Posted in About the Book

The Making of a Book Cover: Part 3: Finalizing the Cover and Runner-up Gallery

7Over the last two weeks, I broke down the process of a single book cover and shared some special moments behind my photoshoots. Today, I want to fill you in on what happens after the photoshoot.

The first step is to view the pictures. I’ve taken anywhere from 161 pictures to over 300 in a single photoshoot. After thumbing through them all, I sort through them again but this time I pull out anything that jumps out at me.
Then I sort through those pictures and try to narrow them down to one favorite pic per pose. If I can’t choose only one, I don’t stress it yet.
Taking the thinner selection, I thumb through them again and force myself to weed them down.

The Polls are Open: Now that I have a smaller selection, I share these with other people. I’ve shared them openly here on the blog in the past, but have recently moved the voting process to my Street Team as an added perk for them. I ask for their top 3 favorites and the reason why they chose them. It’s always interesting to hear why certain pictures draw people to them. I’ve received some very insightful answers over the years and it always helps me narrow down my search.
From there, I take the top picks and add the cover art to them. I typically have a personal favorite that didn’t get much love during the voting process and I always pass it through this round. It’s been surprising in the past to see what happens. Sometimes the overlooked one makes a great comeback and sometimes it continues to get ignored.
With the cover art (title, name, and series logo) in place, I ask them to vote for their favorite and to tell me why.
I take into consideration which pictures are more popular with the crowd, the reasons why certain pictures are drawing them in, or why some pictures are turning people away, and then which picture speaks the most to me.

Choosing the Winning Picture: I enlarge the photos and stare at them for hours. Lol No, I’m serious!! There’s a constant war of “This one? or That one?” going on in my brain. I keep flipping through them. Often times, I pull aside a close friend and make her thumb through them with me. Together, we pick apart the pros and cons for each and narrow them down even further. By the time I’m sitting with the final 2 or 3, I’m really about to lose my mind. It’s a big decision and I’m the one in charge of pulling the plug. The longer I scroll through them (keeping in mind the voters’ favorite and comments along with my pros and cons), the more obvious the winner becomes. Before you know it, I can’t keep that dumb smile off my face whenever I see my cover. And that’s when I know. Lol
Sometimes the popular vote wins. Sometimes the crowd persuades me to see something special in a picture that wasn’t my original favorite. But sometimes I step out on my own and select a picture that I feel best fits the story even though it didn’t win the popular vote. And you’d think the work would be over, but it’s just beginning . . .

Finalizing Cover Art: Once I have a final picture, the time comes to finalize the cover art. I know that I had mentioned that the cover art was already on the picture. But that was more of a draft. Now it’s time to get picky and make sure every detail is perfect. Unless you’ve done this sort of work, you’d be amazed at how tedious this process can be. Professionals that don’t seek outside opinion may make faster work of it, but since I work with the wise counsel of others it takes a TON of back and forth ideas before the cover art is finalized. Here’s a quick rundown of what it looks like:
Am I using the best font for the title? Or should I choose this one? Or this one? How about this one?
Is the title large enough? Too large?
Is the title in the best position? Or should I move it?
Am I using the right color of font on the title? Do I need a shadow?
Is my name in the right color?
Should I move my name here instead?
Is the series logo large enough? Too large?
How do the fonts look together? If I change this one should I change this one? How about this combination?
Color selections on the series logo: right or wrong? How about this change? Or this one? Does the picture need a filter?
Are there any sections of the picture that are too dark or too light or too blurry? Can it be fixed? Or over fixed?

After asking myself close to 600 questions in a matter of 24 hours, I finally have a cover I can be proud of. Again, this may not be every author’s experience. But this is mine. I hope you have enjoyed the sneak peek.
Was there any part of the process that surprised you?

For a special treat, I’m going to share the runner-ups and the reason each winning photo won. Please remember that ALL photos fall under copyright law and cannot be used for any reason outside of promoting the work of A.M. Heath.

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Where Can I Flee: When it came down to the final two, the question was “Should he look down or up?” One of the other favorites was the shot I took from the other side of the creek. At the end of the day, the “looking up” pose won. There’s a sense of contemplation on Frank’s face and that’s perfect for the story! But I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I flipped back and forth between the up and down pose before selecting it.

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In the Shadow of Thy Wings: The runner-up photos each captured that private moment where Sally is reading a letter from Frank. I didn’t go with the popular vote on this one but stepped out with my own selection based on the unique lighting and the building in the background that sets up the image that Sally had slipped away from her busy life to enjoy this particular letter.

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Out of the Ashes: Again it came down to head up or down. Some of the other favorites included standing poses like this one against the tree. But in the end, the squatting pose best fit the rest of the series and the emotion and angle of the background was a winner. I can’t remember where the popular vote fell with this one.

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His Love Endures Forever: The runner-up on the left was a fast favorite of mine. It was one that I knew would be in the running the moment I took it. One of the perks to the picture on the right was the view of the house. But in the end, I was drawn to the cover shot because the colors seemed to pop more. And this time around, it was also the popular vote.

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Katherine’s Good News: Ahhh the picture of longing. Katherine is someone who had locked herself away¬†but is missing someone. The picture on the left was a favorite of mine. But in the end, the close-up shot held more appeal. Plus, it didn’t require any photoshopping unlike the wedding photo seen in the runner-up shot. ūüėČ

Final Liz

 

If Only It Were Yesterday: Sometimes the hardest shots to pick between are the ones that are nearly identical. That was the problem with WCIF’s cover and that was the problem with this one. While each photo carries a wistful longing in the face of Liz, in the end, I went against the popular votes and selected a picture that I felt captured the moment in an unstaged way. The finished product looked like a private moment which fits the story perfectly.

