Monday, April 7, 2014

Featured Author: Lissa M. Cowan of Milk Fever

Title: Milk Fever
Author Name: Lissa M. Cowan

Book Genre: Historical fiction, literary suspense
Publisher: Demeter Press
Release Date: October 18, 2013

What if the only person you ever loved suddenly disappeared without a trace?
In 1789, Armande, a wet nurse who is known for the mystical qualities of her breast milk, goes missing from her mountain village.

Céleste, a cunning servant girl who Armande once saved from shame and starvation, sets out to find her. A snuffbox found in the snow, the unexpected arrival of a gentleman and the discovery of the wet nurse’s diary, deepen the mystery. Using Armande’s diary as a map to her secret past, Céleste fights to save her from those plotting to steal the wisdom of her milk.

Milk Fever is a rich and inspired tale set on the eve of the French Revolution–a delicious peek into this age’s history. The story explores the fight for women’s rights and the rise in clandestine literature laying bare sexuality, the nature of love and the magic of books to transform lives.


Why Book Covers are So Important
I had a discussion with my publisher before my book was published. I told her that I was fussy about book covers and I thought it would be better to find a stock image rather than commission an artist to do something for little pay. I worked with a graphic designer and it took us several hours to find an image that I liked and that was affordable. There are so many amazing images out there yet they also cost thousands of dollars. I love the image that I chose because it really captures the sensuality of my book and of the time period in which it’s set. It also reminds me of Céleste, the narrator of the book. The painting is by François Boucher, a famous Rococo painter so it really is perfect to have found it.
So besides just being generally fussy about quality (I worked in publishing for a few years which might explain why) I have always thought that a book cover needs to sell the book. If people see the book in a store then they might be in a rush and could walk right by unless the cover makes them stop and pick up the book. I have bought books just because I like the cover, even before knowing the author or what the book’s about.
Think of it as a first impression.
If you’re at a job interview, you’re going to want to look your best and be clear about why you want the job and what you can do for the company. Well, the same is true for a book cover. You might only have that one chance to entice someone into picking up your book. You want to make sure that the words are clear, that the cover isn’t too cluttered and that it’s obvious what kind of book it is. If you don’t have much money for design, then ask your friends if they know someone who can do it at a reduced rate and you’ll give them some exposure. Or go to the local art college and see if any students might be interested in trying book design. Do research beforehand to see what book covers are out there and which ones appeal to you and why. Above all, make sure you love the cover. I know authors who go along with what their publishers want, however you spent so much time writing the book so you should be proud of the final product.

Lissa M. Cowan is the author of Milk Fever and founder of Writing the Body. She speaks and writes about storytelling, creativity, work-life balance and creative spirituality. She is a Huffington Post blogger and writes regularly for Canadian and U.S. magazines and newspapers. 
She is co-translator of Words that Walk in the Night by Pierre Morency, one of Québec’s most honoured poets. She has been writing and telling stories in one form or another since she was six years old and has received awards for her writing from the University of Victoria’s Writing Department and from The Banff Centre. She is an alumna of The Banff Centre and The Victoria School of Writing. She has had some wonderfully talented teachers along the way such as Nino Ricci, Jane Rule and Daphne Marlatt who have helped her hone her writing craft.
Lissa believes that inspiration for writing can come from anywhere and that lifelong creativity begins by cultivating a deep awareness of ourselves, and the world around us. She coaches her students to develop the skills to tune in—rather than wait for the muse—and to trust their intuition. She believes that true creative work begins with a loving relationship to self and spreads outwards to encompass all living beings.
When she’s not writing or teaching, you can most likely find her in a cafe working on one of her stories or book ideas. She just started work on a creative non-fiction book, though it’s too early right now to spill the beans on that one!
She holds a Master of Arts degree in English Studies from l’Université de Montréal and lives in Toronto, Canada.

Author Links - The link for any or all of the following...
Website:  Blog: | Facebook: | Twitter:  @lissacowan | Pinterest: | Linkedin: | Goodreads:
 | Amazon:

Giveaway -
A copy of my novel and one-hour Skype or phone call lesson on how to write historical fiction



Excerpt One (300-500 or so Words):
Armande handed me a book that felt clumsy and stiff in my hands.
I pressed it with all the strength I could bring to bear. She said the
pages of books were made from cotton and linen rags stamped into
pulp, then pressed into paper and hung to dry. I laughed at her for
telling such a lie because I thought maybe she was just like my father
who told tall tales to make me behave. Rows and rows of lines she
called words looked odd to me. Many times I searched hard within
every letter, every sound to find meaning. The letters cut my tongue
as thorns on a rose bush, each one sticking to me. I could not speak
the next letter until the one before it came unstuck. Soon after the
word was finally spoken, my lazy tongue quit my mouth.

Months later, the wet nurse asked me to read a passage aloud.
The first line was, Bodies gliding on morning’s cloak of dew, lit up
as iridescent insect wings they flew. When I came to the word iridescent,
Armande said to say it slowly, one letter at a time. She told
me it was from the word iris for the flower, and escent for colours
of the rainbow that change as a dragonfly in the sun. Finally, when
my tongue began working with me and worrying less, she asked me
to say other words like deliquescent, effervescence, and florescence.
These newfound words were as rare gems dug up by the wet nurse
solely for me. She wrote them out with big stokes that filled a whole
page. I rubbed my eyes to make the words go away, yet they only
stayed there waiting for me to say them.

In the days and months that followed, I learned to read and write
well, and I learned first-hand about the miraculous effects of Armande’s
milk on babies. Before, I was a mere servant watching from afar as the
wet nurse suckled. Then I was part of her life, holding and changing
babies, burping them, and rocking them to sleep. Armande cared for
three babies during this period yet not all at once. She would also tend
to others from time to time, reassuring worried mothers in soothing
tones as gentle and sweet as the milk itself. First there was Jacques
who she still cared for. His mother died in childbirth and Armande

stepped up to nurse him without a thought about payment. Caroline
came after, then Héloïse. The first time I watched from up close as
Jacques drank her milk was in the drawing room. 

Armande was on her favourite oak chair with the sagging blue leather
seat and worn arms while I sat on the sofa. Suddenly Jacques stopped sucking,
then gazed at me knowingly, his eyes full of light. In that instant, a slim ray
of sun gleamed through a crack, lighting up the darkness inside me.
My hands shook. Sweat ran down my cheeks and the back of my neck.
Just as she said her father sometimes described it, we were entering a new
age driven by light. And I, a peasant girl whose father and mother never
held a book, would be there to witness the change.

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