Cleopatra Unconquerd

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Cleopatra VII has come down to us as the final queen of Egypt, famous for her love affairs with Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and tragic death by suicide  via snakebite after she lost her last battle and beloved nation. But did it have to be this way?

Alternate history is a genre that often combines historical research and sometimes, elements of science fiction and fantasy to imagine a 'what-if' scenario.  This novel on Cleopatra VII, final queen of Egypt, imagines what would have happened in the life of the famous queen  had things gone differently, with, of course, a bit of help from the goddess of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. What if she and Marc Antony had  triumphed at their dreams of a joint empire? What if Cleopatra had been more knowledgeable about Roman politics and culture? Was Cleopatra's decline inevitable—or just the result of a lack of knowledge?

In this, the first novel in the series, Cleopatra comes to life, first as a young girl missing her beloved mother, who dies when the princess is quite young. Cleopatra is then tested as her father, Auletes, pharaoh of Egypt, takes on a second wife in hopes of having a son. This stepmother is especially cruel and unkind, taking out her anger out especially at Cleopatra, her father's favorite child, and the child of her deceased rival. Taking refuge in Isis, the mother goddess of Egypt, Cleopatra then is watched by Isis, Athena, and Venus as Isis tests Cleopatra and shapes her into the woman destined not to lose Egypt, but to save it, in this timeline.  We watch Cleopatra as a young queen, and the events that cause her to fall in love with Julius Caesar. We then root for her as she and Caesar begin a romance together, with Cleopatra as the mother of Caesar's only son, and watch as events unfold that propel Cleopatra to greatness.

Helen Davis, is the author of Cleopatra Unconquered. is available from www.savantbooksandpublications.com as a softcover novel. It has also recently been released as an e-book and is available for Amazon Kindle at the following location https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6E2BK7. It is also available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart.com

 

Grandma Honey’s Living Room

grandmahoneys-lrIn the “Destiny Has Two Grandmas” series, I’ve been busy illustrating the next book. If you’ve been reading my blogs, you might already know that. I’ve made all the characters and most of the props. For the last week or so, I’ve been building sets. Just like they do for plays and movies, I’ve been working on the walls of all the different scenes. Today, I began work on Grandma Honey’s Living Room.

Destiny and Grandma Honey talk and play together on the phone, because Grandma Honey lives in Massachusetts and Destiny in Iowa. As I was working on the sets, it is now time to work on Grandma Honey’s living room. I already have a couch, an ottoman, and a table with a light. Also, Rusty’s food and bowls are in this room. Rusty is Grandma Honey’s 5 ½ -pound Chihuahua. He hasn’t been present in other volumes of this series. Since he’s such a huge part of Grandma Honey’s life, and Destiny loves to talk to Rusty, I made the decision to bring him into the set. This means that I had to make a Rusty. And this had to be to scale, which has been some of the challenge in making everything.

Grandma Honey’s living room needs walls, but the question was what to put on the walls. I decided a window and a picture seemed appropriate. One of my friend’s, Kathy, and I were in a thrift store not long ago. We bought a nice picture to hang on the wall. I bought another one to take apart for the window. Now, I’m trying to figure out how exactly how to do that!

It’s all good when you have these ideas, but it’s certainly different when you try to put them to work. I wonder, if you’ve had that experience before? No, I’m not going to tell you what I did! You’ll have to buy the book when it comes out.

Soon! Look for “Destiny Gets Bullied!” I don’t have a release date, yet!

Put Your Press Releases on Steroids

pressrel-stSending out a Press Release is something every book author and entrepreneur (authorpreneurs) should do on a regular basis. You don’t have to wait for some earth-shattering news to send one out. People have no idea what you do, unless you tell them. There are a lot of reasons to send out a press release including:

  • New or revised book, product or service launching;
  • new Website; new reports, webinars, e-books; received a personal or company award, including customer satisfactions awards;
  • Hiring a new employee or someone retiring, starting a new promotion, marking a book, product, or service milestone (reaching best-selling status or other milestone); or
  • Charitable announcements (donating book profits to a charitable project).

