Posted in About the Book

Novel Inspirations: If Only It Were Yesterday

AmazonLiz

I want to show you some of the images that inspired characters, buildings, and the overall setting for my latest novel If Only It Were Yesterday. Whether you’ve read the novel or are about to, you might like to see some of the visuals I had in my head.
* I own none of these pictures, except the cover. All others were Pinterest treasures and used only as visual aids and shared only for your enjoyment.

We’ll start with the characters. Obviously, you can see the main character, Liz, on the cover. But here’s a look at who you don’t see.

Liz Characters

Below is something I had in mind for the Eden’s home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And this grand home was what I had in mind when I wrote about Grandmother Hillman’s mansion.

31

Take a look at Mrs. Eden’s outdoor and indoor garden.

And the following pictures were images of the era that helped inspire me as I was getting emersed in my setting.

3032343738

And last but not least: Betty Tanner’s teapot for every day of the week:

Sunday:

Sunday

Monday:

Monday

Tuesday:

Tuesday

Wednesday:

Wednesday

Thursday:

Thursday

Friday:

Friday

Saturday:

Saturday

And a bonus pot for the evenings:

Evening

 

 

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Posted in About the Book

Shopping List for Alice in Wonderland Fans

Are you a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Or do you know someone who is? I put together a shopping list sure to please any Wonderland fan. Obviously, my list will not be extensive, so feel free to share your favorite Wonderland products in the comments.

200Adult Coloring Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Coloring Book
They used the classic illustrations and novel quotes when they put this one together.

210

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
You’ll find the ebook for free on Amazon and copies in paperback and hardback. *And don’t forget to look for In the Looking Glass!

CUPS!:

201

Disney Parks Exclusive Alice in Wonderland Triple Stack

202

Disney Parks Exclusive Alice in Wonderland Mad as a Hatter 

203

Disney Store Alice in Wonderland Classic Mug

204

Disappearing Chesire Cat Mug

205

Alice in Wonderland Fine China Teacup and Saucer *Be sure to rabbit trail with this one. There’s a whole matching set!

206

Anise in Wonderland: Novel Tea Tins
*FYI: They have a whole collection of novel-inspired teas.

208

Queen of Hearts itty bitty
*You’ll also find Alice and Mad Hatter

209

KEYS! It’s such a simple thing, but it’s not Wonderland with keys!
I actually have one on a ribbon that I wear as a necklace. But you could add them to anything for a subtle Wonderland feel.

211

Alice in Wonderland Tote by Litographs
SERIOUSLY, you MUST check out this website!! They create shirts, totes, scarfs, and posters with the actual words from your favorite classic novels! I’m only showing you one picture. There are 3 for Alice and soooooooo many more great novels to consider. GO CHECK OUT THIS LINK ASAP! And you’re welcome. 😉

Christian Fiction Books: 

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Girls of Wonder series by Christina Coryell

AmazonLiz

If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath
🙂 I couldn’t leave my own novel off of the list, now could I?

Did you find anything to add to your wishlist? Or do you have a product link that you’d like to share with me? 

Posted in About the Book, History

Researching the South during the Gilded Age

In this post, I want to do two things: I want to share with you some of the research that went into my novel, If Only It Were Yesterday, and I also want to review and recommend one of my key research books.

Whether you’re a historical fiction fan or history buff, you’re likely to notice that our focus shifts from region to region based on what’s going on during that time. It’s not hard to find books (fiction or non-fiction) based on life in the South during the Civil War or even the years leading up to or shortly after the war. However, the last three decades of the nineteenth century shifts our focus either to the west during the western expansion or to the north during the Industrial Revolution. But what was life like in the South during those years?

I’m not saying you won’t find ANY information, but it is a lot harder to come by. Because the focus in our nation shifts, there’s a gaping hole in our common knowledge of the period where the South is concerned. As a historical fiction fan, when I think of books during the Gilded Era, I think of stories in the North featuring either wealthy families or poor immigrant families. Because of what we commonly see, when  I sat down to write If Only It Were Yesterday, I had some questions: The last time we looked at the South, wealthy families had slaves or paid black freedmen. But the average snapshot of America during the Gilded Age shows me that most servants are immigrants. The last time we looked at the South, they were destitute. For the first time, both the rich and the poor, the black and the white, had a great deal in common: they had a great deal of nothing. But the average snapshot of America during the Gilded Age shows that electricity was becoming common, among other advances. So it begged the question: How many of these common understandings of the North were true of the South?

