Is this cover georgeous or what? I love it. Lena Goldfinch did a fantastic job. She collaborated with my editor, Amber Stokes of Editing Through The Seasons. It was Amber's idea to tie the title and look of the cover to my last release, LOVE'S MIRACLES and it was Lena's skill that accomplished the task. And Amber just reminded me that the cover reveal article which posted last Friday on her blog Seasons of Humility features a rafflecopter gift which is still open until this coming Friday, so if you didn't sign in, pop on over. The prize is a lovely kindle bag crafted by a friend of mine.
What do you think?
There is a lighthouse on the cover which I love because it reminds me of my dad and his wife. They loved lighthouses and made it their mission to visit every lighthouse in North America. In fact, at my dad's memorial service the lighthouse was the theme with a picture of one he painted hung on the wall. Hubby and I have visited most of the lighthouses on the Pacific Coast so I was thrilled when Lena added one to the cover. It was Amber's idea to feature the light shining which symbolizes the hope Skye and Danny seek in LOVE'S REFUGE.
At the time I wrote the first draft of LOVE'S REFUGE, my aunt and uncle lived in northern Washington along the coast. If any of you are familiar with that rugged coastline, you know that there are many islands offshore that make up Puget Sound. My aunt and uncle owned a cabin they built on one of those islands and it was from visits there that I came up with the setting for LOVE'S REFUGE.
The heroine, Skye Larsen, lives on Leeza Island which is a ficticious island based on the real island where my aunt and uncle had their cabin.
The only access to this island is by boat and air. There is a flat grassy meadow that serves as the airstrip for small private planes. This is where the opening scene takes place.
“Dummy, dummy, dummy.” Skye Larsen dove for the ground and covered her head. Skye didn’t move. Uneven lumps of grass pressed against her stomach and chest. She closed her eyes and pounded her fists. How could she have forgotten to check for oncoming planes before crossing the island’s airstrip?
A rumble came on the wind. She looked up to see a small Cessna airplane heading straight for her. The pilot gestured for her to get out of the way. The plane roared over, barely missing her. Backlash wind threw her flowered skirt overhead and whipped the tall grass against her bare legs. She plopped her cheek against the cool grass and moaned. “Great. Just what I need today.”
The blue and white plane scudded across the grass runway and stopped. She lifted her head and watched the plane circle at the end of the cut-grass strip and taxi toward her. Seeing the “For Sale” sign on her favorite piece of land was bad enough. Now she was going to have to face an irate pilot, probably one of those typical city dudes who wanted to escape from Seattle, but brought the city with them instead. She struggled to her feet and brushed grass and dirt from her blouse and skirt.
Her world was changing and she didn’t like it.
“Unbelievable,” she muttered as she stomped across the grass runway toward the approaching plane. She breathed in the scent of wildflowers and grass mingled with salt air. She loved this remote island in Washington’s Puget Sound, its thick woods, quiet nights and simple lifestyle. It was safe—no drugs, no vandals, no violence. Not like in the city where she’d grown up.
The pilot taxied close, nosed the Cessna into the wind, and cut the engine. Skye braced herself as she watched long legs, clad in khaki Dockers, descend from the plane, followed by a sleek torso covered in a brown polo shirt. When his head emerged, Skye groaned. She clenched her fists and prepared for the burst of rage she saw in his expression.
Dark eyes, set in a squared and rigid face, sparked with anger under brown hair blowing in the breeze. “Didn’t you see me coming?” He stormed up and stood in front of her, hands fisted. “It’s only by the grace of the Almighty I didn’t smack into you.”
Skye pulled herself upright, jutted her chin and clamped her teeth together.
“Well. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Skye tore her gaze away from the fire in his eyes and looked past him at the whitecaps tossing in the straits of Puget Sound. What could she say? She’d been so distracted that she’d ignored caution and crossed the small island’s grass airstrip without looking? “You missed me.” She shrugged. “You’re a good pilot.”
My aunt and uncle had a boat that they used to cross back and forth from Bellingham to the island. But I had my hero flying in from Seattle. When I was growing up, my dad had a small Cessna like the one Danny has. He used to take us up when we were kids. We'd fly around and then he would sit back and shut off the engine and say "Okay you can fly." Of course we didn't know how and my sister and I would scream, "Daddy, daddy!" My brother loved it and ended up becoming a pilot himself. There is a scene in the story that reflects this little tidbit from my family history. smile
The odd cabin that Skye lives in actually exists on that island. No building code is required for a building less than 12 feet by 12 feet. The intent is to allow storage sheds to be built, but the owner of this "cabin" started out with a storage shed, but ended up making it a livable cabin. He put a second story on it for a bedroom, but the access is by ladder outside the building. That cabin always struck my funny bone so of course it would end up in one of my novels. And the quirkiness suits my heroine who is rather quirky herself.
