Posts Categorized: Historical Fiction

Endorsements for Sinclair Sisters Novels

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The folks who write the enticing blurbs about a story for a book cover or a front page receive ARC’s (Advance Reader Copies) from a publisher to read ahead of a book’s release.

What a blessing it was to have so many well-respected authors read The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series and offer endorsements! Gargantuan Thank You’s to each one of the authors listed below for reading the stories. And, of course, I’m thrilled they enjoyed the books!

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series (Waterbrook Press)

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series (Waterbrook Press)

“Spunky sisters, mail-order brides, a mining town full of men…but where are the right ones! I was captivated from the first page!” ~Lauraine Snelling, author of The Red River Series and Daughters of Blessing

“A beautiful tale! Intriguing. Inviting. Inspiring.” ~Cindy Woodsmall, best-selling author of When the Soul Mends, The Bridge of Peace, and The Scent of Cherry Blossoms

“Mona Hodgson has done it again. With deft storytelling and characters that leap off the page, Too Rich for a Bride is a book I won’t soon forget.” ~Kathleen Y’Barbo, author of The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper and Anna Finch and the Hired Gun

Two Brides Too Many is one good book! Mona Hodgson sweeps the reader away with Sinclair sisters Nell and Kat an dnestles them in the majesty of Colorado, where a cast of characters eagerly await, to create a home. Hodgson leaves a tasty trail of breadcrumbs ready to lead us into the next story. Two more sisters…I can’t wait!” ~Allison Pittman, author of The Bridegrooms and Lilies in Moonlight

“Strong characters play out an intricately crafted story across a rich tapestry of setting. Not your usual mail-order bride story, and I loved the twists and turns. A real page-turner.” ~Lena Nelson Dooley, award-winning author of Wild Prairie Roses and Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

“This is a story that lets us stand on the cusp of a great societal shift–the entrance of women into the business world…. Cripple Creek’s cast of colorful characters plays host to a new romance, as well as pulling back the curtain on a local family tragedy. This sequel revisits the characters we’ve already come to love and creates a complementary depth to an entertaining new tale.” ~Allison Pittman, author of Stealing Home and The Bridegrooms

“I love recommending this series when readers ask me who I read and what books I can rave about.” ~Lauraine Snelling, best-selling author of Valley of Dreams and the Blessing series

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOUR WHO WON A SINCLAIR SISTERS OF CRIPPLE CREEK NOVEL–Susan M, Linda M, GodBLessAmerica2, and Jasmine A!

 

  • Do you read book endorsements? Do endorsements influence you to purchase a book?

History Matters: Remembering Western Author Stephen Bly

Steve with jacket

Stephen Bly

Bob and I live at the base of Mingus Mountain, home to the historic copper mining camp known as Jerome, Arizona. About sixteen years ago, my fellow writers and our friends, Stephen and Janet Bly, along with their son Aaron, came for a visit. Actually, our house served as home base during their research trip for Stephen and Janet’s contemporary novel Copper Hill in their Hidden West Series.

Some of our favorite moments during that visit included our times camped out in lawn chairs in our driveway. Under the stars, our cowboy buddy regaled us with tales of the Wild West, Idaho stories, and his ideas for books to come. We were already fans of Stephen Bly’s Stuart Brannon stories. And on those evenings chewing the fat under a moonlit sky, it felt as if we could’ve been sitting on the porch at Broken Arrow Crossing with Stuart Brannon.

Endearing and enduring memories of a man who understood the importance of history and the value of preserving it.

Yes, history matters. Stephen Bly and his wife, Janet, are an indelible part of my history as a writer, and as a reader of western fiction.

I don’t consider myself a historian by any stretch of the imagination. Instead I am a writer of historical fiction, inspired by a master of the craft. I enjoy doing the research involved in delivering a compelling story steeped in history. Like Stephen Bly did for me in his westerns. Whether historical or contemporary, Stephen’s stories were rich in human history and man’s history with God.

