Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - January 16, 2019

I suspect that when most people think about Fort Bridger, they envision the nineteenth century trading post and then the army fort. How many know that it was a stop along the Lincoln Highway in the twentieth century?

When automobile travel became popular and the Lincoln Highway (now US route 30) was completed, tourists wanted a place to stay. Just as importantly, they wanted a place for their cars. Enter the "garage camp cabins."

The dark spots you see next to each of the orange cabins are garages. I imagine that, given the number of hail storms and violent thunderstorms we experience during the summer, those garages were very popular.

What did the interior of the cabins look like? Come back next week, and we'll explore them.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - January 9, 2019

Fort Bridger hay baler
What is this? As someone who did not grow up on a farm, if I hadn't seen the sign, I wouldn't have known that it was a hay baler.

I have to admit that I never thought much about how hay was baled, but seeing this tool in one of the barns at Fort Bridger made me wonder (1) how much work was involved in putting the hay into the baler and (2) what happened to the bale once it was formed. I found some of the answers here.

One thing I can tell you: I'm glad I wasn't the person harvesting and then baling hay. Sitting in front of a computer screen is much easier!


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Behind the Cover for A Tender Hope

A Tender Hope cover
So many of you have told me how much you enjoy learning about the process involved in developing the wonderful covers that Revell has given me for each of my books, that -- as I promised last year -- I'm continuing to blog about them.

As is always the case, many people are involved in turning a concept into the final product, but the biggest responsibilities fall on the Art Director, Cheryl VanAndel, and the graphic designer, Dan Thornberg of Design Source Creative Services.

This time, the process included a step that I hadn't seen before, namely the creation of a cover sketch.
A Tender Hope cover sketch
As you can see, it resembles the finished cover, but the model and her costume are very different. Why create a sketch at all? The reason, Cheryl explained, is to allow Revell to select the model's pose and placement prior to the photo shoot, thus streamlining the process.

One of the most important elements in my covers is the model. After all, she represents my heroine. Thea Mills is 27 years old, shorter than average, and has blonde hair, brown eyes, and a medium build. She's deeply compassionate but also fearful of having her secret revealed.

Knowing that, Revell chose Emily.
A Tender Hope model
Even though you're seeing her in modern dress here, isn't it amazing how well she captures Thea's personality?

Next comes costume selection, which I freely admit is one of my favorite parts of the process, since I'm part of it.

Cheryl gave me a choice of more than half a dozen different blouses including the following:
A Tender Hope blouse selection 1

A Tender Hope blouse selection 2
A Tender Hope blouse selection 3
None of those truly appealed to me, but when I saw the next one, I knew it would be perfect. In addition to its antique look, I loved the fact that it was a complete outfit and that we wouldn't have to find a coordinating skirt.
A Tender Hope final costume selection
At this point, everything was ready for the photo shoot.

While the cover sketch identified one possible pose, Dan photographed Emily in several different ones.

Do you like this one?
A Tender Hope alternate pose
Cheryl told me it was a top contender for the cover, but the committee preferred the next one.
A Tender Hope chosen pose
I agree with them that the second pose is better for the book, in part because it emphasizes Thea's medical bag and gives a hint to her career as a midwife.

If you compare this to the final cover, you'll see that the pose is the same, but there's a big difference. Did you find it? Yes, Emily's expression is different.

Thanks to the marvels of Photoshop, Dan was able to use the head from the following picture with the body from the previous one.
A Tender Hope chosen model's head

The photo shoot was complete.

The model is one of the most important elements of the cover, but she's not the only one. The background is also key to setting the scene for the book and giving readers a hint about the story itself.

As is often the case, Dan used stock art for the background, starting with Thea's home in Cimarron Creek.
A Tender Hope house
Don't you wish you lived in a house like this? It's beautiful, but there are a few problems, including the streetlights. Those had to be removed. And then there was the water. While it's lovely and you might believe it was Cimarron Creek itself, the creek doesn't flow through that part of the town.

What to do? Dan used flowers that might have been growing in the Hill Country to block the water.
A Tender Hope foreground flowers
And so we have the final cover, the one I showed you at the beginning of this post.
A Tender Hope front cover

But the front cover is only part of the whole book. The back cover is almost as important, because that's where readers learn about the story. And the spine is critical for bookstores, since few of their books are shelved face-out.

As you might expect, given the attention that Cheryl and Dan put into the front cover, a lot of work was involved in the back cover too. Writing back cover copy is an art in itself. Fortunately, Revell has extremely talented writers who specialize in condensing a 95,000 word story into a few words. And the addition of a western picture as a cameo adds to the appeal ... at least it does for me.

A Tender Hope full cover
I was thrilled with the cover and hope it piques your interest and makes you want to read the book.

If you'd like more information about A Tender Hope, you'll find it and buying links on my web page.

And, of course, I hope you enjoyed learning more about the cover art process. It never fails to intrigue me.



Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - January 2, 2019

Fort Bridger guide in costume
Happy New Year and welcome back to Fort Bridger! I found so many interesting things that I wanted to share with you that it's going to take several months to finish.

The first stop on any visitor's tour ought to be the sutler's store. It was here that families who were living on the post bought everything from foodstuffs to saddles to hats to bathtubs. Yes, bathtubs.

Currently, in addition to showcasing the goods that were once sold in the store, it serves as the visitor's center. It's here that you have the opportunity to have your questions answered, and - if you arrive at the right time - to tour the fort with an authentically costumed guide.

As attractive as her costume is, I can tell you that the bustle made sitting a bit of a challenge. I also wouldn't want to be wearing multiple layers of long skirts and long sleeves in a hot Wyoming summer. There are definite advantages to living in the 21st century.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - December 26, 2018

Christmas tree cavalry barracks Fort Laramie
Although many of us have elaborate Christmas decorations in our home, this picture reminds me that life was quite different for soldiers in the nineteenth century. This very simple -- some would say sparse -- tree is inside the cavalry barracks at Fort Laramie.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - December 19, 2018

creche from Wyoming Governors' Mansion
Although there are many symbols of the Christmas season, none captures the true reason for the season better than the nativity scene. I saw this one in the current governors' mansion in Cheyenne soon after we moved to Wyoming and thought it was particularly beautiful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - December 12, 2018

One time when I was at Walt Disney World, I overheard a young boy horrify his younger sister by whispering rather loudly, "There's more than one Mickey."

There may indeed be more than one Mickey at Disney World, but they're careful that you can see only one at a time. Not so at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens' Children's Village. They're proud to present the Thousand Faces of Santa.

Are there really a thousand? I don't know, but as you can see, there are quite a few.