Posted in About the Book

Meet Melissa Lowe and Rose Forrister PLUS an A.M. Heath Ebook SALE

3It’s been a while since we’ve talked about our two new friends from Out of the Ashes. You’ve met heroines, Sally Chandler and Claire Harper in the first two novels, but Out of the Ashes brings us two new heroines to fall in love with. I’m going to give you a peek at the heroines, the novel, and my inspiration boards.
*Photos on the inspiration boards were borrowed and not owned by myself. 

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Melissa Lowe is a timid sort of gal. Ralph often refers to her as a mouse. Melissa actually was first introduced to the readers in Where Can I Flee. Frank mentions her in one of his letters. I did this knowing that I would later bring her into the story. Here’s a closer look at the character:

Full Name: Melissa Kate Lowe
Family: A demanding mother and father, and two sisters who both outshine her.
Hobbies: Bird watching and sketching
Favorite drink: Tea
Quote: “Out of fear I call him Mr. Williams, and, out of resentment, he calls me nothing at all.”

Sneak peek into Melissa’s world:

“Come, child,” Mammy Rute whispered, settling her wide hips down on the bed beside her. Her thick, dark shoulders bumped Melissa’s.

Mammy Rute gave her an affectionate pat on the knee. “What happened wit’ dis one?”

Melissa laid her head on her mammy’s shoulder. “He proposed to his cousin instead of me. And I have no idea why. What did I do to send him to Jennie?” She sighed loudly, blowing the loose hair across her forehead.

“Ohhh, I’s knowed what happened,” Mammy Rute said with another pat on Melissa’s knee. “He learnt that he wasn’t right for you, and he left.”

Melissa frowned. “What if he was right for me, but I somehow pushed him away? Momma thinks I’m to blame.”

“Naw,” she said quickly with a shake of her head. “He couldna been the one if he done left. I been prayin’ all your life, child, for a good man to love you. You’ll know it when it’s him.”

Melissa’s brows scrunched in. Sometimes her mammy just didn’t make much sense. “But, how–” she started.

Mammy Rute cut her off with a wave of her hand. “Cause when he gets a glimpse of the girl I knowed all these years, he’s gonna love you. And when you run off and hide behind those walls you always puttin’ up, he’s gonna come after you. He’ll not stop till he tears down everything you hide behind. You’ll know he’s the one when he works at lovin’ you.”

Melissa couldn’t prevent the frown that pulled at her face. Mammy did paint a really nice picture, but men just didn’t react to her that way. They reacted to Sarah that way. Her flirty sister could get men to chase her anywhere. What hope did Melissa have when she lived in the shadow of her sisters? Everyone, especially her mother, expected her to either be beautiful like Charlotte-Ann or engaging like Sarah. No one was interested in the quiet, plain sister that couldn’t take her eyes off the windows. The sister that found more fellowship outside with the birds than she did in a parlor full of men.

“Smile, baby,” Mammy Rute said, wrapping her thick arm around Melissa’s shoulders. “Your mammy be prayin’.”

Melissa gave a half-hearted smile. She herself had prayed for a husband for the last five years, but God hadn’t seemed to be listening. If Mammy Rute said she’d been praying since Melissa was born, then God surely wasn’t listening anymore or else she’d been married by now. Maybe she should pray for a faith like Mammy’s because praying for a husband didn’t seem to be working any.

Melissa may be shy, but she’s also compassionate and loyal.

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Rose Forrister is quite the opposite of Melissa in terms of personality, but she shares her misfortune in the romance department. Rose is much more outspoken, and, when we meet her, she’s quite bitter about being left behind to fend for herself. When a certain Yankee Colonel shows up on her doorstep, looking for food, she lets him know how it stands.

Full Name: Eva Rose Forrister
Family: Deceased mother, no siblings, one doting father.
Hobbies: She writes short stories
Favorite Food: Oranges
Quote:  “Your offer of marriage was no more logical than it was sensible. What woman in her right mind would accept such an offer? I have greater plans for myself than to run off with the first stranger who wanders up to my door with a proposal.”

Sneak peek into Rose’s world: 

She was sick to death of this war and sicker of the men that caused it. If she never saw another soldier, it’d be too soon. Pity, her once-welcoming “Forrister’s Table” sign hung high and proud over her front porch, and it attracted hungry souls like boys to mischief.

She reached the door at the same time it swung on its hinges and slapped the wall behind it. Rose looked from her abused door to the guilty party of blue, and she narrowed her chestnut eyes to mere slits. Jaws clenched tightly, she could do nothing more than growl low in her throat, her false greeting now swallowed up.

“We’ve come for a meal,” the tall man in the front of the group announced. “We’ll be sitting . . .” he scanned the capped heads behind him before spinning back around to her, “eight of us. Ma’am,” he added for good measure.