Mock finished 3

 

Yesterday’s Christmas:¬†On the right was one of the popular votes. And on the left was my personal favorite. Sigh. I still can’t help but love that seemingly private moment between Glenn and Betty. For me, there were so many factors pulling for this one. Even when no one noticed it, I kept it in the running and had nearly selected it as the cover. After sleeping on the decision and praying the whole night, I woke up and selected the winning cover instead. We’ll certainly see this runner-up shot again in the advertisements. But what won me over was the appeal of the close-up shot and the Beauty and the Beast feel of the selected cover. And just in case you missed the memo, Yesterday’s Christmas is inspired by Beauty and the Beast so that factor was a rather important one.

Final Grace

 

The Birth of Grace: There was something just plain right about the picture on the couch. There was a strong coffee shop image here that I loved. I had a couple other poses on this couch up for consideration. And I loved the overhead shot. But in the end, the background was more interesting in the chosen picture versus the couch shot. And I LOVED having the tree in the background since so much of the story revolves around Kaitlin’s ancestors.

It amazes me, looking back at these runner-ups. I can remember being so torn between two pictures. But now, looking at them, I couldn’t imagine choosing anything differently.

How do you feel about viewing the runner-ups? Would you have chosen differently? And most importantly: Head up or head down? Lol

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Posted in About the Book

The Making of a Book Cover: Part 2: The Photoshoot

7Last week, I shared with you the early prep work that goes into the cover. Today, I want to share some of the special moments during the photoshoots themselves.
While walking into the shoot knowing that I have to leave with one perfect picture can create a bit of nerves,¬†I try to remind myself that I only need ONE shot. Here’s a glimpse at what happened that day .¬†. .

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Katherine’s Good News:
Before I had published any book, I had planned to release KGN as a novella. It was meant to act as a prequel that would introduce readers to a brand new author. The rest of the series would come in behind it to fill in what happened before KGN. It may sound strange to publish them out of order but it would have worked . . . except that my critique team had seen something bigger for KGN and had challenged me to turn it into a full-sized novel, which I agreed to do. But at the time, KGN was to be my first published work and therefore was my first photoshoot.
Elizabeth Bowman sat for the cover as Katherine Bakeman. My only requirement was that I needed a pregnant model with brown hair and Elizabeth was perfect. We took the picture in her home and chatted about various things . . . including plastic flamingos. Lol To this day, I think of her when I see one.
Her husband Tyler Bowman walked in while we were working and offered to help me with anything else I needed. Little did he know that I had him on my list for models for Frank Harper. I took him up on that offer on the spot!!
Lesser known fact: Elizabeth has never taken off her wedding ring since the day of her wedding. Since the character is pregnant out of wedlock, we hid the ring in each of the poses.

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Where Can I Flee:
As mentioned, Tyler Bowman sat for Frank Harper. We chose a day in Aug, an extremely hot day in Aug I might add. I packed a picnic lunch and met Tyler and a local Civil War reenactor, Joseph Byrd,  on a Saturday morning. The fellas set up two tents for my backdrop and took them down after the shoot.
The letter on the cover was fictionally written by Frank’s sister, Claire. But the handwriting belongs to Christina Gragg.
Memorable Moment: At the end of the shoot, I sat down on the ground and thumbed through some pictures when I felt something on my leg. I looked down and had this gigantic spider crawling on my leg. Needless to say, I screamed and jumped up – or I tried to. My legs were weak from squatting and standing over the past two hours that as soon as I jumped up, I collapsed. Lol But I couldn’t let that spider get me so I crawled away as best as I could. LOL I was a bit embarrassed once things settled down. But if it happened again, I would have done the same thing.

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In the Shadow of Thy Wings:

Taylor Adcock sat for the character Sally Chandler. We had an early morning photoshoot since Taylor was newly engaged at the time and had a second photoshoot scheduled for that same afternoon for her engagement photos. We mostly had the area to ourselves that morning which is always helpful in a public area.
The letter on the cover was fictionally written by Frank Harper, but the handwriting belongs to Steve Flippo.
Lesser Known Fact: In preparation for her engagement photos, Taylor’s fingernails were SUPER red and had to photoshopped¬†for the cover.

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His Love Endures Forever:
Tiffany Hutchings sat on the cover for Allie Redman. This was my first time working with the Potts on Valley Home Farm but if you’ve read my post last week you’d already know that it wasn’t my last. In this cover, Allie is meant to be reading a letter written during the Civil War so not only did we create a letter but we had to age this one as well. The letter was fictionally written by Sally Chandler while the handwriting belongs to Sherry Williams.
Memorable Moment: Tiffany was under attack by bees almost the entire time. It doesn’t show in the picture but she was dodging them in between shots!

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Out of the Ashes:
Zach Cartwright sat on the cover for Ralph Williams. We borrowed the uniform from a Cavalry reenactor, Guy Hill. This was another one of those sweltering shoots. By the end, both of us were red-faced and sweating. Lol We didn’t have to dodge bees during this one but I did have to dodge cars and people. There is a busy road in front of the cemetery. Some of the shots were angled toward the road so I had to keep an eye on traffic and angle the camera so as to miss the poles and wires in the background.
Fun Fact: We borrowed a wide-brimmed hat to go along with the uniform since they were more popular among the cavalrymen but chose not to use it since it made Zach look Amish. Lol Nothing against the Amish look, but it would have been misleading as a cover image. ūüėČ
Try to imagine the cover image with the different hat. It’s amazing how the smallest details can change an entire image. Another hat-related fun fact for you: I had Tyler try some relaxing poses with his hat resting beside him during Where Can I Flee’s cover shoot. But every time he took his hat off, he ceased to be Frank and became Tyler instead. I eventually got the hint and we left the hat one for the remainder of the photos.

