Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Book Launch & Giveaways ~ A Heart's Revolution

It is SUCH an exciting day! And I will tell you why...Aren't you glad???
TODAY marks the OFFICIAL launch of A Heart's Revolution (previously published as Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland)! YAY! To celebrate I have some fun in store for you. But first...A little about the book:
In 1783 peace has been declared, but war still rages in the heart of Lark Benton.
Never did Lark think she’d want to escape Emerson Fielding, the man she’s loved all her life. But when he betrays her, she flees Williamsburg for Annapolis, taking refuge in the nation’s temporary capital. There Lark throws herself into a new circle of friends who force her to examine all she believes.
Emerson follows, determined to reclaim his betrothed. Surprised when she refuses to return with him, he realizes that in this new nation he has come to call his own, duty is no longer enough. He must learn to open his heart and soul to something greater—before he loses all he should have been fighting to hold.
My Shop (with Personal Autograph)

Contest & Giveaway

It's no secret that the French have long been a leading voice in the fashion circles. And in Revolutionary America, the influence of Marie Antoinette and the French court found its way across the Atlantic. Throughout A Heart's Revolution, you will find references to the fashion of the era. "Mamma gave a nod that made the tower of her hair teeter." "...a lovely striped dress in the Louis XVI style." I thought it would be fun to incorporate this into today's launch...

You don't need to be a professional hairstylist to have fun with the hair fashion of the era. Have you seen how tall they got their hair back then? Granted, wigs were used in addition to real hair, but WOW!

There are multiple ways to enter this contest! The GRAND PRIZE winner will receive an awesome prize pack filled with goodies!

US Only
The PRIZE for this contest is only eligible to win by US residents, HOWEVER, my International Readers are more than welcome to participate, and enter the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!

For more information (including tips and ideas) please visit the Contest Page.

One Winner will be selected from the entries submitted. Winner will receive the following:
  • A print copy of A Heart's Revolution (Signed)
  • "Keep Calm and Read" mug
  • Sipping Cocoa from Askinosie Chocolate
  • Necklace with A Heart's Revolution quote: "I can not think it Reckless to do the right thing."

International Only!

I am so blessed by my international readers! Since most of the blog's giveaways are strictly for the US Only, I am opening a special giveaway JUST for my readers who are located outside the US. Please enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter form below!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Cover Design ~ A Heart's Revolution

Tomorrow is a special day. Tomorrow is the day when I do my very first re-release of one of my novels, with a brand new cover and title.

Tomorrow is the day when Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland officially goes back into the world as A Heart's Revolution.

When Guideposts returned the rights to me, they only had two stipulations--I had to change the title, and I had to change the cover. Well, for a cover designer, that's kinda like saying, "You have to have fun and play around with cool images."

Shucks. 😄

Of course, I wanted the title nailed down before I started playing with a design, so I came up with a handful of options and ran them by my best friend/critique partner, Stephanie, and my assistant, Rachel. The one we all loved was A Heart's Revolution. This title perfectly captured the theme of the book--my heroine, Lark, taking a stand for her own destiny--and also hits a sweet spot in the romance genre, what with "heart." (I used to avoid Love and Heart in my titles like the plague, but I've given up, LOL. Here we have A Heart's Revolution, and the first book in my next series will be The Number of Love.)

So, that established, I turned to the design.

In Shutterstock, I keep a collection called "Historical," in which I'll save every single photo I come across in all my searches that have solid historical costuming. In it are possible biblical or Roman styles, medieval, colonial, Victorian, Edwardian, 1920s, name it. If I think it might come in handy someday, I add it to the collection. So I already had several options saved, and I did a few new searches too.

Honestly, I had a hard time choosing between some of these! I tried out several before I decided to start from this one.

I like the movement we can see in this--the fact that she's holding her dress up a bit and not just standing straight, and the dress itself looked accurate and not costume-y.

So I selected the model from her background and made her fill part of my canvas.

