Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - September 11, 2019

Fort Fetterman front of museum/ officer's duplex
Remember the officer's quarters in last week's post about Fort Fetterman? They're located in this restored duplex, which is now the fort's primary museum. (A former ordnance building houses the second museum.)

One of the most interesting aspects of this building, at least for me, was its modular construction. If you look at the following picture, you can see that there are four distinct sections to the building.
Fort Fetterman - back of museum/ officer's duplex

Another thing to note is that, while this is a duplex, the two halves are not identical. The one on the left has an extra window, suggesting that it would be assigned to a more senior officer.

Rank was extremely important in that era, particularly where housing was concerned. When a new officer was assigned to the fort, he was given the housing his rank merited, displacing the current lower-ranking occupant, who then displaced someone else. It was the military version of musical chairs.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - September 4, 2019

Fort Fetterman entrance sign
Have you ever heard of Fort Fetterman? If you're not a western history buff or a Wyomingite, you may not have, but it was a key staging point during the nineteenth century Indian Wars.

So, where is this fort? It's just a few miles outside of Douglas, Wyoming, which is right on Interstate 25. (I'm picturing you pulling out your maps or -- more likely -- using a mapping app to see where that is.)

Like many forts of that era, once Fetterman was decommissioned, the buildings were sold and dismantled, leaving little for future historians. But two of the original buildings have been restored and are open to the public from Memorial  to Labor Day.

One of them, a former officer's housing duplex, includes this example of an officer's quarters. As you might expect, the precise placement of everything reflects the resident's military training.
Fort Fetterman officer's quarters

If you're interested in learning more about the fort's history, here's a link you may find interesting. And be sure to come back next week to see more pictures of the fort.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - August 28, 2019

What do you think this bear is doing? Getting ready for a summer nap? Hoping to spot something to eat? Or maybe just climbing over the log?

All I know is that I smiled when I saw the statue, which is part of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens' "Gardens Gone Wild" exhibit, featuring almost twenty of Dan Ostermiller's sculptures.

I've only shown you a few this month, but I hope you agree that it's an intriguing exhibit. Next month, we'll move outside of Cheyenne itself for our Wednesdays in Wyoming.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 21, 2019

Do you suppose these cats are discussing the topiary trees? I doubt it, but you never know.

As you've probably guessed, this is another of  Dan Ostermiller's "Gardens Gone Wild" sculptures currently on display at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - August 14, 2019

Cheyenne Botanic Gardens - elephant
This shy elephant is one of my favorite pieces in the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens' "Gardens Gone Wild" exhibit, featuring sculptures by Dan Ostermiller.

And, of course, the Grand Conservatory makes a gorgeous background for the elephant and other sculoptures.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - August 7, 2019

Gardens Gone Wild - rooster
Where on Earth would you find a rooster this big? At the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens! It's part of the Gardens Gone Wild exhibit featuring almost twenty sculptures by artist Dan Ostermiller.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 31, 2019

bison, Wyoming State Museum
Wyoming's state mammal is the bison, so it's only fitting that there would be a bison at the State Museum. What makes this exhibit more interesting than might be apparent at first glance is that the base of the poles are not ordinary metal circles but are bison-shaped.

bison exhibit, Wyoming State Museum

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 24, 2019

This week Cheyenne is hosting Frontier Days, the biggest event of the year. While the highlight is the world's largest outdoor rodeo, the ten days of CFD (shorthand for Cheyenne Frontier Days) are filled with many other events that make it a delight for visitors.

From pancake breakfasts to grand parades to the Thunderbirds' spectacular air show, there's something for everyone.

I particularly enjoyed seeing this float in one of the parades, since it features an early bookmobile. Who can live without books? I certainly can't.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 17, 2019

Tapiromorph fossil, Wyoming State Museum
This doesn't look like a particularly exciting exhibit, does it?

The boxes may look ordinary, but what's inside is anything but ordinary. This exhibit, which traveled to the Wyoming State Museum earlier this year, contains fossils from a tapiromorph.

If you're like me, you've never heard of a tapiromorph. I knew about tapirs, because I'd seen one in a zoo, but tapiromorph was a new word for me. The short version of a long story is that it's a prehistoric animal that appears to be closely related to modern tapirs.

Here's more information about tapirs in general and the techniques used to identify the fossils.

tapiromorph exhibit, Wyoming State Museum

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 10, 2019

It's not easy to remove fossils from the earth. This exhibit, which is next to the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton I showed you last week (see the tail on the left side?), shows some of the tools scientists used.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 3, 2019

Tyrannosaurus rex Wyoming State Museum
One of the largest exhibits in the Wyoming State Museum is this replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. If you were wondering why it's there and so prominent, it's because Wyoming is noted for its fossils, including those of dinosaurs.

