Monday, August 6, 2012

A Visit With Author Ann Gabhart


I first read one of Ann Gabhart's books when I lived in New Jersey. I thought it interesting that Ann lived in Kentucky, not far from where a good friend lives. Little did I realize that I would soon move to Kentucky, and have the privilege of meeting this talented author. She is one sharp and gracious lady!

Ann is here to share a bit of writerly wisdom. She's also offered a giveaway of her newest book, The GiftedCheck out the details following the interview.

Karen: Welcome back Ann. Congratulations on your newest book!

Ann: Thank you, Karen. It is always exciting to have a new book out for readers.

Karen:
Was there any special inspiration for your main character, Jessamine Brady?

Ann: The Gifted is my fifth Shaker novel. I never intended to write that many Shaker books, but then I kept heading down new story trails at my Harmony Hill Shaker village. And with each new book, I wanted to avoid cookie cutter characters and try to make my main female character come to life in her own unique way. So the question for Shaker book number five was what girl could I find in my imagination who would be different enough. And I found Jessamine with her joyful spirit and curiosity bubbling out of her every pore. Not someone who was going to fit in easily with the rule oriented Shakers. My first “what if” question that led to the plot of this story was “What if we have a girl who so struggles with conforming to the rules that the elders and leaders are always asking, what are we going to do with Sister Jessamine?” Echoes of The Sound of Music there, but that question and that thought was my first step down the story trail and my first peek at my new character, Jessamine.

Do you like her name? She started out as Isabella, but she wasn’t springing to life in my imagination even though I was walking her through the story. She didn’t know who in the world I was talking about since I hadn’t figured out her name. Once we had that little issue resolved, Jessamine did wonderfully as she spins with joy through her story. She doesn’t say her name to rhyme with cinnamon. She says Jessamine with the last syllable accented and having a long ‘i’ sound.

There’s a flower in South Carolina called yellow jessamine. That’s where she got her name – in a beautiful garden with the sweet odor of yellow jessamine in the air.

Karen: I do like her name, and love where your inspiration came from. I really like the cover, too. How involved are you in the cover process for your books?

Ann: Don’t you just love seeing the new covers that authors post on their FB pages, etc.? I try to wait until close to time for the book to actually be published before I start talking a lot about the cover or the story since my agent advises not wearing the book out before anybody can read it. The cover has to be ready to go months in advance so information about the book can be included in sales catalogs going out to buyers for bookstores, but my agent thinks that if you have the cover out on all your media sites, people will not notice it as a new book when it does finally hit the store shelves. I don’t doubt her wisdom about that, but at the same time, it’s hard to sit on a new cover design. You’re just so excited to have a new book and to see what the art department has come up with to try to entice readers to pick up the book.

But that’s not what you asked me, is it? Every publisher may work differently in regard to the covers. I don’t remember having any input at all on my first two books published in 1978 and 1980 by Warner Books. For some of my young adult books, I had to fill out title questionnaires and include suggestions of three scenes that might make a good cover. I hated trying to come up with those scenes that they never used anyway. LOL.

I fill out cover and titling questionnaires for the books published by Revell Books too. I have to tell what my characters look like and sometimes have to pick out an actress or actor I think could play the part if the book was made into a movie. I’m terrible at that since I rarely watch t.v. or movies anymore and even when I do, I never remember the actors’ names. So, I end up googling “blonde, blue-eyed actresses” or “dark-haired, handsome actors.” The first time I did that I was amazed at the number of photos that popped right up. Then I’d pick a person and hope that actor or actress hadn’t starred in some horrible film that colored the way people thought of him or her, because I was usually clueless as to who they were. All I knew is that they were famous enough to come up on Google and they looked the way I imagined my characters looked.

On the questionnaire, I briefly describe what my main characters look like (along with the visual movie star’s photo) and then have to say what they might be wearing. I’m not so hot at that either, because I don’t spend a lot of time dressing my characters. I just expect readers to know they have clothes on. Of course, with the Shaker books, the Shakers wore similar clothes and so I can come up with the right answer for those books easily enough.

