Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Remember When . . . The Series Was Complete?

WhiteFire's first series to be contracted and completed just got its final cover. The Twilight of the British Raj has won some awards and garnered a lot of very well-deserved praise. And when Christine Lindsay (the author) and I started chatting covers for the final installment, Veiled at Midnight, I think we were both rubbing our hands together in delight.

The first book of the series took place in British India of 1919. It was one of WhiteFire's first two titles other than mine, and at that point, I was not designing covers. We hired the amazing George of Tekeme Studios, and he blew us away with this fabulous cover for Shadowed in Silk.
By the time book 2, Captured by Moonlight, rolled around, I had wet my feet in the design world, and Christine and I discussed it and agreed I'd try my hand at mimicking the style of the first with the images we had in mind for the second.
This third book jumps a generation. Set during the tumultuous partitioning of India and Pakistan in the 1940s, our hero and heroine are Cam, the little boy from the first book, and Dassah, who was a baby in the first book. I haven't yet gotten my hands on the MS, but I know what an amazing writer Christine is, and I know we're in for another sweeping saga of romance and suspense!

Christine started a Pinterest page for the book, which is where our idea-gathering began. She wanted gold on the cover, to represent the joy of a new dawn. Though "midnight" is in the title (the Partition took effect at midnight), she wanted the images to represent a new day. (Not to mention we already had a night scene on cover 2...)

Our first thought was to use green and gold, to represent the Pakistan flag. The most compelling images we found were of a night sky, and my (very very very very very sloppy) playing around led to this.
Not bad. The lighting in that sky is amazing. But the original image of the model had her in a red sari, and changing red to gold is T-O-U-G-H. I managed a fair imitation with the low-resolution comp I downloaded from Shutterstock, but I knew it would be much harder with the real photo. So I was pretty happy when Christine emailed and said that her critique partner convinced her that red might  be okay. It was a color Dassah had shied away from in the earlier part of the book, because it reminded her too much of all the blood that had been spilt. But they decided that later in the book, she could instead realize it also represented the blood of salvation.

So we began with this model picture from Shutterstock. We both loved the pose, and I especially loved the motion in the sari.

Obviously, next we take out the background.
Now, you'll notice that in this traditional sari, the belly is showing. This is accurate, both today and historically, but we decided that for a CBA book, we probably shouldn't have the bare flesh. So I inserted a semi-transparent layer to mimic sheer fabric there.
Now it was time for the background. There are some absolutely GORGEOUS images of India that we considered. I knew the characters spend some time at a mountain lake, and I knew we wanted gold tones, so I decided to try out this one.

Plopping Dassah in front of it, I got this.

A good start. I liked the colors together, and the water. But I wasn't wild about how distinct that building is in the back. And Christine pointed out (later, but let's show the change now, LOL), that the light is hitting her on the wrong side. So I flipped her.

To blur the background in the distance, but not the water up close--because I LOVE that reflection--I duplicated the layer, blurred the top one, and then applied a layer mask and faded the top image from the bottom of the screen upward--that way, the bottom layer comes through in its non-blurred glory toward the lower portion and fades into the blurred image at the top.
Pretty, yes? But not there yet. The covers for this series are rich with texture layers. So to get the full effect and really see if it was going to give me the look I was going for, I first added in the elements that would stay the same as the first books (but with color changes)--the one I call "the lotus thingy" and the "banner thingy" that goes behind the title.
Oo, I was starting to like how this was coming together! I went ahead and added the title. Which, for these books, includes the title itself, then the last word faded out behind it in an exotic looking font.

Okay, so now I had a great base. I loved where it was going, I loved the way the red and the gold worked together. But now I needed to add some texture.

In the first cover, Tekeme had used a flower overlay that I liked but couldn't match exactly. So for book 2, I used a paisley design. For this one, I wanted something altogether different. So I did a search for "photoshop texture lotus gold" (don't you love the random words you can put together for searches? LOL) and I found this one.
It just felt promising from the get-go, LOL. So I plopped it down on the top, set the layer opacity way down, and used my fade-out gradient to make the middle of the layer completely transparent.