Final Liz

If Only It Were Yesterday:
Shelby Bramblett sat on the cover for Liz Cooke. Since I was offered a full tour of Valley Home during my first visit, I recalled seeing two dresses on display. So I knew where to look when I developed a cover that required an antique dress. In fact, the era in the novel was chosen specifically for the sake of using that dress.
While the Potts were overly generous, there was one major stipulation. We couldn’t touch the dress without gloves. Together, Shelby and I put gloves on and moved the dress, then stipped them off to take pictures, and put them back on to reposition the dress again.
Lesser Known Fact: Because we weren’t allowed to touch the dress, Shelby’s hand is actually hovering above it in the picture.

Grace Final 1600x2400

The Birth of Grace:
Veronica Bardoff sat for Kaitlin Jefferson. We met at the coffee shop that morning during the lull for pictures and, for the most part, had the place to ourselves. Just over Veronica’s shoulder on the far wall is an interesting picture of a frog. Lol I took several shots before I noticed him and afterward purposely angled him out of the shot. However, the tree in the background was a pleasant surprise. After the shoot, we sat down and enjoyed mochas and bagels.
Lesser Known Fact: Veronica’s daughter is playing on the floor during the entire photoshoot but you wouldn’t know that just by looking at the picture, would you? ūüėČ

Mock finished 3

Yesterday’s Christmas:
In the fall of 2017, I set out to create these last three covers. Because there are so many factors to weave together to pull off any single shoot, I feel better about getting them done earlier rather than later. When I started the Ancient Words Series, I hadn’t expected to take a break in the publication so in order to pull off the next three releases, I needed three new covers. I knew up front that Yesterday’s Christmas was going to be the biggest challenge. But on the last Saturday in Oct, we set out to bring this image to life.
For the first time, I worked with a couple and I must say it was a wonderful experience. Real-life couple, Colt and Kayla Davis, sat for Betty and Glenn Tanner. These two played off of each other so well. The prep work was strenuous with this one. After searching the closets of our friends, we had Kayla’s skirt special made while the other items were easily collected. I used my own Christmas tree, some of my strands of lights, my mother’s ornaments, borrowed strands of bubble lights which were hugely popular in the 1950s, and bought a .99 pack of tinsel. Also for the first time, I worked with an assistant. Darla Damron tagged along to help me set up and take down the tree. She was a huge blessing, let me tell you!
Lesser Known Fact: We were working in a dim corner on a cloudy day, making the lighting a total nightmare. Majority of the pictures were trashed during my first viewing. But thanks to Amanda Tero and a little sharpening magic, we found an image that more than passed the test.

I hope you’re enjoying this behind the scenes look at the book cover. Did any of these behind the scenes details change the way you viewed the cover?

Join me next week and I’ll fill you in on what happens after the pictures are taken. AND for a special treat, I’ll share the runner-up covers and fill you in on why each particular cover was selected over the other favorites.

Posted in About the Book

The Making of a Book Cover: Part 1: Location and Set-up

7Cover art is the most recognizable factor of any book . . . unless the author’s name is so famous that no one looks beyond the name at the picture. Between today and the next two weeks, I want to take you behind the scenes and show you how these covers are made. Now,¬† you should know up front that this process will differ in some ways from author to author, especially if we’re comparing a traditionally published author to a self-published author. But many of these factors will be the same clear across the board. I’m not going to show you how others do it. I’ll show you how I do it. The first step is the dream stage . . .

Dreaming: Before I can capture an image, I first need an idea of what I’m looking for. Since I’m a self-published author, I have free reign here. It’s not uncommon for me to see glimpses of possible cover art during the earliest development of the story. Not all my story ideas have mental covers yet. But I can pretty well tell which of my story ideas are the most serious about finding paper based on whether or not I’m starting to visualize the cover.

During this dream stage, I think about the overall image of the cover, from the character I’d most like to see in the picture, to the backdrop, as well as the pose. Once I have a good idea in mind, I start creating my “shopping list.”

Shopping List: I make a list of everything that particular cover needs to come to life. And I do mean EVERYTHING. Things like: models with a particular look, wardrobe, location, and props.
Once I have a list in hand, I begin praying about how to gather these needs. I begin “browsing” for people who I know will fit the image I’m looking for. I also brainstorm location options. And in the case of the historical novels, I’m asking around for people with the proper props and/or wardrobe that I can borrow or rent for the shoot. This stage could take months or even years, pending on how soon I need the cover and what all stands in my way. The majority of this time is spent praying and waiting. But once I feel that I have the green light from God to move forward, I start contacting people and pulling strings together.

The Big Day: Since I do my own photography, there is nothing more thrilling or more nervewracking than the day of the photoshoot. Most of these cases, I have already taken pictures of the locations before the photoshoot to give me ideas on the specific areas I could work in as well as any complications I might encounter during the shoot.
Most of the locations “came ready.” However, Where Can I Flee and Yesterday’s Christmas required additional set-up in order to bring the backdrop to life.
Where Can I Flee, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, and His Love Endures Forever required a handwritten letter to grace the cover.¬†These were crafted beforehand. You can’t view them well enough in the pictures to read them, but they ARE actual letters found in the books. And now they’re keepsakes on my shelf at home.

Location: I like to work on location, so every detail is important. When selecting a place to take Where Can I Flee’s photos, I had to pay close attention to my backdrop. We were fortunate to find a seemingly untouched area to work along the Duck River.
In the Shadow of Thy Wings, The Birth of Grace, and Out of the Ashes were taken in public areas where people were walking about. I had to pay close attention to the angle of my camera every time I moved around to make sure I didn’t pick up cars, people, telephone poles, etc.

