My first dog was a Golden Retriever. I got her when I was twenty-eight years old, not long after I bought my house. She could spend hours hunting flies. I often took her down to the nearby Mackinaw River because she was one of those glorious dogs that never wandered far from its owner’s line-of-sight. I could sit with my legs in the water and not worry that she would run off and get hopelessly lost in the brush, or run out onto the road. Sometimes I would go swimming or take photographs while she stalked those elusive flies, her feathery tail lashing back and forth, translucent beads of water sweeping the air. Other times I would listen to my headphones or simply lay on a sandbar and watch the clouds pass by, the sounds of her happy panting a comforting background to my daydreaming.
It was during one of those trips to the Mackinaw with my Golden Retriever that I photographed the cover for Clingstone. I didn’t know it at the time, of course. At the time, its staging had nothing whatsoever to do with my book. I was experimenting with the new camera I’d bought and planned to frame some of the photographs as artwork. It was only much later that I came across that particular photograph again and realized it flawlessly represented the scene in which Mae’s bonnet flower is torn away (well, maybe not flawlessly—it’s actually a Gerber daisy, and not a common daisy, but I cheerfully allowed myself the inaccuracy because the staging was otherwise picture-perfect).
Additionally, I wanted my book cover to contrast with all the other romance novel covers out there. I don’t mean that to sound disparaging. I love the many gorgeous covers gracing romance novels right now, especially the ones with the heroines in their stunning dresses, but they tend to run together when viewed collectively. I think the simplicity of my cover with its sepia photograph and calm green background catches the eye. I love the font, how it almost looks etched or carved because of its distinctive serifs. In hindsight, I’m becoming more and more grateful that a literary agent or publisher never picked up my book. I don’t know how much creative input I would have been allowed with the cover art, but self-publishing has freed me from any potential constraints.
And so a Golden Retriever’s love of the water, and my love of photographing nature inevitably produced the cover of Clingstone. Below are several other photographs I took on that long-ago day down at the river.
The blog Midnight Attic Reader has posted a review for Clingstone!
Click here to read the full review!
"ENGAGING HISTORICAL READ!" -mIDNIGHT ATTIC READER
I was off of work all this week. It was lovely, lovely, lovely. I exchanged a few emails pertaining to my book, but otherwise I floated along in a swirling perfumed cloud of idleness. Work never even crossed the neural pathways in my brain. “This must be how the rich live,” I murmured often to myself, not caring what day of the week it was, barely registering the time. AM? PM? I didn’t care. I was a lady of leisure. I was only jolted back into reality when I realized my natural gas bill was overdue. My credit card had the audacity to rear its ugly head the day after that. I muttered briefly to myself, cannoned off my payments, and then floated happily back into my swirling perfumed cloud of idleness. I doubt the rich are ever bothered by payment notices; they have people for that.
Well, in all truthfulness, I wasn’t exactly idle. I vowed to finish some of my neglected DIY projects around the house and bravo for me! I actually did! I finished the ceiling trim in my living room—it’s not fancy enough to warrant the term “crown molding”—but I think it turned out nice! I installed knotty pine tongue-and-groove plank ceiling two years ago but, true to my procrastinating nature, never finished the trim (unfortunately, I have the terrible habit of getting distracted by bright and shiny things; I rarely finish things, except books, of course!). So, lots of wood putty and tubes of caulk later, and I have a completed living room! And I also finished my kitchen’s trim too, so I’ve gone above and beyond this staycation! My back is sore from all of this congratulatory self-patting.
I also made time to take a little road trip and visit friends in Iowa. They live in one of those small towns where people putter around in golf carts instead of cars. If you've never zoomed downhill in a golf cart while a neighborhood dog joyously runs after, you don't know what you're missing! Aside from the bugs pinging off your face, of course. That aspect I wouldn't recommend to anyone. At home, I spent my mornings drinking coffee on the back porch and pondering what recreation I would indulge in that day: movies, reading, maybe some shopping? I ate too much and slept in. It was glorious.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I'm back at work. Oh well. I'm sure I would discover that being a lady of leisure isn't without its drawbacks.
Sure. That's what I'll keep telling myself.
My thanks go out to Molly at the blog Molly Lolly // Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words for posting me in the author spotlight today! Check out the exclusive excerpt at Molly's blog by clicking here.