Isn’t a Webpage more important? Your Webpage is definitely a needed platform. The Webpage holds all the information you want potential clients or book readers to know. However, your Webpage is a stationary billboard. If no one drives by that billboard, they aren’t going to see what you do.

A Press Release is one way to get attention that gets people to drive by your Webpage. For most authors and entrepreneurs (authorpreneurs), a Press Release is something you can send out for FREE! However, if you were to put your Press Release on Steroids, how much would you be willing to pay? What if you were guaranteed to get that Press Release into major news outlets, such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX? What if you were partnered with a marketing firm that would help take your Press Release from zero to a 1,000 mph? What if your Press Release went viral? What if your simple Press Release could be put on steroids?

Did you even know that a Press Release can increase your visibility and credibility? Did you know it could enhance or even repair your online reputation? Did you know that it could mean that Google would rapidly index your site? Did you know that you could get high authority backlinks to your Website? Did you know that you could generate even more media coverage — both online and offline?

What can you do to get this sort of Press Release? Contact me at publishwithconnie@gmail.com to learn how you, too, can gain high authority for your Press Release and get it sent out to more than 2,000 media outlets. You’ll even get help writing this Press Release!

New Destiny Story

img_3132Destiny has a new story that will be released hopefully just in time for your Christmas buying. As fans may know the Destiny series has now morphed into Easy Reader Books!

This time Destiny has a problem that a lot of school children have: she’s being bullied and she makes a new friend!

I thought it might be fun to share a little about the illustrations for the new book, “Destiny Gets Bullied.” I don’t think I draw as well as I’d like. However, I have illustrated some books with drawings. Instead, of drawing, I’ve been illustrating these books with puppets. I made full size puppets for the last book, “Grandma Honey, I Turned into a Mermaid.” This time, there is going to be a whole classroom full of characters. So, I had to make everything smaller so they’d fit into my car and the photographer’s studio. Instead of simple backdrops, I am building sets.

I chose to make the puppets 18-inch size. That did several things for me:

  1. They are smaller puppets, so they take less fabric.
  2. At 18-inches, they all fit into the American Girl or Springfield doll clothes and accessories.
  3. Naturally, not everything I need for my sets are items I can buy affordably. Somehow it doesn’t make sense to pay over $100 for a piece of furniture, such as a couch that will be used for a photo or two. But that’s the beauty of going to 18-inch size! There are hundreds of postings on how to make almost everything!
  4. img_3149img_3150I’ve made everything from a rabbit and rabbit hutch to miniature food. I actually can appreciate movie sets and all the incredible details that are needed. A lot of things are manufactured from rocks to fake blood. Thankfully, we won’t need any fake blood!

img_3148I had a lot of fun making the rabbit hutch! When was the last time you go to make something with craft sticks? That was both fun and challenging. Then, there was the matter of needing straw. Hmmm! Well, mine is made from small pieces of yellow yarn. It did the trick. What every rabbit needs, of course, are yummy carrots. They were easily made from orange felt and green felt for the leafy ends.

I am almost down to creating the walls for the sets. These will be made from tri-fold display boards. Wonder what makes a window look realistic? Hmm…and how do you cut out a window and make it look neat enough? All things, I will begin to face in this last phase of illustrating “Destiny Gets Bullied.”

When it’s all done, I hope you all will tell me how well I did! I’m hoping it will be stellar. So far, I’m happy with the props I’ve made. I still have a few to go, such as desk/tables for the classroom. Lunch tables for the lunchroom, and what that lunchroom should have besides tables and chairs?

Tune in for my next blog.

Fall, Fairs, and Finding Items for Set Design

Today, the air was cool, giving us a slight sneak peek into fall! It’s one of my favorite seasons, when fall weather begins to grace our early mornings. Another fall favorite is community fairs and my favorite is the Cracker Barrel Fair in Wrentham, MA. I think I like it, because it is small and homey. The highlight is 4-H clubs showing their chickens, ducks, bunnies, goats, and sheep. They often sell cookies or raffle tickets to help fund the clubs.