“I haven’t any tables,” she barked.

He blinked back his confusion and craned his neck to look past her. “Well, seems to me, you’ve plenty of empty tables.”

The very phrase, “empty tables” ushered the men in without an invitation, forcing Rose to scramble back. “Now you wait just a cotton-picking minute. I told you I didn’t have any available tables, and that’s what I meant.”

The man before her gave her a hard study. “You mean you don’t serve Union men?”

“I mean, I don’t serve any men.”

He chewed on the inside of his lip. “We were paid today. You might not find much in the pockets of a Butternut, so perhaps you should rethink your answer before chasing us off the property.”

She rolled her eyes and settled her hands on her hips. “Your money can’t go producing food where God hasn’t left it. I haven’t the food to feed myself, much less to sell to the likes of men who probably stole it from me to start with!”

His faded green eyes studied her, and his manner seemed to weigh her every word. The man before her was the oldest of the bunch, or at least that’s what the graying sepia hair peeking out from his kepi had to say for him. Upon closer study, she viewed the laugh lines around his mouth. The man must have smiled often at one time in his life. He hadn’t smiled since he had walked through her door, but neither had she donned an apron and served him the vittles he came looking for.

“Don’t go buying her tales, Pops, she’s got food a’plenty,” a giant of a man hollered from behind her.

Rose spun around in time to see a man with a chest-length beard honing in on her meager plate of scones. “Those are not for you!” she shouted, rushing to the table.

Too late. The bearded stranger was already at the table, hand out to snatch one from the plate.

Quick as lightening, Rose grasped the plate with both hands. “I said, hands off!” When the man continued grasping for the scones, she pulled the plate away.

He swiped his hands to-and-fro, a new determination to get a freshly-baked scone. The others pressed in closer.

Suddenly she saw every moment one of the armies had forced their way into her home and stolen what wasn’t offered in free will. The demands for food. The commandeering of her father’s restaurant for a Union hospital. Every helpless moment came flooding back, and now a plate of scones represented so much more than the last of her flour or the quiet celebration. It was her freedom. She’d not give in this time. She’d done enough of that.

Dread crept up her spine and demanded action. She let the scones fall away to the table, and swung the plate with both hands, cracking it over the man’s head.

Silence immediately followed the crash that echoed off the walls, the bearded man slumping onto the table.

Then all at once, life poured into the room …

Rose’s hurt leads her to lash out at times, but beneath her stony glare lies a passionate heart.

You can get to know both ladies in Out of the Ashes, book 3 of the Ancient Words Series. You’ll want to pick this series up from the beginning, though. You’ll find all three books on sale for .99 cents each.

Ebook Sale

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Posted in About the Book

Melissa and Rose’s Wardrobes

If you’ve read my third novel, Out of the Ashes, you would have met my newest heroines, Melissa Lowe and Rose Forrister. If you haven’t officially met them, I’ll introduce you to them next month. This month, I want to take you on a tour of their wardrobes. I’ll show you a selection of dresses that are featured in the book as well as some clothing that they might have worn because the best part of historical fiction are the clothes! 😉 Enjoy!

12We’ll start with Melissa Lowe. When I pictured Melissa, I pictured her in lots of blues, mostly because it was a certain someone’s favorite color. 😉 Here are a few dresses I used in the novel. 

Melissa 1This is something I had in mind when Melissa bumped into Ralph for the first time.

Melissa 4 Here’s Melissa’s wedding dress.

And here are three other dresses from Melissa’s wardrobe.


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Are you ready for a peek inside Rose’s wardrobe? Here we go! I pictured lots of purples or rosy colors on Rose. 

Rose 3

Here’s a pretty example of one of Rose’s day dresses.

Rose 5

Here’s another example of Rose’s day dress. If memory serves me correctly, she wore this on one of her strolls with the Colonel.

And here are three more samples from Rose’s wardrobe.

If you had the chance, would you borrow clothes from Melissa or Rose? 

If you haven’t had your fill of Victorian fashion, check out these posts:
Claire Harper’s Wardrobe
Sally Chandler’s Wardrobe
Ladies’ Fashion on the 1800s
An Inside Out Look at Ladies’ Fashion in the 1860s
Godey’s Fashion Adult Coloring Book Review
Civil War Fashion Adult Coloring Book Review
Getting Dressed: A Collection of Historical Dressing Videos

 

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. 😉

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.

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? 😉

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. 😉

 

 

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

Celebrating New Release: Out of the Ashes

3Sometimes peace is won through battle. 

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

Eeeek!! It’s here!! It’s finally here!!! I’ll be celebrating my new release over the next three weeks with a Facebook party, Giveaway, Ebook Sale, and Blog Tour. Keep scrolling to catch all the details and links!

