Friday, August 19, 2016

Lady & the Lionheart #GIVEAWAY and #BookCover Story

Readers, this is my most favorite read of 2016 (Jaime here, btw). I've read so many great books this year, but even Romantic Times gave this novel the very rare 5 STAR rating. I'm also NOT a crier, but this novel kept me up until 2AM and had my pillowcase wet by the time it was over. Here's my review:

This book. It touched the deep places inside of me. It became more than a story, and instead, a journey. The circus was palpable, and infused into every crevice and ounce of the novel. Charlie more than tamed the lions, he tamed the soul. Ella became the shadow of myself that walked ahead of me, guiding me page after page until the midnight moon was high overhead and the last page turned to close. The best read of 2016 so far. It engages the emotion, the senses, the spirit of the circus, and the romance that impresses itself on your heart well into the morning light.

Joanne is visiting our blog today with a secret, inside-look into the making of her gorgeous book cover! I'll hand it over to Joanne and then keep reading for book info and a GIVEAWAY!

Take it away, Joanne ...


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Because The Lady and the Lionheart is independently published, it’s entirely a grassroots adventure –so when it came to the cover concept, it meant a lot of thought and planning around our kitchen table. :) As a former art student, I adore the cover process so was excited for the opportunity to do the design. But from a practical mindset, The Lady and the Lionheart posed a unique challenge because not only is it historical, but it’s set within the circus which made finding pre-existing stock photography nearly impossible. So began the journey of a custom photo shoot and what an adventure it was!
The Lady and the Lionheart
The Model – A few years ago, our family began attending a new church and I noticed that the girl who sat in front of us looked remarkably like Ella, the heroine of the story. I’d never seen anything like it and as uncanny as the resemblance was, it was also sort of a useless factoid that I kept to myself. But two years later, I was ready to move forward with publishing the book, and with a bit of scheming by her sister and a mutual friend, we were ready to see if she’d be up for some historical modeling. The only problem, is that same Sunday, and with all of us holding a burning question that was two years in the making, the cover-model-to-be showed up to church with her blonde hair died a dark brown. I will never doubt that God has a sense of humor. :) Her sister told me to ask anyway, but who walks up to a perfect stranger and says, “So I know we’ve never met, but I’m an author which means I have imaginary friends, and you look just like one of those imaginary friends. She’s a girl who goes to the circus and kind of has a lion tamer for a boyfriend and would you like to be on the cover of that book? You’d get to wear a pretty dress but the only problem is that you’d also need to die your hair back to blonde.” Turns out I say that, because a blink of an eye later, she was overjoyed to be part of the cover. She asked to read the book so I mailed her the manuscript and she read it through. That was a huge bonus because not only was she a big fan of Charlie and Ella from the start, but she approached the shoot with a deep understanding of the characters and story.

The Photographer - With the plan in motion, I sought out a sweet friend whose photography is positively stunning.
Meghan Elise2
The light and emotion she captures behind the lens is what immediately drew my eye to her work. When it came to seeing if she’d be interested in shooting this cover, it was an easy jump. Having never shot a book cover before, she was super excited and immediately on board! All of this happened in the fall, so we set a date for early spring which gave us all plenty of time to arrange the next steps…

The Setting – The majority of the story takes place in Virginia in 1890 on the outskirts of Roanoke when it was just becoming a bustling city. The circus would have taken up a multi-acre lot on the edge of town where circus workers would have plenty of room to set everything up. Because I live in Southern California, most known for its deserts, beaches, and freeways, this felt a tad tricky, but fortunately, we live in the mountains where some gorgeous meadows are sprinkled about. With the help of my photographer friend who knew of a great local spot, we dialed in on a meadow just five minutes from home. We were one off-road drive closer to a cover!

