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June 2023 New Releases

Summertime is here! As June begins, Mascot Books is excited to welcome many titles to our catalog. Check out the new releases below. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Subplot

The latest book from our distinguished Subplot Books fiction imprint is Into the Gorge: When the perilous journeys of a beautiful Austrian woman and a wayward Australian commando collide, the two discover escaping a war is only half the battle . . . they still have to find their way home. The explosive events that follow will determine whether physical chasms can ever separate true love.

Mascot Books

Our latest Mascot Books titles both explore complicated stories from across the cosmos, from two unique perspectives. Read the descriptions at the links below and select which one will be the next summer read you can’t put down.

 

Mascot Kids

June’s new picture books cover a wide variety of exciting topics, including important messages for people of all ages, fun voyages, adorable animals adventures, and lessons about real-world concerns, appropriate for little ones. Choose your favorite below to get your summer off to the right start! 
   

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June 2022 New Releases

Often, our new releases find a serendipitous harmony. This month, many of our latest books revolve around introspection and reflection. Whether it is parents teaching their children about loss and sharing nostalgia for the past, or adults meditating on life or financial concerns—with so much going on in the world, everyone needs to step back and look inward once in a while. Take a moment now to explore our June releases. 

As always, please leave us comments or reviews of this month’s books; we love to hear from readers, and our authors do too!


Amplify Publishing

Women Wise: The Essential Guide to Financial and Lifestyle Decisions as We Age by Eleanor Blayney and Marjorie L. Fox is our latest Amplify release. This project is the culmination of a collaboration between financial experts Blayney and Fox, our Amplify team, and our CEO Naren Aryal. Finances can be challenging, especially as we age, but Fox and Blayney have created the essential guide to women’s financial decisions. As they say, “when it comes to retirement advice, one size does not fit all.”

Women Wise Eleanor Blayney Marjorie Fox

Subplot

We are excited to release The Art of Traveling Strangers by Zoe Disigny in paperback this month. This way, wherever your summer travels take you, you can bring this popular fiction story—filled with art and historical places—along with you. 
Art of Traveling Strangers Zoe Disigny

Mascot Books 

From Mascot Books, five exciting titles will be released this month. These diverse books explore themes of introspection and finding the motivation to move forward—whether the challenge is running with cerebral palsy, living with chronic illness, grappling with history, finding compassion in the world, exploring your own skills, or stretching yourself at work. 
Better Together Shaun Evans         From Me To you Deidra Moor-Janvier        Part of You, Not All of You Jenneh Rishe

Pulling Each Other Along Todd Civin Doug Cornfield         Presence: The Great Equalizer
   

Mascot Kids

In addition to the usual plethora of adorable animals, this month’s children’s books also dive deep: from learning about the stock market and dealing with death, to overcoming fears and literally jumping into the pool this summer. This collection has something for everyone, with colorful adventures in Orange S’more-ange, confidence building in Chloe Cha Chas in London, and nostalgic baseball cards in My Shoebox
Riley Rabbit Learns About Death Ashley Hall        Five Mile Charlie: Charlie Goes to the Library  Kimberly Adams        

Just Jump In Christine Davis        My Shoebox Laura Fleming       

Orange S'more-ange Patty Becker         Chloe Cha Chas in London Carolina Orlovsky Corky Ballas

Three Fairies Erin Amico        Ella Bakes!: The Secret Ingredient Lisa Lessi

        

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A Knock on the Door Excerpt

A Knock on the DoorWe are thrilled to share a sneak preview of the latest page turner from Subplot, our imprint focused on literary fiction. A Knock on the Door (coming October 2022) tells the story of Lori Crawford, a small town journalist whose world is turned upside down by the death of her husband, Jack. After twenty-five years of marriage, she thought the rest of her life would be spent in an uncomplicated, happy life. But just as Lori feels she’s coming out on the other side of her grief, Jack’s former assistant, Rita Johnson, discovers information that convinces Lori that Jack was murdered.

The two women vow to bring the perpetrator to justice, but time is dwindling, and both of their names are on someone’s kill list… 




Chapter 47

Rita had been driving for a few hours when she pulled her car into the parking lot of a seedy motel along the edge of the highway. She got out of her car and strolled into the office. 

Jacob had left thirty minutes ahead of her, so he should already be at the rendezvous point they had identified from a Google webcam search. She thought she spotted a quick flash of light, letting her know he was parked at a partially hidden spot across the street from the motel. 

They had counted on Rita’s phone being tapped, and on Trench Coat Man following her to this place. The red SUV turned off his headlights and pulled in between two cars at the far end of the motel’s parking lot. 

Rita told the manager she’d be staying for what was left of the night and leaving later than the normal checkout. He eyed her carefully as she paid with her credit card. There weren’t many people checking in that wanted to stay more than a few hours or that didn’t pay in cash. He figured he’d treat her to one of his nicer rooms in the back. 

She emerged a few minutes later with the key to room 183 and spotted the red SUV hiding in the back of the lot. Perfect! She casually glanced up toward Jacob’s car as she got her empty roller bag out of the trunk to signal him that she would just be a few minutes. Jacob kept his eyes trained on the red SUV while Rita walked around the side of the motel toward the rooms in the back. 

The smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer overwhelmed her when she opened the door. In the bathroom, she briefly turned on the shower, wet the towels a bit, and put a couple of pieces of toilet paper in the toilet. Then, she walked over to the bed and rumpled the sheets and pillows. The filthy comforter made her gag. She placed a half empty can of soda on the nightstand. 

Rita parted the curtains slightly and scanned for anyone loitering. Seeing no one, she used her burner phone to call Jacob. He confirmed that the man was still in his car. 