Stephen’s Last Completed Book

Stephen rode off ahead of us this June 9, 2011. I’m sure the sound of his Father’s voice on the mountaintop in Idaho sounded mighty sweet, calling him home. But we miss him!

Throw the Devil off the Train was Stephen’s last competed book.

You can check out all of Stephen and Janet’s books at http://www.blybooks.com/store.htm.

Can a committee finish writing a Stephen Bly book?

Meet Janet Bly here tomorrow ((November 7, 2012)!

Hear the story about how Janet and her three sons completed Stephen’s work-in-progress—Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot.

The Intersection of Reality and Character Experience

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Intersection Sign

Many of my closest friends are liars.

Those friends may prefer the title storyteller extraordinaire. Tale-weavers. And whether the literary yarn they spin is set in an actual place or based upon real life events and historical characters, like me, they are authors of fiction.

As novelists, we have chosen to write fiction, not fact. But even so, is the story we weave truly and completely made up?

Not the best stories. All compelling fiction resonates with readers. Why?

The best stories are rich in truth.

Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride

Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride

In writing each of my historical novels, I try to create an honest story world, premise, and character journeys that provide a platform for emotional and spiritual truth that deepens the realness of my fiction. While I’m not telling my story in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books, part of the authenticity comes at the points in which my life experiences—physical, spiritual, emotional, relational—intersect with my characters’ experiences.

Celebrating the completion of my debut series with the October release of Twice a Bride, I thought I’d offer you insight into a few of those intersections.

  • Like Ida, Kat, Nell, and Vivian Sinclair in Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride, I am one of four sisters.
  • One of the sisters is a writer who, like me, began her career writing for a periodical.
  • I buried my father twenty-one years ago. Like me, one of my characters in Twice a Bride stands at a crossroads beside her father’s grave.
  • Our beloved Miss Hattie shares many of the amiable, mentoring characteristics of my dear friend and prayer partner, June Adams.
  • A character in Too Rich for a Bride was institutionalized with melancholia. Although the circumstances varied greatly, the grandmother my husband never knew was hospitalized with melancholia in the early 1900’s.
  • Like Deputy Carter Alwyn in The Bride Wore Blue, both my hubby and my father served in law enforcement and shared his compassionate and courageous stand for justice.
  • Before giving birth to my two daughters, I suffered two miscarriages. The circumstances and dynamics are not the same, but many of the emotions are, when one of the characters in Twice a Bride shares that experience.
  • Boney Hughes serves the series as a quirky sidekick and an unlikely mentor. Or is he a guardian angel? Mr. Boney shares many of my father’s Johnny-on-the-spot traits.
  • Like Willow in Twice a Bride, several of my family members have experienced a second chance for love and romance.

Even though my Cripple Creek tales weren’t formed in actual reality, my hope is that the setting and characters, action and themes, and my emotional investment as the writer, offer a tapestry of honesty that can make a work of fiction feel more real, at times, than life itself.

Thank you for joining me here. I so appreciate your interest in my historical fiction with WaterBrook Multnomah.

What do you enjoy most about reading fiction?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lKfEfKtofuI]

All four of the Sinclair Sisters novels are also available for eReaders?

Guest: Kelly Howard, Cover Artist for The Bride Wore Blue and Twice a Bride

Kelly

You’ve been raving about the covers for The Bride Wore Blue and Twice a Bride, and rightly so.

Do I have a fun surprise for you!

Kelly Howard
Senior Designer

Today’s guest isn’t an author. But as a Senior Designer at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Kelly Howard is a key member of my publishing team.

MONA: Kelly, thanks so much for joining us on Hindsight today. We’d like to hear about your journey as an artist. Who most influenced your pursuit of art?

KELLY: I was born in Buena Park, California as the second child in a family of four children. When I was four years old, my parents became missionaries to Taiwan. I lived there for seven years. While I was in the seventh grade, my mother was diagnosed with cance. We stayed in California while she sought treatment. Unfortunately, she passed away in my fourteenth year.