The art department then decides on a background they think fits the book, hires models who look like my characters, and makes it all work. Revell Books does a great job with the covers and have often really captured the exact right look for the models. Angel Sister is probably my favorite cover just because they did pick Lorena right out of that book and then caught the perfect expression on her face as she looks up at her “angel sister.” But my Shaker heroines have been well cast too. Gabrielle on The Outsider couldn’t have been any more perfect. Jessamine on The Gifted cover is right too. You can see that “I want to embrace the world and fall in love” look on her face.

I am sent proofs of the covers for approval and I can suggest changes if anything looks wrong to me. For example, I got them to “paint” the fence on the cover of The Outsider, because I told them the Shakers would not have had a fence with peeling paint.

Karen: Wow, I had no idea it was such a process, but it makes sense. I think all your covers fit your books. Now that this book is out and about, I know you are working on another. Are you able to give us a peek at the next one?

Ann: I’m always ready to pull back the curtain to reveal what’s coming in my writing world. Next up to be published is a re-package of my first inspirational novel, Scent of Lilacs. It will be out next March with a new cover and I’m hoping new readers will discover Hollyhill and fall in love with Jocie and her family and friends.

I just finished a new Rosey Corner book, Small Town Girl. Five years have passed since the story in Angel Sister. Now it’s 1941. Kate and her sisters are ready to find love while the storm clouds of war gather on America’s horizon. Small Town Girl should be out in the summer of 2013.

On the new writing front, I’m beginning a Shaker Christmas book. I’m doing the “what if” questions now and beginning to see some possibilities glimmering ahead on the story path. That too is scheduled for release in 2013 – if I get it written.

Karen: I am sure you will! Looking forward to all your stories. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us. It is always a pleasure. :)

Ann: Thanks so much for inviting me over again, Karen. You always ask interesting questions. So let me ask you and your readers some questions. What catches your interest on a book cover? Do you like photographs or paintings best on the covers? Have you ever bought a book just because the cover caught your eye in a store or on-line?

If you'd like more info on The Gifted, click here. Be sure and stop by Ann's blog, website, or Facebook page. She'd love to see you!


My Review


Jessamine Brady tries to be a good Shaker. She really does, but she often misses the mark, as questions constantly tug at her. Obedience among believers at Harmony Hill is expected, and curiosity, particularly about the outside world, is discouraged. There are, after all, many dangers in 1849 to pull believers from the right path. Yet Jessamine aches for a glimpse of the forbidden life. Unable to quell her interest, she stretches for a peek, thinking it might satisfy her restless heart.

Tristan Cooper cannot remember his name, or why someone shot him in the woods near Harmony Hill. He does recall, however, the beautiful young woman who came to his rescue. While recovering at the Village, his memory returns, but he wrestles with a decision. Should he stay sequestered among the Shakers, or return to society and fulfill family responsibilities?

Jessamine’s and Tristan’s worlds collide in an unlikely way; neither can forget their encounter. Jessamine has nowhere else to go, and has resigned to a life with the believers. Tristan longs for a purpose of his own, but is obligated to his widowed mother. Both go through the motions of accepting the life set before them. Will they continue on the paths others have chosen for them? Or will they step out onto another?

Ann Gabhart stirs a strong combination of personalities in her latest Shaker adventure. The Gifted transports readers to a different world, one where secrets and surprises await. Jessamine’s rocky journey to find her purpose tests her limits and shows her who she really is.

This engaging story will entertain, challenge, and perhaps even pull at your heartstrings. I love historical fiction, and in my opinion, Ann has it down pat. Her books deliver every time.


Giveaway Details   
  • You must be a follower and leave your email address with your comment. 
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please total your entries and include link with your comment where applicable.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST Friday August 10, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, August 13, 2012.

Since Ann's tipped the microphone our way, how would you answer her questions? Here they are again:

  • What catches your interest on a book cover?   
  • Do you like photographs or paintings best on the covers? 
  • Have you ever bought a book just because the cover caught your eye in a store or on-line?

Happy reading and writing,
 Karen

49 comments :

  1. Great interview, Karen. Thanks for introducing me to Ann and her work.

    Photo covers are everywhere these days, so I find that I have learned to appreciate them, but for a long time, I much preferred artwork.