This was her opportunity. She took the roller bag and trotted quickly across the back embankment of the hotel property and over to the next block where Jacob was waiting for her. She crawled into the car and melted into the front seat, allowing the adrenaline to subside. They headed back to Cooperville, wondering how long Trench Coat Man would watch her car in the morning before he got suspicious.


Chapter 48

At 8 A.M., the phone in Nathan’s cubicle started ringing. Nathan didn’t have to be psychic to know who would be on the other end. 

“Nathan Schilling.” He was completely prepared for how this call was going to go. Stay calm and in control. 

“Who the hell do you think you are? Making the deaths of two of my employees a sensational story worthy of the National Enquirer? Where’s your respect? Do you realize that SpringWare is the economic pillar of this community? Run another headline like that, and you’ll be talking to my lawyers!” Mason’s tirade seemed to go on forever. The longer he went on, the bigger Nathan’s smile grew. 

Just the reaction I was expecting

“Mr. Mason? I understand your concern, sir. I think you might be interested in some new information that has come to my attention since I wrote that article. Are you in your office? I’d like to come over and talk to you about it.” 

“Yes, I am . . . I mean, no,” Mason stammered. “Whatever you have to say to me, you can say on the phone.” 

“All right,” said Nathan. “I have confirmation from the ME’s office that George Packwood’s death was a murder, not a suicide . . . that certainly changes things, don’t you think, Mr. Mason?” 

Total silence. Gotcha! 

“Mr. Mason? Are you there?” Nathan thought for a minute that he might have hung up or passed out. 

“Uh, yes. I . . . I have no comment.” The call abruptly ended. 


Without giving anything away, we’ll just say: this is a riveting thriller that will surprise readers at every turn. A Knock on the Door is available for preorder now exclusively through our bookstore and will be available for purchase through major retailers on October 4, 2022. Looking for more stories like this one? Check out our other Subplot titles here

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What Our Staff is Reading

It has been a busy month for our staff as we continue to evaluate submissions, edit manuscripts, and market our incredible books. However, that work has not kept everyone from reading some incredible, thought-provoking books in their free time. 

Our CEO, Naren, is continuing to expand his knowledge of the nonfiction space by diving into the bestseller Think Again by Adam Grant. To find out what the rest of our staff is reading, check out the list below. Some choices might surprise you…

Acquisitions

How to Beat a Broken GameBen deemed last month “Athletic April” and spent his time reading Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink by Pedro Moura, and Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman

Jess is reading The Glass Queen by Gena Showalter

Kortney is reading Life on the Rocks by Juli Berwald




Production

Gillian is reading The Club: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg. The Hunting Wives

Julia is reading The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Lauren recently finished White Noise by Don DeLillo and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

Nina is reading The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse.


Graphic Design

David just finished The Godfather by Mario Puzo and is now reading A Time to Kill by John Grisham

Matt is reading The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein


Marketing

CultishCaitie is reading The Woman Outside My Door by Rachel Ryan

Francys is reading The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Kristin is reading The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Michelle is reading This World is Not Your Home by Matthew Vollmer, one of her former professors at Virginia Tech. 


Sky
is reading
Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell. 

Taylor just finished Left of Boom by Douglas Laux and the second book in the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn. She has picked up Persuasion by Jane Austen for the second time in preparation for the upcoming film adaptation. 


Bookkeeping

Emily is reading Redwall by Brian Jaques and Love that Story by Jonathan Van Ness

Helen is still reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and has also started Cats Are Not Peas: A Calico History of Genetics by Laura Gould for when she needs a break.



We will see you next month with more books from the office. In the meantime, what are you reading? Leave your answers in the comments here or on social media! 

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Getting to Know Glenda Winders, Author of Sainted In Error

Glenda Winders
One of our flagship Subplot Publishing titles, Sainted In Error, was featured on our blog recently—but now it is time to get to know the author behind the novel. We interviewed Glenda Winders on writing the book. Our Q and A with her is below.

1. Sainted in Error is very different from your first book about long-kept family secrets, The Nine Assignments. What was the inspiration behind this plot of murder, friendship, and mental illness? What were some of your goals with this book?

Sainted in Error was inspired by close-up experiences with undiagnosed and untreated mentally ill people. Often such people ruin their lives and the lives of the people around them either by refusing to seek help because of the stigma attached to that type of disorder or by finding help with underqualified practitioners. One of my goals was to draw attention to this serious problem, and the other was to tell a compelling story. We hear of so many cases where unstable people commit murder, and that suggested the vehicle of a murder mystery.

Writing it in reverse, with the reader knowing on the first page who the killer is but waiting until the end to reveal the victim, allowed me to track the psychological development of these two women and other characters in the run-up to the event. My hope is that readers will realize that our attitudes toward mental illness are Victorian and also that its treatment should be as unremarkable as that for a physical ailment.

I also believe friendships are undervalued in our busy society, and the book is a bit of a shout-out to the close friends in my life who have been as loyal to me as Maggie is to Cynthia.

2. How do current events play into this theme and what are some of the ways that mental illness is stigmatized in conversation today? Was there any research involved?

Mental illness continues to be stigmatized in our society in so many different ways. In many professions, for example, people can lose their jobs if their employers learn they are being treated psychiatrically, so it becomes something to hide, which restarts the cycle of stigmatization.

The subject comes up wherever people gather and get to know one another – be it in a neighborhood, the workplace, or on a dating site. It comes up a lot in the news because of all of the horrible crimes committed by mentally ill people – mass shooters, people who kill their own families, killers who believe someone is telling them to do it, and the like. Fortunately, more celebrities are speaking out about their bouts with depression, eating disorders, and many other issues so that their fans can see that talented people have the same types of problems they have and that they have taken action to get their lives back to where they want them.