Oh my. Yes. This was the point where my breath got all knotted up in my throat, and I knew I'd found my look. I went ahead and added the layer with Christine's name, making it red. But that layer is also always textured, so I duplicated my texture layer, shrank it down, and this time didn't fade it out. The result was this, and I gotta say, silly as it is, that's it's one of my favorite elements on this whole cover, LOL.
So I added that, and also the series name where it belonged. And I was happy. Almost. Mostly.

There was just one thing missing--a border. Each of the other two covers have a border, just a slightly-darker version of itself. I needed something like that here, but I didn't want to mess with what I had already, so I nearly left it off.

Then I looked at the original texture layer again. And I noticed that it had really cool sides that were not on my cover because I wanted the lotus part to extend off in both directions. How to get those on as the border, without interfering with the nice transparency of the original texture layer? Well, I fiddled with it until I figured out the obvious answer. I pasted it on, narrowed it to fit the width of the book, and then deleted everything accept that border part that I wanted. And voila!
And there we have it. The real, honest-to-goodness finished version of the front. (Haven't created the back yet.) I was fairly giddy with it, so showed it to hubby/publisher David, who said, "Wow. Yeah. That's it."

So I emailed it to Christine, who said, "CAN I SHOW THIS OFF?" ;-)

I emailed it to best friend/crit partner Stephanie, who said, "I think this might be my favorite of all your designs!"

I don't pick favorites, LOL. But I do adore this cover. I like the continuity with the other books in the series, but I also like where it's different. I feel like this one was somehow more my design and less trying to mimic that first cover. And I just adore those colors together. So overall, we're all very pleased. =) The Twilight of the British Raj will finish up in style!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Word of the Week - Escalate

Patent diagram of the first escalator ("revolving stairs") - 1859

This one got me. I admit it. I looked it up during edits on a WhiteFire book because I wasn't sure it was quite early enough in the sense used. And what do I find? A surprise!

Escalate is new. Darn new. As in, from 1922--and that's in the literal sense. It's actually a back-formation of escalator (from 1900). Before that, the verb had been escalade. Not so different a word, right? Except that escalade has exactly one meaning: "to use ladders to scale a fortified wall." Yeah, um...not how I use escalate!

So what of that meaning? The "to raise," or "to intensify" meaning? Well...that didn't come around until the Cold War! 1959 to be exact. I had no idea it was so new!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Distance

I've been writing for a long time. As in, a long time. I finished my first novel at age 13. My second at 16. Then six more by the time I was 21. That's a lot of words on the page. A lot of plot. A lot of characters to come to love. And I always had the goal of getting published. Putting those stories into the world.

That means criticism.

Now, no matter what you do in life, you're going to come up against criticism. But me...I wasn't so good at taking it, and I can admit that now that I'm old (ahem) and wise (cough, cough). ;-) Even when it was a simple matter of needing to trim a few scenes, I couldn't do it. I was too attached. I loved every word. I mean, if I read through something all on my own and saw a mistake or a way to make a sentence sound better, sure. I'd change it. But on someone else's advice?

Nuh uh. No way.

Yeah...I had some work to do, LOL. I formed a critique group, and that helped so much. My internal protests to every suggestion quickly shrank from a day to a minute to a few seconds' debate. I learned to measure and weigh advice.

I learned to adopt a distance between me and my work. To realize that my book wasn't me. An attack on something I created (not that my critique partners attacked! But looking forward here to reviews...) was not an attack on my person.

Distance. It's the friend of a writer. It's the friend of everyone when it comes to these situations. It's so easy to take things personally, but what does that lead to? Hurt feelings. Offense. Division. It happens in friendships, families, churches.

Lately, I've thought that I have distance pretty well down. Mastered. I invest my heart in my books while I write them, then I put them down. I walk away. And I approach all else about them with what I figured was healthy detachment. Changes to a book? In my whole direction? In what project I'm working on? I can do that. Why not. No problem.

But here's the thing...when one has "mastered" distance, sometimes it masters you. Sometimes you look at everything with that lens. Sometimes you stop investing altogether. And that can't be good. Because hope, faith, and detachment are a strange combination. And when that last one has the upper hand, you don't always even realize if the other two have faded.

