This New Mountain Gets a Makeover

TNM_NewCover_10Last June I mentioned that a new book cover was in the works for AJ Jackson’s memoir This New Mountain. From the initial planning to completion, it’s taken almost a year, but it’s finally ready for the world.

In redesigning the cover, we wanted to keep the colors of the sunset/sunrise, stick with an image of Shiprock, New Mexico as a focal point, and give the tow truck a more prominent role (since being a repossessor was such a big part of AJ’s life).

We also wanted to bring in elements that weren’t present in the initial cover. We aimed for movement and strength with hints of what a reader would find inside the covers of the book.

Because the memoir follows AJ Jackson as she learns the private detective trade and, in the process, learns to face her fears, I searched for an image of a woman climbing a mountain and reaching out to take the next step.

Rock climber at sunset, Kalymnos Island, GreeceI found hundreds of quality photos of mountain climbers but none so fitting as this rock climber at sunset taken on Kalymnos Island, Greece. (I can’t imagine having the physical strength or the courage to hang upside down from a rock face.) Flip the image from horizontal to vertical, apply a bit of photoshopping, and there you have it — a climber in silhouette.

TNM_NewCover_Icons10The last thing we did to hint at what the book is about was to include a line of icons at the bottom of the cover. I wanted to bring in symbols to represent the private detective profession, such as sunglasses, revolver, camera, magnifying lens, as well as the Southwestern motifs of a Zia sun symbol (from the New Mexico flag) and a desert with cactus.

This New Mountain final cover

2012 Cover

2015 Cover

2015 Cover

So there you go — a new book cover for This New Mountain. Which do you like more? Which one do you think is the more compelling cover?

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Writing Process Blog Hop

Blog Hop2Blog hops are a great way to share sites and bloggers we love and to be introduced to new ones we’ll come to love. I’m honored that Diana Jackson thought of me when she needed another blogger/writer to nominate. Until now, I haven’t been able to participate because of time issues, but she made it easy to say “yes” – I could pick my own date to continue the hop.

To begin my part of this Writing Process Blog Hop, I’ll introduce you to Diana. Then I’ll answer four questions about my writing and finish with three author/bloggers who will continue the hop.

Diana JacksonDiana Jackson

Diana became a lover of the written word in her late teens, not only reading but writing stories and poems. Although a home counties of England girl – born in Surrey, grew up in Hertfordshire and now living in mid Bedfordshire – her heart has never been far from the sea. When she discovered her family roots in the Channel Islands, UK, she began an unrequited love affair, especially with Alderney and Guernsey.

Murder Now and ThenShe has published several novels, as well as the memoir of 103-year-old Norman Campbell, The Life and Demise of Norman Campbell (his chosen title!). Her Riduna Series, Riduna and Ancasta Guide Me Swiftly Home are historical fiction with strong links to the islands and to Hampshire, where her parents were brought up. Her most recent novel is a murder mystery set in the heart of Bedfordshire. A sense of place is important in all of Diana’s novels and whilst writing Murder, Now and Then she enjoyed exploring the hidden gems of this little-known county which she calls home. She was originally inspired by a 1919 unsolved murder near the village of Haynes in Bedfordshire, UK, not far from where she lives. Murder, Now and Then is a back-to-the-future novel set in 2019, written with flashbacks to 1919. A sense of family history, or family mystery, threads its way throughout the novel, thus combining many of Diana’s interests. (Her books are also available in the U.S.)

You can meet Diana at dianamj.wordpress.com where she explores the background to her novel writing and selectionsofreflections.wordpress.com, devoted to true stories of life, love and messages of hope, including guest posts and stories of her old friend Norman Campbell. You can also find her at dianamaryjackson.co.uk, @Riduna on Twitter, and Facebook.