The Props –
First on the list was a circus tent. This is when it’s doubly wonderful to have a mother-in-law who is not only handy with a sewing machine, but who also has tubs of fabric and a willing heart! The white portions of the tent you see are actually hospital sheets that she cut into strips, and the red is vintage fabric that she’d been saving for years. We looked at a few pictures of circus tents to get the feel for one from the Victorian-era and she got right to work, even adding a surprise touch of ruffles that is my favorite part. My husband is brilliant at making things, so after showing him the finished draping, he built a curved frame out of PVC piping, strung parachute chord for the back, vintage-style rope for the front, and arranged it all to look like a portion of the Big Top. That man is amazing. And the cutest roustabout I’ve ever seen. ;)
Lionheart 10 - www.joannebischof
Next up was finding just the right outfit that a young woman might wear to the circus. Something romantic and elegant, but also not so ornate that it would compete with the red and white stripes of the background. After sifting through dozens of dresses at a costume warehouse with my assistant’s help, we realized we needed to switch gears (it helped having a bright red and white backdrop in the dressing room!) I posted pictures to my author page and reader friends were weighing in with their thoughts as we were in the dressing area which was so much fun!


image1 (2)
We liked what we had found, but nothing felt quite right. I kept searching and soon, found the perfect skirt and blouse at a vintage clothing store that would be a softer accompaniment to a vibrant background. Wanting a little pop of color, I made the pink sash. For those of you who’ve read the story, you might notice that it’s this very outfit written into the romantic, rooftop scene. :)

The Lionheart -
There’s something about that Charlie Lionheart. He’s a huge part of the story and so began the process of finding ways to incorporate his essence into the cover. He’s circus through and through, so having that setting was really special. Also, as a dashing Victorian gent, he not only has a fond affection for his top hats, but there’s a little rumor around the circus that whoever has his hat, has his heart. My hope was that Ella might have that hat in hand on the cover as an extra nod to the romance and Charlie’s oh-so-important character. Which brings us to…

The Big Day–
The big day was a big deal not just because we were shooting the cover for a story so dear to my heart, but because getting to that day was a wild adventure all its own! The photo shoot was set for the hour before sunset so it was a wait, wait, wait, go! kind of day. The cover model showed up in leggings and flip flops and with her hair gorgeously done based on a style we’d picked from Pinterest. Next came costume and make up and soon she was transformed into a heroine from 1890. Then we were heading down that bumpy road and within minutes, the photographer was at work with two different cameras—one digital and one film. Film has a grainy, old-fashioned look, and as I sifted through the finished photographs, it was a tough call because digital and its high-resolution look made the most sense. Because the image I most loved was shot in film, I was slightly worried that it wouldn’t fall in line with other modern book covers, but as the story goes, whoever has Charlie’s hat really does have his heart, so the pose on the cover was just too perfect to pass up. Looking back on this experience, God was there each step of the way, helping the process along and there was so much in the little things and all the helping hearts behind the scenes. The response from readers has been as much of a joy!
Lionheart 1 - www.joannebischof
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Do you all see what I mean? This book. GAH! I love it so much!!! 
Check out the story!
Two worlds collide when the circus comes to Victorian-era Virginia. 

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

Just then a child in the row behind Ella cried out, “Look, Mama!”

Charlie, dressed in his center ring finery, strode into the arena, as strong and strapping as ever. Face powdered and painted with two jagged teardrops under his eyes, he walked with stoic authority, tall boots forging a fresh trail straight toward his audience. Ella didn’t know a single man could hush a packed house with no words, but…then there was Charlie Lionheart.
 

ENTER TO WIN!! Because I believe in this book SO MUCH, I am giving away THREE e-copies of this novel to three lucky winners! (Kindle only) and buy your copy here if you can't wait :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

62 comments:

  1. I adored hearing the behind the scenes stuff! The cover is beyond amazing and everything in it goes together beautifully. I cannot wait to read this!

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    1. Susan, so glad that you enjoyed it! And I'm just thrilled that you like the cover so! I really hope you enjoy the story just as much :)

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  2. This sounds like an awesome book and I just love Joanne, she's so sweet!
    Thanks for the giveaway and the behind-the-scenes of the cover making!

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    1. Hi Samantha!! That's so kind of you! And thanks for stopping by. :D

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  3. So fun to read more about the development of the book and cover. Joanne did an amazing job writing the story and creating the perfect cover!

