Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 28, 2016

Last week we saw how part of the kitchen at the Historic Governors' Mansion was decorated for Christmas.  Let's end the year by visiting the dining room, where guests enjoyed the results of all that cooking.

While few of us host such elegant and elaborate meals, there's no doubt that one of the joys of the holiday season is sharing a meal with friends and family.  I hope that your holidays have been filled with health and happiness, and I wish you and your loved ones a joyous new year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 21, 2016

As the countdown to Christmas continues, even the kitchen at the Historic Governors' Mansion has its share of decorations.

As you can see from the eight burners and the multiple ovens, Wyoming's governors were accustomed to hosting large dinners. No microwaves here!

Like the other pictures I'm sharing this month, this one comes from the "Tinsel Through Time" exhibit.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Story Behind the WBTS Cover

Did you ever wonder how a cover is created?  I've shared the process that a traditional publisher follows and will do so again, but today I'd like to take you behind the scenes for the creation of the cover for Pamela Trawick's debut novel, Walking Between the Stones.

Since a key scene in the book involves a labyrinth, Pamela wanted the cover to include one.  She provided talented cover designer and best-selling author L.A. Sartor with a photo of the labyrinth that had inspired the story.

It's an interesting labyrinth, but I couldn't imagine how L.A. would turn this into a cover.  Fortunately, L.A. is a master at Photoshop, not to mention a gifted artist.  Though she was on a writing retreat, supposed to be working on her next book, she spent hours and hours and hours on the cover.

Here's the first version:
There are a few problems with this, the first of which is the type font.  When I suggested using Comic Sans Serif, L.A. warned me that it wouldn't work.  She was right.  The second problem was that Pamela didn't like the gray sky.

Undaunted, L.A. changed the font and inserted sky from a picture she'd taken at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Many of us liked this cover, but Pamela didn't.  She had two very good reasons for being concerned about the sky.  The first was that the dark blue on the left made it difficult to read the letters.  The second was that the sky didn't mirror the tone of the book, which is lighter than readers might expect.

Instead of simply saying that she wasn't pleased with the cover, Pamela took a picture of the sky outside her San Jose condo and suggested L.A. use it.

Once again L.A. went back to Photoshop and spent hours getting the sky just right.

That was what the cover needed.  The lighter sky provided more contrast with the title, while the lighter clouds speak of hope.

And so, after many iterations and many, many hours of work, we had a finished cover.

Do you like it?  I do.  Even more importantly, Pamela does.

To learn more about Walking Between the Stones or to order a copy, click here:Amazon

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 14, 2016

Continuing our tour of the Historic Governors' Mansion's "Tinsel Through Time" exhibit, we're now in one of the children's rooms.

Can you imagine being a child and having all those Santas in your bedroom?  What happened to the story that there's only one Santa?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 7, 2016

Every year the Historic Governors' Mansion in Cheyenne has a special "Tinsel Through Time" exhibit, with the entire building -- everything from the entrance to the fallout shelter -- decorated for the holidays.  It takes literally months to decorate the house, but -- as you can see -- the results are impressive.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Pamela Trawick's Fiction Debut

I'm delighted to announce that my good friend and fellow writer, Pamela Trawick, has just released her first novel, Walking Between the Stones.  This is one of the best books I've read this year and one that I highly recommend.

Walking Between the Stones is available in both paperback and e-book formats exclusively at Amazon.  Here are the links: paperback Kindle

My friendship with Pamela began when she and her husband David joined Front Range Christian Fiction Writers soon after it was formed eight years ago.  Have you met people that you knew instinctively would become friends?  That's what happened that day.

But Pamela is more than a friend; she's also an extremely talented writer, so I wasn't surprised when she sold devotions to two different collections.

Here we are signing books in Fort Collins, CO, in December 2012 after her devotions were released.  Just as I wasn't surprised that she'd sold to two collections, I also wasn't surprised that her books sold out that day.

Though the devotions made her a published author, Pamela's dream continued to be to sell a novel.  She experimented with mysteries and other genres, all of which had promise.  But the first time she brought a scene from Walking Between the Stones for the members of FRCFW to critique, I knew this book was special.

Although Pamela's dream was to sell her story to a traditional publisher, all that changed in October when she was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a very rare, incurable, rapidly progressing brain disease.  She knew she no longer had time for the traditional publishing route, and so a group of us banded together to make her dream come true by preparing her manuscript for independent publishing.