4 Writing-Related Questions

1) What am I working on?
My fantasy novel The Last Bonekeeper is in its first draft. While it continues to percolate, I’m working on a collection of short stories in the same universe. Writing these short stories has helped me understand the Bonekeeper world I created with its people, customs, and rules that govern it all. I’m also in the process of redesigning the book cover for This New Mountain, the memoir of private investigator AJ Jackson. Casa de Snapdragon Publishing used my suggestions for the original cover two years ago, but I’ve learned a lot about cover design since then. I want to bring more movement and relevance to it now.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Though it’s a classic tale of good versus evil, I believe I have a unique world in The Last Bonekeeper – its setting, characters, and a different take on magic. For This New Mountain, I wrote the memoir in AJ Jackson’s “voice” complete with clichés and country wisdom. What sets the book apart most is AJ Jackson herself – private investigator, ex-gun dealer, former mental patient, descendant of a great Choctaw chief, and grandmother.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I love to create my own science fiction and fantasy worlds and watch my characters move about and interact within them. One of the most exciting things is to have a character step off the path I’d planned for him. When that happens, all kinds of things are revealed, such as threads I hadn’t consciously thought of, secrets a character has kept hidden, or gems that make the story fuller and complete. On the other hand, This New Mountain was a twelve-year labor of love. I wanted AJ to realize her dream of sharing her struggles and adventures in a published memoir.

4) How does your writing process work?
When I sit down to create worlds, I see characters move through their world, hear their conversations, feel their emotions, and then transfer it onto the page. I start a fiction project as a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), usually with only a visual of the world and a few characters, and the beginnings of a story idea. After two or three chapters I know where the story is going and how it will end – that’s when I start a flexible outline. I tend to edit as I go instead of pushing through a first draft without looking back. This means it takes awhile for me to have a completed draft. By that time I’m ready to put the project aside and start on something new. That’s where I am with The Last Bonekeeper and why I’m writing the short stories. Alpha readers, beta readers, and editors are also part of the process. This New Mountain, being nonfiction, was written in a more conventional way using outlines upfront to plan the memoir. For more about how I put the memoir together, see “Writing Readable and Compelling Memoir” on Diana Jackson’s blog.

Meet Three Other Author/Bloggers

Joyce_Hertzoff_PhotoJoyce Hertzoff

Joyce was born and raised in New York City, graduating from Queens College (a part of the City University). She’s been married for 49 years and has two grown children, one daughter-in-law, two granddogs, two grandbunnies, and three grandcats.

She retired after 45 years in the scientific literature field before turning her hand to writing fiction. Her first novel The Crimson Orb, the first installment in the Crystal Odyssey fantasy series, will be released on June 17, 2014 (Phantasm Books).

The Crimson Orb Cover2Besides writing, Joyce loves to read and knit, and also crochet. She admits to watching too much TV. When her husband retired in 2008, they moved from Ohio to New Mexico. Since then, they’ve enjoyed exploring the southwestern U.S.

You can find Joyce on her website at joycehertzoffauthor.com, her blog at hertzoffjo.blogspot.com, and on Facebook. Find out more about her book at fantasybyjoycehertzoff.com.

Peter_Mallett_PhotoPeter D. Mallett

Peter lives in Virginia not far from the ocean, but he can’t quite hear the waves from his home. He’s been writing since childhood. He also enjoys drawing, photography, and helping others with their goals.

He sold his first short story in 2002 to Kid’s Ark Magazine. Later, he sold two short stories to Tyndale Kids for “The Young Believer’s Case Files,” published in 2003. He’s been blogging since September 2012 and has written articles, short stories, greeting cards, and inspirational pieces. An article he wrote for his blog in January was later included in the Southwest Writers’ Newsletter (May 2013).

On his blog, Writing in Color, Peter expresses his thoughts on writing and encouraging people who want to write better for their profession or their pleasure. Many have encouraged him, and he wants to give back. He trusts in the power of words, but more importantly he believes in people. His writing style is lighthearted and encouraging. In fact, motivation and creativity are themes he revisits often. Some posts are short (300-600 words) and some are longer (600-1200 words), but he tries to make sure none of them are longer than they need to be. He says, “I take pleasure in shooting unnecessary words.”

Here are a few of his favorite posts:
Writing: For the Love of Words
A Tribute to People
What to Do on Dark Days When Words Do Not Come

Find out more about Peter at Writing in Color. You can also find him on Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Patricia_Woods_PhotoPatricia Woods

Patricia is a former award-winning journalist and editor. Her work appears in newspapers, regional and national magazines, academic journals and online publications. Her background also includes years as a classical pianist and organist, vocalist, choir director, and piano teacher to adults. She writes about business, personal finance, money management, small business, agribusiness, and occasionally on the arts, especially music. Working from home now, Patricia uses two ancient computers, dog-eared leather journals, scraps of paper and sometimes the cell phone. She’s been known to still employ a manual typewriter when the fancy strikes.