I did a great deal of reading on different mental illnesses because there are so many possible diagnoses and so many overlaps of symptoms. I wanted to make sure that my character was accurate and believable. We know that Cynthia’s mother was bipolar, but we’re not sure if this is her problem or if it is something else. What we do know for sure is that she desperately needs help but refuses to seek it because she is embarrassed.

Sainted In Error3. Sainted In Error spans decades of friendship between two characters. What was your process of developing Maggie and Cynthia as characters over a lifetime? How do you stay organized with your chronology, and do you have any advice for writers working with long periods of time?

I’ve heard it said that in fiction everything is true and nothing is true, and I think for the most part that is the case. Maggie and Cynthia are bits and pieces of people I have known, observed, and read about over the years. Because I do have long friendships, some of which date back to grade school, I know the shapes and dynamics friendships can assume. They are very much like love affairs and marriages – sometimes one person cares more than the other or sometimes one has a hard time celebrating the other’s successes and good fortune or dislikes being in the shadows while the other takes center stage. Healthy relationships find a balance; unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Maggie and Cynthia.

This question makes me laugh because I am the world’s worst at keeping up with chronology. I am more concerned with moving the plot forward and sometimes don’t pay enough attention to important details – such as what year it is and how old the characters are. I’ve had wonderful editors who have saved me in this regard, and from them, I have learned to keep a timeline from the very moment I start writing. I do that by way of a spreadsheet that keeps track of everyone’s ages, also by reading about – or remembering – what was going on in the world at a certain point in the character’s experience.

4. The opening scene starts with Maggie deciding what to wear to the trial. Why did you decide to begin the story this way, and what influenced you to make clothing a symbol throughout the book?

Like Maggie, I once read or heard that women always remember what they were wearing at important moments in their lives, and I know that’s true for me. That line may have come from the play Love, Loss and What I Wore (based on the book by Ilene Beckerman), in which Nora and Delia Ephron explored the same topic. The first thing many of us – men and women — think about before a special occasion is what we’ll wear, and that would certainly be true if one were about to testify at her best friend’s murder trial.

Because I think clothing is important to most women, I kept going on that theme throughout the book – what Cynthia wears the night she and Richard go to the fraternity dance, what Richard’s mother wears to their wedding, what Kim has one the first time Maggie meets her. And, of course, I owed it to the reader to disclose what Maggie finally chooses for the day of the trial. The flip side of that, though, is that clothes are not the measure of who people really are. Maggie is embarrassed about the clothes she wears while Cynthia has an expensive wardrobe, but look at what she is wearing the last time we see her.

Glenda Winders, writing. 5. Which character do you see yourself in the most and why?

I suppose I most resemble Maggie in that most of my career has been spent in journalism. I also have unruly red hair as she has, and as a teenager, I was often the sidekick of the more beautiful girl who got all of the attention. I am also tenacious in relationships and have a hard time letting people go.

6. What’s next for you? Any books on the horizon? What other kinds of plots or storytelling would you like to explore?

I am working now on a novel tentatively titled “Peculiar.” It concerns three women who live on a lake and protect an old secret until the curious new wife of one of their sons wants to learn more about her husband’s background. It is multicultural and explores themes such as the nature of truth and – again – the importance of communicating and not making assumptions. I love stories that involve time travel and have tinkered with that in a novel that is finished but I haven’t yet sought to publish. I have written a lot of short stories and some poems, and I write nonfiction for several magazines and newspapers. While I am constantly striving to get better at my craft, I am pretty happy with things the way they are.
Glenda Winders is an award-winning fiction writer, editor, and journalist, whose work has appeared in major magazines and newspapers nationwide. Her first novel, The Nine Assignments, was published in 2016. She lives with her husband in Columbus, Indiana. Learn more at: www.glendawinders.com

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Thinking Outside of the Box—Hybrid Publishing

Anne C. Scardino shares how she got her who-done-it mystery suspense novel, A Tangled Affair, published when the traditional way failed.


Anne C. ScardinoI vividly remember typing the last sentence of my novel. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes wide to hold back the tears. Years of work had come to completion, but little did I know that the really hard work was yet to come—getting published.  

I knew that an agent was needed and that the agent would find a publisher for my genre—mystery, suspense. I was told by my writing professor to use agentquery.com and put in my genre and then a list of agents would pop up. I was also told that it was time consuming, because you had to make certain that the agent is a good fit for your novel. Things had to be sent—summary, author bio, first ten pages, or first three chapters, whatever the agent requested, and some wanted it done in one document, or some were done on a computer program. Easy enough, I thought; I will repeat, I thought.  

A few fun facts: agents receive thousands of submissions a year; agents take on average between 4-6 authors a year; agents don’t always read your work (their assistants do); agents have a slush pile (manuscripts that go unread); it takes about 45 minutes to complete each online query, which entails reading about the agent, completing the work on the computer to send, which varies with each agent, so you have to know your way around the computer. To put it simply, it’s a lot of time and work.

After sending out 110 queries (yes, I know exactly how many because I wrote the name of each one down so I could follow up if I didn’t hear back), I got two requests to send on the entire manuscript. When I got the first one, I literally walked around my apartment covering my mouth and repeating, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God…” I felt I had finally got this (this was around number 65 that was sent). I remember I had gone to New York City that day, and all I could think about was the agent reading my entire manuscript and loving it (if you don’t believe in your novel no one else will, so this isn’t a sign of being overconfident—this is your baby). As exciting as that day was, the next day was equally as disappointing, as I was thanked for sending and told it wasn’t a good fit but to keep writing.