Travel Behind the Scenes: Just for fun, I’m going behind the scenes to show you where each of these photos was taken. It’s interesting to see the same shot from a different view point.

 

 

Where Can I Flee was taken on Arrow Head Ranch in Normandy, TN. The Duck River cuts through the property. When I was exploring the area, I found a little creek jutting off of the river. The picture on the left was something I took early that morning before we set up the tents. On the cover, Tyler is sitting along the bank of the creek while I took the picture on the little island visible on the right-hand side of the first picture.

 

 

In the Shadow of Thy Wings was taken at Cannonsburg in Murfreesboro, TN. This particular photo was taken behind the row of buildings you see on the right-hand side of the first picture.

 

 

Out of the Ashes was taken at Stone’s River Battlefield in Murfreesboro, TN. There is a Union cemetery on the property.

 

 

His Love Endures Forever was taken at Valley Home Farm in Wartrace, TN. It’s a family-owned farm where you can pick your own berries in the springtime. They have restored this old home, turning it into a live-in museum.

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Katherine’s Good News was taken inside the home of the cover model. I don’t have a location shot for this one. But I do have an interesting story that I’ll share with you next week. ūüėČ

 

 

If Only It Were Yesterday was taken inside one of the rooms at Valley Home Farm. One of the most important factors on the cover was the dress which has also been restored and displayed at Valley Home Farm.

 

 

Yesterday’s Christmas was also taken at Valley Home Farm. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to the Potts family for being so gracious to me and allowing me to take not one, but three, photoshoots in their home. And I have a feeling we’ll see other corners of their property on future book covers.

 

 

The Birth of Grace was taken at a new coffee shop in Shelbyville, TN called Koffee Beanz. The coffee is as good as the atmosphere is lively!

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek behind the scenes. Next week, I’ll share more info about the models and some stories from the photoshoots.

 

 

 

Posted in About the Book

Walk the Streets of Maple Grove

For those that don’t know, Maple Grove, the fictional town from my Ancient Words Series, is based on a real town — my hometown: Wartrace, Tennessee.

Wartrace, like so many other quaint towns, have a history all its own that is unique and special to those that call it home.

Borrowed from the Chamber of Commerce page:
Wartrace has been described as the “little town where time stands still”. That’s probably because our small village, nestled in the gently¬†rolling hills of south central Tennessee, hasn’t changed much since¬†our Grandparents were kids. It’s hidden away from the hustle and¬†bustle of the city and suburbs, amid scenic Walking Horse farms,¬†and yet is only an hour’s drive from Nashville, Chattanooga and¬†Huntsville.
Yes, we may be off the beaten path but Wartrace is the¬†home of internationally renowned hand-crafted guitars, a world-class live music venue and destination hotel, a 32-year-old ultra-¬†marathon that attracts runners from around the world, the oldest¬†one-night horse show in Tennessee and the popular Wartrace¬†MusicFest, held the first weekend in June.¬†We’re proud of our collection of stately historic homes and¬†commercial buildings, some built before the civil war. Our entire¬†downtown and most of the residential district is on the National¬†Register of Historic Places.
Since it’s founding in 1853 Wartrace has been host to the oldest¬†¬†railroad line in the state, lived through the skirmishes and¬†encampments of the Tullahoma Campaign, and is still proud to be¬†the birthplace of the world famous Tennessee Walking Horse.

But I want to share some areas of the town that inspired the story that you’re reading. A friend of mine, after reading Where Can I Flee, asked me where Maple Grove was. She wanted to walk down Vine Street. She wanted to experience this special place. For those that have walked through Wartrace and for those that never will, allow me to take you there today. These are the places that I saw in my mind as I wrote key scenes in the town of Maple Grove.


2015_0725Endures0739I’ve learned that it’s much easier to pretend to be knowledgeable about a subject if you are, in fact, knowledgeable in it. Early in my writing, I deemed it best to map out the fictional town. Because my feeble brain couldn’t think of how to create a map outside of a grid method, I decided to pull up the real map of Wartrace and sketch out a likeness of it. I cut a few curves or left off a road where I saw fit, but it gave me the groundwork that I needed to envision the fictional town that would carry an entire series. And then I changed the names of all the roads. All except one: Vine Street. I left Vine Street’s name intact to give myself an anchor or a home base, if you will. All the other names are fictional. For those that are curious, I placed the Harper home on Yell Drive East (fictionally named, Woodland Hills). I gave a nod to our town’s history by renaming the road in front of the Walking Horse Hotel to Horseshoe Lane.


2015_0725Endures0743The Walking Horse Hotel is the large brick building in the background. But look, the railroad is still in use here.


2015_0725Endures0745¬†I’m not sure who owns this building now, or whether those charming gas pumps actually work, but I have a host of childhood memories here and it’s a vital location in the series. This is the location of the Chandler’s General Store. I altered much of the building to suit mine, or rather the Chandlers’ needs, but I also kept some key characteristics the same. The Chandler’s store is a three-story white-washed building¬†while this one is only one story. But I kept the L-shaped ¬†feature in the story. I imagined this portion of the building that is jutting out toward the road to be the storage room. There’s a lower level storage room in this area as well as a winding staircase leading to the apartment.
When I was a child, this was Bob’s Hardware and it was owned by Bob and Anna Keele whose entire family were close friends with mine. My mom worked with Bob and Anna’s three children up the road a bit. After school, my brother and I often road the bus here with Anna’s grandchildren. She ran the store and watched us until our parents got off from work. We often played behind the building in the grass yard and creek. I kept the creek in the novel and named it Lower Creek.