DeadBeforeYouKnowItShe is the author of several books including the newly released Dead Before You Know It (How to Tidy Your Personal Papers Before Your Time is Up), available at Amazon in paper and on Kindle. Dead is the first in a series of Helpful Little Books®, books that provide practical solutions to the daily problems of living in the twenty-first century world.

Writing daily in the morning and at every chance on the fly, she agrees with James Michener’s saying about writing: “I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”

“Everyone has a story to tell and that story continues right up until we take our last breath,” she says. She believes God is the Great Storyteller, and thus we are also Storytellers by nature in the very core of our being.

Patricia lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her family and a special needs dog who is deaf. She also has an imperious cat who owns the computer keyboard and all the pens in the house. Her spare time is devoted to books, music and all types of needlework while she watches endless BBC mysteries and dramas. Despite no real soil to speak of, scorching heat, springtime hail, locust plagues, and no rain from heaven, she grows heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables.

You can find Patricia at her website patriciaawoods.com and @PatriciaAWoods on Twitter.

When Diana Jackson first tagged me for this Writing Process Blog Hop, I followed the links back to the others who came before me and found new bloggers to follow, all with a unique way to approach the writing process. I hope you’re inspired to do the same.

What are your experiences with blog hops? If you’ve never joined one, have you ever thought of starting one yourself?

Mary Haarmeyer Talks Screenwriting, Part II

I ran out of time today and thought I’d reblog this interview from my other website. Mary Haarmeyer is a producer, director and screenwriter who lives in Lovington, New Mexico — she’s also a gracious and down-to-earth person who genuinely cares about others. If you like this second part of her interview, please click on the link in the introduction to read part one.

KL Wagoner

Producer, director, and writer Mary Haarmeyer continues her discussion of screenwriting in this second of a two-part interview. Mary has won awards for her scripts since 2007, including first place in the screenplay category of the 2010 SouthWest Writers Annual Writing Competition. Active in the workings of ReelFlicks Productions and T-RO Films, she is currently in post-production of Hunter’s Game, a paranormal/thriller television pilot filmed in New Mexico. Find out more about the series at www.huntersgame.tv and more about Mary and the crew on the T-RO website at www.t-rofilms.com. Click here to read the first part of this interview.
Hunter's Game - Poster2How did producing and directing Hunter’s Game differ from your previous projects?
With this project I wanted to give other striving artists a chance to succeed as well. I’ve been a successful business owner for 29 years and have always been able to figure ways around obstacles. With film, you must…

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Country Recipe: Grandmama’s Bread

(From Vinnie Ann “AJ” Jackson)

I learned to make this bread from my mom and she learned it from her mom. When my Grandaddy and Grandmama Edwards came to New Mexico from Choctaw Nation, Tennessee in a covered wagon, this is the bread Grandmama made. It didn’t take milk or eggs, things most people didn’t have on a trip back then. Life was very simple and they made do with what they had. I still make this bread today and so do my children.

Grandaddy and Grandmama Edwards

Grandmama Edward’s Bread

2 cups lukewarm water

1 package yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons oil (Grandmama & Mama used bacon grease)

6 cups flour (or enough to make a stiff dough)

Stir the yeast into the lukewarm water. Add sugar, salt and oil. Add flour to mixture one cup at a time until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. The amount of flour needed depends on the weather. If it’s raining, it takes more flour. Knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a dish towel, and put in a warm spot to rise. Let rise until double in size. Punch down and shape into rolls or a loaf, let rise again. Makes 2 regular size loaves or one large. Bake at 350̊ in a greased pan until golden brown, about 1/2 hour.

For a change:

Make the dough and roll it out, spread sweet/hot mustard on it, add ham and cheese, then roll it up jellyroll style and bake on a cookie sheet. You can also put minced onion and/or garlic on the bread before baking it. I have even done it with pizza sauce and pepperoni and cheese. It’s like a ready-made sandwich.

Give Grandmama Edward’s bread recipe a try, and let us know what you think.