The next rejection came at around number 88, and it gave me a glimmer of hope, but I was a bit more cautious this time about getting so excited. I would wait to see. Again, the very next day, the same thing and basically the same message. At this point, I decided to set a goal of going to a hundred and then I would have to figure out something else, but I wasn’t going to continue this process after I reached that number. I got to one hundred and then decided for good measure I would do another ten, which I did, but then my new addiction had to stop. Maybe just one more?

Reality set in, and I started to think about self-publishing at the advice of an author friend of mine who had gone the traditional agent/publisher route (it’s amazing how far some encouragement can go when you believe in the person who is encouraging you). But at the same time, a really good thing happened: I asked LinkedIn contact Marnie Schneider who published her children’s books—Football Freddie. She told me she worked with Mascot Books, a hybrid publisher, and connected me with Naren Aryal, the owner. He got right back to me, as well as Jess Cohn, an Acquisitions Director, and both read the full manuscript.

Football FreddieAt that time, I had never heard of hybrid publishing, but soon learned that they take on the roles of both agent and publisher. Anyone can self-publish, but not everyone can hybrid publish. To hybrid publish, the publisher has to believe that they can sell books, because they profit, as well. They supply all the necessary components of staff to get you through the process to publication—editing, book design, and marketing. And, yes, you pay for this since you keep your copyright, but you also profit when your books sell.   

The most difficult part of the publication process was not being able to actually see the book—to feel it, touch the pages, but you work together and go back and forth getting to the point where you are satisfied. Having been a building and design consultant of beach homes, the look of the book was very important to me. For example, I went with white pages rather than the typical ivory, at their recommendation, because I wanted my author photo to be in color. They worked with me on getting the cover photo to represent my book in the best way possible. It went through several iterations, but in the end, it was a great representation of what was inside.

So, after all of that, I waited 8-10 weeks to have the book printed, and when that day arrived and I cut open the box, I was a nervous wreck as I anxiously pulled back the cardboard and saw the books. To my relief, they looked great, felt great, and again, I had to hold back tears.

A Tangled AffairThe next step was the marketing. Mascot assigns you a marketing manager, and because I am part of their new fiction imprint, Subplot, I have been able to participate in a few blog posts, so the writing continued. The manager gets your book out to online sites, e.g., Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc., and reaches out to various other contacts for promotion, e.g., bloggers, book reviewers, local media outlets, podcasts, and retailers.

And of course, I have done some things myself in the promotion process—a podcast with an advertising contact; several book clubs, my university, a contact in Turks & Caicos, where a large part of my book takes place.  

In the end, as I reflect on the process, I’m glad that I thought outside of the box and found a way to get my book published when the traditional way failed. Hybrid publishing worked for me, and maybe it can work for you. Go for it, and in the words of the two full-manuscript-reading agents, “keep writing.”

 


Check out Anne’s new book, A Tangled Affair in our bookstore or anywhere books are sold.

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Subplot Publishing Feature—Sainted in Error

Subplot (noun): a side story that runs parallel to the main plot.


How did the relationship with Sainted in Error begin?

In September of 2020, I received the submission for Sainted in Error. As mentioned in a previous blog post, Subplot was still in development at that point in time, but I was already looking for strong fiction titles. Typically, with fiction submissions, I read the first few chapters to start. Immediately, Sainted in Error’s opening had me hooked. I wanted to know about the dynamic between Maggie and Cynthia that brought them to this trial and the descriptive sentences painted a vivid picture as I read. Within just ten pages, I knew this was a title we had to publish. Once Subplot became a more concrete imprint, I thought about the fiction titles I brought in recently, and it was no question that Sainted in Error was a perfect addition.   

What is this book about?

In Sainted in Error, Maggie and Cynthia meet as college freshmen and are seemingly destined to be best friends for life. As the years pass, however, Maggie’s marriage and career lift her to success and wealth while Cynthia’s jealousy and untreated mental illness cause their relationship to disintegrate. As the stories of the two women’s lives unfold, Cynthia’s paranoia and anger sour every relationship she has and turn even the people who have loved her most against her, ultimately bubbling over into an event that Maggie never sees coming.

Not a murder mystery in the usual sense, and spanning time and space, Sainted in Error delves into the tenacity of friendship and the damage that the stigma still attached to mental illness can do.


What makes Sainted in Error the right fit for Subplot?

“Fascinating plots, alluring characters, powerful authors—that’s Subplot.” Our tagline says it all and the alluring characters aspect is really what struck me for Sainted in Error. The story is intertwined in the relationship between Maggie and Cynthia where each woman is powerfully created. 


Glenda Winders’ craft is spectacular when creating characters. Readers want to feel like they know these women, they want to befriend them, root for them, hate them, feel for them. Having characters where they feel real to the readers is what makes a story truly stand out. Winders’ twists and turns in the book leave the reader on their toes as they try to comprehend Cynthia’s motives and ultimately what leads up to the trial. This title is great for fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.       


If you love mystery, thriller, and strong female leads, Sainted in Error has all the ingredients for your next favorite read. Order your copy at the Subplot bookstore today!

If Subplot sounds like the right fit for your fiction manuscript, send us a synopsis and the first three chapters at jess@mascotbooks.com.  

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February Book Releases

This February, we’re bringing you children’s books about ocean pollution, memoirs about humorous travels, the first titles from Subplot, and more! 

Our new imprint of Mascot Books, Subplot Publishing is an independent hybrid publisher focusing on compelling and literary works of fiction. We publish titles with strong voices, intriguing plots, and dynamic characters in the adult fiction setting. All of our titles are hand-picked for this imprint during the submissions process based on theme, marketability, and overall tone.

Explore our new titles below to stock up on your reads this winter!

Children’s Books


Evelyn’s Wild Imagination



By Elizabeth Gephardt

Hi there! My name is Evelyn. What’s your name?