The quotation on the back wall says, "There is no square on earth as rich as Wyoming in its fossil forms of extinct life. From the Permian ... to modern annals, nearly all of the life that ever lived upon the earth can be found within the limits of the state. -- Curator William H. Reed, University of Wyoming, 1899"

Who knew that the Equality State was also a treasure trove for fossil hunters?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 26, 2019

snow plow pole Yellowstone National Park
How much snow does Yellowstone get? If you look at the red pole in the lower right hand corner of the picture, you'll get an idea. The pole, which is used to guide snow plows, indicates that there can be a LOT of snow there.

Why? Part of the reason is the altitude. Much of Yellowstone is at 8,000 feet above sea level. That's why it's frequently the coldest spot in Wyoming. And because of that, the park has recorded snow in every month of the year. Yes, even July and August.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 19, 2019

geyser Yellowstone National Park
If you study this picture, do you see what look like sponges? They're not sponges, of course, but are rocks formed by one of the many geysers in Yellowstone.

It's sights like this that make Yellowstone so popular with visitors from all around the world. We expect to see Old Faithful, but "sponges" aren't part of most guidebooks. That makes them all the more special.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 12, 2019

Brilliant colors, evergreen-covered hills, plumes of steam rising from the ground. Yes, this is Yellowstone, one of my favorite places on Earth and one of the reasons I now live in Wyoming.

The geysers and waterfalls are famous. So too is the variety of wildlife -- everything from wolves and bears to elk and bison. But the park has much more to offer than simply thermal features and wildlife. There are quiet spots to enjoy peaceful interludes, even during the crowded tourist season.

If you haven't been to Yellowstone, I suggest you add it to your bucket list. You won't regret it.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Out of the Embers Cover Reveal

For me, the most exciting part of the whole publication process other than holding the first copy of the finished book is seeing the cover art. Even though we've all been told that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, if you're like me -- and I suspect you are -- we DO judge by the cover. That's why I wait anxiously for my first look at the cover design. This time the wait was even more nail-biting, because I knew Revell was going to give my new series a new look.

I shouldn't have worried. Once again, they've given me what I think is a fabulous cover. I hope you agree.

Out of the Embers cover
I love the fact that Evelyn looks strong and determined, because she is, and a field of bluebonnets plays a special role in the story, so I'm delighted that it was included on the cover. As for the apron, well ... what else would a woman who opens a restaurant be wearing?

If you're curious about the story itself, here's a blurb designed to intrigue you.
Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.
At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?
Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.
Are you intrigued? I hope so.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 5, 2019

Glacial Boulder - Grand Teton National Park
 What caused the unusual holes in this boulder, and where would you find it?

You'll find the answer to those questions here:
Fire and Ice Sign - Grand Teton National Park

Yes, the boulder is in Grand Teton National Park, was formed by lava and moved by glaciers, hence the "fire and ice" title on the sign.

While most people associate the park with spectacular mountain scenery -- and that's an important part of it -- there are other, less well known attractions, including this one. I highly recommend a trip to Grand Teton.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Let's Talk

We live in a world where a lot of communication is via text, tweets, and social media posts, all enhanced with emoticons. Things were different in the nineteenth century. Then, if people wanted to communicate, they did something  that might seem very old-fashioned: they talked.

That's one of the reasons why I had so much fun when blog hosts asked for interviews with the characters from A Tender Hope.

Let's start with Thea, the heroine. When she's cornered by one of the biggest busybodies in Cimarron Creek, the conversation becomes interesting.
Thea's Encounter with the Busybody

Jackson doesn't get away any easier. Silver, the owner of the town's one and only saloon, wants to know much more than he's willing to share.
Jackson's Uncomfortable Moments with Silver

Aimee, the woman who joined Thea on her journey to Cimarron Creek and who has a story of her own, tells more than she intends in a conversation with Novel Pastimes.
Aimee's Interview with Novel Pastimes

And then there's Warner, the town's apothecary and a man who's known more than his share of heartbreak. He's convinced that he'll never marry, and as for being a matchmaker, well ... only one person has accused him of that.
Warner's Thoughts about Marriage and Matchmaking

I hope you enjoyed the insights into four of the most important characters in A Tender Hope. And, if you wondered what happened to Wednesday in Wyoming, those blog posts will return in June.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Road to Cimarron Creek

It all started when my nephew asked a seemingly simple question: “Did Emma live in an orphanage?” At the time, all we knew about Emma’s early life was that she’d emigrated from Sweden to the United States in the late nineteenth century and had lived in Brooklyn with her sister.