    I have bought a book just for its beautiful cover before. IF I STAY by Gayle Foreman (the first cover) was delicate and captivating. I just had to own it. It was several years before I actually read the book, but when I did it became a favorite story as well.

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  2. Karen, thanks for introducing me to Ann Gabhart.

    I loved all this information about cover questionnaires. I had no idea authors had to fill them out.

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  3. Never thought about holding off on my cover reveals until it's much closer to the release date. Something new to think about!

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  4. Ruth,
    Thank you, and you are welcome! :) Ann is a wonderful writer. It's always great to have her here. Enjoyed the interview at your blog, btw.

    Theresa,
    You are welcome! Ann is smart and funny, and a great guest! I had no idea either, so was glad to learn all about it.

    Alex,
    I know, I thought so too. I can see both sides of it. If I am really looking forward to a book, I don't mind seeing the cover ahead of time. And then I can see where those who don't know may not realize it's new when it comes out. Guess you just see what you think is best at the time.

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  5. Great interview and review, Karen. :)

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  6. Great interview! I loved learning about Revell's cover process. I look forward to reading one of your books in the future, Ann. :-) Thanks for sharing!

    Oh, and yes, covers DO grab my attention but I usually buy based on the blurb and first page.

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  7. Ruth, thanks for your comments on the book covers you like. I do think a great cover can get the book off the shelf and into the readers' hands. Whether it stays there might have more to do with that blurb that Jessica reads. :)

    So fun to read all your comments. Alex, as to whether to hold off on putting the cover out there is definitely a book by book decision. I sometimes put out a peek at the cover early and then wait until a month before the release date to begin to publish the cover more. Of course, it's usually already been up on the internet sites for months by then. So who knows which is best?

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  8. Theresa and Ruth, thanks for giving my books a read. So nice to find new writing and reading friends here.

    Always fun to come over and visit Karen. And I do appreciate the nice review, Karen. I generally approach any new review with a bit of apprehension. I know everybody can't like my stories, but I WANT them to. :) I'm glad you did.

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  9. Thanks, Karen and Ann, for a fascinating interview. I never thought of a book cover being "worn out" before the actual release.

    I've read Ann's book Angel Sister and loved it. Please enter me in the contest.

    susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

    I'm a Follower. :)

    Blessings,
    Susan

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  10. great interview and I never knew of you until Ann posted she was on your blog. Ann I know. I will follow your blog. Like what I see.
    Yes, sometimes I buy a book by the cover and others by the author's name. Others by what is on back.
    enter me please
    jrs362 at hotmail dot com

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  11. David,
    Thank you! Glad you could make it over today.

    Jessica,
    Thanks a bunch! I know, I thought the cover process was interesting too. Covers grab me too, but like you, I check the blurb and all that good stuff. :)

    Ann,
    It's always a pleasure to have you stop by! One of these days we'll have to meet for coffee or tea. :)

    Susan,
    Got you on the list! Thanks a bunch; Ann's always fun to interview. :)

    Squiresj,
    Nice to meet you! Thanks for coming by and weighing in. :) I appreciate your support!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  12. Thanks, Susan, for reading Angel Sister. Hope if you win The Gifted you'll enjoy this story too.

    Hi, Jane. Always good to see you stop by one of my guest appearances on a blog. I appreciate that. Maybe your luck will keep holding and you'll win again!

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  13. I believe a cover is very important because a book is often judged by it's cover. I have probably passed over more books because of their covers than purchased for that reason. I'm pleased to see the author has more influence than I would have expected on the design of the cover.

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  14. Sounds like a great read. I love meeting authors too. It always inspires me. Thanks for the wonderful interview, ladies!

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  15. I'm always buying books based on their covers. Shocking, I know. I really don't like reading the back cover blurb. Great interview. It was particularly interesting the different ways publishers do their cover designs.

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  16. Wonderful interview, ladies. Covers are so hard to get right, but so important!

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  17. Sally,
    I know I've passed over books due to their covers too. Yes, I was pleased as well to see that. It is an interesting process!

    Joylene,
    It is a great read! Ann is one talented lady. :) As are you. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

    Lynda,
    It's interesting to see everyone's buying habits. :) Thanks so much for weighing in!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  18. Talli,
    Thanks so much! I know, I'd want my cover to be super fabulous. :) Your book covers are very nice!
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  19. Sally, I hadn't thought about the opposite side of the cover influence coin. But of course, the cover art might discourage a purchase as well as encourage one. Thanks for making that point.