That dream is now reality.  I encourage you to click on the links above to learn more about Walking Between the Stones.  It's a book you won't soon forget.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 30, 2016

Why would the Wyoming State Museum feature cymbals in a display about the Capitol?  You might be surprised.  I know I was.

Believe it or not, it is thought that the cymbals were used as a fire alarm.  Can you imagine that happening now?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 23, 2016

As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, you'll find trains almost everywhere in Wyoming.  This one is in Buford, a town that achieved worldwide notice a few years ago when it was sold at auction.

Though the town -- population 1 -- has new owners, one thing hasn't changed: the trains that run past it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 16, 2016

Who would have thought that a wrong turn would lead to this?  I've been to Chugwater before, but thanks to a new navigation system that kept trying to send me to a town I'd deliberately bypassed, I discovered this little gem.

Yes, it's a mural.  I'm always intrigued by the paintings various towns use to decorate the sides of otherwise ordinary buildings.  This one in Chugwater impressed me with the way the artists incorporated the light pole into the picture, partially camouflaging it as part of the windmill.

You can see that it was more difficult to hide the electrical box and wires, but it's still an interesting mural and a great way to celebrate the town and its history.

What's missing is the town's current claim to fame -- Chugwater Chili.  There's even an annual chili cookoff in June.  If you're ever in the area then, you might want to see which variety of chili you find the best.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 9, 2016

Trains.  It's hard to drive very far in Wyoming without seeing one.  Though early trains carried passengers, now most of them are used for freight, hauling the state's coal and natural gas to markets in other parts of the country.

Even small towns like Centennial, with a population under 300, celebrate the influence that trains have had on Wyoming's economy.  This photo shows part of Centennial's museum and features both the town's historic depot and a train.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 2, 2016

Shakespeare in Wyoming?  Yes, indeed.  Not only was Jim Bridger, the famed mountain man, able to quote Shakespeare at length, but only six months after it was founded, the city of Cheyenne was the site of a production of "Othello."  Later, Edwin Booth, brother of -- you guessed it -- John Wilkes Booth, starred in a production of "Hamlet" at the Cheyenne Opera House.

With that history, is it any surprise that when the Folger Shakespeare Library arranged its fifty-state tour to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare's death by sending one of the famous First Folios on tour, Cheyenne was the Wyoming city selected to host it?

Here's a close-up picture of the First Folio, open to the well-known "to be, or not to be" scene from "Hamlet."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 26, 2016

Even though it was only the beginning of fall according to the calendar, Wyoming's autumnal beauty was at its peak the day my husband and I drove to the Snowy Range.

For those of you who've never been to Wyoming, here's one of the reasons I enjoy my adopted home -- beauty and solitude less than two hours from Cheyenne.  For me, this was the perfect place to relax and reflect on all that's good in the world.

What's your special place?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 19, 2016

Golden aspens forming a frame around an evergreen -- what more can I say other than that the beauty made my heart sing?

This is another picture from the Snowy Range and the Medicine Bow National Forest.  As you've probably guessed from the fact that this is the third photo from that area, I'm spotlighting the Snowies this month.  They're not the most famous mountains in Wyoming, but the area is among the most beautiful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 12, 2016

When you hear the name "Snowy Range" do you picture mountains that are snow-capped year round?  That's not the reason Wyoming's Snowy Range got its name.  Instead, it's because of the white granite mountains.  And, as you can see, some of the boulders from those peaks are indeed the color of snow.

If you were wondering, the Snowy Range is part of the Medicine Bow National Forest, southwest of Laramie.  It's become one of my favorite day trip destinations, especially during autumn, when the fall colors provide a dramatic contrast to the evergreens and those white mountains.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 5, 2016

From the brilliant orange colors, you might think this picture was taken in New England, but it wasn't.  A Wednesday in Wyoming post can't have a picture taken in Vermont or New Hampshire, can it?  This is a scene from the Medicine Bow National Forest just west of Centennial, Wyoming.

Have you heard of aspen gold?  That's the color most aspens turn each fall.  These are aspens, but -- as you can see -- they're not gold.

Why are they orange this year?  It could be the result of the drought we've had this summer, which can increase the concentration of the pigments that make leaves turn colors each fall.

Whatever the reason, the sight was beautiful.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 28, 2016

We've been focusing on trains this month, but there's another part of train travel beside the locomotives -- depots.