I’m far from an expert genealogical researcher, but I do like solving puzzles, so I agreed to see what I could discover. Little did I know that not only would I learn that Emma had never spent time in an orphanage, but that the convoluted paths my searching for that answer took would plant the seeds for the Cimarron Creek trilogy.

As the months passed and I pored over census reports, ship manifests, old phone directories, and Swedish parish records, I learned many things about Emma, including the fact that not everything we’d thought we knew was true. Her sister was only a half-sister, and while they both lived in Brooklyn, at times only a few blocks apart, they did not live together.

And then there was her future husband’s family. Although he’d been born in Brooklyn and was one of many children, his parents had emigrated – one from Germany, the other from Ireland. Talk about a melting pot!

1900 census

There were so many people involved that I started drafting a crude family tree, then graduated to family tree software. Each person I added seemed like a small victory, and when I discovered where many of them were employed as well as where they lived, I felt as if I had solved a mystery.

Even though some of them had been dead for more than a century, these people started becoming real to me. That feeling of actually knowing them increased when I used MapQuest to plot where everyone lived. 

I was so involved in them that I even started dreaming about them, picturing Emma walking down the streets of Brooklyn to visit her sister and then taking a side trip to spend time with her sweetheart.

MapQuest map of family locations

 And through it all, I wondered what their lives were like. How did Emma find a job when she didn’t speak English? What challenges did she face as a new immigrant? Did she ever want to return to Sweden, where her brothers still lived?

I never found the answers to those questions, but they started my brain whirling. And that leads us to the Cimarron Creek trilogy. 

You’re probably asking what Emma’s story has to do with it. After all, that series takes place in the Texas Hill Country, not Brooklyn. And while one of the characters does travel there from Europe, she comes from France, not Sweden, Germany, or Ireland.

The seeds that were planted while I searched for Emma were ones of family connections, long-buried secrets, and the challenges of making a home in a totally new place.

When I began to outline the trilogy, my first step was to create a family tree.

Cimarron Creek Founding Families family tree

I envisioned Cimarron Creek having two founding families which – of course – intermarried. And, as I developed the family tree, the secrets that both united and divided my fictional town started to fall into place. I was on the way to having a plot.

Next came the town map, because I needed to know where everyone lived and, since I envisioned them walking from one place to another the way Emma and her sweetheart did, I also needed to know what the streets were named. Readers have told me that the map helped them picture the town. Believe me, it helped me too. 

Cimarron Creek map

 At this point, I had a framework, but it was still very shaky. That’s where all the musing I’d done about the immigrant experience came into play. 

What was it like to arrive in a new place, not knowing anyone, perhaps not being welcomed? 

What if your expectations of your new home were all wrong? 

What if you feared you’d made a horrible mistake, but you had no way of returning to your previous life? 

I had one of those aha! moments that writers love when I realized that a person didn’t have to have crossed the ocean to have those same feelings.

A Stolen Heart

Lydia, the heroine of A Stolen Heart, is a Yankee schoolteacher who comes to Cimarron Creek in 1880. Though it’s been fifteen years since Appomattox, the wounds caused by the Civil War have yet to heal, and Yankees are not welcome. 

Lydia’s traveled from Syracuse, New York, to the Hill Country to be reunited with her fiancĂ©, only to discover that he’s disappeared and – worse yet – has married someone else. What is she to do?

A Borrowed Dream

 Austin Goddard, the hero of A Borrowed Dream, is equally out of place when he arrives in Cimarron Creek. He’s a skilled surgeon who’s lived in Paris and most recently Philadelphia but who’s had to flee the East Coast to protect his daughter. Can he maintain the pretense that he’s a rancher?

The final Cimarron Creek novel, A Tender Hope, brings two new women to town. Thea’s a native-born Texan who wants to start a new life, one that’s free from the pain of the past. Aimee, who’s spent almost her entire life in France, has the opposite goal. She comes to Cimarron Creek seeking her past.

All of these characters face many of the challenges that Emma did when she reached Brooklyn. They’re strangers who need to establish new lives in a new place, a place that’s far different from anywhere they’ve lived. Each of them has secrets that, if revealed, might put them or others in danger. Each of them seeks love but finds that it’s more elusive than expected.

Will they be able to forge a future free from fear? 

Will they find a happily-ever-after as Emma did? 