In this version, I just deleted the head, which I knew wouldn't be the one I used. Lark wouldn't have worn a boat in her hair like Marie Antoinette, LOL, and this lady, though lovely, doesn't look like my heroine. But I also wasn't sure I wanted to keep the dress exactly how it was. I wanted a little more color. So decided to make it blue.

I thought that would add some richness to the cover. So next I turned to the head. After searching for a while, I came across this model...

She fit my idea of Lark, so I searched through all the images of her and just fell in love with the sweet expression on her face in this one.

I put this head on my previous body and was relieved to find that worked well together, LOL. It's still just roughed in here, but you get the idea.

But the hair wasn't right. I needed more accurate to the times hair, so I decided to work from this one.

Of course, this model is blond, and I needed dark hair, but after some adjusting, I ended up with this.

Content with that much of Lark for the moment, I turned my attention to backgrounds. And oh my gracious, this was giving me a hard time! I couldn't decide what I wanted behind her. I kinda liked the idea of keeping the Annapolis State House there, but the photos I was finding just didn't seem right. For starters, the story takes place during the worst winter in the history of the east coast (up to that point, anyway), and I couldn't find anything snowy.

So first I tried some regular ol' snowy scenes.

But none of these were "it." What that lowest one (actually a street in Paris) showed me, though, was that I loved a street behind her. It provided a good perspective. So after fiddling with a few more street options, I eventually decided to go with an actual Annapolis street, and worry with the snow aspect later.

I loved this perspective! I knew I was on the right track at this point, so then it was just a matter of getting the lighting right, and the snow.

I knew I could fuss with this forever, but I really didn't want to. So instead I looked up Snow Photoshop Actions, and I found this awesome one from Pretty Photoshop Actions for $39. I can't tell you how often I've needed something like this, so I decided to make the investment, and I am SO glad I did! Playing with all the amazing options included in that action set, I could adjust lighting, make it look frosty, "kill the grass," change the sky, and add snow!

I then ran a couple different actions, Nashville and Hefe, to alter the lighting a bit more. Nashville is over everything, Hefe just over the background to add some depth.

At this point, I was beginning to shiver in empathy for poor Lark, out in the snow without any kind of wrap! Terrible! LOL. So I went in search of cloaks she could wear and found this one that fit her body position well.

(Though I didn't remember at the time, Lark's cloak is even blue in the story! Perfect!) So putting that on her...

Ah, that's better. And I was done the image! Now it was just a matter of adding the text. I chose the font Monstera, with a pretty ligature for the H, and thought it would be fun to place "A" in the curl of that H.

Of course, it would be nice to actually be able to read that title, so I added some haze behind it to make it stand out.

Much better. And of course, my name (in Requiem font).

And one final touch--a flourish in the title--and we were finished!

So what do you think of the old and new versions? Do you have a preference? (I loved the original cover, but I do love how this new version turned out too!)

If you haven't read this early book of mine yet, here's a bit about it, and the pre-order link. It'll be live tomorrow!

In 1783 peace has been declared, but war still rages in the heart of Lark Benton.

Never did Lark think she’d want to escape Emerson Fielding, the man she’s loved all her life. But when he betrays her, she flees Williamsburg for Annapolis, taking refuge in the nation’s temporary capital. There lark throws herself into a new circle of friends who force her to examine all she believes.

Emerson follows, determined to reclaim his betrothed. Surprised when she refuses to return with him, he realizes that in this new nation he has come to call his own, duty is no longer enough. He must learn to open his heart and soul to something greater—before he loses all he should have been fighting to hold.

And be sure to stop by tomorrow, when in celebration of the official re-launch, we'll be having a super fun contest (18th-century hair!!!) and a giveaway! 


Sign up HERE to make sure you don't miss out!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Word of the Week - Revolution

This week, something fun is happening, and I'm celebrating by making all the week's blog posts go to the theme. This week, the book previously known as Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland will re-release from WhiteFire as A Heart's Revolution. On Wednesday, I'll be going behind the cover design process, and on Thursday--official re-release day--a cool contest will be launching!

Today, we're taking a look at the word I chose for my new title...a word that's very much a theme in the book.