Cheyenne's original train depots were simple wooden structures, nothing to excite passengers, but that changed in 1886 when the Union Pacific began construction of what was to become the most magnificent depot west of Omaha.

Built in what is called the Richardsonian Romanesque style, it features two colors of sandstone from quarries in Colorado.  The actual construction of what is now a National Historic Landmark had its share of difficulties, including a labor strike, but when it was completed, the building vied with the capitol for the distinction of being the most beautiful building in the city.

I had so much fun, incorporating a real place and real events in my very fictional story, "The Depot Bride," which is part of the Rails to Love Romance Collection.  (Yes, this is shameless self-promotion.  Rails to Love has an official release date of October 1 and will be available in both print and ebook format.  You can find more details on my web page

When passenger trains were discontinued on the route through Cheyenne, the Union Pacific donated the depot to the city.  (Remember what I said about the Union Pacific being an important part of Cheyenne?  This is another example of the relationship between the railroad and the city.)

The building has been renovated and now houses offices and a museum.  As if that weren't enough, the plaza in front of the depot is the site of everything from farmers' markets to summer concerts.

Come visit it!  It's worth the trip.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 21, 2016

Last week I shared pictures of Old Sadie with you.  Today's featured train is also located in one of Cheyenne's parks.  Like Old Sadie, this is another Union Pacific locomotive, but that's where the similarities end.

This one, nicknamed Big Boy, is one of the world's largest steam engines.  At 132 feet long, it's almost twice as long as Old Sadie and weighs more than a million pounds.  Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to maneuver a locomotive that big? The engineers anticipated the problem and hinged the frame.

Only twenty-five Big Boys were built, with even fewer still in existence.  This one, #4004, is now located in Cheyenne's Holliday Park.  Come see it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 14, 2016

If you read last week's blog, you know that Cheyenne was founded when the Union Pacific was part of the  race to complete the transcontinental railroad following the Civil War.  Even today, more than 150 years later, the UP is an important part of the city.

Two of Cheyenne's major parks feature UP locomotives.  This one, #1242, is located in Lions Park near the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens.  Nicknamed Old Sadie, #1242 is the oldest coal burning steam locomotive in the state.  Are you impressed?  I was.

Old Sadie was in active use until 1954.  After her retirement, the UP donated her to Cheyenne, and she's been a tourist attraction ever since.  See what I mean about the UP's role in the capitol city?

If you're ever in Cheyenne, I encourage you to visit both Old Sadie and the Botanic Gardens.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 7, 2016

Trains!  You'll see them all across Wyoming and for a good reason:  the railroad was responsible for the settlement of many of Wyoming's cities.  Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, and Rock Springs, to list a few, owe their existence to the Union Pacific and the development of the transcontinental railroad.

But the UP's east-west rails aren't the only train tracks in Wyoming.  Others travel north-south, stopping at -- among other places -- Douglas.

If you're in the mood to learn more about trains, Douglas now houses the Railroad Interpretive Center where you can view and tour a variety of train cars.

 And, as if that weren't enough, you can enjoy sightings of the jackalope, the mythical creature that calls Douglas its home.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 31, 2016

We've reached the end of the month and the end of our Rawlins Mural Tour.  What better way to finish the tour than with the largest grouping of art -- six pictures of the same subject, a wild stallion named Desert Dust.

While many of the murals were painted directly on the building, these are not, but are, as you can see, framed oil paintings.

I have to admit that I was saddened to learn that Desert Dust was eventually captured in 1945.  However, as the tour brochure assures us, wild horses can still be seen in the Red Desert west of Rawlins.

The Old West is still alive!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 24, 2016

Have you ever heard of Cattle Kate?  One of the more controversial characters in Carbon County history, she was lynched in 1889 for alleged cattle rustling.  But did she do it?  Historians believe she did not.

If you're interested in learning more about her, here's a link:

Not only was Cattle Kate a controversial person, but this portrait of her in the Rawlins Mural Tour created its own controversy, in part because of the style the artist used.

What do you think?  Do you like the mural?  And, if you read the story, do you believe Kate deserved to be hanged?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 17, 2016

Although most of the pictures in the Rawlins Mural Tour are outside, five pieces hang in the lobby of one of the city's banks.  All five, which are referred to as the Scoggin Collection, since they were painted by artist Bill Scoggin, feature the life of a cowboy.

