One of the most fun parts of publishing my first book has been the cover design process. When I opened the initial email from Hannah, Creative Director at Ambassador International, I was so excited! She sent me some great concepts, then we worked together to decide on the right cover for "Grace & Lavender." I thought it would be fun to show you the covers that I didn't select and explain why.
The vision I originally gave Hannah was for a store front, where the title would be the name of the store on the window. I envisioned it like a painting rather than a photograph. I told her I preferred not to use faces on the cover, because I wanted the reader to come up with their own ideas of how the characters look. I also gave her an awesome photograph of the Blue Ridge Mountains, taken by my friend Keith Sidden, who is an outdoor enthusiast and a great photographer/videographer (check out his Instagram), and I asked if it could be used on the back cover of the book.
The first option she sent was a store front textured to look more like a painting and colorized a lavender tint. What I didn't notice at first, is that she had taken the photograph of the mountains that I'd sent and made it a reflection in the store window. This was a really cool concept, but it didn't do the photograph justice and the store front was not like the one described in the book. (Unfortunately, we weren't able to use the mountain photo on the back cover either.)
At the same time she sent Option #1, she sent me Option #2 below. This is a very attractive cover, but there were two things not right about it. The girl does not look like the character Grace--who is smaller and has straight, dark hair--and, in the story, Grace never visits a lavender field.
I liked how she used a tag for the background of the title, and she actually managed to get the photo of the mountains on the tag, too! (But it still just didn't do the photo justice.)
I liked the lavender field and the tag concept of Option #2, and I mentioned possibly making the scene brighter, maybe with some sky. and making the field more dimensional. Option #3 below was very close! She put an arrangement of lavender in the foreground and the open field in the background. And it had sky which brightened up the look. But the tag didn't feel like a "boutique" soap store to me. It needed some touching up.
She also sent Option #4 with lots of sky and an awesome embellishment around the title. I'd sent her something similar that I liked from another book, and she delivered on it! But one problem was that the image is from a lavender field in France, not the foothills of North Carolina. The mountains were pretty, but they weren't "my" mountains.
Finally, we arrived at the cover image that is soon going to press! The tag used for the title background is perfect, and she even made the little string wrap around to the back of the book. The Blue Ridge are in the background and given a purplish tint. I love it!
There are lots of directions we could have gone with cover images, but I am very pleased with my first book cover, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with for the cover of "Where I Was Planted", which will be in the Creative Design phase soon!
Eight times. That’s the number of times, so far, that we’ve been passed over for a foster care placement since becoming licensed in October of 2018. And it hurts.
The entire nine-month process of becoming licensed, and now the waiting, was and is an act of faith. I have never had to rely on God more, because I have no control over this situation. And even in my frustration, I recognize this as an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord as I learn to trust in His timing. So, even though I express sadness at not being selected, I still trust that God has a perfect plan, and I only want what He has in store for us. Nothing less. Nothing more. But being passed up still hurts, and it’s something I didn’t expect going into this.
Not all eight have been outright rejections. Sometimes, the situation just changed. And the truth is, none of them have been rejections of us. I know this isn’t personal. There are lots of circumstances involved. Most of them time, we’re given little information, if any, about the decisions that are ultimately reached for each child, but I’ve been assured there’s nothing in our profile that “handicaps” us when it comes to being selected. But it still hurts.
On one hand, I rejoice over the fact that we don’t have a placement, because that means there isn’t a child that needs us because he was taken from his family. We are currently only licensed to foster one boy under the age of six, so obviously, that limits the amount of calls we get. But if we were able to take siblings, or a teenager, no doubt we’d already have a placement. So, the need is real, and I’m hesitant to say anything that might discourage someone from becoming a foster parent. I know that any inconvenience to me, or any emotional upset I have over the waiting, is nothing compared to the trauma these children bring with them when they are placed. But it still hurts.
I’m ready to do what God has called us to do, and to not have the unknown looming over our heads. Even so, I trust that God is protecting us from the wrong assignment and preparing us for the right one, and that He has it all worked out. But it still hurts.
We should hear back about our ninth "yes" on Monday, 1/28.
