Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Many Faces of "Wedding Score" | Behind-the-Scenes of Cover Design

You've probably heard me say it before: I love behind-the-scenes. Designing the cover of "Wedding Score" had a few in-process snippets that I deliberated, leading me to the final design.

#1 - Choosing Stephanie
Choosing a model can be pretty tough. Especially if you're a photographer and you just wish you could up and take a picture exactly how you want it (and yes... I ended up doing that anyway with the sheet music...). These are the models I considered for various reasons. At first, I really wanted to feature a piano on the cover, but I quickly realized that didn't portray the concept I had in mind, so I had to scratch that one.

Tip to the designer: landscape crops are really difficult to work with. ;) "If they had just given me MORE PERSON to work with!!!" ;) 

#2 - Background Color
Confession time: I think backgrounds are the most challenging for me. Fonts are okay. Once I find the cover model, it goes fairly well. But how to combine the text, model, and background? Yeah, that is usually challenging.

#3 - Positioning
Should Steph be the left or right side? Also, exactly how should the title be positioned? That's what I was pondering at this stage.

#4 - Floating Music
I had this idea that I wanted, but getting it from imagination to cover had its challenges. First off, I searched for hours for sheet music to feature. Of course, I couldn't find it. So, while I put that idea on hold, I shoved around a couple ideas.

What ended up happening was me taking pictures of my own sheet music suspended in air and editing that to fit in.

#5 - And repositioning
If you notice, I played a lot with the background fading from bottom to top or top to bottom. I actually still like this fade, but because I added the sheet music, the balance ended up being off.

#6 - And the Final
"Just like that," I take you to the final cover I've been blasting all over social media. ;) I know every designer says their latest cover is their favorite, but I really, really do like the way this cover turned out and had some great pointers from different friends to help me capture my thoughts.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Retellings: Rachel Kovaciny and Western Retellings

Today's retelling author is new-to-me, but her books look so creative and fun! I'm happy to get to know more about her with you!

Meet Rachel...
Born only a few miles from where Jesse James robbed his first train, Rachel Kovaciny has loved westerns all her life.  She says they’re where her imagination feels most at home.  Rachel is a Christian wife and mother who homeschools her children.  In her spare time, she retells fairy tales as westerns and writes a column to the Prairie Times as well as contributing regularly to the online magazine Femnista.

Rachel Kovaciny’s first stand-alone western, Cloaked, debuted in 2017 and was a Peacemaker Award finalist for Best YA/Children’s Western Fiction.

Writing & Movies blog:

Rachel's Retelling...

Twelve Dancing Princesses… re-imagined. 

Fifty dollars just for asking a few questions? Jedediah Jones figures it must be his lucky day. What dancing and doughnuts have to do with anything, he neither knows nor cares. He’s only interested in earning that money so he can finally eat something other than the apples he’s been living off for days. Once his stomach and his pockets are filled again, he plans to move on. 

But answering the advertisement plunges him into a forest of painted trees, twelve pretty sisters, trouble, and more trouble. And, yes, doughnuts. 

So many doughnuts. 

Can Jedediah Jones solve the mystery and earn that fifty dollars when the whole town has failed? Or will the twelve sisters lose their family’s business no matter what he does?

Behind the Retellings
A note from Rachel...

Thanks for having me here today! 

Somewhere around 2012, I got the idea of retelling fairy tales as westerns, but it stayed just an idea I kicked around a while until 2015, when I decided to enter a contest from Rooglewood Press focused around retellings of “Sleeping Beauty.”  My entry, “The Man on the Buckskin Horse,” was one of five winners which were then published in the anthology Five Magic Spindles in 2016.  Encouraged by that success, I next retold “Little Red Riding Hood” as a western, which became my book Cloaked.  I followed that up with Dancing and Doughnuts, which retells “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

That initial idea for retelling a fairy tale as a western was sparked by reading a picture book version of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” to my small children.  It’s long been one of my absolute favorite fairy tales, and it struck me one day that the former soldier in the fairy tale could easily be translated into a Civil War veteran.  I love the frolicsome feel of this particular story, and tried to capture that in my book.  Although the characters are faced with problems, they’re not in any kind of life-or-death danger, unlike my previous retellings.  That made Dancing and Doughnuts especially fun to write.  I also had a good time trying out many doughnut recipes from the 1800s until I could find one that matched the ones in the book fairly well.  My husband says this is the kind of research he’s especially fond of.

