Posted in About the Book

RELEASE DAY: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

Every release sparks a measure of excitement. But this one sparks something a little more. This is my first full-sized Christmas story. It contains all the warm, cozy Christmas moments someone could hope for. There’s a sweet romance set in 1954 that will thrill the heart of any Hallmark Christmas movie fan. But there’s more … Yesterday’s Christmas is also a love story about a couple on the brink of divorce after thirty years of marriage. 
Ouch. 
Divorce and Christmas are two things we don’t want to see together. But they’re two things that often are together in our fallen world. And that’s what makes this story so beautiful. Along with the warm, fuzzy, entertainment is a story for the heart and a lesson for the soul. 
The characters, Betty and Glenn, do not represent my life and marriage, however, I did draw inspiration from the personalities and differences found in my own marriage. And the Lord has blessed it greatly. Readers are messaging me with these comments (actual quotes): “It was like she wrote it for me.” “It has spoken to me especially the part about God changing Betty not Glenn. It was like God was saying that to me. Thank you for this story.” “I could relate to her feelings and emotions.” “I’m a Betty married to a Glenn.” 
I don’t glory in so many struggling marriages but I do glory in the ability to pen a story with a message that was clearly needed. 
I think this is a story that readers can enjoy whether they’re married or not. And for those who are, I pray it blesses your heart in a special way. With every release, there is a slew of exciting activities happening, so let’s take a look: 

Betty Party

There’s a party taking place today! You can join me on Facebook. If you’re unable to make it at 10 a.m. (central) you can join me later that day or the next. 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 two 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. 

Betty Tour

Tour Schedule: 
Nov. 5: 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Spotlight

Nov. 6:
A. Kaylee Harrison @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes
Plus Interview!

Nov. 7:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Nov. 8: 
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

Nov. 9:
Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
Plus Interview!

Nov. 12: 
Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic

Nov. 13:
Robbie Pink @ Captive Dreams Window

Nov. 15:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Plus Interview!

Nov. 16:
Faith Blum @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections
Spotlight and Interview

Betty Grand Prize copy

You can enter the grand prize giveaway here. It closes Nov. 16, 2018.
I’ll announce the winner here on the blog.
I’m sorry, the giveaway is only open to Continental U.S. residents. 

Final 1600x2400During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

Christmas Ebook Sale

You can add Yesterday’s Christmas to your TBR list on Goodreads or pick up your copy today at Amazon. You’ll find both novels in A Season Passed on sale for a limited time.

Hold on with date

 

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Posted in About the Book

Preview: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

We’re just a week away from the release of my latest novel, Yesterday’s Christmas! My team and I have worked so hard this past year to bring you books 1 and 2 of A Season Passed so close together. I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!
Originally, If Only It Were Yesterday was meant to be a standalone novel. But I was aching to write another Christmas short story and had been on the search for the perfect idea. I was collecting virtual teapots for Betty’s character in If Only It Were Yesterday when I came across a picture of Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. The very second I saw that image, inspiration struck. BETTY could be Belle in a Christmas version of Beauty and the Beast! It was perfect! I simultaneously crafted 2 plots: a young woman being stranded with a man and his family during Christmas AND a married couple being stranded together during Christmas. BOTH plots pulled at me, and I struggled to pick just one. … Until I realized that I could choose both. And thus, Yesterday’s Christmas was born.
It is both a story of falling in love for the first time and recommitment. Yesterday’s Christmas isn’t quite a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I think you’ll find the moments of inspiration easily enough as you read the novel. It’ll be a fun little treasure hunt. Until you can get your hands on the full novel, please enjoy the first full chapter of Yesterday’s Christmas

One

The wise woman builds her house, but with her

own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

~ Proverbs 14:1

Christmas Eve, 1985

I shouldn’t have been on any twisted backroad in the middle of a snowstorm, but I most certainly shouldn’t be on this road. I turned on my lights and whispered another prayer.

Why had I been so persistent in leaving the safety of my daughter’s house when I could have very well stayed put?

Because I’m miserable, that’s why.