We're all familiar with the word, of course. But when it first entered the English language in the 1300s, it had nothing to do with political unrest or change. Rather, it was a word used to describe the revolving of celestial bodies. It's from Old French revolucion, literally "a course, a revolving." Which in turn came from the Latin revolvere, "to turn, to roll back."

William III and Queen Mary II were married for 17 years.
William III & Queen Mary IIPinterest
This sense of turning and rolling let the word by the mid-1400s to take on a generalized meaning of "an instance of great change in affairs." But around 1600, it had been applied specifically to great changes in political circles and the new meaning of "an overthrow of an established political system" came about--specifically, it was used for the expulsion of the Stuart dynasty under James II in 1688, when the power in England was transferred to William and Mary.

Betsy Ross became famous for sewing together the first American flag in Philadelphia

And of course, eventually we had the American Revolution. Which is the backdrop into which I put Lark Benton and Emerson Fielding, in A Heart's Revolution. If you haven't read this early novel of mine yet, I hope you seize the chance!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Thoughtful About . . . What We Stand For

But as my husband and I were talking a few weeks ago about how to really change the culture, he hit on this again. And I realized that the thoughts I'd applied to our churches can--should--be extended to a whole lot more. Bear with me as I try to reason through my thoughts on this.

As an author, my thoughts often start with books (go figure, LOL). "What," people ask over and again, "is Christian fiction?" And some definitions will be all about the negative--what they don't have. Christian fiction doesn't have sex scenes. Doesn't have bad language. Doesn't have...

True. But it's a whole lot more than that. Christian fiction has a faith thread. Christian fiction is about how ultimately our stories are incomplete until they include God. Christian fiction is about seeing His love for us play out in a fictional world.

It's not enough to write a book that lacks bad things. We need to write books that have good things. Good writing. Solid characterizations. Intriguing plots--what all good books need. Plus. Plus faith, plus Truth. Plus the Lord. Christian fiction needs to be more, not less, to be successful.


Because we're never going to reach a hurting world just with messages of No. People don't ever want to subscribe to the negative--they want something to believe in, not something to be against.

Let's look at the culture for a minute, and where secularism seems to be winning. First example--the abortion question. I noticed when I was just a kid that both sides phrased their stance as a Pro. Pro-Choice, Pro-Life. No one is ever going to call themselves Anti-Life or Anti-Choice. Right? Because that's by definition negative.

But what about the actions both sides take? Protests--protests are all too often negative. They're protesting against something, not for it. And I honestly think this is when they fail. Because though we call ourselves Pro-Life, let's face it--far too often we're just anti-abortion. Which means we don't have in place the things that affect a positive change--the clinics and support groups and counseling and open arms--so much as a willingness to speak against abortion and call it criminal, to denounce anyone who would consider it, to name the evil. This is what leads to abortion clinic bombings...and gee, I don't think that gets us a whole lot of points with people of different opinions, does it? It doesn't convince anyone to change their mind. All it does is convince people that we're irrational and against free will.

Where Pro-Life really shines is when we share the heartache of the girls and women, when we offer love instead of judgement. But all too often, they don't get that from our side. They get it from the Pro-Choice side. How topsy-turvy is that?

That is, though, just one example. There are so, so many more. So many times when Christians just take a reactionary stance. Where we take a stand...against. Against homosexual marriage. Against abortion. Against the removal of the Ten Commandments from public places. Against the removal of prayer from schools.

And each and every one of those stances have failed. Why? Because we're not standing for anything.

Why aren't we more often, publicly, taking a stand for? For forgiving sinners. For offering second chances. For teaching our children right from wrong. For proving that the hard thing is often the best thing. For demonstrating that we're stronger, better with God than on our own. For covenants. For bonds. For families. For community.

That's a whole lot harder. It means giving of ourselves. It means offering help to people. It means sacrifice. It means danger. It means persecution.

It means changing the culture.

But that's something we will never achieve by reacting. It's something we can only do by acting.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Remember When . . . The Family Moved?

