Cover Reveal & Book Sale

Seeing a cover for the first time is a nerve-wracking mix of excitement and terror. As much as we say we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we all do. The cover is one of the biggest marketing tools an author has. This single picture needs to speak 1000 words to the prospective reader. It needs to convey time period and setting. It should hint at key story elements as well as project emotion. Most of all, it should please or intrigue the reader enough to prod them to learn more. To pick it up and read the back cover or make that click that takes them inside for a sample.

Covers for novella collections are especially tricky since they must convey details from more than one story. Different characters. Different settings. Even different time periods. Because of that, novella covers usually focus on creating a more general mood than honing in on specific details, thereby creating an image that would apply to any of the stories contained within.

My latest cover is just such a project. Three novellas whose common ground consists of four things: Historical time periods, Texas settings, Christmas themes, and romance. So while the scene depicted does not relate directly to any of the three stories, it conveys those four commonalities to perfection.

The long skirt and beautifully knotted updo on the model combined with the wrap-around porch commonly found in 19th century homes immediately places us in the historical time frame. The serif fonts and swirled design around the subtitle and name also give it a Victorian feel. The rugged landscape combined with the cowboy riding home in the distance hints strongly at Texas. Then there are the beautiful Christmas touches of garlands wrapped around the porch railings and the bold red pop of color in the heroine’s dress combined with the green subtitle bar. Finally, the romance. What says romance more than mistletoe? And having it dangling right above the heroine’s head as she leans forward, eager for the hero’s return makes it clear that love is in the air.

Under the Texas Mistletoe will release this fall.

What element of this cover is most inviting to you?

Book Sale

Grab some Valentine’s chocolate and treat yourself to some classic romance, Archer style. The book that started it all – Short Straw Bride – is on sale for only $1.99 until February 17.

If you already own a copy of Travis and Meredith’s story, consider sharing a little romance with your favorite “gal”entine by surprising her with a gift copy. All you need is an email address to share the love.

Grab a copy from your favorite e-book retailer.

Amazon | Christianbook | Barnes & Noble

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Where I live in West Texas, we don’t get a lot of snow. Sometimes we get ice or an occasional dusting of snow, but it’s only every so often that enjoy a true snow fall.

We were blessed with just such a snowfall, not once, but twice. The first time was on New Years Day and the second was this past weekend. It started snowing early Sunday morning and didn’t stop until late that night. The official measurement was 5.3 inches which just missed the record by a nose. The top mark remains 5.5 inches from 1973. Even my daughter down south in College Station got snow!

Now, I know that those of you you live in most northern climes measure your snowfall in feet, not inches, but we were delighted by the big fluffy flakes and couldn’t resist the lure. OK – my son and his fiance couldn’t resist the lure. I simply jumped out for a few minutes then back in while they had the true adventure.

Having just gotten engaged on Christmas Eve, the intrepid couple set out to create his and her snowmen in our backyard. I chronicled the event.

It began with the rolling of the snow. McKenna had to instruct Wyatt on the proper roll technique since Wyatt’s mama had failed in teaching him the proper way to roll snow during his childhood. Shame on me. (But then, I did grow up in Central California, a place that gets even less snow than West Texas.)

Next came the construction phase . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the decorating. My hubby and I volunteered for the warm job of digging through closets and the fridge for appropriate items.

If you look really closely, you’ll see that the male snowman is giving the classic Wyatt “thumbs up” with one hand while chivalrously wrapping his other arm around the lovely snow lady.

Unfortunately, chivalry must have died, for the snowman began to lean and eventually did a full face-plant, taking his lady love down with him.

Oh, well. At least the real-life couple suffered no ill effects.

Do you get much snow where you live?
    If so, what is your favorite snow activity?
    If not, what kind of of snow activity would you most like to try?

Christmas Crispies

Don’t you just love all the decadent goodies at Christmas time? I do. Probably more than I should. But, hey, that’s what New Year’s is for, right? No counting calories until January 1. It’s a Christmas law. Or should be.

My hubby always buys Christmas M&Ms to fill my candy bowl and, of course, I have to have the Christmas-wrapped Dove dark chocolates on hand.

Some of my favorite things to bake at Christmas include snickerdoodles, butter toffee, and shortbread. But the one goody that gets made every year without fail are my Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispies. Super easy to make and scrumptious to eat.

I hope that you and your family had a marvelous Christmas holiday whether together in person or in spirit. Keep enjoying those leftover goodies, and go ahead and make a few more. Don’t forget . . . calories don’t count until January 1!

Christmas Cowboys on Sale

I don’t know about you, but I love a good Christmas novella. The holiday season is so busy, that quick reads are about all I have time to squeeze in around all the cooking, wrapping, and decorating.

I’m excited to share two collections of mine that are currently on sale.

The first is a collection of four novellas that follow a family heirloom that is handed down at Christmas time from mother to daughter across the years. It starts in 1820’s England then moves to 1890’s Texas then 1950’s Appalachia then finally to modern day Washington.