2015_0725Endures0746This is where I imagined the hotel in Maple Grove. The hotel isn’t mentioned often, but it’s most recognized in the “Carrot” scene. Claire crosses the street from the blacksmith’s shop to the general store when a group of cavalrymen circle around the hotel on their way back from washing in the creek. I imagine the blacksmith’s shop to be directly across from the general store, where, in fact, a yellow brick building sits with no real blacksmith charms to it at all. ūüėČ But at least now you know where I positioned it.


2015_0725Endures0747Another often mentioned location in the series: Hilltop Lane. Hilltop Ln is described as a steep hill, and while this picture doesn’t do it justice, my imagination did purposely give this real location an even steeper incline. The sign on your left¬†is the same Vine St. sign that I shared with you earlier. The yellow brick to our left is the ¬†location of the blacksmith, and the Chandler’s General store sits to the right, although it’s not pictured here. But at the top of this hill, right before you get to that sharp curve is where I positioned the church that their families attend, rightly named Hilltop Baptist Church. The top of this hill is also the location where Claire was almost trampled by a band of cavalrymen riding around the corner there. Most readers will remember this very well. Several scenes mention the families walking or riding from the church to the Chandler’s store for a meal on Sundays.


I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the real town that inspired Maple Grove. You can learn more about the history behind my series in the following blog posts:  Humble Beginnings,  When God Intervenes, Happy Birthday, Ancient Words Series, and Local Inspiration. 

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: His Love Endures Forever

His Love Endures Forever has a long and interesting history. It was originally titled Ancient Words until the Lord made a series out of the idea. It’s been exciting to venture out with the Lord and write the series. The changes to the series lineup have been amazing to watch as they unfolded. The Lord has changed me quite a bit too. You can read more about the novel’s history and my own struggles as I chose to follow God’s plans in previous posts.

I’m so proud to present this lovely cover. The pictures were taken at the Valley Home Farm in Wartrace, Tennessee. Tiffany Hutchings graces the cover as my lovable, but shy, Allie Redman.

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Now that the gang’s all here, let’s take a look at them side by side and then we’ll look at some details and projected release dates separately.

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Here’s a quick look at the individual novels:

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Where Can I Flee sales in ebook or paperback on Amazon. Paperback also sales locally at New Covenant Book Store and Vera’s Pearls Antique and Gift shop.

Novel’s theme: Salvation

Blurb:¬†War is on the horizon during the spring of 1861. It will be an event that will change the lives of everyone in its path. The Harper family included. Frank Harper is a young man full of dreams and ambitions. Even when the country is split and war breaks out, Frank will do whatever is necessary to see his dreams come true, even when that means putting on a uniform and leaving home. For the first time, Claire Harper is forced to consider the reasons behind such a conflict. Should slavery be abolished? Which side should she be on, and what does God have to say about this? Claire is torn between her own opinions and those of her family. The struggle within her only increases when she repeatedly runs into a kind and handsome Union soldier. She longs to see her brother turn to Christ before it is too late. Desperate to reach her brother with the gospel, Claire pens a series of inspiring letters. Will she be able to handle all the obstacles of war and continue to be a witness to those around her? How long can Claire last when her heart is torn in half and she is burdened for her brother’s soul? How long can Frank resist his sister’s urgent pleas or the gentle tugging from within? Can a man really outrun a holy God?

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In the Shadow of Thy Wings is expected to release this fall. Follow the blog or the Facebook page to keep up with the latest news.

Novel’s theme: Fear

Blurb:¬†Devastation sweeps across the land, and the families of Maple Grove cannot escape when war arrives at their front doors. After her father entrusts her with a new and dangerous task, Sally Chandler must find the courage to obey despite her fear. Meanwhile, her best friend, Claire Harper, is determined to serve others, even if it means putting herself in danger. But with a certain handsome Union soldier stationed nearby, Claire finds her heart in danger of falling for the enemy. Their differing loyalties create complications that neither could expect; her twin brother fighting for the Confederacy is only one of them. Frank Harper left home with one goal in mind ‚Äď to become a prosperous plantation owner. Two years later, not only is he further from his goal, but he’s beginning to question his own desires–something that becomes more complicated when his heart becomes involved. The families of Maple Grove must learn how to survive the uncertainty of war and a country split in two. While the war in the nation rages on, the battle within grows stronger. Will they learn that the only safe place to hide is in the shadow of Thy Wings?

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Out of the Ashes is projected to release in the Fall of 2016

Novel’s theme: Finding healing in Christ

Blurb: (Unofficial) Out of the Ashes follows three war-weary soldiers as they find their place in a ruined South.

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His Love Endures Forever is projected to release in the Fall of 2017

Novel’s theme: Salvation and learning to follow Christ in the early steps as a Christian

Blurb: (Unofficial) Allie Redman moves into the Harper home and finds the letters written during the Civil War. As she reads the letters, Claire’s message of salvation impacts a young woman 150 years after they were written.

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Katherine’s Good News is projected to release in the Fall of 2018

Novel’s theme: Christ is bigger than your mistakes

Blurb: (Unofficial) Pregnant and alone, a young woman finds healing, friendship, and forgiveness in the places she least expected to. But forgiving herself is another matter.

Posted in About the Book

Narrowing Down the Search: His Love Endures Forever

I pulled together the best of the best and added the cover art. Which one makes the best cover? Which one fits in with the rest of the series? Please only vote for your top pick this time. Let me know why it’s your favorite. Feel free to post here on the blog or the Facebook link. ūüôā

*Please continue to ignore the ADS sign in the background. I’ll only remove it if the picture is chosen.