I don’t doubt one of you will take up the challenge and do a quick Google search and find all that it took me months to find. But for me, it was like pulling teeth to find documented proof of what the South looked like during a time that was so focused on the North or the West. Which makes From Morning to Night by Elizabeth L. O’Leary an answer to prayer.

Right there on the cover, it says “Domestic Service in Maymont House and the Gilded Age South.” FINALLY! This was the sort of book that promised to answer my questions. And, boy, did it! It’s one of those books that I highlighted but found myself wanting to highlight nearly the entire page. There was so much information packed in here.

The book features an extremely wealthy family in Richmond. The Dooleys were the exception here in the South, but O’Leary graciously explained what was commonplace for the Dooley’s and how it compared with others around them. It offered insight into the progression of technology within the home during those inventive years. It also weaves in terminology and common practices between servants and the families they served. It offers insight into the lifestyles of the servants and their employers, helping others like myself who wish to know more about the day to day life of those in the South. Since the Dooley’s were among the wealthiest in the South, you are given a look at the best that money could buy as well as how it compared to those who wouldn’t have afforded quite so much.
And in case you were wondering the answers to my questions: servants in the South during that time were primarily black people and very few were immigrants or poorer white Americans. And while electricity was becoming commonplace in the North, it was behind in the South. Wealthy families in larger cities had a better chance of having access to it, but smaller cities or rural areas couldn’t afford to supply it.

I highly recommend From Morning to Night to anyone who wishes to look deeper into the relationship between servant and employer, even if your primary concern isn’t focused on the South. But the book does bring the unique situation of the Gilded Age in the South to light. O’Leary balances what the historical documents reveal about the Dooleys with common experiences throughout the South as well as using quotes from various sources to further prove or explain the information.
I gladly give it 5 stars and a permanent place on my research shelf.

 

337Step off the lush carpet and push through the swinging door of the butler’s pantry to enter the bustling realm of domestic workers at Maymont House from 1893 to 1925. In From Morning to Night, Elizabeth O’Leary takes the reader behind the scenes in the opulent mansion of the Richmond multimillionaire James H. Dooley and his wife, Sallie. Drawing upon personal letters, business and government documents, and numerous oral histories of older Richmonders―both black and white―O’Leary examines the parallel and divergent viewpoints of server and served in this Virginia version of “Upstairs/Downstairs.”

Raised in slave-owning households before the Civil War, the Dooleys experienced the transformation of the master/mistress-slave relationship to that of employer-employee. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they relied on a full complement of domestic servants to maintain their lavish residences and lifestyle. In turn, numerous men and women―predominantly African American―labored to meet the day-to-day challenges of running an elaborate household. At the same time, they negotiated the era’s increasing Jim Crow restrictions and, during precious hours off-duty, helped support families, churches, and the larger black community.

By examining the formalities and practices of the Dooleys at home and by giving a presence and voice to their “help,” From Morning to Night offers insights into domestic and social systems at work within and beyond the upper-class household in the Gilded Age South.

Buying Options: At the time that I was writing this post, I checked Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Half.com and found both used and new options cheaper at Amazon.

 

Posted in About the Book, Book Reviews

RELEASE DAY: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

There’s nothing like the gushing heart of a proud parent and that’s what I feel like today: A proud book parent. My dear Liz is all grown up and venturing out into the world. That’s a thrilling and scary feeling. I can’t control who reads it or how they feel about it or even what they say about it. I hope it’s well-loved wherever it goes. But as I sit back and remind myself, yet again, that done means done and I’ll never have to work on this beloved story again, I want to share some of the events surrounding the book launch. 

Liz Party

There’s a party taking place today! A tea party, in fact! You can join me on Facebook. If you’re unable to make it at 10 a.m. (central) you can join me over the next couple of days. I prefer to keep my parties extended for those who aren’t able to make the specific hour. Did I mention that I’ll be giving away some paperback copies at the party? 