It’s very nice to meet you! Are you as curious as I am to know what this book is about . . . hmmm? Maybe it’s about . . .

Gorillas?

Or, Halloween?

. . . nah.

Maybe it’s about cats or dogs, both big and small, or maybe it’s about going somewhere, like to Disney, Hershey, or Niagara Falls! We will have to wait and see, but in case I forgot to mention this—thank you for choosing me!

First, I want to get to know you. Tell me what you like the most about school. Is it your teachers? Classes? Lunch? RECESS? Who are your friends? For this story (are you ready?) . . . you get to be . . . MY FRIEND FOR THE DAY!

Come take a journey with me and see what a WILD day in school is like and what BIG ideas are in store. This isn’t just any sort of school day. What do I mean, you ask? Let’s check it out, explore, and so . . . much . . . MORE!




For the Love of Laxmi



By Bijal Shah

You know how your mom tells you to oil your hair, or you’ll go bald? Or no one is going to marry you because you can’t find the blouse she put away? This is a compilation of those everyday moments. Oh, and. . .hi! I’m Laxmi. You’ll get to know me soon.




Gordo Goo



By Ruth Neikirk

What is MAGIC POTION #2?
Well, that is the key for Gordo Goo!
Turn the pages to find out.
You will be the wiser, no doubt!

A portion of proceeds will be donated to the William R. Neikirk Scholarship Fund in the College of Communication and Information.




Guapo’s Giant Heart: The True Story of the Calf Who Kept Growing



By Janet Zappala and Wendy Perkins

Guapo’s Giant Heart is based on the true, heartwarming story of a baby calf with no place to live until a kind human adopts him and gives him a loving home. With a safe place to rest his head and plenty of food and love, Guapo keeps growing . . . and growing and growing!

Although Guapo is a sweet, friendly cow, not everyone is kind to him at first. While the animal friends who’ve known him since he was a baby calf love him, those who meet him later in life aren’t so sure—they find Guapo’s larger-than-life presence intimidating.

Towering over everyone he meets, can this gentle giant teach the other animals that being different is a good thing?




Esperanza y Pecas: huyendo hacia un bosque mejor



By Bill Kiley

Esperanza, una cierva de cola blanca, y su cervatillo moteado, Pecas, se enfrentan al hambre y al peligro en su bosque. Esperanza decide que deben abandonar su hogar e ir en busca de un lugar mejor donde estén a salvo. Cuando llegan a un nuevo bosque, Esperanza y Pecas se enfrentan a retos inesperados que les obligarán a separarse. ¿Podrán volver a estar juntos algún día?

Después de leer la historia de Esperanza y Pecas, sigue explorando las historias de personas de todo el mundo que tienen que abandonar sus hogares para escapar del peligro o del hambre. Deja que la historia de Esperanza y Pecas te enseñe sobre los millones de personas que se enfrentan a las mismas dificultades que esta madre cierva y su pequeño hijo enfrentan como refugiados.




How the Bay Was Saved



By Steve Gray

What can one little dolphin do to stop humans from littering and save the Chesapeake Bay? Join Donnie Dolphin on this exciting adventure as he formulates a plan with the help of a very wise seagull and his friends. Together, can they teach humans that polluting the bay is wrong?






I Can’t Wait till You Know



By Trey Little

What could be more inspiring than seeing the world once again through the eyes of a child? As parents, we can’t wait until our kids get to have some of the same experiences that we did growing up, especially when we can share them together. These pages follow a father and daughter on a journey through nature, using their senses to enjoy the sounds, smells, and sights of the beauty around them. There is anticipation for something new at every turn that will bring fresh joy to both the parent and the child as they make discoveries hand in hand.




If Puppies Had Backpacks



By Lyn Willy

If puppies had backpacks. . .what would they do? This charming board book is the perfect bedtime read for you and your little one.




Imperfectphil Is a Friend



By Sue Steinhardt

Hi! My name is Phil Basher, and I love life!

If you’re ever feeling down or starting to wonder what this journey is all about, read my stories. I promise to bring you all the happiness and joy I can pack into my giant puppy body. I won’t let you down because I’m perfect…I’m Perfect…imperfect. I’ll tell you more about this later.

Imperfect. Just. Like. You.

In book three which you are holding in your hands, you will learn what it means to be a friend.




Karis & Brook Stories: Lakeside Friends: A Story About Cancer



By A. B. Namy

Brook doesn’t know why his friend Joel can’t spend time with him at the lake, like they usually do. When he learns that the reason is Joel’s cancer diagnosis, he has even more questions. Thanks to some ants and his quick-thinking Mom, Brook comes to understand the situation in his own way, and he even comes up with a creative way to spend some lake time with Joel.

Using real-life analogies to explain complex circumstances, the Karis & Brook series seeks to assist adults in structuring conversations with children. By utilizing the principles of Encounter, Educate, and Encourage, these books facilitate memorable and lasting conversations that go beyond the pages of the story, while recognizing and inspiring others.




Nora’s Hockey Dream



By Ryan Minkoff

Nora has never attended or even played in a hockey game. When her parents take her to the Women’s Professional Hockey League Championship between the Booming Thunder and the hometown Wicked Waves, Nora discovers a newfound passion. However, chasing after her big hockey dream might be harder than she thinks.

Nora’s Hockey Dream is endorsed by Team Canada Captain and Hockey Night in Canada‘s Cassie Campbell-Pascall, USA Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Brandt, and Minnesota Whitecaps Captain Winny Brodt-Brown. Minkoff’s passion for giving back to the game of hockey inspired him to pen his first children’s book. 