I love studying history, so much so that I kind of accidentally got a history minor when I was in college.  I kept taking history classes for fun whenever I had an empty spot in my class schedule, and I accumulated so many that I qualified for a minor without meaning to.  I also love reading historical fiction because seeing how people lived in times gone by helps me understand and appreciate my own life in new ways.  So writing historical fiction myself is something of an obvious choice.  I truly enjoy things like doing the research to get everyday details correct, studying the history of the west to find the right place to set a story, and checking on the etymology of words so I don’t use a word in a character’s dialog or thoughts that isn’t period-correct.  Those might be boring for another writer, but for me, they’re a joy.

I’ve loved western movies since I was a toddler myself – I grew up watching the westerns of John Wayne and James Stewart and their contemporaries.  I also very much enjoyed what I called “cowboy books” when I was a kid, and I want to bring that same pleasure to today’s readers.  I think that fairy tales and westerns are a natural fit for each other because westerns are America’s mythology. 

My books do not have to be read in a particular order because they don’t tell one continuous story the way some book series do.  Instead, I call Once Upon a Western an anthology series because each book stands on its own, but they all take place in a shared universe.  The characters from these first two books may show up again in later books in some capacity.  And I’m gradually writing and releasing short stories that expand the universe and will eventually help to connect the novels more too.  So far, I’ve released two, which are available for free for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.  “No Match for a Good Story” is based on the story of Scheherezade and is a follow-up to “The Man on the Buckskin Horse,” and “Blizzard at Three Bears Lake” retells “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and is a follow-up to Cloaked.  This month, I’m releasing a new short story called “Gruff” that also follows Cloaked.  I think you can probably guess what fairy tale it revolves around.

I’m currently retelling “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” as a western called One Bad Apple.  It features seven white orphans who get taken in by a wagon train of former slaves, only to discover that one member of that wagon train is a very dangerous woman with deadly intentions toward her stepdaughter.  I’m in the process of revising One Bad Apple, and it should be released in early 2020.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Wedding Score is HERE!

Today is the day!!! Stephanie's story is out in the world! And by world, I mean a little more than usual... as it's not just on Amazon, but these other retailers. Or you can just order a signed paperback. ;) Or, you can keep scrolling down for the giveaway and bonus. :)

"Wedding Score" is a very special story for me. An author puts a lot of her heart into her books, but in this one, it's got a LOT of my heart. My family accuses me that "Wedding Score" is an autobiography. It's not... exactly... But it does have tons of situations and life lessons that I have personally learned throughout the past few years. God has taught me (and is still teaching me) some invaluable lessons along this single-life journey. Being able to write it through the eyes of Stephanie has been such a huge blessing for me! And then, to hear how it blesses others and encourages them in their single journey... my heart is so full!!

Blog Tour
A special thank-you to all of the bloggers who are making "Wedding Score's" release special! Please hop by their blogs to see more of what "Wedding Score" is all about!