I spent a lot of my life in transition. We moved a lot and my interests changed as often as my circumstances did. As a child, my creative talents were mostly apparent in music. As soon as I was big enough to hop up on a piano seat, I could just play. My mother, who also played, was key in setting me up with lessons and finding places for me to play. When she passed away, I lost the motivation to keep working at music.

MONA: You definitely have many life experiences that feed into your art.

KELLY: I took my first art class in high school. The teacher saw talent and encouraged me to continue. I focused on fine art and even won a scholarship to an art school in Georgia. However, the tuition was ten times the amount of the scholarship, and seemed far too steep for a career in Fine Art. At the time, Commercial Art seemed too boxed in and intimidating. Ironically, I decided to become a hairstylist instead.

MONA: Yay for perceptive art teachers! Somehow it’s encouraging to hear about the circuitous routes other people have taken on their personal journeys.

KELLY: After about eight years as a hairstylist, I’d had enough of standing on my feet for long hours, working for people who expected miracles (My scissors did not have magical properties), and not using my artistic abilities to their full potential.

In search of something different, I went to Pikes Peak Community College and took the assessment tests that determined what type of Career would be good for me. According to the results, I should either be a graphic designer or a lab technician. I am notoriously clumsy and not very detail oriented. Clearly, Design was the better choice.

MONA: Wow, graphic designer or a lab technician? Those seem like polar opposites.

What education and training experience brought you to your current position at WaterBrook Multnomah?

The Bride Wore Blue (Before)

KELLY: I did a year at Pikes Peak Community College then landed a job with a photographer working as his sales associate and photo retouch specialist.

When I had progressed as far as I could at the photography studio, I took a job with WaterBrook as the administrative assistant to the Production and Art departments in hopes that it might turn into a design position in the future. The job was not creative at first but it was a foot in the door.

MONA: You’ve worked at WaterBrook Multnomah for eight years. How did you adanve from Administrative Assistant to Senior Designer?

KELLY: Mark Ford, my supervisor on the Art side, recognized my interest and talent for design. He encouraged me to try all aspects of the cover design process. He taught me everything I know. After designing my first cover, I was hooked.

Mark was very honest with me and told me that if I ever wanted the official title of Designer, I would need a degree. So I went back to school. This time I went to Colorado Technical University and received an Associates degree in Visual Communications.

I worked for about three years for both departments at WaterBrook as an assistant, went to night school full-time, and took on almost a full load of design projects. I even did my internship at Waterbrook with Mark Ford overseeing the process. When I turned in my portfolio, the Director of the Visual Communications Department was so impressed that she kept it to show as an example. I was lucky. Not many students are able to find on the job training with actual published projects, and with someone willing to mentor.

In 2006, we acquired Multnomah. In that year, I was promoted to designer full time under Mark Ford.

MONA: What is the mental and artistic process for designing the book cover for a novel?

The Bride Wore Blue

KELLY: We work a lot as a team here. We often joke that our covers are designed by a committee. I think that we balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We brainstorm a lot before we start our own individual processes. In our team of three, I am the only female. Because, I have an inside track to the female mind, I often work on a lot of the women’s fiction.

I start each project differently. Sometimes listing ideas on paper, sketching, or just searching online for images. But perhaps uniquely, I work from a place of emotion rather than from a specific starting point. When I played piano as a kid, I never knew exactly what I was going to play or how it would sound. My fingers moved on the keyboard based on what I was feeling. I design very much the same way. I am never sure where the notes will go. I just start playing until it comes together in something recognizable as a melody.

MONA: Wow…loved that imageery. You’re an artist, and a poet!

Kelly, what mediums are used most in cover design for today’s marketplace?

KELLY: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Quark are the key programs we work with. I also often use a Wacom tablet so that I can draw with a pen rather than a mouse. This helps me create more illustrative looks. And of late, I have been doing my own photography.

MONA: What is your typical focus when thinking about the imagery for a cover?

