Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - February 22, 2017

What's a cottontail supposed to do after a particularly heavy snowfall? This one spent a lot of time resting in what I called the caldera next to a juniper. But eventually he decided to venture out.

Why? Food, of course!
Judging from the quantity he ate, he must have enjoyed the dwarf iris.

One thing you may have noticed is that while the snow was deep next to the juniper, it's hardly visible here. You can thank the famous Wyoming winds for that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - February 15, 2017

Winter in Wyoming lasts well beyond the official end of winter on March 20. In fact, March and April tend to be our snowiest months, at least in Cheyenne.

The spring bulbs don't seem to have gotten that memo, though, so they start blooming in mid-February. Unfortunately, sometimes they have to deal with snow weighing down their blossoms. Fortunately, they often recover.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - February 8, 2017

One of my favorite parts of winter in Wyoming is seeing how the local rabbits (both cottontails and jackrabbits) deal with it. This jackrabbit spent days hunkered down under this particular shrub.

The good news is, the shrub is only a few feet from my office window. The bad news is I spent far too much time looking at him rather than working on my manuscript. Such a fun distraction!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - February 1, 2017

When you think of Wyoming in the winter, you probably envision the Tetons and literally feet of snow. While that's often the case there, other parts of the state have considerably less snow, including my hometown, Cheyenne.

In Cheyenne, snow is often accompanied by our famously strong winds, making it what I call sideways snow. That rarely sticks to trees, but occasionally we have perfect conditions to create a scene like this. It doesn't last long, but it's definitely beautiful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- January 25, 2017

It's not only the capitol itself that's being renovated. The Herschler building, which houses other state offices and is north of the capitol on the same campus, is having also extensive work done.

How much will all this cost, and when will it be done?  The answers are (1) around $300 million dollars and (2) in time for the 2019 legislative session, so we have another two years before the buildings will be open.  

If you'd like more information about the project, there's a web site devoted to it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Behind the Cover for A Stolen Heart

Do you ever wonder how book covers are designed? Ever since my first book was published, I've been fascinated by the process, which is why I've written about it several times. I'll include links to those earlier blogs at the end of this post, but for right now, let's focus on A Stolen Heart. It's one of my favorite covers and one that gets almost universal rave reviews when people see it. So, what was involved in creating it?

Authors are taught to show rather than simply tell, and in this case, that means pictures. Many thanks go to Art Director Patti Brinks and graphic designer Dan Thornberg of Design Source Creative Services, who were kind enough to share a number of behind-the-scenes pictures with me so that I could show you the story.

Although some publishers use stock art for their covers, Revell prefers to custom design their historical fiction books.  While it's a more expensive approach, it also means that the covers reflect the book. Don't you hate it when the cover shows a blonde, but the book describes her as a brunette? That doesn't happen at Revell.

The Model
One of the first steps is to choose a model. As part of the cover art process, the author is given a questionnaire which asks her to describe her heroine, not just in terms of her physical appearance, but also her mood. Using that, the design team reviews portfolios to find a model who has those characteristics.

I'm delighted with the choice of Laura W. to portray Lydia.

Costume Selection
Next comes the costume, which is oh, so critical for historical novels. As part of the questionnaire, I noted that Lydia wore fancy pinafores to work at the candy store. That led Patti Brinks to a search for just the right apron.

In the original version of the manuscript, Lydia wore gray dresses under the aprons. While that may have been historically accurate, Patti pointed out that more color would be better for the cover. I agreed and, in fact, liked the blouse she chose so well that you'll find a description of it in the book. It was a special blouse, and Lydia wore it on a special day.

The Photo Shoot
Once the model is chosen and her clothing selected, it's time for the photo shoot. As you can see from the outtakes, the photographer experimented with various positions and expressions.

Are you surprised by the white background? We'll talk about that next.

Each one of these has its own appeal, but I prefer the pose Dan and Patti chose.

The Background
As you saw above, the photo shoot was done in front of a plain white background, and you've probably guessed that the background was added later. That's true, but there's more to the story than that.

The first step was to purchase an image with the basic design.

If you compare this to the final cover, you'll see many similarities, but also many differences. In addition to the color of the building, the background is different. That's because Dan Thornberg used the photo below to substitute hills for the second row of buildings.

He also made a number of other changes to create this final background. How many can you find?
One of the first things I noticed was that the flowers on the right side are different from the hollyhocks in the original art. The ground in front of the store is also different. And then ... I'll let you search for the other differences.

The First Cover
Before the cover is finalized and presented to the sales staff for their approval, the design is sent to the author for her comments.
My first reaction was that I loved it. As I said before, I think it's one of the best covers I've had, but there was one problem. Can you find the difference between this and the final version?

You're right. The problem was that the store name says "tionery." It's true that Lydia's store is a confectionery, but its name is "Cimarron Sweets." I knew readers would be as bothered by that discrepancy as I was, so I asked for it to be changed. Fortunately, that was an easy modification.

The Back Cover
With the front cover completed, it was time to write the back cover copy and design the back cover. Like every aspect of the manuscript-to-finished-book process, it was a team effort. One person was responsible for obtaining the endorsements; another wrote the back cover copy; still others were involved in the actual design of the back cover. But at last, everything was finished and ready to be sent to the printer.
I'm thrilled with the final product and hope you find it as beautiful as I do.

You can find more information about A Stolen Heart, including an excerpt, on my web page.  And if you'd like to order a copy, here are some buying links:
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors

Other Cover Art Blogs
As I promised at the beginning of this rather long blog, here are links to previous posts I've done about cover art.

Summer of Promise
Waiting for Spring 

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the process of creating a book cover. I can't wait to see what Revell has in store for the next one in the series.

Wednesday in Wyoming -- January 18, 2017

The project managers wanted to make sure there was no question about what is happening to the state capitol, and so they posted signs on the chain link fence that surrounds the construction site.  This section states the obvious -- that the capitol is closed -- and also directs visitors to the temporary locations of the various state offices.

Rather than have a boring, utilitarian fence around the capitol, the project team embellished the fence in front of the building with pictures of the capitol's past as well as key sites from around Wyoming.  Of course, nothing can completely disguise the piles of dirt and the heavy equipment.  They're all necessary parts of progress.