If you love sweet Christmas romance with a variety of settings and time periods, this is a great collection.

And even better, the e-book version is on sale for only $1.99!

In my story, “Gift of the Heart,” a widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs, TX for a fresh start, but with no money to secure a home, Ruth must convince a wealthy resort owner to accept her heirloom brooch as collateral. Will the pin that brought love to three generations soften the heart of a wounded recluse and give Ruth a second chance at love?

This story is a western Christmas re-imagining of the Ruth and Boaz story from the Bible.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

(Sale runs through December 31, 2020.)

 

The second collection is western through and through. This is a two-in-one novella collection that contains my story from The Christmas Heirloom, “Gift of the Heart” along with a separate novella that carries on the legacy of my all-time best-selling Archer Brother series – “An Archer Family Christmas”.

It’s Christmas Eve, 1893, and the entire Archer family has gathered to celebrate the holiday. While the men are off chopping down the perfect Christmas tree, an unexpected request for help leaves Cassandra Archer directly in the path of a dangerous outlaw. Desperate to protect the woman he loves, Jim Archer races to the rescue, only to find that Cassie’s life is not the only one in peril. It will take a Christmas miracle—and the entire Archer clan— to keep a second Archer Christmas from ending in disaster.

This 2-in-1 collection is on sale for only $0.99!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

(Sale runs through December 31, 2020.)

 

Do you prefer Christmas novella or full-length Christmas stories?

Do you read Christmas stories only during the holiday season, or year round?

Washington on the Brazos

This past weekend, my daughter and I had a girls’ getaway weekend in Brenham, TX. Bethany is working on her PhD at Texas A&M, and since I don’t get to see her very often these days, I decided it would be fun for the two of us to have a getaway weekend once a semester. We did a lot of relaxing, reading, movie watching, and cross-stitching during our time together, but we also spend the afternoon on Saturday at Washington on the Brazos.

The town of Washington is considered the birthplace of Texas. It got its name from a group of settlers who traveled from Washington, GA into Texas and named it for their hometown. It was established along the Brazos River and became a significant trade center with its river access.

Under Mexican rule at the time, citizens had to swear their allegiance to Mexico to live there, but since Mexico was a Republic at that time, under the constitution of 1824, the immigrants complied. However, at the next election, Santa Ana was elected president and quickly turned this republic into a dictatorship. This is not go over well with those who had immigrated from the United States. War broke out.

On March 1, 1836, Texas delegates met in an unfinished building in Washington on the Brazos to formally announce Texas’ intention to separate from Mexico and to draft a constitution for a new Republic of Texas. While congregated, they received word from William Travis about the Alamo being attacked. Many wanted to rush to their aid, but Sam Houston insisted they stay and charter their new government. Without that, they would have nothing. In the course of 17 days, they drafted a declaration of independence, adopted a new constitution, and organized an interim government to serve until a government could be elected and inaugurated. This ended up being the right choice, for by the time they received word of the Alamo’s attack, had they left to join the fight, they would have been slaughtered. The Alamo fell on March 6.

The delegates declared independence on March 2, 1836. They adopted their constitution on March 16. The delegates worked until March 17, when they had to flee with the residents of Washington, to escape the advancing Mexican Army. The townspeople returned after the Mexican Army was defeated at San Jacinto on April 21. Town leaders lobbied for Washington’s designation as the permanent capital of the Republic of Texas, but leaders of the Republic favored Waterloo, which later was renamed Austin.

The town of Washington no longer exists today. Like other river towns of this era, they made the mistake of shirking the railroad in favor of steamboats. The brick buildings that once stood tall in one of the largest towns of the area, were carted off brick-by-brick to build new buildings in places where the railroad flourished.

In 1899, a group of school children realized the threat of losing the history of what happened at this location and did a penny drive fundraiser in order to erect a monument to stand at the location where they believed Independence Hall stood. Later, archeologists found the foundation in that very location and Independence Hall was rebuilt and restored to its original specifications.

During our tour, Bethany and I got to sit around the table and listen to the story of all that had transpired in this place. Here is where the nation of Texas was born.

Do you enjoy visiting historical sites?
What was the last place you visited?

Kissing Tree Winners

 

Congratulations to:

SunnyStreet1967
&
Alicia Haney

You ladies will be enjoying Phoebe and Barnabas’s story along with the three other fabulous tales in this collection in the very near future. Be watching your email for more instructions.

Happy Reading!

Book Release & Giveaway

My latest novella collection hit the shelves yesterday, and I can’t wait to share Barnabas and Phoebe’s story with you!

The Kissing Tree is a multi-generational collection of stories that center around a giant oak in Texas where couples carve their initials through the years.

The tree that inspired our giant oak was The Century Tree on the Texas A&M campus. In fact, my daughter (who is now at A&M working on a PhD) was kind enough to ask the tour guide to take them by the tree so she could get her nerdy mom a photo during her college visit last spring.