Olive and the Valentine’s Spell



By Helen Millman

Olive is a sweet elementary school boy who is afraid to go to school on Valentine’s Day. . .because he thinks he’ll have to get married! Olive’s mom joins in his fight to defeat the “princess of love,” but along the way he learns an even bigger lesson, discovering the true meaning of love.

Olive and the Valentine’s Spell is an inspiring children’s book for all ages that shines a humorous light on Valentine’s Day and overcoming your fears.




Pen Pal Gals: Friends Forever



By Julie Thiessen

Meet Reese and Addie—two girls, one great friendship.

It’s summer break! Reese is on her way to vacation at Camp Lake Shore with her family. When Reese meets a new friend, Addie, the two immediately connect and form a lasting friendship. Swimming, boating, laughing, and soaking up the sun are just a few highlights of their summer vacation. The girls become best friends. When their vacation comes to an end, Reese realizes she may never see Addie again. Determined to stay in touch forever, can Reese and Addie find a way to continue their friendship and share their adventures?




Recess Magic



By Bonny Spence Dieterich

We are kind every day and in every way.

On Greyson’s first day at a new school, his excitement turns to embarrassment when a classmate asks about his disability. At first, Greyson wants to hide. Then, he learns that sometimes, it takes courage to speak up. With his help, Greyson’s class learns that it’s important to understand new perspectives. And with kindness, empathy, and a little magic, a special friendship begins.




Self-Care with Ted and Friends



By Najma Khorrami

Ted and his friends invite you to join them on their journey of self-care! Watch Ted fly his kite, share lessons, and so much more. Self-care starts with this book!




Simply Samrina: Marvelously Mixed



By Shamim Rupani

Hi, I’m Samrina, and I’m proud to be a mixed kid—a child of two unique cultures and traditions. Even though other people make fun of me for being different, I know these differences make me, me. I’m proud to be marvelously mixed. Come meet my family!




Starr’s Wonderful Discovery



By Trey Jeffries

Starr is a loving, talented panda who finds happiness in her uniqueness. She shares her uniqueness every day with her family and friends in the forest. One special morning, she ventures out of her valley and discovers a lonely panda named Shine, who is sad and lonely because he has not yet learned to embrace his uniqueness. Can Starr help Shine find happiness in himself?




The Magical Path Leading to the Glass Bottom Boat



By Candice Zafran

Meet Prince Blake and Princess Brooklyn, a brother-sister pair who love going on adventures together. In this first installment of The Adventures of the Glass Bottom Boat series, join the siblings on a magical journey to their destination. Along the way, you’ll meet talking animals, discover hidden waterfalls, and walk through every color of the rainbow. Hurry now, the glass bottom boat is waiting!




The Truth about the Tooth



By Mistie Psaledas

Do you ever wonder what children all over the world do with their lost teeth? Or what tooth fairies actually look like?

In this delightful, educational book, tooth fairies reveal their secrets and share what happens to children’s lost teeth around the world. The Truth about the Tooth is a story about the diversity, creativity, and imagination of different tooth fairy legends—one from which the entire family can take inspiration.



Cookbooks

J.C. in the Kitchen



By John Contratti

Growing up, cooking and eating were ways to gather people together. With this cookbook, I hope to bring people back to the kitchen and the dining table to become close again. During hard times, we can find comfort in family and good food, and that is what I want to inspire in everyone who opens these pages.




Fiction 



Get Me Out of Here! Reflections of PD the Put-Upon Pug



By PD the Pug

More cookies than a Mrs. Fields’ warehouse, his own house constructed under the stairwell, too many toys to fit in his four beds, a veritable Life of Riley for dogs…yet PD the Pug is convinced that his life is a Ruff one, a life of penury, destitution, and want. He longs to be “OUT,” convinced that Out There is where happiness lies, where he can chase every squirrel, forage for more food than his pug belly can hold, and play until he passes out. But…does PD really have a lousy existence with Mommy? Or does he live the life of a Prince and is too silly and spoiled to know how good he has it? More important: Does PD find a way to escape Mommy and see what life on the outside truly is all about? Find out! Order Get Me Out Of Here! Reflections Of PD The Put-Upon Pug today!



Nonfiction 

 

Along For the Ride: Living My Fantasies as a Flight Attendant’s Husband



By C. J. Nicholas

From Europe to the Caribbean and back to the U.S.A., C. J. and Alejandra take you on their true and funny adventures of traveling the globe on standby and making the most out of their exploits. From traveling with severe food poisoning to their honeymoon destination, to listing their return flight plans in a marijuana bar in Amsterdam, to having an audience with the Pope in Italy—these are their stories.




How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying



By Marah Archer

As the World’s “Best” Boss puts it: I’ve never shied away from giving great advice— especially when free food or money is involved. Money is my lover, and boy, is she into bondage. I’ll show you how to master money’s rules to foreplay for navigating the business world. I’ll take you on a trip that teaches you all there is to know about starting a world-class business and to rubbing elbows (or even more) with the world’s elite.

Listen, I have an MBA from a top university (an American one, of course), no debt, millions in the bank, and an animation studio start-up that I can proudly say does a lot of stuff that I don’t quite understand. And that’s a good thing, because it keeps me focused on my money.

I’ll teach you how to run a business my way. A few of the things I’ll cover are:

• Human Resources

• Strategy

• Marketing & Business Development

• Leadership

• Tech & Big Data

I promise to give you a peek at my abundant life so that it drives you to be just as successful as I am. If you’re already a millionaire, you should pick up this book to validate what you already know to be true.




Legacy Culture



By Ronald Monack

Legacy Culture helps coaches establish their personal ethical values and bring themselves and their athletes in line with these goals. For any coach who desires to impact their athletes beyond the game they teach, this is their guide.