I don’t know why I get excited seeing the children’s animals, but it’s so sweet to see these kids being so proud. One young girl was sitting with a chicken in her lap and had the chicken’s head in one hand and stroking it with her other hand. At first, I thought it was a duck, because the neck was so long. She smiled at me and said, “Chickens have long necks, but most of the time it’s compressed. When they get relaxed like this, then you can see the fully extended neck.”

The Cracker Barrel Fair has one very unique event, a huge yard sale. I found a prop to use in my latest craft project. Currently, I’m working on the next book in the series, Destiny Has Two Grandmas. I’ve been working on this book for several months. The children’s easy reader book is as illustration-heavy as a picture book. Instead of drawing, my artistic talents lie in creating 3-D puppets and props. With the new book, I’ve kicked it up a notch. I’m building sets for each of the six unique settings. There are 12 characters and 12 individual puppets to represent them. The classroom scene has posed the biggest challenge so far.

What has this got to do with community fairs? Well, the large yard sale helped me find another piece for one the scenes. I came home to make carrots for the bunny that I made last night. The bunny, of course, has a bunny hutch to live in, which I made out of craft sticks. A classroom full of kids needs carrots to feed the bunny, so I made cute felt carrots for my classroom of puppets. The school desks will be another challenge. The chairs are done. I made them from Dollar Store plastic tubs, which I cut in half. I used clear plastic jigger cups for the base. The champagne glasses did not have a tall enough stem on them. The long stem part is connected to the cup part, so the stem that is left is only a fraction of an inch, which meant that the puppets appear to be sitting on the ground.

I also enjoyed seeing the variety of bunnies that the 4-H clubs had brought. I checked out their eyes. Did you know that bunnies can have brown, pink, blue, or green eyes? I never knew it either. For my bunny, I chose brown. This prop of bunny and bunny hutch will go into the classroom.

My puppets are 18-inches. The scale for all my props and sets are for this size doll, which is the size of the popular, American Girl Doll and the American Boy Doll. It is roughly a 1 to 3 or 1/3 scale.

See link below for directions on how to make the bunny hutch.

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Stay tuned. As I work on the illustrations, I will share more craft projects with you.

Diversity in Character and Author

wndb_buttonThe We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) at http://weneeddiversebooks.org/ gives out annual awards. You need to be a Diverse person and the book needs to have a main character that is Diverse. Currently, this award is for YA books. The guidelines describe Diverse as being:

  • Person of color
  • Native American
  • LGBTQIA
  • Person with a disability
  • Marginalized religious or cultural minority in the United States

Submissions are still open for the 2017 Walter Awards for self-published and traditionally published authors, and will be open through November 1, 2016. Details and eligibility information can be found http://weneeddiversebooks.org/submission-guidelines/.

We Need Diverse Books™ is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

Virtual Book Tours

Not too long ago, when you wrote a book and got a publisher, you would take a tour of bookstores and other venues that the publisher set up for you. Sounds nice, right? Well, number one those publishers are traditional publishers and they are harder...

Please see my entire post at http://reachmorereaders.com.

 

Interview with Helen Davis

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Helen R. Davis is an award winning author, who is also an editor and proofreader at Savant. Her debut novel, CLEOPATRA UNCONQUERED, explores the myth, legend, and history behind Cleopatra VII, the final queen of Egypt, and imagines how the world would have been different if she and her second husband, Marc Antony, had triumphed at the Battle of Actium, which was an important naval battle in the 1st century B.C. She has previously been featured online at http://buckrail.com/176398731699027968/casper-is-home-to-a-budding-historical-fictio, which is an online news source for her hometown of Casper, Wyoming.

cucoverHelen’s writing journey began in 2001, although she did not know it at the time. She became fascinated with reading every biography she could on Cleopatra and imagining living her life. This culminated in a senior research paper on Cleopatra that she did in high school, which involved deconstructing the woman behind the legend and myth and the true historical facts of her reign. In 2009, she had completed college and was jobless. She had a dream about her Cleopatra manuscript, which she had been stuck on at that point. Originally, she was going to write a story about her the way it truly happened-- opening and ending on her deathbed with the snake in her hand. However, a dream about Cleopatra winning at the Battle of Actium influenced her: CLEOPATRA UNCONQUERED was born. She spent 2009-2011 working on the first three novels in the series, and 2012-2013 presenting the idea to agents. Then, she finally found Daniel Janik at Savant in January of 2014. She and Daniel I have been working together ever since. CLEOPATRA UNCONQUERED was released in December of 2015 and from here on, she hopes this book gives readers a new perspective on history.