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    1. Carrie - Aren't covers fun? It's been so neat to see what Kristopher Orr and Magnus Creative did with your latest. I'm hoping we'll get a peek behind the scenes on that one! :)

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  4. I have heard so many great things about this book--some of my favorite bloggers keep raving about it!

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    1. Becky - That's really encouraging to hear! I so hope you enjoy the story if you get a chance to read it!

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  5. Wow! Didn't know about the film photography! How great! Love this! I can't wait! Would love to read this! Thanks! Annie JC

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    1. Hi Annie! Isn't that fun? I've learned to love it and am tempted to go the film route again just for the old-fashionedness of it. ;) It's not so noticeable online but it's in the paperbacks where you can really tell. I'm excited for you to read this one!

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  6. Jaime, 'The Lady and the Lionheart' captured my heart just as it did yours and everyone else who has read it. Such a beautiful, touching, story!! I read that the shooting of the cover was postponed several times also, due to the model being sick, weather issues, etc. - however, after reading this post it's clear to me God had a hand in everything about this novel. His timing is always perfect, as is everything about this novel.

    I have a paperback copy of TLATL, however, would love to also have an e-copy so I can read it again "whenever and wherever". Thank you for the giveaway opportunity and for featuring Joanne, such an interesting cover story!!

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    1. Dearest Bonnie!

      I'm so glad that you saw that previous post and yes indeed, God really had his hand in it, didn't He? It's made the cover that much more dear and special.

      Just smiling to know that you have Lionheart in paperback there with you and if I remember correctly, you've got the epigraph. I'll always be thankful to you for that God-directed nudge to tuck it back in! <3

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  7. Joanne is a new-to-me author so I haven't read anything by her yet. This book sounds interesting and I've never read anything about the circus during that time period. Would be interesting to read about it. Thanks for the giveaway and good luck everyone.

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    1. Debbie - It's really nice to meet you! :) I'm so glad the story intrigued you and if you get the chance to read it, pray it will be a blessing to you. Glad you've found the giveaway!

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  8. I have not read Joanne's novels, but they have been on my radar for a long time. This one sounds exquisite and I love the back story surrounding the cover. A must-read for me this year!

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    1. Rebecca -
      It's been fun that this book has been on your radar. I keep hoping one will come your way and maybe this will be the one. Thanks for stopping in and for having L&L on your TBR! :)

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  9. Sounds like a great read. Thanks so much for the chance to win.

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  10. Oh, I would love to read this! The cover is stunning, and I've already heard so many good things about it! Plus, I don't live too far from Roanoke, so that would make it even more fun to read!

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    1. Amy - thank you bunches!! And what fun! I hope it will make for an extra fun read for you. :)

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  11. I loved reading about the story behind the cover. Those are always interesting to me. Two things I always look for is why the title is what it is and how well the cover fits into the story.
    Just Jaime's recommendation alone is enough to get me intrigued. Best one she's read this year says a lot. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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    1. Greetings Gail :)
      It's neat to hear how you look for those two things. That kind of careful consideration means a lot to me as an author, and makes the time and effort in those areas feel doubly worth it. I'm so glad you enjoyed Jaime's review and if you get the chance to read the book, I hope it will be a special read for you!

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  12. I love your photo cover story. And it turned out so well!

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    1. Hi Melissa! So glad you enjoyed the post. THANKS! :)

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  13. Zippity-Do-Dah! Would I ever love to win this story and savor the pages inside...
    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

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    1. Kathleen - I'm just snapping my fingers that this one hasn't found it's way to you yet. I really hope a copy will come your way soon, my friend!!

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  14. Joanne, what an awesome story and yes its amazing how God works in even the smallest things. The cover story was definitely a God thing that came together beautiful! I'm looking forward to reading the book myself. Hope you have a great weekend!😀

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    1. Amy ~ I'm so glad that the post was meaningful to you. Thanks for sharing! I truly hope the book is a blessing to you!

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  15. As always, these behind the cover stories are such fun. Thanks for sharing exclusive behind-the-scenes details, Joanne. They're awesome, and this cover couldn't have suited your beautiful story more. :)

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    1. Rissi - Such fun to see you here!! Thanks for the warm wishes and for being such a bright spot in my writing life.