There’s also a blog tour. You can visit other bloggers to hear their thoughts on the novel, as well as earn bonus entries for the grand prize giveaway. The full schedule is below the picture. 

Blog tour

Release Day Spotlights: 
Sept 4: 
Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny

Reviews:

Sept. 5:
Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books

Sept. 6:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny

Sept. 10: 
Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley

Sept. 11:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Sept. 12: 
Virginia Winfield @ Bigreadersite

Sept. 13:
Heather G. @ Blue Jeans and Teacups

Sept. 17:
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

Grand Prize

You can enter the grand prize giveaway here. It closes Sept 17, 2018. I’ll announce the winner here on the blog. I’m sorry, the giveaway is only open to Continental U.S. residents. 

AmazonLizBOOK DESCRIPTION:

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

You can add If Only It Were Yesterday to your TBR list on Goodreads or pick up your copy today at Amazon

If Only It Were Yesterday Quote 2

 

Posted in About the Book

Preview: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

We’re only 1 week away from the release of my latest novel, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I can’t wait to put this one into your hands. 

The concept for the story grew out of my own life and the lesson I had to learn about idolizing history. If Only It Were Yesterday was written from the heart of a historical fiction fan TO the heart of a historical fiction fan. I hope you’ll find it entertaining as well as enlightening. Please, enjoy the first full chapter: 

ONE

All in the golden afternoon …

~ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Tell me that my love is welcomed. More than welcomed, tell me that it is desired. For you alone, I have overcome great odds. My longing to see your face was all that had sustained me when a great many others had perished–”

Oomph. Something solid bashed into my shoulder, knocking me off balance. The book containing my beloved Charlie Wesson and Eloise Carter crashed to the sidewalk at my feet.

Watch it!” a rather large and angry man yelled at me over his shoulder just as I gathered my bearings.

I stuttered a reply, but he didn’t hear it. It was just as well since what I had said didn’t make any sense. And worse yet, my book was dirty. I was at the best part, too. How could he be so rude?

I had stayed up way too late finishing A Shipwrecked Love, the novel in my hands, and my only desire was to reread the best scene before I returned it to the library. The scene where Eloise read Charlie’s love letter went down in history as one of my absolute favorite scenes in any book. I mentally added A Shipwrecked Love to my wish list for books I wanted to keep on my personal shelf at home. In order to do so, I would have to cross something else off the list since my apartment was too small for an extensive collection.

You should invest in an e-reader,” my friend, Shelby, had once said. “You could keep all the books you wanted, and it wouldn’t take up any space.”

An e-reader? Seriously? Me? It was like she didn’t know me at all. An e-reader was so cold and distant, while a book was warm and inviting. A book could very well hug you back if you were to fall asleep reading and it fell on your face, or if you rested it on your arm. Books were friendly.

And it was more than friendship.

Books were classic. Timeless.

E-readers were not.

In my mind, it really was that simple. E-readers were state-of-the-art, moving fast-forward. Don’t get me wrong. It’s 2016, and I use electricity. I own a laptop and a smartphone.

But I dream in candlelight.

I hugged the book to my chest with a sigh, looking out onto the busy square of Carroll, Tennessee, and wondered what it had looked like 100 years ago. Would my little shop have been standing? I looked behind me where Curiouser and Curiouser Antiques and Rare Gifts stood. My grandmother, and guardian, had passed away four years earlier, leaving me with an empty building and the encouragement to pursue my passion for history through antiques. I couldn’t live in the past as I had longed to do, but I found that I could still surround myself with the past. I lived above my store in the tiny apartment, so I was quite literally surrounded by antiques.

Turning forward again, I continued my walk to the library. In good weather, this walk was one of my favorite times of the day.

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I breathed in the scent of fall and recited the verse again to myself for good measure.

The Grayson Library was a repurposed historic home just behind the square. Childhood memories and the smell of endless pages flooded my senses the moment I opened the heavy door. Lucy stood behind the counter and gave me a smile and a wiggle of her fingers. I smiled in return but kept the book in my arms and bypassed her station. Without a word, I stepped behind her and slipped through the door labeled, “Staff Only.” I wasn’t staff. However, this would be my dream job if things in the antique business came crashing down, which I prayed never happened. But I had an open invitation to visit the staff only areas. It didn’t matter what day or what time of the day, I was always welcome, and I knew there would be a tea party awaiting me.