I have Skye living in the unusual cabin, but the cabin Danny stays in is based on the cabin my uncle built. He was a contractor by trade and built a gorgeous, even though rustic, cabin on the island with a big porch looking out over the Sound and huge picture windows sporting the same view. All of the materials were brought to the island piece by piece in their boat. What an undertaking, especially considering there was no electricity or other power source on the island. Propane is brought over by boat and they have wood stoves and heaters. To this day, it is still very primitive which is what gives it the unique and special charm.
As a humorous tidbit of information, LOVE'S REFUGE was rejected by a traditional New York house and one of the comments of the editor was, "This setting is too unrealistic. There are no such things as propane refrigerators." I still chuckle over that comment because of course the whole setting is very real and I'm using a propane refrigerator in my RV.
Many of the things Skye and Danny do together on the island are traditional things we did with our family. We walked out on the rocks and picked oysters and roasted them on the fire. We set crab pots in the bay and caught fresh crabs. Later in the day we would build a big bonfire on the beach and heat up a huge pot of water to cook the live crabs in. I know, gross, but they were delicious. We dug for clams on the beach. One of the scenes where Skye is teaching Danny how to dig for clams is based on the comical lesson my hubby received.
She smiled at the eager look on his face as he forced the shovel into the sand. He brought up a pile of gravel. Skye quickly sorted through it and found three steamers. Danny dug several more times until she heard a sickening crunch.
“You found your clam.”
“I crushed it.”
Her lips twitched at his look of disappointment. “Toss it over. We can still use it. We’ll have to be careful to get rid of the sand, that’s all.”
He held the shovel out to her. “You better finish.”
She stepped back, the crushed clam dripping from the palm of her hand. “No way. You aren’t getting out of the hard work with that excuse.”
A sheepish grin formed. “You’re not going to let me, are you?”
Laughing, she shook her head. “You won’t learn unless you practice.”
He scowled and then he sighed, his stress lines deepening. “You’re as bad as my boss.”
Sorry that she’d reminded him of work, she searched for another air hole. “Here’s a good spot,” she said and watched him dig more carefully. She had to admire him. He was a good sport.
The pets in the story are based on our pets--color, breed and names. Skye names them in alphabetical order, just like my hubby and I did. She starts out with a black lab named Ace followed by a golden lab named Bo.
The real tribute to my aunt and uncle are the secondary characters based on them. When I read my drafts of LOVE'S REFUGE and come to those characters, I can so see my aunt and uncle. The characterization is based on the real love and humor that were so much a part of the real people in my life.
So what family haunts and traditions have you used in your stories? Share with us in the comments. Those who do will have their names plopped in the puppy dish and the winner will receive a copy of their choice of one of my books AND a copy of Debby Giusti's THE SOLDIER'S SISTER.
In case you didn't see the notice in the Weekend Edition, Debby is selling her books today and the proceeds are going for one of my favorite causes. So of course I'm going to buy some of her books as gifts (one of which will be today's giveaway prize). Here is a copy of the notice:
Debby Giusti is signing THE SOLDIER'S SISTER, on Tuesday, Sept 24 from 4 to 6:30 EDT, at Omega Book Center, Peachtree City, GA. Proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Program which helps our injured military heroes. Bookseller Karen Duncan takes phone orders and mails books throughout the US so if you'd like to take part in the event, reserve a signed copy of THE SOLDIER'S SISTER by calling 770-487-3977. Of course if you live in the area, please drop by and visit Debby. 100 North Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree, GA.
AUTOGRAPHED BOOKS MAKE GREAT GIFTS.
And guess what? I know where Peachtree is now, since visiting the area during RWA Convention last summer in Atlanta. Waving at you Debby.
Amber just reminded me that the cover reveal that was posted last Friday on her blog Seasons of Humility featured a rafflecopter giveaway that is still open until this coming Friday. So if you haven't signed in, pop on over for a chance to win a lovely kindle bag hand-crafted by my friend Diane.