There's a lot of talk right now about "things" that bring you joy. Thanks to Ms. Kondo, people everywhere are soul-searching and coming to the realization that less is more. While I seriously need to declutter, my coffee mug collection won't be going anywhere. Because, silly as it may sound, they make me happy.
As a disclaimer, this isn't a devotional post. It's a just-for-fun post. But I can't pass up the opportunity to say that material things may make me happy, but Jesus is the true giver of joy. "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalms 16:11 (Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.)
I currently have nine mugs in my collection. I don't seek out new ones, but I'm sure more will eventually be added. There are some mugs in my house that aren't part of the collection, because they aren't special. They're just mugs.
Because these are special to me, I'd like to share them with you. Aside from the fact that I really, really love coffee, and I'm grateful for any vehicle that brings it to my mouth, I love each of these for different reasons.
Let me tell you about them, in no particular order:
These are my writing conference mugs. The green one is from my first ever conference, Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, in May 2018. The white one is from the North Carolina Christian Writers Conference in September 2018. They are fun reminders of the friends and connections I've made, and of the writing goals I have.
I love these mugs by Big Sky Carvers. The artist is Dean Crouser, and I love his work. I bought the bluebird in summer of 2017 at the Greensboro Science Center on a special visit with my kids. The chickadee was a present from Alex (I think Mother's Day 2018), and the cardinal was a Christmas present from my in-laws last month. The hummingbird might join them someday. These three are extra special to me.
This was a funny and thoughtful Christmas present from my husband. (I'd guess 2013.) It's from a very funny, yet slightly off-color British sitcom I enjoyed back then called "The IT Crowd." The tag line is "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" And as anyone else who's worked in IT can tell you, that's the solution to most computer issues.
This one is definitely the oldest in my collection. I got it on our honeymoon thirteen years ago. It had been a dream for many years to visit the museum that was once the home of Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With the Wind. So, we honeymooned in Atlanta, GA. I had no idea then how poignant the quote on the cup was. "In a weak moment I have written a book."
There you have it. My nine special mugs. I decide which one to use each day based on my mood (and which ones are clean.) I probably reach for my bird mugs the most.
Much of myself comes out in my book characters. So it's no surprise that many of them drink coffee. I'll leave you with this excerpt from 'Grace & Lavender'. Thanks for reading!
"Colleen took another long sip from a coffee mug she had used for over twenty years. It was white with World’s Best Mom on it in large, black letters. Coffee was another of the many things for which she was truly and sincerely grateful. Coffee, a good book, perfect four-part harmony, the sight of the first crocuses in spring- Colleen had an aptitude for recognizing simple joys. And despite her longings, it could never be said that she wasn’t satisfied with what she’d been given or wasn’t grateful for everything she had."
So many spiritual connections can be made while observing nature. This morning's thought came just from watching birds eat.
Over the past few years, I've developed a love and appreciation for birds. I think it's part of getting older- we start slowing down to really see things that have been right in front of us all along but were too busy to appreciate. I have a couple of feeders up, and I get a lot of joy just from watching the little birds come to eat. Today, I noticed how the different species feed differently from each other, and it made me think of the different ways believers consume spiritual food.
The sparrow hung out there, taking its time. It pecked and ate leisurely, perched in the same spot for a long while. Some people spend time with God this way, setting aside time to soak up His presence and be fed in no hurry.
The chickadees and nuthatches dart in and grab a bite, then quickly fly away. But they come back soon. Back and forth, they feed throughout the day. Spiritually, I find myself most like these birds. I spend time with God in short, frequent periods- a verse here and a prayer there, a song lifted up as I go about my day.
Some of the birds seem to prefer to eat alone, while others come with a friend. The cardinals and the house finches usually come as a pair. And while Christians are instructed to assemble together regularly, some believers get the best spiritual food in their quiet time alone with God. Others thrive on corporate worship.
No matter how you like to be fed, the most important thing is to eat. We may do it differently, but spending time with Jesus through worship, prayer, and reading the Bible is the spiritual food we all need.
"For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." John 6:33
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Thank you for visiting my blog. I share devotional articles and musings about life, parenting, and the writing journey, as well as important news about my books. I hope you find something of interest here!
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