Here’s a look at the series as it stands today:

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Here’s a look at the updated photos. *All photos are a rough cut. If you love it but have a suggestion for an improvement, I’m all ears!

Looking Up #3

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Standing #2

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Looking Up #1

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Tree #5

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Looking Up #2

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Posted in About the Book

Cover Search: His Love Endures Forever

It’s finally time to select the cover for His Love Endures Forever!! This is a special cover search for me since it was the original novel, and the one that I’ve envisioned for 3 whole years now. The photo shoot was a bigger success than I had imagined. I spent the morning on Valley Home Farm in Wartrace, Tennessee with this lovely red-head, Tiffany Hutchings. We had a few laughs, enjoyed the hospitality of a warm family, and snapped over 200 photos.

As before, I have a selection of amazing photos to choose from, but I’m asking for your help. Here’s how this works:
Simply, comment either here on the blog or on the Facebook link with your top 3 picks. Please let me know WHY you are choosing them. It helps me to see things differently when I know why you were drawn to a specific photo. But the fun doesn’t end there!
Once I’m comfortable narrowing down the options, I’ll pull together the photos with the most potential and add the cover art. I’ll then share the new set of photos for your votes. Cover searches tend to move quickly so you’ll want to stay tuned. I don’t have a set time frame that I work in. I’ll share the official cover here on the blog on August 3rd.
Please remember, that at the end of the day, I will have to make the final decision. While your votes weigh heavily on my decision, I DO NOT choose a cover based on popular vote alone.

*Note, you’ll find an ADS sign in several of these pictures. Don’t let that little sign throw you off. We’ll crop it out if the picture is chosen. ūüėČ

**All images are under copyright. No stealing!!

Standing 1, 2, and 3

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Reading 1, 2, and 3

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Looking Up 1, 2, and 3

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Allie 1, 2, and 3

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Tree 1, 2, and 3

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Tree 4 and 5

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Posted in About the Author, About the Book

Happy 3rd Birthday, Ancient Words Series!!

166I’m celebrating the birthday of a beloved series this week with a giveaway! I hope you’ll join me!¬†

First, I want to clue you in on something you may have never known before. Bringing a book to publication and childbirth have a lot in common. After giving birth to 4 children and 1 1/2 novels, I can speak with experience. Let me explain:

In the beginning, there’s the excitement of the story to come. The thrill of making plans and dreaming of what it’ll look like in the end. The baby name books come back out, and you’re on the search for the perfect name. Only this time, you don’t have to get your husband to agree with it! ūüėČ Then you move on to the long wait. Carrying a child for 9 months is no easy task, and neither is walking around with an entire novel in your brain…and your heart! And just when you think the baby will never come, your labor pains begin! Labor pains…as in editing!! But eventually these too must come to an end, and you’re left to hold your sweet baby in your arms. Is there any prouder moment? I remember the first time I printed WCIF off and was able to touch it for the first time. It’s a sweet moment, but as with any birth, the private moment will come to an end, and you’re ready to show your baby with the whole world. The excitement, anticipation, sweat, tears, and joy. Bringing a novel through to publication is a lot like giving birth.

The birth date of the Ancient Words Series is July 3rd, 2012. So this year, I celebrate 3 years since my world turned upside down. I’ve shared several behind the scenes moments with you in a few blog posts in the past. A quick recap: Ancient Words started out as a stand alone novel. You can read about the difficulties I faced when God changed my best-laid plans in the previous posts: Humble Beginnings and When God Intervenes.

Random Facts About the Series:

* The earliest ideas for the series was birthed from the hypothetical question: What story would I write if I wrote something for the series, Love Finds You In..?

* The story line was in development for about a year before the pieces fell into place.

* I was driving from Unionville to Normandy for a July 4th celebration when the idea was conceived.

*I spent the evening eating dinner and watching fireworks with my family on the Arrowhead Ranch while the story burned and festered inside of me.

* The picture for Where Can I Flee was taken on Arrowhead Ranch.

* Ancient Words Series was named after the song, Ancient Words. The meaning of the song was a perfect fit for the series.

* The original novel, Ancient Words, now titled His Love Endures Forever, is about a teenage girl that finds a stack of letters written during the Civil War. But these letters contain more than history, they contain the gospel. In His Love Endures Forever, we’ll see how God uses the message penned by Claire Harper in Allie’s life 150 years later.

* His Love Endures Forever was almost a complete draft when sweet Allie took a step back so the Harpers could first tell their story in not one, but THREE novels: Where Can I Flee, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, and Out of the Ashes.

* “Ancient Words Series” is printed in red to symbolize the red printed words of Jesus in the gospels.

* Cover models for Where Can I Flee and Katherine’s Good News are husband and wife.

* Never Once became my theme song while I worked on the series. When I started this venture, I understood that I wasn’t capable of the task before me. God has amazed me over the last 3 years as He showed off His amazing power while using someone so feeble. I plan to share personal details about this area sometime in the future.

Here’s a look at the lineup as it stands today. *The covers are still missing for books 3 and 4, Out of the Ashes and His Love Endures Forever. You can read more about my summer plans concerning those covers here. :

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Giveaway Details:

It’s exciting to see this small idea spring to life and grow into a five book series. Three years later and I still remember the series that sparked the idea. Ancient Words not only was inspired by one of my favorite Christian Fiction Series, but it’s also inspired by local history. ¬†You can read more about the inspiration behind my series here.
To celebrate the moment, I want to share one of my favorite books from the Love Finds You In Series!

I recommend that you add all of these books to your reading list, but I’ll give away 1 book to 1 lucky winner this week!

And it’s Winner’s Choice! 1 lucky winner will choose between the 6 books listed below in their favorite format: Kindle Ebook or Paperback (Paperback is gently used).