Monday, October 28
Honey Rock Hills | Review
Great Books for God's Girl | Review
Blossoms and Blessings | Review

Tuesday, October 29
Maidens for Modesty | Guest Post
Faith Blum, author
Kelsey's Notebook Blog | Review

Wednesday, October 30
Resting Life | Guest Post
Life of Heritage | Review

Thursday, October 31
Views from a Window Friend | Review
Cnnamon Girl | Review
Writings from a God Girl | Guest Post

Friday, November 1
A Brighter Destiny | Review
Read Write Breathe | Review
She Lives to Read | Guest post
Losing the Busyness | Review

Saturday, November 2
Read Another Page | Review
A.M. Heath, author | Guest Post
Kimia Wood, author | Guest Post

I am giving away paperbacks, yes... 
But I really wants to share this story with as many readers as possible. So, for release week, I'll be sending eBooks to anyone who wants one! So hop over and submit your email for a free eBook!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Echoes Among the Stones | Book Review

Wright weaves a good tale which isn’t easily solved—something I personally like in a suspense novel. While this book still had darker tones to it, it wasn’t quite the same as Foster Hill, which deals with human trafficking. This was, rather, an almost-obsession over a cold-case murder.

I really enjoyed the two storylines from the past and present. I was just as into one story as the other. I feel she painted a very realistic picture of the aftermath of WWII and the soldiers.

There was a spiritual thread woven through, the main emphasis on dealing with grief. It was never clear where Aggie herself stood spiritually, even though she did make progress in coming to terms with loss.

I felt the romance was a good balance—for some, I imagine it had a slow start, as the interest didn’t really begin until a good portion into the story. My loyal heart kind of broke a little (no spoilers, though). I don’t remember any uncomfortable scenes between any of the couples.

There was a crude comment about “going to the bedroom” (nothing happened, it was just a comment). And there was also a little weirdness going on with Imogene visualizing and speaking to Hazel (or, Hazel speaking to her…). And then a “god-awful.”

*I received this book from NetGalley and happily provided my honest review*

About the Book
After Aggie Dunkirk's career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her rambling old home. She didn't plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene--even going so far as to re-create it in the dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow her when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the cemetery. Forced to work with the cemetery's puzzling, yet attractive archeologist, she exhumes the past's secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep quiet--even if it means silencing Aggie.

In 1946, Imogene Flannigan works in a local factory and has eyes on owning her own beauty salon. But coming home to discover her younger sister's body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the newly burgeoning world of criminal forensics and not particularly welcomed as a woman, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister's case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . even if it costs her everything.

Pre-order on Amazon.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Cover Reveal: Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly

I’m so excited to bring you the cover reveal for Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly!


Title: Waltz in the Wilderness
Series: Chaparral Hearts
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Length: 328 pages
Publisher: Wild Heart Books
Release Date: Feb. 4, 2020

She's determined to find her Pa but help comes at a price.
Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother's death, so she'll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend's unexpected assistance is a blessing she can't refuse.
Daniel Clarke came to California to make his fortune, and a stable job as a San Francisco carpenter has earned him more than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it's been four years since he left Massachusetts and his fiancé is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his fragile engagement.
When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the Southern California mountains, true feelings are revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?
Preorder your copy today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo
Publisher: Wild Heart Books

If you preorder Waltz in the Wilderness AND email Kathleen proof of purchase (screenshot) before 12:00am PT January 11, 2020, you will receive a free digital copy of Ribbons and Beaus, a Chaparral Hearts Novella on January 21, 2020! For complete details, click here.

Available now for preorder!  


To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away a “Trust in the Lord” Journal & 80+ Journal Stickers Set, along with a $10 Amazon gift card. Be sure to comment on the blogs listed below for extra entries into the giveaway. Click the link below to enter.

About the Author

Kathleen Denly lives in sunny Southern California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting. 

Waltz in the Wilderness is Kathleen’s debut novel and the first in a series of three stand-alone historical Christian romance novels connected by secondary characters and their beautiful Southern California setting.

Kathleen would love it if you visited her website at You can also connect with her on social media: 

To see some of the photos that inspired Waltz in the Wilderness, follow her on Pinterest.

Blog Stops

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Retellings: Hope Ann and The Stealthmaster's Shadow

Today, we have Hope Ann visiting with her 12 Dancing Princesses retelling!

Meet Hope Ann...
Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, a personal writing coach, and writes the Story Embers newsletters. You can find out more about her at

Hope's Retelling...

