A New Direction to Celebrate National Author's Day!
National Author's Day is Wednesday, November 1, 2017, and I have a special reason to celebrate this year! After grueling months of re-designing my Painter Place Saga covers and interiors, every one of the 5 stories in the Saga are sparkling fresh. The original copies of the first two novels were beautiful and unique, and I'm so honored that the publisher did a great job with my original paintings. But once I decided to publish Jaguar with Southern Sky Publishing, the other covers no longer "matched."
Now, the novels in the saga still use the original artwork but have a unified look, and the short story legends have their own style to distinguish them from the novels. The cover designer for the saga was clever in using the original paintings on an easel to present the entire painting on the back cover.
There are other new features inside the stunning new covers of Painter Place and Hugo! Each interior has a creative map illustration and a black and white version of a painting associated with the novel. I was an artist before becoming a novelist, and it is frankly impossible for me to separate these two facets of myself. Inspiration from Painter Place settings flows from me onto paper or canvas, so readers of the saga can drop in on my artist website now and then to check whether I've painted something else to add to the Painter Place Collection.
Another new feature in these novels is a "Foreward" in the beginning. Since the setting for Painter Place and Hugo was the era of the 1980's, it was worthwhile to provide a brief taste of the mindset of the world and the culture in America while my characters interacted with it. If you have the original versions of Painter Place and Hugo (with eLectio Publishing), you can print out the map and tuck it into your print edition of the book, and peek inside the novels on Amazon to catch the "Foreward" text, which is slightly different in each. Here is the one for Painter Place: If you lived through the decade of the 1980’s in America, you understand what I mean when I borrow from Dickens to describe it as “the best of times, and the worst of times.” Americans were decadent and materialistic, spending money as if the world might end—for they thought it might. Designer labels were nearly worshiped, fashion was scanty, colors were bold, hairstyles and makeup were brash and outrageous, and the realm of gadgets was exploding. Nike brand encouraged everyone to “Just Do It,” and they did! They danced, sang, and entertained themselves as if the world might end—for they wondered if it might.
Russia had us in the crosshairs of their nuclear weapons, Mt. St. Helens erupted, and John Lennon was murdered. Arcades filled with those who played Pac Man and Donkey Kong, and Americans were enchanted as we watched Princess Diana’s fairytale wedding on television. There was an assassination attempt on the life of the new American President, Ronald Reagan. Music video channels thrilled viewers who watched Michael Jackson perform “Thriller,” and Americans relished shows like Miami Vice and Dallas. Epcot Center in Disney World opened, and Cabbage Patch dolls became the hottest gift to receive.
In the skies, TWA Flight 847 was hijacked by terrorists, a terrorist's bomb brought down Pan Am Flight 103, and we cried as the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded in a disastrous launch. Halley's Comet passed overhead for the first time since 1910.
As the decade ended, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, like the Communist governments around Eastern Europe where thousands sang “Just As I Am” at Billy Graham Crusades. Hundreds of Chinese students who had gathered peacefully to demonstrate in Beijing's Tiananmen Square were killed by their government. Historic Hurricane Hugo, a Category 4 storm, mauled Charleston and the Carolinas. And a British scientist created the World Wide Web.
The Eighties also produced some of the most classic movies and music of any decade ever, and as those actors and musicians pass from this life, no one with their unique talents has come onto the scene to replace them. In my novel Painter Place, and in the second novel in the saga, Hugo, this is the world my characters live in. Examples of popular music and cultural references fill the pages, and the summer of 1985 was when the movie Back to the Future was released. Readers will find it poignant to discover that Caroline sees it on the day she discovers that how she handles a shattering secret will determine the future of Painter Place. The bracelet in this story soon became famous in 1987 as a “tennis bracelet” worn by Chris Everett.
The young characters of Painter Place ride the roller coaster that was the 1980’s, forced to make decisions that test the relevance of their faith and public influence. Turn the page for a trip back into a turbulent era, and hang on for the ride!
I hope you will enjoy the Painter Place Saga! There are many interactive things to do in the series, such as watching the art demo videos of how I painted some of the cover art, free downloads of coloring pages, music playlists on Spotify and YouTube, and creative book trailers. Fans of the saga are a vital part of the stories, providing me with names of characters, outcomes of situations, and scenes or topics they'd like to see played out. Be sure to contact me if you want to be a part of the story! The 4th novel, Landmark, is now underway, and takes readers back to the year 1960,
In closing, I just want to remind readers that authors LOVE you so much that they sacrifice "normal" lives, "free" time, and personal finances to weave stories for your pleasure. You can share the love back by leaving star ratings or brief reviews online to let other readers know where to find the great books you've enjoyed. Just as you search for reviews to determine whether to purchase a book, fellow readers need your input to help them with their choices.