Twice a Bride (Before)

KELLY: The setting, character, and theme all work together to create a mood, so I don’t always focus on just one aspect. I often have just a feeling in mind, and I start searching and playing around until I see the mood I am looking for. I sometimes find stock photos that inspire me or will work for a portion of the whole image. Other times I focus on the character and the mood I want her to portray. I often prefer to photograph a model myself because when I am looking through the lens, I often find what I am looking for. It can be hard for me to explain to someone else what that is.

MONA: Kelly, you designed the covers for The Bride Wore Blue and Twice a Bride. What can you tell us about the design process for The Bride Wore Blue and/or Twice a Bride?

Twice a Bride
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

KELLY: For these covers, I found great images already created. One from a photographer in London (The Bride Wore Blue) and the other was a stock photo (Twice a Bride).

Both images were not exactly right, so I did a lot of manipulation in Photoshop. I used my Wacom tablet and painted on top of the photos to blend and paint the entire images to give them an illustrative quality. I often combine several elements into one finished cover. Twice a Bride had at least four images that I collaged, and then painted. See the before pieces attached.

MONA: What advice do you have for aspiring graphic designers and book cover artists?

KELLY: Be passionate and always keep searching. When you seek, the doors will eventually open but you have to keep looking.

MONA: Kelly, we so appreciate the time you’ve taken to give us a glimpse into your world of book cover design. Regardless of how well-written a book might be, a weak cover can keep it on shelves or warehouses. The careful work you do is critical. Thank you!

In closing, do you have a Bible verse that especially inspires you as an artist?

KELLY: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

Things have never turned out as I planned, but every road I have been down has led me to a unique place where God has been able to use my talents. Each experience has taught me something new that I have been able to use on the next path.

Click here to read Chapter One Excerpt, The Bride Wore Blue!

Click here to read Chapter One Excerpt, Twice a Bride!

What intrigued you most in Kelly’s journey or in learning about the design process for book covers?

Got Laughter? A Twice a Bride Devotional

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A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 KJV

Book 4
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

“Hattie covered her mouth, but the giggle escaped anyway. Boney Hughes lay under her kitchen sink, his upper body concealed by the cupboard. His legs sprawled over her linoleum flooring.

Boney scooted out from under the sink and peered up at her. ‘You think me rappin’ my old knuckles on these leaky pipes is funny?’

Unable to stifle her amusement, Hattie nodded. ‘You look like a . . .’ She fanned herself, trying to regain her composure while he stood. ‘Like a fish out of water.’

Boney’s winter-white eyebrows arched. ‘A big old river catfish?’

Giggling, Hattie studied him from his wiry beard to his worn boots. ‘A smaller fish perhaps, but surely one with a big heart.’”

The proprietor of Miss Hattie’s boardinghouse and Boney Hughes understand the gift of a merry heart.

TRUTH TO EMBRACE

Worry weights our spirit and robs us of the joy of the Lord. A joyful spirit is primed for praise and laughter.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy,  and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7

TALK IT OVER

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of laughter. Help me rest in You, so my heart will be lighter and my spirit merry. Amen

Do you know someone whose laughter is contagious? What makes it irresistible?

Undergarments for the 19th Century Lady

Luxurious fabrics. Stylish necklines and skirts with elegant swish and sway. The extravagant, Victorian ball gowns of the 1800’s.

Ever wonder how those Victorian ladies achieved their extraordinary silhouettes?

Layers upon layers of uncomfortable undergarments. Bestselling historical romance author Deeanne Gist commissioned professional seamstress Kelly Cochran to make Deeanne a ball gown she could wear to author events. Kelly provided Dee with an informational video which gave her a peek under the skirts of a proper Victorian lady’s ball gown.

Many thanks to you, Deeanne, for sharing this video with us.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IV97C3MqF0]

Did you miss Deeanne Gist’s visit on Hindsight? Click here to read Dee’s fun post on the history of the telephone.