It’s that time again: another foray into the delightfully quirky vocabulary of Clingstone. How do you think these sayings would hold up in our modern world? Enjoy these examples from my book paired with their contemporary variations!
Bully for you- congratulations; good job
EXAMPLE: The limpid expression in his eyes abruptly vanished as he quickly seized the garment. He smiled broadly and actually had the boldness to wink at her. Clearly she’d been duped. “Bully for you,” she grumbled.
EXAMPLE: “The kale I was going to eat for dinner has surpassed its expiration date. Luckily I have an emergency package of breaded mozzarella cheese sticks in the freezer. Bully for me!”
Cream of the crop- the best of the best
EXAMPLE: “It’s the bridge. Our battalion burned it this morning. You’re surely not the cream of the crop, are you? Even someone like you ought to be able to put two and two together,” she goaded.
EXAMPLE: “I tripped over my own two feet while running last week. Literally. I tripped over my own two feet and did a header across the pavement. When it comes to athleticism, I am not the cream of the crop.”
Lickety split- very fast
EXAMPLE: “Here’s my guess, / Don’t have a fit; / I think he ran home, / Lickety split!”
EXAMPLE: “Yesterday, I had to buy four new tires for my car. Just like that, my paycheck was gone, lickety split!”
I finally finished my quest. Amazon’s top 10,000 reviewer list didn’t know what it was in for when it met me. I came, I saw, I conquered…well, not really that last one. More like I loitered. Or pestered. Yes, I definitely pestered. I wasn’t so much a conqueror as I was a pesterer, waiting to pounce on the next reviewer profile to upload.
So how did it all turn out for me? Firstly, I want to reiterate my earlier post about running the gauntlet: I truly enjoyed ferreting out all those blogging sites and email addresses. Research has always appealed to me, and I’m perfectly happy rummaging through massive heaps of information in order to find a few precious useable nuggets. Yes, I’m the weirdo who actually likes searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
That being said, the end result was not a very prolific one for me. I’m not sure if my experience was typical, but let’s break it down by doing the math. I didn’t religiously chart statistics, but I can dredge up a fair estimation. Out of 10,000 reviewers, I estimate 1000 were receptive to receiving book review requests, or 10% of the total. Of those, half were nixed from the get-go, either because they didn’t supply contact information, or their contact information was no longer valid (expired websites, blogs, etc.). My potential pool of reviewers then dropped to 500, or 5% of the total available. Of those, about half were eliminated because they were not interested in reviewing historical romance or self-published authors, and another round was jettisoned after taking into account those no longer accepting reviews due to overloaded TBR piles. And so the final count of blogs or individuals amenable to accepting self-published historical romance for review was about 100, or 1% of the top 10,000 reviewers on Amazon. Of those 1% I queried for an honest review, ¼ responded, and of those, another ¼ accepted my book for review.
So there’s my experience soliciting Amazon reviewers. I started out with a pool of 10,000 and ended up with a narrow bottleneck of potentials. I fear that sounds ungrateful, but the exact opposite is true. Even though most reviews of my book won’t come out for several weeks yet, I’m extremely appreciative of those rare souls who are so willing to give of their free time, and merely for the pleasure of reading. Everyone who responded was polite and friendly, including those who declined, and that was very refreshing. In a world where social media interactions can sometimes leave much to be desired, my experience was a pleasant reminder of the many helpful, gracious people out there willing to help someone get her jumpstart.
So, in summary, I didn’t really conquer, but I came and I saw! Hooray for me! And hooray for everyone I met along the way willing to put Clingstone in their TBR pile! You have my thanks, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
On a separate note, I’ve added new Life Picks to my About page, so pop on over to check it out. There’s a harrowing piece about my encounter with a hideous serpent…
The winner of the May paperback book giveaway is Lynsey Crawford ! Congratulations, Lynsey!
I'm going to change things up a bit for our June contest. Two winners will be selected to receive a free e-book copy of Clingstone (provided as an Amazon gift). The contest runs throughout the entire month of June and is open to all participants. Simply submit your information via the contact form. The winner will be announced in my blog post on July 1. Good luck!
* Names and emails are for contest purposes only. All contact information will be deleted after the contest ends. The winners' contact information will be deleted once I receive confirmation from Amazon that the e-book gifts were collected.