To find out more about her books, go to http://www.helendavisbooks.org/en. To contact Helen directly, e-mail her at  davishelen0@gmail.com

To listen to her interview, press the arrow key on the audio player below:

 

Illustration Options for Children’s Books

LowResdestiny-mer-kdpPart of the joy of reading Children’s Books to my children and the children at my various churches or libraries has been the beautiful illustrations that many books have. Art is something that just about everyone appreciates, sometimes without even realizing it.

Not everyone is an artist in the sense of drawing or painting. While I have some crude drawing skills, I don’t actually have that level of expertise unless I’m drawing on the computer? However, I’m not totally unartistic, because if it’s made out of fabric or paper, in some instances, I’m good.

So where do my let’s-say-passable artistic abilities allow me to do? Quilts are a beautiful way to illustrate. They don’t have to be big enough to cover your bed or even your lap, because many quilts are decorative and intended to be wall hangings. It is these smaller decorative quilts that are quite doable. They are small enough that in a few days, you can complete one. Naturally, if you are illustrating an entire book, you’ll probably be making many more than that. The number of quilts will depend on the number of pages, which might also be dependent on the minimum number of pages for a printed book. Also, double page illustrations add to the nature of a book.

Quilts can be done several ways. One make them the size of the page that you want them to fit on. For double pages, double the size. Don’t forget to leave a lot of blank space around the edges for cropping and bleeding, if you want them to go to the edge of the page. Otherwise, choose whether you will want them to go horizontally or vertically on the pages. This could even change for every page. It is best to be completely finished with the writing part and then, you can begin creating your page breaks and making notes for each illustration.

Don’t be afraid to create a scene with each picture. Remember this, too: There is a lot of leeway for children’s book illustrations. It depends on the flavor or tone of the book, of course, some books just lend themselves to more child-like drawings with stick people and big sun’s in the corner of the pages.

I usually combine those elements, which makes planning the graphics more fun. Whimsical art tends to be easier to do. It means that things don’t have to be precise. Felt pictures can also be fun ways to master creating your art. This is especially nice if there is a basic scene.

An easy way to do felt pictures is to create a flannel board, which is somewhat of a misnomer: it’s simply made from felt. Felt is inexpensive and often comes in 72-inch wide fabric. Cover a foam board or corrugated cardboard in a large enough size that will accommodate your scene. Most things can be scaled to fit. However, I’ve found that a bit larger flannel board allows for more creativity in the individual pictures. The downside to this is that you need to shoot the photos after you’ve created the scene.

I’ve gotten around this by creating an illustration list with descriptions of what should go on each picture, as I format the book. I make page breaks in the text files at logical breaks in the text. (NOTE: This varies with the type of book you are writing.) And in a separate file, I make a note about which characters are in the scene and what action and background should be included. In this way, I can group making my photos using the same background scene. I also make all of my characters with moveable arms and legs, which means that I cut them out separately and connect them with a single thick thread, which makes them flexible. Clothes are made similar to paper doll clothes in that they are one-sided. Embellish the characters, clothes and all items in the background with embroidery thread, which gives the pictures some texture. If there is too much thread on the back of any piece, I simply cut another identical piece and sew with regular sewing thread around the outside edges. This gives a nice solid backing that will stay up on your flannel board.

Create your scene with the appropriate background and characters posed appropriately and wearing the appropriate clothes. Then, take your photo.

To take a good photo, you need the best lighting. One way to get great photos is to do all the work in creating the scenes and characters is to practice putting the scenes together, making sure you take good notes on what items go on which photo. Then, go to a professional photographer’s studio and have your photographer set up all the appropriate lighting and shoot the photos. This will give you the best photos possible. You will need to make sure that you have the right to use these photos in your book. This should be negotiated ahead of time.

I pay my photographer. He usually gives me a good rate. I also give him illustration credit, as well.

You can do the same thing with puppets and dioramas or backdrops.