I walked down the short hall and gave a tentative knock on Betty Tanner’s door, causing her gray head to lift and her eyes to fall upon me.

Lizzie, I was hoping you’d come today.” I didn’t mind that Betty was the only one who called me Lizzie. We had a special friendship. I was Liz to my friends and Elizabeth Cooke to the rest of the world.

I moved across the room and around the desk to give my grandmother’s most-cherished friend a hug. “You know I can’t stand to miss Tuesdays. The cupcake teapot is my favorite.”

Betty laughed as she took the five steps to the countertop she had installed behind her desk. I watched as she made the preparations for afternoon tea. She felt the weight of the kettle. Satisfied with the water level, she turned on her hot plate and set the kettle down. Then Betty reached into her cabinet for an extra setting, matching the cup, pot, creamer, and sugar bowl that already sat on her special tea table underneath the window. The cabinet held the other five tea sets. Betty had one set for each day of the week. Sunday’s set stayed at home since she never worked on Sundays. I knew she also had a nighttime set that she used while at home after work and, of course, special sets for each of the major holidays. An assortment of tea cookies remained hidden in her desk drawer for the harder days in life. And at least twenty flavors of tea sat in the drawer above them.

What flavor today, Lizzie?”

Earl Grey. I just finished a book about a duke, and it has me thinking about Earl Grey tea.”

Betty laughed. “The duke reminded you of the earl?”

Well, you don’t have any duke tea, and he was sort of a nasty fellow. I think the earl will suit my mood.”

She shook her head in that good-natured sort of way that people often do when they know you’re just a bit crazy but they’re choosing not to call you out on it.

Speaking of nasty fellows, someone bumped into me on the way over. He knocked my book to the ground and didn’t even bother to say he was sorry. What happened to men and manners, anyway?”

Betty stopped, a tea bag dangling from her hand like a clock on a chain. “Book? Lizzie, were you reading again while you were walking down the sidewalk?”

She would point out the only part of the story I didn’t mention. “I might have been, but that’s not the point.”

She huffed. “Lizzie, you could have been hurt.”

But I wasn’t hurt.” Why was she not seeing the real issue here? “He bumped into me, and he had the nerve to yell at me for it when he should have apologized.”

Apologized?”

Yes, apologized. There was once a day when a man would never dream of bumping into a woman on the street without apologizing for it.”

But Lizzie, those days have passed, and it really does sound like you ran into him.”

You would think that someone as old as Betty would be more outraged at the decline in society. “I couldn’t really say if I did or didn’t run into him, but, again, that’s hardly the point. He should have apologized.”

She frowned. “Even if it was your fault?”

That’s just the point!”

What’s the point?”

It doesn’t matter who was at fault. He should have apologized. A simple sorry isn’t so hard.”

So, you’d want him to give you a fake apology, is that it?”

YES! A fake apology! That’s exactly what I wanted.” Now she was getting it!

Her gray brows turned in, and her frown deepened. “Lizzie, you really do live in another world.”

That’s just my point!”

Her shoulders fell. “What was your point again?”

Maybe she wasn’t really getting it after all. Okay. Now, I love Betty. I really do. But why was it that she was not following this conversation? With an exasperated sigh, I tried again. “My point is that it’s a crying shame that society has fallen so far that a man would actually yell at a woman on the street.” Betty opened her mouth to say something, so I held up my hands and “threw myself under the bus,” so to speak. “I know, I know, it was likely my fault. But just hear me out. If he would have apologized to me, as any good gentleman should, I would have quickly and gladly apologized to him and taken the full blame. I would have done it gladly, but he ruined it by yelling at me. What could I have possibly said then?”

You could have apologized,” Betty said flatly, finally setting the tea bag into the cup.

The words were gone from my head the moment he yelled at me. I just wish I lived in a simpler time. A time when men were manly, and, yet, they treated women with tender respect. A time when problems were simpler.”

And what time period do you think that is?”

What time period wasn’t it? I tilted my head in thought. “Just when did our society suddenly decline?”

When? It’s always been decaying.”