And,  yes, that's the vault door you see in the lower left corner -- proof that the art is inside a bank.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 10, 2016

Carbon County, like much of the West, had its share out outlaws, including the notorious Big Nose George Parrot.

If you look closely, you'll see that this part of Rawlins' Mural Tour shows the stagecoach Big Nose robbed and the murder of  two deputies.  The upper right side leaves no doubt of Big Nose's fate: he was hanged.

Why are there shoes in the lower right side?  Don't cringe too much, but they were made from the outlaw's skin and wore worn for the inauguration of one of Wyoming's governors, Dr. John E. Osborne.

The shoes are currently on display at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins.  And,  yes, I've seen them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 3, 2016

Rawlins, Wyoming is noted for its Mural Tour, otherwise called "A Walk Through Carbon County History."  As you can guess from the name, the twelve murals that decorate the city feature different aspects of local history.

This one, very appropriately placed on the side of a building in the middle of town, is called "Historic Downtown" and shows what Rawlins looked like in the 1940s.  As you can see from the dumpster, although the mural may be historic, progress continues.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 27, 2016

You don't want to touch the thistle's spikes, but isn't the flower beautiful?

Like the other pictures I've shared this month, this one was taken at Pole Mountain.

Can you tell that I like that place?  It's less than an hour's drive from Cheyenne, but the terrain is very different from the grassland prairies that surround Wyoming's capital.  A great place for a picnic lunch and some time away from the computer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 20, 2016

If you're looking for a wonderful place to hike in southeastern Wyoming, I recommend Pole Mountain.  The combination of wildflowers (in season, of course) and panoramic views can't be beaten.  Be careful, though, to come prepared with sunblock and lots of water.  The sun is intense, and the altitude (around 8,000 feet) presents its own challenges.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 13, 2016

Although many parts of the country are filled with wildflowers during the spring, they come later at high elevations in Wyoming.  I found these in bloom in early July.

Like last week's picture, this is from Pole Mountain, close to the summit of Interstate 80.  The elevation there is over 8,000 feet -- definitely high altitude.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 6, 2016

Doesn't this picture say "Western" to you?  It does to me.  The combination of the blue sky, cumulus clouds, red earth, and twisted tree all remind me that I live in the West.

In case you were wondering, this picture was taken less than fifty miles from Cheyenne at Pole Mountain, which is part of the Medicine Bow National Forest.  It's a wonderful place to hike or simply enjoy the scenery.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 29, 2016

The grand finale of the metal casting process at Eagle Bronze!
Once the casting is complete and the surface has been polished, it's time to add the patina.  What's the patina?  That's the coloring that the artist or customer has requested.

Before I toured the plant, I thought bronze statues were a single color -- bronze. Not true.  They can be any color you can imagine.

Look at the two bison.  The white one has no patina.  The blue does.  Yes, the customer requested blue bison.

As was true of many steps in the bronze casting process, applying patina requires more than one coat, and of course each coat needs to dry completely before the next one can be applied.

When all the coats of patina and sealer are complete, the piece is ready for its final step: mounting.  And then it all begins again, with a new piece of art.

I hope you've enjoyed learning a bit about one of Wyoming's businesses.  As you've probably guessed, I found it fascinating.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 22, 2016

Continuing the saga of metal casting at Eagle Bronze ...

Last week we saw how molten bronze was poured into the ceramic mold.  Once the mold is removed, the statute is ready for the finishing touches.

If it was cast in more than one piece, which is common for large statues like this one, the pieces are welded together.  Then comes the polishing stage.  It's during this step that any residual ceramic is removed and that the surface is prepared for the final step.

Yes, next week is the final post about metal casting.  It's also one of my favorite steps in the process.  I hope you'll come back for it.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Which Promotions Work Best?

Marketing books is a challenge -- definitely an art rather than a science.  As part of the marketing for On Lone Star Trail, Revell's fabulous art department created a number of images for me to share on social media.  As you'll see, some are quotations from the book, while others are announcements or reviews.

My question for you is, which of these do you think was the most effective?  Which would make you consider buying the book?

Please leave a comment with the number of the image you found most helpful.

And if you'd like to tell me why one worked better for you than another, I'd appreciate that.

#1 -- The simple announcement

#2 -- The steamroller

#3 -- Battles fought

#4 -- Talking and praying

#5 -- He will not forsake us

#6 -- Focus on the progress

#7 -- Some enchanted evening

#8 -- A review

Thanks so much for your help!