Guest: Mark D. Ford, Artist for Two Brides Too Many Book Cover

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How much does a book cover factor into your reading choice?

It’s the first draw, right? (Forgive the artsy pun.)

Mark D. Ford, Senior Art Director
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Today’s guest isn’t an author. But as the Senior Art Director at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Mark D. Ford is a key member of my publishing team.

MONA: Mark, thanks so much for joining us on Hindsight today. We’d like to hear about your journey as an artist. Who most influenced your pursuit of art?

MARK: I was most inspired to be an artist by my father, a career Air Force officer. Although he was an administrator, he had a creative side. I loved to watch him sketch familiar cartoons. He even created a family logo and crest with our own motto: “Never Tease a Weasel.” The six of us kids were the weasels. I was the number three child–the rebellious one. Following my father’s lead, I’d draw cartoons endlessly, my favorite being Bugs Bunny. I even created my own comics.

Ironically, when it came time to choose a college path, my father directed me away from Art, toward a more serious degree—Business Administration. It may have been more about where a football scholarship would take me. With six kids in the family, I  needed the financial help to get through college. After graduating, without a clue what I wanted to do, I chose the excitment of the Air Force, and became a navigator in B-52 bombers. Six years later, unhappy with my career path, I left the Air Force to give a career in Art a chance.

About that time, I came across an article in Newsweek magazine, I believe. One of those “Top Ten Careers of the Next Decade” kind of articles. I read a profile of a guy who designed book covers for a living. I knew immediately that was it, and I enrolled in a local college for a degree in Graphic Design.

MONA: What training and/or experience brought you to your current position at WaterBrook Multnomah?

Out take from Two Brides Too Many photoshoot.

MARK: I was raising a young family, so I knocked out a degree quickly and landed my first design job at a scale manufacturing company. The scales you see in the supermarkets that weigh your fruits and veggies. I designed the scale dials, packaging, catalogs, and advertising.

MONA: Whew! What a relief to hear you were the designer for veggie scales, and not the kind doctors make us step on.

So . . . what happened next?

MARK: As soon as I could, I left there and found my first publishing job with a magazine that served the Christian marketplace. For five years, as I grew in my skillset, I watched thousands of products being pitched and presented in our magazines every month. Again, I was drawn to books. When a new publisher, WaterBrook Press moved to town, I jumped for a shot at a Designer position.

MONA: How long have you been with WaterBrook Multnomah?

Another Out Take
A box helped even out the models’ heights

MARK: I took the job offer as Senior Designer. Nine months later I became the Senior Art Director, running the Art Department. That was twelve years and several hundred books ago. Since then, we acquired another publisher, Multnomah Books, and together produce 70-100 frontlist books a year.

MONA: What is your artistic process for designing the book cover for a novel?

MARK: I enjoy the great variety of books for which we get to design covers. I would approach a nonfiction, self-help book much differently than an historical fiction title. And within fiction, a romance novel presents different challenges than a suspense thriller or YA (young adult) fantasy title.

Having said that, I still will often go to a sketch book and scrawl out a few quick ideas. Often, so sketchy only I could interpret it. Other times, I’ll do a tighter sketch to figure out placement and balance of items. But the computer is a great tool, and just as often I’ll jump in and start pulling elements together, usually in Photoshop. In either case, it’s preceded by doing some research on the book’s content, storyline, characters, etc., and coming away with some solid directions to pursue.

At WaterBrook Multnomah, we have a concepting meeting early on to meet with folks from Editorial, Marketing, and Sales. That launches our creative process. In the meeting, we discuss how to direct the book’s cover design, considering things like target audience, demographics, competition, and of course, author input!

MONA: Great answer, Mark, especially that last bit.

What mediums are used most in cover design for today’s marketplace?