    Joylene, great to meet you too. Hope if you get the book, you enjoy the read.

    Lynda, glad you enjoyed hearing about the cover process. It's different with different publishers. And you're not the only one who doesn't like to read blurbs. I read them, but I've met lots of people who don't because they say it gives away too much about the story.

    Talli, so glad to have you chime in on the conversation. A good book covers can make a big difference in whether the book attracts readers.

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  20. Covers are so important! Makes me feel shallow that I will pick up a book based on that first impression, but I do.

    This is an interesting, behind-the-covers look at part of what makes a book great.

    Karen, you're a gracious host as always. (Seems to me you've had Ann on here before. Am I right or have I not had enough coffee?)

    Waving and grinning,

    Rhonda, rschrockmt@yahoo.com

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  21. Great interview ladies! Love the cover for your most recent book, Ann. I tend to prefer photos on covers - and I must say, when my daughter was young, we'd choose library books based on the covers! A cover DOES make a BIG difference.

    *Please enter me in the drawing for Ann's book. morgan(dot)maria(dot)i(at)gmail(dot)com

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  22. Rhonda,
    Don't feel shallow, I do the same thing sometimes. I think that's part of the whole deal, you know? Thanks for your kind words; Ann is a great guest. And yes, she's been here several times. Hoping she'll come back again!

    Maria,
    Thanks so much! The cover is nice, isn't it? Us too - my kids and I choosing books by their cover, I should ask them if they still do! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  23. Waving back, Rhonda and smiling too. I have been a guest of Karen's before, but I promise I didn't say the very same thing - I don't think. LOL.

    And don't feel shallow for picking books by the cover. Why do you think the publishers work so hard to get the right covers? They know we are hooked by what's on the outside and then kept interested by what's on the inside.

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  24. I think it's great, Maria, that you let your kids pick by the covers. That probably introduced them to a lot of different authors and types of books. I loved taking my kids to the library when they were little. They loved books as much as I did.

    Glad you like the cover on The Gifted. I think they caught a great look on Jessamine's face.

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  25. I enjoyed your interview with Ann and your review of The Gifted. Ann asked about our preferences in book covers. I am not picky about whether the cover is a photograph, a painting, or graphic design. The cover does, however influence me when buying a book. I'm afraid to say that I have bought books because of beautiful covers. Thank you so much for offering this giveaway! I shared on FB and I'm a follower of this blog. 1 extra point for posting to FB.
    Nancee
    quiltcat26[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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  26. I also love illustrations on covers too. I definitely think that covers influence me in picking it off a shelf; but it doesn't influence whether or not I actually buy it.

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  27. Excellent interview Karen. Congratulations Ann :-)

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  28. Nancee,
    Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. I think I am okay with all of those cover formats too, it just depends on how they look. Thanks for spreading the word! :)

    Lydia,
    You make a good point. I often plan on buying a book ahead of time, and the cover is not usually a factor. Although I really am drawn by nice ones!

    Diane,
    Thanks so much! Appreciate you stopping by to see us. :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  29. Nancee, great to get your help spreading the word about my interview here with Karen. I appreciate that. Sounds as if you aren't picking on the type of cover, just that it be one that catches your eye. Cover styles go in trends. For a while, all the covers had legs. Then a lot of covers showed the girl without showing the girl's face or head. Then the Girl who whatever came out and took the reading world by storm and suddenly all the publishers are doing graphic designs. Of course, with my Shaker books, the girl in the bonnet is a main element. Lots of girls in bonnets on the covers of books. That's because Amish fiction is so very popular with inspirational book readers.

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  30. Lydia, great artwork and design can definitely attract the eye. I have met a writer, Nicole Seitz, who is also an artist and she does the illustrations for her own books. But I think that is very unusual for the major publishing companies. Her books are quite attractive and she is doing well with them. Smaller companies and self publishers give the author more control of the cover designs.

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  31. Thanks, Diane for the good wishes. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

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  32. Great interview, thanks Karen and Ann. Love the sound of The Giver and I laughed at the 'Sound of Music' comment!