The Forbidden Fruit: A True Story of Sex, Drugs, and the Afterlife



By Tina Scott

My story is full of secrets. A twisted novel of my life’s journey—a failed marriage, death, sex, a touch of insanity, and an insatiable desire to believe there is a god. There are no more skeletons in my closet.

The Forbidden Fruit is a raw memoir told in an honest and resonating tone. It is the story of facing fears and finding ways to hurl through the unknown.




Young Adult 

Dr. Ford Freud: Skeletons Are Not Scary



By J. A. Ford

“So many questions. So many skeletons.”

Jered Barstow is only eight years old, but he’s burdened by serious concerns. Why does he suspect he’s being raised by people who aren’t his real parents? His family now seems preoccupied with skeletons. Paper Skeletons. Candy skeletons. Why so many skeletons? Skeletons are scary, right?



Subplot 

 

A Tangled Affair



By Anne C. Scardino

Clair Bondi makes the painful decision to divorce the only man she ever loved—Vince Bondi, her husband of twenty-five years. But Clair never gets the chance to tell Vince she is leaving him, because he is found fatally shot in his Porsche one night when driving home from his weekly tennis game. Haunted by his death, Clair is determined to help the Philadelphia police find the killer. Vince’s secret life, including an account in Turks and Caicos, forces Clair to realize that he wasn’t the man she thought he was. No longer the “good wife,” Clair’s strength and resilience take her from her darkest moment to a life unimagined—one with true love and purpose.




Sainted in Error



By Glenda Winders

What do you wear when you testify against your best friend as she goes on trial for murder?

As Maggie Patterson runs her hand over the clothes in her closet and muses about the prosaic details of preparing for a shockingly personal murder trial, she is catapulted into the memories that led her to this moment. Piece by piece, she assembles the fragments of her past to make sense of a violent crime, the echoes of which ripple through her recollections.

Maggie and Cynthia meet as college freshmen and are seemingly destined to be best friends for life. As the years pass, however, Maggie’s marriage and career lift her to success and wealth while Cynthia’s jealousy and untreated mental illness cause their relationship to disintegrate. As the stories of the two women’s lives unfold, Cynthia’s paranoia and anger sour every relationship she has and turn even the people who have loved her most against her, ultimately bubbling over into an event that Maggie never sees coming.

Not a murder mystery in the usual sense, and spanning time and space, Sainted in Error delves into the tenacity of friendship and the damage that the stigma still attached to mental illness can do.




The Art of Traveling Strangers



By Zoe Disigny

It’s the 1980s, and art historian Claire Markham reels from a series of heartbreaking losses. Desperate to escape her shattered reality, she becomes an art guide in Europe for quirky stranger Viv Chancey and embarks on a life-changing journey through the art-filled cities of Milan, Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Siena, Rome, and Paris.

Once abroad, Claire tries to hide her woes by focusing on Viv’s art education, but Viv—who is not who she seems—has a different learning experience in mind. Frustrated and wanting to reimagine her life, Claire embraces the idea of reality as illusion and finds herself slipping into the tales of art and history.

When threatened with one more crushing loss, Claire must learn from the spirit of her eccentric companion and the lessons from the art they encounter to take charge of her life or lose the most precious thing in it.

The Art of Traveling Strangers is a journey of self-discovery and personal empowerment inspired by the great art masterpieces of Italy and France. It’s a tale of female bonding and the amazing powers of perception. After all, reality, like art, is just an illusion.

 

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Subplot Publishing Feature: A Tangled Affair




Welcome to the first Subplot blog post! My name is Jess and I am an Acquisitions Director at Amplify Publishing Group. I started Subplot, a new imprint launched in 2021 dedicated to compelling and literary works of fiction, and we’re excited to announce that our first few titles are releasing in early 2022. Subplot (noun): a side story that runs parallel to the main plot.

As an Acquisitions Director, I review manuscripts for all of our imprints and make the ultimate decision on which titles have the right elements for Subplot. For each Subplot book, we will be releasing featured blog posts, some guest posts from the authors, and a few interviews to provide backstory to these wonderful projects. This new blog post is about one of our anticipating releases, A Tangled Affair.



How did the relationship with
A Tangled Affair begin?


A Tangled Affair
’s journey with Subplot started back in August of 2020. Upon my review of the title, not only did Anne C. Scardino’s author voice stick with me, but so did Clair’s perils. Normally I read the first few chapters to get a good sense of what the book entails, how the author sets up the plot, what are the characters like, etc. but Scardino’s writing looped me in so fervently that I had to stop myself from reading more so I could get other work done! Throughout that day, Clair’s journey clung to my mind and I itched to take a peek at what she was going to do once she uncovered Vince’s secret life. That is how I knew we had a Subplot book on our hands.


What is the book about?


In
A Tangled Affair, Clair Bondi makes the painful decision to divorce the only man she ever loved—Vince Bondi, her husband of twenty-five years. But Clair never gets the chance to tell Vince she is leaving him, because he is found fatally shot in his Porsche one night when driving home from his weekly tennis game. Haunted by his death, Clair is determined to help the Philadelphia police find the killer. Vince’s secret life, including an account in Turks and Caicos, forces Clair to realize that he wasn’t the man she thought he was. No longer the “good wife,” Clair’s strength and resilience take her from her darkest moment to a life unimagined—one with true love and purpose.


What makes A Tangled Affair the right fit for Subplot?


Throughout the years, Amplify Publishing Group (formerly Mascot Books) saw an increase in strong, high-quality fiction titles. With the success of our imprint Amplify for business books, we knew that we wanted a fiction imprint where our titles would have a specific brand to them.  The ins and outs of Subplot were still piecing together when Scardino signed with us. As the book developed and the gorgeous cover design came to life, I knew
A Tangled Affair absolutely had to be part of Subplot’s inaugural release. 