An early composite for Two Brides Too Many

MARK: Cover design is taking place these days primarily using layout programs like Adobe InDesign, importing imagery from Photoshop and Illustrator–you can get all three by purchasing Adobe Creative Suite. Photoshop is a great tool, and original and stock photography are brought into Photoshop for touch up and manipulation. Often, multiple images are combined to bring about an overall effect that often times has to be ultra-dramatic to compete on the bookshelves. I think I counted about a dozen images that went into a recent fiction cover image I created for Liz Curtis Higgs.

MONA: What is your typical focus when thinking about the imagery for a cover? Setting? Characters? Theme?

A second composite for Two Brides Too Many

MARK: We’ve got to be accurate with the story elements on the cover. I’ll watch my wife reading one of our novels while flipping back to the cover repeatedly, and she’ll let me know if it doesn’t match the story. I often like to leave more to the imagination, having more vague imagery on the cover. But, the trend lately in Christian fiction has been to be more literal, showing a full face character, capturing a setting, and even timeframe on the cover. So, we pay a lot of attention to that as we’re developing the scene.

MONA: Mark, you designed the cover for Two Brides Too Many and worked with Kelly Howard on the cover for Too Rich for a  Bride. You’ve been involved with a lot of book covers since then, but do you recall any specifics from the design process for Two Brides Too Many?

 MARK: Working on Two Brides Too Many was a lot of fun for me. It was great to feature the local history of Cripple Creek, Colorado, just over the hill from us.

I knew I wanted to capture the feel of an Old West mining town with the Sangre de Cristo mountain range behind it. The tricky part was capturing the two sisters in a dynamic way. With this title, it seemed obvious to have the sisters both wearing wedding dresses on the cover.

Book 1
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

I had found a couple of stock photo images of brides that I “photoshopped” together on the cover. I submitted this composite and got approval to go ahead with a photoshoot. We often have to do a “preview comp” so people can see what the finished product will look like before going through the expense of a photoshoot. We found a company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, that rents 18th and 19th century costumes, and had two antique wedding dresses shipped to us for the photoshoot. Then we needed models. Through a talent agency in Denver, we found two girls who fit our character descriptions. “Kat” ended up being quite tall compared to “Nell,” which we remedied by having Nell stand on a box for the back-to-back shot.

I was a little nervous about the rental dress fitting Kat, so I brought my wife’s wedding dress as a backup. Julie, my wife, had her great-grandmother’s dress (circa 1865) completely remodeled for our wedding in 1985. We brought it along to the shoot, just in case. Turned out to be a good idea because the rental didn’t fit at all. Julie is 5’ 0” and Kat is 5’ 10.” Somehow we Julie’s dress work! As you can see from the finished product, we captured the Sinclair sisters’ personalities and attitudes. Our models did a great job.

Side note: My intention was to leave a little more to the imagination by cropping both girls just below the nose, but because their expressions were so captivating, we decided to show their full faces.

MONA: Mark, the cover choices you and the team made were spot on. Our Sinclair Sisters fans are captivated by the cover’s historical warmth and the girls’ intriguing expressions, as am I.

I’m remembering a story about one of the models and the flowers staged for the shoot.

A fun Out Take from the end of the photoshoot

MARK: We try to have fun on the set and after we shot a second option, basically a close up shot of the dress with the model holding flowers, we tried some different ideas. In one shot, we had Nell tossing the bouquet toward the camera while we tried to capture the roses mid-flight. You can only do this for a few takes before the roses begin to disintegrate. So we had a little game of pitch, shoot, and catch. Took some great shots—which we didn’t use, but we did end up using one of those dress shots for the cover of Too Rich for a Bride.

MONA: Sounds like fun.

Book genres seem subject to cycles. For instance: Not all that long ago historical fiction was a hard-sell. Not it’s “hot.” Are there also cycles in cover design?

Book 2
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

MARK: In the twelve years I’ve been here at WaterBrook Multnomah, I have seen styles come and go. With the advent of Photoshop, it became much easier to composite images in a realistic and even hyper-realistic way. So, illustrated covers suddenly looked dated on fiction titles. I think we’ll start seeing that swing the other way soon. In Christian fiction, we’re seeing characters full face and large on the cover. I think that trend will shift in favor of more anonymous, vague characters presented on the cover.

