Do Our Childhood Experiences Dictate Our Pursuits in Later Life?  

Posted by Heidi

I am guest blogging on this very subject over at  Click HERE to read all about how my older sisters influenced by writing career.  If you are finding your way here from Storyfinds, click HERE to read about the photo shoot in England with world-class photographer Chris Bissell which resulted in this winning book cover.  Purchase links for my Regency romance novels are in the sidebar.  Thanks for stopping by!

A Look at the Power Behind the Power of the Matchmaker Series  

Posted by Heidi

Eighteen months ago twelve award-winning authors were given a challenge--to write a clean romance novel, that takes place in any time period and country of the world, all connected by one thing--the power of the matchmaker.  The story of Pearl, the matchmaker, is told very well in the prequel novella (a must-read and currently FREE!) so there was no mandate on how much or how little the matchmaker should appear in each story.  In one she is a dream, in another a memory, while in others she is a present character in the book.  The task was to come up with a story that is impacted, one way or another, by Pearl and her skills as a matchmaker.  The result?  Twelve romantic, fun, original, diverse and POWERFUL stories.  Now that we are just over halfway through the twelve-month release schedule, let's take a look at what people are saying about the individual books, all of which are stand-alone, original novels by award-winning authors.

Power of the Matchmaker, the prequel novella by Heather B. Moore

" . . . a beautiful story of self-sacrifice and selfless love."  "Couldn't put it down, can't wait for the series."  "This is a fun and inspiring story that readers are not going to want to miss as they begin their journey into the beautiful and magical world of the Power of the Matchmaker series."

Broken Things to Mend by Karey White

"Great start to the matchmaker series!"  "I read it in one sitting!"  "I can't love this one enough!"

Not Always Happenstance by Rachael Anderson

"This book made a fun escape read on a cold, snowy afternoon."  "A wonderful story that brings to light how the magic of love should be."  "I could hardly put this book down."

If We Were a Movie by Kelly Oram

"Have you ever read a book that just left you with the big goofy grin?  This is that book!"  "I loved each and every character."  "Witty and brilliant."

Love is Come by Heather B. Moore

"Love is come captivated me from the first page."  "Kept me up all hours of the night wanting to read on."  "It was so gentle and brought all kinds of feelings to my heart."

Four Chambers by Julie Wright

"Holy smokes, I loved this book!"  "Such a charming, innocent romance story!"  What a fantastic story of love, heartache, forgiveness, and most of all timing. 

O'er the River Liffey  by Heidi Ashworth
"I was anxiously reading to see how everything turned out!"  "If you like stories of overcoming obstacles, historical fiction, matchmakers, and finding lasting love then this is it!"  "My heart breaks several times in this book.  That being said, there are wonderful moments of joy as well." 

Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean

"These characters are so well written!"  "Loved it!"  "I couldn't put it down!" 

The following books are not yet out but some are already up for preorder.  For those that aren't, I have provided links to their Goodreads page.

Between Heaven and Earth by Michele Holmes

How I Met Your Brother by Janette Rallison

To Move the World by Regina Sirois

King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt

The Reformer by Jaima Fixsen

The Day that 'O'er the River Liffey' (Power of the Matchmaker) Was Born, Or, It's a Book!  

Posted by Heidi

Look what arrived today!

The birth of a book requires many helping hands.  This has never been more obvious to me than with my upcoming (June 1, 2016) release, O'er the River Liffey.  Of course I wrote the book and was the "project manager", but it took the talent of many other indivuals to bring it to fruition.  First, some friends of mine put their heads together and came up with a plan for book series called Power of the Matchmaker.  

The premise: a mystical, immortal matchmaker who facilitates true love in various places and time periods.  Twelve clean romance novels by twelve award-winning authors in twelve months plus the prequel novella, Power of the Matchmaker (which, btw, is currently FREE!)

I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in this series, and I knew immediately that my story would take place in Ireland.  For decades I had dreamed of seeing Ireland and had just returned from a trip there with my daughter.  (See the list of my photo-rich Ireland blog posts HERE.) (It starts with the last day but just click on older posts until you get to the beginning called, in part, Day One.)

Of all the photos I took in Ireland, this is one of my favorites.  However, it was used on the cover of Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice (which, btw, goes free on May 31st!).  So, when I was asked by the editors to provide the cover image for my book a year before it came out, I panicked just a little.  Part of the problem was that I have been unhappy with the choice of stock photos available for the covers of regency romances.  The clothes are not entirely authentic, for one.  Also, I had seen at least a dozen books with the same model adorned in the same gown as on the cover of Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice.  I wanted something that stood out a bit more, something that was all mine.