The road they travel isn’t an easy one, but their stories are ones that I found deeply satisfying to tell. And it all began with a simple question.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - April 24, 2019

The Fort Bridger museum has more peaceful exhibits than the weapon I highlighted in last week's Wednesday in Wyoming post. This one shows a personal library as well as a nineteenth century wedding gown.

You'll note that the gown is not white, since not everyone followed the tradition Queen Victoria began for white weddings. Instead, women chose dresses they could wear again after the wedding. Practicality triumphed.

I wonder how many of the other items you have in your home. I have at least as many books as this library boasts, but that's where the similarity ends.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - April 17, 2019

This week we're heading back inside the museum at Fort Bridger for a look at one of the more unusual weapons I've encountered, the Hotchkiss Mountain Gun. This replacement for the howitzer requires two mules to carry it and its accessories and was used by the Army beginning in 1877 through World War I.

It's most famous for being used in the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890 - a sad reminder of the high price of western expansion.

If you'd like to know more, here's a link to Wikipedia. Please note that the Hotchkiss in the picture is the 1.65 inch model, not the revolving cannon.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - April 10, 2019

Do you know what all these items are called? I don't, but I can tell you that they're part of the blacksmith's shop in the oldest section of Fort Bridger, Jim Bridger's trading post.

When I first heard the term "trading post," I expected a place for travelers to buy needed supplies, but as you can see from the presence of a blacksmith, travelers needed more than simply food, clothing, or ammunition. They needed to have their wagons repaired, and for that they often needed a blacksmith.

Bridger wisely gave them what they needed.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - April 3, 2019

Earlier this year, I shared some pictures from Fort Bridger and mentioned that the museum, although small, is fascinating. While you might expect it to depict life at Fort Bridger - and it does - it also highlights aspects of the pioneers' journey.

This exhibit shows one of the most unfortunate aspects of travel along the Oregon Trail: death. The causes were varied, but in this case, there's no question of how the pioneer died.

I was struck by the fact that someone left a warning for others and wonder if that would happen today.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - March 27, 2019

There are two sides to a story and -- in this case -- a statue.

Entitled "Essence of Rex," this statue is located in front of the Tate Museum at Casper College. The side above is what you might expect, a depiction of the flesh-and-blood dinosaur.

The other side is different.

If you look closely, you can see that this side shows the skeleton, giving visitors a hint to what they might find inside the museum. Yes, dinosaurs and other fossils play a big role in the Tate's exhibits.

I found the museum to be a small gem and will be sharing pictures of some of its exhibits with you later this year. In the meantime, enjoy Rex and his two sides.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - March 20, 2019

This post ought to be titled "A Tale of  Two Escalators." What's so special about two escalators? Believe it or not, that's how many there are in the entire state of Wyoming. While there are a number of theories about the reason for so few moving staircases in the Equality State, no one knows for certain why they're not more popular.

Both escalators are located in banks in Casper, but that's where the similarity ends. The experiences were very different.

The first bank we visited was First Interstate Bank. We were greeted warmly and directed to the escalator, although we were warned that the one leading up to the second floor wasn't operational. It seems that it's so old that it's virtually impossible to get repair parts.

Undaunted by that challenge, the bank is planning to have a new one installed, even though the building has a fully functional bank of elevators that reaches all six stories.

Now, here's the important part of the story. We were able to take pictures and share them with you. (Of course you've seen escalators before, but you probably haven't seen a Wyoming escalator.)

When we reached the second bank, Hilltop National, we once again received a warm welcome. Both sides of their escalator were working and, we were told, were a big tourist attraction. Apparently families bring their children to the bank for the sheer novelty of riding an escalator.

We started walking toward the escalator but were stopped when the receptionist saw my husband's camera. Unfortunately, the bank's security policy prohibits taking pictures.

The good news is two-fold: (1) Hilltop's was an escalator like every other one you've seen, so not having a picture wasn't a big deal, and (2) I was able to cross "see both of Wyoming's escalators" off my to-do list.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - March 13, 2019

When you think of Wyoming, do you think of wide open spaces like these? If so, you won't be surprised to learn that Wyoming is the least densely populated state. Even here, only a few miles from the state's second largest city, open land far outweighs development.

This photo was taken from Casper Mountain (you remember that from last week's post, don't you) and shows the city of Casper as well as the surrounding area.

I particularly like the contrast of the grasses in the foreground (bent over because of the almost constant wind, of course) against the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Quintessential Wyoming!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - March 6, 2019

Casper Mountain

Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted an early spring, but there's still snow in Wyoming, particularly in higher places like Casper Mountain.

