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Millie Cover

For those of you who like the “behind the scenes” stories, here’s how Millie’s cover came to be…

Long before I wrote a single word of the story, I started thinking about the cover of Millie’s book. I wanted the cover to portray the prohibition theme of the story.

There were absolutely no stock photos with an Edwardian woman swinging an axe (imagine that) and I try not to use stock photos anyway… so I decided to take the photo myself.

The challenges: find a whiskey barrel, an era-appropriate outfit, and someone willing to pose for the photo.

I thought the barrel would be simple enough to locate. The genius plan was to buy a half-barrel planter and turn it on its side for the photo. Apparently, though, the planters are not popular in our area because I had to check at half a dozen stores before I finally found one. And it wasn’t even a whiskey barrel – it was a wine barrel. I wrangled it into the back of my vehicle on a hot spring day and left it there overnight.

Oh. My. Gracious. The next morning, my car smelled like rancid vinegar (is that even a thing? If so, I know exactly what it smells like!) Ugh… so I left all the doors and the back open for an hour to air it out. It took days for the smell to completely dissipate.

Next on the list was an outfit a “hello girl” might have worn. She wouldn’t have been dressed in any of the fancy styles of the Edwardian period for work (although Millie had a few “nice” outfits for when she wasn’t working.)

I studied some photos taken in 1908 of women out and about by Edward Linley Sambourn. The “pigeon breast” style was all the rage then with the shirts being rather loose and full in the front while waists remained corseted and tiny.

This photo gave me the idea of using a wide piece of lace down the front of Millie’s shirtwaist.

And this little graphic I found on Deviant Art provided great insight into the layers of clothing Millie would wear.

Without any willing prospects to pose for me, I ordered a corset and petticoat then dug into my closet for something I could make work for her outfit.

I am here to tell you, putting on a corset, corset cover, and petticoat was not the most fun I’ve ever had. In fact, I don’t think I breathed more than a few shallow breaths the whole time I had them on. And hot! The skirt I wore was wool (which didn’t help things any).

So Miss Millie’s outfit is a pair of “granny boots” I’ve had longer than I’ve known Captain Cavedweller. They’ve worked well for any number of costumes (they are also on the cover of Aundy and Marnie) and come in handier than you might think. The skirt is a navy wool skirt I’ve owned forever. It’s a “riding” skirt although the only thing it’s ever ridden is a desk chair. I happened to have a nice wide belt that could barely squeak by as passable for the era. The pink “shirtwaist” is a regular long-sleeved blouse I rummaged from the back of my closet. And the lace down the front is a handmade piece of lace I inherited from CC’s grandmother. The lace was actually a really long piece (about eight feet long!).  I tacked it to the petticoat so it wouldn’t drag on the floor.

<True story: Back in the 1950s, CC’s grandparents lived next to a family that moved quite suddenly and asked them to keep their belongings. Fast forward forty-some years to when I married CC. We were out at his grandparents’ farm and he took me into this old falling-down shed stuffed to the gills with “stuff.” It was all the belongings they’d cleared out from the neighbor’s place. They moved it into the shed and left it there in case one of the neighbors ever came back for it. Only they didn’t. So Grandma told me I could take whatever I wanted… which happened to be boxes full of old lace, a wooden suitcase full of postcards from WWI, a box with gloves and silk stockings, a few vintage dishes, and a several items I have yet to identify that just looked “cool”.  And that’s how I came to have that piece of lace.>

Back to Millie’s outfit… The brooch was a gift from CC, the gloves were from the cache of goodies I got from his grandma, and the hat was one I made to wear to a Victorian bridal shower. CC supplied the axe.

 

house siding 2

I liked this photo and thought it would work well for the background of Gideon’s saloon. In an effort to keep with the shiny wooden floor in the background, CC and I set up the photo in our kitchen. He snapped a few dozen photos while I tried not to pass out from holding my breath. Once the dizziness from lack of oxygen passed, I started playing with the photos.

 

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We’d hung a white sheet in the background (which makes it easy for me to crop out everything but the image I want). After selecting this pose, I ended up cropping out the floor, too. Then I flipped the image horizontally and placed it over the background.

I added the word “whiskey” to the barrel in what I hoped looked like a stencil font.

wallpaper

The final touch was creating the title piece of art. I just loved this dainty little wallpaper print.

 

Millie TitleI added an oval and a flourish, typed in her name and – Voilà!

That’s how Millie’s cover came to be!

 

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Millie 3-d cover

I thought it would be fun to share the visual inspiration I used for the characters in Millie.

Gideon McBride and Millie Matlock are an unlikely pair. She is determined to run every last saloon out of town and Gideon owns one of the most successful saloons in Pendleton.

Yet, the attraction between them is there from the start.

He smelled like the fresh air just before a summer storm, mixed with a hint of something dark and dangerous.
That’s one of Millie’s early impressions of Gideon.

When I started writing the story, I knew Gideon would have hair that shone “like a new copper penny” mostly because the men in the Pendleton Petticoats series have black or brown hair (with the exception of Lars).

I wanted him to be devilishly handsome – so handsome that Millie couldn’t help but give him a second (and maybe a third) look.

And dimples *sigh*… I will admit I have a thing for dimples.

Gideon

Liam McIntyre was ideal for Gideon’s character. Handsome, charming,

Liam 3

with a hint of rugged appeal…

Liam 2

along with dimples.

From past Pendleton Petticoats stories, we knew Millie managed the telephone office, that she was feisty and determined – but not what she looked like.