Because as much as I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, all I wanted was to be home alone to wallow in my self-pity in any way that I deemed appropriate. This was to be my first Christmas without Glenn.

Pretending there was nothing wrong between us had slowly taken its toll on me until I couldn’t bear it another moment. Living apart these last three months hadn’t been easy, but, at least with our separation, I finally knew where I stood. A woman likes to be told that she is still beautiful in her man’s eyes. That she is still an important part of his happiness. Especially once she is past her prime. But whatever Glenn felt, he kept to himself … or kept for another. I had stood under a cloud of doubt for so long concerning his affections for me that I could barely stand up under it. He always claimed he’d never cheated on me, and I never found proof otherwise, but if the man wasn’t passionate about me anymore, whom was he passionate about? After spending countless years feeling like he had one foot out the door, I had finally snapped and pushed him the rest of the way out.

Self-preservation required distance, and it seemed to have been working. And, yet, there I was on the verge of tears with a darkening sky and snow so thick I could hardly see in front of my car.

I shouldn’t have been there. In fact, none of this should have been happening. If only Glenn had deemed our family more important. Deemed me more important. Those endless hours at work and distant hours at home had only succeeded in killing our marriage.

It didn’t do any good to blame Glenn, even if he was at fault. I had learned over the months that hating him for it didn’t change anything. It just made it harder for me to cope. Ignoring him, ignoring the memories, was my best option right now.

I popped the tape out of the cassette player on the dashboard, putting an end to Kenny Rogers’ and Dolly Parton’s Christmas tunes.

I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter, my knuckles as white as the powder gathering outside of my window. Leaning closer, I paid more attention to the upcoming curves in the road. I knew them by heart, but the snow distorted things until I was no longer confident of anything.

Lord, please see me home safely. I was such a fool, but, Lord, have mercy on this fool.

I rounded one bend, but there were more just up ahead. My stomach flipped. I hated this curve. I hated that house just around the curve. I hated this road.

This road was a shortcut, and, at the time, it had seemed important. In the heavy snowfall, it certainly was important; however, this was no place to be in the middle of a snowstorm.

But it was more than just slick roads. It was the Tanner house just around the corner. Just up ahead sat Glenn’s family home. Just up ahead, my estranged husband was probably sitting inside the house.

My nerves twisted and jumped like that of a school girl out on her first date. Glenn certainly wouldn’t see me as I drove by. He wouldn’t be looking out the window, and, yet, I couldn’t help but feel as if thousands of pairs of eyes were watching me as I inched around one curve and got closer and closer to the next.

A flash of brown shot out in front of my car. I sucked in a screech and slammed on my brakes. The brown, which I now recognized as a deer, jolted from his momentary stupor and finished his leap across the road. My tires spun, first locking up and then turning to one side. I gripped the wheel and yanked it in one direction, but it only turned my car in the other. I yanked it back, and again, it spun harder–too hard–in the other direction until my car suddenly stopped, its nose dipping down into the ditch.

I sat there in the ditch on the side of the road, first stunned and then angry.

No. No. No! This cannot be happening. How could You let this happen, Lord? Why now? Why here? Somehow my prayers of protection had turned into me being delivered into the ditch in front of Glenn’s house. With more frustration than pain, I opened the door, the blistering wind and a mixture of snow and ice drilling my face. I sucked in an involuntary gasp and tightened the scarf around my neck.

I bent over and grabbed my purse out of the passenger seat–no, make that the floorboard, where it now sat.

I checked my car again. There was no one around, and my car was safely tucked far enough into the ditch that no one should hit it if they were to venture down this treacherous road. Not that anyone else was foolish enough to bother. Folks in Tennessee knew to stay indoors when it snowed, so I had no excuse for being out in the weather.

I slammed the car door closed with more force than necessary, but it didn’t release any of my pent-up steam. I knew what to do. There’d be no choice in it. Looking left and then right only confirmed what I knew was true. There wasn’t another house on this road for quite a ways. Why did the Tanners have to build their house on the other side of this curve?