It’s been ten confounded years since the war ended.

Verus, a retired soldier, determines to enforce the peace the victory ought to have brought. His wanderings bring him to the city of Nerva, a sprawling riverside chaos no other Stealthmaster will touch.

Commandeering the task of a former comrade, Verus presents himself to the governor and promises to search out hidden Subverters. The true reason for his actions he keeps to himself. After all, the tyrannical governor will hardly approve of lending aid to those pitted against him, but the Subverters need information. Maybe even weapons.

The wishes of the Subverters themselves are immaterial. They weren’t there during the war. They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread.

Verus has.

So has the new ambassador from Zahavia who strides through the great doors of the feasting hall, bringing Verus face to face with nightmares from his past.

As the simple mission dissolves into confusion, Verus struggles to help those he’s plunged into danger, from a serving lad to the infuriating woman he’s taken to calling “Princess.” Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…

Staying could doom them all.

Perfect for those who love fantasy but don’t have the time to sit down for a full-length novel, the fourth novella in the Legends of Light series presents the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses in a clean, exciting, and inspiring manner. Full of wit, secrets, danger, and distant threats looming on the horizon, this is more than the mere retelling of a favorite fairy tale.

A stand-alone story, The Stealthmaster’s Shadow focuses on the fourth fruit of the Spirit, long-suffering, while following the results of the war between the Prince and Tauscher.


Sarcastic Renditions: Twelve Dancing Princesses
A note from Hope...

Verus is one of the most sarcastic and dramatic characters I’ve written, and perhaps one of my favorite character to write. Though his story, The Stealthmaster’s Shadow is written in third person, almost everyone I talk to remembers him in first person. I even remember him in first person most of the time because his voice is so strong.

He was a relief to write in more ways than one. I’d attempted a contest with a Snow White retelling directly before his story and it failed. Miserably. I couldn’t connect with the voice or characters. So when it came time to write Legends of Light 4,  I wondered if I could still, well, write.

Then Verus happened.

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow, a retelling of the twelve dancing princesses, is probably my favorite Legends of Light novella so far. Each story is separate, standing alone from plot-wise. It’s the history that carries over from book to book, not the characters.
Verus is a soldier from the ‘confounded war’ that ended ten years ago. He served the Prince. They won.

And the world went on as normal. There’s still pain. There’s still sorrow. And Verus, hiding scars of his own, intends to do what the Prince failed to do and set things right.

In his own way, of course.
Verus didn’t glance back even though at least half a dozen guards must be spilling into the room.
The tavern master’s arm tightened around Eolus. “If it had been any other…” His glare flitted past Verus. “But Diomed is under Governor Osvaldus’s protection and orders.” He broke off.
Verus’s lips pressed tight. Right. If anyone was hunting innocents, it would be Diomed. Shadows edged Verus’s sight as men closed in warily, weapons drawn.Verus pivoted. “Good evening, gentlemen.”The captain of the guard hesitated, one hand resting on the pommel of his sword. His gaze flitted from the chain on Verus’s shoulder to the one in his hand, then to the figure prone on the floor. “We… Stealthmaster, sir. The governor—”“Yes, yes.” Verus held up one hand. “I need to see him too. Half a moment, if you would.”

When I set about to write a twelve dancing princess retelling, the character who fascinated me the most was the man who finally took up the challenge to follow the princesses and watched them dancing each night.

While there’s very little to dance about in this version of the story, Verus shifted into a dynamic character well able to follow anyone who tried to hide.

Of course, this meant he got himself into all kinds of trouble.