So, this, that and the other happened (as explained in this blog post HERE) and I ended up with this lovely image, one that inspired an entire scene of the final version of the book.  To sum up the previous blog post, I found an image on Pinterest that I loved, tracked down the world-class photographer, (had I known he was a famous fashion and celebrity photographer, I would have been too intimidated to attempt this, so ignorance has its pluses) hired him and his team to do a photo shoot, chose the model, informed the costume decisions, went to England and directed the photo shoot.  (My daughter and I already had tickets to fly across the pond, and we had an entire day off in the travel schedule when we could slip in the shoot--pure Karma, Tender Mercies, Blessings From Heaven, whatever you want to call it, I had it!)  There have only been a few days in my life more fun and memorable than this one.  I have never been so catered to since my wedding.  It was SO much fun!  Everyone was fantastic to work with it all happened in a beautiful, old house in the suburbs of London.

You can read more about the photographer, Chris Bissell, and see many more (and much better) photographs of his lovely home HERE.  (Credit goes to "Emma" who wrote the blog post and chose the photos and videos, some of which include brief nudity--click with caution.)

I have to say here that I had no idea if this total stranger in England was even going to answer the door when I knocked (actually, he met us at the train station and gave us a lift to his house/studio.)  I did not know any of these people I would be working with, nor did I know any of the people who referred me to them (specifically Andrea Galer who is the talented stylist of many historical British films and who was very lovely to me).  So, it was with some trepidation that my daughter and I, accompanied by my regency-romance-author-buddy, Shirley Marks, trudged through the rain of a summer morning in Kensington, took the tube to Waterloo Station and then the train to another station (I have forgotten the name) where we met Chris, a sweet, warm and talented guy who made me feel at perfect ease from the get-go.

We were ushered into his home and made comfortable in the bright basement kitchen where his daughter, Nancy, his assistant, Hari, the make-up artist, Buster, the hair expert, Charlie, the stylist, Belinda, and the model, Abbey, were waiting.

Hari, Nancy, Belinda, Chris, Charlie, Abbey and Buster.  Lovely, lovely people.  There are links to their various pages in my previous post about this photo shoot. (see above).

It was far too expensive to set up a photo shoot for just one book, so the plan was to get quite a few usable photos.  This involved costume and hair changes through-out the eight hour day.  Once we decided which look we would shoot first, the team went to work.

I was able to watch the entire day unfold in front of my eyes, but it was fascinating to see how the photos were translating to the screen on Hari's lap-top.

The paned door, the metal balustrade and the plethora of green trees was the perfect backdrop for a story that takes place at a country house party.  And Abbey was the perfect model.  She is also very sweet, is a talented singer and, I am certain, shall one day be thoroughly famous.

Chris stopped often to ask me questions about what I was looking for and to give direction to Abbey (also known as Abigail Tara-Lilly Kent) who is a fantastic actress.

Hari clearly enjoys her job.

There was a lot of great hair going on at this photo shoot. Creative people are a blast to hang out with.  They were so great that they each got a character named after them.  (Not all of the characters are as great as they are, but not every character can be a sweetheart.)

Below is the finished product once again.  For each costume and hair change, I had about 80 photos to choose from.  That was the hardest part--trying to settle on just one gorgeous photo.  I think I made the right choice with this one.  Like I said, it inspired a scene in the book that I hadn't even planned on yet--I love it when a plan comes together.

For those book authors who are reading this, I highly recommend this option for your book covers and I highly recommend Chris and his team.  A trip to England is pretty expensive, but Chris does spend a portion of time every year doing work in his native Canada.  (Let me know if you want his contact information.)

Of course, a photo is just one element to a book cover.  Rachael Anderson, who is one of the authors in the Power of the Matchmaker series, did my cover, Kim Huther edited the book and Heather Justesen formatted it for ebook and paperback and answered endless questions.  Jaima Fixen, another POTM author, was also very helpful.  Plus, I had a crew of generous alpha and beta readers who took the time to read the book, some all at once, others bit by bit, and give me feedback on it.  Lastly, I must include Alacoque, our fun, happy, delightful Irish tour guide who served as the inspiration for my heroine, Caroline Fulton.

Alacoque at Knappogue Castle in County Clare, Ireland

Then, of course, there are the people who are behind the scenes at Amazon and Createspace who do their part until finally, today, there is now a book in my hand that did not exist a short time ago.  It feels like the birth of a child, Christmas and a trip to the candy store all rolled into one.  