In this balancing act we call life, it seems like something or another is always out of whack, doesn't it? We always have work to do. Right now, part of mine is in finding this particular equilibrium. In making sure that keeping a distance from my work doesn't turn into keeping a distance from faith that God's working through it.

I definitely need some space between me and the things of my hands. But between me and the work God's doing in me--no. That I need to embrace fully. That I need to hold close. That I need to be protective of. So that I can still hope...not in a particular outcome, but in the One who's controlling it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Remember When . . . Ben Got Wise on the CQ?

I intended to write something up about Roman vineyards. Then I realized it was my day to post on Colonial Quills. My internet was misbehaving, so it was all I could do to get ONE thing to post correctly, LOL. So, for your historical pleasure today, some wisdom from Ben Franklin.

7 Wise Sayings from Benjamin Franklin

I've posted some quotes from Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac before, but one post cannot contain his wealth of advice. ;-) So I thought today, on this chilly January morn when my thermometer has dipped into the negatives, I'd warm everyone up with some of Ben's wisdom.

Buy what thou hast no need of; and e’er long thou shalt sell thy necessities.

I don't know about you, but my brain is often wired to this life of excess we tend to live today. When I see someone choosing to live simply, it always gives me a check. This year, I'm making an attempt to cut back and focus on the important things, not the many things. And though Franklin was by all accounts wealthy and lacking for nothing, I greatly appreciate that his inventions were meant to make life easier for the common man.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Word of the Week - Date

A Roman Calendar
When I'm writing or editing historicals, much of my word nit-picking relies on gut and ear. If something feels too new or sounds too new (as in, I don't remember reading it in works of the period), I look it up. Which is how I came to look up date last week.

Date obviously has a long some senses. Ignoring the fruit called a date, which has been around forever, let's look at the noun and verb that both have to do with noting the day. These have been around since the 14th century, directly from the Latin datum. From which also comes data, apparently. Which makes sense, but I don't think I ever thought of it, LOL.

This primary meaning gradually evolved to mean "appointment." But it took several hundred years for that appointment to gain a romantic sense--as in, not until the 1890s, five or so years after it came to mean "liaison." But this was still just the actual meeting. Calling a person your date didn't come about until 1925.

And to round it all out, "date" was also used to call something old-fashioned or out-of-date (her clothes date her) in 1895. So many meanings! Some so very old, some so relatively new.

Quick side note! I just added a page to my website featuring the book covers I've designed. I didn't realize how many there were! LOL. If you'd like to check them out--or if you have a project you'd like me to consider taking on--do swing over to and take a look at my gallery. I'd love to hear which is your favorite. ;-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Prayer

by Jean-Fran├žois Millet Angelus, 1859


It's one of those things that believers know we need. It's communion. It's supplication. It's worship.

It's crucial. Vital.

And hard for me to find the time to engage in.

That sounds awful, and is awful. But it's true, and I suspect I'm not the only busy parent who encounters this. I can find time every day to read my Bible, because whenever a little one comes up and interrupts me, it's just a matter of finding my place again and continuing. But when prayer is interrupted (which it always is), it's a little harder to get back to.

Sometimes I journal my prayers, and that works well...until I can't find a pen or misplace my notebook. Which happens, LOL.

But one of my resolutions this year was to spend more time in prayer. And so, each day, I'm trying.

Usually, it looks like this. The kids run out of the room on some search, and I whisper to the Lord the thoughts weighing on my mind. It lasts about half a minute, before the little ones come tearing back in. Or I'm in the shower. Shower has become prayer time. It's the only solid 15 minutes I have in a day without guaranteed interruptions, so I've made a concerted effort to use it for that God time.

And mostly, I'm trying to listen. You know those times you get that feeling? I'm making a conscious decision to heed those.

Like last week, when I got that feeling that I should fill up the water jugs. We have a well, so no electricity = no water. It was supposed to be colder than it had been in 20 years, and windy. So I filled up the jugs. And I prayed the Lord would keep us warm. And I knew--knew--we'd lose power.

It went out at 3 a.m. and didn't come back on until twelve hours later. The house had dropped down to just under 50 degrees, but we had water. And we kept warm enough. And I thanked God for that warning whisper.

