Posts Tagged: Book Giveaway

19th Century Mercantiles

Carol Mercantile interior – AZ Historical Museum
Guest Author: Carol Cox

Guest Author: Carol Cox

19TH CENTURY MERCANTILES

Some of my earliest memories involve shopping trips with my mother, back in the . . . well, let’s just say it was a few decades ago. She’d make a list of all the places we had to go—the hardware store for the screws and bolts my dad needed for a project; the paint store for pink paint to touch up the wall in my bedroom; the drugstore, where we’d pick up a prescription for my grandmother—and maybe have time to cool off with an ice cream float at the soda fountain before heading on to the grocery store.

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Endorsements for Sinclair Sisters Novels

sinclair-sisters-group[1]

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?

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?

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!

Sinclair Sisters Surprise: Book Trailer Unveiling & Mug Giveaway!

It’s Here! The Big Day of SINCLAIR SISTERS SURPRISES!

All week, I’m celebrating my debut series The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek with the Sinclair Sisters Book Trailer Unveiling and a Giveaway!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

Sinclair Sisters Book Trailer

Here it is–the brand new book trailer for the whole series! What do you think? Does Nell Sinclair look like you’ve imagined? How about Vivian?

Book and Collectable Mug Giveaway

Win an early copy of Twice a Bride and/or a collectable Sinclair Sisters mug! I’ll be giving away 5 early copies of Twice a Bride and 3 special edition Sinclair Sisters mugs! 3 winners will receive the book and the mug full of Cerretas chocolates, and 2 winners will receive the book.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

A Special Thanks

Thank you, thank you to everyone who is celebrating this series alongside me! A very special thanks to the following bloggers, who have graciously posted the series book trailer on their sites, too!
(If you haven’t already, you need to visit these lovely bloggers and subscribe to their blogs, too.)

Kathi Macias: Easy Writer

Finding Hope Through Fiction

Kitty Bucholtz

Lane Hill House

Routines for Writers

The Book Club Network

The Write Life

On a Western Trail

Waterbrook Multnomah (my publisher!)

Checkers, Anyone?

Two Brides Too Many Slanted

A checkered board with rounded game pieces—here in the United States, we know it as checkers, a timeless table game.

While waiting to be seated at a restaurant in Phoenix, I watched a family of five gathered around a table. A father and daughter were engaged in a playful, but intense game of checkers. The opponent’s game pieces were being captured, kings were crowned and granted special battle privileges. All the while engaged family members sat on the sidelines cheering and advising.

Checkers is a game with roots that date back to Ancient Egypt, perhaps as early as the time of Queen Hatasu (1400 or 1500 BC). Kings and Pharaohs may have sat about the palace in royal garb engaged in a patteia competition, their version of draughts. Modern checkers dates back to 12th Century Europe. Today, checkers is still a game of choice in countries across the globe, as well as in the United States. However, outside the United States, you’re likely to hear the game referred to as draughts.

Stone Town, Zanzibar, East Africa

Two years ago, while walking the narrow, congested streets of Zanzibar, I encountered many sights that made my jaw drop and my eyes widen. Intricately carved wooden double doors with polished brass fitments and adornments. Portuguese castle walls, the remnants of the slave trade into Europe and Asia. The port filled with fishing dhows. The evening open air seafood grill stands and tables. But one sight in particular tickled me. Two Tanzanian Nationals seated on rough cast cement benches huddled over a cement table that held a thin wooden plank checkered by a felt marker. Coke and Fanta bottle caps served as their game pieces.The game of checkers was an Olympic sport at the 1896 games.

Book 1

In my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, set in the late 1890’s, checkers is a favorite pastime. A Sinclair family tradition, the sisters (and brothers-in-law now) engage in checkers tournaments on Sunday afternoons as part of their Sabbath rest.

The series opens with one such scene in the first chapter of Two Brides Too Many and the tournament thrives in the subsequent books—Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride.

Book 2

 

 

Book 3

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