Seasons of a Story
I confess that "sophomore novel" isn't a completely accurate phrase... While Forget Me Not is the second book I plan to self-publish, it's actually the first novel I ever completed, and it covers events that happen before the things that happen in my debut novel (Bleeding Heart).
Why on earth did I publish Bleeding Heart before Forget Me Not, then?? Good question! It was mainly a matter of timing and seasons. (Of course!) I finished my first draft of Forget Me Not my second year of college. (Do some of you recall that first glimpse I gave you in 2011? How time does fly!) At that time, I felt ready to take the publishing world by storm. Query letters? I could tackle 'em! Getting feedback? I had some awesome connections who were willing to help me out. I figured I was ready to share my work with the world.
I got some really helpful feedback from Elizabeth Ludwig, who also ended up being my editor for Bleeding Heart. While she and others encouraged me, issues were brought to light that I just wasn't ready to face. Basically, I wasn't in the right frame of mind to edit. I was thinking: "But look at my baby! She's beautiful just the way she is. I mean, can't you see all of the heart I poured into her? All of the years of effort? She doesn't need to change!"
I hit a wall. So I turned my heart and attention to writing a sequel. And thus, Bleeding Heart was born. Two years later, I finished Bleeding Heart, in a completely different season and at a completely different place than where I had been two years earlier with Forget Me Not. Does that mean Bleeding Heart was perfect? Not hardly! But after hiring Elizabeth and then Rachelle Rea (as my proofreader), I was able to polish the story and make it better. Doesn't mean I won't look back someday and think, "Oh, my writing style has matured a lot since then!" But I believe the people God allowed me to meet, the things I had learned up to that point, and where the story itself was - all of those things felt right and made me feel like Bleeding Heart was ready to blossom.
Now Bleeding Heart is out there in the world, whatever comes of it. And I think perhaps Forget Me Not is getting ready to blossom, too. The two years' worth of distance has certainly given me a different perspective - oh my, does my baby need some help! But I still love her, and I think I'm finally at a place where I can give her the care and pruning she needs to grow.
I've been doing a bit of research lately, and I'm thinking things are starting to come together in a way that will make my story tighter, while still adding depth to the characterization. (Be sure to check out the Pinterest board if you want to see some of the tidbits I've found regarding setting ideas, etc.) While I'm currently juggling editing and publicity projects for clients, I still hope to fit in time to edit Forget Me Not, get it to my copyeditor/proofreader, and still get it out to reviewers in time for a January release and blog tour. We'll see what happens!
In the meantime, my cover designer (Lena Goldfinch) already put together the cover, and I simply couldn't wait to show it to you all! I love me some delicious cover candy! ;)
A Cover Story
I started a secret board for Forget Me Not cover ideas not long after Bleeding Heart's cover was revealed. (I think? I don't know - it was sometime several months ago, LOL.) I pinned a couple of Virginia City (Nevada) pics, a couple of brunette models I thought might work for my heroine (Elizabeth), and a couple of forget-me-not images. I figured we would use a combination of three images like we had for Bleeding Heart - which ended up being the case, but a little differently than I had originally pictured!
Anyway, so I had a few pics up, but they just kind of sat there for a while since I was busy with Bleeding Heart marketing and projects for clients, and Lena had her own things going on. (Like preparing for her October release - be sure to check out the page for her upcoming blog tour!) Then one day, before either of us had planned on working on the cover, I just decided to pin a couple more pics that I had come across that fit my heroine and hero really well. I figured I'd pin them there for reference (and hey, they're awesome to look at!). Well, let me tell you - don't start sharing pictures with cover designers unless you and he or she are ready to be distracted!
Lena was promptly sucked into the project, and before I knew it, the board filled up with images of various models, and Lena had a mock cover put together. (She's definitely like a dog with a bone once the muse hits her, which is totally awesome! I may or may not take advantage of that knowledge... ;))
With Bleeding Heart, we had a tough time picking just the right model to fit my heroine. So I was a little more involved in picking out images for that design than I was for Forget Me Not. The model Lena picked for my latest cover was one I didn't really think I'd like, at first. For one, the original image had a lot of...*ahem*...cleavage. The girl was kneeling on a wooden floor near a red velvet couch, and her hair looked messy. Basically, I had a hard time picturing her on my cover. I told Lena I liked the mood of the picture, but I wasn't totally sold.