Colors are an interesting challenge. Everybody wants a warm, inviting cover, but we can’t have a list of all orange and yellow covers. So we find ways of making blue and green feel warm.

 MONA: What advice do you have for aspiring Book Cover artists?

MARK: Take all kinds of design jobs. They all build your portfolio and experience. And they all have their unique design and creative challenges to solve. I think that’s why we design…we love the creative process.

MONA: Great counsel. Mark, we so appreciate the time you’ve taken to give us a glimpse into your world of book cover design. Regardless of how well-written a book might be, a weak cover can keep it on shelves or warehouses. The careful work you do is critical. Thank you!

In closing, Mark, do you have a Bible verse that especially inspires you as an artist?

MARK: I’m an outdoors person. I like to hike, bike, run, 4-wheel. I have two cars, both are convertibles. I’m inspired by God’s creation, and I experience it everyday living in Colorado.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 19: 1

Click here to read Chapter One Excerpt,

Two Brides Too Many!

CONGRATULATIONS TO DIANA G, WHO WON A COPY OF TWO BRIDES TOO MANY IN THE MIDNIGHT DRAWING!

Guest Author: Deeanne Gist Talks About The History of the Telephone

deeanne-gist-photo[1]

I’m excited for you to meet or get to know Deeanne Gist better. Well-read copies of Love on the Line, Maid to Match, A Bride in the Bargain, Deep in the Heart of Trouble, Courting Trouble, The Measure of a Lady, and A Bride Most Beguiling, Dee’s historical fiction, line my bookshelves. I asked her to share a bit about the history of telephones with us today, but first, a couple of fun facts about the award-winning Deeanne Gist.

  • Four RITA nominations.
  • Two consecutive Christy Awards.
  • Featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal when she did a presentation to RWA about Victorian undergarments.
  • When Dee was in high school, one of the boys was teasing her mercilessly, so in speech class she used him as her “volunteer” to demonstrate how to tie someone up. Once she got him tied up, she then informed the class her speech wasn’t really about how to tie someone up, but about how to surprise them with a pie in the face…as she hit him with a cream filled pie. That sense of humor is part of Dee’s winning writing style.

ONE RINGY-DINGY…

We have an old rotary pay phone hanging on a wall in our gameroom. I’d always get tickled when teenagers came over and asked how to use it. Yet I found myself in that exact same position while researching my latest release, Love on the Line. It’s about a turn-of-the-century switchboard operator and a Texas Ranger who goes undercover as a telephone repairman.

The only exposure I’d had to switchboards was from the old Laugh-In episodes with Lilly Tomlin (dating myself here). Suffice it to say, I had a lot to learn. Not just about switchboards, but about how telephones worked back in the day. Since my book is set in a rural Texas town, there were party lines. I wasn’t sure how those worked either.

Then, of course, my hero was an undercover telephone repairman. So, I also had to learn how to repair the phones, string the lines, climb a telephone pole, etc. It was quite the education. Did you know they didn’t use safety straps back then? The men simply climbed the pole, then wrapped one leg around it to hold them steady while they did their work. Crazy!

And the telephone operator did much more than connect two parties together. She served as News Central and answered a huge range of questions. What’s playing at the opera house? Who came in on the afternoon train? Where’s the doc? Are the streets outside of town dry or muddy? I lost my cow, will you find out if anyone has seen her?

Talk about having to know everybody’s business! And the party lines were a hoot. Several people would share the same line. Each family had a specific ring. For example, the Smiths might have three short rings. But the Jones had two shorts and one long. Even still, everyone on your line heard the ring and if they wished to pick up and listen in, they certainly could.

Bottom line, I no longer rib the kids when they don’t know how to use our rotary. I simply show them how it works and feel rewarded that I’m passing along a little slice of history to this generation of techno-wizards.