The Victoria and Albert Museum  

Posted by Heidi

The blown glass V&A Rotunda Chandelier by Dale Chihuly

What is the worst thing that can happen to a tourist in London?  Arriving at the Victoria and Albert Museum 45 minutes prior to closing, that's what.  Oh, the weeping, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth.  (This is aside from the taxi rides to and from Heathrow Airport, both of which were . . . well, memorable is probably the nicest word, "nearly fatal" being closer to the truth.)  But first, all the fun stuff we did instead . . .

We pulled into London from Cambridge (see that post HERE) in the mid to late afternoon.  I snapped this photo of people outside of the Sherlock Holmes Museum from the coach window as we headed to our hotel. It is located at the fictional 221B Baker Street.  (It *is* on Baker Street, so there's that.)

It was a beautiful day and people were clearly thrilled to be meeting up with a "real" bobby.

We were invited by our new friends, two couples from Murray, Utah, to go with them to the Victoria and Albert Museum.  It was a short and beautiful walk from our hotel through Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens (I never knew when I was in which one--they are right next to each other.  I knew that back when I wrote the picnic scene in Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice, but somehow it was still different than I imagined--most likely due to the fact that there were no spanking new phaetons with wheels picked out in yellow.)  The monument pictured above and below is the Albert Memorial that I caught some inferior pics of on the first day of our trip.  I was very happy to get better photos of it this time around.

The monument, the day, and (dare I say) this photo, are all as crystal clear as Prince Albert's Crystal Palace.

I've said it before and I'll say it again--she (Victoria) really did love that man.

Once we made our way through the park, we ended up in a neighborhood (might have been Notting Hill, might not have been) and ran across this visitor's center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.  Most visitor centers are on the same grounds as the temple, but, in this case, the temple is in Preston, which is quite a drive.  Many people stop in at this one in this upscale neighborhood.  We weren't expecting it and were thrilled to see the familiar sight of the Christus statue through the window.

We met Elder and Sister Cardall, the parents of composer Paul Cardall (think LOST) who are giving years of their time and energy to answer questions and offer support.  They were very gracious.

This building houses three wards (congregations) as well as the visitor's center.  It is a busy place on Sundays.  The time we spent there was time taken away from the museum but it was well worth it.  Walking into the visitor's center felt like walking out of the rain into a warm, dry place.  Loved it!

We rushed into the Victoria and Albert Museum and, naturally, the first piece of art I found photo-worthy was a statue.  Isn't she exquisite?

I'm a talker.  I'm an over-sharer.  I say a lot about very little.  In fact, I would say that I'm a narcissist when it comes to my own words (you kind of have to be to be a writer--why bother writing a book unless you are positive people will enjoy it?) (And to that I say, Yay, Narcissism!, because we wouldn't have novels without it.)  But, I think that for the most part, these photos speak for themselves.

Cherubs: I adore 'em.  The more the better.  These are very old and were rescued from an even older building.  We didn't have time to gather facts and info as to what, when and where--we were in a hurry!

See other photos (i.e. not the brilliant ones taken by moi, rather, the brilliant ones taken by others when it was lit) HERE

The photo above is very cool, especially when you spot the hand holding the camera lens at the railing.

I do so love religious art.  It is stunning, as is the dedication the artists had in order to spend so much time and effort on these things.  Of course, there was not a huge market for other kinds of sculpture in the early days, and even starving artists must eat.

And then, of course, there are the nudes.  Clearly there was a market for that, too--but that was a bit later on . .

This one especially touched me, so I broke it up into larger-but-sadly-fuzzy pieces for closer viewing.

Ah, St. Peter.  I have one at my house, so I could not resist taking this photo.  Seeing as mine is so saintly, he wasn't particularly impressed.  He is such a sweet and modest boy.

I have a Mary, too.  She is nowhere near as cold and hard-hearted as this gal, though.

Should you know me and want to ask if, at the museum, I saw this, or that: The most likely answer is no.  We only saw a tiny fraction of all there is to see there.  I could spend a week exploring such a marvelous edifice and its contents.

After the museum, we have a lovely Italian and, more importantly, gluten-free dinner with our friends and had a wonderful time.  As I was getting ready for bed that night, I looked out the window at this now familiar sight.  This was the third night we had spent in this same hotel and I had grown curious about those dogs--were they real?  Perpetually obedient?  Or statues?  My zoom lens rooted out the facts of the case.    

Goodnight London.  NEXT:  another look at the Nearly Famous London Regency Romance Book Cover Photo Shoot and the little tour of Kensington we took that evening.