Here’s How to Enter:¬†

1 Entry for Following my Facebook Page
2 Entries for Following my Weekly Blog
1 Entry Every Time you Share the Giveaway Link

To gain entries: simply like, follow, and/or share THEN let me know about it. You can reply to this blog post OR my Facebook link.
*Please make sure you follow through and confirm the blog follow when they email you. Your entry will NOT count if your email isn’t on my follower’s list.
**Once I reply or like your comment, you can rest assured that your entries are in my bowl.
***You can share the giveaway link on as many social media sites as you desire. You can also share it daily. Every share counts as a separate entry.

GIVEAWAY CLOSES JULY 3RD AT MIDNIGHT. WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED HERE ON THE BLOG SATURDAY MORNING.

Prize Options:

*The links below will take you to the Amazon page where you can read a full book description.

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Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland by Roseanna White

Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson

Love Finds You in Bethleham, New Hampshire by Lauralee Bliss

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Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell

Love Finds You in Wildrose, North Dakota by Tracey Bateman

Love Finds  You in Tombstone, Arizona by Miralee Ferrell

And last but not least, some randomly useless facts…or memories that I have with this series:

Bridal Veil, Oregon was one of the first, if not the first, book that I read from this series, and it remains one of my favorites to this day.

Through this series, I met and became fans of Miralee Ferrell and Melanie Dobson, among others. However, these authors stand out because they both have multiple books in this series alone, and I’ve yet to read one that I didn’t LOVE. Seriously, this list is a very small sample of the great books this series has to offer.

Wildrose, North Dakota was the first book I read on my Kindle.

I read Bethlehem, New Hampshire three years ago while I was recovering from a tonsillectomy.

There was a very small, yet specific, detail in Liberty, Indiana that actually inspired part of the story line for my second novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings.

Posted in About the Book

Summer Photo Shoots

2047_1014ITSOFWshoot0288-1One of the most amazing moments for an author is, FINALLY, getting to see the book cover.

For months, sometimes years, a story lives in the mind only. Then one fine day, it begins its life on the computer screen. Most of my time is spent with imaginary people and a blank screen, so there’s nothing like staring at the cover that will bring your story to life.

At last, an image to go with all those thoughts in your mind. A face to go with the voice you’ve heard all these months.

For an author, the book cover is a major step closer to reality. The story will soon live off your computer screen. It’s a day to celebrate.

As an Indie author, I have full creative reign when it comes to designing my book cover. In fact, I have more than full creative reign. I full responsibility! Gulp!! I could pay someone to make my dreams come to life, but I actually enjoy getting my hands dirty. It’s one of the things God had given me to enable me to do the job set before me.

I actually enjoy designing my covers and taking the pictures myself. I have a lot of fun scanning the faces of my friends and family and looking for the perfect model to bring my beloved character to life. But there are more tedious things involved. Such as: finding the perfect location, costuming, and props.

Location: There’s no green screen involved here! So location is key, especially when working with historical novels. I have to consider the background very carefully when I choose the location for the photo shoots.

Costuming: Without a “sky’s the limit” budget, I count on the Lord to provide for these needs by opening doors that only He can. In a miraculous way, He provided for both Frank and Sally’s costume on the first two covers. I’m counting on Him to come through again as I prepare another historical cover this summer.

Props: The Ancient Words Series revolves around a set of letters. Finding someone to to put pen to the paper becomes, yet, one more item on my list of things to do.

The time has come to bring two more covers to life!! Lord willing, I plan to take the pictures for the next two novels THIS summer. I’m really excited and most of the details are in place. I’ll be working out of order this summer and taking the 4th book first. Here’s a peek at what’s on the table:

22Book 3: Out of the Ashes

Out of the Ashes is a historical novel and the conclusion to the Harper Saga. I’m excited to bring this story to you and plan to take the pictures later this summer. I’m NOT ready to release the character’s name that graces the cover, but I will let you see the model that I’ve selected to do the job.
Zach Cartwright stands ready to bring a most beloved character to life, and I just know he’s going to do a wonderful job!

264Book 4: His Love Endures Forever
The Ancient Words Series takes a drastic turn by bringing the readers to the present generation. This is the original novel that I’ve talked about in previous blog posts. I’ve selected a beautiful lady to bring my sweet and shy, Allie Redman to life.
I’ve held this special story in my heart for so long. I can’t wait to see the cover this summer! Tiffany Hutchings is ready to lend her pretty face for my cover.

Stay tuned! Being an Indie author has its benefits. As in the past, I plan to share my top picks for the cover and allow you to weigh in and help me select the perfect one. That’s always a lot of fun! The photo shoot for His Love Endures Forever is scheduled for later this month. Follow the blog to make sure you don’t miss out!

Posted in About the Author, About the Book, Christian

When God Intervenes

64Last week I shared the story behind my novel, Where Can I Flee. If you missed it, you can catch the full story here. For the sake of a quick recap, I’ll tell you simply that I hadn’t planned to write the story at all. And when I did decide to write it, WCIF was meant to be a short story.

But God clearly had other plans for me. I don’t want to go into the details behind the story line, but I do want to show you more of what went on internally as I struggled to determine and follow God’s plan. Before you can understand the struggle, you have to understand “The Plan.”

When I first developed the novel, Ancient Words, I was so on fire about the project that I seriously thought I could finish writing the entire novel in 2 months. It seems laughable now as I look back now.

