Scene Stealer - Cherry Picking Settings

I love this image of Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park. I see runners, cyclists, dog-walkers and book readers. I see myself and my friends in this frame, even though we were not there when the shot was taken. I know we have reveled in glorious days at this very spot, though, as have other Portlanders and visitors from around the world. If you're sitting on that bank, you're probably also taking in a good view of Mt. Hood in the distance. Nice, eh.

Writers are often asked where their inspiration originates. When I first saw this picture, I knew I wanted to capture in words this very vignette. When you read Button Up and meet the characters Eva and Seamus during their picnic with Mata, you'll know the exact inspiration for the scene. The ornamental cherries are out in full force. It is ridiculously, truly beautiful.

Photographer Namascar Shaktini has taken to traveling the state, recording many more ridiculously wonderful sights. Keep an eye out for her name on this and future photo postings. We love being able to share these settings of the Mata Morrow mystery series with you. Cheers to springtime, flowering trees and budding inspiration.

Cover to Cover

I'm nearing the homestretch on the first Mata Morrow Mystery. This includes half-dozen re-writes and - yes! - one more round of editing. One of the easiest bits of this literary birthing process has been the cover design. I spent an entire morning (maybe it was more than an entire morning...the time, it does run away) researching the specifics of book cover designs. Once we determined that a high-quality book cover was well beyond the scope of our graphic skills, I delved deeper into the non-DIY basics. How does one find the skilled talent with a compatible temperament within the budget?


Google Search, Hire-an-Artist (more about this in a later post), the ever-popular Word of Mouth were all alleys I traveled down. LinkedIn, though, was the resource that led me to Heidi Sutherlin of She even lives in Oregon, which was frosting on the cupcake as Oregon is virtually a character - a major player, in fact - in the Mata Morrow series.

I reached out to Heidi and she reached right back. I gave her lots of cryptic directions such as, "I'd like to use a color palette that mirrors this..." accompanied by a photo of crazy chrysanthemums. "Portland figures prominently in Buckled Down, with Old Town, the White Stag Building and a book group serving as key elements." I love how quickly and absolutely she got what I worked to convey. 

I'm including a first draft of Heidi's book cover here on the blog. You can see the final version of that on the "Books" page. I can't wait for you to read what's inside!