Then Lena fixed her up a little, put some forget-me-nots in her hand, and set her in front of this background:
OK, this is why Lena is an awesome cover designer! She could visualize something epic with a model I was skeptical about. Her first mockup had this background all in blue, which totally caught my eye. But I love how she found the perfect placement for the model, a great color scheme to set the tone, and the right fixes to make the model fit my heroine (a reddish-brown tint to her hair - with a sweet hairstyle - and no cleavage!). Once Lena found the right bouquet and tweaked the colors, we were golden. Want to see the second cover she's given me?
What I Love: The model's expression, innocent and hesitant. Her hair, which looks to be moving in a wind across the desert, with a rich color that stands out in the light. Her dress, which I absolutely love with its sheer and lacy shawl and the little flower pattern on the hem. The bouquet of forget-me-nots that fits so nicely in her grip and fits so well with a piece of her past (as well as the theme of the story). The clouds in the distance that suggest some danger and darker emotions. The bright and dry desert ground behind her, showing one of the main settings (in Nevada) and suggesting a coming dry spell for the heroine. The hills in the background that also emphasize the setting, while matching the cover of Bleeding Heart so well - hinting at the ups and downs my characters face. The title font that draws attention to the forget-me-nots while hinting at the genre. And the whole concept - the way the colors and feelings contrast and yet work so well together to give a glimpse at the story.
A Novel Home
Want to learn more about Forget Me Not? The book has a home in the blogosphere at www.forgetmenotnovel.blogspot.com! You can find a book description, author bio, soundtrack beginnings, links, and blog buttons there now - and I'll keep the site updated with the latest news and info. Hope you'll enjoy visiting!
Huge thanks to Anne Elisabeth Stengl, whose book blogs inspired me and served as great models as I put together my own. Plus, Anne Elisabeth was sweet enough to make some blog buttons for me! Do feel free to check out the Buttons page on the book's site and take a button or two if you'd like to help me spread the word!
A Forget-Me-Not Giveaway
To celebrate today's announcement, and to give a present along with the cover candy, I'm giving away a set of three forget-me-not note cards from Carol Sapp Watercolors. Aren't they lovely?
Just use the form below to enter! Please note that this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions about how to use the form! The winner will be announced on Monday, October 21st.
Cover Reveal Participants
Self-publishing Bleeding Heart helped me to see how truly blessed I am with amazing blogging friends. All of the supportive blog posts, reviews, tweets, comments, etc. mean so very much to me. And after reading my debut, my friends still want to read Forget Me Not! How cool is that? ;) Here's a list of the bloggers participating in the cover reveal today:
- Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot
- Christian Bookshelf Reviews
- Christian Novels
- Dreaming Under the Same Moon
- Edgy Inspirational Romance
- Flowers of Quiet Happiness
- i blog 4 books
- Inspiring Daring
- Labor Not in Vain
- My Favorite Pastime
- Returning to Eden
- Sherida Stewart
- Tales of Goldstone Wood
- The Overweight Bookshelf
- The Wonderings of One Person
- To Be A Person
- Too Read or Not Too Read
- West of Newbury Street
One Last Note
Now seems like as good a time as any to clarify this, so here I go! Yes, I purposely titled my books Bleeding Heart (singular) and Forget Me Not (without hyphens). I wanted Bleeding Heart to be singular to match the singular nature of the other titles in the series. I also felt like it indicated the shared journey the five main characters were on (in a sense), as well as the emphasis on Sally's character arc, in particular. And I wanted Forget Me Not to be focused on the phrase of the flower name. In other words, the title connects with the flower, but it is more a phrase than a name - like someone saying, "please, forget me not" vs. the way the flower name is written (forget-me-not). I hope that makes sense!
I would love to hear your thoughts on the new cover! Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!