I've also found myself praying very pointedly lately. Like, when praying for a new opportunity, being very specific in what I hope for and when I hope for it. These prayers always feel a little strange to me, and I tend to hedge them with, "You know...maybe...if this is Your will..." But they also feel right. And they keep proving themselves. Twice now in the last couple weeks these very-specific prayers have yielded very-specific, very quick results.

When I think of prayer, I often think of Jewel of Persia. My heroine had a prayer life I aspire to, yet which feels very out of reach to me. She, after all, had servants to help her out, LOL. But though I can't feasibly spend hours on my knees before the Lord, I can give Him my all. I can trust Him fully to deliver what's best for me. And yes, I can listen.

And when I listen...well, I won't say nothing ever catches me by surprise. But a lot less has lately. Good news and bad have been more a "Okay...yep...that's what God was saying, all right" than a "Wha????"

I've got a lot of growing to do here yet. A lot. But I love these lessons. I love crawling up into the lap of my God and knowing He's holding me tight. I love pausing, stopping, and getting that feeling. I love knowing it's my heavenly Father, guiding me through my every day.

I love having prayer in my life. And I'm so, so grateful that my Lord loves it too.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Remember When . . . Soul Painter Came to Life?

Well last week's cover post was so much fun, I decided to do another one today. =) Especially because this week I'm editing the truly-amazing book behind the cover.

Soul Painter is set in 1891 Chicago--a city of crime and excess, where the opium dens butt up against churches, where the opulence contrasts the squalor. The author of this book is Cara Luecht (pronounced "Licked"--I asked), and she has a skill the likes of which I haven't seen in years for painting a mood.

What mood, you ask? Gothic. A touch of film noire. The elements are every designer's dream. We have an eccentric hermit of a heroine--Miriam Beaumont hasn't, so far as Chicago knows, stepped foot out of her warehouse apartment since her father died some years ago. Maybe she's a witch. Maybe she was terribly burned in an industrial accident. Maybe...maybe...

Maybe she preferred to watch the world go by.

But she did go outside. Once in a while. Only at night. Only in the fog. Then she would pace the streets around her dormant warehouse, beside the cathedral. She would look up at the statue of the Virgin Mary outside it and identify with the cracked creation. But she would always return before dawn could pierce the fog.

And she would paint. She would watch the faces that went by, and she would paint. First what her eyes saw.

And then what her soul did. Over the layers of reality she would paint...the future. For years, she had done this, and then watched the children grow up into the image she had seen.

Until Ione. Ione was supposed to be strong. Ione was supposed to be successful. So why is the young woman now haunting the alleyway between the warehouse and cathedral as a prostitute? It puts her in the path of an attacker who preys on such women, who nearly kills her. Until the fog rolls in.

So begins an unlikely team of crime fighters. A hermit. A priest. A lawyer. Two prostitutes. Can they bring light to the seedy underbelly of Chicago? And maybe discover something about themselves--and of course, find some romance--along the way?

Curious yet? ;-)

This is a truly fabulous book, and the moment I read the proposal, I knew we wanted it. And I was already envisioning the cover. I wanted to capture Miriam on one of her foggy night walks. Gray cloak obscuring her features, apprehension on her face. Perhaps when she first heard that moan coming from Ione. Perhaps when she sees dawn sneaking in.

As usual, I started with the stock photo sites, searching for images of women in cloaks. This was the best image I found for Miriam.
There's a lot right about this--it's full length, which I loved. The look on her face is great. Her face itself is a decent Miriam. But the braid--no. The color of the dress--no. For that matter, the color of the cape--no. And of course, the background is all wrong.

So I started by erasing the background and that braid. (Oh, how I love the clone and heal tools in Photoshop!)
Now that I had her isolated, I started playing with the colors. I decided to make the dress a teal. It is, in fact, not a color Miriam ever wore at this point in the story, but she ends up with a very important dress that draws on that color palette, and I like the idea of bringing it in.
Then I made the cloak gray.
At some point I remembered to change her eye color to gray too, but I don't remember when I did that, LOL.

So my next task was the background. I actually did a lot of searching for this one, trying to find that perfect image that would capture Chicago at the time. I searched, and I searched. I tried some arches. I tried some doorways. And then I growled and tried "cathedral." Bingo!