Lizard Peninsula    The cliffs where smugglers once stashed their bounty are now home to a revitalised wealth of fauna and flora. (Matt Munro)
In writing the Shadows Over England series, I did a lot of studying of the geography of England. For book 1, I only had two scenes in London, and then the rest was in Cornwall. So the fact that my family's big trip to England fell during the writing/editing of A Name Unknown served me quite well. We spent a lovely four days in Cornwall, which gave me the opportunity to explore it and get to know the neighborhood in which Peter Holstein lived.

But then that made me all the more aware of how little I knew about the settings for the rest of the series. Wales. London. Ack!

To help me in A Song Unheard, I purchased a few books...and spent a lot of time in Google Maps, traveling down the streets of Aberystwyth, Wales. To be perfectly honest, I was pretty proud of myself for actually learning all the street names around the hotel where much of the action took place. Because, much like Ella from A Lady Unrivaled, I am directionally impaired, LOL. Even with a GPS, I can get lost. Or try to direct my husband down the wrong street. It is a foregone conclusion in my family that if I say, "I think/don't think this is it..." one should ignore me. 😉 But when dealing only in fiction, I can give directions. I could make Willa (who explores until she's at home in any town) navigate the small city with ease.

Aberystwyth Castle   Welsh Name: Llanbadarn  In the town of Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, west Wales
Aberystwyth Castle - Pinterest
But also in A Song Unheard, I needed to get more specific about where the family lived in London. I knew it would be a big deal by book 3, which would take place almost entirely in that city, so it was time to get serious. The scenes in book 2 that actually took place in London were based partly upon my own very limited exploration of the place. When I realized Lukas would likely have come into St. Pancras train station--the same place we went by train to France--I decided I'd put my fictional newspaper office that he was seeking on the very street where our hotel was located. Why not? That allowed me to describe things like walking distance and surroundings with a bit of knowledge.
Post from April 2017

But An Hour Unspent was a different story. First of all, I needed the neighborhood where my family of thieves had spent most of their lives. You may remember my post from last April, when my tyrannical book refused to be set where I wanted it to be. *Sigh* After searching through my book of London boroughs, I decided to put them in Poplar--historically one of the poorest sections of London. This, then, is where Pauly's pub is, and where Rosemary and Willa and Barclay were the most comfortable. The streets they know best.
The awesome book I found
that takes you through London
borough by borough,
following the Thames

But if you've read A Song Unheard, then you know Peter offers them the use of his London house, which I decided to situate in Hammersmith. I had fun learning about that section of the city too. And it became an even better pick for them when I realized it was only a 7-minute walk from Whitehall, where the Admiralty buildings are. Given that my mysterious Mr. V is good friends with a naval officer who in fact gives them some of their assignments in An Hour Unspent, this was perfect.

Still, if we're talking personal preferences, I'm a country girl, not a city girl. At all. So it still feels a bit strange sometimes to be writing so many books set in London--The Number of Love, book 1 in The Codebreakers Series that I'm writing now, is also set there. It was some consolation, however, to realize that my characters were a bit out of their element too, being transplanted to new parts of the city. Or in the case of Margot, moving from small-town life in Louvain (Belgium) to occupied Brussels, and then finally to London, which is obviously very different from anything she'd known before.

Moving characters can be a challenge for a writer--logistics! New streets to pretend you know--but it's also fun! Because you're forcing your characters out of the familiar, comfortable places...and we all know that taking characters out of their comfort zones results in some beautiful tension and stressful situations. Mwa ha ha ha--just what every writer needs!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Word of the Week - University

A couple weeks ago on the radio, I heard someone musing about the shift of the university experience from its origins. He was saying how university came from uni (one) + verity (truth), and how in recent years people have forgotten the one-truth bit and are instead treating it as place where they should question truth rather than learn it.

I found this intriguing, so of course went to look it up. And went, ", not really." 😉

Uni does indeed mean "one." Of course. But versity is not from veritas, the Latin word for "truth," but rather from versus, the Latin word for "turn." Universe is more the root--meaning "the whole, the aggregate, the collective."