You can grab your copy of Out of the Ashes from Amazon in ebook or paperback.

Ashes reader praise

Find out what others are saying by visiting the blog tour.

July 31: Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley : Book Review

Aug. 1: Krista Noorman @ by Krista : Book Review

Aug. 2: Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings : Book Review

Aug. 4: Alicia Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny : Book Review and Interview

Aug. 7: Dana Kamstra @ D.L. Kamstra  : Book Review

Aug. 9: Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books : Book Review

Aug. 11: Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise : Book Review

Aug. 14: Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic  : Book Review

Aug. 15: Virginia Winfield @  Bigreadersite : Book Review

Aug. 16: Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae : Spotlight

Aug. 18: Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations  : Book Review and Interview

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If you were waiting for a sale to pick up the series, here’s your chance!!

Freebie and Sale!! Pick up your copies this week!
Where Can I Flee 
In the Shadow of Thy Wings
Out of the Ashes

 

Party banner

I’m hosting a release party on Facebook!! The party is open for 3 days so you’ll have more opportunities to stop by. Hope to see you there!!

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Giveaway in progress!! Enter to win all three books in paperback. 
*U.S. residents only

Posted in About the Book

Announcing the Release Date for Out of the Ashes+Book Trailer+Pre-order Link

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you might have caught the big news that I had FINALLY moved on from line-edits and was able to set the release date. Here’s a glimpse at the big moment:
But praise God, I’m done with this round!!! The final words in my acknowledgments (also the final words in the entire novel) sum up my feelings nicely. Take a look:
But most importantly, I want to thank my Lord. From the beginning to the end, You were there. In the midst of the planning stages, when all of my best-laid plans were shoved aside and Yours were ushered in. When writing came easy and when writing was painful. On the mountaintops of reader’s praise and down in the valleys of criticism. I couldn’t have walked this path alone, and I’m forever grateful that I don’t have to. I pray that my work and my attitude along the way has brought You glory, for this is why I’m here.

So what’s next for the novel in progress? Formatting! You can catch all my current woes and a Superman/Batman conversation on Facebook. While I wrestle with the paperback format, I have one final team of proofreaders combing the novel for lingering typos.
While we finish up, you can pre-order your ebook copy from Amazon and enjoy the book trailer. You’ll find the release date at the end of the video! 
And a great big thank-you to Amanda Tero for her work on the video. She took my vague idea and found the perfect song, performed it, and then threw the video together. It’s a joy to work with you!!

 

And in case you’ve missed them, enjoy the trailers for books 1 and 2:

Posted in About the Book

Out of the Ashes’ Blurb

3The release date for Out of the Ashes is inching closer and closer these days. In fact, the release date is soon to be announced. I have some other goodies for you today. I have the official book description and the Goodreads link!!

Sometimes peace is won through battle.

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

YAY!!! Don’t you just love it?! Lol And if you caught my post about writing blurbs then you already know that this beauty didn’t come easily. 😉 I had some great help from members of my critique team. Then my editors dusted it off for me. They’re such wonderful helpers. Without them, I might have gone with something like, “Just read the book.” Lol 

Now for you Goodreads fans, here is the link for Out of the Ashes. Go ahead and let folks know that you’re planning to read it! And if you haven’t read the first two novels yet, you’ll want to add them to your TBR list as well. And be sure to read in order.

Book 1: Where Can I Flee

Book 2: In the Shadow of Thy Wings

Book 3: Out of the Ashes

Posted in Fiction Diner

Fiction Diner: The Official Williams Cranberry Cake

Happy (belated) Birthday to a beloved character, Ralph Williams!
Today, Fiction Diner meets the pages of my own work as we celebrate one of my characters with food. Throughout my novels, I’ve made mention of a special cranberry cake. This recipe belonged to the Williams family and was only baked twice a year: Christmas and Ralph’s birthday.
When readers started asking me for this fictionalized recipe, I began searching for one. With the help of my readers, I present to you today the official Williams Family Cranberry Cake. I hope you enjoy!!

 

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I’m about to share with you a recipe that was adapted from two different jam cake recipes. I followed the ingredients of one recipe, with the slight alteration, and the directions from a local community cookbook, and I created for you a brand new recipe.
The cranberry flavor isn’t very strong. In fact, none of my kids knew what they were eating. The spices used in this cake stands out more and is perfect for the winter months when this cake was fictionally known for being served. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
There is some interesting history behind one of the recipes I had used. The ingredients were, ironically enough, found in The Confederate Cookbook. It’s a Sons of Confederate Veterans publication, and each recipe submitted shares the brief history of a real Confederate Vet. But let’s continue down this reality-is-stranger-than-fiction path. The recipe I used shared the page with a Cpl. George Washington Small who was named after George Washington. Oddly enough, Cpl. Small died on Feb. 22 of 1925 which also happens to be George Washington’s birthday…and Ralph’s birthday! How neat is that?! When I assigned Ralph his birthday, I didn’t realize I had chosen Washington’s birthday until I was preparing for this post. But enough coincidences, let’s get on to the dessert, shall we!