That seemed like an odd thing to say considering she’d witnessed some of those simpler times I was talking about. During her 82 years, Betty had attended the sock hops and had worn the poodle skirts. She had seen Elvis Presley on TV. Granted it was in black-and-white at first, but still! She had memories of a time when it was safe to walk to town, or stand outside and wait for the bus, or go to a public restroom. She could remember a time when our nation wasn’t ashamed to be considered a Christian nation. When the Ten Commandments were proudly sitting on government property. A time when babies weren’t pulled from their mother’s womb. A simpler time. A glorious time.

I couldn’t help myself. My mind wandered back even further. What would it have been like even before her time? When ladies still wore beautiful gowns, and men bowed over their hands in introduction? When our country was stable? When confusion and heartache didn’t paint the pages of every newspaper? When the nation went to church on Sundays, and the Bible was taught in schools?

I know God doesn’t make mistakes but, oh, how I wish He had seen fit to bring me to Earth during that time in history. I craved the peaceable times in our nation’s history. I suppose it’s why I only read historical fiction. Why would I want to read fiction about today when it was yesterday that I longed for?

I’m not dense. I’ve read enough to know that there were problems in the past. I’ve studied the Civil War. I know about the racial conflict that engulfed our nation. But I also know how easy it is to fix. Women’s right to vote is good. Segregation is bad. Prohibition confused me since what seemed so right somehow sparked a greater evil. I didn’t know how to answer that one problem. But the rest seemed manageable enough. Unlike this presidential election going on today. My social media was overwhelmed with the conflict surrounding the upcoming election. What I wouldn’t give to see one of our prior presidents on the ballot today.

My mouth almost watered at the thought of standing before a ballot with Abraham Lincoln listed as an option. Granted, I wouldn’t have been allowed to vote in 1860, but the fact remains that there were moments in our history when the choice was simple. Today, it was everything but simple.

AmazonLiz

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

You can pre-order If Only It Were Yesterday. Or add it to your Goodreads list.

Posted in About the Book

Announcing: If Only it were Yesterday’s Release Date by A.M. Heath

Liz's Date

My team and I are hard at work, and it’s time to finally set the date!! If you enjoy Christian fiction, especially Historical Christian Fiction, then you’re going to want to look for Liz’s story on September 4th. This fun-loving novel grew out of my own avid-reader journey, and it’s something that I hope will touch the heart of fellow readers. Here’s the official blurb: 

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?

Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

If you’re looking forward to picking up a copy, please add it to your Goodreads TBR list! 
*And feel free to snag any graphic on this page to share with your closest reading buddy!! 

Liz Quote with date

 

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.

1

 

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.

2

 

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.

3

 

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.

4

 

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.

3 (2)

 

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. 😉

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

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. 😉
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.

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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? 😉

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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. 😉

 

 

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

Cover Reveal: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

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If you’ve been following me here or on Facebook, you likely have heard about the new series I’m working on. A Season Passed contains 4 novels. Each of them is inspired by one of my favorite Disney movies.
First up is my Alice in Wonderland inspired novel titled If Only It Were Yesterday.

If Only It Were Yesterday is a story of good intentions, misunderstandings, history, life lessons, romance, conflict, time travel, Victorian lifestyle, tea, and just a little bit of that quirkiness that you’d expect to find in a Wonderland inspired novel.
I’m about 2/3rd of the way finished with the first draft, but already I can’t wait to hand this story over to you. But today I have the honor of showing you the official cover! I hope you love it as much as I do. Seeing the cover makes me even more anxious to bring this story to you. Lord willing, it’ll be a Fall 2018 release. It may sound like a long wait but it’s just around the corner if you’re the one responsible for its every word. 😉

Final Liz

In other news: I’m currently working on creating two more covers for what I expect to be the next two releases following If Only It Were Yesterday. Book 2 of A Season Passed (which I’ll be sharing all the juicy details VERY soon) and my secret project are currently on my desk and awaiting their covers.
What happened to the rest of the Ancient  Words Series? As you may know, there are two more novels to complete the series, but I find myself in a natural break and have decided to follow God’s leading to work on these other three books before finishing off Ancient Words. But don’t worry. If you’ve loved my previous work, you’re going to love what I have in store for you next. Here’s to our next adventure together!!