Dee, thanks so much for joining us here on Hindsight today. What a fun look at telephone history. Thanks, too, for the giveaway copy of Love on the Line!

Preview Twice a Bride, Historical Romance

twice-a-bride[1]

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek—Book 4

Love lost doesn’t mean love lost forever
Can unexpected romance deliver a second chance for two deserving widows?

Coming Tuesday, October 2nd!

Fourth and Final Book,
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series!

Full of resolve, young widow Willow Peterson decides to pursue her dreams to be an artist as she settles into a new life in the growing mountain town of Cripple Creek.  When she lands a job working as a portrait painter with handsome entrepreneur and photographer Trenton Van Der Veer, the road before Willow seems to be taking a better-than-anticipated turn.

With questions tugging at several hearts in town, including the Sinclair Sisters’ beloved Miss Hattie, change is traveling down the tracks as several unexpected visitors make their way out West.  Will the new arrivals threaten the deep family bonds of the Sinclair sisters and the roots of love that are just taking hold for Willow?

Filled with the resonating questions that all women face, this romance awakens hope against grief, love against loss, and dreams against life’s unexpected turns.

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend unto my prayer,
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:1–2

Read an Excerpt Here!

TWICE A BRIDE, now available for Pre-Order through your favorite bookseller!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lKfEfKtofuI]

Kat Sinclair Interviews Miss Hattie of Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Fame

Harpers Bazar

Harper’s Bazar                                                         New York

Vol. XIXI,  Saturday, May 07, 1898

Women of the West

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw, Female Western Correspondent

I count it a privilege to share the stories of fascinating women of the west with you each month. This month, I have chosen Mrs. Adams as my subject. My sisters and I, and most young women in Cripple Creek, know her as Miss Hattie, the proprietor of Miss Hattie’s Boardinghouse. I will forego my usual third-person writing style so I may interview Miss Hattie instead.

Miss Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: Miss Hattie, where did you reside before coming west?

Miss Hattie: I was born in Missouri and lived in Saint Charles. In ’66, I met my late husband George, God rest his dear soul. We met on a wagon caravan coming west.

Miss Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: You are one of our country’s pioneers. You are the sole proprietor of a boardinghouse, and in the past ten years, you’ve had a definitive role in bringing classical music and culture to a wild west mining camp. To what do you give credit for your spirit of adventure?

Miss Hattie: When I would test my mother’s patience with dreams and schemes, she blamed my father; said I was just like him. From an early age, I counted it a favor. The day we received word of his death in the War Between the States, I’ve clung to that spirit of adventure as tightly as I’ve held the memory of him.

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: You are the chairwoman for the Women for the Betterment of Cripple Creek. But in this time of Suffragettes and marches on main streets, you take a quieter approach to leadership and affecting change. You don’t march in the streets or stand atop a platform in the town square. Neither do you wield a megaphone or a sword.

Miss Hattie: I prefer to lead from behind an apron, a cookie tin, or a mop. I consider myself a friend to women. The best way to change our circumstance, whether it’s personal, community-wide, or across our great country, is to come along side one another.

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: I’ve seen, first-hand, your style of leadership. A cup of tea and a lemon scone, a tender touch and a listening ear that tells another woman she is not alone; that she can be an overcomer…an achiever.

Miss Hattie: Thank you, dear. You always did favor the scones.

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: Miss Hattie, what advice would you give women wanting to make a difference in their community?

Miss Hattie: To be an effective leader, you need to know what you’re following and in whom you are placing your faith. You need to believe that ideal and that person is worthy to lead you.

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: Thank you for your time, Miss Hattie, and thank you for your leadership.

Miss Hattie: It’s been my priviledge. Every bit of it, dear.

~

Any Miss Hattie fans in the crowd?

You’ll be happy to know that our dear Miss Hattie is counted among the main charaters in Twice a Bride, now available for Pre-Order in time for the October 2nd release.

MORE GOOD NEWS! I have Miss Hattie’s recipe for lemon scones, and I”ll share it with you soon.

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