This is actually from New Orleans, LOL, but it's the right style and age, and I loved the picture itself. Foggy, which blurs the street lights enough that you can't really tell if they're gas or electric.
But it's too bright--you know, like day--and I wanted some serious mood. So I darkened the image and added a color overlay. Teal again, to pull in the dress. (And took out that orange traffic cone, LOL. Eventually. Actually didn't notice it until Cara said, "Uh, Roseanna...?")
Ah, much better. =) Now to plug Miriam into it.
Okay, now we're getting somewhere. There's just one rather crucial piece missing.

The fog.

I deemed this a learning experience and hit Google. =) You know what I love about the internet these days? There are tutorials for everything online. I'd never tried to create fog in Photoshop before, but I knew it could be done. So I typed "how to make fog in Photoshop" into my handy-dandy search engine, and voila! A tutorial! Better yet, it's easy. A pretty simple matter of creating a new layer, adding the cloud filter, and then fooling with the fade gradient.

So I added a layer of fog to Miriam by the cathedral.
Ah yes, there we are! That's what I was looking for!

Now, the masterful Cara Luecht also has some background in design, and an eye that shows it. She knew exactly what she wanted for her cover in terms of style. She wanted a black block at the bottom, a flourish coming up behind it, and the tag line for the book on there.

I actually had some trouble finding a flourish that would work. There are tons of free flourishes out there online, but they're small. And I needed to make this one HUGE. So I actually ended up buying a vector pack, which I try to avoid for this sort of element, LOL. And selected this one.
Now, the title. We actually debated a bit about this too. =) Cara had at first titled it Portrait of Grace, which was thematically awesome. Problem was, it didn't speak to the mystery and intrigue. And mystery and intrigue are a very vital element to this story, so we tossed around several different ideas. Drew on our other awesome WhiteFire authors to vote. And decided on Soul Painter. Because, well, she paints the souls of people. And paints them from her soul. So it works. =)

Hence began the search for a font. I couldn't find one that I loved, so I ended up patching a couple together. The S in Soul is different than the rest.
Then we had only to put it all together!

And I'm thrilled to say that when I posted this one to Facebook, I got a bigger response than I ever had to a cover. My book club ladies even approached me at a Christmas event that week and said, "We're reading that, right? Tell me more about it!" That tag line and the cover hooked them. Which is, of course, our goal. =)

And it's a book that deserves to hook. It's got intrigue, spiritual truths, history, romance, and hope against a backdrop of darkness. Love it. Seriously. And you will too. So you know, if you wanna pre-order, feel free. ;-)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Word of the Week - Fiesty

The Duchess of Chevreuse as Diana the Huntressby Claude Deruet, 17th century

We see a lot of historical heroines described as feisty--and why not? It's a great word, right? It means "spirited," right?

Wrong. Though I just learned this recently, and now I'm wondering if I'm guilty of using this wrongly, LOL. First of all, feisty wasn't ever used until 1896. At which point it was an Americanism that meant "aggressive, exuberant."

But here's the kicker. Do you know where it comes from? I didn't. But apparently it's from fice, a word for a dog. Particularly a stinking dog. For centuries, folks would use fice (also spelled feist) to describe, er, passing gas.

So not exactly a compliment, LOL. And I'm going to think twice about using it again in anything but a contemporary, where that original meaning has been largely forgotten.


Don't forget I have two giveaways running! The first one, for The Wyoming Heir, will run through Tuesday 1/14/14. The second, for winner's choice of one of my books, will go through Thursday 1/16/14.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . 1,000 Posts

Yesterday marked my 1,000th published post on Writing Roseanna. Happily, my chosen post for the day was a fun one, LOL. Apparently I'm not the only one in the world so intrigued by book covers and the process of making them. ;-)

I was debating what to do to celebrate this milestone. A giveaway? Maybe. Maybe. Some sort of party was surely in order. But...what?

Honestly, as I sit down to write this, I'm still not sure. But I figured I'd start with a few things I've learned through blogging.

* It's a great way to make friends. Some of you readers I would never know if not for blogs, but I'm so, so glad I do!