I pictured her with dark hair and a pale complexion (just because it’s such a striking contrast).

Here’s what Gideon thought about her after seeing her up close:

Eyes as pale as the winter sky gazed at him, rimmed with lashes every bit as dark as her hair, making him wonder how hard he’d have to work to bring a spark of fire to them.

Grace_Phipps_1

Grace Phipps made such a perfect Millie.  She’s just beautiful.

grace-phipps 4

From the black hair to the pale blue eyes and incredible complexion, she’s exactly how I envisioned Millie.

Grace Phipps 3

With that smile, it’s no wonder Gideon was immediately smitten.

Although these aren’t character photos, here are a couple that inspired scenes in the story.

lips-that-touch-liquor-shall-not-touch-ours2

This photo makes me smile (and snicker) every time I see it. These women have done a bang-up job of appearing completely unapproachable in their temperance efforts. This photo provided the inspiration for a scene toward the end of the story. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know the one to which I refer.

Market Day

And here is an actual Market Day advertisement from the 1908 Pendleton newspaper. Sounds like great fun, doesn’t it?

Those of you who know I listen to music on a loop while I write, I chose a fun song that seemed rather fitting for this story…

Drunk On Your Love by Brett Eldredge

If you haven’t got your copy of Millie yet, you can find her here:

Kindle

Paperback

And to those who have already read her and shared your feedback – thank you so, so much!

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Millie Cover

Only a week until  Millie (Pendleton Petticoats, Book 7) releases! Hooray!

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy another excerpt…

Millie 2

As though she’d just stepped in something vile, she backed away from him and lifted her nose in the air. “I’m well aware of who you are, Mr. McBride. Your den of debauchery will need more than a second chance to save it or you from everlasting condemnation. Good evening.”

Insulted yet intrigued, he watched her march down the sidewalk and cross the street to where the group prepared to sing in front of another saloon.

Although Gideon had seen Millie Matlock around town numerous times, observed her bully his customers, and knew exactly who she was, it was the first time he’d been close to her.

From a distance, she seemed much older and more formidable than she did only a few feet away. If memory served him correctly, she’d been the manager of the telephone office for several years, so she had to be older than her youthful appearance implied.

Average height for a woman, the plume on her dark woolen hat had slapped his cheek when she spun on her heel and stalked out the door. Porcelain skin made him want to reach out and trace his fingers along her heart-shaped face. Lips the color of luscious berries stirred his curiosity, wondering if they’d taste every bit as sweet. Rich black hair left him longing to remove her hat and hairpins and bury his hands in the thick tresses. The lingering hint of her soft floral fragrance caused him to breathe deeply, inhaling her scent and a lungful of arctic air that caused him to cough and wheeze.

“You okay, boss?” Abel asked as he stepped inside and firmly closed the door.

“Dandy,” Gideon mumbled, returning to the kitchen and setting the coffeepot back on the stove.

Abel followed, handing him the cup of rapidly cooling coffee.

Gideon accepted it and took a long drink before returning to his spot at the end of the bar while Abel helped the handful of customers who’d braved the blowing snow to drink and play cards at the Second Chance.

Thoughts of Miss Millie Matlock kept Gideon from accomplishing any work the rest of the evening. In spite of her beautiful face and proper deportment, she’d left him more rattled than if she’d screeched at him like an enraged fishwife.

Frustrated by how thoroughly she’d piqued his interest, he had no intention of getting to know her better. If the woman planned to run him out of business, she’d better think again. He’d fight her with every last ounce of his considerable strength.

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Millie Cover

I was so, so happy to finish my final proofing of Millie (Pendleton Petticoats, Book 7) this week.

Although she is available for pre-orders, the book officially releases June 9! (I can’t wait!)

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a little about the book with you.

She’s adamant about prohibition —

He’ll do anything to keep his saloon open…

A childhood traumatized by the effects of alcohol in her home left Millie Matlock convinced she doesn’t need a man in her life. No longer able to stand by and watch drunken men terrorize the women in town, Millie forms a local committee of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Little did she know the one man who could turn her head owns one of the most successful saloons in Pendleton.

Desperate to keep the WCTU from closing his saloon and the others in town, Gideon McBride agrees to a crazy plan hatched by the saloon owners. His objective is to woo the leader of the local temperance union, keeping her so distracted the committee disbands. However, he didn’t count on the beautiful, effervescent Millie working her way into his cynical heart.

And you might enjoy a little excerpt:

Millie 4

He watched as Millie sipped her hot chocolate. As soon as she lowered the cup from her mouth, he took it from her, placing his lips in the exact spot hers had been. While he tasted the rapidly cooling drink, he stared at her over the rim of the cup. His green eyes locked on hers as he handed the cup back to her. “That’s not bad, but I like a pinch of cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream in mine.”

In a huff, she scowled at him. “I don’t recall offering to share my chocolate with you.”

“Oh, what’s one little sip between friends, Miss Matlock?” Gideon laid on his charm, smiling in such a way it did great justice to the dimples in his cheeks. Ever so slightly, he bent closer to her and lowered his voice. “Any time you like, I’d be more than happy to make you libations far more tempting than you could imagine.”

The timbre in his voice as he said “libations” nearly made Millie drop the cup in her hand. Not completely certain they were talking about beverages, her heart skittered in her chest.

Unsettled, her gaze shot to his, yet he continued to smile in an amiable, almost boyish manner, appearing innocent of any indecent implications.

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