for cheering up. It is the hope for a better life after a long and very painful escape, grief, fear, and loss of friends and family, the fear of the unknown exile. It is difficult to learn the language, however all this is better than the previous circumstances.

The days are long as without the possibility to leave the church premises, there is not much to do. Between reading text books on the German language and practising German grammar, there is room for thought, bearing in mind the uncertainty of one’s future. Will the process have a positive ending? Will one be allowed to stay in Germany? Or will one be sent back like an unwanted parcel?

All these fears cannot be banned, however, due to cooperation and mutual support there is the rising hope for a better world. This cohesion, support, and voluntary help make us human; human beings who are caring and help. In this world full of rush, rivalry, and egomania they are like sun-rays finding their way through the greyish clouds to shed their light.

Author:  Yúlika O.

Translated by:  Karen @ My train of thoughts on…


Dear friends and readers,

You can imagine that thousands of texts have crossed my desk since I became a professional translator and technical author. This text is the one that touched me the most. As a translator you have to follow some rules; rules like to never ever change the original text’s style. In this case you were just reading the thoughts of a young woman who does her utmost to make this world a brighter place.

I was amazing to see the room through the eyes of another visitor – a hopeful twelve-year-old girl.

Here’s to peace, and hope.  🍀

 

 

Connectedness by Sandra Danby – The Picasso Link

My second novel Connectedness tells the story of an English art student studying for a year in Spain, and how what happens to her influences the rest of her life. In truth the choice of Málaga, in southern Andalucía, was a pragmatic one. We spend part of our year in the countryside west of Málaga, which made research easy and gave me a reason for frequent visits to its museums and beaches. From there it was a short leap to making Pablo Picasso, who was born in the city, an artistic inspiration for Justine Tree.

Justine arrives in the city in 1982 during the transition from dictatorship. General Franco had died seven years earlier and democratic elections were taking place. It was a time of huge change and opportunity, but still of poverty and tradition. The city today is transformed, now an art destination with museums including the Museo Picasso, Museo Casa Natal [Picasso’s Birthplace and gallery], Centre Pompidou, CAC [Centro de Arte Contemporáneo], Museo Ruso, Museo de Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen, Museo Jorge Rando, Museo Revello de Toro and the Museo del Vidrio y Cristal. The city has popular walking tours visiting landmarks in Picasso’s life and historic locations such as the Alcazaba fortress and Castle of Gibralfaro. Not to be missed is the Tapas Route around the best bars.

Living an hour’s drive away from the city gave me the opportunity to visit throughout the year, gauging the climate as experienced by Justine. I walked the streets and beaches she walked, I watched the people and ate the food. She arrives in September when temperatures can reach 28°C/82°F. The coldest month is January when it can still be as warm as 17°C/63°F; very different from her childhood in Northern England when in January it is more likely to be 4°C/39°F. Throughout the novel I used my experience of living in Spain to inform Justine’s story and add realistic detail; speaking the language, exploring the food, the customs, the culture. You can read more about my life in Spain at my ‘Notes on a Spanish Valley’ blog.

 

About ‘Connectedness’

TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALWAYS HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING

Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.

 

About the ‘Identity Detective’ series

Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz.

 

Author Bio

Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.

 

Author Links

Connectedness’ at Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2q6qy5Z

Ignoring Gravity’ at Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1oCrxHd

Author website:  http://www.sandradanby.com/

Notes on a Spanish Valley blog:  https://notesonaspanishvalley.com

Twitter:  @SandraDanby

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6563021.Sandra_Danby

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

Photos [all © Sandra Danby]:

Book cover:  Connectedness by Sandra Danby

 

Photo:  Sandra Danby, author
© Sandra Danby

 

Photo:  Málaga – Picasso’s birthplace
© Sandra Danby

 

Photo:  Málaga – Centre Pompidou
© Sandra Danby

 

Photo:  Málaga – Museo Picasso, entrance
© Sandra Danby

 

Photo:  Málaga – view from the Alcazaba
© Sandra Danby

 

Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age – Charles E. Yallowitz on ‘Food and Drink’ @cyallowitz