* I like having a venue for my thoughts. I'm not exactly a record-setting blogger with a devoted throng of tens of thousands who come by to see my wisdom, LOL, but I've worked through a lot of faith issues on here. That's not to be disdained.

* Consistency is definitely key. So even though I've gone down to three days a week from my at-first five, I do try to keep those days consistent. And when I miss one, I notice.

* God can use blogs in a big way. Which sounds funny, LOL. But seriously. I couldn't tell you how many times a blog reader has left a comment that just brightened my day and kept me going. And I love those days when I get a note, either in comments or email, saying my post was just for a particular person that day. Those are always, "Wow, God. Thanks." moments.

And so, I'd like to thank you all today. You who comment so faithfully, you who read but don't often choose to interact like that. You who insist I keep blogging when some days I wonder if the blogosphere really needs one more voice.

So I'm going to offer one of my books to someone. Not gonna make it fancy--two ways to enter, and one of them is tell me what you'd like if you win. =) (A Stray Drop of Blood, Jewel of Persia, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Ring of Secrets, Whispers from the Shadows, or Circle of Spies)
 (Circle of Spies isn't out yet, but I'm giving you that option anyway--with the understanding that you'll be waiting on it if you select that one.)
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Remember When . . . We Designed Covers?

Quick note ~ Don't forget I'm running a giveaway of The Wyoming Heir!
Click here to enter.
Last week I was in a designing groove, so had some fun with the next WhiteFire historical, due to release in May. Sweet Mountain Music is a really fun story set in the Pacific Northwest in the 1890s. Chloe Williston is determined to make a name for herself as a journalist and earn her father's respect--and thinks the way to do it is to tag along on a handsome naturalist's expedition. His search--for the legendary Great North American ape (a.k.a. Sasquatch or Bigfoot).

In a time when gorillas had just recently been discovered in Africa, the idea of a giant ape in North America was downright reasonable, and I just love the comical voice author Suzie Johnson employs as she combines history and romance with whimsy.

But here was my challenge as a designer--how do I capture the allure of the adventure but also convey the historical era? How do I make it look fun and compelling without crossing over into silly? And how in the world was I to find a model that would let me accomplish all this???

Well, I'd been browsing the stock image sites for a few months, trying various search options until I finally found a model that looked promising.

She has the right look for Chloe--honey brown hair, the old books in her arms are great. But I wanted a bit more quirk. And blue eyes. And the costume sure isn't right--the shirt could pass, but that skirt is way too slim.

And Suzie specifically requested a pith helmet. So.

I took a public domain photo of this bustle-era dress:
and copied the bustle part onto Chloe. I tilted her head a bit to give her a more playful look, and also added a helmet.
The result was this model:

Definitely the look I was going for--I loved the contrast of the helmet that screamed "Victorian adventure!" with the bustle. The books speak to her ambitions, but also add to the contrast.

Next came the background. I toyed with quite a few before my hubby said, "You need something green. Somewhere where Bigfoot could be hiding." So I searched for leafy pictures of the Cascade range, and this one really worked with my model picture.
Plugged it in behind her, adjusted some lighting, a layer for texture,

and voila. I did the usual dance while trying to find the perfect fonts and frame to offset the title, played with positioning etc. I landed on a combination I liked after just a bit of trial and error.

I just needed one more thing. Purely for fun. =) Something to harken back to that Sasquatch search. Something...something like this.
Nowhere too noticable, mind you. Sasquatch is a hard fella to find, after all. But I bet you can spot it. ;-) Here's the final front cover.

I have to admit, I loved it as soon as it came together--it felt like "it" to me. So I sent it to Suzie, who agreed that it captured all the elements we wanted to capture. She loved it too, so there we go! The final cover!

While I was at it, I went ahead and built the full cover too. Back copy may yet be tweaked, and that endorsement is obviously a place holder, LOL.

Overall, I gotta say I love how this one turned out--which is all the better because it had me stumped for so long. But you know, for two days' work, this was a lot of fun. Bring on the next, WhiteFire! ;-)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Interview with Naomi Rawlings & Giveaway

Today I’m so happy to host Naomi Rawlings, one of my good friends, as she celebrates the release of her latest book, The Wyoming Heir. Naomi is a lot of fun, super sweet, and—amazingly—shorter than I am! LOL.

