Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Another exciting step in the journey of SHADOWED IN SILK has taken place, and this moment in time takes my breath away. God is so good. He really does deserve our praises for all eternity.

He alone could arrange that the book that I've spent years writing, to be released with a front cover that holds the beautiful image of my birthdaughter, Sarah, who I was reunited with 12 years ago. Only a loving and wildly creative God could put those two elements together to doubly bless this writer.

It all started a few months ago when WhiteFire Publishing sent me the author questionnaire on what images / styles I would like to see on my book’s cover. They would then do a photoshoot with a model dressed in the costumes of my story, and then send those photos to their art designer.

In chatting with them, I suggested that perhaps the model they chose for the photo might like to wear the sari material I had bought in India last year. Roseanna and David White thought that was a great idea.

They then sent me photos of the model they were thinking of using that seemed to fit the physical attributes of my character Abby from the story.

As I looked at the model's face, it struck me that she looked a great deal like my birthdaughter, Sarah, now that Sarah's hair had turned a shade or two darker.

On a whim, I suggested to the White's that perhaps Sarah would make the perfect image for Abby. But WhiteFire Publishing is in Maryland, and Sarah and I live on the west coast.

WhiteFire was undaunted---they asked if I'd like to head-up the photoshoot. Filled with creative juices overflowing, I said yes. In a previous post A Small Miracle you can read about how I 'found' the lost skirt that I thought would be perfect for Abby's western costume.

Then there were the nail-biting moments when I thought the blouse that goes under the sari (the choli) was too small. But at the same time I was relieved that the Indian seamstress could make a ready-made sari out of my material, so that I didn’t have to worry about trying to wrap the sari---a definite art form I do not have the skills for.

For weeks before the shoot I worried that the hairstyle wouldn't turn out to look like that of Abby's in the story. And then I worried about stressing my artistic and professional photography friends who’d offered to help me with the shoot. I began to wonder why I'd ever offered to do this. Had I bitten off far more than I could chew?

And then the day came for the shoot, and our area had a record breaking snowfall, and the whole thing had to be postponed.

But on another day . . . the Lord brought it all together. Because the event had been bathed in prayer, I was amazed more than words can say, how every detail came together perfectly. The hairstyle was perfect. Sarah was luminous with inner and outer beauty. My photographer went beyond all my expectations in his professionalism. And the costumes fit perfectly.

I hope you enjoyed throughout this posting, just a few of my favourites from the more than 200 photos that are currently on their way to WhiteFire Publishing and their designer. The photos here are untouched, raw digitals. I can hardly wait to see what the designer will do with them next.

Again I say, “Thank You, Lord. You are amazing.”

Ephesians 3:20 "Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask for think.

And a special thank you to Sarah for being such a good sport in doing this unusual thing for her birthmom. And thank you to Eric Svendsen for your amazing photography. And a very special thank you to my supportive friends, Jane and Andrea, and to my mum. I love you all so much.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

RESEARCH---Going to Another World

Being a history buff, I loved researching SHADOWED IN SILK. But after writing 2 historical novels, and currently on my 3rd, I sometimes despair. The world is full of couch history experts like me.

Like every writer, I’m prepared for when my book comes out, and hoping a reader won't stop mid-sentence to say, “Hey, wait a minute, that detail's wrong.”

My daughter, the history major, gave me this advice. When writing a university paper, a student must use at least 2 primary sources-–meaning first person experiences, in other words, autobiographies. If primary sources aren’t available, get as many different versions of that particular person or angle in your story as you can.

She also said to be wary of on-line resources. Websites are great to stimulate ideas, and to find where you can get those first-person accounts. Just be careful to back any on-line research with other sources.

But for the best research, I find the good old library is best.

The hero of my story is a major in the British Cavalry during England’s rule over India. To understand the myriad of details that went into the life of that kind of officer, I read the autobiographies and biographies of military personnel from that era.

From those first hand experiences I discovered specifics like the galvanized bathtub my Major Geoff Richards would bathe in---what his uniform was like, his tent when he was away on maneuvers, and one of my favorite details, what it ‘feels’ like to sit on a cavalry charger as it jumps over irrigation canals in Northern India.

My heroine, Abby, was researched by reading autobiographies of famous British women in India, as well the experiences of lowly female missionaries. Details such as how they sailed to the subcontinent, the calf-length skirts they wore, the vinolia soap they used, how they ran a home. I even read British Raj cookbooks written by English women.

How else would I have learned a favorite of British children growing up in India was a chappati spread with marmalade?

And I poured over the autobiography of that famous author MM Kaye as she grew up in India, and who later went on to write the epic Far Pavilions. However, the 3 years it took to write my own India novel, I stayed away from reading MM Kaye’s fictional works that were set there. I didn’t want to unconsciously pick up on her style or wording in any way.

I lost count of all the books I read. My guess is somewhere around 30. But there were books on Indian women’s lives, Indian weddings, Indian flora, cooking . . . the various religions there, as well as the history of Christianity in India . . . the political climate through reading biographies of Gandhi, Nehru and other politicians.

But after all was researched and my story written I wanted to make sure.

A friend who’d lived in India and Pakistan read the novel with the intent of finding mistakes. And still wanting to be sure, I found Dr. Shirley Hereford, a charming Indian woman with a PhD who teaches literature at an all-girls Indian university in India.

Perhaps I did too much research, as a non-published author at the time with no deadline. After reading my story, Dr. Shirley said that she was astounded I’d never been to her country. I seemed to know the place so well. But then, I had been there, through the eyes of others.

Since finishing the book I have travelled to that colorful and mysterious place. When I came home from India last January, I added one or two fresh impressions to the story, but not as much as one would think.

It had been the research that made the place and time of my story come alive for me.