St. Johns College (Annapolis)
That is what university is from...the collective of the academic world. Which does still harken unto unity. There's a reason it's not called "the diversity." The purpose of a university isn't to highlight differences, but to form a community. A oneness.

If you went to college, did you experience this community at your institution? I went to a very small school, and St. John's (though not a university by the modern definition because there aren't different "colleges" of study within it) is really all about the community. All about the common experience we have while there, despite our different backgrounds or interests or beliefs. We were about the uni-, not the di-. And I love that about it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #4

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all 30 stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!

• The hunt BEGINS on 3/1 at noon MST with Stop #1 at
• Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not
• There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 3/4 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books.
• Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at Stop #30. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

I'm so excited to be hosting Carrie Turansky in this year's Scavenger Hunt! Carrie and I both write English-set historical romance set in the early 20th century, and I've found her to be such a huge encouragement and supporter as I joined her in this era of writing! She has such a sweet and generous heart, and I've been really looking forward to Across the Blue. I have my copy sitting here beside me as I welcome her to my blog. =)

I've always been intrigued by those early pioneers of aviation. Here is a brief description of Across the Blue: This is a story of a young man with hopes of gaining the skies and a young woman with hopes of finding the freedom to be something other than a gentleman's wife. Travel to Edwardian England and the beginning of the age of flight.

And now, here's Carrie!

Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines

By Carrie Turansky

Today we take airplanes and our ability to fly for granted. But did you know that in 1903 very few people believed the reports about the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk, NC? Many thought their claim to have achieved powered flight was wishful thinking or a prank at best.

Some newspaper editors and reporters called them dreamers or frauds who exaggerated what they had accomplished. Of course that only made the Wright Brothers more determined to prove they really had designed an airplane that could fly. And they spent the next few years giving demonstrations in the US and Europe to prove their claims were true.

Those who saw the demonstrations were amazed, and crowds flocked to watch those amazing men and their flying machines! Other aviation pioneers who had been conducting experiments and trying to get their airplanes off the ground took the Wright Brothers’ design ideas back to their workshops to improve their airplanes, and aviation exploded in the next few years.

That’s the backdrop for my new English historical novel, Across the Blue. The setting is Kent, England, in 1909, where James Drake, a brave young aviation pioneer, is working on his airplane design with the goal to be the first to fly across the English Channel. He hopes to win the prize offered by The Daily Mail of London and win the heart of the woman he loves, Bella Grayson. Bella has her own dream, to become a journalist and write for one of her father’s newspapers, in spite of her parents having a very different future in mind for her.

I loved doing the research for this novel and learning about the brave men and women who would not give up on the idea that powered flight was possible. Across the Blue weaves historical facts into fiction. You’ll read about the thrilling race to be the first across the English Channel as well as the exciting first International Air Meet in Reims, France. You’ll see what challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

Even if you’re not an aviation enthusiast, I think you’ll enjoy the romance, adventure, and inspiration woven into Across the Blue!

Carrie Turansky has loved reading since she first visited the library as a young child and checked out a tall stack of picture books. Her love for writing began when she penned her first novel at age twelve. She is now the award-winning author of nineteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. Carrie and her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, author, and speaker, have been married for more than thirty years and make their home in New Jersey. They often travel together on ministry trips and to visit their five adult children and five grandchildren. Carrie leads women’s ministry at her church, and when she is not writing she enjoys spending time working in her flower gardens and cooking healthy meals for friends and family. She loves to connect with reading friends through her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter

Here’s the Stop #4 Skinny:

You can order Carries’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, Lifeway,
or at your
local bookstore!

Clue to Write Down: have

Link to Stop #5, the Next Stop on the Loop: Carrie Turansky’s own site!

Lost or want a complete list of the stops? Find it Here!

But wait!
Before you go, I’m offering a PRINT copy of A Song Unheard AND this gorgeous sterling silver music note necklace! All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form below! Giveaway will end 3/5/18 at 12:00am EST (USA only please)