So glad to have you over, Naomi! Grab a cup of your favorite winter beverage and tell us a little about yourself.

Well, my favorite winter beverage would be coffee, and where I live, we need lots of it to stay warm. My family owns ten acres near the southern shore of Lake Superior, which means we get lots of lake effect snow every year—think an average of 200 inches! I’ve got two little boys who keep me very busy, constantly surprised, and usually a little grossed out. Somehow through all of that, I also etch out some time to write, but it gets kind of crazy around our house some days. You can check out more about me at

I have sitting here by my side your latest novel, The Wyoming Heir, and it is so beautiful! Could you tell us about it?

Didn’t the art team do a great job with the cover design? I’ve actually got a giveaway going on right now, and all because of the cover. If you stop by Inspirational Romance Ratings (my novel review blog), you can enter a contest for a cowboy picnic package, complete with a picnic basket, blanket, snacks, and copy of The Wyoming Heir

Oh, and here’s a little about the actual book:  
Given a choice, Luke Hayes wouldn't ever leave his Wyoming ranch. Yet when his estranged grandfather dies, leaving him everything, he'll travel to Valley Falls, New York—but only to collect his sister and his inheritance. He won't be roped into saving a floundering girls' school, no matter what mathematics teacher Elizabeth Wells says. 
Elizabeth has defied social convention and her own family for the sake of her beloved Hayes Academy. Luke is pure rancher, from the tip of his Stetson to the scuff on his boots, yet he's also becoming her unlikely ally. Only he can help save her job and school…but how much will she lose when the time comes for him to leave?

I’ve heard a bit about this story over the years, and I can’t wait to dive in. =) What inspired you to write it?

It’s actually a bit of a funny story. The Wyoming Heir is the first American set book that I’ve written. Most of my work has been European, relating to the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. While I was writing the first of my French novels. I had so many people tell me that nothing set in France would ever get turned into a book. The Wyoming Heir was my answer to that. I decided to take one of the most popular subgenres out there—the Western romance—and flip it. Hence I have a story about a cowboy who goes east rather than a socialite who goes west. When I was writing this novel, I actually called it Cowboy Goes East.

That’s what I knew it as! LOL. Well I for one can’t wait for some free time so I can read it. =) Not that I have much of that, and I know you don’t either with those boys of yours. But when you do have a spare hour that you don’t spend writing or working, what do you like to do?

Yeah, you pretty much just answered that. READ!

We’ve got a lot of beautiful wilderness where I live, so I also enjoy exploring that with my family, everything from snowshoeing and snowmobiling in the winter to hiking, canoeing, and fishing in the summer.

Let’s dive into some fun, silly questions now. Like…if you had to wear the fashions of any historical era, which one would you choose and why?

Oh goodness! Probably the 1920s. That seems kind of fun. Skirts weren’t nearly so long and you didn’t have to wear a bunch of petticoats beneath them. I could have never dressed the way Elizabeth does in The Wyoming Heir. (Though her clothing does make for a rather pretty cover, doesn’t it?)

The next period that comes to mind is Biblical. Loose dresses and sandals. Who can complain about that?

I love the petticoats. =) I’d be totally happy dressed as Elizabeth. ;-) Okay, now you’re stranded on a desert island. Let’s say a warm one, with an unending food supply. And two books. One is the Bible, let’s assume. But what would you want the other one to be?

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers . . . and that’s only because I’ve read An Echo in the Darkness as well, so I know it all ends well. Actually, on second thought, I’d need one of those two book volumes that has both novels inside it. Is that allowed? ;-)

*Sigh* I suppose… ;-) And now one more serious question to part with. What message do you most want to send to your readers?

Ultimately, that nothing in life is too great for God and His love to overcome. Each of my books look at different elements of God and His love, but they all boil down to the same principles. God is good. His ways are best. And He loves you with an everlasting love. Armed with those Truths, both real life people and fictional characters can defeat any obstacles.

So true. And so good to have you here, Naomi!

Naomi has a fun giveaway going on over on her site for a picnic basket much like the one on the cover of The Wyoming Heir. She’s also offering a copy of the book here for one lucky winner! Giveaway will run a week!
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