Whether you’re a writer or a reader, you know the power of a good book cover.
Authors will spend hours agonizing over the slant of the title’s font or two images almost exactly the same, all in an effort to choose the cover that best sells a story. Readers, in turn, skim the shelves, stopping at the first one that catches their eye.
So, the key? Design a book cover that will, according to Seth Godin, “tee up the reader so the book has maximum impact.” Especially from across the store, or in the mix of twenty others in a row.
The cover of a new anthology on the horizon, Broad Knowledge (Upper Rubber Boot Books), does exactly that: catches the eye, raises the eyebrows, and pretty much demands you fan the pages. I’m partnering with Upper Rubber Boot Books today in hosting the cover reveal for Broad Knowledge. And, you also get the feel of standing in the bookstore with a sneak peek at two excerpts from the 35 collected stories.
Now, for the cover.
(I wish I was tech-savvy enough so I could say, Click and Watch the image turn.
Instead, I make you scroll…)
About the book: Edited by Joanne Merriam, Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good is a feminist anthology featuring “35 stories of ‘bad’ women, and ‘good’ women who just haven’t been caught yet.” Thirty-five tales of strange, dark, a hint of horror. But the best part? This isn’t just a collection of stories about women, it’s a collection of stories by women–all taking a bold stance in literature.
Read the excerpts below, then check out the Table of Contents for the entire list of stories and authors. You can also follow publication news of Broad Knowledge at Upper Rubber Boot Books’ website or on Twitter (@upperrubberboot).
From “Mary In the Looking Glass” by Laura E. Price
Clara doesn’t remember not knowing about the lady in the mirror. Mary with the bloody eyes. Mary with the long, sharp fingernails. Mary with the pointed teeth. She died in an accident. Her husband killed her. She killed her baby. She’ll tell you your sins, she’ll scratch you, she’ll haunt your house, she’ll kill you if you call her. Why does anyone call her? I’m not scared, I’m sooo drunk, I’ll do it.
I’ll do it. Clara always did it.
Because sometimes the Mary who came was young and bleeding from a cut on her head. Or her eyes were all blood, her hands reaching out to rip and tear. Once she held her head in her own hands. Clara’s breath always caught at the sight of her, even when all she saw was her own face reflected over Mary’s, deep down in the mirror. She was beautiful, bloody and rageful and sad and so, so tempting for it.
The first time Clara touched her, Mary shuddered hard and looked at her from empty, bloody sockets. The other girls crouched, whimpering in the corner of the dormitory bathroom, screams still in the air, as Clara touched Mary’s arm, then gently, carefully, so slowly, put a hand to her face.
Her flesh was cool. The blood was sticky and stayed on Clara’s hand after Mary fled back into the mirror; Clara hated that the girls made her wash it off. None of them talked to her after that, but she didn’t care because now and then, at night, as she walked down the hall, she could see Mary’s translucent face watching her from the window glass.
She left flowers at the windows. Daffodils and Queen Anne’s lace. She left candy near the mirrors; she left poems on pastel paper; soft, rose-scented sachets. And during a school break, her roommate away on a trip and the dorm practically empty, Clara saw Mary in the mirror above her dresser, watching. Smiling. Eyes in sockets but blood on her cheeks nonetheless.
Clara pulled everything off the dresser top and whispered, over and over, I believe in Mary Whales. Mary came closer and closer; Clara’s breath sped up, her belly warmed, and when Mary broke through her mirror and climbed over the dresser, she could barely think for wanting to put her hands and mouth on that cool, sticky skin.
Mary tasted of blood, but just at first, then she tasted of sweat and a little of dirt. She moved uncertainly, but Clara was bold and soon Mary was, too. At the end of the week, everything was back on the dresser, and Clara’s skin was covered in thin red scratches.
From “The Ladies in the Moon” by Xin Niu Zhang
“You know,” Paul begins at length, after I politely refuse a blunt, “before we were born, folks were freaked out about the Earth dying. Overpopulation. Global warming. Planet getting scorched.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I exhale, wishing I had another drink instead of the stench of weed. “But then! The Initiative. Growth. Space colonies. Hallelujah.”
“Hallelujah,” he repeats, wry. “Except not. You know what I think? I think this shithole of a planet is still dying, and all of us with it.”
“Not the biggest news to me, Paul.”
“Well, maybe someone can save it.” He shrugs, ignoring my laugh. “One thing I know, though—I sure as hell am not sticking around to see if this place survives.”
That shocks me out of my bout of cynicism. I meet his gaze, disbelieving. “You’re getting away? To one of the colonies?”
“Boss got his name on the list,” Paul says, maddeningly calm. “Moon. Sector 8. Procured some spots for his family. Me. Roy and the boys.” He directs a smoke ring politely away from my face. “We’re up and ditching this whole city in just two days. Going straight to the Capital HQ, preparing for the summer expedition. None of the other Solars know. Not even Steve and his pop.”
Translation: they’re abandoning us to scramble in their absence. Rival gangs would overtake our turf in days. “Why are you telling me this?”
“You’ve always been a good kid, Fletch.” He smiles wearily at me. “You keep your head down, do good work. Boss thinks you got merit. Could be a great soldier someday. Maybe engineer. Like one of the original smart guys who got us to Mars.”
Merit. All I did today was hassle a stupid kid and collect a paycheck. I don’t see a lot of skill in that, but I sure as hell am not going to correct him.
Paul seems to read my mind. “You don’t understand it, Fletcher, but you got potential. You have a cool head, steady hands. That matters. So… boss thinks he can get you in.”
My heart stops.
I was expecting him to pass me the torch of leading the Solars, a consolation prize. Not this. A ticket off the scorched, dying, cigarette-smoking planet. Cretins like us, Anna had said. Raj, I thought. That boy’s eyes full of stupid hope.
Distantly, I hear Paul saying, “But you gotta decide now. Boss has one spot. You don’t want it, someone else is gonna get it. I told you when we’re leaving.”
I let loose a long, shaky breath. Wait for my heartbeat to come back. “What?” My lips twitch. “The boss won’t reserve the vacancy for me? Thought I was his favorite.”
“You’re his favorite.” Paul grins. “But the moon waits for no one.”
The second in the Women Up To No Good series, Broad Knowledge is forthcoming in spring 2018.