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.