Dear friends and readers,

It is always difficult for a blogger to find a blog post worthy of the grand finale of the year. This year, however, it was an easy choice for me. As you may all know, Charles E. Yallowitz published the last book in his Legends of Windemere series, Warlord of the Forgotten Age, on December 21, 2017. His guest post covers the topic Food and Drink – a highly suitable topic for the last day of the year 2017. Please join me in a warm welcome to Charles:

Thank you to Karen for offering to host my guest post and being a part of the promotion for Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age. This is the last book of my 15-volume fantasy adventure series, so I’m hoping to have it go out with a bang. I’ve been looking back at this personal adventure and found one odd that repeatedly comes up in my writing: Food and Drink. My characters seem to always have something to snack on or sip at when they’re talking unless it’s on the road. People ask me why I keep including this and I guess now is as good a time as any to come up with some reason.

  1. Might as well get the confession one out of the way. I’m either eating while writing or pushing through a scene to get to lunch. At the very least, I have a bottle of seltzer that I keep chugging from. You know how they tell you not to go grocery shopping when hungry? Well, it seems I have the same reaction when writing on a barely full stomach.
  2. Like many people, I grew up in a house where meal times were when you discussed things. If it wasn’t time for a meal then you and your friends had a fast food joint involved in the daily adventure. Maybe you just hung out at home and made sure there were snacks and drinks. My point is that for many people interactions in real life has a ‘food/drink’ factor. This can range from making a plan to track down the ice cream man to putting out the ‘good cheese’ for guests. There’s no reason that fictional worlds shouldn’t have this aspect of reality.
  3. Favorite foods and drink are a staple of being a three-dimensional character along with any other quirks. On the opposite end of the spectrum is if they hate a food or have an allergy. We tend to overlook them because they rarely make an impact on the overall story, but they can be essential to making a character relatable. For example, Delvin Cunningham in Legends of Windemere loves coffee. He has been drinking it since his second appearance and even went out of his way to buy a collection of ‘coffee rings’. This is a set of enchanted rings where each one has a different flavor and he can mentally determine the temperature. At some points, he pours the drink directly into his mouth, which helps make this a memorable quirk of the character.
  4. On a larger scale, you can reveal parts of a culture or region with food. More fruits and vegetables than meat shows where agriculture is. Local delicacies can show if a people enjoy spicy food, dishes that others find gross, or a total lack of spices. It’s like in the real world where one of the first things we think about when it comes to many cultures and countries is the food. If I say Jew, you might think Matzah Ball Soup. Japanese sushi, Italian pasta, Germany sausage, Irish beer, and the list keeps going, so you can create the same for a fictional world. If you’re using Earth then this is simply something to keep in mind.
  5. Characters have to eat. Seriously, you have no idea how often I see readers asking when characters eat and go to the bathroom. At least the dining thing is clean enough to show without feeling sick.
  6. Tone can be set by having a meal because the food and drink can be used as atmosphere. Whether I do it consciously or not, I’ve used them to set a specific stage. Consider three of the most common drinks in fiction, especially fantasy. Water is casual and can show a moment where simplicity is more important than taste. Ale tends to be found in taverns where guards are let down and there is a casual friendliness to the scene. Finally, wine denotes a fancy event and raises the expectation for manners and etiquette.
  7. To be completely honest, I find food and drink actions to be some of the easiest ones to interject into scenes. People will naturally stop talking to take a drink or eat some food without losing too much of a step in a conversation. We probably all know somebody who will take their time drinking in order to gather their thoughts. These bring about a much more visual picture than using nothing more than facial expressions and voice tone. Also, I write adventures that require my characters be on the move, so food and drink are top of the supply list.

Again, a big thanks to Karen for hosting me while I promote Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age. Hope to see people in the comments and please feel free to check out the finale.

Author Bio & Social Media

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

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All cover art done by JASON PEDERSEN

Catch the rest of the LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE on Amazon!


Dear friends and readers,

thank you for reading my blog in 2017.

I am looking forward to seeing you again in 2018.  🙂

Happy New Year!

Peace, coffee, and a cheesecake.  🍀🍀🍀