    Jessamine is a very pretty name and holds sweet memories for me. I used to teach a girl called Jessamine. And, yes, she was a sweetie.

    Blessings
    Dotti :)

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  33. Thanks, Dotti. So glad you shared that you once knew a Jessamine. I've never met anyone with that name. Well, if you don't count my character, Jessamine Brady. :)I got to know her pretty well.

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  34. Dottie,
    So glad you could stop by! I chuckled over that one too. :) I think the name was a great choice; Ann knows how to choose good ones!
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  35. a great interview! I love how Ann shared the process of making the book cover. :)

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  36. Love your picture with your name, nutschell. Fun. Good to be a writing nut. Thanks for reading the interview.

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  37. Great interview, Karen. Thanks. Sounds like a good book.

    Now, to answer your questions:

    What catches your interest on a book cover?

    Definitely the photo or drawing.


    Do you like photographs or paintings best on the covers?

    Honestly, I don't have a preference. But it has to catch the eye.

    Have you ever bought a book just because the cover caught your eye in a store or on-line?

    I probably have. If it captured my attention, I'd probably read the jacketcover, too, then buy it.

    Susan p.s. Karen, thanks for your visits and comments to my blog! Love it when you stop by.

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  38. Hi Karen .. great that Ann is prepared to share her experiences - and I love the cover of Jessamine - and that name ... glad it's real and is a flower - wonderful.

    Cheers and good luck to Ann with her book and books for 2013 ... great to meet her here ... Hilary

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  39. Thanks, Susan, for answering the questions. I'm always interested in what other readers and writers say about what attracts them to the books they read. I'm sure I've picked up books based on a great cover. Of course, it helps if that great cover has an author's name on it you know. Still, the very best way to have more people give your book a chance is to get some good word of mouth recommendations from friend to friend. That's why I appreciate your review, Karen.

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  40. Great to meet you here too, Hilary. So glad you enjoyed the interview and my Jessamine's name. It was just different enough to fit her character well. And her romantic beginnings.

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  41. Nutschell,
    Thank you! Glad you stopped by. :) I know, I am glad Ann filled us in on the process.

    Susan,
    Thanks so much! Ann makes it easy. :) It's nice to hear your preferences. BTW - I enjoy stopping at your blog; always love the photos!

    Hilary,
    I know, the cover is lovely, isn't it? Love the inspiration behind her name and all. Glad you could make it here. Take care of yourself, okay?

    Ann,
    It's been wonderful to have you here. :) I am happy to review for you; you write well so you make it easy! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  42. Wow, very interesting to learn more about the cover process. Thanks for sharing this interview, Karen and Ann! I'd love to be entered in the giveaway.

    sarah at sarahforgrave dot com

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  43. Sarah,
    I know, I thought so too! You are welcome, glad you enjoyed it. Got you on the list!
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  44. I always need a good cover on a book before I buy it! Thank you for a fun informative interview! I have never heard of the Shakers and would love to read one.

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  45. Sarah, glad you enjoyed reading about the cover process. It could be different for other authors, but it's always fun to see a great cover and know it fits the book you're reading.

    Terri, we've come a long way from when covers were black and brown with only the title printed on them. That's the way a lot of library books were years ago. Then having read something by the author carried more weight when I was looking for a book from the library. Now the covers and back cover copy make choices more interesting and varied. But the author's name still carries a lot of weight with me.

    Hope if you get one of my Shaker books, you'll enjoy finding out more about this interesting group of people.

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  46. Loved this interview. I, too, gained much from reading about the cover design process. I'm currently awaiting one of my own. Excellent job, Karen and Ann.

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  47. Terri,
    Good covers do help the process along, don't they? :) Glad you enjoyed the interview!

    Susan,
    How exciting - your cover - you'll be sharing on your blog, right? Glad you enjoyed reading Ann's thoughts!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  48. Hi Karen and Ann! Wonderful interview!!

    I like paintings rather than photographs... then my imagination can fill in what my minds eye is showing me.

    Bless you!

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  49. Cheryl,
    Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it. Ann is a great guest. :) I like what you said about the illustrations - good point!
    Blessings,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!