I hiked up the long gravel driveway. The hollow sound of crunching snow under my leather-fringed boots filled my ears, but I didn’t delight in any of it. Nearly three inches of snow had already fallen. The snowfall was a rare beauty, but I wasn’t taking the time to admire it.

I bypassed the front door and walked straight to the back. It had been the entrance most commonly used when his mother was alive. I knocked on the door and waited, but I didn’t hear any movement inside. I knocked a little harder, and then the door was snatched out from underneath my hand.

Betty?” Glenn said in a question, blinking back his surprise. “Wh-what are you doing here?”

I gave a shrug and an ill-humored grin. “Just thought I’d pop in,” I answered sarcastically.

His brow, a dark brown dusted with gray, lowered over his right eye–a look I had long ago memorized. He stood before me in sweats and knee-high socks. I knew they were knee-high with the red stripes around the top because I remembered buying them. They looked in need of a wash, but what did I expect since I wasn’t here to do his laundry? I fought back the urge to roll my eyes. I’d hate to see his hamper. It was probably empty while his clothes lay all on the floor around it, because he never could put his clothes inside the hamper. The man could shoot basketball like a pro, but socks in a hamper? Humph, forget about it.

I tamped down all of these ill feelings. I wasn’t here to complain about his housekeeping. I had done enough of that over the last thirty years of marriage. Nope, as much as I hated to admit it, he would be my savior this hour, and there was nothing I could do except thank him.

He still hadn’t caught on to the reason for my visit, but, again, I wasn’t shocked. He seemed to notice so little concerning me unless I spelled it out for him. A new dress, a new hairstyle. Nope. Didn’t matter.

He scratched his shoulder, revealing a slight tear in the sleeve of his t-shirt. “Umm,” he started, looking over my shoulder at the covered carport behind me. “Where’s your car?”

I gave him another one of my mirthless smirks. “I parked it out front.”

His eyebrows shot up, clear to his hairline. But now, at last, he seemed to understand the nature of my visit. Glenn stepped down the concrete steps and onto the carport, peeking around the side of the house.

I just watched and waited for it.

Silently, a hand slapped across his mouth as he viewed my crafty parking job. Glenn slid his hand down his face. He turned to me, his lips pinched and his brows still high. He didn’t say anything, his chest filling with air, deflating, and filling again. He gave a slow shake of his head. “Well, Betty, I didn’t think it was possible for lightning to strike twice, but you proved ’em wrong.” He looked down at his watch, as if it might tell him more than the time. “And on Christmas Eve, too?”

I snorted, a short bubble of laughter rising and dying on my lips. “Do you mind?” I asked, knowing that he wouldn’t. I was the mother of his children, after all. Laura and Peter wouldn’t be here without me, nor would the countless father-of-the-year coffee mugs that he had collected since the kids had been born.

He welcomed me into the house with a tilt of his head and a wave of his hand toward the door. Glenn was right about one thing: lightning had struck twice.

Two

There was once a very rich merchant …

~ Beauty and the Beast

Thirty-one years earlier: Christmas Eve, 1954 …

Final 1600x2400

During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

You can pre-order Yesterday’s Christmas on Amazon for .99
or add it to your Goodreads’ list. 

Rich Merchant with date (1)

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 . . .

3 (2)

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.

1

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.

2
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.

4

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!

3

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

Cover Reveal: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

Cover Reveal

 

I was in the middle of a 5 book series when I felt the Lord leading me in a different direction. Ancient Words fans can rest at ease since I expect to return to Maple Grove in a few short years. But for now, the focus is shifting to a brand new series. Now allow me to introduce you to the cover of what I hope will be a November 2018 release, Yesterday’s Christmas: 

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A Season Passed will be a four-book series. Each story is inspired by one of my favorite Disney movies. I’m currently working on the 2nd draft of If Only It Were Yesterday, an Alice in Wonderland inspired story, while also writing the 1st draft of Yesterday’s Christmas, a Beauty and the Beast inspired story. Lol I don’t know which one of these stories I’m more excited to share with you!! I just know you’re going to love them both when they finally arrive. I have so much to do before release day! 

Follow me here on the blog or my Facebook page to keep track of the developments. 

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