They don’t allow initial carving in this glorious tree, but there is a tradition for proposals happening beneath these branches.

In my story – Inn for a Surprise – Phoebe Woodward and Barnabas Ackerly are forced to work together to design a romantic retreat for couples. The Kissing Tree Inn is Phoebe’s brainchild, and she has definite ideas about how to make the place romantic.

For example, she starts off by having it painted the color of love – a shockingly vivid shade of pink. Barnabas does his best to hide his shock when he sees the inn for the first time, but his professional life flashes before his eyes – and not in a rose-colored glasses type of way.

The two definitely don’t see eye-to-eye on inn design, but as they work together to make the inn a success, they come to see that practicality and sentimentality can coexist and can even lead to love.

Phoebe
Barnabas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of The Kissing Tree, I’m giving away autographed copies to two readers chosen from the comments.

To enter, leave a comment about which character you most resemble:

  • the sentimental Phoebe or
  • the practical Barnabas.

Enjoy!

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Thanks to the pandemic, entertainment options are dwindling quickly. Usually I’m getting geared up for new fall shows about now, but this year, I’m scraping the streaming service barrels to try to find something new to watch.

I ran across a western called The Legend of 5-Mile Cave and thought I’d give it a try. It’s available to stream free for those who subscribe to Amazon Prime or you can rent it for $2.99. If you like sweet and clean, family-friendly movies, you’ll like this one. It’s a split-time story told both from the 1890’s and the Depression-era. It’s a dime novel romp come to life with adventure, romance, villains, and fancy gun play.

A mysterious drifter befriends a widow and her son just when they are about to lose their ranch to the bank. The boy loves to read pulp fiction and is immediately fascinated by his latest story – The Legend of 5-Mile Cave – and the missing gold that was never found. The drifter warns him he can’t always believe everything he reads and reveals that he knew Shooter Green, the main character of the story, and starts to tell the boy his own version of events. As they work to save the ranch, secrets are revealed that tie past to present.

This was a fun movie with a good story and subtle Christian overtones. It won’t be winning any Oscars, but it was worth the watch, especially if you enjoy wholesome westerns that remind you of the old-fashioned oaters of the 1950’s.

If you don’t have access to Amazon Prime, but do have access to Netflix, I’ll recommend another show involving horses. It’s not exactly a western. It’s more of a down under-ern.

Ride Like a Girl is the inspirational true story of Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup despite facing odds of a 100 to 1. She was the youngest of 10 children, raised without her mother who died when she was just 6 months old. Her father was in the racing business, so his children tended to gravitate to that world, but none more strongly than Michelle. I love watching stories about strong women who defy the odds, and if there are horses and Aussie accents involved, even better!

What have you streamed lately that you would recommend?

Who Would You Be in the Old West?

Last week, I played a game in my Posse Facebook group, that ended up being so much fun, I thought we could play it here as well.

If you lived in the old west, who would you be, and what would you be doing?

I decided that I would be one of those town wives who invited everyone over once a month for a quilting bee where we would get very little quilting done but would have lots of tea and conversations about books.

When everyone else chirped in, we had a wonderful variety of answers including:

  • school teachers
  • librarians
  • innkeepers
  • cafe owners
  • bakers
  • druggists
  • nurses and doctors
  • preachers’ wives
  • farmers’ wives
  • ranchers’ wives
  • sharpshooters
  • tomboy trouble-makers
  • even dance hall entertainers
  • and saloon barkeeps

Who would you be?

Covers That Could Have Been

The first book in my new Hanger’s Horsemen series released last Tuesday, and I’m so excited to have a cover that features a rugged cowboy hero. I’ve had a few heroes make appearances on other covers, but they were always the supporting cast to the heroine.

I have three covers where the heroes get an arm and a leg in the picture. (Although you gotta admit that arm on Levi is pretty nice.)

My first hero only got his leg in the picture.

I did get nearly an entire hero on three of my covers, but the heroine remains the focal point.

So having my cowboy hero front and center this time was an exciting change. And I love the model they chose as well as the addition of the horse as the supporting actor.

However, when I asked my publisher if they had any cover mock-ups that failed to make the final cut, I was surprised to find an entirely different cowboy on the cover. One with a shy smile, rugged physique, and a lot more facial hair.

Here are a few of the first version mock-ups. Notice the different poses, the different backgrounds, even different hat colors.

If I had to pick one of these iterations, I think I would take the bottom middle. I like the hat tip, the smile, and the sunset in the background. Although, I strongly prefer the font and series designation of the one at the top left, which is most similar to the final copy.

All in all, I think they made the right call. I really like the final cover.

 

Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger’s Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they’re the ones in need of saving.

Amazon
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Barnes & Noble
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Christianbook

 

  • If you were to select one of the runner-up covers for this book, which would you pick?
  • What do you think of having a hero-centric cover? Is it less romantic without the heroine?