When thinking of what makes a good fiction book, there are two things that immediately come to mind: strong characters and intriguing plots. Readers don’t want to read the same story over and over again just told with different settings and vague characters. They should be drawn into these unique people—so much so that they feel they know them, care for them—and the plot should be the characters’ main accessory. 

Scardino does just that. Readers want Clair to find a happy ending. They mourn with her as she figures out where her life will lead after Vince’s death. They rejoice in how strong she gets as the novel moves along. The twists and surprises throughout leave the reader on the edge of their seat and the many dreamy settings, such as the cobbled streets of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, and the glistening beaches of the Turks and Caicos, are wonderful elements. This title is sure to be one that readers finish in one night, which, in my opinion, is the highest compliment to an author. 

If you’re a fan of romance, mystery, and suspenseful dramas, A Tangled Affair has all the ingredients for your next favorite read. Order your copy at the Mascot bookstore here.

If Subplot sounds like the right fit for your fiction manuscript, send us a synopsis and the first three chapters at jess@mascotbooks.com.  

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The Inside Scoop to Getting Testimonials

Testimonials can be some of the first words a consumer reads when picking up a book. These book blurbs serve as a way for readers to get immediate access to a book’s praise directly on the front and back cover, rather than having to search for them online. But how do authors get these endorsements from noteworthy people?

Let’s go over why this praise can be helpful, what a good testimonial looks like, and how to even get them.




Relevance and Quality


There are many reasons why you should consider having testimonials, some of them being that they strengthen your author credibility and attract readers to your book’s plot or themes. 

This begins with the perceived influence of the reviewer. Even if the reviewer is not a household name, it’s crucial to make sure that they have industry experience. It always looks good to include a subheading or title after the person’s name to explain why they are relevant to this book. That means you’ll have to ensure that you are collecting testimonials from people that have real knowledge about their field and – this is critical – are able to communicate their thoughts concisely and creatively.

Some blurbs you receive from top authors or leaders might be bland or non-specific. While it may be great to hear from them, a successful testimonial is eye-catching and narrows in on particular aspects of the book that make it unique. The goal should always be quality over quantity. 

Cultivate contacts that know you personally and/or professionally and can speak to your work. Vague statements are not worth your book’s cover – you want specific feedback that speaks to real aspects of the book and has concrete rationales for why that particular person is offering their endorsement. Your book deserves the best possible quotes. To get them, you’ll want to pick people that are not only knowledgeable in their profession, but also eloquent and have the ability to express why something works. They have to be able to communicate that well to an audience. 

 

Brainstorming Questions

Who are your readers? Who influences them? 

What elements of your book are most important to you, and who in your field can speak to those specific topics?

What does your ideal testimonial sound like? What do you want audiences to take away from your book? This will help focus your queries and request for reviews/blurbs. 

 

Organization and Process


Coming up with a system for gathering testimonials is a large part of the process. Having a streamlined methodology will help you stay focused and will allow you to maintain the goals you have set for yourself. Check out the following tips to help you begin collating reviews and testimonials:

  • Craft a short template query that you can send to prospective readers for their blurb or feedback, but make sure to leave room for a sentence or two that can be personalized. Sincere compliments go a long way. The template should explain explicitly that you are looking for a quote for the book, what you hope to accomplish, and, if the person does not know you personally, introduce yourself briefly but substantively. 
  • Depending on the volume of queries you intend to disseminate, maintain a spreadsheet that keeps track of the names you are reaching out to and the status of their decision(s). In general, it’s best to spread your net wide, as you will not get responses from everyone. (The net should not be so wide, though, that you begin to move away from the focus of the book.)
  • Establish deadlines for yourself and for your reviewer. 
  • Make sure that the system is as user-friendly as possible for the person you are requesting a testimonial from; send the book to them in whichever format they like, and try to accommodate their needs.

 

Elements of a Memorable Testimonial 


Any testimonial should tell the reader how they will benefit from the book, but being able to illuminate that in a way that pops is a golden ticket to a top-notch testimonial. 

Short and succinct blurbs are the best, but don’t be afraid to seek one that’s a bit longer. Having the reviewer explain what they learned is always a good starting point. It is always important to find a balance between substance and style. You want a reader to see a testimonial and actually get information from it, rather than just absorb a glowing review that may be sycophantic in nature.

 

Brainstorming Questions for the Reviewer 

What are some particular pieces of information that they learned, and how relevant are they to the book as a whole? Do they match the themes?

How was the information in the book conveyed, and what makes it different from other books on the market?

 

Strong Examples


Contains specific remarks about the book and/or language that is visual or surprising

  • “Ignore this book at your own peril.” -Seth Godin, Rework
  • “For those of us who didn’t pursue MBAs – and have the penny-ante salaries to prove it – Sorkin’s book offers a clear, cogent explanation of what happened and why it matters. -Julia Keller, Too Big to Fail 
  • Lean In is an inauguration rather than a last word…” -Anna Holmes / “What Sandberg offers is a view that shows twenty-somethings that choices and tradeoffs surely exist, but that the ‘old normal’ of blunting ambition so that can fit in one category or another does not have to be the way it is.” -Gayle Tzemach, Lean In

Weak Examples


Lack of specificity, personalization, snappy wordplay

  • “This was an inspiring book full of great advice and tips on how to succeed.”
  • “A must-have book for all managers and businesspeople.”
  • “The best book I’ve read all year!”


With these tips in mind, what are you waiting for? It’s time to go get those well-crafted testimonials! Let us know how it goes by contacting us at i
nfo@mascotbooks.com or tagging us on social media @Mascotbooks:

 

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