It’s time to mull over some of the peculiar but appealing expressions found throughout Clingstone! Any chance these will ever catch on again? An example from the book is followed up by a real-world attempt to reinvigorate the modern lexicon with a bit of charm.
Apple-pie order-a tidy appearance
EXAMPLE: She suspiciously eyed Coralie’s neatly groomed appearance, from her sleek curtain of hair to her tidy pink dress with its pattern of none-so-pretties. “What happened to you is the better question. How’ve you managed to stay in apple-pie order?”
EXAMPLE: “I did yard work all day today. At the end of the day, I was sunburnt and sweaty, and covered in various insect bites: flies, mosquitoes, and those awful little black bugs no bigger than a grain of sand called no-see-ums. When I finally dragged my tired carcass inside the house, I was the very opposite of apple-pie order.”
From the sublime to the ridiculous-every experience imaginable, from the wonderful to the ludicrous
EXAMPLE: Feeling silly and content and not at all disappointed like she supposed she ought, Mae adopted his philosophy of finding amusement in everything from the sublime to the ridiculous.
EXAMPLE: “One of my favorite television shows, Blindspot, has started up again. The plots range from the sublime to the ridiculous, which can be terribly silly, but always entertaining!”
Gone to rack and ruin-absolute destruction; extreme economic loss
EXAMPLE: "For pity’s sake! Don’t depend on these trifling Yankees for nothin’. Grab what you’re able in the few minutes we got left. If we’re goin’ to rack and ruin, let’s take as much as we can along with us. No sense in makin’ it easier for these wicked vandals!”
EXAMPLE: “I’m finally finished building my picket fence. I miscalculated the total cost, and nearly went to rack and ruin building the darn thing, but hooray! It’s a wrap!”
Book reviews provide potential readers with a measuring stick to determine whether or not a particular book might appeal to them. Book reviews also let an author know what she’s been doing right, and what she’s been doing wrong. So far, I’m happy to hear that Clingstone has been well-received by readers, and that the story and characters have come across as engaging and likeable. So that’s the part where I’m doing things right. But the part where I’m doing things wrong? My simple cover isn’t grabbing readers’ attention like it should.
Admittedly, I’m a bit emotionally attached to my photograph of the flower floating in the river, but I agree with the feedback I’ve received that my cover doesn’t exactly market my novel as a romance. I’m grateful for the insights reviewers have provided me about my cover and its potential for improvement, and so have concluded that some tweaking is required.
I didn’t exactly utilize my graphic design skills to their fullest when I designed my original cover, but I wanted simplicity and believed a basic layout generated with a template would do the trick. Now I can concede that my original design was a bit too unrefined and could benefit from some improvements. Perhaps I’m only repeating my previous mistakes by insisting I design my own cover instead of hiring a graphic designer, but undoubtedly I’m the equivalent of the fool on trial who wants to be her own lawyer because she’s watched a decade of Law & Order, dun-dun-dun! and thinks she understands the myriad intricacies of the American justice system. Even so, I’m stubbornly barreling ahead. I dusted off my old Dell laptop because it contains the only version of Photoshop that I own, brushed up on my defunct Photoshop skills, and created a brand new cover over the past few weeks. I’m really happy with it! I still refuse to relinquish my hold on my flower picture and managed to work it into the final design, but I’ve improved the overall layout tremendously.
There’s a downside to all of this, of course. I know it’s a giant gamble I’m taking. I’ve spent seven months marketing Clingstone with its current cover, and so I’m undoing all of that hard work by changing the cover art now, but I think it will only improve my book’s chances in the long run. I had thought I was ready to stop promoting my book and move on entirely to writing my next novel, but recently I’ve been toying with the idea of entering Clingstone in a few contests, and I think a newly designed cover will only help my book stand out from the countless submissions out there.
Fingers crossed! The cover design itself is still pending through Amazon—it’ll take several days before everything is finalized—but I’ll post the new cover once everything is in place.
The blog Romance Novels for the Beach has posted a review of Clingstone!
Click here to read the full review!
"a civil war romance unlike any other you may have read before."
I love having a reference book open in front of me as I write. I have a floor-to-ceiling bookcase devoted entirely to such tomes. That isn’t to say I don’t do online research as well—I do, and plenty of it—but there’s something about flipping through pages of detailed ink drawings of old maps or clothing patterns, or looking at beautiful photographs of vintage hats and bonnets that really gets my creativity percolating. As a regular post on my blog, I'll share some of my favorites with you.
As a historical romance writer, I adore those little details that transports us to long-gone places, although I think we can all agree that paragraph after paragraph of descriptions can read more like a dull grocery list, and doesn’t do anything for the reader. I think the most effective way of recreating a former time and place is by incorporating those glimpses into daily life that read like pops of bright color, and John Seymour’s book The Forgotten Arts & Crafts is an excellent tool for doing just that. I bought it at Barnes and Noble years ago and have utilized it too many times to count. The cover of his book boasts “skills from bygone days,” and it certainly delivers on its promise. It’s filled with over three hundred pages of gorgeous ink drawings that remind me of the graphic design classes I took in college. Every obscure craft you can think of is represented between its covers, from blacksmithing to making bricks and paper, to producing soap and candles.
Want to see what a 19th century French bath looks like? How about intricate wooden butter prints? Who even knew such things as butter prints existed? Want to know the difference between a Holstein cow and a Jersey cow? Don’t care? Well, maybe you’re curious to know the difference between a cob and a bloomer? They’re bread shapes, by the way. I couldn’t begin to list all of the interesting skills and various gizmos represented in The Forgotten Arts & Crafts, but there’s plenty of fodder for the romance novelist, even the less romantic aspects from the past, like how an earth closet worked. On a side note, can you believe one of the many souls who perfected the workings of the modern toilet was actually named Crapper? My inner nine-year-old is giggling immaturely right now.
I don’t know how appealing such a book would be to someone who doesn’t write historical novels, but it’s a cornucopia of lovely little particulars for those of you out there who are dying to know how to keep bees, or maybe how to shear a sheep if one happens to roam by! I referred to Seymour’s book several times while writing Clingstone, particularly to describe the various household items that Mae had to leave behind during her eviction, and of course to learn some of the terminology common in the textile crafts.
So if you’re a writer and would love to have another research tool in your belt, Seymour’s book can still be found on Amazon and is available for purchase by clicking here.
The winners of the August ebook giveaway are Lisa Ewald and Tracy Beutal! Congratulations, Lisa and Tracy!
This month’s contest is for a free ebook copy of Clingstone (provided as an Amazon gift). Two winners will be selected, each to receive 1 ebook copy. The contest runs throughout the entire month of September and is open to all participants. Simply submit the Giveaway form on this website. The winners will be announced in my blog post on October 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 Amazon confirms the ebooks were claimed.