“You think all trouble revolves around a group of Subverters?” Osvaldus advanced a step. “If you can’t read the meaning of a locked door—”“It wasn’t locked,” Verus said. “There was merely an obstruction to opening it. A fault I fixed. Without charge, I might add.”The governor’s fist clenched. “Get out.” He splayed the fingers of his other hand against Verus’s chest. “Now!”Verus twisted to the side, shoving the man’s hand off. A flush burned behind his ears. “There’s more than you’re telling me, Governor. You will give me the information I need or you will release me from this contract. I await your pleasure.”“Lift a dagger against me, and it will end up in your chest faster than the north wind itself.”
“Is that what you think?” Verus clenched it tighter. “You’ve given me a task. There’s no need to torture men for information you’ve hired me to find.”

The question Verus has to decide is if those he’s been sent to find are actually worthy of being hunted. And if they aren’t, is betraying them the step needed to open their eyes to danger and force them to safety?

There’s no easy answer. With nightmares from his past closing in around him, Verus’s mere presence may doom those he’s come to care about, regardless of his actions. But the one thing he learned from the war was to depend on no one.

He’s not about to start now when the stakes are so high.

While Verus is completely opposite me in character (ESFJ while I’m an INTJ) working with him did more than explore the problem of pain and sorrow. It helped me delve back into writing and fall in love with characters again. Even the crazy insane ones who are nothing like me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Retellings: Susanne Dietze and Austen in Austin

Today we're featuring another Jane Austen retelling!

Meet Susanne Dietze...

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the RITA® nominated, award-winning author of over a dozen romances with Timeless Heart. A pastor's wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama.

Twitter: @SusanneDietze

Susanne's Retelling...

Four Texas-Set Novellas Based on Jane Austen's Novels

Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes:

If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma
A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility
A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice
A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.

Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey
A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.

Find out about Volume II here.

Note: Susanne's novella can be purchased separately on Amazon here.

Behind the Retelling
A note from Susanne... 

Austen in Austin Volumes I & II were born out of a conversation between friends.
I belong to a group blog called Inkwell Inspirations, and several years ago (seven, maybe?) we decided to fill a few of our empty weekend spots with backlists of books that fit a theme: Christmas reads, medieval settings, etc. I chose to compile a list of books inspired by the works of Jane Austen, from Austenland to Pride, Prejudice & Zombies to the Jane Austen mystery series to Death Comes to Pemberley. It was a long list!

I asked the gals in the blog if they had any favorites I’d forgotten, and Anita Mae Draper quipped, “I might like Mr. Darcy a lot more if he wore a Stetson.”

That single comment got our minds racing. Mr. Darcy in a Stetson…Austen heroes retold as 19th century Texans in a series of related stories. “Austen in Austin?” I joked. As in Austin, Texas?

It stuck!

Eight of us wanted to participate, so we divided up Austen’s stories to retell (Sense and Sensibility received two retellings, one each for Marianne and Eleanor). Together, the eight of us built a world where we could set our stories: historic Austin, of course, but we needed more. We settled on a ladies’ finishing school, Austen Abbey where our Austen-inspired heroines could either attend, work, or visit. Certain characters, like the headmistress, remained constant through the stories. Some heroines knew one another. Others didn’t. We gave our characters new names, but the stories’ plots were based on the Austen originals.

My story was the Pride and Prejudice retelling, and I named it after a bit of Mr. Darcy’s dialogue: One Word From You. It’s the story of an Austen Abbey student named Eliza who attends a party and forms a most unfortunate first impression of Will Delacourt, a railroad tycoon. 

Supporting characters are easily recognizable as their Austen counterparts (Jane, Mr. Bingley, etc.), but we gave them a Texas twist.

I ended up entering my story in the novella category of the ACFW 2013 Genesis Contest. Unfortunately, the novella category didn’t receive enough entries that year, so it was closed. My entry was moved to the Historical Romance category and…it won! 

Soon after, WhiteFire agreed to publish the stories in two volumes. Our hope and prayer with the collections was that Austen fans of all sorts could enjoy the stories and receive encouragement and entertainment from them. 

We still hope that’s true, but I can also state that we authors were blessed by the experience. Working with friends was a joy and a treat, and we all cherish that book and that time we spent putting it together.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...