There’s something amazing that happens in the mind of an author. I could see the ending as clearly as I could see the beginning. I could hear the characters’ voices as they played out the last chapters just as well as I could hear them in their opening lines¬†and several scenes in between. At that point, the ending seemed so close.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! When I started writing the novel word by word, line by line, chapter by chapter, I learned that the ending was anything but close. The more I wrote, ¬†the more I realized I didn’t know what I was writing about, so I researched more. Pulling double duty for months, I wrote and researched side by side. Along the way, I picked up three short stories and was working all four story lines at the same time. Then the most unexpected thing happened.

When I was nine months into the story, my novel was about ¬†2/3 ¬†completed, the short story Where Can I Flee was a complete draft, the short story Katherine’s Good News was a complete draft, and the short story In the Shadow of ¬†Thy Wings was only a couple scenes away from completion. The ending was finally in sight…that is, until God intervened.

I’ll never forget the moment I was sitting at the kitchen table of one of my closest friends discussing my book. I was growing concerned because In the Shadow of Thy Wings was quickly outgrowing itself and it may not fit so nicely after a full sized novel. She suggested separating them, but that hadn’t been my plan. I wasn’t too fond of changing things now when I was so close to having a finished draft. After all, I was already seven months behind my own expectations. As I mulled over these ideas, she worked on loading the dishwasher. Then she paused to asked, “I wonder if there isn’t enough story there to make a novel out of it instead of a short story?”

I’ll be honest, I didn’t jump out of my seat, clapping my hands. I didn’t reach for paper and frantically start plotting out my new idea. And I, CERTAINLY, didn’t hug her neck and tell her she was a genius. Lol Although, I would do it now. But I couldn’t that day. I couldn’t even breath that day. I stared at her with wide eyes and if I moved at all, it was only to shake my head. Didn’t she understand what my plans were? Ancient Words was a stand-alone novel….aside from the growing short stories that now trailed it. I had other books that I longed to write. I couldn’t do what she was suggesting. It wasn’t part of the plan. I liked my plan. I could possibly publish by the end of the year with my plan. I didn’t want a new plan. I suddenly didn’t feel very good.

Once the idea was planted, I couldn’t toss it aside. Oh, I wanted to. But I couldn’t. When God stands behind a plan, you can’t set it aside so easily. The unrest that followed was extreme as I wrestled with the idea of starting over. There’s something amazing about giving into God’s plans for you. Even with the large amounts of uncertainties, insecurities, and anxieties there’s a strange peace that begins to take over. It’s hard to explain. At that moment, I literally signed on to face my fears, my doubts, my discomfort, the crashing of my well laid plans, and countless months…better yet, YEARS, of work, and yet there was a peace that trumped it all. Even when my world was tilting, I knew I was safe. Even with the odds stacked against me, I knew I had chosen right.

In April of 2013, I committed to following God’s plan for my life and I set aside an almost complete draft to start over. I signed on to over two more years of work before I would pick up the original draft. But God had even more surprises in store for me.

While I was setting aside the original Ancient Words and focusing on Where Can I Flee as a novel, I decided to release Katherine’s Good News as a novella first. This short story was already written and would be the perfect way to begin gathering a fan base while I worked on the new novel. I had my heart set on publishing that year and with the novella, I would be able to. This sounded like a great plan to everyone I share it with, but God had something greater in mind.

Over the next eight or nine months, Katherine’s Good News would bounce back and forth from editor to editor, from reviewer to reviewer. I would receive their feedback, improve the story and send it back out. But every time it came back with the comment, “Give me more.” I kept pouring more and more into the story until finally someone kindly suggested, “If you wanted to make this story a novel instead, I think you have the groundwork for it, and I think you would be able to develop the story the way it really needs to be.”

Again? Doesn’t anyone understand the plan? I didn’t want another novel. After another internal struggle, I recognized God’s hand in this plan and gave in a little quicker. Katherine’s Good News is now in line as a novel. So now my Ancient Words Series has four novels, two during the civil war and two in a modern generation.

Now that In the Shadow of Thy Wings is bouncing back and forth between myself and a group of reviewers, I have a little time on my hands to begin working on book three. FINALLY, I can pick up the original story and finish it off. Or so I thought.

One of the first reviewers to respond to In the Shadow of Thy Wings left me this comment, “I think you should really pray about writing one more civil war novel before moving on. I just don’t think you’re done here.” Lol I can laugh now, but I promise I wasn’t laughing then. Hyperventilating was more like it. I can’t add another book to this already large series. I have plans! Good plans! I don’t want to change my plans!

I left my seat as if it was on fire and put the tea kettle on the stove. While I stood over the stove waiting for that infamous whistle, I recognized something. I was beginning to understand what it felt like when God stood behind the idea. This time, I didn’t hesitate, but snatched a piece of paper and started frantically plotting the next novel. The same dear friend that God used to throw the wrench in my plans was ready to talk it over with me on the phone. In a matter of hours, a new novel was added to the Ancient Words Series. And what I once thought was the destruction of my plans turned out to be the greatest plan of all.

To this day, Where Can I Flee endears itself to those that read it. This story is my heart in so many ways, I couldn’t imagine debuting with any other novel. So it is with great excitement that I bring to my readers a third book, one that will wrap things up for our friends in Maple Grove in a really special way.

Where Can I Flee covers the first two years of the Civil War with its sister novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, covering the last two years of war. This summer I begin writing the novel that will immediately follow the war and will show our friends picking up the pieces after a four-year-long war. I’ve titled it, OUT OF THE ASHES.

I had already begun sharing details about His Love Endures Forever before God changed my course. I plan, Lord willing, to release the original novel in a couple years as book four of the series. Since I was already working on the photo shoot for the novel, I intend to take pictures for both the 2016 and 2017 release this summer.

Stay tuned for more details on 2016’s release, Out of the Ashes.