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  16. Joanne, your writing touches my heart! Looking for to reading your new book soon! Karen

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    1. Hi KT! Wonderful to see you here on CC&C :D I'm so encouraged that my writing has touched your heart. Thank you for sharing.

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  17. Looking forward to reading this one!

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  18. I've been curious to read this book since I first saw the cover (it was fun to learn how everything came together!) and even more so when I read the cover blurb! It sounds like such a unique and lovely story and I've been hoping to read it! Especially after hearing so many great things from so many of my reader friends!
    Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

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    1. Sarah - It's always fun to hear how someone discovers the book and I love that it was both the cover AND blurb that caught your eye. Thanks for stopping by for the behind-the-scenes post. I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  19. It is always fun to read (and see photos of) the behind the scenes of The Lady and The Lionheart. It is just such a fantastic, sweet story. You all really must read this book!

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    1. Pam - Blessed by you and how you've been such a sweet advocate for Charlie and Ella's tale. THANK YOU!

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  20. This review made me "sit up and notice." It made me keep reading the review and even look it up on Amazon. A book like this is the book for me because I like to connect personally with a book, and it sounds like this one does. I also like that the author put her blurb on the review, which made it even more special. I haven't read a book by this author yet. Thanks.
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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    1. Susan, This is so great to hear. I'm thrilled that the book and blurb made you take notice in that way. I hope you'll get a chance to read it and that Charlie and Ella's story will be a blessing to you!

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  21. I love learning how a book cover comes about & seeing the photo shoots for it...how fun!! God definitely had His hand in it all from the sounds of it :-) And you have a wonderfully talented group of people who contributed towards it. No wonder why it's so beautiful ;-)

    I've read so many great reviews on this book that it makes me excited to have a chance to see what all the fuss is about! Thanks for the opportunity!

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    1. Trixi - thanks so much for your sweet comment! He truly did have his hand in it all and it held so many heart lessons from start to finish. So glad you found it here and entered the giveaway!

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  22. I'm excited to read this because everyone who has read it can not stop saying how fabulous it is! And I know they know great books! So now I must get my hands on this book! And knowing the story behind the cover, I love it! So neat! I love how God works!

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    1. Nancy - thank you! It's a joy to know you've heard such good things. :D I really hope you get your hands on a copy too! Thanks for stopping in for the cover post!

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  23. I will be so glad when I get this book! I've read so much about it that it seems I can hardly wait! I love the cover too. I also read the part about the cover photos.
    grandmama_brenda(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hi Brenda! I will be so glad too!!! :) Thanks for your warm words about the cover and story.

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  24. I have read the first two books in the Cadence of Grace series.

    So many people have been recommending this new one that it really makes me want to read it. When Melissa Tagg says that she read her digital copy twice in a row and had to purchase a paper copy I know I need to read this book. When a blogger says that the book made her cry I know I need to read this book.

    nina4sm/at/gmail/dot/com

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    1. Sylvie - what fun to know you've read the first two books in the series. I really hope you'll be able to read #3 and see how it all ends. :) Wasn't Melissa so kind!? She's been such a huge supporter of this story and I'm so thankful that we were able to connect because of that.

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  25. No I haven't not read any of her books yet but look forward to in the future. cheetahthecat1986(at)gmail(dot)com.

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  26. Loved reading this! I've heard lots of great things about this beautiful book and cannot wait to read it! And the cover story is so amazing!
    Thank you for this giveaway :)

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  27. I have heard SO many great things about this book and I can't wait for the chance to read it!

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  28. This would be my first novel of yours to read but I look forward to reading it.

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  29. Thanks Joanne for this behind the scenes look at the making of the cover and for this in depth look at this book.Can't wait to read it!! lynnefeuerstein(at)aol(dot)com

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  30. JOANNE, Congratulations on the release of The Lady and the Lion Heart! I LOVE your stories!!!! These costumes are so stunning! Thank you for sharing.

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  31. Joanne, you are a new author to me and "The Lady & The Lionheart" sounds like an interesting read.like the Pre-Victorian time period.
    diannekc8(at)gmail.com

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  32. I was just curious as to who your winners were, Rafflecopter doesn't show them :-)

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