As you may have guessed from the name, this mountain is on the outskirts of the city of Casper. If you like hairpin turns and beautiful scenery, this is the drive for you. And when you reach the summit, there's both downhill and cross-country skiing.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Appeal of Book Series

A Tender Hope cover

Do you enjoy reading books in a series? You can be assured that I do. If I didn't, I wouldn't write trilogies, nor would I have tied most of my novellas to the same bakery in nineteenth century Cheyenne.

What's the appeal of series, and what do I dislike about them? I answered those questions in a post for Fresh Fiction.  And, if you wondered what techniques I use to create series, I talked about that on Seekerville.

(This blog post is brought to you compliments of Kathy F., who reminded me that not everyone sees my Tweets or Facebook posts. Thanks, Kathy!)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - February 27, 2019

Stained Glass at Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
Sometimes the background against which the stained glass is displayed is almost as interesting as the art itself. In this case, the whimsically entitled "Fox Hole" stained glass almost appears to be hanging outside. It's not, of course, but is displayed on the glass-enclosed walkway connecting the Grand Conservatory of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens with the original greenhouse.

In addition to the very red red fox, I liked the way the vertical lines of the frame were echoed by the flagpole.

My Wednesday in Wyoming posts will have a different theme next month, but there were so many beautiful pieces of glass art that I intend to devote another month to them later this year. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I have.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - February 20, 2019

Stained Glass at Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
This piece of stained glass from the annual Glass Art show at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens caught my eye for two reasons: the unique frame and the background. I loved the way the piece was highlighted against the beauty of the Grand Conservatory.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - February 13, 2019

Glass Art Show Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
One of the interesting things about the Glass Art show at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is that many of the pieces are displayed in windows, giving visitors a view of not only the art itself but also the exterior of the gardens.

These pieces, which are hanging in the second floor classroom, have a less-than-spectacular but highly necessary background: the maintenance part of the gardens.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - February 6, 2019

One of the annual events in Cheyenne is the Glass Art Show at the Botanic Gardens. In the past, I've been impressed with both the beauty of the pieces and the variety of techniques the artists use, and this year was no exception.

I particularly liked this portrait of a hummingbird. Not only did it remind me of the hummers that frequent my backyard every summer, but the sparkling mosaic-style background caught my eye.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - January 30, 2019

One of the many attractions at Fort Bridger is its museum. As you might expect, the museum has exhibits from the various eras in the fort's history and that of the surrounding area.

This one, which shows the most elaborate marriage certificate I've ever seen, is part of a room depicting life in the late nineteenth century.

Is your wedding certificate that fancy? Mine certainly is not.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Meet the People of Cimarron Creek

While we're waiting for A Tender Hope to be released, I thought you might enjoy connecting (or reconnecting) with some of the people who make Cimarron Creek their home. (Many thanks to Kathy F, who reminded me that not everyone has seen my posts on other blogs and that it would be a good idea to compile a list of the most interesting ones.)

We'll start at the beginning, with A Stolen Heart.
A Stolen Heart cover art

You probably remember that the hero is Travis Whitfield, the town's sheriff, but you might not be aware of the reasons why he agreed to take that position. After all, he was already busy as the town's only attorney, and although Whitfields were raised to serve the town, surely that was enough.

But it wasn't, as I discuss on Chirp and Chatter.

Then there's Aunt Bertha, the town's matriarch and one of my favorite secondary characters. She's a feisty woman, as you'll see from this conversation on Welcome to Jenn's World.

A Borrowed Dream cover art
If you've read A Borrowed Dream, you know that Catherine Whitfield's life hasn't been an easy one and that her path toward happily-ever-after takes more turns than she'd ever expected. Here's a bit of her story told in her own words on Stitches Thru Time.

We wouldn't want to neglect Austin Goddard, would we? After all, he's the hero, and he deserves his own interview. You'll find that on Novel PASTimes.

And, for a different look at both Catherine and Austin, click over to Relz Reviews for a character spotlight.

Tired of reading? I hope not, because I have one more post to share with yoiu, this one about the influence that families have on both Catherine and Austin. You'll find this one on Takeover Tuesday

I hope you enjoyed these interviews and that you're almost as excited about the upcoming release of A Tender Hope as I am.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - January 23, 2019

Remember the garage camp cabins I featured last week? Here's what the interior of one looked like. As you can see, it has some of the amenities we'd expect - a stove for heat, an electric bulb for light, a table and chairs for eating, and beds for sleeping.

What's missing? Indoor plumbing. There was a water pump not too far away, and what some called "the necessary" was located behind the cabins. The necessary, I'm sure you can guess, was an outhouse. This was, after all, camping.

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.