Williams Cranberry Cake: 

Ingredients: 
1 cup of soft butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cranberry sauce
1 cup walnuts

Directions: 
Set your oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
I used canned cranberry sauce. You know, the kind you can actually slice up because it’s so thick. Because it’s so thick, the consistency isn’t as loose as jam. In order for the sauce to mix into the batter better, I first put my can-shaped sauce in a bowl and took the potato masher to it. I used the plain jelly kind, not the one with the berries, but I don’t see why this recipe wouldn’t work with either variety. When I made the recipe the first time, I attempted to toss in spoonfuls of cranberry sauce the same as I would have with jam, but I ended up with clumps of sauce in my cake. So the only thing you’re doing in this step is simply breaking it down because your mixer isn’t going to later.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add  vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift all dry ingredients together and add alternately with buttermilk, beating vigorously after each addition.
Mix in cranberry sauce.
Fold in nuts.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until cake is leaving the sides of the pan and the toothpick is clean when you insert it.

Tips: 
This cake goes great with a pot of tea!
You can dust it with powder sugar for decoration or an extra kick of sugar. The cake is fairly sweet on its own, though.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. I do this all the time and haven’t bought buttermilk in nearly 10 years. Here’s how you do it: Pour 1 Tb vinegar or lemon juice into the measuring cup BEFORE you add the milk. Pour the milk in next, measuring up to the desired amount. I’ve always done 1 Tb per cup of milk. If you need more buttermilk, adjust accordingly. Stir and let sit for about 15 minutes, then you have buttermilk.
Because this recipe was taken from a jam cake recipe, you could alter it by using 1 cup of seedless blackberry jam instead of the cranberry sauce.

cover22Novel Quote: 
“I might be a Yankee in serious need of a shower, but I ain’t never been a dirty Reb.” ~ Ralph Williams, In the Shadow of Thy Wings by A.M. Heath

 

Posted in About the Book

My Desk: New Novel Quotes and Updates

Are you ready to hear the latest about the two novels sitting on my desk? I’ll share my writing update and a few quotes. Enjoy!

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Out of the Ashes had spent November and December with my critique team. I wish I could give you a release date to circle on your calendars but that’s not possible right now. Just keep praying and we’ll keep working. I’m in the middle of a phase where the manuscript spends time in the hands of others which frees me up to work elsewhere or grab a little break of my own.
Now that Ashes has been approved by my team, it has several rounds of clean up to endure. We call this Line Editing. It’s where gifted people read over the manuscript and study each line, poking and prodding it, questioning every comma and word on the page.

Since Ashes is the third of a series, how about I share with you THREE (pre-proofed) quotes from the novel? Enjoy!

The major theme of the novel is finding healing in Christ, so naturally bitterness also becomes a reoccurring theme for the characters. Here’s a couple of my personal favorites on bitterness:

Bitterness becomes a prison and forgiveness is the only key. By the grace of God, you can release yourself from your homemade prison walls if you’ll only use the key set before you.” – Brother Mark

“Focusing on what you once had isn’t going to make the plants grow. It’ll only grow bitterness.” – Frank

This one was a favorite among my critique team:

“Out of fear, I call him Mr. Williams, and out of resentment he calls me nothing at all.” – Melissa

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If you’re already a fan of the series, you might be interested to know that Ralph’s birthday is coming up and I’m searching for the perfect cranberry cake for him. I’m extending the contest one more week. You can catch all the details on how to submit your recipe and enter to win one of the cake recipe books up for grabs by following the link

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If Only it were Yesterday:

I spent most of November adding to the first draft. The word count is currently up to 30,950. According to my mental outline, I’m about 45% through. After working with Ashes for so long, it still seems odd to look at such small numbers and to celebrate those small 10,000 word markers. But it’s also exciting to see it grow and to watch the characters and their story evolve.
I’m having fun. I never would have imagined that a break from my Maple Grove cast would have been needed but the Lord knew what He was about when He led me to start a new series. It’s been refreshing, not that I’m tired of my old friends. 😉 But it’s refreshing nonetheless.

And since If Only it were Yesterday is the first book of its series, I’ll leave you with only one quote from the new novel in progress.

“Don’t make the mistake of comparing a great reality with a flimsy fairytale.” – Betty Tanner